Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Interactivity! Day 6: The Admiral

One funny thing about The Admiral.  Growing up, it was always impossible to come up with a scheme where he wasn't five steps ahead of you.  No matter what sort of bad idea you had, he'd done it first, and he'd done it worse.

The email I got from my father:


Not sure if this qualifies, but - in the category of poor taste --> In the late 1950's my best friend Bryan and I came up with the brilliant idea of costuming Bryan as Adolph Hitler and me as a US Army officer.  I carried a toy pistol which I pointed a him every time we went up to a door for treats.  Needless to say the reaction was mixed - at best.  


Well done, Admiral!  You get most f'd up costume story by a country mile!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Interactivity! Day 5: Horus Kemwer

Our own Horus Kemwer of Against the Modern World chimes in with his Halloween entry!  I think you'll enjoy, especially if you watch the clips.  

Underappreciated monster movie? Perhaps. Have you ever heard of it? Probably not. Bizarre, inexplicably nutty, yet strangely compelling cultural artifact from across the border? Definitely.

It's Caperucita y Pulgarcito Contra Los Monstruos (1962) from "the other Roberto Rodriguez."

The title is usually translated as "Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Thumb vs. The Monsters," but like everything else about this movie, it works better in Spanish. (Important tip: if you watch it, do so with subtitles, not the by all accounts atrocious dubbing.)

The film pits the tiny tots Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Thumb (along with their trusty, and extraordinarily annoying skunk side kick) against "all the monsters we have known in fairy tales." These monsters apparently hang out in a castle together in "The Kingdom of Evil" plotting against our two heroes. Their sheer goodness (and their apparent ability to sometimes convert monsters from the path of evil) is enough to incur the wrath of the combined monster forces from all fairy tales (and classic novels, apparently, as Frankenstein's monster and Dracula are amongst the bunch).

Another category of "fairy tale" appears to be Disney movies, judging by the appearance of characters both good . . .

. . . and bad.

Still, the camps is hilarious, the kids are charming, and the songs good for a laugh. You won't be scared, but you will be astounded. And let's not forget the fight scenes:

And, as with all genre-crunching artifacts from foreign cultures, there's much that seems oddly out of place—e.g. sexual innuendo between Dracula and the Witch, torture scenes, and an invocation of Satan. Have no fear though, the movie is still resolutely G rated, aimed squarely at children from the planet Mars.

[Sorry, no costume stories - Horus doesn't wear costumes on Halloween.]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Interactivity! Day 4: Jamie

We cruise into Day 4 of our interactivity responses with some words from my house-mate, pal and beloved bride, Jamie (you may call her McSteans, if you so choose).  

1) Under-appreciated Halloween type movie

Not being the scary movie connoisseur that many of you readers likely are, I was at first stumped by this question. Most of the horror/monster/creepy movies I've seen and have liked are pretty well known and loved. So instead of an "under-appreciated" film, I have two bad movies I've seen too many times, thanks to boredom and HBO, that were not to my knowledge, popular.

The first is Teen Witch, the 1989 Robin Lively vehicle where our protagonist is a cute girl who for some reason (the script says so) is unpopular. She meets a tiny witch (character actress Zelda Rubenstein) who gives her a special witchy necklace which Teen Witch uses to make herself popular (of course). I don't remember much else about the movie, but I think we can safely guess lessons are learned about being happy with yourself or being popular isn't all it's cracked up to be, or something like that. The one scene that has been etched permanently into my brain is the jaw droppingly bad sequence where Teen Witch uses her new witchy powers to make her best friend into a rapper so her friend can impress a group of 80s "toughs" (guys in acid washed jeans with mullets doing a choreographed musical routine next to their car). At least I think that's what was happening. See for yourself, if you dare:

Top That!

The other movie I've seen too much is the sequel to Critters, the aptly named Critters 2. I think the original Critters was conceived attempting to cash in on the popularity of Gremlins and must have been successful enough to green light not one but three additional movies. Being easily spooked as a youngster (E.T. freaked me out, for God's sake) the "critters" themselves seemed relatively unscary. Plus they got style points for rolling themselves everywhere for transportation and assembling in the movie's climax to form a giant Super Critter.

This is why we don't have more cats

2) Worst costume choice

When I was about seven, my mom made me a black cat costume for Halloween. I loved it so much I wore it around the house all the damn time, all year long. It scared the crap out of our actual cat, but that didn't stop me. The cat costume made a repeat Halloween appearance the following year. By year three, I had clearly outgrown the stupid thing, but was determined to wear it once again. My brilliant idea was to scuzz it up a bit, wear weird makeup, colorful socks, and go as a "punk cat". Needless to say, I looked ridiculous. My mom just kind of shook her head and didn't say much, clearly knowing this was a bad call.

You know when you get a group of trick-or-treaters and there's always that one kid where you're just not sure where they were going with their outfit so instead of saying, "oh what a cute pirate/vampire/Batman!" you just blink for a second and say, "Happy Halloween!"? That was me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I am tired

I won't bore you with the details, but work was really busy this week, and I've got two more days before it lets up.

I'm going to go crawl into bed.

Ya'll take care now.

Halloween Interactivity! Day 3: SimonUK

Hey all!

SimonUK has pitched in with his response to our "under appreciated horror movie" question.  SimonUK has seen, really, a ridiculous amount of horror.  Its kind of remarkable.

So, I take him at his word when he talks scary flicks.

Unappreciated Horror Movies. 

I'll start with Horror Express, a very weird Spanish/British co-production featuring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Telly Savalas- shouting alot as a Kossack, and a Thing type monster on the loose aboard the Orient Express. Loony ending and rock funk soundtrack despite being set in the 1800s. Very striking images and some genuinely scary moments. 

Cushing gets to say, "we're not monsters, we're British you know." 

This is the first horror film i remember and I had nightmares about 'red eyes' for weeks. 

Worst Costume

My worst costume was a bumble bee, it weighed a ton, I was very hot and nearly drowned when someone pushed me in the swimming pool in it in my late teens. And it wasn't remotely scary.

SimonUk's costume was remarkably accurate
we kid - the costume was this - 

okay, this is also not SimonUK, but I like to think he looked this charming

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Star Trek/ Legion of Super-Heroes Crossover

To begin with:  I've been utterly compromised.

In order to retain whatever passes for journalistic integrity around here, I should mention that Saturday night I had a couple of cocktails with Ms. @Allisontype and her husband, writer of this comic, Chris Roberson.  Excellent people.  All the stories are true.

Also - ask them about their Halloween cookies.

I had intended to do my review of this book prior to the evening, and failed.

So, here's more of an informal discussion of what I'll say up front is a really fun comic.

I am totally okay with Phil Jimenez doing nothing but drawings of Uhura and Saturn Girl forever

One more thing about Melbotis

The name of this pic is "WANT", taken by Jamie's brother, The Dug.

On Mel's last birthday, we skipped a party for me (we had birthdays around the same time) and had a party for Mel. He received the bag of tennis balls.

Doug sent this to me today and I had to share.

Halloween Interactivity! Day 2: Maxwell

We're back for Day 2 of the Signal Watch Halloween Interactivity!

Signal Corps, I'd be lying if I said we wouldn't welcome additional entries.  We'd love to hear what you've got to say!

For a quick review of the interactivity guidelines, just click here, and you're off to the (spooky) races.

Longtime Leaguer and now Signal Corpsman Maxwell (aka:  Cowgirl Funk) has submitted a response to at least half the interactivity.  She gets a gold star!

Maxwell, take it away...

I have a soft spot for the Peanuts gang and assumed that It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a treasured and easily recognizable part of Halloween Americana.  In this delightful Halloween classic, Charlie Brown cuts too many holes  in his ghost costume, and only receives rocks when the gang goes out for "Tricks or Treats".

This, like most of my terrible costumes, was an overestimation of cultural relevance, and suffered further from poor execution.  Instead of cutting holes I opted to draw too many eye-holes onto my white ghost cloth.  The costume may have made more sense in a group of other ghosts, with a little more context.  Instead I looked like a ghost dalmatian with a bag of rocks.  Good grief.

A selection of additional poor costume choices:
  • Abstract Art 
  • Steve Prefontaine 
  • A dead model from the 1999 GAP Mellow Yellow, "Everyone in Chords" Campaign
As a quick aside, I would have paid good money to see you in the Prefontaine outfit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

So, what is "Melbotis"?

So, it occurred to me - there's a whole audience out there that doesn't know what the story is with "Melbotis", "The League", why is the house called "League HQ"?, etc...

So, here's the story.

In 2000, Jamie and I moved into a house in South Austin just about the time some friends had broken up and were moving to separate coasts.  Whilst together, they'd taken on a Golden Retriever pup they named "Melbotis".  The name came from an inside joke they had about a couple named "Melba" and "Otis".  I didn't know this until well after they'd handed Mel over to us in the summer of 2000.

The pronunciation is, roughly, "Mel-Boh-Duss".

Right after he came onboard, I took Mel to the vet for his routine check-up, but at his original vet.  I believed his name was spelled "Melbodus", and learned that, no...  it was spelled "Melbotis" while looking at his medical records.

Mel was a big boy.  I think he topped off at 112 pounds before he got put on a diet.  Big, and very happy to try to sit in your lap, or at least get as much into your lap as possible.

He was also oddly smart, and we began to realize his vocabulary was fairly extensive.  He loved to swim, run off the leash, hoard toys and tennis balls, shake, play fetch, do a trick or two, and destroy toys.  He could follow directions and hand gestures, and generally liked being involved in whatever scheme you had going on.

I was 25 when we got Mel, and something about a dog that large that seemed to know his own business meant that I was perfectly comfortable treating him more like a roommate than a pet.  Sure, we fed him and took care of him, but he was given a lot of latitude to just sort of come and go from the house to the yard, get in the car if he felt like it, and just generally hang out.

Mel's Halloween costume circa 2002
Jamie had never had a dog, and suddenly she was faced with this thing as large as herself living in the house. I would not characterize the first year as building a deep emotional bond, but then Jamie's job evaporated, and she spent a few months at home looking for jobs.  And during that time, she and Mel became really good buddies.

In 2002, we moved to Arizona.  For a while I'd made jokes around the house about how we were the "League of Melbotis", and so when I launched a blog in 2003 (this was new stuff back then), that was what I named the site.  You can still see League of Melbotis online.

Halloween Interactivity! Day 1: My Brother

Hey Signal Corps!

We didn't exactly get a crippling flood of responses to this year's Halloween interactivity. I don't know if you're still worn out from last year or you didn't feel like putting up with my shenanigans for a second go-round. Maybe its the economy or sun spots. You're an unpredictable bunch.

Its a SPOOOOKY time of year, full of ghouls and goblins and sugar cookies.  And we feel this lends itself to a bit of personal storytelling.  I may personally be very scared of the unquiet dead in ghost form, and you might find the idea of the Moth Man terrifying, but that's what makes it interesting.  We've all got our thing.

This year we had two questions we asked.  Two fairly simple questions, I thought.   Well, not questions you people wanted to answer.

Luckily, we can always count on my brother, Steanso, to make sure I get at least one response.  I should note:  He kept asking me if he "won". So, everybody, he "won", okay. Let him have this.  

Now, from my brother...

1) Favorite underappreciated scary movie:

Does anyone else remember Q?  That giant, flying lizard was somehow both cool and a little scary when I was a kid.  Mostly I just liked big, giant monsters (I was a big Godzilla fan since the time I was about toddler size), and when I saw Q as a pretty young kid, it struck me as some kind of weird American take on the Godzilla theme.

Also C.H.U.D.  They were cannibalistic and humanoid and they lived under our feat.  Who wouldn't be made a little nervous by that?

And I liked Maximum Overdrive.  Giant, killer trucks.  It was funny and stupid, but the idea of being run over by giant, sentient trucks was still both entertaining and a little troubling.  ...I just read on Wikipedia that Stephen King (in his only directorial attempt) has now said that he was "coked out of his mind" during production of the movie and didn't really know what he was doing.  Somehow that movie about the angry trucks makes a little more sense now.

I've never seen this movie, but I always appreciated that the killer truck had the face of The Green Goblin

2)  Worst Halloween costume?

Well, one year I was The Blair Witch.  I wore a set of bobbly antennas and a black tee shirt.  The Blair Witch is muy mysterioso and leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Another year I started out wearing a cool jawa costume that looked just like something out of the movie.  It had a big hood, a dark cover over the face, and eyes that lit up.  Cool costume for a little kid.  But it was also made of think, burlapish material and it was really hot.  Eventually I ended up taking off the hood and walking the streets as a small, sweaty Obi Wan Kenobi.  The neighbors didn't really get why a little kid would want to dress up as a short, stinky version of the old man from the Star Wars movies, but they gave me candy, anyway.

I've also been various things just involved clown makeup or fake blood (sometimes at the same time).  I used to wear this stuff when my band was playing Halloween gigs because it would be too hot to wear a mask.  Once the band got rocking, though, the makeup or fake blood would usually run, and I'd just end up looking like some kind of bruised, multicolored mess.  Nothin' to be proud of.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reading Superheroes and "The Book" - pieces on a board

En route to Laredo I switched between podcasts and the audiobook of Grapes of Wrath.  We'll talk Steinbeck some other time, but one podcast I listen to with regularity is Radiolab, produced out of New York. And if you wonder about the pedigree of the show, one of its hosts/ producers/ creators recently won a MacArthur Genius Grant.

The episode I was listening to while plowing across the glittering fields of Texas was "Games".  You can hear the episode below.

At the 26:30 mark, there's a terrific story on chess.

I loved this story. Jamie and I tried many games while we lived in Arizona, looking for ways to fill weekends. At one point, we owned a plastic chess set that actually had the possible moves of each pieces printed into the plastic. It was real beginner stuff. But whether we played Checkers, Chess or Connect Four, sooner or later, we stalemated. I always found this interesting if only because it became predictable and boring. We both play defensively, neither of us had any real strategy or experience to call upon, and so... we'd just stalemate. Too few moves in our arsenal, too little understanding of the games we were playing, and the fact we played only one another wasn't helping, either.