Thursday, November 12, 2009

Returning Shortly...

In Vegas with 15 dudes for the weekend. Wish me luck. I'll need it.

No, I've Never Actually Read the Books. Why?

Calvin found this.

From the studio who brought you "Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus". Seriously.

I haven't seen the movie, but seeing a poster with Sherlock Holmes and dinosaurs, a gigantic squid AND fire breathing dragons on it is exactly representative of everything I think about when I consider how Hollywood deals with perfectly good source material. Except that there are no boobs anywhere on the poster.

Yes, I know Asylum is sort of kidding as a company. I am not sure their audience knows that.

Coming to DVD end of January.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

KareBear Returns to Africa

So tomorrow my Ma returns to Kenya. She went last spring as part of a group from her church that visits semi-annually to fit locals with glasses. Not a bad gig, and as I understand it, its a pretty chummy set up. The locals get to have a good laugh at the expense of confused Americans and the Americans get to meet people in a context that's not part of the hospitality industry in a completely different part of the world.

Plus, Giraffes.

The missionaries do get a "free" day, and it sounds like KareBear will be heading to the farm from "Out of Africa", the real life home of Karen von Blixen-Finecke (aka: Isak Dinesen). Apparently the place is now a park.

No, I've only seen the movie and never read the book.

Mostly, however, its eye-glasses time.

Anyway, we wish KareBear safe travels and look forward to hearing her stories over Thanksgiving.

Madonna, eat Lady Gaga's Dust

Lauren and Randy pointed to this video, and I can see why.

In the tradition of pop stars who relied upon image, sex and production value over any actual ability to sing or dance and who aren't necessarily traditionally beautiful, Lady Gaga is picking up where Madonna dropped off when I was in high school. No doubt this video would have been "controversial" in the late-80's and early 1990's for, basically, freaking out The Moral Majority.

Today, its just a particularly well-produced video. But, nonetheless, Mom, you can probably skip this one.

If I wasn't a fan before, they had me from 3:43 to the end

Despite the fact its a fairly standard driving disco song, it's clever and sort of tragic and fits in with Gaga's over-the-topishness in a way I can't help but admire. Seriously, whether I love the music or not (and I actually do like this track), I have to salute that this isn't going weird for Lady Gaga, but from what I can tell, this is sort of where her persona lives.

I am reminded of how vague accusations seemed to surface that Madonna had co-opted, processed and (possibly accidentally) made okay for the Pepsi Generation the culture of the gay community to create a persona at times, and its hard to look at Lady Gaga and not get the same, vibe. There's something oddly Hedwig-like about the personality she's creating that I wonder how it sits with John Cameron Mitchell. At minimum, the lush costuming, elaborate make-up, etc... seems lifted from a drag show. And I'd guess I'm not the only one whose reading some of that, as, after all, the lady was accused of packing just this summer (which I think was disproved, but am also fairly certain is a little irrelevant).

But I gotta go with Randy and Lauren on this. I'm digging the video, and on view #4, the song.

A Tragic Lack of Bubo

I am not so sure about this one. I can no longer guarantee I'll see stuff like this, the way I once could. But I kind of want to see what they do, you know?

Calibos and Medusa could wind up being really cool in this version. Could, being the operative word. But I don't see any actor listed for Calibos, so...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The League Watches "V", Week 2

Well, it's certainly a television show, isn't it? It has actors, and sets, and stuff.

Here's the thing: any sense of tension you're trying to build gets totally deflated when you know exactly what's happening and exactly what your bad guys are up to. And to have people walking around expressly saying what's happening doesn't really help.

I was really looking forward to having an excuse to stare at Elizabeth Mitchell once a week, but they are really making it difficult to want to see Mitchell slog her way through clunky exposition and this mix of V and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (who is a lizard person? ANYONE CAN BE A LIZARD PERSON!!!!" Thus, lots of squinty looks and insert shots of extras because everyone is a suspect!!!).

It just feels like the show refuses to acknowledge that the same audience that's made Lost a hit could be patient enough to let them tell their story. Ie: Lost may have gone too far the other direction, but if there's no mystery to what the invaders are up to (and I'm guessing stealth invasion) and you won't even put it through its paces, if you can't be patient, why should I be?


Dear World,

If Aliens show up in massive ships with an iffy sounding agenda, amazing technology far superior to anything we've got, and seem to be trying way, way too hard to ingratiate themselves to us, I expect you will at least TRY to have a military presence, quarantine, etc... in the first two weeks of their arrival.

Not just act like a busload of Canadians or "Up With People" have decided to camp out in a parking lot.


The League

Anyway, week 2 wasn't any better than week 1. They get 1 or 2 more weeks. Even with this ridiculous subplot featuring the kid.

Also, if you think nobody would be shooting at those big ships, Hollywood, you really, really do not know America.

What sort of annoys me is knowing that all the sci-fi fanboys who insist that anything that's genre fiction is worthy of being saved are going to love this show.

Still. It has Elizabeth Mitchell...

Her name's Mitchell. She's a cop.

The League Salutes: Veterans

Its no secret The League has not served his country, or, really, anyone.

We are very proud of the service done by The Admiral (not actually an Admiral, but formerly of the USAF) who served in Vietnam and of our Grandfather's service in the 82nd Airborne during World War II. And let me point out that Jamie's own dad was Army for many years (on the front lines against tooth decay, but that's just one way to fight a battle, people).

We looked with awe at these men and women's service when we were younger, but as time has marched on, that's deepened to true gratitude. I have never had to pick up a gun, I have enjoyed my freedoms without worry, lived without worry of any attack upon me or my family, and there are millions who have served to ensure that could be true.

It is impossible to say that its easy for me to see the purpose of some of our wars and military actions. To pretend the US has always been in the right in all military application is dishonest and to suggest otherwise means we cannot learn from past error and judiciously consider when we put troops in harm's way. But we've always had brave men and women who were able to be there when Uncle Sam asked. They've done it for little pay, for little glory, but because they could serve, and that's something we can't treasure enough.

The League of Melbotis salutes all veterans today, whether infantry or sailor or technician or dentist.

Vegas Hiatus

Some people have weird jobs

On Thursday I wing off for sunny Las Vegas, Nevada with several dudes from the greater Austin area. We plan to meet up with dudes from the Pacific Northwest. Some of you may know The My and Manzo.

I do not return until Sunday, so you're going to have to bear with a bit of radio silence from LoM for a few days while we bury a few bodies in the desert.

I am not really sure what to expect, to the point where I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to pack. Honestly, part of me knows that if I need a tie to go anywhere, its somewhere I can't afford enough to be there in the first place.

Pretty much what happens the minute you step foot off the plane in Vegas.

And, yeah, its sort of canned and cliche to head to Vegas with your male buddies as you try to deny that you're all entering "that point" in your life, but, what the hell... If I didn't go, I'd regret it forever.

I've been to Vegas enough times to know that while movies like "The Hangover" are cute, my experience has been far from "anything can happen", but much more of a "wow, it sure cost a lot for anything to happen and somehow the most fun was that Star Trek exhibit thing". Also to know that mega-conventions are fun on Day 1, and each day afterward is progressively more depressing.

May the spirit of Goulet guide me in Vegas, as he does every day

Also, on my first trip out, Columbine happened. On the next trip, I was there on 9/11/2001. So, you know, not all great memories.

If anyone is going to be in the area, Leaguers, let me know. I'd love to see you and have a soda with you at Circus Circus.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Wall

I was in 9th grade when The Wall came down. A lot of people are going to have something much more intelligent to say about the fall of the Berlin Wall. I see no reason for that to happen here, but I'd hate to let the moment of the 20th Anniversary fall by the wayside without mention.

To some extent, as memory serves, I was born and raised and nurtured on such a steady diet of NATO and America being Awesome and Communism being Evil that there was a hint of inevitability to the wall eventually coming down, but nobody thought it was going to happen when and how it did. At least in the group of 14 year old boys I talked to. We mostly believed it would be in 250 years after a fierce laser-pistol and Commie-Robot-Army battle.

The climate prior to the Fall of the Wall, and the domino effects in Eastern Europe, meant I was used to regular patrols of my neighborhood by F4's from the local Air Force base, and mutually assured destruction as routine a thought as if I wanted Coke or Pepsi, but there you have it.

In a way, losing The Wall was a bit of a bummer. The Wall was this big, obvious metaphor that we got cool movies based upon where democracy-loving spies, Germans, etc... got to cross the wall and shoot the bird at Evil Communists as they snuck past them in the night.

Mr. White, my 9th grade geography teacher, made sure we watched video of Germans partying along the wall as it was being destroyed by hand. A bit of a former hippy and amazingly socially conscious for a high school geography teacher, Mr. White saw to it that the import of the moment was not lost upon us. Although he did not include in his lesson that it was President Reagan's magic fairy dust that brought The Wall down, as the story has now been written.

For a bunch of kids raised to believe that sooner or later, we were going to be going bayonet-to-bayonet with some Godless Commie (most likely right there on top of The Wall), suddenly realizing Glasnost was sort of working out came as a total @#$%ing shock. Hating Commies was just part of every day life, and with The Wall coming down, it was now just... over.

I really have no idea how German reunification went. Fine, I suppose. I don't remember nearly as many stories about East Germany as I've seen on Russia and the legacy of 5 Year Plans and factory cities being shuttered.

I've now met more people from East Germany and Russia than I have from Delaware or Maine. My colleague is married to party official's daughter. My pal Dan is married to a Russian molecular biologist. Its a crazy world.

Sure, in the ensuing years we ignored the lessons of Rambo III and Nostradamus and found all new people to pick a fight with, but its just not the same. Back then it felt a bit more like "my local sports franchise is better than your local sports franchise". The Russians and East Germans were jerks who would nationalize your lemonade stand, but they didn't live in caves and declare 1000 year jihads upon you. Building better jets to keep up with your enemy used to mean something, dammit.

It wasn't until later in high school and certainly in college where I began to understand why Russia didn't exactly spruce up East Germany, and hadn't taken to cuddling the Germans like best buddies. It's still amazing that Berlin managed to exist in its split island state as long as it did. In many ways, that's something that I believe future generations simply will refuse to believe existed, when nobody remembers Checkpoint Charlie.

Germany has experienced a reunification that most didn't expect, and it makes one wonder if, cooler heads prevailing, the DMZ couldn't disintegrate and Korea become a single state in my lifetime.

I don't really miss the Red Menace, I suppose. Not when we've managed to find so many other threats to worry about. I do miss sexy East German double-agents and movies depicting heroics done in the name of democracy.

So long, Wall. We don't miss you all that much.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Showcase Presents

Last night I went to an after-hours event at Austin Books with a special display of what they term "Showcase Comics". These are comics that are not in the plentiful back-issue bins, but which the good folks at Austin Books have recognized of being of exceptional quality either through what state they are in or because of their value to fans.

What made last night particularly interesting was that it was spotlighting some new comics that Austin Books had recently acquired, including a large Golden Age collection, all held by the same person since they were bought off the rack. I saw Superman and Batman comics (and had one in my hand) that I assumed I could easily have never seen in person.

For good or ill, I brought my personal financial consultant with me (Jamie) to ensure I did nothing rash, and while I very much wanted to bring home Bob Oksner-covered Superman issues in the #20-50 range, I decided it was okay to have just had the good fortune to see them.

There's an amazing amount of history to those comics, and to know that they have been in a single person's possession all these years is astonishing. Many valuable comics are bought and sold as a commodity, and its not hard to believe you're the third or fourth person whose owned the comic when you're looking at the more valuable stuff. But seeing a kid's signature get neater on covers as the years progress gives you a moment of pause. Let alone that the kid hung onto these comics for so many years.

There are the War Bond ads on some covers, and Superman beating up Hermann Goering on others. They're not just Superman collectibles, but a slice of the zeitgeist of the era (as comics so often are. Someday, you need to Google "Prez, the Teenage President").

Anyhow, I had opportunity to consider my own fandom and chat with the hardcore collectors who were there (and absolutely know that angle of the comic collectible market). It was reassuring to see that they're still picking these comics up out of love, not as investors. One gentlemen mentioned to me that he'd never actually resold a comic, which, considering what he was buying, sort of blew my mind.

It was fun.

Rather than sulk, I did manage to grab a Jimmy Olsen issue and a great Kubert-drawn Enemy Ace comic.

Poor Little Lu (I broke my dog)

Last night I was playing with Lucy (our beloved little black lab) and picked her up.

She let out a yelp, which Lucy has only ever done once before when I was playing with her roughly.

Well, we left for a little while and came back to find Lucy was not willing to climb up on the couch (which you would think I'd be happy about, but...), and was just not terribly mobile.

I was going to just keep an eye on her, because with dogs half the time this stuff just passes. But the last time she yelped, we wound up with a trip to the vet and learned she has hip dysplacia, a fairly common problem in large-breed thorough-breds (part of why we went for 100% American Mutt when we adopted Scout).

Anyhow, at 2:30 AM I was walking into the emergency vet.

Lucy received a narcotic of some sort and... high animals are a really weird thing to deal with. She's also got some pills for the issue. She's resting next to Jamie on the couch, but we had to get her up there.

Because I'd stayed up late to keep an eye on her, and then missed sleep from about 2:00 - 4:30 AM, I'm a little punchy today.

I am most sad that it was my fault. Very Jack Torrance of me.

Lucy used to bounce all over the place and "delicate" was not a word I would have associated with her physique. But I need to adjust when we're playing, and not do anything as simple as lift her anywhere except onto the bed or into the car. And not take it as a sign that her jumping all over creation is the same thing as her getting picked up.