Saturday, May 30, 2009

Movie Meme: Last Ten Movies I watched.

Calvin from Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool wants to know what the last ten movies I watched might have been. I can only remember back so far, but let's try this. I assure you, there are probably three or four in here I'm not remembering.

In something approximating reverse order from last night backward:

1) Supergirl
2) Burn After Reading
3) Bolt
4) Superman III
6) Star Trek
7) Star Trek: The Motion Picture
8) Wolverine
9) The Incredible Hulk (it was on cable, plus... Liv Tyler)
10) Slacker

I watch a lot of stuff on Cinemax, which in spite or its reputation, actually has the better movie selection, but not the original programming one gets with HBO. So there were probably a few movies in there I missed.

Editor's Note: I also watched the movie "Role Models" in there, somewhere.

Literal Total Eclipse of the Heart

Let's wrap up what's become Bonnie Tyler week with a League Super THX to Randy for sending me the Literal Reading of the video for Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart".

Friday, May 29, 2009

Supergirl the Movie

It's been a long while since I tried to watch "Supergirl: The Movie". I've not actually ever made it all the way through the movie, at least in one shot. Except for the last time, when I had the flu, was running a 102 fever and was drifting in and out, and wasn't sure what might have been an hallucination.

The important thing to know about Supergirl is that it was produced by the same Salkinds who produced the first three Superman movies, and largely reflects what would happen if they were left to their own devices. The movie faired poorly enough that it is rumored that its part of why DC more or less retired Kara Zor-El/ Linda Lee from the DC Comics Universe for about two decades. I don't know if I buy that story, but it didn't mean that comic dorks didn't actually TELL Supergirl star Helen Slater that somehow she was responsible for the death of Supergirl in the comics (that's not cool, ya'll).*

The movie has some curious sponsorships, such as Popeye's Chicken, A&W Rootbeer and maybe Schlitz Malt Liquor. It also features several celebrities slumming it for the fun of being in a corny superhero movie, one would assume. Peter O'Toole plays some sort of wizard of a lost Kryptonian city (Argo) that retreated to "Innerspace" when Krypton exploded. Or something. Mia Farrow appears as Allura, Supergirl's mother. And Faye Dunaway headlines as "Selena", the villainness.

Supergirl declares that she is going to find out why the chicken bucket dinner crossed the road.

None of the stars of the original movies are in Supergirl, except for Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen. There's some very Bronze Age-ish reason cooked up as to where Superman is during the duration of the film (he's off planet working out an alien peace treaty). Most likely Lois wasn't going to appear as Kidder wasn't getting along with the Salkinds at the time of the shooting. And... a pre-Max Headroom Matt Frewer appears as one of the first two people Supergirl meets on Earth. Who promptly attempt to rape her (it's a fun movie for kids!).

Like Superman III and IV, the writers, director and producers of the movie envisioned none of the same sense of scale or American myth-building or representation that the first two Superman films attempted to embody. The whole thing feels vaguely under-thought out and not taken very seriously for a major motion picture, but in the wake of the success of the recent era of comic movies, its easy to forget that until Tim Burton produced Batman in the late 80's, most people felt their comic book movie job was to make an episode of the old Batman TV show.

Supergirl ponders a future in which she will star in no sequels.

The people in the movie are all oddly plain looking, in an after-school special sort of way that would never happen in a movie these days.

The big-scale heroic acts of the movie include Supergirl putting out a tire fire and stopping runaway construction equipment. Which all occurs far further into the movie than you'd probably guess.

By the time the movie hit the screen (I wouldn't see it until years later, possibly on VHS... I have no real recollection), Supergirl had moved well past the demure sweet-16 year old that had first appeared in Action Comics 252. She was, by the 1970's, a sort of kick-ass undergrad who frequently got wound up about social issues of the day. The movie plays up a bit more of the "I'm a good girl" take on Supergirl, without quite the same creepy factor that a lot of the earliest Supergirl stories contained.

As the demure and reserved Kara Zor-El, Helen Slater is fine, I guess. She looks exactly right in the suit, she seems to be the only one taking things seriously, and if you were going to have that brand of Supergirl, then you could do a lot worse.**

I'm going to go ahead and say it: This is a really dumb movie. It features whole scenes in which they seemed to neglect to actually put in the big budget movie monster, a comparative scene to the "can you read my mind" sequence in which Supergirl first knocks out her paramour, then carries him around the world in a bumper car. And the central conflict seems to stem from Supergirl and Faye Dunaway both wanting the sexy lawn-guy.

In many, many ways, it makes just no sense, and fits in with the Superman mythology in only the slimmest of ways.

While normally I'd really appreciate how some folks persevere no matter what obstacles are in their path, one sort of feels that once the producers couldn't land Christopher Reeve for the movie, that should have been a sign to call the the whole thing off.

The movie has a weird, kind of goofy fantasy movie ending that makes not a lick of sense and features a detailed puppet of something that may be THE DEVIL. Ya'll, I do not understand what I just watched.

*Supergirl would become one of the internet's most fetishized objects. Her return to DC Comics circa 2005 would be marred by a costume redesign and storytelling that seemed to reflect that fetish far more than celebrating the history of the character. In the past year, writer Sterling Gates managed to rehabilitate the character, but the costume is in deep need of a redesign.

**Slater went on to feature in other movies such as "The Secret of My Success", "The Legend of Billie Jean" and much more. She recently appeared on Smallville as Lara-El, Clark's birth mother. Let us just say that she has aged rather well since she wore the cape. And, these days, I think most comic fans agree that Slater is probably the best thing about the movie and celebrate her as part of the whole weird, mixed-up world of Super-fandom. She appears at signings, etc...

Thursday, May 28, 2009


My new hero:

13 year old Kennyi Aouad in the 2009 Scripps Spelling Bee.

All of these kids are amazing. Seriously. They all give me hope that I rarely get when I deal with 13-year-olds in the wild.

But Kennyi brought pro-sports-like sideshow personality to the competition. And when he got the word wrong in round 11, he felt he needed to reassure the audience (and himself) that it was okay, and he'd tried his best.

I don't often apply the word "moxie" to spelling bee competitors, but Kennyi has it by the truckload.

alas, he was taken down by the word "palatschinken". Yeah, I'd never heard it either, but it seems to be some sort of pancake-like item

A few scattered items

Conference is Done

So I don't know why I hadn't thought much about it until last week, but I suddenly realized I was going to MC the conference I was "running" this week. So I more or less spent the past day and a half intro-ing all kinds of presentations.

Luckily, my team is super-awesome, so I was able to let them handle the administrative stuff this week while I wore a tie and ran around hoping nothing went wrong.

That's more or less over now, so now tomorrow is making sure I follow up with everyone who wanted to chat.

I guess we'll be doing this again next year.

I know how Ray feels

the strip.

Not Clear on the Concept

ABC is creating a sort of future-looking faux-documentary that portrays Spaceship Earth in the year 2100. Probably to save money, ABC has employed Flash cartoons.

In an attempt to be hip/ edgy/ what-have-you, they're describing what they did as a graphic novel. See here.

I find it hard to believe that nobody at ABC knew that a cartoon isn't the same thing as a graphic novel, and I think if they didn't think that the term carried some sort of cache of legitimacy vis-a-vis some mistaken notion regarding "grittiness", they would have... not done that.

The term "Graphic Novel" is largely considered to have been coined by master of the comics medium, Will Eisner, when he began putting out his first long-form work, such as "A Contract With God". Yes, it was intended to add legitimacy to work in a medium usually considered to be for children and the illiterate. Eisner was by no means alone in his efforts, but I'd focus on him here as what ABC has missed that Eisner knew, that the comic page/ sequential art is not the same thing as the animated program or the cut between scenes in film or video. It is its own medium with its own tools for expression.

A graphic novel is a complete comic work (often with multiple chapters) told with a beginning, middle and end. It is, basically, a novel in the sequential art form. And that basically means a series of static images, in which multiple actions are understood to occur in a single panel, or it may capture a single moment in linear or non-linear time. The space between panels (and this is the difference between comics and cartoons) is part of the storytelling, as the reader fills in the space or makes connections between the panels on their own. It isn't moving pictures with voice over and music.

A comic (or graphic novel) is not, ABC, a cartoon. Nor is it, WB, a Motion Comic.

Nor are, Hollywood, all comics a graphic novel. While it works terrifically well as such, Watchmen isn't even really a graphic novel. Its a collected, 12-issue series.

I understand the impulse, but I don't call your TV shows "a moving picture" or "talking painting" or "acted out book". So, you know... just try a little harder.

It looks neat, though. Depressing, but worth checking out.

Nothing on TV

Seriously. At least the Spelling Bee is on. And at this stage, how bad can you feel for the kids who lose? They're at the nationals for, chrissake.

Mom in Kenya

So... The KareBear is off to Kenya. She's with a church group, and they're going to be fitting people with glasses.

No, I have no idea how it works, but there you go.

I'm incredibly proud of KareBear as she's wanted to take part in some sort of mission work since high school. Sure, it could be argued that she's more than fulfilled that goal in her own backyard, but I think this was a particularly specific way she wanted to do it.

Most impressive is that she's decided to do it alone. The Admiral and KareBear are two peas in a pod, so I was a bit skeptical about how this would work if The Admiral remained at base, but so far, so good.

Wishing her the best of luck.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No Post Wednesday Evening

So here's Darwyn Cooke's portrayal of Wonder Woman. And, no, don't waste your bullets.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Making Lemonade

This is my new favorite thing.

An old favorite thing.

Even more Bonnie Tyler

Steven suggested I watch the video for "Total Eclipse of the Heart". And after having watched it...

A) This looks vaguely like something I'd have cooked up in film school had I accidentally eaten a bunch of peyote and got my hands on a modern dance troupe.

B) Bonnie Tyler's hair is awesome. It defies gravity, wind and modern science.

C) I have no @#$%ing idea what this video is about, but Steven is right. It is awesome.

I do dig the suggestion of something really amazing going on here, I just have no idea what it is.

I also never really understood this video, either:

another day at the office for Jim D

Jon and Kate - staying together for the kids

So... that post-scandal season premiere was sort of horrible. TLC has moved from exploiting the cute kids to exploiting the wreck that being on television has created of the family.

Its kind of weird and sad. At any rate, the show is about something else entirely this season.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Things I Like That I'm Not Sure Why

Most things, if you ask why I enjoy them, I could tell you why I've come to enjoy them. You guys have to sit through very long posts on Trek, etc... where I discuss that sort of thing.

But some things you like, and you've never bothered to analyze why. Here are some of those things...

Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart".

Yeah, a 20 secnd bit from "The Mighty Boosh" inspired this whole post.

Tilda Swinton

We watched "Burn After Reading" the other night, and I found myself quite pleased Swinton was in it. I haven't seen that many movies with Swinton, but I like her.

Spaghetti (with meatballs)

Its just meat, noodles and tomato sauce with some oregano. Its still one of my favorite foods.

Ghost Hunters

Seriously. Its just dudes scaring themselves in the dark.

Fourth of July Concerts

Local, certainly. But I also watch whatever they have on PBS when I get home on the night of the 4th.

Ozzy's "Mama I'm Coming Home"

News 8 Austin

Austin has a local 24-hour news channel. If you think CNN has a time finding material for its 24-hour cycle, then you can imagine the challenge of finding enough to cover in Austin. So we get "Pet of the Week" and a lot of coverage of events in the community such The Great Texas Dog Walk, marathons, holiday events, etc... Its on a shoe-string budget, but... seriously. I feel very well informed about my hometown, but why do I feel compelled to watch it virtually every time I turn on the TV?

The McRib

It's pork by-product pressed into the shape of ribs, smothered in a lo-fi bar-b-q sauce, and topped with onion and pickles. And I love it. God help me, but I love the McRib. It's one of the few times each year that I'll drink a large Dr. Pepper. r, really, these days, actually go to McDonald's.

But I dig it.

Jeff Daniels

Yes, he routinely gets nominated for awards and stuff, but that's not something that usually sways me. I think its the crazy range of stuff the guys is willing to take on, and always acquits himself quite well.

So that's the random list of stuff. I expect I'll do this again.

Feel free to add your own.

The Dug Ruins Your Party

The first thing I ever knew about Jamie's brother was that he lived in Austin. The second thing I knew was that he was really, really into MST3K. For those of you living under a rock since 1989 or so, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a show in which a human host (Joel Hodges and then Mike Nelson) watched terrible movies, usually sci-fi or fantasy, with two robot companions.

It's why I've seen many of the more horrible movies that take up space in my brain.

When dating someone, family shouldn't be your number one consideration, but finding out the brother of the girl you really dig is into the same stuff you are is a big, big plus. And it wasn't long before Doug and I were whiling away the holidays neck-deep in his collection of episodes.

Anyhow, Doug's collection of pals in the greater Bay Area are far greater aficionados of the awful than even myself. They've kept up with the crew of the Satellite of Love in a way I haven't, following them to their latest ventures of Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic.

Most recently, RiffTrax allowed their users to begin posting videos of their very own. Doug and Co. are working under the name "Team Swizzlebeef". You can check out their first effort at riffing on a video here. The film is an educational film on how to throw, what I'd consider, the worst party ever. Add Doug and shake.

It will cost you $0.82 to watch the whole thing, but... it's only $0.82.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Peabo forwarded an e-mail to me on Friday. An old pal of mine from many-a-year-ago, whom Peabo is still close friends with, is now stationed in Afghanistan. Last week our friend (will call him "S"), lost a peer and close friend when a roadside explosive went off beside or under her transportation. Normally, "S" would have been traveling with her, or she with him. But, for whatever reason, not on that day.

With the US at war on multiple fronts, good people will lose their lives for reasons often abstract and with very little to do with them had they chosen another path other than service. What can you do but set aside some time to honor them?

Its easy for me to push the reality of what's going on out of mind as it is now so often out of sight, and the reporting is concerned more with vague ideas of what may or may not happen, should our government tilt one way or the other on policy.

So the League takes a minute to salute our service men and women, living and passed. Now and in the past. And hope that "S" make sit home safely when his tour has come to an end.

Your Saturday Amanda Palmer Mention

I've been listening to a quite a bit of Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer of late (mixed with some Dan Deacon, and, the last week, Neutral Milk Hotel. Sorry, Randy.).

Apparently there's an entire album's worth of videos from "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" online. And, wisely, I think, they've made it possible to embed the videos into your own site. I never understand why they don't want for you to do that.

Here's "Leeds United".

It's an ambitious project to have videos for your entire first solo album, but I'd guess Palmer has friends in good places from her time with Dresden Dolls. For example: Neil Gaiman recently penned the words to the book associated with the album.

I also recommend:

Guitar Hero

and, for our less sensitive viewers "Oasis".

and for that same audience, "What's the Use of Won'drin'?"

It's a short video. Watch until the end.