Monday, November 17, 2003

Oh, irony of ironies.

I called my dad on Saturday to dispense with the usual weekend parental chat and he sounded all chipper.

"I just found your web page!" says the old man.
"My web page...?"
"Your cousin called and she gave us directions on how to find your web page! I'm reading it right now!"
"Oh, Sweet Christmas..."
"Ho ho! You don't want your old man reading your web page!"
"Well, I, you know... I'm as excited about this as when you and mom found cigarettes in my drawer."
"Huh. Well, better keep it clean, Bub! Your mother and I know how to find you now! Ho ho ho!"
"So Susan found the web-site and ratted me out, huh?"
"Yup! She called us right up!"
I love my cousin. I really do. She's a wee little Occupational Therapist in Austin who helps developmentally challenged kids learn how to use their muscles and stuff by way of games and exercises. But this year, as revenge, she will be getting nothing for her birthday. When she will be 29. Again.
My Dad also pointed out that my grandpa did not use a glider to enter Europe on D-Day. I think my brother just made that up based on something from Band of Brothers. Apparently Grandpa Marvin Ross parachuted into a small town in Belgium on D Day. Always one for the facts, am I.
Anyway, the folks are now keeping up with the League of Melbotis, and I will probably henceforth refrain from using "the f-word".

We're hosting Jamie's folks for Thanksgiving this year, and thusly, we are cleaning the house in a way we have not touched it since probably last June. ugh. It's so gross and dirty. However, it did give me an excuse to sort, file, bag and board comics which have been sitting in piles since July. I am in sore need of additional bags and boards and boxes, which is expensive. That, and I am running out of closet space in which to store the comics. I need to move or knock downt he wall between my office and the guest room to make room for all this hoo-haa.
Curse you comic books... you drain me of my money and my sanity.

I watched Shane while sorting the comics. Man, I've seen Shane probably 5 or 6 times and I still love that movie. I also watched Mars Attacks!, a movie I never really get tired of. Yes, sorting comics takes FOREVER.

I have an exam today. I hate school. I can't believe I'm trying to go back and take classes. I had forgotten how much I hate exams and studying. Bleah.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Kudos to Jim for forwarding this.
Work has been nutty. They just dumped me with a king sized project and are unintentionally throwing all kinds of barriers in my way. Pulled the 11.5 hour day yesterday. Who says working for the state isn't gratifying? At least I know that when Christmas is coming, everyone goes on vacation, so there isn't a snowball's chance in hell I'll be able to do anything even if I want to from December 10th to January 5th.

In the meantime, I leave you with my personal philosophy as followed from the ages of 16-present. It is called The Three-Fold Path to the Glimmering Sea of Irresponsibility and Enlightenment, or, more succinctly: The Way of the Coward.

1) Deny Everything
2) Make Counter-Allegations
3) Run Like Hell

THis three-tiered approach to any hostile situation will always, always, always get you out of trouble. I promise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The State University I work for gave us all yesterday off in observance of Memorial Day. At least I hope they did. Nobody seems to have missed me yesterday.

With an actual war occuring overseas, Veteran's Day has a greater immediacy than most years. But invariably, on Veteran's Day, I think of my Grandfather, Marvin Ross. He was raised in rural Kansas, and has the kind of stories and background that post-Vietnam kids like myself regard as American myth. He broke horses from the time he was 12, and originally joined a horseback riding cavalry. He served through almost all of WWII, including dropping into Normandy in a glider as part of the 82nd Airborne, serving in Africa (I assume chasing Rommel about), and at some point crossed enemy lines in Italy to go and raid a wine-cellar.

He's the kind of guy who, when he saw me going jogging several years ago, pointed out that I wasn't lugging an 80 pound pack, as he had to do for four years. It's kind of a tough image to live up to. Since the toughest thing I ever did was obtain the high score on Galaga at Pizza Royale in 1983, I'm usually left just staring at the guy as he relates his tales like he's casually recounting an issue of Sgt. Rock (which he might be, who knows...).

My pop is also a veteran, he of Vietnam. But My Old Man has less exciting tales to tell as he was a mechanic and electrician in the Air Force and mostly served as a target for VC while hanging out on the runway in Pleiku. He does know a hell of a lot of funny stories involving airplanes getting blown up and fowled up, which led to my decision never to want to sit behind the stick in a combat situation.

In the end, I feel like a big ol' sissy. That's what Veteran's Day means to me. I get to be a sissy because other folks put on a uniform and go get shot at in the far reaches of the world. So I hope you all took a few minutes out to observe the service these good folks have done for us.

Now for some housekeeping:

I have found two new shows I like this season. 1) Arrested Development on Fox. This show will only get about 8 episodes out before it is pulled, but I hope to catch them all. I was the one guy in America who also believed Fox's Hollywood show Action was one of the best sitcoms of that year.

2) Cartoon Network's Duck Dodgers. Reviving the comedy/ science-fiction of Daffy Duck in space, the one episode of this show I've seen was pretty darn good. It's not Futurama, but I dug it.

other shows I should have discovered, but am late on the bandwagon, and/ or have changed my mind.

1) Mucha Lucha on Kids WB!
2) Randy was right. Teen Titans is worth watching. Everyone ignore my previous comments.

In other news, Jamie, Mel and I may have a brief cameo on The Learning Channel's reality/ game show "Clean Sweep". They were taping an episode down the street from us the day after Halloween and Jamie and I leashed up Mel and went and bought a grotesquely ugly lamp from the yard sale. At any rate, if you see an episode taking place in Arizona, wait until the yard sale portion and you will see Jamie suddenly going into haggling mode (which I had never seen her do), and me standing around looking really nervous that Mel is going to knock me, the camera crew and the tables full of stuff right over. Big lesson: when going to appear on TV, do not bring unpredictable doggy.

The other funny thing was how Jamie and I were primping before going to the garage sale. We were not going to go down there and look like slobs.

Anyway, that's what I've got today. Hope you guys had a good Veterans Day.

Thanks to Jim for forwarding this link. Included are the worst album covers ever to come out of Sweden. He also included this link, with even more album cover gold.

Monday, November 10, 2003

As I was telling Jim, I look forward to seeing the Reverend Sharpton make a case for his positions!
A special Disneyland treat, Leaguers!!!!

Generally I shy away from showing myself, but I had so much fun on this trip, you get a few photos of your intrepid blogger.

Me being too big for the cave on Tom Sawyer's Island.

Too long away from Mel, I seek solace in Pluto's embrace.

Greetings, Leaguers!

Well, I had a funfilled week at EduCause 2003. I spent four glorious days in Anaheim, California wherein I spent a lot of time walking around booths and sitting through presentations on technology in education. THis may sound boring to you, but to me, it's really, really boring.

THe upside of all of this is that I was also two blocks from Disneyland, which is, I am told, the Happiest Place on Earth.

I'm inclined to agree, as I had a pretty darn good time within the gates of The Magic Kingdom.

Hopefully I can link to some photos pretty soon.

Instead of dawdling off to Matrix 3 (as I had not seen Matrix 2), I went and saw "Elf" yesterday. THis isn't the best move in the world, nor am I really feeling prepared for Christmas, but it was worth seeing at matinee prices.

This said, the Christmas Season is officially upon us. Last Tuesday, walking into Disneyland, MainStreet USA had already been transformed into a Christmas theme and non-secular Christmas tunes poured out from the PA. While Anaheim is considerably chillier than Arizona, I just finished Halloween. I have Thanksgiving to deal with, and am not really looking to rush into another Holiday season.

Target is prepped with huge cardboard cut-outs of ornaments, the seasonal section is packed with trees and lights and whatever. I went to Barnes and Noble to buy a book, and their PA was also playin non-secular Christmas tunes. On the way to the movie, I was flipping radio channels, and 99.9fm has already switched (I am not making this up) to an All Holiday Song format which will last until January 1. Despite the fact people were at "Elf" in shorts, it still felt, I suppose, somewhat Christmassy, but let's face it, when two weeks ago we were passing out of 90 degree temps, I am still not prepared for Holiday fun.

The truth is, I want to like Christmas, but as I've passed out of college and into the working world, I've begun to understand why my Mum got that look on her face every year sometime around Thanksgiving. The look would grow grimmer and grimmer until around NEw Years Day things would culminate in some sort of scene out of Mommy Dearest with me being grounded for no particular reason other than I was the one relative who refused to leave the house once the festivities were over. My Mom was the person holding everything together for the swarming masses of Steanses who came in like locusts, ate and left nothing behind but a mess to clean up. Every year we played host to family and friends for Turkey Day (usually numbering into the double digits), and Christmas Eve usually saw about 10 people in the house and sometimes a few in a hotel somewhere.

Jamie's family does Christmas right. It's small and quiet and involves a movie on Christmas Eve, which was odd the first year, but I've come to appreciate it's simplicity.

And now that we're in Arizona, I have to board the pets when I travel, and that's no good. Mel shouldn't be spending CHristmas in doggy jail, like some common drunkard dog in the drunk doggy tank.

For some reason, Jamie also manages to get sick around Christmas every year, and now that we're in year #8 of being an item, i've come to dread Christmas just a bit more. I do not want her feeling ill while she's opening her stocking. For some reason "It's a Wonderful Life" seems to trigger the problem.

In itsway, Christmas has become this huge thing on the horizon with very predictable problems, a hell of a lot of expenses and not enough days of vacation in it to make it relaxing.

I've been doing weird things to Jamie, like insisting upon not decorating, but that's kind of crazy. We own a fake tree and all that. I just keep trying to think of ways for me not to go nuts as Christmas comes upon us. But I also want for her to have a good Christmas. But let's face it, Christmas is not like the movies (unless you count Die Hard and Lethal Weapon). The chances of a Magical Christmas occuring are pretty damn slim.

But here's the truth.

The reason we make such a big fuss over Christmas is because some part of us still remembers waking up when we were 6 and going downstairs and getting that train set, or going to church and singing "Silent Night" with no light but the candles, or sitting on the floor by Grandma's feet while she drank coffee, or whatever. And I think we think that if we get it right this time, it'll be like it was then. And we can try and try, but it's not going to be liek it was then, no matter how hard we work to make it like it was.

But this year I'm going to take it easy and try to relax. THis year I'm going to take a page out of 7-Year Old Ryan's book and not get hung up on it all. But I'll tell you this much, Christmas is a hell of a lot better when you wake up on Christmas Morning with Jamie there than when Mom and Dad made you bunk down with a snoring older brother.

In short, this is my long introduction to Ryan's Christmas Movie Contest.

Rules will be being released this week, so get your engines warmed up, kids. It's going to be a good one.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Greetings, Leaguers.

Halloween has come and gone once again.

Here's our house!

Here's Jamie and Mel saying Happy Halloween!

I am going on hiatus for a week. Hope everyone has a good one.

Friday, October 31, 2003



There are two big reasons why I like Halloween.

Today on my way to work I saw a fairy princess, the Cat in the Hat, a dead Cowboy, a medieval maiden and the property manager for my office suite. AND Tom, my video guy, just showed up with this insane fake nose. It's gonna be a good day.

Oh, and there's candy.

Anyhoo, last night after dinner we carved not one, not two, but FOUR Jack O' Lanterns. I had to handle three of them as Jamie was reportedly "tired." But that's okay. We also made Jamie's traditional Halloween cookies which have orange zested into them, and are way better than I just made them sound. We watched "War of the Worlds" and "Young Frankenstein" and made a night of it.


It works every time.

I am not wearing a costume. I was going to come as my web designer, Eric, but I didn't get my act together. So I put on the Superman T-shirt and am going to have to roll with that again. S'allright.

I didn't carve this. I found it online. I'll give it a shot next year.

I hope all of you have a Happy Halloween, and get lots of treats and tricks.

"I got a rock..."

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Hey Kids. Jim D. has sent me the link to a story on Alex Ross which appeared in The New York Times. I'm a big fan of Alex Ross's work, and I have several posters and prints (three of them signed, thank you) done by Mr. Ross.

Examples of Mr. Ross's work include the picture of Superman which appears right upon this page to your left

The decription of Alex's house makes me want to paint my walls blue, red and yellow and finally get down with my comic-lovin' self. However, Jamie still has some sense of decorum, and I am fairly certain a life sized replica of the Bat-Signal is nowhere in my future.

I do think it's odd that the article seemed more pre-occupied with Alex's knick-knacks than with the tremendous volume and quality of his work. His collaboration with Mark Waid on Kingdom Come and his work with Busiek on Marvels may be the two keystone books which brought comics back to form from the "anti-hero" path that superhero comics were taking in the early 90's. I know a New York Times reporter probably doesn't care too much about that, but at least a mention of the wide volume of Alex's work woudl have been nice instead of a piece on "look at the freak with the toys!" Sigh. Well, he was the one who chose to dress like The Phantom for the interview.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I have watched Rosemary's Baby and Picnic at Hanging Rock. I enjoyed both films and hope to make my way through all the Halloween movies.

BTW, was highly irritated that nobody suggested The Exorcist. And somebody shoudl have, because in addition to being kind of scary, The Exorcist is just plain wrong. Ay Carumba, how that movie scared me when i was 14 and saw it the first time. I saw this the same week I saw The Shining and A Clockwork Orange for the first time. Quite a week int the development of young Ryan's brain.

Mel is doing well and is pleased as punch about the arrival of Halloween. His costume is the pic you can see on this site each and everyday. he will proudly go as Krypto the Superdog again this year.

He is such a good boy, and he stayed up with me and watched all of the 2 hour ender of Joe Schmo, a show I once hated but grew to watch every darn week. Mel gets a 2 cushion spot on the couch (I get one). Poor Mel will be deeply disappointed when the new couch comes and he can no longer ride shotgun while we stay up to late and watch bad TV.

Last night CBS aired "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" which is still a favorite of mine. If anyone else saw it, did it seem like they cut out a lot of the WWI Flying Ace section? hmmm... conspiracies abound.

I have several dozen little comic books to give out on Halloween. One is "Spidey and the Mini-Marvels" and the other is a lame Archie Andrews Halloween comic. I may not like Archie, but some kid might. But don't worry, we will go ahead and assist in the rotting of teeth. We have many, many bags of candy.

About 9:00 I will begin watching The Shining. Please do not call unless you notice the roof is on fire (this may also work if it's the roof is on fire in the funky, George Clinton manner).

Hey, kids! It's up to you to decide who is too extreme! Vlad Tepes, the guy who impaled his enemies on stakes, or Ann "Nude Photos of" Coulter herself! But here's the great part... you can now have them play together!

In addition to the Vlad doll in the post from Oct. 28th at 11:16, one can now obtain this little piece of modern history.

Sure to be a welcome present beneath the tree of every hateful, spiteful little girl in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

An excellent case for OSHA
Oh, and before I forget, just to bring things into the realm of the stupefying...

The Vlad Tepes action figure.
I just remembered I saw Underworld. Why the fuck did I go see Underworld?
As many nerds know, Bram Stoker's Dracula (go here to read the whole book) takes his name from Vlad Tepes, a Romanian Nobleman famous for his taste for the brutal punishment of his enemies. More reading about Vlad can be done here.

But my favorite part of this, as I was telling Jamie just the other day, is how we've turned this 15th Century guy into, 1st, a horrific creature of the night. It's not enough this guy did a bunch of horrific stuff 600 years ago, but we've immortalized him as a bizarre member of the legion of the undead.

From book, to play to silver screen, Dracula has wowed folks for over 100 years, and will probably continue to do so long after you or I are around.

But as a figure of Popular Culture, Dracula has been routinely co-opted in a less than respectable fashion. From cartoons to greeting cards to comedies starring George Hamilton, the memory of the original Vlad Tepes has somehow dwindled in the imagination and has been replaced by something not nearly as frightening. However, perhaps Vlad has carried on to teach us all...?

But to be immortalized as a cereal character... truly, that must be the ultimate achievement. To know that hundreds of years after your death, some twinge of your memory, some part of who you once were as a great ruler, a feared and dreaded master of all you survey... indeed, to have that changed into a wacky character on the side of a cereal box (sharing an unholy alliance with a pink monstrosity and a blue ghost), is the kind of immortality most of us can only dream of.

So Vlad Tepes, this Halloween, I salute you. Unlike hundreds of thousands of others who dreamed their memory would linger on, the butchery which occured at your hands and at your command has been memorialized as a deliciously chocolatey treat that's a part of this complete breakfast.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Threatened with a lawsuit, the Laegue of Melbotis retracts any libelous comments made about Counselor Jim Dedman's deep affection for the early 90's sunshine fun band, The Spin Doctors. New information has come to light, and we no longer believe that Mr. Dedman does now, nor has he at any time, adored the Spin Doctors.

He does, however, love The Wiggles.

Bryan Manzo is in Seattle in a band called "Pleasurecraft." You may find their site, here.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Another great tragedy personally inconveniences me...

The wildfires in San Diego mean that Monday Night Football will be moved to the stadium at my employing university. Part of me was pretty excited, because I would either (1) go home early to avoid crazy football fans, or (2) go down to the staium and see Monday Night Football live!

But. I. Am. In. Class.

That's right, I'm taking a class which meets once a week on Monday nights. And because of this class, I can neither leave early, nor may I go to see this game.

BUT, I do get to deal with the insanity which will be prevailing.

SUCK IT UP!!! you say?

It was so bad during the Fiesta Bowl that I left at 2:00pm the day of the game. See, my window faces the main drag of Tempe, and now I will get to enjoy the hoots and hollers of thousands of football fans. Not to mention I have to pass the stadium just to leave at night.

Of course Al Michaels is an alum of my employing institution, so he's probably delighted. Well, AL Michaels, you are now my nemesis!
Well, I've returned from my trip to NASA, and while I may not have piqued interest in our programs to a single space-nerd, I sure like NASA. How many places can you go to that routinely assist in space exploration, both manned and un-manned?

On the whole, I didn't see much of NASA. In fact, I saw a "visitor's check-in center" and the lobby of a building where I sat for four hours. BUT, I sat under the base for a lunar lander the whole time. Kind of cool. Mostly I talked to the lady from Alvin Community College and the lady from Concordia Lutheran, but some old UT chums of mine were there in friendly competition.

I picked up an $8 model of the shuttle and a T-shirt. Hurray, NASA!

No, I took no pictures, but had I taken pictures, this is what the day would have looked like.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


left with nothing better to do, a stranded in New Orleans Jim Dedman has called me on his cell phone. But just as suddenly as called, he located the Virgin Megastore and quickly ended the conversation.

I don't talk to Jim on the phone but once or twice a year, so I feel both honored and stupified.

Hopefully he will find many, many Spin Doctors records to help him through his stay.
Rerun, we hardly knew ye.
yesterday I mentioned that I expected Vinni to be wearing a confederate flag T-shirt. Jim was shocked and awed that I did not mention his paper, from his tenure at the Baylor Law Review, on the controversy over the flag. Of what I read thus far, the paper is pretty darn readable. Jim's paper can be found here.
hey, kids! Good news! Nathan Cone of San Antonio (former "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" contestant and current Public Radio Wage-Slave) has informed me that one of the winning entries of the Halloween contest will be playing on Turner Classic Movies next week. Freaks will be playing on October 29th at 8pm Eastern, 7pm Central. This means that out in Arizona, it could play anytime between 3:00pm and 11:00pm. I'll figure it out somehow.


There's been a huge amount of press already regarding the new CBS TV movie about Ronald and Nancy Reagan and their lives in and outside of the White House. And kicking and screaming, people keep trying to drag me into this.


I couldn't care less about this movie. Seriously. I couldn't give less of a shit. Apparently it's being done by a left-wing cast and crew, which is sending Reaganites into a tizzy and has driven liberals into a mastrubative stupor. There are controversies over whether or not the depicitions are accurate in regards to Reagan's stance on AIDS and some other left-wing hot button issues from the 80's.

Look, people SHOULD have already made up their minds about what went down, and nodding in agreement or screaming at the TV isn't going to change anything. Let me put this in perspective: It's a CBS movie starring the guy from the Meineke commericals. It's going to be some awful TV and it's a big, ridiculous stunt.

If you really, really want to see this movie to validate your own opinions, as Randy says, "go nuts." If any liberal takes this as gospel truth, they're as dumb as conservatives give them credit for being. If conservatives really believe Reagan is next to Christ, maybe an injection of humanity into their depiction might do everyone some good. The "my dad can beat up your dad" mentality is fucking ludicrous and I won't have it. And, there hasn't been a good TV movie since "Benji Goes to Seaworld," so I'm not watching this one either.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Driving to work this morning, I saw a license plate frame which read "Better get out the toilet paper, because I'm the shit!" The license plate, itself, read "VINNI". Above this was a Packers bumper sticker.

Incongruously, driving the car was a middle-aged woman with Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. For some reason i was expecting "Vinni" would be missing teeth and would be wearing a faded shirt with the confederate flag printed on it. Not so. At the same time, you kind of wonder if the people driving cars with this personality are aware of what is on the back, or if they are feeling vaguely self-conscious for driving someone else's car. For example, Jamie often drives my car with no fewer than 2 Superman stickers and a license plate reading "KRYPTO". I am sure she is slightly embarassed, but what's she going to do about it?

For some reason I'm feeling optimistic today. I have no idea why. Maybe we'll settle this Israel/ Palestine issue today, or maybe they'll make Big Macs healthy! something good will happen today, i am sure of it.

I am proud to bring you the results of the 1st Annual League of Melbotis Halloween Contest!

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted an entry. I’ve had a ghoulishly good time reading everyone’s entries. It’s great to get feedback and interaction with all of Mel’s friends and family, and I hope that nobody thinks that they are not a winner. You are all special people. Well, not those folks who continue to seek out nude photos of Ann Coulter. No, you are not special.

Firstly, here is a list of movies submitted by all Loyal Leaguers:

Return to Oz
Rosemary's Baby
The Shining
Night of the Living Dead
The Ring/ Ringu
Eyes Without a Face
Picnic at Hanging Rock
28 Days Later
Blood Simple
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
MGM Midnight Movies Set

Now, by this list, you can see that we had some great entries and competition was so stiff, it was spooky.

My beautiful wife, Jamie, did not qualify for the contest as her two entries were clearly intended to haunt me with distractions. She selected “The English Patient” for being “frighteningly long” and “The Star Wars Holiday Special” for being “terrifyingly bad”. Well, done, sweetie. Your prize is spending eternity with me in blissful wedlock. BWAH HA HA HA HA!!!!

But, Leaguers, I didn’t need to go to my mummy for advice on this year’s pick for most requested movie.

The Shining appeared in no fewer than three lists, and managed to scare up the award for most popular selection. The combination of Kubrick’s claustrophobic direction, King’s spooky story, Nicholson’s haunting performance, and Scatman Crother’s ill-advised trip to the North seems to have won the hearts of quite a few of our Loyal Leaguers.

Said Nathan Cone: As a married man, it takes on a new meaning.
Make of that what you will, Renata, but you might want to make sure the window in the bathroom is wide enough for a quick escape.
Said Anne Francis: To think Steven King didn't like this version just proves he's the ultimate hack.


Before I announce the winner, I’d like to remind everyone that the contest wasn’t as much about what movie you picked, but rather about how the movie was described. With that in mind, I’ll exhume some quotes from some of the entries.

Return to Oz: I first saw this movie when I was five and I don't think I slept well for weeks. … While the Wizard of Oz was magical and enchanting, Return to Oz was terrifying, playing on kids' fears of strange grown-ups and abandonment by their guardians, not to mention the sheer terror created by screw-top bodies and flying moose heads that disintegrate in midair. It's a wonderfully made movie, actually a blend of the two Baum books following the Wizard of Oz, and plenty of people think it conveys the mood of the novels far better than the Wizard movie did, but whoever decided to market it to small children has a sadistic streak a mile wide.

Rosemary’s Baby: Well acted, well directed (Roman Polanski) and well written - even for a movie made in 1968 (not my favorite movie period - horror from this era is usually over-the-top); and to think Mia Farrow was married to Frank Sinatra during the filming of this movie is scary enough!

Picnic at Hanging Rock: Those in the mood for a Film that wraps up neatly will be disappointed, but if you're in for a movie that's a true riddle inside an enigma, check this one out. Lots of weird Zamfir panpipe music is a bonus, and I can't think of another film that's used the Beethoven "Emperor" concerto to better effect.

Repulsion: An instructive primer on why not to let in-laws live in your apartment. And why you should always, always *always* have meds on hand.

28 Days Later: Always make damn sure you know how to change a tire very, very quickly.

Rope: Bodies tend to stink up the joint when you're entertaining. Emily Post would not approve.

Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer: I don't remember it being that gory, but it is one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen.

Bubbahotep: Yah, it's got.. Bruce Campbell as Elvis in his old age, Ossie Davis as JFK, combating ancient Egyptian flesh eating mummy curse... it's got many reputable film festival awards too. No shit..

Kids, the winner is Laura Maxwell for her stunning description of both The Shining (which already won, and so I am excused) and of Freaks

The Shining: When you were a kid, did you have one of those big wheels? Redrum. I bet you did. Redrum. I did. Redrum. I liked to ride it around the neighborhood. Redrum. Then one day my daddy said I could take it to work, so I rode around the empty halls, turning the corners, carpet, floor, carpet, floor, carpet, floor, carpet, TWO DEAD GIRLS CHANTING PLAY WITH US AND A BUNCH OF BLOOD COMING FROM THE ELEVATORS AND LET'S NOT EVEN TALK ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN ROOM 237 AND WHY IS THAT GUY WEARING A BEAR COSTUME AND JUST WHAT IS HE DOING TO THAT GUY, DADDY? REDRUM REDRUM REDRUM REDRUM!

Freaks: Not so much scary as truly disturbing, Freaks tells the story of a trapeze artist, a midget, and a bunch of "REAL LIVE FREAKS". What could go wrong?
The first time I saw this movie I was so uncomfortable I couldn't stop laughing. Not in a ha ha, look at the funny freaks way either. More like a "Dear GOD what is that THING?" kind of way, which sounds terribly Princess Bride and horribly un-PC...scary stuff indeed. Plus, I imagine watching this movie will enhance your enjoyment of Carnivale, or pretty much any Carnie work created in it's shadow. Bonus: Chant "One of Us One of Us" at the dinner table and know what it referenced before the Simpsons.

Here's my problem. Freaks is only available on VHS, and all outlets I can find it at are going to take 3 weeks to get the video to me. I'm kind of wary of buying anything on VHS, but I may yet do so. Left with a sticky situation, I have resumed my Netflix membership and am bringing in:

Rosemary's Baby
Picnic at Hanging Rock

I can guarantee I will watch The Shining on Halloween (I already own it), and will try to squeeze in as many movies as I can over the next week and a half.

This contest has been a lot of fun for me, if not for you, and I hope you all enjoyed it.

Now go out there and have a spooky Halloween.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Sounds like my brother has adopted a pooch from his local ASPCA. Apparently he's picked up a three-legged black and white puppy. He's still working on a name. I suggested "Tulip", but I don't think he went for it.

I am so pumped. I can't wait to meet his dog! Hopefully he'll bring her home for Christmas.

DC Comics (home of Superman) released it's solicitations for January today. While many, many interesting projects are being released in January, sometimes a cover comes along that says it all... and makes you sit on pins and needles to know what's going to happen.

cover to Superman/ Batman #6

HURRAY!!!! Lex is back in his armor and ready to take on the world! Looks like Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness may have finally found a way to move Lex from Billionaire tycoon to Crazy Scientist, and give him a good reason for wanting to take down the World's Finest!

This, my non-comic reading friends, is the kind of fun I'm looking for in my comics.

Monday, October 20, 2003

After class, I returned to my desk to find this in my AIM window:

jdedman4: you hate everything good

Hmmm, I said to myself. He is not the first to express the thought. In this case, i think he was referring to my dismissal of The Spin Doctors in an e-mail. It's hard to be sure. I also hate brussel sprouts, and I've been told they are very good for you. I also hate nuns and kittens, just for the record.

They have begun to string Christmas Lights on the street outside my office. Not just string, though... the lights hung are already on. It's 100 degrees out, and I'm expected to get in the spirit. Australians must hate Christmas.

Hi, kids, I'm back. Spent the weekend in the Houston/ Spring, TX area for the nuptiuals of Josh Lowry and Shannon Craig. The wedding was lovely, and it was great to see so many folks that I hadn't seen in years upon years. The location of the wedding was down near Alvin, Texas, which is a suburb of Houston, and as such, was nice and green.

I wish Josh and Shannon the best, and they're both terrific folks, so congrats, kids.

This morning, around 6:20am, i saw my first Christmas commerical. Holy shit. Kids, it's 102 degrees here today. I am not ready for Christmas. I am so not ready for Christmas. The climate of the Valley of the Sun has all but dashed any enthusiasm I have for any holidays. I do not want to see Santa in a red suit in a field of snow when I'm plotting how I can get away with wearing shorts to work.

Friday, October 17, 2003

If this doesn't make you nervous, it should.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

GOing away for a little while... while I am gone, enjoy this...

I'm still busy, so make of this what you will

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

so very busy today...

I also noticed that my interview with the president went down like a Lead Zeppelin. I promise to refrain from anymore funny business.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The truth hurts...

Big news, Leaguers! As you may have heard, President George Bush has decided that the National Media have not been giving his Iraq plan a fair shot. Hence, the Prez is seeking local and alternative media outlets to get his message across.

And what better forum than The League of Melbotis? None. And that's why I went ahead and decided to break from my usual non-political MO and do some time with W.

Below is a transcript of our conversation:

LOM: So, Mr. President, you're also a former Austin resident?

Prez: I am. I am a former resident of the Governor's mansion.

LOM: Wasn't it noisy down there? That's a high traffic area.

Prez: It was noisy, but we had a wall. A wall which kept out sound.

LOM: Rad. We have those in Arizona, but I can't tell if they help. Mr. president, the Governor's mansion is a big house. While governor, did you help clean the mansion?

Prez: No, no I did not. We had many maids. We had many maids who were highly trained professionals. We had found that by simply leaving my socks on the floor, I was creating jobs for hard working Americans.

LOM: I hear your daughters like to party.

Prez: From who?

LOM: I used to work at UT.

Prez: Oh. HA HA!!! Hook 'Em! Heh heh. Heh heh. heh. Yeah, they like to get out. I say, "Bring 'em on!" Heh heh.

LOM: Sweet!

Prez: Yeah! Heh heh.

LOM: So this Iraq thing-

Prez: While in Austin, did you ever go to Mary's on South Lamar? They had breakfast tacos. Tacos which were for breakfast. But often, I would get tired of waiting in the line. The line for tacos.

LOM: I mostly went to Casa G's for breakfast. Less waiting.

Prez: I enjoyed their... their chimichanga.

LOM: I never had it.

Prez: It's a fine chimichanga. Especially with extra cheese.

LOM: I like the chicken enchiladas.

Prez: I would concur. If somehow I could unite the enchilada with the chimichanga. I could perhaps order them from the cart... What?

LOM: I think it's the #7.

Prez: It may well be.

LOM: We now know Iraq had no ties to -

Prez: I also used to like the Hooter's on Riverside.

LOM: Well, it's more of a national chain.

Prez: Yes, but I found their buffalo wings to be delicious.

LOM: You know, I tried to tell Jamie that, but she thinks Hooters is some PG-13 nudie bar.

Prez: I can understand that. I can understand why Jamie might have false ideas and misconstrusions about Hooters. But as her commander-in-chief, I can say, to the best of my knowledgability, that Hooters is just a sports bar chain. A chain with delicious wings.

LOM: Exactly!

Prez: I cannot say the same about Sugar's Cabaret.

LOM: Sweet Christmas.

Prez: Often, when things were troubling at the Governor's Mansion, and I had grown tired, tired of--

LOM: Mr. President, is the Department of Justice-

Prez: Did you see Kill Bill yet?

LOM: No. Not yet.

Prez: It's based upon movies that they call "grindhouse." I have never been to a "grindhouse," nor has anyone else. Yet, I love Kung-Fu and all manner of the Asian Martials Arts films. At times, I would go to Vulcan Video, and I would want to rent these films.

LOM: Those guys at Vulcan are bastards.

Prez: And yet they have a fine selection of all manner of films. I like that Jet Li.

LOM: Yeah, he's pretty rad.

Prez: We should go. Go and see Kill Bill.

LOM: Sweet.

Prez: I'll tell my security detail to get us some tickets.

LOM: I want Hot Tamales.

Prez: Me, too. Hot Tamales and a Dr. Pepper.

LOM: You're all right, Mr. President.

Prez: Giddy-yup.

end interview

Monday, October 13, 2003

I'd like to get excited about this story in CNN (sent to me by my beautiful wife, Jamie), but I read Flash comics, and everyone knows that you don't want a monkey getting any extra sensory powers.

Gorilla Grodd prepares to warp your mind with his mento helmet and The Laser Pointer of Oblivion
Okay, folks... this week our Halloween Contest will draw to a close and sometime next week I will announce the winner. It's not too late to get your votes in for what you believe is a movie so scary, upon watching it, I may darn well poop my pants.

Rules for the contest can be found here. Don't forget to include a Snail Mail address for your prize, should you win.

Don't forget, make it creeeeeeeepy

Now a few years back I heard some good things about a movie called The Haunting. I had seen House on Haunted Hill, and I thought that was pretty good. I like kind of schlocky horror films with rubber skeletons and stuff. Associating this with that, I went out and found the 1963 version of The Haunting and settled in.

Hopefully, should you ever see this flick, it will surpass your expectations. It certainly surprised me. It's not all rubber bats and puffs of smoke. Somebody did some real work and figured out how to be genuinely scary.

It will be to the eternal detriment of the original that somebody funded Jan De Bont's Epic Disaster (and this after Speed 2...). A lot of people have seen this "remake" of the 1963 version of The Haunting, and based upon the travesty they may have witnessed, they will never give the original a shot. Which is a shame, because I've seen my fair share of scary movies, and this one is probably in my top five.

Almost nothing appears in the way of special effects in the 1963 version... Rather, sound design, lighting, convincing acting and a sound script work together to convey the aura of horror. There are no badly animated ghosts. No superimposed illusions. For people who are deadly tired of horror movies relying on CG these days (and becoming, by default, supernatural action movies), this movie may be a good outlet for you.

THe 1999 version had it's good points. I think Lili Taylor tried as hard as she could to save that movie, despite the bad direction, hoaky CG and performances by Liam Neeson and Zeta-Jones that looked like they were constantly plotting their next snack break instead of the scene... Poor woman kind of disappeared after that movie, didn't she..?

Claire Bloom and Julie Harris hear something creeeeeepy in the hallway...

The 1963 version is a classic "have to spend the night in a haunted house" movie, but it does it well. And, sure, it's an early 60's movie, so there are some stylistic issues and whatnot, but Robert Wise directed The Sound of Music shortly after this film, and so one can imagine that they don't exactly have a slacker at the helm.

Anyway, this is my official entry into my own Halloween Contest.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I'm not just trying to be contrary, but I'm not all that sure I'm pumped up to see Kill Bill.

I saw Reservoir Dogs on tape in the summer of 1993, and was duly impressed as any 18 year old with a penchant for violence in their movies would be. I really dug that movie. And I was one of the geeks who got to see Pulp Fiction months in advance of it's release when Tarantino brought the film to Austin for a Q&A. I even offered him a buffalo wing when I had my two second chance at .. actually, I don't know what it was, but for a few seconds I was standing there talking to Tarantino and Linklater all by myself and I ducked out of the conversation after offering Tarantino a buffalo wing (he politely declined). But then the whole Tarantino-is-everywhere thing happened, and while I still like those two movies, I got a little sick of hearing the man's name everywhere for my remaining film school experience.

And Austin is nuts for Tarantino, and he returns the favor, so he's there all the time, and you hear about it all the time... and I was kind of non-plussed by Jackie Brown and Harry Knowles' reviews are usually ridiculous and I'm way burnt out on Lucy Liu and Uma Thurman and... and... And I think that unless someone tells me there's a good story to Kill Bill and not just a lot of fight scenes, I may take a pass.

Somebody, please... I mean, really, if I want to see Kung-Fu, I can see Kung-Fu in a million different varieties and not hope for an homage to do the stuff justice. If I want Samurai action, I've got Kirosawa. But something tells me I'm wrong. Something tells me this movie is going to be all right.

I await word from Randy.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Big news, Leaguers! Melbotis's Mum has surfaced. Jenny "I used to be named Perkins" Vanderpool popped up in my e-mail box! Jenny is an A#1 gal, and an indie film producer of sorts who left her pooch, Mel, in my care when she went to study film in NYC.

Well, she's in Austin now, and the city is damn well lucky to have her back. Mel is happy, too, but he cannot type nor does he know that he is no longer in Austin (I haven't the heart to tell him).

Anyhoo, Jenny's pretty great, so any Leaguers in Austin who know Jenny should e-mail me for contact info.

BTW, was watching a rerun of The Daily SHow from Wednesday night tonight and Steve Colbert ALSO used the Carl Weathers connection. Sigh. I feel like such a hack.

Brian Bentson of "that boy ain't right..." is in Austin, TX for the first time and is creating a travelogue. It's an interesting take from an outsider's perspective and has neat photos of lots of old League stomping grounds.

But he didn't like the BarBQ at the Salt Lick. Clearly, he's not to be trusted...

Dude, what the f**k...?

Does this mean we live in a big beach ball? And if we do, what's outside the beachball.

Science makes my head hurt.
Arnie, good for America?

People, the League is not sure what to make of Arnie being Governor. We're both horrified and giddy, tittilated and exhasperated....

The truth is, I am a huge Arnie fan. I saw both End of Days and The Sixth Day in the theater. I had no doubt that Arnie possesed the charisma to win, but what will he do about water rights? a looming multi-billion dollar deficit? I dunno. BUT, Leaguers... as I say, I love Arnie. I feel like I'm watching an experiment going on, the ultimate reality show. Can you take a guy off the street with lots of activism and a luxurious lifestyle and make him a successful governor? Well, Leaguers... we're going to find out!

The real question is: after Ventura and Arnie, what other Predator star will run for office? Do I hope... do I dream... is it fair to wish upon a star for Carl Weathers! My God... the possibilities are endless... Apollo Creed in 2004!

Arnie and Carl confer about Carl's run in Ohio

And on the continuing thread about Halloween: has sent me the following, and I think it falls squarely in with TOYS THAT SHOULD NOT BE

Look, I don't really believe children are magical little beings who are full of the future, light and innocence. Mostly i think they're little menaces who can't think ten minutes in advance. As a childless "grown-up", I get sick of not being able to use four letter words everywhere, or being able to wander around nude. It's dumb little kids who make us enforce these rules, and I'll not have it. I'm an American. I should be able to be able to wander out to get the paper butt-naked and cussing a blue streak without the cops coming to get me... I know you agree, Leaguers, but (as I learned) those facists in the City of Chandler Police Department do NOT agree with my viewpoint.

Stupid kids.

Anyway, people deal with their children in many different ways, and Halloween is a prime example. Growing up in Texas, Halloween was a sort of muted affair thanks to the decision fundamentalists made to decry the getting of candy in a clown suit as some form of demon worship. I don't know how these people got onto me, but they must have been reading their Chick Tracts.

At any rate, Randy forwarded this to me today, and I would encourage all Leaguers with kids to jump on this opportunity to turn your kid into a walking nightmare participating in a joke for which they are too young to really understand. Make sure you get that matching Ho costume for your daughters, or the whole theme just won't live up to it's potential.

Returning to the Chick Tracts... Leaguers, I can't encourage you ENOUGH to fully explore the world of Chick Tracts and how the comic format can be used to freak people's shit. Cartoonist/ Nutjob Jack Chick prints these tiny comics you're supposed to hand out to people you see them committing a sin (such as those little sinners who are going trick or treating...). After reading the tract and realizing the vile implications of the sin (or the unbelievably horrible fate which could await those committing the sin), these people are to come to their senses and, i guess, read more Chick tracts.

Chick really has it in for gays and Halloween, and loves Jews, but isn't so crazy about Catholics.

Yes, it's a topsy, turvy world of moral relativism when one really delves into the working mind of Mr. Chick.

As if Hell wasn't enough of a punishment (I personally am not looking forward to all the tooth gnashing...) many of the tracts also have a fate in mind which Jack Chick has, himself, dreamed up that he would appear to like to visit upon the sinner. More impressive is the occasional unfortunate circumstance which has only a tangentially causal relationship to the sin which could be easily avoided and allow for a long future of sinning (see Halloween tract...).

Any description I share with you doesn't really do the tracts justice, but I invite you to explore the site in it's entirety. If nothing else, his assumptions about other people and how they tick leads one to believe Jack Chick has spent his years confined to a small basement with a single light bulb wherein he produces each one of the tracts by hand in an ink made of his own blood (instead of allowing for the sin of photocopying).

Anyhoo, he suggests you get a stack to hand out as Halloween gifts to Trick or Treaters, so I plan to mix those in with my Smarties so the kids can have fun and go to bed weeping and emotionally scarred.

Oh, and Halloween Apple Jacks are just gross. Took a perfectly good cereal and added those little sugar cake toppers to it as far as I can tell.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Last night, in what turned out to be a Herculean effort to avoid the California Recall vote's everlasting coverage, I turned to Turner Classic Movies. I am without environmental cues (such as dropping temperatures, cooler winds, lines outside Lucy in Disguise) which have traditionally informed me that Halloween is a'coming. I've been getting prepared, but I've felt almost as if I've been in a vaccuum.

But last night was Karloff night on TCM. Sa-Weeet.

As much as I love the original Karloff Frankenstein, they followed it up with Bride of Frankenstein. Folks, if you haven't seen these two movies, you absolutely should, because they're both terrific. While not "frightening" by today's standards, the ideas in these two movies are so fantastic and out there that you can see how they generated countless imitators.

Everything from story structure to the look and feel of the labs has not just cemented in people's minds what a mad scientist's lab looks like, but, indeed, what a laboratory looks like. And the "cautionary tale" aspect of both movies may have worked all too well as an object case of why man should not tamper with nature, reflecting in everyday life, even down to how we vote (and our feelings on if we should clone dinosaurs...)

How these movies veered off into lesser and lesser sequels is no big secret... we've seen it happen with virtually every franchise. Modern adaptations always come across as pale imitations of this original... perhaps because nobody plays "desperation" with the gusto Colin Clive utilizes in chewing up the scenery.

I'm glad I caught these movies now. I'm so ready for Halloween that I'm moving into a strict Candy Corn and Frankenberry diet until November 1.

Next up, I need to track down Dracula!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Reed T. Shaw has e-mailed me to inform me that the website for the Monastic Assemblage of Musical Monkeydomis once more up and running properly.

This is the band that my brother plays bass for upon occasion. It's been said in the past that I do not show proper respect for his musical authority. Well, dammit, Leaguers, here I am promoting the work of my bro and his colleagues.

People, you've got to look before you flush...

thanks to Randy for forwarding this disturbing piece of life-affirming news....
Saw a strange report on the news last night. They were describing how poverty figures have gone up, as in the descrepancy between highest and lowest income earners has increased, and more folks are now living at the low end of the spectrum than in recent years. THey then followed this up by showing a graph of luxury items these people own, by percentage. Included in the list, and floating somewhere in the 90% range from what I recall, were items such as "color TV" and "microwave."

Now, I don't know when the last time anyone working for this network went to the grocery store was, or checked out the price of microwave ovens, but it struck me as pretty damn strange that microwaves are still considered to be a "luxury item". Especially when you're working all day at your minimum wage job and don't necessarily have time to prep a full four course meal over the top of the oven, let alone FIND food anymore that isn't intended to be microwaved.

Secondly, can you even FIND a black and white TV anymore? There's something so... bizarre about being angry about people for being able to afford a color TV over a black and white in the year 2003, that I can only assume this network was appealing to insane old misers.

This poll didn't seem to take into account where these items were procured (salvation army, rent-to-own, gifts, used items from friends) or the fact that you can get a brand new microwave or color TV for an incredibly low price these days. Oh, and most Americans have somehwere in the neighborhood of 10 credit cards, which is driving them further and further into debt.

Granted, the fact that 21% of this population has a computer (only numerical statistic I remember exactly because it kind of blew me away) was a higher number than I expected, but if they're referring to the Apple IIe in the corner versus the new Power Mac with surround sound, it's kind of difficult to take the survey entirely seriously.

I guess, perhaps, the network was suggesting that even our poverty stricken have a fairly high standard of living, which, in comparison to, say... well, pretty much everywhere else, is probably somewhat accurate. But it sure as hell came off as "why are these people whining? They got themselves a color TV set!"

Do we Americans want our poor REALLY poor...? like living in a mud hut or having to scavenge for food or whatnot? We've got ideas of what poor looks like in America from watching old movies with nuns in them and stuff, and throw something in here about lifting and bootstraps and the picture is fairly complete. But what this poll also doesn't take into consideration is that this is the number of people they could FIND, who had permanent addresses and who respond to questionairres. These are not people who live in their cars or in the weeds down by the train tracks off Airport near my old apartment. Or the people who don't have electricity because they happen to live under, say, an underpass. I'm fairly certain those folks didn't have color TVs they were stowing away. Or a computer or whatever.

Anyway, it caught my attention.

Oh, and while the Colts did have one of the most amazing turnarounds I've ever seen on Monday Night Football, that referee's call on the first field goal attempt was horse hockey. Hell, they showed he was wrong on the jumbo tron and he STILL didn't relent. Anyway, you can't take away what the Colts did in the last 4 minutes of the 4th quarter, but it sure made their victory seem a whole lot more hollow.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Why, hello, old friend! It's not that your arrival is a total surprise, but I didn't expect to see you! No, not a'tall! Mayhaps I should have known you'd be drifiting 'round these parts, given the recent circumstances, but, honestly, it's been a while. Yes, yes... it's been quite a few years since you came 'round to say "Howdy! Hello!" Well, old friend, it's good to have you back!

What are you calling yourself today? Ahhhhh.... Miserable Failure! It's been too long.

Yup, just walked out of my exam. Whoops! Well, maybe better luck next time.
Hey, Leaguers...

Quick reminder that about the Halloween movie contest. Frankly, I haven't received all that many entries, and I'm getting a little concerned that I may be forced to watch old Laverne and Shirley reruns on Halloween.

Now, the contest rules are pretty straightforward. THese rules can be found to the left

<--------- = left

Everyone is eligible, but I'm going to lock up a winner by the 15th, so if you've been sitting around thinking about creeeeeeeppyyyyyy movies, now is the time to turn me on to whatever it is that scares the bejeezus out of you.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Not one to pass judgement am I, but somehow adding lips to a dog is just wrong.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Wow. Blogging is like spreading your own fungus out to the world and letting people try to discover exatly where that smell is coming from...

It's become Klein Oak week here at The League of Melbotis, with most recent discovery being Anne Francis, class of 1989. I never knew Anne personally, but she must have been an A+ Panther, because by the time I showed up, folks were still talking about her. Anyhoo, she e-mailed me about my entry about Jim Parsons from a little bit ago, and I was deee-lighted to hear from her. It's like getting an e-mail from Captain America or something, if you were at Klein Oak in the early 90's.

Helping to preserve Anne's legacy was her mom, Mrs. Francis, who was the coolest substitiute teacher at KO. Now, why I remember Mrs. Francis and not anybody from my own class, I cannot say. But that lady knew every kid in the school. She was fantastic.

How exciting! KO spreads out about the world and it's up to the League to bring us all together. Truly, the mission of the League is a global one.

Friday, October 03, 2003

and a little something to take you into the weekend
Oh, and my high school buddy, Meredith, had a kid. His name is Nathan, and in this photo, he is exploring trampolines.

I've been listening to the 4th American Recordings album done by the late, great Johnny Cash. Jim D. had suggested the record to me, and once again, Jim's recommendations have panned out well.

In a way, the album has a weight to it simply becuase it is the final album from a highly prolific recording artist. That would have been enough, alone, to make this a good record. But what is so starkly obvious upon listening to the album, is that Cash had a pretty good idea this might be his final album. His voice isn't what it was on prior recordings, and frankly, he sounds like an old man on quite a few tunes. But for an album which covers everything from Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" to "Streets of Laredo", there's a certain cohesion created by the fading voice of the Man in Black.

And, if nothing else, the title track, "The Man Comes Around" puts on display the goods that Johnny Cash had right up until his final days.

And, okay... this is totally unrelated, but I think it's well worth checking out if you have a high-speed internet connection.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Found out by doing a sitemeter check that

1) a lot of people continue to want to see nude photos of a certain conservative pundit. No, I am not referring to George F. Will.
2) Shannon and Josh were looking for JAMIE, not Ryan. So forget anything nice I ever said about them.
3) Alzare is more popular than I originally knew.

I think I am going to NASA in October. No, I am not being used for low orbit reconnaisance (although i would not object). I think they're sending me there for an ed fair.

While I am excited to participate in all things NASA related, I think I am handing out brochures to NASA scientists about our online programs. I love NASA. I'm kind of excited. I hope me and Buzz Aldrin get drunk and go and kill a wild boar and then take an old moon buggy out for a spin.

Look, you have your dreams, I have mine.

Howdy to Josh and Shannon who are getting married in mid-October and STILL took the time out to track me down. And they found me via the League. Yes, the 10 Year Reunion for Klein Oak High School certainly has been stirring up some dust.

Shannon and Josh are two nifty kids and I don't know what to say except that you're both swell people and I wish you the best. Looking forward to seeing you at the wedding (I'll be the one sobbing loudly in the corner. Weddings always make me cry).

Why does Star Wars Episode II suck so bad? It's now showing on one of my movie channels, and I'll be honest, Leaguers... I gave it below "luke" warm reviews when i saw it in the theater (4 times, and thereby hangs a tale...). And on TV, it's even crappier. I hate Hayden Christian. I hate the stupid dialog and meandering story and I hateses the crappy CG.

I used to love Star Wars, and as I once noted in these pages, I even went insane and defended Episode I at length for about 6 months. But in all honesty, in some ways, it's better than Episode II. At least Episode I has a beginning, middle and end and was long enough ago that you kind of didn't notice how crappy some of the CG was... but why, oh, why, oh why... is the CG in Episode II so awful? It looks like that Andromeda show with Kevin Sorbo... and that show is freaking free to watch and syndicated....

Sorry. This was out of place and belaboring the obvious, but I had to get it off my chest.

I just used to really dig Star Wars, and now it's all crappy.

Someone remind me to finish Return of the King before the movie comes out so I can enjoy the movie, without feeling guilty.

Mel has ear problems. Apparently, for several years, he's had ear problems. We've taken him to the vet for his annual visit, and every time they give me SOMETHING to treat it, but it never works. THe new stuff is gross, but I think it's working. But dirty dog ears smell like bat barf, and I don't like dealing with them. Bleah.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


Goin' to see David Bowie in Phoenix in February!
SWEET CHRISTMAS!!!! This is the best news I've heard in, like, a year... and it's in Japanese...

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I feel a little bad that I haven't really updated in a while. Sorry, kids. Not much has been going on at League Central. Usually I feel I have a story to share, but right now, the well has run dry.

Melbotis returned home last night and is his same, potato shaped self. He was a happy, happy boy to see me, which provided me with the pointless positive vibe only dog owners ever really get. Everyone should be much nicer to their dogs. You never see people so happy to see you they squeal and roll around.

I have an exam in the course I am taking on Monday. I am totally terrified as I have not taken an exam since May of 1998. Oh, well. If I fail, I can always try a different degree, i guess.

Oh... High School Chum "Thrill Kill" Jill Wilmarth is coming to visit in December. She's all hitched up and a Hermann-Wilmarth now, but I doubt marriage has made her any less of a little ray of sunshine. I am tickled pink to host her while she attends some sort of National Reading Convention here in the Valley of the Sun. Jill asked me if I was the AV guy at my employer university, or the guy who turns on the TV for her when she can't get anything to work in her classroom. It made me wonder what my parents think I do for a living. For years, my borther thought I stopped and started VTRs all day. Which i kind of did, but IT WAS MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT!!!!


Halle Berry in her costume in the now-filming Catwoman feature film....

I know where this is eventually headed...

Monday, September 29, 2003

It seems family and friends are finding The League. Reports have it that my uncle, Bob the Conqueror, has located The League of Melbotis. Also, high school chum and current Doctoral Candidate Jill Hermann-Wilmarth has located The League.

Jill sent an e-mail and alerted me to her presence, and it was good to get an update on the Wilmarth clan, who introduced me to the novelty of the dried cranberry. mmmmmmm... dried cranberries. In one sitting, Jeff Peek and I cleaned out all of the Wilmarth family's dried cranberries. Well, next time Hope will know better than to offer up a snack when I visit.

Bob sent no e-mail, so one is forced to assume Bob was somewhat disappointed.

Well, welcome, kids. Feel free to send e-mails and recipes.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Was in Austin for a few days this weekend. Honestly, September in Austin is my favorite month, and end of September is even better...

I don't really care for Vampires, or the mythology surrounding vampires as a source of much fiction, but I never read Bram Stoker, so maybe I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about... But I always liked the werewolf mythology for pretty much the same reason I dug the Hulk... it's all about freaking out on folks and then feeling bad about it later...

Anyway, went and saw Underworld this weekend as part of my fantastic voyage... and I'm really too spent from otherwise having fun to properly go off on this particular hunk of junk.

At any rate, it was good to be back in Austin. Despite the fact I actually do greatly enjoy my job here in Tempe, it's difficult to compare Chandler/ Tempe/ Phoenix to a town where you can get anywhere in 20 minutes, see top level college football, go to the best comic shop in North America and find a damn good record shop every twenty feet. This is not to mention great restaurants, the 6th street/ 4th street/ Red River nexus of un-reality and an endless supply of really decent folks.

People who never visit Texas tend to have a pretty negative stereotype of Texas, which is about as much fun as having negative racial stereotypes. Sure, some crazy stuff goes down in Texas (re-districting controversies, Presidential assassinations and whatnot), but you also have to give Texas it's due in being an all right place to be.

I'd love to be back in South Austin as a permanent resident, but getting there is quite the chore. But you've got to give yourself goals, people.

In the meantime, thanks to a damn fine Bar-B-Q put on as a joint effort by my folks and my brother, I did not rest my head until well after midnight. I was just fallen asleep when our wall neighbors at the hotel began to enjoy one another loudly, so I lost a little more sleep, but at least I got a good laugh.

Anyhoo, I am a tired boy today and I have miles to go before I sleep.

Mel is still in the Kennel, and will be until tomorrow sometime. Poor boy. He needs to come home now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

everyday we get a little closer to The Diamond Age

Awards shows: Okay, so Jamie was really, really pissed that I painted a picture of her as... how did she put it? "A lady who wears curlers in her hair and watches awards shows and claps and squeals when she sees Jennifer Aniston." I'm sure Beanie Babies would fall in there somewhere in her description, but she didn't mention it.

She claims she doesn't watch the Emmy's all that often (but isn't once enough?), hates the Grammies (sp?), and, i guess the Ace awards. "But," she said "I do watch the Oscars, so piss off, Super-Dork."

I'm not really sure what's swirling around in that little head of hers, but Jamie does have a certain love of entertainment trivia. Mostly she always knows how old celebrities are, even Q-list stars like the weather girl on the Fox NFL Sunday morning report (she's 38ish).

Anyway, sorry if I somehow painted a strange portrait of Jamie's love of all things Hollywood.

I'm heading out of town for a few days, so updates will not occur for a little while. In the meantime, I recommend everybody go visit Laura Maxwell's blog or That Boy Ain't Right, as linked below and to the left. They're fairly new here, and we're pleased to have them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I watched the first few minutes of the Emmy's Sunday night. I have no idea why. I don't watch Everybuddy Loves Raymond, and I don't have HBO. And when I did have HBO, I rarely watched Sopranos or Sex in the City. Sopranos was too complicated (it was Season 3) and Sex in the City just confused me. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be funny or sad.

I watched long enough to know Garry Shandling is absolutely no longer funny, and that Doris Roberts was being a bit snooty about receiving her award. Anyway, I'm taking a class, and homework gave me my much desired excuse to escape the TV viewing area.

I hateses the award shows. The wife does not. Award shows make me want to poke my own eyes out, but Jamie seems to really dig watching actors get little statues for TV shows and movies she hasn't bothered to see for herself. I guess I think a $200,000 an episode paycheck should be award enough, but what the hell do I know... nothing! Apparently you should also not only get to stick it to four of your peers, but you get to join the thousands who have come before you to show how inarticulate and self-centered you are without a script or Jay Leno to goad you on.

Speaking of actors, I went to high school with this really nice guy, Jim. I was actually pretty good buddies with Jim's sister, Julie, in high school, and our parents are all pals. Jim is now appearing in a disturbing/ hilarious series of Quizno's commericals in which he remembers being raised by wolves. I was just sitting there watching TV, and up pops Jim. Good for him. Unless there are multiple Jim Parsons running around Hollywood, he's also going to be in a sit-com pilot or series (the article was fuzzy on the details) called Why Blitt? Jim is not Blitt, but a buddy of Blitt, I think. I have no idea what network it's going to be on, but in theory, Jim should be on TV on a regular basis fairly soon. So, I hereby throw the support of the League of Melbotis behind Jim Parsons. Go, Jim.

Only a few entries have trickled in for the Halloween contest, so thanks to those of you who have taken the time out to enter. BTW, by entering Brian B. of Sunny California has also alerted me to his presence. You can find a link to his blog below and on the left.

It also appears that the complete lack of activity on Jim D's blog has nothing to do with him being dead (which he is not!). Apparently, Jim is very busy with having a life which does not allow for endless online navel gazing.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

get back to work.

Hey, everybuddy...

I love me some Halloween! It's the one night of the year we can all dress up and fight crime... I mean, be monsters or something... Honestly, it's a chance to get drunk and dress up like Cher, but we don't talk about that incident anymore...

ANYWAY, I just had a GHOULISHLY bad idea. I am going to run a contest in which I allow you good folks to determine what SPOOOOOOOOOOKY movie I watch on HALLOWEEN NIGHT!!!!!

But Ryan, you say, it's the middle of f**king September! Well, Leaguers, that's true enough! But I need to locate and purchase/ rent the movie before All Hallows Eve!

So here's the deal...

All entries will be listed in a laundry list of Halloween Movies that Make Leaguers Scared. The List will be published a few days before Halloween, so you can see what other Leaguers are watching! Hurray! Interactivity!

I will watch 1) the movie with the most votes, and 2) the one for which I receive the best essay on why i should watch this particular Halloween movie.

Rules for entering:

1) Must be a movie which has something to do with the general theme of scary stuff. Does not need to occur on Halloween, and can be a comedy
2) Each movie must be accompanied by a reason why this movie is so awesome, and why it will make me love spooky stuff even more. 1 sentence minimum.
3) You may offer up to 4 entries. Each entry must follow official rules.
4) Only entries I can actually locate via the internet, etc... are really eligible, so sending a link is helpful. E-Bay is not a link.
5) Movies which are really, say, Sci-Fi movies (Spaced Invaders) or Ninja Movies (American Ninja 4) are scary, but in the wrong way. Do not recommend movies which are not SPINE-TINGLING!!!
6) You must include your name and address (in case I decide upon a Halloween Prize!)

I want this movie to be SCARY, folks. I want some real, creepy, scary, Halloween madness.

I am considering a Halloween prize, so I'll let you know what that's going to be.

Greetings, Leaguers...

Not much going on today, but I thought you might appreciate this story...

This is why I send all notes to MY mistress by carrier pigeon.


I don't run TTSNB all that often anymore, as the recurrent theme is: if you have this on the shelf, your chances for having sex will be greatly diminished. This may not be a major issue for much of America's adult toy buying public. I assume either these collectors 1) are unaware that this will diminish their chances for tawdry sex as the toy in question will make their intended nervous and possibly frightened... 2) have given up and know that the chances for any sex actually occuring are next to nil 3) married somebody and THEN sprung the toy thing on them. I more or less went for option 3. It works beautifully.

MacFarlane toys has a knack for realistic portrayals of sports figures, right down to musculature, etc... and for this they should be proud. But you'll never see these toys appear here, because they're kind of cool, and fun and a neat collector's item. But MacFarlane also spawned the absoludicrousness of the Spawn franchise. First a comic, then toys, then an HBO cartoon, and then a movie... Spawn is a high schooler's fantasy of poorly misconstrued mythology, history and religious notions, all wrapped up into a really goofy package and no comprehensible plot.

But the real importance of Spawn is that it allowed it's creator, Todd MacFarlane, to create a toy building franchise. Which brings us to today's topic of MacFarlane's Wizard of Oz toys. Yes, these toys are disturbing, grotesque, and sure to drive PTA mother's to a frothing frenzy... but most of all, one has to wonder... why? What the hell was going down at MacFarlane central when they decided to take a 100 year old story and turn it into a Meatloaf album cover?

Ladies and Gentlemen, please turn your head and do not look, because these are some toys that should not be...

The Lion
The Scarecrow
The Tin Woodsman
The Wizard of Oz
Toto (no, really... this is their Toto...)
and the piece de resistance! Dorothy! (please hide all children before clicking here...)

Now I think it goes without saying that these TTSNB were designed by some dudes who are great sculpters, and who think anything that isn't "hard" is "lame"... and who pretty clearly have some issues with women. I just like to imagine their studios all tweaked out with fading Iron Maiden posters and groovy lights they bought at Spencers.

Hurray, MacFarlane toys. You've taken something perfectly nice and made it stupid.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I have been led to believe I am not supportive enough of my brother's musical interests. I feel badly about this, and so, in his honor, and that of the Mono Monkey Music Experience, I ask that you visit his band's web-site. Which has broken links to the actual musical bits. You can, however, see a lovely painting of what appears to be the surface of the sun.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: The Monkeying Ensemblage of Musical Mononucleosis
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.