Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Man of Steel Trailer Arrives

It seems that the DNA of Richard Donner's Superman is stronger than you'd think.  For a movie that was to be bringing a new Superman to the world, there's certainly no small amount of the epic, world spanning vision Donner's Superman brought to the screen for the first time.  Not to mention that it was really Donner and Co. who brought Zod to prominence (he'd not even been the primary Kryptonian villain in the comics, that was Jax-Ur).  And there's definitely no small amount of what I recall from the Johns/ Donner penned issues of Action Comics from 2006-ish to what I'm picking up to be the plot.

All that said, I'm pleased.  I may miss the red trunks, but I think Cavill seems to have this down.  The footage looks spectacular, and (sigh) Amy Adams seems to be a new twist on Lois Lane.

I've heard say folks suggest that Superman doesn't need his origin retold for a new Superman movie, and I tend to disagree.  The origin has to work for modern audiences, and, more than anything, I think kids need to see the origin in a language they work in already - these days, that's big, loud, epic movies.

Well, no joke, I'm in.  Still looking at this with one squinted, skeptical eye as I remember whose name is attached as director, but you never know.

Oh, and, by the way, if that's Hans Zimmer's score, I approve.

Monday, April 15, 2013

With Boston, With Us All

My former co-worker and pal, Octavio, ran in the Boston Marathon today.  It was how I found out anything was happening.  His message on facebook basically read "Not sure what happened at the finish line, but Johanna and I are okay."

And I am grateful that the first thing I knew about what was happening in Boston was that despite the fact that something clearly very bad had happened (and I understood the scale within a minute or two), the one person I knew who could have been right there was all right.

Like all of you, I spent the afternoon trying to work, but really checking news sites and social media, wincing a bit at the folks who clearly came on line to post and had no idea what was happening in the world as they did so.  It's a forgivable faux pas in 2013, and I'm not sure that the fact that we've seen it before makes me feel better.

I scrolled through quotes from Mr. Rogers and the other messages shared on Facebook over and over, or retweeted on the twitters until it became an echo chamber.  In any other case, it might be one of those things that drives you nuts, but here, today, it's psychic armor.

We're learning, too.

Folks out there in the social media reminded each other not to let the media's early reports rush us like cattle into those narrow chutes of narrative.  And somehow we agreed it was all right to not have answers immediately.

We're getting good at this, and I'm not sure that's ideal, but it's better than the talking heads and the pointing fingers (pointing the finger of blame for our karmic retribution seems remote and archaic).  Since we saw the Federal building smoldering in Oklahoma City, us Gen Xers have known the feeling in the pit of our stomachs that our parents knew from the assassinations and disasters we saw in movies and read about in class.  These days, all of us know how to brace ourselves as cable news goes berserk, the internet lights up and, in the first 24 hours, stories pretending to be facts get passed in front of us like a shell game.

We know the score.  Maybe not exactly when it happens in our doorway, but we know it when it when the push alerts come though, the emails arrive and that casual look at a headline stops us in our tracks.  

Whether for political reasons or otherwise, the cowardice and cruelty of the bombing is infused with the self-absorbed fantasies of the men who've flown planes into buildings, shot up elementary schools and movie theaters, delivered by someone believing themselves a protagonist in a delusional narrative who honestly believes that somehow the murder of innocent people fulfills some story in their head in which they are a hero.

It doesn't matter what the perpetrator believed they were achieving - they failed.  What I saw were police literally running into action, paramedics and doctors who signed up for the marathon who thought they might get case of dehydration during the race finding themselves in an unthinkable situation, demonstrating what it means to have decency and courage.  Athletes who went from running 26 miles to donate blood.  Bystanders leaping into action to assist the wounded.  People opening their homes to take in those who were stranded.

Tonight, baseball was played.  People carried on.  We might have a few months of some folks who have second thoughts about joining crowds in public, bags taken into a stadium might get a second look, or we might have a few new procedures for security to follow, but whatever they thought they were doing, the attacker gained nothing and just managed to show us, one more time, what people can be when times when times turn dark, no matter how abruptly.

Tonight, tomorrow, for as long as it takes, we're all with Boston, and for the good in us that I truly believe will always shine in these moments of darkness.

Taxman - not a superhero

Jamie does our taxes.  I have no idea how any of that works.  I suspect, however, if something goes wrong it shall be me and not she that winds up in the clink.  All the more reason to be nice to the wife.

In this day and age, I don't really know anyone who doesn't (a) file online (b) as soon as they have their paperwork together.  Maybe growing up with stories on the local and national news every April 15th of people sitting in line at the post office to get their taxes in taught my generation a lesson.

Still, it is that magical day here in the US, so if you haven't filed, it's probably time.

A Pretty Nice Birthday

It was a pretty decent birthday.

Friday evening, Jamie and I had dinner with KareBear and The Admiral before they head off for Kenya for over a week.  Once again, they're travelling with a Lutheran outreach group that assists with eye exams an giving out glasses to folks in need.

Dinner was nice, but we had an odd moment when, around when we were ordering, a pair of young women walked past the open window we were near, did a double take and came back.  Then they stood there sort of smiling at us, then took out their phone and took a picture.  As near as I can tell, they thought we were someone else, and, I think, someone famous.  It kind of had to be us they were looking at, because there wasn't anyone behind us.  I have no idea who they thought we were, but when they show the photos to their friends, they're going to feel real disappointed.

Saturday we had a few folks over for drinks.  Thanks, if you dropped by.

your birthday boy, and pal-Sherry back there
You can't really tell, but Jamie made a Superman "S" on the cake with frosting.  And, yes, I was wearing a tie. What am I, a farmer?  Try cleaning yourself up every once in a while.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Course Update: Week 2 of Gender Through Comics Books

Update on 09/30/2021 - It's been 8 years since this post, and I do not know why it's getting traction now.  For some reason, this post is getting a lot of hits all of a sudden. 

I will say the following - in re-reading my comments I made at the time, I don't necessarily agree with these points exactly the same way now as I saw the issues then.  I think I'm now much more able to just let a question hang, or a problem exist without a specific answer.  Sometimes the challenge is the thing.  I don't think I demand a different model now the way I did then, and am able to better just handle an open question.

Maybe it's growth or my eyes being slightly more open, or I'm older and have had the past 8 years to ponder these same questions a whole lot more as the world has allowed more voices.  

Academia and criticism are hard.  There's a reason not everyone gets to do it.  And the topics in the class were challenging in a very positive way.  I believe internalizing some of this course was very good for me, indeed.  The methods and whatnot are up for discussion or critique, and they should be.  But just know that it was a good experience and I'm glad I was asked to review my own thinking in many ways by the course.

Original Post:

With the navigation issues resolved, Week 2 of the course Gender Through Comic Books, was a lot easier to deal with (the navigation is still awful, but at least I've basically sorted it out).   Of the promised 3-5 hours, I probably spent 3-4 hours, including an hour of guest lecture by comics maestro Mark Waid.  I did bypass a lot of the reading as I've read Superman: Birthright numerous times in the past, and was able to focus mostly on course materials - so that saved a good hour.

As has often been my experience with a lot of course reading in theory classes, the full articles are going to start feeling repetitive.  We've been presented the premise, and everything else is going to be supporting evidence - and this is why I was not a good student as an undergrad or, especially, during my glorious short, flamed-out career of not finishing grad school.

In this course, the basic concept is that "sex" is a biological designation and "gender" is a construct of personal and cultural choices.  I believe this makes sense in context, and  the readings made the concept pretty clear in Week 1.  In Week 2, the one article we were asked to check out gave some more evidence.  That's cool.  But by the time we get to Week 3...

This week was a mix of reading Superman and putting some coin in Mark Waid's pocket by selling a lot of copies of Superman: Birthright.  The task was to consider the construction of gender as it's played out less by instinct and more as part of a perception of roles of male, female and otherwise and how that's demonstrated by reading Birthright as well as Action Comics #1, an issue of Superman from 1960, and consider the ways gender is portrayed across 75 years.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters Merges with The Infinite

The great comedian and comedic actor, Jonathan Winters, has reportedly passed.  Winters hadn't been active much the past few years, so many of you kids may not know him.  But for those of us who grew up with Winters, he was sort of the crazy, beloved, nutsy next-door master of improv and characters you loved to see show up on TV.  If he hadn't mostly retired, he would fit in beautifully in today's movie scene shot on video and improvising around the script.

He'll be missed.

I'm going to YouTube to go dig up some of his stuff.  You should, too.

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Jamie

Our grand finale!

Really, what's not to like?

To folks who were in the right circles, it was not a secret (even from Jamie), that when I first met Jamie, I was quite smitten.  She, however, was less interested in the guy who had just tried Jaeger and Goldschlager for the first time, and was stumbling around a backyard in San Antonio.  Eventually, two years later, we made ourselves a thing.  In April of 2000, we made it official.

Nineteen and a half years after that first, somewhat blurry conversation, and she's still my favorite pin-up.

While we won't retire the "dames" label, we're retiring "Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer" with our favorite dame of them all.  Go out on a high note, I always say.

It's my B-Day (and that of Ann Miller)

Today is my b-day.  It is also the birthday of actress and dancer Ann Miller.

So wish Ann a happy birthday.  

Today I am 38

"Champagne Year"
by St. Vincent

So I thought I'd learned my lesson
But I secretly expected
A choir at the shore
And confetti through the fall night air

I'll make a living telling people what they want to hear
It's not a killing, but it's enough to keep the cobwebs clear

Cause it's not a perfect plan
It's not a perfect plan
But it's the one we've got

It's not a perfect plan
But it's the one we've got

Cause I make a living telling people what they want to hear
But I tell ya, it's gonna be a champagne year