Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2018

Happy Birthday, Cassandra Peterson


Happy Birthday to Cassandra Peterson - our own Elvira, Mistress of the Dark!

These days, whether it's in full Elvira get-up or in her red-headed civvies, Ms. Peterson is doing great and seems like she's managed to make a career out of just being herself.  That ain't half-bad! 

Here's to our Queen of Halloween - whose birthday should really be considered the start of the Halloween season.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Happy Birthday, Amy Adams


Today is the birthday of Amy Adams, one of the finest talents of our era.

And, hey, we were lucky enough to get her cast as Lois Lane, plus she turned up that time on Smallville before she broke big.  So, entirely relevant to this blog.

Happy birthday to Ms. Adams.  We promise to watch her HBO show eventually, but we do not have an HBO.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Happy Birthday, Madonna!



editor's note:  I thought I lost this post, but found an open tab with a draft still available I was able to copy and add to.  This isn't the original post that went out, but I - for the first time in years - accidentally erased that post when I clicked the wrong button.  

Apparently yesterday was the 60th Birthday of Madonna.

Here at The Signal Watch, we salute Madonna as the person who told us it is 100% okay to like pop music.  You will not lose your edge by enjoying Madonna.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Happy Birthday Yesterday to Actress Jean Hagen


Born August 3, 1923 in Chicago.  Passed in 1977. 

You know her best as Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain, but she was also in noir films like Side Street, Asphalt Jungle and No Questions Asked

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Happy Birthday, Myrna Loy


"There ought to be a law against any man who doesn’t want to marry Myrna Loy." -Jimmy Stewart


Happy Birthday to the late actress, Myrna Loy, who would have been 103 today.

Loy is highly popular in classic film circles, and when you start making your way through her filmography, it's not hard to see why.  She's strong as both a comedic and dramatic actor, is the force-to-be-reckoned-with up against powerhouse leading men from Cary Grant to Jimmy Stewart, and, most famously, William Powell.  She's unaffected and a natural in front of the lens, whether playing a society damsel in a romantic tangle or the daughter of Fun Manchu (where it is deeply, deeply complicated to talk about how sexy she is in the role*).  And her version of side-eye should be given a copyright all its own.

Loy's career extended beyond the usual ingenue lifespan.  Like her friend Joan Crawford, she worked her entire life, remaining relevant (and never lost her looks, which, I mean, come on.  I'm human.) and as strong an actress as you're like to see when she was shuffled into playing mothers The Best Years of Our Lives, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House instead of sloe-eyed, knowing girls.  Or especially the judge/ spinster sister in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.

Loy was deeply involved in American Red Cross and other ctivities in support of the fight against the Axis

For people who find "old movies" too stagey or unnatural, Loy is an excellent cure for what ails you.  She's style fits in neatly, and - I'll argue - informs a lot of what came after.  In her comedies, she's hysterical, and in any movie her tone and manner captures what other actors are still trying to pull off today when it comes to presence.  Pair her with a leading man worthy of her talents, and you've got a hell of a movie.   

Happy birthday, Ms. Loy!



*yellow-face.  She's in yellow face as an evil Manchurian.  The past (and a lot of the present) is super-racist.  Just FYI.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Happy Birthday to Lynda Carter


Today is the birthday of Patron Saint to The Signal Watch, Ms. Lynda Carter.  She's busy performing again this year, and set to reprise her role as POTUS on CW's Supergirl.  If we're lucky, she'll also be in WW84.

Here's to Ms. Carter on another great year.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"Jurassic Park" at 25


Shortly after I graduated from high school, the first Jurassic Park movie hit theaters.  As a bonafide blockbuster hit, it made everyone a pseudo-dino expert (there are worse things), packed folks into theaters, made Sam Neill a bankable actor who sort of shrugged that off and went off to be Sam Neill, taught us that young girls imprinted on Jeff Goldbum as a sex symbol, made us all wonder where cliffs begin and end in dinosaur paddocks, and convinced me khaki shorts were an excellent look on paleontologists.

It's now 25 years on.  Yesterday, June 11, marked the release of Jurassic Park in the U.S.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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

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.


Monday, January 1, 2018

200th Anniversary of the First Publication of Frankenstein


Today marks the 200th Anniversary of the first publication of Frankenstein (or, The Modern Prometheus).  It's a book many of us were assigned to read.  As with any book, your mileage will vary.  Absolutely, that seems to depend upon interpretations and baggage brought to the book.

It is true that I am a fan of the Frankenstein films from Universal that appeared in 1932 and onward, but I'd read Shelley's book twice before seeing the first movie circa 1997. My Freshman year of high school I *absolutely* grokked the "wretch's" perspective and Victor's craziness, and of course the romantic torment that befalls them all.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy 95th to Stan Lee!


Say what you will about cheesy hucksterism, but I grew up knowing who Stan Lee and Marvel were years before I read a comic book.  Back in the 70's and 80's, Stan didn't just have his name on every Marvel comic ("Stan Lee Presents:"), and his name on every Marvel cartoon, he was also providing editor's note voice-over to episodes of The Incredible Hulk and other cartoons.  I knew what it was to be a "True Believer" before I ever read a word-bubble of Spidey's inner monologue.

Speaking of:  he also wrote the Spidey daily newspaper strip (in theory), which I read in collections as I got into comics.

Of course we can go back and forth all day about the Kirby/ Ditko/ Lee contributions that made up Marvel starting in '62.  But none of them would have done it without the others.  And, more than that, the longterm effect of Lee's boosterism of comics and comic-book characters is utterly incalculable in a landscape littered with superhero films, TV shows, cartoons, merchandise, toys, clothing, and where even Dr. Strange is now a household name.

I know Stan has made mistakes and not always made decisions that make sense to idealistic fans.  That comes with the territory of being a walking icon and making mistakes as you go.

But I'm grateful he's had a chance to see the world embrace his creations, watched his comic empire flourish for going on six decades, and become a household name himself.

Excelsior!


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Remembering Audrey Totter on her 100th Birthday



Several years ago I was out visiting San Francisco and JeniferS showed me a noir she knew I'd never seen, starring Richard Basehart, Cyd Charise and an actor she adored but with whom I was unfamiliar, Audrey Totter.  The movie was Tension, and it was all kinds of terrific.  But, yes, Jenifer was right, Audrey Totter was absolutely phenomenal in that movie, stealing focus in every scene.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Happy Birthday to JimD

JimD holds aloft his magic sword
Happy birthday, Jim.  May Castle Greyskull give you the POWER

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Happy Birthday to Ms. Gloria Grahame


You probably know Gloria Grahame for her small but pivotal part in It's a Wonderful Life as Violet, the attractive blonde in Bedford Falls who fails to land Jimmy Stewart and is a headcase in the Pottersville segment of the movie.

But Grahame's career included a lot of noir, some musicals (she's in Oklahoma! as Ado Annie), and a life off-screen that was dramatic, to say the least.  If you follow older films and want to see some top notch noir, I recommend (very highly):


  • Crossfire
  • The Big Heat
  • In a Lonely Place
  • Human Desire


But this list is not even close to comprehensive when it comes to her body of work.

Like a lot of women of her generation in Hollywood, her rise was incredibly fast and her path out of Hollywood was rocky, to say the least.  Curiously, Annette Benning is playing Grahame in an upcoming movie that covers the final years of Grahame's life, from what I can tell.  Looks promising, as far as these movies go.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today Marks the 95th Birthday of Veronica Lake


Today marks the 95th birthday of actor Veronica Lake.

I quite like Lake and she's in some great movies, from Sullivan's Travels to The Blue Dahlia.  My favorite is This Gun For Hire.  Lake's career in Hollywood was brief and tumultuous, and she was gone within a few years, but she left a tremendous mark few have been able to match. 

Lake passed in the early 70's, but that's a whole other story.  If you only know her from glamour photos, seek out one of her films.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Happy B-Day to Margot Kidder!


Happy Birthday to Margot Kidder!

She is, of course, one of the greats of Superman media as Lois Lane in four Superman films and with a brief stint on Smallville.  Arguably, Kidder did quite a bit to pivot the popular conception of Lois as less a straight-laced member of the newsroom (something she never was in the comics, but that's how she was played on TV's Adventures of Superman) and into the gutsy risk-taker with no time for a Dictionary that made absolute sense as the kind of woman who would capture the heart of the Man of Steel.

And, she's absolute dynamite in those first two Superman movies.  The interview scene is pretty incredible if you haven't seen it in a while. 

Happy Birthday, Ms. Kidder!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Century of Jack Kirby


You're going to see the names Jack Kirby and Jacob Kurtzberg a lot today.  Jack Kirby is the pen-name of the greatest comic artist and creator to grace this orb we call planet Earth.

Here, on the centennial of his birth (August 28th, 1917), it's possible to suggest that Jack Kirby may be one of the most important artistic and literary figures of the past 100 years.  The recognition came late, decades after his passing, and, still, his name is hardly a household word.  But the creations he unleashed upon popular culture from the 1940's to the 1990's would either be taken up directly by the public (at long last), becoming part of the parlance, or influence generations who could never produce that same spark of imagination, but built either directly or indirectly upon what he had done before.

There are Kirby bio sketches out there a-plenty (but no definitive monograph that I'm aware of), a magazine dedicated to the study and fan-splosion around his work, and Mark Evanier - who apprenticed under him - has become the living memory of his professional life while his grandchildren have taken up the cause of preserving the memory of the man.  Now there's a virtual museum (which deserves a physical location), and a charity it's worth considering giving to sometime.  And a slew of collections and books celebrating Kirby's influence and work.

Kirby was not first in when comics became a way for kids from the rougher neighborhoods of New York picked up a pencil or ink brush to start bringing in bread, but he was there really early.  He was a workman who put everything he had into the work, comic by comic, year by year, becoming better and better.  As they tell you in art-school, master the rules before you start breaking them - and that's what he did, finding his own unique style, his own way of creating action and drama, and eventually shattering what it meant to create a comics page.

Taking from mythology, from science-fiction, from films, from his colleagues and the bottomless well within, Kirby created whole universes, pockets within those universes, and held the lens to each character, bringing the internal life of gods, men and monsters to life.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy 99th Birthday to Katherine Johnson, NASA's "Human Calculator"


Saturday the 26th of August marks the 99th birthday of Katherine Johnson, "The Human Calculator" who was key to the early success of NASA.

I'd spend time telling you about Johnson, but suffice it to say she overcame the gender and racial discrimination of her time to become a key player in America's space race.  A physicist and mathematician, her natural ability to rapidly and accurately calculate complex equations necessary for figuring trajectories, etc... in the days when we were still doing this by hand instead of super-computer, made her an invaluable asset.

It would be only in recent years that her contributions, and those of other calculators, were made part of the bigger story of NASA.  But today, she has a really terrific movie roughly telling the story of her role in the Apollo missions in Hidden Figures starring the terrific Taraji P. Henson as Mr. Johnson.  There's building named after her at NASA.  And this happened:


So if you still don't know who she is, get thee to Wikipedia.  And take two hours to watch Hidden Figures.  It's a good movie.