Friday, June 26, 2009

McMahon is now Issuing Sweepstakes Winnings Across the Infinite

editor's notee: Man, this week is messed up. We don't have many weeks where the "celebrity deaths come in threes" thing winds up taking up the bulk of the output. So, yes, I will get to Ms. Fawcett.

So, Ed McMahon died this week.

If you grew up pre-cable or when cable was considered a luxury, then you really only had one TV choice after the evening news, and that choice was "Carson". Sure, it was technically "The Tonight Show", but nobody actually called it that. I have no idea what the numbers were, but the American who didn't think of Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon and Doc as welcome pals in their living room were few and far between.


We sort of loved the fact that it wasn't clear what Ed's job actually was. Sure, he intro'd Johnny and chatted with him before the guests came out, but was that a job? Didn't matter. There he was, each and every night, occasionally jumping into the conversation with the guests (who often seemed delighted to meet McMahon, where Johnny made them nervous).

In many ways, if Johnny was the cool guy at the party, McMahon was a mix of Carson's drinking buddy and everyone's favorite uncle.

And, yet, McMahon DID carve out an entirely new role as second banana on TV, and coined phrases that a generation or two can still be heard repeating.

"You are correct, sir!"
and, of course...
"Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"

classic Carson banter moment

We were happy for him that he landed Star Search, and tuned in to see him try to coach the spokesmodels through their segments without coming off like an idiot. We associated him with the possibility of winning a big sack of money from American Family Publishers. We all opened those ridiculous envelopes (and kind of looked forward to them) because Ed McMahon was such a genial pitchman, even when we knew the odds of winning were roughly equivalent to being hit by a meteor.

There are many things in this universe that are pretty horrendous, ridiculous, and in need of ridicule. In my world, Ed McMahon is not one of them.

more or less how I really remember The Tonight Show

The passing of McMahon, while not entirely unexpected, is one of those things that reminds you that a generation is disappearing, and with it, their culture. Retired since 1992 or so from the Tonight Show, today's college Freshmen (born in 1991ish) will have no concept of who the man was, just as the death of Jack Paar went unnoticed by myself and my generation.

As a face, voice and talent, I'm going to miss Ed McMahon. Even in his final years, when his trophy wife blew all his money (well done on still having a Trophy Wife, Ed!), McMahon seemed to get through his situation with a smile.

I'm seriously going to miss that guy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Well, this is just F'd Up

As you may know, I keep a Google Ads bar on The League of Melbotis side-bar (RSS readers may not know this). I don't do it to generate revenue. I just like to see what ads are spawned by the most recent posts.

My most recent posts (and the news of the day) is about the early and unexpected death of entertainment and litigation icon Michael Jackson. Apparently, the Google Ads do not miss a @#$%ing beat.

insensitive, yet tacky. click for the full effect,

Jesus H. Christ, Google Ads. I don't care if you're autogenerated or not. Let's see this as a use-case of what-not-to-do, shall we?

Mixed Feelings and the King of Pop

On the phone:

Jamie: ..hello!
Me: The King is Dead!
Jamie: What?
Me: The King of Pop is dead. Long live The King!
Jamie: ...what?
Me: Michael Jackson is dead. Nathan sent me an article. I'm late coming home because I had to verify before going to print.
Jamie: He's dead? (long pause as Jamie is clearly opening laptop and going to CNN) Oh. Oh my god.
Me: Yeah.
Jamie: That's so... weird.
(long pause)
Me: Some mixed feelings, huh?
Jamie: Yeah.

I was 7 or so when Thriller hit the radio. Its got to be hard for anyone born after 1978 or so how absolutely important Michael Jackson was to the pop culture scene between 1982 and 1985. Jackson then disappeared briefly to re-emerge with "Bad",. Soon after, things would turn poorly for the entertainer.

Look, I actually really, really like Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and big parts of "Bad". And "Smooth Criminal". And so while we started to hear weird stories almost immediately (trying to buy "The Elephant Man's" bones, the zoo at Neverland Ranch), it wasn't until I was in high school that the first accusations about impropriety with a kid began to creep out. This was all pre-Internet, so the stories came from supermarket tabloid covers and shows like "A Current Affair". But during one lazy summer, MTV showed the video for "Bad" over and over. And I sorta learned the whole thing. I mean, yeah, I needed the video for reference. I'm not exactly Usher. And, yeah, it's been many a year, but there was a time when I was flopping around my living room imitating The Gloved One. Poorly.

I'm not really sure I need to fill anyone in on the details of the scandals. Either of them (younger readers may not remember the first batch, but they were there).

The truth is that I'm not really sure what the hell happened during those cases. Jackson's, frankly, bizarre and secretive lifestyle made it easy to believe just about anything.

So what do you do? Shrug at the death of a guy who somehow escaped justice time and time again? Or mourn/ pity a guy hounded by the media and possibly falsely accused of one of the most grave crimes an individual can perform?

I have no idea.

About two weeks ago I was going to do a post about latter-era Michael Jackson, but got lazy. I was going to talk about videos from "Dangerous" and the video for "Scream" and "Black & White". But... I sorta thought nobody would be interested.

Here's some other stuff.


Smooth Criminal

The one that's my first memory of Jackson: Billie Jean. Dude seemed so cool.

Latter era Michael Jackson: Scream

Early era (totally rad) Jackson: Don't Stop Til You Get Enough

The Jackson 5 rocks the frikkin' house:

And, man, it wouldn't be complete without Thriller.

. This video, btw, got MTV banned in my house for a year when The Admiral spied the zombie make-up, decided it was too scary (ignoring that we'd seen the video 100 times before that), and locked it out on the Scientific Atlanta box.

We almost lost cable again, circa 1987, thanks to George Michael's "Father Figure" video, which The Admiral would mistake for soft-core pornography, until I pointed out that they don't show softcore during the 6:00 hour on basic cable.

Here's more Thriller.

Thrill the World Austin 2008

Phillipines prison

The King of Pop merges with The Infinite

It seems only fitting that I would learn of Michael Jackson's passing from Leaguer Nathan Cone.

Nathan just sent this in from Variety.

The League of Melbotis is, despite all, a fan of the Thriller album and believes "Wanna be Starting Something" is nothing less than pop genius.

Its just the last 20 years or so that complicate things.

RIP, Michael Jackson.

Happy B-Day to my boy, RHPT

May the universe bestow you with all you desire for your birthday. Or at least a meal at the Olive Garden.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jon & Kate is depressing as @#$%

I was out of town for the Jon & Kate big reveal episode, but DVR is a wonderful tool. Yes, I DVR'd it.

What's stunning is:

this is all taking place on camera. Whatever the show was about with the cute kids and the struggles of raising 8 kids at the same time... that's over with. This stuff would normally play out in the tabloids and result in the show being quietly shelved. Instead, TLC decided to proceed, and Jon & Kate went along with it.

In a way, its pretty savvy. With a show that airs weeks after taping (or even more quickly), the show can manage the situation to an extent and show folks more than they'd really want to see. Speculation becomes a little redundant.

Jamie tells me the episode pulled in 10 million viewers (which is absolutely enormous by basic cable standards). So I'm not entirely certain what will happen. Surely TLC can now offer both parents even larger sacks of money to keep with the show.

Its certainly different from other reality shows in that the narrative has taken a decidedly unexpected turn (will TLC now ask The Little Couple to start having issues to boost their ratings?). The conventions of the "confessional sofa", etc... have taken on a whole different kind of immediacy that a program like "Rock of Love" doesn't really muster.

One last thing: I felt bad for Jon before, and its tempting to say he's doing the wrong thing as one considers the kids. Especially as, seriously, the dude is almost giddy at the prospect of getting this over with. But I don't think his decision is wrong. One day those kids are going to watch those DVD's, and they're going to see exactly why their dad and mom split. Its that, or those kids grow up in a house where they learn that bullying and berating is how a relationship works.

But that doesn't mean I am tuning in any more. This show is now a real downer.

shirt, zombies, bk ad, SC gov, ebert on transformers

Social Media Venn Diagram shirt

I need one. Here.

Thanks to Kevin.


Massacremike had posted this trailer.

this one is for JimD

Burger King takes that extra step toward dragging us as far into the pit as possible.


Thanks to the unfortunate soul who forwarded this one my way who I am not sure wants to be identified.

I think Quizno's threw down the gauntlet with their "torpedo" ads with Chad and the oven, but... anyway.

Family Values

Well done, elected official.

Goofy enough that Sanford skipped the country. But where were these stories coming from placing you on the Appalachian Trail? Who was awkwardly covering for you? Badly played, sir.

I don't think Ebert likes the new Transformers

From Jamie:

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.

here for the whole thing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Carmen Miranda, Old Comics, Transformers

DITMTLOD: Carmen Miranda

Why don't we have entertainers anymore like Carmen Miranda? She's attractive, can sing and has a wide variety of fascinating hats.

I guess we got too fancy for the likes of Carmen Miranda and her hats, what with our rock'n'roll, internets and whatnot. But how can you not like Ms. Miranda? At one point, she was considered to be quite the bees knees. She was, after all, lampooned by Bugs Bunny and was in a great number of films, representing what was considered to be the fun times to be had with our neighbors to the south (Miranda was actually Brazilian).

You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation

It is too late. I am going to start an indie band just to name my second album after this new book (I keep pitching the band name "The Invincible Monster Men" to Jason, but he isn't biting). You can not use that name for your album (or band).

Anyhow, the first book (both collect the works of forgotten comic artist Fletcher Hanks) was pretty much mind-bending.

One issue that many comic geeks like myself have is that new stuff is but a photocopy of a photocopy, that we're so familiar with convention as fans, and fans as artists and writers, that its easy to argue that the wild creativity that fueled the engine of the creation of the superhero genre has been mostly lost. Imagine being at the start of a genre where there really aren't many rules yet, and you only kind of care, but you have to turn in pages... Anyway, its a wild, unmanaged sort of creativity that's being discovered here in in the 21st Century after being almost completely forgotten for 65 years-ish.

I strongly suspect its what so many of us love about Kirby's-latter-career stuff. The guy was so unselfconscious and was able to spin out a mind-bending story as someone who had helped build the medium, so he might as well continue to define it (and he did).

Sadly, Fletcher Hanks disappeared out of comics relatively quickly, and had a fairly rough life.

I don't know exactly why Hanks' stuff works for me, but it does.

Transformers 2

Was clocking a 26% at at last check.

Is it possible someone noticed that Bay can not direct actors or action sequences, comedy or drama? And that you can't really tell what's happening in the big-ticket action scenes?

Or is it just the case that in a sequel, once the shine of the original is off, that we sort of need a story this time around?

Best of luck to the GI Joe movie.

Best of Luck to South Carolina

Do you have any idea how much I wish my governor would go missing?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Round-Up for Tuesday


Here in the 11th inning, this UT/ LSU baseball matchup is going to give me a heart attack. And so I will die and not see UT actually lose the game.


I am in a hotel room in Houston watching this game. If I have a heart attack, nobody will notice until 8:00 AM tomorrow when my boss looks for me at breakfast.

This is an okay hotel. The air conditioner was set to "Put Him in Carbonite" when I walked in.

I have an odd affection for Houston. I sort of love it, but know that I would have found life in the many sprawling suburbs of Houston not to my taste. But I doubt I'd have swung a salary befitting living "inside the loop". Also, Austin has plenty of humidity already, thanks. And I'm a sucker for elevation in my landscape (although the gulf plains make it easy to find downtown). However, for getting a bad rap due to existing within the borders of Texas, Houston is a deeply diverse city ethnically, culturally, socio-economically and probably some other category. Its home to considerable museums, theater districts, universities, professional sports, hospitals and more. The money Houston seems to be able to generate has gone back into the place in a way that gives it much to offer.

I am unsure if the air of new-money goofiness has left many parts of Houston, if the rednecks who were a part of my natural habitat in high school still roam free, and if the obvious and crippling poverty is still ignored as folks fly by on I-45. But if sociologists want to study America at its most American, I say not to head to the heartland, but see the 2 dimensional map of Houston as a cross section of the sausage that makes up our great nation.

UT lost

Dammit. Still, I am not entirely surprised.


I have become convinced that my hairline is receding apace. Whether this is true or not, I am not yet sure. I blame the last haircut I received for its inhospitable awkwardness which has led to the uncertainty and confusion.

Ah, well. Me and my head had a good run. Now to look like a Klingon with my bumpy cranium.

League Christmas Special

I am giving serious thought to writing and shooting a 5 - 10 minute Christmas special for this year. I will need guest stars, so let me know if you want to be in it. I will need to pen a very special League Christmas tune.

We will probably need to shoot in November to make this work.

Also, I hope to force Jamie into an elf costume for the entire special.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Monday Round-Up

Steanso off to London

Jason and my folks are headed for London for several days this week, leaving me and Jamie (and my aunt and uncle, presumably) as the State-side Steanseses. I am not sure what Jason will do in London, but we've seen "An American Werewolf in London" and suspect that it will end poorly.

The Bros. Steans have not been Europe-side before, so let us hope Jason finds a lot to do. He's also going to Paris for a day or two, so I have my fingers crossed he will wind up in some Da Vinci Code-esque adventure (only they better be asking for analysis of BSG-related clues if they hope to get anywhere).

I'm off to Houston

For about 18 hours. So don't get too excited. And, no, I won't have time to see any Houston-area Leaguers. Sorry.

We're headed to the University of Houston for Tuesday, which should be fun.


On Friday night we were lucky enough to have Bug and her husband Scott in town. I've known Bug (aka: Erica S.) since high school, where we shared a GPA and class ranking. I came very close to attending college with Erica, but wound up at UT, of course. Jamie was roommates and suite mates during her time in college, and we've all stayed in touch.

A few years ago, Erica married her man-friend, Scott, who I personally think is a cool guy. Together, they put together Isaac, their kid born around the time of Hurricane Ike. Who we had the privilege of meeting before heading out.

Anyhow, it's always fun seeing old friends. So, old friends, where are you guys? Its always a good excuse to go out for dinner for us.

Comic Organization Continues

I've got most of the last year's worth of comics bagged and boarded. Next weekend I'll spend time entering them into

The past three years, I've quit bagging and boarding everything. Hence, I have a stack of comics which I'm looking to get rid of. In many cases, these aren't even bad comics. They're just comics that I'm not going to keep. Some are duplicates I accidentally picked up (I had that problem upon occasion when I tried my experiment in monthly ordering from an online source). So, if you want free comics, e-mail me.

What this really confirms is that I need to make a conscious effort to move to trades for some of my stuff. Unfortunately, this is just as DC is adding back-up features to many titles (I'm looking at you, Bat-comics). But for some ancillary stuff, I'll probably move to trades. I just don't really know what to do with the floppies, and I'm not sure people actually want them if I don't.

There's probably a message in there somewhere to me and the industry, but there you are.

Father's Day

I spent Saturday evening with my folks, my uncle and cousin, Jamie's folks, and some family friends. Today I had brunch with Jamie's folks here at the house. I really need to learn to sit at the table without playing with Lucy the whole time. Nobody needs that.

My cousin is working her way through an adoption, and by Tuesday I should no longer be the youngest member of my family. That's a little weird, but a welcome change. And I'm very happy for cousin Sue.

More details on that soon.

Happy Father's Day to The Admiral and DocDik. You guys are the tops!