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

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.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Great "Big Red Cake" Taste Test - Part 2: Jamie Boogaloo


We covered some major territory in Part 1 of the Big Red Cake Taste Test.  But here at League HQ, we understand that science needs to be double-checked, and so we've signed up our better half to help calibrate the testing of tastes.

Jamie is a far pickier eater than myself.  She will decide well before she's seen, smelled or tasted a food that it is going to be "gross".  This is an ongoing battle in our house and has been waged relentlessly since Clinton's first term.*

But she will do taste tests.  I cannot imagine why, but she will.  Or steal a drink of my beer if I mention that I liked it.  She is a beer stealer.

She was the one who found the cake at HEB, but it was texted with a message like "barf!", to which I responded "BRING ME THE CAKE".  And, so, here is Part 2 of The Big Red Taste Test, where Jamie goes ahead and gives something new a shot.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Great "Big Red Cake" Taste Test - Part 1



So, we moved to Arizona in 2002.  And in 2003 I went to cook up some barbecue, and as part of that equation, I headed to the soda aisle.  It's a bit old school, but it's kind of a Texas tradition to drink Big Red Soda with your BBQ.  To my shock, they didn't have it.  That would be grounds for dismissal in Texas - we always have Big Red in any soda selection of quality.

I started looking around at convenience stores and other groceries, then finally asked my co-workers, and none of them knew what I was talking about.  Apparently Big Red is pretty regional.

So:  Big Red is a "red cream soda".  You can shorten that to "cream soda" and assume it's been colored red.  It has nothing to do with Big Red the cinammon-flavored chewing gum, so get that our of your head right now.  If you've had A&W Cream Soda or Dr. Brown's... something like that.  Only... redder.

I don't really drink sugar soda or any soda other than soda water these days (love me some Topo Chico), but every once in a while I still sneak a Big Red.  You don't need much... it's pure sugar.

HEB is a Texas-based grocery chain, and every once in a while they like to just mess with people and their weird Texas obsessiveness.  And that's how, I think, we ended up with a Big Red Soda Cake.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

TL;DR: Happy Superman Day! (yesterday)




So, about halfway through the day yesterday the internet decided it was "Superman Day".  I have no idea what for or why.  Something to do with DC cashing in on the release of Man of Steel a few years back.  Why this isn't a Saturday so stores can promote Superman and bring in kids and stuff, I can't imagine.

Get your act together, all of comics.

Whatever the reason, we'd feel remiss if we didn't raise a glass to our favorite fictional undocumented alien, the man of tomorrow, the ace of action, Big Blue himself:  Superman.

Every once in a while over the years I've attempted to explain the appeal of Superman, but that's never gone over particularly well.  Explaining why you like a fictional character feels like weird and dorky gushing, especially when discussing one who has seen hundreds of writers, dozens of interpretations, and who has been on the outs in popularity for more than thirty years.

Still, I'm a fan.  I don't think this is a secret.

Maybe in this era of cultural division and splintering, featuring a low, dull tension that seems to be hang over us at all times, where we aren't sure what to believe in the news or from our elected leaders (or from other people who'd sure like to be a leader)... We know we're getting fleeced and we know there's plenty to come right back swinging if you push back...  Maybe standing in relief against that backdrop, a guy who tells the truth, stands up for those who can't stand up for themselves, who can shrug off bullets and shackles of the injust but powerful as he moves through the world righting wrongs and helping the helpless...  Maybe in this world a Superman who can pull open his shirt and appears in a blaze of primary colored action makes a lot more sense.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Travel/ Sports Report: Cubs at Astros May 29. 2019



The last two years, we went to Chicago for Cubs games, but due to a few shifting things this year, no can do.  However, The Cubs came to Houston for inter-league play (The Astros used to play them all the time when the 'Stros were in the National League before deciding to mostly just play The Rangers in the American League).  We'd lost two to Houston before this evening's game, and Houston is excellent this season, but you gotta believe!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

We're Starting a Newsletter: The Signal Watch Planet



Everything old is new again.

A while back pal Max Romero started a newsletter (recommended), and I've been thoroughly enjoying his routine missives.  They're thoughtful, insightful and keep me up to date with Max who lives in Chicago and who I don't get to talk to often enough, me still in Austin.

So, newsletters - the thing people started doing about ten minutes after inventing the printing press - are back.  Frankly, I think it's a good thing.

Twitter has its place and purpose, but isn't great at getting a complete thought expressed, and tweet threads tend to feel like someone shouting points at you.  Frankly, as a content creator - you're fighting against a sea of noise and algorithms as people scroll on by.  Facebook is... facebook.  Its ways mysterious and inscrutable.

I've subscribed to a few newsletters myself.  Writers, internet personality types, people I just happen to know...  Everyone does it a bit different.  Updates on what they're watching, reading, recipes, etc...  recommendations.  Sure, why not?  I just like to keep up with folks.

So, yeah...



I'm not sure I'm going to do what Max and others are doing.  I already blog a-plenty, so if you want what my brain is generating, you can see those writing or hear me podcast for an hour every week or two...  Going into it, my notion is to gather together recent blog posts and related links, maybe comment a bit on the posts, etc...  Nothing too heavy.

But I also care a lot about what people are doing around me.  Paul works on movies, Hilary and Stuart are musicians/ singers/ songwriters, Amy does Nerd Nite, Nathan has jazz shows and interviews, Maxwell has any number of projects going on at any time both personal and work-related...  People win awards.  People blog.  People make stuff.  I want to point out that stuff, too.

Maybe I'll occasionally get old school League of Melbotis-style and share more personal stuff in the newsletter which, frankly, I just don't want to do on a public blog anymore.

And... recipes!  You never know.  I could learn how to make something.

So, if you want to sign up - you can always look at the tab I put in the horizontal menu bar, or you can just fill out the complicated form here:




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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Maintenance Watch: Stuart, Wedding, B-Day

Friday was my birthday.  Please, please... hold your applause. 

I'd already gone out last week with some pals (including JuanD, who created the music that is the current opening and closing to the PodCast), and so wasn't planning anything much as I had a busy weekend ahead of me.

For my b-day, I got a noir movie box set from my brother's family and Jamie got me a Mickey Mouse lamp and Mickey Mouse Lego set.  I don't talk about it a lot, but I'm a fan of the Mouse and part of our living room decor is "Vintage Mickey" (it's semi-tasteful, I guess.  I've lost track of these things.). 

After watching Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, my brother dropped in.  A former semi-permanent fixture on my sofa, Steanso long ago fell prey to romance, the vagaries of domesticity and - eventually - child-rearing, but for one evening he showed up and we shared some bourbon and chatted.

Saturday we both attended the wedding of a family friend, which was lovely.  Outside and thus windy, but lovely.

Sunday, longtime reader and internet pal Stuart came into town a bit early for a work trip, and I did my best to point him at some sites around Austin before dropping him at the location of his conference.

Showing anyone Austin is very weird to me.  I don't really get the appeal of Austin as a tourist town - you can drink anywhere.  Yet, folks fly in from all over to drink here.  We have no gambling, Sixth Street is a cess pool, and any music worth hearing in Austin is not happening in a bar on Sixth.  I mean, I love my town, but it's the same way you love your favorite t-shirt that's been perfectly worn in.  And I know I take a lot of what we do have for granted, so I don't think to show it to anyone. 

Stuart and I get along pretty darn well, which I knew from our previous meet-up in Metropolis, Illinois about 4 years ago.  We chat online, but it's always best to have face-time and tacos.  I hope he wasn't too bored.

Following, I watched some baseball and then the first episode of Fosse/ Verdon, and then did some PodCast editing. 

So - this is all a long way of explaining how I watched so few movies over the weekend and why the PodCast may drop late this week.

Friday, April 12, 2019

44



(Fast) Slow Disco - St. Vincent

I sway in place to a slow disco
And a glass for the saints and a bow for the road

Am I thinking what everybody's thinkin'?
I'm so glad I came, but I can't wait to leave?

Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost
Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost

There's blood in my ears and a fool in the mirror
And the bay of mistakes couldn't get any clearer

Am I thinking what everybody's thinkin'?
I'm so glad I came, but I can't wait to leave?

Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost
Slip my hand from your hand
Leave you dancin' with a ghost

Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?
Don't it beat a slow dance to death?

Slow Disco


Slow Slow Disco


Official Video Slow Disco


ACL Fest Slow Disco

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Batman at 80


They tell me Batman is now 80 years old.  Happy Anniversary/ Birthday, Bruce. 

This week, DC Comics released Detective Comics #1000, a big event book as it well should be.  I'll pick up my copy at my local comics shoppe (I asked for the Steve Rude cover - we'll see what I wind up with, because I genuinely don't care  All the covers were terrific, imho).  What happens in #1000 matters less than the stunning achievement of 80 years of Batman, a character dreamed up in the wake of Superman's overnight success, and whose most outstanding achievement is the ability to fit into any tone or version of the character you want and still remain, fundamentally, Batman. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

20th Anniversary Watch: Office Space (1999)



Watched:  02/20/2019
Format:  a very, very old DVD
Viewing:  8th or 9th
Decade:  1990's

In February 2019 I was about 9 months post-graduation and working in a very strange job for - what I figured out - was literally poverty wages (the job required a 4 year bachelor's degree, so... don't major in radio-TV-film, kids).  This week marks not just the 20th anniversary of the release of  Office Space (2019), but late 2018- early 2019 marks the start of my 20th year in the workforce as an FTE, I suppose.

Office Space was a product of Austinite Mike Judge, who had risen to fame first with Beavis & Butthead on MTV circa 1993, and brought Arlen, Texas to the small screen via King of the Hill. Upon arrival, the movie mostly flopped.  Critics were relatively kind, but the film had no major stars except Jennifer Aniston in the era of Big Stars = Big Profits, and a workplace comedy about hating your job wasn't exactly groundbreaking.  But at the time I felt a certain loyalty to the Texas film scene and Mike Judge, so we went to see it around opening weekend and... yeah.

As Jamie said when we were talking about the movie after: this was the first movie I saw that I may not have related to 100%, but it was the first movie I saw about adults that I could relate to as an adult.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Now taking our TV and Film Recommendations via THE FORM



Boy howdy, is there a lot of media out there!  And, boy howdy, are people both cavalier about jumping in mid-discussion about a movie or TV show to insert a movie or TV show you really should be watching. 

In this era of way-too-much-content, where I'm already burning out on TV shows just because, man, I dunno, another episode? and a raft of new movies that trend for seemingly no reason (like, why DID you stop and watch Birdbox?  I'm not saying it's bad, it's just... it just showed up so you watched it) we've all gotten pretty bad about telling people what they *should* be watching. 

Back in the 90's when seeing a movie or TV show took some effort, you actually wanted a running list of things from trusted sources so when you went to the local video monger and they were out of VHS copies, oh, The English Patient, you would go and get Faces of Death III or whatever your friends had said might be worth a watch.  If someone said "I like Larry Sanders" and you found out about in season 3, that kinda sorta meant you were given a pass to not watch the show, because no one had the expectation you'd drop everything in your life and track down copies of episodes. 

NO MORE.  We may not be able to educate our children or work out public transportation, but we can all watch Gator at the same time if we feel like it.  If someone suggests catching up on the entirety of The Simpsons, you can do so.  Somehow, people are able to "binge" watching 10-22 hours of TV in a week or two, plow through entire shows in a matter of a few weeks or less. 

I'm not wired that way.  At all.  I don't even like watching more than one Avengers movie per every two weeks or so for the PodCast.    Seeing episodes backed up on the DVR is enough to just make me quit on a TV show.  And while I deeply believe in, like, and will defend a handful of TV shows, I don't necessarily get the urge to insist others watch the shows.  Likely an after-effect of really going to the mat for Star Trek and Max Headroom as a kid.

And, movies... ahhh... movies.  If there's one thing that's true, it's that all of us know, in our heart of hearts, that we have amazing taste in film, and everyone else's taste is suspect at best.  It's a nicety when people agree on a movie, but we also may find ourselves in deep disagreement about, say, Aquaman (sorry, Max.  We'll need to talk about that sometime.). 

But what I really, really believe is that we all need to slow our roll on movie and TV recommendations.  If we can learn caution when it comes to suggesting music to others (and if you aren't exercising caution there, I assure you, your co-workers are making fun of you), we can learn to do same with moving picture media. 

And it's not that I don't WANT recommendations, it's that I want thoughtful recommendations.  If you're going to suggest I spend a few hours doing something other than eating cotton candy and watching puppies play, I'd like a reason WHY.

THUS - The Form.

From now on, we're taking our recs from you and from people anywhere in my life via an easy to use Google Form.  If you can't take the five minutes to fill it out, how much do you really want for me to watch that movie, anyway?, is what I say.

The good news is, the few of you who will actually use The Form will be captured in a spreadsheet I can review and use.  Those of you too good for The Form?  Well. 

Anyway.

Without further ado: THE FORM

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Krypto Awards: Worst and Best of 2018



It's been a few days since 2018 wrapped, so it's fair to call it a year and take a look over the list of movies we watched and name a few as outstanding and a few...  we'll still say "outstanding", just, you know, in a different way.  I'll mostly discuss "new to me" movies, of which I watched over 100 (my life is a shallow, meaningless parade of nothing-better-to-do).  This list might look different in a month, so, you know, this is what I think today.

You can see the complete list from 2018 here.  Check the tabs for filtering by categories.

As always, there were movies I had to go back and look up and say "what was that again?".  It happens.  But this is why I write them up.  There aren't that many "this is terrible" movies because I generally don't go to see movies unless I *think* they'll hit the mark for me, but fate is a funny thing and it happens.  Also, unless RiffTrax or MST3K is involved, I turn off movies I'm not enjoying, which disqualifies them from consideration.

With that - Let's consider this the "Krypto Awards" for 2018.

Did Not Like


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

We've got a Patreon - support The Signal Watch PodCast!



Hi, y'all. 

I've set up a Patreon!  Yay!

No, really, it's to basically defray the cost of hosting the PodCast.  I don't need much, but I won't turn down a huge cash gift, either.

So, anyway, the only tier is $1.50 per month.  I figure that's less than a Medium Pike Place at the Starbucks, so... affordablish.  And I set it up as a recurring monthly because my bill for hosting is monthly, too.  So. 

If we go over what I need to pay for SoundCloud, I'll figure something out - you might hear better microphones used or some such.  If we're all good in the neighborhood, I'll see about reducing the cost monthly.

If I can't convince enough of you good people that a $1.50 a month is a good idea, well...  let's just say we know where The Signal Watch PodCast stands.  (cough)

So.  Anyway - we'd sure appreciate your support.

We'll have exclusive blogposts and whatnot on the Patreon page (there's one there now!), and I may develop some behind-the-scenes content for the Patreon as well.  I mean, you guys would love to actually SEE what we look like and view our amazing production facility, I assume...?

So, I mean, really, a $1.50 is not exactly highway robbery.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Coming Up in 2019 Here at The Signal Watch

by November 2019.  The movies promised us.


Hi.  Happy 2019.

2018 was something of a year here at The Signal Watch. 

After years of pointed suggestions to do so, AmyC got me fired up and we started the PodCast, and, honestly, I've been delighted at the results.  On the actual blog, I've covered movies and comics.  Comments have all but dried up, but I've talked to a lot of you on social media and elsewhere.  I hope it's been worth the occasional check-in to see what's what here at the site.

The past two years, The Signal Watch has more or less turned into my personal film-watching journal which I like to share with you good folks.  I've written a post of some sort on virtually every movie I've watched for over 700 days, and in short order we'll do the numbers and talk about what we saw in 2018.

In 2019, I am not going to write a post on every movie I watch, even if I make a marker post of sorts that I did watch a film  (that marker post is for me, not you).  I'm not sure what form posts will take, but the steady pace of blogging on film will diminish - not that anyone is asking for it. 

I expect we'll find ourselves writing up a movie or three, especially those all-important superhero movies, and maybe some noir. 

For those of you who have been around since 2003 (2018 marked my 15th year since launching League of Melbotis), a change in format this year is just one more change.  Thanks for sticking with us, by the way.

Some of that energy we'll apply to improving the Signal Watch PodCast.  Last year I recorded and edited about three dozen episodes, and - brother - is that more work than I like to talk about. 

It's good that we produced episodes in volume.  I learned a lot quickly, technically and whatnot, but I think both my co-contributors and myself learned something about improving quality of content over that time, and I'd like to keep on that path, even if it means fewer episodes per year.  I mean, no one will cry if there isn't a new Signal Watch episode each week, I expect.  And I'd like my evenings back.  And, mostly, I want to make it worth everyone's while to spend time hearing us out.

Curiously, a lot of folks who aren't the usual co-contributors want to do an episode with me.  I'm not made out of time, but I do want to have friends jump in when we can manage it. 

I've been considering a very low-entry Patreon, simply because it does cost me *some* money to have a Soundcloud account.  I'd also like to get some better recording equipment, etc... and, shockingly, I have not been approached by any networks or sponsors to defray the costs.  I love you guys, but the economics of this are not terrific. 

On the comics front, I'm hoping to get back to writing up the Super books a little.  We'll see how it goes.  As always, that's so I spend some additional time with each issue and savor what's there, and I hope it's a nice thing for you to check in on and comment if you're also seeing what Big Blue and the Maid of Might are up to in the funny pages.

Keep talking to me on social media and in the comments.  It always makes it way, way more fun and less like I'm howling into the void. 

Anyway, onward and upward.  I expect 2019 will be part of this amazing trend of "what the actual hell is happening?" outside of the realm of entertainment, but we'll attempt to be a port in the storm.  Certainly worrying about mid-century crime movies is a better alternative than the news a lot of days.

I hope your 2019 brings joy and prosperity and our better tomorrow.




Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas Day!


Merry Christmas, every buddy!

Hope everyone had a good Christmas Eve and has something to enjoy today, even if it's just the right cup of coffee.  Man, I could go for some coffee.

Best from all of us at The Signal Watch (that'd be me, Jamie and Scout).



Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas Eve from The Signal Watch



It's Christmas Eve here at The Signal Watch.  By now the sun is down and, if you're lucky, there's not much to do but make yourself a cup of cocoa or pour a cocktail or two.  Unless you're headed for Midnight Mass or late service.  If so, we'll catch you on the other side.

I hope your Christmas Eve is spent as you'd wish.  For me, it's a small gathering of family.  We're planning to eat tacos and tamales (this is Texas, after all), and stay up a bit late watching movies and maybe indulging in those cocktails.  I'll be the last one up, most likely.  I am every year and have been since I was a kid.

stockings are hung by the chimney with care

I like that image from Paul Dini and Alex Ross's graphic novella Peace on Earth.  As Scrooge might have learned on his own Christmas Eve - there's more joy in others than in the accumulation of riches, more satisfaction in knowing we've reached out somehow to our neighbors here on this big, blue marble.  Let's all strive to do better and raise each other up in 2019.

For the past several years I've closed out with Ms. Darlene Love and one of my favorite Christmas tunes.  If I didn't love the song before (and I did), then seeing Ms. Love perform the song as her show closer here in Austin a few years back was one of the best live performances I've ever seen.  After the melancholy tunes of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, some Nat King Cole, some Sinatra and some new favorites - this is how I want to say goodnight before Christmas morning arrives and a new round of celebration begins.

This version has the incredible addition of Ms. Patti LaBelle.

Peace on Earth.  Goodwill towards all.  God bless us, every one.