Friday, July 08, 2005

You are Pedro Sanchez and love holy chips.

Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
The League presents
Suggestions for Further Reading:


So, comics aren't all capes, tights and jet packs. Occasionally someone decides to do something a little different. Or, depending upon how you want to read it, something classically familiar.

Eric Shanower is the one man band behind Age of Bronze, a retelling of the Trojan War in comic book format.

I've only read Volume 1 (Volume 2 is just now being released as a trade paper back), but thus far, Age of Bronze has been a true achievement. Handling dozens of characters, both familiar and less so, as well as a handful of ancient cultures, Shanower manages to put a unique stamp on each character and storyline.

To prepare for the comic, Shanower has done his homework. Pulling from more than just the Iliad, Shanower has consulted other versions of the story, both ancient versions and modern versions based upon archaeological evidence of the recent past. Shanower manages to meld the sources in order to create a level of understood depth that easily surpasses the usual stereotypes of togas and sandals standing around columns.

The story doesn't ignore the Gods and mythology in his retelling, but has chosen to show only the mortal (and perhaps, thereby, human) side of the story. It is possible the gods are at work, but it's left to the reader to decide if the gods are actually involved or not. Character still experience visions, there's still some divination and prophetic dreams, but at no point do the gods actually make an appearance.

The story takes us from Paris living as a cow herder in rural Greece to the setting sail of 1000 ships toward Troy. Characters such as Odysseus and Achilles play prominent roles as the story unfolds, but are not presented as flawless mythological beings as much as charismatic and skilled leaders.

To some extent, the dialogue can occasionally feel stilted. And it should be mentioned that Shanower's art is occasionally stiff as costuming details take precedence over natural poses. It might also be mentioned that, as of this printing, the art is entirely in black and white. Will the reader miss the color? Most likely not. Shanower's art doesn't need color to succeed. The pacing, elaborate detail and characterization do more than enough to keep the reader invested.

Age of Bronze is a good cross-over book for folks who still won't read about superheroes, or folks into mythology or ancient history. If Shanower is being serious, the story will span 7 volumes before it is completed. I'm guessing these books are going to find their way into classics departments for quite some time well after the 7th volume is finally released.

For previous Suggestions for Further Reading, click here.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The League wishes to make note of the horrific events of today in London.

I am unsure of what to say, other than that my sympathies, and those of all Americans, are with the people of London and the United Kingdom.

England will, of course, show the world why it is famous for its resolve and tenacity in the face of such adversity.
Mystery Albums from a Far-Off Place

So, occasionally being Chairman and CEO of The League of Melbotis has unexpected consequences. Sure, The League has not brought fame, money, women or even personal gratification… But occasionally material goods are gotten in a way which I don’t have to report on my taxes.

Just such an adventure began not long ago when The League made a trek to the mailbox.

The mailbox contained two padded media envelopes from two different people The League does not know. Quickly discerning that the albums were, in fact, from eBay sellers and bought by an anonymous source, The League was intrigued.

Inside envelope #1? Warrant’s 1990 album, Cherry Pie.

Yes, Cherry Pie. An album The League confesses he had never heard in its entirety. But was The League, age 15, really right to prejudge the band and album based upon bad hair and a video fraught with double entendre?

Well, let’s just say that while my initial feelings on the album were, perhaps, knee-jerk and reactionary to what was the oppressive nightmare of late 80’s hair metal. No matter the initial success of the record, the album has not aged like a fine wine.

While the title track, Cherry Pie, does fill my head with images of the video and model Bobbie Brown prancing about with a firehose against a white backdrop, the nostalgia ends there. From there, The League gets the same queasy uneasiness which he felt quite often circa 1990 as bands such as Warrant, Great White and Poison filled hour after hour of MTV’s programming.

The League’s fragile psyche was rattled with flashback images of sweaty glam rockers, rocking in unison.

Luckily, it is not just The League which has chosen to put the past behind him. It should be noted that Windows Media Player did not retrieve the album information as it usually does upon accepting any new album.

It should be noted that at some point and for some duration, Bobbie Brown was, in fact, married to that cheese-d**k singer you see in the photo.

Inside Envelope #2? The pain continues with Poison’s 1990 bow, “Flesh & Blood”.

Oh, holy hell.

There’s not a memorable song on this waste of 0’s and 1’s. Poison was a particularly asinine part of circa 1990 America, perhaps giving the rest of the world a pretty good reason to turn on the US of A.

Led by “Bret Michaels”, Poison was visually and musically indistinguishable from any other 1980’s metal band, save for wild man CC DeVille. CC was most memorable for lying on the floor during his screaming guitar solos and refusing to quit rocking even after becoming very pudgy and his styule of music was horrendously out of vogue.

Honestly, I’m coming up empty. This is a really, really shitty record. And if you bought it for your own listening pleasure between 1990 and 1992, you deserve every bad thing that ever happened to you.

Thinking the gifting was over, The League was surprised to receive a 3rd envelope from yet another eBay seller.

Inside envelope #3: Ugly Kid Joe’s 1991 musical travesty: As Ugly as they Want to Be.

The musical equivalent of Garbage Pail Kids, Ugly Kid Joe somehow stumbled their way into fame as, in the wake of the success of Pearl Jam, record execs abandoned their glitter-sprayed LA metal gods in favor of earthier, more flannelized fare. This effort was met with, as history has shown, mixed results.

Ugly Kid Joe was an overshot by a well-meaning record exec who confused earthy for stupid. Nobody asked for Ugly Kid Joe, anymore than anyone asked for Mr. Big, and yet, here they were. Constantly.

Honestly, The League has such bitter feelings about this particular band that we have bypassed a listen of this record. We heard the hit single, whatever it was, enough during our formative years that the very sight of the album cover brought back the nervous twitch in our left eye.

The little, hilarious, caricature on the cover of the album still brings back bad memories of trying to come of age in rural/ suburban Houston. Guys like this were a sort of omnipresent threat.

The League remembers this music with an extra dash of piss and vinegar as this was the original co-option of "college rock", which was, of course, transmorgified hair metal. This trend has not only continued, but led to travesties such as Avril Lavigne and "Hot Topic."

Just as we were all set to blog upon our gifts, what should come in the mail but lucky envelope #4.

A curious addition to the previous arrivals, the anonymous gifter had selected Anthrax’s 1991 release “Attack of the Killer B’s.”

This album was not a new album. It’s a comp of Anthrax’s B-Sides and other obscure and unreleased material. And while The League was not so much an Anthrax fan himself, he at least felt that Anthrax was, at minimum, funny, if not as scary as they wanted to be perceived.

Curiously, this collection of B-Sides may have done more for Anthrax’s longevity and general warm wishes amongst Gen X’ers than any of their previous work. In a move well-documented by VH1 and MTV at this point, Anthrax had decided to join controversial hip hop group Public Enemy for a new version of “Bring the Noise” from PE’s watershed 1988 album, “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.”

Anthrax, not entirely by accident, brought hip hop to a generation of white kids who otherwise had given up on Hip Hop after Run DMC’s “Raising Hell.”

“Bring Tha Noize” also appeared on Public Enemy’s 1991 album, “Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black” (an album which contains League favorite “By the Time I get to Arizona”).

Sadly, The League isn’t anymore into Anthrax now than he was in 1991. And, it should be mentioned for Madi that, for The League, memories of Anthrax and Denise D. will forever be intermingled. That dame was really into Anthrax.

The League was supposed to see PE in 1991 or 1992, but plans were scrubbed when the tour, double billed with goth-curiosity “Sisters of Mercy”, failed to sell enough tickets and the show was cancelled.

With several out of town visitors in for the show, the group got their money refunded and went to see Charlie Sheen’s “Hot Shots” at the North Oaks 6 Cineplex.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

We're booked for Beaumont.

Date: July 23rd, 2005

The League and Mrs. League are headed for the majestic Jefferson Theater in Beaumont, Texas for a screening of Superman: The Movie, followed by a screening of Flash Gordon.


I expect to see all Loyal Leaguers in Beaumont for the screening. And to provide us with crate after crate of The League's favorite movietime treat, Hot Tamales. Seriously, without the Hot Tamales, The League will not make it through the movie.

So, this weekend, The League has to work on a presentation about Superman. Can you beat that?

Any ideas you Leaguers might have for filling twenty minutes would be appreciated. Otherwise, we're currently down to

1:00 minute synopsis of the film's history
1:00 on the new movie, Superman Returns
1:00 minute on Superman comics
17:00 minutes of me "flying" around the auditorium with my homemade cape and red briefs

And, you know, Steanso keeps promising to show up, and if you haven't seen Steanso in all his glory, my God, Leaguers... you are missing something. Just imagine latter-era Elvis: sweaty, dazed... take away the talent and women, add a foot of vertical height and a law degree, and VOILA!!!!!

Also, is going to show up. RHPT, Leaguers. Which is sort of like having Scooter from The Muppets, only more of a programmer and married to a person of tremendous mystery who is staying in Tennessee for reasons known only to her.
In case you forgot, Lance "LiveStrong" Armstrong is trying to make world history. Again.

Lance is currently racing his heart out in the Tour de France.

The League stands in awe.

read more here.

Expect many links to Tour de France updates over the next several days.
Happy Independence Day

The League is sorry to say we have been doing a poor job of keeping Loyal Leaguers keyed into events here at League HQ.

We're still in a sort of vacation mode, having only been to work for a day and a half in the past 10 days or so. We've been doing a lot of catching up on comics that we hadn't gotten around to reading, thanks to a busy schedule and a large influx of mini-series from DC (I should also point out that OMAC Project is getting very good, and will run through all 3 Superman titles in July as well as Wonder Woman).

We believe Flag-Guy/ Squidward across the street may be dead or vacationing as his usual display of patriotism wss nowhere to be seen this weekend. We, however, had our flags out, and could be said to be the most patriotic house on the block with our five tiny flags.

We also climbed onto the roof to watch the fireworks from Chandler and Tempe (from the roof, you can see for miles across this barren wasteland I call home).

Thank you, noble founding fathers, for coming up with a holiday upon which I can not work and see firey explosions from my roof (actually, this sounds like the situation for a lot of people in other lands, but we get to do it with minimal fear of shrapnel following the firey explosion).

Anyway, The League will be back on board this week, and we hope to write about the awesomeness of 80's/ 90's metal, and what it means when it shows up in your mailbox, totally unannounced.