Saturday, February 25, 2012

I still love "The Fantastic Voyage"

On Saturday morning Simon, his ladyfriend Leta and I will made our way down to the Alamo South Lamar for a screening of The Fantastic Voyage (1966).  The Alamo South hosts Kids' Club, about once a month, and I've seen some classics like War of the Worlds as part of the series.  Frankly, its a testament to both the laziness of Austinites and the lack of interest in anything not involving beer that a free screening (FREE) starting at 11:00 AM of one of the sci-fi all-time classics wasn't better attended.

Their loss.

Signal Watch Reads: Superman #6

Superman #6
Measure of a Superman
script - George PĂ©rez
pencils - Nicola Scott
inks - Trevor Scott
colors - Brett Smith (1-22) Tanya & Richard Horie (23)
dialogue/ story/ layouts - Keith Giffen & Dan Jurgens
finishes - Jesus Merino
letterer - Rob Leigh
associate editor - Wil Moss, editor - Matt Idleson

There's a lot to parse about this issue, and very little of it has to do with the story presented in the pages.

Our rogue Superman-clone, as revealed at the conclusion of the last issue, is now freaking out Metropolis and Supergirl has shown up not to see what's going on with Superman in Metropolis, but to discuss events that occurred in a pair of books I dropped a couple of months back.

Friday, February 24, 2012

No Post Friday

If there is any justice: when I die Myrna Loy will meet me at the Pearly Gates wearing exactly this outfit.

Have a good Friday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fantastic Voyage (to Denton, TX and the movies)

Wednesday I head to Denton, TX for a 2 day conference on...  you know what?  I'm pretty sure you don't care.  But, yeah, 48 hours in Denton with Librarians and Degree Evaluators.  Should be a hoot.

Anyhoo, on Saturday I'm hoping to join SimonUK at the Alamo South Lamar for a screening of one of my favorites from middle school, shown to us in Life Sciences in 7th grade in order to demonstrate exactly where we might need to know this stuff.

Fantastic Voyage is the original "we've shrunk them down to microscopic size and injected them in a submarine into someone's bloodstream to save this important person's life" story, which is way less specific than you'd think.  Its been ripped off on numerous occasions.

But the first is still the best.

World's least efficient way of keeping your cholesterol under control
Doesn't that look exciting?  13 year old me certainly thought it was amazingly exciting.  I think 36 year old me still sees the appeal.

The movie starts at 11:00, but as Kid's Club at South Lamar is free, be there early as 10:00.  Have some coffee with me and Simon.  We're good company.

And if you need further incentive:  Raquel Welch wears a white "scuba suit" for a good chunk of the movie.

You can microscopically swim around in my bloodstream anytime
You can never have enough scuba-suited, laser-toting Raquel Welch for my dollar.

Come out and join us!  Wear your Slim Goodbody costume so we can map the progress of our crew!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Before turning it on, I knew literally nothing about the film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).  I didn't even know it was literally about hunting treasure in the Sierra Madres, just that it featured Humphrey Bogart, and it was not High Sierra.

By the time this movie got made by director John Huston, Bogart was a huge name and draw, and I think you see a bit of Bogart you don't normally get.  Sure, I've seen a desperate Bogart in Dark Passage and the end of High Sierra, but his character here never starts as the cool, collected sort he normally plays.  He's down on his luck from the start, and seems to spiral as the movie goes on.  It's an interesting turn.

Bogart plays Dobbs, an American unemployed in Tampico in 1925.  After a bad experience with what he'd believed to be honest work, Dobbs and fellow bum Curtin (Tim Holt) are sinking low when Dobbs gets his hands on some money through luck and teams up with fellow Americans Howard (Walter Huston), an aging prospector looking to strike it rich.

Signal Watch Reads: Fantastic Four - Season One

Before I'd read the names associated with the books, I generally liked the concept behind Marvel's Season One initiative.  The books would retell the origins of Marvel's top characters and get something in bookstores and online that a new reader could pick up and enjoy.  Unlike DC's now baffling Earth One effort, Marvel basically chose to retell the same stories in a fashion that seems ready-for modern audiences.  In a way, this is the same continuity - just a wee bit cleaned up and with modern backdrops.

I believe this Fantastic Four Season One is the first Season One release, and its a promising start if the goal is to create a comfortable entry point to the Marvel Universe for someone vaguely aware of the brand and characters.

As a veteran comics read, I've tried to become more aware of the Fantastic Four in recent years, but I find my FF fandom extends only as far as the person working on the book.  Kirby?  Yes!  Mark Waid?  Absolutely.  But when Mark Millar took on the book a few years ago, I dropped it and never came back.  And that was after some bumpy readership between Waid and Millar during which my reading was never steady.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Exporting Raymond

I think I've seen Everybody Loves Raymond only four or five times, and at least two of those were in waiting rooms where I had no choice in the matter.  I'm pretty aware of the basic set-up, and find the actors okay, but somehow it didn't really grab me.  I will say, because I know you people and you think I'm all judgy...  I don't actively dislike the show.  I just never warmed to it the way I just never warm to a lot of perfectly decent shows.  Take House for example.  I don't know why I don't care that the show airs, but I watched one episode and that's all I've ever seen.

I do get how the show became a huge hit.  Developer and show-runner Phil Rosenthal is not incorrect in his narration of Exporting Raymond that the show appeals because its universal and relatable, no matter your income bracket, actual family make-up, politics, etc...  We all watch our parents with a low level of helpless dismay, we all watch our siblings believing they're permanently set to "goof" (sorry, dude.  Don't pretend like you think I'm Einstein over here), and we all both love and mentally/ emotionally grapple with our significant others and feel like we're barely in the game, let alone winning any debates.

The movie of Exporting Raymond (2010) follows Rosenthal as he takes wildly popular American sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond to be reinterpreted and redeveloped in Moscow for the Russian audience.  He believes that the concepts and characters will have no problem making it in a 21st Century Russia due to the basic center of the show seeming relatively straightforward.

Signal Watch Watches: The Room (again - but in a theater)

It had been a while since I'd seen Tommy Wiseau's opus The Room (2003!). While I am no longer quite as charmed by spending my time seeking out truly awful movies after the realization struck me that I was doing so at the expense of seeing good movies, the opportunity to see The Room on the silver screen with a room full of people seemed too inviting.

So, with PaulT and his ladyfriend, Val, we hit a midnight-ish screening of the notorious drama at The Alamo Ritz downtown.  Neither Val nor PaulT had seen the movie before, and, frankly, I was more than a bit unsure about how this was going to go down.  (1) I've never been 100% sober while watching the movie before, (2) sharing in the experience of The Room is not to everyone's taste and (3) I'll forewarn you that the movie features a whole lot of "adult moments", which translates into a whole lot more of Tommy Wiseau and his co-stars than you thought you were signing up for.

this deeply Photoshopped Wiseau gives us an idea of what he thinks he 's doing

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Signal Watch President's Day!: William Henry Harrison (Number 9)

This President's Day we talk our Nation's* 9th President, William Henry Harrison.

President Harrison was born in 1773 in Virginia, son of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  He would be elected President in 1840, and attain fame among generations of school children perusing their textbooks to be shocked at the dates next to Harrison's name, and the reputation as "the guy who died right after taking office".

Which, of course, is true.  After an illustrious career as a member of the US Congress (from what was then called the Northwest Territory), Governor of the territory of Indiana and with an honorable military record, including his role as the General at the Battle of Tippecanoe with the Shawnee and his leadership during the War of 1812, Harrison would find himself nominated twice for the office of President.

During his second turn at running for office under the Whig banner, in 1840 Harrison successfully campaigned as a bit of a good old boy, played up the Tippecanoe angle, which you may recall from the "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" campaign slogan, and did very well, especially in the electoral college.

March 4th of 1841 Harrison took office.  By March 26th he fell ill with a cold which spiraled into pneumonia.  Harrison died on April 4th, 1841.

For a full history of what befell Harrison and why, I invite you review this video:

In his short term in office, some which was spent ill, Harrison did not manage to achieve much other than to make appointments.  He would be succeeded by his Vice President, John Tyler, most famous for being the first President to take office because the elected President had died, and for later joining and serving in the Congress of the Confederacy.  He was also in office when Texas joined the United States.

Alas, poor William Henry Harrison.  A colorful career as a servant to his country, repaid with a somewhat goofy campaign slogan you learned in Junior High and for becoming a cautionary tale as to why one should keep out of the rain.

*for those of us in the good 'ol US of A!

The Signal Watch Watches: When Harry Met Sally (for the first time)

My co-worker and I decided to try a movie exchange.  She generally seems to have good taste, but turns her nose up a bit at genre content and still holds the same prejudices she developed in the 80's when she was told "sci-fi is dumb".  Somehow it came to pass that after I let her know I had never seen When Harry Met Sally, that I was informed by her and another colleague that I had to watch it.

The explanation she made, that I bought, was that When Harry Met Sally is the quintessential modern romantic comedy from which all other rom-coms flowed.  It tried to be real, but cute and quirky, and whatever else.

"Fair enough," I said.  "But it's an exchange."

Pondering quintessential movies of the 80's, of course I immediately leaped to Commando, but in the end opted for RoboCop.  I figured she was less likely to be furious with me.  Also, I think RoboCop is a genuinely smart movie.  She watched it, and through gritted teeth lied about enjoying it.  My hat was off, and the game was on.

So, this evening, I watched When Harry Met Sally (1989).  

this movie would have been 100x better if it would have actually been about giants trampling Manhattan beneath their feet (and finding love & each other)

It is, of course, more than 20 years since the movie saw its release, and we're so far away from the date of the impact that water has filled the crater and evidence of the change is there only if you realize that's not just a tree-filled valley.  The plot and ideas have been imitated to death, its gags have become part of the zeitgeist, and I now believe it added the phrases "high maintenance" and "low maintenance" to the lexicon.  I was well aware of the "Sally fakes it in the deli" scene, which was more or less the essence of Sex and City every minute of every episode for its entire duration, so, credit where credit is due.