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

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.

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.