Thursday, March 06, 2008

Howdy, AC!

So yesterday after work I hit my local comic shoppe, Funny Papers. I have a fairly standard routine when I go down there.

Park outside in 15 minute parking
Run in
Walk past the Marvel comics to see comics marked "New this week" for anything interesting
Same for DC
Get my comics from behind teh desk where they've been "pulled" for me for the week
Check against the new comics of the week to see if I missed anything
Check the Virgin Comics and Indie comics for possibilities
Check out

Yesterday, however, they had a discount table set up. Apparently they're clearing inventory of overstocked items, items that never moved, etc... And it was 99% stuff I'd already decided against at some other point in my life.

I was rifling through the discount pile when a gentleman addressed me and said "You're that Melbotis guy."

Anyhow, it turns out he's a bit of a lurker on the site (though he was one of the folks who checked in on my "Say Howdy" reader inventory post). AC seemed like a nice guy, but, honestly, I was so baffled by being recognized from the site that I was possibly not as conversational as I might otheerwise have been. So, apologies, AC.

He recognized me, btw, from the photo at the Olive Garden. A was not, however, making that same face when looking at the comics. I think.

I've only had a single instance before of being recognized from the Blog, and that was Austin Books shopkeep Brad Bankston knowing me by the pile of 70's era Superman comics I was buying at their back issue bananza this summer. But we'd also exchanged a few e-mails on a topic, and he'd had reason to swing by LoM, if you recall.

The internet is a funny thing. It seems that the ripple effects of keeping up the blog continue to surprise me. After all, its how I've met many of the readers, and kept up with many folks with whom I don't chat as often as I'd like. It's led, indirectly, to employment for one Leaguer. It's meant trips to the BMT, stacks of comics from folk's old collections.

Sitemeter is great, and so is Google Analytics. But I've always appreciated the conversations that pop up in the comments, the e-mails, and feeling of our own little clubhouse we've managed to build, first and foremost. You might recall that I used to put up a monthly free-form comments section. That was mostly to give readers a sandbox. I've thought about doing it again since, but... you know, I'm not sure what I'd do. And I wouldn't want to have to police it. So there you are.

So, thanks, ya'll. It's no fun to post just for myself.

And thanks, AC, for saying "howdy" when you caught me at the discount table, wondering why they had so many copies of Marvel's "Bring on the Bad Guys" collection from about a decade ago. I hope we'll be able to run into each other again.

And don't be a stranger. Feel free to drop in and comment any time. We'll be expecting you at the LudiChristmas 2008 Party.

Say Howdy

hey Leaguers and non-Leaguers alike!

I'm looking to see who the heck is still reading. If you pop by the site over the next few days, please leave a comment, even anonymously.


The Mgmt. (The League)

Watchmen: Now younger and sexier!

Here's a link to the official Watchmen movie site.

Pretty clearly, the producers and director decided that audiences were not going to come out for a middle-aged, paunchy Night-Owl, or a past-her-prime Silk Spectre.

Which kind of leaves me scratching my head. I'm not really sure what to make of the pics from this site, but if Ozymandias isn't old enough to ponder his legacy, then what's the point, really?

Yes, younger heroes will bring in the kiddies, but that was never really the point of Watchmen, was it? I am increasingly skeptical. V for Vendetta looked right, too, but missed the mark. And, perhaps because it came so close and then missed, it was all the more disappointing. Watchmen looks like more of the same.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Chabon on Superhero costumes

If you haven't ever read any Michael Chabon, I suggest it for some interesting summer reading. In particular, I suggest pairing "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" with a book NOT by Chabon, Men of Tomorrow, Gerard Jones's look at the growth of the superhero comic. And a cautionary tale which many/ most comic creators don't ever learn to take to heart.

But that's for another day. Today, for some light reading, I suggest Chabon's article in The New Yorker.

Chabon on Superhero costumes.

RIP Gary Gygax

At first I was merely horrified when Jason chose to out me as a former RPG'er. And, no, kids... RPG did not always mean "World of Warcraft". At one point, it meant cloistering yourself with neighborhood kids, a set of books, a pile of dice, and a Dungeon Master's screen.

Then I found out Gary Gygax died, and, you know... I would not have hesitated to tell Mr. Gygax all about my former RPGing, no matter what crowd I was in. And so today I salute Mr. Gygax and his creation, Dungeons & Dragons. And would tell him, thanks for making my life a bit richer. I salute you, and Zack the 25th Level Elven Thief (Chaotic Good) salutes you from whatever Avalon of forgotten RPG characters he sailed to long ago.

read Steanso's tribute here.

why does saying "caucus" make me giggle?

Well, I don't think this will be too shocking to know I voted Democrat in the Texas primary. Which means I also got off my duff and went to my local polling place for the caucus this evening.

We showed up about 6:50ish, and wandered into a fairly crowded room. We were to begin caucusing after the polls officially closed. Not when they closed the doors at 7:00, but after the people running the poll down the hall decided they were done. So from 7:00 until 7:30, the room filled. And filled. And filled.

Apparently the last time they did this, they had around a dozen people show up. I think we had, and this is sort of a guess... but I would guess around 500 people in the room. It was hot and sweaty.

I had the passing thought about leaving. I was pretty sure my vote wasn't going to matter much in the grand scheme of things. But then I thought... Hey, I like me some democracy. I thought about the stories of people in other countries who get shot at on their way to vote, and who die for voting, and, well.. standing in a crowded room next to an annoying girl didn't seem like such a big deal.

So I caucused. Tee hee!

And while I am not sure my political apathy is completely gone, it seems voters in Travis County district 355 are all about the Democracy. And the chance to vote twice. Legally.

Anyway, I will be curious to see the results in the morning, or whenever they shake out. Apparently Texas is still too close to call.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Happy Birthday to Mom

Hey, Leaguers! 03/04 is the KareBear's birthday, and far be it from me to let this magical day pass without mention.

The League could not have asked for a better mom. If I have only one regret, it is the time she made me practice handwriting lessons while everyone else was inside watching A-Team. Aside from that, I have no room to complain.

And, Mom... Darth wants you to have a good birthday. He feels...

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you got my card. Jamie and I had planned to give you a nice present when you came into town later this month, if that's okay. Alsom I hope Dad did something good for you.


Ryan and Jamie

Jamie at the OG

This picture was taken, like, six months ago. At Olive Garden. But I think its my new favorite pic of Jamie.

Thanks, Jason!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The League Watches: Confessions of a Superhero

I had planned to try to see "Confessions of a Superhero" a while back. I think we'd planned to go with CB, but something came up.

Anyhoo... It showed up from Netflix today, and as I'm a bit under the weather, I popped it in and watched.

A long time ago, I recall some joke about the best way to get the respect of your peers in film school was to go shoot footgae of a neighborhood hobo in black and white for a few hours, get the person to tell you a sad story and then call it "Umbrellas Under Sadness". Or something of the sort. If anyone knows the exact quote, please share. But, ultimately, the idea kind of describes how I feel about a lot of "character" based documentary. Up close, everyone comes off as bizarre, and so its kind of an easy trick, especially when you can get someone living outside of normal expectations to talk to you, and a director and editor making a narrative from the whole cloth of a life.

It goes without saying that people who make a living by standing in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater dressed as Superman, etc... have, at some point, taken the path less traveled. Yes, these subjects have a story to tell, but it's never really clear if this is a new story we haven't heard before, even without the superhero angle. The documentary points out somewhat unintentionally "Going to Hollywood and maintaining a delusion of impending stardom when all Signs Point to No makes for a kind of pathetic story". And it's a story most people already know or we'd all be in LA wondering when we were going to get our break as a leading man or lady.

The movie is mostly about the shattered lives of four Hollywood wanna-be's, and seems to be trying to use the costumes of superheroes as a symbol of their hope, but only occasionally. Unfortunately, the movie fails to answer too many questions, and so whatever message they were trying to say, what the movie winds up conveying is "these people are off their nut, and they have no marketable skills. Also, 3 of 4 of these people is certifiable, and number 4 is working her way toward some bitter disappointment."

Folks who see the movie and who know me will, no doubt, wonder about my reaction to Christopher Dennis, the movie's Superman. Mr. Dennis seems like an affable enough guy. And while I admire his collection of Superman memoribilia (which easily dwarfs my own), he's a fan who has chosen to follow his obsession to the exclusion of everything else. The fact that he has found love is, to this viewer, not a surprise. He's found someone who finds him endlessly fascinating and who has accepted him as he's accepted her (she seems to have her own quirks). The Dennis segments are an unintentional cautionary tale for folks like myself, I guess. I did appreciate the advice he gave "Ghost Rider" about what behavior is acceptable when in costume/ character. But the film also demonstrates why I never want to go to the Superman Festival in Metropolis, Illinois.

The biggest issue was that the movie raised literally dozens of serious questions about the subjects of the film, and then does nothing to resolve those questions. In effect, you feel almost as if you know less about the subjects at the conclusion of the film than you did at the beginning, and its a frustrating way to view a documentary.

The film's subjects somewhat casually tell stories which demand follow up, but the film never does the work for the viewer. Our Batman tells tales of working in the Italian mob, killing the family of a former lover, and acting as an enforcer. Superman claims to be the child of actress Sandy Dennis, while Ms. Dennis's family claims she never had any children. Our Hulk discusses being homeless, but we're never told why. And Wonder Woman isn't much of a mystery, but we never get why she and her husband split, but the fact that they married two weeks after meeting sort of suggests what may have happened.

The film's creators spend entirely too much time on cinematography and still photos and almost none actually crafting the story. They mostly take the folks involved at their word, even when their spouses are saying "you can only believe 50% of what he says." The fact that the producers didn't chase these clues down (possibly to reveal that the guy playing Batman was responsible for the deaths of many people) goes beyond laziness and into outright irresponsibility. If Batman was lying or believes what he says, he needs help. And so they send him to the shrink in a full Batman outfit.

There's never a question of where the money came from for the costumes in the first place. There's never a question of why the subjetcs chose the character they did, or what they actually know about the character (pretty clearly in the case of Dennis: a lot). Heck, there's never even a question of "is dressing as a superhero on Hollywood Boulevard the best investment of your time if you want to be a serious actor?" Like so many Hollywood producers who've generated so many bad, bad super-hero movies, to the documentarians, the costumes are just a prop on the way to a paycheck. But I suspect that's a complaint only a comic nerd like myself might have.

The documentary seems to want for the audience to root for and support the characters, but there's simply no reason given as to "why"? If they aren't putting on the costumes to make the world a better place, but for self-promotion, and this is the step they've taken toward their goals of money and power, why should I care if they fail or succeed?

Part of this, I suspect, is that the filmmakers are in line with the platitudes provided by the film's subjects regarding the movie industry's placement of value on fame and money. Perhaps the film is intended to indict this idea, but it seems to be cheerleading the subjects.

The omissions of the film act as a huge distraction and mostly point out that, aside from long, lingering views of Dennis's Superman memoribilia-rich apartment, they just don't have much to show. A quick trip to Wonder Woman's hometown suggest she had a mother who indulged her every whim and may hvae chosen poorly when she gave up an iron grip on a town of 2000 for asking for tips for dressing as Wonder Woman.

Interesting characters, perhaps... but perhaps the movie could have spent less time on musical interludes of the Hulk in litter strewn alleys and more asking him "Hey, four years on the street? How did that happen? And why didn't you just go home to North Carolina?"

The sad answer to a lot of these questions is probably: the person is crazy or not-all-there. And absolutely no evidence is given to the contrary.

In short, I can't really recommend the film. My hope was that it would be more about the histories of the subjects, but instead the producers chose to just focus on the present tense of the situation, half of which seems to be a steady stream of fabrications.