Friday, July 28, 2006

I just want to say that I love this country so, so much...
Okay, not only did I end up liking "Who Wants to be a Superhero?", but I'm now watching "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace", and it may be the best show... ever. I'm also kind of pleased to see Mike Mignola's "Amazing Screw On Head" got his own show. Sure, it was just a single comic back around 2000, but I loved the concept back then.

I was pleased to see the very Stan Lee-like challenge put to the heroes on WWTBS?, and I was completely unsurprised to see the comic geek who "knew everything about every comic" got bounced. And I tell you this... my new favorite superheroes? Major Victory and Fat Momma (the two I was sure I would like least). By God, if I ever end up finally flipping my lid and donning tights, I think you'd just see a chubbier version of Major Victory running around. Now THAT'S superheroism, Leaguers.

I apologize for doubting the wisdom of Stan "The Man" Lee.

The show is now alomost over, and I just can't recommend "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" enough.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Okay, okay... I think I like this "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" show. It's cheesy and kind of bad, but it's okay.

Who Wants to be a Superhero, Etc...

So Peabo had some heated words for me in the comments section. I put together an astounding reply to which anyone would have to be impressed. Unfortunately, WordPad decided to freak out when I went to save it as a back-up (ha ha, die Windows, die!). So long to an hour of my life.

Suffice it to say, I am brilliantly aware of international politics. So just imagine yourselves stunned at my insightful and irrefutable retort. Peabo (and you all) will just have to live in a whirlpool of mystery, wondering what it was I might have said to show him the error of his ways.

People keep sending me links about Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?"

I have an answer to that question: L.A.-entrenched failed actors looking for exposure.

Stan has been trying to sell this idea since "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" was in it's prime (ie: when Nathan freaked out North America by introducing The Reeg to his monkey, Coco). Thus, the name of Stan's show.

I thought it was a bad idea for a show back then, and I am still not entirely sold on the concept now.

Loyal Leaguers you may all be, but let's face facts: aside from Spider-Man and Batman, you think superheroes are pretty stupid, right?

I mean, if you were at a party and someone asked you to come up with a superhero idea, you'd probably tie a towel around your neck, grab a plunger and a shower cap, and declare yourself "Roto-Rooter Man/ Lady" (no discrimination here), and you'd get a big laugh. I'd laugh, too. That's good stuff.

That's pretty much what the show looks like it's lining up to be. Whether Stan was ever serious about trying to find a property to develop through his Pow! Entertainment company (ie: not Marvel), or whether he was just looking at the dollar signs tied to reality game shows is sort of irrelevant. The producers don't care WHAT Stan does with the winner.

Like American Idol, the opening tone will no doubt be ridiculous as chubby comic-loving dorks squeeze into homemade outfits and go before a panel of "judges" to pitch their concept. There will be a snarky voice-over encouraging us to make fun of the fat guy in the shorts, or the moderately unhinged guy in his Punisher-like commando get-up. A few people will be genuine or funny enough to move on to the actual final round.

The other night I found myself completely unable to watch TLC's new show "The Messengers" (which came on after two hours of shows about somethign called primordial dwarfism. Apparently, gelflings live among us). "The Messengers" is a reality/ game show which features wanna-be motivation speakers going through a harrowing experience, such as being homeless for a few hours, and then shouting at a crowd about how it sucks to be homeless. For a few hours.

I brought this up with Jamie about what an odd concept the show was, and she didn't even blink. "What do you want me to say?" she finally sighed after repeatedly being cued to be impressed, "They'll put anything on TV in gameshow format."

Judging from the list of contestants on the website, "Who Wants to be a Superhero" has gone for the quick-cash-in "wacky" factor. This seems rather obvious.

I would have thought long-term. Go for the hard-core geek audience and create what could be a nichey show about how comic properties are developed and how one can create a character as enduring as Spider-Man. I mean, Jesus. This is Stan "I developed X-Men, The Hulk, Spidey, the Fantastic Four and countless others" Lee we're talking about. If anyone could give a few pointers and career tips as he enjoys his semi-retirement, it's this guy.

This is not to say "WWTBS?" won't be fun and funny. If it works. But you know what's not funny two hours into the party? Roto-Rooter Man.

In comics, very few comedy comics stick, especially funny superhero comics. Even "The Tick" is mostly reprints these days. The original Red Tornado, Forbush Man, 'Mazing Man and Ambush Bug all had a few moments in the sun, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a hard-core fan base or margin of profitability for any of the characters.

So, once again we're back to 1960-whatever, and Batman is hilarious. For three seasons. Frikkin' "Yes, Dear" has already surpassed that by 3 years.

Yes, I do like the campy side of superheroes. I'm all about movies like "Mystery Men", etc... but even those movies had a story (and "Casanova Frankenstein" is the best villain name ever. Seriously. I will be 90 years old and will still be jealous that I couldn't come up with that name).

I will watch the pilot so I have a common point of reference, but I'll be honest, it's a muted enthusiasm. I see 11 Roto-Rooter Men/ Ladies.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Wow, Leaguers... We had some serious weather last night here in the PHX. BOOM! POW! WHOOOOSH!!!!

We don't get too many days of rain and thunderstorms, but we do get these storms they call "monsoons". Now PHX is a little different from, oh, say, Myanmar. We don't get real monsoons, but we do get these wet fronts that come in from the ocean south of us, and... man... they can be sort of exciting. In the daytime they usually come with a wall of dust several stories high, just sweeping across the desert.

Last night we got the longest, most sustained lightning storm I'd ever seen in Arizona. It was the sort of fun you get in Dallas or occasionally in Austin, but without the fear of a twister coming and tossing you right out of your La-Z-Boy.


We do not have children, but we do have pets. And last night, for the first time in a long time, I let Mel sleep in bed with us. He was a little off from the storm, and he's so very happy when we let him sleep on the bed. Unfortunately, Mel is the size of a people. So when I came to bed last night, and Mel was sprawled across the foot of the bed, it was kind of a tough negotiation.

Jeff the Cat does not like rain. Or thunder. or lightning. So he curls up into a tiny ball, finds a spot where the sounds are quietest and just sits, slowly freaking out. He was hiding int he guest bath when I finally retired.

Lucy-Girl had to pee, and as she's seen rain maybe four or five times in her life, she wasn't feeling too confident when I kicked her outside. I felt pretty bad for her, so I went outside to lend her moral support, and man... the wind was kicking our trees around, rain was coming down by the bucket-load and it was like a Frankenstein movie with all the thunder and lightning. Lucy, of course, gav eup on being scared and decided 9:30 in a lightning storm is the perfect time to play fetch, especially with four inches of standing water in the yard.

The good news is she did pee. The bad news is I had to put her to bed still damp and disgruntled that I called the game of fetch short.

Growing up in Houston and Austin and weathering hurricanes and tornadoes, I do remember being scared of thunder and lightning. If Jason was around, like in one of the years we shared a bedroom or if it was during the day, it always helped. Trees might be snapping, the power might be out, but he'd look at me and say "Hey, pretend we're on a ship and we need to secure the ship." And we'd be sailors on a ship, battening hatches and pulling down sails, fearless against the elements. Or, "We're hiding in a cave from the dragon outside," and we were adventurers holed up in secret, snickering to ourselves about the loot we'd stolen from the dragon who was, even now, causing all that calamity just beyond the cave entrance.

And when that didn't work, he'd count it out for me. "Hear that...? That lightning flash and thunder? There was eight seconds between the flash and thunder. That was eight miles away..." Eight miles might as well have been in Paraguay... that was a safe distance.

I don't get as bent out of shape about the weather anymore. But I still think about riding on a wind-tossed ship in the sea, or in the cave hiding from the dragon... and occasionally in my DCU-addled brain I watch the lightning streak across the sky and I think of Captain Marvel going toe-to-toe with some monster hiding among the clouds. With one magic word and a bolt of mystic lightning, Billy Batson transforms from an ordinary boy to the World's Mightiest Mortal, a being of myths and stories. The kind of stories of adventure and adversity Jason used to make up on the spot when the monsters were reaching down out of the clouds.

And that's why these days I look forward to the thunder and lightning.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I don't want to be a Negative Ned, but does anyone else sort of feel like we're finally getting that third world war in the hopper?

As if our adventuring overseas wasn't enough to ruin your afternoon, and if the excitement in Lebanon wasn't enough to get you to stall for a minute on the news... well... this can't be good
What is Jeff Shoemaker's e-mail address?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Summer of Superman: No Superman 2?

Leaguers, you've failed me. Superman Returns has only raked in $170+ million up to this point. As the movie cost a lot more than that to get made and marketed, it looks like the chances for a sequel are pretty much drawing to a close.

Now, what kind of crazy-assed we world we live in where $170 million isn't enough of a gross to make a profit...? Well, I don't really like to think about that all that much.

What's really upsetting is that X-Men 3, which was, at best, a cookie-cutter action sequel, and at worst... well, let's not get into what I personally felt about the movie, but that movie made something like $230 million.

@#$%ing Brett Ratner, man.

There's no justice.

The American movie going public is a fickle beast, to be sure. I'll never know why Super Returns didn't do better at the box office (ie: why more people didn't want to see Superman in a movie), but I have a suspicion...

Nobody generates bad press like Superman.

I get a lot of e-mails from Loyal Leaguers and beyond any time some pop-culture columnist can't think of anything to write about and decide to jump on the "I am so smart, Superman is no longer relevant" bandwagon. You don't see a lot of articles about why Iron Man or Thor are out of touch with the American zeitgeist. Or a lot of ink spilled over Batman's irrelevancy in our day and age. And with every movie review re: a superhero movie, the reviewers who haven't seen Superman since they were 8 spend a lot of time talking about how Superman is a simple-minded lummox, a boy scout, etc... but Batman and Spider-Man... well, those guys, they're REAL characters.

I think we all sort of killed Superman. At some point we decided Superman was the broadstroke caricature, the two-tone copyright-infringing generic "superhero" popping up in ads for plumbers and carpet millers. He was that silly man-like-object who couldn't be taken seriously while Spider-Man... Spider-Man and Batman both seemed safe. I mean, really, they were just us, right...? And not really... super. We made Kal-El into the alien he'd always tried so hard not to be.

We read the pop culture reviewers rants about how our age had surpassed that of Superman's simple origin (ah, the joy of looking at our forebears and laughing), how Superman is a kid's fantasy, how he's sexually confused, how he's a relic, how he is nothing but the nerd's projection of powerlessness, how he couldn't have sex with Lois without killing her... we analyzed and analyzed until what was left?

Jesus. How well do you really think Wolverine would hold up under such scrutiny?

We've been trained not to trust the character, to believe he's got to be up to something, that nobody could possibly be who he seems to be when he's not one of us.

Superman Returns did receive fairly good reviews. It had amazing special effects and a few stars in the cast. And lets be honest... they marketed the hell out of that movie, maybe too much, but I don't think there was a lot of confusion that Superman Returns was coming out this summer. But that was a media blitz for a movie fighting uphill against a whisper campaign starting sometime back in the mid-80's when the last of the Reeve Superman movies was released to empty theaters.

I'm disappointed, Leaguers. The nay-saying Luthors have won. I don't think I'm getting my second installment.

So if you haven't seen the movie, say you were too busy, and, heck, by the time you DID have time, you thought you would just go see the Pirate movie instead... Or just wait until the DVD... Go check out Superman Returns now, on the big screen while you can.

And if you've already seen it just the once and that was it... Leaguers, go see it again. Heck, go just to see what the little kid has printed on his jammies in the final scene. I noticed it on a second viewing and it was all I could do not to crack up and ruin the mood of the whole theater. Fathers, take your sons.

It's a mighty weight, Leaguers. A weight great enough that even Superman himself can't lift. So put your backs into it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Howdy, Leaguers!

It's been a whirlwind of a weekend here at League HQ. I got home Friday night and was immediately put to work. Thursday we'd selected a realtor, so as of Friday we knew that Sunday afternoon we'd have Pat here to take pictures of the house, sign some papers and put the house on the market.

So, I pretty much spent all of my time from Friday evening until about 12:00 today organzing my office, packing action figures and statues and doing a lot of general organizing. Now, a lot of that may seem like Ryan wasn't doing anything else in the rest of the house, and if you thought that, well, you're an observant sort of Leaguer.

Jamie's been on cleaning overdrive since I mentioned picking up stakes. She's gotten some spot help from me, but overall, it's been a one-woman job. She deserves some applause.

We've also had to take steps towards "depersonalizing" the house. So a lot of our personal effects have had to get put away so folks who come in can visiualize themselves in your space. Curiously, Pat the Realtor didn't seem to worry too much about The Fortress. She was mostly concerned kids would walk out with figures or pull them off the shelves. So, I have to pack them away until we sell and move.

Poor little Supermans all put away in the dark.

Jamie is obviously very concerned that Pat the Realtor suggested putting Mel and Lucy in the car and driving off with them every time people come to the house. Mel and Lucy are both sweet dogs, but Lucy believes jumping at you is completely acceptable while Mel will cry and cry if you pull him away from the peoples. Ugh.

Our prep meant my neglected little corner of the world needed a lot of help. However, I did get a chance to hang out in The Fortress and watch 2 discs of my "Adventures of Superman Seasons 3 & 4" collection.

All of that Superman wasn't quite enough, so we decided to go see "Superman Returns" again. Honestly, I think I liked the movie even better the second time around. There's a lot going on in that movie, and the first time I think I was so overwhelmed with the "wow" factor of the film that I missed some of the little things and character bits.

Jim D. also contributed to the high quality Supermanness of the weekend by sending along a box of back-issues he'd picked up for me. Inside were some issues of DC COmics Presents (a Superman team-up book) and issues of "Jimmy Olsen". Yes, Jimmy Olsen used to have his very own title. Yes, that goofy photographer from the movies.

I like Jimmy. I'm a fan. It's a fun idea, this "Superman's Pal" thing. It sounds like a back-up feature, but at one point Jimmy Olsen sold a heck of a lot of comics every month.

Anyhow, it's late. Hope your weekend was super, too.