Calling all Leaguers!

Melbotis (Mel-boh-dis) Perkins is a 116 lb. golden retriever dedicated to Truth, Justice and the American Way.

The League of Melbotis welcomes all likeminded individuals willing to use their unique abilities for the betterment of mankind.

Comics, superheroes, giant robots, doggies, space ships, movies, personal journal, schadenfreude.

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    The League Totally $@%*ing Sells Out!

    Are You HOT or NOT?

    Friday, February 20, 2004  
    In my post below about Survivor, I failed to mention the program which actually met and surpassed my expectations. But because it's PBS, there's no game, just an experiment.

    THe show was Frontier House and I watched it the first time in the Spring of 2002. They've had other shows in the series. Manor House was a favorite of mine. But just don't be surprised when there's no contests and no immunity challenges. No prizes at the end. Just folks playing roles as assigned.

    The idea of Frontier House was to take three families from different walks of life and see what life might have been like in the summer of 1883 in the wilds of Montana. There's still drama and conniving. The family from Malibu can't seem to get their heads around how NOT to muck with the experiment by trading with the one modern family in walking distance, the middle-class folks form the South do fairly well, but the family has a difficult time holding it together, and the young couple has their own fair share of adjustments to make (not the least of their dissatisfaction at having to end the experiment).

    Nobody walks away with an Aztek, and nobody gets $1 million. But it's interesting to watch, and a genuine test of mettle. If any of the shows in the series come on PBS, they're certainly worth checking out.

    10:33 AM |

    I'll be honest. I never cared much for Survivor.

    The initial ads had me upbeat. I was misled to believe it was a program about fat Americans dumped onto an uncharted island and forced to survive and outlast one another, which proved partially true. I expected Lord of the Flies style warfare and a chance to see if people can really work together or if they really are doomed to destory one another. A tiny microcosm on CBS.

    What I hadn't anticipated were all of the immunity challenges,voting one another off, etc... I expected to genuinely watch people crumble as they sat back and tried to decide whether they had strength of will to outlast the others in their wretched condition, or whether that Lay-Z-Boy at home suddenly seemed like a much better idea.

    Survivor has t's own rules and has games, and alliances and all this other stuff. But to me, the fun would have come out of seeing if fat Americans could have really learned to live off the land.

    I mean, at one point, this was humanity's natural state, standing around trying to figure out how to survive. There was no host to force a vote off the island. There were no games, etc... and certainly the idea of "immunity" when people really wanted to nail you was next to inconceivable. I am glad that viewers seem to recognize THIS IS A GAME. Already in season 2, I am led to believe, people talked about strategies and alliances and knew how to play the game.

    And so, instead of being totally disappointed, at least I can say "well, both fans and contestants take it for what it is."

    What I find infinitely more interesting are Dedman's recaps of Survivor. Short, to the point, and none of the annoying "oh look, I got a digereedoo" music. Also, Dedman's recaps do not insert "meaningful" glances every time someone makes a statement.

    Before I go and make everyone think I've got a swelled head about game shows on TV, I will mention that I watched "The Littlest Groom" on Fox. And it was boring. Horribly, horribly boring. Until the last five minutes, anyway, when it turned darkly evil. I suppose people assume Little People must have magical powers which will make them innately interesting, but, I guess to the producer's surprise, take away the Little, and you have People. And not terribly fascinating people at that. But, luckily it only runs for two episodes, so I can tune in for the last five minutes on Monday and see how this fiasco winds up.

    I, myself, am also awaiting the return of Man Vs. Beast on Fox. There's nothing more humbling than watching the world hotdog eating champ get his ass handed to him by a GRIZZLY BEAR!!!!!

    As a side note, the Saga of the Couch is drawing to a close. When it is completed, I shall detail it herein.

    8:20 AM |

    Thursday, February 19, 2004  
    I was planning on writing something very similar when i found the time, but thankfully, The Onion has once again saved me the trouble.

    God bless my parents for only occasionally asking how I would use an RTF degree.

    3:06 PM |

    The League does not often travel abroad. In fact, The League has been confined to the golden shores of North America for more than 28 years. Mrs. League has been just about everywhere, but her dreams of travel ended the day she hooked up with an RTF major with no chance of disposable income.

    But one of the outside benefits of working at a university is that you meet people from all over the world who come in pursuit of the knowledge your particular institution has to offer.

    And so it was that I was asked to drop off some translation equipment for 25-odd Chinese visitors last night. Essentially, the equipment consisted of one microphone and broadcast device (with a single on/off switch) and 22+ headsets and receivers (with a single on/ volume dial).

    "And we need them there by 5:15," said the boss.
    "So I can actually leave by 5:15? I haven't done that since before the holidays."
    "(The Dean of something or other) will be there. Give them to her. She's translating for the Dean." Because Dean (we'll call her Lee) speaks Mandarin. I guess.
    So I was walking out the door with co-worker Eric P., and suddenly I had a flashback to my tech-monkey job in Austin.
    "Oh, God. She's going to get nervous when she sees all the black wire."
    "You think?"
    "I'm never getting out of there."
    Apparently the business school was hosting a dinner for several visitors from a Chinese partner of Motorola, and this was a big dinner to honor their arrival or something. I know only a few things. Among these is the fact that I know next to nothing about Chinese language, culture or custom.
    So I got there and laid out the devices on the windowsill so they could easily be picked up. Dean Lee was not yet there to drop any bombshells. I turned around, and all 5'1" of her was standing behind me.
    "So you're going to stay and help with these?"
    "Ah, no. I'm just here to drop them off."
    "They look complicated. How do they work?"
    "There's just one button. Very simple."
    "They look very complicated. I think you should stay."
    I watch as several trays of food come in, and I realize I'm running out of time to escape.
    "There's just one switch. You'll be fine," I say reassuringly.
    "So you're here in place of Jeff?"
    And I realize that my boss was supposed to be here. THat he has DUPED me into taking the hit for him.
    "I think you should stay."
    "Oh." I say. "Okay."
    I stand around for another minute, staring into space and trying to become one with the woodwork.
    "You need to get a bartender in here" a woman is telling me.
    "Excuse me?"
    "You need to get a bartender in here. There's nobody to serve drinks."
    "Look," I can here myself saying, and I realize I'm kind of pissed. "I don't work here. I work for Dean Lee."
    You see, I've been a tech-monkey. I ran wire and cable and captured video all silently and without being noticed for many, many years. And as such, people always assume that you are a part of the great inner-workings of the building you're in. They always assume you can do things like, say, pull a bartender out of your ass. I have nothing against bartenders. At events like this, they're usually the only decent person in the room. But I was also wearing a shirt which read "School of Engineering" across it, so I'm not really sure why I was confused with the University Club staff.
    The lady looked at me for a moment, and horror crept into her eyes.
    Universities are incredibly stratified. She had just identified me with the serving folks, and I was part of the Dean's staff. Suddenly, despite my haggard and irritated persona so typical of the serving folk, I was a guy who could tell the Dean that this lady is an idiot. And that, my friends, can be incredibly awkward. A single misstep can effect the way in which you are able to engage whole units for years.
    In that same instant i realized I was no longer part of the serving staff and endless sea of tech monkeys which keep the university running. I am THE MANAGER OF DISTANCE LEARNING, AND PITY BE TO THOSE WHO FALL IN MY PATH. But all of that posturing didn't mean that I didn't have to stick around.
    At this point, all the Chinese businessmen filed in, and too late I remembered: Chinese businessmen have a very distinct ritual of handing out business cards. You face the receiver squarely, and with two hands and a bit of supplication, you present the card.
    "I have no card," I whispered to the Dean.
    "Ooooookkkaaaaaayyyy," she said between clenched teeth. Ah, career suicide! Dean Lee was now seeing me for a boob, sent to replace Jeff and having no business cards! Bloody hell, the Chinese businessmen could see this as a slight, or something, i guessed, and none of them knew that until ten minutes before I was to drop off the receivers and bolt. going home early to see my wife in daylight for the first time in a week.
    I was presented with one card. Dean Lee quickly explained I had no cards to our visitor, and I assume disaster was averted.
    "Sit down and have some dinner," said the Dean.
    "I should probably stick by the equipment."
    "Sit down," said the Dean.
    Unsolicited, one of the Chinese businessmen brought me a Budweiser. Now, when working for the University, one does not drink, swear or pass gas before their superior. It's actually pretty strict in the rules about drinking, and frankly, I don't know Dean Lee well enough to guess whether or not she drinks. So I smiled, took the beer appreciatively, and wondered why the University Club's best beer is Budweiser.
    After a moment, i realized I had just dodged a bullet. One, i had considered turning the beer down, but took it anyway. Two, upon taking beer, I had denied myself my usual inclination to drink straight from the bottle. I guess I spent too long in Texas. Anyway, everyone was pouring their beer into their wine glasses.
    Now Dean Lee was explaining who i was. I nodded and waved at the folks at my table, not sure exactly what Dean Lee was telling them (since I wasn't clear on whether or not she knew my last name).
    "Do you have any brochures?" asked Dean Lee.
    "Any what?"
    "Brochures or marketing materials?"
    "I just..." it sounded so weak now. "I just came to drop off the headsets."
    She turned to the Chinese Businessmen and explained I, in fact, had no materials to share with them.
    "Go get some food," she said.
    "I just ate before I left," which was true. Rachel had provided me with cold pizza (jalapeno and pineapple... mmmmm).
    "Go get some food," she said again. Ah, if I were not to eat, these folks might take it the wrong way. Luckily they had grilled new potatos. Mmmmm....
    We toasted each other alot (mostly in Mandarin), and we listened to a few short speeches.
    "So I don't think we need the translation devices," Dean Lee said.
    "I think I'll just translate for the Dean."
    "Oh. Okay."
    The speech made little, if no sense. Despite extensive travelleing in China, the Dean apparently doesn't realize that Chinese speech-making is NOT the same yuk-fest American speechmaking tends to be.
    My department was even mentioned, but I was not pointed out as managing that department, which led me to believe I had done SOMETHING wrong. Or maybe not. You never know.
    I ate some salad, listening intently to the conversation, trying to figure out if I knew any chinese. I do not.
    Finally, at quarter to seven, Dean Lee said "I think you can go."
    "Are you sure?"
    The Chinese Businessmen looked at me sadly. I think they, too, wished to go. I think they thought that young american male promised more excitement for the evening than middle-aged dean lady. But I was also not really wanting to escort these guys around to a bunch of bars and strip clubs on a Wednesday night.
    I had left my cell phone in my car (expecting to just drop off the receivers and leave), so jamie knew nothing of any of this.
    "I was stuck in dinner with 25 chinese businessmen!"
    "So you already ate?"
    "Well, yes."
    "Okay fine. See you when you get home."
    I began to wonder if those guys would understand the value of a $20 in an American strip bar.

    9:34 AM |

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004  
    Because I am super busy today, and because Jim sent this, and because it's one of the funniest things I've seen in weeks.

    Here you go.

    THanks to Jim for forwarding me the link.

    8:28 AM |

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004  
    Wish I had this for Valentine's Day.

    11:13 AM |

    As a little kid I loved The Jeffersons. I do not know why, but I wwatched it all the time. In middle school, I was into Mr. Ed. In high school I watched lots of Twin Peaks, mostly because of Sherilyn Fenn.

    Now, my worlds collide once more as Sherman Helmsley is set to take over duties on Mr. Ed. And Sherilyn Fenn is cast as Wilbur's wife. Will this be the best show ever?

    And, wow... Fox decided to make the horse "from the street" as well as being smart alecky! What will those clever folks think up next...?

    LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Sherman Hemsley of "The Jeffersons" fame is lending his voice to the title character in Fox's updated version of "Mister Ed."

    Hemsley joins David Alan Basche, who was previously tapped to play Wilbur Post, and Sherilyn Fenn, tapped as Wilbur's wife.

    "Mister Ed" is a remake of the 1960s talking-horse sitcom. This time around, the equine title character has an urban sensibility.

    The original starred Alan Young as Wilbur and Allan "Rocky" Lane as the voice of Mister Ed. The show ran on CBS from 1961 to 1965 after an initial syndicated run in early 1961.

    9:51 AM |

    Due to a busy and hectic schedule, Jamie had forgotten to bring home my VD gift over the weekend. No big deal. I'm not big on VD, and I was busy enough to just be glad to have time to giver her a present.

    However, last night when I arrived home, Jamie handed me my present. Folks, you are now reading from the pages of the proud owner of Superman seat covers.

    I have to admit, I was expecting something more long the lines of a card, so when I received the seat covers, I'm not really sure I was able to fully express my excitement.

    Anyway, the seat covers are now in the car, and boy, are they snazzy. It's possible Jamie and I have more money than brains (which isn't saying much), but these are the things we do out here in the desert to keep ourselves from going insane. One could argue that from the outside, it looks like we're going in the opposite direction. And that's okay, but at least we're keeping ourselves amused.

    7:47 AM |

    Monday, February 16, 2004  
    talking George Bush dolls have turned up here before. Well, once again, Toys That Should Not Be presents a faithful recreation of our fearless leader(s).

    What's interesting is you have choice of your favorite Bush, or you can also get a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Bobblehead on the same page (insert your own Clinton joke here).

    11:04 AM |

    small victories:

    1) I located the movie: Comic Book: The Movie which has had comic fandom quietly abuzz for a week or so.

    2) I located the Justice League Hawkgirl action figure. I had assumed for so long that I would NEVER find Hawkgirl, that I had actually given up. Demand for the figure is high, and the few internet sites which had her were charging upwards of $30. I got her off the peg for $6.50.

    3) The new Batman toys will include a "Batcave" which appears to be insanely large

    4) The Justice League line of toys will soon include a version of the Satellite base. It's waaayyyy under scale, but I don't have an extra story on my house to store the full-scale model.

    5) Superman comics are getting back on track. Kind of. Wait until April. The current storyline is shaping up well, as was the last one, but I'm waiting until April.

    6) Superman comics actually went back to press for once, which means there is an upswing in interest.

    7) I am not sick. I got enough sleep and feel okay today. I must have dodged that particular bullet.

    I watched all of "Comic Book: The Movie" this weekend. And I am surprised to find out what a huge dork Mark Hamill is in real life. Wow. What a colossal nerd. But that's okay. He must actually LOVE being Luke Skywalker, because I cannot believe how dedicated to nerd-life he actually is. Comic Book: the Movie (herefeter referred to as CBTM) is about a guy hitting middle-age who loves comics and has been brought on board the pre-production team for a film adapatation of his favorite character, Captain Courage. Captain Courage has been changed to Codename: C.O.U.R.A.G.E., and is set to begin production as an ultra-violent revenge fantasy, intended to appeal to a modern audience.

    Anyway, Mark Hamill's character decides he doesn't like the updated version of the character, and while at the San Diego ComicCon, goes about trying to persuade the producers that they should stay true to the original (if dated) premise. It attempts to follow the semi-improvised "documentaries" of the Christopher Guest genre, but only occasionally does it seem to work.

    What follows is less than hilarious, and probably best to be avoided by anyone who doesn't have at least one long box in their closet. The movie is so full of inside jokes, I was stunned the release was wide enough I was able to find the DVD at Target. Even casual readers of comics would probably miss a lot of the jokes and references.

    The production values are TERRIBLE. Audio is often messy, for some reason, we constantly see the cameraman, and the whole thing is shot on DV cameras (no, there's no film transfer here at all). I do give them credit for beign able to tape at all in the infamously chaotic lanes of the San Diego Comiccon. But one feels that an actual documentary would have far better served the intended purpose of the film.

    What was really strange was how many celebrities do appear in CBTM, including Hugh Hefner, Sid Ceasar, Bruce Campbell, Stan Lee, and a host of comic creators (who are all uniformly chubby). It was cool to see some creators I am familiar with, and it was interesting to see them improvising their own personal recollections of Captain Courage (a mish mash of Shazam!, Superman and Captain America).

    For some reason they also decided to add in a character of "the camerman", who is pretty much some guy playing "Otto" from The Simpsons. I don't know who this guy is, but he wasn't funny. And when your movie is improvised, that ain't good. There's a particularly irritating scene in which we are reminded that these are all LA folks in which Otto the cameraman tells a girl in a cowboy hat that "Austin, Texas was named after Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man". Wow. THat's hilarous. These are the jokes which didn't end up on the cutting room floor.

    In the end, CBTM may serve one terrific purpose, and that's to send a forewarning to producers everywhere. Producers can learn that as they option the rights to comic characters, they don't own the characters. Hell, the comic companies which do own them barely have any control. These characters belong to the fans. Changing the characters, altering them and adding a "hip factor" is not going to add anything to the character, it's just going to water down what made the character popular for 50+ years. There's a correlation between the success of comic based movies and how close they stay to the source material.

    Unfortunately, i don't think CBTM is going to hold any producer's attention long enough that it's going to sway their opinions too much. And one wonders if the movie itself, with it's low budget look and feel, and it's wacky, wish-fulfillment ending, wouldn't end up doing more harm than good.

    8:45 AM |

    Sunday, February 15, 2004  
    Well, VD has come and gone. VD is not my favorite holiday. There's a lot of pressure, and not a lot of payoff (get your minds out of the gutters, you pervs), and it's expensive and kind of meaningless unless you're with someone in year one. I am in year... I'm not sure. Anyway, we got married in 2000 if that begins to give you any ideas.

    To make matters perhaps less romantic, my in-laws were here and Jamie had a cold and I just had the week from hell at work. And I know this week will stink, so I was thinking about that. Plus I have an exam on Tuesday. So, yes, I was just not in the mood for roses and wine and all that.

    My distaste for VD solidified around 1999 when I agreed to take Jamie to a nice little Italian place in Austin called "Romeo's". It's a date kind of place, and we were not the only ones with the idea. Keep in mind, kitchens are outlawed in private homes in Austin, and so everybody eats out all the time as it is. So on VD, all these couples were there and it was chaos and we agreed to sit outside by the gas heater thingy. After an hour and a half wait and ducking an interview with the local Fox affiliate doing a fluff piece on VD, we finally got seated. About five minutes later, the gas ran out, and we were told there was no more gas. We would have to freeze or give up our seat. So we froze and ate luke-warm food. I did get to watch a scene out of a sit-com as a weasely, somewhat grotesque little man tried to maintain the interest of his date by constantly reiterating his financial position (of which, i was quite jealous). I don't remember too many specifics, but he did a pretty good job of it, and it was kind of inspiring (note to self: as you get older and uglier, get richer...)

    All in all, I was not feeling terribly romantic at the end of this fiasco.

    So this year we stayed warm, ate with Jamie's folks at a local little place run by a dude named "Ziggy", and went home. Jamie says she got me something, but she says it's at her office.

    I think I am getting sick, which is irritating. I have not REALLY been sick since I moved out here. Not a cold, not a flu, not a nothing. But I think I am now getting sick. My co-workers will have a good laugh at my expense as I pointed out just last week that I never get sick out here, and they pointed out my foot issues as a sign of illness. I tried to explain that foot problems didn't qualify, but as they didn't buy it.

    Well, I can look like a chump. And maybe get a day off to lay about and watch Montel.

    Mel is spoiled by my father-in-law who has been taking him for walkies a few times a day for the past few days. However, the in-laws left insanely early this morning. Mel kept returning to the guest room, laying on the floor with mournful eyes, pleading for my father in-law's return. We went for walkies, but I know it just wasn't the same. Jeff, however, is delighted the invaders are gone.

    9:47 PM |

    Jim has thrown a monkey in the works. JimD. has spawned a capital idea for a satisfying conclusion to the A Present for Randy contest, but I'm not certain how to manage his suggestion. And I certainly do not want to start handling money. The League is not insured, nor did we get past "Pre-Calc" in high school.

    Anyone with a better head for figures, transactional ideas and the law should send mail to the League outlining a plan for getting Randy a wedding present.

    9:26 PM |

    My worlds are colliding...

    8:39 PM |

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