Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rocky Mountain Hi!

I'm in Denver from tomorrow afternoon until Monday afternoon for work. Attending and participating in a conference.

I've never been to The Mile High City, but I certainly hope to join this club they have that I keep hearing is pretty great. Everything I know about Denver can be summed up this way:

That Elway Fellow is like Football Elvis

My buddy Matt hails from Denver

It seems to be home to the grossest family of beers I can think of

This dude is really named "Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr." and went to Texas Tech University

I won't actually learn anything else about Denver as I foresee a lot of the Westin convention center, cab rides, air ports and airplanes in my future.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Movie Watch: Sleepwalk With Me (2012)

I listen to as many or more podcasts and audiobooks on my commute and driving around the state for work as I listen to music.  Over the years, one of the podcasts I've listened to regularly is This American Life from NPR, which occasionally features work by comedian Mike Birbiglia.  Birbigilia's stuff always feels very honest, a sort of milquetoasty Louis CK with a painful level of self-awareness.

Birbiglia has delivered his monologues on air/ podcast before regarding his issues with sleepwalking, so when I heard he was doing a movie on the topic, I more or less figured I knew what it was going to be.  So, yeah, lo and behold that was pretty much exactly right.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Novemberama! Joan Crawford!

Joan really looks like she knows her way around a sharp, deadly knife...

No.  Just, absolutely, no.  We are not doing this.

Happy Turkey Month, everybuddy!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Close-Out

Well, that was a whole lot of Halloween on this blog.  I hope you kids enjoyed it.

I figured I might as well do a real Halloween blowout here once, so, that was it.  I like me some Holidays, for sure, but Halloween and it's focus on lightweight scares, costumes and candy has always been a favorite.

In days of yore I might have tried to make more of Halloween night itself, but these days I'm pretty happy just to spend the evening in the driveway and get the chance to see the kids come up in their costumes.  And this year we had a heard of turtles.  Man, there were a lot of kids.

Some great costumes from Adventure Time characters to Kermit the Frog to Witches and Werewolves to somebody named "Minecraft Steve", who was the kid across the street with a box on his head.  And, because memes never really die, we had The Honey Badger.

Jason and Amy came by, so we had some company as we handed stuff out to the trick-or-treaters.  It's always more fun with company.

Anyway, it is a weird Halloween partially because the next several days are going to be nuts.  I have serious meetings at work followed by a work trip to Denver that will last all of 36 hours and end on Monday.

Hope your Halloween was fun!

If what I saw at CVS when I popped in this evening was any indication, we are now officially in the Christmas season.

Happy Halloween, Y'all!

About this time you people should be heading home to deal with little ones and to hand out candy.  I hope your Halloween season was spooktacular!

Trick or Treat, smell my feet.

Halloween! "Frankenstein" and Edgar Winter!

If you finish listening to this all the way through, get yourself some Halloween candy as a reward.

Happy Halloween! Sheila Frankenstein - Von Helsing!

Hi!  I'm Sheila Frankenstein!

this happened.

Happy Halloween! Monster Mash!

You are now legally allowed to play this song until midnight, and then it needs to go back in the vault for another year.

Happy Halloween! The Fonz!

The Fonz in costume

Happy Halloween! Lee & Cushing!

If you have to ask, you may Google it.

Happy Halloween! Vincent Price!

It would simply be bad form to celebrate Halloween without a nod to Mr. Price.

Halloween! Garth Marenghi's Darkplace!

If you've never watched Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, I cannot recommend this BBC show highly enough.

Here's the first episode.

Halloween! Mickey Mouse in "The Haunted House"!

Back when Mickey was still scrappy and not afraid to throw a punch.

Happy Halloween! Paul Lynde!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Obviously, I don't need to tell you about the horrible storm and its aftermath

Holy cats, y'all.  I confess that I thought the storm, Hurricane Sandy, was going to be the bajillionth false alarm the 24-hour news cycle mutants had thrown at us in the past few years.  Keep in mind, I'm the guy who refused to leave the house for most of a Saturday because I thought I was going to see a tsunami hit Hawaii and then it was just some mildly choppy waves.  That was a tremendous let down.

In retrospect, that probably doesn't make me sound like a good person, and I probably could have kept that to myself.

But Sandy was and is all too real.  I don't need to tell you that.

I am a little disappointed that somehow Disney buying Star Wars seems like bigger news than the potential weather-related damage to our economy, infrastructure and political system, but: priorities, I guess.

Signal Watches: For Your Height Only


How do you make a Bond-knock-off better?  You cast a homunculus of an action star who the audience will adore.  I am, of course, speaking of Tom Cruise in all four Mission Impossible movies, but that's not what we watched this weekend.

Saturday night Doug was here, and that meant he came with media fit to seer the brain.  In our case, it was the 1981 spy thriller For Your Height Only, starring internationally renowned superstar, Weng Weng.

For years The Alamo Drafthouse has shown clips of this film as part of their pre-show, enough so that I knew exactly what this movie was when it started.  And, frankly, if they don't show some of this before SkyFall, I'll be shocked.

I've now watched this movie, and I could not tell you what it was about.  Golden banana thieves?  Evil bakers?  Kidnappers?

Everything about this movie holds together a bit like when you're in college and you watch a movie while drinking and try to remember the plot later.  I was stone cold sober, and yet trying to hold the movie in my mind is like waking from a sweaty fever dream wrapped in pool of prescription medicated hallucinations.

I do know the characters were snappy dressers.

only bad guys would so brazenly mix stripes and patterns

October Watch: House (1986)

I kind of suspect this was a "you sort of had to be there" thing in 1986.  I think I was a full 45 minutes into the movie before I figured out it was supposed to be funny.

Sorry to those of you who have a fondness for this movie.  I think my comedy/ horror allotment was already filled first, in 1987, by Monster Squad, and then in 1993 when I saw Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

Monkeybrain Comics Does an Amazing Thing

Full disclosure, I have, of course, met Chris Roberson and Allison Baker.  You are unlikely to find two more decent folks in any setting.

A while back, as iZombie was wrapping up (a series you can and still should pick up in trade paper back format), Chris made a statement about wanting to see companies do right by creators, and that he did not feel that was happening in mainstream comics.

Of course my fandom for Superman feels increasingly tainted by the ongoing litigation between the Siegels/ Shusters and Warner Bros., who own and operate DC Entertainment.  And you don't have to look further than Steve Ditko or Bill Finger to see how credit and financial compensation rarely goes where it could or should in the realm of intellectual property.

Chris and Allison understand the change in access and the opportunity presented by digital comics and platforms like Comixology.  They also understand fair agreements with creators.  They launched Monkeybrain Comics not so long ago in order to provide a home for creators where they could have a shake at publishing their own work with a fair deal in place and be on the digital shelf with other books.

Very cool.  I was excited, and I'm a fan of a large chunk of Monkeybrain's output.

Now, however, Chris and Allison took it up a notch.  For the month of November, they're giving all profits headed for Monkeybrain to The Hero Initiative.  I'll let their press release describe what this is and what it means, but I will say:  It's nice to see the rare opportunity for comics folk on the business side do something far above and beyond what business is usually willing to do for their own contributors, let alone contributors who never worked with or for the company.  Monkeybrain is supporting the folks who gave us, as readers, the stories and characters we've loved since childhood by supporting The Hero Initiative.

This is what heroism looks like.  Other publishers, especially those who have built their companies upon stories and characters taking steps beyond human to help others, who became empires built on the work of those they never offered anything beyond the next check for the next story...  they haven't quite sorted this out yet.  I imagine a legion of attorneys advises against any acknowledgment of contribution.  In any case, they aren't famed for stepping up and doing the right thing.

Monkeybrain is a new publisher.  This decision should tell us all a lot about what they value, and that they've built a moral compass directly into the DNA of their company.

Below the jump: the press release

Octoberama! War of the Worlds on the Radio!

On October 30th, 1938, the Mercury Theater performed a radio show adaptation of HG Wells' War of the Worlds.  I expect that most of you will have heard of this presentation.

On the eve of Halloween, 1938 - war brimming over in Europe, Asia in chaos, science and engineering on the march despite a decade of financial instability - Americans tuned into the radio for their after dinner relaxation.  Sure, everyone knew Halloween was coming, but like the first April Fool's joke sprung on you each year, it may not be the first thing on your mind.

The broadcast was the one that supposedly set the nation into a panic and had people driving around, shooting at water towers and running from imaginary space men.  It also ended in folks calling for the head of Orson Welles - well before he decided not to sell any wine before its time or voice the monster planet in the Transformers Movie.

Monday, October 29, 2012

AXE COP. NICK OFFERMAN. GO!!! (Halloween, Cartoons and Awesomeness)

If you're like me, you're busily trying to model your entire work persona off Ron Swanson, head of the Parks Department on NBC's Parks and Rec.*  Ron Swanson is played by the amazing Nick Offerman, the man manly enough to be married to Megan Mullally.

Mr. Offerman is now also The Voice of AxeCop.**

Here is the first clip from the upcoming show, an adaptation of one of the "Ask AxeCop" mailbag sections popular in the comic strip.

Bear in mind, the strip is written by a 6 year old. That may fill in some important blanks as you consider the mind-boggling sequence about to beset your eyes.

*and, seriously, Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows right now
**thanks to Kristen B for the link!

October Watch: House of Wax (1953)

When I was, maybe, 13, House of Wax (1953) showed on local UHF affiliate, KBVO.

It scared the bejeezus out of me.

I haven't seen it again since, nor did I catch the 00's-era remake featuring... sigh.  Paris Hilton.

House of Wax was my first full Vincent Price film, and while it may not be as straight up creepy as House on Haunted Hill or weird as The Fly, it still freaked me out pretty well when I was the right age.  It also gave me a lot of respect for Vincent Price as someone other than a guest star on The Muppet Show and Batman.

The film, while gothic in spirit, is shot during the era where Technicolor required a lot of light, and movies were offering up all sorts of color to compete with the monochromatic invasion of the television screen.  The movie was originally seen in 3D, but I've only ever seen it on television, so...

Octoberama! Donald and the Nephews!

and a cartoon!

October Read: At the Mountains of Madness (1930's)

Despite his profound impact on much of the fiction I consume, I've never read or consumed any actual HP Lovecraft.  Like everything else, I just never got around to it.

What I'd read about Lovecraft's writing was interesting.  Even by his fans, he's not considered to know much about how to turn a phrase.  The term "purple prose" comes up a lot in the sniffier descriptions, but everyone acknowledges his wild imagination and ability to generate a palpable sense of dread that other writers strive for, but force with nameable threats and terrors.

With Halloween coming, I figured it would be a good time to finally delve in and check out what all the fuss was about.

I will not say At the Mountains of Madness is my new favorite novel(la).  But it is a fascinating work - complete in its mythology, striking in its building of atmosphere and dread, and it feels like a single man's efforts to restrain an entire culture's imagination and mythologies, pouring them out onto the page with force rather than cultivating smaller ideas and lulling the reader with craft.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

FYI: A Personal Note

Today is the "dating anniversary" of Jamie and myself.  Today marks 17 years of together-ness, at least as Jamie marks it.

We don't make a big deal out of it anymore.  Wedding anniversaries are generally seen as more important.

Here's to 17 years of love, true love.

what I think she was saying was "oh, thank you for taking my picture, my love!"

Octoberama! Sundays with The Bride! Part 2!

As we head into Halloween, let's just celebrate with some Bride Miscellenia and fan art from around Tumblr!

As Ms. Lanchester celebrates her 110th somewhere in The Infinite, clearly I'm not the only one with a thing for girls with interesting hair-do's.

If you didn't read our post on Ms. Lanchester earlier today, please take a moment to do so.  It's her birthday.

from the Mondo Universal Horror celebration.  Saw this in person, and it is absolutely stunning.
This is a collection of fan-art of varying provenance - some official, most not.  From what I can tell, somehow The Bride and The Monster have become icons for the rockabilly-retro crowd as it exists in 2012, applying late 50's aesthetic to the 1935 character with the tattoo sensibilities of today.

Go, pop-culture.

Octoberama! Sundays with The Bride - Happy Birthday, Elsa

Last week, JimD emailed me and asked if I planned on posting about Elsa Lanchester's 110th Birthday, which happens to fall on today, the day I'd planned the finale post for Sundays with The Bride.  Honestly, I had no idea the birthday was coming, so, everybuddy, take a moment and thank JimD and then take another moment and appreciate cosmic happenstance.

I had another post ready, and so you'll still see that today, later, but as it's Elsa's birthday, we need to give the lady her due.

We all grew up seeing clips from The Bride of Frankenstein, or saw the role of The Bride parodied in other films, in cartoons, or pop art.  The role passed into western iconography as much as the rest of the Universal Horror pack of monsters, but - oddly - The Bride appears for a total of one scene in this single film.  The Bride has no speaking lines, and, of all the Universal Horror "monsters", she is the only one which hurts nobody.

But that's only if you don't count breaking hearts.