Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Monday, March 30, 2020

In a Time of Virus: That First Week in Lockdown

We've been in some form of lockdown since March 13th.

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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Everyone Wish Jamie/ @mcsteans a Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Jamie.  I wish you were not stuck in the house.  I wish I had thought to buy cake ingredients two weeks ago.  Frankly, I wish I'd bought you something for your birthday.

I can only make it better through the power of Greg Louganis in his prime.


Here's to a future where we can leave the house and not pretend we're on the International Space Station.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

In a Time of Virus: Start of Lockdown

The first thing I remember hearing was that people were hoarding toilet paper.

It had a "man bites dog" element to the news - for whatever reason, they'd realized they might run out of toilet paper, something they'd never previously considered, I suppose.  And, so, people were buying mass amounts of the stuff, leaving those super market shelves empty.  That was early, during the week of the 9th, before the employers sent anyone home .

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

In a Time of Virus: Not Seen In Generations

Sometimes you read about World War I or II and you wonder what you'd have been like in those circumstances.  What would it be like to be sitting in Austin, Texas one day and boarding a boat to cross the English Channel a year later, pretty sure you were being used for cannon fodder?  Or being ordered over the wall and into No Man's Land?  Over and over?  Day after day?  Could I get back in a B-17 and fly back over Germany and drop bombs *again*, uncertain if *this* was the time I was shot down?

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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Happy Birthday To My Brother

Steanso rehearses for his next gig

Happy birthday to my brother, who is marginally older than me, and nowhere near as handsome (or smart, but let's not rub it in).

These days, I mostly just like his kids and wife, but he's okay, too, I guess.

It's a real kick in the crotch that we can't go out and celebrate his birthday, but that's what next year is for.  I got him a present, and when we're de-quarantined, I'm sure this cake I made will still be fine.  I'll keep it in the garage til whenever we see each other again.

Anyhoo... Happy birthday, dummy.  I hope you enjoy whatever it is you're up to for the day.



PS:  Mom likes me best.



Friday, March 13, 2020

In a Time of Virus: People are Terrible in a Crisis

I'm not going to lecture you on COVID-19/ the coronavirus.  You know what it is. 

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. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Signal Television Watch - 2019



This isn't a comprehensive list of what I watched in 2019.  Like the movies list, it doesn't include all the partially watched Hallmark movies.  It also doesn't include local and global news (some of us still watch the news).  It doesn't include Seinfeld and The Nanny reruns.  Nor shows I watched part of and gave up on.  I may have even missed entire series in here.  I don't really track TV watching or I'd probably have to have a moment of self-reflection.  It doesn't include the hours and hours and hours of baseball, soccer, volleyball, and football I'll watch in a given year (with hundreds of hours of baseball to account for as I probably watched 60-70 games last year.  Go Cubs!).

But when I sat down to think about what I'd watched, this was what came to mind:

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Signal Watch 2019 Subjective Opinion Movie Awards - 2019! (The Mellies!)


We've already shared the breakdown of all the movies we watched last year, so now it's time to talk about some of our favorite things and to drag some movies we maybe didn't like all that much.

We don't just talk about movies that came out in 2019, we try to talk about all the "new to me" movies we saw, and maybe a special selection or three of movies we'd seen before, but which deserve special mention.

The Mellies are nominated by and voted upon by the only opinion that matters:  mine.  They are also not reflective of the panoply of films released in any given year - because I may watch a lot of movies, but I don't have that kind of time.  And, honestly, I'm just not that interested in a whole lot of what comes out.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Signal Watch: Movies By the Numbers - 2019 edition


Well, 2019 was certainly a year that we mostly lived through.  As years go, I'm not giving it very high marks, but I did watch a lot of movies.  Which, boys and girls, is not so much an achievement as a thing which occurred.

In 2019, I watched 204 movies (click that link to see the spreadsheet).  This is likely a lifetime high, and I don't really know how or why that happened, because 204 is a good 20 more movies than last year.

I also wrote a post or recorded a podcast for, I think, every movie I watched in 2019.

This 204 number includes movies I saw more than once.  Example:  I saw Avengers: Endgame three times this year, so it is counted thrice.

The figure does not include partially watched films, half-watched Hallmark Christmas movies, or matter that I watched on TV that some people might consider a film, but I happen to not consider a film.

As always, I may have missed a movie or two.  It happens.  The data is accumulated from the blog - so if I forgot to post on a movie, it is not reflected here.  Also, dates watched on a movie reflect the date upon which I completed a movie, as I watch many movies broken up over 2-3 viewings.

Now, into the nitty-gritty.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year, Every Buddy


Here's to a year where, hopefully, we all learned something, even if it was a hard-earned or hard-fought lesson.  Here's to a year where the shadows seemed to grow darker, and where we found light, it shone brighter.  Here's to knowing what the coming year can bring, and not being on our heels this time when it comes.

Every night has a morning, and the sun always comes up. 

Let's get our game faces on and be those lights shining brighter. 

Let's extend a hand and help others to their feet.  Let's stand between those who are looking to strike and those who can't raise their hands.  Let's do it because we know the right thing to do, even when it's hard.

I have a lot of improvements I want to make in 2020.  Now, we're gonna try and make this work.

May we all be the people we want to be in 2020. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Today is the 31st Anniversary of Siouxsie & The Banshees' "Peepshow"



As was noted today by Post-Punk (srsly, follow these people), and our own JimD (follow Jim, too, he could use the emotional support), today is the 31st anniversary of the release of Peepshow, the 9th album by Siouxsie and The Banshees.

Peepshow was one of those albums that, as the kids would say, got me through high school.*  While I liked the single of Peek-a-Boo when it debuted on MTV, I didn't actually buy the full album til the following year.  In practical terms, I listened to this album over and over, nurtured a fanboy crush on front woman Siouxsie Sioux, and felt things deeply while listening to said album on tape, which I was in danger of wearing out when I got my first CD player.



I tend to think of Peepshow as a very complete album.  It's more than a smattering of songs from a band, and it's not just that every song is single-worthy, or so I believe, but that the band found a flow to the songs that takes you from point to point.  It isn't a "concept album" nor does it tell a story, really, but it just clicks, track after track.  And, mostly, makes me miss the thing where you just lie on your bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to a record.

Here's to Peepshow, the first sexy depressing album with a dollop of S&M and pop fun that got me to hang posters of a woman on my wall that I know my mother did not approve of at all.

I did see Siouxsie and The Banshees in 1991 at the first Lollapalooza in Dallas, TX when they toured in support of Superstition, which also had some great singles.  And, yeah, they were pretty great despite the fact it was 98 degrees when they hit the stage.




*one day I suppose we should tackle this notion of "got me through high school" on the podcast with Maxwell and MRSHL.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

New Classics Watch: Wings of Desire (1987)



Watched:  09/02/2019
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1980's

Originally, I'd put this film on as I've pondered doing my own episode of "What is Love?" for the PodCast, but - like others who took on the task - I am also faced with the dilemma of a stable relationship of many years.  I like movies that include or which are about people finding each other in this mixed up world, but it's almost like a High School movie to me - I have been there.  I have done that.  I am now elsewhere.

Wings of Desire (1987) is part of a movement of film that we called "Art House" back in the day, and which I am afraid is fading out.  A film like this, today, would get festival accolades, play about twenty theaters in the US for a couple of weeks and then vanish, popping up on Netflix with zero fanfare and a description which did the casual browser a disservice.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Our Bro In-Law, The Dug, Has Appeared on a PodCast talking "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse"

Joseph Scrimshaw is a comedian and writer who focuses on geek-culture topics.  Ask the man about Star Wars.  I dare you.

He also has a podcast called "Obsessed" where he interviews folks about their personal, well, obsessions.  His latest episode features someone near and dear to us here at The Signal Watch, Jamie's brother, Doug. 

Late last year Doug saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  And then he saw it again. And then again.  And then again, and so forth. 

I love Scrimshaw's format, and I'll likely be borrowing some of his ideas as he roll forward at The Signal Watch, and Doug is as Doug in this podcast as a Doug can Doug (this is a feature, not a bug).

Art19
Stitcher:
  

Into the Spider-Verse on Apple PodCasts (starring DOUG)

Google Play PodCast

Monday, July 22, 2019

I've Been Sick, That's What


Last week I traveled for work and somewhere along the line I picked up a nasty cold.  I have my suspects who may have passed along this infernal malady, but shall name no names here in the record of my life which will be preserved and shared for generations.

I got home from work very late last Wednesday (really Thursday morning) and was doing fine.  I worked out on Thursday, ate dinner and was doing the dishes when I got the spins for a minute.  "That's odd," I said to myself.  "But it has been a while since I worked out, and that didn't go very well, either."

And then the symptoms started coming in, and I knew. 

Look, it's not dramatic.  It's a cold.  As of this writing I am now past the point of ear canals screaming at me, a sore throat and a fever.  I spent most of the weekend laying on the sofa watching TV, I think.  I don't really know.  I think I watched all of Clue last night, but I'm not sure.  But I did go to an Urgent Care Sunday not because I think they can cure the common cold, but because I have no idea what OTC meds to take when you do have a cold.  PLUS - I really did not want get a sinus infection on the other side of the cold.  And, you never know.  Day 3 of a fever is a good time to ask a pro if you're dying or not.

Anyway - I'm on the road to recovery.  Doing much better than I was and have moved into the "coughing a lot and, oh, look, it's producing phlegm" part of the program.  Some minor stuffiness.  And I'm way more lucid, which I see as beneficial to everyone. 

The poor dog, who hasn't seen a decent walk in days, just thinks I suck.

Thanks to Jamie who has been a hero through all of this and hasn't seemed to have acquired this cold, against all odds.  But, yeah, she is used to me Man-Flu'ing my way through all illness, but it is in no way fun to watch a giant, sweaty man lay on your sofa and just keep saying "I don't care" about literally everything not related to his phlegm production.  Of course she's wrestling with summer allergies, so as I recover, I hereby swear to be deeply sympathetic to her fight via Austin allergens.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Picture Tour of Locations from "Anatomy of a Murder" - my vacation pics from the U.P. - Part 2


The week of the 4th of July, I was in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to visit some old family stomping grounds.  The Marquette/ Ishpeming/ Negaunee area is where my mom's people landed after arriving from Finland.  My grandfather worked in iron ore mines for forty years while my grandmother cleaned houses and other odd jobs.  And, when my mom arrived as a surprise when they were in their 40's, then raised the sparkplug that is the lady we call "Mom".

This area is also the setting for the novel Anatomy of a Murder.  When Otto Preminger decided to adapt the book circa 1958, he brought the entire production up to this remote area.




You can read more about it in Part 1 of this photo tour.

A Picture Tour of Locations from "Anatomy of a Murder" - my vacation pics from the U.P. - Part 1



This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder.  If you've never seen it, it's a terrific film and holds up far better than you'd expect considering the changing mores, attitudes, laws and and more since 1959.  In some ways, it's covering territory we seem to cover over and over as a society and may be more relevant now than ever.  A legal drama, it should be a bit out of my wheelhouse, but instead it's been one of my favorite films since college.

Starring Jimmy Stewart, it has a terrific cast of well-known and lesser known actors.  Eve Arden, a very young George C. Scott, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzarra, Arthur O'Connell, and Kathryn Grant (a University of Texas alumnus and, at the time, just married to Bing Crosby).  And, a bit bizarre for the time and place, Duke Ellington.

The movie, however, was based on a novel written by Robert Traver.  Traver was the pen name for attorney John Voelker, who lived in Ishpeming, Michigan and served as the city prosecutor, ran for other public office and was generally highly involved in public life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

TL;DR: In 1989 I was 14, and I saw "Batman"



The kids are never going to know that there is, literally, in the public consciousness, a world before Tim Burton's Batman from back in '89, and a world that came into being after that movie.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Batman, the Michael Keaton/ Kim Basinger/ Jack Nicholson-starring gothic caricature that changed the public's perception of superheroes in general.  This isn't hyperbole - nothing was ever the same after this movie came out.  You don't get an Iron Man or Avengers without Batman.  You really don't get the idea out to the general public that comics have moved to a teens-and-up audience until you get breathless write-ups about the Batmania phenomenon.  You also don't have piles of merchandise for adults with a superhero logo on it until Batman, or comics movie-related toys flying off the shelf.

But, mostly, you finally got people to stop thinking "Bam! Whap! Pow!" when they thought about superheroes.