Sunday, June 23, 2024

Me and "Batman" (1989) - at 35

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the release of Batman.   

Our final episode of The Signal Watch PodCast covered this movie.  I invite you to join Jamie and me through a chipper discussion of the movie and the forces around it.  And I've previously written about me and Batman.

To repeat some of what's the podcast and maybe elsewhere - I very much recall my excitement around Batman in 1989. 

I'd really come to comics in 1986, and like a lot of readers at the time, I mostly read X-books and the Bat-titles.  Bat-comics were kind of exploding at the time in the wake of Dark Knight Returns and with the arrival of the terrific talents of folks like Alan Grant on writing chores, veteran Jim Aparo and fresh talent Norm Breyfogle on pencils.  I think this era is one of the many well-loved eras for the books, and with good reason.  

Even in the era of Indiana Jones and Star Wars, Batman was the first movie I ever followed through development and to release date - then through box office and into home video.  It was not the first movie I ever loved, but it was the first movie I felt a level of personal attachment.  

I recall articles in Comics Scene, then the paper.  Reading Nicholson was the Joker and feeling uncertain how that would go.  Prince would be on the soundtrack, which seemed bizarre.

So excited was I - I purchased the novelization prior to the release of the film, and was half-way through reading it when I realized "this is a very dumb thing to do" and I cast the book aside.  I didn't know the term "spoilers" then, but I realized I was going to maybe ruin the experience a mere 4 or 5 days prior to seeing the movie.

My memory of seeing the film itself will always be tied up with a few unrelated things.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Lollapalooza, Rock n' Roll and where we're at in 2024


Back in the summer of 1991, with a newly minted driver's license, I drove from Spring, Texas to Austin.  We picked up a friend of my brother's, and then we pivoted, driving into Dallas just before dusk.  

The next day, my brother, his buddy Mike, my buddy Scott and I attended Day 1 of the first two dates in Dallas of the first Lollapalooza tour.  Back then, Lollapalooza was fairly small, and a roving event that moved the artists and associated folks from city to city.  Dallas had sold better than expected, so they added a second day, which was, because of scheduling, the day before the original date.

We kind of knew about the music festivals in Europe, but at the time, music festivals here had sort of died out except for the very successful Monsters of Rock thing (the history and complexity of which I won't get into here).  Bands mostly played 2-3 acts together at most.  Something like Reading was way out of reach on our shores.  You had to have Farm Aid to see anything like a festival that I was really aware of.

Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell somehow cooked up the idea of his caravan of 120 Minutes friendly bands (we did not have the term Alternative in 1991), pulling together a fascinating herd of musicians, hitting cities all across the US.  That I could see Jane's Addiction, Ice-T, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Rollins Band in one day was mind-boggling.  As promised Farrell also brought along artists and international food I wasn't familiar with (I recall looking for food from Africa every year and never regretting it).

Sunday, April 28, 2024

24 Years of Wedded Bliss

So, April 28th, 2024 marks the 24th anniversary of Jamie and I making it official.

We'd "dated" for years prior, back to 1995, but that's if you call "dating" two people just saying "yup" to each other and now we were an item.  There wasn't much in the way of trying to figure things out regarding our status.  I wasn't taking her to a movie and then dropping her off and wondering what she was thinking.  We were just together.  And while I didn't know that we'd get married in the first months, there was just not a lot of work there - we just didn't have a trial period or casual dating phase.  

When I hear about people having relationship drama, I'm just of the opinion that you aren't writing a romantic novel about overcoming all kinds of obstacles in liking each other.  I'm not saying there isn't any work or misunderstandings, but, kids, it can be pretty good pretty early on.  With Jamie's medical history, we wound up having plenty of drama that wasn't us arguing, so don't mistake things for being all smooth sailing.  And I got cold feet a couple of times as we headed toward what looked like a lifelong relationship - what with college ending and next phases of life starting.

But into those next phases we headed, sharing an apartment for two years before nuptials.  We got married on a Friday in April of the year 2000.  We were 25, which was pretty young by the standards of my peers.  But, also, most of my friends responded to the news with "shocker, man".  Which means people probably knew we were getting married before I knew.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Me vs My Facial Hair

Beards are in.  Facial hair is *in*.  Cool dudes are wearing beards.

I'm not one to care much about remaining trendy or fashion (he said, wearing his Bugs Bunny t-shirt as if to put too fine a point on it), but beards and mustaches when I was a young man were for girlfriends' dads and people trying to show you they were, in fact, an iconoclast.  Which, in itself, was super strange.  Facial hair is a pain and it *should* be far more normal to have a beard than not have one. After all, to have a beard, all you have to do is nothing, and a beard happens, if your genetics are so inclined.

And yet...  it's often been the fashion to have a smooth face.  And not just recently.  George Washington?   Chin clean as a newly washed dinner plate.  Paintings of renaissance dudes?  Maybe a twirly mustache.

But going back to college, me and my Norelco have had fairly regular meet-ups.  I'd shave for work pretty much every day, just as I'd done since, like, 9th grade (when my need to shave was to keep the odd patches of beard and peach-fuzz stache from creeping in). 

Until a few years ago, the longest I'd ever gone without shaving was five days on vacation.  But this year, around Christmas, I let it go for several weeks.  And, then, from March 15th to April 17th, I didn't shave.  

these pics are me "reacting" to reaction videos

Here's what I learned.  

The $420 bottle of Batman Perfume and DC Comics in 2024

A long time ago now, comic artist and famed "nice guy" Jim Lee became President of DC Comics.  He'd been put in a position of power during the Diane Nelson era, having had brought in the Wildstorm Universe to DC Comics, first as an imprint, and then shoehorning it into the New 52 (pretty much against logic and reason).  And he was the foil to Dan Didio's blustering and general ass-hattery.  

But every time an interviewer put a mic in front of Lee, he'd say things that I found confounding.  Chief among those things was that comics weren't really a form of reading, they were a collectible.  DC was in the collectibles business.  

Which makes sense if you made a million dollars because kids were speculating wildly on comics in the early 1990's, but has made minimal sense since that fateful era that almost killed the American comics industry.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Martin Short Appreciation Post

A while back someone tried to do a hit piece on Martin Short.  It was weird - the legit journalist spent a day or so with Short and his take at the end was "I never thought Martin Short was funny."  Which is super weird.  

The article was not received well by the general public.  

Multiple generations are fans of Short, and, sure maybe he's not to everyone's taste.  Look, if I want to write a blog post and howl into the wind about something, whatever.  But spending time and energy of a legitimate publication to work through my personal taste in comedy, that's super weird and says more about me (and my editor or lack thereof) than it does Martin Short.

But let it be known, at this blog, we dig Martin Short.  From Ed Grimley where we first found out about Short, to his many movies, to Jiminy Glick, to his current work with Steve Martin, both stage shows and Only Murders in the Building - I've certainly liked him.  

I mean, this is how he responded to his pal David Letterman having a massive heart attack.


If you never saw Jiminy Glick, I think Short was oddly ahead of his time on this one

And, of course, his Ed Grimley sketches

It is *hard* to remain as funny as Short has over the years, and to keep it relentlessly fresh.  And to find new avenues for what he does.  I mean, there are multiple levels upon which I appreciate Only Murders in the Building, but certainly I'm a fan of how Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez have created some great characters.

Anyhoo, if you've got a favorite Martin Short bit or role or clip, share in the comments!

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Twitter is over, and I need a junk drawer

Remember when you'd be over at your friend's house and they'd want to show you the groovy light their parents kept by the water bed in their room?

I have multiple social media accounts, but I don't really want to engage with humanity much on them.  

Engage with people on a topic for a particular issue or topic?  Especially responding to a post on movies or other things I want to talk to people about?  Sure.

But I think we all learned a lesson leaving twitter:  do not actually engage.  Do not start talking to people you do not know in an uncontrolled, anonymous environment.  Do not get into internet fights where you will prove someone wrong.  Do not get mad when someone points out you are wrong.  

But, also, you know, you don't need to live your life out loud on social media.  You don't know those people.

I am currently using my accounts the following ways:

Threads:  a quick scroll and mostly disappointment, but to get the basic gist of what the internet is thinking (last week I pieced together: What does Beyonce know about being Southern? is a racist dog whistle!*  What a time to be alive.)

BlueSky:  I see some Cubs chatter, which is nice.  But mostly I follow it for FilmSky, ie: people who are true weirdos about film who don't give a shit about film twitter, and are opining, posting links and living their best movie-nerd life.  Very friendly, unpretentious and lovely at the moment.

Instagram:  Initially I kind of used it not at all, despite having an account for years.  I am not trying to frame my life as exotic and exciting, and I don't particularly care if actors get to eat spinach salad in countries they don't live in or which fashion company gave them sunglasses.  But I've now followed enough people I know, and I just use it to send Signal Watch blog posts.  I also like to find silly stuff and repost it on Reels.  

Tumblr:  I use to repost stuff from the blog, and reblog funny pictures and some classic film stars.  I also know what people in their 20's who live with their parents and don't seem to have jobs think about the world.  It is wiiiiild.

Facebook (Blog-related):  I use to send Signal Watch posts to the official League of Melbotis page.  People still seem to use it.  I think this page is also linked one way or another, and I'll be looking into that.

Facebook (Personal):  I wouldn't even say this is a curated view of my exciting life.  I do still use it because it's the only way I'm in touch with many people, or the best way for me to reach some people.  A bit like why I still have a landline - because I had one in 2006, and that is where people find me, so I can't get rid of it.  Plus, I do get news, weather and other things there.

I do not do politics, or anything remotely, actually "personal" on facebook.  My parents, relatives, former teachers, bosses, etc... are all on there.  So I used to post things that were intentionally obnoxious and silly, but now I mostly use it to be silly.  Or mark "hey, it's Jamie's birthday!".  That sort of thing.

LinkedIn:  I actually kind of do use this at the moment as I'm between gigs.  I hear from recruiters there, and talk to colleagues, plus see what those colleagues are up to.  It's not all bad.  But I don't read those "thought provoking" articles that get reposted.  You know they aren't.

Slack:  I'm on a social slack.  It's all right with like four people.

But the thing I don't really do that I used to do when I was on Twitter is just put a short thread together, and I don't really have a place for things like "hey, remember the weird fluid and light things our parents had?  That was weird, right?"

So, initially I thought I'd use a return to League of Melbotis to do some personal journaling, but I don't know how into that I am as a concept.  Instead, I'm going to try to use it for a goofy junk-drawer for a while, which was often how it was used back in the 00's.  Signal Watch can continue on as a media review site, and I'll put other stuff here.


*our friend Bae is from Houston, and if you wanted to raise the collective dander of everyone in Texas, challenge if we know what the fuck country and cowboy culture are