Showing posts with label schadenfreude. Show all posts
Showing posts with label schadenfreude. Show all posts

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wish I Had Taken a Picture

An organization on campus had put together a Date Auction in order to raise funds. The theme, as near as I could tell, was "Jack the Ripper".

1) I find it interesting when people decide to raise funds by becoming "escorts" for an evening. That's really the first thing to come to mind? Really?

2) Jack the Ripper ranks up there, shortly behind Jeffrey Dahmer, as the worst "date" ever. He, too, paid for an evening's entertainment. I'm just saying.

Anyway, let us thank Jebus for student organizations and their odd, odd ways of trying to raise funds (I paid someone $3 today for a cupcake to raise money for what I believed to be their Diwali festival. Yes, I was hoping for an invitation. No, I did not receive one).

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Oh. My. God.

Randy sends this.

You don't see many ads for dog-related items that promise celestial well-being and include shots of Dingoes.

But here you go.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balloon Boy

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be...

Ha ha. Just kidding. What kind of blog would this be if I weren't judging everyone who caught my attention for a split second? This means you, Emily!!!!

But, like everyone else, I've been thinking about Balloon Boy.

In case you had not heard, the Sheriff of Larimer County, Colorado has deduced that the entire balloon chasing production on Thursday wasn't just a hoax, but one intended to land the family involved a television contract. And apparently scrambling the air force, shutting down the Denver airport, involving a massive portion of the police force and untold numbers of public servants isn't exactly legal. Thus, the Sheriff is throwing the book at the Heene family.

Marshall had a post on this, responding to an article on gawker

My own brother had this to say.

Mostly, I'm admiring the entire scenario as a perfect encapsulation of how I believe a portion of the populace has viewed the post-Survivor/ Richard Hatch era of pointless celebrity. And, as countless other navel-gazers have concluded in regards to the sort of Z-level fame and meritless notoriety sought by the those such as Heene: this isn't actual celebrity.

There's no word for what this is, but if eskimos have a few dozenw ords for snow, for the number of fame-seeking jack-asses there are in the world, we need a word that better describes the Z-Level fame via reality show. You know... the kind of famous that earns you a life being known as "Juice-a-Licious" from your run on "Flava of Love" or assuming people will know or care who you are because you were a jackass on Survivor six years ago.

There's no real name for that kind of fame. Please send in your ideas.

What's so beautiful about the Balloon Boy story is how jumbo-sized hubris, ineptitude and counting on a six year old to keep a story straight spun out into a yarn that, if you made it up, people wouldn't buy it... And now, when and if the tale is folded into someone's TV movie of the week or Oscar winning picture, what with charges filed, nobody actually needs to pay Heene for his side of the story. And Papa Heene may well wind up in jail (and will most certainly go broke on legal costs).

Sounds like a Coen Bros. project to me.

The Gawker article blames "us", which I don't buy. If we hear a kid is pilotlessly drifting across the Colorado sky in a runaway balloon, we're going to tune in every once in a while to see if that kid is okay. The dimensions of our displays don't matter. Yes, "we" watched a balloon floating across the landscape (well, I didn't. I saw the headline and then walked into a two hour training presentation, and by the time I was done, it was all over). That's like blaming "us" for Baby Jessica falling down a well back in the 80's.

Yes, it was something exploited by Heene, but there is more than voyeurism in this, or guilt the media should feel for breaking a live story. "We" don't need to feel shame for clicking on a hyperlink to understand a headline in bright yellow at the top of I understand that because Heene fooled us, Gawker is trying to turn that into a "we should have known better" story of personal shame, but... I'm not buying it this time. There are a lot of things "we" should have known better than that nobody has bothered to shame anybody about.

Reality TV isn't what created someone like Heene, but it did make the myopic pursuit of fame-by-any-means-necessary seem like it may have a greater likelihood of success, once you realized you may lack any actual talent. And, it cut out the middle-man of asking people to love a character, and let them get right to the business of loving you directly. Had Heene's grasp not over-extended his reach, no doubt he would be cutting a deal with somebody right now to feature his wacky family and their exploits. Unfortunately, in believing he and his brood were smarter than, apparently, literally everyone in Colorado and/ or America, he screwed up. (Not to mention appearing twice before on TV, pitching shows about his family to basic cable networks, and leaving a trail of videos seemingly demonstrating exactly what sort of jackass he was molding his children into).

If any of the Heene kids wanted a chance at not ending up in the fail column, maybe humiliation and a little jail time for their old man on a national scale will give them a moment of pause before they decide they, too, can outsmart laws of physics and a background check.

Heene's actions weren't harmless (all the resources that had to be brought forth to deal with the situation), and had he succeeded, if he was willing to exploit his kids in this situation, what would have been next? If the book is thrown at him, so be it. And if it gives the next idiot inflating a balloon and actually sticking his kid into the balloon a moment of pause, all the better.

I think Jason posited that people were mad at the Heene's because they had become invested in the gripping story of danger that turned out to be false, but I'd suggest that was only part of the story. That may be true, but its also possible there is a population out there who doesn't buy the E! channels narrative, or that of the Insider, Entertainment Tonight, etc... and who have grown quite tired of the cult of celebrity and the past decade's insistence that we know about people like Richard Hatch, Kardashians, the awful New York woman of VH1, any Real Housewife in any city, Jon & Kate and a thousand just like them. And seeing someone cut down before they had an opportunity to pop up on our Yahoo News page, in our headlines on, etc... that they somehow managed to take care of themselves sits okay with many of us.

Sorry your dad is going to jail, Balloon Boy. God bless you for doing what kids do so often and telling some part of the truth. Lord knows CNN barely bothers with it anymore. Heck, Wolf Blitzer was so baffled he didn't even have a line of questioning he could follow immediately when the cat was out of the bag and wandering around the table.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009



I saw this ad in my Facebook sidebar (why American Apparel thought I was buying "Disco Pants" should make the evangelists of targeted advertising weep).

There is a slim 4-5% of the age-appropriate demographic that will make these pants work. The same population that almost made Uggs work (they don't, they're dumb), and who can generally pull off any trend to come down the pike, good idea or no.

Much like the muffin-top and whale-tail looks of circa 2004, these pants are going to inflict us with a generation of people in clothing which they will attempt to adopt as its in all the magazines, but which will end in failure once worn out to the Red Box DVD rental outside Walgreens.

I now know I'm going to walk across campus with sad looking undergrads squeezed into these monstrosities on a pedestal of those rain-slicker boots that have to be giving our nation's young women the worst case of athlete's foot since the trench war of 1917.

Stop the disco pants madness.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Child-Free American cont'd

actually a lot closer to what I assumed was going on in the endless sea of DVD-outfitted SUV's in Chandler.

Stolen from Calvin

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Targeted Advertising

Amazon is aware of literally hundreds of purchases I've made from their store. They are aware of hundreds of my ratings on different items which I own, hae read, watched, or listened to.

And yet...

It's like dating someone for years, and then for Christmas they get you a NASCAR jacket.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meth & Comics, Admiral in Africa, Desertification of Austin

Superman would punch you in the face for that

It appears that some losers in Denver were using a collectible comic business as a front for trafficking drugs and laundering the dough. I don't know. It's all shady, and the fact that these guys were most likely using comics about costumed do-gooders to do bad is upsetting, but not quite as upsetting as the rest of what they were up to.

Here's a blog post from the Denver paper.

I don't expect drug dealers to be classy folks, but what is it with meth? Everyone involved with meth always looks like 20 miles of bad road and they do such weird stuff.

Leaguers, Superman would not approve.

The thing is, these guys could have legally been trafficking in iffy merchandise with the whole vintage comics business and done just fine. The fuzz seized hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of comics in this deal. Why not just take advantage of the nerds on eBay and live the good life with the comic business you've got?

Now all these great comics are off the market and entered as evidence. And that's just wrong...

The Admiral in Africa

Got my first e-mail from The Old Man, as he globe trots once again. He's apparently shaking down folks in Nigeria this week.

Sounds like he's got plenty of folks around him that know how to use a gun, which is kind of kooky. Mostly he's freaked out by the lack of discipline when it comes to traffic, which sounds exactly like him.

The Admiral in African urban sprawl doesn't equate in my head, but I guess he's doing okay.

Monsoon Season?

It's hot in Austin this summer, and has been since June 1. We've had record breaking temperatures both in how high the mercury is rising and the sheer duration of the period of 100+ days.

I had beers last week with some folks I don't know, but they work in environmentally friendly landscaping. They mentioned that Austin is being re-zoned as being more "deserty", and one of these folks wasn't a transplant but a lifelong Austinite. She's seeing the changes, too.

Anyway, two days in a row isn't a pattern, exactly. But the past two days, in the hour before sunset, we've had rain. In Arizona (which I think we can all agree is a hot desert) in late summer, they have something called Monsoon season. Right around sunset, rain would blow in from the east. I guess it was some mix of wet air from that gulf east of the Baja Peninsula and the hot, still air that had been hanging around all day.

Again, its just been two days of similar weather, but its starting to freak me out a little...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The McRib, Donating to Medicine, Superman Rights, and... Really, America?

I was just looking through some e-mail, and realized I had not posted on any of the following items. Many of these things were sent my way by Randy.

The McRib Flowchart

I have taken some good old fashioned McRibbing over my annual pilgrimage to McDonald's for the McRib sandwich. The McRib is a sort of pressed pork patty which McDonald's decided, during the coked-up early 1980's, in a form which was actually rib shaped. For whatever reason, the circular nature of the hamburger (no doubt also from a press) is seen as the natural shape for all the parts of a cow you'd never consume normally. But forcing those same unspeakable parts into a shape resembling something from nature... draws the ire of both God and man.

But I like it. Really, its the sauce, onions and pickles I like, and maybe the big bun. And I am not alone. Apparently there are McRib fanatics who McDonald's appeases with the annual, month-long release of the McRib, usually right around the Holiday Season.

Anyhow, did a pretty good bit on The McRib. I invite you to check it out.

Sent by both Randy and Jamie

Glenn Beck is right!

Glenn Beck has founded his 912 Project, which I am just really enjoying.

Principle 7 is one I am really, really going to get behind.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

Which is why The League of Melbotis supports:

Leaguers, nothing makes me sadder than a stripper with low self-esteem. How can a sad-eyed stripper feel a sense of real worth in this world unless she's swinging some DD's? bridges the gap between those unfortunate, modestly busty souls and the folks who really want to believe in a bustier world. Also, those same boob-lovin' folks can buy credits to get an opportunity to speak to the women whose boobs they are embiggening.

This is the free market at work, Leaguers, and why I say thee nay when it comes to healthcare reform in the U.S. If our penniless strippers can make it work, then so can YOU.* That is, if its not just girls doing the old mail-order bride scheme with twist.

By purchasing those credits, you're not just handing a stripper a pile of cash, they're sort of working for it. By maybe talking to you. Which, you know, they would normally never do.

All this right-thinking Americanism just brings me back to principle #1.

1. America Is Good.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Glenn Beck.

Thanks to Randy for the link. The "free implants" link, not Glenn Beck.

Superman Rights to Siegels

JimD, Nathan C. and Randy all sent me links to news regarding a recent ruling that decided that material in Action Comics up to issue #4 was not "work-for-hire" by Siegel and Shuster, and so rights to a few more elements of the Superman property are reverting to the widow of writer Jerry Siegel and his daughter.

By way of explanation, Joe Shuster was the artist who co-created Superman. He has passed, leaving one heir, who also subsequently passed, leaving the Shuster's possible portion of the rights unclaimed.

The decision is a pretty big deal, honestly. Short article here.

The court ruled, for the most part, that the Siegels successfully recaptured most of the works at issue, including those first two weeks of daily Superman strips, as well as key sections of early Action Comics and Superman comics. This means the Siegels, repped by Warners' nemesis Marc Toberoff, now control depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as an infant, the launching of the baby Superman into space and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.

But Krypto still belongs to DC, you conniving Siegels! And without him, you have nothing!!!


(cough cough wheeeez)

I have very mixed feelings in regards to the entire issue. I do feel that National/ DC/ Warner Bros. didn't handle things as smoothly as they could have for decades. That's fairly well-documented. On the other hand, from a business standpoint, its not too hard to see how and why DC thought they were doing the right thing.

Unfortunately for Siegel and Shuster, they were kids with no legal expertise trying to get their foot in the door.

I recommend reading "Men of Tomorrow" for a much better account of the whole story. To keep it short, Siegel's wife and daughter have every reason to bear a grudge regarding what happened to Jerry.

It's not so much a big win for creators that Siegel's family won the rights, as the situation seems so unique, and lawyers became much smarter about this stuff as time passed. But it is a win for Siegel, even if it comes well after his death. Wherever Siegel and Shuster are, I have no doubt they're having a good laugh at Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz's expense.

My primary concern (and I've said this before) is that the Siegels are probably very good people, but they also haven't spent the past 70 years managing the business of Superman. As much as I hope my Superman purchases alone would put Joanne Siegel in ermine and diamonds (and they could), I think they'd be wise to find some deal to license Superman back to WB, and ensure they get to see the ledger sheets.

I have a sneaking suspicion that DC will find a way to make this work and everyone winds up happy.

The King of Pop at Target

I know that nobody ever proved that Michael Jackson actually molested any of the children he gave wine and had sleeping in his bed, but...

I was at Target today buying some cat food, and couldn't help but notice that (a) the record section had an endcap display full of Michael Jackson CD's, and (b) that the Junior's section had three separate Michael Jackson shirts available.

Sure, its tough talking to your kids about the unsavory business that took Michael Jackson from curiosity of a fading star to pariah. But, you know, we learn from tales such as these. Not by sweeping everything under the rug because a dude passed and your kids just found out about "Wanna Be Startin' Something".

I don't know how things work in Minneapolis, but I am failing to wrap my head around what occurred here at the highest corporate level. But, you know, whatever sells.

*Shake that booty, Jason.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Scariest Thing You Can Go As This Halloween

Not sure how you're going to scare the be-jeezus out of everyone this Halloween season?

They've made a Kate Gosselin wig (that's the Kate of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" fame). Oh yes. They have.


The name of this product? The "Eight is Too Much Wig". Ouch.

I cannot imagine what it must mean to Kate that, for a good chuckle at parties, people will now be dressing as her for Halloween. Or what that means for her now ex-husband. And kids. But I have to think that unless you're Elvis Presley or the president, its kind of a sure sign that maybe life is very publicly not working out for you.

So, you know, I very much look forward to you guys getting your "That League Guy" mask with official Superman T-shirt for Halloween 2012 or so.

Thanks to Jamie for the link

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good-Bye to McDonald's

So, today went oddly. Work just sort of blew up, but let's not dwell upon that. But let us agree that at the conclusion of the day's labors, I felt I deserved a break. Today.

Part of my day included the fact that I had not been able to get lunch, and so swung through a McDonald's on I-35 as I departed Waco around 4:00.

I don't get a lot of fast food, but I've had reason to hit Taco Bell of late, and I think I went to McDonald's about a month ago for some reason (I really can't guess why). Anyway, there's this new thing that fast food places are doing, that the voice one hears upon arriving at the drive-thru that welcomes you to the restaurant and offers you their current special (ie: "welcome to McDonald's, would you like to try our McDeathwhich today?"), is NOT the same person who then takes your order. But I strongly, strongly suspect that the day's offering/ promotion is pre-recorded, and there's now an odd layer of "what is happening here?" to the proceedings.

I don't know if there's some team action occuring, if its pre-recorded, if there's someone at McDonald's Central monitoring my order or what... but it's sort of freaky. And I decided today that the McDonald's coffees are sort of a travesty. Just FYI.

But did McDonald's really need to find a way to somehow de-personalize the experience at their restaurants even more? To just jettison the whole illusion of anyone working there giving a damn? That's a bold step, and I almost salute the cold efficiency of the move. Its just one more step before we all bow down before the Robo-Kaiser.

And, in case you were wondering, there is no sight sadder than watching your McLatte being made by a drive-through agent at a McDonald's. You realize how much this task is messing with their day. There's just no real passion in it when they add the three-inch high tower or Redi-Whip you didn't realize was going to adorn your coffee.

Alas, the day wasn't really complete until I was back in town.

As mentioned, I had been on the road, returning from that day-trip to Waco, and just before picking up my Wednesday haul at Ye Olde Comick Shoppe, I stopped at a McDonald's to, ahem, TCB (too much coffee) so as not to be distracted while looking at funny books.

I tell you, Leaguers... I'm a polite guy. When I stop at a gas station or McDonald's to use their facilities, I usually try to buy something so that I'm a paying customer. Even if I just bought a McCafe somewhere up the road. However...

No sooner had I entered the bathroom than I heard someone retching in the stall. For some reason, this McDonald's has a smaller door, so I could see the person standing over the toilet, at which point he hurled. Twice.

I stood there, time slowing to a crawl. I'm not a religious man, but I prayed in that moment:

Dear God, please... he's seen me in here. Please make this guy wash his hands and get cleaned up. I do not want to touch the doorhandle after this fellow.


The gentleman then proceeded to open the stall, walk briskly past me (without washing his hands), and wander out the door into the restaurant without washing hands, face, etc...

He was in his official McDonald's uniform.*

I stood there in slack-jawed shock for the better part of a minute.

Not sure of what else to do, The League completed his business, washed his hands, found a way to open the door with his shoe, jam hands in pockets and speed out of the store without touching anything. That was one Diet Coke not sold today, I guess.

And that, Leaguers, marks my final visit to McDonald's.


Sometimes we have to look at why a particular prayer goes unanswered, and in this case, I do not believe YHWH's actions were exactly mysterious.

Way to go, McDonald's. It wasn't the deadly food, crippling effect on the American Food Industry, plague of Childhood Obesity or seeming utter lack of respect for the item formerly known as the Hamburger that did it. It was being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that one instruction you seemed to leave out of the employee handbook.

"Thou Shalt, Upon Vomiting Before a Customer, Make a Big Show of Cleaning Up, And NOT Returning To The Kitchen."

or something along those lines. At least that's how my employee handbook wold read.

Indeed, McDonald's, you finally broke me. Our love/hate, on-again/ off-again relationship is done. No tears. I'll be strong enough for both of us.

*To be completely truthful, I can neither confirm nor deny that Johnny Yak went back to work. But I strongly suspect he at least had been working.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A few Items

Short post, and then probably no post tomorrow night. And then none for a while as Jamie and I head out for San Francisco (don't tell anyone, but we hear there's gold out in Californie! GOLD!!!).

Wolfman Reshoots

So, remember when I was asking last week about where the Wolfman movie was? Ask and ye shall receive.

Sounds like reshoots. Lots and lots of reshoots. Which... well, it explains why the things isn't here now.

1) Sounds like Rick Baker's company is involved. So... I'm sort of surprised that there's any creature design problems.

2) I kind of want to give Joe Johnston credit, because he was responsible for some movies I've enjoyed (Rocketeer, and, uhm...). But his stuff is also mostly painfully formulaic stuff.

So... not exactly sure what went wrong, but if they want to make the creatures more awesome... The League can wait.

I enjoy the original Wolfman movie. Its got its own brand of pathos that all good monster movies are really about. One day I need to spend some time overthinking the movie, and make postulations about how its really about race or the rise of fascism or some such. But its mostly just about a guy who becomes a werewolf-guy, and he really doesn't want to BE a werewolf guy (it totally screws with his love life).

What to do while The League is Gone?

I dunno. Go to Facebook and goof around on The League's Facebook page.

Why not try out that whole "Discussions" tabs.

Surely you people have something to talk about when I'm not here?

Blackest Night - Comic Book Stuff

Rumor has it that DC is giving away a Black Lantern ring as a promotional item this Wednesday. I'll be on a plane instead of grabbing my ring. Why did I agree to fly on a Wednesday again?

Someone get The League a ring.

Maybe if I say "Austin Books" here, Brad will get a Google alert and grab me a ring? Especially if I talk about what a great place Austin Books is and how much I enjoy their down home comicky hospitality and wide array of comics? And how you'd be a damn fool to buy your comics anywhere else?

Well, a man's got to try.


I've been wanting to watch The Right Stuff again lately. Not sure why.

And then I turned around in someone's office at work today and they had a picture of Sam Shepard in their office. Apparently he gave a whole mess of his stuff to the UT Libraries. There's a "Right Stuff" display at the Benson Collection. Huh.

Apollo 13 is a good movie and all, but...


Thanks to folks we spontaneously got together with this weekend. It was fun. I sort of thought I was going to be watching TV all weekend.

Ya'll Take Care

I'm going to be posting pics to Facebook and stuff while we're gone. So keep up with me there, I think.

I've got the damn Blackberry now, so e-mail me if you have a Superman emergency or whatnot.

Because I can't take the high road

Apparently I was slightly off. Jon of "Jon & Kate" did not head to Tahiti with a stripper. He went to St. Tropez with Kate's plastic surgeon's daughter.

Which... Man.

Here. And, yes, the situation is a mess and I'm ashamed. Blah blah blah. But who called it?

The website sums up exactly how I feel:

He left the confines of his marriage with a stentorian control freak for the nearest party girl. It’s so predictable and awful that I can’t help but feel an immense schadenfreude that makes me want to dance down the street and wave to strangers.

See you in hell, everyone!

Thanks to Randy for keeping me neck deep in my shame.

Monday, July 06, 2009

OH MY GOD: Speidi plus Alex Jones = The greatest thing I've ever seen


Oh wow.

Cavender had this on Facebook.

"The Hills" stars, Heidi and Spencer, have apparently decided to join up with local Austin-area conspiracy/ ultra-libertarian guy, Alex Jones.

Alex was a local legend (still is, I guess) who was on Austin Access Cable about 10 hours a day while I was in college and until I moved on 2002. Right about then he got on the radio, and his show was being listened to outside of Austin on the internet. These days he has a TV show off of Access, I think. His reach is now international.

If you want to know who one of the major voices was behind the 9/11 conspiracy stuff, look no further. First time anyone saw inside The Bohemian Grove and put the footage on TV? Here you go.

Now, Alex DID figure out the US Military was conducting illegal training in East Austin in the mid-1990's, spraying an unknown white powder on the neighborhoods, etc... And all of it was confirmed. Which, you have to imagine, is sort of like finding out that the guy who tells you the UFO's are trying to control his mind is RIGHT. But there you had it.

Jones is an interesting guy, partially because he does, in fact, occasionally dig up real dirt. Just enough to give him some semblance of credibility. And I wouldn't trade his brand of anti-establishment for the world (even if I often think he should probably think about more logical conclusions rather than assuming the Illuminati are behind everything).

But now he's got SPEIDI. His power KNOWS NO BOUNDS.

It would help if he knew who Spencer and Heidi actually are, but whatever.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Friday Linkage and Heads-Up

I really don't have a whole lot to discuss. Sorry, kids.

The long Memorial Day Weekend is coming up, so I hope you've got a BBQ or two planned. And, of course, will observe the day with the utmost respect, attending your local parade, etc... All you leaguers are good citizens, so I'm sure you'll hit three or four local events.

Not sure what we're up to, but I am certain we'll make the most of our precious weekend hours.

Next week will probably be very, very quiet here at The League. I (wait for it) am running a conference. There's a tale there, and one day when I'm not still recovering, i shall share that tale. For it is a cautionary tale, and the many lawyers in the League's readership would be doing some serious forehead slapping as described what happened. But we'll put that aside for right now.

But NEXT week, I'll be playing host/ MC/ and event coordinator to 125 of the rowdiest, craziest librarians you're likely to see in this life or any other. (I got them free padfolios and flash drives! Suck on that, SXSW!)

Anyhow, my assumption and game plan is that from Tuesday at 7:00 AM until Thursday evening when I flop into bed, I will be a bit pre-occupied for the blogging. Perhaps you'd like to follow our Tweets? No, really. We're maybe going to Twitter this mutha'.



Here's a link to a preview
at Newsarama for JackBart's Poe comic.

Here's the trailer for JimD's movie.

As you can tell, its a lot like Weird Al's "UHF" in spirit.

Here's a link to an especially magical site called "Awkward Family Photos". I welcome you to view the images and put that one away in the 'ol memory bank for the day when you have family photos to take of your own.

Hat tip to Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool, which, if you haven't bookmarked it, then you probably should.

For some reason I received a catalog in the mail this evening from design Toscano. I have something of an inkling of how I might wind up on such a mailorder list, but I'm not really sure. I highly recommend browsing their website and purchasing all that you can afford.

There's even a very special lawn ornament that I might need to get for Jason.

Only $90 before S&H!

And for some reason, I'm now receiving Architectural Digest in the mail. I have no idea why.

Also, I'm already sick of the new Green Day song. But I've also been sick of Green Day since 1996, so...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Worst Comic Movies of All Time

Ho-boy. Here we go.

I'm sticking with the same rules in regards to superhero comics adapted for the big screen. I also have to apologize for posting this a day late. I was working on it last night and became tired and opted for bed over an incoherent second half.


The biggest challenge, except where otherwise noted, is that I haven't bothered to watch several of these again since I first bore witness to their malice. So some of these I barely remember at this point, except for a deep sense of melancholy when I try to recall my theatrical experience.

These are as bottom of the barrel as I can go and not somehow do an about face and grow to love the production for its awfulness. I've referred to the JLA TV pilot that never aired, and I kind of like how the only thing right about it is that someone thought to throw some cash around and hired Miguel Ferrer to play a version of Weather Wizard.

1) Spawn.
When discussing terrible movies a few days ago, Jason mentioned this particular gem, and I cannot disagree. I'm not sure the idea of Spawn in itself is bad, even if it does sound like a 14 year old's idea based on an inability to reconcile his love of death-metal album covers with wanting his creation to be heroic. The idea of turninga negative into a positive is one I can get behind, but...

in the comic and movie, Spawn is a rebelled agent of the devil. Rather than leading Beelzebub's forces on Earth, he uses his nightmarish powers, in a big ol' plot twist, for GOOD, fighting and hunting Satan's demons, who don't appear as metaphors, but as actual demons. I have to admit, once you actually show the face of THE Devil, you've sort of lost me. In fact, all of the "hell" sequences lost me, as they all looked like they'd been cooked up on an Amiga, circa 1993.

Aside from the premise, I'll be honest, all I remember about the movie is the following:
a) I was terribly embarrassed for Martin Sheen, who was, for some reason, in the movie
b) If I did not already have a deep disdain for John Leguizamo before, this movie sealed the deal
c) The FX were the sort of cheap CG one would usually see on Xena or other syndicated shows of the time.
d) I wanted to leave, but could not. Jamie had already decided to go hang out in the lobby, where she remained for the last 3rd of the movie, all the while I sat both despising the film and wondering when she'd come back so I could tell her we were leaving. A smarter person, she.

I've seen Spawn comics and the cartoon, and I admit, I don't get it. But aside from well rendered MacFarlane pencils, I don't know what I was ever supposed to get in the first place.

2. Judge Dredd
A cult-favorite in the US and, I understand, very popular in Mother england, this UK-based comic is about a utopian future in which "Judges" are police, judge, jury and executioner.

I'm not familiar with the comic to much of a degree, but I do know that it does not feature Rob "Makin' Copies" Schneider, or even David Spade.
The film was in trouble when Stallone decided this was his comeback vehicle, and hired some poor schlub out of nowhere to direct so he could basically dictate a great deal about the film, not actually have to direct, and not take ALL the blame if the movie tanked. Any relevance to the state of things in Thatcher's England that led to the Judge Dredd comic was missed entirely by the production, as we got, instead, to endure 2 hours of Stallone bellowing and moping.

I have no idea if it made money or not, but the movie received terrible critical review from everyone but my college-pal, Richard, who had seen it a day or two before and insisted I see this masterpiece right away.

The movie actually follows the Superman II/ Spidey 3 pattern of removing the costume for a big part of the movie and not letting them kick the crud out of thugs. Seeing someone lose their job or quit their job is NOT what people are generally paying to see at a super-hero movie. Especially the FIRST in a series.

The movie strips Judge Dredd of BEING Judge Dredd before the end of the first act.

Maybe the FX were okay. I have no idea. All I remember is being deeply unhappy walking out of the theater.

3. Batman and Robin
Tim Burton had abandoned the Bat-flicks after making two movies about a guy ostensibly like Batman, and who lived in Gotham City, etc... but who was pretty clearly NOT Batman (Batman can turn his head).

"Lost Boys" director Joel Schumacher took over the franchise and proceeded to chuck any goodwill Burton had built up with his loving, if off-kilter treatment of the franchise. It was a bold move in circa 1987 when Burton got Batman to disregard the old Adam West show (which most people identified as defining superheroes). Apparently squarely in the "this is stupid" camp, Schumacher must have thought he was helping when he dismissed Batman's motivation as childish and felt Batman was and always should be high camp, or not exist at all. A Batman for the 90's!

"Batman Forever" was the crummy third installment, which doesn't hold up well these days at all. It introduced a 20-something Chris O'Donnell as "The Boy Wonder", Robin, foisted Jim Carrey in tights upon us, and made an ass out of Tommy Lee Jones, who may have now seen Dark Knight and still be unaware he was playing Aaron Eckhardt's character.

"Batman and Robin" decided to expand the franchise and, developed in the late-90's "star power" era, added Alicia "I can't read" Silverstone as Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Commissioner Gordon-- no, she was suddenly Alfred's niece for some reason. Silverstone generally looks and delivers lines as if marginally lobotomized, but apparently enough people liked her rack in that Aerosmith video that we were supposed to think she was a super addition to the franchise.

Look, in the 1990's, I had it in for Silverstone. She kept getting work when she was clearly not talented, and I still find "Clueless" a vapid and stupid exercise from which I think you can trace a direct line from there to The #$%^ing Hills.

There was also the unfortunate casting of George Clooney, who gets ribbing for being in this movie, but... seriously...? Clooney? The guy just stands there and grins like a geek and tries to deliver the dilaog as if any of it (and of it at all) makes a lick of sense.

And in comparison to his cast-mates...

Uma Thurman demonstrated her inability to vamp, deliver a line or be sexy as villainess, Poison Ivy. Thurman CLEARLY believed she was in an Adam West episode, and may not have been wrong. But it doesn't mean she was as good as Vincent price as Egg Head.

The newest Bat-villain, Bane, supposedly the Dark Knight's equal in the comics, was reduced to a mindless drone in his screen debut. And, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger was given bot the role of Mr. Freeze, and an endless stream of quips and one-liners about ice. Most of which make no sense.

Luckily, the movie was both a financial bomb and the closest thing you can get to Hiroshima as far as critical reviews go. Its failure triggered the Bat-movie reboots under Chris Nolan.

Oddly, the movie is so mind-numbingly awful, I can't help but watch it when it comes on cable. From the "Gotham is a Fabulous Disco" set design, to the bat nipples, to the awful one liners, to the plot which makes just absolutely no sense, to the frequent toyetic costume changes and the endless amounts of money obviously poured into this trainwreck.

It is schadenfreude at its sweetest.

4) The Fantastic Four Movies

Did Fox want me to hate the FF?
A typical case of "the studio knows better what will work, rather than 40 years of success in your comic", the FF movie went deeply off the rails well before production began.

Oddly, these two train wrecks are movies one hears occasionally defended, and I can never imagine wanting to be the one whose critical thinking skills have failed them so completely, that somehow either FF film seems like a good idea.

The first failure was probably in hiring director Tim Story, who had done light comedies with Jimmy Fallon before taking on Marvel's second most precious comics commodity. Clearly, Story was much more into the idea of what sort of sight gags he could cook up around the FF's powers and physical irregularities than pounding out a solid story or paying any attention to what had made things work for 40 years. Ha ha... Invisible Girl has to get naked... Oh, good times.

Sure, both are kids movies, and the FF SHOULD be family friendly. But the FF comics have been kid and family friendly for decades without requiring the sound of a trombone coming in with a "wah-wah-waaaaaaah".

They managed to miscast, neuter and dethrone Doctor Doom. Not to mention change his background, abilities, motivation, etc... To absolutely no end.

FF2 is, amazingly, worse than FF1. At least FF1 had the charm inherent in the super-hero origin story. FF2 introduced the Silver Surfer, had the most obvious and embarrassing bachelor party scene of all time, needlessly employed Doom, and failed to give anyone in the FF anything to actually do except for stand around and stare at the Silver Surfer. Seriously, they don't actually DO anything in the entire movie but watch the other characters.

And, for comic geeks, the decision that Galactus was not a character, but a big, purple cloud... pretty lame, studio. Way to forget there's a whole act wherein the FF could have actually DONE something.

Word is that the cast figured out the studio wasn't too keen on the sequel when they hadn't already heard about a sequel within three weeks of the film's premier.

Possibly the most maddening thing is that FF1 came out so close to Pixar's "The Incredibles", a movie which demonstrated the spirit of what a family-centric superhero movie can be. It's a franchise I'd love to see get a second chance.

5) Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
The first Superman film had fantasy, magic and wonder going for it, as well as strong performances, an astronomical budget and a director who didn't think he was on the set of "Three's Company".

Sadly, Superman IV lacked all of these items, but did give us a "Jon Cryser is: Hiding Out"-era Jon Cryer, Mariel Hemingway and Mark Pillow as Nuclear Man.

The frustrating thing about the movie is that you can see that at one point, it was an ambitious script, but something happened along the way, and they made the movie they could with the money they had, and the lack of talent, etc... associated. While its easy to shrug off the premise of Superman trying to remove the world's nukes as stupid, its also the most immediate logical question to bring up about a nigh-unstoppable god-man who is supposedly here to protect us. Why wouldn't he make a pre-emptive move on everyone on Earth to keep us from atomizing ourselves?

Obviously a complicated question, but rather than just answer it, the movie goes off the rails, cloning Superman into this guy.

Nuclear Man's weakness... he loses his power if he's not in direct sunlight. IE: his greatest fear is a good shade tree.

The FX in the movie are sub-par in comparison to the earlier installments, poor Margot Kidder is looking like somebody's mom who doesn't want to be there (but is back after the contract dispute that led to all the Lana stuff in Superman III), and has to endure a scene in which she double-dates Superman and Clark with Mariel Hemingway. realizing you are going to see what you think you're about to see gives you that same feeling you used to get when you realized you hadn't studied for a test or that you forgot to file your taxes on time.

Jon Cryer attempts to channel, I guess, some surfer-dude character or something. I don't know if that was funny when the movie was released, but it just sort of makes one sad now. Sort of like when you accidentally watch Power Rangers.

And, God bless Chris Reeve, because the man is still Superman despite the various obastacles of budget, directing (the only other recognizable film in the director's repertoire are the Iron Eagle movies and the Rodney Dangerfield opus, "Ladybugs"), possibly drug-addled co-stars, and who knows what else.

I could have NOT included the movie but (a) its a failure that ended a franchise and did damage to a genre, (b) its sort of joyless and kind of unwatchable.

But, again, its seeing the big ideas that Superman could and should be addressing, and seeing the numb-skull-edry that overtakes those ideas and crams them into the mold of a standard "I must fight my equal" punchout scene.

Superman III also has its flaws, but... honestly, this film is somehow even more disappointing. People have just seen it less.

Honorable Mention

Superman III. Aside from Annette O'Toole, who has twice graced the Superman franchise with her foxiness, the movie is a mess. But it is also the driver for re-shaping Luthor as a corporate tycoon as seen in the comics from 1986 - 2006. And, sorry, I actually like the Clark v. Evil Superman fight. As a kid, i remember having a sort of revelatory, deep-gut reaction to that sequence. Plus, it features DRUNK, ANGRY SUPERMAN. And that is awesome.

The Phantom. Slam Evil! said the poster. But this low-budget picture was more about slamming me with cliches and an oddly-cast Treat Williams. Sadly, what I mostly remember about the film is Kristy Swanson in tan adventure pants. Everything else is a blur.

I do recall being very excited that this very pulpy looking movie was coming out, and then THAT is what they did with it. Hey, I LIKE Rocketeer and The Shadow. No, really. I own them on DVD. So I don't know what happened here.

The Punisher - Dolph Lundgren and Thomas Jane. Both are bad, but Lundgren's Punisher is epically bad. And I say that as someone who used to pay to see Steven Segal movies in the theater. It oddly features a lot of Louis Gosset Jr., Italian-American stereotypes, the Yakuza, bad lighting and Dolph Lundgren acting as if he's on qualudes for 90 minutes. Thomas Jane's version missed the whole part about not being real specific about which mobsters the Punisher was taking on and re-located everyone to some resort town the Florida Keys or something. Its hard to believe anyone would be that upset when everyone looks like they should be enjoying a drink with a little umbrella in it.

Captain America - the Tv movies and the 1990ish feature The 70's TV movies of Cap needlessly rewrite Cap's origin and sort of make him a walking gun for the cops. They're just... sort of half-assed, but do feature Cap as a van-owner. and that I can get behind. The 1990's movie gets the WWII and freezing bits right, but gets literally every other detail wrong, including the choreography of the action, any pacing whatsoever, and not casting Ned Beatty as a central figure to the movie. It all looks like the budget was probably roughly what I was making that year in the allowance dollars given to me by the folks.

GhostRider. I don't know if you could have made a compelling movie out of this comic franchise to begin with, but its tough to imagine me wanting to sit through that movie less than I wanted to finish watching this one.

Catwoman. Oh, God. Well, this is actually probably worse than anything above, but I'm not looking back now. I also didn't finish watching it. What you can say is that it created a job for someone at Warner Bros. whose responsibility it is not to accidentally damage anymore DC franchise items the way we saw with Catwoman. (Why do you think marvel is producing its own movies now?)

Elektra. It was like they sorta skimmed the Elektra comics, and decided that was too interesting, so they should go a different direction and make a sort of poorly paced and awkward movie. Couldn't finish this one, either.

Daredevil. Well, its unlikely anyone was really going to capture Frank Miller in his prime quite right for a movie, and sure enough... they failed. So, so many places where this didn't need to be as bad as it was. One day I really hope they try again with Daredevil because he should be a very movie or TV ready character. Just... not like that.

What I have not seen:

The Spirit (most recent or 1980's TV version)
TV movie of Dr. Strange
TV movie of Spider-Man from the 1970's
Corman's Fantastic Four

What I have seen:
SuperPup, which, to view it is to know madness...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jon and Kate plus 8 plus "Mystery woman"

Oh, man. There is no way for me not to come off all judgy and jerk-like on this one, but its my theme of the week, so here goes.

Who called it just a few months ago?

Jon was, apparently, spotted with a "mystery woman" sans wedding band. Here and here.

I watch the TLC show "Jon and Kate Plus 8" religiously while blogging on Monday nights. It's masochistic, and I admit, I watch for all the wrong reasons. TLC either is unaware of, or knows and doesn't care, that its been documenting a show less about a couple struggling to raise 8 kids than it's been documenting a man's slow emotional evisceration. Its not a great reason to be hooked on a show, but hooked on it, I am.

And I wanted to be there when he cracked. And crack, he (apparently) finally did.

Jon and not Kate

Sure, Jon TOLD the crew on the last episode of the most recent season that he didn't want to do the show anymore, and he's taken to staring without blinking for entire episodes... And, possibly partying with co-eds. But Kate loves doing the show, loves being famous for being herself, loves being told she's a great person, and loves having the platform for her celebrity and associated benefits/ money.

Jon will, of course, be vilified, and people will ask "how could he do it?"

I shall tell you!

1) Jon married a terrible harpy of a woman who takes pleasure in emasculating him at every opportunity. If you identify with Kate, I highly recommend standing up, walking to your spouse and apologizing. Because its possible you're a terrible, terrible person. Kate is.
2) He mistakenly gave birth to 8 children, 6 of them at the same time, all of whom communicate by screaming and crying every minute in which they are awake, if the show is any indication. As part of the show, he has to stay home all day with these kids he accidentally made with whatever fertility treatment Octomom must have used.
3) He hates being on the TV show, and being the object of constant, unwanted attention. He said so right on the show.
4) His income, needed to support the 8 screaming children and the horrible harpy lady, stems from being on the TV show. Whatever IT career he supposedly has is a shell of whatever it was.
5) The ratio of screaming kids and wife berating him at every turn versus anything resembling kindness or gratitude or anybody noting that he's involved in this, too, is about 100 to 1.
6) Ever see Jon with friends or family other than Kate? Think maybe there's something to all that?
7) Also, Kate is awful.
8) Jon is in a living hell of his own making. And I pity that man every day.

Does all of this pressure mean Jon is entitled to cheat on his wife and bring shame upon his children? I'll leave that for another person to determine. I know the "right" answer is to say "no, he shouldn't do that", but... have you watched that show? They're lucky that picking up co-eds is all he's doing and they can actually find him when they look for him.

Also, not Kate.

Here's a lesson to take home, Leaguers: if you treat the person you married with no ounce of love or respect (especially in public/ on TV), eventually, they are going to decide they don't respect you, either.

And if they don't respect you, and you have put them in a position where you're making their life a living hell? They won't really care about the consequences of their actions and how it reflects on either of you.

In February I said:

I look forward to the day when we all find out Jon fled on a very special episode of "Kate Plus 8 (minus Jon and his Income)".

Indeed, that day is already here.

I guess I'm sort of interested in the cult of personality Kate has built of people who think she's a good enough idea that they buy her books and whatnot. I assume many people raising young ones feel a certain kinship with Kate, especially those who may imagine themselves or relate to Kate's pithy comments at a husband who seemingly just doesn't get it.

There's a lesson here somewhere about fame, fertility drugs, etc... but there's also a lesson about two people who very publicly want different things and its led to one of them not caring about their marriage, and I'd question whether either of them care, but for different reasons. And why you shouldn't ever really want to be on TV.

A show about the joys of family has turned into sort of the opposite. And there are eight kids who are going to be able to buy the DVD set of the dissolution of their parents' marriage.

Also, that Matt Roloff dude on Little People, Big World? He totally got picked up for a DUI in 2007ish. Apparently it was his second.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Now I can get drunk like a Russian at breakfast

Bakon Vodka.

It's, apparently, bacon-flavored vodka. As if someone reached into my brain and said "what sort of evil scheme can we concoct to get this near-tee-totaler to drink? Oh. My. Weird and sad."

But there it is. Bakon Vodka.

tip o' the hat to Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool.