San Diego Classic Film Calendar

Monday, July 27, 2015

Louise Brooks: Detective by Rick Geary – Graphic Novel Review

One of the few comics I picked up this year at Comic-Con was Rick Geary's latest graphic novel, Louise Brooks: Detective. San Diego cartoonist Geary is probably best known for his nonfiction crime series Treasury of Victorian Murder (graphic novels about Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and others) and Treasury of XXth Century Murder (graphic novels about the Lindbergh kidnapping, Sacco and Vanzetti, and others). This is something of a departure for Geary. Well, sort of.

Set in Wichita, Kansas in the early 1940s, it's a fictional account in which real life dancer/actress Louise Brooks, where she gets involved in a fictional local murder. The story is told from Brooks' point of view. Though fictitious, Louise Brooks did live in Wichita at the time, and much of what happens to Brooks such as opening a dance studio only to have it fail a short time later did actually happen to her at the time.

I bought the book directly from Geary, and he explained that Louise Brooks was one of his favorite actresses. I got the impression that he mostly just wanted to spend time drawing her, and I have to say the results are stunning. At only 80 or so pages, it's a quick but fun read. Similar to Geary's nonfiction crime work, there's an almost documentary quality to it.


Coming in, I knew very little about Louise Brooks, but the introduction is a short biography to help get you oriented. I never felt like I was lost or anything. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, and you get a good feel for both what it was like for Brooks at that point in her life, as well as what it was like in Wichita at the tail end of the depression. For me, the latter was a bit of a personal connection for me as my parents are from Wichita and would have be there at about that time.

The murder mystery itself is a clever-little whodunnit with Brooks acting as the amateur sleuth. I would think it would be difficult to balance to biographical elements of the story with the fictitious parts, but it's all done pretty seamlessly. I never felt like it was a biography with a mystery superimposed on it or vice versa.

If you're a fan of Geary's true crime work, a fan of Louise Brooks, or just an old movie buff, I think you'll find  Louise Brooks: Detective highly enjoyable. I'm a bit of all three, so I loved it.

You can pick it up better comic shops or order through Amazon here


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As a bonus, I stumbled on this time-lapse video of Rick Geary drawing Brooks. Kinda cool, enjoy.




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Last Tuesday – The Weirdest Tuesday Ever

Most of the following took place on the Tuesday after Comic-Con International. I do need to preface this a little by talking about Comic-Con. Attending Comic-Con can be something of  an ordeal. I don't think anyone who knows the show will argue with that. It's great. It's awesome, but it's also something of a nightmare at the same time. 

Most people don't know this, but Comic-Con has a fairly small paid staff of about 30 people who work very hard year-round on Comic-Con and the sister show, Wonder Con. Then, there are several hundred people like me who come back each year to work on the show as volunteers, running and assisting various departments, not to mention several thousand daily volunteers who do 3-hour shifts wherever needed. For me, I do it because I love it. Yes, it can be a nightmare at times, but Comic-Con is a very special event. And I know that at any given time, there are ton of people running around having the time of their lives, and what I do helps make that happen.

I do the newsletter for Comic-Con International as a volunteer, meaning I take my vacation to come in and work longer hours for Comic-Con than I do on my real job that pays the bills. I normally take the entire week of Comic-Con off, plus the Monday and Tuesday afterwards to rest and recover. For the few weeks leading into Comic-Con, I'm mostly getting things set up, contacting companies for artwork for the cover, making sure the printers are lined up, etc. Then the Monday before Comic-Con, I show up on site with my wife's computer (my wife is the secretary of the Comic-Con Committee, and I use her computer to do the newsletter).

Now, my wife's computer is a very old Mac laptop. At the Apple Store, I think they refer to it as, vintage obsolete, meaning it is so old that none of the current Mac operating systems are supported to work on a machine that old; i.e., you might be able to get it to work, but good luck with that. For the last about two years she's done several upgrades and nothing seems to help with it. On top of that, it was not a super good Mac to begin with. It's fine for Word, Filemaker, and email, which my wife uses it for. But the week of Comic-Con, when I'm on it 10 hours a day, using InDesign etc., not so much

Fast forward to the Friday of Comic-Con, I was about twenty minutes from being done with the newsletter, when my wife's computer died. I honestly didn't know it was possible to get a blue screen on a Mac, but I did it, and after that the computer wouldn't boot. Fortunately, they were able to recover my files. The amount of actual work on the publication I lost was not a lot, but it took like 3 hours, to recover the files, get set up on a new machine, figure where everything was, install fonts, etc. Oh yeah, plus the stress of not knowing for a couple of hours, whether or not I was going to get the newsletter out that day.

Now, the Monday and Tuesday after Comic-Con, I always take off from work to recover from the show. I usually get home on Monday between noon and 1:00, and then spend the bulk of the next two days sitting on the couch watching DVDs that I've seen fifty times, because I don't have the energy to watch anything that I have to pay attention to. As we were getting ready to leave the hotel, we got a call from Comic-Con's IT director. He had copied all of the files from my wife's dead machine to his laptop. We figured the easiest thing to do would be to put all of her files on a portable hard drive, and he recommended a certain type, because it would be faster copying the files.

Thus, we checked out of the hotel, went home, unloaded the car, and immediately we had to run out and buy a hard drive.  Then, we had to go to the Comic-Con office to a) get the files, and b) figure out what my wife is going to do for a computer since I had turned her machine into a brick a couple of days earlier. Now, we had planned on going to my 91-year-old mother-in-law's house that night to have dinner (take out), because during Comic-Con, she doesnt't see anyone besides our 20-year-old son, who lives with her/helps take care of her, but is gone most of the time during Comic-Con. Because it had taken so long at the office, we decide to cancel dinner, and just go out for breakfast the next day, which brings us to:

The Weirdest Tuesday Ever

The plan was to go to IHOP at about 10 am. I woke up at about 8:00, went out and got a cup of coffee and played around online and watched Beneath the Planet of the Apes. TCM was playing, ape movies all day that day. How cool is that? Planet of the Apes movies, King Kong movies, capped by Mighty Joe Young and Any Which Way But Loose, perfect for recovering from Comic-Con, absolutely, no brain cells required.

A little before 10:00, we came out of our house, and there were about five cop cars on our street, never a good sign. Whenever I see cop cars on our street, I'm always worried about our across-the-street neighbor. He's a nice guy, but crazy, harmless crazy, but definitely crazy. And police and harmless crazy is not necessarily a good combination. One of the cop cars was blocking our driveway. There were about 8 or 10 cops standing around. By the way they were positioned, they didn't seem to be after my crazy neighbor, but since I had to get one of them to move the car anyway, I thought I'd ask.

It turns out the it wasn't our block but the next block over. They had tried to serve an arrest warrant on someone in a house that shares a back fence with one of my across-the-street neighbors, and the guy refused to come out. Okay, no big deal. Not my crazy neighbor, idiot the next block over. I got one of the other cops to pull his car forward so we could get out of our driveway, and we left.

Bear in mind here that all I really wanted to do all day on Monday and Tuesday, was sit in my living room on my own couch doing as close to nothing as humanly possible. Monday, hadn't worked out that way, because of the computer issues. But Tuesday all we had planned was breakfast at IHOP, and then done for the day. That works, right? Wrong.

IHOP was fine. Nothing like a pancake breakfast when you in the mood to be lethargic. Then my wife wanted to go to Target. Because to her, a day without Target is like a day without sunshine. The plan was to plant my mother-in-law in the Target cafe while everybody grabbed what they needed real quick. My mother-in-law was having none of it. She wanted to shop.

Since I work full-time, I am blissfully ignorant of what my wife and son go through to take care of my mother-in-law. At 91, she is in about as good a shape both mentally and physically as you could hope for, but even so she can be a handful. Taking her to Target, reminded me a little of taking a toddler to Toys"R"Us. You're going to need them something they don't need or there is going to be a tantrum in the aisle, except there's also kind of a Good Cop/Bad Cop element to it between my wife and my son. By the time my wife got her out of the Target restroom, my son had just about finished picking up everything they needed.

Still, my mother-in-law wanted to shop. The idea was to let her push the cart a little ways and then put something either sweet or shiny in the cart to distract and then herd her back to the check-out. My wife suggested Fig Newtons (sweet), but before we could get there, my mother-in-law got distracted by the nail polish aisle (shiny). For the next five minutes, I watched my mother-in-law and my son verbally fence about nail polish.

My mother-in-law: I don't like this nail polish. It's too bright. [Grabs a shade two steps darker than what she is already wearing]

My son [Bad Cop]: No, Maa-ma [the name we have all called her since my son was old enough to speak], you already have that color. [Takes the nail polish from her and puts it back]

My mother-in-law: Well, I don't know where it is.

My son [Bad Cop]: I know where it is. I'll find it for you when we get home. 

My mother-in-law: I don't like this nail polish. It's too bright. [Grabs the shade two steps darker than what she is already wearing].

My son [Bad Cop]: No, Maa-ma, you already have that color....

They go back and forth like this five or six times. Every now and then, my 15-year-old daughter tries to jump in and suggest a non-bright color that is a color other than the pink Maa-ma is wearing. My mother-in-law rejects all of these suggestions, with a single word that is not really a word, "Yeeech."

After a while, my wife shows up. Quickly, she goes to the next rack of nail polishes (the ones that cost about two dollars apiece, rather than the eight-dollar apiece ones that they had been arguing over). My wife finds a bottle that is an acceptible nonbright color that is at least a little bit different than something she already owns.

My wife [Good Cop]: How about this one?

My mother-in-law: That's nice.


And off we go to the check-out. My mother-in-law says, she needs some candy. Fortunately, that's right by the checkout. She picks some Rollos (sweet). Turns out, she also needs some chips, so we grab some, also by the check-out. While my wife and son pay for her stuff and our stuff, my daughter and I usher my mother-in-law to the car. For me, that was about the most mentally daunting 20 minutes of my life. My wife and my son do that all the time with her. They deserve a medal.

Next up, my fifteen-year-old daughter wanted to go to her boyfriend's house. Fortunately, it was in the same part of town as the Target, so we dropped her off. Then to my mother-in-law's house to drop off her and my son. After that, done for the day, right? Wrong.

When we got back to our house, the police thing had escalated into a SWAT operation, and they weren't letting anyone onto our street. Now, had we known when we left this was going to happen, we could have grabbed a book or something to have something to do as we waited it out. I figured that I would find the San Diego Police Department's Twitter feed, because they would presumably Tweet something when the neighborhood was all clear. On my phone's Twitter app, I couldn't even find their official SDPD Twitter feed. 

I called the SDPD non-emergency number. It took about 12 minutes of being on hold listening to a recording in English and Spanish, that all dispatchers were busy. Really, no shit. I finally got a person. Of course, she was aware of the situation in our neighborhood, but had no idea about things like Twitter or whether they would be using it to let residents know it was okay to go back home. I asked what their Twitter handle was, and she said that she really didn't know what it was asking for. I explained that the Twitter handle would be a string of characters that start with the @ symbol. She put me on hold, while she called the Media department.

She came back on with the Twitter handle, @SanDiegoPD. I asked whether they were planning to send out a tweet saying that it was okay for residents to return home. She didn't think so. I asked if they could call me when it was clear. She knew they couldn't do that. She offered to have someone in their Media department call me. I said, sure, thanked her, and hung up.

About 2 minutes later, my phone rang. It was someone from the SDPD Media department. Cool. I explained that I was a resident impacted by the SWAT operation, and I was wondering if they were planning to send out a tweet when it was okay to go back home. He said, of course, they were planning to, as in they hadn't really thought about it but now that I mention it, it's not such a bad idea. I thanked him.

By this time, we had decided to go see, Jurassic World. What better way to kill two and a half hours, when you're barred from your own home with nothing better to do. I decided that I should contact my two brothers and sister, just in case, they stumbled on a news story about the SWAT thing in our neighborhood. I sent a quick message saying, yes, it was us, but we were all safe. 

We got to the theater a few minutes early for the 1:30 showing of Jurassic World. It was good, but a little bit too much excitement and too much brain activity, when all I really wanted to do was sit on my own couch, watch my own TV, and not have to think about anything. How sad is that? That Jurassic World was too intellectually stimulating?

The movie ended, and I checked Twitter. Our neighborhood had been cleared about a half hour earlier. We could go home, woohoo. We got home at about 4:00. Bear in mind here that all I really want to do for the two days after Comic-Con was sit around and do nothing, but ended doing way way way too much running around, for reasons that were almost entirely beyond my control. The only consolation was that my wife and I had the house to ourselves for about an hour and a half and could engage in a little quality teenager-free happy naked time.

I had to leave again at 5:30 to pick up our daughter. On the way there, traffic was fine, but the way back was against traffic, so it was only slightly better than my average workday commute, joy. Since none of us were up to cooking I ended up stopping at the taco shop a few blocks from our house to pick up dinner. It was about 7 by the time I got home with food and could relax. 

So the two days, I had allotted for doing nothing, I had spent most of my time doing something. Thanks, Obama.



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Blaxploitation Math

Scene before bed last night:
Me: Guess what's coming on in a few minutes?
My wife: What?
Me: Cleopatra Jones
My wife: Ohhh. You are recording it. [Not a Question]
Me: Of course.
My wife: Awesome.
Me: So guess what's coming on after that?
My wife: What?
Me: Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
My wife: Oohh
Me: That's right, If Cleopatra Jones is awesome, add a Casino of Gold, and it's f***ing awesome.

Now to show our work, this conversation, expressed as an equation:


=
XX XX XX
>

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

White people need to stop being such dicks, No. 2, A lot of black friends edition


I was going to do a post on the Confederate flag. I even wrote up most of it. Ultimately, I decided that maybe it would be better to let the smoke clear a little bit.

Instead, I'm going to talk about something I hear white people say when the subject comes to race, "I have a lot of black friends." First, how many is a lot? Is it two or three? Four or five? Four or five is starting to get there, but if it's a relatively small number, it's not a lot.

Having a certain number of friends of a certain race has nothing to do with racism, but let's not worry about that right now. I do have some good friends who are black, but I wouldn't say lots. Then again, I don't really think I have lots of friends, period. 

Maybe, my definition of friendship is different than other people's. What follows are a number of yes/no questions related to friendship. For me, it helps define whether a person is really a friend or just an acquaintance:


  • Have you met some of this person's family (spouse, children, parents, pets)?
  • Do know the names of some of this person's family (spouse, children, parents, pets)?
  • Have you ever been to this person's house?
  • Have they ever been to yours?
  • Do you have this person's home or personal cell phone number for non-work related reasons?
  • Do they have yours?
  • Have you ever had a drink or a meal together? If this is someone from work, is this a small group or was everyone invited? If it's a work thing where everyone was invited, that probably doesn't count.
  • Have you ever done something fun together, like go to the movies, a baseball game, or bowling? Again, if it was a work thing where everyone went, that probably doesn't count.
  • If this is someone from work, have you ever seen them outside of work or a work-related function.
  • If at a social gathering where there are a lot of people, is this someone you go out of your way to talk to? 


How did you do? If you answered no to most of these, then maybe they aren't really friends but more acquaintances. Don't worry about it. If you asked black people the same questions about their white friends, their answers probably wouldn't be that much different than yours. But think about it, if one of your black friends at work is someone that you've known for ten years. And they've been married that whole time, and you don't know their spouse's name, maybe you don't know them as well as you think you do.

Even so, late's say you have 50 black friends by the criteria above. That is a lot in pretty much anyone's book. But if your attitude is, those 50 are the good ones and the rest are shiftless and ignorant, that's still pretty racist. 

Here's what it comes down to, my crackas. Yes, I'm white. I can say that. It's our word. You really don't need to prove you're not a racist, but if you feel you have to, you don't do that by making a list of all the black people you know and seeing how many you can move to the friends column. You prove that you're not a racist, by how you treat people, how you talk about them, and yes, even how you think. If every time you see a black person walk by, you think the N-word, that's racist whether you say anything or not.

And for God's sake, if you feel like you need to say, I have a lot black friends, don't follow it up with a but and something racist:


I have a lot of black friends, but those protesters are all a bunch of thugs.

That's being a dick. Just stop.