Saturday, October 10, 2009

This is happening: Marge Simpson in Playboy

Apparently, this is actually happening.

I am dumbfounded/ amazed/ amused/ probably still not buying Playboy.

Policy: Nakedness

editor's note: I actually started on this prior to reading this installment of Achewood. It was far more inspired by a diagram I had been working on at work for determining levels of tech support.

So Steven has asked:

What's your policy on nude blogging?

And what about nude reading?

Fair enough Steven.

To the first point, The League does, in fact, have a policy on his own nudity while blogging!

Blogging nude here occurs only after the third scotch has been imbibed.

The math works out thusly for common reviews:

Movie reviews: 2nd paragraph
Comic reviews: 4th paragraph
Television: 1st paragraph
Superman posts: stone cold sober
Political posts: before I even start, I've usually been nude and drunk for an hour

Leaguers who are into dudes are no doubt curious as to what the magnificent physique of The League actually looks like. Well, lucky you, I have decided to include a rather sexy shot of myself that Jamie usually keeps tacked to her bathroom mirror. Attempt to contain yourself.

Like Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale", The League rises from the water, revealing his form.

But the real question, then, is: Does The League have a policy for reading League of Melbotis au natural?

I was certain I'd shared this chart with you before as a helpful hint. In fact, I keep a printed copy folded up in my attache case to hand out to anyone who springs me with this very question.

The abbreviated decision chart looks like this (the full chart has more than 180 decision branches, but this usually works in a pinch and doesn't require 41 sheets of paper to print):

Please click for full flow chart

We suggest you print your own copy and keep it framed somewhere near where you might need to do some decision-making.

The League watches: Paranormal Activity

(editor's note: I just re-read this, and I came off rather harshly. I'm adding some content, because I really didn't think the movie was bad.)

You may or may not have heard about the movie "Paranormal Activity". It's currently in release and showing at the Alamo South in Austin.

I recommend reading about Paranormal Activity rather than viewing the trailer as the trailer probably gives away more than was wise to reveal, and certainly spoiled one or two of the film's tricks for me.

The biggest thing that this movie has going against it is that its been released about a full decade after "The Blair Witch Project", and to not draw a comparison would be sort of ridiculous. Like "Blair Witch" or the more recent "Cloverfield", "Paranormal Activity" purports to be "found footage" of a series of uncanny events, with a small, tight cast acknowledging that there is a camera on and running.*

I suppose my one miscue from the trailer was in believing the movie was about "Ghost Hunters"-style paranormal investigators, when it is really about a couple recording events in their own amazingly plush San Diego home (the most paranormal thing about the movie is how unlikely both the size of the house and "decorate with all the taste of a model home" look the place has).

Like Blair Witch, there also only about four characters in the movie, and that works in the context of the movie. In fact, I'm not really clear on who some of the people listed on IMDB are supposed to be. I suppose there are cut scenes?

I just never really got the same thrill from this movie that I got from Blair Witch. Perhaps because there's so much less geography? Perhaps because Blair Witch truly felt as if the actors were being toyed with, and here, our fiend feels like he's almost just a pest for part of the movie? Maybe because the thing really does have a "been there, done that" feel in its own way?

hope you like this shot, because you will see A LOT of it

In a lot of ways, it's kind of a low-budget "Blair Witch" meets the 1960's version of "The Haunting", and so in that way, the movie isn't half bad, all while not really bringing anything entirely new to the table. In fact, the filmmakers depend so much on their pretense of the "first person" camera shooting that they clearly were worried more about story or, in many ways, character.

There's a lot of pressure on the talent in this movie, as they're left to practical lighting, running their own camera and behaving like people caught on tape rather than actors playing out a scene. I can't really fault them for scenes that seemed like an improv class from time to time, and they certainly carried off the spookier scenes very well. By and large, they carried the enormous weight put upon them. Actor Micah Stone does a good job, but Katie Featherstone has more acting challenges, which she handles relatively well, without becoming oddly unsympathetic a la "Heather" from The Blair Witch, while bringing "production value" to the movie.

I am not a true horror fan. It's not that I dislike horror, but whatever gene sequence one needs to truly appreciate horror (like our friend, Wings) I simply lack. But there are certain things I find myself liking in horror movies. I think every Halloween I mention my love of "The Haunting", and because this movie replicates that same brand of fear, I can salute it. And I do feel the director and producers understood what makes a horror movie work without relying on a factoryline of teens getting it in a grizzly fashion.

But you do wish you had a better feel for who the characters are, and maybe that's what made "Blair Witch" work for me, but less so this movie, and not at all "Cloverfield".

The League's Verdict:
It's possibly a renter, or a great option if you're in a Halloween mood, and you're not a fan of slasher pics, the latest Saw installment, etc... It does have some genuinely creepy parts, even if the ending feels completely telegraphed from the first frame.

*It should be noted that I did have the passing thought that the immediacy of self-documentation as a trope in horror is nothing new. After all, Frankenstein and Dracula were written as journals and self-narration. Adding a video camera may be just the natural evolution of that idea.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Planet Hulk to DVD

It seems Marvel has upped the ante a bit in their animation efforts.

I tried their first few movies and... not good.

Now they are bringing the last story I remember reading and really enjoying from Marvel to the small screen.

No, I do not remember how Hulk becomes articulate. Hopefully the movie will remind me.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Interactivity time: Policy Questions?

I always need topics to write upon. I have just written what I consider to be my first policy statement.

Ever wonder why things are the way they are at LoM? Why I may be maddeningly consistent or seemingly wildly inconsistent? Why I don't drop the f-bomb?

After several years of this blogging business, I suppose I must have several policies in place that I haven't ever really expressed.

What are some topics upon which The League should have a policy, or do you wonder if one already exists?

Put your questions and suggestions into the comments section! It'll be good fodder for a future post.

Full Disclosure: Blogging and Shilling

It most likely did not make a blip on your radar, but apparently the FTC is asking bloggers to report when and if the items they are reviewing are free, if they've paid to receive and review the item, etc...

Read more here for clarity or here.

We might as well take this opportunity to set some house rules for reviews/ criticism, free content and how we plan to handle this at League of Melbotis.

In short, my policy isn't going to change aside from me adding boilerplate. And I'll get to why momentarily.

1) League of Melbotis will accept review copies of comics, movies, etc...
2) We will not accept payment from the producer or marketing company of the item being reviewed. This includes financial incentives, unrelated giveaways, etc...
3) If a physical copy of any media is received, we will alert readers if we seek to divest ourselves of the review copy. We may keep items at our discretion. bear in mind, sending you a copy costs us something.
4) From this point forward, we will note when and if the item received in a review came through any means but our own pocket. We will note format, etc...
5) If we just watched, bought, paid for an item ourselves, without a review copy, we will not make mention, as this is literally 99.5% of the reviews, mentions, etc... we're currently doing. So, seriously, guys. Unclench.
6) Were something really wild to happen that were to change the status of LoM as a free website being run with absolutely no moneymaking capacity and as a complete waste of all of our time and energy, I will be the first to at least acknowledge a change of status as the big dollars start rolling in and I forget all of you people (sorry, Randy. As soon as the big bucks roll in, I'm replacing you with Fred Savage.). But, really... 6 years in, I'm pretty realistic about this blogging business. It's in no way lucrative, and its not even really a good idea for a grown man to do anymore.


What gives the timing of the FTC's decision an interesting twist is that LoM was, just this week, added to become "press" according to a rising star comic publisher. This means I am to receive electronic copies of this company's comics.

Being no dummy, and knowing how some of you like to freak out about this sort of thing (JimD), I had planned to mention the slight change in status prior to any reviews down this pathway, as you would notice a certain spike in my reading and reviewing. Now, I'm not just ethically obligated to make mention, but legally as well. And I have enough legal problems, anyway (smuggling illegal parrots into the US in your baggy cargo pants turns out to be more toruble than one would guess).

Rest assured: They are not plying me with money and women at this time (yet).

A while back I was receiving copies of DVD's for review from a marketing company, and was charged by several Leaguers (joking or not) that I was now a shill. I good naturedly put up with your baseless whining, and I think the matter resolved itself once we reached the "Speed Racer" incident which ended that particular gravy train.

But, yes, it does not take a genius of marketing to figure out I might view and enjoy a Justice League DVD, and write about it on my blog. And, if you recall, I gave away my copy of the DVD.

I should also point out that its standard practice for media companies to send review copies of movies, books, etc... to professional reviewers. While LoM is not The New York Times, as long as I play by the rules and fairly review media, and keep you posted as to where I got the media, I have no problem accepting review copies. We'll strive to do our best to remain neutral with the possibility for limited access in the face of a bad review hanging over our head.

For the record, I am in agreement of the spirit of the FTC's decision, and hope that disclosures are taken seriously. In an industry as small as comics, its often difficult to determine the relationships going on between readers, reviewers, creators, and the engine of the industry. Whether it has much effect on who buys what, I don't know, but there's always room for not being a bought loser.

Fist bump for the common welfare!

Apparently, CNN is endorsing the "fist bump" as a means of preventing us from spreading H1N1. Intriguingly, they point out that greeting each other with terrorist fist bumps will save lives as its less likely to spread contagion than the traditional handshake.

As The League could really do without H1N1, and also really enjoys a good dap, we're taking up the fist-bump as our new greeting.

But not only does the leader of our fair nation endorse the fist bump (although I think when Michele Obama tells you to fist bump, you darn well better fist bump), someone we all like, who may not divide us down party lines, would also like for us to greet in a hipper fashion for better health.

Superman is your friend, H1N1 is not

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Too Many Comics

Not only was it a Wednesday, necessitating a trip to Ye Olde Austin Books, but a few items I'd ordered long ago online showed up.

My copy of "The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the 21st Century" showed up. For you kids who weren't around in the late 80's, imagine in the wake of "Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen", the writer of DKR (Frank Miller) and the artist of Watchmen (Dave Gibbons) teamed up for a near-future tale of an America gone wrong and how the least among its citizens overcomes everything thrown at her.

As a kid, I have no doubt that this work influenced my malleable impressions of life in these United States, and that it ossified into at least some part of the super structure of my current world view. Because it wasn't Batman, not as popular as Dark Knight or Watchmen.

The book, and absolutely massive tome, includes the complete story of Martha Washington, of which I missed a part as it came out during a period when I was only sporadically picking up comics. So I get to read "Martha Washington Goes to War" for the first time in the phenomenally presented oversized pages.

I've not talked too much about this series in the past as I didn't own a collection of my own. And, quite literally, when I was considering what a weird hole it was in my collection, this collection was announced. So there you have it.

Also making an appearance, the release of Absolute Promethea, Vol. 1.

We've absolutely talked about about Promethea before, so I won't dwell on it, but I'm a fan of this comic. The art is, I do not exaggerate, some of the absolute best to appear in modern comics (which is why, if you're currently missing Rucka and Williams' run on Detective... why?), and this is where Williams made a splash in American comics.

Writing, by the way, is Alan Moore being didactic, hilarious, grim, etc... and generally upsetting a lot of comic readers who couldn't just enjoy this thing for what it is/was.

Anyway, a couple of great books, and I am glad to have them in the best editions comic companies generally release.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Barely a new look and Krypto

You may have noticed I changed the banner.

I was trying to relearn some Photoshop, but actually wound up using the, a free imaging software.

We're not taking a vote on whether to keep this look or not. It's just a banner. I don't know if I want to really monkey with the thing a whole lot more. So expect to see Krypto up there (our patron saint of dogs and comics here at League of Melbotis) for quite a while.

I considered having a Jimmy Olsen image up there, but, man... I wasn't sure Turtle Boy Jimmy or Elastic Lad was where we wanted to be every day for the next year if you visit the site.

The Alex Ross painted image is of Superman's dog, , from the cover of Superman issue 680.

Krypto was introduced way back in Adventure Comics #210 in 1955 as a pal for Superboy.

He's still kicking around DC Comics and Superman comics (and in the newly relaunched Adventure Comics). And if you want to know why Superman is my kind of superhero: He has a super dog, with no sense of irony. While, yeah, the idea of a super powered dog is silly and fun, there's a certain logic to Krypto (he's a Kryptonian test subject, like Laika). Sure, its kitschy and old school, but I like that DC is finding ways to keep Krypto around.

And for us people who love our dogs and our comics, I tip my hat to Ross for a painting of Krypto the way I tend to think of the character in the context of today's Superman comics, as sort of the world's coolest dog.

That said, I'm a fan of Amanda Conner's portrayal as lovable super-powered goof, too.

Anyway, when there isn't room for Krypto in comics because somebody decided that Krypto wasn't "cool" enough or whatever, I'm not sure I'm going to want to read my Super-comics anymore.

I've also long ago adopted Krypto as my IM and comment icon of choice, and I guess, being a bit brand conscious, I figured we might as well go-Krypto across the board. Heck, back in Arizona, I dropped $20 on a vanity plate that read "KRYPTO". No, its true. I'm not ashamed.

In the end, Krypto is up there because Melbotis and I could always agree upon the necessity of Krypto in the Superman comics, and so, as a tribute to my pal, and his taste in the finer things, we're shaking things up a tiny bit.

Mel always approved of dogs in capes

By the way, I've asked Scout, jeff and Lucy about who they would nominate.

Lucy: Apparently a fan of Proty II from Legion of Super-Heroes
Jeff: a fan of Starro the Conqueror

Scout: Ace the Bathound

Monday, October 05, 2009

Guest Post: Simon talks Irredeemable on the iPhone

Brief break from the hiatus as Simon has taken up the recent challenge to download an issue of Mark Waid's comic, "Irredeemable", to the iPhone.

Readers may know, I do not have an iPhone. And as such, I can't check out some of the attempts to bring comics to everyone's favorite brick of technology.

I very much like the idea of electronic comics, and so like to see what's going on in different formats. The ideal reading format is the Kindle, Sony Reader or much-rumored Apple tablet. Actually, the Apple tablet seems hard to beat, if they can sort it out.

In the meantime, I'm glad companies like Boom! are looking at the possibilities for eComics instead of what DC is doing and experimenting with motion comics, which isn't reading and isn't really a cartoon, and so satisfies nobody.

Issue #7 of Irredeemable is coming out on Wednesday, and its a series I'm enjoying quite a bit.

Anyway, this is Simon's show, and as he was good enough to step away from the coffee pot long enough to type this up, I will hand over the reigns to him:


I took you up on the iPhone nerd challenge. I've wanted to check out Irredeemable for a bit now and I was planning on downloading them when I saw they were released on comiXology.

My first thought is that $1.99 is too much for a digital comic. I'd prefer my digital downloads to be a the $0.99 price point. That way I don't feel like I've wasted so much money when the eventual trade rolls around. Now the dollar amount is set by the publisher so maybe BOOM! Studios will come around on this point.

Story wise the two issues I read were very good. Although I don't find it as earth shattering as it was made out to be as I feel we've seen this kinds of thing before with Black Adam and Marvelman. Mind you I'm not complaining as the plotting and dialog was done very well but I expect that out of Mark Waid.

One could tell the art was good. Even shrunk down to the iPhone size. The biggest downside I found was the constant switching between portrait and landscape modes. I had to do this as it was hard to read the text in some situations. That took me out of the flow of the book. I think this is something that comic book creators will have to keep in mind in the future. I'd suggest that they try to keep a high percentage of the panels in landscape mode like Atomic Robo or portrait mode like Elephantmen.

Something I wish they would add to the books are the letters page. Mind you not a static letters page but I link to the on-line forum discussing the particular issue you are reading. I should probably go add that feature request.

The convenience factor was great! If your local comic shop is anything like mine they are bringing in less and less store copies. They only way I'd get to pick up and issue of a book I haven't pre-ordered is through a service like this. The ability to shop on-line for books is a real winner.

My verdict on Irredeemable is that I'm going to wait for the trade. The sole reason is price. I don't want to pay $12 for six issues only to turn around and get the dead tree version for $17. This is in contrast to Atomic Robo which I continued getting at the $0.99 price point and Elephantmen where I grabbed both hard covers at the Windy City Con.


Thanks, Simon! Your reimbursement is en route, which... you know, I wasn't sure what currency you guys use in Canada, so I'm sending you some shiny rocks and a Coke bottle I found in a parking lot. You can still put stuff in it if you don't turn the bottle over.