Saturday, December 24, 2011

Superman (and I) wish you a Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas, Signal Corps!

I can think of no finer sentiment to share on this Christmas Eve than the words of the Man of Steel.

Tonight, let's be grateful for those with whom we spend the holiday, loved ones or otherwise.  And I hope you were able to help out your neighbors and fellow humans here on Planet Earth.

Here at Signal Watch, we're raising a glass to you!  May your  Christmas Day be merry and bright!

If you're out and about, come home safely.  Tell your family I said "howdy", and let's look forward to 2012 as the year where we figure it all out.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  God bless us, every one.

SW Advent Calendar Day 24

Merry Christmas Eve, Signal Corps!

I hope you've had a chance to get out and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Holidays, however you celebrate them and however they look in your town.

Like Superman, here, I get to spend Christmas Eve with the lady for whom I'd make the world spin backward.  That's all I need for Christmas this year.

Have a lovely silent night.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santor, he deliverith

SW Advent Calendar: December 23

Sometimes Christmas is all about having it out with the extended family.

I have very warm memories of watching this movie as a child. Donald's coat is still one of my favorite visuals in cartoons or live action comedy. This may inform much of what I find funny.

For Christmas, I look like a villain

So, I've been off work since Wednesday at 5:00.  Thus, the last time I shaved was early Wednesday morning.

Before heading out to the gym today, I decided to do some shaving.  If I don't shave, and I sweat, my face can really start to break out.

I use an electric razor.  Something about real razors that close to my jugular has always freaked me out, so I spend money every couple of years on a Norelco or Braun electric razor.  Of late, I've used a foil razor.  It sort of does the trick.  But with a foil razor, if you wait too long between shaves, it can actually hurt a bit as you scrape your face.  But, of course aside from redness which immediately goes away, no big deal.

Today while I was shaving, I noticed the usual slight discomfort was a bit amplified and of a different, sharper character.  I looked at the razor and noticed nothing out of the ordinary, so I went back to shaving, and it seemed to get worse.  And then I noticed I was actually bleeding a little.

This is what I did to myself:

the red in my eye if just from an overabundance of Yuletide Spirit
So I scratched the living hell out of myself, and now - I look like a villain in a 90's movie.  Just in time for Christmas.

The scratches should be part of a cautionary tale, like: oh, you can tell he fought a bear.  But in my case, it looks like I lost a fight to a cat.  Which isn't as cool.

Apparently Jamie noticed my razor fell over and put it back.  What neither or us noticed was that the foil was damaged.  Because my razor was sitting where it always sits, I couldn't figure out what changed between Wednesday morning and today, and just assumed I was a bigger wimp today than in every other preceding day.  Until the blood.

See, this is how I know I'm going to die in a completely preventable manner.  "Oh, you mean you shouldn't just wake up with your pillow soaked in your own blood every morning?  I just thought that was part of getting older."

I am an idiot.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blog Spotlight - Down and Out: An Austin Love Story

So, some time this summer PaulT and I headed down to the Alamo Ritz to see Babyface because I was promised lots of Barbara Stanwyck (which it delivered in spades).  Prior to the movie, a lovely young woman sat down a couple seats down from PaulT, and because it turns out PaulT, myself and this person are all the sort of person who will talk to just random people, we talked a bit before the show began, and then afterward all wound up at a bar next door for a few drinks.

That lovely young woman was LT.  She's fairly new to town, a world traveler, highly educated, and now unemployed and trying to make a go of it here in Waterloo.  Turns out she can also turn a phrase, so I encourage you to check out her blog Down and Out: An Austin Love Story.

I think you'll find it an interesting read.  I know I do.  I'm personally totally rooting for LT, and it wasn't so long ago I was also unemployed in this town under very different circumstances.  So if you have a chance, give it a read.

SW Advent Calendar December 22

and now, in what's becoming a Christmas tradition, I think, here's my annual posting of The Pogues and Kirsty McColl's "Fairytale of New York"

Some good reads: Memorial #1 and Daredevil #7

If you haven't been past your comic shop yet, or you might be heading back soon, I wanted to pitch two comics to you.  One is a brand new series, the other one of Marvel's oldest mainstay characters, and so it gives me two very different things to discuss and recommend for different reasons.

Memorial #1 
written by Chris Roberson, art by Rick Ellis and colors by Grace Allison

I have a feeling that if issue #2 continues on from where issue #1 started, and this thing expands the way I think it could, we're going to be looking at one of the "next big things" for comics fans.

In TV and comics, there are ways to lay groundwork while laying out tantalizing bits of "what's really happening" or setting up a mythology, and its difficult to pinpoint how a series on TV like Lost can do this so well, and then the reboot of V comes along, and it has all the fun of solving a big book of word problems.

It has to do, of course, with clearly defined (and new but readily understood) characters, buy-able circumstances for characters that set an internal logic from the beginning, what was presented as hints about what's happening without being unnecessarily oblique.

If this were a TV series, I think we just saw the first half-hour of the 90 minute pilot, and it was very promising. We get a lovely tabula rasa set up for our start, that we know we'll populate with backstory, despotic fairytale queens, and plenty of hints about who our villains are, and the circumstances that led them to villainy.  Its a compelling soup of familiar and unfamiliar, and I am very curious to see where it heads.

Mostly, unlike so many #1's I've read in the DCU relaunch, this didn't have me wanting to know more to guess how they would do this, or fix it, or how this compared to my expectations.  This was starting fresh, and it felt fresh and absolutely necessary against the backdrop of the state of the industry.

Give it a shot.  You can find Memorial #1 from IDW out as of Wednesday, Dec. 21 at your local shop, and online at comixology.

Recommended for fans of Sandman, Fables, Unwritten and Books of Magic.

Daredevil #7
by Mark Waid, Paulo Rivera and Joe Rivera with colorist Javier Rodriguez

The constant push to write for the trade and the industry's devotion to the 6 issue storyline has meant that we've all but lost a vestige of the 80's on most of superherodom in comics.  When writers like Claremont were on books like X-Men, as powerful as a multi-issue story-arc could be (and how that was handled differently them plotting out over years sometimes), often it was the stand-alone story between stories that worked as a short story, and revealed character in the way day-in-the-life or short-form stories can.

Waid has always been talented, but of late, the man has been firing on all cylinders on all of his projects.  On Daredevil, he's rescued the character from a whirlpool of negativity that started in the 1980's with Miller's work, was used to excellent effect in some of Bendis's run on the character, built upon by Brubaker, but essentially left Matt Murdock with nowhere to go.

Waid continues to play off this problem in this issue, as the mission of this run has been to make Matt Murdock a character whose stories people might want to read for enjoyment, not endure out of duty.  Matt Murdock, the character, has reclaimed life, and as readers, we get to enjoy that, too.

This issue follows Murdock in a set of unfortunate circumstances leading kids to safety through a snowstorm.  the subject material shouldn't feel like an 80's throwback, but I simply can't point to enough periods in the past 20 years when a writer was offered the opportunity to tell this kind of revealing story in a mainstream book, or saw the potential in such "ordinary" circumstances.

Its a straight up amazing read, and shows not just why Daredevil works as a character, but why Waid's understanding of character and what real drama can look like in a comic about men in tights, keeps the whole thing engaging and reminds readers how this medium and this genre can work on a very good day.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 21

The most rockin' Christmas song of the past 15 years.

Which, of course, was really this:

Which, of course, is trumped by this:

Signal Watch Trailer Park: DKR, Hobbit, etc...

Its not like right now, this Christmas, is shy of movies I want to see.  I've got tickets set for Tintin, and there are a couple things I want to see at The Alamo and elsewhere, if I've got time and money.  I might even go see War Horse although I figure if its Oscar-bait, that horse is going to get himself dead so we all have a good cry about the innocence lost during wartime.

I also need to see the new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as this may be the version that makes the story less hackey and delivers on the promise of the premise (I still think the book is roughly a Mary Sue story for a middle-aged journalist and all the kinds of women he wants to bed).  Despite my aversion to Tom Cruise, Randy has sold me on MI:4.  And I'm hearing good things about Young Adult.  

But we're here to talk MOVIE TRAILERS.  

Apparently America's completely lazy "please feed me fatty foods while I lay here" approach to life is now extended to the voice of Batman villain Bane in the new trailer, whose not-American nor upper-crust-British accent has made him apparently completely unintelligible to many online angry people.  Having had seen the trailer, if that's a hard accent to parse, none of you people would make it working at a research university.

I have a rough idea of what elements they're playing off one another from back in the Broken Bat era of Batman comics, and I know a bit about Selina Kyle (hey, how about that Anne Hathaway, huh?), and I know Talia al Ghul is slated to appear in the movie played by the lovely Marion Cotillard, so that's always fun.

In general, this looks about five times as intense as The Dark Knight, and that's kind of hard to wrap my head around, as after seeing that movie the first time, I deeply wanted a nap.  But that's also what makes for a good Batman tale, I think.  Things just keep getting ratcheted up.

And hopefully Joel Schumacher will have a moment of clarity in regards to how Bane could have been useful in a Batman movie.

Last night the trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hit, and the internet sort of blew up.

Truthfully, I only remember bits of this book.  The first half left a much smaller impression on me than Lord of the Rings.  But that doesn't mean this trailer doesn't look extremely promising, even if it includes bits and pieces that seem to have been created just for the movie.

I am thrilled to see Cate Blanchett back as Galadriel, even if I don't think she was in The Hobbit as a book (correct me, folks, I just don't remember). And, of course, seeing artifacts that come into play in the LOTR trilogy show up onscreen is hugely welcome.

I don't pretend to be a Tolkein scholar, and I'm sure you guys know way more about the movies and books than me, but this all looks terribly promising.

And, of course, for some reason Bryan Singer made a high-budget version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

No, I have no idea why.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 20

Merry Christmas from (left to right)  McSteans, Santa and The League
Just FYI:  This Santa was just incredibly cool.  He saw me a bit concerned about placing my considerable bulk down on his knee and said "Ah, don't worry.  I've had two 450 pound linemen sit on my knees."

Santa is taking one for the team, indeed.

Also - the beard and mustache were totally real.  I like to think we met the real Santa.  He's at The Galleria in Houston.

2nd Anniversary

Today marks the Second Anniversary of the final post at League of Melbotis, the original blog under which I posted.

If you've never been there and are seeking answers to questions you dare not utter, there are years and years worth of postings.

May God have mercy on your soul.

the ghosts of 2005 say "hi"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Comics I read and Chris Roberson's "Memorial" comes out on Wednesday

As a reminder, Chris Roberson's hotly anticipated new series Memorial starts on Wednesday. If you're in Austin, he'll be at Austin Books and Comics in the afternoon from 1-4 to sign copies (I'm getting my copy signed).

If'n you haven't read any of Chris' work, this is a great opportunity to jump on and see why I keep talking about this guy.

Some other stuff:

Tintin - Secret of the Unicorn: I'm the guy who keeps going "oooooooooh...!" at the trailer for the new Tintin movie, and so I read the book Secret of the Unicorn this week.  Its a very manageable volume, but also, apparently, part 1 of the story.  So, while I was a bit thrown by the fact that the story didn't actually end, I also just emailed Austin Books to see if they had a copy of the subsequent volumes.

As you know, I'm a Scrooge and Donald Duck fan, and this is in roughly the same sort of vein of high adventure, but with a lot of goofy stuff happening around the characters and our heroes being a bit off-kilter themselves.  Its also amazing how much of a master of the form HergĂ© was as far back as these stories first appeared. Today's action strip artists could most certainly learn quite a bit about pacing and scene management from Tintin.

Incorruptible Volume 4: I've been a fan of Mark Waid's "superhero" work at Boom! with the pairing of Irredeemable and Incorruptible. I did fall a bit behind on my reading of these series, and I'm now trying to catch up, but I hadn't forgotten how much I like how Waid's exploring the central thesis in each book of the hero turned mad/ WMD, and the villain who, in a world gone crazy sees the only sensible thing to do is fight on the side of the angels, even if he has no idea how that works and the people around him are all terribly, humanly uneven in their own approaches to life.

Just a great series for the superhero fan who can't deal with another reboot, civil war, etc... Its some dark stuff, but its smartly done and is genuinely building a coherent storyline. Someting I'm not sure you can say about most of the New 52.

SW Advent Calendar December 19

And what is Christmas without Cyd Charisse?

Dark Knight Rises Official Trailer

Santor is Back with a Merry Christmas Tune

That old sweetheart. He's a sentimental fool.

It is remarkably hard to write a non-trite Christmas story

I had an idea that I would try something new this year and try to write a Christmas story. It turns out that, in the short story format, this is very hard.

Of course, the short story format is an enormous challenge to begin with, but add in the complication of the sentiment and sentimentality of Christmas, you can either go sweet and twee, or you can go dark and maybe just end up wallowing in an obvious bit of cynicism or horror that really doesn't get anyone anywhere.

One of the challenges that Hollywood faces, that I've become acutely aware of, is that the message of Christmas is a generic "believe" or "fill yourself with the spirit of Christmas", but what one is to believe, or how one defines the spirit of Christmas (or what that spirit should then encourage one to do), is never really explored.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 18

And what would the holidays be without Elvira?

To me, fashion is a mistur-ee

I recently saw this image online at the NY Times Magazines tumblr.  This is the latest collection from designer Thakoon Panichugal.

This picture is the worst thing I have ever seen.

Call me kooky, but this outfit is a mishmash of clothes randomly pulled off the shelf from a box store and put on a really dumb person suffering from malnutrition.  I am led to believe that this poor, sick girl has gotten lost on a tour of the house where James K. Polk spent his post-presidency golden years.  She cannot see to the end of the room.

I do not understand fashion.

San Fran in Jan(uary)

Heads up, Bay Area folks.

So, in January I'm headed for San Francisco.

I arrive on the 19th.  I had originally planned to run around the city and whatnot the first night, but it turns out that its the first night of the San Francisco SketchFest.  As part of the Sketchfest, the crew from RiffTrax is performing on night 1 of the SketchFest.  So, while this means I may have a problem with the Alpha Plan of @#$%in' &%#@ up in San Francisco on the 19th, it does mean I get to go to SketchFest see the guys from RiffTrax do a bunch of shorts.  And that is awesome!  (and, no doubt, means extra time hangin' with The Dug and a more likely scenario of seeing MikeF and others)

Oddly, the event is at the Castro, where I will also be the following few days.

The schedule and tickets are now available for Noir City X, the tenth installment of the Eddie Muller-helmed Film Noir Fest.

I'm in and out of town fairly quickly as a man can only afford to stay in one place too long, and the fact that every time I leave work for a few days, some disaster is awaiting me on the other side.

I'm pretty darned excited.  The line-up for both before and after I'm there features some great films I've seen and a long list of films I haven't seen.  If you live in the area, take advantage.

I am a bit down that I'll miss Naked Alibi on Thursday, which features both Sterling Hayden and Gloria Grahame (and I've been trying to track it down for a while), and it seems this year they've moved the party to the second weekend, so I'm missing that.  But they did add Angie Dickinson to talk Point Blank, which is a great movie, so I'll get to see her in person.

But I also will be looking to fill days while I'm around, so if you have helpful touristy hints for me that don't involve wandering The Tenderloin in a Batman costume, I'd like to hear them.

Happy Birthday, JimD

edit.  Oh, hell.  Apparently tomorrow is Jim's birthday.  Just consider this an early present on Jim's B-Day Eve

we don't do birthdays around here much anymore.  But it's Jim D's B-Day, and I remembered.