Friday, December 31, 2004

Randy is taking exception to the fact that I compared him to McDonald Land's own lovable goof, Grimace. Apparently he took it as a literal, physical representation. Which, of course, it was not meant to be. (Following Randy's logic, I think I look like ROnald McDonald, Jim looks like The Hamburglar, and my wife looks like a mophead with eyes and stork legs)

"Dude," Randy complains, "You just called me a big , fat purple thing."

So now I leave it to the readers to decide...

Does Randy resemble Grimace? Physically? Personality wise?

Personally, I think they both have warm, endearing googly eyes.

Subject A

Subject B

Thursday, December 30, 2004

So my new favorite commercial is a Rawlings basketball commercial. You'll know it when you see it.

My new least favorite commercial is the commercial for the "Big & Tasty" burger from McDonald's dollar menu. Not only is it a paean to a really crappy piece of food, and has the sort of hyperbolic voice over that make sme want to choke the creative team behind the commercial, but the dude at the end of the commercial doesn't even deliver his line well.

Pre-dating the "SuperSize Me" brou-haha, and the lawsuit where the fat kids tried to sue McDonalds, books were coming out basically trying to make you run screaming from your local McDonalds. An image problem to be sure. With some minor menu changes and a new, hip spin on a nasty, old product, McDonalds decided "I'm Lovin' It!" would be rapped, sung and generally forced into the stickier crevices in the back of your mind.

McDonalds advertising is really at its best when they throw Ronald (Me) into a commercial with Grimace (Randy). Ronald and Grimace do something stupid and then chase around the Hamburglar (who is, in more ways than I can count, exactly like Jim D). It's a simple formula. It reminds you of McDonalds as a name, makes their product sort of fun, and appeals across a wide audience. (Actually, I used to think those Fry Guys [Jamie] were hilarious).

The commercials starring actual people appearing to be happy at McDonalds have never worked out quite as well.

The "I'm Lovin' It" campaign has done more to steer League HQ away from McDonalds than any five anti-McDonalds documentaries could dream of doing. Simply, I am not lovin' it. I am trying to get a coke and fries because you're the only fast place to get a bit between home and work. Unless I want Del Taco. And, no, I don't want Del Taco, either.

There's nothing hip about pre-cooked/ microwaved burgers. There's nothing emotionally gratifying about eating at McDonalds. it's simply something to feel vaguely guilty about.

The Big & Tasty Burger costs a mere $1.00. Which, in this land of $8.00 cheeseburgers, is a hard thing to look away from. Of course, most likely, The Big & Tasty tastes like it costs a dollar, and we have to remember it's all about volume sales with McDonalds. THus, the dollar menu.

But that doesn't stop the subject of our commercial, who is sitting alone in a McDonalds, from waxing rhapsodic upon the topic of his Big & Tasty (which may be my new name for Jason, btw). He compares the burger to the Pyramids, the wonders of Rome, on and on about how amazing a $0.05 bun, a scrap of lettuce, a wiggly tomato slice and a microwaved hunk of beek really are.

I think he then says something out loud to his burger (the gushing praise arriving in VO), like "how do they do it?"

Our burger loving hero (who has his eyes locked upon his burger as if, maybe, he will soon make sweet, sweet love to the burger) is revealed to not be alone! Rather, he is with Stock Player #372 from the WB's central casting. Stock Player #372 is the now popular chubby, curly haired, goateed slacker made popular in ads for FedEx and Fritos.

Our Burger Fool is woken from his reverie by Stock Player #372, and the hilarious (I mean HIGH-LARIOUS!) line, "Dude, you're talking to your burger."


Oh, man. Just sit back and let that one soak in. "Dude, you're talking to your burger." As if... ha ha... as if the burger can, you know, HEAR HIM!!!! Where do they come up with this stuff? No wonder I could never make it in advertising. Crap, that's funny.

The line delivery by #372 is the interesting part. With only 6 words to deliver in about two seconds, #372 makes the most of it. Instead of being just another actor delivering his lines in a believable fashion so as to convey some semblance of reality, #372 decides to tackle the line as if he actually doesn't understand what he's saying, or, perhaps, as if he's been kicked in the head mutliple times by a horse.

"Dude," he says, sort of slapping his friend's arm, trying to bring him back to reality. "You're talking to your burger." The burger isn't going to respond, man! it can't hear YOU!!! Don't talk to the burger!

Never before has a more wooden performance displaying such a stunning lack of talent been seen in a mere two seconds. Normally I'd love this, but at this point, McDonald's advertising just depresses me. This is yet another in a long line of cheerless McDonald's commercials formulated to joylessly appeal to a demographic which is pretty much a gimme if you're a teen-ager living in suburban sprawl, anyway.

Now, talent or no, #372 is going to make a boatload of cash for being in a nationally televised spot that runs all the time. Them's the rules with SAG. And you have to like that.

It is The League's suggestion to #372 that he spend his money one of two ways:

1) Paying back his parents for any money they have spent allowing him to be trained as an actor.

2) Tuition for college so #372 can select a new career more suitable to his skills. Such as, I dunno, not being on my TV anymore.

Soon the commercial will be little more than a memory, but may the dream of #372 and his poor line delivery live on.

God bless us every one.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A Hinojosa New Years

So, a two fold interactive post here.

1) What are you doing for New Years?
2) What should Madi do to bring in 2005?


Last year Jamie and I did two things for New Years. We did a) Jack and b) shit.

1) I suspect this New Years will be more of the same.

2) I think Madi should go to Jason Steans' Rockin' New Years Eve. If, Jason is, in fact, having a Rockin' New Years Eve.

I strongly suspect no New Years will ever top that of 99'-2000 in my book. Best New Years, ever. And I have Pat Sanchez to thank. Sorry about your floor, Pat. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Apple has stepped up to the plate and has offered a a central location where you can make donations for diaster relief.

Thanks to Doug for the link.
Just a head's up. There's not much folks like myself can do for the tsunami victims across the Indian Ocean. But, if you have a few dollars left after Christmas, now might be a good time to consider visiting They've set up a donation site on their front page.

Red Cross, Red Crescent and UN Relief folks are in motion, but with death tolls at 80,000 and climbing, these areas will need more support than that which governments are going to have tucked away for just such a disaster.

Please take some time and visit a site such as the Red Cross site or

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Joys of Cat Ownership V (with Apologies to

Why Jeff the Cat does not go for walks on a leash...
Just an interesting item in the name of being fair and square:

American Airlines sent me a lengthy letter, which, I might add, was not a curt dismissal of my concerns. Unfortunately, they also had this attached:

This email message and its contents are copyrighted and are proprietary
products of American Airlines, Inc. Any unauthorized use, reproduction, or
transfer of this message or its contents, in any medium, is strictly prohibited.

So I cannot copy and paste the e-mail into the blog.

I have to say, while I am still not happy with my travel experience, I am impressed somebody out there took the time to write a letter which actually responded to my complaints and questions in detail.

A small part of me wonders if they knew about my lengthy rant from earlier this week here in these pages. But that's probably just me patting myself on the back rather than accepting that AA might have excellent customer relations staff.

*** UPDATE ***

And get this! AA sent us a TRANSPORTATION VOUCHER!!!! I didn't even notice that as I skimmed the letter the first time. Jamie just called me to talk about it, and I was like: Wha...?

So, anyway, that's an additional few points for AA!
a post Holiday read from The Onion.
What did YOU get from Santor?

Lee T. has written in and suggested that everyone send in their strangest Christmas present. He kicked it off this way:

The League should administer a contest to determine the strangest Christmas present received this year.

As for me, I received a shirt which actually claims on the label and accompanying product repel bugs. A bug repellant shirt. Yep. That's me.

Sounds like the work of one Jacob Q. Thweatt, but I can't be sure.

Doug counters (also relating the fate of a former gift to The League):

Doug was visited by Santor... in a big way. He received a copy of League favorite "Garfield" on DVD, and another DVD set... which is too horrible to mention.

Ho ho nooooooooooooooooo!

Doug collects bad movies, and surely Garfield will be a crowning jewel in his collection. (Doug is also proud owner of both R.O.T.O.R. and Nukie).

So, what did you get from Santor this year?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

..And we're back.

Thanks to Judy and Dick for yet another fabulous Christmas in sensational Lawton, Oklahoma (home of Lawton High Wolverines!). Jamie and I had a great time and it was all-around Christmassy.

Our first day in Lawton, the ground had a thin layer of snow so we suited up and went out to chuck hunks of snow and ice at each other. Judy (The Shark) McBride now has a pool table, and we spent a good amount of time around the table. I am no good at pool, and I demonstrated this numerous times throughout the weekend.

We had a very nice Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Eve night was spent touring Lawton, OK and checking out the sights and lights. Christmas morning was great, and I have to say that I did, in fact, rake in a great deal of Christmas Loot. I got a few books, a kick-ass DVD collection I'd been eyeing, and a great game from Doug (I cannot repeat the name here as it is French and I am sure to misspell it).

Followed that up with an adventurous viewing of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events (the audience habits of the patrons of the Lawton Mall need some work).

Now, all of that was the fun part. The troublesome part came into play during our travels. As you might know, the major airlines have been having some financial difficulties tied to fuel costs, security costs, etc... and I would propose that many of our problems stem from a cutback of resources at the sub-management level (always first to go, but usually more needed than the pencil pushers.).

Firstly, a week before our departure I received an e-mail informing me that my flight had been cancelled and we were rebooked for a flight two hours later. I called in to see what the story was and was told it was due to a faulty aircraft. I did not then, nor do I now believe this was true. The airlines did their usual thing and cancelled flights which were not booked solid. I noted that our connecting flight was only 45 minutes after our new flight time, and I suggested that I change my second flight's departure time to a later time.

I was assured that we would be able to connect (American insists that 35 minutes is enough time to connect between two domestic flights). I asked what would happen if we were late (given that Expedia was stating the flight we were taking was only 60% on time). They were willing to change my connecting flight to a later flight.


1) Our flight from Phoenix to Dallas was about 45 minutes late arriving (despite perfect flying conditions leaving Phoenix)
2) Being rudely told by the clerk at the desk in Dallas that incidents of Easter 2003 could not have occurred when I made an inquiry to avoid a similar situation.
3) Our flight being delayed from 4:15 to 5:00.
4) Having to change gates.
5) Our 5:00 being changed to 5:35
6) Our 5:35 being cancelled with no explanation
7) The new clerk being unaware of our cancellation and having to leave the desk twice to don coat and go outside to deal with some situation
8) Our new 6:15 flight being bumped to 7:00
9) Our 7:00 being bumped to 7:35
10) Changing gates a total of no less than 8 more times (I do begin to exaggerate. We lost track). We changed gates at least every twenty minutes until they quit posting a gate around 7:00.
11) Being told at 7:35 that we had a plane, but no crew
12) Our flight falling off the boards with no explanation at 7:40.
13) multiple people from our flight being told different stories regarding our situation, none of which seemed to really match up.
14) actually witnessing people in line being yelled at by clerks for just asking when we were leaving
15) Finally getting a crew and then being chastised for not already being on the plane by the desk crew
16) Sitting at the gate for about 30 minutes once on board
17) waiting for about 45 minutes to be de-iced

Well, that was nice. I hate American Eagle and it will be a long, long time before I fly them again. I was feeling pretty bad until I heard a story about a family friend who was caught in the Delta Airlines computer crash. He was stranded in the Cincincatti airport for two entire days before being picked up and returned home without ever making it to Houston.

On our way home, I pinged off the security system in multiple ways. My watch (in my backpack) was believed to be a bomb. My wallet had a security swipe card which set it off, and something else pinged it, too... but I cannot remember what it was.

We left Lawton more or less on time. In Dallas (with 45 degree weather and clear skies) we were delayed for more than an hour from departure.

On board, we learned some chip in the instrument panel wasn't working, so we had to sit on the airplane for an hour while the diagnosed and then repaired the problem. Eventually we did get to leave.

On the ground in Phoenix, we reached our gate to learn the skyramp was broken down and we could not deplane (this isn't to mention the douchebag who GOT UP AND WAS WALKING AROUND WHILE WE WERE TAXIING. I was convinced that they were actually delaying until they could get a cop to arrest the moron when he stepped off the plane. The fact that this jerk wasn't arrested is not a mark in the plus column in my mind.). We had to sit on the plane for an additional twenty or more minutes while they located a truck to move the plane. No stair-car. No roll-away stairs.

We spent more than four hours on a plane for a 1 hour 45 minute flight. Not to mention the people who were going to be late who needed to use that plane next.


Anyway, that was frustrating. Don't fly American for a while, not until they hire enough people to run their damn airline, anyway. What a nightmare.

I could write a letter, but the past two letters I wrote to American ended with a form letter non-apology declaring taking their airline to be a crapshoot at best. So, suck it, American Airlines. I don't need to write you, I just need to tell every single person how incompetent you are and that America West and Southwest never do this shit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Holiday Apology...

I have to apologize to Loyal Leaguers everywhere. Despite many creative and entertaining entries, The League was unable to get it's act together and get a nice photo for the Holidays.

A few things conspired against me:

1) A lack of time.
2) A lack of a photographer in order to get both Jamie and myself into the photo.
3) The amazing array of props, locations, etc... that Leaguers suggested. I am not certain what makes people think I can just get a police officer or patrol car at any moment, but, despite my wishes to the contrary, I cannot merely summon the police without someone from league HQ ending up in the pokey.

Anyhow, I have failed you. I feel pretty bad about that. But not too bad. And I also wish to point out that I think Jamie was relieved she would not need to get into costume for any photos.

But I still wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas, a Positive Post-Hannukah, a Krazy Kwanzaa, or whatever.

We're winging eastward toward Lawton, OK in fairly short order, so The League is going on hiatus until the end of the month. Not that I think you'll take time out during Christmas to check in, but... you know... thought I'd let you know you're not going to miss anything.

So until I post again... Travel safely, eat well, enjoy the family and friends around you, and try to take a moment to remember what it's all about.

My Christmas Wish is the same this year as it has been every year. I wish that next year is better than this year, and that health and happiness prevail.

Merry Christmas, Leaguers. And thanks for hanging around! Jamie and I wish you the best!

Peace on Earth, and goodwill to all from The League of Melbotis.

The trailer is now up for Frank Miller's Sin City.


Monday, December 20, 2004

as told to The League

You may know the tale of Santa Claus (aka Saint Nick, St. Nicholas, The Jolly Old Elf, Kris Kringle, Creepy Guy at Mall). But do you know the tale of Santor? And how he came to be? Do you know it at all... ?

'Twas long, long ago, on a day not too much different from today (imagine if you can), in a place not so very different from the very one you're in, that the tale of Santor began.

He was a kindly person, a merry person, the kind of fellow who would spread joy and cheer... not just on Christmas Day, but all throughout the year.

So Merry was our fellow, that folks called him "The Christmas Elf."
He so liked the name, and he adopted it himself.

Now this Christmas Elf, it can be said he lived alone
In a two bedroom condo with a facade of faux stone.
Though alone he would sit as Christmas rolled around,
he'd cross his fingers, for an invitation to Christmas dinner might yet be found.

But despite the Elf's boyish charm, the bells upon his toes, and the sweaters of green and red,
Each Christmas Eve he would find himself alone, and wishing he were dead.

And then one year as Christmas came rolling 'round once more,
the Christmas Elf's coworkers knew not what was in store.

"'Tis Christmas," cried the Elf, "And each year I make the season merry for you folks.
I light up my cube, sing you all carols, and make egg nog with no yolks."

"I dress up in the right colors, I made my Windstar into a sleigh.
I make cookies with Splenda, and give a few dollars to The United Way."

"I've never asked for anything, despite the personalized cards and the presents I sent.
Even for Ol' Johnny in receiving, who tells me to 'get bent.'"

"You each know my folks won't talk to me, and I've got not a friend in this bunch.
But this year for Christmas, can I please come to dinner? Or to breakfast or to lunch?"

"I don't take up much space, I eat light, and I'll pack my own food.
I'll clean up the dishes. I'll take out the trash and I just won't be rude."

His officemates stared and then turned their eyes in deep thought.
Their sympathy was clear, and he knew he'd done as he 'ought.

They looked to him together. With the invitation coming, he now felt quite dizzy.
"Christmas Elf, Ol' Chum" they said. "It's not that we don't what you there. It's simply, we're too busy."

So The Elf slunk home, just the thought of Christmas made him dejected and forlorn.
Nothing could console him, not even his mountainous stack of Christmas-themed porn.

And the doorbell rang, it rang out quite clear. He rushed to the door to see who it could be.
'Twas the mailman, with a box! "Is it," said the elf, unbelieving, "is it a present for me?"

The mailman handed over the package, his eyes tired and weary.
"Sign here," said the Mailman. But he was not at all cheery.

The return address was from the office. Reconciliation for leaving him in the cold!
No matter the trifle, he said aloud to himself, I'll treat this as gold!

As he opened the package, and finding bright paper beneath, he felt rejuvenated, his spirits were lifted!
But then, below, he saw it was the coffee package he'd sent them all last year which the sender had merely re-gifted.

"Screw it!" cried the Elf! "I foresake this day! I try and try, and they don't care!
I think I know what I'll do! I'll be their Christmas nightmare!"

"Each year with each gift, I'll keep it around!
Shrink wrap unbroken and bindings still bound!"

"I'll send the gift to someone else or resend to the sender!
Be it summer sausage, a playstation, a stapler or blender!"

"I'll be their St. Nick, and their annoying gift granter!
But I shall not be Santa! I shall become Santor!"

And they found his condo empty, the coffee package spilled to the floor.
The tree was tipped over, and the lights blinked no more.

And when the cops looked around (for the elf had disappeared)
they saw in red and green a message was smeared:

"Merry Christmas, you bastards! Hope you like re-gifted junk!
I'm your new gift giver, free of this Holiday Bunk!"

"I've had it with you people, and that's not just the booze speaking!
I've devised a plan to give Christmas a tweaking!"

"So on Christmas morning, when you're seeking presents under the tree,
you may get something oddly familiar or pre-opened, and you'll know it's from me!"

"Instead of new gifts, expect junk someone doesn't want any more!
Know that your gift came from Good Ol' Santor!"

And so it befalls us each time and each year
that we find a present we might think is queer.

It might be last year's coasters, or that beer drinking cap.
But be rest assured it's someone's old crap.

So look for the regifted, or the present which bores,
and know that it was sent from your good friend Santor.

Mrs. League here. The League is in the process of moving offices today, sans internet access, so that's why he's been quiet.

We had a good weekend. We had previously decided to do League HQ Christmas on Saturday, but Friday night as we sat by the Supertree the League saw me eyeing my present. Keep in mind, Leaguers, that Christmases past have seen the League snooping for his treasures and begging to open them ahead of time. This year the tables were turned. I knew what was waiting for me underneath the Spidey wrapping paper and was antsy with delight while the League was cool as a cucumber.

League: "You can open it"
M.League: "No - we said we were waiting until Saturday"
League: "You can ...(Spidey already being ripped apart) it..."

I got me a little blue iPod Mini, folks. I love it so. Brought it to work with me today even though I'm only up to the 'J's in copying my CDs over. I'm fear I'm going to be mighty sick of Blur in another week or so.

I got the League Star Wars Electronic Battleship as kind of an interim gift. His real present won't be here until January. Anyway, he seems to like it and it's fun to play, although I kind of miss getting to make the direct hit noises myself.

Saturday after making waffles and playing with our toys some more, 3/4 of the League (Jeff the Cat remained home on guard duty) headed outside for a wintery stroll (70 degrees with sunshine). For a change of scenery we took off towards the new subdivision to the east. We saw three different pools under construction - not fair! Our subdivision doesn't even have a name. Anyway, we soon found ourselves coming up to the fence of our nemesis the dairy farm. Because it was prior to feeding time, the cows had no ammo and it was safe to approach. And because it was prior to feeding time, we were greeted at the fence by close to 100 cows.

Melbotis the Brave bristled up a bit, but since the cows did not appear as threatening as small children he quickly calmed down. I wanted to pet them, but feared the wrath of Farmer Ted should he catch me touching Bessie. They were so cute. Almost enough to make me want to give up beef. Eh, who am I kidding? I love me a good steak.

Went to see Ocean's Twelve. Eh. It was okay and we laughed a bit, but I still liked the first one better. Julia Roberts is looking weird these days. Also had our annual holiday viewing of It's a Wonderful Life. "Merry Christmas movie house!"

Getting ready for our Christmas pilgrimage to Lawton, Oklahoma on Wednesday. It'll be a miracle if we actually make it on time. I don't trust American Airlines (more specifically puddle jumper American Eagle which will shuttle us into the Sooner State from Dallas). American 'Beagle' has bumped us from our flight a number of times and I'm starting to feel like Charlie Brown kicking the football, but they're the only carrier that flies into Lawton. Wish us luck.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Mrs. League here.

What I want for my birthday.

It's a Christmas/ Superman-related miracle!

In twenty years of comic fandom, I have never written in to a comic publisher before. But just this last week I sat down and wrote to DC Comics. Why?

Action Comics, DC's oldest comic still in print, and the home of Superman, was being written by Chuck Austen. Austen had written a semi-successful miniseries with Metropolis as a background last year, but it hadn't been my favorite series. I loved the art, but, truthfully, the story was meandering and unstructured.

When the Superman comics relaunched several months ago, Chuck Austen was given Action Comics. I knew from internet trolls complaining about Austen's run on X-Men that he could be a controversial figure, but I wasn't really clear on WHY so many readers didn't like his work.

As Austen's run on Action neared, interviews with the writer showed up online and Austen publicly stated that he didn't think Superman was interesting. Nor did he feel overly excited to be writing the comic. He found Lois Lane boring, and thought Superman should be more "proactive" or something along those lines.

When the comics started showing up, they were the action packed comics Austen ahd promised, but no single issue contained the hint of a coherent story. Ivan Reis had taken over art chores, and the guy does incredible work. But Austen seemed to be flailing through a backlog of Superman villains and supporting characters. Plotlines were being introduced and never carried out, villains appeared but failed to ever reappear in order to complete a storyline.

Further, Superman just didn't act like Superman. Some folks say he was acting more as if Austen were writing Spider-Man, but I didn't see it. I felt Austen was trying to interject humor into the Superman comics and simply wasn't very good at writing comics that way. Also, Superman would loudly declare superlatives such as "I am the best!" Uh-huh.

The whole thing had simply an awful sense of mismanagement about it, and Suprman fans were staying away in droves.

At any rate, yesterday DC Comics announced Austen is now off of Action Comics. The comic, which has been published since 1938, should be treated as a flagship comic, drawing the industry's best and brightest. And I think DC went into their agreement with Austen believing he would deliver a comic he proved himself incapable of producing.

The odd part of the entire deal is this: the new writer on the comic is JD Finn. Nobody has ever heard of JD Finn before. Nobody. It is assumed JD Finn is a pen name of some sort for an established writer as new writers usually aren't handed the reigns on a franchise book like Action Comics. I'm looking forward to seeing what the true story is and how "JD Finn" ties up Austen's confusing and ill-devies plot threads.

You read up on the Austen leaving Action Comics here.

Meanwhile, I totally encourage readers to pick up "Adventures of Superman" by Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark. Also, Azzarello and Lee's "Superman" is still holding my itnerest.

Oh, ANd David Goyer is making a move to take The Flash to the big screen.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Looks like the League may be forced to do a little spin control.

Last week, the venerable Steven G. Harms asked The League to respond to his posting about factors which can make a relationship work (or, I guess, conversely, not work).

You can read Steven's post here.

And I responded to Steven via electronic mail. Steven responded to my response here.

I have given Steven permission to post my full response on his site as this whole thing began over there.

I think of these sorts of life-altering deals like long term relationships and having kids to be a bit like traveling. We all have an idea of what New York City is like in our heads just from watching TV, but the second we step off the plane, we have to readjust our notions and come away with a different idea of what the city is all about. To extend the metaphor, people who live and work in New York are going to have yet another idea of what the city is all about and how it works. They aren't going to be using tourist maps to get around, and they aren't going to be bothering with the tour of the Statue of Liberty.

To further extend the metaphor, when you do go home, nobody wants to see photos from your vacation and/ or life in New York. Nobody wants to see 4x6 pictures of you standing in front of a hotdog cart while you explain how you order a hotdog in Manhattan. It's boring. And you always come off as an ass when you're trying to explain to your pals "how things work in the big city". It's unavoidable and, ultimately, you come off as a condescending jerk just for trying to explain how to buy subway tokens.

I think Jamie and I are sort of in-betweeners. We live in a sort of metaphorical Connecticut, or possibly Philadelphia. We're married, have been together for a pretty darn long while given our age, and have no kids. We're heading into the territory where people are having kids and telling us "there's nothing like it!" I'm taking them at their word for it, and occasionally playing with the little souvenir, but I have no idea what a 4:00am feeding is like, or the joys of labor, or worrying about lying kids on their stomach instead of their back. That's a whole new New York City I'm just not ready to even tourist through.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mrs. League again.

Great. All we need is for this thing to be able to run after us.

Mrs. League here. Couple-a holiday links for ya':

It's a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies

National Lampoon's 2004 Safe Holiday Shopping Guide

I kinda want the Care Bears Iron Smelting Furnace.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

So, lazy bastard that I am, I read many more comics than "real" books. And I'm also pretty choosy about about what I will spend time reading. I usually request two or three people's positive recommendations before I'll actually pick up a book and read it.

But, I do have a 45 minute drive to work. And a 45 minute drive home (one day I shall unleash my ongoing rant regarding my dream of efficient public transportation. It's all about bullet trains, people). Anyhoo, I do have quite a bit of time on the road, and I can only listen to so much Marketplace.

So, a few weeks ago my co-worker commented that he had the "book on tape" of The DaVinci Code. And his recommendation coupled with that of the Sensational Laura Denby led me to say "okay, sure. Let's kill some time."

Anyway, I have now "read" the controversial best-seller. Well, an authorized, abridged, poorly narrated audio-book version of The DaVinci Code. It's okay. In all honesty, I think it sort of follows the current trend of authors wanting to write a screenplay and not having the screenwriting technique down pat, so they turn to prose. Nobody is going to accuse Dan Brown of being a literary genius, but what the book does manage to do is tell a fairly fast paced sort of mystery that is smart enough to give it's audience some surprises regarding plot elements, but is also savvy enough not to tell a confusing or complicated tale. You know, a good airport book.

The author doesn't have any pretensions of being perceived as the next James Joyce. He wants to tell a neat story about a nerd as an action hero and relies upon stoner/templar lore in order to do so.

Regarding the alleged "controversy" surrounding the book...

Basically it suggests that maybe the Catholic church hasn't always acted with the best of intentions and the author uses the Vatican as a sort of vague force which the characters must beware of. I can't say much more about what the controversy is without totally giving away the book, but I kind of figured out huge chunks of it by midway through disk three of 5.

There are some vaguely taboo topics covered, and a bit of mysticism and well researched humbuggery inserted to weave an interesting plot. The book plays it very, very safe as far as I'm concerned, and certainly doesn't cover any territory not covered elsewhere (the super freak comic Preacher: Proud Americans leaps immediately to mind.) But if you could bare with Arnie's "End of Days" or Demi Moore's "The Seventh Sign", I think you can handle this book without worrying about your immortal soul.

Brown wisely keeps to familiar touchstones for his story. He never gets particulalrly esoteric with his history, geography or even his landmarks. Even an untravelled jerk like me knows what the Louvre is, so when the book opens in the Louvre, as a middle-america slob, I can nod and smugly say "Ah, I know what the Louvre is! Two points for me!"

Brown's biggest failing is in his inability to create the vaguest interest in his own protagonists. The characters are little more than ciphers needed for advancing the plot, and seem to always act in the most obvious manner (not to mention, at least one of them can always unravel a puzzle within a few minutes).

I hear they're bringing the book to the big screen, and I think that's great. This is a book in search of a script, and will probably make a clever Christmas release.

In addition, I'm now hooked on the idea of getting books on CD for my commute. I'm going to go and get a library card this weekend and see what I can find.
I normally try to keep a sunny disposition, but today is honestly a tragic day.

A really good guy I worked with occasionally was killed in his home over the weekend. So, needless to say, I'm not feeling very much like posting my usual posts.

Here is the article.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Batman Begins trailer online.

Check it out.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Mia Hamm played her final game the other night. After a 5-0 victory over the Mexican National Women's team, Hamm retired at the age of 32. She retires with Foudy and Fawcett.

Hamm was the most famous face in women's soccer, helped popularize the US Women's League and helped carry the US to two World Cups and two Gold Metals.

Here's the trio's record, from Since August 3, 1987, when the three players first appeared together, the U.S. in 223-41-30, a remarkable record.

Read more here.

Best of luck, Mia.

The 2004 Pepsi Holiday Spice Pepsi Challenge... UPDATE!!!

Last night Ryan N., Jamie, myself and a few others mixed The Captain and PHS.

It was... pretty good. And very festive.

I'm going to look into this further and see what develops.
A Holiday Tour of League HQ

Jackie B. Kennedy made housewives across the world titter with glee when she opened up the White House for a televised tour during JFK's term in office. And then yesterday I found myself watching Laura Bush's crack squad of Junior Leaguers decorating the White House for Christmas.

Hey, W... you want a smaller government? Quit spending $5 mil on decorating the part of the house you don't use.

Anyhoo, The League was inspired. I don't actually want any of you people in my house, but I'd like to share a little Christmas cheer with you.

And so, the Christmas Tour of League HQ begins.

It's always nice to see how taking a photo of your own home quickly makes it appear that maybe your home is a crime scene. Especially when you have nothing but white walls.

So, let's start outside and work our way in.

Funny how houses don't photograph terribly well from outside in the dark, but there you have it. I guess it's sort of minimal on lighting. Well, I'm a cheap bastard and it was raining while I was hanging lights. What do you want?

Mel welcomes you to the house. He was not feeling very photo-friendly tonight.

We'll bypass the front room and head back to the living room/ kitchen.

This is our equivalent of a Christmas Village. Jamie won't let me do the whole Christmas Village deal. I think she knows the "Village" would quickly become a major metropolitan area.

Rudolph's nose does, indeed, light up.

Mr. and Mrs. Snowman sit atop the entertainment center with another Rudolph.

We have this weird sort of shelf space up above for which we've never thought of a good use. We put stuff up there on the Holidays. BTW, there are no fireplaces in The Valley of the Sun. It's 78 degrees here today. Possibly warmer.

We now return to the front room.

Here is the table we put out this year. I'm not really sure if we'll do this every year, but we did it this year for the first time.

Here's my official Polar Express reindeer bell. It's hanging from the lamp which is supposed to hang over the dining room table we don't have.

Here's our nativity set. I like it. Understated and it doesn't have the same creepy faces as the one my folks had when I was a kid.

The tree. It's our Charlie Brown tree. It's only four feet tall and fake. You can see from the bookshelf that we probably need more bookshelf space. Kids, furniture is expensive, and I have a comic habit to keep up with.

My mom thinks I don't have a star. Here is my star. See it? I have a star. One year I put Superman on top of the tree, and ever since then I've caught an earful before Christmas.

Our tree is Super.

Jamie is an extremely patient person.

The train to Christmastown.

Anyway, that's it. We only have a few presents under the tree, but it was enough to cover up the nice tree skirt my aunt sent us a few years ago. Ah, well.

We've been cohabitating for several years now, and we're getting our Christmas traditions down pat. It's fun pulling this stuff out every year and slowly adding more as you go. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the tour.

And this is totally unrelated, but I finished my online class today. Oh, and I reviewed Blade Trinity below. For your reading enjoyment.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Here at The League, we see shitty movie so you don't have to.

For whatever reason I got it in my head to go see Blade Trinity. Full disclosure: I saw Blade and Blade 2 on opening nights and just enjoyed the hell out of them. Blade Trinity? Not so much.

From the opening scene of the movie, something just feels... off. Something is wrong. I don't mean in a good tension building way. I mean, the editing seems sloppy, the scenes don't really make sense. Special editing techniques seem borrowed and poorly used. Even the audio seemed muddy a few times (but that's also Snipes playing a character who never unclenches his jaw long enough to speak). Camera shots are okay, but not great. Dialogue is covered, but there are some scenes that just feel as if the director has no idea where to put the camera or what the intention of the scene is, which is weird. David Goyer wrote and directed the movie.

Additional disclosure: I used to read David Goyer comics, so I was really pulling for this guy. He used to write JSA and some other comics, and word on the street is that his next project might be a big-screen adaptation of The Flash. Which I think would be swell. Except that large chunks of this movie have the feel of a particularly well crafted undergraduate student film. That is not a compliment.

In the interest of even more disclosure, I had read something WAS wrong with Snipes while the movie was being made. I don't remember where I read it, but it seemed to suggest Snipes may have been charged with domestic assault charges during the filming of Blade. So, you know, maybe there are good reasons why Blade seems so, uh... tense. I cannot confirm or deny these rumors, so I do not believe these allegations (note the clever way in which the League avoids yet another charge of libel).

The movie is full of simply dumb inconsistencies.
-The vampires, who burn up in daylight, live and work in a sky scraper which is big and mostly glass. Sure, they COULD be hiding out during the day, but that's like keeping a big ol' jug of chlorine gas in your house and just thinking nothing could possibly go wrong.
-Cops are armed with... nothing. So when that chick from 7th Heaven appears in the movie armed only with a bow, no biggie. She doesn't need to worry about being riddled with bullets while selecting an arrow and taking aim.
-People escape from a half-dozen police cars by... driving away in a late-80's model SUV down a normal city street.
-Our lady-hero gets a stern reprimand from Blade because she isn't prepared (ie - isn't wearing armor vs. the vampires...) and she STILL goes into t he final battle in a really cute belly shirt she found at the GAP.
-She is, however, armed with a sort of laser hack saw which is reportedly "half as hot as the sun", but which folds up comfortably onto your belt without scalding you, and which needs a power supply no bigger than a pack of gum. And the thing doesn't melt your eyes out of their sockets when you kick it on (forget needing a welders mask).

Parker Posey, who I really, really do like, plays exactly the same role she played in Josie and the Pussy Cats (a movie which I secretly love but try not to admit to enjoying). The director manages to make Ms. Posey look awkward and stilted from the very first shot of the movie (in which the vampires, for no good reason, unearth Dracula in the middle of the day in the middle of the Sumerian desert... nice stealth mission, guys). I think that's hard to do. They also seem to put her in some pretty funky hairstyles which do less than flatter Ms. Posey.

Jessica Biel seems both out of her league and element in this film. And someone should have pointed out to her character that listening to MP3's with ear-buds while people are trying to kill you is sort of like intentionally closing your eyes while someone is trying to kill you. It doesn't make you tough. It makes you silly.

Ryan Reynolds will be the reason people like this movie. He's great. Seriously. He's really funny and fits well with the modern action film as a wise-cracking tough-guy. In the SPider-Man comics, Spidey is always talking trash while he's picking fights, and the writers of Spidey 3 would do well to watch Reynolds performance here to see how it's done.

The rest of the cast are pretty much fill-in-the-blank slots. Sure, there's a big, tough bruiser vampire (played by the guy who was Sabretooth in X-Men), but not a whole lot else to take a shine to. One actor plays a blind geneticist, and I'll say she does a lot with a small role. But it's not much to save the movie.

Oh, and the Zoe character gets to riff off of Newt from Aliens. Bleah. And she completely disappears during the final firefight which she sort of sparks.

Plotwise: Dracula is dug up, ostensibly, to capture/ kill Blade. Dracula is TOLD this. Then, upon returning home, the exact same five vampires who dig up Drac immediately set-up Blade and get him captured by the cops. However, instead of just putting a bullet in Blade and going off for blood-slushies, they play with him for a while. No idea why.

Having awoken their God for apparently no reason, Dracula is then supposed to somehow be helping the vampires with some sort of formula, but for what? I'm not sure. I THINK it's to allow vampires to go out in the sunlight (which Dracula can do), but it's never really clear what master plan Parker and Co. are working out. The plan is the sort of hazy mess you usually only see at large, public universities. As they work out the details, Parker and Co. ditch Drac by giving him some clothes nobody in their right mind would wear out except to go "clubbing", a little walking round money and then letting him wander the streets of what is clearly Vancouver.

Never mind the fact the FBI is operating here in Vancouver (we see that big space-needle doo-hickey a dozen times in the film) like it's no big deal. Or that it seems like sort of a let-down to go from being the scariest vampire in the world to having to live in Canada.

Natural resources are wasted.
-Patton Oswalt show up, toss out a few lines and then are tossed away.
-Vampire dogs are introduced and then just dropped (literally).
-Even a relationship between Seventh Heaven refugee-girl and Kris Kristofferson is muddily established and then goes absolutely nowhere.
-Kristofferson backs up all his computer files (to where?) and then blows up the building he's in to, I guess, protect Blade. Never mind that his files, should they have fallen into the hands of the police, might have actually shown the police Blade might not be just some kooky guy with a great car.

Look, this is one of those movies I could go on and on about, and people who liked it could argue, "Hey, League... It's not that kind of movie, quit taking it so seriously".

And, God help me... I am not taking it all that seriously, but this has got to be one of the laziest, sorriest feature films I've seen this year (including AVP). The Blade series, which was sort of a one-trick pony to begin with, maybe never should have gotten beyond the first film. But the second one was okay, if not a great improvement. One would have hoped the cast and crew connected with this flick would have done a better job.

I assume this is it for ol' Blade. I'm kind of hoping the Blade movies have now fulfilled America's obsession with rich club kids as bloodsuckers and will move on to some new idea. The idea was great when it was fresh, but like all sci-fi fantasy ideas, its being done to death (see Underworld or Dracula 2000).

Friday, December 10, 2004

Mrs. League here. I'd like to create a new column here at the League called:


I regularly read, which generally contains a nice, if somewhat guarded, overview of the world today. There is a section on the main page of this site which features a Video of the Day. I've been noticing in the past week or so video titles such as "Florida park having trouble getting crocodiles to mate" and "Woman gets hand caught in bus door; subsequently run over". Now, I'm just speaking for myself, but it seems like those are two news items not screaming for video coverage. Just my two cents...

Arden keeps it real.
Well, that went poorly...

Yesterday was my final presentation for my ostensibly "online" course I am taking in pursuit of my Masters. Honestly, I didn't work all that hard on the presentation itself as I am much more focused on the paper which the presentation was going over. I'm about 80% done with the paper, and have outlined it to completion, so I felt fairly confident in my talking points.

I don't like Power Point as a resource for presentations. People spend too much time worrying about which trippy background to use, how to make cool sounds and flashy animations whiz in and out of the frame. I pretty much like to use a white background and black, arial text. Totally boring, but I guarantee you, I spend 1/2 the time of some people on my presentation prep, and the audience doesn't care.

Seriously, nobody cares. I hate to be the one to tell you, but it's true.

Anyhoo, apparently presenting on "Considerations for Implementing Distance Learning Programs in Institutions of Higher Education" is not as sexy a topic as I had originally believed. I announced that I do not like giving presentations, and would feel more comfortable having a conversation using my PPT's as a springboard. Well, that didn't work. The blank stares I received as I proceeded weren't just the usual "hey, you're not making any f**king sense" stares I usually get when I present. Rather, these people were actively NOT listening to me. Doodling on notepads, playing on computers, checking their voicemail... luckily my instructor was nodding emphatically and smiling the entire time as if encouraging the syrupy smelling kid in the class as he brings his macaroni art to the front of the room for Show & Tell.

Of course as I concluded and asked for questions, nobody raised their hands to ask any questions and everyone looked down at their shoes or at their desks.

"Oooookay..." I nodded.

My teacher tried to help out by asking a question, but it didn't really go anywhere. Someone sort of asked a question which didn't really relate to anything I'd just said. And at that point I was trying to figure out if it was possible everyone in the class just didn't care, didn't like my presentation, or didn't understand a word I said. Or if it didn't matter. And there's no graceful exit in a classroom.

Anyway, that's why I've been busy.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Mrs. League here. Last year 'round Christmastime, the League and I were camped on the couch taking in the yearly showing of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Leaguers, this is my absolute favorite Christmas special. I Loved Rudolph as a wee lass and would spend an alarmingly abnormal amount of time drawing pictures of the nasally-challenged Christmas deer. But last year's viewing sparked a new discussion at League HQ starting with the consensus that "Hey, this show is sending out some questionable, non-Christmassy messages."

Someone agrees with us: 16 Serious Questions about "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"

Here's just a sample:

"1) Why is Santa such a complete bastard?"

".......this guy is absolutely ITCHING to cancel Christmas. Hey Santa. It's not your call. Christmas is the day Jesus was born. God will let you know if Christmas is cancelled. Until then, get in the damn sleigh."

Good stuff.
Somethings are too darn interesting not to share.

Check out these images of the skeletons of popular cartoon characters.
2004 Holiday Spectacular Rules Update

Well, it looks like my little scheme (hatched originally by our own Jim D) wasn't making much sense. Jason still sounds confused and when he gets confused he gets angry, which usually leads to unwarranted name-calling and a subpoena of one sort or another.

Here's the basic idea of the photo contest:

Want to see Melbotis in a field of snow with David Hasslehoff? That's an idea. I'll see what I can do to put that together with my digital camera and the magic of Photoshop.

Want to see Ryan and Jamie on the roof wearing reindeer antlers? That's an idea.

Want to see Mel and Ryan drunk, naked and passed out in a bundle of Christmas lights? That's an idea!

Just want to see a picture of Jeff and Mel drinking some nog in front of the tree... ? THAT'S AN IDEA!!!

You come up with an idea for a Holiday scene and Jamie, Jeff, Mel and/or The League, and we will be happy to create a holiday masterpiece for you to view each time you visit The League during the week of Christmas.

Depending upon quality of ideas and our amount of free time, we'll produce as many of the images as we can. But it's up to YOU, our loyal readership, to tell us what, exactly, YOU WANT TO SEE.

If you have a Holiday themed idea, send it along. We'll see what we can do to get a nifty holiday themed image created for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The 2004 Jim D. Enforced HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR!

Greetings, Loyal Leaguers.

I'm busy. Super duper busy. But not so busy that I don't take phone calls.

And yesterday, I was pressing my nose to the old grindstone when Jim D called to say, Hey, you lazy bastard, get a holiday contest up and running.

"I dunno," The League replied. "I don't have any ideas."
"Why don't you have people write in and say what sort of holiday photo you should take to post to The League?"
"You know..." The League said, thoughtfully staring at his light fixture, "That ain't a bad idea."
And thusly, the 2004 Jim D. Enforced HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR was born.

We're going to have two running items for the 2004 HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR.

1) Tell The League what you'd like to see for a Holiday themed photo.


2) Tell Melbotis your Christmas wish!

Ultra-Humanite and The Flash bring the kids Holiday tidings

The rules are as follows:


a) must be relatively tasteful in nature. Let's not go down the path which leads to blindness.
b) I can photoshop in folks I don't know, but let's try to keep your demands on my time realistic
c) must be HOLIDAY themed. This may include Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc... But Ramadan is over, so we'll wait for that for next year.
d) should contain at least one member of the staff at League HQ (Jamie, Jeff, Mel, The League)

entries should be submitted before December 17th. Send the e-mail to Mel's e-mail address in the left hand side-bar.

Mrs. Kent gives Mr. J'onzz a lovely Christmas present


a) submit to Mel an e-mail detailing your Christmas wish.
b) Mel will reprint your letter in it's entirety
c) Mel will follow up with any questions or comments you may have
d) Must be a Holiday Wish of some sort.
e) try to keep it clean.
f) every entry fit to print will be printed.
g) Mel cannot spell-check nor edit, so he's printing what he gets.

So start sending in your entries. You will see the winner/s of the Holiday Photo contest the week of the December 20th. The Christmas wishes will be posted as they come in.

Send entries to Melbotis.

For more on the rules, click here.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I do not understand the BCS. Moreover, I am actually upset that UT's rankings weren't lower. After all, the Fiesta Bowl is a 10 minute walk from my office. I'll have to settle for the Rose Bowl, I suppose. Go Horns!

For the totally confusing year-end results for college football, read here.

Jim was asking "why no Holiday contest for 2004? down at The LEague". he is, I asuppose, referring to the now infamous "Holiday Heckstravganza" from 2003. Last year I checked in to see what Loyal Leaguers thought of Holiday media, and then I posted some results. Well, this year the League is doing everything he can just to keep up with work, school, Mel and Jamie. Besides, I had no ideas for this year's Holiday Contest. Maybe I will have you guys send in Christmas wishes to Mel. He will print your letter and respond.

What do you think?

I had a nice, quiet weekend. Spent Saturday morning shopping for Christmas decorations, lights, etc... We put up the most Super tree anyone ever saw, drank some hot cider, hung a wreath, set up a nice little Holiday table. It was raining cats and dogs all weekend, so I didn't initially think I would put up the outdoor string of lights (we do sport one string in the front window).

About 5:00 Heavenly Creatures came on IFC. I always tie Heavenly Creatures in my head with Christmas depsite it's utter lack of a Christmas theme. When the movie was released, I was hanging out with high school chums also home for the Holidays and suggested we go see the movie down at River Oaks. This was back when having Peter Jackson attached to a movie meant something far different from what it means today.

When the titles rolled, pal-Erica said quietly, "I thought you said 'Heavenly Christmas'." And suddenly I was having flashbacks to when I had taken my high school girlfriend to see Naked Lunch without any kind of prep. Suffice it to say, the screening did not go well. Heavenly Christmas indeed.

Also, my copy of the Spider-Man 2 DVD arrived from Amazon. So I wrapped up my Saturday with a little Spidey action. Still a great movie. Although The Admiral did confirm he felt Peter Parker was "a bit of a weenie" when he and my mother went to see the movie last summer. I have also decided I want four monstrous mechanical arms.

Sunday was spent working on my paper for school. I have to present Thursday, so there goes the remainder of my week. Much like UT, my current school has very little parking for students coming to campus to utilize the library, so I got rained on walking from hither to yon. Of course there were parking garages close by, but they're all locked up on the weekends. Ingenius.

I realized how much I missed doing research while I was down in the basement digging through journals. Web-searching just doesn't have that same sense of Eureka! that you get going through stacks of dusty magazines and books looking for a scrap of evidence to back up your nonsensical thesis.

My last year of college I had to write a 35+ page paper on a minor incident involving Woodrow Wilson's secretary when he was involved in a "leak" scandal regarding the US's entry into WWI. I spent months in the PCL at UT pouring over NYTimes from 1916-1918 (truly, it is the paper of record if you want to do research). I also browsed Wilson's correspondence during the same period.

In the end, I finished the paper and I guess I got an "A", but I am fairly sure my instructor thought I was an idiot, as did my fellow classmates. I was inclined to make bizarre, sleep-deprived suppositions and to show up with stacks of photocopies of pages with nothing underlined in any of them claiming that, buried in here, I had proven Tumulty's innocence (which really wasn't in doubt).

Anyway, while the current research topic is, perhaps, a bit more mundane, it's nice to be back in the stacks and trying to make a point through the odd process of quoting other people.

Sunday morning I had decided that either the lights were going up in the rain or they would not go up at all, and so Jamie and I slogged into the yard and got our lights up. And, I might add, they are quite festive. We're not into the icicle thing, and until this year we were using white lights. But our neighbors who had hung lights last week ahd used color lights, and back in Austin we always used colored lights (we were kicking it South Austin style with the string around the windows, etc... ) and I wanted a return to form. It may not look like a Martha Stewart approved Christmas, but it's festive.

Anyway, hopefully I'll get some pics taken and posted.

One last comment, Randy sent along some Asian reprints of DC comics he picked up on his recent Honeymoon to Singapore, Idonesia and other places they won't have me. Gotham Comics is an Asian publishing company which also licenses American stuff for reprint, and the comics Randy sent are some great issues of Superman and Batman produced by Gotham. Up until this moment I wasn't going to open them because they're factory sealed, and I thought that was kind of cool, but now... now I want to read them, or at least take a look at them. The ads, etc... are always fun to look at. Should be cool.

Friday, December 03, 2004

And.... just as I thought I was done for the weekend, Jamie showed me this.

Poodle workout.

In the world of WHAT THE F**K....??!!!, this one may be near the top.

Seriously, just let it run and let it all soak in.

Couple of quick items to take us into the weekend:

1) Reed-o sent this along. Anyway, I thought it was hilarous.

2) Should I ever run for office I shall do so as a Republican for the sole purpose of using the following for my campaign slogan:

Compassionate. Conservative. Cuckoo for Coco Puffs.

I just want to see that slogan printed beside my face plastered on a billboard near the freeway.

3) Still no idea what to get Jason. I'm going with a gross of packages of Spaghetti noodles.

4) Mel woke us up this morning at 4:30 AM standing on the couch (upon which he is NOT allowed) and barking. At 4:30 AM. Must seek vengeance.

5) I want to see you people visiting Jason's new site. He's working really hard on it, but he's going to get discouraged if nobody ever visits or comments.

6) Everytime someone tries to tell me Superman isn't Christmassy, I want them to remember how Superman helped St. Nick save Christmas that one year...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Christmas is coming. Still no idea what to get for Jason. Lincoln logs, hookers, booze and golf lessons are all I've heard about thus far from you people. I need some help.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Video of an amazing karate-weilding chimp. It's not about age, it's about skill level.
Today is World AIDS Day.

Learn more about AIDS and HIV and what is being done at the link above.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Couple of quick notes:

1) Looks like I was caught up in an Urban Legend once again. Thanks to Jim for the link.

2) Watching the 40 Least Metal Moments on VH1 is awesome. The guys they're interviewing to show their dismay at how un-Metal some of their heroes have become are just awesome. The guys being interviewed are 40 or older, and are not afraid to keep on rockin' in a way which you haven't really seen since 1993, nor by many folks over the age of 18.

Ricki Rachtman? Is ashamed of Ozzy? Dude, don't worry about it. We're embarrassed for you for being 40 and still idolizing Dave Mustaine. I mean, some of these guys giving commentary seem genuinely pissed off.

I highly encourage you to catch a few minutes of the show.

And, hey, metal testimonial guys... try to remember... You're being interviewed by VH1, the network built on the backs of Phil Collins, Whitney Houston and Gloria Estefan.

It made me really miss metal dudes from back in high school. Do they still have metal dudes in high school? It was like, you just knew the metal dude was going to be a terrible lab partner before they even paired you with the guy. He was going to put his head on his desk and make you do all the work, or else he was going to keep using the bunsen burner to torch notebook paper.

I miss metal dudes. I need to find some.

3) The Real Gilligan's Island was a spooky disappointment and lasted five minutes on my TV. But at least I know what became of Nicole Eggert.

4) I propose a new viewing challenge. I propose Madi Hinojosa go to see the all new Fat Albert Movie in the theater. If she agrees to see the movie and write a review for The League, I will reimburse her for the cost of 1 ticket, 1 small popcorn and 1 medium soda (based upon costs here at the local theater). I highly suggest Madi try to rent some Fat Albert cartoons or read up on Fat Albert online before going to the show. I also suggest she find the old Bill Cosby comedy records in which Fat Albert originated.

The review will be printed without edits here at The League.


Can you believe it? Randy has influenced my brother.

Randy said:

You know what I love best about the commenting feature of The League? The back-and-forth between The League and his brother. Now, this may be because I have no siblings to call my own, but nothing makes me chuckle more than when Jason is calling The League names and vice-versa. You two should have your own tv show, or at least radio show.

At the very least, Jason should have his own blog.

Thus, my brother has decided to jump into the blogosphere, not realizing how unwelcome his meddling presence will surely be.

And so, from within my own family, blogcompetition is born. I am sure to lose a great deal of readership as people while away the hours reading his musings and not my own.

My one saving grace is that Jason is both cheap and lazy. This means he won't pay for server space for photos, and he's sure to blog once or twice a week at best. Not exactly the kind of dedicated blogging you've come to expect from The League.

I would expect his blog to be acerbic, if merry. He's an opinionated little minx, so you're sure to get some good Texas Democrat venom spewing within his postings.

So, before he gives up on the whole enterprise, I encourage all of you to visit what will surely be a short-lived but entertaining venture into blogging.

Ladies and germs, I present (with no small amount of trepidation) The Adventures of Steanso.
A Mrs. League Pepsi Holiday Spice update.

Dedicated Leaguers may recall the immensely popular The League Takes The Pepsi (Holiday Spice) Challenge!!! post. In that report, the League mentions not being able to imagine drinking the stuff again sans a little help from the Captain. I think our neighborhood Basha's came to that same conclusion. Yesterday I noticed they were selling the PHS in a separate display coupled with Jim Beam.

In other news (and this is for Shoemaker): December 5 is Ninja Day!
Greetings, Leaguers.

Jim D is not just a lawyer of the highest caliber, he's also a bit of a film nut/snob. The interesting thing about Jim D's film nuttiness/snobbiness is that he puts his moolah where his mouth is.

A long while back now, Jim D told me he'd written a script and a buddy of his was going to produce/ direct the film. "Cool," said The League. But The League went to film school and has heard THIS song and dance before. Usually a script gets written and some plans are made, and then people get lazy. But, Leaguers, not our Jim.

I read the script in a rough version, then in a cleaned up version, and finally in what I believe to be the shooting script. And it's a taught bit of drama Jim's written. His chum Alistair is the director and, i think, the editor. Jim stayed involved as a producer on the film, which meant he didn't need to worry about some knucklehead taking his script and turning it into a slapstick comedy.

Primary shooting completed earlier this year, and I think it's off to be edited now.

Here's the additional good news: They've cut the first trailer.

probably the best way to catch up with the goings on with the film is to click here to get to Jim's re-cap page. Check out stills, the trailer and the proposed poster.

Well done, Jim! I'm super excited to see the film continuing to make progress. It's going to be crackerjack when it's complete and assembled.

I totally want a credit. I don't care what it's for, but I want a credit. Something like "4th Assistant Associate Producer" or "Jim Wrangler".

Monday, November 29, 2004

Randy is back from his honeymoon!

I loved this picture. If you click on it, you can get to his first post.

If you go here, you can see even more of Randy's vacation photos.
What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?

Sometime around 1981-82, mi madre took mi hermano y yo to Greenspoint Mall for some early Holiday shopping. During our visits to the mall, we'd always stop by the record bin at Sears to see what they had in stock so we could keep up with the latest hits from The Chipmunks and Buckner & Garcia (who would later play a tremendous influence on all of my brother's musical stylings).

But one year... yes, one year, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas we went digging through the bins with our grubby little paws, hoping to spy the latest from The Chipmunks when we stumbled upon a Holiday release which would forever change the very nature of the Christmas Season at Casa de Steans.

Christmas in the Stars

The album sported the voice (or a close approximation) of Anthony Daniels as C3PO. It sort of told a story, had some bizarre yet well rendered cover art, and had a funky beat you could dance to.

The premise of the album was as follows:
Santa doesn't just serve the earth on Christmas. F**k, no. He serves the entire GALAXY. And in order to make enough toys for boys and girls across the galaxy, he employs not cheap elf labor, but DROIDS. Lots and lots of DROIDS. Apparently, according to this album, the droids all toil away in Santa's workshop slapping together slot car kits and pondering Santa's existence, the nature of the universe and the meaning of Christmas.

Which, you know, is about the bestest thing ever when you're 7 or 8 years old.

totally rad cover art enhances this Holiday Musical Fare

An interesting side note regarding the album: it stars the vocal talents of a very young John Bongiovi. That's Jon Bon Jovi to you folks who can't rock East Coast Style. I'm not sure who he is on the record, but if he is who I think he is, Jon, you have a lot to answer for. Actually, Bon Jovi has a lot to answer for no matter what.

Anyway, the album found itself on repeat at Casa de Steans every Christmas until I was in 4th or 5th grade, when older brother Jason became an incredibly grumpy middle-schooler who decided Christmas was dumb. After that Christmas in the Stars fell out of rotation and out of favor during the Yule Season.

Some time in the late 90's, Rhino records uncovered this Holiday gem, cleaned it up a bit and rereleased it onto an unsuspecting world. Perhaps Uncle George allowed this to happen in order to derail us all from rediscovering the Star Wars Holiday Special. Who knows? I'm just proud to own my copy.

The album features many great tunes, and a kind of bitter sweet story which might be read as a bizarre theological analog (despite the droids' professed belief in Santa, his Santa's SON comes to see the droids and reaffirm their belief...).

The songs are sort of goofy, including "R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Odds Against Christmas Being Christmas" (where C3PO just SHINES!!!).

My favorite, of course, is: What Can you Get a Wookiee for Christmas?

What can you get a Wookiee for Christmas
When he already owns a comb
What can you get in a hurry for a furry kind of friend like that
To take home

Oh, he doesn't need a tie clip
And he doesn't use shaving foam
So what can you get a Wookiee for Christmas
When he already owns a comb
(Spoken:) It's really a problem

What can you get a Wookiee for Christmas
when he already owns a comb
What can you get in a hurry for a furry kind of friend like that
To take home
No, He'll never wear galoshes
Or a hat upon his furry dome
So what can you get a Wookiee for Christmas
When he already owns a comb

Let's give him love and understanding
Good will to men
We wrap it all up in bright colored ribbon
And we give it to him all over again
And that's what you get a Wookiee for Christmas
When he already owns a comb.

That's what you get in a hurry for a furry kind of friend like that
To take home
'Cause he doesn't need a tie clip
And he doesn't need shaving foam
So that's what you get a Wookiee for Christmas
When he already has a comb
When he already owns a comb!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ahhh... Turkey Day

I'll be winging it on Wednesday morning for Austin, Texas. Sounds like it's going to be a humdinger of a good time at THe House of the Red Door. Mum has already purchased our turkey, and I understand I am responsible for locating some other goods once I am on the ground in Austin.

Last year a student from Taiwan asked me "So what is Thanksgiving?"

And I tried to give the elementary school version and explain how the Pilgrims wanted to give thanks after a terribly crappy first year, and wanted to celebrate the harvest, and invited some of their new pals from the Native American village over the hill.

"And then we killed all of the Indians!" my helpful classmate piped up.

"Well, that's the longer version of the story--" I began. By now the poor Taiwanese student was a bit horrified.

"We gave them diseases and shot them all," concluded my classmate.

"American history is..." I was searching for a word. "Complicated. But the basic gist is that it's about coming together to give thanks for the year."

"What is a pilgrim?"

"They were these guys from England who felt they weren't free enough in England to, uh... well, they were seeking religious freedom. They wanted to be more religiously strict, and got kicked out of England. And then they went to Holland, and I think they more or less got kicked out of Holland. So they bought some land and sailed to the US."

"So the holiday is religious?"

"Yes. No. Yes. No. Well, it can be."

"So what do you do on Thanksgiving?"

"You eat a turkey and potatos and stuffing, watch football and argue with family."


"That's what we do at my house."

"Me too," my classmate replied.

"Sometimes," I added, "We play catch in the front yard."

The Taiwanese classmate's expression said it all. Not much of a Holiday.

But it is, and it's ours and it's groovy.

Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Remember to stop and give thanks to God or Allah, or cosmic coincidence or whomever you give thanks to.

I'm thankful for

a decent job
Superman comics
a dog who never fails to make me laugh
a cat who never fails to entertain
and, as always, I'm thankful for Jamie

You guys go out there and have a nice Turkey Day
Any ideas what to get my brother for Christmas?

He's a 31 year old lawyer, he enjoys B-movies, playing in a band and Tex-mex.

Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Isn't Superman dead?

Okay, so I had assumed/ hoped that this article would remain below the radar of The League's readership. But the Leaguers are a wily lot, and as such, Jeff Shoemaker has thrown down the gauntlet.

Here is the gist of the article, stated in the opening paragraph:

Superman is too good a role model. Fans of the man from Krypton unwittingly compare themselves to the superhero, and realise they do not measure up. And as a result, they are less likely to help other people.

Strong words. So how does the League defend the indefensible?

To begin with, the general populace lumps Superman in with Chefboyardee and Mr. Potato Head as a sort of universal pop-culture constant. Superman is okay, but he's a boyscout and boring (he's no XXX, stickin' it to The Man!). People basically know who Superman is, and can make general assumptions about the character, so, obviously the researchers were able to wrangle up an excellent sample of Superman fans for their study. Or, you know, sorority girls with Superman emblems on their halter tops.

The article is sketchy with details of the research or the purpose of the actual research. One part of the study basically asked people (the article doesn't define the population outside of "students") to list characteristics of either superheroes in general or Superman in particular.

Then, three months later, the subjects were asked to appear for a volunteer program. Apparently fewer of the Superman "primed" people appeared and judged "less likely to help people."

I just don't feel like there's much information here to go by.

The author's posit: Superman is an impossible imaginary figure to live up to, so instead of trying, fans interested in Superman, or who identify with Superman, cannot get over the psychological trauma of being human, and thusly, cannot summon the will to help others.

But here's the important part: Despite the opening paragraph, note that the article doesn't state that the folks who didn't show up to volunteer are actually fans of Superman. The subjects of the study were average "students" who were "primed" with Superman one way or another instead of a more generic ideal of superheroes. Not once does the article indicate that anyone involved was predisposed to enjoying Superman comics, cartoons, movies, etc... Not even those sorority girls in their Superman halters.

The conclusion drawn by researchers relating to the actual study is as follows:

The reason (ed. insert: Superman fans didn't show), believes Nelson, is that asking people to compare themselves to an exceptional individual makes them realise their shortcomings. Whereas thinking about a general category encourages people to identify the strengths they have in common.

I can't disagree with what the researchers said in the above statement.

Point to the Founding Fathers instead of superheroes. In general, we think of those bewigged patriots as noble, if eccentric, men of destiny. We know as a group that they had foibles and shortcomings. But once you mention George Washington or Ben Franklin, unless you're an historian or take more than a Gov't 101 passing interest in history, you shine a divine light upon these people. It's much easier to imagine being one of many patriotic minded folks in a general powdered wig sort of way than to imagine being the same guy who won fought in the French-Indian Wars, crossed the Delaware and stuck it out at Valley Forge. Founding the world's greatest Republic is tough marker to measure up to for Joe and Jane Public.

But does it affect whether or not people show up to volunteer?

The article is in short supply as to details. Of those people who made it to the volunteer event, were there 80% fewer Superman primed folks, or 1%? What were the people asked to volunteer for as the mock follow up? How many people were asked in total to participate? What was the expected standard deviation? Did any of the Superman primed folks have an excuse why they didn't show? Was it raining that day? Did the semester end? Were Superman primed and superhero primed people asked to appear for separate events? Were any other superheroes included in the list? What was the control of the study? What would have happened with, say... Groucho Marx or The Bangles versus Superman? What if more people showed up who volunteered and were given "Groucho" to describe? And wasn't the volunteering for the experiment in the first place a sign that the Superman populace was willing to volunteer?

I obviously am missing something about the experiment and the journalist's conclusions. However, it's not to hard to imagine the journalist getting a full report of the experiment and saying "Oh, so Superman fans won't help people? That IS interesting! Man DOES bite dog!" It's lazy journalism.

Imagine an article on a "scientific" study being published reading "Fans of Basketball are unable to assist others because they can never be Karl Malone." Or, to make an exact parallel regarding what the hero figure DOES versus what the fans feel they cannot DO: "Fans of the Beatles are unable to play the drums because they feel that their greatest effort shall never surpass that of Ringo." Or "Lawyers feel Clarence Darrow too good of an attorney for them to compare selves to. Lawyers less likely to do jobs adequately."

The most irritating aspect is, of course, that you can't argue with something once it's in print. There's now conclusive scientific proof that Superman fans are losers. Hurray. If I received this article already a few times today, it's going to be one of those things relatives bring up for the next few years at Thanksgiving dinner when they see my Superman watch. "I heard that people who like Superman won't help people."

It's going to be the new "Isn't Superman dead?"

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The League Takes The Pepsi (Holiday Spice) Challenge!!!

Not so long ago, Jamie and The League were watching some prime-time television, as is our habit. During the commercial break, a lively Pepsi add appeared in which several magical elves were trying to drive a delivery truck, but, amusingly, the elves were too small to drive a truck, and their team work wasn't really working to help them park the truck.

The League was filled with Holiday Mirth.

Mrs. League announced loudly: That stuff looks so gross.

Bear in mind, they had not actually even SHOWN the product.

BULLSHIT! declared the League. I'm going to buy some!

A quick editor's note: Mrs. League is reading over my shoulder (and being a Spelling-Nazi) and wants to clarify that she had read a description of Pepsi Holiday Spice online, and so she KNEW Holiday Spice was not going to be the flavor explosion it was being advertised to be. This concerns me as I wonder why Mrs. League is going to web pages discussing the flavors of new sodas. Ah, well. Maybe I should spend more time at home.

And then, just last week, Jim D. posted an inquiry regarding Pepsi Holiday Spice.

You can read Jim's post here.

This morning I awoke with a craving for waffles, and so I ventured out to the neighborhood Basha's in order to procure some eggs.

Making my way from eggs to check-out, I stumbled across the Pepsi Holiday Spice endcap display, and decided then and there, I was taking on The 2004 Jim D. Pepsi Holiday Spice Pepsi Challenge!

The League recongizes the value of scientific inquiry, and is also willing to put it on the line for his readership, and thusly, the League decided to go for it with no concern for personal safety.

I tasted the the Pepsi Holiday SPice IMMEDIATELY upon returning home. Unfortunately, my glass was SOAPY, and it distorted my impressions. SO, well after breakfast, I took up the Challenge again under a more controlled scientific environment.

The Pepsi Challenge begins

First, note that the Pepsi Holiday Spice (or PHS, as it shall henceforth be referred to) is sort of reddish. It looks a bit like other drinks, such as black cherry soda. Not red like Big Red, but not exactly cola colored, either. I guess it's Holidayish to be a ruddy red.

Jeff steps in to investigate.

So what DID Jamie's little online friends have to say about PHS? Jamie claimed it would taste like cinnamon, which, I'll be honest, wasn't much of a turn-off. Who doesn't like cinnamon?

(editor's note: Jamie is being sort of a Snooty Sally while I try to report on the FACTS, here Leaguers. She keeps telling me to change things here in my summary of events. Well, Leaguers, The League will NOT STAND FOR CENSORSHIP. Even when kicked. She says "it wasn't my little online friends; it was in a review I read somewhere!" A review of WHAT Ms. Snooty Sally? Now she's calling me a jerk. I am proud to say that intimidation does little to sway The League.)

(editor's editor's note: I am now being harassed and being told I "sit on a throne of lies". Apparently she has no online friends. Which is sad, because she has no other friends I know of.)

Anyway, I like cinnamon, and I was intrigued by Pepsi with a splash of cinnamon.

Jeff seemed to like the smell, so I gave it a shot myself.

The PHS smelled mostly like regular old Pepsi. Sort of like sweet sugar water with chemicals. What's not to like? I shook it about like a fine wine, releasing the hidden subtleties, and getting a good feeling for the bouquet.

mmmmmmmmm... smells like chemicals

Then I went ahead and went for the taste. The TRUE Pepsi Challenge.

note optimistically skeptical expression

The flavor was okay going down. Sort of soda-ish, hint of Pepsi. Hold on, let me go taste it again to get this right.

Okay. It tastes sort of like Pepsi with nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon. But that's the soda going DOWN.

shock and dismay

Immediately after passing the tongue, a new flavor arises from the residue resting upon the tongue. It's sort of a weird "I've had too much candy and now my tongue tastes like cough medicine" kind of vibe.

Alas, I have to report NOT being filled with Holiday Mirth upon drinking my PHS. I think I gave it a good shot, gave it a few samples, but without a little booze in it to add some extra "spice", I'm not really sure how excited I would be about PHS. In fact, I can say that with a hint of The Captain, PHS might be made significantly more tolerable.

Unfortunately, I had none of The Captain on hand, and thus...

adios, Christmas cheer...

I'm not really sure what to do with the 1.7 liters left. I suppose eventually I'll drink it.

We had ourselves a Ballon Festival in Chandler.

Woke up yesterday at 6:50am in order to be up when the ballons launched. Mel and I saw them when they first popped up over the fenceline. I went and woke up Jamie and watched the beginnings of the balloon race beginning from Tumbleweed Park.

Last night we went down to the park to see the balloons. Every few minutes the balloons would all light up simultaneously after a 10-count.

We saw the lit skydivers from the road as we were leaving, and watched the fireworks from over the same fenceline.

I'm thinking that balloon day will get better in coming years. This was, after all, the first time they tried it. No sign of balloons today, I might add.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Mrs. League here. Something exciting is finally happening in Chandler, Arizona. The first annual Arizona Balloon Festival is being held this weekend, not 3 miles from our house! If we go tomorrow evening, we'll be able to see over 30 lighted balloons at sunset, dudes jumping out of a plane (Flyin' Elvises!), and fireworks. Wow. My esteemed work colleague Alan hopes that all of this will happen at once, like a live version of Missle Command.

Leaguers, you have to remember that a Saturday night out on the town for Mr. and Mrs. League includes going to a niceish restaurant and a movie. I am psyched.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Recently I was bemoaning the fact via e-mail to Maxwell that I don't have bio page linked here. Not that anyone reading this page isn't already roughly familiar with my bio, but it would be a nice ego stroke to write even more about myself.

Say, said Maxwell, doesn't Blogger have a "profile" section.

And, by jiminy, it does.

So what is my personal profile?

The profile does ask those two all important questions:

About Me



But, what "about me"? I guess this is when I could wow folks with my amazing life story, or something astonishing which is all about me. But I have nothing.

I was born a middle-class kid and graduated from a public university. I married a wonderful girl. I now work for the state of Arizona, live in suburbs, and own a golden retriever.

Wow. Enthralling.

Interests? This is usually where profiles fall apart. People either put too much info or too little. And, invariably, this is where people try to prove how much more interesting they are than other people by listing every eclectic fancy they ever had. You'll find Henna art, interest in obscure artists nobody ever heard of, musicians whose names they found on PitchforkMedia and haven't really ever followed.

You will rarely see "I'm really into Monday Night Football and Everybody Loves Raymond. Oh, and I think NASCAR rocks. Occasionally I get so lazy I will allow myself to watch two episodes back to back of Dharma and Greg in syndication. I also have a Billy the Big Mouth Bass."

Instead, according to blogger profiles, every single blogger is a wildly free artistic soul with an amazingly exotic panoply of tastes and interests.

After that, I am defined by my media.

I note that my comments in the musical section were not published. This is what I said: I don't know anymore. I'm not foolish enough to think that because I own a lot of records in different categories that my tastes are, in any way, interesting to anyone else. Working for a mall based record shop sort of killed my belief that having a favorite music is a good idea. And who really has a favorite band after high school, anyway?

I think what I'm realizing is that I shouldn't have a bio up. And apparently Blogger doesn't think I should either, as they won't print the comments in the musical section. Maybe my disdain for bio by form and my general misnathropy is not very conducive to having a bio at all.

Anyway, I actually filled this out a while ago. I leave this for you guys to read.

Maybe I'll copy Maxwell and have folks write in and turn the whole thing into a contest.

What do you guys think?