Friday, April 08, 2005

I went and head a ton of dental work done today. No big deal.

But now the numbing stuff is wearing off. Mother of God, it's beginning to hurt.
Hey, looky! It's a countdown to the release of the new Superman movie.

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A Kryptonian ship from the Kent farm set from the new movie.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

CNN reports Cookie Monster to learn to eat right.

Given what my doctor keeps telling me, maybe Cookie Monster and I can learn to eat right together.

Cookie Monster, I feel your pain. I also get the crazy googly-eyes when presented with a plate of cookies.
From the files of: It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Could it be that the UConn Young Republicans' choice of guest speaker, Ultimate Warrior, was not the genteel, thought-provoking fellow we all believed?

It's really the photo (and my own memory of seeing Ultimate Warrior wrestle at the Erwin Center circa 1990) that makes this so grand.

Heidi Reports.

If only we could get Scott McClellan in that same get-up. THEN people would really be interested in the White House press briefings.

***update***

The Ultimate Warrior is not going to take this Ultimately lying down.

Here is Warrior's rebuttle (sp?).

Look, I have no transcript of the speech given by Warrior (as I guess UW is now called. Why is he no longer the Ultimate Warrior? I guess because Hogan reclaiming his belt in 1991 may have suggested he was not, in fact the ULTIMATE warrior.). And I know that when the hippies decide it's time to get rowdy, things can get a bit silly. So one does wonder, without the benefit of a transcript, what exactly went down with Warrior, the College Republicans, and the obnoxious hippies?

I want to give Warrior the benefit of the doubt. After all, he did become champion fo the WWF after Wrestlemania 6 (althogh i recall his victory relied upon the unfortunate circumstance of a referee losing consciousness during the match-up, and Hogan pinning Warrior several times without the match being called).

As boring as Political Correctness got in the 90's, the current trend of proudly declaring oneself Not Politically Correct has gone from a statement of "tellin' it like it is" in order to stand up to a perceived persecution by liberal elitists, to the indignant response of those who have no idea they are, in fact, a total jack-ass. It's sort of the same failure of logic that results from believing anything you don't like which you see on TV is part of the liberal conspiracy of the main stream media rather than accepting the notion that: occasionally people you support are jack-asses, too.

The League does confess to feeling a certain kinship with Warrior as Mr. Warrior also sees fit to refer to himself throughout his column in the third-person. However, the Warrior does not use the royal "we", which, we at the League find most gratifying in its employ.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

THE LEAGUE PRESENTS:
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING
COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS


Last week saw the beginning of DC Comics' new big event. Or, should I say, last week saw the first beat of the PRELUDE to DC Comics' new big event.

But even that isn't accurate, because with a change in editorial a while back, DC got a fire under it's butt and dusted off the psychic cobwebs and somehow recalled that folks might like to have a coherent space which the stable of DC Comic characters occupy.

For the past several years, for whatever reason, both of the major comic companies decided that the writer should be king, and part of that should mean that the writers weren't going to be asked to adhere to continuity or pay attention to what was going on in the comics published by the company.

Visualize, if you will, non-comic readers, the havoc this would play in watching, say, X-Files. One week Mulder & Scully might discover that aliens are the sole inhabitants of Boulder, Colorado. The next week, they wouldn't even mention it, and begin speaking about trying to locate aliens all over again. Then, two weeks later, they might discover that Mesa, Arizona is inhabited completely by aliens and be totally shocked and say things like, "We've never seen anything like this before!"

Anyway, annoying.

A while back Dan DiDio took over oversight of DC's main line of comics (known as the DCU) and seems to have dictated that this "writer's can do whatever they want" business had to end. Fortunately, the writers who were working there already more or less nodded in agreement and began figuring out what to do next.

It appears that the writers began plotting all of this sometime ago as evidenced by comments dropped in the Superman/ Batman comics released an entire year ago, Identity Crisis raising the stakes, and events in individual comics leading right up to last week's release: Countdown to Infinite Crisis.


Despite the fact that every other hero pictured can throw a Hyundia across a parking lot, it's poor old Batman who has to carry the dead guy again. But WHO IS THE DEAD GUY? (hint... it's not Batman)

Quite a title they dreamed up for their $1.00 comic. Fortunately, the comic is 80 pages, and if you read the same ridiculous number of DC Comics that The League does, a lot of things begin to click into place.

If you ever followed comics, you might know "Infinite" and "Crisis" are not words which should be placed together and taken lightly. So we got that going for us.

Now, in addition to the $1.00 comic, DC is releasing not one, not two, not three, but FOUR limited series all under the banner of "Countdown to Infinite Crisis".

The OMAC Project

Villains United

Day of Vengeance

Rann/ Thanagar War

I suppose this means that some time near the end of the year the actual event of the "Infinite Crisis" will rear it's head. In the meantime, the various comics are weaving in and out of this overall storyline in an interesting way. For the first time in years, the DCU feels like one place.

Of course the trolls who lurk about the comic internet world are beating their chests and howling about how they feel their comics are being ruined, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

Don't even get me started on what a mindwarp Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory is turning out to be.

For a SFFR on Sin City, go here.
A Haiku by Mrs. League:

Small Felis Catus
Gracefully leaps on table.
Glass falls. One A.M.
On Friday Jim D e-mailed me before I'd finished my third cup of coffee to tell me he was headed in to see Sin City. Apparently he was stranded in Houston. Long story.

He called me after exiting the theater, gave me a nickel review, we talked a bit about the flick and then it was time to say adios (it being a work day).

Saturday Jamie and I overcame some minor obstacles in order to go and catch the flick. I was a few feet from Jamie in the parking lot when I remembered a plot point from "The Long Goodbye", and suddenly it occured to me, "Hey, you might not like this movie."

"Why's that?"
"It's, uh... It's going to be really violent."
"I know," she nodded. "I picked up some of your comics."
That's the kind of dame I married. The sort of dame who is going to shrug off a bit of squeamishness in order to check out something new and different and that I might have been ranting about for eight months.

Review are in for Sin City, and most of them are only semi-positive. I guess that's to be expected. Opening weekend receipts were good, but are expected to drop-off once the eager fanboys wander off.

I'd suggest reading Peter Sanderson's comments upon the reviews of Sin City. It stirs up a lot of what I was thinking in both reading the reviews and then heading to the cinema.
Thanks to The Beat for posting the link.

In my head, I do keep some boundaries regarding genre, but I have come to recognize many of the rules which dictate genre are more or less useless if you want to ever take a medium seriously. They also rely far too much on specifics of visual detail and too little on story telling.

An easy example: Star Wars is, despite the star ships, etc... not really a sci-fi movie as scientific principles are completely not the focus of the story. Instead, Star Wars is a fantasy movie using trappings of the sci-fi genre such as laser pistols and robots. Just as last year's I, Robot was not as much a sci-fi movie as much as a police procedural/ cop actioner (vs. the Asimov books which are some of the purest sci-fi around).

It had always sort of puzzled me why folks were so quick to hang "film noir" on the Sin City comics. Yes, the images were black and white, and people sort of grumbled about the city being a lousy place to be, but these were tools lifted from noir. However, in watching films like Laura, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Combo, or The Killers, one wasn't going to see a lot of similarities. Sin City is razor sharp, rat-a-tat action with beheadings and cannibals. I think Laura has three gun shots occur during the course of the entire movie, but it's mostly people standing around talking. The lack of color was most assuredly a budgetary concern in most of these films, and one can hardly place the course of events in The Maltese Falcon in the same realm as those in Marv's Story from Sin City (The Hard Goodbye).

The Sin City comics are inked in stark black and white, punctuated occasionally with color (see That Yellow Bastard), a fantastic choice to bring mood to a world of eternal night and a moral spectrum completely comprised of grays. But with Marv punching his way through doorways and Dwight jumping off of window ledges, I wasn't quite finding the glove-perfect fit I was looking for. The original films dubbed as "Film Noir" were usually talky films done on a budget. What they couldn't do in money, they made up for in topsy-turvey plots and a cast of outlandish characters. For whatever reason, I saw Sin City as strictly nitrous fueled pulp tales/ crime stories using elements of noir.

But I've decided I was wrong.

What makes these movies/ comics/ book fall within the same realm is not so much the specific visual cues and elements, because you could, theoretically make a noir take place in broad day light and in color (see 1984's Blood Simple). Sure, Frank added his usual touches that bespeak Frank's fingerprints on a story, but he's kept the essence of the genre (if that's what you want to call it) completely unadulterated and intact.

So I'm still not sure what makes the film noir genre. I guess my criteria is that the story has to be about characters who have more or less given up on their life or are more or less ambivalent getting pulled in to a situation which is a) bigger than them, and b)is going to give them one last chance at redemption. Sometimes that thing is a bag of money (but usually it's what the money can buy them), more often, that thing is a girl.

And if Sin City manages to do one thing, it manages to pull off the two criteria above with aplomb.

But, as I say, I don't care too much for blocking things off into genre.

Monday, April 04, 2005

BTW, I have to endorse Turbo Tax.

I've used it since 1999, and I've filed electronically for the past few years using it, and you know what? It kicks ass.

Sure, sure... I could hire some dude from H&R block to somehow find us another few bucks on our return, but then I'd have to pay the guy, anyway.

In college I took, believe it or not (and many of you will believe), a class in the Home Economics department. It was actually the single most useful course I've ever taken.

In the class I had to learn how to do taxes outside of a 1040EZ, taking into account things like buying and selling property, dividends, etc... We also had to learn about money markets, IRAs and all kinds of good stuff.

Go ahead and make fun of me for taking a Home Ec class, but without that class, I have no idea how I would have gotten by in the first few years out of college when it came to tax season. Sure, turbo Tax takes the work out of my hands, but I also know I can read the fine print without getting all confused.

These are things you just don't get told about a whole lot when you're a kid.

Anyway, taxes are filed. We're getting a refund, which I have been told is going toward savings and not toward a 1:1 scale model of the Hall of Justice.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Not much to report from League HQ.

Jamie and I had an entirely uneventful weekend. One of the nice features of our neighborhood (and most neighborhoods in Arizona) is that they do not use a sewer system for rain run-off. Instead, most newer neighborhoods designate a green area in the middle of the nieighborhood that serves both as drainage and as a park. Ours happens to be large enough to play host to a sports field, which of course nobody ever uses as all the kids are inside playing their PSPs.

So, having no kids but having two dogs who are infinitely more entertaining than most kids, we went to the park and walked the dogs. It's lovely here these days. 85 degrees and low humidity. Nice day to get Lucy used to the leash. And it was nice day to take Mel off the leash and let him run in circles out in the grass.

In the afternoon we went to see Sin City, which I will not belabor you with a review. It was fun and interesting, and I look forward to seeing it again at some point.

Aside from that, we went to the gym and watched some of the coverage of the goings-on at the Vatican. Having just sat through the audio book of "Angels and Demons" it was interesting to hear the description of the steps to the Pope's funeral carried out.

My memories start to really kick in about age 4 or 5 when we moved from Michigan to Dallas. And I do recall my mother booting me out of the house on the day the Pope was shot. She wanted to watch the footage, but she didn't want me to get scared, so I had to go play out in the back yard.

I should mention that the Steans family is not Catholic, but that evening, when I was told what happened and what was going on, I sort of kind of understood the gravity of the situation.

This memory is tied up with three or four other media events.

1) Reagan being shot. I recall that one as The Admiral explained that GHWB would take over until the President was on his feet again.

2) The wedding of Charles and Di. I recall watching the footage with my mom and being astounded that she could stand up with a train which most surely weighed hundreds of pounds.

3) The freeing of the hostages from Iran. I don't remember too much about it, but I remember the news people being very excited and The Admiral sort of talking in vague terms about what we were seeing on the screen.

All in all, John Paul II is the only Pope to have been around while I've been conscious of such a thing. And not being Catholic, I have no idea what sort of Pope he was in comparison to the Popes before him.

It does seem if anyone would have a golden ticket to get past the pearly gates, it'd be this guy. But we won't know until we're all pushing up daisies, will we?

Next weekend we have tickets to see the mighty Phoenix Suns play the Houston Rockets. If McGrady shows up for the game in spirit as well as body, Phoenix may have a match on their hands. Yao seems to finally understand how to play in the US and is finally becoming the formidable player he was promised to be three years ago.

Anyway, hope everyone else had a good weekend.

I really need to go to bed.