Thursday, March 26, 2009

Countdown to @#$% Day

Still planning on this 1-day free-for-all of naughty words on April 1. Mom, Dad, Judy... you've all been warned.

Mangum Returns

I left work a spot early to pick up Matt from the airport. Lucky bastard has been in Thailand for about three weeks scuba-ing, running around Bangkok and avoiding sex-tourism, which is apparently a very real thing.

He has pictures of himself petting a tiger. Its kind of surreal.

He hadn't slept in about 24 hours when I found him (we were standing on opposite sides of the Barbara Jordan statue at the airport when I called looking for him), and so he was extremely punchy. I fed him a cheeseburger and drove him home. Hopefully he'll sleep a solid 12 hours or so.

My Prediction Comes True

It looks like this was my blogging this week.


Well, you win some, you lose some.

Where the Wild Things Are

Already Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" has become renowned for a painful production process and clashes with the studio. The movie was started some time ago (years ago), but its just now that the trailer has been released and a launch date of October 16th has been announced.

I desperately hope that the movie is up to the standard set by the children's book. "Where the Wild Things Are" holds a special place for so many of us whose parents found a place for it between Dr. Seuss's whimsy, the pedantic lessons of familial virtue of The Berenstein Bears and other staples of growing up in American (or maybe Canadian and English) households with books.

You can see the trailer here.

I so desperately want to love this movie already. Jonze has spared no effort in creating living versions of Sendak's Wild Things. Now, if he can keep intact the magic of roaring your terrible roars and being sent to bed without any supper.

Also: Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" is one of my favorite songs of the decade, so that's a nice touch. And, of course, Catherine Keener (how does she always wind up in at least potentially good projects?).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A storm blew through Austin today. I work 20 feet below street level, so my first inkling that something was up came from a phone call from Jamie, informing me that I should not leave work and to please keep an eye on the live feed from KXAN. So I worked.

That was fine. I was out of the office yesterday and helped out a training session all day today.

Like most Texans, I'm not afraid of that weather. It just is. Golf ball-sized hail causes massive property damage, but its usually not dangerous and its inevitable. Its happens somewhere in town every year. The wind and sideways rain are part and parcel of springtime weather that I cannot imagine the first settlers dealing with in their sod huts, let alone the largely nomadic people who were in the Central Texas area of the 19th Century.

We joke in our office about how the world will end outside, but we'll only know when we lose our data connection or when we walk out to get a cup of coffee. Sometimes I worry that's more true than a joke, and Jason has referenced that old Twilight Zone episode where the guy breaks his glasses left alone in his library.

While @theworld has been worried about Twitter of late, I've been thinking a lot about our mission and what it means to have social media in an academic or research environment. The tendency is to assume the "one size fits all" approach of popular technologies like facebook and Twitter MUST be applied to academia. Some folks do it and do it well. I believe Garcia has made a career out of doing just that.

I confess to being more skeptical. When asked to "give Dr. X a blog" when I was at ASU, I refused. " is completely free and has dedicated technical support. I am not bringing up a whole blog service because one faculty wants to rant on the internet." I don't think either the faculty or my boss at the time understood that Blogger in 2002 was going to be as useful and reliable as anything I'd spend time or money on. If I recall, Blogger at the time may not have had editable themes or URL re-direct, which I may have made some noise about, but the issue then was really that the instructor and my boss (a) felt I was just being petulant for not just instructing my co-workers to "build a blogging tool", and (b) that it wasn't coming out of nor housed at ASU.

I've changed my tune on that one, in a way. I still would never bring up a whole service to satisfy one faculty when there are free, hosted services available, and I will note that we use open source software in our office, so I feel good about the fact that we're getting the best of both worlds. But I also feel deeply that researchers SHOULD be blogging. Maybe not about BSG or what they ate for dinner, but that it can help punch through the wall between scholars and the public when the scholars publicly describe their work rather than sitting behind the keep walls (most can't get a spot in the actual ivory tower). And as long as they aren't available to the public, or are even perceived as real humans doing work by the public, its going to remain the same closed communication loop of journals and peer-reviewed journals in which the same people talk to one another but do not broadcast outward. And, it might remind researchers of the public and how they absorb the information and value the work going on at research institutions.

But I am unsure if Twittering research results is prudent or wise or lends credibility. And it certainly doesn't maintain the sound fundamentals of peer-review as part of the scholarly process, which I believe are what keeps the machine credible and working (if only we asked for the same peer review of our television media in their stories and articles). But there is a net that researchers and scholars will build naturally, and we're sort of sitting on the forefront of all that right now.

The tough part is changing "the way it was" to "the way it could be", when institutions like universities thrive on "we do what we know because we have neither time nor money to cope with the change".

I think that was a long, long tangent.

What I meant to say was that Thursday is Peabo's Birthday. He is now as old as Jamie and older than me.

May the sun shine upon him on his birthday. I did not buy him a present, but will buy him dinner, should he make the request.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jamie's Birthday

Wednesday is Jamie's Birthday. Please, please take a moment and drop her a "Happy Birthday" here in the comments section.

Jamie is actually sick, fighting a cold or something. I suspect her birthday is going to be subpar as we make her some soup and try to get her better rather than going out to eat or something.

I think I say this every year, but I'm always much more excited about Jamie's birthday than my own, and so this year we had a few friends over for a party. Jamie looked lovely, and all had a good time, I think.

You can see what Jamie had to say about it here, and what Jason had to say, here.

When people say "what can I get Jamie for her birthday?", the answer is: just say "hi" to her. Even if its being like Doug and flying to Austin to surprise her. The girl is notoriously difficult to shop for as she doesn't have too many material wants, so.. just say "hi, hope you're okay", and she's happy.

Anyhow, she'll get a little more in the way of a material gift from me tomorrow (but not much). And I hope she has the energy to enjoy it.

Happy birthday, Jamie. Love you.

You are better than a 1000 Lynda Carters. Even with muppets.

APRIL FIRST: Be Prepared for Swears

I've decided we've all become too civil and we're beating around the bush in social media. My social media of choice are pretty much Blogger, Facebook and Twitter.

At one point in my life, I had the mouth of a sailor's friend that the sailor looked down on for his poor language. I always managed to clean it up around the folks and whatnot, but left to my own devices, I made Andrew Dice Clay look classy. I admit it. Sometimes I really, really miss feeling okay about just letting whatever pops into my heads come out my mouth and/ or keyboard. You know, when someone comes over to your table at your restaurant to let you know how offended they were by listening to you for the last twenty minutes?

Ahhhh.... good times.

Well, for one day, I'm bringing it back. If, in fact, I've still got it in me.

April 1, 2009, will not be a family-friendly day at League of Melbotis. It will be Freedom of Horrendous Speech Day here at League HQ.

I hereby solemnly pledge that for April 1, 2009
Any blog made the evening of March 31, intended for April 1, 2009 will be rife with horrible, horrible profanity. Seriously, you're going to need to wash your monitor clean after reading it, and maybe keep those Clorox wipes nearby.
Similarly, any Facebook or Twitter updates belonging to me (but not to metacomics or comic Fodder) will also be full of ear-searing naughtiness.

Mom... Judy... Admiral.... I am totally not kidding about this. Steer clear on April 1. You've been warned.

The content will otherwise be the same, but we're going to use swears. Lots and lots of swears.

I plan to go unfiltered for one day, and on the following day, will edit the post to be free of any naughty words. But I have to do it. Just this once.

And I ask you to join me.

if you maintain a twitter account, a Facebook page, etc... join me in returning to that same manner of frank speaking we all employed around age 19 or so (or which my wife carries on to this day...)
I was in Waco today for a demo/ presentation for several schools looking to join our consortium. I have no idea if they will join, partially because it wound up that I ended up delivering most of the morning's presentations and I always feel like that could have gone better when I wrap up.

Saw the digitization lab at Baylor, and I don't mind talking about how awesome it truly is. The technology that's in place these days for archiving print materials to a digital format for preservation and digital distribution is both fore-head slappingly obvious and amazing that anyone has actually manufactured devices such as robot-arm-vacuums for self-page-turning, full book scanners.

Sadly, I arrived home to find Jamie has fallen ill. No idea where it came from, but she's fighting either a bad cold or a light flu. No way to go into your birthday. She's in pretty sorry shape. Wish I could stay home with her tomorrow to try to help out. Maybe I can cut out early.

Robot Show

Came home and caught up on some shows off the DVR, including the two most recent episodes of Terminator, which isn't the nerve-jangling ride it was when it started, but I'm still onboard with its exploration of the concepts inherent to the mix of AI and time travel. I'm also glad that the writers and producers know how to wrap up a plotline that I, honestly, felt was going nowhere fast. I'm not too sure the two episodes redeemed some of the clunkiness of the season, but its nice to see they had a gameplan for the characters.

I'm also still enjoying the B or C-plot of former FBI Agent Ellison and John Henry, the rapidly learning AI.

Sure, its still a program that if ou start to pick at it (oh... that would NEVER happen with a cyborg! and that wouldn't happen with time travel!), then, wow... way to go genius. You've somehow found the flaw in the show with the Very Attractive Robot. based on an Arnie movie. But if you accept the internal logic, its got its good points.

Work + Birthdays and Stuff + Comics - Time - Sleep = end of line

Its been very busy round here the last few weeks. I also got up at 5:20 AM today for my drive to Waco. I haven't had a chance to read many of my comics the past few weeks. I'm going to grab some and then I'm going to crawl into bed.

Buenos Noches.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How the League Gets Inspired

Sure, we all get juiced by watching a good motivational speech in a movie, be it John Belushi in Animal House or that prattling insanity at the the end of Braveheart (how'd that work out for you, William Wallace)?

Anyhow, after a while you become immune to inspirational speeches. But never fear! has ground down the speeches, and like Dr. Mindbender creating Serpentor from the DNA of the world's greatest military strategists... they've concocted the world's greatest inspirational speech.

It's like free-basing inspiration.

hat tip to Dug for the video

Devo and Superman

So, last Friday I saw that Whitney Matheson of Pop Candy was going to interview Devo and opened the gates to her audience to ask questions of the legendary band. Sure that Matheson was going to be flooded with questions, I shot her off a Very League sort of question via e-mail and then, honestly, forgot about it.

Well, lo and behold, Matheson asked my question. It's actually one of the first questions asked from a fan.

How can I repay you for your consistent level of awesome? -- R. Steans

By rejecting stupidity and embracing ideas and information.

You know, when Devo tells you to reject stupidity - you put on your red, art-deco bucket hat and goggles and you say NO to stupidity. And I hope I'm embracing ideas and information the way Devo would have it, but its hard to tell.

If Matheson's column looks familiar to long-time Leaguers, she also once made mention of my celebration of the Super-lifestyle circa May of 2006.

The funny thing is, this isn't really representative of how Super my lifestyle is in 2009. Is it time for a Super update? Is anyone interested in a photo tour of League HQ's Fortress of Solitude and Hall of Justice?

The problem, then, is revealing that I may have given in to stupidity... Must not let Devo down....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Crystal Ball: Light Blogging Ahead

Tomorrow through Thursday should be fairly busy days. I may not have much time for posting here at The League. I have work and other obligations.


1) Please wish Jamie a happy birthday. Her birthday is Wednesday.
2) If you are lurking and not commenting, please pop up and say "hello" in the comments section, or, better yet, shoot me an e-mail. I can see you on Sitemeter, but I don't know who you are. We've got a big tent here and we're happy to have you. Say "howdy".
3) Let me know if you have any old features you'd like to see me do again. Its always fun to get ideas from you guys.
4) Why not pressure Jamie into additional blogging?
5) I was talking to Doug. We may try to get another domain name or something going here. I dunno. It all seems like a lot of bother.

Party, trek, etc...


Some of us are cautiously optimistic about the new Star Trek film hitting theaters this summer. While we look at the blow-dried, bottle-blond Kirk and the all-sexy, mail-order catalog crew with no small amount of pessimism, we're still hoping that a reboot of the Trek franchise will breathe some new life into the concept.

Others are seeing something else in the trailer. Got this from Doug.

Zack Snyder directs Wall-E

For Steven and Lauren

Suddenly: Doug!

We had some friends and family over for a pre-Birthday celebration for Jamie last night. The doors opened at 8:00, but Jamie's parents were coming a little early. They arrived at 7:30 while I was still getting cleaned up for the party. Jamie ran downstairs and I just heard all kinds of commotion.

Doug had decided to fly in and surprise Jamie for her birthday. Not a bad surprise, and neither Jamie's folks nor Doug had let on at all that he would be here.

Anyway, heck of a birthday surprise.

For Leaguers who attended: thanks so much for showing up. We sincerely appreciate you guys, and last night was a lot of fun. And we all partook in some delicious Force-infueled "Yoda Soda", thanks to Leaguer Nicole (and thanks to Lauren for the cookies, JAL for the fudge brownies, Susan for the chocolate raspberry treats, Judy for the pigs in a blanket, Juan and Letty for like, 3 different things they brought, Heather for the wine, and all the things I lost track of in the crush of folks coming in the door)

Anyway, we throw these parties mostly so we can eat their food and drink their booze and eat their desserts for weeks after the event.