Saturday, October 27, 2012

Octoberama! Silent Saturdays Finale!

I seem to have made a theme of silent film in our Saturday postings this month.  It's belated, but I'm dubbing these posts Silent Saturdays.  Live with it.

If you ever think that all Hollywood does these days is adapt existing material from books and create remakes - well, that's all they've ever done.

If you enjoyed Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow as much as I did as a kid, its of course, an American classic as a novel, but it was also done in 1922 as a feature film of the silent era.  Let's not belabor asking you to watch a 70 minute movie, but we will share a link to the Headless Horseman scene.

Ichabod encounters The Headless Horseman!

Hi yo, Horse from Hades!

Happy Birthday Theodore Roosevelt!

Jake's blog informs me that today is the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, the most interesting president in the world.

Born this day, 1858, in New York City.

Who WOULDN'T vote for this guy?
Rather than sum up the man and his achievements I shall start by recommending some light reading:

  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
  • Theodore Rex
  • Colonel Roosevelt all by Edmund Morris.

The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt by a former professor I had at UT, Lewis L. Gould (he was awesome.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

October Watch: Dracula (1931)

With the arrival of the Universal Horror Blu-Ray set, I wanted to get Dracula (1931) in before Halloween.

I first saw Dracula back in high school when it was going through a bit of a renaissance, probably because of those @#$%ing Anne Rice books that I kind of blame for leading to Twilight.

As a kid my concept of Dracula the character was fairly benign and drawn from things like The Groovy Ghoulies and the 70's-monster-plosion.*  But Dracula never seemed to be available on VHS, and I sure as hell wasn't going to read a whole book, but thanks to the monster-magazines and books I always seemed to have growing up, I already knew the story, including the character names and basic plot elements.

I was surprised how spooky I did find the film the first time I saw it.  I've always been of the Ed Wood school of willing-suspension-of-disbelief, even in movies which have long traded on literalism for the most part.  If I see a giant fake bat on a string, I guess I just buy that that's supposed to not just be a bat, but Dracula travelling incognito.  If there are armadillos in Castle Dracula, then, by gum, Transylvania must be overrun with cousins of my fellow Texans.  I dunno.  As long as I'm enjoying the film, I've always been willing to forgive a lot.**

Octoberama! Fridays with Elvira!

Our final Friday with Elvira rolls into the station.

All these years later, who knew Elvira would make a bit of a return in the pop culture consciousness? I, for one, welcome her return for as long as she wishes to stick around.

Really, what better way to celebrate the spirit of Halloween than with a bit of spookiness, a lot of fun and a celebration of creature features, great and terrible?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Octoberama! Superman and a Gallery of Not Really Spooky Supporting Characters!

You have to assume that the Frankenstein here was poor ol' Glenn Strange.

Gungan Style: The Internet Video That Sums It Up

Of late, you may have noted a slight change in tone around The Signal Watch.

I think this video more or less sums up my feelings as I head towards my tenth year* of blogging on comics and pop culture.

Give the video about 2 minutes before giving up on it.

*yes, 10 years in April of 2013.

Happy Birthday, Pablo Picasso!

The artist was born this day in 1881.  He lived to the age of 93.  He is famed for his bullheaded nature.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Watch: Frankenstein (1931) and Bride (1935) Double-Bill!

I don't really keep a list around of "what is my favorite movie?" (I mean, go ahead and check out my recommendations at the tab above, but...) but the first two James Whale directed, Karloff-starring Frankenstein films are in the mix somewhere.

It's one of those things that is difficult to explain.  And it's funny, because I am absolutely not alone in my admiration of these two films - but the folks who like these movies also seem to have a hard time putting feelings into words.  Even the eloquent Neil Gaiman seems at a bit of loss, but I think he does as good of a job explaining the appeal of The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as you're likely to see.

Octoberama! Once Again with Ann Miller!

Let us head on toward Halloween with Ann Miller, black cats and pumpkins!

The Honest Truth About Why No Post and Mondo Gallery

I've already pre-loaded a number of October posts, and you'll get those for several days.

Sadly, now is one of those times that I'm terribly busy at work, and things like AWS going down don't make my job any easier.  Especially when I'm flying to Denver in a week and a half to talk about why my organization uses AWS.

So, the bottom line is that I've been super busy.  I worked Sunday night and I worked tonight when I got home.  I'll be taking tomorrow night off, but then I'll be working again on Thursday, and then on Saturday and Sunday.  Because: deadlines.

In the meantime, I'll try to provide some content, but I'm pretty busy, y'all, so bear with me for a couple of weeks.

I did make a trip during my lunch hour today to the Mondo Gallery in Austin.  They're doing a show on the theme of Universal Horror Movies, focusing on Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, Creature from The Black Lagoon and Phantom of the Opera.  As you may know, it is Universal Studio's 100th Anniversary, and, historically, their most enduring franchise includes those creature features, even if they haven't known what to do with them for quite a while.*

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Octoberama! Yvonne Craig!

Batgirl fears no tricks!

Clark Kent Quits the Daily Planet - Just as I Quit Reading "Superman"

I'll be honest with you.

I wasn't going to pick up issue #13 of DC's recently relaunched Superman title, anyway.  I really didn't believe DC could flail about any worse with the character than it seemed they were doing during periods of the Eddie Berganza editorship of the Superman Family of books in the 00's - back when continuity changed with every writer - or when DC seemed to be forcing year-long, family-wide, editorial directed stories upon the Superman books prior to the New 52.

A few months back I read Scott Lobdell was coming on Superman, and at the time I decided that would mark the end of my readership on the title.  I'm not even worried about having a hole in my collection as comics from this era depreciate in value by 75% the minute you walk out the door, anyway, so it doesn't really matter for my collection.  If I want to eventually read the comics or just fill the gap, I'll buy them in a bin at Half Price Books where someone will dump them a few months from now and it'll still be cheaper than buying them digitally.

In case you can't tell, I'm not just not a fan of Mr. Lobdell's work, but DC's direction - particularly around Superman - the character - which has been reflected largely in Superman - the comic.

Today it became news for some reason that Superman was going to quit working at The Daily Planet and start his own website or something.  I guess.  Something social media-y that the kids will relate to.  Apparently he makes some speech about how the news business isn't just about sensationalism, its supposed to be about Truth, Justice and The American Way and then runs out the door crying.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October Watch: An American Werewolf in London

I cannot begin to come to An American Werewolf in London (1981) objectively.  I had to leave work fifteen minutes early or so to make the picture, and someone said "I've never seen it.  Is it good?" (my co-workers are well aware of my love of movies like The Room, so my interest in a movie is not a sign of my belief in the film's quality).

I paused and said "You know, I don't really know.  I've seen this movie a half dozen times since I was sixteen or seventeen, and I know I like it."  And I suspect that's true for a lot of us who saw the movie when we were the right age to enjoy the horror, the comedy (it is a wickedly funny movie), the sex, and the rather pragmatic ending to the film.  Like the better horror films, you don't really worry about the bad science, the faults in the make-up or effects (and this is Rick Baker so the effects were completely groundbreaking for 1982 and still look mostly terrific.  @#$% CGI.) because its not about whether you can see the string on the bats or the seam in the creature's suit.  In a weird way, as expensive as a creature feature could be to produce, it really is about the story.

Octoberama! Veronica Lake!

When its Veronica Lake, we really don't know what else we could possibly ad.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

I do not travel much in a non-work-related capacity, but I hit London about a year and a half ago with The Admiral and my brother.

Jason and I were on a mad dash through the National Gallery, trying to see a Greatest Hits of the museum, and as we darted into one gallery I stopped cold in my tracks.

The picture at the far end of the gallery was The Execution of Lady Jane Grey (1833, Paul Delaroche).

When I considered doing a post, I was shocked to read that the painting is only 3 metres wide.  In my mind, it seemed twice that large.  Perhaps that's the impact of surprise.  Perhaps the website of the National Gallery is incorrect (it is not).  No matter the case, when I've tried to describe the painting, I am certain I have told people "that thing must have been 20 feet across".

Octoberama! Sundays with The Bride!

Here's a bevy of posters used to promote screenings of The Bride.

FYI - you can see The Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein on the the BIG SCREEN on October 24th!

Get tickets now at Fathom Events. These are two of my favorite films of all time. If you're in Austin and want to go, let me know!