Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Monday, April 3, 2023

20 Years of Blogging, Part 2 - Together, We're a League of Something!

Editor's note:  This is Part 2 of a series.  You can view the first part with just the click of a button.  

also, this is a cross-post with the OG blog, League of Melbotis

So, yeah.  

By April of 2003, we were blogging.  For a look at the initial form of League of Melbotis on Blogspot/ Blogger, click on over to The Wayback Machine.  

As mentioned in the first post, soon I was emailing and managing comments from friends and strangers.  But, also, some of those pals already had their own blogs or quickly started one.  It was easy, often free, and gave folks a chance to speak their mind.  People were religious about their choice of platform.  Livejournal people developed quite the mythologizing about themselves that arguably continues to this day. WordPress users constantly complained about what they were using but refused to change.  

JimD started his first blog of many.  RHPT joined in.  Soon I was aware of Maxwell (she of the podcast) starting up Cowboy Funk, which detailed her life as a Texas ex-pat in NYC.  I knew her husband before we met via his own web-presence and mentions on the blog.  

20 Years of Blogging. No, really. (Part 1)

So, twenty years ago Jamie and I were living in the wasteland suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona in a town-turned-bedroom community name of Chandler.  We'd moved out to Phoenix in pursuit of a new job for Jamie.  But, also, we figured we were young and didn't have that many roots down in the years after college and marrying fairly early (2000).  Now seemed a good time for trying new places and things.  

It didn't work out.

You can visit Jamie's occasional remembrances of our time in Phoenix, and that's a goodly part of the story.  But, also, between Jamie's health, the fact I was working crazy hours, and a general lack of opportunity to meet people, we just didn't know many folks in town that we could call "pal".  I either managed or was supervised by the people I worked with, and Jamie mostly worked with men - so she wasn't meeting many women she could pal with-  and everyone she worked with seemed to be at a different point in their lives from hanging our with two 20-somethings.  That, and, man, if you asked me what the culture was in Phoenix in 2003, I'd say "strip malls and pretending you're rich".  We just didn't click with many folks.

So, that's where we were at in some ways.

Friday, September 10, 2021

A Favor to Ask - Can You Read a Thing?


I kind of figure the folks who follow this blog know me a little.  I've been doing this since 2003.  I've published something like 7400 posts between Signal Watch and League of Melbotis.  In there, there's been no small amount of writing and revealing of self.  

Since before 2003, on and off, I've noodled on a prose novel.  I'm in the last 1/4 of this thing, and can see the end on sight.  Which is exciting.  I can think about a second draft, I guess.

The ask:  Can you read as much of it as you stand?  And then send me whatever thoughts you have?  

You don't need to filter them - you can tell me whatever you like, even if it's "I hate it.  I hate everything about it."  That's fine.  It's not like, should this thing hit the light of day, someone won't say that online within 24 hours.

But feedback on confusing plot elements (and I am sure there are many), characters, motivations, scene and setting.  Any of it.  It's all feedback I can use.  Don't worry about punctuation and type-o's too much.  I always think people think I'm looking for a free copy-editor.  No, you're safe there.  

I'm looking at what works and doesn't work as a story or book.  

Monday, April 23, 2018

I think March 30th was the 15th Anniversary of the Start of my Blogging

So, I guess I missed my own 15th Anniversary of blogging.  We were over at League of Melbotis back then.  Here's a link to the first batch of posts.

Back then, kids, we had no facebook, no twitter, barely had iTunes and it took me forever to figure out how to upload photos and have a comment section.  I was a lad of about 27 and living as a Texas ex-pat in Arizona at the time.  I was busily learning about Superman and comics, and I was oh, so, sweetly naive.  Reading those early posts is sometimes a teeth-gnashing experience but also a journal of what was going on in my head in the blogging salad days.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Apparently, this is my 1000th Post Tagged "Movies"

I dunno.  I like milestones.  That seems significant.  1000 posts.  On movies.

There are 2865 published posts here, so I guess movies are mostly what we discuss.  That's not to say I've watched 1000 movies since starting The Signal Watch, but it also isn't to say we haven't.  I don't really know.  I've only done the "let us account for every movie we've watched" thing a few times.  And even then I left out things like Hallmark Christmas movies.

But I have been doing this blogging bit long enough that The Room has gone from a cult-movie bit of schadenfreude to fodder for an Oscar nominated picture and we've been through three Spider-Mans.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Pondering How to Cover 2017

The theme with which I entered 2017 with The Signal Watch was: who cares?

The answer was a resounding: nobody.  Get the @#$% over yourself.

This isn't something I'm upset about.  It's been really nice, honestly.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Legion" on FX - Breaking out of the Superhero Box

You'll hear a lot about how 90's comic books were all about Chromium covers, Rob Liefeld and .  There's some truth to that.  But that's like saying 90's music was all Garth Brooks and Hootie and the Blowfish.  The 90's brought us Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, and a host of others who came to comics mostly via the guiding hand of Karen Berger and the Vertigo imprint.

Titles like Hellblazer, Kid Eternity and Invisibles kept me in comics when I was hitting that crucial point where I might have moved on.  And, totally honestly, had I not stumbled across the "Ramadan" issue of Sandman during the final months of my senior year of high school, I suspect me and comics were headed for a bitter break-up.

Part of that break-up was what was happening in the X-Men titles, which had lost the guiding hand of Chris Claremont,  whose writing I was ready to leave behind, I suspect, but who had created multi-dimensional characters in a way that, to this day, I cannot believe comics in general haven't learned from.

FX's new series, Legion, is going to confuse folks who head to the comic shop to find issues of the series, or a nice trade paperback.  The character, David Haller, appeared briefly in a few runs of various X-books dating back to the mid-1980's, including his first appearances in the surprisingly weird New Mutants title, giving Chris Claremont's writing and the artistry of Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters, numerous other projects) co-creator status.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Now We Are Six - The Sixth Anniversary Post

JimD has alerted me that this date marked the final post at the first blog I ran, League of Melbotis.  That statement is semi-correct.  It is the final post one would see, I suppose, if they visited the site, but I shut down the blog back in in December of 2009 with 3420 posts.  That site had a start date of about April 6th, 2003.

The post on April 20th, 2010 at League of Melbotis was part of my return to blogging, redirecting folks over to this site.

On April 20th, 2010, a "to review" post went up on this site and covered what we had been on about at League of Melbotis.  On April 23rd, I dipped my toe back into the blogging waters.  You can see the posts that week as we returned to greatness.  

By the time I launched this blog in 2010, blogging was on its way out, replaced with Instagrams, tweets and Snapchats.  People refer to their feeds on Tumblr as "blogs", but, let's get real... that isn't a web log.  That's re-posting stuff.  It's a terrible forum for long-form posting.

League of Melbotis was a bit more of what people kept back then insofar as a "personality" blog.   I considered it my sandbox and clubhouse, a place where other folks would drop by.  It was far more unpredictable in nature than the media-review heavy form of this site, and the readership felt like a little social circle.  We had little focus.  We might talk Elvira in one post and the Iraq war in another, what I had for breakfast in the next.  That sort of thing was passe in 2010, and I've not really ever thought about going back to that format.  Keep it simple-ish.  Talk about the news when it's unavoidable.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

JimD Returns to Blogging

I sense something.  A presence I've not felt since...

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a young attorney, fresh from law school, suggested I try my hand at blogging.

I know Jim from our days at the University of Texas when we were both studying Film in the College of Communications.  Jim sat near me in our first screenwriting class, and while I have no recollection of why and how we started chatting, it seems it had something to do with comic books.  But I can't remember how comics came up.

We had an intensive writing class together the next semester, and that's when we started talking a lot, and thanks to email, our chatting continued through the end of the 90's after graduation as Jim continued his education about 90 minutes up I-35 at the famed Baylor Law School.

In 2002 or so, Jim launched a "blog" and suggested I do same.  "I've nothing to say," I protested, but in 2003, I joined Jim in the blogosphere.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - A Year in Movies (Let's Talk Numbers!)

When I came back to the site at the end of 2014, I picked up in 2015 with enough hubris and energy to decide to write about each movie I watched this year.  Unless something weird happens in the next few hours, I am able to accurately state that I posted on every movie I watched which I watched in its entirety in calendar year 2015.

I did not mention every movie I did not watch all the way through, usually because I tuned in for a bit to a movie I'd seen before and wouldn't bother to finish or came in very late.  I also didn't do full write-ups of a few movies, but no one seemed to mind that I had nothing to say about Spies Like Us.

So, in this post - let's talk numbers.  I'll give out awards later.

For the breakdown on a spreadsheet, feel free to click here.  It's also at the bottom of the post, if you hate clicking things.

As of 2:18 PM on December 31, 2015 I watched and said something about 181 movies.  

The last time I kept count was 2012, when I watched just 136 movies.  As I recall, we were watching a lot more TV that year and I was working like crazy.

That said - that's a whole 45 more movies, at about 1.75 hours a piece, that's about 79 more hours of movies - or two working weeks.  Plus, I dunno, maybe 45 minutes per post.  That's about 34 hours of post-time.  So, a total of about 113 hours more than 2012.

(edit:  I actually checked and back in 2012, we were double-posting movies a lot.  It was 136 posts and 147 movies.  Corrected numbers - 34 more movies in 2015, an average of 59.5 hours of movies, 25.5 hours of posts, so - let's call it 85 hours more than 2012).


If we figure 181 movies at 2.5 hours of watching and posting, that's 452.5 hours I've give you people this year, or more than 11 weeks of work.  And it's likely more than that as a lot of the movies were more than 1.75 hours, so let's not think too hard about this before I start really worrying about what I'm doing with my life.

Anyway, here we go...

New Years Watch: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

The movie neither begins nor ends on New Years.  Instead, it's the morbid spectacle of New Years Eve in the Desmond mansion that's the crucial turning point in the movie as screenwriter Joe Gillis decides to stop fighting the pull of Norma Desmond.

With a night out (a rarity of late) ahead of us for New Years, I figured whatever I put in at 9:30 PM on 12/30 would be the last movie I'd watch for the year.  Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a movie I am afraid I came to quite late, and one I wish I'd paid attention to years ago, though I am uncertain that - as a 20-something - if I would have seen it as much more than highly enjoyable melodrama and camp.  Certainly I'd understand it was loaded with enough real star power behind it to lend it an air of legitimacy, but it's in watching the movie as an older viewer that the movie resonates in a way that I'm unsure it would in quite the same way for a younger viewer.

Joe Gillis is a down-on-his-luck screenwriter, a tarnished golden-boy, unable to produce the same kind of work that landed him some big gigs in Hollywood in recent memory.  Now, though, at 30-ish, he's yesterday's news, unable to sell a story, laden with debts at his heels, the finance company ready to take his car.

Avoiding those repo men, he turns into an overgrown driveway on Hollywood's famed Sunset Boulevard, finding himself on the grounds of a decaying mansion, an echo of the glory days of the silent era.  Inside he finds former silent star Norma Desmond, an actress who vanished - as so many did as the industry moved from silent to sound.  She's survived, wealthy enough to keep the world outside at bay, her manservant, Max, helping to protect and shield her from the world which has forgotten her and moved on.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On sharing the creative object you've been working on

When I was about 22 I started working on a novel.  I've mentioned it here from time to time with varying degrees of clarity about what I was up to, because even now, 16 years later, I still work on the thing, hoping to finish one day.

and I mourn the fact it will not have a cover by Robert Maguire

I mention the book for two reasons.

1.  I like to retain transparency, so I'll share that part of why I'm going on hiatus is to focus back on the book.  My personal life, work and a confluence of events have often kept me from spending my time just finishing the darn thing.  I like writing, and I like blogging, but as well as re-charging my batteries to talk pop-culture when I get back, I'd like to make time for this project.

2.  Wednesday evening pal JuanD was good enough to join me for dinner.  He'd read a good chunk of the book as it is to date.  I figure I've got at least 1/3rd to go.  He's still got some pages left to arrive at the point where I've written to, but he made a heroic effort.  He's read, I guess 2/5th's - 1/2 of where this is all headed.  And then, he was kind/ brave enough to sit across the table from me and tell me what he thought and ask questions.

He did some things I really appreciate.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Neverending Battle Fatigue

I recently attended a small Toy and Comic Expo here in Central Texas.  I say small, but it had major cast members of The Walking Dead in attendance* (I don't watch the show, and I still recognized them), the event filled a few ballrooms, and had a Batmobile (you saw the pictures.  No reason for me to show off further.).

But I also walked out without buying anything.

I've talked here before about how Cons are not my cup of tea, but at this Con, I felt like such an outside observer that I felt like I was at someone else's party.

how your comics blogger feels on the inside

I quit writing posts on how I was cutting back my DC Comics selections, and in short order, I will have stopped buying any new DC Comics.  I just can't buy the new Superman stuff (Scott Lobdell on both main titles, really?) just to bridge my collection, just as I avoid the 90's mullet-era Superman for the convoluted contortions the writers were going through as they wrestled with the Post-Crisis rules imposed on Superman.

I don't understand the enthusiasm for most of today's comics from DC and Marvel, but I do get my fix from other books - like the stuff coming from MonkeyBrain, some from Dynamite and IDW, but my pull list has shrunk to about 3-4 comics on a good week.  Last week I didn't pull anything, and I see about a week per month where that's true.  Looking at the solicits for an upcoming month tells me that stepping away means it would be work to even try to get back into any of these comics, and at the cost and high likelyhood of a comic at DC getting the axe, it's not really worth it.

Walking around the con, I could identify only a fraction of the costumes on the attendees, and then, mostly from commercials I'd seen for video games while watching shows aimed at a younger demographic, like Archer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How's Everybuddy Doing? Rambling about nothing.

I don't really have a topic tonight.  We've been all over the map of late, when it comes to content, and it's been a wild ride watching the hit count on various posts.

We did curiously great on the Christopher Reeve birthday post, the Amanda Palmer coverage got RT by Ms. Palmer herself, so we're at 460+ hits right now (a normal post gets between 20-40), and the Oreo Candy Corn taste test did shockingly well with almost 200 hits.  And some comics stuff does okay, too.  Opera?  Not so much (which is weird on a site that's usually about movies and science fiction and comics).

But, as has often driven followers of this site nuts, I have no specific agenda with The Signal Watch, so you're not going to see me talk a whole lot about one thing.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

So, sometimes I work on this manuscript

Hey, it's the weekend, which means nobody is paying attention.  So I'm going to talk about something that has nothing to do with anything we usually cover.

When I was a college freshman I wrote a 140 page manuscript in WordPerfect, I believe.  It's since been lost to time, formats and a lack of what we in the digital libraries world refer to as "forward migration".  And, frankly, I'm totally okay with that.  I gave up looking for a copy of it as far back as 2006.

I don't even really remember what the manuscript was about except that when I finished it I didn't really feel like it had actually been about anything at all.  I was just coughing something up.  Sure, it was a sort of novel-like thing, and it featured characters and had a beginning, middle and end.   Characters grew and changed, had conflicts, and resolved them amicably or otherwise.  But even as I wrapped it up, the lead character started echoing my own thoughts about the pointlessness of the narrative itself and the whole thing sort of ate it's own tail, which I'd like to report was a brilliant twist or comment on adolescence in the suburbs - but it was not.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Status, Reading, Grillmaster 2012, Writing


Returned from Dallas this evening.

I like the UT Southwestern Med Center campus.  As with so much in Dallas, its very Logan's Run.  Its also crawling with young soon-to-be-doctors in scrubs and white coats all looking very stressed.


A long, long time ago AmyD suggested I read Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, and I am now listening to the audiobook.

I am, obviously, not a father (at least not to anyone I'm telling Jamie about), but I'd recommend friends who have taken the bold step to bring human life onto this miserable rock (either male or female) to give it a whirl.  Mr. Chabon's essays and observations are not all exactly something I agree with, but they're interesting, and I think they do an excellent job of exploring the headspace of us products of a generation raised on TV but who did not have the interets, play-dates and Pixar movies its now common practice for middle-class folk to foist upon their children.

Chabon's geek-media-fueled POV is of particular interest to me, even if many of his choices don't reflect my own.  But anyone who writes a paean to Big Barda gets my respect.

I am also finally reading The Jugger by Richard Stark (aka: Donald Westlake).  Its more Parker.  And its very, very Parker.  Nice to get back to Stark's punchy, brisk style.

Grillmaster 2012

For my birthday/ in order to engage in better living, I have finally moved from the charcoal grill to propane, something the me of 7 years ago would have found horrifying.  But the me of both Sunday and Wednesday evenings found absolutely fantastic.

Cooking meat inside your home is for chumps.  As is doing anything to vegetables but grilling them.  Especially when Matt T. Mangum pushes you aside on the maiden voyage of said grill and insists this is his show, and on Wednesday when Jamie wants to do this herself, so maybe you don't get to use that grill you bought, but you do get to just sit in a porch chair, watch the sun lower in the west and then enjoy a lovely dinner.


I'm at a very strange point in working on the thing I'm working on.

1)  To some extent, I'm now playing connect-the-dots with plot points I've always known were there, so I feel like I'm straying from character development, world-building, development of themes, etc... in favor of "let's get this told", which is a huge departure from where I spent several chapters/ years hacking away.

2)  Some items that popped up in the news were scheduled to happen within three chapters of where I'm at. Its both disarming and useful to see what actually happens in real life so I can see how close I was, and what the parties involved actually do.

3)  Writers, can you be kind to your protagonists?  It seems counter productive to raising the stakes or maintaining a certain goal or theme.

4)  Tween Vampire Fiction is fun to write.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

So, as an exercise, in 2001 Garcia and I thought up a blockbuster we could sell

So, like, way back in 2001, I was working in a video studio on UT's campus.  Why and what we were doing isn't relevant (distance learning), but we hired bright-eyed RTF students to help us out.  In fact, that's how I started there, actually.

Anyhoo, a student worker and I were kicking back one day and were wondering how one cooks up a plot to a movie like, oh, say... Armageddon, thinking of it as blockbuster movie bingo rather than a compelling narrative. In that, Garcia and I cooked up SP666.

SP666 was a movie in which a wrongly convicted Bruce Willis was serving time in the near/ distant future on a penal colony built upon an asteroid.  Of course the asteroid would house only the worst scum of the solar system, watched over by a tough-minded bureaucrat Andre Braugher and his worn-thin security crew headed by the cruel and disposable Eric Roberts.

Willis would arrive at the colony and befriend Robert Duval, the old, wise crook who regretted his crime and the life he'd led here at SP666 (Space Prison 666 - cause, you know, its like being sent to hell).  He'd show Bruce Willis the ropes, keep him alive and steer him clear of the very bad but intelligent bad-guy, probably Jimmy Smits.

In the second act the prisoners would riot/ mutiny and Bruce Willis would be forced to hatch a plan to try to survive.  Further, the stabilizer jets would now be on (turned on by a weaselly but technically savvy character actor like Steve Buscemi who had glommed onto Jimmy Smits to survive here in SP666).  Smits would declare his intention to return the prisoners to earth or ram the planet with the prison, killing millions.   Andre Braugher would be beat up some, and Bruce Willis would protect his sexy daughter (it was agreed it didn't matter who we cast here as she'd be forgotten by Hollywood in a year).  And, of course, Smits would do something awful and gross to Eric Roberts that you can only do killing someone in space.

Of course, Bruce Willis has to stop Jimmy Smits.  So, you know... lots of protecting the sexy daughter, lots of fighting space criminals.  Some danger tied to vacuum and space conditions.  And, of course, Bruce Willis's old pal played by Ed Harris is watching all this from Space Comm, back on Earth.

In the third act twist, we learn that Robert Duvall is actually the mastermind behind Smits, and he has no intention of slowing SP666, because he's secretly CRAZY.  Earth is going to pay for making him spend 40 years on a godforsaken rock (its also too sick to live).  Smits, who doesn't want to die, tries to stop Duvall who kills Smits while monologuing in front of a concealed Willis.

Bruce Willis tries to stop the engines, and confronts a well-armed Duvall in the engine room.  Willis wins, but they must evacuate the prison which the President (a semi-respected 50's-ish actor, probably a minority, will play) is going to destroy with nukes.  Ed Harris tries to give Bruce Willis more time, he succeeds when Willis slows the asteroid/ prison.  Our heroes escape in the shuttle flown by the sexy daughter and...  EXPLOSION.

Over the credits, we hear a washed up, but generally still popular band playing a ballad.

I don't know if Lockout is better or worse than SP666.  I do think our casting was better.

Its kind of weird to see this movie actually happen, but it tells me a bit about the writing process for feature films.  And that I should be a millionaire at this point.

I still think the 90's killed the action movie as we know it, partially because the audience seemed to come to awareness of the interchangeability of the moving parts that went into making a big, blockbuster action film.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it has meant that the audience became somehow even harder to please, and you're now left selling action movies to an audience that doesn't care that their movies are that predictable or who are sort of amazed every time they magician knows which card was theirs.

I dunno.  I just laughed out loud when I saw the trailer for Lockout.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

The weekend was utterly uneventful

I am travelling this week for work, and as I was a little concerned about how much  money I've spent of late, this weekend, Jamie and I really didn't do anything.  It was...  what is the word?

Ah, yes:  relaxing.

Friday was uneventful.  I wound up staying up way, way past my bedtime watching about 1/3rd of Boogie Nights on HBO (then had to hit the hay).  I had forgotten what an amazing movie that was when it hit.  Its not for everyone, but from a scripting and technical standpoint, and from a performance standpoint (I'm looking at you, the fantastic Julianne Moore), there was a reason the movie received so many accolades when it hit theaters.

I still can't believe it played at just the plain 'ol Highland 10 back in the day.  America's movie-going habits have most certainly changed in a short amount of time.  Of course, that particular megaplex always had an interesting mix of Weinstein-branded stuff and then, say, The Pokemon Movie.*

Saturday I visited my "stylist" (she's not a barber, as she isn't a 56 year old guy in a white smock, but "stylist" makes it sound like I'm like Travolta dealing with his hair in Saturday Night Fever), and I am now freshly shorn. I tidied the house some, and later the Admiral and KareBear came over as The Admiral and I embarked on a minor home improvement project that led to some seriously iffy decision making and creation of a dozen drill holes in my garage wall.  The good news is that we have now hung hooks upon which our various mops and brooms can be stowed.

Today, for some reason we slept in very, very late.  And I really didn't get much done other than re-hanging some pictures in the house and watching part of the Cubs/ Rangers game on TV.

found the right spot for the Wonder Woman print.  yes, that is my office.

I also started re-watching The Killers (1946), but didn't finish.

I've been trying to do some writing outside the blog this weekend (I finished a chapter - No. 15.  Everybody celebrate.), so that accounts for some of the time, I suppose.

Hope your Monday is going swimmingly.

*which Jamie and I saw on a particularly goofy evening when there was nothing else playing we hadn't seen.  We used to see a LOT of movies.  I also saw the first Power Rangers movie in the theater as I'd seen literally everything else.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Signal Watch Presents: What I Do Meme - The League

We love a good meme around here, and since nobody gives a @#$% what I do for a living (thanks for that), here's a look at that same meme from the point of managing my unstoppable media presence over the past 9 years.*

click for depressing full-sized

*yes. 9 years. In April.  God have mercy upon my soul.