Saturday, April 28, 2007


I have not yet seen the little nipper, but Jeff (aka: Peabo) and Adriana Peek are now the proud parents of a wee little man. I don't have any details yet, and I'm awaiting some sort of "all hands proud poppa e-mail", but I do have a voicemail message telling me that there's an additional Peek onboard spaceship Earth.

So, The League of Melbotis formally welcomes young Owen to this groovy thing we call life.

Congratulations to Jeff and Adriana, Phyllis, PK and Adriana's parents (whose names I do not know).


Saturday (today) marked our seventh wedding anniversary. Hooray for us. I'm sure we've now defeated some statistical challenge regarding our ability to remain married. (The secret, you ask? I'm on a steady regimen of vicodin and Jamie is allowed one free punch, head or gut, once a week.)

So, we were unable to get a reservation for Saturday at our restaurant of choice, so we went out Friday. We got married at this place called "Green Pastures" in South Austin, and it's not a bad little place, so we went back for our anniversary dinner as we'd done once upon a time when we used to live here prior to Arizona. The place costs an arm and a leg, but that's okay. The food is phenomenal, service excellent, and Green Pastures has a lovely atmosphere. Plus, I was in a good mood as it seems like many of the risks we took in picking up stakes from Arizona are panning out. So I think we were celebrating that as well.

As I mentioned, the place is a bit pricey. And it took us a while to get seated (we were given cocktails and the staff kept talking to us, so we weren't just sitting there. It was nice.) But I think they were a little concerned we were unhappy before we ever sat down (we were not). So, apparently, when I said "Salmon" to the waiter, he believed I said "Sampler", referring to their Game Sampler. And he panicked a little, but... as The League is up for new experiences (some of which meet with mixed results and angry letters) we gave the waiter a pass and went with the Game Sampler.

So to celebrate my seventh wedding anniversary, I ate Bambi and, I think, a quail. I dunno. Anyway, it was lovely.

Today we were going to try to go to Austin's annual party in the park, "Eeyore's Birthday". Yes, for those familiar, Eeyore's Birthday is the dirty hippy party at Pease Park. But we wanted to do something outside today as it was lovely out, and we wanted to hang out with the dogs. With this plan in mind, we were between breakfast and heading out when Jamie kicked the wall. Jamie kicks lots of things in any given day, but today she was trying to kick a tennis ball for Lucy, missed and did some internal damage.

We still made it to dirty hippy park party, and Jason posted some pics, so here you go. What you can't see here is Jamie getting hit on by some 19 year old dudes. That's two for two weekends. Anyway, all i heard was Jamie say "It's a boy, his name is Mel."
To which her young suitor replied, "No. What's YOUR name? Heh heh heh..."
To which I turned around to see what was going on, and saw the 19 year old, who saw me (and, I assume, Jason) staring back, to which he gave us a "Whoop. My bad." and went on his way.

My wife is in demand. I am hoping she is flattered.

Unfortunately, as we were leaving, Jamie began to show signs that her foot was hurt and had a tough time getting to the car.

So tonight we were going to hit a small party and then possibly go see "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", but as we rested up post-dirty hippy party, Jamie began complaining loudly about her foot. I mean... loudly.

I knew that she was under the impression that her foot was broken (I had my doubts), so off we went to the ER.

I can't tell you how much better the Austin ER is than the ER situation in Phoenix. I think it's a mix of Austin having a greater number of medical facilities per capita, and that people here don't seem to go to the ER unless they think there's really something really wrong. You do not see people walking in with minor symptoms. Like the guy who fell off his motorcycle who came in right before us. That dude was really ragged up.

Unlike the Arizona ER, they also not only had three tracks (fast track for things like broken feet which are a straightforward diagnosis, cardiac track for people who might die immediately, and everyone else), but appear to have a much faster process for getting people from the waiting room to the ER. It was kind of impressive.

Anyhow, Jamie's foot is NOT broken, so we can all be glad about that. She was given a big boot to wear, crutches with which to walk, and a shot of pain killer to make the night groovier.

She's now gone to bed. After being in a really chipper mood thanks to Mr. Pain Killer.

So happy anniversary to us.

Seven years. I'm a lucky guy, Leaguers.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

So while I was at work today, apparently the owner of Clambake Jake's called my house. Jamie took the call, but for some reason picked up while she was asleep, so she was a little sketchy on the details.

You kind of have to think that this fellow is not real happy with The League right now. We're coming up a little high on the 'ol Google search when one looks for his restaurant online, and our commentary was full of opinions. And that makes me feel a little bad. After all, Cannoli Joe's is a new place and they're trying to make a buck. And The League isn't out to put anybody under. We have our opinions, and we feel entitled to them, but we also think it's OUR opinion. Go get your own.

Anyway, apparently we're now in one of the sites that pops up when you Google Clambake Jake's, and that puts me square in the sights of an irate restauranteur. I may wind up buried in the end zone of Giants' Stadium.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How to leave The League speechless #215

courtesy: Chris's Invincible Super-Blog

PLUS: This story on why the Batmobile may be more trouble than its worth.


Hey, Leaguers. In less than 24 hours, Peabo and Adriana will have a new human being to watch over. An as yet unnamed human being.

So let's help out this kid.

Now taking suggestions for names. And, yes, it's supposed to be a boy.

My suggestions:

Grand Funk Peabo
Grover Cleveland
Vincent Young
William Travis
Stephen Austin
John Wayne
Thomas Jefferson
Mr. Pinchy
Ryan J.
Coolio McGuillicutty
Alfred E.
Boris Yeltsin
Red Lobster
Bruce Wayne
Kool-Aid Man
Carl Edward Walls IV
Richard Milhouse
Timothy Duncan
Dwayne Wade
Stretch Armstrong
Joseph Montana
Cobb Salad
Cobra Commander
Star Scream
Moose N. Squirrel
Nehemiah Deuteronomy
Job Habakkuk
Grandmaster Flash
Whelan William

That's it. I've got no more in me. You help out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tonight we dined IN HELL!!!

So when we were moving in, I noticed that someone was putting in some sort of new building on the Lamar/290 frontage road just north of Brodie. Sort of an odd location, but forward thinking as that whole area by Burger Center is turning Sunset Valley into a little economic engine like nobody's business.

Anyhoo... this winter I noticed it was going to be an Italian place with the dubious name of (name redacted by agreement w/ restaurant owner. It's a long story). The outside was brightly painted, indicating that it was a tiny Italian villa. I'm not sure. I'm usually going 50 over there, and I don't usually slow for such things.

This evening we were considering tacos at Serrano's by 290, and I recalled there was the new restaurant on the other side of the road. "Let's try Johnny Clambake's..." I announced from the back seat (Jason sat in front and Jamie drove). Of late, I've acquired my mother's ability (or inability) to recall proper nouns, but go ahead and assign them a name I feel works for me. (We did not watch Saturday Night Live. We watched Saturday Night Alive! We ate at Chick-a-Fillet. Yet she knew who all the Star Wars characters were. It's odd.) Jamie swerved in and out of lanes as we tried to decide where we were going, and finally we settled on Johnny Clambake's.

Upon pulling into the lot we noted that the place was an all-you-can-eat buffet. Never a good sign for a promising meal, but even The League tires of tacos upon occasion, and so we decided it would be a bit of an adventure, to pioneer Johnny Clambake's and be able to say "Oh, yes, I ate there. Oh, yes."

So the entry way at Johnny Clambake's was really pretty nice. Obviously designed to hold a great number of waiting diners, but not quite as EPCOT-ish as Olive Garden, but not exactly what one might think any self-respecting actual Italian would recognize as Italian. Heck, even a self-respecting Italian-American.

I knew we were in trouble when, as new customers, we were offered "the tour". The tour took up through "Il Vilagio" which really was an odd buffet line broken up into various ideas about one might want to eat. Anti-pasta, salad at one end. Dessert at the other. All nicely appointed. And the food didn't look like middle-school cafeteria food, but they also weren't shy about moving you through The Vilagio as quickly as possible. "And it's all you can eat!" the tour guide insisted four or five times, just in case we were worried we might not get our money's worth.

And then the tour took a curious turn as we were lead past several "dining pods", you might describe them, down a hallway, past the restrooms, and I suspected we'd be out by the dumpsters when we emerged in a new dining pod with about fifteen tables. The tour guide then directed us to the table crammed into a corner, directly next to the only other occupied table in the pod, complete with kids crawling right up on to the table. Luckily, not Jason, Jamie or I were too shy as we stepped on each other's words requesting a table across the room. Actually, I think Jamie wandered over to a table and Jason said "we'll sit there."

The dining pod was painted a nice shade of fancy-dining room red, and covered in reproductions of art you kind of maybe thought looked like something that was supposed to be nice (including an 18th century picture of hunting dogs), and gave off the illusion that one was somewhere okay... but the little plastic standee on the table then announced our meal would be $13.00 a head. This did not include $2.00 for a drink.

"Let's go," I said. "We can leave."
"We came here for something new, let's try something new."
"Okay," I agreed. But I knew... Hell, Golden Corral is about the same price. I don't know what I expected.
The tables were also all squeezed remarkably close together, which was part of our decision not to sit next to the kids. It would have been like sitting at the same table. But the dining pod was mostly empty and we decided we were far enough away. After all, Jamie loves to drop the f-bomb to punctuate dinner conversations.

Also, Johnny Clambake's had this weird table inventory system visible at the entrance to each dining pod. It looked like a security grid, but included a touchscreen interface so the tour guide could determine which tables were sat. I wanted to monkey with it, but feared retribution should I be caught in the act.

After placing drink orders and having to witness the tour guide do some paperwork to note that we'd changed tables (no, reallY) we wandered back out into the winding maze of (editor's note: name removed to protect the innocent meatball manufacturers). "If this place caught on fire," I said to Jamie as we squeezed past a patron going the other way, "It would be a firey deathtrap." The hallways were ADA, but they were hallways in a buffet restaurant. Where people must get up multiple times and get food (now, you could be reasonable and get one plate of food, but who would do that? Not the Steans Boys, I tell you that much.). Luckily the place was sort of slow, but I had horrible visions of Saturday night at Clamshack Steve's.

"Go for the meat!" I insisted loudly as we broke apart at Il Vilagio. "They want for you to get cheap stuff like bread and salad! That's a con game! The meat costs them! Don't fill up before you get your money's worth!"

But, it being an Italian place and not a grill, I saw a lot of bread sticks, salad and pasta, but very little meat. Except for some meatballs listed as "Homemade Meatballs", which is a lie. Unless the cooks actually live at (editor's note: name removed under suggestion from legal council), this place is nobody's home, and I don't much care for the fib.

Other offerings included meatloaf and fried fish. But, yeah, for the most part it was sort of vaguely Italian-ish faire.

But I was mostly just confused by the whole operation. $13.00 for dinner and the food was, at best, the low end of the Olive Garden spectrum. Plus you had to fetch it yourself, and there flat out weren't that many "entree" type options.

And some guy who was just lingering in Il Vilagio had some nasty BO that surrounded him like a bubble and stung my eyes.

Upon returning to our table, they'd packed in more families (that table LED system was lit up like Christmas, I tell ya), and despite there being multiple empty tables far from us, the tour guide had chosen to pack them in around our table. We immediately noticed that if both tables sat back to back, neither could stand to return to the buffet line, which might save them money, but certainly seemed to defeat the purpose of the buffet concept. The League must be free in his movements when going back for soft serve ice cream.

We weren't the only ones to notice as the room became more densely packed and the family seated behind us got up and moved on their own, causing a landslide of paperwork for somebody.

And the food I got? Okay. Nothing great. Nothing that suggested they needed to clear out Deck the Walls' post-Holiday sale to decorate the joint. I'm an American. If the food is hot and there isn't vermin dashing across the table, color me pleased with my dining surroundings.

Then I noticed the bottom of the table was covered in that super-dense carpet they use in elementary schools. "There's carpet under the tables!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," Jamie blinked.
"No, on the bottom of the tables," Jason said, noting the odd texture. "Not the floor".

I do not understand Johnny Clambake's. I don't get the dining pods, the narrow, deathtrap hallways, the chocolate fountain they would not let you touch, Il Vilagio, substandard food, too many "fancy-lookin'" prints on the walls, and a 9:00 closing time.

At 8:15 Jason told the waiter, who was fishing around to see if we wanted our bill, "Oh, no. We're going to sit here for an hour, digest, and then go back for more." He sort of blinked and then said "We close at 9:00." Apparently someone had put our plan into action.

Oh, Johnny Clamshack! You are one senior citizen taking a spill in your narrow hallways away from closing your doors. Or someone noticing that the pizza bar is not dissimilar to the one in the Jester Dormitory cafeteria.

Oddly, the place (we found out because Jason likes to ask questions) is owned by the same folks who own (editor's note: name removed to preserve future dining experiences) (also a place where I expect I could meet a firey end). And I like (editor's note: name removed to preserve future opportunities for BBQ). I think I get where they're going with Jimmy Clamshack's, but there's a lot of work that has to happen with the menu if they want to make it. Or not. They could drop the price, and then, really, who cares? Ain't nobody going to Cici's because the pizza is good.

If the place does fold, it would make a swell Laser Tag arena. Otherwise, I have no idea what they could do with the oddly shaped space.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Some Excellent News

A) It sounds like The League's own CBG is packing up her belongings and returning to the Capital City. Read her announcement here.

That's excellent news for The League who is quite fond of CBG, and was pleased to find he enjoyed the company of CBG's husband as well. Let's all hope baby Xander doesn't spoil it for everyone with an anti-Texas stance.

We're glad to hear that you're coming back, CB! We'll leave a light on for you.

Oh, and there's no reason for Xander to know he was born anywhere but Texas. We'll cover for you.

B) It seems The League's own Peabo knows not just the day, but the time of his soon to be arrived child's, uhm... arrival? Birth. Yes, birth.

So this Friday everything changes for Peabo as he transforms from irresponsible purveyor of hare-brained schemes to irresponsible purveyor of hare-brained schemes involving children. Huzzah!

I need to get that kid a present.

Ah, who am I kidding? That kid is going to be a baby and won't know if I've picked it out a present until it's at least four. And it's not like Peabo will be keeping track...

Big doings here among Loyal Leaguers...

Some Links

1) To nobody's surprise, there shall be a toyline associated with the upcoming Transformers movie. I will not buy any of these toys as I like to keep my Transformers classic. Here is "Barricade" from the upcoming film, in toy form.

Thanks to Jamie for the link.

2) Maxim magazine (the magazine for guys too chicken to ask for the magazines behind the counter at 7-11) has rated the top ten comic "babes".

I do not know who did their rankings, but I guarantee you, any real fanboys' rankings would shake out much differently. Not that we keep a laminated list of our favorite comic leading ladies in our pocket, but if we did... you know, the list would be different.

There's really no arguing this one without going into some deep, dark places I really don't want to explore.

Thanks to Randy "This Doesn't Seem Weird to Me" T. for the link.

3) Jim D. sends along this link from "Ask" about Superman's costume. Specifically, why does Superman wear his underwear outside of his clothes? The person who answers rambles a bit, but then fails to answer the question.

The answer is that Shuster designed the costume based upon a recognizable symbol for strength in 1938, the circus strongman, who often would wear a leotard with some sort of briefs over the top (for reasons which should be fairly obvious). In the first issues of Action Comics, Superman also wore circus-style lace-up boots, and the cape appears to have been added as a bit of flourish and after-thought.

This isn't really any different from why Dracula is dressed as a carnival magician in the movie Dracula from 1933 (Do you really think nobility ever dressed in big capes with pointy collars?) or why Bettie Boop has an enormous head (Flappers' heads were believed to grow to gigantic size due to their consumption of bathtub gin and cheap Canadian whiskey*).

Why does Superman still wear his drawers outside his tights? Because a single blue outfit with red boots looks silly. Also, he needs a pocket for his wallet.

4) As Jim D. was heard to remark "It would be a far, far better thing to go to that amusement park than I have ever done before." Coming Soon: Dickens Land!

5) CNN finally proves itself a reliable news source.

According to CNN, somebody in Serbia discovered a compound with the same chemical properties as Kryptonite...

CNN's not-so-in-depth report which focuses on the many types of Kryptonite. God bless you Mort Weisinger.

Uhm. I'm a pretty big Superman nerd, and I have NO idea what they're talking about... There was a mention in Superman III of the chemical make-up of Kryptonite, and again in Superman Returns (on a label at the museum where Lex obtained his Kryptonite).

But, honestly, the whole point of Kryptonite was that it was composed of elements which were formed in the destruction of Krypton... and thusly could not be duplicated, per se, on Earth...

Well, CNN is owned by Time Warner, as is Superman and DC Comics, so this reporting must all be accurate.

6) Say it ain't so, Cap! (link courtesy JimD)

7) And... this. Which makes me both ashamed and jealous.

Plus a reminder that the original is still the best.

*this is a lie.

Monday, April 23, 2007

...because I love Bully's comic reviews...

Dog Tired

1) I have not made a peep regarding the massacre at Virginia Tech. I've kept mum partially because any words I've tried to summon on the topic have felt woefully inadequate.

This evening the South Mall at UT (which lies in the shadow of the UT Tower) was filled with thousands of students, alumni and folks from the Austin community for a candle ceremony to commemorate the victims. If any school understands the long memory of such a tragedy, it's the UT community.

Best hopes go out to the families of the victims and the Virginia Tech community.

2) Our dogs are attempting to bankrupt us. Last week Lucy managed to wind up at the vet almost every day, and will need to be continually monitored for a while at home. She's been having odd GI problems which are not providing us with any obvious diagnoses or solution. Things culminated in a 30 hour stay at the animal hospital over Saturday and Sunday. She seems fine now, but...

And tomorrow Melbotis will be visiting the vet to have a lumpectomy. The lump is not believed to be malignant, but the vet wants to remove it before it does become a problem. Poor Mel.

Poor Lucy.

Jeff the Cat is fine.

3) I am hopelessly behind on Comic Fodder work.

4) I am hopelessly behind on providing questions to Steven G. Harms for The Mellies.

5) I am hopelessly behind on keeping up with Steven and Lauren since their move northward. I warned them that once you pass the river, you are dead to me...

6) I need to call Cousin Susan and explain what happened with the weekend.

7) I minorly screwed up at work today. My first @#$% up! Hurray!

8) I now own "Star Spangled War Stories #139" featuring the origin of Enemy Ace. If you are me, you think that is totally rad.

9) On a related note, Jamie won herself a suitor on Sunday at Austin Books. I had wandered off to price back-issues of "New Gods", and Jamie was sort of standing there with a copy of the latest American Splendor collection in her hand when a young gentleman took the opportunity to break the ice by declaring his admiration for Harvey Pekar. He just kept talking. And talking. Clearly not picking up on Jamie's "please go away..." vibes.

Because The League is a curious sort of fellow, we decided to let the events unfold naturally, with no intervention despite Jamie's telepathic cries for rescue. (a) I wanted to see how Jamie would handle it, (b) there's a chance jamie's just looking for the right opportunity to jump ship, and (c) did I really want to be the guy who puffs his chest and goes all monkey crazy because some dude is talking to his lady?

I think Jamie let the chap down rather easily, properly showing zero interest and letting him verbally paint himself into a corner from which the only escape was to feign interest in some nearby comics and wander off. This was after he talked a bit too much about how his ex-girlfriend just didn't get Harvey, even though she tried for his benefit.

At this point I re-entered the scene, excited to know that this gentleman would then tell his friends "And then she left with some dork who was looking for back issues of 'New Gods'! Who reads 'New Gods'? NERD!"

Being a girl in a comic shop is a frightening, frightening proposition. Still, I hope Jamie was at least a little flattered.

In reviewing the scene, I suspect that were The League flying a solo mission, we'd fair no better in trying to break the ice.

10) It. Just. Keeps. Raining.

Well, better than 110 days of continuous sunshine, I guess.

11) As soon as my membership to Hollywood video begins, I end it. I still am physically incapable of watching rented movies or returning them.

12) Today I bought these mints. How many mints come with a warning not to eat them if you have high blood pressure? Not too many. But my Mogo Mints sure as @#$% did. Scroll to the bottom left here to see the many, many health warnings associated with enjoying a Mogo Mint.

I'm working near campus which is why I think I'm discovering caffeine supplements again (I had Jolt Mints last week). I've been told a Quix near campus sells caffeine that, my co-worker informs me "you can mainline". I guess you can buy small tubes of powdered caffeine now.

If those items had been available in 1993-1998, I shudder to think of what a short, jittery life I might have led.

11) I shall not be viewing "Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School". Take the craziest girls from the first two seasons of Flavor of Love, remove Flav, give the girls semi-sociopathic advice that makes no sense... it's like watching someone disturb bee's nests for an hour.

What concerned me most was that the girl kicked off on the first episode clearly had rage issues, if not downright issues with her mental health, and she reached out to show host comedienne Mo'Nique. She was subsequently kicked off the show for showing weakness.

Apparently I missed the part of where becoming a better person means being a cut-throat jerk and refusing to see a shrink when you clearly need one.

I wanted to like the show. I really did. I was honestly shocked at the criteria the judges used in the elimination round.

12) Even more surprising for sheer evil is the new VH1 documentary show about the making of "The Jerry Springer Show" entitled "The Springer Hustle". Free of anything resembling scruples, the producers on Springer don't hide a thing as they work to get their guests into a fighting mood prior to releasing them onto the stage. Totally amazing to see folks who've so clearly lost sight of (or never had) basic human empathy as they try to outdo their fellow producers on a show that, ultimately, has absolutely no redeeming value.

13) I've also beenw atching Dogfights on History Channel. For some reason I find the show completely fascinating.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I am not a child of the 70's, nor was I raised in Southern California or any of the other places where "Grindhouses" may have once existed. I'm a child of the 80's, and multiplex theaters built into shopping malls. (For reason I cannot fathom, I always associate the Willowbrook Mall theater with my first viewings of Jurassic Park and Freejack, although I saw literally dozens of movies at that theater. And why Freejack, for God's sake?).

Anyhow, I don't think the "Grindhouse" idea was ever as prevalent in the US as Mssr's Tarantino and Rodriguez would have us believe. At least seeing a series of crappy movies on a single bill wasn't as fondly remembered.

But if you're going to see two movies on a single bill, Alamo Drafthouse is the place to go. We intentionally broke up our orders into appetizers and a main course over the two movies and managed to really settle in. And, prior to the movie, the Alamo showed trailers from classic "Grindhouse" movies such as "Vanishing Point", "The Thing with Two Heads" and "Dracula Meets the Seven Brothers (and their one Sister)".

So how was the actual movie?

It's possible that the entire movie might have been better off as nothing but a series of trailers. After all, trailers always show the best parts of movies, and in some ways the directors seem to know that trailers are more fun than what you actually get in a movie.

So, yes, the "trailers" between the two movies are almost more fun than the two features.

"Planet Terror" is a fun zombie movie. Flat out. I would have gladly paid to see this movie without any of the additional Grindhouse baggage. It's gross, it's an action movie, it casts Freddy Rodriguez as a bad-ass, and someone finally makes good use of Rose McGowan for the first time I can think of since the first "Scream" film. In fact, I predict that "Cherry Darling" will become one of those staples of fanboyish-ness that will lead to a new cult following for McGowan. Michael Biehn gets his best role since, possibly, The Abyss, and everyone, including Bruce Willis seems to behaving a grand time.

one more item to add to the list of "What The League Looks for in a Woman"

In a way, "Planet Terror" is critic proof as it never tries to do more than be a really fun movie (albeit not for kids or the squeamish), and I can't really think of anything that bugged me about the movie. It sets out to be an over-the-top zombie movie, and from that perspective, I think they knocked it over the fence. Winding subplots, hokey call-backs and catch phrases. A good bad movie.

Prior to "Planet Terror", Rodriguez had tacked on a trailer for what I can only refer to as an Hispanic-Sploitation action movie called "Machete". And, man, yes... I would probably go see Machete.

Between the films, Rob Zombie's trailer for "Werewolf Women of the SS" was absolutely wrong, and, yes... I would totally see that movie. Perhaps less so Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving", but in keeping with the bad-movie tradition of turning seemingly innocent Holidays in a small town into a bloodbath... sure. I could absolutely see where Roth was coming from. He had me at the turkey mascot decapitation.

I was less enthusiastic about Tarantino's "Death Proof", which surprised me. I do enjoy the purity of a good car chase, although I don't know that I've ever even seen any of the films that's comprised of almost nothing but car chases (unless you count "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Empire Strikes Back" - oh, come on! "Empire's" entire Han Solo sequence was pretty much Smokey and the Bandit in space).

The problem with "Death Proof" was two-fold:

a) A lot of the Grindhouse movies that Tarantino professes such a love for were pretty dull, when you get down to it. There's a lot of talking and standing around because that's a lot cheaper to film than action sequences. This wasn't unique to car-chase featuring C-movies of the 70's. Go back to the black and white sci-fi cheapies and serials, and you'll find endless, pointless discussion between scientists speaking in utter gibberish.

b) Tarantino writes like a 20 year old film student. He's hopelessly in love with his own dialog and the minutia of what people say to each other when sitting in cafes and bars, believing these conversations (and characters) to be far, far more compelling than they actually are.

For some reason, Tarantino decided to give a mad shout out to Austin in "Death Proof", which is sort of cute. His characters name drop and go to eat at Guero's and the Texas Chili Parlor. Two of the stars of "Rollergirls" who wait tables at the Texas Chili Parlor play themselves. The odd "Jungle Julia" billboards that were up the week I moved back to town finally receive an explanation. They were props for the movie. Apparently Mr. Tarantino is unaware that in Austin, for whatever reason, DJ's don't really splash their mugs on billboards. But it does solve the mystery Doug and I tried to solve of why a radio station would advertise their DJ and then fail to note the actual frequency of the station.

Anyhow, it seems Tarantino has a school-boy crush on Waterloo.

I suppose it's possible Tarantino is presenting an homage to Hitchcock's set-up of Janet Leigh as the heroine in Psycho with his extensive set-up of four female friends at the beginning of "Death Proof", but the problem is that this ISN'T Psycho, and he ISN'T Hitch. In fact, as a 70's style horror flick, the audience expects for all but one of the female leads to die. So establishing all of the characters just doesn't seem like such a neat narrative trick when the game plan is to kill them all off.

Longtime readers will know that The League is a big fan of narrative economy, and here we get the polar opposite. The middle of "Death Proof" is essentially a fifteen minute conversation between four gal pals in a coffee shop (possibly Jo's, which I've never actually been in). Then a lengthy, lengthy conversation about driving a car and who can come.

Whenever Kurt Russell is on screen, the movie is fine. Whenever Kurt Russell is not on the screen, it's like letting air out of an impossibly irritating balloon.

When the cars are rolling, the movie is fun. I won't deny that. But it's also not really anything you haven't seen before. And that's sort of Tarantino, isn't it? He's a master art forger, but without Roger Avary around to move the story along, his movies don't seem to move beyond imitation.

Where Rodriguez seems to have seen that Achilles Heel of the C-Movie was the horrendous sense of pacing, Tarantino demonstrates slavish devotion to the drudgery of those movies and assumes his dialog is hilariousness enough to carry us through vast, vast stretches of inane conversations where, as an audience member, you want to stand up and shout "Okay, I get it! They like cars!"

It is true that Russell hands in a great performance, and I think Jason developed a crush on stuntwoman Zoe Bell (playing herself) during the course of the film. But, yeah... in some ways all "Death Proof" does is remind the audience that these films are usually remembered for brief set pieces rather than for the overall whole of the movie.