Friday, May 18, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Being Elmo - A Puppeteer's Journey (2011)

On CarlaB's recommendation, Jamie and I watched Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011), an award-winning documentary about Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind ubiquitous kiddie icon, Elmo, the red muppet with the laugh of a madman.

I don't really know what to say about the doc.  Its already won a truckload of awards, and I would argue that its a pretty darn good movie and absolutely worth seeing.  A sort of "for the whole family" type of film, and one that I would show any kid with a creative bent.

Clash's journey from lower-class America to the most famous name in showbiz you've never heard of is absolutely remarkable, as a kid pursues his passion and turns it into something loved by kids around the world. In some ways, however, its a story of a guy who sets our to fulfill his dreams, and, indeed, he does, with a minimum of challenge.

No Post Friday - Clara Bow into the weekend

No post tonight. Ms. Clara Bow is here to see you through your Friday.  I'm going to do some reading.

and one more, because Diane Keaton does not own the ladies-in-neckties thing

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Crank (2006)

I don't listen to the podcast How Did This Get Made? all that often, but I had to give the recent Birdemic discussion a whirl, and that rolled me into the discussion of 2006's Crank, a movie I had absolutely no interest in at the time of its release.

HDTGM covers movies they cannot believe were put together (see: last year's The Smurfs), but it also covers movies that the crew (all working in the industry) cannot believe happened to get made in the studio system for their sheer audacity (read: awesomeness).  During the hour-long podcast covering Crank and its sequel, they kept referring back to elements of the films that I couldn't believe had made it into a movie in wide release (maybe in the mid-90's, but no so much today in this era of watered down, PG-13, aim-it-at-15-year-olds homogeneity).

I have to say, from a certain perspective, Crank does not disappoint.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What to Expect When I'm Off to the Movies

Admittedly, the upcoming film What to Expect When You're Expecting does not fit neatly into the realm of what we cover, or what I'd normally see in a year.

However: not only am I intrigued by the cast, but longtime pal Shauna Cross worked on the film.  In fact, she sort of wrote it.  I don't know how these things work, but I'm calling her The Screen Writing Person on the movie.

It also features folks I really dig, like Thomas Lennon, Chris Rock, Wendi McLendon-Covey and others.  Its a huge cast.  You can read the names yourself.

So, y'all go see this movie when it comes out on Friday.  Shauna's going to have two kids to feed, and its up to you, the movie-going public, to make sure those kids don't go hungry.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Curse of Bigfoot (1976)/ Teenagers Battle The Thing (1958) - with RiffTrax


There are a few breeds of "bad movies" out there.  This one falls into the "contemptibly incompetent/ nobody here knew how to make a movie.  No, that is not hyperbole, these people really had no idea what they were doing.  At all." category, the reigning champion of which still seems to be Monster-a-Go-Go (1965), but just by a sasquatch hair.

While Monster-a-Go-Go has its own stunning production history to consider, Curse of Bigfoot is a 1976 repackaged 1958 movie originally titled Teenagers Battle The Thing.

Apparently seeking to cash in on the mid-1970's Bigfoot craze (yes, our younger readers, there was a mid-1970's Bigfoot craze.  I don't know.  How do any of these things happen?  I blame The Six Million Dollar Man and In Search Of, but they seem to post-date this movie, so I have no clue, man.  Bigfoot and Wildboy?).

Signal Watch Watches: Twilight - Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (with RiffTrax)

Without RiffTrax, its impossible for me to wrap my head around the experience of viewing any of the Twilight films.  It's safe to say: I am not in the demographic to which the series is aimed.  But it's also become a hugely successful movie series, spinning off the classic vampire genre and tropes, and we quite like monster movies, so there you go.

In the spirit of full disclsure, before starting the movie, we armored up with a couple of cocktails and with the protective barrier of RiffTrax to shield us a bit from unfiltered Twilightness.  I, myself, wore the mithril coat of Manhattans made with generous portions of Bulleit.

Seriously, all of these people can shut up now.  Except the girl on the left.  She's cute enough, she gets a pass.

Let's get the preliminaries out of the way.
  • Kristen Stewart is both bad and insufferable in these movies, a fact which is mind-boggling considering how many directors have now had a crack at her.  I have to assume her stammering, energy-free performances in these films suggest a level of contempt for the material that one must share in order to properly decipher her true intention.  Or else she's just that bad.
  • Robert Pattinson's "Edward" may be handsome, I guess, but he's otherwise completely worthless as a character.  Since the first movie, in which he stalked Bella into submission, he's since mostly been dialog-free and at an arm's length from Bella, enough so that they seem like work acquaintances than the subjects of the most popular romance in pop fiction.
  • The core of the drama in the Twilight movies stems from the fact that the characters seem incapable of making decisions or taking action, and are very into waiting to see what happens.  I don't like the term "proactive", either, but I don't think its particularly useful to tell four books' worth of stories and never present anyone making a decision other than "I'm in love, I guess".
  • Oddly, discussing this movie aimed at a YA audience is going to spawn one of the more adults conversations we're going to have around here.  Mainly because I'm not sure any adults were associated with the making of this film.
  • Do not be confused by the length of this discussion.  This is a terrible movie.  Frankly, its one of the worst high-budget feature films I've seen in my entire life.  Its just astonishingly terrible on any level you'd care to discuss.  We're really going to rein it in here this evening so that we can try to retain some focus, but suffice it to to say, one could spill no small number of bits dissecting how this movie is a failure on every level.

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.