Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stand by your man...?

League pal and houseguest, Nicole and I wound up discussing the Elliot Spitzer debacle in the New York governor's offices over the past two nights or so. Like most, neither of us are surprised that a powerful official was spending inordinate amounts of money on hookers (I am trying to imagine a scenario in which someone would pay $4000 for an evening with The League, and, ya'll... I find myself feeling inadequate).

We've also become familiar with the wife of said scandalized officials coming to the pdoium to stand by their man in their hour of shame. To some extent, we're all familiar with the script.

  • Official is exposed.
  • Official sort of denies it.
  • Official realizes they are totally busted.
  • Official calls press conference where they state how they let down their representative region, the public trust, their God, their families, and, of course, themselves.
  • The wife stands dutifully beside the husband looking as if they haven't slept in four days, and the press restrains themselves from asking the question we're all wondering "So... we all know you're not going to leave him. Why not?"

  • What Nicole pointed out is that these spouses always/ often dress in a sensible Chanel suit. In some cases, virtually identical Chanel suits.

    Above: Ex-New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey and wife Dina. Below: Eliot Spitzer and Silda Spitzer

    A little weird, no?

    Husband looking serious in dark, somber suit? Wife in sensible, cheery looking suit like one might wear to a fund raiser, but not necessarily to work. Plus the pearls, as Nicole mentioned. You must have the pearls. Heck, Hillary Clinton's been wearing them out of habit on and off for years.

    How many other grown women do you see wearing pearls? Who aren't visiting church from the old folks' home?

    I imagine it's part of the script for the political handlers trying to manage the catastrophe.

    Step 1) Must obtain suit. Nothing too flashy, but must exude class and confidence. And money. Money is good. But not too much money.
    Step 2) Wife should look reserved, and to remind the press the spouse is a mother, have her add pearls.
    Step 3) Get the funeral suit out for the deposed politician. He can look stately and somewhat dignified in deep navy jacket and power tie as he fesses up to a weakness for $4000 hookers, young male interns, what have you...

    Honestly, I have no evidence to suggest this, but I kind of suspect most people feel the same about the private lives of elected officials as they do about celebrities. The quarterly outing of some politician for sex/drugs/murder/what-have-you and the circus that follows is usually forgotten in a month or two, and business proceeds as usual. It isn't going to affect your taxes, so... really...

    Personally, I sort of assume that powerful people with yes-men surrounding them forget that they're doing something they shouldn't when they take a few liberties with their personal lives.

    Far more mysterious to me (and to Nicole, in our discussion) are the wives who stand beside their husbands. I suppose there's political pressure to do so from handlers making suggestions when it seems your world is sort of being sucked into a deep, black well. There can be light at the end of the tunnel. Hillary put up with that business all the time, and, hey, look, that turned out pretty well for her...

    After all, at some point, you're hitching yourself to someone else's wagon when you fall in with a politician, etc... You're making that conscious decision to go along for the ride, and enjoy the fruits of what sitting in the Governor's mansion might bring you. So perhaps there's the unenviable task of having to also stand by the guy's side when the moron philanderer gets taken down.

    These wives can't be completely oblivious to the stereotypes of the politician running around with other women. I suppose you trust your spouse and all, but...
    Sometimes I wonder if the strain is coming from shock or if its coming from the many, many times the wives looked the other way and now its all coming out, and nobody ends up looking great.

    At least you'll get a sort of Jackie-O looking dress out of it, perhaps purchased by the party (a small price to pay if things go okay, right?).

    Perhaps in coming years as more women enter the political arena there's going to be husbands in pearls and a sensible suit from Chanel standing distraught beside their wives as the wives fess up to their "relationship" with some gigolo. Honestly, I can't wait for that day. On that day I'll know that the sexes have found true, disappointing equality.

    NASA assists in development of SkyNet

    Why not just paint a big, red target on humanity and put a countdown clock on every desktop?


    Of course, as I often say, I welcome our coming robot masters.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Taking the night off

    I'm not sure what's up with my comments. They don't seem to be working on last night's Looney Tunes-centric post.

    Apparently Mary Ann was busted for weed. Little Bruce Wayne is out of print. Chronological Snobbery never updates. Or CBGblog. At least Jilly published.

    Also... I'm more than a week behind on comics, Lucy has gas, and I want to check out these pictures of Spitzer's hooker ($4000? Seriously? It seems getting a mistress would be more frugal and more legal).

    Ya'll discuss amongst yourselves.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Whatever Happened to Bugs Bunny?

    Do kids today have a concept of Bugs Bunny?

    I ask because, honestly, I don't know. I don't have kids. Several of you Leaguers do, in fact, have the small humans.


    A quick glance up and down the TV dial suggests Bugs not only lacks the exposure he once enjoyed, but that, really, he's not on TV at all. The once-ubiquitous trumpets (under the mad direction of Carl Stalling) declaring that it was time for another appearance of Merrie Melodies have been silenced. The concentric circles greeting you with a leisurely looking Bugs munching on a carrot have gone dark. Both have been replaced by 15 years of Power Rangers, 10 years of Pokemon and the decimation of the Saturday morning cartoon block in the wake of the removal of cereal advertisments for children. Not to mention the insertion of "safe" cartoons. Kids now get Rugrats, Dora, Blues Clues and other characters who tend not to shove dynamite down one another's trousers and who always learn a little lesson.

    Aren't monsters in-ter-esting?

    Because Bugs was on each afternoon and on Saturday mornings, I was in high school before I quit taking Looney Tunes for granted and I realized how much I was a fan. Perhaps it was when Tiny Toons tried to emulate the old Bugs cartoons and came up short in pacing, in witticism, what have you... that I began to appreciate the madcap magic of I. Freleng, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones and others brought to their long-eared alter-ego.

    Really... looking back... I think I based my entire relationship with The Admiral from 1988-2000 somewhere along the lines of the typical Bugs and Yosemite Sam cartoon.

    Me, the Admiral and the Admiral trying to get me to do chores. Circa 1990.

    Mickey Mouse pre-dated Bugs, showing up in 1928, but quickly dropped the wise-guy routine to play straight-man to his friends Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Mickey was your pal, and the rest got to to go off the rails a bit. Bugs, though, never decided to play it straight. He was our secret, private vengeance at the frustrations of dealing with life's insurmountable obstacles.

    Also, Bugs taught us the value of the big kiss and hasty retreat. Which actually works pretty well if you can get out of the room in time.

    Bugs remained somewhat vain, raised the stakes in any confrontation to absurd and unnecessary levels, and liked to honk out a tune despite the fact he was a bit tone deaf. Also, he had little sense of direction (he SHOULD have taken that left turn at Albuquerque). What wasn't to like, or even to identify with? Under the direction of I. Freleng he was hysterical. Under Chuck Jones... cartoons were never funnier.

    Oh, yes. This one.

    In the 80's, parents groups decided that Bugs, Wile E. Coyote and Foghorn Leghorn were antisocial and dangerous to kids. It was determined that we kids might take a cue from the cartoon animals on the screen and attempt to drop an anvil on someone. Or stick our fingers in the nozzle of a shotgun to watch the barrel explode in a hunter's face. Or, worse yet, give a manicure to a giant, orange-haired monster in tennis shoes.

    I don't know.

    The argument did not make sense to me when I was 8. It has become no more clear in the ensuing decades.

    In the end, I suspect corporate conservatism ended up doing what the parents groups couldn't pull off. With Warner Bros. maintaining a legal stranglehold on the rights to Bugs and Co., the profits from cartoons as toy commercials became all the more appealing. Rainbow Bright was a 22 minute advertisement for a line of toys, as was GI Joe and Transformers. Bugs could maybe move a few stuffed animals, but... you couldn't move a Bugs Bunny fleet of spaceships.

    Add in WB wanting to make Bugs a vanilla mascot instead of the chaotic trickster he'd once been, and what good did it do WB to remind people that Bugs was usually a stinker?

    Your reminder that Chuck Jones is a god

    It is curious with two separate cable channels dedicated to cartoons and owned by Bugs' corporate proprietor that Bugs seems to get so little exposure. Short of the two feature films, both of questionable merit (Space Jam and Looney Tunes: Back in Action), Bugs has recently seemed more like a corporate schill. One wouldn't bat an eye to see the same rabbit who formerly was seen outrunning Hazel the Witch now acting as a pitchman for cell phones.

    Seeking to capitalize on the taste for action-adventure cartoons, WB attempted a sci-fi action adventure program with their Looney Tunes stars, Loonatics Unleashed. At least Paul Dini's "Duck Dodgers" revival was pretty funny.

    It's odd enough that WB seems unable to broadcast the decades' worth of Bugs cartoons. But the odder still that attempts to revive Bugs seem to fail. Perhaps its the shift in American animation from all-ages comedy to bloated features where celebrity voices are the only draw, or the fact that what animation does appear from domestic animation must be sanitized for the most nervous of parents groups, FCC overseers and WB standards and practices execs. Perhaps there was something to the old factory system of the WB cartoons.

    Or maybe the gifted and hilarious animators have moved on to their own projects, from "Foster's Home" to "Venture Bros.". After all, trying to convince the WB that they should use their corporate mascot to shove dynamite down a pirate's trousers probably seems like a professional dead end.

    Bugs' expression when working on Elmer in the chair just kills me

    In his own way, Bugs is the reminder that the little guy can always stick up for himself. That sometimes, in the face of imminent doom, a little zany chaos never hurt anybody. And it doesn't hurt to be smarter and one step ahead of the people trying to cook you up for their Sunday dinner.

    No doubt the cartoons kids are getting today are teaching them important lessons about self-esteem and the virtues of team work. And maybe Bugs' lessons on how to live a life free of constraint by way of cross-dressing and explosives isn't the message folks want their kids to pick up. I don't know. But I do know those cartoons aren't funny. Not remotely. I don't hear peels of laughter from Dora teaching kids the Spanish word for "mountain".

    Super Rabbit!

    A quick glance at IMDb suggests that Bugs is still working, but I'm not really sure if I've heard of any of these projects (aside from the cameo in the JL: New Frontier movie). If anyone knows where I can see any of these new projects, let me know. In the meantime, I need to start picking up more of the Looney Tunes Golden collections on DVD.

    I'm not sure what you people with kids do to ensure that they're getting the best of the best in their television viewing diets. I understand the gut desire to follow the parents' guide to nurturing healthy kids with non-offensive, focus group approved entertainment. And, hey... he was never really meant for little kids, anyway. Watcha few clips and see if you can't appreciate these cartoons all the more as an adult.

    Where are ya, Bugs? Some of us still love ya!

    RIP Dave Stevens

    I've just seen a report that Rocketeer creator, Dave Stevens, has passed after a long battle with leukemia.

    Most people will know Stevens through the movie adaptation of his creation, The Rocketeer, rather than through his phenomenal artwork. Unfortunately, its been a while since The Rocketeer has seen print.

    A few months ago I picked up The Rocketeer on DVD, and wondered why I didn't own any of the comics. I noticed Stevens' website didn't seem as if it was receiving maintenance. But it was a nice reminder of the quality of Stevens' good girl art and realistic, if romantic, style of rendering. Unfortunately, it provided no clues as to further printings of The Rocketeer, nor did it suggest anything about his Stevens' health. In short, I had assumed Stevens had moved on in the art world, and was not aware of any health issues.

    It would be a nice move for Image or Darkhorse to ensure that Stevens' work saw print again in order to preserve his memory and legacy.

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    New Frontier Contest-o-rama!

    Hey, Leaguers!

    The contest for winning a copy of the DCU Animated Movie "Justice League: New Frontier" has drawn to a close.

    I appreciate everyone who entered, except for Jason, who chose to go middle-school on me. Also, he is wrong.

    Jamie - Martian Manhunter
    This may surprise you as I have never before disclosed this information, but my favorite Justice Leaguer is Martian Manhunter. The guy has some awesome powers comparable to Superman, yet I believe he is underrated. His plight as an outsider, too, is compelling and sympathetic.

    JAL - Green Lantern
    Member of the JLA I'd most like to be, and thus, my favorite: Green Lantern, badass costume and not a jerk, as far as I know. One accomplished dude before his superpowers, so he doesn't have some inferiority complex when it comes to Superman, again, as far as I know.

    Bunny Box - Batman
    my baby loves Batman cos he's intelligent, fit and a natural leader of the group. Plus, he's just a normal human being with lots of cool gadget. All that makes him try to improve himself daily.

    Jason - Batman
    My name is Jason Steans, and Batman is my favorite Leaguer, mostly because he's not wimpy and gay like Superman.

    Michael - Flash
    I'm never too proud to sign up for a free giveaway. Put my name in batman's cowl when March 7th rolls around.

    As to my favorite league member... That is difficult, but as to the core members I must go with Flash.

    Flash embodies what I like in a superhero. Carefree, powerful, nimble, capable and clever. Consider my Marvel favorites, Nightcrawler and Longshot, and it becomes clear that I like the guy who knows how to laugh, the conscience of the group, the one who has to remind everyone that, yes, we must stop Darkseid, but let us get to video games afterward.

    simon macdonald - Batman
    My favorite Leaguer has to be Batman. Anytime you face global threats with bat-a-rangs, intellect and peak condition as your only super powers, you're all right by me.

    theresa n. - Batman
    Batman is my favorite too. I even named my cat after him "Batman".

    Edit update: The League makes a mistake
    I forgot to include RHPT's entry.

    RHPT - Booster Gold
    My favorite Justice Leaguer is Booster Gold (does he count?). I like him because, if I had the power to travel back in time, I would use it to profit - and certainly not fight evil. Plus, he's got a robot sidekick.

    And time travel is cool.

    RHPT will receive a special bonus prize as he was overlooked when I made my entries for the drawing.


    I literally put the names in my cowboy hat and stirred them around.

    and I am proud to announce that the winner is...
    Simon Mac Donald!

    Simon, you can claim your prize either by booking a flight to Austin and swinging by my house, or...

    Look over there on the left and click where it says "View my complete profile".
    And then look under the Contact section where it says "Email".

    Send me your e-mail and where you'd like the DVD sent.

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    New Frontier: One Last Chance

    We were so busy over the weekend, I more or less forgot about the New Frontier DVD contest. My amnesia is your opportunity.

    If you'd like to submit an entry to the DVD give away for "Justice League: New Frontier", try to submit an entry before 7:00PM CST, March 10th. I'll be coming up with my random drawing technique this evening and making an announcement ASAP.

    In order to submit and entry, contact me 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.

    It doesn't need to be fancy.

    League weekend

    Hey ya'll

    This weekend was surprisingly busy. And it doesn't look like things are going to slow down any time soon.

    Friday night we went to Juan "Beta Juan" Garcia's birthday get-to-together at the Flying Saucer. Basically like a less-dark Gingerman, and apparently part of a chain, it's located in the nuevo-hipster locale of the Triangle, just north of 45th street on Lamar (just before Austin Books).

    Saturday we jumped out of bed and straightened some for the somewhat surprise arrival of Doug. Wednesday or so Doug decided to come to town, so... come to town he did. Saturday we hung out with Doug, went to Rudy's BBQ, and then I gave in to my allergy attack and passed out for an hour or so.

    Saturday night was Mandy's Fiesta. Honestly, I was expecting decent food, but the food was really, really good. Add in seeing all kinds of folks, from Kraber to JenShaw, and it was a nice night.

    I don't know if you guys are familiar with RiffTrax, but it's a web project by the former MST3K guys. Anyhow, Doug and some of his friends had submitted to part of a fan-competition to submit jokes for 1997's "Batman and Robin". Which is, maybe, the worst movie ever. It's... Anyway, Doug & Pals gota few jokes in. And while I enjoyed watching what of the movie I caught with he and Jamie... man... that's just not a good movie.

    Today we got up, fed Doug, took him to the airport, and Jamie got pulled over by a cop. Of course, cops look at Jamie and refuse to actually ever ticket her lest she burst into tears. And NOBODY wants Jamie to cry. So, Jamie once again got a warning.

    That's not really fair. Jamie rarely gets pulled over, and today was kind of a fluke. But, again, she never gets a ticket.

    This evening Leaguer Nathan C. is in town for SXSW, so he's staying at our house for two nights. Its great to see him again.

    Anyhow, I'm tired and am off to bed.