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?

    Saturday, February 19, 2005  

    So, As mentioned here a short while ago, The League was deeply skeptical over the new Warner Bros. film, Constantine.

    I'm not going to re-hash my reservations about the film AGAIN, so if you want to know what they were, and you were too lazy to click the link the first time, you may do so now. We'll be here when you get back.

    Viewed without any prior knowledge of the Hellblazer comic books, I think Constantine stacks up fairly well. Or at least I think it does. It's sort of hard to tell. Jamie seemed to think it made sense, anyway.

    Viewed with knowledge of the comic books, it was a sort of "Oh, why did they do that?" mish-mash of items from and not from the comics. The flick was definitely sculpted in the studio system, and thusly, a lot of stylistic choices were made from the second scene of the movie which I might not have agreed with, but which seemed to work fairly well.

    To attempt to drop a synopsis of the plot here would either drag on too long or make the movie sound sort of more ridiculous than it really was.

    Keanu Reeves plays a snarky version of Keanu Reeves as titular character John Constantine. To discuss Reeves' poor acting ability is to belabor the obvious, and yet, doing so fills me with a warm sense of self-satisfaction... Reeves, after dozens of movies and now at two decades as a major actor, is still one of the most wooden actors I can think of, and, honestly, I think he was terribly miscast for the role. The decision to add him into the mix was no doubt a business decision, made when the studios were misinterpreting the success of the Matrix films as being drawn from Reeves' 10-gigowatts of star power instead of Kung-Fu and explosions. Hoping to score big once again, WB tossed him into this picture, in order to, I guess, make another franchise picture. (For further examples, check out how 2 years ago some WB execs really, really, really wanted Ashton Kutscher to play Superman. Because he has a bajillion gigowatts of pure STARPOWER!!!!!!)

    I didn't really notice Reeves' was looking so awkward until he had his scene at about page 30 with Gabriel, played by Tilda Swinton. Apparently this Swinton person is a very popular actress in a bunch of movies not containing robots, monkeys or people in capes, so The League saw her 11 years ago in Orlando and then immediately forgot all about her. BUT, she's really very, very good in the few scenes she appears in.

    And therein lies Reeves' dilemma. Alone, in short, choppy scenes, he's okay. But give him the rest of the assembled cast to deal with, and suddenly he's sticking out like a sore thumb.

    For people unfamiliar with the way Constantine works, and the way magic more or less works in DC Comics, they provide us with the token "Tour guide" character in the form of Rachel Weisz. She's also the love and interest, who serves as a landing pad for the exposition as Constantine moves from scene to scene. She's the lynchpin of the plot, and she plays her part about as well as could be expected, so I pretty much forgave her for taking on this thankless role.

    Couple of points:

    a) This is an odd movie for product placement, and yet there it is. A Chevy ad plays a small role in the film. Jamie and I had a short debate over whether or not Quizno's and 7-11 had paid for product placement (she believed they had, I wasn't so sure). But the fact of the matter is that a Quizno's does, in fact appear in the film in big, neon letters. And, you sort of think that perhaps Constantine is headed for the Quizno's after battling a buggy demon.

    b) The poor Mexican dude. What a thankless, and, in the end, pointless role. That whole character and "storyline" needed a re-write and could have been eliminated. Spoiler here: Why did the cows die but people are immune? What was compelling the dude to make a run for the border? None of this is really ever fleshed out. It sort of just happens.

    c) Papa Midnight's club was kind of neat, but with so few "normal" people inhabiting this movie, it fell into the same trap as movies like Underworld. It's all monsters, so, you know, what's special about any one of the characters? In this movie, there's nothing special about Constantine. He's just one of many of these folks running around the world.

    It's worthless to sit back and say "Well, if I'd directed the movie, I would have done x, y and z." But this is my review, and I'm going to do it anyway.

    This movie could have really benefitted from the "less is more" school of story telling. The first two scenes involve some large scale special effects, establishing for the viewer that Constantine and his like-minded mystical pals must be operating out in the open. By NOT showing a demon in the first five minutes, the movie could have tried to actually build a level of terror. After all, you aren't afraid of the dark when you're in a dark room, you're scared of what you can't see that might be out there. Sadly, this movie cost $100 million, so you know they aren't going to NOT show off their very expensive effects, and thusly, removed any terror element which could have helped to build atmosphere.

    The movie seemed to want to pick up on a lot of neat little plot elements from the comics and cram them all into one movie. Unfortunately in doing so, it sort of created a "Hogwarts for taxpayers" filmic universe. You get to see John's neat toys, and see some of the magical crowd he runs around with. The movie invents a sort of "Q" character to provide John with his magical shot gun (seriously), his cockroach, his Nimbus 3000, and other doo-dads. They brought in characters from the comics (but to tell is to give away the plot, somewhat), and turned Chas from an old, long-suffering pal into an eager-beaver Robin proto-type.

    The decision to add a "Q" character, on the outside, seems like a decent one. It ALMOST worked in Van Helsing, but not quite. But these "Q" guys are meant to assist people who are too busy punching people to fill out Purchase Order forms. The movie does re-cast Constantine as a guy who can kick-ass (as we witness in the 3rd reel) , which is a serious departure from the comics, where John gets beat up quite regularly. I think in the context of the movie, John being a ninja-master of magic sort of works, but it wasn't really necessary.

    Oddly, of the elements which they did keep, two of the most important were given only the lightest of lip service.

    1) Magic has a price. Jamie felt this was mentioned, and it was, but it also defines who John Constantine is from the comics. He's not a snarky bastard because he was born that way, he's a snarky bastard because life made him that way. He found out about magic, and it's cost him at every turn. If he's cutting jokes, it's in order to keep him from crying. One doesn't just muck with the laws of physics and not expect some backlash.

    2) For John, these things tend to come back at him in the form of dead friends. When John goes out of his way to, say, prevent the end of known existence, and even if he's done everything just right, somebody ends up getting it. To make matters more interesting, these people are usually damned to follow John around for eternity. Some would speculate that John doesn't really see the ghosts, he's just suffering from some serious guilt and a derth of friends.

    John actually mentions how he "doesn't need any more ghosts", but they never really elaborate.

    Instead, the movie kind-of, sort-of makes him a wise-cracking jerk. But they never really commit. It's an odd choice, and it doesn't give Keanu a lot of room fo rhis already limited choices.

    In a way, this movie was better than I was actually expecting, but that isn't really saying much. It's a renter, but it's not going to be one to be filed away for future generations of movie fans. I suspect comic fans will keep it alive on video for years.

    Had they spent 1/4 of what they did, I think the producers might have felt less pressure to fill every scene with bat winged demons and zombie types. That wasn't the case, and I think for some folks, this movie is going to be fun. It has lots of crazy stuff, nifty explosions, and manages to treat the material seriously.

    I'll put it this way: The League enjoyed seeing it, but isn't going to be running out to buy the poster for his dorm room.

    On the plus side, the trailers for Batman Begins and Sin City had me giggling with girlish glee.

    11:41 PM |

    Thursday, February 17, 2005  

    A SUPER invitation from Jim!

    Jim D isn't just a somewhat competent attorney, he's also something of a film nerd. Scratch that, Jim is a HUGE film nerd. Why, back in film school, Jim didn't just pay lip service to understanding and enjoying foreign film, he actually showed genuine appreciation for the film of other lands. HA HA HA HA HA HA

    Oh, Jim.

    In the past year, Jim teamed up with a different pal of his from film school and shot and produced a feature length film. See Pleadings stuff here.

    As if that's not enough, Jim is also, apparently, chairman of the film board for the local vintage theater. Pretty crazy. This means Jim gets to chair the group which selects the movies the theater shows during their summer film series (Jim, step in here any time if I'm getting these details incorrect).

    As part of his duties, Jim is looking into whether or not he can secure prints of Superman: The Movie and Superman II. So, Jim has asked if I want to join him the sprawling metropolis of Beaumont, Texas for a day or two and be a part of the screening.

    Well, Leaguers, it's been about 25 years since I've seen either movie on the big screen, so my heart is a-twitter. That twitter may just be the 35 minutes I just did on the elliptical machine, but I'm pretty sure it's some form of genuine excitement.

    With a new Superman movie shooting in March, it's a great chance for the good folks of Beaumont, TX to see the movies which are going to be the basis for the new film (basically, the new film is supposed to pick up where Superman II left off, ignoring Superman III and IV altogether). So, in a way, this a very unqique opportunity for an audience to take in the full cinematic experience just a year before the next film is released.

    Apparently Jim has shown his creative side in his chairmanship and tries to set the mood for the film out in the lobby before showtime even begins. For example, before showing Glory, they might have Civil War re-enactors hanging out. Before showing Raging Bull, a shirtless and sweaty Randy will punch you in the face for a dollar.

    This is all contingent on Jim securing prints of the two movies, as I will not show up for, say, BlankMan.

    Part of me is also trying to figure out how to get a Jor-El costume together before the screening, because Lord knows I am NOT squeezing into any blue unitards, no matter how funny the final effect might be.

    So, if this pans out, I welcome EACH AND EVERY LOYAL LEAGUER to join us in Beaumont, Texas for one AMAZING DAY as we screen two great movies. We will, of course, go drinking immediately after the films are over.

    More details to come.

    10:46 PM |

    I don't know if anyone else watched Smallville last night, but that episode was pretty funny.

    No, they did not end up calling the dog "Krypto" at the end of the episode, despite what Clark wanted to do. Instead, the dog is named "Shelby", which is pretty cool. Jeph Loeb, former Superman writer and current producer on Smallville, had established in the graphic novel "Superman For All Seasons" that Clark had a dog named Shelby when he was in high school. Voila! It all ties together neatly in a way which is pleasing to us comic nerds.

    In discussions with The League's brother last night, he mentioned that my entries in these pages are not as lengthy as they once were. I suspect he is right on the nose about that one. At one point, entries were topping three or four pages, and these days, I do seem to keeping it brief.

    There are probably several mitigating factors.

    a) I have already covered a lot of ground and I only have so many stories which are really fit to print or which are even all that amusing.

    b) I am a busy beaver with work, as I once was, but I have come to often feel that my off-work hours can also be spent doing things which don't involve as much in the way of blogging. Last semester, school was a bear. Now, I'm also trying to make time for reading and doing other things which I haven't really been doing a lot of.

    c) Sometimes it's tough to get revved up to write some three page essay on the merits of Sid and Marty Krofft. Something will seem like an ingenious idea in the elevator on the way down to the car, and when you sit down with the old laptop to write about it, you got nothing.

    d) My audience is weird. I have no idea who visits here on a regular basis, or how often, so the idea of cranking out 3 or 4 pages per day every day seems like it would be less attractive to people who only occasionally pop in. Who needs to get that involved in my personal navel-gazing when it actually takes effort?

    e) My topics of discussion are probably edited more than I'd like for them to be. Here at The League, we try to play good host and avoid Sex, Religion and Politics. This isn't just because we're trying to be polite, it's also because The League is not a place for well-thought out discussion on much of anything. If I wanted to play High School Forensics Club, I'd set up a separate site to do so.

    I do think there are great forums for debate on these topics, and debating these topics is both intelligent and human. However, The League is neither of these things, and so would rather investigate the mysteries of the useless.

    f) I think I'm rambling slightly less and editing out points which repeat. By this I mean, I'm finding things which I already said, and cutting them out. So, when something I already said appears, I can make the appropriate edits.

    g) I'll be honest, some days blogging is a bit like howling into the wind. You write a 3-4 page treatise on the wonders of The Banana Splits, and nobody responds. It's sort of the same uncomfortable effect you get when you finish a lengthy statement at the Thanksgiving table regarding the welfare of mankind, there's an awkward pause, and then Aunt Gertie starts talking about how her bunion is keeping her from making it to Plinko night at the Senior Center. After that, you're most likely to keep it a little more on the low-down.

    That's really the best explanation I can give you. Everything winds down after a while. I've already kept with this blogging hoo-hah far longer than I ever intended to. While I am not feeling the desire to put the final kaibosh on The League, I think I've more or less pushed the limits of what I'm going to do here, as well as the limits of the patience of the average human for comic-related trivia.

    I guess all I can say is that the thing which makes me most inspired to keep involved with The League is reader feedback via e-mail or comments. No comments (in my ego-driven mind) equates to no readers, or at least no interest in what people are reading.

    So if you're out there, say hullo from time to time.

    And, now, "Superman is a...". Content is office friendly. Title of the website is probably not office friendly, unless your office is more fun than my own.

    Tomorrow: Earth-Shattering invitation from Jim D.

    6:23 AM |

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005  

    Smallville is on tonight, and it's the "Krypto" episode.

    2:56 PM |

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005  
    Bit and Pieces:

    Good dog.

    And, hey... Right on.

    Also, the Minnesota Vikings were just purchased by a dude from right here in Chandler, AZ. Apparently there's a really rich guy named reggie living right here in my own backyard.

    Reed, I hope you like the idea of cheering for the Chandler Vikings.

    10:47 PM |

    It's good to see fine art appreciated.

    10:37 PM |


    I went to the doctor today. I'm not sick, but I switched insurance this year and I decided to start seeing Jamie's doctor since he seems like a non-quack.

    Anyhoo, I mostly talked to his PA or NP or whatever, and then Dr. Chang came in, looked me square in the eye and said, "You need to eat less and exercise everyday. But I am not telling you anything you don't already know."

    So, it's back to the gym for Ryan as we try to keep the Grim Reaper from coming to collect for a while longer yet.

    I have a few wishes regarding death.

    1) I don't want to die in some embarassing way. Depending on what you read, Elvis died after a particularly hearty BM. His girlfriend found him face down on the bathroom rug, pants around his ankles. I'd like to avoid this scene for both my sake, and that of Jamie and the funeral workers.

    2) I'd like for my death to be a complete surprise. For example, I'll take a piano falling from a tenth story window and squishing me, but I'd prefer just not to know the big one is coming. WHAMMO and over with. Especially if it's a wacky sudden death such as a falling piano. That'd be great.

    3) I don't want to outlive everyone I know. That's just way too Omega Man for my tastes. However, if everyone turns into zombies, I'm going to stick around, because then you've still sort of got company and I always wanted to see the final fate of humanity.

    4) I'd prefer not to die in front of children. I just wouldn't feel very good about scarring some little kid for life.

    5) If I can't have a surprise death, I hope I don't go down without a fight. I'm not talking about fighting some disease, because that's obvious. I mean I hope I'm old, senile and not afraid to take out an orderly or two before I go down.

    6) I hope I can take Jason with me.

    7) I'd like a Viking Funeral on Town Lake. Load me up with all my earthly possessions, float me past the bridge and then light me up. Also, I'd like for someone to play Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" as I go up.

    I don't think any of this is too much to ask for. You have to think about these things in advance or you're never going to be prepared when your number is up.

    10:11 PM |

    Monday, February 14, 2005  
    A Eulogy for Ninja-Boy

    Friend, Conversation Piece, Goldfish

    Ninja-Boy, goldfish of the Amazing Steanso, was found floating, pectorals up, this morning. I have decided to eulogize Ninja-Boy in the way most befitting. By quoting Spock's Eulogy by Kirk from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

    We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead.

    And yet, it should be noted, that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world, a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or an empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this...

    Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most -



    5:33 PM |

    Mrs. League here.

    In honor of Valentine's Day, I urge you to not allow your loved ones to eat this. The Hamdog.

    Leaguers, this is the most disgusting item of 'food' I have ever seen. A brief description:

    "a hot dog wrapped by a beef patty that's deep fried, covered with chili, cheese and onions and served on a hoagie bun. Oh yeah, it's also topped with a fried egg and two fistfuls of fries"


    I would also like to wish the League a Happy Valentine's Day. He is truly the bestest husband in the world! Thanks for a wonderful Valentine's Day weekend!

    2:11 PM |

    Happy Valentine's Day, Leaguers!

    Jamie and I sort of already had Valentine's Day over the weekend. Sorry, Jamie. No big surprises today.

    We went and saw the travelling show of The Lion King, which was much better than you would think it would be. After the fiasco we had going to the theater last time, I was feeling a bit nervous about going to the show once again, but it all panned out just fine. Leaguers, it's the circle of life, and it moves us all.

    Jamie and I will probably stay in and eat sandwiches for Valentine's Day dinner. I'm not sure if that's romantic, but that's what I've got planned.

    If you want to read up on what Valentine's Day is (aside from one of very few holidays that involves both the name of a Saint and occassionally the exchanging of saucy underwear), you can check out the History Channel's web-site here.

    A scene from the early stages of Mr. and Mrs. League's relationship.

    6:49 AM |

    Sunday, February 13, 2005  
    It's Krypto week here at The League.

    Who is Krypto?

    Back in the Silver Age of comics, the editors at DC Comics did not want the worlds of their characters growing boring. So, legend has it, the editors literally asked their young children and nieces and nephews for ideas from time to time. They'd ask, "So, you read these Superman comics I leave about. What would it be neat if Superman could do?"

    The legend goes on to say that the kids eventually decided it would be neat if Superboy could have a dog of his own. See, Leaguers, you may think the WB's Smallville was the only place we've ever seen Clark Kent come into his own, but for years and years, Superboy had his own comic series (Adventure Comics) in which he saved the citizens of Smallville from various menaces.

    So it came to pass that the readers learned that Superboy's father, Jor-El, was no chump. He had not sent his son off into space in an untested rocket. In fact, Jor-El had built a test rocket and launched it into space, manned with the family dog. Sort of a Laika from Krypton deal.

    Anyhoo, Krypto's rocket was knocked off-course, but did, eventually, find its way to earth some time after Clark Kent had put on his long johns and taken to patrolling the greater Smallville metroplex from 2000 feet.

    Post-Crisis, Krypto disappeared from DC Comics, written off as too silly or too outlandish for comics which are supposed to take themselves seriously. But you can't keep a good dog down, and when Jeph Loeb got involved with Superman comics around 2000, he wanted to bring back Krypto (along with a lot of Superman's Silver-Age Sci-Fi kookiness).

    And while it drove some comics fans INSANE that Superman would once again have a super-powered dog, Loeb reintroduced Krypto. Why does Krypto drive comic nerds nuts? A lot of comic fans somehow perceive their favorite art form isn't taken seriously, and believe this will change if folks understand that they only read comics about kick-ass guys like, say, Wolverine or The Punisher, or other characters who stab people a lot. Flying dogs with heat vision don't fall into that picture terribly well.

    But some readers really enjoyed Krypto, and a lot of folks working in Hollywood also still like the idea.

    And so, Krypto is coming to television in two new forms!

    On March 25th (a day which is important for some other reason, but I cannot recall why...) Krypto is coming to Cartoon Network as part of a new all-Krypto animated series. From these publicity pictures, it appears Ace The Bat-Hound is also joining the club.

    Reuniting Superboy with Superdog, Smallville on the WB! is featuring an episode this Wednesday entitled "Krypto". Not exactly sure what the episode is about, but here's a picture of a guest-star.

    9:53 PM |

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