Saturday, March 01, 2008

101 Disappointments

As you may know, Disney has a policy to release its favorite movies every 8 years or so in order to give every generation of kids a chance to enjoy their movies/ get indoctrinated into Disney entertainment and therefore become lifelong customers.

This used to mean theatrical releases, but these days it means release to DVD (and then the cynically produced straight-to-DVD sequels. Disney does not DO theatrical sequels. Or they didn't until Jungle Book II.)

One of my childhood favorites is being released again to DVD. And in order to market the movie, they're running a TV commercial, which is not a surprise.

What is a surprise is that Disney has chosen to put out a commercial where they've added a joke to the movie which doesn't actually occur in the movie. For some reason, they've added a fart.

Today's kids would be shocked to learn that in 1961, farts were not usually the central focus of childrens' entertainment. In fact, farts just really didn't find their way into movies until the notorious Bean Eating Incident of Blazing Saddles (1974). But I think it sort of speaks volumes that Disney felt that their classic, which has survived generation after generation over almost 50 years as a beloved classic, and which runs about 80 minutes, needs to now add a scene where a horse breaks wind in order to appeal to today's kids.

Not to mention... I think, but I am not sure, that they've added a bit of a digital visual trick to briefly expand the horse's hind quarters during said fart.

Look, I'm one for lowbrow humor as much as the next guy, but... does Disney really need to add farts, which won't occur in the movie, to their movies in order to move DVD's? Is the audience really that in demand of yet another animal breaking wind?

I mean, I know the answer is "yes". That was a rhetorical question.

But you'd kind of like to think that Disney's ability to amuse and delight people for generations was due to their ability to put together some quality entertainment, and not, you know, because they went for the gimme of a horse fart to get a laugh.

Moreover, I'd like to hope that the audience is kinda pre-sold on 101 Dalmatians, even without the promise of a good bit of gas. But, hey, I don't work in marketing.

New Frontier DVD Contest Reminder

Hey, Leaguers!

I've received responses from a few folks (very few) on this whole New Frontier Give away deal.

If you'd like an opportunity to win, let me know via e-mail or comments section. If you want to double your chances, let me know the identity of your favorite Justice Leaguer, along with a sentence or two as to why.

Submit your request by March 7th, 2008.

The DVD is now on shelves! Go out and make the Ghost of Gardner Fox happy.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Superman!

February 29th is the date usually selected when Superman celebrates his birthday!

So, happy birthday, Man of Steel!

Read more here and here for celebrity well-wishers!

The League of Melbotis wishes Superman the happiest of birthdays, and wants to take a moment to commemorate Jery Siegel and Joe Shuster, who brought to our world a strange visitor with abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

TTSNB: Playmobil at Orange Alert


I used to like my Playmobil stuff when I was little. They had a great Old West sort of collection you could buy in smaller pieces. I had a Sheriff who came with a shotgun and rocking chair, which, at the time, made perfect sense.

This particular set-up... I just sort of think any parent who believes their child is going to really expand their imagination by make believing their one little figure is wanding the other... In a way, its kind of awesome. I don't know. Maybe this is what kids like to play with these days. I can see a five year old Ryan working this playset into some of his playtime. Maybe Batman and Princess Leia would have to swing through security before getting on the Fisher Price shark reef patrol boat and finding Godzilla. I dunno.

First Day

If you've ever followed the League, you know I don't talk a lot about work. That's partially out of professional courtesy, and also because I am pretty sure if I got into what I do for a living, I'd lose the last five readers I have.

I'm not going to do what I've done in the past, and I'm going to actually name my employer. Partially because they're a public institution, people might be interested in where I work, and I think they have bigger fish to fry than what I think. What I will not do is air grievances about my employer or use this is as some soap box about work-related matters. Unless I think they're amusing enough to share, and then, well...

Today I began my new position at the University of Texas. I'm working within the central Information Technology group. I met with my team today, and I'm really pleased. All of them seem like decent guys, and while I am anticipating a lot of work in the next 6 months for me to get up to speed and really do these guys any favors (yes, I am managing warm bodies again), I am pretty confident about the operation as a whole. So, yeah, got UT.

For Longhorns and Austinites past and present, my office is near the tower. Or, I should say, The Tower. Not a bad place to be after parking in a shut-down Arby's Parking lot and looking out at derelict building/ hobopalooza for the past several months.

And, while ASU (two employers back) was a fair and equitable employer... The campus was mostly unattractive and looked like the criteria for design was mostly "whomever bids the lowest". So being tucked in there by Garrison, the Tower, etc... if you just ignore Welch, it's a nice little pocket of campus.

By the way.. I don't know what happened to the UGL, but its not a library anymore. No idea where their collection went. It's all study desks now. And I think the computer lab is gone.

There's a Starbucks where the little shop was at the front of the Union (the ladies there were very nice). And the checkout desk of the UGL is now where you can have your staff photo taken by a nice guy with Starbucks/ McDonalds conspiracy theories. And, I believe, a Cesar Chavez statue in front of the Architecture building.

But, mostly, campus is the same. And that's kind of the point. Campuses are not there to be torn down and replaced. The buildings are made of stone for a reason. The structures, the places of learning and curiosity and research, they'll endure. Changes will be made internally, offices will move, air ducts, power, wiring, ethernet cables... all of that might change, but the Tower will be the Tower, and the stone faces of the six pack will forever face off across the South Mall, looking at one another with a bit of suspicion and hiding behind heroes of the South.

Oak trees will continue to live on, in absolutely ridiculous sizes beside the Hogg Auditorium, there's always someone with questionable political ideas trying to recruit you on the West Mall, right next to someone trying to recruit you for a worthwhile charity or blood bank. There's always a stream of students going from point a to b with too much going on between their ears. And there's still the sound of the bells. (One chime means quarter-til)

I'm going to be a part of that infrastructure for the foreseeable future, making sure the researchers, faculty, staff and students have the tools they need to function. It's an honor an a privilege to get the opportunity. Oddly enough, my office is within fifty feet of where I remember getting my first e-mail address and internet account set up in 1994. Thanks, Pat. And thanks to Robert, who was kicking a 5600 baud modem down the hall until I gave him $5 for it (or was it free? I don't recall. I know money was offered, but not much.).

So we'll see how it goes. 'Til Gabriel blows his horn, I suppose.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sorry, Leaguers! Not much to report. I sort of had a day off before starting the new job tomorrow. But I was scheduled to come on down for a monthly potluck the folks at my new office were having, so I came by to say "howdy" and meet folks in a bit more of a social context.

I'm feeling pretty positive. These guys (I say guys because of the 30 people in my office, two of them are women. One is my boss, the other won't work with me directly) really know their stuff, and they have a good sense of humor.

I not only saw my new office, but with some help, I monkeyed around a bit and moved my furniture into position. Tomorrow is HR, etc... Must be at UT at 8:30. Which means I need to get up a bit earlier than I would at Enspire when accounting for parking and traffic.

In the afternoon I meet with my team, and I feel like I should have prepared something for them, but... oh, well. I don't think a Patton speech at this point would be a good idea, anyway. They know what they're doing, and its more my job to make sure they do it with the least amount of static possible.

Aside from that, grabbed dinner at a new place (to us), Zen. It was good, and not terribly expensive. I'm hoping it was fairly healthy, too. Read some comics. And filled out HR paperwork.

Oh, and I randomly ran into Lauren on the drag when I was going back to my car.

Jamie is maybe slightly better. Hopefully this will continue to improve.

TTSNB: Gene Simmons Plush Doll

Break out the disinfectant!

Indeed, a Toy That Should Not Be.

Now, the man that you would never want to be anywhere near your daughter comes in adorable plush doll form! KISS lead rocker, Gene Simmons, can still sell out a stadium in a heartbeat, but why not expand into an line of increasingly bewildering product?

Hopefully Carla will do the right thing and get one of these for young Xander.

Gene Simmons plush doll

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jamie under the weather

Just an FYI: Poor Jamie has the creeping funk. There's stuff going around all over, it seems. Steven's been sick for, like, a month. CB has been sick since, like, the start of 2008. Jason had something a while back. Jamie has some not-fun symptoms. Fever. Little bit of acheyness. Sore throat. I feel bad for her. She doesn't look happy, and I'm honestly not sure if she's holding steady, getting better, or what...

I don't know what's going on this year, but, man... I'm going to try not to get the big that's going around.

Superman Slamdunk

In case you missed it, Dwight Howard pulled off a crazy dunk during the All-Star Game festivities, employing a Superman theme.

Look at where his feet leave the ground, and where he is in the air when he releases the ball. Holy smokes.

New Frontier

Today is my final day at my current job. Tomorrow I sort of have the day off. I have to go fill out criminal background check paperwork, and, I believe, enjoy part of a potluck. (I think I am going to Central Market and grabbing some cupcakes as I don't know how to cook for that many, and I don't know where I'd park with a crockpot.)

I'm going to miss the folks at Enspire. They're really creative and fun, down to the last employee. I'll also miss the clients, which sounds weird, maybe, but I will. I know I was very lucky with my clients, as they were pretty much, across the board, very easy to talk to and work with. I know this is not the usual case in a professional environment when you're working with contracts, etc...

That said, I am thrilled to be starting my new position, full of new challenges and new faces. Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Science Fair

I hated Science Fair. It was time consuming, expensive, and if I hadn't known exactly what was going to happen, I wouldn't have performed the experiment at all.

The first time I ever had to do Science Fair was 1990ish, in 9th grade. Somehow my middle school allowed us to dodge that particular bullet. High School was not so kind.

A few years before me, Jason had been asked to do a science fair experiment, and, being Jason, had gone to the World Book Encyclopedia and looked up "Science Fair". Or "Biology". I can't remember which. Anyhoo... detailed in the Encyclopedia was a complete description of a science fair experiment, right down to results.

So that's what Jason did.

So, knowing most science teachers see, literally, hundreds of science fair projects, when I was in 9th grade and had to do science fair, I figured... why reinvent the wheel?

I bought, I think, eight mason jars, a handful of water snails, a handful of plants and proceeded to slowly kill off a whole lot of plants and snails. PETA would not be pleased. I was pretty diligent about the snails for the first part of the experiment, but, honestly, forgot to look at them at all for the last week or two. By the time I returned to the snails, there was at least one jar that was nothing but browninsh, brackish water with snail parts and shells sloshing around.

Panicked, I realized I better fake some results. So between some coaching from Jason, some intuition and basic accounting for randomness in my results, I faked the slow trudge toward death of a few jars of snails deprived of plants, and therefore, 02 in their water. Essentially, all of my data was fiction. Or, dare I say? Science-Fair-Fiction?

What I did not take into account was how heavy it was going to be bringing in eight mason jars filled with water and snail carcases, plus the huge wooden board thing I'd spent a Saturday afternoon crafting in the garage. Do they even let kids get spray paint anymore?

I was, honestly, completely disinterested in my own project, and I resented how heavy it wound up being. This was nowhere near as fun as the time I had built a scale model of Stone Henge in 5th grade, or the castle with the working drawbridge in 6th grade (thanks, Dad!). When they asked us to take home our projects, I remember pondering the weight of the jars and the backing board and my ability to transport them all on the bus ride, plus the uphill two block walk from the bus stop. Also, the smell that would come from the bottles if a single bottle broke. By now all of the snails had passed the pearly gates for gastropods.
"What if we don't want our project back?"
"You have to take them home."
"You don't want it? Some kid next year might want it."
"No. Take it home."
"What am I going to do with a science fair board and eight jars of dead snails?"
"Ryan, take it home."
"What if I don't?"
"Then someone will probably throw it away."

It is safe to say that the lesson I learned from Science Fair was not the lesson I was supposed to learn.

In 10th grade, I moved to a new school and wound up having to take biology with freshmen, and I was really, just... not... very... involved. Mr. Bryant was awesome as a teacher, but I was far more interested in Swamp Thing, X-Men and whatever monologue Jeff Wilser and I moght cook up for the worms we were dissecting. Plus, I just didn't get out in front of the project in time.

I wound up doing some half-baked project on how and why people lie, and got back about 100 surveys. Not much of a sample, but apparently my report was good enough for at least a B+, because I don't remember being dissatisfied with my mark, and it most certainly would have affected my 6-week grade as well.

I do recall Lee in my 9th grade class had simply forgotten to do a science fair project, which led to, possibly, the greatest science fair project of all time. A 1/2 page, hand-written report called "Black Holes: Who cares? I don't."

It had to do with things really, really sucking. Like his grade.

I did not ever get my snails into a science fair contest, so I was spared that humiliation. I barely ever understood what I was doing from ages 8-19, anyway, so I can only imagine what that experience would have been like, being quizzed on my wholesale starvation and asphyxiation of snails.

Why this trip down memory lane?

This is why.