Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Noir Watch: Brick (2005)


Watched:  04/24/2018
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  third
Decade:  2000's

There's probably plenty to say about this movie, but I'm saving it for a podcast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Wedded Bliss in New Orleans - Congrats Lauren and Steven



This weekend Jamie and I flew to New Orleans for the wedding of two folks I met via blogging and have become good pals with as we all lived in Austin for a few years before they departed for San Francisco and then NYC.  On Saturday Steven H and Lauren R tied the knot in City Park with yours truly officiating.

The Peristyle in City Park.  This is from the internet, but it is where the wedding occurred.


This was the third time I've officiated and every time it's no less nerve-wracking, and it is no less special as I've known all the couples well and know their stories.  It's truly an honor and privilege to be asked, and to get to play that role is a truly memorable experience.

It's also the best seat in the house, if you're going to show up for a wedding, anyway.  You want to see people having a moment as up close as it gets?  That's where you want to be.  You'll also see your friends looking as dashing and beautiful as they will ever be from, like, three feet away.

In short - I hope I didn't mess up the ceremony too much.

Monday, April 23, 2018

I think March 30th was the 15th Anniversary of the Start of my Blogging


So, I guess I missed my own 15th Anniversary of blogging.  We were over at League of Melbotis back then.  Here's a link to the first batch of posts.

Back then, kids, we had no facebook, no twitter, barely had iTunes and it took me forever to figure out how to upload photos and have a comment section.  I was a lad of about 27 and living as a Texas ex-pat in Arizona at the time.  I was busily learning about Superman and comics, and I was oh, so, sweetly naive.  Reading those early posts is sometimes a teeth-gnashing experience but also a journal of what was going on in my head in the blogging salad days.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Epic Watch: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)



Watched:  04/15/2018
Format:  Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  6th of 7th
Decade:  1960's

Barbara Bush, First Lady and First Mother, Merges With The Infinite



Former First Lady Barbara Bush has passed at the age of 92.   

Mrs. Bush was the wife of President George H.W. Bush, the 41st President, Vice-President under Ronald Reagan and former CIA Director. 

She was also the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd President and grandmother to Jenna and Barbara Bush. 

My politics don't always run in line with the Bush clan, but I liked Mrs. Bush.  You knew where she stood, you knew she had a sense of humor of sorts but didn't suffer fools.  She seemed to know her own mind and while she was a presence in the White House, she didn't rub me the wrong way that Nancy Reagan always did. 

And when Jenna was getting trashed at parties during her tenure at UT Austin and she and Barbara got busted for fake ID's at Chuy's... Mrs. Bush summoned those two miscreants, had a talk with them and got them permanently straightened out. 

Mrs. Bush used her platform as First Lady to support literacy programs and for civil rights, and in her later years didn't hold her tongue when it came to the national scene.   In retirement the Bush's called Houston home and could be seen at the Symphony, Astros games and around town.  She was reportedly gracious and kind.

I heard she once slipped her security detail and made her way to the George HW Bush Library in College Station where the couple have an apartment built right into the library (man, no I don't know why.  There's a nice few hotels in that town.).  What Mrs. Bush didn't know was that she needed to tell someone she was there, and she didn't, so she got locked in the library over night and surprised the heck out of everyone the next morning when they opened up.

I really hope that story is true. 

We'll miss you Mrs. Bush.  You were good people.  Even if your one very public feud was with Marge Simpson

I hope Millie is waiting for you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Action Comics Hits #1000 and 80 Years of Superman



April 18 marks both the 80th Anniversary of the release of Action Comics #1 and the release of Action Comics #1000.

Short a few documents written by fellows in wigs and waistcoats, there are few things in Western culture, Pop or otherwise, with so profound an impact or as wide a legacy as this simple, brief story by a couple of young men from Cleveland.

Superman's first appearance was just one of several of different genres appearing in Action Comics #1 (this link is currently good and includes the first Superman story)   To revisit the story, every time I read it I find it shocking how much of Superman springs to life there in those first few pages - an assemblage of parts of other characters and science fiction concepts forged into something entirely new and its own.

Doomed planet.  Locomotives and bullets.  Lois Lane as a tough girl reporter.  The cape, the boots, the forelock.   A newspaper setting.  The dual-identities of Clark Kent and Superman, Lois' failure to recognize her co-worker.  Superman/ Clark's immediate attraction to Lois.  Righting wrongs.

Superman.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

PODCAST: NathanC and Ryan talk Disney's curious 1980s - "The Black Hole", "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "Never Cry Wolf"



Nathan Cone joins us to discuss what the heck was going on at Disney in the 1970's and 80's that led to The Black Hole, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Never Cry Wolf. It's a fun ride full of Disney history and rife with 80's-ness!




On Stitcher:

On Google Play: Listen on Google Play Music

On the Event of my 43rd

Slippery People
Talking Heads



What about the time?
You were rollin' over
Fall on your face
You must be having fun
Walk lightly
Think of a time
You'd best believe
This think is real
Put away that gun
This part is simple
Try to recognize
What is in you mind
God help us
Help us loose our minds
These slippery people
Help us understand
What's the matter with him? He's alright
How do you know? The lord won't mind
Don't play no games, he's alright
Love from the bottom to the top
Turn like a wheel, he's alright
See for yourself, the Lord won't mind
We're gonna move right now
Turn like a wheel inside a wheel
I remember when
Sittin' in the tub
Pulled out the plug
The water was runnin' out
Cool down
Stop actin' crazy
They're gonna leave
And we'll be on our own
Seven times five
They were living creatures
Watch 'em come to life
Right before your eyes
Backslidin'
How do you do?
These slippery people
Gonna see you through
What's the matter with him? He's alright
How do you know? The lord won't mind
Don't play no games, he's alright
Love from the bottom to the top
Turn like a wheel, he's alright
See for yourself, the Lord won't mind
We're gonna move right now
Turn like a wheel inside a wheel
What's the matter with him? He's alright
How do you know? The lord won't mind
Don't play no games, he's alright
Love from the bottom to the top
Turn like a wheel, he's alright
See for yourself, the Lord won't mind
We're gonna move right now
Turn like a wheel inside a wheel
What's the matter with him? He's alright
How do you know? The lord won't mind
Don't play no games, he's alright
Love from the bottom to the top
Turn like a wheel, he's alright
See for yourself, the Lord won't mind
We're gonna move right now
Turn like a wheel inside a wheel
He's alright
Love from the bottom
Alright
Love from the bottom to the top
Alright
The love from the bottom
Right now
Turn like a wheel inside a wheel

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Happy National Pet Day from The Signal Watch


Happy National Pet Day from The Signal Watch.  This is your blogger with his two dogs, Scout (left) and Lucy (right). 

Despite the fact they wanted to go out at 3:30 in the morning again last night, I love these two dogs dearly.  They're older now, and it's both a heart breaking and lovely time in their lives - they are as sweet-natured as they've ever been, but you also see the sun is setting.  They can't talk about it, and they want to still be the same dogs they've always been, and they just get up every day and keep trying.  You just need to have more patience, help them when you can and love them as much as they love you.

I wouldn't trade these two knuckleheads for all the tea in China. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

PODCAST: Ryan and SimonUK watch "License to Kill" (1989)!




Watched:  04/07/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's (oh, so 1980's)


We all have our favorite Bond movie. SimonUK decides to die on the hill of "License to Kill" as Ryan hears him out. It's the 1989 "Bond goes rogue and goes after a Central American drug lord" Bond movie you've probably never seen and the second and final Timothy Dalton as our 00-agent.


SoundCloud:



Stitcher:


Google Play:
Click here to Google Play

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Signal Watch Reads: Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret #1 - 1931)


After completing the two Maigret mystery movies, I decided to check out some actual Inspector Maigret novels.  Not as big of a deal here in the states, but in Europe, they appear to be quite popular.  I found a set on deep discount and after waiting for a month for them to make their way from a shop in the UK to my doorstep (amazing world we live in, what one mouse click sets in motion), I got to crack the set for my plane ride to San Jose.

After reading Hammett and Chandler, it seemed fair to see what was going on with mystery books across the ocean.

Georges Simenon was a Belgian writing in French about a Parisian detective circa 1930 when this book appeared.  I am unclear when the translation occurred or how much was changed in meaning - I would expect that after 80 years, everyone is satisfied with what's on the page.  It seems reasonable to trust Penguin to do right by these books.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Inexplicable Watch: Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)



Watched:  04/03/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming (included in Prime)
Watched:  First
Decade:  1980's

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......................

Monday, April 2, 2018

Disney Watch: Never Cry Wolf (1983)


Watched:  04/02/2018
Viewing:  Second or third
Format:  Amazon streaming
Decade:  1980's

We're saving this one for a podcast

Audrey Hepburn Watch: Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)



Watched:  03/31/2018
Viewing:  third
Format:  TCM on DVR
Decade:  1960's

It's been a long time since I sat and actually watched Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).  Certainly more than a decade.  I am unsure if the movie still holds the allure for college-aged folk these days that it did in the mid-90's, but whatever was going on back then led to a catchy pop tune you're not supposed to like, but which is... fine? by white-boys-on-acoustic-guitars standards.  I saw the movie prior to the song's release, but I'll be honest - the song sorta made me want to rethink how much I wanted to advertise any feelings about the movie whatsoever.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Work Trip - We Were in Palo Alto/ Stanford



There's a bit of a travel season in Library-land, and it started this week (for me). 

This week was a 72 hour turn around to Stanford to meet up with colleagues, plot the future, etc...

In my 9 years of working at my last job, where I traveled quite a bit, I never dealt with anything but the barest of inconveniences while flying or driving.  And, the bit of travel I've had so far with this gig, it's been the smoothest of all possible sailing.

Nothing "bad" happened, but Wednesday I was set to fly out at 10:30 AM to be in San Jose pretty early (I think 2:30 Pacific) so I could get my hotel, get some work done, meet up with colleagues to do dinner.  Instead a pretty standard issue awful spring weather system cut through Texas.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

In 2018 I finally watched "Freaks and Geeks"



I work from home these days (yes, you are right, it is freakin' weird, man) and I generally take about 50 minutes for lunch each day.  That's, it turns out, enough time to catch part of two episodes of The Nanny* or the 12:00 news/ ambulance chaser commercials.

Over the years, few shows have been as consistently recommended to me by trusted sources as much as Freaks and Geeks.  The show was a primetime hour-long dramedy that aired for eighteen episodes around 99' - 00', which is why I didn't watch it at the time.  I was just very busy and not watching much primetime TV during that era.

Well, I have now spent my lunch hour and a few evenings watching it, so stop telling me what to do.

Happy Birthday, Jamie



Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sci-Fi Watch: The Black Hole (1979)


Watched:  03/24/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  2 and 1/6th
Decade:  1970's

(saving this one for a podcast)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Today is Joan Crawford's Birthday


I noticed a lot of chatter online today about Joan Crawford and then that TCM was running some of her movies (I didn't watch them, I was doing other things).  Today marks the 113th birthday of Joan Crawford, born in San Antonio in 1905 but mostly raised in Jamie's hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma. 

I am happy to do what I can to be one of the folks who would like folks to remember Crawford for her long career, ever-transforming screen persona, and - frankly - stunning screen presence before she wound up in some campy movie in her final working years and was badly memorialized by Dunaway.

Even in not-great movies, Crawford is a force.  All that is apparently a shadow of what she was like in person, and I am sure she would have terrified me if I'd met her, but since seeing Mildred Pierce during college, still one of my favorite films, I've been a fan.  But there are still a ton of her movies I've yet to see. 

Anyway, happy birthday, Ms. Crawford.  I hope you're having a Pepsi somewhere among your fans and friends.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

So, yeah, those bombs in Austin

photo from Daily Beast by Brendan Buress


When the first bomb went off, I assumed something was up in the victim's personal life - that some crazy story would come out about the person killed.  It's not just that it occurred in Austin - where we have a low crime rate, our organized crime is low key, and our murder rate very low for a city of this size - it's that it occurred out in the 'burbs up north.

Really, the bombing felt like a freak incident.  The local press had nothing to go on, so no one paid much attention.  What do you even say when this happens and then... nothing?

Fast forward a week and bombs two and three went off on the same day.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

PODCAST: Simon and I talk "Big Trouble in Little China", "Buckaroo Banzai" and "War Games"




Buckaroo Banzai
Already covered

War Games
Watched:  03/17/2018
Viewing:  Fifth or Sixth
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse/ Village
Decade:  1980's

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Watched:  03/18/2018
Viewing:  Seventh or Eighth
Format:  Shout Factory BluRay
Decade:  1980's

Join SimonUK and I as we ponder some cult favorites of the 1980's!  And, boy howdy, do we go all over the map on this one.  But, mostly, we stay on task.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Stephen Hawking Has Merged With the Infinite



Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed

Hawking was not just one of the finest minds of our era, but a brilliant communicator for science with a dry sense of humor.  I don't need to remind you that Hawking suffered from motor neuron disease, but he served as an example of overcoming those challenges and how a mind perseveres. 




Sunday, March 11, 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Musical Watch: My Fair Lady (1964)

some day, we should do a deep dive into the work of illustrator Bob Peak

Watched: 03/04/2018
Viewing: Probably the fourth time
Format: DVR off TCM
Decade: 1960's

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sunday, March 4, 2018

PODCAST: AmyC and Ryan talk "Black Panther"!



Hey, it's an all-new podcast!

AmyC and I got together and talked Black Panther. Join us as we chat on the movie and cultural force! Sort of Guest Starring Scooter, the very nice kitty.

Folks are generally really enjoying this movie, as did we, and that's uncharted territory here at the Signal Watch Podcast.


Friday, March 2, 2018

Second Maigret Post Up at Texas Public Radio



Watched:  02/24/2017
Format:  Kino-Lorber BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

I watched not one, but TWO Maigret mystery movies.  And, shockingly, wrote them both up.

Here's my post over at Texas Public Radio.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)


Watched:  02/27/2018
Format:  Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  Oh, probably the 12th or 13th, at least
Decade:  1980's

Oh, what to say about Big Trouble in Little China (1986)?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Marvel Watch: Black Panther (2018)



Watched:  02/15/2018 and 02/25/2018
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane/ Alamo Village
Viewing:  First/ Second
Decade:  2010's

I'm supposed to schedule with AmyC to do a podcast on this film.  I need to get that done.  In the meantime...

Writing about Black Panther (2018) is, perhaps, not terribly useful at this point.  The movie is a legitimate phenomenon in box office and in cultural conversation.  Both of these things are yet another sign among many of the past few years that we're undergoing some tectonic shifts in Hollywood, unlearning the rules of the industry when it comes to what audiences actually do want.  As of this writing, Black Panther had raked in $700 million worldwide, and, if my sold out 7:00 on a Sunday show was any indication, shows no signs of stopping.

As a white dude who is as much of a white dude as you're like to meet, I get the basic contours of what this film has meant to a Black audience, in America and abroad, but I won't pretend to have been more than an observer.*  By this late date, it's possible or likely you've seen photos of people who've "dressed" for the movie, watched video of kids attending crowd-funded screenings... and more than likely you've read one or five of the dozens and dozens of think pieces circulating.  So I don't know what new I can add, and I'll try not to belabor those points.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

We Talk Winter Olympics 2018

whole lot of skatin' goin' on

I didn't write about it, but most of our evenings - and some of our day times - of late have been filled with hours and and hours of Winter Olympics.  Snowboarding, ski jumping, luge, skeleton, curling, some hockey, and lots and lots of ice skating.

Jamie and I have been together since 1995, and prior to this, I know I watched *some* Winter Games, but nothing like what happens when Jamie gets Olympics Fever.  She particularly loves herself some ice skating, and for maybe the first decade-plus of our relationship, I sort of watched skating with her during the Olympics, but I found the scoring system arbitrary and open to (to put it politely) interpretation, and the commentators on NBC grated like parmesan over pasta.  But this is our sixth winter Olympics.  I am now pretty good at watching skating, I guess, and can see it as a sport.*

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bat Watch: Gotham By Gaslight (2018)


Watched: 02/23/2018
Viewing: First
Format: Amazon Streaming
Decade: 2010's


Way, way back in - I think - early high school, the slim, prestige format comic Gotham By Gaslight arrived in comic shops, and as a good little comics-kid, I picked up my copy, read it, loved it, and it was probably in a longbox until the great purge a few years ago.  I am 95% certain I have it in a collection somewhere amongst the Batbooks, but its been two decades since I've read the thing.

Like everyone else, I was batty for Gotham by Gaslight upon arrival.  It featured art by Mike Mignola and a pretty decent story by Brian Augustyn, and I think it took off much better than DC figured.  This put the idea of Elseworlds into DC's head, and for the next two decades we got endless versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and sometimes others, in various periods, geographies and genres.  It took a concept like "but what if Superman emerged in conjunction with, say, War of the Worlds!?" or "Batman, but a pirate" and sold a couple of prestige-formatted issues.  Or, you got some "what if?" sort of story, like "what if Krypton never exploded?"

Some of it was great, some of it serviceable or bad.  Some of it got way overhyped (everyone needs to relax about @#$%ing Red Son.  It's not that good.).  But Gotham By Gaslight started it all, and - for my money - though I haven't actually re-read it in two decades - was among the very best.

The movie is okay.

Friday, February 23, 2018

French Detective Watch: Maigret Sets a Trap (1958)


Watched:  02/17/2018
Format:  Kino-Lorber BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

I am reviewing a pair of excellent films for Texas Public Radio, based on a series of novels by a Belgian writing about a French Detective. 

Here is the review for the first movie.  Thanks to TPR for the opportunity!

Monday, February 19, 2018

President's Day: Lucky #14, Franklin Pierce



editor's note:  So, what's weird is that every President's Day I do one of these posts on a president I've not read too much about.  Sure, it's a bare amount of research, but it's more than you've done, you ingrates.  I got my draft together last night, and today I've had, like, three different sources either joking or bitching about Franklin Pierce across my social media.  So I tapped into something.  We all hate this guy.  Happy President's Day!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

PODCAST with SimonUK: Bond Watch - A View to a Kill (1985)



Watched:  02/18/2018
Format:  DVD at my house
Viewing:  oh, probably the 7th or 8th
Decade:  1980's




(this one is Safe for Work!) SimonUK - a genuine British person - joins Ryan for a View to a Kill (1985), Moore's final Bond. It may not be the best Bond, or even a good Bond, but it's a fun Bond. We'd like to say we stick to the topic at hand, but we end up covering a wide range of all things Bond, and - at one point - diverge into Gremlins.

These things happen.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Noir Watch: Night and the City (1950)


Watched:  02/16/2018
Format:  TCM Noir Alley DVR (from November.  Yeesh.)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

At this age, it's not often you wrap up a movie and are pretty sure you've just seen one of the best movies of its genre.  But there you have it.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Arnie Watch: The Last Action Hero (1993)



Watched:  02/12/2018
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1990's

My Favorite Part of "Justice League"

Justice League (2017) is a mess.  But then it has these great "actually, some of us know what the DCU looks like and what makes it work" moments.

This bit is a post start-of-credits scene, but one of two.  It's also my favorite part of the movie and why I'll likely be back if this is where the movies are headed.



I just want to contrast this with the incredibly murder-y Batman meeting Superman.  BTW, Superman was just letting Batman murder people, like, eight seconds before so he could work in a cool pose.  And, then, later, Batman tries very hard to murder Superman. 

A lot of Justice League is unearned - like anyone missing Superman when his very presence just destroyed Metropolis twice.  But Henry Cavill very clearly always had an idea of how his Superman could work, and it's a lot of fun to watch.  A sort of dry humor that plays off how seriously everyone takes him.  His take in this movie, when he finally gets to show up, matches the character of the comics surprisingly well. 

Their Flash is basically Wally West, and I don't get why they jettisoned everything about Barry Allen that's been established for decades, but he's our kid on the learning curve, and that's sort of fun.

And one of the most DC things you can do is ask Superman and Flash to race, so - thanks, movie!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PODCAST with AmyC! Regret Watch: Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

(blergh)

Watched: 02/11/2018
Format: Alamo Drafthouse
Viewing: First. And, God willing, last.
Decade: 2010's

Hey!  As a magical treat for your Valentine's Day, we have something extra special for you.

This weekend AmyC and I returned to the local cinema for a screening of Fifty Shades Freed (2018), the final installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy.*  Again *fair warning* the movies are Not Safe For Work, and neither are these podcasts.  If you don't want to hear about sexual matters, general naughtiness and some light S&M, then this is your chance to move along.

There was a lot to talk about, so we wound up breaking this up into two completely separate podcasts.  Get comfortable, each one runs about 40 minutes.

Our first installment covers some questions sent in, and contains a more general conversation about Fifty Shades in the context of real world events.



Our second installment covers the events of Fifty Shades Freed, tying things up.  So to speak.



My eternal thanks to AmyC.  We've greatly appreciated her time and patience on this, not to mention her wisdom and willingness to share.

*please, someone tell me this is the last one

Monday, February 12, 2018

Friday, February 9, 2018

Thursday, February 8, 2018

"Planet of the Apes" 50th Anniversary


So, Shoemaker sent me a text alerting me that today is the 50th Anniversary of the Premier of Planet of the Apes!  I've found three completely different release dates, and February 8th is absolutely one of them.  I wasn't born yet, so I don't know, but I expect this is the Premier date the rest were release windows across the US.  Movie distribution used to be a bit different.