Saturday, September 05, 2009

Longhorns (Football) Season Opens

Texas Fight!

Texas had its season opener against punching bag team University of Louisiana-Munroe. Texas won. By a lot. I missed the game as I was at a lovely wedding, but all of us with smartphones were sneaking looks at scores during the reception.


Anyway, we're off and running with another season of Texas Longhorn Football!

Sounds like OU had a spot of trouble when BYU took Sam Bradford down a bit hard on a tackle and injured his shoulder (a sprained AC joint?) Anyway, they start the season with an L, which I really wasn't expecting. It's going to be a crazy season.

OSU played really hard against the Georgia 'Dawgs and earned a win starting in the second quarter.

Baylor won, and the clips I saw looked really good.

I can't start raving about the Mighty Longhorns yet, as I've only seen highlights. But I did see Shipley had something like 180 yards and Chiles got a touchdown in his new role as, I believe, running back.

It could be a very good, Big 12-winning, sort of season.

They said it couldn't happen...

They said it SHOULDN'T happen...

But last evening, we met up for dinner with Leaguers Lauren and Steven, Jason and Matt, Jamie, and... of course... Randy and Emily Tjahjono.

A note to Leaguers. Emily does not have the soul of evil brewing inside her eyes. That's the flash.

The League was tickled pink to have Leaguers come together over Tex-Mex. Today we're going to grab some breakfast, and then maybe go look at some comics.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Scorsese and Comics

Scorsese Thursday

So this evening we went to Frank and Angie's for pizza, and Jamie ordered the Scorsese. It's an obscene amount of pepperoni, a meat which I don't eat much anymore. My stomach is killing me.

Also, am watching "Casino", maybe my favorite Scorsese movie. And not just because its got James Woods playing a hapless dope in bad suits. Just a super-tight movie I can't see any other director pulling off. And I can tolerate Sharon Stone for the duration. It's sort of a minor miracle.

Austin Books Sale

So... I read the Superman comics. I'm a fan. And found myself having to check myself last night at the big comic sale at Austin Books, as I rolled my eyes at an "Amazing Spider-Man" collector who would not get out of my way so I could gain access to the specially priced Jimmy Olsen showcase back issues.

When you realize the crazy voice in your head is making fun of a Spider-Man collector because he's not demonstrating your refined and nichey tastes and is putting together a, let's admit it, sort of obvious collection... when its fairly clear that the zen-dimwit adventures of Jimmy Olsen are a more satisfying reading experience... well, you've officially gone nuts and deserve what ever happens to you.

That said, I did find some great Jimmy Olsen comics on sale, from around the mid-50's in numbering, which I figure puts them at around 1961 or so. Most of the comics I picked up were in nice condition, which is a rarity when it comes to Jimmy Olsens.

I also found an issue of DC Comics Presents that I'd been seeking out for four years. It's issue #87, featuring the first appearance of Superboy Prime, now one of the big-gun villains in the DCU (recently transmorgified as a transparent stand-in for internet dwelling whiney fanboys. A villain only a comic nerd could love.).

Now, if I can find the Swamp Thing/ Superman issue of DC Comics Presents, I'll have found all the issues of that series I sort of considered "must-have's". That doesn't mean I'm done with DC Comics Presents, but it'll be less of a "must seek out" sort of collecting.

Now, I COULD just buy comics online. That would be easy. Its just not much fun. I much, much prefer to pursue the "hunt and seek" model. It makes the discovery part of the fun, and makes ownership of said item have value beyond collector pricing or even the content of the story. When you dive into a bin and come up with a comic you weren't even aware existed, that's a pretty good find. And much, much different from Googling "Jimmy Olsen #54" or whatever and using your PayPal account.

Targeted Advertising

Amazon is aware of literally hundreds of purchases I've made from their store. They are aware of hundreds of my ratings on different items which I own, hae read, watched, or listened to.

And yet...

It's like dating someone for years, and then for Christmas they get you a NASCAR jacket.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Austin Books Sale

I thought I'd mention this for Austin-area Leaguers:

Austin Books is having its annual Labor Day blow-out.

This sale is actually a pretty big deal. The good folks at AB will have all kinds of graphic novels, comics, etc... on deep discount.

As a Superman and Jimmy Olsen back-issue collector, I'm hoping that I can find some stuff on discount in their Showcase comics selection. Last year I actually found a couple of great items, so with any luck...

I also occasionally pick up Flash comics, DC Comics Presents, and a few other things if they catch my eye. So, yeah! It's Nerd Christmas.

I did pick up a trade or graphic novel or two last year as well, but I can't recall exactly what.

The sale runs from tomorrow night until Monday.

If anyone wants to go tomorrow or on Saturday, let me know!

Potpourri Wednesday (that's an awful title)

Give Money to Simon

You know who likes to run? Simon. The Canadian one.

Apparently Simon runs all the hell over Canada. This time, he's doing it for a reason, and not just because he's pursued by an angry mob.

Simon is participating in the Terry Fox Run
to raise funds to fight cancer.

Help out Simon, and you'll get the dual pleasure of not just fighting cancer, but helping a Canadian!


When I'm 84

I don't love Dinosaur Comics the way I love Achewood, The Rack or how I used to love "Get Your War On", but this strip... spoke to me.

Only, more about Superman

The End of Everything

So here's something I didn't know.

Apparently, in, like, 1 trillion years, the universe will pull on itself as it speeds apart, pulling and pulling, until the atoms themselves will be rendered asunder. Which, of course, leaves me wondering "and what then?"

I guess it doesn't really matter. It's entirely unlikely I'll see the year 2100, let alone 1,000,000,002,100. But if I do, this splitting of all that there is in this universe is going to be a damned nuisance.

Beavis and Butthead Return

This sort of makes me miss 1993-95. Also, its sort of shocking how close Butthead's voice sounds to my inner-monologue.

It's a promo for the new Mike Judge movie, "Extract". I have, so far, liked Mike Judge's work. Even "Beavis and Butthead Do America".

Also, this movie "Extract" has Kristin Wiig. That's a good thing.

All the Damn Chupacabras

The tough thing about living in Texas is not the proximity to both Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison. It's all the damn chupacabras.

Well, apparently those little bastards are causing all sorts of trouble once again.


I hope that doesn't spoil Randy and Emily's imminent trip to the Lone Star State.

Elvis Costello's 2.75 hour show means no post for you

This evening I went to see Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes at the Bass on the UT Campus with British person, Simon (not Canadian Simon, whom you know an love).

Costello is on a Country kick, so we heard some of this...

and he also did old favorites, like this:

only more acoustic-y

He also wrapped it up with a blend of a Costello song "Five Small Words" and Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away". Which, oh hey... its also on YouTube

Monday, August 31, 2009

Thank You, Mad Men

I assume someone was trying to think of something fundamentally unsexy for Joan to do on Mad Men. And then...

Thanks, Mad Men. You've brought to the fore the fact that I found Judy Tenuta oddly appealing in my formative years, and then added a metric ton of Christina Hendricks to the accordion.

You've now officially screwed me up in ways no man should have to discuss.

Here's a clip on YouTube (before AMC pulls it down).

Disney Buys Marvel

So, it sounds like this Disney purchase of Marvel is going to happen.

The New York Times says so and Stan Lee likes it! (and owns Marvel stock, so...)

I was thinking a bit today about what Jack "King" Kirby would think. Jack worked mostly for hire, I believe, and so the Marvel Empire he created with Ditko, Lee and others, is now worth a lot more than the company that was so broke they figured "well, we might as well let Stan try this superhero thing".

My comic history is an undergraduate level, but I don't really know enough about Kirby to make a solid call. But if Siegel's family is still grumbling about the loss of the Superman rights, the Kirby, Ditko and the rest of the families have to be feeling a bit screwed, too. $4 Billion.

What comic nerds all know is that DC Comics has been owned by Warner Bros. for decades. They were a successful publisher, risen up from soft-core and other pulp imprints prior to comics, and it was a good deal when Warner Bros. integrated them.

Marvel, when I first noticed anything about the business, was owned at the time by New World Pictures. It was supposed to do what WB had done, bring recognizable properties to the big screen. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out when New World went under.

Since then, Marvel went through another owner or two before going it alone, with a stock offering that culminated in what I found to be a stunning bit of arrogance when Marvel dipped out of the red and actually published their annual report as a collector's item for the fanboys. No. Really. They did.

This was shortly after the release of Spider-Man 1, and the launch of the Ultimate line. So, yeah, Marvel had some reason to gloat.

Unfortunately, Marvel also spent that time making fun of DC for being owned by a corporation, and, regularly, in print, referred to DC as "AOL Comics" in reference to the AOL/ Time-Warner merger. It wasn't so much that it had any effect on DC, but it was the sort of juvenile posturing going on at Marvel at the time marked the years when Jemas took the reins, with current Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada right next to him.

I do, in fact, wonder if Quesada is wondering if DC will be referring to Marvel as "Mickey Marvel".

I don't doubt there's any "why" to Disney's purchase of Marvel. Disney has usually created brands within the company to reach certain demographics, or purchased them if that seemed more convenient. Touchstone Pictures was Disney's Rated-R arm for a while, and they bought Miramax from the Weinsteins when having something vaguely independent in appearance seemed profitable.

Marvel has a certain street cred of cool that DC hasn't had in 40 years, and their stable of super-heroes have become as well known as the Super Friends once were. Their characters appeal to the ever-profitable audience of young adult males. Disney hasn't been able to maintain the continuum with Mickey and Co., losing that audience after childhood, and waiting for people to become parents themselves to fully tap into the licensed property market. In fact, I'd say the closing of a good portion of the Disney Stores at malls was a sign that the licensing was missing a few key demographics.


Let's be clear: Disney is not buying Marvel so they can put out comics. In fact, this is a fairly messy area for Disney.

In recent years, Disney has tried to crack the comic-sphere. I believe they currently have a deal with SLG comics, where they tried to exploit the medium with comics based on The Haunted Mansion and other properties. I don't think I've seen any of the Disney comics that were supposed to come from that deal in four or five years, so that's some indicator of the success of that deal.

Within the last two months, upstart comic publisher Boom! Studios has made huge waves with their Disney/ Pixar licensed comics, and an announcement of the old Scrooge McDuck an other comics making their way from Gemstone over to Boom! And, honestly, I feel pretty badly for Boom! at the moment as this move means that their deal will most likely not last beyond the term of their current contract. And, in fact, Disney seems to have acted in a bit of odd, if not bad, faith.

Further, Marvel's publishing arm hasn't actually been doing super-duper the past year or so. However, in this game, its not about the comics, its about the licensing and film opportunities.

Part of the implied insult in Marvel's bad-natured teasing of DC about its Time-Warner ownership was the idea that DC's characters, beholden to their corporate overlords, couldn't be as "edgy" as Marvel's characters. To some degree, while I would guess all sorts of assurances are being made today, Marvel does now have a corporate structure within which it will fall. No matter the guarantees, at some point a Disney accountant is going to point out that "We are Disney. Our best known superhero does not make marriage-ending deals with Satan himself."

While I sincerely believe the Disney corporate overlords have better things to do than worry about Spidey's thrice-monthly adventures, this is also the same company that subducts its waste into an elaborate system of tunnels at Disney World so that one never sees someone handling a trashcan at The Magic Kingdom.

The Licensing

Marvel has never been shy about slapping Spidey's face on everything from a Universal Studios Theme Park Island to the pair of plastic binoculars I had in first grade.

With Disney owning the most important theme parks in the western Hemisphere, Marvel has an entire "Marvel Island" located at Universal Studios in Orlando. Its hard to believe that when the contracts expire, that Disney will simply renew the contracts without exacting a hefty fee from their neighbors a cab-ride away from the Magic Kingdom. (I met Captain America when I was there. It was neat.)

Marvel's licensing has accounted for a goodly chunk of the profits, to toy manufacturers, popsicle makers, etc... I don't pick up many Marvel comics, but they must also have some print-ad deal when they sign a contract, because half the comic looks like a catalog for hastily-crafted Marvel gear (there was Marvel cologne a few years ago).

Jason often makes fun of me for "buying any crap with an 'S' on it", but the truth is that were I an avid Spidey collector, Jamie and I would have to move out of the house to make room for all the junk with Spidey's two pale white eyes staring back at you. Seriously, walk around Target sometime with Spidey on the brain. It's a mind-boggling experience.

I don't believe Disney has anything to actually learn here. After Eisner was shown the door (and a bit before), they've had no trouble putting the face of their princesses, Pooh and the Mickey gang on all sorts of junk. But, again, there's that demographic where princesses and Mickey don't really work, but Iron Man most certainly does work.


When it comes to feature films, my assumption is that Disney is looking to buy tentpole summer movies that it can't seem to cook up on their own, what with the relative failure of the Narnia Chronicles. Not only do the movies tend to rake in dough, but the sale of the movie-related toys seems to be quite good.

Prior to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Marvel's history with movies was rocky, at best. Several 70's-era TV movies and a post-Burton-Batman Captain America film that never saw the silver screen... and, the much discussed but rarely seen Roger Corman Fantastic Four.

Here's the odd part to me about focusing a lot on the films...

Spider-Man is pretty well locked up at Sony. The FF isn't really ready for a reboot quite yet (although that's the next logical step). The last Hulk outing did less-well than the criticized Ang Lee Hulk. Ghost Rider and several other Marvel flicks (Elektra, Daredevil, two separate Punisher movies) were either critical or commercial bombs, or both. And the Wolverine film has a strong opening weekend and then fizzled.

In the past three or four years, only Iron Man has been a stand-out hit, and that may have been beginners luck. But iron Man, Hulk and several of Marvel's latest films that actually lent heavily from the comics (unlike the egregious FF movies) were actually produced in-house by Marvel Entertainment.

Will Disney buy the Marvel style of movie-producing, or will they do what WB insisted on doing withe the pre-Nolan Batman franchise, Catwoman, etc...?

That said, you never know. Iron Man is supposed to lead us to an Avengers movie, and there's just a blanket assumption that an Avengers movie will be The Next Big Thing. I can see it.

Animation and Television

Here's an area where DC has been kicking the crud out of Marvel for years.

DCU Animated has been doing pretty well with its slate of animated feature films, at least critically and from fan response. Marvel... has a long way to go. DC could easily still be spinning stories out from Bruce Timm and Co.'s vision which started when I was in high school, but that era has sort of wrapped.

I have no idea why Marvel's animation projects always wind up as a bit of a mess, but its not for lack of a quantity of attempts. Movies. MTV-3D-animated Spidey. 3D animated Iron Man. Baby Avengers. What-have-you. None of it seems to make much of a dent.

One is led to believe Disney may know a thing or two about how to do this better.

With Smallville, DC has also had a show about the boyhood of Clark Kent on TV going into its 9th Season this fall. That's nothing short of incredible. Especially when one considers that the show was preceeded by Lois and Clark and Superboy in the past 25 years or so.

Marvel hasn't had a regular television staple since Spidey joined the cast of The Electric Company.

In Conclusion:

On paper, the Marvel/ Disney deal looks good. I will be curious to see how it all pans out over the next two years. To see who stays and goes. And if Stan Lee gets richer and kookier (I hope so).

It's impossible to know exactly what will happen, who will stay and who will go.

I'm insanely tired or there would be something to talk about the buying and selling of characters and their likeness, in a Marvel vs. DC world, but... I haven't got it in me tonight.

Anyway, it'll be fun to watch.

Yes, I Know

As always, Nathan C was first to alert me to the news, followed within five minutes by Randy, and Dan G. walking into my office.

Yes, I am now aware that Disney bought Marvel Entertainment.

More to come.

As I told Randy: We can now have that Quasar/ Clarabelle Cow crossover so many of us fans have long believed should occur!

But I confess that the idea of Mickey in a web-slinger outfit strikes me as a particularly great idea... And Wolver-Duck. Berserker rage, indeed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Cleaner Office

The League considers how much Windex he's going to need

I hadn't cleaned my office in roughly a year. It was in pretty bad shape.

It's still not, technically, clean. But it is straightened up. And for Leaguers who've been to League HQ, you know that there's a certain domino effect in that office.

Anyhoo... it's at a point that I'd like to maintain until the Holidays, when I get several days off and can actually get out the lemon oil and whatnot and get the Fortress of Ineptitude (as Jason calls it) polished to a high sheen.

The thing is, I actually really like cleaning all of this stuff. It gives me a chance to actually look at what I consider to be a fairly decent collection of superhero whatzits. These days, I don't get to spend nearly the time I once did. That's in comparison to our sojourn in Arizona, when polishing my batmobile collection was much of what I did do with my weekends. Here there is actually stuff to do, and I have friends who aren't in the Justice League, and so time is a different sort of commodity.

the basic layout at League HQ

All of this to say, I posted twice this weekend. Read that. Nothing this evening.

70's Drac, Sorting Comics, Crime Flicks, Pics of Dead People

70's Dracula!

So this evening I watched the John (Saturday Night Fever) Badham directed "Dracula" featuring a surprisingly young Frank Langella as The Count.

It's an oddly English centric version of the story. There's no Texans lurking about, Harker never travels to Romania, Harker himself is played by someone who looks like Howard Moon, and Donald Pleasance gets a lot of screen time. And they don't actually return to Transylvania to wrap things up.

Its not a bad movie, but for reasons I can't piece together, they swapped names for the Lucy and Mina characters from the book, I believe. It seems this isn't the only place I've seen that, and I don't really get why this would be the case.

Also, Frank Langella's hair is quite awesome. And they do this odd bit where they leave it open for a sequel...

As the last vampire movie I saw was "Twilight", it was nice to see a movie that actually acknowledged the horror/ blood drinking/ soul stealing aspect of the whole enterprise. And I really did like the red-eyed, bare-fanged look of the undead in this movie.

Love's Labor

I also spent a lot of time sorting and indexing comics. This is one of those projects that if you don't do it regularly, you're going to regret it later. Well, i waited until later. It's been between a year and 14 months since I did this up proper.

Jamie is, I think, the only person who really gets what a ridiculously big task this really is. It's not something you knock out in an hour or two. And after 14 months... its quite a backlog of work.

Keep in mind, the first time I did a proper indexing of my comics, it literally took several days and was how I spent my Holiday break from work.

Sometimes its time for guys in hats

I also watched the crime-noir movie "Born to Kill". Which, sure enough, delivered some killing. It was part of a set Jason gave me for Christmas. He knows I like a good men-in-hats/ femme fatale flick, and this one delivered the goods.

People smoking cigarettes, sociopaths in love, good looking dames, you name it...

It's another example of the fact that no matter what Robert Wise directs, I pretty much like it. And there are a lot of movies on his filmography that I need to make sure raise to the top of my queue.

The plot is tight, the cast fairly small. But Wise handles his cast well, and the story manages to remain suspenseful right up to the last frame or so.

What the @#$% was wrong with the Victorians?

And if you want something really disturbing, Calvin posted about something called "Memento Mori". Apparently some Victorians thought it would be a neat idea to prop up their recently deceased relatives for one last snapshot.

It sounds as if they hadn't really sorted out appropriate use of a new technology. Like people who think its okay to talk on their cell phone in a movie or people who think its smart to let their digital party pictures show up on Flickr.

But I gotta say, I was kind of thinking of heading for bed, and looking at a bunch of well-dressed-albeit-dead Victorians sort of set me back a little on my journey to Sleepytime Junction.

Partially because the child mortality rate was still pretty high back then, and apparently it was an opportunity to get a picture of junior when he was willing to sit for a photo. (yes, lots of pics of dead kids).

Anyway, please don't take a picture of me after I'm dead.

Unless you can think of a way to make it really funny, of course.