Showing posts with label awesome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label awesome. Show all posts

Monday, January 23, 2012

Noir City Special: We Crash Dashiell Hammett's Apartment

So, more than once I mentioned that Jenifer had lined up something highly unusual for my visit to San Francisco that was going to be a real topper for the trip out.

She told me ahead of time that she'd gotten this set up, but it didn't make any sense at the time.  After having spent a few days with Jenifer, I now get that she's just one of those people who has the near-magical ability to make things work.

Its also worth mentioning that Jenifer figured out from looking at pictures that she lives across the street from the recently renovated former apartment of pulp hero, Dashiell Hammett.

The story around the apartment itself is kind of amazing, and involves sleuthing on the part of his truest fans.  Its true Hammett lived in multiple buildings, but by looking at return addresses on envelopes from letters, descriptions of Sam Spade's apartment in The Maltese Falcon and a few other contextual clues, they've narrowed it down and figured out that this was the apartment Hammett resided at for a few years in San Francisco, and when he wrote The Maltese Falcon.

I'm still not entirely clear on how Jenifer made the contact, but this morning we met up with one of the organizers of Noir City, who had been one of those investigators and who had lived in the apartment himself and did a lot of renovations.  I won't go into specifics, but basically the apartment is now a very weird spot.  Nobody lives there, and its a residential building, so there are no tours.  Essentially its supported by a philanthropist who pays the rent and maintenance and the place sits empty most days except for an occasional tour like ours or a walking tour.

Jenifer models next to the plaque talking about Hammett outside the security door.
The building is down the street from my hotel, as well.  And one thing I've learned in my short stay is that behind a lot of these facades, there's something going on or some crazy history in a lot of these buildings you wouldn't guess walking by, be it a famous author's former residence, or a secret stash of vintage cars or swimming pools by big doors.

Just inside the doorway
It doesn't seem that anybody was really aware of the building's history until the last 20 years, and so the apartment had to be basically re-done to match the original decor.  The building went up in 1917, and so Hammett would have lived there about 10 years after it opened.  Since that time, landlords had removed doors, painted over glass, added a hundred layers of paint, etc...

Dedicated folks pieced together the apartment from fixtures in apartments from the building that were original, found items that matched the book, etc...

Its a fairly small place.  A bedroom/ living room with a murphy bed, a small bath (with the original clawfoot tub and toilet, so you can stand where Hammett stood as he showered, I suppose), a small kitchen, etc..   So this was not from a period in Hammett's life where the money was just rolling in.  Its a modest living space in a part of town with a lot of character now and then.

I did take more pictures, and when I upload them to Google, I'll post a link.

Oh, the Falcon on the desk?  I'm not sure what that's about.
No, this was not Hammett's chair, but its a nice chair, right?
Of a very special, very noir weekend, this was an unbelievable bit of history that put a near surreal spin on things.

Thanks to Jenifer for arranging the tour (and so much more during my stay), to Bill who was more host that tour guide, and Doug, who was... there, I guess.

More pics when I get home and get them off my phone.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Mass Delusion of The Muppets

I was watching the National Tree Lighting Ceremony on PBS, and First Lady Michelle Obama took to the stage to read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to a bunch of kids.  No sooner had she sat down and pulled up the book than who should pop up beside her but Kermit the Frog?

The wife of the President of the United States of America turned, greeted Kermit, and off they went reading the story together.  Because, you know, talking frogs make total sense.

Mrs. Obama does not know Kermit is a member of the Green Party.
And it struck me, its pretty awesome that we've all agreed that it doesn't matter where or when The Muppets show up, we're all going to act like that is not a sock puppet, we're going to always join in with the illusion Jim Henson and Co. cast with The Muppet Show 30-odd years ago, and we're going to insist on a reality where The Muppets are absolutely real.

Its like if I were presenting at a conference and looked over and Rowlf were on my panel, I'd know exactly how to deal with it.  Just say "oh, hi Rowlf!" like its no big deal, join in his banter, and then follow his cue if he bursts into song.

I know that's not how it works, but that's the illusion we've agreed makes complete sense to us all.  The Muppets can just show up, we're on a first name basis, and we're going to have a little conversation in front of all these people.

see, I would be prepared for this eventuality
Thanks to the arrival of the movie, which I highly recommend you see for some good cinema fun*, The Muppets have been popping up all over the place, from Ellen to Saturday Night Live.  And, of course, there's a difference in that actors and hosts can interact directly with The Muppets.  Its not like a cartoon or CGI bit that will be subbed in later.  There's a felt thing with eyes, hands and expressions that you can react to.  And I think that helps.

But I do think its pretty awesome, in general, that we're all in on this Muppets thing.

*and some GREAT commie propaganda!

Friday, November 25, 2011

As we roll into the Holiday Shopping season...

As we begin the Holiday Season, remember that your Christmas shopping need not be just another annoying trip to the mall.

Try to enjoy yourself a little this Christmas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

So, "Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth" worked almost exactly like a DC Event Comic

I take it all of you are familiar with Axe Cop?

If not, you should be.

Axe Cop was a happy accident which occurred when a 29 year old comic artist, Ethan Nicolle, went to visit his family for the holidays, and whilst hanging out with his 5 year-old brother, Malachi, created a quick comic strip in which Ethan illustrated the stories which Malachi dreamed up.

Malachi's vision comes mostly from understanding the world in the manner of a 5-year-old, by way of TV, movies, video games, 5 year old perceptions of the world on everything from how police recruitment works to headier things like one's mortality or morality.

All in all, its an amazingly fun read, at least in part because it taps into the world of play and unfettered imagination all of us who lived to grow up and become boring 'ol adults now filter out before an idea has time to percolate.  Most five-year-olds don't have talented cartoonist brothers willing to draw the stories they reel off.

That said, part of what's fun is also that five-year-olds are not terribly responsible story-tellers, and there's a lot of free-association, randomness, odd handling of cause-and-effect, etc...

Usually Axe Cop is read in small chunks, in a sort of webstrip format, and even if a story goes on, its in these tiny chunks.  But Bad Guy Earth was an Axe Cop opus, a three-issue comic series 

What struck me as I was wrapping up the read (one I highly recommend, by the way) is that the series was 99.9% plot development with not even a nod to character development, featured a string of events that didn't really push one into another but still fit, somewhat loosely, with plot threads that kind of start and then do nothing, while kind of random things happen to draw the series to its conclusion.

Sort of like most of DC's "event comics" since Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Signal Watch Sports: Longhorns - we aren't totally horrible this year!

This Saturday I attended the UT/ Texas Tech match-up at Darrell K Royal - Memorial Stadium.

Firstly, it was Veteran's Day (observed, I guess) which meant the 82nd Airborne dropped 4 paratroopers into the sky who, to a trooper, landed pretty much dead-center of the field (I literally had no idea that you could be that accurate with a parachute).  They brought the flags AND the game ball.

I feel like such a sucker for just walking into the stadium
And then a pair of F-18's buzzed the stadium at the end of the Star Spangled Banner.  It was AMAZING (I am about 11 years old at the sight of a fighter jet in the sky).  

The point is, UT hit the field, and on the first drive by Texas Tech, I got a bit nervous.  Tech manhandled Oklahoma this year, and we've had issues with Tech in recent years.  Yes, Texas Tech lost last week's game pretty badly, but every week is a fresh start, so I really didn't know what to expect.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Saturday Night Interactivity - Drunk Tweet "Big Trouble in Little China" with Signal Watch, @Placeslost, Comics Scribe @chris_roberson and the fabulous @allisontype

What the hell, ya'll?

So Saturday night, PaulT and I are joining comics writer Chris Roberson and his amazing better-half AllisonType, for a screening of Big Trouble in Little China.  And YOU can play along.


We'll be having a cocktail or three and via the magic of Netflix Streaming, we'll be watching the John Carpenter directed classic Big Trouble in Little China.

Whilst watching, we'll be on Twitter using hashtag #BingeTrouble

As a reminder, our twitter handle is:  @melbotis

Follow along as PaulT, Jamie and I attempt to keep up with these veteran DrunkTweeters!

drunk tweeting: it's all in the reflexes

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And Sometimes Superman Went Crazy and Became King of the World: Action Comics 311

Oh, comics.

I first saw this cover years ago, and only recently obtained a copy of Action Comics #311, the one where Superman becomes a despotic tyrant over all the Earth.  Only, you know, in the kind of goofy way Superman would have become a despotic tyrant during the Silver Age in comics aimed at kids.

I like that he added the fleecing to his cape.  You got to class it up as king.
Key to making sure you're king?  Demanding trays full of jewels.  I will need to remember that.

Superman does nothing by half-measures, so you should expect none of that here.  The story in brief: Superman gets exposed to Red Kryptonite, which splits him into two sides, one bad and one good.  The bad side remains Superman, but the other becomes human-strength Clark Kent. Bad Superman decides there's no good reason to help people, and so he decides to just lord it over them.

No, no it doesn't make any sense.  But where have we seen this good/ bad split before?  Well, not exactly before...  you saw it in the Star Trek episode The Enemy Within. Also, we see good/ bad Superman as Superman/ Clark in...  SUPERMAN 3 where Red-K was also to blame!

So, yeah.  Red K.  Its a real problem. Avoid it.

I'm going to editorialize like crazy here, but there's also an ad run in the front cover of the comic, featuring Bob Hope teaching kids about loving their neighbor, religious tolerance, wrestling with singular world viewpoints, etc... all in 5 panels!  And it is seemingly sponsored by the US Govt.

clearly, Bob Hope was a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda
Quite a few of these pop up in these Kennedy-era comics.  It's oddly kind of stunning.  These days, this sort of hopeful, "it's a small world" talk would get you a 24 hour news cycle on Fox accusing you of hating the troops.

Also:  apparently kids were still into Bob Hope in the mid-60's.

But it's not that, nor the suggestion the comic makes that China built an entire replica of New York City (to scale, btw) just to blow it up for atomic bomb tests that I want to point to.  No, its exactly the manner in which Superman demands the nations of the world crown him Head Cheese.

He heads to the United Nations general assembly, takes the podium, and...

I invite you to click for full-sized madness
 Right on.

For those of you who didn't look...

We will SUPER bury you!
Pretty good stuff.

Of course, the actual pounding of shoe to podium associated with Krushchev may be Cold War myth, but it was taught to me as fact. I am betting that was one of the more fun panels these guys put together.  No idea what readers, their parents, or the CCA said about this one.

And I particularly love that Superman is still going to town, menacing the General Assembly with a bright, red boot as the cameras roll.

at this point, I imagine Superman has broken out into song

This, by the way, is a two-parter!

And if you missed it:

You can drop the "tator" part, Olsen

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Future Taste Test? "Adult Chocolate Milk" is 40 Proof and a Grand Idea

There's a Chocolate Milk party going on!

2011 is going to be the year I quit giving a damn, and we're going to start by picking ourselves up some "Adult Chocolate Milk".  According to the website:

Featuring real cream and rich chocolatey flavor, Adult Chocolate Milk tastes just like the original classic - with a very adult alcohol update. Break out the curly straw and cookies and prepare to be flooded by fond memories.

Indeed.  Only, the KareBear was pretty iffy about letting us have to much sugar.  Forget about letting us booze it up while watching SuperFriends or The Muppets.

Its full of calcium for strong bones and booze for making the sad go away

The great thing is I know I can rope a few folks into taste testing this stuff with me (Wagner.  Cough.).

The site makes no bones about this stuff being 40 Proof, so while I am sad they are taking away my Four Loko (I kid, I've never found the stuff), it seems they're giving us a consolation prize.  I have to salute the sheer bad-idea-ness of this entire enterprise.  But as your duly appointed representative, I feel its my duty to let you know if this is a good idea or bad idea.

Now:  to appropriate funds.

UPDATE:  Apparently the puritanical lords of the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission haven't approved Adult Chocolate Milk for consumption within the Great State of Texas.  People, I am putting out a call to my comrades in arms.  If you want for the Taste Test to happen, Adult Chocolate Milk will need to be smuggled across state lines.  You know you can do it!  Help a brother out!

In the meantime, I will make do with White Russians, Black Russians, Irishing-up my coffee, and making my own special Adult Ovaltine.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mr. Walls ate a lot of McRibs

For over two decades, I have had the terrific pleasure of having been acquainted with Mr. Trey Walls.  I do not say this lightly, but Trey is, possibly, one of the most fascinating people on Earth.  He built a wet bar in his bedroom (for convenience, one supposes), he is the proprietor of Texas' foremost Spice Girls fansite, and he never does anything in half-measures.

Today I received this email from Mr. Walls:

This season saw me reach a goal of 50 McRibs eaten.  I cannot say I have enjoyed the last 15, but I was set on reaching 50 and with that I am announcing my retirement from eating McRibs.  I have been to the promised land and I have seen the mountain top!  I feel that there is nothing left to accomplish with this sandwich.  I am not against doing guest eatings with my dear friends, but am leaving the competitive eating world after 3 straight championships with (name of Trey's workplace).
2008 - 37
2009 - 33 (short season)
2010 - 50
Eat well my friends! 
For those of you who do not know:  The McRib is a delicious sandwich sold at McDonald's that is not a permanent fixture on the menu.  It usually appears in Texas right around the start of the holiday season, and disappears immediately afterward.  You cannot take the McRib for granted.  And you must respect it, for it is unkind to the GI tract of most mortals.

As someone who has only ever eaten 5 of these delectable sandwiches in a year (and who swore off them after last year's 3-sandwiches-in-one-sitting debacle, but went ahead and got one this year, anyway), I can only tip my hat.

I plan to submit an email interview to Trey.  If you have any questions you'd like to ask, submit them now!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tiffany v. Debbie Gibson

From the upcoming Mega-Python vs. Gatoroid.

Tiffany and Gibson do not play the Mega-Python or Gatoroid. But it does not mean they cannot get into a smack-down.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lady Liberty at the Ready

Lady Liberty, 1918

found at Shorpy, a great photo blog.

Love the picture, but we do have some ideas about violence = liberty, do we not?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Superman meets Jerry Lewis

My life was improved 150% today when I stumbled across this comic in the bin at Half-Price books for $3.00.

If only there were a "Batman meets Cary Grant" or "Tony Stark drinks heavily with Frank" comic I could buy. Heck, I'd take a "Ant Man shares a cab with Joey Bishop" or "Red Tornado gets stranded at the airport with Norman Fell" comic.

Unfortunately, I don't believe any of these great ideas ever happened. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't have happened.

Also, sadly, today's celebrities do not lend themselves particularly well to meeting superheroes. "Wonder Woman meets Snooki" doesn't do much for me.

But maybe "Ray Palmer meets The Mythbusters...?" Call me, publishers. I am full of ideas.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tiffany/ Debbie Gibson/ SyFy/ Mutant Animals = I am watching

Nathan C. sent this link along. He must have known it would need to go up as an emergency post.

Apparently SyFy is trying to blow all our minds with a low budget giant monster yarn featuring 80's teen pop stars Tiffany and Deborah Gibson.

Gibson will play a fanatical animal-rights activist who frees illegally imported exotic snakes from pet stores, sending them into the Everglades, where they grow to mega sizes. Tiffany will play an overzealous park ranger who uses dangerous methods to save endangered alligators.

In the script, the pair brawl at a party, then take matters outside into the swamp.

SyFy, who have just won yourself a viewer.

Put Yourself in a Cheap "Twilight" Knock-Off!

As if the heroine of Stephanie Meyer's golden goose, Twilight, wasn't pretty much a stand in for every female who can turn a page, it seems that a company has come up with a brilliant scheme to really, really exploit the concept.

Just fill out the form, add a few details, and... voila! Ladies, you're Bella-@#$%ing-Swan! And that hunky man of your dreams? Edward "Sparkles" Cullen.

You can sample the finished product with three separate scenes. I've cut these a bit short, but they give the general idea...

Now, for just $24.95 (plus shipping and handling), ladies, you can be the star of your very own hastily written Twilight fan fiction.

Click here to order!

Or, you know, search the catalog. If you look at the romance books, apparently you can add anybody you want into what seems to be a steamy, trashy, novel-length tale of inadequate telling! And in genres from werewolf to pirate (with genre specific love scenes).

And now... some samples... You really cannot make this stuff up.

Our Heroes Meet

Jamie could feel the heavy shelves wobble and tilt precariously. Before she could even think of escaping out from underneath, she heard the sound of sudden footsteps and the slap of wood against flesh. She looked up, surprised. A young man in a dark brown leather jacket smiled at her, one arm stretched mere inches above her head as it held back the skewed bookcase.
First Bite: Personalized Vampire Novel
Their romantic ideal is a vintage late 80's college rock fan

“Pardon me,” Ryan murmured with a slight smile, and with a movement as smooth as a dancer’s, he turned and tipped the heavy bookshelves back into their proper position.
Her heart hammering, Jamie scrambled to stand up. She was so shaken she nearly tottered back off her feet, but the stranger reached out to steady her, his touch lasting only seconds. But it was enough.
“Are you all right?”
Like his clothing, his voice was soft and rich. The light fell gently on him almost like an aura—very appropriate for a guardian angel, Jamie thought as she pushed away some messy strands of blonde hair from her face. “Thank you,” she said after a few speechless moments, one hand patting her heart to calm herself. “Those shelves could’ve killed me.”
“You should be more careful,” he chastised lightly. “This is an old building that’s falling apart. I advise greater caution.”
“I know. I usually am—careful, I mean—but I was so happy to find this book…”
Jamie hugged the red leather to herself, flushing under his piercing gray gaze. Why am I babbling like this? “I didn’t even know you were there. Lucky for me you were, huh? You always keep an eye out for klutzy bookworms?”
“Only when there is need, I assure you.” He smiled, teeth reflecting brightly and his broad shoulders casting a shadow over Jamie. “But you do yourself an injustice. There is nothing wrong with loving books, and you are certainly no klutz.”

Male Hero and Pal:

Ryan had been staring out into the stars for a while when a familiar low voice interrupted his thoughts. “Friend, you’ve got to get over this girl.”
Moonlight Night
This totally looks exactly like TheDug

He whipped his head around and saw TheDug climbing up with practiced ease onto the roof to join him. The other vampire continued, “What’s gotten into you? I’ve never seen you so taken with anyone. Especially a mortal!” TheDug spat out the word with disgust. “They are ours for feeding. You treat this one as if she were your pet.”
“No. Jamie is not a pet. I think I am in love with her.”
“Oh, I see. Forgive me if I have a hard time understanding that one, Ryan."
TheDug bared his teeth in a wicked smile. “I must say, your strength in her presence is admirable. I’m certain that I could not contain my desire to taste of her sweetness.”
Ryan shot his friend a glare that could have punctured like a dagger. “You shall not touch her!”
“Calm down. I wouldn’t dare face your wrath. But don’t you see the pointlessness of all this?”
“I’ll tell her, truly I shall. Soon.” Ryan stared up at the unforgiving night sky. “She is a modern woman. Perhaps she might understand?”
TheDug chuckled softly. “Perhaps.”

Our Heroes stand around yapping

“Did you enjoy the party?” Jamie tilted her head and reached up a hand to remove her earrings as she watched Ryan in the mirror. That’s another myth gone. His reflection’s as visible as mine.

Kiss from a Vampire
There's a fine line between models and the people I see at truck stops.

“Let me,” Ryan whispered, circling her ear with one night-cool finger. “Ah, the party. It was interesting. Your friend Kristen has a great deal of energy.”
“That’s one way to put it! No fear, no speedometer, no brakes. That’s what she’d say.” Jamie smiled fondly. “She’s a good friend.”
“Yes.” He looked deep into the mirror, seeing something she could not find; he forgot to pretend to breathe, lost in thought. Jamie waited, curious and concerned, idly admiring the line of his jaw, the sparkle of his gray eyes.
A slow nod signaled his return to the moment. “Kristen has suspicions about me. About what I am.”
Jamie froze. “Are you sure?”
“She seems to have held her ideas for quite some time, on little evidence. Is she one of those who romanticizes my kind? There are many who seem strangely fascinated with my fictional brethren.”
“Well, Kristen likes vampire flicks, but she’s no Goth.What exactly did she say?”
Ryan repeated the conversation verbatim. “As I said, she has little evidence, but still she persists in her conviction, and I cannot argue. She is, after all, correct about what I do.”