Friday, March 02, 2007

Jeter, Bush and Mantle

An employee at Topp's after my own heart inserted images of George W. and Mickey Mantle into a new Derek Jeter baseball card.


Open Weekend and Romantic Movies

So, through an odd turn of events, Jamie's mom is under the weather (everyone give a Huzzah! for Judy) and Jamie's Dad is headed for Brazil. It's complicated, but it involves large, migratory birds and a German/Canadian physicist. More than that, I cannot say.

So Jamie is trading positions with Judy and is heading to Lawton for a few days to go run the show, wrangle cats and make sure Judy doesn't try any stunt driving. Which means The League is left to his own devices from Friday mid-day to Sunday evening.

Luckily, I have a lot of booze left over from the Christmas Party, so Mel and I are going to raise a pirate flag, stand on the upstairs balcony and wave sabers menacingly at the neighbors until the police show up. Yarrrgghh...

I'm also totally poor. So this weekend may mostly entail a lot of catching up with comics, cleaning, and trying to lay low.

A job would be totally sweet right about now.

We're headed for Erica F.'s wedding in a few weeks, and Jamie bought a shiny dress for the event. I have learned it is outside in Houston in March, so I hope Bug won't mind when I show up in shorts and my OU812 tour shirt. The following weekend we've got another outdoor wedding for Denby. I am sure Denby will want to change her name, but that ain't gonna happen. She'll always be Denby to me.

She's marrying a purveyor of fine meats. Go figure.

So a special shout out to the Loyal Leaguers who addressed my probing questions regarding romantic movies.

go here.

Once again, RHPT refuses to elaborate, leading me to believe that he was the kid in class who plagued the teacher with the "do we have to know this for the test?" questions. Hang your head in shame, RHPT.

As always, I've written questions without having any answers in mind of my own. Here goes:

1) What movie do you think best exemplifies the ultimate expression of romantic love?

I want to say that flying around the world so fast that you travel back in time for love is pretty good. But Maxwell points out another candidate in "Somewhere in Time" where Chris Reeve once again travels through time, but this time to meet the super-foxy Dr. Quinn, and that's good, too.

This is a particularly tough one as I don't watch too many romantic movies.

There's something about sacrifice for love that's sort of nihilistic and romantic. For example, Casablanca as love means letting go. But I think the never-realized love of Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is particularly poignant.

Plus, you know, Michelle Yeoh. Yowzah.

I might point out that this category was romantic love, not love between a boy and his dog. But if that's how you want to define romantic love, that's cool. I only ask that you stay far, far away from my dogs.

2) What movie do you think demonstrates the most fun look at Mad Love?

True Romance. Those are too crazy kids in some crazy, mixed-up love.

And, of course, The Quiet Man.

3) What movie do you think most accurately depicts or reflects how you feel about romantic love in your own reality?

I sort of think Jamie and I have a real nice Gomez and Morticia Addams thing going on.

But there's also something very visceral about "Punch Drunk Love" that, though the events don't reflect anything familiar, there's something I respond to about a semi-obsessive, self-conscious guy with borderline social skills realizing he has a good thing and realizing he's going to have to fight for it.

Also, I love pudding.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This review is spoiler-laden:

Going into the movie, I probably knew more about the topic than I should have. I do not consider myself to be any sort of expert in matters George Reeves, but my reading on Superman has lent itself to some reading on the life and death of George Reeves.

I believe that there is very good reason to think that George Reeves did not kill himself. But I don't know. But it certainly colored how I saw the movie.

The film, itself, is a sort of mix between a standard detective picture and Citizen Kane flashback sequences (also used in Immortal Beloved). The detective in question is Louis Simo, a fictionalized character/ convenient amalgamation of many real people who lives the standard movie detective life of the shabby apartment/ office, the messy divorce and kid left behind, and a girlfriend who will dump him before the end of the picture.

Ben Affleck, who is never as old as the character he is portraying, especially for the second half of the film, still manages to portray a reasonable fascimile of Reeves without giving in to parody or imitation. We've got lots of Reeves to look at, and with six seasons of The Adventures of Superman to pull from, Affleck manages to use that both to his advantage and manages to overcome the problem of mis-playing someone with whom some viewers might be fairly familiar.

For me, the story failed on a few fronts.

I take some umbrage at insertion of a fictional detective with a fictional dysfunctional family life as the framing device for the film. The film is really the story of Louis Simo chasing down the truth, and coming to the revelation that mediocrity in Hollywood is okay. A suspect moral, I think, but the lesson we're to understand Reeves' death has taught us is that hoping to become something better than what you are is a way to drive yourself mad. At least in Hollywood. At the end we're supposed to get really excited to see Simo in a suit (I guess he's gotten a straight job) and is coming over to check on his kid in the two bedroom LA-style tract house. With a promise of him giving up on the chance for the abstract greatness of private detective work, I guess. Hooray?

Further, the movie really spares no expense in setting up the husband of Reeves' spurned lover as a potential murder suspect, then backs down completely. This build-up includes details that seemingly make no sense if Mannix is NOT the murderer, such as an MGM rep's appearance at Reeves' funeral and the one scene between Hoskins as Mannix and Simo. Add in some mysterious tarot cards at the crime scene, and some fudgy actual details of the murder included in the film, and the final resolution seems like a lot of back-peddling.

Which raises the question: Did the producers wimp out? As folks looking for jobs in LA once Hollywoodland was in the can, did a moment of clarity tell these guys that fingering a studio exec using studio resources to bump a prominent actor might not be a good idea, career-wise?

I'm also fairly certain that as a non-actor, the melancholy and despair presented by Affleck as Reeves at his lot in life as the Man of Steel is something that's fairly foreign to me as a person (though, certainly not Affleck). Whether a personal failure or one of the movie, I felt that there was too much telling and not enough showing of Reeves' frustration at not being able to land other roles, and it was difficult to garner much sympathy for Reeves as a working actor and kept man, aside from the "Here to Eternity" sequence (which, I've read Reeves and Mannix did not actually attend). That said, as Superman was ending, Reeves had directed a few episodes of AoS, and as the movie indicates, was making a move to television directing. His career wasn't exactly over, though it might have been over in front of the lens. It's a detail, but a detail glossed over in the movie. And as the movie is trying to point to the certainty of Reeves' suicide, the ommission becomes somewhat problematic.

Reeves' death is a huge questionmark, and that lends itself to Rashoman type-speculating. Unfortunately, none of the answers provided by the film-makers are particularly satisfying. And that means that the movie isn't particularly satisfying, either.

Brody isn't bad, but there's a bit of New York to his LA born and raised detective. Diane Lane is excellent as Toni Mannix, and makes a very believable romantic interest for Reeves.

Some additional minutia:

It also can't help that I have read multiple conflicting stories regarding whether or not Adventures of Superman was actually cancelled. After all, as a syndicated show, the principles never knew whether the show was actually cancelled or not until someone called them to show up for work. Secondly, in the wake of the death of Reeves, the studio tried to put two other shows on the air (Superpup and Superboy), indicating that they planned for more Superman product. In fact, they used the exact same set for Superpup as AoS, so they hadn't torn down the sets as if the show was over. Further, I'd read that Noel Neill was under the impression that additional seasons were in the future and that Reeves' death was what ended the program.

For some eye-brow raising comments, you can also turn to a recent Noel Neill interview at the Supermanhomepage. It's known Noel was not necessarily socially involved with Reeves off the set, but it's definitely worth reading.

Phyllis Coates, who played Lois Lane for the first season of Adventures of Superman (Neill had predated her in the Kirk Alyn serials), also takes issue with the portrayal of Reeves and events. Read here.

Noel Neill was interviewed on KryptonFan this week. There is some mention of Hollywoodland. 02-28-2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Movies: Before We Leave The Month of Love...

It's Interactivity Time, Leaguers!

I was planning to do a Valentine's Day post about Romantic Movies, or movies that are, essentially, about romantic love. But I thought I'd leave this one to you

This would probably be a good "Mellies" question, but let's just think of this is a warm up.

3 questions:

1) What movie do you think best exemplifies the ultimate expression of romantic love?
2) What movie do you think demonstrates the most fun look at Mad Love?
3) What movie do you think most accurately depicts or reflects how you feel about romantic love in your own reality?

Now add a "Why" to each of those categories.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The League's Past Few Days

The weekend has come and gone.

We now have both wireless and wired internets delivering packets to our modems.

Natalie was supposed to be in town, but I don't think she was here as she never got in touch.

Friday night was dinner and then not much. Saturday Jamie and I played with Andy and Jason, me on bass, Jamie on piano. I am a bit unsure as to this whole band business. I hear I may be slated to play one tune with the rock band "Crack" at SXS1st during SXSW (although our configuration will be called "Sigmund and the Steans Monsters). I have also been told that I am to keep my ideas to myself. It's a tough way to start in with a band. Apparently I crossed some very upsetting lines when I was trying to come up with lyrics. It seems I don't carry the same filter when facing a crowd that the others shoulder, and there were fears of police action.

All I'm sayin' is that nobody else was coming up with any ideas.

Saturday night Jamie and I hit Kerbey Lane, and I drank too much coffee. I was still flying at 2:30AM.

Sunday Jamie woke me from my slumber with the following message:

"If you want to watch the Intel Building implode, I taped it. Also, there's bagels and coffee downstairs."

It's the little moments like that which make me realize I am the luckiest guy alive.

Around Noon'ish, we assisted Steven G. Harms and Lauren in their move. Steven is the best movee ever. "I have six boxes, two chairs and an armoire," he instructed. "The rest is already moved." Apparently Lauren, who is in no way what one envisions as a burly mover-person, had already moved most of their joint property while Steven was out of town.

So it was pretty quick work. And they still bought us lunch. Kudos to Steven and Lauren for their good work and excellent choice of a new pad. It's quite the set-up.

Today I looked for jobs and realized how dangerous I am with a computer in an office and no other distractions. I have found that I will disappear into this room, intending to check e-mail and emerge three hours later. I completel missed going to the bank today as I went to check e-mail at 4:00 and when I looked at the clock next, it was 6:00. Kind of scary.

Still, I'm happy to be at a desk of sorts instead of sitting on the couch with the laptop burning a rectangular spot on my stomach (I sit sort of inverted, with my legs propped up).

Comic reviews are up at Comic Fodder.

NFL Draft Guys Dot Com

Congrats to Sigmund Bloom on his launch of NFL Draft Guys.

From the Press Release:

Football junkies have a new home.

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* Accessible, in-depth, year-round college
* Decisive fantasy projections for your rookie
* Insightful commentary that goes deeper than the

Cecil Lammey.
Sigmund Bloom.

The stars of The Audible and know the

The offseason is the new season of NFL football, and
everything that's anything related to the draft can be
found right here. Our scouts attend every major event
from the Shrine Game through the draft, and they don't
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want informed opinions? You got 'em. In spades.

But our coverage doesn't just start when the players
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So bookmark it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Academy Awards

When many of you were in college and were expanding your musical horizons, The League sort of made a half-hearted effort to do the same. Our passing interest in David Bowie increased seven-fold, We went through a period where we bought every Talking Heads, David Byrne and related album (and slept happily beneath a subway poster of the least-exciting looking band in rock). And, when JAL took me to the Paramount to see "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" around March of 1995, I fell for the film scores of Ennio Morricone.

I was familiar with soundtrack to "The Mission", and a few other Morricone works, but first "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" and then "Once Upon a Time in The West" and continuing with "Once Upon a Time in America"... Morricone stood out to me (as a wide-eyed film student) as the perfect blending of film and music, rivalling John Williams for pure, iconic themes that told the story as much or more than, oftentimes, the dialogue itself.

The score to "Once Upon a Time in America", along with the one-sheet movie poster, are probably actually better than the final product of the film. The score manages to accomplish what many scores fail to do (but what I thought Ottman managed to accomplish quite well with "Superman Returns"), and that is speak the inner monologues for the characters.

As long-time Leaguers will know, I gave up on the Oscars several years ago when I realized most of the pictures nominated either never made it to my neighborhood, or could not possibly live up to the hype once it began. In addition, why on earth would I watch a bunch of over-paid actors run through a list of agents and producers to get their name on the air and thereby force the actor in question to beg for more work even as they're supposedly receiving their profession's highest accolade?

Hollywood is a sick, sick town.

So it was this evening that Jamie lured me down from the Fortress of Nerditude to watch the "honorary" or "lifetime achievement" award to Ennio Morricone, as he must not have ever won an award before and it was making the Academy look kind of dumb. Especially if Morricone died with no awards and having re-written the way in which film scores could work.

It was awkward enough that Eastwood didn't wear his glasses and in front of an audience of 1 billion people couldn't read the teleprompter, but...

well, (a) nobody in the audience really applauded for any of Morricone's scores as they played, except for "Good, Bad and the Ugly". And (b) as if to add insult to injury, someone tapped Celine Dion to lay words over the score to "Deborah's Theme" from "Once Upon a Time in America". Apparently not Dion, the lyricist, the Academy, any directors or producers had actually seen "Once Upon a Time in America" and knew that "Deborah's Theme" was not a song about finding one another in the moonlight. I don't want to get too much into what I THINK it's about, but it is not about filling up four extra minutes in your show at the Bellagio.

Also, Celine forgot the words at the mid-point of the song and just let out a "whooooo!" to cover it up. Well played, Celine. Well played.

This was followed by the appearance that the Academy was unaware that Morricone does not speak English. They invited him to give a speech, and a few awkward moments went by as Eastwood stood there and was supposed to translate, I guess. or Eastwood forgot his glasses and couldn't read the teleprompter again. We may never know.

The good part was that when Morricone got up to give his speech (in Italian, which Paltrow was pretending to understand), Quincy Jones and his daughter (Karen, from "The Office") totally stole Morricone's seat. No, he didn't steal it. He moved down to fill in for the cameras, but I like to think he and his daughter were treating it like a baseball game and thinking "if that guy leaves, we're totally snagging those seats!"

Also, for some reason, a Mussolini look-alike was seated behind Morricone's wife. I guess the Morricone's are old school Italians..?

I suppose I'm mostly irritated to know that the Soccer-Moms of America will now be driving around in their Ford Excursions listening to "the new Celine", unaware that Dion has butchered a once perfectly reputable bit of movie scoring.

Only at the Oscars would people choose to honor a man by taking one of his greatest works, render it unrecognizable, and hand it over to help a hokey Vegas-act sell some CD's at Wal-Mart while diluting any sense of the man's genius from the song. After all, Celine's producer's soft-rock sensibility know that lowest common denomintaor sound that really sells.

Congrats, Ennio. Welcome to LA.