Wednesday, December 31, 2003

For Shoemaker:

It's a week late, and from the late Wesley Willis, but I think anyone could enjoy it... In fact, this may be the new "Frosty the Snowman".

Merry Christmas
Howdy. I am kind of back.

couple of house keeping items.

I am considering sending something out to all who participated in the Abso-Ludicrous Holiday Media Spectacular. If you would rather not participate in a little larceny and malfeasance, let me know ASAP.

I think I have everyone's address. I may contact you if I do not. People in japan have asked that their items be sent elsewhere. This shall be respected.

Mel is back from the kennel and safely home. Jeff The Cat also returned home from the kennel. Both are suffering from a little separation anxiety, but I'm taking some time off work, so both are getting ample attention.

The visit to my folks' went well. I missed having more of the extended family around, but with scheduling for my immediate family these days, sometimes these things are best not examined too much. I got some cool presents from everyone. Not a weird one in the bunch. I got a stack of DVD's, and I have to confess to being a little excited about my copy of Conan the Barbarian. I've loved that movie since I was a kid, but can't put my finger on why. But what had me rolling was the DVD collection of The Tick live action series which lasted maybe eight or nine episodes. Classic. Like Icarus, it flew to close to the sun, my friends.

Made Jamie and Heather Wagner go to Bedrock City Comics with me in Spring, TX. Picked up some cool Action Comics back issues, including this issue and this issue. Merry Christmas to me.

So tomorrow is New Year's Eve, which is kind of the capper on the Holiday season for most everyone. Tomorrow ends 2003, which is okay. It was an okay year in a lot of ways, but I can't say i made great personal strides. In fact, a lot of this year felt a bit like I was coasting more than actually trying. But that's why we have New Years: Try to do better in the upcoming year what we did poorly in the the preceding year.

To celebrate NYE, I am taking Jamie to a curiously nice Italian place (it's in a strip shopping center in Queen Creek) called Primo. We'll do some wine and dinner there, and then I guess she'll be tired from work and go to sleep. We aren't the same fun couple we were in 1999-2000, a New Years which will live in infamy. (I just remembered Loyal Leaguer Nathan Cone came up from San Antonio for that fiesta... I was too drunk to remember if he was there when things... got out of hand). Here's a hint, kids: hammers, glitter, vodka, hard candy and pinatas simply do not mix. Especially when you're super excited the power grid didn't fail on you. I almost lost my eye.

People are throwing out lists for 2003, which seems like a heck of a lot of work. Here's mine.

2003, Bad:

1) summer in desert
2) continued success of Justin Timberlake
3) questionable stewardship of Superman core comic titles
4) the missing couch
5) gout
6) lack of weight loss
7) lack of direction in job
8) WMD
9) the puppy incident
10) Daredevil movie

2003, Good:

1) winter in desert
2) continued success of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog
3) announcements of future artisitic teams for Superman comics
4) Season 2 of Justice League
5) vegetarianism turning out to be okay
6) I didn't get fatter!
7) steady job
8) lack of attacks from WMDs
9) two happy pets
10) I actually liked the Hulk. Shut up. I did. Cousin Sue sent the DVD for Christmas! Hurrah!

So for my yin, there is a yang, I suppose. But that was 2003. It was an Even Steven sort of year.

soon we move into the mid-00's. How freaky is that?

So what are my resolutions? I told myself years ago to quit setting stupid, unrealistic goals. So my resoltuions are:

1) Re-engage at work. Quit stressing over the difficulty of each task and try to see each task as a challenge. Have a better attitude about students, faculty and crazy projects.
2) Use better judgement in buying comics in order to spend less on comics.
3) Try to keep the house neater.
4) Either move back to Texas or quit bitching about Arizona.
5) Do more with free time (may require cancelling movie channels)
6) Write "Great American Novel".
7) draw more
8) draw fewer naked girls when drawing
9) quit waking up the cat whenever he falls asleep. No, it's not that funny to anyone but me.
10) be more open minded about Paris Hilton
11) eat more vegetables and less pasta and bread
12) be a genuinely better human being. By better, do not mean Ubermench.
13) spend more quality time with Melbotis

and that's it, kids! Lucky 13. Ah, well. Happy New Year!!! Now go get drunk for your Ol' Uncle Ry'.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Dedman has done a fantastic job of keeping up with his blog. I have not. Christmas is going well. It is humid and warm in Houston today. it will be cool and dry in Phoenix when we return tomorrow.

My brother has a new, three legged dog. She is very sweet and entertaining. She is, however, destroying all which is in her path.

Monday, December 22, 2003

So today is the last day I update for a long while. Which is fine, because if you're spending your time over the next few days eagerly anticipating the next update from the League, we think maybe you should go out and look at some Christmas lights and get some fresh air.

The League may well be busy with family while in Spring, TX. But who knows? Shoot the League an e-mail if you'll be in H-Town.

In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone the best this Holiday Season. I think I've been pretty plain here in these pages about my opinions and feelings surrounding this great mish-mash of a season. And we can all take it seriously, or we can try to have fun with it. We can know it's nothing but a consumerist sham, or we can know that at the heart of it, no matter what else gets put up in front as the great facade, there's some good at the heart of it. Maybe a whole lot of good that we're supposed to be waiting to find.

So this Christmas, I want three things (because Jamie already got me the sweater. It's green.).

I want Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men, and I want for everyone to know how wonderful and special is my beautiful wife, Jamie. She's the best.

Maybe that's four things. Ah, well.

Merry Christmas, Leaguers. Peace on Earth, and good will towards all people everywhere. The year is coming to an end. We have a new one coming and a chance to do it right this time.

Up, up and away.

Hey, Leaguers! The Holiday Contest has drawn to a close! I am unable to choose a winner as, frankly, there are too many great entries this year, and I think I shoudl have narrowed the contest down a bit. Well, live and learn we do, here at League of Melbotis HQ.

I have to say that those who write in to the League are a persuasive lot, and each holds a special flicker of the Christmas Spirit within them. I wish each and every Leaguer a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday.

Instead of selecting a winner, I shall figure something out for every entrant to the contest. So, folks, just be aware of how busy The League has been, and how short of cash now that all of the extended family has received a Hickory Farms cheese log basket.

So, God and finances willing, a token of The League's appreciation will arrive after the Holidays.

In the meantime, I have compiled the answers and selections sent in by Loyal Leaguers. I invite you to read them each and all, and to appreciate the effort and POV of each and every person as they come to Christmas.


Nathan Cone:

The Six Million Dollar Man ¡V Hear 4 Exciting Christmas Adventures ¡V Peter Pan Records

Remember Peter Pan records? It was like the Mercury Theater of the Air for the 1970s kids. Okay, maybe not. But they put out a lot of radio theater-type albums, and this one takes the cake for me. I found my copy at a Best Buy fire sale 10 years ago. Follow Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man (played by an incredibly wooden "actor") in the following Christmas adventures: "The Kris Kringle Caper," "Elves' Revolt," "The Toymaker," and "Christmas Lights."
Here's an exciting scene from "The Kris Kringle Caper," as Steve disguises himself as a department store Santa:
Girl: "Hey, don't I know you?"
Six Mil: "Of course, everyone knows me, I'm Santa Claus."
Girl: "There's no such person as Santa Claus."
Six Mil: "Then, who am I?"
Girl: "I think you're the man who was here the other day, the one who tried to get my present back for me."
Six Mil: "I'm Santa Claus."
Girl: "I told you, there's no such person."
Six Mil: "Then what are you doing on my lap?"

Laura Maxwell:

1978. Television. With Several Wookies, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Jefferson Airplane.
This show made me question the sanctity of my own reality.

1995. Luther Vandross, song from the album, This is Christmas.
This should perhaps go under the category of most unfortunately named holiday media. The song starts off with the following dialogue:
"Girl come on over here and get under this MISTLETOE with me!"
"I'm not getting under that mistletoe with you any more!"
"Why not?"
"Cause you don't know how to act when you get under there."
"What are you talking about?"
"YOU know what I'm talking about."
"The last time I got under that thing with you¡K"
"What happened?"
"The last time I got under there with you?... I had twins!"
"Oooh. Tell it all."
It also contains the verse:
Glad you got big feet,
Cause they're so good for dancing
Glad you got big legs
Cause they're so good when we're romancing
You still got the flavor
And I'm hungry for your love
So I'm gonna play this one jam
That will make you want to kiss somebody
And the oft repeated rousing chorus:
This is the mistletoe jam
I like to party all night
And dance to the mistletoe jam
Mistletoe Jam!
Everybody kiss somebody

Worst of all, I don't think this is meant to be a joke.

1962. Album.
This is the sort of novelty album that probably should have gone the way of the Christmas meowing or barking albums or that singing fish, but didn't. They are singing rodents, but their harmonies are tight and Christmas Don't Be Late remains a holiday favorite. For children everywhere that have sped up their own voices with technology and laughed.


1. "Christmas with the Devil" by Spinal Tap. The sugar plums are rancid and the stockings are in flames. Appearing on Tap's 1992 comeback record, Break Like the Wind, this track was brought to you by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer, the auteurs of Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. Their reappearance was not well-received, and they even picked a fight with Metallica for plagiarizing the cover of their own "none more black" black album. Tap, of course, is by far the most amusing of the McKean/Guest/Shearer oeuvre, and their take on Christmas is bizarre indeed.

2. Rankin/Bass Christmas television specials. You remember these dreadful creations if you were remotely sentient during the seventies or eighties, when they were rerun ceaselessly during the holidays. (I was surprised to discover how old these are, actually, as the first of the series, Ruldolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, was released in 1964.). The primitively odd pseudo-claymation-animation and the overdone soundtrack effects make these television specials simply creepy and bizarre. Burl Ives croons away as Sam the Snowman while a yeti/sasquatch finds redemption? Yikes. Here are a few links, courtesty of IMDB, to jog your memory:

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph's Shiny New Year
Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July

Of course, I note with interest that The League of Melbotis chose an image from one of these specials to accompany its introduction of the contest. That is most frighteningly unfortunate.

Anne Francis:

Radio City Christmas Spectacular - probably the most garish, expensive, unnecessary ode to Christmas. 2 hours of military precision dancing by a line of shapely women, massively dorky singers warbling about the joys of shopping and toys and even a scene where Mrs. Claus grabs Santa's butt (I kid you not!) only to end with a 20 minute sanctimonious "Living Nativity" scene - complete with live camels - that flogs the audience that Christmas is not about gifts and Santa (despite the fact that the previous 1 hour and 40 minutes had you believing otherwise) and absolutely castigating any goodwill you may have had towards the religious origins of the holiday. I hate this show.

Not sure why, but I've always found the "Do they Know It's Christmas" to be somewhat bizarre. I mean, they are singing about Africa and asking "Do they know it's Christmas?" Well....if they're not Christian - PROBABLY NOT. Never knew Bob Geldolf had a missionary streak in him....

Essential Media:

Molly Brensen:

1) David Sedaris "Santaland Diaries" NPR Morning Edition (originally about 1993 but they tend to replay it--that's the best I can do)
You can't do comedy justice by describing it. That said, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the background of grinches, and who needs a happy ending? Who expects one anyway when your job is playing Crumpet the Elf at Macy's for the Christmas season? Sedaris takes the piss out of deranged parents who make screaming children smile for the camera or ask Santa to stop animal testing, kids who want their dead dad back and a complete set of ninja turtles, "Santa Santa" who thinks he really is Santa, and Snowball the elf who leads all the other elves and Santas on. Of course, the main reason it's essential is because nowhere else will you hear what Away in a Manger would sound like sung by Billie Holiday.
I think I was supposed to say something about how this affected me personally. A year or two ago this came on the radio when I was driving with my kid sister who was just old enough not to believe in Santa anymore but smart enough not to tell our folks. So we listened to this and laughed ourselves silly (nearly causing a wreck) and shared our little secret that she was "in" on the grow-up stuff. Then we drove the rest of the way home singing Christmas songs in silly voices and different styles.

Nathan Cone:

"It's A Wonderful Life" ¡V 1946 ¡V directed by Frank Capra

Is there any film more ¡§wonderful¡¨ than ¡§It¡¦s A Wonderful Life?¡¨ It may seem hard to believe, but Frank Capra¡¦s 1946 classic wasn¡¦t really a success when it opened. Now over fifty years later, ¡§It¡¦s A Wonderful Life¡¨ is one of the defining moments of American cinema, and is a perennial holiday favorite. But to call ¡§It¡¦s A Wonderful Life¡¨ a ¡§Christmas movie¡¨ isn¡¦t really doing it justice. Yes, much of it is set around Christmastime, but this is a film that can be viewed at any time of the year.

Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a role that he credited as his favorite until the day he died. Donna Reed is radiant as Mary Hatch, George¡¦s childhood sweetheart. George has dreams. He wants to travel the world become a famous architect, and have a life full of adventure. Instead, he¡¦s living in Bedford Falls, the same small town he grew up in, where he works at his family¡¦s building and loan business. After a life of sacrifice, a crisis that could leave him penniless and in jail drives George to the breaking point, and he contemplates suicide. Instead, his guardian angel Clarence, AS-2 (angel, second class), appears. George remarks that maybe the world would have been better off if he had never been born, and so Clarence shows him just what would have been, had that happened.

What Clarence shows George (and us) is just how precious our lives really are, and how interconnected we are to the rest of the world. Every deed we do does not go unnoticed; on the contrary, everything we do affects the people we know, and so on, and so on. It¡¦s a message that is as prescient at Christmastime as it is throughout the year.

Not to be overlooked in ¡§It¡¦s A Wonderful Life¡¨ are the terrific romantic and comedic moments, such as George and Mary¡¦s dance into an open swimming pool, or the honeymoon they share in a rickety old house that will one day become a home.

Yet the heart of It's A Wonderful Life remains its hero, George Bailey. The term "everyman" could have been coined from this role it's hard to find someone who hasn't felt the same as George at one time or another. Plus, Jimmy Stewart is just so doggone likeable, and plays the part with such emotion, that you can't help but feel yourself slipping into his shoes.

The coming Christmas season will undoubtedly bring repeated showings of "It's A Wonderful Life" on television as it does every year. You see, the film itself lapsed into the public domain in the 1970s, meaning that until its copyright was renewed in the 1990s, anyone who could get their hands on a print could make copies and sell them at a minimal cost. It also meant that television stations could show the film without paying any royalties. So, in a twist of fate, the film¡¦s public domain status brought it to a wider audience and made it more popular than ever before. This year, whether you¡¦ve never seen it, or even if you've seen it fifty times over, you owe it to yourself to take a trip to Bedford Falls, to discover again just how "wonderful" life really is.

"A Christmas Story" 1983 directed by Bob Clark

Like "It's A Wonderful Life," this movie flopped upon its initial release (do I see a pattern here?). But time has proven that "A Christmas Story" gets it right about what it's like to be a kid in the weeks leading up to that glorious morning of presents, presents, presents, and bleary-eyed parents. Who would have believed that the director of a movie as sophomoric and, some might say, misogynistic, as "Porky's" could craft something so warm-hearted? I still don't believe it. I think the real star of the movie is the late writer Jean Shepherd, whose writing and narration breathlessly whisks us through the story. It's a near-perfect mix of satire, and fond memories of life as a kid. A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Vince Guaraldi Trio ¡V "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

It's a classic now, but the network didn't like it at first. Jazz music? For a kids' program? But the "Peanuts" characters are less like kids and more like smaller adults, and that's just one of the reasons why this music fits so perfectly with the celebrated special. Can you look at folks on an ice rink and not think of the "skating" music? Do you bob your head back and forth like that weird dancing kid when you hear "Linus and Lucy?" Have you ever heard a more swingin' version of "O Tannenbaum" than the one crafted herein?


1965. Television.
Because Charlie Brown is depressed over the commercialism of Christmas. Because apparently pink aluminum trees were hot that year. Because a jazz band followed that group of kids around wherever they went. Because they used real kids voices for the characters. Because Linus is the wisest kid to ever carry a security blanket. Because gee wiz those kids can dance.

1983. Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin
You know the tale. All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red-Ryder BB rifle with a compass in the stock. The film captures the imperfect perfection of most American households at Christmas and almost every line is quotable. Or at least my American household. If I had grown up in the '40's. Some of my favorites include,
"You'll shoot your eye out!"
"It was...It was...soap poisoning."
"Drink your ovaltine."
"I double dog dare ya."
"It's a major award."

1946. Frank Capra, James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore...
Admit it. You are a grown man. And it makes you cry.

(editor's note: Yes. I do. Every year. 8 years and Jamie still hasn't noticed that I'm sobbing like a baby over there on the other end of the couch.)


1. "Merry Christmas from the Family" - Robert Earl Keen.
Mind you, I refer not to the uninspired studio version on Gringo Honeymoon but the energetic, impossible-not-to-enjoy live rendition on No 2 Live Dinner. By no means is Keen a master lyricist, and he's certainly not the best singer, but the live version of this song offers listeners an amusing piece of Texana which is tied to the holidays. In fact, the entire album is characterized by an energy and enthusiasm that simply does not appear in his studio recordings. Check it out.

2. The Ref, (1994).
Released in March of 1994, the film's promotional tagline was "The ultimate Christmas movie is coming this spring." Denis Leary, a bank robber, finds himself chaperoning his two hostages, Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis. The rivalry and repartee between Spacey and Davis, who play a disfunctional married couple, reads like an existential Edward Albee yuletide comedy. This was Spacey, just a year shy from his greatest year, 1995, when he released three superb films, all of which had twist endings. (Those were, of course, Seven, The Usual Suspects, and Swimming with Sharks.). Alas, he went on to perpetrate K-PAX. Whatever the case, this is not your typical Christmas flick, but it is far more amusing that most of the cinematic detritus which passes for comedy these days.

3. General George Washington, Christmas 1776.
It was on Christmas night that Washington crossed the Delaware River. Its effect on history cannot be overstated. Pigeonholing this historical event into the "Most Essential Holiday Media" category is difficult, but I suspect, if challenged, I can develop some lawyerly argument to justify its inclusion.

(editor's note: while this isn't media in it's strictest sense, we're letting Jim's answer slide. Because here at the League, our patriotic hearts swell with pride at the thought of Washington going to kick a limey in the teeth on Christmas eve).

as a child I had a dream that I was in the boat with George. Funny what comes back to you.

Anne Francis

Charlie Brown Christmas- soundtrack only. Much better than the movie itself, as you don't get Linus' religious speech at the end.

(editor's note: While The League remains a secular institution, we kind of like Linus maintaing that the meaning of Christmas is not to be found in an aluminum tree.)

Mary Crawford

I nominate The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris in the Essential category.

When I mentioned to an esteemed colleague that I intended to nominate The Santaland Diaries in the Abso-Ludicrous First Annual 2003 Autocratic Yuletide Media Extravaganza!!!!, his response was, F**k yeah I take this as evidence that I could have put my nomination in the Celebrated category as well, but my nomination stands in Essential.

Do a Google search for sardonic, merrily subversive tale. Need I say more?

more in another posting --->
Regrettable Performance:

Molly Brensen:

1) Jimmy Buffet "Christmas Island" CD 1996 (oh by the way this one went Platinum (1))

It's not that hard to make fun of Jimmy Buffet except that he usually does it for you himself. But, as he says there's a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Perhaps there's an even finer line between being ironic and utterly massacring a Christmas song. Anyway, it's not entirely clear if Buffet knows when he's being absurd intentionally or purely out of habit. Case in point, "Uncle John's Band" with steel drums on the 1994 Fruitcakes album.

Unfortunately the steel drums and background singers had a lot more in store for the 1996 release of "Christmas Island"--not to mention the running commentary and the hidden, thoroughly uninteresting reading of "The Night Before Christmas" (he sounds conscious). Four tracks are originals and standard Buffet fare(2) including Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rhum (which apparently rhymes with "Santa's off to the Caribbean"). Four tracks are Buffet-ized versions of pop Christmas songs including John Lennon/Yoko Ono's "Happy Christmas (War is Over), Mele Kalikimaka (obvious), Run Rudolph Run, and I'll Be Home for Christmas in which he gives the steel drums a break and milks the sap his voice instead (to mix a metaphor).

What makes this album truly regrettable though, are the two "traditional" tracks arranged by Buffet and Utley: Jingle Bells and Up on the Housetop. (links to snippets in .ra on Amazon)

If you know much Buffet, one line sums up the treatment of Jingle Bells: "Oh, what fun on Jah's cool run in a one-horse open sleigh". If that's not enough, imagine backup singers iterating "Oh! Oh! Jingle!/Jingle bells!" while Buffet chatters in his best (worst?) Jamaican accent, "Oh, oh! Watch out for that girl? Oh mon! Look at that truck! Stay on the left! stay on the left! Who's that Rosco with the Santa Claus hat? Hey Rosco man, what you got in that big burlap sack for me? A pre-sant? Oh thank you Santa Mon!"

I wish I could say that's the worst anyone could abuse a Christmas song, but "Up on the Housetop" takes the cake. From what I can tell it's a drunk surfer version, although it could be that Buffet's surfer accent just happens to sound more like a drunk. This time the background singers sing "Ooh Ooh Wah! Chicky Chicky Wah!" but he hasn't mucked with the lyrics. Little Wil gets "a hammer and tacks, also a ball and a whip that cracks" followed by a creepy chortle that leaves me feeling a little gross and dirty. Sadly not included in the lyrics are the other voiceovers: "Dude! Don't be a dude, Dude!", "Tubular Dude!", "Bitchin!", "Oh come on Dude, share the wave, share the wave it's Christmas!", a screeching Oow!, and "They say it's your birthday, it's my birthday too!" (which I can only take to mean Jimmy wants to get into the Beatles/Beach Boys fracas, but it's a little late and this is no white album. I guess I should just be glad there aren't any pet sounds).

1 Buffet has put out over thirty albums since 1970 and eight went platinum. I had assumed that in addition to the baseline of parrothead buyers, most copies were sold to folks like my mother who knew someone that likes Jimmy Buffet and saw the CD in the check-out line. Apparently however, at least on Amazon, this is actually popular with fans. Then again, if no one had ever heard it, could it truly be "regrettable"? I finally forced myself to actually listen to this CD all the way through for the first time for the sake of writing this email. Indeed2, I was a little surprised to see it was in my CD wallet when I arrived here in Japan.

2 Word used with permission, Jim Dedman, „¦2003.

Nathan Cone:

Karen Morrow and Charles Nelson Reilly ¡V "Baby, It's Cold Outside" ¡V from the album A Hollywood Christmas (2000)

It's more like "A Match Game Christmas" as Morrow and Reilly step all over one another in this decidedly un-swingin' version of "Baby It's Cold Outside." Plus, Reilly can't sing worth a damn. Please, Spirit, deliver me from these shadows you have shown me, and I will honor Christmas in my heart!

The Dixie Chicks and Rosie O'Donnell ¡V "Merry Christmas From the Family" ¡V from the album Another Rosie Christmas 2000

It's kind of cool to hear Natalie Maines sing this wonderfully trashy Robert Earl Keen song, until Rosie O'Donnell butts in and sings like she wants us to know "I'M HERE WITH THE DIXIE CHICKS! AND I'M SINGIN'!!!! AND I WILL BE HEARD!!!!!!"


A. THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK, Merry Merry Christmas, 1995. Featuring Funky Funky Xmas.

I never loved the NKOTB. I was one of maybe five girls who didn't wear the pink t-shirt the morning after the concert in Junior High. I probably really really wanted to like them, nobody is really that interested in straying from the crowd in the seventh grade, but I just couldn't like them at all. I bet that's why I wasn't elected to student council. Stupid NKOTB. Your album has a song called Funky Funky Xmas and another called Merry Merry Xmas. You suck.

B. FAKE CINDY, A VERY BRADY CHRISTMAS. 1988. Television. Starring Not Susan Olsen.

Dear Fake Cindy. You are not the real Cindy. You are a fake. Faker.

See Above.
I am still not over this.


1. The cast of Miracle on 34th Street (1994). What were they thinking? Refashioning a timeless, beloved film is almost always inappropriate. Richard Attenborough as Santa Clause? A pre-Practice Dylan McDermott as the idealist attorney? Elizabeth Perkins? Well, at least George Lucas wasn't involved. . . .

(editor's note: and let us not forget that the original Miracle on 34th Street starred Maureen O'Hara, who is hot.)

2. Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney. Apparently, it was a 1981 Christmas telephone conversation from Jacko to McCartney which prompted "The Girl is Mine," their duet on Thriller. Who could forget the gems that are its lyrics? The girl is mine, The doggone girl is mine, I know she's mine, Because the doggone girl is mine. That tune, of course, led to the equally silly "Say, Say, Say," a second duet which was accompanied by a ridiculously embarrassing video featuring Jacko and McCartney as traveling con artists. From what I understand, the two no longer speak. Good.

3. Jim Carrey as the Grinch.

Enough said.

Anne Francis

American Idol - do I really have to say more? Did the world really need Melisma-laden version of "The First Noel" by Clay Aiken? I didn't think so. (Author's note: Melisma is a singing term, which essentially means stretching one syllable of a word in a song to cover multiple notes and/or octaves. Current singer who use Melisma as a crutch include Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, etc. Many people today confuse Melisma-laden singing acrobatics as the hallmark of a good singer. I hate Melisma. Give me Aretha Franklin any day.....)

RUNNER-UP - Radio City Christmas Spectacular. There's nothing like a line of Rockettes dressed-up in Reindeer costumes to make you think "Christmas."


Nathan Cone:

Nat King Cole ¡V "The Christmas Song"

The Man only gave him 15 minutes on television, but Nat King Cole gave us the definitive recording of one of the warmest, fuzziest Christmas songs of the 20th Century.

Clarence Carter ¡V "Back Door Santa" ¡V from the album Soul Christmas (1968)

Santa's gone straight past the cookie tray, and up to the bedroom in this blues/soul classic. "They call me Back Door Santa/I make my runs 'bout the break of day/I make all the little girls happy/While all the boys are out to play." Another great line ¡V "Wouldn't ol' Santa be in trouble/If there ain't no chimney in the house?" That randy Santa. Bonus trivia: the horn line from this tune was sampled by Run D.M.C. for "Christmas In Hollis."

Astronaut Frank Borman ¡V Christmas Greetings from Space, December 24, 1968

On Christmas, I find the image of our fragile planet Earth as seen from space very moving. Astronaut Frank Borman did, too, as he read a passage from Genesis, and concluded his message from the crew of Apollo 8 by saying, "God bless all of you; all of you on the good Earth."

(editor's note: If you've never heard this recording, you should. ***UPDATE*** We located the broadcast. A transcription can be found here. We would also add that when we heard this for the first time, just earlier this year, we were deeply moved as well.)


A. GENERAL HOSPITAL-Alan reads the Christmas story to the children at the hospital.Yearly, ABC

Here I am, outing myself as a huge freak again, but when I was young my mother watched all the ABC soaps, well except Loving, and during the Christmas break I would get to see the Christmas episode of General Hospital. I'm pretty sure it was a different character when I was younger, but whoever is the most senior at the hospital reads the Christmas story to the children at the hospital every year. In my childhood mind it was probably as essential a part of the Christmas ritual as church. When I was six or so I received a Fisher Price tape recorder for Christmas and recorded the General Hospital reading, then retaped myself playing the roles of all the children.

B. CHRISTMAS EVE ON SESAME STREET, Television Special, 1978

This used to be a yearly tradition in the Maxwell house as well, back in the "old school" days before VCR's we would all gather around the television once a year on the evening it was to be broadcast. Bert and Ernie engage in a "Gift of the Magi" present exchange involving a rubber ducky and a paperclip collection. Oscar asks Big Bird how Santa gets down all those skinny little chimneys if he is so wide, and for some reason Big Bird thinks that his own doubt will cause the entire universe to fall apart ending in total Christmas destruction. Miraculously the presents arrive anyway. How? I think Kermit's interview with unknown child #5 comes up with the most plausible answer, "Santa Sneaks in with the relatives on Thanksgiving and hides in the laundry until Christmas Eve."


Every year after the children's Christmas Eve mass, but before the cheese fondue, my parents would put this record, yes record, on. I love every single song on the album beyond reason. Rowlf sings a soulful version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas that puts all others to shame.

(editor's note: We had this album, too. THis year the League not only got to share this album with a student from India, but had the pleasure of trying to explain what a Muppet was. We assume he knows what a John Denver is.)


There can be no other answer than It's A Wonderful Life. Its message of hope withstands the test of even the most cynical of times. What effect does a single individual have on those around him, and what would happen if he was robbed of his existence? Whose lives would be affected? A stellar Christmas flick. From what I understand, it was a flop upon its first release, and it was only when it began appearing on television numerous times each Christmas season that it became the "celebrated" classic it is today. On a local note, one of the premieres of It's A Wonderful Life was held right here in Beaumont, Texas at the historic Jefferson Theatre. Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra attended. Who knew?

Anne Francis

A Tuna Christmas - Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. By far the best of the "Tuna" trilogy - a series of plays regarding the fictional town of Tuna, Texas. If you are from Texas, chances are you'll see a relative on stage in the form of one of the brilliant characters Joe or Jaston play. And both men play all 23 characters on stage - women included. Very, very funny stuff.

So that's it, Leaguers!!!!

The contest draws to a close. A Merry Christmas to you all. You can do your darndest to enjoy your prizes whenever i get around to actually picking something out. But that's what post-Holiday sales are for.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Finally saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

My review: Whooo-hooo! Yay!

I am hobbit-drunk. We started at 8:30 yesterday watching Fellowship extended edition DVD. We ended our day at 11:30pm after ROTK. We took breaks to ship presents and get lunch and stuff.

I am no longer objective. Hobbitses. The hobbitses are everywhere. AGGGGHHHHHH.

But you know what? Sometimes I like movies better when I'm not dissecting them and can no longer see the forest for the trees. There's a time and a place for deconstructing every frame of a movie. For me, today is not that time. Today I like the LOTR movies. HURRAY!!!!

And Oliphants shall haunt me in my dreams...

Oh, and the Spider-Man 2 preview had me giggling out loud. Dr. Octopus is so ridiculous, he's perfect. I cannot wait.


Friday, December 19, 2003

I have to be back at work on Monday. What a waste. The university is more or less shut down and nothing is happening.
This is going to keep me from sleeping tonight.
Please come on a little vacation to Melbotisland.
and just when you were concerned about what to get that cute little compassionate conservative in your family...

for Jimbo, on his 28th...

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Just a little forewarning that The League will be heading to H-Town for Christmas and will not be updating until our return around the 1st of the year (Depending on how motivated we are, we suppose.).

Jim D. turns 28.
It's things like this which make me want to throw my hands in the air and give up.
The League does not know what this is. Does anyone have any info on this one?
We're that much closer to having a working android, my friends...

It's a Merry Christmas in DC Comics land.

Hi gang. Entries are in for the Holiday Contest. I'll probably be working on the reults over the weekend when I am not going through my 16 hour Lord of the Rings marathon, which I have promised my beautiful wife, Jamie. I guess this means that if you were just dying to enter, then you still can until the final entry is tallied.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

hey, team... Get in your entries for the Holiday Media Extravaganza!

There will be prizes!
Today marks the 100th anniversary of flight.

also check this out

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


But it's items like this which make me wonder what the alien archeologists will think when piecing through our trash heaps in 80 billion years...
The Dark Knight returns as a Dark Knight Returns action figure...
Tomorrow marks the final day to enter the Holiday Media Contest. Now, folks... I'm a little down about this. I have had only TWO entries. TWO!!! I am beginning to lose faith in Christmas, and I'm beginning to think 90% of my hits are, in fact, coming in from folks looking for pictures of Ann Coulter naked.

even a dark avenger of the night can take a few minutes out to enjoy Christmas. So what makes you so busy you can't enter the contest?

So if you want to help restore my faith in this little enterprise we call The Birth of Our Lord and Savior, then I ask that you, the Legion Members of the League, take a few minutes out and send in a submission. Rules for the Contest can be found here.

And there will, in fact, be prizes! Last time the winner got candy and a DVD I had laying around the house. So who knows what you could win? I have all KINDS of things laying around the house.

Monday, December 15, 2003

How I remained unaware of this previously, I do not know.

Hobbits + Nimoy = Pure Magic
Good story here on organ donation.

Kids, if you want me to get on my soapbox, this is the topic. Sign up and be ready to give up your eye-balls when you're called to merge with the infinite. Make sure you let your loved ones know you'd like your parts re-used, because unless they agree to it, they're going to throw all those useful parts into an incinerator.

There would be no Mrs. Steans if not for organ donation, so I'm kind of a fan of the whole idea.

Sign up.
Tell your family.
Try to keep your parts in working order.

It's going to be a Batty Christmas

So my Mom is nice to a fault. I mean, really. She has no system by which she decides people must be jerks, so she pretty much is friendly with everyone. Where most people have a filter which says "okay, that guy is weilding a meat cleaver and has a human head in his hand," my mom would tell him what a nice, clean cut he made taking the head off. It's only later that she will tell you that maybe that person is a little creepy.

Which makes things interesting at Christmas. Because The Kare-Bear pretty much invites anybody looking wild-eyed and dangerous into our household for Christmas dinner. Hence, the Steans family Christmas dinner, for the past several years, has had somebody who is pretty much a stranger at the table. I've learned not to question it too much, to mostly just grit my teeth and get past the whole thing by lubing up the brain with plenty of "Box O' Wine".

This year an entire family I am pretty much utterly unfamiliar with is going to be there for Christmas Dinner. Which is fine. We will have "Box O' Wine" on hand, and I will just keep it flowing until it's dried up and these people seem completely reasonable.

I'm not terribly shy. I do fine at work, and I do fine at the doctor and in meeting people... but I basically realized in my third year of college that I have absolutely nothing to say to most people unless I am given a topic. Work is great. The weather and sports are great. I shake my head a lot, laugh when there's an appropriate place to do so, and try not to freak out the squares. But new people in the house make me insanely uncomfortable. I feel like jumping out of my skin and hiding in the bathroom until the danger has passed.

The fact is, I moved out of my parents' house ten years ago, and as much as I'd like to feel like their house is my house, it isn't. It's their house to fill with their friends as they see fit. Which puts me in a curious position, because like most people who have parents, I am still thought of as "the kid" the second I step through their door. I'm not really a guest (I know where to find spare rolls of toilet paper), but it's also not my territory to protect. This standing means I should show some filial piety and shut the hell up about my discomfort surrounding whichever whackos are going to be telling me weird (and often racist) jokes over a plate of cranberry sauce.

My Mom tells me she likes a house full of people, and I assume she means "give me grandkids, you loser." But I have no plans, and I think kids smell like old syrup, so I'm in no rush. So until, I guess, my brother figures out a way to find somebody willing to have children with him, we are doomed to an endless cycle of folks willing to take advantage of my mom's hospitality.


boy, in rereading this, sounds like I have a nasty case of social anxiety disorder. Thank God for sweet, sweet liquor.
Happy V-Saddam Day, America!

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Turn on your speakers and prepare for the abso-ludicrous.

Thanks to Jim D. for this one.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Here's an article on Alex Ross, comic artist and unwitting provider of art to this site. Alex's work is covered in the new book, Mythology, which, yes, i already have. Read a review of Mythology here.

View Alex's Superman to your left.

Alex's vision of the Justice League is seen directly above.
Jamie is curiously interested in the original run of Battlestar Galactica.

Last night we finished watching the two hour pilot (which I am a bit sad not to have enjoyed more than I did), and Jamie said, "well, what happens next?"
"They kind of fly through space."
"On adventures."
"So do you want to watch another one?"
"We have six two-sided discs of this stuff to get through."
"And then they find earth?"
"No. We'd have to find the TV movie they made called Battlestar Galactica 1984 or something."
"Show got cancelled. So they never made it to earth."
Which I think Jamie found profoundly disturbing. TV viewers didn't care enough about whether or not the voyagers of Battlestar Galactica made it to earth, and so, in a way, the characters were left to kind of float around in space.
"But they made it there in the TV movie," I assured her. "But I don't think it's out on DVD yet."
"So what the hell do they do in between?"
"Have adventures," I concluded. "And stuff."
You never really know what the hell is going to turn Jamie's crank, which makes it difficult to anticpate what she's going to like or dislike. She'll watch Battlestar Galactica reruns on DVD, and then turn around and watch The OC, and follow it up with an half hour of Headline News. Either wide interests or a complete lack of any interests, I guess.

On a completely unrelated topic, Jim, who has been SERIOUSLY busy blogging of late, took some time out to point to The League and post an entry to our little Holiday Contest, for which I am eternally grateful. While you're there, check out his comments on recent Supreme Court Decisions and other legal brou-ha-ha.

Thursday, December 11, 2003



rules can be found by clicking on the link on the left

Send entries to Melbotis's e-mail!

Happy Holidays, Leaguers.
oh... Holy Cow....
I did have something to say today, and I was being crabby, so I forgot.

Congratulations to Randy of! He got engaged to his longtime love, Emily, while in Vegas. The League has been aware of's plans for sometime, but decided this was not the place to break the news.

So, way to go,! I am sure it will be a Super Wedding.

I have nothing to say today. I need more coffee and to watch less TV.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Shall I risk alienating my mother forever by getting her the life size bust/ replica of Dr. Doom's head for Christmas?

Being in the spy business is tough, according to the movies. I mean, you get to be dead sexy, wear cool clothes, get trained in sci-fi style martial arts and go to cold looking places in Europe a lot and an occasional Troipcal paradise (although that paradise will always be run by someone nefarious).

The problem with being a spy, I have learned, is that when things go bad, instead of just KILLING you the way they should, the Company tends to block your memory and release you into the wild.

From what I can tell, the latest Affleck movie entitled "Paycheck" is one of this particular slice of the "amnesia" spy genre. I am certain the trend has been going on for 50 years, but I'm a little slow on the uptake and just noticed. More amazing is that somehow the fact that Matt Damon was in "The Bourne Identity" just last year somehow escaped Affleck. Since we're led to believe Matt and Ben are such good chums, one would assume that Ben might have noticed his buddy just made this same movie. Especially since, according to IMDB, there's a sequel to "The Bourne Identity" in the works. Not so! Instead, our Christmas present from Affleck is the same dopey sweater we got last year.

As far as I can tell, "The Long Kiss Goodnight" may have helped spark this trend, but I am probably wrong. After all, there are a lot of shades of this sort of idea in "Total Recall."
So, if anyone else can think of any movies in which someone must tediously figure out who they are or what has been happening to them for the past few years, please send me an e-mail. I will compile all answers and report out. TV shows, books, magazines, Christmas Pageants and all other forms of media are also acceptable for this report on amnesiac spies.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

this is the sort of thing that is going to get me canned....

It's time to mark One's Calendar, as SuperheroHype! Reports.

December 15th marks the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of the Richard Donner directed Superman film starring Gene Hackman and Christopher Reeve.

I can honestly say that two of my three earliest memories deal with seeing movies. The first memory is of seeing Star Wars and being totally terrified of the Tusken Raiders (a fear that Shmi Skywalker should have shared...). The second was of seeing Superman in the theater with The Old Man. I got a gumball machine for free for some reason at the theater and I remember being terrified when Lois Lane dropped in the big hole. The third memory is falling down a stairwell at the apartments we lived in but not telling anybody because I thought I'd get in trouble.

At any rate, Superman holds up pretty well even in the uber-ridiculous movie-going era we now live in. Krypton still holds no small amount of wonder in my mind, just as Glenn Ford's portrayal of Jonathan Kent is absolutely perfect.

And if you want to know why I love Superman. I mean, really, really love Superman... It's not just the exchange between Superman and the pimp when Superman first emerges, nor is it the look of wonder the crowd has as Superman flies into the air... nah, it's not that. Watch the entire helicopter rescue sequence, including the conversation between Lois and Superman after he's saved the day. Right after Superman is done talking to Lois, he kind of looks away, and he has this look on his face letting you know how great saving the day really is. That's what I love about Superman.

So go out there and find a copy of this movie. I can't recommend the DVD with all the extras nearly enough. It's all cleaned up and pretty, and they added in a few more extra shots to let you know how cool Superman can be as he's coming to take out Luthor. THe bonus materials will rock your socks off.

Oh boy, Jamie is never going to let me watch this movie again...

Monday, December 08, 2003

Dear Santa,

How are you? I hope you and the reindeer and doing well. As Christmas is coming so quickly, I hope that you, the elves and Mrs. Claus are still taking time out to enjoy the Christmas Season for yourselves. It seems to me awfully sad that you cannot ever enjoy this time of year for yourselves, but I suppose it's better than having Mrs. Claus's parents and siblings hanging out and ruining a nice, quiet Christmas.
This year I have been ever so good. I have tried to think of what I have done this year that would get me on the "naughty" list, and I'm drawing a blank. Well, I will admit to finding new and creative obscenities to use on the freeway, but I do not think anyone can ever hear me, and I find shooting the bird to really be a last resort. There was also that incident with the javelina and the staple gun, but if there are no witnesses, is it really a crime?
So, Santa, I believe this is the portion in which I make my list of what I would like for Christmas. We've dispensed with the small talk, and I've stated my case for my goodness.

This year, I would like:

1) A sweater. Every year I ask for a sweater and (I guess because I live in the south) everyone thinks I'm kidding. But this is year #4 I've asked for a sweater, so I am beginning to think the people in my family are just jerks. So a sweater would be nice. Why do I want a sweater? Santa, even chubby guys get cold. I own three sweaters and two of them are either threadbare or kind of dopey. So just a nice sweater, maybe a BLUE sweater would be nice.

2) A rocket kit. Now Santa, I know you're going to immediately remember the incident with the fire in the trashcan. Okay, BOTH of the fires in the trashcans. And maybe the richocet incident with the BB gun. And you're going to remember the thing with the circular saw (which is why we keep receipts, isn't it?). But Santa, I was watching those guys on Discovery Channel, and if they can do it, so can I. Right? Okay, maybe it'd be best if I didn't get a rocket.

3) Some hardcover Superman Archives editions from DC. Now these things are crazy expensive, but they're of really nice quality and a lot of fun to read, and we think reading is good, right? Aw, screw it. I know it's not really reading, too.

4) Superman Seatcovers. Now I remember when Jamie said "Hey, no way in hell am I sitting on those," but Santa... Jamie got over the blue and red room, and she got over the KRYPTO license plate. Surely she will adapt to these as well, right, Santa?

5) A Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker, painted red and fully armed. You know why. And hey, it will make next year easier as next year I won't bug you as surely what I have planned will keep me off the "good" list for next year...

And that's pretty much it, Santa. I know you will see it in your heart to do what's best. and by what's best, give me what I want without simultaneously providing me a method by which to severely injure myself. Same as when i was five and wanted my own lawn mower.

Merry Christmas, Santa. Rap with you next year.

Your pal,


Sunday, December 07, 2003


Comics Continuum says: Sources tell The Continuum that the third season of the show might be called Justice League Unlimited. The season will feature many new characters, although Martian Manhunter will remain a key character.

Among the characters apppearing next season will be Captain Atom, Red Tornado, Atom, Black Canary and Green Arrow.


Me, Wildcat and Green Lantern are kind of wondering why nobody is sending in anything for the Holiday Heckstravaganza....


Rules can be found over there under Superman.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Apparently, I am "irksome."
Leaguers, I can't say enough about R.O.T.O.R.

R.O.T.O.R. was filmed in Dallas in 1989, but you'd think it was, at the latest, 1982 from the look of the film. It's a weird and extremely poorly planned knock-off of Terminator/ RoboCop, I guess. It's hard to say what it's a knock-off of, because, really, R.O.T.O.R. is more or less a knock-off of many better knock-offs involving a dude who is supposed to be a robot. Maybe Heartbeeps? It's difficult to say.

Last night R.O.T.O.R. played on some movie channel I have simply called "Action", I believe, and while I have seen R.O.T.O.R. all the way through before, I could not stop myself from watching it yet again. Beyond any allusion to the collision of any automobile or even a freight train accident, this movie defies all expectations for utter and complete low-budget crappiness. And for some reason I simply could not shake the feeling that the producers of this movie had played just waaaaayyyy too much Dungeons and Dragons. Although the film has not a single allusion to swords and mysticism, those who have been around folks who play too much D&D will know what I mean. It's a genre I like to refer to as "White Trash Sci-Fi." Basic elements include
(1) a working knowledge of the world based upon science fiction/ fantasy novels including (but not limited to) an inflated sense of understanding of all sorts of science based upon principles learned in viewing Star Trek
(2) an emotionally crippling misunderstanding of basic male-female relationships. Usually resulting in bizarre dialogue for women and a perpensity for writer, director, producers to wear their personal fetish on their sleeve. (See Dr. Steele)
(3) a perpensity to quote from lofty sources both inappropriately and lacking any real context, but done so in order to somehow try to suggest their own work is of the same mind.

I can't do this movie any better justice here, and so I will simply provide Loyal Leaguers with some links in which they can read up on R.O.T.O.R.

An excellent synopsis and review is here.

a Yahoo! review is here.

A diatribe in which Captain Coldyron (I do not make this name up) is wrongly placed in Houston instead of Dallas (clearly shit like this happens in Dallas, but not Houston) can be found here.


Looking for the film's star, Richard Geisswein, actually turns up a hell of a lot of stuff about R.O.T.O.R.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Jill departed my house at 7:00am today, and I am a little sad to see her go. She's a cool chick, and with her living in Georgia, I imagine it will be quite a while until she graces my presence yet again.

I am wearing a Christmas tie today at work. It is adorned with puppies and presents, and I regard it as having no small amount of kitsch value, but I am fairly certain I am in on this joke all alone.

What shall I miss by not being in Austin during the Christmas Season?

1) Rainy, cold weather
2) Highland Mall's craptacular busy-ness
3) Garland, lights and wreaths crossing each block on Congress from South to North
4) The tree on the Capitol grounds
5) Getting boozy in the cold on Congress
6) The conical strings of lights conjoined to form a "tree" at Zilker
7) The trail of lights at Zilker
8) Hearing my brother bitch endlessly about not knowing what to buy anyone
9) The emptying of Austin as all the 20-somethings go home to their folks' places

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Wanted to clear something up here.

It's League of Melbotis. Melbotis is NOT pronounced "Mel Bought Iss" or "Mel Bought Us". It is pronounced "Mel-boh-tus". The name came from Mel's original owners who thought good names for a dog could include "Melba" and "Otis" and combined them into "Melbotis".

Look, i didn't name the dog, i just feed him.
A little something from Shoemaker.
now that's a shame...

Jim's post on the many, many varieties of Texas license plates is worth taking a look at. Arizona has only a few sample choices, and all of them are pretty dumb. The standard license plate is blue, pink and purple to reflect the desert sunset. Boy, there's a color scheme which works on a lot of cars.

Jim asks that I recommend some topics for license plates. In all seriousness, I don't think the license plates memorializing 9/11 or calling for patrotism are silly, but as the ever increasing number of flags on everything (including boxes of Corn Flakes) threatens to turn our national symbol into wall-paper, I do prefer the simplicity of the "Enjoy Texas Music" license plate. There's nothing wrong with any of the license plates, and their design is generally pretty good. I guess my recommendation is to know when you've crossed the line to being untasteful. One flag license plate = ok. one flag license plate + 2 flags hanging off windows + 4 flag stickers doesn't make you more patriotic. It means you look like you just left a parade, Uncle Sam.

Do I have any additional suggestions? Not really. Barbara Jordan? LBJ? Tommy Tune? Hank Hill? Indeed, what makes a Texan great enough to earn a place on a license plate?

Hopefully it's something more than what it takes to be the model for the silver silhouette girl on truck mudflaps.

My high school chum Jill Hermann-Wilmarth, whom I have not seen in more than 5 years, is staying with us out here in the desert while she attends a conference in Scottsdale. Jill is all grown up and is teaching at Univ. of Georgia and earning her PhD in, uh... you know, she told me, but it sounded complicated. Something to do with education. Anyway, she's still an A#1 gal, and I couldn't be more pleased to have her taking up space in our guestroom.

They are showing all the Christmas specials this week. Charlie Brown Christmas was on last night, and, indeed, gave me my first real taste of Christmas Fever. THanks, Sparky.

I would take this opportunity to remind everyone to prepare your entries for the Holiday Heckstravaganza. Rules and Regulations are posted in the left-hand column below Superman.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

...and just when you thought we couldn't get any stupider...
Jim noted that his site is devoid of any "Hello Kitty" or "Sanrio" characters in his note about Randy's site.

Folks, this can change. Go to Jim's site and petition him for a one day celebration of all things Sanrio.

Jim was also kind enough to e-mail me an archived e-mail he had from UT's now defunct "Roller Skate Party".

> editor...
the rollerskate party international would like to re-extend our challenge to all other candidates in the upcoming student government elections to a knock-down drag-out game of four square on the west mall next tuesday at 12:50. we made this challenge publicly today, february 19, at 1:00 p.m. on the west mall. we at the rollerskate party international all agree that far better than a snoozer of a debate, an action packed game of four square would help voters decide who truly is the candidate most deserving of their vote. if any of you aren't too yellow, show up at the west mall with nothing but your four square shoes on and get ready for the rollerskate party to represent all over your stuffed shirt asses.
> we are also sending a copy of this message to the daily texan to invite all students to attend, and if they so desire, to join in the four squares of fun.
> oh, and one more thing. to all of you "smart" candidates....
> we know you've been tearing down our propaganda, and we want you to issue a public apology or we are going to tell everyone what a bunch
of chowderheads the "smart" party really are. thats not a threat. its a promise. you have three days.
> thats all for now. see you suckas at the west mall....
> love,
> rollerskate crew

Truly, this is democracy in action....

Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanks to Jim for the shout out.

Jim's reporting on the Bombs Over Baghdad frat party fiasco at UT has led to him relating a byzantine and very UT'ish plotline.

In reading it, I wonder what became of the hilarious and oft-inebriated "Roller Skate" party from UT circa 1998. (They ran on the premise that President Faulkner was hording hundreds of thousands of roller skates in the upper floors of the UT Tower, and were demanding the release of the roller skates.) They appeared at an actual televised debate for student council completely lit, and proceeded to (unintenionally?) deconstruct the student council debate until it was drunk hipsters v. confused and angry wanna-be anchorlady v. unamused resume padders. I wish I'd taped it. Funniest thirty minutes of TV ever shown on UT's useless TV channel.

Turkey Day Weekend in Review, 2003:

The Texas Longhorns, to nobody's surprise (but that of Reed T. Shaw), were victorious over the lowly Texas A&M Aggies this year, clinching a #6 in BCS standings and coming close to securing some sort of chance for a real bowl game this year. Let's not screw it up, Longhorns.

But, of course, the Dallas Cowboys lost.

Turkey dinner went well. I managed to maintain my vegetarian diet through Thanksgiving dinner and also a wedding reception. No meat for this boy. So very dizzy...

Jamie's cousin Jeff got married to his longtime lady-friend, Shelley, sometime back in August. They got married in Hawaii, and so had a very nice official ceremony here in Phoenix where family could attend, and followed with a reception at a country club somehwere out in the mountians. I was terribly out of place among the golf-set, but I could get used to country club life. I just need to make another $300K a year and learn what the holes are for in golf courses.

In 1989 I, and a few friends, forcibly took the 14th hole at the Spicewood Golf Course in Austin. It was freezing out and we wanted to play football there, and so we bombarded the golfers with gourds we found growing on the bottom of the hill. I am sure it was the most alarming golf game ever played on that course. Long live the heroes of Gourd Hill.

Played and lost a few rounds of the surprisingly un-geeky table-top game "Settlers of Catan". I needed clay. Clay and wood. Curse you unlucky dice rolls!

Last night I met with my group from my class. We're doing a project and will be presenting a week from today. In the usual chatting that occurs off-topic, one of the girls remarked upon how she knew I was from Texas, and how her boyfriend was travelling to Waco for a month on business and started asking me some general questions about Waco, but I was honestly a little hard-pressed for answers, not having ever lived in Waco. But what alarmed me was when she told me how she knew how racist Texas was, and as a precaution, her boyfriend, who has a Spanish surname, would be travelling under a pseudonym in order to avoid any discrimination.

"That's, uh... that's completely unnecessary," I insisted.
"Well, you know, we know how it is out in Texas."
And it really, really bothered me that this is the reputation the state I consider home has somehow garnered. So danergous is the place considered to be, so racist, that people coming in from out of state believe they must travel under a false name in order to do business and avoid discrimination. But with cities like Vidor and cases like that of James Byrd, is it really any wonder?, I asked myself.
But the truth, which i did not share with her (and probably should have) is that these "good 'ol boys" (as she referred to her boyfriend's clients) will be ultimately more suspicious of a 20-something kid from California coming to wheel-and-deal with them than anyone not of anglo appearance or heritage.
But who knows...? Waco is it's own place, and has people of many mindsets, just like anywhere else. Sure, it's got the Baylor influence, or the influence has Baylor (you decide!), but assuming conservativism equates with racism is, at it's best, silly and in no small way discriminatory in itself.
Texas is a vast place geographically, ethnically and culturally. To assume Beaumont holds to the same norms as Austin or Abilene, South Padre, Dallas or El Paso is a pretty bold assertion. Let alone Waco, which sits at the epicenter of the Texas Bible Belt and is large enough yet to accomodate hundreds of thousands of points of view.
But Texas is huge, legendary for it's orneriness in the minds of outsiders. In it's way, Texas is like unto California in a mythical sense. No movie stars here, but isn't it a place run by bible thumpers and cowboys and outlaws, too? Yeah. Sure it is. But that's half the fun now, isn't it? It can live up to the legend and still be a place where that accomodates a million off-shoots of the sterotypes. Hippie cowboys and outlaw politicians running for governor... And why is football so all-encompassing from August to January?
Can you tell today I'm feeling a bit misty for the Lone Star State?
God Bless you, Texas. For you never fail to surprise nor to live up to surpass the dourest of expectations. And you always do it in the most ostentatious way possible.
Man, i need to get back to Texas, just for a little while.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

I saw Master and Commander yesterday. Here is my review:

I now feel hopelessly less manly and significantly more land-locked. I should have seen Love Actually to reinforce my false sense of superiority.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

while growing more Lex-like in appearance, Reeve demonstrates Super-human will power and becomes a cyborg.
greetings, Leaguers!

Well, Turkey Day comes round tomorrow. Get out your pilgrim hat and find a can of cranberries, because it's that magical time of the year.

I hope each and every one of you enjoys a Super Thanksgiving, and remember... Jell-O pudding cups emptied into a pie crust is not a real desert.

Thanks to Powergirl's poorly designed costume, Superman can think of a a couple of things he's thankful for

Have a happy Turkey Day, and don't forget to watch the Texas Longhorns triumph over the lowly Texas A&M Aggies on Friday at 2:30 CST.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


In good faith, i try to keep up with the blogs of all those inked to The League. But as Jim D. has been slacking since the summer, i've only occasionally been checking in with his blog.

Turns out I got some very nice words said about me in the pages of Jim's blog, and I did not note them. You can read them here yourself. It's in the end bit of this posting.
Thanks to Denby for reminding me why i do not work out.

These pictures are totally gross. If you look at them, it's your own problem, you sick bastard.

here and here
In response to my Holiday Heckstravaganza, Nathan Cone of San Antonio, Texas writes:

So, I have a question about your contest. What would you define as the difference between "essential" and "celebrated?" I can think of some things that are essential but not celebrated, but not much that is celebrated but not essential, unless you count album sales as celebrated. In that case, the "celebrated" New Kids On the Block "Merry, Merry Christmas" is NOT essential.

Good point, Nathan.

I want to punch each of them in their smug little face, too

I could try to spell out what I meant by celebrated, but, kids... this is a good time to point out that I am looking for PERSONAL stories and anecdotes about why these Holiday performances, media, etc... are important to you, the legion members of The League.

In short, let's think about why YOU would celebrate a performance, enough to write a few words about it. Keep in mind, I am not so much judging by the actual quality of the show or performance, but by what you have to say about it.

So get those creative juices flowing. We have less than a month before the contest wraps up.

Last year's grand prize winner, Alfie LeBott, receives a prize for his essay on "Neil Diamond - The Christmas Album"
The post below was up for all of 7 minutes before protested not getting a mention. So here I mention The Amazing Randy.

Jim noted that I did not mention that he had mentioned The League on his website. Therefore, I am mentioning his mention, yet note how infrequently the mentions I make are mentioned. But now he has mentioned the League TWICE in the past week, which puts his mentioning above my own.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Abso-Ludicrous First Annual 2003 Autocratic Yuletide Media Extravaganza!!!!!

Hello, Leaguers,

Tis the Magical Time of the Year again when we decide red and green should be worn together, and power tools suddenly make appropriate gift giving options! It is a time when record shops put albums out on display of Mariah Carey in an odd little Mrs. Clause get-up, and we all listen quietly to the music on the mall PA as if we had never heard the songs before. It's the time of the year when we think TV movies starring Roma Downey are a particularly good idea.
Yes, Leaguers, it's coming hard upon the holiday season (as we call it at my state owned office), or the Christmas season (as we call it at the Steans House).
Christmas is great for the gift giving and remembering the birth of, JC, Our Lord and Savior, but it's also a time for really crappy movies, music and television.

Indeed, what can you get a Wookie for Christmas when he already owns a comb?

But with the annual onslaught of irresponsibly and crassly oversentimental media produced in response to the consumer market drive to capitalize on the Holiday season, it's difficult to narrow down what the categories should be for the contest this year.

I propose four categories:

1) Most Bizarre Christmas/ Holiday media.
2) Most Essential Holiday media.
3) Most Regrettable Holiday Performance (actor or singer)
4) Most Celebrated Holiday performace (actor or singer)

Santa does fine as long as Mrs. Claus is not aware half of this bottle is filled with Captain Morgan's.

Here are the rules:

1) You may submit up to three entries in each category.
2) Submissions are subject to win ONLY if a brief description of "WHY" is also included
3) All submissions must come with a snail mail address in order to receive the GRAND HOLIDAY PRIZE for winning
4) All submissions MUST, in some way, have something to do with Christmas. THis may include movies which just HAPPEN to take place on Christmas (ex: Die Hard).
5) If Ramadan, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or Festivus are your bag, then you may also submit any media from these and any other valued Holiday traditions.
6) All Media should be described with a year (if possible) and possibly some cast, etc...
7) Performances should be described with which album, movie, show, etc... dates, etc... are also beneficial

The Bailey's are happy Daddy did not pitch himself off a bridge

Sweet and happy Christmas media is welcome, as well as that which is less so.

All answers will be compiled into a list for your Holiday viewing consideration. The grand prize winner in each category will be announced well before the holidays in order that they may use their luck at winning the contest as another way to annoy stupid cousin from Colorado who only talks about NASCAR.

So put on your thinking caps, Leaguers, and prepare for the onslaught of Christmas Fever.

Mr. Grinch is pardoned for breaking, entering, criminal mischief, robbery, etc... and then is handed some very sharp knives (in order to cut the roast beast). Such is the Holiday Season.

Response to a question by Nathan can be found here.
I have along and boring story about a couch, but today is not the day for it.

The weekend came and went, and a lot happened between Friday and today, but not much of it was overly entertaining. I look forward to a few days off coming up, and I am looking forward to what the Thanksgiving weekend shall be.

Hopefully it will be a low-key affair, but I am most certainly looking forward Friday's UT/ Texas A&M game (should it play on TV out here in Arizona), and I would also like to watch the Cowboys continue their heated winning streak. However, after this week's performance by the Dolphins, I am uncertain what this game will look like.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Turkey Day looms ever closer.

oddly, I found this image off of a foreign website which was selling American stuff

Friday, November 21, 2003

Okay. Weirdest e-bay auction ever.
KUDOS to my beautiful wife, Jamie, for forwarding this to me. It may come as s urprise to leaguers that I am a fan of Superman. Yes, yes... it's true. And as far as that fandom goes, I have missed only one episode of the WB's show "Smallville", which tells the story of a young Clark Kent before he puts on the cape.

I know Sonia will appreciate this. You see, the primary love interest for young Clark Kent is INCREDIBLY annoying, but part of the WB's plan for the show was to get as many 10-17 year old girls watching the show as males who want to watch Superman punch people (which he often does, with much gusto). So the WB seems to insist that the girls will LOVE to watch Lana. Which is annoying. I cannot detail how annoying the character of Lana Lang really is, but the fact that her trampling by a horse was applauded by a large portion of the audience goes to show you that Lana is not what much of the audience believes makes Smallville shine.

No, it's Lex Luthor we love.

Lana is the annoying one on the left...

I once detailed 9 reasons why Lana is annoying, and here they are:

1) 15 year old kids don't get to own coffee shops and go to high school
2) She learned kung-fu in half an episode and now routinely dispatches crooks with her skills, despite lack of training time due to her school/ coffee shop/ pony riding schedule
3) she has no legal guardian
4) she owns a pony she doesn't need to ever take care of or pay for or feed
5) she basically dumps all over a dude with heat vision and he puts up with it
6) she continues to surprise Clark by showing up at his house every single night when he's in the barn, and he's always surprised to see her
7) Evil genius Lex is investing in Lana's dumb coffeeshop with the only semi-used theater in back
8) Notice how Lex and Clark will be talking about saving the corn chowder plant and hundreds of jobs, or trying to stop a maniacal killer, and Lana makes sure EVERYONE knows about her dumb problem with the latte machine or whatever. Seriously. Nobody ever asks. She always just volunteers the information. Poor Lana.
9) somehow she owns a Jeep Liberty. Coffee shop must be doing well.

There are dozens of more reasons to dislike Lana, but the number one reason is that there's a much more interesting and less whiney character on the show, and we're to believe Clark is still infatuated with this dork? Come on, WB!!! Even in a show with a dude who can see through walls, we need a little believability.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

you know, nothing I can say would really add anything...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Yesterday I completely neglected to mention the 75th birthday of American Icon, cartoon legend and my former co-worker, Mickey Mouse. I loved Mickey Mouse growing up. As evidenced from my photos and recent trip, the whole Disney Enterprise still holds a warm fuzzy place in my heart.

I did three summers at the Disney Store from 93-95. I proudly wore the sweater, the unhygeniec gray polyester pants, the pink shirt, and tried as hard as I could to keep a smile on my face. Which is hard when you're as hungover as I usually was in the summers from 93-95.

I tolerated insults from teenagers, folded the same shirt often four times a day, sweated profusely under the sweater and put up with lessons on the porper arragnement of stuffed animals and plastic cups.

The worst duty was "greeter." Especially at 10:00am when you can still taste beer every time you hiccup. Because as "greeter", yoru sole task was to stand at the door and welcome folks into the store. Which people do not like. THey run away from you. They run past you. THey avoid eye contact and all but put their heads under bags so you can't say "Welcome to the Disney Store!" People walk past you and speak loudly about how dumb you look in your outfit. Other people yell at you for talking to them before they've addressed you themself. I don't think tyhey actually still force people to do this. It sucks.

After three years, hundreds of happy customers and being the only one in the store who understood that Disney also owned TOuchstone and Hollywood Pictures, on my final day, I asked my manager what she thought.

"Well," she said, "You're very difficult."
"Hmmm. I thought you'd say something nice as, you know, you'll probably never see me again."
And now realizing she would never see me again, she grasped the opportunity and detailed how I had been a disappointment. I was told how I had been given opportunity and didn't seem to care (I never perceived this, but whatever), how I had not been forthcoming with the spirit and attitude of Disney. I was informed how I had failed to smile like an idiot come rain or shine, constantly resorting baby-spittled stuffed animals, and being unable to leave my "zone" no matter how much help a customer needed on another part of the floor.
"You're really one of the worst employees we ever had," she concluded.
"You know, you didn't have to hire me back. Twice."
"I know, but you knew how to do everything."
Which meant it didn't matter how many goddamn Lion King dolls I helped sell. It didn't matter how many Pooh-Bears I helped move, or that I could actually tell people where to find other cartoon merchandise when they called (which WAS SUPPOSED to be applauded, according to my training manual). The fact I was the ONLY employee who didn't need to be questioned the time all the watches were stolen (theories on why I wasn't questioned very), didn't matter. Didn't matter that I'd stayed late with the managers who wanted to count money but didn't want to walk to their cars alone. And I loved to vaccuum. God help me, when the store closed down, I was already in motion, headed for the back of the shop to grab the vaccuum and get out there. I even showed up as having helped on a "secret shop." No, none of that mattered. The fact that I didn't have a "Disney Attitude" was what got me a bad rap.

I could not stand in the middle of a store, addressing nobody, and stare into space and smile.

"One customer," she said, "came to me and said you looked absolutely miserable in the middle of all the fun. I came to you and asked you to perk up, and you kind of blew me off."
Kids, this was probably when i should have told her I remembered that, and that I had gas from the Diet Coke and Great American Cookie Company treat I'd had, and that I was still kind of hung over, and that I was at the end of my rope after hearing the same 44 minute Laserdisc of Disney tunes after it's 400th play. When you're making $5.00/ hr.
Apparently my constant desire to point out inconsistencies in store policy and logic was not needed, either.

"I blew you off?" I said incredulously.
"You just never seemed like you wanted to really get into the spirit of things."
And I didn't. And I don't. And I can't tell you why, but it's the same reason I used to avoid the office Christmas party at my last job. And why I didn't pursue a career as a salesman and why, when I sneeze, pixie dust dust not pour out of my ears.

People are gross and disgusting and mean and spoil their kids and hit their kids and spill shit and laugh at you for having to clean it up in your little Mouseketeer outfit. And sometimes they are nice, and do not let their children throw toys and stuffed animals across the store, but most of the time, they do.

I am so freaking nice to people in stores. I tip more than 15%. My highest aspiration in every transaction is for me to just disappear in the mind of the person i'm dealing with immediately after I have left, because that is the greatest gift you can give someone who is just trying to make it to the end of their shift. Unless they're being a jerk. Then you tip $0.01 so they get taxed.

But it wasn't Mickey I didn't like. Because look at Mickey's pals. He hangs out with a bi-polar duck and an idiot dog-man thing and a girlfriend who looks like him in drag. Clearly Mickey would not have waited three years and then unloaded. Nah. Mickey would be cooler than that. I kind of considered myslef "vintage Mickey." I was "Steamboat Willie Mickey." I pulled down the pants of the ship captain and tried to make sure I was doing okay, even if it wasn't exactly what the ship captain THOUGHT he wanted. Ah, well. C'est la vie.

You know, I probably WAS an awful Disney employee. I'm not going to say that, based upon their standards, I was a super star. THere was a lady named Kathy who worked there, and that honor goes to her. No, I sucked as a Disney employee, but did I WANT to be good at being some weird Disney automaton? Probably not.

Here's something to try: next time you're at the Disneystore or Disneyland or wherever.... engage an employee in a conversation. Seriously, just try to talk to one of them. You can't have a REAL conversation with them, and you know why? Because they're being watched. THere are managers who watch them, probably cameras at the park, and definitely spies and "secret shoppers." They are FORBIDDEN from ever saying something is bad. If it's raining so hard outside that the fish are drowning, they'll have to insist we're do for a rain, or else laugh about the rain in a weird way which indicates they LOVE the rain. Try it. I dare you.

Happy 75th, Mickey. Thanks for The Mouse, Walt. And screw you Disney Store #382 at Willowbrook Mall, Houston, Texas. I hope you go bankrupt and all your overpriced crap gets returned to you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Brenda Johnson just e-mailed me! I love Brenda Johnson. THe world needs more Brendas. I hadn't seen her since about 1994! All the world comes together through The League of Melbotis.
Oh, and by the way, Jim D. commented on his blog that i never mentioned my 10th Year Reunion on my blog. It was held September 25th, but I didn't go. No tales of relived glory. Sorry.
Greeting, Leaguers,

Turkey Day is fast approaching.

a delicious looking turkey

Jamie and I are preparing for what will, hopefully, be a funfilled Holiday in which we can give thanks for all the good fortune of the year. Huzzah.
I love the turkey, but I've been vegetarian since August 19th. Not a bite of meat has passed through my lips since that day. But I love turkey! Seriously. Turkey and gravy. Absolutely love it. Jamie and I picked out a 14 pound turkey this weekend, and I wanted to do a little dance, so great is my love of the bird. But will i crack under the strain? Can I possibly go without turkey on a day in which drumsticks will be presented right before my nose? I cannot say.

Viva la turkey.

In regards to my paranoid rant about Christmas last week, as of Saturday night, one of my neighbors has already put up their Christmas lights. Holy cow, man. We aren't even done using the air conditioner and this bozo is laying tracks for Santa's runway on his roof.

Anyhoo, Laura Maxwell held a contest over on her blog. I was one of a few winners of the "Evil Deeds to Bestow Upon your Boss After You've Been Informed You're Laid Off But have Two Weeks Left to Go" contest. I received an "Attack of the CLones" clone-headed Pez-Dispenser. I love me the orange Pez. I also got candy cigarettes, an aluminum Dia De Los Muertos skeleton and a general showering of good will. Thanks, Maxwell! You're tops!

Solicitations for upcoming Superman stories for February have been released. Check out this art! I am so pumped. Also here and here.

DC Comics has not been putting out what I would describe as A+ Superman stories this year, but this looks interesting, and 2004 is scheduled to have some top flight writers and artists. Could be a good year to be a Superman fan.

I was not a good student in college. Seriously. THis may surprise you, faithful Leaguers, but I had a little trouble focusing on my studies. Hence, my GPA coming out of college was nothing to crow about. And so the trend continues. I completely bombed my exam last night in the class I'm taking. I have no idea how I could have studied better, but my capacity for retaining knowledge such as I am being tested on is nil. Let's hope the group project pulls my fat out of the fire.