Wednesday, September 17, 2003

whoa... has printed a review of Neil Gaiman's new work...
Y - The Last Man

Finished reading Volume 2 of Vertigo Comics' Y - The Last Man last night.

Vertigo puts out some real junk from time to time, but other times, they hit an absolute homerun. It seems like years since I've been really interested in what Vertigo was printing, but that's turned around with this new series. Y chronicles the story of Yorick Brown, who is the last man on earth. The story occurs in the present day, but follows a bizarre turn of events when every single male of every single species suddenly and inexplicably drops dead, except for Yorick.

The story is not the tale of sexual conquest you'd expect, but rather a sort of Omega Man/ 28 Days Later/ Mad Max look at the outcomes of such an event. I wish I could say that this is a story with a beginning, middle and end for you to look forward to, but the second volume of the series only goes up to issue 10, so i have no idea how far the creators are planning on taking the series, nor do I have any idea where the series is going.

I don't even feel terribly inclined to detail the fallout of the disaster, as the very real dangers of such an event are written in perfectly, and any review I would give would just do them a disservice. Anyhoo, if you're digging around for something new to try, I can't recommend this series enough.
I went to bed ridiculously early last night (9:00pm) for want of really having anything better to do, and trying not to be the zombie I usually am by Friday morning. I woke up before my 5:10am alarm after having a bizarre dream that I would rather not get into because it was both banal and disturbing.

As I may have mentioned previously, the Superman comics have not exactly been stellar as of late... but this winter shall see big changes in the books. Not the least of these changes will be a return to the "realistic" (aka - non-Manga inspired) renderings of the core characters.

here are some links to look at for what you will be seeing in the future of Action Comics. Supes and Captain Atom. Batman and thug. Superman and Batman escaping and explosion.

At any rate, I am totally pumped about the new art direction for Superman. The pencils here are by Ivan Reis, a young Brazilian artist (Brazil produces some great artists...) Let's hope the inkers and colorists don't muck it all up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

oh, and there's this...

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Jamie made me like football.
I didn't watch football as a kid. Anything not involving magic swords or light-cycles was kind of off my radar scope, and my folks never expressed much interest in the wide world of sports. My dad worked something like 80 hours a week the entire time I was growing up, and would occasionally watch the University of Florida play, or maybe the Miami Dolphins. When this occured, Dad went silent for the length of the game, eating popcorn and encouraging us to play with Legos on the floor so we would remain pre-occupied. Anything louder than a low whisper would result in expulsion from the TV room.
In 7th grade all of my friends went out for football, and, being an absolutely ridiculously large kid, I was happily recruited by the coaches. I played left tackle. And here's where things get weird... Dad's "be quiet and play with Legos" policy backfired. I had not absorbed one thing during a single football game. I played football for a season without ever understanding what a "down" was. Not a clue. I knew I was on offense. I knew that when certain plays were called out, I had certain actions to perform, but I wandered around without the slightest idea as to what I was doing or what was happening.
When my string went in, I ran onto the field behind them. Whistles blew, I got screamed at a lot, and I sweated profusely. But I didn't even know why you kicked for an extra point versus a field goal. But unless you count the little magnetic games where you line up players and they run in circles, I'd never watched a game of football.
I have no idea how, between 7th and 8th grade, that I came to understand the rules of football. 8th grade went much better, and I even made an interception that year and had some success as a 1st stringer. I also took to watching the sport. Particularly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who really, really sucked back then. But they sucked so bad they were charming, and I made a habit of following them for a few seasons, at least reading up on them in the paper.
When high school loomed ahead, I decided I was going to be a basketball guy. When approached by the football coaches in the hallway at school that first year (standing a full 6'3" and weighing in around 190 lbs.) I declined, stating I didn't believe in bleeding on Friday nights. The coach didn't think i was funny, either.
But I made a decision at age 15 or so that I was no jock. I was a drama guy! I wasn't going to be a walking stereotype seeking a letter jacket and a flat-top (which was actually popular at the time with the team). I decided to be a jerk about the whole thing and make a bad-80's movie out of guys I'd been friends with just the year before. Jocks were stupid jerks... not smart guys like, say, me...
Then in the mid-90's, I started dating Jamie. And Jamie loves the Cowboys. It made me nervous... my high school girlfriend was as bad off as I had been that confusing 7th grade season... and I was comfortable with that. It was something we could mutually agree not to be interested in. I don't even remember discussing the issue with other girls I dated... But Jamie... Jamie loved her Cowboys. No fair-weather fan is she.
And so Sundays and Monday Nights in the Fall have received a new significance. It is football time, and nothing is to come between Jamie and her Cowboys. It was fun in the mid-90's. Emmitt, Irvin, Aikman... didn't matter which Coach... and all was fun and well. But we all know what happened to the Cowboys. Under Dave Campo, Jamie's beloved team fell apart, but still, every Sunday, we watched the damn Cowboys clown their way up and down the field.
Enter Coach Parcells, and last night's victory at the Meadowlands. What the hell was that? 21 points from the kicker? Who cares! Cowboys win, 35-32 on a Monday Night game. The game was, for lack of a better term, a complete clown-show. 21 points by the kicker? Quincy Carter having a career high for yardage? Not that I foresee great things this season, but...

I still like things with light cycles and magic swords. But I've made room for football, too. The truth is, the sport is still a complete mystery to me. I have not a clue what a "West Coast Offense" is, nor do I understand half of what is coming out of Al Michaels' mouth. But I don't really care. What I do like is that I can watch the game with Jamie, and she's more enthusiastic than me. She gets Sundays and Mondays for football, and I have no reason to complain. That, and it gives me some leverage when I want to watch my Superman DVD for the 80th time.

Monday, September 15, 2003

One of the things which is entailed in moving far from family and friends is the cost inherent in travelling. I'm no Jack Kerouac. I've no illusions of roadside fun or white line fever. It's more of an endless procession of switching out albums and staring into expanses of nothingness between what I recognize as civiliation. And a lot of feeling awful whenever I linger in towns with populations under 10,000.

Flying isn't much better, but it's generally faster. The adventures of overnight stays in far-off places, the delays and hang-ups one comes to expect are not something which fill me with a rush of adrenalin. THe seats are cramped, the food presently non-existent, and the manners of others on planes has such a "me first" ring to it, that it's a miracle fist-fights don't break out every day.

I've gotten to the point where, due to my frequent bad experiences, I always carry a backpack which i don't have to place in the over head bin. In the backpack I carry a fresh pair of underwear, contact solution and case, glasses, a clean t-shirt, toothpaste, toothbrush and two books. Being stranded overnight just once has taught me the value of having these thigns onhand. The backpack is absolutely necessary as anything in the overhead bin is fair game and can and will be crushed by the little wheeled suitcases experienced travellers now carry so as to avoid waiting for their luggage to come off a plane. Somehow these little suitcases have been designed to be just small enough to make it past the flight attendants, and just large enough to not fit properly in overhead storage. Hence, you get the pleasure of watching a perfect stranger grapple and crush your own luggage as they struggle to fit their suddenly enormous bag into the tiny overhead bin.

Suitcases are lost, flights changed, delayed, overbooked. Clerks have bulletproof shells which are invulnerable to your harshest criticism. Once in the air, there's no escape. Being booted from a flight from Dallas to Oklahoma is almost funny to them (not so much to my wife). Service from in-flight personnel has gone the way of the do-do, and everything from "ticketless travel" to the necessities of baggage x-rays has made just getting to your gate a nightmare.

But still, I'm now more than a thousand miles from my folks' house, and the idea of driving home for the upcoming holidays is too mindbending to endure. As such, we are flying.

Due to the above mentioned misadventures of the past year, Jamie and I had accumulated $566 in travel vouchers, which I put toward our flight home for the Holidays. But purchasing tickets online doesn't show any clear way to apply vouchers, and so I decided to call the American Airlines reservation line in order to apply my vouchers toward the cost of our flight.

I waited thru a few minutes of chirpy airline spokesperson voice telling me junk I already knew before an operator was able to take my call. The woman on the other end sounded down, even as she greeted me.

Online, I had already found my selected flights and was able to simply relate times and flights to her. When i mentioned the vouchers, she grew short with me, somewhat snippy as suddenly she knew the call would be extended as we walked through how all of this was going to work.

At long last, we worked through all of the paperwork, confirmation numbers, addresses, etc...

I don't remember what was said immediately before, but suddenly she threw in: "Sorry if I sound a little hasty."
"Uh..." I kind of let it hang. She had sounded hasty, and it annoyed me. Bad customer service is something one expects, especially over the phone. She'd been cranky at every turn, sounded vaguely distracted, and had kind of berated me for failing to correctly identify the proper code she'd been looking for of the dozen or so codes on the voucher stub.
"Yeah, well," she said, cancelling out the short and un-prepared speech I was about to deliver. "Sorry. You're my last call."
"Oh, end of the day." It was 4:30 my time, PST. I guessed she was Central or Eastern time. Sunday night dinner was probably ahead, no weekend to speak of behind her. Probably a weekend of getting yelled at by geeks like me.
"No, after this call, I'm done. They're shutting down the St. Louis call center."
"I'm your last call?"
"Yeah, this is it..."
I was quiet for a moment. Should I extend the call, push her job that much longer? Get her another 15 minutes on the clock? Or was she salaried... was she done and out the door to spend Sunday night, god knows where in a St. Louis apartment, knowing that tomorrow, she was out of a job, out of money...? Were there kids? A husband or partner? Anything...?
"Oh, God. I'm really sorry."
"Is there..." anything I can do? I started to say. "Hey, well, good luck." I was picturing a bar, some poorly strung Christmas lights and a half-empty bottle of booze in this woman's immediate future.
"Thanks. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"No. I guess not."
"Well then, thank you, sir," she said too quickly. "And thanks for choosing American Airlines."
And before I said anything, she'd hung up.
I'm not looking forward to this flight. If this is any indication fo things to come, I'll surely be stuck in Dallas overnight and into Christmas Eve. And I know I'm going to be spending my time on this flight wondering if this woman has found work yet in order to have herself a merry little Christmas.

Friday, September 12, 2003


this bear was cornered in a suburban neighborhood. Before shooting it with a tranquilizer dart, they placed a trampoline beneathe the bear to insure it would land safely. Apparently the cops don't understand the difference between a trampoline and a net. The bear bounced clean off the trampoline and landed on the ground. Don't worry, it was out like a light the whole time and slept it off under the watchful eyes of a vet.
I can't tell you I know exactly what this means, but it looks like UT's RTF department is opening a production studio on campus to make indie films using free student labor. Actually, since students pay tuition, they will probably pay to get credit for working on these films. It sounds cool, but if I know anything about UT, the movies which are produced will probably be really, really boring.

Oh, well. After years of waiting for someone else to bring productions to Austin, somebody at UT finally got their act together to give students a chance to actually do something other than scramble for one of five jobs a year which open up in Central Texas in the the world of film.
One of these days and it won't be long.
I'll rejoin them in a song.
I'm gonna join the family circle at the Throne.
No, the circle won't be broken.
By and by, Lord, by and by.

Johnny Cash, 1932-2003

Despite the fact I lived in Texas for 20+ years, I've still had trouble adjusting to the heat of the Arizona summer. Keep in mind that the Arizona summer begins in mid-April and continues into early October. But already, here in mid-September, the mornings are beginning to cool.

The afternoons are insanely hot, so much so that the brain doesn't seem to actually function on any level but the reptilian survival mode if you spend anything more than a few scant minutes in the sunlight. Any myths about the desert cooling at night don't really apply in July and August. But the past week, it's actually been cool in the morning, and, as a result, my mood is much, much better upon arriving at the office.

Soon the proper weather will begin, marked by the return of the retirees from northern states. That's fine. I can appreciate the insane driving if I can crack my windows and just enjoy the cooler weather once again. HURRAH.

But yesterday, at 4:45am or so, Jamie poked me in the shoulder to wake me up.

"The fire alarm is chirping. The battery must be dying."
"The fire alarm is chirping."
"THe fire alarm---"
So I went out to check, and yes, one of our smoke detectors was chirping. THe one twelve feet overhead on the vaulted ceiling. At 4:45 in the morning in the living room.
I wandered back toward the bedroom to tell Jamie what the story was. And I looked into the guest bathroom on my way past, and Mel was standing in the tub.
"What are you doing in the tub?" I said.
"I am a-scared," he said.
"Of the chirping?" I said.
"If that's what you want to call it," he replied.
"But you weigh 116 pounds! You can take down a grown man in a heartbeat!"
"Look," he sighed. "I am a-scared, and I'd like some help."
"I'll see what I can do," I nodded.
So at 5:00am, my beautiful wife was standing atop the decorative ledge running around our living room, helping me to get down the damn fire alarm.
My dog is such a pansy, but was he ever happy we stopped that chirping. I just have a scenario in mind now, should our house ever be robbed. THese men will come into the house to find Mel standing in the tub and looking alarmed. I don't really want to be ashamed of him in front of robbers. Oh, well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

My friend Juan Diaz said something to me a while back that I thought was kind of odd at the time, but now I agree with him. Juan said, "I never felt like it was the 21st Century until the day of September 11th."
Juan told me this in early 2002, I think. And at the time, I kind of nodded solemnly but wasn't really sure what he meant. But I've figured it out, and I know what he means. Unlike all of us who laughed at how much 1999 was like 2000, he had been sitting on his hands waiting for a watershed event to define the 21st Century. I mean, why wouldn't he have been disappointed in everything up until 9-11? We'd been promised massive blackouts, massive fiscal collapse and an enduring nightmare scenario to spark at midnight on December 31st, 1999. And I remember holding my breath as we crossed over to 2000, exhaling in a scream as I, and the 30 odd folks I was with, realized the earth was not going to open up and swallow us.
It was the last really good party I remember. I stayed late, til 4:00am, drank champagne, didn't get sick, walked home and fell over in the middle of 45th street east of Duval. I have no idea how long I laid there clinging to the pavement, greatful for the shining promise of the 21st century.

I woke up in a Las Vegas hotel room on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Jamie and I were on our first vacation in over a year. The economy had already started to falter, and she had officially been terminated from her job on September 7th. We had some money and we went.

Sometime around 8:30am Mountain time, I was in the john, doing my morning duties when my brother called my cell phone. I assumed it was work, asking me to fix some technical issue or other from a distance. I shouted for Jamie to pick it up. "It's Jason," she said thru the door.
"He said something about a plane crash..." she was holding the phone out to me.
"Turn on the TV," he said.
"Turn on the TV," I said.
"What?" she asked.
"Why?" I asked.
"Turn on your TV. A plane ran into the World Trade Center."
"Jesus Christ. Was it-"
"I don't think it was an accident--"
"On purpose. Yeah."
"Turn on the TV," I said.
"Why?" she asked.
"Turn on the fucking TV."
She didn't want to, or she was confused or something... but if my brother called at 8:30 in the morning when he was supposed to be at work... and if he... and she wouldn't turn it on...
We talked for a few minutes, but here's the truth... we were on Mountain time, I guess, and so it had to have been almost 10:30 Eastern time... but I don't know when the towers actually fell. I don't know if I was watching re-runs, or what I was watching. I have no idea if I saw it in real time or not, and it doesn't really matter.
But I knew I was in a Las Vegas hotel room, a thousand miles from home.
I tried to call a car rental company within the hour. I remember that. I knew we weren't flying anywhere. But the cars were all already gone. I called my folks, I called my brother, I called work... anything... Nobody wanted to talk. We were okay, they were okay, call us if you need anything....
We got breakfast, sitting in the diner of the casino at the Luxor, watching folks just going about their business. Nobody knew on the floor. Nobody had the slightest clue but the guys watching the television screens who were betting on the dogs and the horses.
The waitress looked at us with wide eyes. She must have known we knew. I wondered how many tables she'd been to this morning... Hi, coffee and water? Oh, and there are thousands dead in New York, the Pentagon is smoking and a plane load of folks incinerated in a dell in Pennsylvania. Cream with that?
"Nobody knows..." I said.
"Maybe not."
"Jesus Christ, you'd think they'd care more if they knew. You'd think they could quit gambling for two fucking seconds..."
"Everyone does things differently," she said. And she's right.
We stayed holed up in the hotel room for two more days just watching the news. We'd go get a meal, hang out on the casino floor or whatever for a while, and I'd want to go back and see what they were saying. The projected body count dropped that first day from the 10's of thousands to 10 thousand or less.
I watched folks still gambling, still going about their business. We went to a show the night afterward. I felt sick to my stomach the whole time and I wanted to get out and go. I stayed under the covers or sat at the edge of the bed and I wanted to ge the hell out of Nevada. And we did. Eventually.
But that flight home, with the nervous faces and everyone... everyone ready to go down swinging so that this should not ever, ever happen again...
But this is all about me and what happened to me, which wasn't anything.

Tomorrow and tonight and all week, they're going to replay the footage we're all familiar with. And dead people's families are going to fill our television screens.
So tomorrow I'm committing to a day of silence here at The League. I'm not going to ask what we've done since then, and I'm not going to ask if we're any safer. I'm not going to debate the politics or put a flag around the site for a day. I'm not going to try to say anything about everyone or anyone who died, because I didn't know them, and that's well worn territory. So I'm going to be quiet, and I'm going to shut up for once.



New York
I may have just found the winning keywords for The League. It turns out that people are nuts for the hooker/ stripper from The Joe Schmo Show. I received many, many, many hits yesterday from folks seeking info on the high priced hooker.

Viva America.

I tried to find info on who the hooker was for all you pre-verts out there seeking her out (since you're already here, I can at least try to be a helpful resource), but I'm pretty busy, and I don't care enough to really help you out. Go look at the bra ads in the Sunday paper, you sick-o's.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

First off:

Randy and Jeff Shoemaker are the sole winners of the Green Lantern contest. Even my own beautiful wife failed to know that the Green Lantern is from Sector 2814 (I swear, you put 8 years into trying to share useful information with someone....). In high school I had a plastic Green Lantern ring which would glow in the dark. It was free and one of the coolest give-aways ever seen at a comic shop. One day I will obtain a full sized Green Lantern ring. One Day. But, it will be useless without the power battery...

Anyhow, I may have screwed up those looking for the Green Lantern's Pledge. Apparently, it's actually an OATH. What the hell do I know...? Nothing. It's an OATH. So, on that note...


In Brightest Day
In Blackest Night
No Evil Shall Escape My Sight
Let Those Who Worship Evil's Might
Beware My Power
Green Lantern's Light

and secondly....

about once every nine months or so Jim D. updates me regarding the movements of underground indie rockers, Dead Yeti. He did so again today, alerting Randy and me to the latest drama.

Jim Dedman wrote:
> both of you must, must, must blog about yeti. i mean, really . . .

In response, I wrote:

>For going on 4 or five years now I've received regular e-mails about Dead Yeti. And about once a year, I point out that I have not a clue about Dead Yeti. I wish I did. I think it would complete the Alpha/Omega relationship which is the Steans/Dedman synergy.
> It's not that I'm not interested, it's that I really have never really been exposed to Dead Yeti.
> Alas.
> But keep it up, loyal Yeti fan.
And, gee... here's one to make you shed a little tear...

Leni Riefenstahl kicked the bucket at the age of 101. Wow, if there were ever evidence that the good die young, this is it.

I don't think anyone is going to ignore Riefenstahl's technical achievements, but it's kind of hard to dismiss her involvement in the rise of the Nazi party. I open the door to you, the reader, to do your own exploration of the life and times of Riefenstahl.

So long, Leni. And don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
I've been avoiding politics like the plague for many a month now, but I think it's time i came out of the political closet. The League of Melbotis hereby formally endorses the Reverend Al Sharpton for President of the United States of America.

Look, I'm a white suburban kid from Texas. The burroughs of New York and the entire context which Al Shaprton comes from is as foreign to me as the moons of Mars. I know dick about race relations and the class struggle. But I know Al Sharpton is completely insane. I like that about the man. I try to imagine what it would be like to call Al Sharpton "Mr. President" and my ears get warm with glee. The guy gets arrested on a regular basis, is usually embroiled in some sort of law-suit, and has a head of hair second only to John Kerry.

So when it comes time to participate in your primaries and strawman elections, vote Sharpton. If California can consider Arnie, can't we, as a country, consider the wackiness which would ensue with Sharpton at the helm?

Monday, September 08, 2003

One would assume I would have enjoyed Spike TV's The Joe Schmo Show more than I did. But I didn't.
The show rides a curious line between letting a guy humiliate himself on national TV, and trying to allow it's actors to be wacky enough to freak him out. But the truth is, pretty much NOTHING they attempted to do on the show actually seemed to work.
If you haven't seen the show or heard about it, the Joe Schmo Show is a "fake reality show" in which a "reality game show" is being taped under false pretenses. The host and other 7 contestants are all paid actors, and only Matt is an actual "contestant."
I guess the idea was to put a willing participant into a pressure boiler in which circumstances continue to grow stranger and stranger, but the reality is, "reality tv" is so over-produced and scripted to begin with, they really aren't able to
1) make Matt think anything weird is really going on
2) make Matt not act as completely insane as the rest of the cast is supposed to be doing.

Because everyone else is a paid actor, all of these actors are incredibly self-conscious of every move they make as their characters. Thusly, it all seems pretty tame compared to the nutcases who usually inhabit reality TV. Matt is pretty much just trying to ape what he's seen on other reality shows by forming alliances, etc... Unfortunately, as the show is "scripted", there's not much in the way of drama (or anything at stake) aside from whther or not Matt will think these people are actors (which they assume he will clue into). But as I said before, actual reality shows are populated with such a bunch of prima donna freaks that, coupled with Matt's unbridled enthusiasm for being on TV, there is no reason for him to suspect a damn thing.

The moment where I realized that the people putting on this show have a mindset which will probably utterly fail them was when, in episode 2, they had a game called "Hands on a High Priced Hooker" in which all 8 contestants were asked to put a hand or body part on a porn actress. Last person on won the pimping "immunity robe". (the immunity robe was probably the best part of the last hour I watched last night). The fatal flaw was that the punishment for LOSING the game was getting your own room (Joe Schmo had to share a bed with two others prior to this). THis just seemed like an odd choice of punishments, laundry room or no... in addition, it was assumed that this guy they plucked from middle-America would leap at the chance to hang onto a stanger's breast on National TV.

In short, it never occured to the producers of the show that 1) they were rewarding failure, or 2) that Matt might perceive he had more to gain by taking the high road on this one.

In short, I saw how the show was going to work, and I've seen enough of it. After a week or whatever in this house, this guy is not going to realize these people are actors, even if they totally screw up, as a few of them have already done. And it's safe to assume Matt is going to get the $100K the show promises, anyway, as compensation for being the butt of the show's 1 note joke.

In college, we would have loved how "meta" this show was. After being inundated with this sort of crap for so long, it's just the next logical step in the same crap heap all of these shows have become.

BTW, regarding Friday's posts... NOBODY has stepped up with the Space Sector of Earth's Green Lantern. And Jim gave a me a stern dressing down for neglecting to mention the greatest Green Lantern of the Giffen/ DeMAtteis JLA era, Guy Gardner.

Friday, September 05, 2003

I apologize for the poor syntax in the sentence below:

THis issue brings back Steel's neice as the new FEMALE STEEL WITH TITANIUM TA-TA'S, a really lame ghetto-slang slapping teenage witch named Traci THirteen, and the latest incarnation of Supergirl (who is not Kara Zor-El).

this is what I meant:

Action Comics 807 brought back Natasha, the niece of John Henry Irons (AKA: Steel) as a girl in a metallic suit who also runs around in a 30 story robot body which looks like her armored robot body (one wonders where the builder found the storage space, let alone how this thing was built without her knowledge and a budget larger than NASA's). Natasha is joined by Traci Thirteen (Girl 13), a teenage witch with a penchant for lame hip-hoppy slang, which never translates well to the written page, yo. And there is a new Supergirl who claims to be Superman's daughter (Cir-El), but will turn out not be, or will be from a "possible" future timeline. Either way, it doesn't matter. There are already 3 contenders for Supergirl running around (Linda Danvers, Kara Zor-El and Power Girl (Karen Starr)), and all of them are less annoying than this new, dopey character.

So you can see there was a lot to say there and how I might have botched the phrasing.

I apologize.
I feel bad about not blogging, but I have been a busy comic geek. Actually, comics have nothing to do with it, but stupid graduate students do.

At any rate, left with little to dwell upon, I can say that you would not be interested in my work woes... so I'm going to complain about how AWFUL Action Comics #807 was this week.

You know, I don't have much going on in my life but job, wife, dog and my funnybooks, and so when I get a funnybook which is, let's be honest, pretty dumb, I get a bit irritated I lost my $2.25. Yeah, $2.25. That's what a comic sets you back these days. (65 cents when I started, dammit!)

A while back they ditched one of my favorite supporting Superman characters, Steel (a man with the ability to create astounding advances in technology, allowing him to create a powerful suit of armor he wore as Superman's high-flying buddy). THis issue brings back Steel's neice as the new FEMALE STEEL WITH TITANIUM TA-TA'S, a really lame ghetto-slang slapping teenage witch named Traci THirteen, and the latest incarnation of Supergirl (who is not Kara Zor-El). Oh, and Lana Lang. Blah.

I read the issue cover to cover, and I think all that happened was some people went "blah! WOW!! BAM!!!" If people think comics are overly simplified tales of female exploitation and male power fantasies, by jiminy, this issue would only enhance that notion.


I am looking forward to the changing of the creative guard on Superman in the coming year. If you've thought about delving in to Superman, I'll keep you posted and tell you what to look for. Oh, and look for big (but kind of unneeded) changes at the Batman titles, too.

And since reading the latest storyarc in Detective Comics, I have Alan Scott Green Lantern on the brain. A few years ago The Onion ran an Op/Ed peice where a guy bitched about the new Green Lantern and how inferior he is to Hal Jordan. And it was supposed to be a joke, only I found myself solemnly nodding my head in agreement. Kyle Rayner sucks. But, lately, it's all John Stewart Green Lantern for me.

I dig the idea of the Green Lantern Corps (a space-faring police force granted the power of a weapon which is only as strong as their own will!). I think it would make a nifty cartoon. It's kind of like Intergalactic UN Peace Keeping Force with kooky aliens and lots of cool outfits.

Anyone who can name the space sector which Earth is located in (as designated by the Guardians of the Universe) and who sends me their name and the Sector will be eligible for having their name listed at The League! Triple points if you can remember the Green Lantern Pledge!

See, and here I thought I had nothing to talk about today.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

One of my favorite parts of being an American is being really snarky about weird superstitions and mythologis people go by in other lands. For example, Iraqis seem to believe Saddam has a magic stone which protects him from the Americans (something we can snicker at, but I don't see Saddam in a cell either...). Ground Rhino horn been used as an aphrodeshiac for generations in Africa, and in part of Asia, I think it's shark fin they think makes you more of a man.

I take Mel for walkies bright and early (around 5:20am), and upon my return to sofa and coffee, I get to see some choice programming just before the last informercial twinkles out at 6:00am.

Today was the second time I saw the Infomercial for Alzare. Alzare is some sort of herbal supplement promised to increase size, and increased confidence. I did note in the total of minutes I saw of the front and back end of this infomercial that they never really say "This herbal supplement will increase the size of your weiner." They just say "increase size," but maybe I missed the part about bigger weiners. But one wonders if you sue for false advertising they will say, "no, we meant increased size of your PASSION!!!" The web site does state very clearly that it will increase penis size. I guess they were trying to be subtle on TV.

What I do know is that this is the best infomercial ANYWHERE. Shot against a stark white backdrop with several Cinemax Late-Night rejects as hosts, several "model/ entertainers" speak of the fantastic effects of Alzare. The women simply GLOW in their discussion. The men smile knowlingly, or perhaps their faces pulled back that way after their hair gel dried. It's hard to say. Now, the men on the show don't really claim to need the very product they're pitching... they're REAL men, the kind of sport coat and slightly unbuttoned red silk shirt men YOU WANT TO BE (if you're going to be in soft-core). They seem to be part of The Big Weiner Club (standard dress code including unbuttoned silk shirt), and they have the ticket for you to get in, buddy! The women are feigning sexy class, but are really pretty trampy looking, which is okay, because it just adds to the sleazy ambience of the whole affair. I'm not sure, but I think one woman was wearing a bright red plastic pantsuit thing which we were to determine is what people who have good sex must wear. I am ordering one for myself for Christmas.

All "dialogue" is "completely unstaged", and doesn't sound as if it's badly delivered lines from a hackey, throw away soft-core script at all. Each statement is filled with weird pauses, the kind of pauses one gets when one is trying to remember the rest of their line, and one is, say, an unemployed stripper or "spokesmodel."

The capper is the Q&A wherein several "spontaneous" and flaccidly delivered questions are asked by people the rest of the audience realizes all too late were planted there to actually get to ask questions, leaving them, and any questions which might thrust a little objectivity into the video, on the cutting room floor. Luckily, they do leave in one very Joe Schmoe looking guy to ask out the girl in the red pantsuit thingy. They all laugh at him because he is cute, but he is not wearing a sportcoat with an unbuttoned silk shirt, and must not have a big weiner.

I honestly don't know if this product works or not. I assume it's ground parsely put into a gel--cap. But I also haven't tried it. I also thought the penis enlarging pump was an invention of Austin Powers or a novelty item of the 70's, but saw one on the shelf one day at Walgreens. "THose things don't work, do they?" I asked aloud one day. "Yes," a friend of mine assured me. "They work very, very well." So I dunno. I also know I don't have the $200 it was going to set me back.

So I encourage you to seek out this informercial on your own and make your own decisions. Just remember the weird Japanese guy downing shark fin soup in the hope he will please his lady, laughing at you as a stupid Yankee for thinking parsely in a pill is going to make a man of you.

UPDATE (Dec 1, 2003): Much like my "Ann Coulter Nude Hits", of which i continue to get around 2-3 a day, I also get a lot of hits for people trying to find out who the girl is in the Alzare Infomerical I mentioned here months ago.

In an effort to help my loyal readers, her name, according to this site, is Jenny Richards. This is all I know. You're on your own now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Randy has asked me to update on the cat pee smell of earlier today. In truth, the smell is now either gone, or I have become accustomed to it. I think it's gone. I also think it was probably more to do with the insanely strong coffee my boss brewed up this morning just as I arrived. The coffee is gone, and so is the smell. I will also check to see if it was the scent of the dry cleaning chemicals on the shirt I wore this morning, but changed out of when the people from the UK left.

I kind of hope I smelled like cat pee to the people from the UK. That would really impress them.
My office smells vaguely of cat piss this morning. There is no cat at my office. However, Jeff the cat may well have taken some liberties with my computer bag. I will need to investigate.

Monday, September 01, 2003

In 1995 or so, Jeffrey Cash Shoemaker introduced me to the sounds of Chicago area formerly homeless schizophrenic musical wunderkind, Wesley Willis. Wesley's songs were all fairly short songs which spoke directly from within, and were, perhaps, the most personal songs I'd ever heard. Let me qualify that with, these were the most personal songs I'd ever heard from a paranoid schizophrenic with access to a $200 keyboard. The rumor was that Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys had been the one to discover Willis, but I don't know if it's true. It makes as much sense as anything else.

My personal favorite Willis tune was "I Whupped Batman's Ass", but I came to understand later that, most likely, Wesley made up most of his songs on the spot, and in order for him to remember them later, somebody was writing the songs down.

A common theme of Willis's struggles with mental illness runs through Willis's songs. The tune "Nerve Shattering Hellride" perhaps best exemplifies Willis's struggle with schizophrenia, describing a ride on the Chicago public transportation system, and his struggles to not give in to the voices in his head during the course of said ride.

In order to keep the voices out, Willis often wore a walkman and listend to music, even when playing his own music. Including during live performances, I discovered, when I saw him play at Emo's on Austin's 6th street in the Spring of 1997. Willis was sick with the flu, we were told, and began his show late. By the time he had taken the stage, out of boredom, we had downed numerous bottles of a dollar beer, whose identity should spring to mind, but, perhaps rightly, does not.

Willis was chugging from a bottle of Chloraseptic in order to perform, sweating profusely and swearing a lot. Sensing a kindred spirit, I pushed aside any misgivings I might have had about the quite possibly exploitative situation in which I was participating. Willis went on to perform for what I estimated to be at least an hour and half, a time during which I was fairly certain he never noticed whether or not the audience was present. Further, all of his songs were in a binder, and he took considerable time out between songs to select his next tune. All of the songs, I might add, were pretty much the same song.

Eventually I tracked down my ride (we'd left directly from my RTF animation class), and I went home and went directly to bed, the tunes of Wesley Willis laying down a seed in my plowed and freshly tilled mind.

It took days for the show to get out of my head. Dozens of people joined together and, honeslty, not laughing at this guy, but listening to whatever the hell it was he was putting out there, because, you know... you honestly just hadn't heard anything like it.

Wesley had a video on MTV for a song called "Alanis Morrisette", which was pretty good by Wesley Willis standards. He wrote a lot of songs about people he liked, and more songs about people he did not like. But he liked music, and he was having a pretty hard time of it, and in the mid-90's, I think all you could really say was, "there but for the Grace of God Go I." Honestly, I haven't thought much about Wesley in years. He was an anomaly, and you hoped his earnings from record sales were enough to keep him off the streets and in good condition.

On August 21st, 2003 Wesley Willis was called home by The Maker. Rock over London, Rock on, Chicago. Wheaties, the Breakfast of Champions. Rock on, Wesley. May the nerve shattering hellride come to an end, and may you be welcomed to your seat among the great ones. You truly did manage to rock the hell out of us.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

66-7, and more than 5 minutes left. Man, and this is after a completely abysmal 1st quarter.
Holy COW!!!! They scored again! It's now 45-7. Dusty Mangum must be getting sick of going out there.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Right now Mars is closer to earth than it has been in 60,000 years. Pretty cool stuff, but I'm a little disappointed that we're not being invaded by three-eyed monsters.

BBC has some photos posted.

And here is a picture of my favorite Martian: J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter of the JLA

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Jamie was confused by my post about Batman saying "damn." I was in 2nd grade, she tells me, in 82-83. Haude Elementary, Spring, TX. (Haude sounds like "Howdy." I believe it is German.) All I remember is my 3rd grade teacher was trying to get us to read and she brought in comics for pleasure reading and I knew already from my traumatic prior experience that those comics had dirty words. I believe, safety nazi that I was, that I told the teacher about the bad words and all DC comics were removed from the class. Cursing was strictly forbidden in the Steans house at this time. Then, in 1986-87, my mom said "shit," and it's been downhill ever since.
Apparently this occured here in the Valley of the Sun.
Jim sent me two fantastic articles regarding the state of comics.

The only thing I would argue in the NY Times article is this excerpt: "The Sopranos" take on the world has spilled into comic books.

I guess the idea is that comics are reflective of a harsher trend in mass media. But this isn't news, kids. Comics got gritty in the 70's with the rise of stars like Neal Adams, etc... and guys like Moore and Miller cemented the necessity of "real" consequences in comics. It's a slow evolution, but it's safe to say that most comics are not aimed at children anymore, nor has it been so for a while. As a note, all that profanity, etc... has been in comics since I was in 2nd grade (1981?), at least. I remember picking up a Batman comic and being horrified to see Batman say "damn!" This wasn't something I thought I would be allowed to read, so I sought the safety of Marvel and it's bizarre use of colloquialisms native to the Marvel Universe. EVERYBODY in Marvel comics said "blazes" instead of "hell." As in "What in blazes?" or "Go to blazes!"

Superhero comics are struggling with maturity and keeping a balance of being escapism and fun. But they are also attuning themselves to an audience which skews ever older. Most comicstry to succeed as readable fiction for at LEAST teenagers, but many do not succeed to really work as readable fiction. I refuse to name names... everyone has their opinion. The problem is: writers, editors and artists do not always seem to have fundamental grasp of adulthood themselves. At other times, when genuinely adult relationships occur in comics, many readers do not know how to react. Sex must be tawdry, violence must have no consequences, and the very real presence of sex, religion and politics is usually treated with the delicacy of a blunt instrument.

Jim also included articles on the late, great Jack "King" Kirby. I say nice things from time to time about Kirby, but I rarely say too much as it can be difficult to understand Kirby's relevance on pop culture. But I think this article does a fine job of explaining it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


Work is kooky. We just started a new semester at the University, and I have been trying to get many a class up and online. I am not what I would consider to be a detail oriented guy. I like broad strokes when being told technical issues and whatnot. Any explanation longer than a minute, and I'm pretty much zoning out thinking about Superman. So all the issues that keep coming up are not entirely a surprise, because I heard OF the problem before. Now it's time to fix the problems. Luckily, I have assembled an amazing staff, and all I have to do is know of a problem, and usually it's 70% fixed before I even hear about it. I love these guys.

I am probably a software engineers' worst nightmare of a manager. I don't know anything about the specifics, and I could really give a damn. I just want to hear what the problem is, how it will affect faculty and students, and how long it will take to fix. If there is money involved, I like to know that, too. But, as I said... broad strokes. Luckily, all the tech guys around campus are aware that I am incompetent and know to call my staff instead of me. Life is sweet.

I also am taking a single grad class this fall. I am very skeptical of the course, instructor, and, indeed, the entire department, but it has relevancy to my job. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Hey, kids!

As described previously herein, I recently made a mistake regarding Superman, the Arizona Department of Transportation and general good taste. The lesson, kids, is just because something seems funny at first, doesn't mean it's going to be funny later. And this, Leaguers, is why vanity plates and tattoos should be avoided. Both are permanent, and both may look a little stupid in the cold light of day.

what's Jamie standing next to?

the plate of shame itself

The World's Finest look over the Forester from the Garage of Solitude.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Thanks for the link, Randy! No one will enjoy this more than my own Hobbit lovin' wife.

I likeses the Hobbits, but Jamie loveses the Hobbits. It gives me license to give her noogies and call her "nerd."
I work at a fairly major University and the Fall semester begins on Monday. I am going insane. I apologize for there not being much here yesterday or today.

The Arizona gas crisis is already pretty much ending. No lines last night on the way home, though the price of gas has spiked to $2.15 or so (it was at $1.80+ last week). Not bad, all things considered. All in all, the fuel crisis was pretty much sound and fury, but it's going to leave me thinking for awhile about the power held at all ends of the petroleum industry.

I asked Jamie to go see "Freddy Vs. Jason" this weekend and she thought I was kidding. I think my chances of getting to see it are pretty slim.

Yesterday I received the much ballyhooed "vanity" license plate which I described about a month and half ago. I hope to update with pictures soon. I'm both embarassed for myself and totally ecstatic at how goofy it is to have plate reading "Krypto" on a grown man's car.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

From the outside, it does not appear that people are taking the Phoenix fuel shortage terribly seriously. They should be. Seeing a key ingredient to the American lifestyle suddenly dry up is really, really spooky. You don't think of the all pervasive way into which cheap, accessible fuel is seamlessly integrated into the fabric of everyday American life

It's not that gas ISN'T available, because it is, in very small quantities. The small quantities provide a sense of unease instead of the throw-your-arms-in-despair sort of thing that would probably make people actually behave. There are lines for gas. Lines for freaking gas! I don't remember the shortages of the 70's , and I wasn't around during gas rationing in WWII, so the context of a very wealthy city, suddenly choked of it's fuel supply, is a little strange. But it's not a crisis, and it hasn't been painted in the stars and stripes yet, forcing folks to do their best to work with the situation.

In order to avoid the lines, I filled up last Friday. But the lines are still there, and by sometime on Friday or Saturday, I will need to fill up again. I can't wait until the light comes on, because I might run out of gas looking for a gas station which actually has gas. I can't run any errands because that would burn gas, and I can't even go out to eat, because then we'd be burning gas.

People talk about it in the halls at my office. THey've been getting up at 4:00am to find gas stations without lines and hot tempers.

But we all live too far apart to car pool, and we some of us live in neighborhoods which make it impossible to actually just walk to get to the store. There are no buses where I live. No alternative means of transportation.

And this is just from a minor burp in the usual supply.

This isn't a nice blackout in New York where everyone quits working and everybody stays home and finishes the tub of ice cream before it melts. You can go get ice cream, if you want to burn gas to get it, but be careful with that gauge, because you can't skip work or be late to work because of gas issues. Nothing has slowed down or really been checked by the gas situation. In fact, people are following gas trucks around town to see where they're going to deliver their tank loads.

An air of paranoia is becoming prevalent.

The ten second spot Phoenix is getting on headline News doesn't begin to do the situation justice, because it is not just long lines at the pumps. Everyday life has a cloud hanging over it uncertainty. There's an uncertainty of freedom, of a threat of immobility, and nobody really knows when the damn thing is going to be over.

I've heard anecdotal evidence of flared tempers, but it's a matter of time before something genuinely bad happens. Before a car stalls on the freeway and causes a disaster, before fights break out at a gas station, before something goes wrong with one of hundreds of fuel trucks working overtime to fill the pumps...

It's a spooky situation. In order to avoid burning extra gas sitting in traffic, every day this week I've left after 6:00pm. And they say they don't know when things will get better.

I've got half a tank left, maybe a little more.
Some things just seem so fantastically absoludicrous, it just seems like there's just no way you'd forget them. But yesterday when I got home from work, there was a commericial on TV for a DVD which collects nothing but nude scenes from standard Hollywood movies. I was immediately thrilled and excited, because for $19.99, you got both this DVD AND a DVD of sex scenes from regular Hollywood movies. These videos star your favorite actresses in the early days of their careers in scenes which just didn't seem that odd back in the 80's (you don't see that much nudity anymore in R movies. It used to be required.), and drifts into some stuff right up to Demi Moore's StripTease. How the creators got the rights to the footage, I will never know. I do know that they will probably get a decent return on their investment.

But by the time I woke up today, all I could remember was that I had been hopping up and down like a monkey and telling my beautiful wife Jamie that I had a blog topic for today. I couldn't remember the topic (only that it was sordid), and that it was a surprise to see it on TV. I had to e-mail Jamie and ask her what I had been so giddy about. She responded with no small amount of disappointment. I expet the annullment papers any day now.

Anyhoo, I'm trying to figure out why this was blocked from my memory, and why I can't remember the URL for the videos to save my life. Normally this is the kind of stuff that finds it's way into my brain and latches on for eternity. But I have a multi-part theory.

I've had to reduce my Purine intake in order to prevent further outbreaks of the Gout. Purine causes uric acid, which my kidneys aren't keeping up with, and then you get uric acid crystals which deposit in your joints and cause pain. Okay. So I need to reduce purines, which means I've had to change my diet. So, for a week, I've become a vegetarian. It will be a longlasting effect of my ailment and will prevent me form eventually getting kidney stones. It's okay. I am starting to hate eating, which is good, because I am fat. But, last night when the ad came on, I was making dinner, and last night's dinner for me was an Organic vegetarian pizza. I think I was, for once, so distracted by what I did not want to eat for dinner, that I failed to fully internalize the most awesomest commercial ever. The pizza was awful, discarded, and substituted with a Boca Pizza. The memory of the commerical was placed in my temp files instead of my RAM.


If anyone has the URL for these videos, please let me know so I can post it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I have attached to Laura Maxwell's site. She is a little person I knew in high school who went to UT, where I never saw her (no matter how hard I peered between her shutters). She is a very talented person, they tell me, and so I want all of you to give a big League of Melbotis welcome to the little girl from Spring, Texas who is currently in New York. Where she fights crime. With Spider-Man. And Daredevil.
Most of you won't find this terribly funny, but I haven't checked my voicemail at work in 2 months. I just don't believe in voicemail in an era of e-mail. I mean, I know people are probably leaving me crucial messages all the time, but I think if the messages are really crucial, they should be clear enough that one can put feelings into words and send out a short e-mail to me.

Anyway, finally checked my voicemail and I had only 6 messages dating back about a week. Well, that let's me know that my system is working. Voicemail is magically dumping all my old messages which would have just sat there taking up digital space, and I am certain these folks have all e-mailed me by now if there was an emergency.
Okay, we passed 2012 hits with nary a pervert looking for Ann Coulter naked.

Someone hit the site looking for these two things jointly: "Iraqi freedom" and "foot problems"

it just goes to show you that from the macrocosmic to the microcosmic, The League of Melbotis is here to serve you.
I t was raining during the day here! You have no idea how crazy that is. It just doesn't happen.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Let me just wrap up the day by saying this: My new medication makes me feel funny, and not funny in a good way. We will be very careful with the whens and hows of this medication, because it makes work very difficult.

Also, in the next 24 hours I will pass 2000 hits on this site. To this, I can only say, thak you, Ann Coulter. Without people's insane desire to see your fascist ass naked, I never would have gotten here without you. You have become a media darling, and that means you have also become a depraved dominatrix sexual fantasy to so many of your loyal fans.

And, in the spirit of raising my hits, I can only say, "Ann Coulter Nude." Go, Google, go!!!!
First off, I'm not entirely certain what is going on with the Phoenix fuel shortage debacle I mentioned earlier. I drove past at least one roped off gas station this morning and two stations which had lines a block long. Obviously things are getting a little goofier than I expected. One also wonders what things are going to look like if we ever have an honest to God shortage. If this is any indication, it's going to be ugly, ugly Mad Max type stuff.

I am very angry with the pharmacist I spoke with last Tuesday who told me one of the meds I was prescribed was a painkiller. It is not. I would probably be totally fine if I had continued to take the med, but as I was told it was a painkiller, I quit taking it. I have to start all over again. That said, I am on the road to recovery and have to go back to the doctor in two weeks for a check up and stuff.

THanks to the gout, I am now on a semi-vegetarian diet and I think it's finally getting to me. I really haven't felt well all day. Bleah. It's difficult to focus on tasks at hand and I generally feel run down. Must find protein. Must find... protein... more brains.....
People like to freak out. Apparently an 8 inch gas line between El Paso and Tucson blew up about a week ago, so, end of last week gas started disappearing from local gas stations here in the greater Phoenix area. It's not that there is no gas, it's that there's less gas. This translates to higher gas prices and several pumps being out. So, I am to to understand that folks are making like the late 70's and lining up around the block for gas.

This is not really necessary as many gas stations do have gas at MOST of their pumps (I wouldn't say all), but with the recent spike in prices, a $0.03 cost difference has suddenly made all the difference. These are the gas stations getting the lines. People are going to be going Thunderdome by week's end if the situation isn't resolved. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be concerned, but a little restraint might be called for. Especially with as many Hummers and Suburbans as you see on Valley roads, suddenly gas doesn't seem like the endless resource it was.

I feel lucky that I happened to fill up Friday afternoon and haven't really driven since. Frankly, I kind of hope I run out of gas when I roll into my driveway so I have an excuse not to drive to work. I do wish the Subaru got better mileage per gallon, but not much I can do but limit driving until this goofiness has passed.

Friday, August 15, 2003

To take you into the weekend, I submit this site which details many, many truths I wish had been bestowed upon me upon entering Film School.

Film School was the best and most fun way i could have spent my parents' money for four years. For whatever reason, those silly people had faith in me not to wind up in a button down job. Unfortunately, I was 22 before I realized self-confidence and a knowledge of film may actually keep you from working in Hollywood. Anyway, it's a freaking ridiculous industry. If you don't believe me, tell me why the Olsen Twins are billionaires and Vin Diesel is marketable and why American Splendor plays nowhere and "Grind" is playing everywhere in Phoenix.

Anyhow, that's it for me, America. Have a good weekend and keep your hands to yourself.

And because I've been a might busy and may have left you kids hanging, Just remember: Knowing is Half the Battle.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Just figured a way out of paying for a retirement home...

Superman Seat Covers

THe Superman Homepage recently announced that Superman Seat Covers were being made available in the US through the Superman Collector's Store. THe Seat covers are a little pricey, and I wanted to get a feel for whether or not my lovely wife Jamie would ever get in my car again if I got the seat covers. I think the answer was "no."

Now you have to understand that Jamie has no problem with the Superman thing and let's me pretty much do as I please. But there's something about the seat covers which may finally push her over the edge. I can usually tell when I am getting close to the edge as she will ask me in a very calm voice "Do you think YOU are SUperman?" I know she's being cute, but it's also a pretty good warning sign that she's reaching the end of her rope. It's also not as awkward as when I had to tell my brother I didn't think Superman was a real person.

Nonetheless, I am working on a compromise regarding the Seat covers. We'll figure soemthing out. Up, Up and Away.
Foot is feeling much better, but still pretty sore. My beautiful wife Jamie went and bought me Cherry Extract tablets last night. Cherry Extract, and cherries themselves, are supposed to alieviate joint pain. Normally I think herbal remedies fall into the realm of placebo and hokum, but once you're in pain, all that doubt and logic goes out the window. "Bring me the St. John's Wort!"

It's not that I don't believe Mother Earth provides natural remedies, because natural rememdies are quite common pretty much anywhere but in the US. But I have a hard time taking the "alternative medicine" rack at the Walgreens terribly seriously. Once you've minced, dried and powdered cherries, then placed them in a digestible pill, I'm fairly certain any medicinal value said cherries once held is long gone. My point is, we know that when you french fry potatos, you've boiled out all nutrition in them. Why do we think disintegrating cherries is going to help us?

But I'm taking the pills anyway, because yesterday my foot hurt like a son of a bitch, and today, it hurts less. It may be that there's a natural curve to the gout thingy, and when it flares up, or it could be the cherries helping out. We'll see. I feel like a chump for taking this hoo-hah, but I'll take whatever black magic I need to in order to remain ambulatory.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Due to the screaming footpain described yesterday, I was given Hydrocodone so I could "sleep". More like "so I could not wake up." Man, this morning was goofy. It was like the Sandman was sitting on my back (I sleep face down) and trying to convince me it was Saturday.

Drug abuse is a weird thing, and I have difficulty understanding why the kids would want to get goofy on something that would pretty much just make you punchy and make it so hard to get up in the AM. I must be missing something. I always miss out on the fun stuff.

Your Uncle Ry sez: Kids, stay in school and don't do the drugs.

My pals from Austin have decided to not proceed with their wedding about a month and half before their scheduled nuptiuals (sp?). Yikes. I feel awful.

I know they are trying to make the best decision for them, but it's still terribly depressing. What's also depressing is that I have tickets to be in town for the wedding. Because part of me is a glass-half-full kind of guy, I hope they work it out and actually DO get married, in which case, changing my travel plans will have been a tremendous mistake. Part of me is definitely glass-half-empty and thinks that maybe I can still use these tickets to get to Houston for Christmas. Part of me wants to just go to Austin and hang out for four days and enjoy early Fall in Central Texas. At any rate, I wish those two kids the absolute best, no matter what decision they make.

Things like this make Melbotis sad.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I've been having foot problems since I moved out here. Actually, I remember the first outbreak by date (9.11.02) as I sat in the ER watching Bush on TV as he landed at Ground Zero in New York. Anyhoo, it's come back several times since. It's always something that just pops up first thing in the morning when I jump out of bed, and there's no common thread to any particular activity.

I assumed these were TaeKwonDo injuries from my days of doling out boots to the head. I suffered from what was probably the same symptom when I was in TaeKwonDo, but like a good little TaeKwonDo trooper, I went to class anyway and sucked it up. A little adrenalin usually helped me get through doing exercises I knew probably weren't very good for me.

Symptoms cropped up again yesterday morning and were so bad by this morning when I woke, I sought out a doctor. BTW, the CIGNA Healtchare website is extremely useless. Thanks, CIGNA. Could not even find my randomly assigned PCP in the phonebook, let alone on their site. But I wanted to see a doctor as last night I garnered some new information about the hurty toe. See, about a month ago my brother came down with a similar ailment, and because he does not fear and loathe doctors, he actually sought medical help.

Turns out we share a common genetic problem. We're both prone to The Gout. Apparently little crystals of uric acid build up in your blood stream and make your foot hurt like a mother. According to this description, it also probably wouldn't occur if I weren't a fatty.

Sigh. At any rate, the painkiller I was given to keep me from gnawing off my own toe knocked my butt out for most of today. I was calmly eating an early lunch so I could take my pills, and suddenly I was woken by a 1:30 phone call from my lovely wife. Ay carumba.

Stupid gout, I hate you. You make my toe hurt and remind me of my unhealthy lifestyle.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Toys That Should Not Be

I can't believe I missed this before, but here is the George W. Bush Operation Iraqi Freedom adventure doll. The look of vague yet steely determination is captured in his painted on eyeballs, the flightsuit tailored to suggest an aura of more than a showboating passenger and we guarantee upon seeing this doll your child will declare an end to all major combat activities... Unlike the Al Gore Candidate Doll, this figure has moveable joints, and is made of petroleum bi-product plastic rather than solid, unmoveable oak. Warning: If Pretzels or Segway accessory are placed near Bush doll, doll may tip over.

The line of dolls should include a Rummy Doll with life like Tech-vest, and Ari Fleischer Doll with podium and repetitive soundtrack. I will be sure to add the Condi Rice doll to my collection, as well as the Powell "UN Adventure" action set. Unfortunately the Cheney doll with "lifelike grimace" and "hidden bunker fortress" is being held for security reasons. I do look forward to the Cheney "Secret Energy Policy" playset, with sealable minutes!

Coming soon, the "Where the f**k is he?" Saddam playset with Saddam, 6 disguises and an American soldier with irritiated, sweating action.

Can we look forward to a Maureen Dowd doll? A George F. Will doll with real bowtie action?

Eschewing obvious jokes about anatomical correctness, one wonders what the Clinton/ Lewinski playset would look like, and what accessories it might contain...

Still, I think the "Tickle Me" Jenna doll is going to prove to be most popular of the line.
BTW, The Amazing Randy asked why I left Alan Moore's Watchmen off of my list from Friday. Pure oversight, I assure you. I actually have a copy of the first issue framed and hanging on the wall of my office. The posted list was part of the body of a letter I sent Jim D. the other day, and Jim had already read Watchmen.

I would recommend this comic to anyone but my dear, sweet mother, for whom the reading of Watchmen would be a singularly bewildering experience.
How do, Leagueadeers?

This weekend was pretty dull, although yesterday Chandler, Arizona managed to be the hottest spot in the country. I, of course, managed to be out doing yard work. After the temp passes 108 F, it's all pretty much just really, really hot. 117 or 109... it doesn't really matter.

It's time for me to enroll for my benefits package again, and I always wonder if I have enough life insurance. I don't want too much, so that it's worth more to Jamie to have me dead than alive, but I also don't want her to be bankrupt if I accidentally OD on Diet Pepsi or Coffeemate. At any rate, I asked her what she would do if I upped and died. "I'd probably move to San Francisco or Austin," she said. "What would you do?"

"I'd move to Austin."

And then it dawned on me... no, not that in order for me to get back to Austin, Jamie might have to have a little "accident". No, it dawned on me that for some reason, if we're both alive, we somehow think it's a good idea to be in a smelly desert. Alone, the idea is intolerable. Well, I think that says a lot for how much we can put up with when together, but it also made me realize that ain't neither one of us is particularly excited about being in the smelly desert. I'm not sure it should take one of us keeling over to return to the Lone Star State.

So, you know, if you know of any jobs in A-Town, let your glorious leader in on it.

We took Mel to meet Tanner the Wonder Dog on Saturday. Mel isn't very socialized around other dogs, and Tanner is a great dog, if not a bit of a spaz. Tanner is a 1 year old Golden who belongs to Jamie's cube neighbor, Ryan N. Anyhoo, I was very proud of Mel as he never ate Tanner and was on his best behavior while visiting Tricia and Ryan's house. He did, however, steal all of Tanner's toys and claim them as his own. It was embarassing, but I'm not sure Mel understands issues of property.

What Mel DOES understand is bathtime. He's not even really anti-bathtime. When he sees me pull out the towels and point at the tub, he will climb right in. This is much favorable to the afternoon I once spent chasing Mel around the front yard with hose in hand.

One night, just before I moved here, Mel must have decided he was really dirty, because at 3:00am he climbed into the bathtub and started whining. So next you know I was sudding up the dog and pushing sleep out of my eyes. It didn't really seem that odd until I related the story later. Jamie was out of town when it occured, so I have nobody to verify the story, but it did happen. I have had bath guilt ever since and try to be better about the frequency of Mel's baths.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Someone hit the League today by doing a Google search for "Ryan Steans." What's the deal? Who is this person? And will they send me money?
There is a difference between Trade Paperbacks and Graphic Novels. Graphic Novels are usually released as self contained stories in a single volume. Trade Paperbacks are usually stories lifted from a running series, like Spider-Man issues 165-175 or something. The gray area is when you begin speaking about collections which contain a story which existed as, say, a six issue limited series. This can include either totally original characters, or it can include, say... Batman.

THe point is, Randy asked me to recommend some comics yesterday, and then last night, Jim asked me to recommend some comics. As I am short on time today, I will reprint here that which I sent Jim last night, because it's a quick guide for what you might wish to look for if you were to go to a book store or to a comic shop.

I'm going to just suggest Graphic Novels and self-contained limited series trade paperbacks. I don't want to just dump you into the world of regular Trade Paperbacks.

Dark Knight Returns is on the "must read" list, but be prepared for something.. different. I'm not sure you'll like all of it, but I think it's critical. We'll save Dark Knight Strikes Again for a later discussion.

Maus by Art Spiegelman is a must read. No, it is not really an allegory, because that's what you're going to think at first glance. It is not Animal Farm. This is a true story. It won the Pulitzer. It is used as a textbook. It's really, really good. Especially if you manage to get both volumes.

From Hell by Alan Moore is what the recent Jack the Ripper movie was based upon.
Torso by Brian Michael Bendis is a true crime tale following Eliot Ness as he moves to Cleveland and must sort out the identity of a Depression era serial killer.
Ronin by Frank Miller is a psychedelic sci-fi Samurai story which defies description.
Elektra: Assassin by Frank Miller will let you know why I was so angry with the Daredevil movie.
Moonshadow is a coming of age tale set amongst the cosmos
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore may make you wish to make like Guy Fawkes
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware is supposed to be great. I bought it a few weeks ago and haven't had time to read it yet.
Sandman: A Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman breaks the rules stated above, but is, nonetheless, an excellent comic. I think you can follow the story with little introduction

Essential Superhero books:
Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross will restore your faith in Superheroes
Batman: Year One - Frank Miller
Superman: Man of Steel - John Byrne (note- It appears the powers that be at DC comics are re-writing the history of Superman as dictated by Man of Steel in Superman: Birthright. More on this in the months to come. BTW, I love what they're doing)
Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch
Ultimate Spider-Man by Bendis
for sheer weird factor, I like Jack Kirby's TPBs of New Gods and Mister Miracle. but it's an acquired taste

And if you're looking for a book without pictures, I would point you to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. It won the Pulitzer, I think.

But let me know if you're looking for something fun, or something "important", and maybe I can help. But if you were going to read one or two graphic novels, these would be the ones I would begin with. We can work backward from here.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

So I was talking to Randy, and he says, "You should get an optical mouse instead of a ball-roller." So I hopped up and stole one off of the desk of one of my student workers. I am now so futuristic, I'm not even here yet. Thanks, Randy.

And congratulations on the new job. You and Jim can be new job buddies, and that's something in this wintery economy.
THis article on Urban Legends in Iraq is interesting.

I just cleaned my mouse, and it works much, much better. You would not believe the crap which had built up in there.

Hurray for Gary Coleman, who has also tipped his hat to run for the Governorship of California.

No new news of obesity today, I am sorry to say, but I think I made my point. I will resume obesity reports as events warrant.

For those of you who might pick up a monthly comic, the new Batman/ Superman comic (or Superman/ Batman... there's no title, just an emblem) got off to a great start. The art is the best Ed McGuinness I've ever seen (and if you ask Jamie, I assure you she can confirm that I like Ed McG's Superman work), and the story seems fairly interesting. I know comic people criticize Superman and Batman as "same old, same old", but I still dig this stuff, especially when the quality is this good.

Anyway, Mel keeps doing this weird thing on our walks where he alternately accelerates and slows down and looks at me. I've been walking him for three years, and this is a new development. I asked him what the story is, but he just sped off. Today he was FOCUSED when we went on our walk and would not jump off the sidewalk in time and got tagged by a sprinkler. I think he blamed me, but I was trying to help him. The good news is, we are both in slightly better shape for our recent ritual of morning walkies, and I plan to extend our path in the next week or two.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Hey, kids. Quick Update. Jerry Springer has decided not to run for Senator from Ohio. I am sad to hear this. We need more folks in the Senate who are likely to conclude each session with a Final Thought. But on the plus side, with Jerry sticking to daytime TV, there will still be an outlet in American television where you know, weekday after weekday, you will be even more disappointed in humanity than by watching Hollywood Squares.

Arianna Huffington is running for Governor. I support this. She has very nice hair.

Thanks to Randy for the News tip!
Fat Discrimination

We're on Day 3 of an infinite number of days of Headline News returning to their favorite topic: obesity. The omnipresent spectre was discussed today in light of a Gallup Poll which determined whether folks felt they had been discriminated against because of their weight, and whether employers would be likely to discriminate against folks because of their girth. During the report, the weird, awkward Gallup guy pantomimed a gut and made sure to point out that more Americans are overweight (according to the AMA) than said felt they were overweight... he clearly felt ashamed of those Americans who did not admit they were overweight. It was very strange...

Stayed up too late watching The Rules of Attraction on cable. This movie probably isn't for everyone, but after endless cable reruns of Road Trip and American Pie 2, it was interesting to break from the mold and see a movie about quasi-sociopathic yet recognizable college kids. I know American Pie, et al, are always supposed to have "heart", but the cute and fuzzy bunny characters never appeal to me, and the stories always seem to downshift into sentimental glop about some randomly boring love interest when the beginnings of the movies always make it look like the characters are having much more fun NOT being in love. I'm not even sure I would say Rules of Attraction was a good movie, but it differed enough from the cute and fuzzy bunny formula that at times I knew that if I'd seen this in college, it would have made a boatload more sense to me than those movies mentioned above.

The other fun part of The Rules of Attraction was when, about forty minutes into the movie I suddenly put 2 and 2 together and realized the James VanDer Beek character was supposed to be Patrick Bateman's little brother from American Psycho. Suddenly everything became so very, very clear. (BTW, while the book of American Psycho is fairly disturbing and not for everyone, the movie version was pretty lame and ended up as a fairly tame slasher fliock... ). Anyway, realizing the connection also solidified the theme of adding "American" as part of your title to give it some sort of ubiquitous meaning and gave a different gravity to the end of the flick.

Am currently reading Jimmy Olsen: Adventures by Jack Kirby. Check it out, comic geeks. This is some great, great stuff.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Turns out I was wrong on some details on the Castillo case. For an interview with the Director of the CBLDF, read here. For an interview with the actual guy who got arrested, read here.

Never let it be said I won't point out where I am wrong. Except on this whole "Groundhog Day" thing. 6 more weeks of winter, my ass...
The Magic Genies at who run the blogging service I utilize have now fixed my archives problem. If you'd liek to review my past posts, such as they are, you may now visit my little archives section. It's fast, it's free, it's fun and it may very well save your life.
Fat Kids in Crisis: A Nation Mourns

Headline News ran another story about childhood obesity. Today's topic was about stapling kids' stomachs to curb the fatness. THis was after they brought on two ugly teenagers to demonstrate how to properly wear a bicycle helmet.

Okay, look... this is the sort of thing I'm going to obsess about, so i just want to prepare everyone. I plan to now count the number of days in a row I have to hear about obesity on Headline News. We're on Day 2

And if your kid can't wear a helmet properly (and I know I've just doomed any future Steans progeny by saying this outloud), isn't there something called Natural Selection? If you're 15 and you're wearing your bike helmet, say... sideways... you're probably going to end up getting killed sooner or later doing something like chasing a shiny object into heavy traffic.

On the legal front, The Supreme Court refused to hear the Jesus Castillo case out of Dallas. Jesus sold a really nasty adult Japanese comic book to an undercover cop. The comic contained all kinds of stuff unfit for the pages of The League, but we think this is silly. Couple of things: the comic was in a marked off section clearly labeled "for adults only", and rumor had it that a rampaging PTA mom had threatened the shop because they would not sell her Pokemon cards wholesale. THis same woman then appeared at PTA meetings and began making a stink about the shop, and the idea is that she basically set them up. Also, the actual store was not the one which got in trouble, it was the hapless minimum wage clerk... poor guy. But, apparently, because of "community standards" rules, what the cop did was legal, as were all the proceedings. (Jim and I discussed this off-line. It's actually fairly interesting, You should ask him about the laws.)

The final argument prosecutors used basically defied considerable expert testimony, piles of evidence and sheer logic, but appealed emotionally to the selected jurists and their preconceived notions (leaving me to wonder how awful the Defense attorney really was). Basically she argued that comics are for kids (dismissing all evidence about sales, etc...), and that poor Jesus must be trying to corrupt kids. (BTW, no actual kids ever obtained illicit material from the store, but that wasn't the point). It's kind of a messed up story, and it has unleashed the usual anti-Texas sentiments upon the comic geek internet sites. I find this irritating, if nothing else.

I invite anyone drifting in from Jim's legal sites to review this decision and try to find out if the Castillo guy has to do anytime in the slammer.

I'm not sure Japanese tentacle porn is exactly what I think of when I dream of a free country, but something appears to be broken here. The legal action demonstrates how vulnerable any of us could be. The truth is, if this is the precedent, a cop could walk into any bookstore and start arresting the clerks. A cop could arrest librarians and convenience store owners. One wonders what this would mean for Internet Providers and importers. At any rate, it's kind of creepy. And they picked on the one guy who couldn't afford to fund himself for an attorney so the CBLDF ended up picking up the considerable tab. Point being, even if he HAD been exonerated, as well assume justice would prevail, he would still have ridiculous legal fees to worry about, and that's not something an attorney is going to just forget about, nor a court for fees.

Monday, August 04, 2003

CNN loves to talk about fat people. Seriously. They LOVE it. Every freaking morning on Headline News... but that kind of slowed down during the Iraq thingy as Dr. Gupta and company went to parts unknown.

But you can tell CNN is bored with world events again... this morning Headline News ran a lengthy "story" about how kids are getting fat. Curiously, Headline News suggested that the new solution is to get schools to teach kids how not to get fat. My favorite part is that CNN shows footage of fat kids' bodies while talking about how disgusting fat kids are, but they try to give anonymity by not showing the kid's face... THEN they show OTHER people to clearly contextualize and identify the kid and thus set the kid up for a lifetime of therapy. I know what a fat kid looks like, thanks. I don't need a visual and the guilt of knowing what psychic horrors CNN is building with each story about obesity.

Here's what your pudgy (but wise) Uncle Ry thinks: Maybe if you see your kid is playing videogames 5 hours a day while eating Cheese Doodles, the problem is not something a teacher is going to resolve, no matter how colorful her charts of the food pyramid. Kids already have to sit 8 hours a day in school. Recess and getting beat up is probably the only exercise they ARE getting. Instead of playing five hours of John Madden football, mayhaps the answer is to spend $15 on a real football and take away the Super Delicous Berry Toaster Treats and the Eat 'Em Ups. Maybe even send the kid outside? The outside, however, is a frightening place. I understand that every parent is concerned once outside, their precious angel will get abducted or turned onto drugs or that the sun will give their little swamp rat some skin cancer. Have we mutually agreed as a society that it's best just to let the kids widen as their pudgy little fingers squeeze out an afternoon of fun?

I throw stones, but, honestly, it was hot as hell growing up in Texas and we spent many afternoons camped inside, too. I'm just jealous that Atari sucked compared to the PS2. But really, as a kid my mom locked the door at 9:00am in the summer and we were only allowed in for lunch and for dinner. We were smelly little kids, so I don't blame her, and that is when "Uncle Steve" used to come visit, and the milkman and the air conditioner guy and... HEY! Waitaminnut....

Anyway, I like the fat kids of today. For every fat kid with low self-esteem playing videogames at home, that's one less kid I have to deal with when I'm trying to make my way through the grocery store. Or for every little brain-dead mongrel with a Game Boy at a public function, that's one less kid I have to pretend to be interested in. At least they're not rotting their brains with f**king comic books...
Maybe the 3 feet of reinforced concrete and the titanium shell was overkill...? Anyway, this is a few miles from my house (in the fastest growing city in the US, btw...)

One would expect that after the San Diego ComicCon, I would have more to add to TTSNB. But I think that the close ties to comic books have pretty much eliminated that problem at the SDCC. I'll have to wait for the New York TOy Fair to be truly disturbed, and that's not until winter.

I was talking with co-worker Rachel, and she mentioned how her three year old kid, Eddie, brought home a Michael Meyers doll. Apparently when you squeeze it, it plays the theme from Halloween. It's also armed with a pre-bloodied plastic knife. Yes, the doll was taken away. But, as I say, TTSNB.

In that mode, let's visit with this latest offering, and consider what this would do to your love life if you brought a girl home and THIS was on your shelf. That's 12" of toy enough to make any girl start looking for an alternate escape route. I am safely married and keep my toys to the Superhero genre, and I still think that this is doing nothing short of making the lovely Jamie fairly ashamed of me.
Had a little bit of weirdness at this site and over at Jim's site today. It appears that if one types in, one gets a bible site. My Type-o's caused me to panic. ANyway, the weirdness has passed.

Watched most of three movies today, as well as doing yardwork.

1) Actually watched about 80% of The Lion in Winter. Very good film. "This movie is depressing" was Jamie's review. And then she slept through the last 1/2 of the movie. Just sort of passed out in the recliner with her mouth hanging open. Excelelnt cast (with a young ANthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton). Looks like Picard is going to be in a version on TV sometime this year.

2) Watched all of Finding Nemo at the theater. Very cute movie about fish. I was desperate for Long John Silver's when we left. Settled for shrimp we picked up at the grocery. I think I liked Nemo, but like most kids movies, it kind of rolled off me. It didn't help that there were six kids behind us who were running a color commentary of the movie and how it related to them personally. Ah, I love children. So precious... anyway, I liked the trailer for The Incredibles.

3) Watched good chunk of Clash of the Titans on cable. Got very defensive when Jamie commented on the crappy FX. Not sure why I was so defensive. Must have thing for Harry Hamlin. Actually, I love Harryhausen's stuff. It's easy to trash, but have you ever tried to animate a mechanical owl? I'm sure it's difficult to see the return on investment.

Last night, faced with nothing else to do, we drank White Russians and watched Trading Spaces as this episode was taped somewhere in North Austin. I was all weepy and nostalgic as they showed the "Welcome to Austin" mural at the intersection of South 1st and Annie, which is about four blocks from my old house. I miss South Austin deeply. People, if you haven't been down that-a-way, you should go there. It's a good place and good people, but keep your eye on your car stereo. Go to La Reyna on S. 1st for lunch and go to Casa Garcias on SOuth Lamar for breakfast. It's good stuff, and I am grossly overweight in no small part becuase of their high quality and low prices. For dinner you ask? Guero's, of course.

I also miss Mariachi. Why the hell isn't there any Mariachi in Chandler? hmmm... Time to dust my trumpet and polish my boots...

But there was nothing like using that mural for directions, or the blue genie who used to sit atop the building... "Just go north down South 1st, and you're gonna see a Blue Genie... Yeah, you're not going to miss it, it's huge... yeah, go left there."

Mel misses having a great chainlink fence frontyard. He spent all day running back and forth barking at kids and folks with strollers. We had to introduce ourselves to our neighbors as "We live at Mel's house." Some folks came by and gave Mel treats over the fence. He was very popular. You know, nobody walks here in CHandler, AZ. I guess it's too hot. And Mel can't go in the front yard anyway...

Anyhoo, incentive to move back to South Austin, I suppose.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Over and Out

I wrapped things up over at Jim D's site. Things should be getting back to normal around here.