Saturday, November 22, 2008

round-up for Saturday

Quantum of Solace

We met up with Jason, Andy, Rami, Mandy, Kelly and Ellie Gamble to see Bond this evening at the Alamo South. Jamie and I had stayed in last night to watch "Casino Royale" again on DVD, and I think the continuity really helped. The movies are so tightly wound together that it really helps to have seen both so close together.

We ran into old League pal Laura Ryan-Day, who is (oddly enough) now a very successful hypnotherapist. She married a great guy, Simon, who happens to not just be from the UK, but he's apparently a Meet-Up leader for Brit ex-pats living in Austin. They were gathering, of course, to see the greatest fictional government employee of them all. And, they had invited Jeff and Keora.

I actually really enjoyed Quantum of Solace. It wasn't as good as Casino Royale, and it could have used more of Carla Bruni (who, sadly, died in Casino Royale, but in real life went on to marry French President Sarkozy... so, you know, congrats Mr. Sarkozy!). However, the story was fairly tight, it expanded upon the story from the first film and opened things up a great deal for another sequel. Plus, Judi Dench is just perfect as M.

I feel like after decades of actors playing the roles in Bond movies with a wink and a nod, the movies feel populated with real characters. That may have been at the expense of devil-may-care fun that many associated with Bond movies, but the movies had become parodies of themselves to an extent.

Anyhoo, the movie has drawn inevitable comparisons to the Bourne movies, which I also enjoy. I feel the two franchises differ enough that it's not a distraction for me, plus the plots are divergent enough that I just don't get hung up on it. That said, its a certain genre told in a certain way, so I appreciate the comparisons. More good stuff for me, I say.

Christmas Photos

We headed down to San Marcos earlier today to go and meet up with Judy and Dick and get the family photo taken for Christmas. Luckily, it was a little chilly out this morning, so it was easy to get into the spirit of the thing. Plus, you know, Thursday being Thanksgiving, we're kind of moving into the Holiday Season, anyway.

When we get a copy of one of the digital pics, I shall post.

I also have to pen our Christmas letter this year. So if you want to get on the League Christmas Card mailing list, send me your street address or whatever. 'Tis always a treat.

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

In going to see Bond, we missed the first half of the OU/ Texas Tech game. We ran home with Jeff and Keora to watch the game at their place and saw the score at half-time.

Which... THAT is the Oklahoma UT fans fear and respect. And why we like to play the Sooners in a neutral location rather than in Norman, OK.

geez, man.

But now... how messed up will the BCS ratings be with this screwy set-up?

For those of you who don't follow Big 12 Football, UT, Texas Tech and OU all have one loss. OU lost to Texas. Texas lost to Tech. Tech lost to OU.

Wisely, OU ran up the score a bit to demonstrate to BCS voters how well their team is playing, so I expect OU to have a lock on the Big 12 South.

That said, I will be watching the OU/ Oklahoma State game with terrific interest next week.

My folks' new pad

Here's some pics of my parents' new place in N. Austin. Pretty nice, huh?

We look forward to sitting on their porch and drinking whiskey sours in the summer.

Owen Lowry has himself a blog

Josh and Shannon Lowry are old, old pals of all of us here at League HQ. We've been pals since back in The League's amazing days at Klein Oak High School where we did some plays with Shannon and had a writing class with Josh. And, in fact, Shannon is more or less how I met Jamie as she was Jamie's freshman year roommate (and junior and senior year), complete with Shannon taking Jamie to the hospital as needed.

Shannon and Josh partnered up in our college days, a few months before Jamie and I. And now they're parents to young Owen Lowry. Owen has had some health issues since joining us here on Planet Earth, and its been a tough time for him. He was born in Houston about a week before Hurricane Ike (and about a month before baby Ike), and he's had to already go through all sorts of procedures.

Anyhoo, we're proud of Owen, and we're proud of Josh and Shannon for their A #1 Parenting.

We encourage you to visit Owen's blog to see how he's doing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Present Idea

I now totally know what I am getting Judy (the mother-in-law) for Christmas.

The Tomahawk Skull Gauntlet.

I can totally see Judy using these. It's good to get something that's both fun AND practical.

Which is totally awesome, because I know Dick (the father-in-law) is really going to enjoy his neoprene skull mask.

tip of the hat to Randy for the website. (How he finds these things, I don't know...)


You know what movie I am not embarassed to admit I want to see?


That cartoon about the dog who THINKS he's a superdog. Yup. That one.

The animation looks very good, and the hamster and pigeons made me laugh during the trailer. It may not be Wall-E, but it looks like a good weekend movie for Jamie and me to take in and eat some popcorn.

I have to learn I can't pout about the fact that not every cartoon that comes out is by Brad Bird and/ or Pixar. And this looks like a good starting point.

But I already have tickets to Bond on Saturday, which I want to actually see more than Bolt. So there you go.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Limitations of Superheroes

Earlier this week I wrote a post over at Comic Fodder about my disappointment lately regarding the editorial direction at DC Comics (its an ongoing theme. So sue me. Wait. Scratch that idea.).

The next day I received an e-mail from a gentleman questioning why I would stick with comics. He expressed how he had given them up several years ago, and as our conversation continued, I learned he'd experienced terrible family tragedy. And so, maybe, the promise of masked and caped do-gooders righting wrongs and saving the world rings a little hollow.

At the same time, I saw a post from Leaguer Lauren over at her site discussing that most complex of superheroes, Wonder Woman, in light of the animated movie coming to home video this spring. Lauren describes the Wonder Woman she'd like to see on the screen and it sounds very appealing. She also pulls a quote that describes the ongoing issues of gender equality in comics (I kind of flinched at the broad strokes, but it doesn't mean the quote wasn't a little accurate).

Where Superman cannot step from the screen or comic page to save the day in our real lives and personal tragedies, just as much, Wonder Woman may not be enough to carry the weight of expectation put upon a figure who was, in fact, intended to carry a philosophy and ideal of a world in which women were seen as equals. She must be proud of her body, but she must cover it. She must be strong, but serene. She must be able to fight, but peace-loving. I can think of few male archetypes who have that burden placed on them.

The truth is, these very contradictions have gone from being a problem with writing Wonder Woman comics to become the essence of the character. By necessity, she's become an Amazonian, battle-axe-wielding warrior on a mission to "man's world" to preach the values of peaceful co-existence. And, occasionally, she has to go stab a Gorgon or something.

There's also an insinuation in the LA Times piece that poo-poo's the second-class status of the straight-to-video distribution of the Wonder Woman project, ignoring the current home video animation strategies of DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and others (bottom line, Wonder Woman actually made it to video faster than I would have expected from the DCU line of characters). The title does not sell terrifically well on newstands, and DC's prior animated efforts have surrounded tried-and-true material.

But as I've debated for years with friends who are not neck-deep in this thing of superhero comics, these fictional characters wind up fighting "public perception" rather than the actual content of the material in which they appear. Naysayers seem to have never actually lifted a comic or read a single story (at least from the last 20 years of relevant publication). They cringe at straight-to-video releases and, with no context but what success means in Hollywood terms, fail to see what bringing ANY comic property to video as a feature length film might mean. And bring their own definitions of everything from feminism to what it means to save the day to these figures.

It's an odd thing, because the trio of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are American cultural icons. They do, in fact, command a certain power in the popular imagination far beyond their intended purpose as pulp characters. They've expanded beyond their contemporaries of Zorro, Doc Savage, The Shadow, etc... The gentleman I'd spoken with was not the first I'd read about to funnel his tragedy into superheroes. That's sort of the unspoken message of the documentary "Confessions of a Superhero", and I've seen articles on others.

Poor, long-suffering Wonder Woman has had her image co-opted as a feminine ideal by Ms. Magazine and Gloria Steinem, and has had her name co-opted to describe the ideal of the modern woman (particularly, and somewhat oddly, mothers) who feels that they must be busy or appear entirely too busy, but always keeping things in check. Meanwhile, her costume has become a sexy Halloween staple, and the none-too-threatening outfit of her first appearances has become increasingly less modest over the years (though DC has recently made moves on that).

And, of course, being fictional, its kind of hard for superheroes to speak for themselves. Especially when their only mode of speaking up is in a medium 90% of people believe is irrelevant and/ or not as important as "public perception".

My interests lie in those superheroes, so I hear about the tragedies that fall into the very real lives of people who may wind up channeling their own stories through the prism of the comic page. I do not hear the stories of people who were Simpsons nuts, or naval history enthusiasts, or who maybe knew every pro football statistic that was worth knowing. I don't know if that same emotional attachment forms during a tragedy, or if they roll their eyes at the co-option and debate over the "image" of figures in their area of interest, as if the code-breaking of single images were all there was.

What I do know is that there is a strange place in fandom of any sort where an invisible line exists, and you do well to enjoy your comics, but know that to take them too seriously, to put Faith (with a capital F) in the heroes within and the storybook crimes they fight is not a replacement for the world outside the page.

Superman can't stop your loved ones from illness, or stop the everyday stories that make the news.

Wonder Woman can't be the voice of whatever it means to be a woman in 2008/ 2009.

But I do think, if we can agree that they are cultural icons, that there's something there we can see behind the the promise of the characters. Superman's use of his abilities for others, Batman's unbending resolve, Wonder Woman's mission of peace AND strength...

It's just a thought.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Batman + Braniff = Believe It!

I think if I were to tell you that at one point in the hsitory of DC Comics, Batman might hop in a commercial airliner, cape, cowl and all and enjoy a Sprite and bag of peanuts, even folks who never picked up a comic might find the idea sort of cockamamie. But there was a weird period in DC lore when such a thing was possible.

Anyway, the original dialog has been replaced, but there's a comic meme that's started featuring The Dark Knight flying commercial, seated with little-known 70's era, post-Bruce Lee Kung-Fu master Richard "Dick" Dragon.

Here's the first post (recall all dialog HAS been replaced).

Here's the second.



Do you have a blog, website, etc...? Do you want to participate in a worthwhile cause?

League of Melbotis has started a Kettle Team for the Salvation Army! You can join our team, and/ or give to a worthwhile charity!

Now I'm basically like one of those dudes hanging out in front of the mall raising money for worthwhile Salvation Army charities. All without the actual loitering and bell ringing.



The 21st Century is truly a grand place for those of us who are lazy, but have an internet connection and wish to make a difference.

This year is going to be tough on a lot of your brothers and sisters in the family of humanity, so if you can spare a little yourself, we'd really appreciate it.

Also, if you want to join the League of Melbotis Kettle Team, please click the appropriate box on the website to sign up. Then publicize the heck out of the kettle! We're trying for only $300, so hopefully we can raise that amount this year.

If you can, please give!

We can watch Heroes, just for one day

So my only exposure to the program "Heroes" was watching about twenty minutes of the second or third episode of season 1. When I publicly said "Meh", everyone insisted I'd caught the worst twenty minutes EVER of the program and that I was missing out. But the whole "save the cheerleader, save the world" tagline made me burst into laughter the first time I heard it. I mean, really, out of context (or even with a bit of cultural osmosis context) it's the worst call to action for joining a TV show I can really think of.

So last night Jason and Jamie had both missed Monday's episode, which was waiting on our DVR, and so I figured I could sit through an hour of super-programming. After all, I made Jamie sit through Starship Troopers.

I have to say, that hour of Heroes was about the worst hour of TV I've borne witness to in quite a while, and I can see why producers are being shed from the show left and right.

Luckily for WB and NBC (and you, the lucky Leaguer!), I am happy to provide my analysis as a student of superhuman fiction.

1. Built in mythology - Sure, I'm coming to the show late in the game, but Heroes is one of the shows left-over from the post-Lost success that already had some multi-year mythology mapped out and is slowly, achingly revealing The Big Secrets. These shows/ comics/ what have you are painfully slow as they spend their energy pacing out the reveals like an antibiotic you have to finish.

Note that almost all of the shows depending on a mythology reveal but Lost have gone bye-bye. The format is unique to Lost. Do not attempt at home.

2. Robert Forrester as god-like corporate exec using business powers to manipulate everyone - I don't know if the "Super Old Man Potter" thing is really a creation of John Byrne and Marv Wolfman in their re-imagining of Lex Luthor as corporate mogul instead of super-scientist, but it seems like you see a heck of alot of this character, who threatens others, but nobody will just punch in the face. Even DC realized this was a tired trope and Lex is back to super-scientist, by the way.

Moreover, Robert Forrester just isn't very good. He sounds like he thinks he's playing a street-wise cop with every line. It's bizarre.

But I think the "evil corporation" bit has been so overplayed in so many ways that its tough to do anything new with it or buy into it at some point.

Terminator sort of has this problem, but they've really reigned it in.

3. The X-Men Internal Conflict Syndrome - What does Superman do? Superman saves the day. He interacts with mere mortals in his guise as Clark Kent. He plays at being one of us, so when the big action happens, we get what the threat is. A giant robot is trashing downtown, asteroids are headed towards Earth, and off he goes to save the day.

A while back, X-Men became a book not about mutants trying to co-exist with one humanity, but became this book where the X-Men were simply fighting one mutant group or another who wanted to kill the X-Men. Their agenda was not a threat to the general populace, it was, pretty specifically, the X-Men (which led to all sorts of questions about being more trouble than they were worth, but whatever...)

If a show is called "Heroes", it seems that the show might want to strive for more than "saving your own skin", which is great, but not exactly the heroic ideal. Heroes get out there and DO something for others. They do not skulk around worrying about magic formulas, etc... They use their blinky powers for the betterment of mankind.

Apparently this season, Heroes introduced some villains, which, you would expect would do the opposite. They would want to use their powers for taking advantage of the general populace. Instead, they spend their time skulking around trying to hassle the semi-heroes.

The bottom line, very little of what happens episode-to-episode seems to affect the world at large, and seems to hinge and circle melodramatically around this tiny group. The show should really expand its world-view.

4. What is the deal? - I could have spent three hours stopping and starting the show asking "what is the deal with this guy?" or "so what's their story?" as the show didn't see fit to fill me in with much in the way of exposition.

I don't want to tell NBC how to run their show, but if you're having a problem with viewership, maybe an impenetrable storyline and characters who are caught up in a bajillion plot lines isn't how you bring in new people to bring in viewers to replace those you lost.

X-Files knew that it had to spend a lot of time with episodic stories and building an audience, but that lesson seems lost on the producers of "Heroes".

Anyway, I probably won't be tuning in. Mostly for the same reasons I didn't tune in when the show started. I still find it derivative, the acting as hokey as any Sci-Fi original. It just isn't my bag.

For Randy

If this will please anyone, it will please Randy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jim Parsons interview thing

I'm still getting used to the idea that Jim isn't just appearing on TV, he's actually becoming a bit of a celebrity thanks to hsi role as Sheldon on CBS's "Big Bang Theory". Kind of bizarre, but well deserved, I think.

Here's Jim answering fan mail on the website via streaming media. Now here's the weird part:

One of the letters Jim reads from is from Brownie High, who was a drama teacher at our high school my sophomore year. Ms. High actually left at the end of Jim's senior year amidst bad-blood and UIL drama scandal, which seemed like just a super-huge deal at the time. Meredith may recall the incident.

Anyway, I hadn't thought about that in years. And I am sure Jim had not either. But I would love to know what was playing in his mind when he saw she'd written him the letter and he had a camera in his face.

Weird Al and Shatner

I'm watching this thing on Bio that's an hour-long documentary on the life of Weird Al.

yeah. Go ahead and laugh. How many albums has your favorite band put out and how long has their career lasted?

I also have to admit that I've long been oddly fascinated by Judy Tenuta, who keeps showing up in this doc. And I don't know how I feel about having a crush on Judy Tenuta. I guess I just like a woman with an accordion shouting at me and calling me a pig. I guess its an acquired taste.

But to my point, it looks like Shatner is getting a talk show on the Biography network.


The prospect of the minds of our time coming face-to-face with The Shat is, for me, equal parts mind-boggling and gratifying. I was the guy who actually watched Lauren Hutton's short-lived talk show in which I learned each show far more about what a freak Hutton was than anything about her guests (I use freak in the most loving way possible. Let's just say the woman is an enigma). And I hope to get even more of this out of The Shat.

He's named his show "Shatner's Raw Nerve". I am so there.


I FINALLY got around to downloading Girl Talk's "Feed the Animals". Thanks to JAL for the suggestion.

Of late I'm not too sure what I like and don't like in my music. But I do really like Feed the Animals. It may not be your bag, but here's the link to the site.

I'm not sure how they got around paying royalties, or expect to avoid lawsuits. Perhaps the sample used from each song meets some minimum sampling duration, but it doesn't seem like it. I just don't really know.


May I recommend "Tales Designed to Thrizzle"?

I can't guarantee it will be your cup of tea, but I find it funny.

For free online comix hilarity, try Achewood. And, btw, Chris Onstad will be at Austin Books on December 6th. I think I'm joining the Shoemakers for the signing, if you want to go. (That's "The Great Outdoor Fight" I'll be getting signed)

I checked our hits at, and Comic Fodder did something like twice its normal traffic today following my admittedly negative critique of the state of things at DC Comics these days.

It's not too tough to see trends when you've done this for a while. I meant everything i said, and I certainly wasn't trying to just generate hits (after all, I don't make a dime from blogging). But usually when you go off on a bit of a rant, you seem to see a spike as folks check in to see what the freak is saying.
If you're wondering why there's no post today, I put my energy last night into my Comic Fodder weekly ramblings. You can read my post here.

Not much else to report. I think Jamie has a cold of some sort.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Trek could be awesome

Here's a pirated copy of the new Trek trailer, which I have not yet seen in good quality as I did not see Bond this weekend. Probably next week.

Be prepared for low-quality.


It will be up at the official site by lunchtime.
It seems like Jamie and I have been running around a LOT lately, and with the Holidays bearing down upon us, I think we're going to be pretty crazy until January 2nd, 2009 or so. That's okay. It's sort of what I expect out of the year's end.

For those of you keeping score, Thanksgiving is in only a week and a half, and I have not even STARTED on my Pilgrim suit, nor has Jamie finished her Green Bean costume.

I still think The Addam's Family movies are underrated.

The temperatures cooled a great deal yesterday, and I think it feels more like fall in spirit than a few days ago. All in all, its turning into lovely weather. Anyway, we watched the UT game yesterday and cooked out some nice items we picked up at Central Market (I recommend their chipotle marinated chicken).

UT played very well starting in the 2nd quarter, and pretty much ate Kansas's lunch. I was mistaken, however, that Tech was playing Baylor. A&M played Baylor and it didn't go terribly well. Sorry, Ags. Maybe next year.

Only one more regular season game for UT, and we ARE playing A&M on Thanksgiving, which sounds great in theory, but A&M somehow manages to summon SuperAg strength whenever they play UT. Out only discernible advantage going into the game is home field advantage. Should be a great game, so if your Thanksgiving evening looks like it's going to be a quiet night in, tune in.

Also, if you're a Leaguer and will be in Austin during Turkey Day and are lacking any plans, let me know. We can make room for you.

Today we actually started our Christmas shopping, which I think Jamie had some mixed feelings about. Sure, we're starting early and will hopefully be done with time to spare (which is an illusion. You always forget somebody and have to run out and buy an extra present for somebody you didn't account for). But I also started singing carols to Jamie as we drove around, which is bad enough, but in the past eight years, I've completely forgotten all lyrics to all carols.

I suspect she'd like for me to stop, but, you know, once you're moving into Christmas territory, I think you're morally obligated to squeeze in "Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland" as often as possible. Especially in 70 degree Texas.

Also, Barack Obama takes great delight in bumper cars: