Saturday, August 4, 2012

50th Anniversary of the Death of Marilyn Monroe

On June 1 of this year we wished Marilyn Monroe a happy birthday.  August 5th is listed as the day when Marilyn Monroe was found dead, but reports seem to say that she died before midnight on the 4th.

There's enough speculation out there, from the various conspiracy theories surrounding Monroe's death, and I've no idea what her career might have looked like had she lived.  The final years before she passed were difficult, and she'd been fired off a movie.  Like so many who are revered who passed when they were still young and beautiful, it's easy enough to build an image that has nothing to do with who the person was, what their career was really like, or even what was really happening when they passed.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the date, and so we do.  Godspeed, Ms. Monroe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Klaatu Barada Nikto! Paramount Austin Sci-Fi Week is Coming

Hey, Austinites!

It's about to be Sci-Fi Week at Austin's own Paramount Theater, August 14-19!

There's a great bunch of films coming, and I am up for any and/ or all of them.

Let me know if any of this looks like fun, and we can join up downtown.

"Gort.  You stay here and watch the car."

  • Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Forbidden Planet
  • Metropolis
  • The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • The Terminator
  • A Clockwork Orange

A lot of these movies are showing three days, so we have lots of options.

in case you couldn't guess, I'm pretty keen on seeing "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms".  And hearing Jamie surely describe the monster as "really cute!".

Friday Afternoon with Audrey Totter

Last January when I visited Jenifer in San Francisco for the Film Noir Fest, we took an afternoon and watched Tension (1949).  The film stars Richard Basehart (who the ladies cannot help but find dreamy), but it also features Audrey Totter in one of those roles that leaves an impression and makes you want to go back to the movie again and again.

I've now watched Tension a few times,  and I knew Ms. Totter from The Set-Up and a brief but excellent appearance in the classic The Postman Always Rings Twice.  Jenifer is a huge fan of Audrey Totter, and she's seen far more of her work than I have, so credit where it's due.

For a few reasons we've had Ms. Totter on the brain the past few days, especially as I had recently pushed The Lady in the Lake to the top of my Netflix queue, and I hope to discuss it next week.  Then the internet did what it does every once in a while and completely surprises you, and, anyway, we feel like celebrating with a couple more pictures of Ms. Totter.

Have a good Friday.  We'll check in later this weekend.

Signal Watch Reads: Batman - Earth One

Let me get this out of the way:  I've always enjoyed the artwork of Gary Frank that's come through my buy pile, and here I felt like he somehow trumped his previous efforts and delivered the Gary Frankiest artwork that ever Gary Franked.  That's a compliment, y'all.  Beautiful illustrative linework, an ability to capture expressions that's somewhere approaching Maguire, a great sense of panel layout and page management...  In my book, this is just gorgeous work, including the inking and colorist work.  This level of quality is the sort of thing that can give a casual buyer at the book store a chance to seriously consider buying a comic even if that's not their usual thing.

I appreciate that DC seems to have tried very hard to up their game in the art department.  When you're putting a package together like this for a book store audience, and you need yet another take on the Batman origin story to sell inside comic shops, you might as well go crazy putting out terrific looking superhero art.

Unfortunately, the book isn't just about the art, and at some point you have to also tell a story.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

All I've Been Doing has been Watching the Olympics

No movies.  No comics.  Basically, I've got none of my usual stuff to cover.

I've really been enjoying watching Volleyball.  Men's.  Women's.  Beach.  Otherwise.  I love the pace and the athleticism, and, of course, watching May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings again has been a lot of fun.  The addition of Longhorn Destinee Hooker to the US Team has been just terrific.  It's great to see her get attention on such a huge stage.

I watched Little Girls' Gymnastics, and that was very sweet.  And seemingly not a headcase in the bunch.

Archery was pretty great this weekend, and this coming weekend I get to see Track & Field, the one time every four years when I watch those events, but I can't wait.

Anniversary of the Tower Shooting Part 2

Last night I posted on the Anniversary of the 1966 shootings that occurred at UT Austin.

Today I had no lunch plans, and so I got up from my desk and walked to the UT Tower, arriving just before 11:48 AM. The University of Texas doesn't do anything in particular to commemorate the day every year, and certainly not the time. When they do hold events, which does happen from time to time, I am uncertain if they hold them on the day and time of shootings.

So, walking up to the Tower, it was the usual mishmash you see in August. Tourists. Summer school students. Kids on campus for camp, a mixed bag of college aged people engaged in group activities you can't quite puzzle out.

The sky was clear today and the temperatures were in the high 90's.  Despite the lunch hour, not many folks walked the main plaza, an area most folks know is often hot and free of shade.  I'd venture that few were aware of the date.

I snapped a picture of the flagpole from our earlier post. It's not quite as far from a door as I thought, but it's still a good 30 yards, and that's if you cleared the hedge.

46th Anniversary of the UT Tower Shootings

On August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman killed both his mother and his wife while they slept.  He went and purchased firearms from local shops, then drove to UT Austin's central tower.

Then, as today, the tower was an administrative building and, at the time, was also the library for UT Austin. It still looms well above all other features not just on campus, but for much of the surrounding territory.   From the top of the tower, one has a panoramic view in all directions, far out to the hills of West Austin, into downtown to the South if you look beyond the South Mall and the older buildings on campus that surround the grassy strip, usually strewn with students studying and socializing.  To the East lies the stadium and a great swath of campus, and to the North, the science buildings, and past that, the Hyde Park neighborhood.

I went up the first time in 2000 shortly after the Tower's observation deck re-opened for the first time since a rash of suicides in the 1970's.  No, Whitman's atrocity didn't convince the University that it needed to be closed.

On that morning, Whitman took a footlocker full of weapons with him to the top of the tower, and knocked an administrative assistant unconscious with his rifle (she would die later at Seton Hospital).  He would show a final and baffling act of mercy as he let a couple who had not seen the secretary's unconscious form bypass him, and then he barricaded the door.  Moments later he would kill and wound several tourists who came to the door seeking to go out to the Tower's observation deck.

Whitman took advantage of the unimpeded vantage provided by the 27 story tower and began firing down upon students and faculty walking between buildings.  For about 100 minutes Whitman held Austin hostage between Guadalupe and the East Mall, from the North Mall to far past the South Mall, where visibility goes down to 21st Street and further down University Avenue.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Revolution" Sci-Fi Fail: Wrigley Field Will Never Be Overgrown with Shrubbery

In watching the Olympics on NBC, every third commercial break or so they're running ads for an upcoming big budget program, trying to capitalize on the Lost audience and grabbing some of the Y: The Last Man aesthetic without actually going there.  Plus: swords for some reason.

The premise of the show seems to be that for some reason, the world has lost the ability to have electricity, and possibly all modern conveniences.  Except for make-up and hair-care product.  This is NBC, after all.

I won't go into too much of what I think looks a little dippy from the commercial, but it was already enough to tell me I wasn't all that interested in the usual network attempt at sci-fi that always feels like a frat-dude trying to put together a sci-fi idea from the bits and pieces they liked on some other show, but, you know, where the chicks aren't all weird or dogs or nuthin' and we're not going to make it all lame.  Oh, and the new lantern-jawed lead is now the all-purpose 20-something-haunted-girl-Mary Sue.  Check and check.

What struck me as a sign of failure (and this is based on a show I haven't seen and don't really understand the premise) was that, to try to earn some sign of how bad things have become in the wake of us having to live like it's 1915 or so again, the commercial shows Wrigley Field has become barricaded by trees and overgrowth, with vines crawling up the front of the building.

their sci-fi premise is, of course, that the The Cubs could get into the playoffs this year

Here's the thing:  No.

Monday, July 30, 2012

God Bless Our Snipers

The other day I got stuck in traffic for about an hour (Austin motorists, your hill-billy like gawking on MoPac is indefensible. It was a minor truck accident). For about twenty minutes of the total 1.5 hours, I was behind a "murdered out" black Range Rover.

This is what I looked at for about 20 minutes.

I support our troops.  I do.  Great folks.  Freedom, etc...

And I even like me some gallows humor, which often seems to confuse people in my social media sphere, but I strongly suspect the last thought I'd have as a piano fell out of a window upon me would be:  Heh.  Well, of-@#$%ing-course.

But I find a matte-black Range Rover with a vaguely threatening sticker just a little too loud for cool, too deliberate for funny.  It all had the sort of weird insecure, over-compensating tough-guy vibe I usually associate with martial arts instructors in strip malls.

I will tell you this:  when they saw me taking a picture over the steering column (in dead still traffic - don't worry, Ma) they immediately changed lanes and got away from me, proving to me once and for all that people who shoot other people from vast distances are really huge scaredy-cats afraid of a camera phone from a guy with a Donald Duck doll hanging from his rearview mirror.

If you're going to play it loud, I don't really know what you expect.  We're all going to just be blown away by how bad ass your truck is?  That you're a sniper?  That you don't need corrective lenses for driving and you have a fetish for an un-resellable paint job on your very expensive car?

People are silly.  Especially our snipers.

Now if I can just get them some black Truck Nutz.

Signal Re-Watch: Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Author's Note:  Spoiler's ahoy.  Proceed at your own risk.

So, today I teamed up with Jason, AmyD, The Admiral and Jamie and re-watched what appears to be the final installment in the Nolan-helmed Batman trilogy.

The first look at the movie was posted last week after I'd seen the movie with a different crew.

As has been the pattern with Nolan's movies since Memento (and what I tend to think is true of movies I don't just enjoy, but enjoy re-watching), once you know how it ends, it's a pleasure to re-watch the film and see how the moving pieces work together, and not just from a plotting perspective, as in a particular good espionage movie or thriller.  I've harped a lot on how Nolan has more or less used the Bat-movies as a chance to explore ideas of fear, justice, security & liberty - and it was worthwhile to take in a second viewing and watch the movie in a frame of mind more conducive to regarding what Nolan was doing and trying to say, and not just hanging on as a summer thriller unspooled and I did my best to keep up.

Of course, I don't have a score sheet that enables me to check Nolan's ideas off, and what you read here is based on nothing, really, but my own reading of the movies as a whole, so you'll have to bear with me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympics are Back! A report after Day One (2012)

So yesterday I got up and cycling was on. I rolled over to watching US Women's soccer against the villainous Colombian team, watched that whole match, then watched US Women's Volleyball against South Korea, and at some point was watching Norway play France in Women's Team Handball (it's like mini-Lacrosse with no stick. Just hands.). Then Primetime arrived and I wound up watching beach volleyball, swimming, men's gymnastics and concluded the viewing day after midnight watching women under 110 pounds lifting tremendous amounts of weight over their heads.

A few observations: