Friday, April 24, 2009

Now I can get drunk like a Russian at breakfast

Bakon Vodka.

It's, apparently, bacon-flavored vodka. As if someone reached into my brain and said "what sort of evil scheme can we concoct to get this near-tee-totaler to drink? Oh. My. Weird and sad."

But there it is. Bakon Vodka.

tip o' the hat to Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool.

Very quick Friday night post

The Admiral sent me these pics. They were associated with a made-up story about the plane as a failed Soviet experiment in a giant K-7. If you look at the pics closely, its somebody's 3D modeling project. Blow them up to full size for detail, and its sort of video-game-style 3D. So I don't know if someone was playing a prank or if they were just generating a story to go with their idea.

Still, its a cool concept for a model. Just neat stuff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Saw Astronauts

So, yesterday League-Pal Julia P. alerted me that her sister, who is a student worker at UT, had landed passes to an amazing event on campus. And, apparently, Rachel's friends are a bunch of dorks with no sense off history or the American Spirit, because they passed up a chance to see three living legends.

This evening I joined Julia, Rachel, Shoemaker and a few hundred other folks to see a panel/ reunion of the Apollo 8 Mission members of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.

If you don't know who those guys are, well, you should probably watch more TV or whatever the hell I did to know who they were (I do read, occasionally, but let's be real).

LBJ's daughter, Lynda Johnson Robb, opened, and was hilarious. Must be nice to be a Robb and LBJ's daughter, but, anyway, it was terribly sweet.

Moderated by Jim Hartz, the panel more or less took Apollo 8 from start to finish, and gave Anders, Borman and Lovell an opportunity to share some great stories from the mission. And, of course, to describe what it must have been to have been to be the first people to see Earth from beyond orbit, one of the defining moments in human history.

The first Earthrise photo, as snapped by the Apollo 8 mission

It was interesting to hear the context in which these gentlemen described how they thought of the space race, just as much or more a true front in the Cold War and a way to defeat our ideological enemies, as much as building a monument to innovation and achievement.

Some of the Apollo ground crew was in attendance, including Chris Kraft, one of the mastermind of NASA Mission control. The astronauts were more than generous in giving credit where credit is due, and reminded the audience of the extraordinary work that went into putting the missions together.

Its a tough night to describe. We've all got a little hero-worship of these guys, and if you don't, you should. These are the ones, both astronaut and engineer, who achieved the unthinkable and created a new way of looking at the world and the place of our little blue marble against the cosmos. And while they speak knowingly of the weight of the mission, its unpracticed and honest when all of them described the how's and why's of being a part of the Apollo missions in straightforward terms.

I don't know if mankind's destiny is beyond this little backwater planet on the edge of an unremarkable galaxy, but I like to think of how America and even Russia put forth their greatest efforts by their best and brightest to achieve the unachievable. That a war could be fought by sending rockets to space rather than at one another, and that in doing so, return to our planet wiser, with greater knowledge and with new dreams for mankind.

Lynda Johnson Robb mentioned that her father sent copies of the Earth Rise photo to every single leader of a nation, not as a sign of Earth's might or technical superiority, but as a sign of our world as it is. A bright dot against the dark, and that's what we have in common.

Years ago someone sent this to me for The League of Melbotis Christmas Spectacular, and its largely why I know about the Apollo 8 Mission.

On Christmas Eve, 1968 the astronauts of Apollo 8 were in orbit around the moon, unsure if they would return safely to Earth, roughly 238,857 miles from Earth. Family. Safety.


Should I be:

1) comforted to know there are fewer bullets available?
2) terrified that all the bullets are sold to people who would use them against me?
3) disappointed that Central Texas is also full of wingnuts that believe an Obama administration would mean the end times and who are stocking up, a la Timothy McVeigh?
4) angry with ammunition suppliers for failing to keep up with demand?
5) curious as to who owns the bullets?
6) joining Lou Dobbs in believing its all the Cartels?
7) buying my own weaponry and getting ready for my life to turn into "The Magnificent Seven?"
8) not surprised? This is Texas.
9) admitting its me who has all the bullets?
10) thinking bullets should cost $5 a piece if cigarettes are $7 a pack.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Li'l Leaguers: Free Comics on May 2

The annual Free Comic Book Day event is rolling into a comic shop near you!

Parents (and the League is now filled with 'em) will be happy to know that there are usually a lot of kid-friendly comics available on FCBD.

A list of available free comics

More info on Free Comic Book Day (including a tool to help you find free comics by zip code in the US)

This Year I see:

-Pixar's Cars
-Sonic the Hedgehog
-Star Wars
-DC Kids Mega Smapler (with Batman)
and more! (your mileage will vary)

I can recommend a few non-free comics for the kids, should you decide to spend some money and thank the nice people running FCBD at your local comic shop.

1) Marvel Adventures are skewed towards the young 'uns. They have several varieties, including Iron Man and Spidey, last I checked.
2) Super Friends features the JLA team, and is aimed at the early elementary school set.
3) Tiny Titans is an all-ages laugh riot. Great for kids and their parents. And anyone with a pulse and eyes.
4) Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade is a good one for slightly older kids.
5) Any of the Scrooge, Donald or Mickey books is worth looking at. There's a built in level fo quality to a lot of the Scrooge and Donald stuff, in my opinion. They're a little on the pricey side, so I suggest finding a collection that might save you a few bucks in the long haul.
6) Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam!
7) Any left over issues of Justice League Unlimited, Krypto the Super Dog, etc... marked "Johnny DC" are a safe bet.
8) Archie and Sabrina books are a perennial favorite

You big kids may also find something for free for many a taste (if not every taste)

-Bongo Comics is doing a Simpsons sampler
-Green Lantern
-Love and Rockets
-William Shatner Presents! (I have no idea what that means)

I'll be at Austin Books on FCBD. They're setting up a tent outside and having a give away and whatnot.

Leaguer Interactivity Day

Short on content, and I kind of want to pack it in early tonight.

1) What was your first car? And do you miss it?

2) Are you going on vacation this summer, and where?

3) Who is a dame (or dude) in the media that you once dug?

4) What was your favorite toy as a child, and do you know where it is now?

5) What movie do you believe is brilliant that you are aware is not well regarded by the public or critics? And do you publicly defend the movie or not? (I'm not referring so much to movies you find a guilty pleasure... more along the lines of "why doesn't everyone see the genius I see in this thing?)

6) Album?

7) Television show?

8) And if I must... book.

Wonder Woman v. Tank. Art by Alex Ross.

Music Post

So circa 1992, League-Pal Shauna C suggested I check out a band called "My Bloody Valentine". After I realized my tape deck wasn't busted and that was just what they sounded like, I became quite a fan of their album, "Loveless". It sort of fell in with other stuff I was listening to at the time, like "Lush" and "Curve". But, I thought a bit better.

I don't have many albums from back then that I still listen to. I'll listen to specific tracks, but end-to-end album listening is limited. But Loveless still gets a listen from time to time. In the end, I liked them a lot better than Lush or Curve or whatever.

So today I checked in on Facebook, and a former co-worker mentioned he was going to see MBV tonight. I had no idea they were in the US, let alone in Austin. And, of course, it was the first time I've had plans on a week night in, like, two years. Jason and I were going to see Spoon at The Scoot Inn. I like Spoon. I really do. And we never, ever go to shows any more (although we have two more booked in the next few weeks.)

I had somehow got it in my head that maybe MBV, who was touring Europe, would be here for ACL Fest if they were coming to Austin at all. So I quit checking their site for tour updates a while back.

In short, I missed the show. But I did see Spoon. Whom I also like. I'm still trying to work the karmic balance of all that out in my head.


I am enjoying the new Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. It's a lot closer to what I thought "Fever to Tell" was going to be, but then was sort of disappointed when it was not. I always like it when a band decides to do more of what they're good at.

Also finally got the new Heartless Bastards on my iPod, so that's tomorrow.

Have been listening to "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" which sort of begs the question of how necessary the other half of "Dresden Dolls" really is, but sometimes you just want it to be a "Dresden Dolls" album, and other times you're glad it is not.

And I admit that I'm one of the people who is listening to Dan Deacon. I am going out on a limb here, but is Bromst (his latest) his attempt to be the Philip Glass of his genre? I prefer the new album to Spiderman of the Rings. Partially because I don't feel like I've been taking crazy pills if I listen to it for three songs in a row.

And Deacon played Emo's on Friday.

More Shows

I think were seeing Black Joe Louise & The Honeybears in a week or so, and then Jamie is joining us for TV on the Radio.


I guess I need to start reading the frikkin' Chronicle again.

So that's whats going on with me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Wagon Wheel!

Wilser Gets a Book Published

It seems a high school pal has written a book and it has been published. Congrats to Jeff Wilser and the publication of his book, "The Maxims of Manhood".

I'm going to go out on a limb here and point out that Jeff was a great guy in high school. Sure, a little mouthy and opinionated, but in an endearing kind of way. I sort of figured he'd become a politico or something, but he's a sort of writer-for-hire for several hip sources, from GQ to VH1. A little different from the debate club champ and lacrosse player who lived around the block.

I wonder if he knows whatever happened to Margaret?

How About a Wagon Wheel?

As kids, I think Jason and I mutually hated this smarmy little bastard.

For some reason, lately Jason and I find suggesting that if someone's hungry, they should have a Wagon Wheel, absolutely hilarious. The best part is that Jamie really doesn't find it funny at all.

That little blob of yellow in a hat haunted the Saturday morning cartoons for a few crucial years of my youth. I have no doubt that if it was on TV, I would have asked my Mom if I could have a Wagon Wheel. But I don't remember ever having one. I have to assume she said something along the lines of "No. You can't have cheese. Go find an apple." Just sitting and eating cheese was not something that The KareBear would have thought a particularly bright idea, especially with two kids who were growing so fast they would be happy sitting and eating a hunk of cheddar the size of a car battery.

Jason also pointed out that the little guy in the hat actually looks like a blob of cholesterol trying to find a home in your veins.

So go figure.

Movie Review

I forgot to mention I saw "State of Play" over the weekend. It's about what you'd expect.

I think I'll probably forget I ever saw it in about three months, but a decent flick.

They did show a trailer for "Public Enemies" about John Dillinger and starring Johnny Depp. That actually looked watchable, and from what reading I did on Dillinger a long time ago, and from shows I've watched on cable, I think there's probably a pretty good movie in there somewhere.

I'll be curious to see how we handle the story of a guy like Dillinger in our current economic situation.

Directed by Michael Mann, which means it will either be 4 hours long or end with a scene cut to the extended rendition of "In a Gadda da Vida" (Manhunter! Whoooo!).

Le French Fork atteint son premier anniversaire

Special congratulations to League-Pal Letty, who has just reached the crucial one-year mark with her French cooking blog, The French Fork.

Blog host Letty is a native of France who came to the States back when her now-husband, Juan G., was but a student worker, toiling beneath my steely foreman's gaze. I recall Juan telling me about his new French roommate, and he seemed quite fond of her. I was gone all of about two years, and they were getting married.

We returned from our Arizona sojourn and became pals with Letty as well as Juan G. I couldn't be happier for them as they look forward to welcoming a little Juan G. into the world in the next several weeks.

Anyhow, I am a fan of Letty as both person and blogger, and think you should be reading her blog not just for the recipes, but for her stories, her takes on French culture versus American (or at least Central Texan) culture, and a whole host of other reasons.

And it should be known, Letty is a phenomenal chef/ baker/ etc... and every time she brings food, you know you're in for something great.

Here's to another few decades of The French Fork.

Cardinal Sin

is to blog about blogging.

But I'd feel remiss if it were Monday and there was nothing to greet you in your Reader or when you clicked over to The League and found I'd last updated on last week's news.

For shame.

I did finally blog over at Comic Fodder for, really, the first time since Watchmen was released. I have not said as much, but its been increasingly difficult to blog on comics of late. Some of it is time related, and part of it is the let down of the Watchmen film, mixed with the conclusion of "Final Crisis", which I am remaining silent upon until I read it all, all over again (but which left me drained). Part of it is that I don't like commenting upon ongoing stories, because its a bit like writing a new review of a movie at every fifteen minute point of that movie. And my favorite DC titles are now embroiled in year-long storylines. So... maybe in the fall?

I also am having a hard time finding time to read comics. Work is busy, and life has been busy. I'm stunned when I realize that people with kids and a job find time to not just read comics, but to write about them.

I am not sure I'm ready to give up the ghost on the column at Comic Fodder quite yet, but I'm fairly certain the Signal Watch column sort of put me off the whole thing for a while. It was making me worry too much about other blogs, and I felt like the whole thing just wasn't worth the time.

And, occasionally, I feel badly that League of Melbotis strayed so far from its original, comic-book themed roots so I could devote those columns to Comic Fodder. I always felt that there was something fun in tying the daily journal bit with the comic and movie stuff, and getting everything in once place.

But that's not really how blogs work anymore, if they ever did. They're on a theme, and you stick to that theme, or people aren't going to read. Which is why we're at about 45 readers a day here, and that includes about 40 hits from people looking for pictures of Supergirl Naked.

Actually, we get a lot more people looking for Rachael from Bladerunner and Bonnie from Knight Rider these days.

Not much to report. It was beautiful here today. We cleaned the garage. I went through a box of work stuff from ASU, much of which is actually not winding up in a landfill. Walked Lucy for a while. Watched an episode of "Cheaters" on G4, which is sort of the television equivalent of huffing paint (if "Rock of Love" is, indeed, TV crack).