Saturday, December 19, 2009

UT Longhorn Volleyball Fought Hard

Man, that was a heart-breaker. Not only did we have to say good-bye to Steven and Lauren, but the National Volleyball Championship was on TV with our UT Longhorns. Unfortunately, despite winning the first two games, Penn State came from behind to win. Here.

I say... oh, well. UT kicked ass. They played amazingly well against an equal opponent, and the games were very close.

I've been pretty focused on football, but the Longhorns had an amazing season by any standard. Heartbreakingly close to a National Title, but they made a fan out of me. Next year, I'm definitely hanging out on Wednesdays to go to the games.

Keeping Up With The League

So, as of midnight tomorrow, that'll be it.

Not to fret, The League of Melbotis will carry on in a limited capacity over on Facebook. And to a more limited extent, over on Twitter.

The site will remain up, but I don't plan to update links, etc...

The site already rolls overfor approval on comments after a week, but I may be shutting comments down all together. I foresee a future in which Chinese spammers are flooding my inbox and I keep having to reject comments.

Also, I imagine the email address associated here will be good for a long, long while.

Anyway, don't be a stranger.

Friday, December 18, 2009

WW Christmas

Normally I don't post cheesecake comic art, because I find it distasteful and believe it just reinforces some negative stereotypes about comics. But... Ah, heck. Why Not?

Wonder Woman for Christmas is okay by us

Happy Birthday JimD

Our Birthday Boy Stands in Repose

Panick Attack!

I know you're not supposed to think the end of the world is awesome. But there's nothing I don't like in this video.

More Garth Merenghi

To have to explain Garth Merenghi means you're not going to like it, anyway.

Here's new Garth Merenghi. I believe called "War of the Wasps". Found by Brit Simon.

UT Longhorn Volleyball in National Championship


I keep forgetting to say anything about this, but on Saturday at 7:00, UT's Longhorn Volleyball team is on ESPN or ESPN2 (I forget) playing Penn State for the National Championship!


Just because. darn it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Iron Man 2!


I think you guys might want to check out the trailer for the upcoming Iron Man sequel.

HERE (its at Apple. Must have Quicktime. So, Jason, get someone to help you out.).

Thanks to Simon for the link!

Trail of Lights


Well, trying to keep our levels of Christmas Cheer set to "Jingle-riffic", Jamie and I headed to The Trail of Lights at Austin's Zilker Park.

The Trail of Lights faced a lot of challenges this year. In the spring, the city spent a truckload of money laying copper wire to enable better power for the mile long trail of lights. In the Summer, the City figured out somebody had come along and STOLEN all of the copper, likely for a tidy profit.

Then, ACL Fest was a bit rough on the lawn and the city is having to replant that grass, etc...

So... the Trail of Lights was renamed to "Zilker Tree Holiday Festival".

Jamie had fun.

The Zilker Tree is a longstanding tradition. Its actually several strands of lights attached to a Moon Tower, and while quite lovely from far away, the longstanding tradition is to get underneath the tree and spin until you barf. Good times.

I hadn't been to the Tree or the Trail of Lights in many, many years. Due to the challenges, the trail was a lot shorter this year, and on the other side of the park from the last time I was there. Also, they had like, five funnel cake stands.

Anyhow, we had a good time. And that's all you get for a post tonight.

Just look at Jamie. She's cute as a button.

Alicia Keys and Colbert rock NYC and the Burbs

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Found by Joe Cathey

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I got nothing.

Well, as the clock winds down, I should really have another post or two in me. But I think I'm sort of worn out from the last few posts.

Here's Power Girl. Now go talk amongst yourselves.

Happy Holidays From The League!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So long, Superman!

About three and a half years ago (that's roughly 25 years ago in blog years), I posted what I felt was more or less my statement on WHY I'm a fan of Superman.

You can read it here.

I'd also pointed to my Superman collection at the time, which has only expanded in the intervening years. At that time, I did not have replicas of five shades of Kryptonite, a toy Kryptonian Battlesuit, etc... Were there time and my office in any condition to show, I'd have put up a few images. But its not, so... you're just going to have to stop by some time. Tours are $2.

I'm fairly sensitive to criticism of the Superman character, primarily because Superman has taken on this odd, avatar-like role for the squeaky-clean image of heroism that's fallen out of favor but which is mostly a gross oversimplification.

I talked about that here.

At another point I tried to address what I would think are limitations of Superman (and superheroes) here.

I get a lot of blowback from readers when I bemoan the misconceptions, and am told "well, its what the public thinks that matters". But I also am aware that the public perception is shaped by articles exactly like the ones Loyal Leaguers gleefully forward me (which is shockingly often). That's not to say that you can't criticize Superman as a character, but the thing is: John and Jane Public in this case are getting sold a bad bill of goods. And I've always felt that wasn't quite fair to DC Comics, John and Jane Public, people like myself who actually bother to read the comics, watch the movies, cartoons, TV shows, etc... and certainly to a figment of a teenager's imagination whose done little more in 70-odd years of existence but be the good guy.

There are different visions for how the story of Superman might end. Ends are how we can judge characters, after all. Alan Moore's closeout of the Silver Age with "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" is tragic, but ends on the right note. DC One Million suggests Superman sort of goes on forever. I like the ambiguous wrap-up to All Star Superman, with Superman toiling at the heart of the sun, having given up his Earthly life to save the world, and lifting from the page of all mythic heroes, with the promise that he will one day return.

I've made no secret that part of why I embraced Superman was because the franchise/ series/ character/ whatever DID have that weird, funhouse aspect of "oh, Jesus. What now?" that I still cackle about when a new editon of Showcase Presents Superman hits the shelves or I find just the right back issue. And its certainly a big selling point for me when I pick up an issue of Jimmy Olsen. I like that this same character is responsible for amazing comics like "Kingdom Come", "Peace on Earth" and many, many more... But its also the same character that spawned Beppo the Super Monkey.

Often, Superman can be a reminder of how short I feel the vision is of humanity. Sometimes I believe that its a lack of belief that a person wielding such power would turn it to the good that makes us flush with rage when the story does not become one of betrayal, petty abuse of power, and instead, page after page chooses to show us a man struggling with the choices before him.

In his own story, of course, Luthor is the hero. He's the brilliant mind who turned genius to profit and power, and who cannot imagine that someone so gifted would not want to cap and trade his own power. Superman must be waiting for something, and while we hiss and boo Lex, we're envious of him.

There's, of course, a personal and a quite literal financial stake in all this. I've got something invested. But I also started elsewhere with comics, with superheroes, with action and science fiction heroes, with all the same stuff we all pass through. n the end, I landed on Superman. Somehow, the constant striving to do the right thing didn't seem like such a bad thing. And maybe even the "taking it a step further" that happens when you want to be better than who you really are.

And that's what I read when I pick up those comics, and watch those movies. All those powers, and Superman still so rarely saves the day. I know I can do better, and I so often fail to do so. I do okay. I do well enough, but I don't do enough.

In the years of this blog, its unlikely I've turned a single person into a fan of the Man of Steel. I know I've probably shared more about the character than even one of you ever cared to read. That's okay. You people have no idea what Jamie lives with, here in our Fortress of Solitude.

I haven't forgotten that JimD obtained a theatrical print of Superman: The Movie for what was practically a personal screening, getting Randy to come down to join us, and setting us up in a magnificent theater (The Jefferson in downtown Beaumont). Or that Peabo and his wife drove out there with us to watch the movie.

And I haven't forgotten the endless viewings Jamie suffered through of Superman movies, TV shows, cartoons, etc... Nor have I forgotten the Super-related items folks have shared or given to me as gifts. All of that winds up as part of the package of what I think of when people ask "So you're a Superman fan?".

At the end of the day, I like the idea that there's this alien who came to Earth, and because he was raised to believe in Truth and Justice and The American Way, those things we're all supposed to believe in, that he decided not to use the power for himself, but to do the right thing. Whether its saving a space plane from crashing or standing between a shooter and their victim, that saving the day is the right thing to at least try to do.

It doesn't hurt that he can bend steel in his hands, that his eyes shoot lasers and that he's got Lois, Perry and Jimmy around.

Or that he's got a dog that has all his powers that's a superhero, too.

As I mentioned in previous parting posts, I am aware that Superman is and has been an odd sort of crutch when I needed hours to fill and something to focus on outside of the day-to-day. But I've also been able to look at Superman as metaphor, as inspiration of a sort, and as distraction during some of our most challenging days. A fictional Superman cannot eliminate ill-health, or want, or distress. All the character can do is appear in stories where someone tried to do the right thing, often against obstacles that seemed literally impossible, enough to defeat even a Superman.

I have a favorite memory, of Jamie getting better in the hospital, and me knowing she was getting better when I was able to show her pages from one of those fat "Showcase Presents" Superman albums and say "this is completely insane! Look at this!" I believe it was Superman accidentally finding himself with the head of a lion, and Jamie and I having a good laugh. That's just good stuff.

I'll miss talking about Superman with you guys.

Sometime, pick up a Superman comic. I'll be around to make suggestions, if you like.

I just hope that a few of you, when you see the red cape and boots will know a bit more than "John and Jane Public", and nothing would please me more than finding out you'd won points at trivia by naming Superman's dog (hint: its Krypto).

Verbot never worked

I didn't notice last night, but even in the damn commercial, Verbot doesn't follow instructions. It happens around the 8 second mark.

Also, if memory serves, my dog HATED Verbot. Poor Puff.

I really grew to resent that robot.

Steans Family Christmas Carol

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Wishbook For

My folks were not unwise. I recall many-a-conversation when they would ask "are you sure this is what you want?"

1 and 2) Dingbot and Verbot

You may remember the line of Robot toys from Tomy that hit stores in the mid-80's.

The four main toys were Dingbot, Verbot, OmniBot and OmniBot 2000.

Based on the commercials, I had high hopes for what these robots would do. I had visions of a robot buddy, a sort of Robot Friday that was going to be a bit of robot butler, side-kick and confidante. Seriously, look at this thing:

My folks, privy to my high-minded visions of how I believed the robots would work, talked me down to the lowest tier robot, DingBot. DingBot had no programmable features, but it sounded okay.

Here's a video of DingBot in action.

As you can imagine, the whole Butler/ Buddy thing didn't work out quite as I'd envisioned. It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy turning that thing on and watching it whack into walls, but I knew I'd just picked the wrong robot. My NEXT attempt would go better.

After all, the commercial for Verbot made it clear THIS was a robot that was going to listen to me:

Verbot never really worked correctly from Day 1. And, hey, funny thing. Every time you turned Verbot off and back on again, you had to reprogram the @#$%ing thing. Also, it didn't seem to particularly like my voice, so I spent a lot of time cursing at Verbot.

By 8th grade, I remember getting curious about what was actually inside Verbot, and taking him apart and putting him back together, at which point, ol' Verbot quit working at all. Wouldn't even turn on.

3) In 4th Grade, I got a Cabbage Patch Kid.

His name is Rhett Delbert, and I have no idea if he's in a box somewhere in my parent's house, or if he's been gifted via Salvation Army to some much-more worthy kid.

The Cabbage Patch craze sort of peaked when I was in 3rd grade, and in that way kids and readers of "Us" magazine do, I had to have an object because everyone else had that object. It was almost a check mark at the time more than any desire to have one. And, as a family we were often late to the party on this hip stuff, we sort of waited until the dust and tramplings cleared until I was a little too old for... dolls.

My grandparents had apparently secured the doll, and my folks made sure I knew they'd put themselves out to get this thing (and keep in mind, this is when people were literally getting killed wrestling for these dolls). So I knew I had to be extra appreciative.

So, yeah, there are some goofy pictures of me in these awful tan pajamas on Christmas,morning circa 1984 with this doll. The pictures themselves are doubly creepy to me because (a) I was really a big kid for my age. I was frequently mistaken for someone 2-3 years older than my age (these days, everyone assumes I'm in my 40's). So it looks like this pudgy 7th grader who is way, way too happy to have just received a doll. (b) I also was just getting to the point where I didn't really play with toys, per se, anymore. And I think I knew it when I opened that package, but the look of fulfilled avarice on that kid's face... anyway. I sort of hate that kid.

But I'd asked for this thing for two years, my grandparents had bought it, and I felt that I sort of needed to get my money out of the thing.

Nothing about the awkwardness of the situation was helped by having an older brother who made sure to point out I had a doll, or by the fact that a new kid who'd moved to town who I played with was really into his Cabbage Patch Kid. Which, in the end, was sort of helpful.

When I look at the thing, I remember with stunning clarity having the realization by sort of watching my friend that I really, really was past this particular part of my childhood. Because my folks have that "we built all this from nothing" work ethic, giving gifts was happily done, but we understood that we weren't one of the families that was getting new bikes every Christmas. Even then, I couldn't tell anyone that I had no idea what to do with a Cabbage Patch Kid once I had it. And I sure as @#$ couldn't ever let Jason know I, too, in my more lucid moments, thought this was a pretty dumb thing for a ten year old kid who didn't want to get his ass kicked to have in his possession.

The odd thing is, I am sure I found some way to play with that damn doll, but I have no idea what I did with it.

And so, after a while, poor 'ol Rhett Delbert, who never did nothing to nobody, got stuck in the back of my closet, right along with a whole lot of embarrassment.

#4) Laser Tag

It did not occur to me until AFTER Christmas morning that it was a very good thing that my friends had also asked for a system that you need at least two people to play. Sure, there were games that you could play by yourself, but they all were about as interesting as seeing if you could hit a spot on the wall with a flashlight.

Once again, the commercials looked totally awesome:

I had never been to "Photon" in Dallas, but I'd heard about how cool it was. That same Christmas that we all got Laser Tag, the Photon franchise released their own home-game version of their equipment which had the added bonus of noting that the only target on a person is rarely a red disc about the size of a coaster, and because it came witha helmet that registered shots from any direction, it also suggested (unlike Lazer Tag) that one could be shot from any direction.

Because we all had the same Lazer Tag equipment, in theory it was a level playing field. However, being 12 or so, the first thing we all set out to do was cheat, either by turning off our receptors immediately after the game started, or covering them or by changing the width of our beams (yeah, the guns were oddly sophisticated).

In the end, gameplay turned into all of us eying one another with suspicion and nobody trusting one another enough to NOT cheat the minute they were out of site.

In addition, to make Laser Tag half as cool as Photon, you had to start buying the multitude of accessories, and if everyone didn't have the same accessories, it immediately changed the playing field. And, while our folks could afford the starter kit, nobody's folks were going to shell out an extra lump of cash for the helmet, rifle, etc...

Photon, by the way, just looked cool.

Looked cool, that is, unless you were a kid in a helmet designed for adults. When all the rest of us got Laser Tag, this kid Dave got Photon, and he looked sort of like a crazy person with all the wires and gear hanging off of him. Especially when he was playing with his 7 year old sister.

That not too specific language in the Photon commercial was their way of saying "dummy, if you buy Lazer Tag, you have to buy all the peripheral crap, and none of it is synched like our system". Nonetheless, both more or less failed.

But we atill have a place called "Blazer Tag" very near Jamie's dialysis clinic that I always threaten to take her to.


The Rebel Transport toy from Kenner
? Was totally awesome.

yes, it was usually used in scenes of role-played cowardice as I evacuated Rebel bases, but it was fun.

Also fun?

My blue Team Murray BMX bike I got in, I think, 2nd grade.

I was officially too old for Teddy Ruxpin when the talking bear debuted, but that didn't mean I didn't want to see how one worked. I was sad to see that Teddy Ruxpin's moving animatronic parts took the cues from electronic tones on the audio tapes. However, a more cheaply made competitor, the Cricket doll, simply responded to whatever sounds were on the tape. Once my friend Todd and I discovered this, we spent hours finding ways to make Cricket insist to Todd's sister that she was possessed by Satan, and that one dark night, she would choke the life out of her and turn her into a doll.

Ah, good times.

Rock It, Bing

Pretty much exactly what one sees at League HQ come Christmas time.

Leaguers may not know, but I once had an affinity for the vocal stylings of Mr. Bing Crosby. It has greatly informed my approach to singing Christmas Carols. Except... I can't sing. So... it gets interesting.

This clip is from "Holiday Inn", which will run on cable over the Holidays. There are some seriously dodgy moments in the movie when it comes to race-relations of the time, and some versions cut out a particularly questionable sequence (the film loses nothing, and its about as offensive of a scene as you're likely to find).

Anyhow, Crosby's cover of "White Christmas" is one of the best selling records of all time, and, in fact, spawned a movie entitled "White Christmas", also starring Crosby. Both are a good way to kill an hour or so over the Holidays.

Crosby was considered a bit of a heart-throb in his day, and had a mind-blowingly long career, spanning around 5 full decades, dominating the charts for much of the pre-Rock-n'Roll era. He was, in fact, a hero of Sinatra's before Sinatra was Sinatra.

Anyhow, here's Bing and Bowie.

Throw in David Byrne, and this video would literally melt my brain.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One Week Left

The last post from this blog goes up next Sunday around 11:59pm.

I'm starting to get a little more melancholy about the end of things. On Saturday Jamie and I were visiting the Armadillo Christmas Bizarre and ran into Maxwell and Family, and I know that were it not for this site and Cowgirl Funk, it would be unlikely that I'd have ever seen little Sophie or Eric (who is less little). And, of course, there will be an Earth-2 League that carries on with the blog in his world. Sadly, lacking a Cosmic Treadmill, I can't travel through time, space or dimensions to see what that world looks like.

I am worried about the folks I'll lose touch with, and that I'm doing something wrong. We'll see soon enough.

Part of why I wrapped things up when I did is that I have two entire weeks off, from Dec. 22 - January 3rd where I'll have time to start new projects and pick up old ones, and as I'm getting out of my normal pattern, establish a new one. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to starting my career in hip-hop.

Guest Post: The Decade in Comics

I Guest Blogged at Comic Fodder, looking at the changes in the last ten years.

Click here.

Krampus + Lost Venture Bros. = Awesome

So, I'm kind of counting on the fact that my folks never watch the videos I put on here to work in my favor, so... seriously, those of a sensitive nature. Don't click here.

I also don't know how many of you watch The Venture Bros. on Cartoon Network, but its become one of my favorite shows. Just... don't expect me to explain Dr. Girlfriend, or the fact that her voice doesn't phase me anymore at all.

But a few years back, it seems they produced a Christmas Special. I'd never heard of it until today, when The Dug recalled seeing it as it features... The Krampus!

So, if you want to see the first animated appearance of the Krampus in the US that I'm aware of, click here. Just be aware that... Venture Bros. is aimed at non-emotionally-mature adults.