Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you!  Especially you mothers out there!  I hope you enjoy the day you planned for yourself and are hoping your incompetent families can execute upon.

You may be surprised to learn that I have a mother. Sort of two of them, in fact, if you count Judy, Jamie's mom.  And one must ALWAYS count on Judy.  She's sneaky.

neither of them, for good or ill, are exactly a Lucille Bluth

Both Real-Mom and Adjunct-Mom are to be celebrated for their continuing and much appreciated Mother-ness here in our 37th year.  I think its safe to say that Jamie and I are pretty darn close with both sets of folks, and we grow to appreciate them more every year not just for what they do now, but in understanding what what they did for us when we were entitled little brats growing up.

For example, my mother may have been right that I could not have ALL THE TOYS and I should clean my room once in a while.  Only in my 37th year am I figuring out WHY.  Also, she may have been right on a few (thousand) other things, but even here on Mother's Day, we're not giving up ground.

And, of course, we know that our mothers may not always be perfect, but we know that they love us and have always done their best for us.

sometimes you gotta do right by your kids

Heck, they've even been pretty great when we've been less than pleasant to be around (see: me, ages 9-27).

Both Moms have raised the bar for what it means to be a decent human being, through their acts of charity and volunteer efforts, and by generally living by The Golden Rule better than virtually any other folks I know.  Role models, people.

So today I publicly salute them, and think you should probably call your mom if you haven't yet done so.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Post-Walk Wrap Up

So, today we rose at 6:30 and were at Lake Pflugerville by 8:00 for a 9:00 walk.

We finally kicked off around 9:15 or so.

Many would leave, not all would return

The girl of the hour leads the way!

The National Kidney Walk, Fundraising, and Faith in Humanity Restored

I don't really remember when Jamie mentioned that her dialysis clinic was participating in a charity/ fund-raising walk for the National Kidney Foundation, but I do remember saying "Oh, yeah.  That sounds NIFTY!  Count me in."

I pitch in when a friend is participating in races, walks, etc..   My brother has a couple he does, I've kicked in for the Terry Fox run, for the Austin Children's Shelter, and I try to give when I can if folks are going to the trouble or raising a few dollars for a good cause (seriously, hit me up.  I'm a soft touch.)

But fate had not seen the day when my path and the path of a charity walk would intersect.  Until this spring.

Its not that I believe my friends uncharitable, I know they're generous when they can be.  But I also don't like to bug folks too much, and if nobody is giving, there's usually a reason.

My original goal for the walk was $200.  It was a somewhat arbitrary number, and, frankly, I thought a wee bit high and presumptuous.  I figured if we got to $150 (maybe $10 - 15 from 10 -15 people) we were doing okay.

Late one night I put up my profile, placed a notice on Facebook, and went to bed.

In the morning, the storm hit.  I think we had more than $600 on day one.  And it kept going.

The Walk is Saturday morning (today) and as of my writing, we're at the $1490 mark.  Just absolutely astounding.

The donations have come in from friends from all over the continent (thanks, CanadianSimon!), from people I know from all aspects of my life, be it pals I see every weekend, folks I know entirely online, co-workers, extended family...    There are even a few donations from people I don't really know, but friends of Doug I met once in San Francisco.  And none of this is to mention that Jamie raised almost $750, Jason, Amy, Doug, J, The KareBear and The Admiral all raised money, too!  Its CRAZY.

I can't thank you enough (and I'm sure The National Kidney Foundation would like to thank you, too).

Many of you know Jamie's story, or something basic about her health situation, so you know we take all of this personally.  Which is why, when you donate, I think we take that personally, too.  It feels like support for Jamie.

the face you can put on your kidneys!  Wait, that's wrong...
So, basically:  Thank you.  Our most sincere and deepest gratitude.  We are humbled by your generosity.

It's been an amazing few weeks as we saw your support come in.  Sometimes you can think less than great things about humanity, and then you have times like this that you remember that people are actually really pretty great.

Edit:  The final tally was $1530!  We did great!  Thanks to everyone who chipped in.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Warriors of the Wasteland (1983) - with RiffTrax

I think the era of me seeking out movies like this without the benefit of RiffTrax has largely passed, but with them...

Warriors of the Wasteland is a 1983 Italian knock-off of The Road Warrior, sort of.  I mean, if The Road Warrior were filtered through the mind of a guy who was reading too many Humanoids comics, had no budget and had possibly suffered a severe blow to the head.

Its basically a guy with a really goofy-looking muscle car with a plexi-glass dome affixed to the roof for no reason driving around and picking fights with a bunch of guys in odd Storm Trooper-like outfits if the helmets were missing and they all had visited Journey's stylists.

The movie is notable for a number of reasons:

It co-stars Fred Williamson, who has been in more than 100 films and TV shows.  I sort of recognized him from some of his Blaxploitation work.  Here, he plays a guy with a rad mustache and who uses a bow & arrow with explosive tips.  Eat it, Hawkeye.

Everything about the movie's character designs would become prevalent in comics in 1992 or so thanks to the influence of artists like those who would go on to work on books like "Lady Death".  I have to assume they designed any number of female characters based upon the look of "Alma" in the movie, what with her huge shoulder pads, amazing bouffant hair-do, and then, inexplicably, just a pair of underwear and shoes below the ribcage.  And, of course, all the men are decked out in terribly impractical armor.

Fun fact:  in comics, that look just never really went away.

And there's a little Dennis the Menace-like scamp who is a murdering psychopath and a hero.

Go figure.

The RiffTrax on this one are absolutely spot on, and, frankly, if they can make viewing this trainwreck not just bearable but fun?  I tip my hat.

Movie itself: no recommendation.
With RiffTrax?  A must see.

Signal Watch Watches: High Anxiety (1977)

I had never seen Mel Brooks' High Anxiety (1977), but thought at first that I had when JeniferSF had been describing it to me.  Well, no.  I hadn't seen it, but I'm glad for the recommendation.

A loving tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, High Anxiety is in the vein of other Brooks spoofs, which he made right up until just a few years ago.  Probably what you want to know is which of the Brooks 70's era stable of supporting players does he recruit?

The movie stars Brooks himself, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, and features an amazingly hilarious and quotable performance by Cloris Leachman.  Seriously, I'm watching it again just to see if I can remember some of her dialog.

I don't really want to spoil it, so I'll just recommend it if you think you've seen Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles too many times and you're looking for something in a similar vein.  It doesn't quite reach those epic heights (no Gene Wilder, perhaps?), but it gets the job done.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blog hiatus: The Dug is coming (and K)

The Dug is scheduled to arrive this evening, and this will seriously cut into Signal Watch time.

We're thrilled to have Dug with us, and very happy K had a change of plans and can make it out, too.

But of the many faces of Douglas, which will appear?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Manhattan (1979)

Hey, remember how we sometimes talk about how not everything works for everybody?

Woody Allen movies are one of those things for me.  Objectively, I can appreciate that there is punchy dialog, lovely cinematography, that nobody aside from Ghostbusters knows how to use New York as a character better.  I guess, I've only been there once for a few days 14 years ago.

I actually quite like Annie Hall and a few other Woody Allen movies.  But I think its fair to say that this was not a movie that was about anything I find terribly interesting.  But you're supposed to see it, so see it I have.

The movie has 30-odd years worth of folks who love it and who have gotten something out of it, and good on them.

That's probably enough on that.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No Avengers Post, so, something else

1.  It's our Sunday night thing when Mad Men is on to have some pals over and watch the show and maybe have a cocktail or two.  I did so.  I also saw Avengers today, but don't want to write about it right now, so there.

2.  Mad Men is doing something it has not done before, and that's build toward a sense of dread and doom throughout the whole season.  Also, f-yeah, Revolver.  I am going to now open my iTunes and listen to that album.

3. And Peggy.  I can't tell you how much I loved Peggy Olson in this episode.

4.  I have been "reading" my FCBD comics, and its sort of... are your comics disappointing this year, or is it just me?  I mean, I guess I get that they have to do promo stuff of a sort, but it would have been nice to get a full story the way Atomic Robo did.  The rest of them I've had time to read barely give a feel for the comic.

5.  I found the FCBD offering for The Ride pretty terrible.  Basically a clumsy "here's what happened" sequence on any cops procedural, only with a complete lack of context, and I have no doubt this will be some half-baked, half-assed work by some comic creators trying to be edgy.  After reading The Green River Killer, I'm reminded of what can be in a comic, and this...  this is just CBS police show junk.

6.  Again, it makes no sense that I have not read all of Atomic Robo.  There is nothing not amazing about Dr. Dinosaur.

7.  That said, FCBD was incredibly well managed at my local shop.  Frankly, Austin Books does a great job every year improving the experience.  I've gotten some reports that other shops ran out of some or all of their comics.  Sorry about that.  If I can help, let me know.  I can put things in the mail.

8.  This week, The Dug and K shall arrive.

9.  I expect there shall be RiffTrax.  Perhaps even involving sparkly vampires.

10.  Hope you had a good weekend, and we'll rap tomorrow on Avengers.

11.  Late addition.  This is hilarious.  I as reading a quick preview of an upcoming comic (with toys attached), Jurassic Strike Force 5, and the Pterodactyl has boobs!

Oh, comics.  Sometimes you truly are the medium of awkward 13 year old boys.

75th Anniversary of the Hindenburg Disaster

On May 6th, 1937 the airship known as The Hindenburg burst into flames, killing 36 people.

In many ways it's utterly shocking that only 36 died.  

It may come to you as a surprise that I am NOT an expert in pre-WWII era airships or their design, so I really don't know much about the disaster other than that you really don't see people clamoring for blimp rides these days.

The Hindenburg was also supposed to be one of Nazi Germany's showcase Graf Zeppelins in America, so, you sort of have to have mixed feelings...

I'm not one to shy away from looking directly at a car crash scene, so if you want to see it, the footage from the disaster is up and online.  Learn where we got the phrase "Oh, the humanity!" that one declares when witnessing a disaster.

For more information, you can click here.