Friday, March 16, 2007

CRACK! (plus intern)

Born on a Monday

Saturday will mark Jason's 34th birthday. Let's all give the boy a big round of applause.

The birthday boy goes out in search of cake...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rock and Roll in the Rain

Your League is a little bit tired.

Yesterday was the show at art shop/ Gallery Bella Blue down on S. 1st, just North of Oltorf. Bella Blue's performace area is an outdoor stage, and with 36 hours of rain preceding the show, I was curious to know if the thing would go off. After all, I did not want to see anyone rock out in a shower of sparks.

Eventually it was decided the rain was merely misting, and with a tent set up to protect the electronic components and the drum kit, Crack took the stage and faced down an unprepared audience. I was lucky enough to sit in for a song with Crack ("Mr. Pinchy's Lament"), but otherwise just got to enjoy the fine, fine work of Crack from the audience. I think it's safe to say that Crack rocked the audience's socks off.

Mono Ensemble followed with a really good, tight set. I think they played seven songs or so, including two covers. It was, truth to be told, the best I can recall the Mono E sounding in the many times I've heard them. I don't know if the possibility of imminent electrocution at playing guitars and standing in puddles added extra urgency to their playing, or if the rock gods merely loaned them extra powers of rock... but it was a good set.

And, of course, the one band not featuring Jason, Kosmodrome, impressed me with their post-Autechre electronic aural assault. Good stuff. Can't go wrong with Kosmodrome.

For some photos of the show, here you go.

Afterward, I picked up my weekly comics, then headed home for a much needed shower. As much as I enjoy standing in the rain for hours on end, I've looked better.

Jamie had a Sleep Study last night, which meant that she had to go to the hospital and have all manner of diodes and electrodes glued to her skin while she caught some shut-eye. Normally, this would mean I was left to my own devices, but Jamie tag-teamed with long-time pal H. Wagner. Wagner is on Spring Break from her Masters program in Lubbock and has come to crash for a few days in Austin.

Long story short, Wagner and I hung out til way too late over the firepit and some chit-chatting (and some drinks. Hey, she's on Spring Break).

So, after such a long day, I finally got to bed. Very, very late.

Jamie's car has a flat tire, so I have to fix that today. We're all sort of tired and cranky as, apparenly, Jamie's sleep study more or less kept her from getting a good night's sleep. And I can't say I slept terribly well, either.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Watchmen Movie

The guy who directed 300 currently has the rights to "Watchmen". With a $70 million opening weekend, it's my guess that he's going to make whatever movie he wants next.

Just prior to 300 opening, it was leaked that Snyder had sneaked a frame of his Watchmen test footage into the 300 trailer.


I'm still of a mind that there's too much to Watchmen for a two hour movie. Snyder obviously has no problem sicking to the source material. Make it a mini-series.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Marvel Awesomeness

I hate to steal from Occasional Superheroine two days in a row, but you can't fight awesomeness...

It's like they didn't even try. And I heart them for it.

The torch is passed...

Colbert receives Cap's shield

workday time killer

Here's a page to look at and kill some time today.

Totally rad Halloween costumes.


All you ever wanted to know about Kobra Kai Dojo and Sweeping the Leg (and more).

Oh, Retrocrush... I heart you.

And here is Randy and a bunch of ladies.

Monday, March 12, 2007


From my brother:

Just a reminder that two of Austin's most legendary garage bands will be hitting the stage at Bella Blue art boutique on Wednesday afternoon (Bella Blue is an art shop, but they have an entertainment area behind the shop that has a stage and plenty of room for our rock and roll audience). Crack will kick off the festivities at 3:00 with our unique take on savante garde melody making (or noise rock, depending on your point of view). The Mono Ensemble will follow at 4:00 with their own brand of folk-prog-western-jazz-funk-rock, and Kosmodrome will round out the day at 5:00 with experimental electronic fanfare smuggled deep out of the heart of mother Russia. The whole thing is part of the garage band showcase portion of SXS1st (the South 1st Street part of SXSW).
Here's a link to the Bella Blue flyer. Bella Blue is at 2213 South First Street, on the east side of the street, about a block north of Oltorf (next to End of An Ear Records, who I believe may be co-sponsoring the event).
So take part of the day off and come see some local, live music the way SXSW was originally intended!!!!!
Hope to see you all there!!!!!!
jason steans

And, yes... I sit in on bass for one of the Crack tunes.

Comic Fodder Catch Up

Hey, Leaguers...

Finally got out Part 2 of Masters in DC Universe

and reviews of last week's DC Comics

300 - the League sees a movie

Readers of LoM may have noticed I was cautiously optimistic about the recently released film "300". The movie promised to blend visual effects, historical inaccuracies, Frank Miller and a legendary tale together into a sort of big 'ol blockbuster. Whether the movie would make sense to mainstream America remained to be seen.

I have to say that it's gratifying in my old age to see the works of people I've genuinely respected for decades receiving star billing on multi-million dollar movies. Leaguers like Jason and JimD know the pain of too many hokey comic-to-movie adaptations that we all grew up with. But as our own generation takes the reigns in Hollywood, the generation which grew up on Dark Knight Returns and too many X-Men comics, filmmakers no longer seem embarrased by their own product, and are willing to take chances to bring some of the visual components of the comic panel to the screen.

And that is why 300 is a visually arresting, technically remarkable movie. However, that slavish devotion may also be why 300 isn't a very good movie.

300 is a slim volume and reads in a relatively quick time frame (your mileage may vary). I'd intentionally avoided re-reading the book since I'd heard the movie was in production, but I did recall that the story was slight and seemed more an opportunity for Miller to stretch his wings as artist. His dialogue is spare and his exposition non-existent as he cuts to the chase and got Persians and Spartans stabbing one another as quickly as possible.


As many might now know, Miller based the comic upon the real-life battle for Thermopylae, where, legend has it, 300 Spartans and some allies faced down thousands of troops from the Persian army. I'm a history major, but I spent too little time on Greek history to relate much other than what I've read online and seen in TV documentaries. What I can tell you is that history is a mix of myth, legend, fact and fiction. But if you want to believe the histories, Leonidas did, in fact, lead the sort of charge which is shown in the film, resulting in the eventual victory of the allied Greek armies (although the Spartans would fall within a generation or two).

And, as BS brutal as the movie depicts the life of the young king, there's signifcant historical evidence suggesting that the Spartans did send their children into the wild to learn to become fighters before apprenticing as soldiers, that Spartans were much of what was represented in film and more.

In some ways, with our comfy couches, TV's and relative security, the culture of the world 2500 years ago is completely alien. Most city-states were in a perpetual cycle of war with far off lands and with one another. The value of soldiers wasn't marked with magnetic ribbons on the back of an SUV, but in hoping that they didn't lose and that you and your family weren't taken as slaves. So when I see reviews from the NYTimes having a good chuckle at this seemingly jingoistic talk of freedom from tyranny and mysticism, I can appreciate the cynicism in a modern context, but can also appreciate what I believe the filmmakers were attempting to achieve.

I'll leave it to other arm chair quarterbacks to decide if director Zach Snyder was trying to create commentary upon the world's current political status, or if it's not telling that Miller's take on the material is a decade old and remains largely unaltered. There's a lesson in there somewhere if folks want to draw allusions to a 2500 year old story.

Unfortunately, as grand in scope and detail as Snyder would like the movie to be, the film plays more like a series of bombastic set-pieces strung together rather than as a coherent narrative. Where Miller's work moves from panel to panel, Snyder has the challenge of compressing time, of working with scenes rather than tableaus. And, for reasons that become eventually apparent in the end, he inserts the seemingly most unnecessary voice over since Harrison Ford's voice over in the original cut of Blade Runner. The much commented upon violence is brutal, if often lyrical in its blood-cult presentation. No doubt the sort of thing that will have fourteen year old boys secretly practicing spear maneuvers when they believe nobody is watching. That said, the movie does show some respect for the realities of hand to hand fighting with thousands of soldiers crashing into one another and the value of a good strategy.

But that's pretty much all viewers are going to find as far as anything fantastic.

I can't help but think that had someone expanded the scope of Miller's story, had someone else directed the actors in the scenes which do not require a lot of stabbing, the end product would have been more than a sure-fire addition to the average 18-24 tear old's DVD collection. We might have got something great.

as far as the visuals... A friend of mine said he thought the compositing looked amateurish. I think he was more or less looking for something to complain about (he hadn't seen the movie). If the movie has anything going for it, it's visuals.

And, on that note... Action directors who've gone to the "up close" and lots of cuts to disguise the action (Batman Begins comes to mind)could certainly take a page or two from 300's handbook.

When the movie ended at the Westgate, we had loud applause from our mostly 18-24 year old audience. In addition, some dude was shouting "Yeeeaaahh! Yeaaahhhh!" And, a little high school girl immediately got on her phone to tell her friend "I just saw 300. It's really violent and stuff, but it's @#$%ing awesome!"

So someone's liking this movie.

Just not me as much as I'd hoped.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Further Signs of Clinical Depression

My workspace at home.

Too Many Leaguers to Mention, Plus Esther's Follies

The next week or so is going to be interesting.

Friday night my former roommate, KB, returned to town for a brief SXSW visit. It's funny how, even when you haven't seen someone in a long, long time, you pick up right where you left off. I don't believe I've seen KB since either shortly before Jamie and I hitched up, or shortly thereafter. I just recall it was that while I was living off 45th street.

At any rate, we sat down to dinner and fell right back to where we were with the same crowd from 1993-1999ish, a spouse here, a significant other there... and it was the Roaring 90's all over again.

We wrapped up the evening at Pat's where I was finally initiated into the world of Wii. Leaguers who know how I kill time know that gaming systems are not my thing. To The League, there's just not that much enjoyable about pressing buttons in a first person shooter that's just the 567th iteration on Doom. Especially when I think it's easier to use the keyboard than the controllers provided by most systems. But the Wii...

I will own a Wii. Oh, yes. I will.

The control is 100% intuitive, and the games don't feel nearly as anti-social. First-person shooters require you to either sit alone and solve the game or enter an arena where you shoot your pals (with a wide variety of highly unintuitive controls). With the Wii, we bowled, played some baseball, competed in a hammer-throw, raced some monkeys, etc... That's just good stuff.

Saturday morning my folks arrived for the joint KareBear/Jason birthday extravaganza. Did some dining out (at Freddie's), went and looked at some potential places my folks are considering, and wound up at Esther's Follies for the 10:00 show.

For folks who've not been: Esther's Follies is an Austin tradition. It's roughly "sketch comedy", vaudeville, magic, music and drinking. The show is roughly two hours with dozens of skits, some of which are more a part of the show out of tradition than anything else. I may have seen the Patsy Cline sketch 5 or 6 times, but it still kills. I'm also a huge fan of magician Ray Anderson who performs amazing illusions, especially in such an intimate environment.

Most sketches work, some don't. They change material every few months, so if you go two or three times a year, you get a different show. Sure, some of the comedy is Austin-centric, but folks seem to enjoy the show, even from out of town.

The whole thing is performed on a stage with it's back to 6th Street, and with windows open to 6th street, so the mostly inebriated happenings of 6th street are often incorporated directly into the show. It's a unique sort of thing to see as the folks on the street can see in and occasionally attempt to participate.

6th Street is always colorful, and it's always a bit dodgy taking the Karebear and Admiral down to Austin's entertainment district as, really, you never know what to expect. We got a bit of Leslie, who hasn't aged a day, and a very, very drunk young woman getting arrested and shouting "AUSTIN, TEXAS!" over and over. Not sure what that was about.

Time change this morning. The time change always stinks, and it's our first leap forward since 2002. Arizona doesn't observe daylight savings, so we never dealt with the time change. My clock is all kinds of off, and I predict an early evening for myself.

Saw "300" today after the folks left. More on that later.

Now I'm winding down/ catching up.

Tomorrow evening Nathan C. rolls into town. I think I'm due at Austin Books during the day with KB. Wednesday Wagner is making an appearance, and next weekend is the birthday of Steanso. And next weekend, The My rolls into town.

God help us all.

Hope all Loyal Leaguers are having a good one.