Friday, April 20, 2012

Avengers Assemble! Iron Man 2

You know, it seems it was unhip to say you liked Gwyneth Paltrow, and I found her marrying anyone in Coldplay annoying, but I like her a lot in both Iron Man movies.  The 00's will be remembered as the era in which Marvel made superhero movies legitimate, something even the success of Tim Burton's Batman film couldn't do (see: the sequels).

Unfortunately, despite a huge budget, some great set pieces, a decent set-up and good ideas...  Iron Man 2 is just a mess.  It feels like 3 movies' worth of stuff piled in, and only some of it jives.  Only not really, because the basics of the plot all DO tie together, they just feel slapped together, and it feels a bit like RDjr needed to, and I hate to say it, tone it down a little bit.  I like the Senate panel scene, too, but...  its a wee bit silly and ventures into that area that makes me uncomfortable when they talk about Batman being smarter and better than everybody else.  "So, you're arguing that he's just a guy, just...  smarter, more athletic, deadlier, handsomer and more technically savvy... oh, and RICHER than everyone else.  And this relatable how?".

I mean, I know the scene is there to show Tony spiraling but... anyway.

Its not as pristine and entertaining as the first movie, nor is the weight of Stark's legacy writ large as a challenge.  That's been resolved to as astronomic degree (if its been a while - in this movie, Iron Man has ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on his own).  And the fight between Rhody and Tony at the half-way point is sort or rubbish.

But its better than most of what we got in the 90's for superhero fare, so, whatever.

Oh, right.  ScarJo.  Well, she certainly adds production value.  And her character is certainly lucky nobody back sup ten feet and pulls out a gun.  Anyway...

On to Thor.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The State of DC, Their Business and the Public Adios from Chris Roberson to The Man

Not that long ago someone looked around my living room and, not without good reason, said, "Oh, so you're a DC guy?"

For a moment I hemmed and hawed, made some noises about how I didn't like being pigeonholed, that, yes, I had indeed dedicated two full rooms of my house to be shrines of sorts to DC Comics, but that...  ha, I read Marvel and other stuff, too.

What I didn't have the heart to say (nor did I think they really wanted the full explanation, they were seeking confirmation, like saying "the sky is really blue today, isn't it?") was that I am now buying exactly two DC Comics per month, Action Comics and Superman, and I'm enjoying one a great deal and am reading the other with a raised eyebrow and mixed feelings.  But, otherwise, I'm not buying DC Comics.*

The weird, ugly transformation of DC the past two years finally broke me.  I can't unsee the gears and mechanisms of DC Comics, Corporate Entity, sticking out like rebar through a construction site accident victim.  Its all so bare and obvious and exposed, and it dwarfs every half-assed line of dialog and every broke-back Harley Quinn pose on every page.  Even the inconsequential, predictable, half-baked writing is a function of "what's happening at DC".

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The League: Purveyor of Better Marriages Since 2012

On Saturday longtime pal JuliaP and her beau (and newer pal for The League) BillB asked yours truly to officiate at their nuptials come this December.


I have no mixed feelings about this and am happy to fill the role.  Indeed, I am humbled and honored by the invitation, and because it is the request made of me by good friends on their wedding day, I will put on my suit and a tie, pitch my voice to my most convincing baritone and partner with the loving couple in the coming months to find the proper readings and ensure that their day goes off without a hitch.  Standing up in front of others isn't an issue for me personally.  In fact, I speak in public regularly for work, and this is really just me talking to Julia and Bill in front of other people.

We can pull this off.

In no way am I a man of the cloth, but in Texas we have pretty simple laws managing this stuff.  Basically, once you get the certificate, pretty much that's it.  Me signing the thing is a formality at best.  The part of me that wishes it were a notary is oddly jealous to not be involved.

Nothing daffy will happen.  I will not be wearing a goofy outfit.  I will probably even wear my blue suit rather than the gray with pin stripes.  I will smile, and I will get to be up close when two great friends make it official.  I may ask Bill to draw a sword from a stone and Julia to prove her worth by sticking her hand in the Dune agony box to prove her worth to Bill, but aside from that...

Mostly I'm just happy for Julia and Bill.  It has been pleasant to see two people find each other in this crazy world who are such obvious complements to one another.  Really, and I'm not making this up, they seemed like an longstanding couple with one another and their ease with each other within a rather short time of beginning their relationship.  I take that as a good sign.

So, you know, if you're planning to get married, I work cheap...

Dick Clark Merges with The Infinite

Dick Clark.  Man.

Were it American Bandstand, Bloopers, Bleepers and Practical Jokes or pretty much every single New Year's Eve of our lives, the man was ubiquitous as he was welcome on TV screens.

The man's job was astonishing and will never be understood by The Kids.  In an era of three channels, Clark brought rock'n'roll to living rooms for decades (DECADES!), surviving the trends and talking about and to the artists, giving everything a shot.

I suspect when we lose Regis Philbin, that'll be it.  We'll have lost the last of the real TV hosts, the guys who were as much a part of your living room as the family dog and maybe even more friendly to both the people they chatted with, making performers seem vaguely charming, and to you, out there in your Barcalounger.

Here's PIL melting down on American Bandstand.

No Post Wednesday

I did not post last night as I was doing other things.

Below is an image of Miss Louise Brooks in the 1930s after she'd returned from Europe.  She's burned bridges before departing, and in coming home found her star had faded in the US.  And, of course, the bob she'd made so famous had gone out of style.

Brooks would play her final role in a schlocky early John Wayne film in 1938.

I know it was not in her mind when the photo was taken, but I like the resolute stubbornness I read in the expression.  She's back, and she's still not going to take any guff from these swine.

found at the Brooksie tumblr

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sometimes I Wonder What The Kids Don't Know About

I don't really know when they quit showing Popeye cartoons on TV, but I really don't remember seeing them on after I started college.  Its not like Popeye was all that popular even when we were kids in the late 70's and 80's.  Heck, one night I spent an hour explaining to Jamie what the hell a Jeep and a Sweet Pea were.

I just finished listening to the audiobook of Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon (also read by Chabon, who did a great job, I might add).  The book covers a lot of territory, considers adulthood, childhood, his fatherhood, how he relates to his kids, how he related to his parents...  He's got 10-12 years on me, and so is a product of the 1970's, a period I see in my mind's eye with a weird aura of gold and washed out color thanks to the film stock and production values in vogue at the time.

He talks a bit about how we mourns the content his kids have to consume, the formulaic closed-endedness of a cute but structurally dead-ended bit of Dreamworks entertainment.  He admits that between what the 90's called helicopter parenting, and this closed-off world of entertainment, he doesn't think his own kids really understand what it means to have an "adventure".  After all, if you're not letting your kids go beyond the end of the driveway, or out into the yard without supervision, how can you ever experience the unknown?  And its reflected in a lot of juvenile lit and entertainment.

He also discusses how he relates to his kids through media, how he's raising them on a steady geek-diet of Marvel comics, Dr. Who and other bits...  things that he enjoyed alone once, but that is creating bonds within his own family.

I've got no kids.  I don't often think much about passing on my passions to anyone else (Scout, simply, does not care about Superman.  She's sort of an X-Men fan, and I assume she'll grow out of that).

Pretty Good Weekend

editor's note:  If you have not yet read about my Charity Walk For Kidneys, please click here.

This weekend was pretty ideal.

Friday I went out to see my brother's band, The Mono Ensemble, play at Austin institution (of sorts), The Carousel Lounge.  Jamie could not come out, but I met Jason's friends from work and hung out with Reed's sister, Heather, whom I've known since middle school.

Here's me dancing to the sounds of The Mono E with the lead singer's wife, Stephanie, and Anna, a band-buddy.

Yes, that is me in the "John Carter of Mars" t-shirt biting my lip as I get down  on the dancefloor.
I am exactly as cool at age 37 as I was at age 13.
Saturday we threw open the doors here at League HQ and had a steady stream of folks from 2:00 PM until midnight.  Burgers were grilled, sausage was charred, old friends met new friends, parents came by, employees came by, Vespers were made and MikeR consumed the bottle of Ghostface Killah Ale which I had purchased for him.

Also, Jamie made an amazing raspberry chocolate cake, which is probably my favorite kind of cake (with only German Chocolate and Carrot Cake in any other kind of contention).

Today I rose late, watched too much River Monsters on Animal Planet, and then The Admiral came by and we solved a problem which had long plagued us.  About 4-5 years ago the lights in both closets in our bedroom went out.  I figured it was an electrical issue and as you could basically see into the closets, was not compelled to fix the problem because:  money.

The Admiral and I looked into it, and... no.  Both fixtures were LED fixtures with transformers that had died.  We removed them and replaced them with incadescents, and...  lights.

This evening we had pizza and watched Mad Men with Matt and Nicole.  It was a particularly good episode, I thought.

And nothing obvious went wrong all weekend long.  Not a bad deal for my birthday weekend.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Signal Watch Goes All Out (walks a mile or two) For Kidneys and Charity


Longtime readers may know that Jamie, the better-half and brains of the outfit here at Signal Watch, has some serious kidney dysfunction.  She has a disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. It is not as much fun as it sounds, and its pretty serious stuff. Even Wikipedia says so (she fell under "none" under that treatment tab).

What are we doing about it this week?  We're raising money for research and whatnot through the National Kidney Foundation.  .

To raise money, I will walk side-by-side with an army of dialysis patients around a lovely man-made lake somewhere in Pflugerville.  One assumes the walk isn't very far because, you know...  dialysis patients.*

Somehow kidney disease does not have the prestige and glamour of other diseases.  Awesome people who are not Jamie have kidney disease, too, but you rarely hear about it.  Sean Elliot of the San Antonio Spurs has FSGS, as does Alonzo Mourning.  Curiously, Jamie never played NBA basketball, but she also contracted the disease.  We're still looking into why she never got a contract with the Denver Nuggets.

Anyhow, if you can, please give just a few bucks.  We'd certainly appreciate it, and you'd be helping what I assure you is a very very good cause.  Kidneys.**

*What are you, some kind of monster wanting to see how far you can make those people walk?  They're ill!  What is wrong with you?

**you have them, too, and frankly, we're worried about how much sugar you've been eating