Tuesday, April 2, 2013

10th Anniversary: Jake chimes in from the Shores of Oregon

As he says below, Jake is a relative new-comer to the Signal Corps/ Loyal Leaguers.  If "new" is being around for two years.  I've really enjoyed Jake's participation, his enthusiasm and his occasional voice of dissenting opinion.

And, yes, the Longhorns were the better team.

I stumbled upon The Signal Watch around April 2011, so I'm a relative newcomer to this ten year enterprise. I don't remember how I found the site, but I'm sure it had something to do with Superman. And it became quickly apparent this site was more than a collection of rants written with all of the erudition of a third grader. Quite the opposite; I found the posts to be refreshingly intelligent and insightful, much more so than the major comic book oriented websites, but without the cynicism and contrived snarkiness. Before long, this became my primary source of comic-related news and commentary. In fact, when it comes to superhero comics, monsters, film noir, Planet of the Apes and yes, Superman, The Signal Watch is my Saturday Evening Post.

Of course, it helps when the founder and proprietor, Ryan, is the same age, and grew up watching and reading all the same stuff I did. He's one of those rare people who, with equal enthusiasm, can argue the social and cultural currents running through comics, or pick the winner of Mothra vs. the Giant Mantis. Then of course, there's Superman -- Ryan just gets him. There are few things I don't get, like his zeal for Jimmy Olsen comics. And I think he actually believes the Longhorns were a better team than USC in 2005.

More than anything, I appreciate Ryan's willingness to converse with his readers. As someone who is often clumsy and blunt wielding my opinion, I am grateful for his patience and forbearance.

So congratulations, Ryan. Here's to ten more years. Salud!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Signal Watch Watches: Phil Spector

I think i figured out who Phil Spector was while I was in high school and had subscriptions to Spin and Rolling Stone.  He got name-dropped a lot, but it was in college that I figured out what The Wall of Sound was, and identified it with Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Ronettes, et al.  I'm no music aficionado, but I know what I like, and I was and am a Spector fan.

Recently, HBO aired a film by writer-director David Mamet, a movie based on speculation around the Lana Clarkson murder.

Of one thing I am certain: David Mamet is a much, much smarter person than me, but he can write a script that I can keep up with while still surprising me with what he sees in characters and situations, both micro and macrocosmic.  And whether his script hews to reality or not is irrelevant.  What's on trial here is less about Phil Spector, but 20 years of celebrity cases, of what it means to have reasonable doubt in the make believe world of Los Angeles and show business.  And, of course, the masses who pass judgment knowingly from watching snippets of news or seeing headlines in their RSS readers.

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Tom Selleck

RHPT and 10 Years of Loyal Leaguership

I met Randy at a movie theater in Beaumont, Texas.  He had come to Beaumont to visit JimD, meet me and catch a screening of Superman: The Movie.  That's one of two times we've been able to hang out, but I've been there online to find out he was moving to Tennessee, getting married, and now, he's on his second child. 

10 years, y'all.

Here to Randolph and making friends across the internets!

I had a version of this e-mail ready to go, but then I read Steven's letter, and managed to get an advanced copy of the 10th Anniversary post, so I re-worked it. Is that cheating?

I vaguely remember receiving an email from JimD many years ago telling me that I must read this blog a college buddy of his started. As with most things JimD recommends, I ignore it the first couple of times. (I do this despite JimD's amazing track record of recommending insanely awesome things). I - again - vaguely recall clicking the link, quickly scanning the first few posts, and moving on. A few days (weeks?) later, JimD's second email was along the lines of "you need to read his blog or he'll stop writing and that would be a tragedy". And for whatever reason, I clicked the link again and started reading a post. God knows what was the subject of that first post (probably comics), but I was hooked. I probably didn't start regularly visiting the blog for a few weeks (This was pre-Google Reader), but for at least two-thirds of the past 10 years, I visited League of Melbotis more than once a day, and commenting constantly. In fact, after Google Reader came along, I didn't add The League's feed because I would visit the site more often than Reader refreshed the feed. Good times.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman: The Musical!

Holy cow.

I've known about It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! for around 10-12 years, but I had never seen it in any form.  Originally produced as a campy Broadway spectacular  in 1966 (it debuted the same year as the Adam West TV show), the show ran for about four months before closing.  I think that, these days, the show has mostly been forgotten.

In 1975, because nobody was paying attention, ABC broadcast a version of the musical.  Reportedly the program aired a single time, fairly late at night and in a dead zone where networks were often trying to figure out how to fill the airwaves*.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no legally obtainable copy of the broadcast available.  For Superman fans, the musical is about as close to an intentionally obscure artifact as I can think of to that king of pop cultural ephemera, the Star Wars Holiday Special.  Superman fans have all seen clips or stills, but we haven't seen the actual full program.

Can you read my mind?

This week, I did obtain a copy.  We'll keep it a little shrouded in mystery, but my source knows who he is, and knows how awesome he or she is.  As the existence of this video may not be entirely on the up and up (and so offended am I that I have immediately burned the DVD so that NONE may find yourself tainted by the sheer audacity of it's illegality), I'm keeping the gifter's name out of it.

But, thanks, man.  That was SUPER of you!**

The video itself is a transfer from tape.  Tape from 1975.  So, it's got some rough edges and the sound is occasionally wobbly because: aging analog media.  It's not the drug-fueled nightmare that the Star Wars Holiday Special devolves into within minutes of the opening, and, frankly, the Star Wars Special had about 20 times the budget of this show.  It's also an oddball bit of nerd media, and would fit nicely on your shelf next to the shelved low-budget, very 90's Justice League pilot, the Legends of the Superheroes, the Captain America TV movies, etc... etc...   But the musical is pure hammy schmaltz, but intentionally so, and it's oddly charming, even if it's not much of a musical.

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer (Bonus Edition): Sean Young in Blade Runner

Somehow I never pre-set this column to go off yesterday.  I simply had no post for 03/30.  Kind of weird.

Anyway, let's give Sean Young credit where it's due.

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Elizabeth Mitchell

NathanC on The League's 10th!

I don't recall exactly when I met NathanC, but i recall seeing him play in a band called "Barnyard Commandos" at my high school's rockfest. I know I'd met him before he met up with my brother at Trinity in San Antonio when they were both Freshmen. And, not only have we been pals ever since, but Nathan knew Jamie separately from knowing me back at Trinity, as well. So, longtime pal.

No matter what happens with this blogging business, I know that Nathan will still be popping up at odd hours at my house until one or both of us goes.

Lovin’ the League

I’ve told the League (I cannot in any way refer to him as ‘Ryan’ in cyberspace) many times that he should be writing a column for the paper. Or a book.

I’ve know Mr. League for close to 20 years now, and always found him to be a bright boy. But something in his nut cracked when he moved to Arizona. The dearth of cultural activities in Chandler turned him inward, and then led him to spew his thoughts upon the interwebs with the classic-era blog “League of Melbotis.” The life and times of livin’ large in AZ were supplemented by remembrances of better (and worse) times in Texas, including some of my favorite stories about working for the Mouse at Willowbrook Mall, or the rat at Chuck-E-Cheese.

The League writes well, and continues to do so with The Signal Watch. His online persona is honest and not without a little humorous sarcasm. He speaks for the frustrated observer of life and culture. His takedown of Johnny Clambake’s is legendary.

And he brings people together. As many have said before in this spot, the League of Melbotis was a social network when Marc Zuckerberg was only...

Oh, wait a second, Facebook started in 2004?

Well, you were a little ahead of the game.

Happy Easter, y'all

And from here in Texas...

It's Like Seeing a Fever Dream Come True: Axe Cop TV Trailer

@#$% just got real.