Saturday, November 21, 2015

Turkey Day 21

First two episodes of "Marvel's Jessica Jones"

Here is where I don my comic hipster cap and harken back to the days when I was picking up Brian Michael Bendis' Alias during its initial run.  Yeah, yeah.  I was reading Alias before reading Alias was cool.*

You have to keep in mind, and the kids will never believe this, but Bendis did not arrive on this Earth fully formed as a successful writer of Avengers and X-Men.  He started in indie comics (if you're never read Torso and Goldfish, correct that situation), with a particularly noirish/ crime-ridden bent to his work, which was how I picked it up.  It's good stuff.

Marvel was in a really weird spot when he showed up.  The Spider-Clone debacle,  merging with an action figure company and, basically, the 90's had nearly done the entire company in.  At the time, they were a publicly traded company, and their stock totally, totally tanked.  It was ridiculous.  For all the warm fuzzies the kids have about that 1992-style X-Men of Many Pockets, that shit almost killed Marvel the first time around under the stewardship of Bob Harras, currently steward of DC Comics (hey, DC, how are sales over there, pals?).

So, by the turn of the Millennium, new leadership was installed and Marvel was trying all sorts of stuff, including not-quite-Vertigo type titles under the Knights (basically PG-13) and Max (basically R-rated) banners.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Turkey Day 19

On Current Political Situations

Ads like this used to run in Superman comics quite often in post-WWII America.

And, you know, lil' Kal-El was a refugee, too.

Thanks to SW for the image.

Update - I am told this is from World’s Finest #111, which would be about August 1960
Script: Jack Schiff
Pencils: Curt Swan

Dog Watch: Best in Show (2000)

Back during my young-adulthood, Christopher Guest and his band of actors were putting out a fresh movie every few years as a sort of improv-comedy troupe.  Guest had become pretty famous as part of the cast of This is Spinal Tap, the 1980's death metal spoof doc.  He took the formula and really ran with it.

The list of those movies is pretty short.  

Waiting for Guffman - 1996
Best in Show - 2000
A Mighty Wind - 2003
For Your Consideration - 2006

After a long hiatus from these folks, we got the HBO mini-series Family Tree in 2013, but I hadn't heard about much else.  I heavily associate these movies with my movie-going with Jamie.  We were big, big fans.

Back in 2000, Jamie and I saw Best in Show, and what we'd liked so much in Waiting for Guffman seemed to have continued, and/ or gotten better.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Turkey Day 18

Comic Collector's Corner: On the Accumulation of Things and When Your Comics Own You

One benefit of being a state employee is the accumulation of vacation days.  I basically earn enough vacation that "banking" vacation isn't really something I worry about.  Now, finding time to take days off - that's another problem.  But, way back in July or so, I asked my boss for days off in November.

I took a few days before the weekend and two more after.  I spent Day 1 (a) working, anyway, but on my sofa, and (b) realizing I was actually pretty tired, and so I just sat there.  But on Day 2, I got going on the project I was home for - dealing with my comic collection for the first time since the beginning of The Great Culling, a year-long period during which something like 20 boxes, long and short, went out the door and became dispersed into the back-issue bins of Austin Books and Comics.*

Last summer I had some long talks with Stuart about the nature of collecting, aging into a point where you realize you might not need this stuff anymore, etc... all while standing in the middle of the Hollywood Museum in Metropolis, Illinois.  Stuart's a bit ahead of the curve from me on this.  He's got stuff, but he's divested a good chunk of his comics, etc.. which I feel I've made progress on, but it's an imperfect system.

Purchasing far, far fewer comics these days than I used to certainly expedited the process this go-round, but the idea that I had fewer comics to wrangle also made me lazy and sloppy on a day-to-day basis.  I just hadn't managed the loose comics well at all.

this comic may or may not be somewhere in my pile of comics

It would be a great thing to come to comics in the modern era.  So long as Comixology exists, the money you spend means the comic you own is really a flipped bit associated with your user profile somewhere out there in the cloud, granting you access to that digital content.  No bags and boards and boxes.  No figuring out if you remembered to inventory into that online system you pay for.  Most importantly, the piles of comics you regret purchasing wouldn't wind up as something you'd feel you still had to curate and manage (and I do throw some in the recycling.  Don't think I don't.)

After all, when you're trying things out on the regular, you get a lot of detritus in the collection.

I was probably 31 before I had the conversation with my LCS manager back in Phoenix that set me thinking a lot more strategically about actually "collecting" versus hoarding.  At the time, I was most certainly just hoarding as I was in a race to try to "get" all of DC Comics and most of Marvel, buying as many comics as I could afford.

screw it. Let's watch Mickey Mouse

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wherein I just gush about "The Flash"

I keep meaning to write a post about Fargo,currently airing on FX.  But, for right now, I just recommend you watch the hell out of that show.  But I suspect writing about Fargo will take a super long time, I'm not going to do that tonight.  And, I'm not going to talk about Supergirl, which was actually not half-bad on Monday.

Instead, because its a Tuesday and its fun as hell to discuss, let's talk about The Flash.

this is not the actual Flash, btw

There are a large number of reasons I tune in every week to see the Scarlet Speedster, and I don't think I talk about it enough, but Grant Gustin is actually really pretty great as Barry Allen.  The guy has taken a character that comic nerds always insisted was "boring" (a diagnosis I never fully understood), and found the kind of guy it would take to be The Flash.  I know, it's crazy to think that a level-headed person with a sense of responsibility would put on tights as readily as the now omni-present anti-hero, but Gustin and a crack writing team have managed to make Barry a buyable, believable character in the middle of a very, very strange world.

And, speaking of strange...

Turkey Day 17

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Turkey Day 15

Signal Watch Reads: Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson (audiobook)

I'd been intending to read Isaac's Storm for years, probably since its initial publication in 2000, 100 years after the actual storm in question.

If you've not heard of the 1900 Storm, it was the Katrina of its time.  In September of 1900, a hurricane passed through the Gulf of Mexico, gaining energy and striking the boomtown of Galveston, Texas, then considered to be a growing metropolis.  Estimates of casualties are always well into the thousands, from 6-8000.   When you consider that the census had just been taken, estimating the entire population of the island at 37,000 - it could have been even worse had Galveston continued to grow.

Isaac's Storm uses meteorologist Isaac Cline as a fulcrum to explore the state of the infant science of meteorology in 1900, the why's and wherefore's of the early national efforts on this front, the growth of Galveston in the late 19th Century and the culture of the town, and the hurricane and its aftermath.

Opera Watch! We take in some culture and see "Tosca" at the Houston Grand Opera

So, it's pretty hard to call me an opera fan.  I mean, the only opera I've seen live in the past 30 years has been Das Rheingold.  For reasons I don't even remember, I had to give up my tickets to see Der Walkurie this year, and if Jamie's enthusiasm to Das Rheingold was any indication, it's not really worth the weekend trip to Houston to go catch parts 3 and 4.

But, you know, I think its not imperative, but a good idea, to try to see famous works for yourself.  That's kind of the stage of life I'm in now I guess.  And among operas, Tosca is more or less a household word.  Fortunately, I'm culturally illiterate, so I wasn't actually sure what the word "Tosca" meant when I plunked my butt in the seat at the Wortham Center to see the Houston Grand Opera Saturday night.

Little background:  a fellow I was pals with in high school is now a, like, serious opera-performer-type-person, Weston Hurt (ask for him by name)!  Weston has performed all over the US and abroad, but he'd never wound up playing Houston Grand Opera until this recent run of Tosca at the HGO.  And while I've watched YouTube clips of him and whatnot, I hadn't seen him sing since high school where he kind of shamed everyone else during a musical revue where he led the chorus in "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Mis and sounded like a grown-up-type singer among a herd of high school squawkers (I was working crew for that show, so I got to hear it over.  And over.  And over.)  He also did a little Country and Western at the talent show, which left me baffled, but the guy has pipes.