Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trying Not To Be Dead: I have been sick a lot this year

Well, I am sick again.

It's been a strange year.  It used to be that I'd get one bug for two or three days per year, then be back up on my feet.  The past twelve months, if I haven't been sick, I've been injured or had some other issue.  This go-round the symptoms appeared at a particularly bad time as I was about to get on a plane to Lubbock, then drive 100 miles to Canyon, TX, do a major presentation, then turn around and drive back to Lubbock, then present again this morning.

I pulled it off.  I have no idea what I said for the three hours I presented yesterday or during the meeting with Texas Tech today, but I think I kept it together.

Mostly I feel bad for the hotel staff who will walk into the Hot Zones I've left behind in two hotels I stayed in, and a bit for whomever gets the rental car I had.  Those things are germy time bombs.  That's not to mention the two airplane rides where I have no doubt I was patient zero.  Who knows when I was first contagious?  Maybe leaving Tallahassee.

Anyway, I will set a new rule for myself:  if I think I might be coming down with something like that, I'm rescheduling.  Sitting in a hotel room with no meds but NyQuil and Afrin and watching syndicated reruns on TBS is no way to be.

I do feel marginally better this evening.  I'm hoping a night of solid sleep that I'm hoping for will help.

I had already taken a few weeks off from working out with all this travel, etc...  and I was really looking forward to getting back into it.  But now I get to wait a few days again.  And then Thanksgiving...

Here's to figuring out how to stay healthier in 2013.

Signal Watch Watches: Toy Story (1995)

I straight up love the Toy Story franchise, and its taken no small amount of willpower not to start collecting the many, many Toy Story items one can buy at Target.

Yes, the animation from the first installment doesn't always hold up as well as I'd like, but everything about the script, direction and voice acting still works as well today as it did the first time I saw the movie.

Speaking of - so I was in film school in 1995, and my roommate had a bad Thanksgiving break.  I don't remember specifics, but she'd gotten into some tiff with the family.  We went up to the film lab to work on our project and then decided we'd go see this Toy Story thing as it was 9:00 Sunday night and the kids would be skipping that screening as school started in the morning.

The place was still packed.  Curious college kids and others were there, and it was a surprisingly great movie.  But in the mid-90's, there were a lot of surprises when it came to kids' movies.  This was right around when I was telling people "Y'all got to go see this movie, Babe".*  And I knew who Pixar was.  I'd seen some of their shorts.  I just had expected it to have that same hacky vibe one got from all of the installments in the The Santa Clause series.  Harmless, perhaps, but not exactly anything you'd actually recommend to anyone.

But Pixar got it right.  The movie had real character in its made-up world of talking toys, and real things at stake for the characters and even for the unsuspecting Andy.  And the great thing was - they didn't make sequels until they had something to say.  Toy Story 2 built on the world from the first movie and showed us the worst fears of a toy come to life - but kept Jessie's story startlingly human.  And the third film started with the scariest threat of all, only to find the highest highs in any of the three films.

Anyway, I'm a fan.  It's popular entertainment at its best.  We can save the technical discussion for another day.

*If you have anything bad to say about either Babe movie, I will fight you with a pitchfork

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thing not to do:

leave for a three day road trip when you wake up before your flight thinking "I might have a cold.  Oh, well, how bad could it get?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TX Panhandle, TX Secession and the Freakout in Comic Culture over CosPlay Girls

For some reason, I am in the Texas Panhandle.

It's work related.  In theory, I should be home in 48 hours.

It is safe to say I am about done with the schedule I've been on for the past 6 weeks or so and the Thanksgiving Holiday cannot really come fast enough.  I could really use some time just laying very still while someone else makes cornbread stuffing and lets me silently appreciate the Rockettes during their number at the Macy's Parade.

if loving the Rockettes is wrong, I don't want to be right

TX Secession

I know it made headlines, but the petition sent to the White House and chatter about Texas seceding is all that it is.  Chatter.  The petition doesn't have enough signatures to fill half of DKR Memorial Stadium, and a whole lot of those aren't from Texas.  I expect that in the years to come "secession" will be the pouty rallying cry of Texans wishing they could take their ball and go home when things don't go the way of insignificant politians from scrubby, backwater towns in The Lone Star State (seriously, press, stop giving these people a megaphone).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Signal Reads: Superman - Earth One Volume 2


I wasn't much of a fan of the first volume of the Superman: Earth One concept when announced or when I read it.  In fact, I was more than mildly annoyed when I finished reading the first volume.

Then, of course, we've had the New 52, which made the Earth One reboot equal parts moot, confusing, and a reminder of Dan Didio's flailing of the past decade as Batman: Earth One and this volume found their way to the shelf.

After a year of rotating writers on Superman (somehow deciding that Scott Lobdell was going to solve somebody's problems), and Grant Morrison's non-linear approach to Action Comics, neither book has done much to establish a real status quo for Superman, give readers a sense of background or origin, or not just completely depend on readers knowing everything about Superman from the pre-New 52 reboot in order to function.

So, at least the Earth One books strive to take on the tricky task of starting at the beginning and standing on their own two feet.

Signal Reads: The Rare Coin Score (1967)

This is the 9th Parker novel, and while I enjoyed the 8th novel, The Handle, it didn't feel as strong as prior efforts.  With a dozen more Parker books to go, I was a bit nervous that at some point, possibly due to the prolific nature of dimestore writing, if Stark had found his pattern and was sticking to it.  While The Seventh had its moments, I was definitely feeling a pattern (and I loved the ending of The Seventh).

This book breaks the mold a bit as its the first book in a while to deal not just with Parker's internal working as an operator, but The Rare Coin Score (1967) introduces Claire, who I understand is Parker's romantic partner in future books - and thus a bit of character development we haven't seen before.  That said:  Romance being a relative term in the Parker novels.

As a collector myself, the idea of someone taking advantage of a "Con", to pull a heist of rare and valuable items all in one place, definitely resonated.  Not to mention that the insider, Billy, is an excellent stand-in for some of the collector population of man-boys that find a home in a collector community but can't help but want to exploit what he sees around him.  Of course, once he's dealing with pros, he's terribly out of his league.

I am returned, briefly. Also, Jason's front page story.

I just got back from visiting family in Tallahassee, Florida where a good chunk of my relatives dwell.  Nice weekend, great town.  It's a blur at this point.

Tuesday I depart for the northwesterly regions of Texas, and will return Thursday.  And I sort of refuse to travel again until after Christmas.

By the way, Jason was on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman!  As some of you know, my brother is a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas.  As such, he does sometimes put away bad guys or deal with crooks, but the last few years he's been working in a Veterans' Court assisting former service men and women who are having issues, primarily associated with PTSD.

there's ol' Beard-Face himself on the left, making JUSTICE
You can read the story here, which doesn't really mention Jason or his role, but it's all about his office.

Friday, November 9, 2012

And then I left for Tallahassee

In the morning I leave for Tallahassee.  My dad's brother, Unky B, is turning 70 and both of my second cousins (my dad's cousin's family is also in Tallahassee) have had children of late, and we're to attend the baptism Sunday morning before departing.

It's a mini-family reunion of a family that is not particularly stellar at expanding.  My Uncle never had children, so I've no cousins on that side, and Jason and I are also failing to carry on the family name.  Much like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, I am a seemingly successful evolutionary dead-end.

Truthfully, I am wiped out.  I have no idea how this is going to go.  Right now my gameplan is to stay upright until I am released back into my hotel room.

Then Monday I'm back at work, and Tuesday I'm off to Lubbock.  I am a little worn out.  If I can just make it to Saturday the 17th, I am slated to see SkyFall with a pack of British people led by our own SimonUK.  The Austin Brit ex-pat group loves their James Bond.

Get me to SkyFall, and all will be well.

No blogging til I return Sunday night.  I'm leaving my computer behind.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Barack Obama Wins Four More Years

I'm posting this to have a clear record.  This post will go up Thursday morning, but I stayed up far, far too late on Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning watching NBC and ABC news covering the election, beginning around 10:00.

Most of you will guess who I voted for, but this isn't a political blog, and we're not going to dwell on the particulars of who received which vote from me.

I will say I am pleased that Austin voted in geographic representation to the City Council, doing away with the At-Large system that had - as Austin has grown - meant that areas (like the 78745) were not necessarily feeling the love from a city council focused on growth in the urban corridor and leaving those of us in Lower Austin out of future development plans for things we can use, like mass transit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coach Darrell K. Royal Merges with The Infinite

Darrell K. Royal, icon of University of Texas football, has passed at 88.

I am sad to learn that former UT football coach, Darrell Royal, has gone on to his reward, but as I said to CoWorker Kristi - "It's kind of hard to imagine living a better life than that guy".

Longhorn Football fans know that Royal brought three championships to Texas and had a 167-47-5 record at UT.  Memorial Stadium is actually now Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, and has been for quite a while.

He remained active in UT Athletics and the University of Texas, and was on the field for a coin toss just a few weeks back.  He'll be missed, but in Austin, it is impossible to believe he'll be forgotten.