Sunday, December 20, 2009

End of the Golden Age

Neverending Battle

In closing...

So I wish I had some sort of terrific way to wind things up. Maybe some "Ocean's 11" ending (the remake, not the original) where you guys realize that this has been a 6+ year scam, and that I've secretly been using League of Melbotis to clean out your bank accounts, and just as you look at this final post are you able to put all the pieces together. That would be awesome. And I could certainly use the money.

Alas, I'm not that clever, and robbing my readership blind via a blog seems to be challenging at best. But if you wake up tomorrow to find yourself destitute and me driving a BMW around with a stack of Jimmy Olsen comics and smoking a cigar, well, we'll both know what happened.

I've already done my fair share of "wasn't it great when" and "aren't you people all great?" posts. So, you know, refer to those if you'd like. I suspected I'd have more to say for a final post, but I don't, and that's sort of the thing.

Two months was probably too long, but, heck, its over now, so we can turn the chairs over and shut off the lights. We'll worry about sweeping up some other time.

I literally have no idea what my life is going to look like now, which is part of the fun. I have many good things going on which I don't wish to screw up. I've not got too much a self-destructive streak in me, but like anyone else, I get uneasy when things are going a little too steady-state. Add in misguided visions of what I c/should be doing with myself and my time, and its sort of now or never. I'm too old to say I'll try new things when I'm older, and don't wish to look back and wonder where the time went.

I expect you guys to hold me to being productive one way or another.

In an odd bit of synchronicity, just after I announced the conclusion of LoM, I learned that Leaguers Steven and Lauren were moving back to the Bay Area. Perhaps not forever, but I'll be shocked if they ever return to Texas for more than a visit. Steven waxed a bit rhapsodic and brought the eloquence to the conclusion of chapters in a way fitting and with that flair of which I've always been envious. Read here.

It's also JimD's birthday (and I started this blog awfully close to my own 28th birthday). It was JimD who instigated the thing.

This evening we raised a glass with Steven and Lauren to join with friends and bid them adieu. Juan and Letty were there, as were Julia and Alfredo. And I won't share the conversation, but I had a few minutes to speak with Alfredo, and he remarked upon the impending closing of this blog, to which I gave the same smile and a shrug I've given most who've asked. As you do with these things, I laughed it off. Alfredo begged to differ, and I was reminded that from time-to-time, it wasn't all just Superman pictures and talking about awful movies.

Anyway, thanks, Alfredo. I am, and always shall be, grateful. You have no idea.

I don't know why, but I am also reminded of a moment from a year or so back, when I was at a comic shop here in town (now closed), and was looking at discounted paperbacks, when a person I didn't know looked at me across the table and said "You're that League Guy".

And that's the sort of thing I think I'll miss most of all. The never-knowing of being connected to people in such odd and different ways, whether its the random person in the comic shop, or wishing once-were-strangers-and-now-they're-friends the best of luck while they embark on their own next chapter.

But that's kind of how it works, isn't it?

A special thank you to Jamie, who has been an often silent partner, but one who has been remarkably supportive, and who is a remarkable person in every way. She has enjoyed being partners in The League since its inception, and has often been a writing partner in the ways that count. I love you, sweetie.

Let it never be forgotten that this started because of friends. And it was dreamed up and cared for in the name of the best pal on four legs you could ever have. The four-color adventures of a dog and his boy, indeed.

Be well. Be safe. We wish you the best, always.

I'll see you in the funny pages.

Up, up and away.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

UT Longhorn Volleyball Fought Hard

Man, that was a heart-breaker. Not only did we have to say good-bye to Steven and Lauren, but the National Volleyball Championship was on TV with our UT Longhorns. Unfortunately, despite winning the first two games, Penn State came from behind to win. Here.

I say... oh, well. UT kicked ass. They played amazingly well against an equal opponent, and the games were very close.

I've been pretty focused on football, but the Longhorns had an amazing season by any standard. Heartbreakingly close to a National Title, but they made a fan out of me. Next year, I'm definitely hanging out on Wednesdays to go to the games.

Keeping Up With The League

So, as of midnight tomorrow, that'll be it.

Not to fret, The League of Melbotis will carry on in a limited capacity over on Facebook. And to a more limited extent, over on Twitter.

The site will remain up, but I don't plan to update links, etc...

The site already rolls overfor approval on comments after a week, but I may be shutting comments down all together. I foresee a future in which Chinese spammers are flooding my inbox and I keep having to reject comments.

Also, I imagine the email address associated here will be good for a long, long while.

Anyway, don't be a stranger.

Friday, December 18, 2009

WW Christmas

Normally I don't post cheesecake comic art, because I find it distasteful and believe it just reinforces some negative stereotypes about comics. But... Ah, heck. Why Not?

Wonder Woman for Christmas is okay by us

Happy Birthday JimD

Our Birthday Boy Stands in Repose

Panick Attack!

I know you're not supposed to think the end of the world is awesome. But there's nothing I don't like in this video.

More Garth Merenghi

To have to explain Garth Merenghi means you're not going to like it, anyway.

Here's new Garth Merenghi. I believe called "War of the Wasps". Found by Brit Simon.

UT Longhorn Volleyball in National Championship


I keep forgetting to say anything about this, but on Saturday at 7:00, UT's Longhorn Volleyball team is on ESPN or ESPN2 (I forget) playing Penn State for the National Championship!


Just because. darn it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Iron Man 2!


I think you guys might want to check out the trailer for the upcoming Iron Man sequel.

HERE (its at Apple. Must have Quicktime. So, Jason, get someone to help you out.).

Thanks to Simon for the link!

Trail of Lights


Well, trying to keep our levels of Christmas Cheer set to "Jingle-riffic", Jamie and I headed to The Trail of Lights at Austin's Zilker Park.

The Trail of Lights faced a lot of challenges this year. In the spring, the city spent a truckload of money laying copper wire to enable better power for the mile long trail of lights. In the Summer, the City figured out somebody had come along and STOLEN all of the copper, likely for a tidy profit.

Then, ACL Fest was a bit rough on the lawn and the city is having to replant that grass, etc...

So... the Trail of Lights was renamed to "Zilker Tree Holiday Festival".

Jamie had fun.

The Zilker Tree is a longstanding tradition. Its actually several strands of lights attached to a Moon Tower, and while quite lovely from far away, the longstanding tradition is to get underneath the tree and spin until you barf. Good times.

I hadn't been to the Tree or the Trail of Lights in many, many years. Due to the challenges, the trail was a lot shorter this year, and on the other side of the park from the last time I was there. Also, they had like, five funnel cake stands.

Anyhow, we had a good time. And that's all you get for a post tonight.

Just look at Jamie. She's cute as a button.

Alicia Keys and Colbert rock NYC and the Burbs

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Found by Joe Cathey

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I got nothing.

Well, as the clock winds down, I should really have another post or two in me. But I think I'm sort of worn out from the last few posts.

Here's Power Girl. Now go talk amongst yourselves.

Happy Holidays From The League!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So long, Superman!

About three and a half years ago (that's roughly 25 years ago in blog years), I posted what I felt was more or less my statement on WHY I'm a fan of Superman.

You can read it here.

I'd also pointed to my Superman collection at the time, which has only expanded in the intervening years. At that time, I did not have replicas of five shades of Kryptonite, a toy Kryptonian Battlesuit, etc... Were there time and my office in any condition to show, I'd have put up a few images. But its not, so... you're just going to have to stop by some time. Tours are $2.

I'm fairly sensitive to criticism of the Superman character, primarily because Superman has taken on this odd, avatar-like role for the squeaky-clean image of heroism that's fallen out of favor but which is mostly a gross oversimplification.

I talked about that here.

At another point I tried to address what I would think are limitations of Superman (and superheroes) here.

I get a lot of blowback from readers when I bemoan the misconceptions, and am told "well, its what the public thinks that matters". But I also am aware that the public perception is shaped by articles exactly like the ones Loyal Leaguers gleefully forward me (which is shockingly often). That's not to say that you can't criticize Superman as a character, but the thing is: John and Jane Public in this case are getting sold a bad bill of goods. And I've always felt that wasn't quite fair to DC Comics, John and Jane Public, people like myself who actually bother to read the comics, watch the movies, cartoons, TV shows, etc... and certainly to a figment of a teenager's imagination whose done little more in 70-odd years of existence but be the good guy.

There are different visions for how the story of Superman might end. Ends are how we can judge characters, after all. Alan Moore's closeout of the Silver Age with "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" is tragic, but ends on the right note. DC One Million suggests Superman sort of goes on forever. I like the ambiguous wrap-up to All Star Superman, with Superman toiling at the heart of the sun, having given up his Earthly life to save the world, and lifting from the page of all mythic heroes, with the promise that he will one day return.

I've made no secret that part of why I embraced Superman was because the franchise/ series/ character/ whatever DID have that weird, funhouse aspect of "oh, Jesus. What now?" that I still cackle about when a new editon of Showcase Presents Superman hits the shelves or I find just the right back issue. And its certainly a big selling point for me when I pick up an issue of Jimmy Olsen. I like that this same character is responsible for amazing comics like "Kingdom Come", "Peace on Earth" and many, many more... But its also the same character that spawned Beppo the Super Monkey.

Often, Superman can be a reminder of how short I feel the vision is of humanity. Sometimes I believe that its a lack of belief that a person wielding such power would turn it to the good that makes us flush with rage when the story does not become one of betrayal, petty abuse of power, and instead, page after page chooses to show us a man struggling with the choices before him.

In his own story, of course, Luthor is the hero. He's the brilliant mind who turned genius to profit and power, and who cannot imagine that someone so gifted would not want to cap and trade his own power. Superman must be waiting for something, and while we hiss and boo Lex, we're envious of him.

There's, of course, a personal and a quite literal financial stake in all this. I've got something invested. But I also started elsewhere with comics, with superheroes, with action and science fiction heroes, with all the same stuff we all pass through. n the end, I landed on Superman. Somehow, the constant striving to do the right thing didn't seem like such a bad thing. And maybe even the "taking it a step further" that happens when you want to be better than who you really are.

And that's what I read when I pick up those comics, and watch those movies. All those powers, and Superman still so rarely saves the day. I know I can do better, and I so often fail to do so. I do okay. I do well enough, but I don't do enough.

In the years of this blog, its unlikely I've turned a single person into a fan of the Man of Steel. I know I've probably shared more about the character than even one of you ever cared to read. That's okay. You people have no idea what Jamie lives with, here in our Fortress of Solitude.

I haven't forgotten that JimD obtained a theatrical print of Superman: The Movie for what was practically a personal screening, getting Randy to come down to join us, and setting us up in a magnificent theater (The Jefferson in downtown Beaumont). Or that Peabo and his wife drove out there with us to watch the movie.

And I haven't forgotten the endless viewings Jamie suffered through of Superman movies, TV shows, cartoons, etc... Nor have I forgotten the Super-related items folks have shared or given to me as gifts. All of that winds up as part of the package of what I think of when people ask "So you're a Superman fan?".

At the end of the day, I like the idea that there's this alien who came to Earth, and because he was raised to believe in Truth and Justice and The American Way, those things we're all supposed to believe in, that he decided not to use the power for himself, but to do the right thing. Whether its saving a space plane from crashing or standing between a shooter and their victim, that saving the day is the right thing to at least try to do.

It doesn't hurt that he can bend steel in his hands, that his eyes shoot lasers and that he's got Lois, Perry and Jimmy around.

Or that he's got a dog that has all his powers that's a superhero, too.

As I mentioned in previous parting posts, I am aware that Superman is and has been an odd sort of crutch when I needed hours to fill and something to focus on outside of the day-to-day. But I've also been able to look at Superman as metaphor, as inspiration of a sort, and as distraction during some of our most challenging days. A fictional Superman cannot eliminate ill-health, or want, or distress. All the character can do is appear in stories where someone tried to do the right thing, often against obstacles that seemed literally impossible, enough to defeat even a Superman.

I have a favorite memory, of Jamie getting better in the hospital, and me knowing she was getting better when I was able to show her pages from one of those fat "Showcase Presents" Superman albums and say "this is completely insane! Look at this!" I believe it was Superman accidentally finding himself with the head of a lion, and Jamie and I having a good laugh. That's just good stuff.

I'll miss talking about Superman with you guys.

Sometime, pick up a Superman comic. I'll be around to make suggestions, if you like.

I just hope that a few of you, when you see the red cape and boots will know a bit more than "John and Jane Public", and nothing would please me more than finding out you'd won points at trivia by naming Superman's dog (hint: its Krypto).

Verbot never worked

I didn't notice last night, but even in the damn commercial, Verbot doesn't follow instructions. It happens around the 8 second mark.

Also, if memory serves, my dog HATED Verbot. Poor Puff.

I really grew to resent that robot.

Steans Family Christmas Carol

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Wishbook For

My folks were not unwise. I recall many-a-conversation when they would ask "are you sure this is what you want?"

1 and 2) Dingbot and Verbot

You may remember the line of Robot toys from Tomy that hit stores in the mid-80's.

The four main toys were Dingbot, Verbot, OmniBot and OmniBot 2000.

Based on the commercials, I had high hopes for what these robots would do. I had visions of a robot buddy, a sort of Robot Friday that was going to be a bit of robot butler, side-kick and confidante. Seriously, look at this thing:

My folks, privy to my high-minded visions of how I believed the robots would work, talked me down to the lowest tier robot, DingBot. DingBot had no programmable features, but it sounded okay.

Here's a video of DingBot in action.

As you can imagine, the whole Butler/ Buddy thing didn't work out quite as I'd envisioned. It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy turning that thing on and watching it whack into walls, but I knew I'd just picked the wrong robot. My NEXT attempt would go better.

After all, the commercial for Verbot made it clear THIS was a robot that was going to listen to me:

Verbot never really worked correctly from Day 1. And, hey, funny thing. Every time you turned Verbot off and back on again, you had to reprogram the @#$%ing thing. Also, it didn't seem to particularly like my voice, so I spent a lot of time cursing at Verbot.

By 8th grade, I remember getting curious about what was actually inside Verbot, and taking him apart and putting him back together, at which point, ol' Verbot quit working at all. Wouldn't even turn on.

3) In 4th Grade, I got a Cabbage Patch Kid.

His name is Rhett Delbert, and I have no idea if he's in a box somewhere in my parent's house, or if he's been gifted via Salvation Army to some much-more worthy kid.

The Cabbage Patch craze sort of peaked when I was in 3rd grade, and in that way kids and readers of "Us" magazine do, I had to have an object because everyone else had that object. It was almost a check mark at the time more than any desire to have one. And, as a family we were often late to the party on this hip stuff, we sort of waited until the dust and tramplings cleared until I was a little too old for... dolls.

My grandparents had apparently secured the doll, and my folks made sure I knew they'd put themselves out to get this thing (and keep in mind, this is when people were literally getting killed wrestling for these dolls). So I knew I had to be extra appreciative.

So, yeah, there are some goofy pictures of me in these awful tan pajamas on Christmas,morning circa 1984 with this doll. The pictures themselves are doubly creepy to me because (a) I was really a big kid for my age. I was frequently mistaken for someone 2-3 years older than my age (these days, everyone assumes I'm in my 40's). So it looks like this pudgy 7th grader who is way, way too happy to have just received a doll. (b) I also was just getting to the point where I didn't really play with toys, per se, anymore. And I think I knew it when I opened that package, but the look of fulfilled avarice on that kid's face... anyway. I sort of hate that kid.

But I'd asked for this thing for two years, my grandparents had bought it, and I felt that I sort of needed to get my money out of the thing.

Nothing about the awkwardness of the situation was helped by having an older brother who made sure to point out I had a doll, or by the fact that a new kid who'd moved to town who I played with was really into his Cabbage Patch Kid. Which, in the end, was sort of helpful.

When I look at the thing, I remember with stunning clarity having the realization by sort of watching my friend that I really, really was past this particular part of my childhood. Because my folks have that "we built all this from nothing" work ethic, giving gifts was happily done, but we understood that we weren't one of the families that was getting new bikes every Christmas. Even then, I couldn't tell anyone that I had no idea what to do with a Cabbage Patch Kid once I had it. And I sure as @#$ couldn't ever let Jason know I, too, in my more lucid moments, thought this was a pretty dumb thing for a ten year old kid who didn't want to get his ass kicked to have in his possession.

The odd thing is, I am sure I found some way to play with that damn doll, but I have no idea what I did with it.

And so, after a while, poor 'ol Rhett Delbert, who never did nothing to nobody, got stuck in the back of my closet, right along with a whole lot of embarrassment.

#4) Laser Tag

It did not occur to me until AFTER Christmas morning that it was a very good thing that my friends had also asked for a system that you need at least two people to play. Sure, there were games that you could play by yourself, but they all were about as interesting as seeing if you could hit a spot on the wall with a flashlight.

Once again, the commercials looked totally awesome:

I had never been to "Photon" in Dallas, but I'd heard about how cool it was. That same Christmas that we all got Laser Tag, the Photon franchise released their own home-game version of their equipment which had the added bonus of noting that the only target on a person is rarely a red disc about the size of a coaster, and because it came witha helmet that registered shots from any direction, it also suggested (unlike Lazer Tag) that one could be shot from any direction.

Because we all had the same Lazer Tag equipment, in theory it was a level playing field. However, being 12 or so, the first thing we all set out to do was cheat, either by turning off our receptors immediately after the game started, or covering them or by changing the width of our beams (yeah, the guns were oddly sophisticated).

In the end, gameplay turned into all of us eying one another with suspicion and nobody trusting one another enough to NOT cheat the minute they were out of site.

In addition, to make Laser Tag half as cool as Photon, you had to start buying the multitude of accessories, and if everyone didn't have the same accessories, it immediately changed the playing field. And, while our folks could afford the starter kit, nobody's folks were going to shell out an extra lump of cash for the helmet, rifle, etc...

Photon, by the way, just looked cool.

Looked cool, that is, unless you were a kid in a helmet designed for adults. When all the rest of us got Laser Tag, this kid Dave got Photon, and he looked sort of like a crazy person with all the wires and gear hanging off of him. Especially when he was playing with his 7 year old sister.

That not too specific language in the Photon commercial was their way of saying "dummy, if you buy Lazer Tag, you have to buy all the peripheral crap, and none of it is synched like our system". Nonetheless, both more or less failed.

But we atill have a place called "Blazer Tag" very near Jamie's dialysis clinic that I always threaten to take her to.


The Rebel Transport toy from Kenner
? Was totally awesome.

yes, it was usually used in scenes of role-played cowardice as I evacuated Rebel bases, but it was fun.

Also fun?

My blue Team Murray BMX bike I got in, I think, 2nd grade.

I was officially too old for Teddy Ruxpin when the talking bear debuted, but that didn't mean I didn't want to see how one worked. I was sad to see that Teddy Ruxpin's moving animatronic parts took the cues from electronic tones on the audio tapes. However, a more cheaply made competitor, the Cricket doll, simply responded to whatever sounds were on the tape. Once my friend Todd and I discovered this, we spent hours finding ways to make Cricket insist to Todd's sister that she was possessed by Satan, and that one dark night, she would choke the life out of her and turn her into a doll.

Ah, good times.

Rock It, Bing

Pretty much exactly what one sees at League HQ come Christmas time.

Leaguers may not know, but I once had an affinity for the vocal stylings of Mr. Bing Crosby. It has greatly informed my approach to singing Christmas Carols. Except... I can't sing. So... it gets interesting.

This clip is from "Holiday Inn", which will run on cable over the Holidays. There are some seriously dodgy moments in the movie when it comes to race-relations of the time, and some versions cut out a particularly questionable sequence (the film loses nothing, and its about as offensive of a scene as you're likely to find).

Anyhow, Crosby's cover of "White Christmas" is one of the best selling records of all time, and, in fact, spawned a movie entitled "White Christmas", also starring Crosby. Both are a good way to kill an hour or so over the Holidays.

Crosby was considered a bit of a heart-throb in his day, and had a mind-blowingly long career, spanning around 5 full decades, dominating the charts for much of the pre-Rock-n'Roll era. He was, in fact, a hero of Sinatra's before Sinatra was Sinatra.

Anyhow, here's Bing and Bowie.

Throw in David Byrne, and this video would literally melt my brain.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One Week Left

The last post from this blog goes up next Sunday around 11:59pm.

I'm starting to get a little more melancholy about the end of things. On Saturday Jamie and I were visiting the Armadillo Christmas Bizarre and ran into Maxwell and Family, and I know that were it not for this site and Cowgirl Funk, it would be unlikely that I'd have ever seen little Sophie or Eric (who is less little). And, of course, there will be an Earth-2 League that carries on with the blog in his world. Sadly, lacking a Cosmic Treadmill, I can't travel through time, space or dimensions to see what that world looks like.

I am worried about the folks I'll lose touch with, and that I'm doing something wrong. We'll see soon enough.

Part of why I wrapped things up when I did is that I have two entire weeks off, from Dec. 22 - January 3rd where I'll have time to start new projects and pick up old ones, and as I'm getting out of my normal pattern, establish a new one. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to starting my career in hip-hop.

Guest Post: The Decade in Comics

I Guest Blogged at Comic Fodder, looking at the changes in the last ten years.

Click here.

Krampus + Lost Venture Bros. = Awesome

So, I'm kind of counting on the fact that my folks never watch the videos I put on here to work in my favor, so... seriously, those of a sensitive nature. Don't click here.

I also don't know how many of you watch The Venture Bros. on Cartoon Network, but its become one of my favorite shows. Just... don't expect me to explain Dr. Girlfriend, or the fact that her voice doesn't phase me anymore at all.

But a few years back, it seems they produced a Christmas Special. I'd never heard of it until today, when The Dug recalled seeing it as it features... The Krampus!

So, if you want to see the first animated appearance of the Krampus in the US that I'm aware of, click here. Just be aware that... Venture Bros. is aimed at non-emotionally-mature adults.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This looks about right...

found at Calvin's site

Steve Hooperee

I don't know who "Steve Hooperee" is, but people keep finding this blog looking for the guy.

Neil Diamond Brings It Home For the Holidays

found at Pop Candy

Comic of the Decade?

Time posted their comics of the decade and came up with a sort of wonky top 10.

You can see it here.

Ultimates is listed as the best comic of the decade. And this, clearly, is wrong (unless you're a Marvel fanboy of the highest degree). Most successful at what it was trying to do? In many ways, I could agree. Some of the best artwork in comics? Absolutely.

As a time capsule of the belligerency of a decade where the American Spirit coalesced into an angry child damaging everything in his path to prove he isn't scared? Sure.

Ultimates started with a lot of promise. It took Avengers, one of my least favorite concepts in comics (and Lord knows I tried to enjoy it, because so many others liked it, and I wanted to understand why), turned the cartoon cut outs of the Avengers into 2.5 dimensional characters, and said "No, its 2006. What ARE these characters?", did a good six first issues, and then promptly lost its way as a comic about set-pieces rather than story, and abandoning the implicit, post-9/11 agreement in comics that images and scenes of mass destruction should have weight to them, and that destroyed cityscapes and body counts of "Authority" (who Ultimates was always more or less imitating, anyway, and which found itself at #6 on the list) were a thing of the past.

Its fairly clear that whomever penned the list is into the "kick-ass", Ellis-infused-Machismo aspect of comics that so defined the last decade. Its all about seeing superhuman feats (Authority, 100 Bullets, Planetary all make the list) by just-over-the-line-of-fascist-"heroes" taking on even more diabolical fascists. It's adolescent power fantasy realized by way of lack of moral compass. Again, more or less how I'll remember the 'Oughts, anyway.

It's not that I don't LIKE parts of Authority, Planetary, Ultimates, etc... all of which I've read (not 100 Bullets. Azzarello's work leaves me bored and sort of bemused in a way he probably wouldn't appreciate). Its just that I got so bored of the schtick by the second volume of Ultimates that I ultimately gave it up. That doesn't say "Best of Decade" to me by any stretch.

But maybe it does say "Encapsulating the Decade".

Colbert/ Krampus/ The League - WTF?

So, this is @#$%ing BIZARRE.

A week ago, co-worker Dan Z. started telling me all about Krampus, and we all had a good laugh about terrorizing his children. I actually wrote my Krampus post while watching Glee on my DVR, starting around 9:30. So... yeah.

Now Colbert, in my final two weeks here at The League, is making me look like I'm copying stuff off TV and passing it off as my own.

Anyway, seems last night around 10:30 central time, Stephen Colbert and the Colbert Report aired this (skip to 2:34):

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Blitzkrieg on Grinchitude - Hallmark & Krampus
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

I'm kind of freaking out.

Obviously Colbert Report tapes well before airing.

I... just don't know what to make of this. Is it possible it is, in fact, time for Krampus in America?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More Disturbing Yuletide Joy

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Christmas Totally Needs Krampus

My co-worker, Dan, recently informed me of something that I really want to start working into my Holiday season.

Apparently in Germany there used to be a tradition in early December that, in order to get little kids to behave in the Holiday seasons operated on the "more stick, less carrot" model. Germans, being Germans, had cooked up a surefire way of managing their kids by scaring the bejeezus out of bad kids with a fellow named Krampus (complete with horns, fangs, etc...) who came by in early December with Santa to warn little bad kids about how rotten they were, and apparently rattle chains and pop them with birch branches.

I'm not clear if an early December birch-thwacking was it for the kids, and if they still got apples in their shoes on December 25th or whatever the little stone age German kids used to get for Christmas, but I think we could work something out if we wanted to bring Krampus into the modern American Christmas.

Wouldn't this look awesome as an inflatable lawn decoration?

I like the idea that Santa and this Krampus guy can operate on a good cop/ bad cop model in a way that kids can wrap their heads around. It certainly puts a whole new spin on Santa when you consider that he seems to endorse Krampus's @#$%ed-up shenanigans.

Anyway, I guess in some parts of Alpine Germany, people still do this Krampus thing.

You know St. Nick thinks its totally hilarious to have a jack-ass side kick who makes those ungrateful little miscreants sweat a little

Oh, Germany. You are a font of never-ending old-school terror.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Charity Opportunity

Hey Leaguers.

I am now beginning to recall that last year's charitable efforts went largely unnoticed here at The League. I'm giving it 24 hours more and then we're pulling it down. This is just sort of sad.

If you want to participate, click on the links on the left.

Just checking in

Every week Jamie watches "So You Think You Can Dance?", the American Idol of dance shows. Despite the fact I found lots of American Idol chatter in my early posts, I've not watched the show since the second season or so, and I don't normally watch reality competitions.

I have no real knowledge of dance other than that I grew up in a household where it wasn't considered strange to go to musicals or watch them as movies. So I really have no idea if what I'm looking at is any good or not. The style is hardly Gene Kelly or Cyd Charisse in most dances, but I don't find it as embarrassing as I find the typical, hackey cover of a Queen song on American Idol (it does not matter who you are. You aren't Freddy, so stop it.).

This week has been very busy. My office Admin is out, so I'm doing parts of her job and trying to do my own. Today a major screw-up was uncovered, and so I spent the middle of my day sweating bullets around whether or not I was going to be able to fix that situation (it resolved itself imperfectly).

Its also been a week of announcements for DC Comics. Little things most of you guys won't care too much about, I guess. But stuff I believe is healthy for comics with one foot in the past and an eye on the future.

Superman Earth One

Mostly, I'm kind of tired. Which is why I don't think I have it in me this evening to say a whole lot.

An upcoming cover for Wonder Woman #600. New George Perez art!

Monday, December 07, 2009

DC's Earth One Initiative

I'm guest blogging over at Comic Fodder for Travis while he travels. Wrote my three-page navel-gazing missive on what it means to put out new, original graphic novels hard rebooting Superman and Batman.

Go here.

Happy Birthday to Dug!

Happy B-Day, B-Dug.

P-Squared, if you need help saving Christmas, we're your buddies!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Unnecessary meme

Calvin posted this meme. And I hadn't done one in a while, so here you go.

1. What is the color of your toothbrush?
Gray. It is a fat Colgate toothbrush with a gray strip on the handle. I prefer fat-handled tooth brushes with a "medium" or "regular" head.

2. Name one person who made you smile today.
My co-worker Pete has a kid, Alex. Alex is about 3 months old. Babies are cute. I smiled at him during the office Holiday party. Also, The Admiral made me laugh several times on the phone.

3. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Sleeping off the "celebrating" I did during the Horns game.

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
Talking to the Admiral and watching football.

5. What is your favorite candy bar?
Probably the Hundred Grand or whatever they call it now. Although if its just a chunk of chocolate, I prefer dark chocolate.

Bonus Question: What no-longer-available candy would you bring back?
Grape bubble gum. How the hell did that disappear from the candy aisle?

6. Have you ever been to a strip club?
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

7. What is the last thing you said aloud?
"That looks good". Jamie was showing me a printout of the annual Christmas letter to the family.

8. What is your favorite ice cream? How to choose?
I am lactose intolerant. I choose "no" when it comes to ice cream. As a kid I liked Peppermint and Bubble Gum. As a teen, coffee.

9. What was the last thing you had to drink?
I am drinking "Canada Dry", a delicious Ginger Ale. I understand that in Canada, its just referred to as "Us Dry".

10. Do you like your wallet?
Yeah. Begrudgingly. Its the first wallet I've had in years without a Superman logo on it, but I got tired of placing my wallet face down when I was in mixed company. This wallet is a fairly standard folding affair from "Fossil". However, you can remove the ID holding part, which is nice when I want to just carry my ID and a credit card.

11. What was the last thing you ate?
Taco Cabana. I'm not proud.

12. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
I bought slippers at JC Penny this morning because they were half off and had a UT logo on them. Also, I owned no slippers, and we have concrete floors, and it was in the 30's this week.

13. The last sporting event you watched?
I am watching NFL football. Cards vs. Vikes. Cards are winning.

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Plain with salt is fine. But I do not turn my nose up at caramel corn. Last year I realized I no longer care for cheesy corn.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to?
The aforementioned co-worker Peter, who I texted at the end of the UT game last night. He is an Aggie thrice-over (undergrad, Masters, PhD), and was hoping UT would lose.

16. Ever go camping?
Not really. Last camping trip was Spring Break 1994, and it was a disaster. I sprained my ankle when I got out of the car, and the camp site was across the lake from a power plant, and somehow I neglected to actually bring food. It was awful.

I also love indoor plumbing. Call me crazy.

17. Do you take vitamins daily?
No. I try to eat as many foods as I can each day so that I absorb vitamins the old fashioned way.

18. Do you go to church every Sunday?
No. And it makes certain people sad, so we shall discuss it no further.

19. Do you have a tan?
No. I inherited the ghastly pallor of my Finnish forebears and have no ability to brown up when exposed to El Sol. I just go red and get cancer-y.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza?
That's like asking Archie if he prefers Betty or Veronica.

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw?
Driving: yes.
At the movies: sometimes.
At home: Never.
At restaurants: no, but I constantly worry I'm sharing spit with the last person who drank from that glass.
From a bendy straw: I'm not ready for that part of life.
From a crazy straw: As often as I can find one.

22. What did your last text message say?
Incoming: Your Horns are looking a little rough tonight.
Outgoing: That game was RIDICULOUS.

23. What are you doing tomorrow?
Working. Why?

24. favorite color?

25. Look to your left; what do you see?
A TV remote. Beyond that, Jamie.

Bowl Schedule 09-10

Well, the Bowl schedule is up, and UT did manage to land in the National Championship. Pretty cool that two teams I follow (UT and OU) have each had a shot in back to back years.

I am, of course, a Longhorn by academic and professional affiliation. But these days I work with 17 other universities, and so my professional affiliations spread a little outside of that particular scope. But as a sports fan, I bleed orange. Just don't tell anyone.

Its sort of cool to know I will want to watch all five BCS games and a load of non-BCS bowls.

The Rose Bowl on New Years will be the scrappy Ducks versus the Buckeyes, and I think the Ducks stand a darn good chance of winning that one.

The Sugar Bowl (also New Year's Day) will feature the former National Champs and team who was ranked #1 all season against Cincinnati. I watched Cincinnati play three times this year, and I think this could be a surprisingly even match-up.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 4) will feature Boise State (who I don't care about) versus TCU (whom we should ALL care about). TCU will spend the next month whining about how they should have been in the Championship Bowl, so its a chance to see what they've got against a serious challenge.

The Orange Bowl I'll be watching mostly because its on, but GT and Iowa...? Could be fun.

And, of course, my Longhorns in the National Championship. Versus Alabama, who seems superior in so many ways. It's my sincere hope that the Longhorns will embrace their underdog status, just as UT did in the 06 Championship, and play against an over confident Alabama. Or... Alabama could just walk all over my pals Colt and Kindle.

C'est la vie.

Some other bowls I'll consider watching:

12/22 - Oregon State in the Maaco Bowl.
12/26 - Pittsburgh in the Mieneke Car Care Bowl
12/28 - A&M in the Independence Bowl
12/31 - Houston in the Bell Hleicopters Armed Services Bowl
12/31 - Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl
1/2 - Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl
1/2 - Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl

That's a lot of football, but I have a lot of time off from work.

UT (barely) Beats Nebraska: Headed to National Championship Game

(editor's note: This is being written at about 1:30 AM Sunday. If the BCS comes out tomorrow with a different ranking than I expect, and UT is NOT in the championship, I will not be entirely surprised. But it @#$%ing better not be Alabama and Florida)

At this point, I guess it means that the worst ranking UT will pull this year is #2? Which I can hardly complain about. Something tells me the other bowls will be the ones worth watching this year. So if you can't find me end of December - January 7, I'll be camped out and watching football.

Dear TCU Fans,

Hey! Feeling cheated that UT is headed to the National Championship and that you're going to have to play in some other stinky bowl game? Let me introduce you to me, this time last year when Oklahoma got to play in a National Championship game that we knew they weren't going to win while UT pondered how we'd beat those guys...

The BCS is ridiculous. You now have your own taste of it. And let me further instruct you that after watching the Cincy game today and the Alabama game, I sincerely doubt that UT would beat those guys either. But funny thing: UT started out ranked very high, played very well in most games, and won every game. That could be TCU next year if your team isn't a fluke this year.


The League

UT now isn't going off to play in a bowl game with decent ratings that nobody will remember by July. UT is going off to get their asses handed to them by an overwhelmingly superior Alabama. And, I assure you TCU fans... you would not win that game, either, and for the rest of his life Colt McCoy will have to live down the whispers that he (despite breaking school and NCAA records) and his team were always frauds.

I would love to believe UT is going to win against Alabama, and I will be wearing burnt orange the whole week leading to January 7th. But I'm not laboring under any illusions. The divine providence which gave UT a win this evening will most likely not replicate itself in Pasadena.

I'm just glad to follow a team that's strong enough that even when the offense decides to go bonkers for the game, the defense can win it. And if you look at the TAMU game, vice-versa.

Nah. If you want to catch a good bowl game, I'm going to recommend the Ducks in the Rose Bowl, or wherever the hell Cincy winds up. Those guys are insane.

But you can't say UT didn't keep it interesting the past two weeks.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Revisiting The First Posts

League of Melbotis soft-launched in March of 2003.

You can see that first week's worth of posts by clicking here.

Its worth noting that I actually pulled down the League after its first week, then put it back up. I might have saved myself and all of you a lot of time and trouble if I'd just shut it down back then, but then who would have been around to give you lengthy reviews of "Santa Buddies"?

My very first post at this blog?

March 30th, 2003:

Greetings, mortals. This is my very, very first post to this blog. Jim Dedman is a weenie.
posted by Ryan at 10:29 AM

Two years into the Bush presidency and a year and a half out from 9/11, America was in an interesting place. We'd rolled into Iraq in a war that made little sense to me at the time. I did not understand how, if Iraq indeed had the WMD's we said they did, they hadn't lobbed them at our military as they spent a month gearing up on Iraq's borders. I also couldn't begin to guess what the gameplan was for occupying such a large and hostile country in the wake of an invasion.

Well, a funny thing happened...

Those early posts are fascinating to read in the here and now. At the time, I was in a very different place in my life. I had no real reason to believe my parents would find the site, nor anyone else that I not pointed to the site. Blogs were only semi-known as a publishing medium, and I couldn't fathom anyone Googling my name (and once it became clear that was an issue, I began referring to myself in 3rd person as "The League").

Jim and I were passing emails on various political topics back and forth, and looking at some of my opinions now, I don't necessarily think I was wrong, but would certainly address the issues in a different way.

Its also clear the contempt with which I held The Valley of the Sun. Neither Jamie nor myself were very happy when we arrived in Phoenix, and after four years, at best I'd say our opinion didn't improve. With three years behind us back in Austin, the majority of the four years is a blur of long work hours, hospital visits, odd social situations, boredom, and the endless planning necessary for scheduling visits to Austin, Houston and Lawton.

Last night Jamie, Jason and I were watching a Canadian documentary entitled "Cat Ladies" (recommended, btw), which reveals how managing, caring for, rescuing, etc... of cats has become a crutch and coping mechanism for the women in the film (a cop interviewed from the Toronto animal detail states that 99% of the animal hording cases are women).

Its not a huge leap to say that some of my obsession with comics, etc... and, indeed, getting into the habit of blogging stemmed from my own dissatisfaction. At one point, I considered winding up this blog when we returned to Austin because I was aware that the person who was writing this site in Chandler, Arizona would be a bit different from the one who was writing it in Austin. However, in the end, documenting the return and re-engagement with a life we'd left behind (and, of course, the aspects of "you can never go home again" which followed) was all part of it.

By April 2 of 2003, I was already ranting about Superman. Superman, comics and pop culture would immediately begin to overwhelm the conversation at LoM. I've never been particularly comfortable arguing politics, and find it odd that I thought a public website discussing politics was a good idea. But we can talk Superman, or Spidey or the latest movies without faces changing color or people feeling like they absolutely must have the last word.

By April 03, 2009, I was getting into details of the latest releases in comics.

At one point, blogging was still fairly new, and I wondered if LoM wouldn't accidentally find itself a wider audience of comic fans. There were little flirtations as I was linked to from bigger sites such as The Beat once or twice (Heidi is still my gold standard for industry coverage), the old Blog@ Newsarama, etc... Always enough to spike interest for a day or two, but I wasn't able to get any real traction.

Luckily, I had no expectations, just wishful thinking. And I do think that my comic work at Comic Fodder made a dent or two in fandom and saw quadruple digits on a couple of posts.

As I didn't believe my folks or anyone else was reading LoM, the language in those early posts is a bit salty. I don't apologize for that. It was what it was, and once I knew Judy and the KareBear were reading, I cleaned things up a bit, and also learned that "@#$%" is infinitely more satisfying than actual profanity, anyway.

And every time I type it, I think of Sgt. Snorkel from the Beetle Bailey comic strips I read obsessively as a kid, and who I recall first employing the tried-and-true technique.

My first pic of Melbotis appears here.

Leaguers may recall that early on, I didn't have titles on my posts, didn't have a comment section, etc... For years, we used HaloScan, and it was a tough decision to abandon the comment section that was sort of the comments of record. We've used the embedded commenting tool for a few years with great success, but I've since lost the comment the time musician "Meco" showed up in the comments to outline how George Lucas had screwed him on the Star Wars Christmas album, and when I'd complained about a McDonald's commercial and the actor's aunt wrote in to tell me I was a @#$%.

Here's a pic I posted on our 3rd wedding anniversary.

kind of sums it up

We'll be married 10 years in April. Go figure.

Here's my first link to Randy.

Its been a long, strange trip.

It is true that, in part, I am looking to close the blog to close a chapter in my life. Many of the reasons why League of Melbotis sprung into existence have wound down or come to a natural conclusion. We're in a different place in how we're dealing with everything from politics to career to comics. And, of course, we're going to have to dig deep when we return to a few outstanding projects that we promised ourselves we'd do touch on again some day.

Still, I'm glad to have such a long period of my life (6.75 years of the past 34.75. That ain't bad.).

And who knows? We could be back.

This could be cool

I don't know too much about this except what I saw in this video, but there's a show coming on called "Slingers" that looks sci-fi interesting.

io9 had this to say.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Giving Opportunity #2: Heifer International

Here's attempt #2 to find a charitable organization which we can support in the season of giving.

Team Melbotis at Heifer International

Here's a blurb describing Heifer International's general approach to things:

Heifer has learned over the years that a holistic approach is necessary in order to build sustainable communities. So we’ve developed a set of global initiatives – areas of emphasis that must be addressed if we’re to meet our mission of ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth.

Here are some areas Heifer is working in:

Animal Well-Being
Gender Equity
Urban Agriculture
Young People's Initiative

Again, this isn't about the size of a donation. If you can afford $5, that's plenty. I want to see what we can do together. Last year we did quite well with the Red Kettle, and I think we can do even better this year.

-Give here and get your name shown.
-Give here sort of anonymously.

So let's put our money where our mouth is when it comes to this time of year. Let's see what we can do with our hard earned dollars to help out some folks elsewhere who are less fortunate.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Go Ducks!

Go Ducks!

I know who I'm cheering for in the Rose Bowl.

Easy Holiday Donation! Red Kettle

really? Not one donation yet? I'm going to assume you've all been very, very busy.

It's RED KETTLE TIME, people! This isn't for me, this is The League trying to get you folks to show a little charity and generosity in this time of giving.

Its fast. Its easy. You don't have to give a lot, just a little. All together, we have the power to do something good!

This guy is helping The League drum up support for the Salvation Army

Click here to give!

And the sooner people start giving, the sooner I shut up about this thing.

Checking In

I doubt much will come of it, but it's supposed to snow in Austin tomorrow. El Nino is making the end of 2009 a bit interesting, giving us this surprising cold snap and making a dent in our multi-year rain deficit.

We don't deal well with freezing weather in this twon, so I expect tomorrow to be a bit of a mess, coming and going from work.

I apologize for missing a day of posting as we wind down to the end here. Again, if you have any particular post you'd like to see, let me know. We've got a few in our pocket, but we better start working on them now, or its unlikely they'll see the light of day.

Yesterday Jamie and I made a late run to Target to do a spot of Christmas shopping. I much, much prefer doing shopping with Jamie than without, and weekends get crammed full of plans and plots this close to Christmas. Anyhow, by the time we finally really got home and wound down last night, I had neither time nor inclination to chat on much.

This evening I left work early for an eye appointment. I'm a big fan of my eye doctor, as she's very frank, and seems like she's really trying to make sure she's got my situation right, not getting me out the door so the next person can move through.

But as I'd left work early, this evening I was doing some work while Jamie watched TV.

Working to get about 25 of these videos up and online:

It's funny, because everything technical I learned in film school has been rendered moot by the ensuing ten years of technological achievement, not to mention the period between 09/2006 and now since I was responsible for video as part of my job and kept up with this stuff.

In many ways, I regret that I didn't pursue a career in video editing. Its a job I enjoy, and back in the day, I was fairly good and fast. Alas, Austin's jobs offered in the field circa 1998 were few and far between.

Currently, I am watching the Oregon/ Oregon State game, and cheering for the Ducks. Just a great game, which I'd like to finish watching.

Anyhow, here's to hoping the weather tomorrow isn't too rotten.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's a Wonderful Blog

I'll be writing a few posts as we head toward the December 20th ending point of this site which will be, alas, actually about the twists and turns of writing LoM over the years.

JimD suggested I write about people I might not have met and experiences that could not have occurred without League of Melbotis. And so I shall.


To understand this web of people, its also important to understand that JimD is at the center of it all. I met Jim in a screen writing class in the Fall of 1997, and took my second screen writing class with him in the Spring of 1998, just before we both graduated. I had no immediate plans following graduation, and he was headed for law school.

We kept up via email, writng back and forth multiple times per week on pop culture, politics, etc..., and Jim maintained a blog (one of many over the years). Eventually he persuaded me to start this site in the Spring of 2003.

Randy and Emily

Many Leaguers would be surprised to learn that I have only met Randy twice in person, and our acquaintanceship stems directly from this site. Randy knows JimD from many years back, and I guess Jim sent him a link to the blog circa Summer of 2003.

Since that time, Randy and I now email at least once per day. I still recall when he emailed me that he was thinking of getting engaged, and years later, he's now a husband and father. Kind of kooky.

Randy moved to Tennessee during the tenure of this blog to make a life with Emily, who I finally met this year, and immediately liked. Randy is a lucky guy.

Steven and Lauren

My understanding is that Steven wrote for UT's student paper "The Daily Texan" while JimD was editor of the paper. I don't recall exactly when Steven and I began chatting back and forth, but it was a good year or so prior to 2006, when he and Lauren packed it up and moved from the Bay Area to Austin.

Steven's decision to do so was part of the catalyst that launched us back to Waterloo. It became somewhat apparent that such a move was possible if we really wished it (and we did).

We'd been back about 3 - 4 weeks and missed one another a few times when we finally met for coffee at Magnolia Cafe. For whatever reason we hit it off, and Steven and Lauren have been terrific friends. Sadly (and I think I'm spilling some beans here), Team Harms-Roth is picking up and returning to The Bay Area this winter. My feelings are mixed as, selfishly, I hate to lose such great friends to geography. But I also know that career opportunity, lifestyle, etc... are a huge draw.

My gameplan is to visit Dug and K in Berkeley frequently, anyway, so I suspect we'll be seeing them on some sort of routine basis.


I have no idea when Simon began visiting the blog, and I pray he never finds the jokes I used to make about Canadians eating babies in some earlier posts when the League was still feeling its way.

A fellow comics nut, Simon and I chat via email regularly, have exchanged comics through mail, and I have visions of meeting up at a Convention one of these days. He's been a co-writer at Comic Fodder, maintains his own blog which I read when he posts semi-weekly, and has been an all around good guy to have around.


Perhaps the most mysterious of all Leaguers, I know little about Fantomenos other than that he lives in Oregon, is a football and genre fiction nut, and wrestles with dog issues as well. He's my equal number living somewhere in the North Pacific.

I think 99% of our communication has occurred via the comments section of the blog, but he's such a regular, I really look forward to when he shows up to chime in.

I am, of course, very sad that the end of this blog will mean the end of the mysterious Fantomenos in my day.

Paul T.

I don't think I'd heard Paul's name before my trip to Vegas. I was checking my messages on my phone and an old high school chum, JenIn, emailed me that she was going to hook me up with this guy, Paul, assuring me we'd be best buddies.

Paul and I have been chatting back and forth ever since, and I actually owe him an invitation to coffee.

It turns out Paul is from the same part of Austin whenre I attended school in 4th - 9th grade, and also attended UT Film school, just a few years behind me.

Paul maintains a blog
, and has started a nifty web project called "Sunday Screenings" that I really need to get motor-vated to take part in.

I guess JenIn saw enough parallels that she hit the nail on the head. Anyway, check out Paul's work.

Some Other folks:

Check out that "Fan" list. 77 Facebook fans. Not bad.

I see I forgot to mention the always amazing Alfredo, Anne Francis and about a dozen or so more of you. Wow. Truly a George Bailey moment.

Reconnections Via the Blog
some folks I used to know, who found me thanks to LoM

Michael Corley
Carla Beth
Madi (she floated around here circa 2004 or so)
and many more!

That doesn't include all the folks I never lost touch with, but with whom I've been able to maintain contact, like JAL and Nathan C.

Its been a wild ride, Leaguers.

If I missed any of you, pipe up, and we'll do a post numbero dos.

But I gotta go to bed.