Saturday, January 14, 2012

DC lurches and flails around a bit with cancellations and new books

I waited a few days before posting because...  eh, who cares?

Anyhoo...  to nobody's surprise, DC's New 52 is going to remain DC's 52 as they cancel 6 titles and bring in 6 new titles.  Its actually not a terrible plan from a business perspective, I'd guess.  It sounds like they had the next 6 titles ready to go, and they're employing the Jack Welch-approved cull the bottom 10% rule to their own titles.

They're losing:

  • Static Shock
  • Mr. Terrific
  • Men of War
  • Black Hawks
  • Hawk and Dove
  • OMAC

I'm not overly surprised by the loss of any of these titles.  Aside from OMAC, the other 4 of these I read were a mess from issue 1, and as much as I wanted to support Sterling Gates after his work on Supergirl, I hadn't grown to like this iteration of Hawk and Dove, and Liefeld's art is not my cup of tea.

Its unfortunate to see Static fail once again, when the potential for the character to be DC's Spider-Man seems so high.  And as much as I have liked Mr. Terrific in theory, Wallace's take in issue 1 felt so generic and disposable, I abandoned the series immediately rather than deal with hoping that it might improve.

Blackhawks was trying to be like the current GI Joe, which is already a successful franchise elsewhere, so I couldn't figure out why they bothered to try to simply echo an established and beloved property you can already buy, and Men of War seemed simply ill-conceived.  Its a war book or its not.

OMAC I've kind of enjoyed, but I don't really care that its vanishing.  Its like when that show you catch occasionally disappears and its only months later that you realize its gone.  I can certainly live without it.

As replacements, we're getting:

Friday, January 13, 2012

End of the Week

Ms. Grahame and I hope you have a swell Friday.

Just, you know, no trouble, if you don't mind.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Movie Watch 2012: Christine (the movie about the magical, haunted car)

You know, the movie was never as good as the book, but the movie holds up pretty well, all things considered.  It features mostly in-camera and practical effects.  The cars are sleek, the music is cool, the atmosphere holds fairly well (though not as well as the novel), and it captures something unique about quietly going off the rails in high school, I think.

I am not sure I'd want to go back and read the book of Christine.  There's no way it would be as good at 36 as it was when I was 13, but the book seemed pretty fun at the time.

The novel seemed much more subtle in its approach to the corruption of Arnie, but the movie still does its job thanks to Keith Gordon's gradual transformation through the film, 3 parts script, 7 parts Gordon.  Credit to director John Carpenter for this one, too, even if its a kick in the gut to watch car after car get destroyed in the name of making this movie.

The movie also stars John Stockwell as Dennis, and Alexandra Paul as Leigh Cabot.  You will remember Alexandra Paul as The Virgin Connie Swail in 1987's Dragnet or as Lt. Stephanie Holden from Baywatch.

I always liked the idea of a car with a personality.  It was like if KITT were a homicidal maniac (that would actually be KARR, I suppose), and the fact that Stephen King made Christine the world's worst girlfriend on top of everything else was just a stroke of genius.

The movie does have one of the best closing lines of any movie, and I have to tip my hat.

"God, I hate rock and roll."

Remember that one, kids.  Also, never mess with a nerd's car.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Signal Watch saw "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Hiatus break in favor of keeping up with movies for 2012.

I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Its fun for the whole family.  Take Grandma and your toddlers.*

Its okay.  Nothing groundbreaking.  Nice cinematography, convincing acting, appropriately bleak sets and settings, and they did a much better job of condensing the plot than the Swedish film counterpart (even if they lifted some of the story changes).  Rooney Mara is pretty good.  They eliminated the various sexual exploits of the hero enough that I didn't see the entire story as one long Mary Sue story for a middle-aged journalist imagining the sorts of women with whom it might be interesting to canoodle.

After reading the book and seeing a completely different movie of the same book this year, this may have been a bit much.  I sort of wonder if the fact that we're all already familiar with the book and movie has hurt the box office numbers as (1) why bother to do this again? (2) those familiar with the story might not actually want to see some of that up on the big screen and (3) people already had numerous chances to take a pass on the material and are just continuing to do so.

But, mostly, I wonder if the studios need to rethink releasing grim, adult thrillers upon the public during the holiday period.  I certainly wouldn't pitch this one to my folks for a night out at the movies (its not exactly Tintin).  That said, its after the holidays and the theater I was in this evening was packed.  So maybe it'll have some post-holiday staying power as Granny heads back to Arizona or whatever.

I wish I had access to an orchestra, because I have an idea for a Goulet-style theme song for the movie.  Jamie is already sick of me trying out various lyrics on her.

*do not do this


I really don't feel like doing this for a few days.

Also, in Googling "hiatus", I learned that there's a part of your GI track called the "hiatus".  Here's what it looks like when you pull your hiatus while eating nachos.

why did they draw in that guy's bangs?

I shall return anon.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Movies 2012: MST3K watched Gamera

In the spirit of naming every movie I watch this year, with the help of Joel, Tom Servo and Crow, last night I watched Gamera.

You can watch it on Netflix streaming RIGHT NOW.

I don't know what one says about Gamera that hasn't been said before.  Its a movie about a 40-story, ancient, bi-pedal turtle that absorbs heat and energy as food (so missles, etc...  only make him stronger), spits it out as atomic mouth blasts and rampages like Godzilla with none of the motivation or style, but that turtle has joie de vivre.  Oh, and he can fly.  Its a mixed bag.

Mostly, we all come to Gamera to hate Kenny.  Because Kenny sucks.

Gamera to scale with a model of a boat.
Really, I can handle Godzilla movies on their own, but the only way to watch Gamera is with a healthy dose of The Satellite of Love.  I recommend watching with MST3K.

Signal Watch Bears Witness to: Mission Impossible 4 - Ghost Protocol

In many ways, I shouldn't be talking about this movie.  I didn't care for Mission Impossibles 1 or 2, never saw MI: 3, I have it in for Tom Cruise, I didn't pay for my own ticket and The Admiral (who DID pay for my ticket) has pre-warned me he shall rebut anything I have to say about this movie.  But I swore an oath that I would talk about all the movies I watched this year, and at its core, Mission Impossible 4 is only partly an Apple and BMW commercial, and it is mostly a movie.

I'm going to give this movie its props.  It knows what it is, it does part of that mission amazingly well.  This movie blows stuff up with aplomb, it has phenomenal cinematography, beautiful locations, crazy action sequences, stunning stunts, cool gadgets, etc...  I think a lot of folks would enjoy this movie and they would not be wrong.

Our heroes are funny, they're good looking, they do their own stunts, they look great in clothes, they do the "we look stressed" thing well and evenly for 2 hours of the movie.  If you can embrace that the first stunt Tom Cruise pulls in the movie wouldn't have taken him out for the rest of the movie, you'll be willing to believe that he walked away from the other 2 dozen career-ending moves he makes before he saves the day.

Look...  these sorts of movies sort of quit being my thing a while back.  I like action or adventure movies, and I don't mind macguffins moving me from set piece to set piece, but I want the movie to at least pretend to care a bit about plot details and to not just leave ellipses at every possible location, or for the macguffin of the entire movie to make a bit of sense.  In a lot of ways, the script felt like something dusted off from the mid-90's, when we'd moved past Commando and wanted at least some hand-waving of intelligence, even if it usually was all smoke and mirrors.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

6 Years Ago the UT Longhorns won the Rose Bowl

it seems impossible, but I don't own a copy of this cover, and I don't think I've ever seen it before

Six years ago I was living in the wilds of Chandler, Arizona.  It is safe to say now that 2005 was the roughest year I've experienced, and its got to be up there for Jamie, too.

We had moved to Arizona in 2002.  I had lived in Texas since age 4, and had been in Austin most of my life.   And while we loved Austin, I also knew that I needed to try something different.  So, when Jamie's job evaporated in 2001, we began looking outside of Texas, eventually winding up in Arizona.

For a multitude of reasons, we never felt comfortable in Chandler (where we lived) or Tempe (where we worked), and found it exceedingly difficult to find anyone with whom we could socialize.  I will always entertain the notion that I'm a deeply unpleasant person to have to deal with unless your paycheck requires you talk to me, but I think out there, we were just fish out of water in many ways.  And, of course, Jamie's health was always an issue.

By the summer of 2005, Jamie's health deteriorated considerably.  From late spring until November, we were on an hour-by-hour watch for changes.  And, unfortunately, I had fallen into horrendous eating and sleeping patterns.  

But in the Fall of 2005, the UT Longhorn football team was on fire.  Our quarterback was Vince Young, and you could just tell...  we were going to win a hell of a lot of games.  The odd part of watching such a season is that I think you kind of know early on that this could be the year, that this could really happen.  But then you watch every game wondering "is this where we blow it?"

I hadn't watched much UT football when I was actually at UT.  The team hadn't been great for a while, and while I liked some sports (particularly NBA basketball), I was also doing other things in my life than watching football on a Saturday, even when I was watching the NFL on Sundays as a way to defer the inevitable homework.

But I graduated, UT got a new coach, and I wasn't just reading about the games in the paper.  I actually tuned in.  I knew more than the name of the quarterback.  So by 2005, after the frustration of the Chris Simms era, we had this guy Vince Young step into the QB position (eventually.  We won't discuss poor 'ol Chance Mock too much).

FYI:  slighting either of these men in my presence will insure you receive an immediate and justified thrashing
In many ways, I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that 2005 was both My Very Personal Bad Year and The Year UT won the BCS Championship.  It seems like two completely different timelines.  Somehow we managed to catch almost every game that season, even though that was the fall when Jamie had to go back on dialysis and I recall watching at least one game on Pay-Per-View so I'm sure we missed a game or two.  If it were not for a memory of watching the UT/ A&M game on a TV at the hospital the Thanksgiving when Jamie spent her Turkey Day in a hospital bed (and I ate luke-warm turkey out of a plastic container), I'd never be able to reconcile the two timelines.  

By December, Jamie had begun to stabilize.  Jason came in for Christmas, and I know we talked a lot about UT football.

Living in Arizona, we were in Pac-10 territory, and it seemed that my work colleagues were, at best, humoring me once UT was in the championship.  UT was facing down USC, and the pundits and sportscasters were insisting this game was already decided (I particularly remember Chris Berman seemingly frustrated that they were bothering to even have the game, so certain was he of USC's victory).   But what you could tell was that 1.  the pundits seemed to be working from a certain narrative rather than demonstrating first hand knowledge one would have had they actually watched UT or the Big 12 that year, and 2. sports journalists have no idea what they're talking about (and people believe them.  Its hilarious).