Saturday, March 13, 2021
Friday, March 12, 2021
29.3 million cases of COVID. Now over 530,000 dead as of 11:37 PM on 03/11/2021.
Since I quit writing posts we had an election, and Trump was shown the door. But then we had an attempt at a violent overthrow of the US Congress as they moved to certify the electoral college on January 6th of this year. You can look it up - it was very bad. In the wake of the election loss, the GOP has more or less dropped the final bits of illusion suggesting they give a shit about democracy or decency. Meanwhile, the Democrats remain the same spineless twits they've always been.
Vaccines started appearing at the beginning of the year, and as of this writing, Jamie has her first shot, my parents and my brother have both of theirs, as well as my father-in-law and cousin. The way they've rolled it out is intended to first serve the most vulnerable as the disease tends to hit, so first take care of older people and people with medical conditions. But even as I write this, the picture is changing on a daily basis. The White House is working on its plan to get vaccines available, and it seems to be actually working. Meanwhile, the governor of Texas decided he's done with COVID and we're opening everything back up. So, look for our numbers to spike uncontrollably for a while.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Monday, December 7, 2020
Sunday, August 23, 2020
PODCAST: "The Straight Story" (1999) - featuring an interview with screenwriter John Roach! Disney History w/ NathanC and Ryan!
Director: David Lynch
For more ways to listen
NathanC returns for more Disney History - and this time he brings an interview with screenwriter John Roach! We're discussing the only G-Rated entry in the filmography of David Lynch, bringing his brilliance to a completely different kind of story. And - we have an interview with one of the key storytellers! Get some insight into this remarkable film courtesy a screenwriter who was there from start to finish! It's a very different (and special!) episode of The Signal Watch.
Laurens Walking - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST
Country Theme - Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story OST
Playlist - Disney History w/ NathanC:
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Director: Don Hahn
Let me start by saying: in a lot of ways Disney+ is much better than I ever expected. I've enjoyed the Disney "from the vaults" content, catching new material, behind the scenes at parks, movies, etc... with One Day at Disney and two series - one on the making of The Mandalorian and an exceptional doc series on the making of Frozen 2.
And, of course, then the release of Hamilton. I haven't watched Black is King yet, but that's a pretty big line in the sand for the Disney brand to put out on their flagship, no-doubt-this-is-Disney streaming service when Disney has usually just avoided anything that invites cultural critique.*
But Disney+ putting a doc about Howard Ashman, a gay man who died of complications from AIDs at the height of the epidemic, and being honest and open about his sexuality and struggle with the disease, is... kind of mind-blowing. There's something about the platform of their own streaming service and that you've already paid your money to have it that seems to have freed up the Disney Corp to tell some stories well worth telling I don't know we'd see if they didn't have this avenue.
The doc, itself, is the life story of Howard Ashman who - paired with Alan Menken - wrote the musical numbers for Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. He also wrote and originally produced Little Shop of Horrors - which was his big breakout hit off-Broadway.
It's really a pretty great story, well told, and has the heart-breaking knowledge of what happened to Ashman in the back of your head. And, sadly, the fact he was the musical partner of Menken and that he died of AIDS was all I'd known about him until watching the doc.
I don't want to get into details too much, but as loving as it is, it isn't shy about who Howard Ashman was and doesn't make him into a saint - while illustrating pretty clearly what sort of mind he had that helped push the Disney cartoon back into prestige territory (and why Disney was flailing at the time he showed up).
For fans of animation, musical theater, or Disney-history - well worth the viewing.
*Disney tends to get lambasted no matter what they do, and I've stood there and listened to lines of people parrot back the criticisms of Aladdin, Lion King and Little Mermaid during 3 summers at The Disney Store. I would invariably listen and then say "well, I make $4.50 an hour working here and while I'll tell my manager... really, your best bet is writing the studio in California."
Monday, July 20, 2020
Watched: July 3, 2020
Decade: 2020/ 2010
Director: Thomas Kail
Certainly the most discussed musical in decades - and with far better reason than most (whether you like it or not) - Hamilton had become a cultural event well before Disney+ released a recorded version of the show on the platform on July 3rd. This was not a film adaptation like we've seen in the last few years - like Les Miserables or even Cats. Movie stars who can carry a tune were not swapped out for the Broadway cast, and we're not decades away from shows debuting, making a splash, touring and becoming so ubiquitous, you might as well make a movie because why not?
Instead, Hamilton (2020) as released is the version shot on stage roughly four years ago, starring mostly the original cast, which - since 2016 - has since scattered to the four winds, seeking their Hamilton-derived fortunes (I actually like Leslie Odom Jr's new record, Mr., for whatever that is worth to you). The film existing is a wonderful change for Broadway, who has told themselves lots of stories about the need for the immediacy of theater's live experience and has usually only dropped original cast recordings as documents of how a show was conceived and presented. Directed by the show's actual director, Thomas Kail, the "film" of Hamilton is thoughtfully, and, indeed, artfully shot. Heck, last week "One Perfect Shot", a twitter account with the best in cinematography, included a shot from Hamilton.
Friday, July 17, 2020
I can't begin to sum up the importance and achievements of John Lewis, and what he has meant to this country. He has passed at the age of 80, still calling for a better way, every day, to the end.
From the New York Times
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Director: Nadia Hallgren
I'm aware Michelle Obama is a polarizing figure, what with encouraging kids to eat healthy and being an interesting, intelligent counterpart to her husband. But, hoo boy, in a period of American journalism which seems distant and we can hope is on the ash-heap, the press sure tried to find ways to make her a villain.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
It started with protests in several cities in the wake of the George Floyd murder. George Floyd was a Black man apprehended by police under suspicion he'd floated a bogus $20 bill. For this, he was pinned to the ground by his throat beneath the knee of a man with a gun, who was supported by three of his fellow officers, as the suspect begged for air. This went on for almost 9 minutes.
The murder, and it was murder, occurred in broad daylight and on camera, carried out by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A lot of people will try to call what occurred as a police officer pinned a man's neck to the ground with his knee for 9 minutes something else. Maybe they'll say it was unintentional (the video suggests otherwise), or just breaking some eggs to make an omelet. But in the era of cameras everywhere, the past fifteen years taught us how to pay attention to how people are policed and how police do their work. And how police officers do not police each other.
Monday, May 18, 2020
I don't really know how else to interpret the furious wrath of church ladies in JC Penny tops screaming about wearing life-saving facemasks. People told their lives depend on distance and patience rushed to state capitols with rifles to stand elbow to elbow with strangers, their faces bared to cameras and virus particles, screaming hysterically about their right to... expose themselves and others to illness and death, I guess.
It's now been going on long enough that we're getting reports of these people catching COVID-19, the occasional ironic/ cautionary tale of people's last facebook posts rants about the "hoax" of the virus before the person winds up dead. 70-odd people who went to an "open" rally in Wisconsin are believed to have contracted the virus at the event. And today I saw something about a church in California that held Mother's Day services exposed over 180 people.
Monday, April 27, 2020
On Thursday (04/23/20) the President of the United States, who has taken to a podium on a near daily basis for weeks - blathering at length/ incoherently, and showing genuine signs of mental decline (pick your poison as to why) - stood in front of a room of journalists and said scientists should look into shining UV lights or very bright lights on or into people to combat COVID-19. He also said we should be looking at injecting people with disinfectants containing bleach, I believe. That bleach clears the lungs right out. Which, in a way, is true. You'll certainly be beyond caring about your COVID-cough when you are dead because you've got 20 oz of Clorox filling your lungs.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
But it also meant I got used to the rhythms of working from home long before all this mess started. Waking up, showering and having a ten second commute is not uncharted territory. But, man, the days of just sitting in the same chair all day can get to be a bit much. Especially as it's all-screens all day, tied to video conferencing with colleagues.
Since getting sent home, I have not been getting up early to walk the dog, as my preference is to do it to unwind after work if I've been sitting in my chair all day. Scout is an easy walker, and doesn't pull toward other dogs. She just wants to stay within 4 feet of me as we go about our business. We talk to neighbors from about 15-20 feet away. Sometimes I linger, sometimes I keep on going after waving hello.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
We all kind of laugh about how days lose all meaning in that period between Christmas and New Year. At least once a day, someone will ask "what day is it?" and sometimes you may have to think about it. With nowhere to be, no one looking for you and the weekends looking like a weekday, it takes no time at all. And while we have weekends, when you're looking at the same walls and people, days do sort of lose their meaning. Last week on Friday, I had to be told at least once it wasn't Thursday.
Monday, March 30, 2020
In some ways, this hasn't been entirely different from the nearly two years when I worked from home when I was at Northwestern University. I wake up, I shower, make coffee, eat something and sit down and get to work. I use my office, which is also my "collection room", ie: The Fortress, which I had decommissioned for work when I went back to UT.
When we were sent home from work, the home office was full of "stuff" all over the floor, making the room unusable. We'd recently had a remodel of our bathroom, and to make room for the contractors, I'd cleared things and just dumped them in my office and shut the door. Out of sight, out of mind. Honestly, what I piled in there was sitting on top of things I hadn't yet cleared away from Christmas, waiting for some time when I'd have some downtime and clean up, which I usually do when we're set to have company.
The first weekend, starting on the 13th, we just sort of blanked out. There was a run to HEB Saturday morning, buying food for a full week or more. The store was busy, but not hectic. Jamie and I put on nitrile gloves before going in - and I never saw anyone else with them on. No masks.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
It doesn't need to be the threat of war and violence. We've had plenty of other creeping horrors around mankind in recent and living memory.
But my generation, maybe the one before, maybe those that have come after... we sat in classrooms and heard how the Commies wanted to drop nuclear bombs on us because they hated our Capitalist ways. But mostly that's an existential threat - if it was going to happen, it was going to happen. And I wasn't old enough to be part of the AIDS crisis, but am old enough to get cross-eyed hearing about "dating" apps as someone who came of age just after Magic Johnson taught us suburban kids about how we *all* needed to be careful.
Friday, March 13, 2020
The plan was not to return to work on Monday (it's Friday, for posterity's sake). I'd received approval from higher-ups to show some caution and work from home until we had the all-clear. In the morning as I readied for work, I was checking a news story about our local K-12 school district closing and telling people to deal with their situation, and half-way down the page it mentioned my employer, the University of Texas at Austin, was also closed.
I checked the emergency page, and it said "all clear", but literally at the same time, my Slack channel for work started popping and I saw that, no, we were closed. An email had come through and we weren't to come to campus today.