Monday, September 27, 2004


So I'm driving into work, and the car in front of me is going sort of slow on this stretch of road which is marked as a 40MPH zone, but which is usually driven at 50-55 (it's a 4 lane road with a median).

I look up at the driver and I notice that he's:

smoking a cigarette
enjoying a cup of coffee
reading the paper

Wow. I'm not really sure if I was (a) terrified of this sort of willfull stupidity, or (b) if I really admired the guy for his moxie. Clearly, he did not have the same kind of quality instruction I once received at The Austin Driving School (who once had the odd slogan: We taught a burro to drive, people are easy). Instructor Joe would never let us smoke and drink and read while we were at the wheel, no matter how much we begged.

The guy was going the speed limit, but not with traffic... and unfortunately everyone behind me was speeding up and going around me, so I couldn't even pass the guy. I considered leaning on the horn, but I was afraid of what that would stir up if he spilled his coffee or dropped his cigarette.

How is it I can barely drive with my hands at 2 and 10 o'clock and totally focused and some guys can drive while partaking of a ritual which usually involves a couch? I am so jealous.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Texas Longhorns were once again victorious over the lowly Rice Owls in Saturday's match-up. Well done, Horns!

I think the Sun Devils may have won their game, but I got distracted and never finished watching the game.

On The Brother's recommendation, we saw Shaun of the Dead yesterday afternoon. Quality, quality film and I highly recommend it. The movie has "cult film" written all over it, and should have been released two weeks into October to take advantage of folks looking for a good Halloween scare.

The movie rides similar lines to Evil Dead 2, managing to be both funny and to have some genuinely frightening moments.

I kept thinking Jim D. should see this flick all throughout. It keeps with the standard zombie formula, but has it's own little bits to add. Worth matinee.

Anyway, I logged on to do some work and homework, so I should probably get to it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Real life Lemmiwinks?

Actually, this is kind of creepy if you've been reading Grant Morrison's We3 from DC/ Vertigo comics. You kind of have to have read the issue.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Soak in the horror of....

'The Last Starfighter', the Musical

--Mrs. League
The League's personal hero, Russ Meyer, dead at the age of 82.

God rest your soul, Russ. And thanks. You gave us all a lot... to, uh, think about.
Reason number 1209 that Oprah is annoying.

Those free cars? Could cost the unwitting recipients $7000 in taxes.

Of course $7K is what Oprah spends on slippers in a year, so I wonder if the figure even means anything to her.

Bottom line is, I'm betting most of these peopel don't end up keeping the car unless they were planning on getting a new car soon, and something very similar.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Apparently The Pixies played here last night and I missed them. I am an idiot.

Luckily, they are swinging back through Phoenix on OCT. 22.

I have already purchased my tickets. For Pixies tour dates (no, they are not visiting Beaumont. I can't believe it either...) click here.

Unfortunate update

Jamie tells me this is the same day her folks are coming to town.

Despite being a fan on and off since I was 15, I have never seen The Pixies. They may never tour again. I have just spent an inordinate amount on tickets.

I have to think Judy would WANT for me to go to the show.
Jim D. comments upon the release of the Star Wars trilogy on DVD.

And he says what we're all thinking far better than we would have said it.

If we can sue the Federal Government to get them to release papers, can we sue Uncle George to get our movie back?

Monday, September 20, 2004


Jason (The League's brother) returned from college with all kinds of new-fangled ideas, but one of my favorite was the best game in the world.


This game spawned the movie game listed below, and the rules are simple.

Have at least two players (although three or more is preferable so there is always a horrified witness).

Now, one person is the question-person, and the other is an answer-person.

You will take tunrs in each role, but the question person's job is to dream up an absolutely horrific situation. Now dream up another. Now present these two options to the answer-person. The Answer-person must select between one of the two horrible fates dreamed up for them, and they cannot say "I don't know." They MUST answer. And, yes... DEATH IS NOT AN OPTION!!!

The question I like to kick a new game off with is this (and it's a borrowed one, so fogive me for not being original):

If you had the choice between:

four magical tree frogs stuck to your face for the rest of your life, constantly singing an endless loop of Canned Heat's "Going up the Country"


Having your hands replaced with screaming monkey heads (no, they cannot be removed)...

what would you choose?

This sort of question sets the tone of utter devastation. And no, DEATH IS NOT AN OPTION!!! Sure, we'd all rather be dead than spend the next 30-40 years with screaming monkey hands, but is that worse than singing frogs on your face? I don't know! I cannot say! But you may have to.

Then, once the answer-person anguishes and screams and finally decides upon a horrific fate, they might ask the question-person an equally soul-piercing question, or they may turn on the witness.

The witness, I might add, should not really say anything unless the answer-person simply cannot decide what should hypothetically befall them.

Now go forth and have fun with this game.


So, the League and I were playing this game yesterday where given the choice of two movies, which would you rather see? Sounds easy, right? Not the way we play it - we have taken the 'lesser of two evils' approach. Example:

Mrs League: 'Ladybugs' or 'Ed'.
The League: (keep in mind the League had turned down 'Ladybugs' about 5 times at this point) ...SIGH....'Ladybugs'.

Nothing seemed to be able to top 'Ed' for the League. SO! My challenge to you, Leaguers is to come up with a movie that the League would rather see LESS than 'Ed'. Good Luck!

**Update: It has been helpfully suggested by Randy that I list what movies have already been tested against 'Ed'. Unfortunatly, I can't remember some of the candidates, but I do know these lost out (and please help me out, League if you remember):

Alien vs. Predator
Pure Luck
Batman & Robin

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Busy week last week at The League. But not an unpleasant one.

Nathan and Renata were here from Wednesday evening to early Friday morning, and that was quite a bit of fun. Nathan is/ should be some sort of celebrity. He once appeared in a notorious episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, back during it's why-is-this-show-on-five-times-a-week-? heyday. He was the guy who entertained Regis with his stuffed monkey.

Nathan is now a DJ and program manager at Texas Public Radio in San Antonio. Renata is Minister of Information for one of the universities in San Antonio.

Both of them are a lot of fun, and it stinks that we don't live closer to them so we can see them more often.

Friday and Saturday were lazy days. We mostly lolled about on Saturday, and I tried to read some comics I had stacked up. I hadn't yet had a chance to open up my Criterion edition of Slacker, so Saturday afternoon I popped that one in the player and gave it a whirl.

I saw Slacker the first time during the summer after I moved out of Austin. My mother packed us all into the GMC conversion van and hauled us down to the River Oaks Theater. I loved the movie then, and I still like it now. And now, it's a little like looking back at a moment in time.

The acting in the movie is still stilted and awkward, and the characters and dialogue are still going to drive a good portion of the audience nuts. Reviews of the movie on usually go from fawning to outrage, and there's seldom any space in between.

I only watched a few items on the first disc aside from the film itself. I look forward to hearing the audio commentary by Linklater and Co. I did watch the ten minute commercial for an upcoming documentary on Les Amis, the now defunct cafe which sat on 24th street across the way from the Castillian. The doc won't mean much to people who never lived in Austin, but it did hold some interest.

And there's a whole other disc which I haven't opened up yet.

For some bizzaro reason, Jamie and I watched all of the DMX/ Jet Li "package" film, Cradle 2 the Grave. DMX is NOT a good actor, and Jet Li is visibily bored during most of the movie. Anthony Anderson is just creepy to see in any movie, now that he's facing sexual assault charges.

The title of the movie has no relevancy to the plot, characters or anything which occurs in the movie. Jamie has hypothesized that DMX just liked the phrase. We're not sure.

There's also quite a bit of casual racism, and a little bit of little-person abuse in the course of the movie, but, you do get to see Jet Li kick a lot of people in the head. For some reason, the bad guy's ending is similar to the of Belloq in Raiders.

JLU kicked ass. One of the best episodes this season. Even if they did blow up Red Tornado.

Now we're planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've already purchased airplane tickets, so look out LAWTON, OKLAHOMA!!!! It's gonna be a funky, funky Christmas.

Okay, this is weird. When I went to link to a website with this image, the first one to come up was The League... I am the snake eating it's own tail.

The League Reviews: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

So Mrs. League and I went to the cinema early to catch a showing of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. And I did enjoy the movie, but not as much as I thought I should have.

From a plot standpoint, the movie holds together as well or better than most sci-fi movies. The plot is fairly standard sci-fi fare, and is pretty much as advertised. From a story standpoint, I had some issues. I never really knew who the hell these guys were.

Okay, Mrs. League just walked in the room and said "Are you ruining Sky Captain for everybody?"
"I liked that movie way more before you started going 'this was this' and 'this was that'. You're going to ruin it for everybody."
So apparently I ruined the movie for Jamie. Whoops.

Why does she say this? If, apparently, you don't want the movie ruined for you, stop reading now and go on with your peaceful life.

If you're still reading, I apologize in advance for ruining everything.

What is the big issue? Sky Captain is, as advertised, an homage to the past. A past of science fiction and pulp and Saturday matinees. I can dig it. But... (and this is the League, so there's always a complaint, right?) Sky Captain takes and takes and takes, and I'm not sure what it ever gives back.

Spoilers --- start here

Dodging between outright nods to some sources (Godzilla, Buck Rogers, a handful of others) and taking without acknowledging from others (Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., Blackhawk, Superman cartoons) and tying in other movies (King Kong), one wonders exactly what's left here that IS Sky Captain.

Polly (played by Paltrow) is Lois Lane. The Robots are from the Superman cartoon "The Mechanical Monsters", Sky captain is an amalgamation of Captain Midnight and Blackhawk. Frankie (Jolie) is Nick Fury with boobs, right down to the helicarrier and eye-patch. She's kind of leading a British SHIELD squadron.

The villain's plot is stolen from the cover of Amazing Stories (which, of course, I now can't find).

One thing that drove me nuts but I couldn't place until later... You catch a glimpse of a sunken ship at one point, and the ship is titled "Venture". That, kids, is the name of the ship taken to Skull Island in King Kong. Which makes me wonder, is the island in the movie supposed to be Skull island with it's exotic creatures? Or the Island of Dr. Moreau? We don't know. It seems to be both.

And, kids, I LOVE homage. I love to see things pop up which I can recognize and say silently to myself "cooooooool, I am so in on the joke..."

My point here is, Sky Captain is a fun movie with non-stop homage, but I wasn't really sure what it gave back. There's no new story here, although it does recycle fun parts of existing movies, so, take from that what you will...

My other concern, which is only tangentially tied to the movie, is this: When or if the original sources should wish to take themselves seriously again, or gain screentime again... will audiences look to them as copies of Sky Captain, or will they know which came first? Jamie says "I think you're giving audiences too much credit." And maybe she's right.

But with both a Superman and a King Kong movie in pre-production, do they stand a chance of not being unfavorably compared? I don't know.

----Spoilers end here---

Now, Sky Captain is amazing to look at. It is absolutely gorgeous, and the line between reality and CG is completely lost. These guys did amazing work.

The acting and editing of some scenes seems a little flat, but here's my recommendation: Do this movie right. See it on a Saturday afternoon, kick back and let it wash over you. Be 11 years-old again and eat a bag of popcorn during the movie.

Watch giant robots fill the screen, watch Gwyneth Paltrow show some leg, watch airplanes dogfight in the middle of Manhattan. This movie is pretty damn cool, so you can safely ignore my spoilerish comments above.

The bottom line is that I WANT movies like Sky Captain. I want movies that know and relish a form of action film that has been supplanted with machine gun toting steroid freaks and Keanu Reeves. There's room for all of it out there, but my favorite genres are the ones that smell a little musty and are maybe a little creaky.

I want giant robots and plucky reporters. I want mad scientists and secret islands. Hell, I guess I want Sky Captain.

Friday, September 17, 2004

here's something fun for people who love both Crayola Crayons and Spider-Man.

Spider-Man reviews a new box of Crayola's.
It's babies 'a poppin' here at The League these days.

First, Jill sprouted hard-rockin' baby, Arden. Then League pals, Ryan & Trisha, dropped Isaac upon an unsuspecting world. Now college pal, Anna (Mitchell) Clark and her husband, Luke, have brought us our latest installment. Theodore Robin is now proudly wreaking havoc in the greater Conroe, TX area.

Well done, Anna! And let's all give little TR a big "welcome to the world" thumbs up. The little dude has a lot of work ahead of him and needs some encouragement.

I also hear that another Loyal Leaguer may soon be a soccer-Dad, but that's a lot of heresay and innuendo.

The League has no children, and does not believe Melbotis would tolerate them, anyway. Mel tried to eat a kid a few years ago on Halloween, so we're going to keep cool on the kid front down at League HQ. Until Mel is ready, it's just not up for discussion.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Marvel Zombie (and, coincidentally, fan of zombie comics) Jim D. called me yesterday to alert me that he had, in fact, enjoyed Identity Crisis #4.

Identity Crisis is the DC Comic which is getting attention from CNN, AP and other locations. And, yeah, for some rather grim content, it's a pretty darn good read.

"Steeeeeeeans!" Jim D. declared, "You gotta read it!"
"I'm at work."
"You gotta read it now!"
"I'm about to enter into a phone conference with China."
"You gotta read it. Supes is totally getting into it!"

Now, Jim's a fan of Marvel, which is the rival to DC Comics. And comic fans are prone to select a house style they like (DC or Marvel) and that's their camp. I ride both sides of the fence, but when push comes to shove, I guess I fall into the DC camp. Couldn't tell you why, but I do.

But even Jim himself finds it significant that he's enjoying a DC book this much, when he'd rather be spending his hard-earned dough on Captain America or X-men, Spidey, I suppose (or a comic starring the living dead).

I often think of DC as an acquired taste, but I don't mean that in a snooty "it's what REAL comic readers read...". I just mean that either you dig DC, or you don't. And very few people actually begin reading comics anymore through DC. Most folks start with X-men or Spider-Man and then branch out.

DC, to me, wears a certain complexity to how their books interconnect which I find rewarding. Marvel is more complex on the character level, I am told, and books like Daredevil have really given credence to the stereotype. In fact, I don't know how many DC books I would even throw at a first-time comic book reader.

I did blaze through Identity Crisis #4 while I listened to the teleconference (which I didn't even need to be there for). And Jim is right. It was a great read, and Superman is, in fact, getting into the thick of things.

Identity Crisis is progressing well, and is going to be a significant event in DC comics for quite a while. Meanwhile, Greg Rucka is also writing soem terrifc Superman comics over in Adventures of Superman, Chuck Austen is spiralling out of control and quality in Action Comics, and the Azzarello/ Lee team still has me captivated by "For Tomorrow", a 12-part series running monthly in Superman comics.

Meanwhile, Loyal Leaguer Nathan Cone (and his lovely wife, Renata), have arrived. We had a nice dinner and then retired to League HQ to get some bedrest. Mrs. League immediately took them into the Fortress to show off what too much money and too little brains can accomplish when coupled with OCD.

Today Nathan and Renata are going to check out some Frank Lloyd Wright stuff about town, and then take in a D-Backs game.

Mel is also thoroughly excited to have them here (though they were previously unacquainted), and he has not been shy about displaying his affection.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Hello Leaguers - Mrs. League here. I feel as though I should entertain you while the League is a busy bee at work. Unfortunately, nothing too thrilling has happened recently in beautiful Maricopa county. We're still in the middle of summer2 (our seasons here are spring, summer1, summer2, and fall) which after four months of 100+ heat makes you want to lie down and give up. Seriously, it will be in the 100s for at least another month.

We haven't even seen any movies recently, although the League is eagerly awaiting the release of Funkey Monkey. I personally thought he would rather see the flying robots, but I guess primates + Matthew Modine win every time.

I guess we haven't had a Melbotis or Jeff the Cat update recently. Melbotis had a bath on Sunday, and proceeded to make a beeline for his beloved dirt patch the second he was released to freedom in the backyard. For this, he got the hose, which is high on his list of Mel-fears. (This includes smoke detectors, flashlights, vacuums, and small children.) Jeff the Cat has been unnervingly normal recently, which leads me to believe he is plotting something...

And I leave you with the best job in the world.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Here's Adam Strange and the Omega Men.

Monday, September 13, 2004

In defense of my mom, she no longer wears a fanny pack. It has been replaced by a fashionable leather purse.

--Mrs. League
Two quick news items:

Batman remains in greater England, this time appearing at Buckingham Palace.

Ever notice how you never see Batman and Prince Charles in the same place...?

And, just in case you saw the photos and you're wondering, I believe Batman has given up his utility belt for a fanny pack. My mother-in-law is in good company.

And this one comes from Mrs. League:

Apparently there's a new consumer grade truck. No, not a pick-up, a TRUCK, like they use to mix cement or carry mobile homes. Now you can have one of your very own...

Says Mrs. League:

"For personal use, it's for people who want to make a

Statement = I'm an a**hole.

I don't know if the folks where you live have the same excitement over Hummers that the good people of Scottsdale, AZ have for these symbols of over-compensation, but there are a surprising number of these things on the road out here. Apparently owning a hummer entitles you to ignore all previously established traffic laws and create your own on the fly. If others don't go along with your new rules? Penalty of death or crippling injury. Luckily, since most of them are painted a Sesame Street-approved canary yellow, you can always see them on the road.
Bring on The Batman

Saturday saw the debut of the new WB! cartoon for kids, The Batman.

If I were a kid, that cartoon would have had me hopping about madly, tossing anything resembling a batarang around the house for hours. Not being a kid, there was substantially less hopping, but it pretty much had the same effect.

Here's the weird part... that isn't so much really Batman as I've known him for 27-28 years. This is formative Batman, chronologically 3 years into being Batman, a few months from meeting Dick Grayson (Robin 1) Batman. But this Batman doesn't reside in stately Wayne Manor. Instead, this Batman lives in a sweet loft/ warehouse-thing in the middle of Gotham (and on top of a cave?).

Logistically, I guess this makes more sense. And at one point in the late 70's or early 80's, Batman lived in a penthouse overlooking Gotham. So I guess you can say they borrowed that idea, or else decided Batman doesn't need no stinking commute.

The supporting cast is the strangest part. Sure, Alfred is still there. But Bullock, Gordon, Montoya, Cris are all MIA. Instead, we have sort of analogs to those characters with different names. I have no idea why they bothered to do that, or why they cut out Gordon altogether.

The animation is nice, with quick, well-choreographed action. The voice casting is done well, even if I miss Kevin Conroy as Batman (he's been the voice of Batman since about 1992). The voice of The Joker is well-done as well, but it's so close to Mark Hamill's depiction, I kind of wondered why they hired a new guy.

Apparently the show will have embedded signals in it which will activate your Bat-Wave ready Batman toys, or, possibly, shut down Uncle Fester's pace maker. Either way, it should liven up the cartoon hour. (Something about the TV turning on devices in my home creeps the hell out of me).

All that said, I loved this week's JLU episode with 80's DC superstar Booster Gold.

The team putting together JLU has walked away from the two-part Grant Morrison-wannabe epics, added more characters than Gardner Fox would have wanted to deal with, and taken the tone up a few notches in levity. I think the results are impressive (except for Hawk and Dove, which was kind of lame). Sure, each episode is focusing on introducing us to a new DC hero, but prior episodes were just introducing us to new DCU villains, so I'll take this format any day.

JLU is not going to be for the folks who want every super hero to be a dark and brooding Batman or Wolverine clone. That isn't, and never has been, the DC way. DC agrees that it takes a certain kind of weirdo to dress up in tights and fight crime, just not necessarily a depressing weirdo. Sometimes these weirdoes are people from the future trying to make a quick buck in the past, such as Booster Gold.

I encourage you to catch the episode if you haven't already. It also has appearances by Elongated Man (Ralph Dibney), Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., The Shining Knight, Huntress, and a few others. It was a lot of fun.

Oh, and I also heartily recommend the new cartoon "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends". It's by the same guy who created the Power Puff girls.
Loyal Leaguer Nathan Cone and his lovely wife, Renata, will be ditching San Antonio for the Grand Canyon State later this week. Jamie and I have scrubbed and cleaned Melbotis in eager anticipation.

Watched UT win last night in spite of themselves. If last night's performance was any indication, I can't watch the Oklahoma game at all. Not without without wearing a bag over my head.

Watched the Cowboys and Cardinals lose today while I was doing other things. Did some homework, and aside from that, not much this weekend. Did some homework. Bleah.

Oh, and the Krypton Kruiser is in the shop. This should make tomorrow's commute a real joy. Hopefully it'll be healthy again early this week.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Dear Japan...

Shadow Basketball
Frank Thomas, one of the "Old Men" of Disney animation, has passed on.

I read about this at The Beat. Go here for Heidi's article.

I need to get out my VHS copy of "Frank & Ollie" this weekend.
Heidi also uncovered some stills from the Frank Miller/ Robert Rodriguez movie, Sin City.

I have a few of the trades, and, man, am I looking forward to this movie.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Margot Kidder, the Lois Lane of the 1970's and 80's, is going to be on Smallville!

She's not playing Lois Lane, but it's great to see her getting involved.

Here's the article from SupermanHomepage

KryptonSite have learnt that Margot Kidder will be making an appearance in the fourth season of "Smallville".
Superman fans of course know Margot Kidder as Lois Lane from the Christopher Reeve "Superman" movies. It appears that Margot Kidder will be playing a character by the name of Bridgette Crosby, an emissary to Dr. Virgil Swann (Christopher Reeve).

Scheduled to appear in at least two episodes, Margot Kidder will first appear in the premiere episode of this new season, before returning again in the sixth episode.
DC's Identity Crisis gets attention on the AP.

Now Jamie will know why I didn't hand her the second issue.
I'm stuck on hold on the phone and I just realized something.

Muzak of Natalie Merchant songs sound exactly like regular Natalie Merchant songs.
feliz navidad

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Man, that's the last post about comics for awhile. I can hear the crickets chirping from here.
Jaws in thirty seconds - performed by bunnies.

--Mrs. League

Comic Books, Comics Scholarship and a Terrific Reading List for People Who Want to Get Into Comics but Think Superheroes are Dumb

Several days ago, Jim D. sent me a FAX at work. Apparently Jim is auditing HNRS 3161 (02), Comic Book Novels and Their Culture

The class is being offered at Lamar University, and is one of the growing crop of courses being taught by guys who, in 1986, stopped while reading The Dark Knight Returns and said to themselves: this is way better than that dumb book I'm reading in school. And thusly, Comics scholarship was born.

I find the readings interesting. I've read almost all of them.

Art Spiegelman's Maus
Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Alan Moore's Watchmen
Daniel Clowes' Ghost World
Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan

I have not yet read Neil Gaiman's Violent Cases

The idea of comics scholarship is an odd one. On the one hand, it offers people a chance to see the potential of the graphic medium for storytelling, and offers the potential to lay the literary establishment on its ear as comics are recognized to be a viable mode of storytelling within the hallowed halls of "those who know better".

On the other hand, who is going to register for this class who isn't already clued into the world of comics? My guess is, everyone in that class will have already read at least Dark Knight and Watchmen. The guys in the berets will have already read Ghost World and Jimmy Corrigan. A few will have read Maus because they thought they probably should. There might be a few indie rock girls who read Ghost World, but I don't think this is going to get popular with sorority girls looking for an easy-A.

The readings are the list of comics I'd give to my English Major friends when they say that all you need to know to know everything about comics is, "comics, oh yeah. Well, everyone knows Batman and Robin are closet homosexuals."* So aside from some assertions made by the late (and perennial fan-boy whipping boy) Frederic Wertham, what do these books have to offer?

A pretty wide array, if just from this small sampling. Ghost World and Jimmy Corrigan live in a microcosm, live and breathe with small characters living in a small world. The characters are real people, instantly recognizable as people from your high school or maybe from the post office.

Clowes' art is instantly recognizable, being simultaneously a red-headed step-child of 1970's indie comics and perhaps the master of this slice of a slice of a genre. He doesn't do much to fuzz with the use of sequential-art storytelling in Ghost World (not as he'd later do with Eightball #23, "Death Ray"), but his characters are utterly believable to look at, and their dialogue, etc... is painfully familiar.

Jimmy Corrigan is going to live on for decades as the culmination of a world-class obsessive compulsive disorder and a microscopic eye for detail. Confession time: I'm not a huge fan of Jimmy Corrigan. I can appreciate what Ware is doing, and I actually am very happy to have a copy of the book just to marvel at the work put into it, but the story didn't really do much to either move me or grab me. That said, from a scholarship standpoint (and that's what we're discussing here, right?) this may be one of the most important comic books ever published. Without getting all esoteric on you, Ware's understanding of use of the panel and sequential art may be unparalleled and shows a unique genius for conveying time, depth, emotion with the simple use of time compression and expansion in those tiny spaces between the panels. His art is sharp, clear and industrial, and, honestly, I have no idea how he does it (but I suspect he's using a Mac).

Ware had a strong follow up with Quimby the Mouse last year. I bought a beautiful hardcover copy, which I immediately f**ked up in my suitcase on the plane on the way home from Austin.

Maus gets mixed reviews in the comic book fan-world, but in literary realms, the book is pretty much universally praised. It is NOT an allegory, but a mix of semi-autobiographical material and recollections of stories of Art Spiegelman's father. Essentially, Maus tells both the story of Art Spiegelman and his father as they work on their relationship in Art's father's twilight years. Meanwhile, Art is collecting stories from his father who was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.

For reasons I'll leave for the reader to decide, the characters are mostly portrayed as mice, with Nazis portrayed as cats. It's not Animal Farm (as I said, it's not allegory, really). Instead, Maus uses the unique format of comics to bring implied understanding and meaning to the situation with animal-themed visual cues.

Regarding scholarship, Maus has been infiltrating literature classes for years, so omission from the list of readings would be considered a gross oversight. Again, if we're studying comics as a unique art form, we're not looking just at the pictures alone, nor just the story, but the collaboration between the two. Maus's use of animal imagery is largely where the success of the medium comes into play, as well as well-timed beats and juxtaposition of Art's father's matter-of-fact recounting and the way in which the actual scenes are depicted.

Curiously, the complaints from comic fans seem to stem from a dislike of the animal-imagery, and a general feeling of distaste for the subject matter, being too serious for some readers, or somehow not connecting with them. This particular debate is, to me, a curious beast, as I don't feel Maus is in any way overly complicated.

I'll forego my usual gushing comments about Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. What I will say is that these two books are considered the pinnacle of superhero storytelling, and that's different from just successful comic-form storytelling.

The instructor for Jim's class has wisely avoided adding too many superhero comics (the money generator of the comics' industry) in favor of quality comic books which can appeal to a wider audience. This is a double-edged sword as most comics are super-hero and sci-fi based, but the selection of readings also gives a chance for people who are super-hero adverse to explore the medium. However, the instructor has included two comics which use superheroes and the ideas behind superheroes to explore issues of power, abuse of power and character exploration of larger than life characters in a way which your average comic may not do.

The impact of Watchmen and Dark Knight irreversibly changed the way in which superheroes are looked upon by their own greatest fans, and has given way to innumerable new stories looking at the ways in which those in power must behave responsibly. Prior to these efforts, the clunky moralism of early Spider-Man and perhaps the 1970's Neal Adams efforts on Green Lantern/ Green Arrow were significant efforts and an interesting approach to unwieldy topics usually left out of comics altogether.

Dark Knight and Watchmen asked only that their characters have motivations and behave according to those motivations. The publication of these two books cemented a path toward an adult readership which continues to this day.

I am very surprised by the omission of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, which is, perhaps, best read by folks already exposed heavily to the comics medium (I always believed web designers would get a kick out of it, too).

Also, both Will Eisner's "fictional" work (Fagin the Jew, A Contract with God, The Spirit) and his instructional manuals (Comics & Sequential Storytelling)are completely overlooked despite their importance within the industry.

I think work from either McCloud or Eisner would be absolutely necessary for such a class, but I'm not teaching it, so...

Look, obviously comics are my great obsession. And I could name a dozen more books totally deserving to be on this class's must read list (Rocket Raccoon, hello? anyone? No?), but I'm just thrilled to see this sort of course making it's way into the great halls of learning.

I am not suggesting that comics are as important as, say, Government 101. But comics originated in the US as a true art form, and probably have as much right to have their own class as the History of Elvis Presley class taught here at my employing university (I seriously want to take that class). Additional courses could include European comics, Japanese comics, or "Why can't anyone tell Clark Kent is Superman?"

Discussing comic scholarship within the comic fan community is an utter nightmare, if message boards are any indication. Many fans do not appreciate folks like Ware and Clowes entering into their realm without an idea for a caped and masked avenger in tow. Many complain the books are boring, and there's a general sense of "who do these guys think they are?", which almost suggests that these readers don't, ultimately, believe in the comics form enough to think it can hold up under the weight of stories which are not flights of fancy.

Many, many of these posters, to nobody's surprise, just do not appear to understand the stories they have read. I know. That's a little harsh, but there are some real knuckleheads on comics message boards.

I wish Jim good luck, and I look forward to hearing all about the nonsense with which his instructor fills his head.

*quick note: There is a whole field of study regarding the sexuality of superheroes, stemming mostly from Batman and Robin. Look, if that's how people want to read it, go for it. There's a similar situation with Star Trek and Kirk and Spock. I could care less. Just keep in mind, Wertham and his book in the 1950's almost shut down the whole damn industry.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

this is the sort of thing that makes a portion of the comics population downright wet themselves.

Looks like Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly is doing some interesting things:

1) I never saw Firefly, but he's turned the cancelled show into a Hollywood sci-fi movie called Serenity.

2) Whedon has been writing the new X-men comic entitled "Astonishing X-Men." It's pretty good. ASTONISHINGLY good? That for you to decide...

3) Now rumors are mounting that Whedon is involved in X-Men 3, recently abandoned by Bryan Singer (who left to make the new Superman flick)

Is this good news? Sure, why not...

I never watched Buffy after Season 2 or so. I never watched Firefly, never watched Angel, but folks love that stuff the same way X-Fans love X-Men. So it sounds like a good match to me.

Phoenix Saga, here we come...

1) See my Aunt - done

2) Put comics in boxes - done

3) See Hero - done

4) read my JLA vs. Avengers collection - done

5) Watch JLU - done

6) Clean the house - uhmmm

7) go to the gym at least twice - well, once. But I took Mel for two lovely walks.

8) Eat some grilled chicken and wild rice - Uhmmm... not quite, but I did okay. Chicken fajitas. God bless McCormick's and their little pouches of spices. Also, I busted out the grill at Jamie's request. We kicked off our Fall tradition a few weeks early (as it was an unnaturally low 95 degrees) and had brauts.

I gotta say, I liked Hero quite well. As I told Jamie, it's nice to walk out of a movie and to not to have to dig for a compliment, settling upon "yeah, that was cute." Beautifully shot, incredible combat choreography, and a solid story to boot. As I was mostly reading subtitles, I guess the acting was good, but it's tough to say.

The movie did leave me with a few nagging questions which had nothing to do with the actual movie itself, but the point it made. Anyway, good movie, and it didn't have any aliens OR predators to make it stink.

JLU was also an interesting episode. I've been a fan of "The Question" since back in the 80's, and I loved the take on him they had in JLU. A boy-band humming nutjob martial-artist/ conspiracy theorist...? It's so close to a description of my dad, I had chills. Anyway, I know The Question won't make too many more appearances, but it was great to see the DCU's resident nutjob on TV. BTW, I have no idea who this Galatea person is, but she sure looked like Power Girl to me... any one else?

I am such a nerd.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I'm not sure why in my 3rd year here I have forgotten, but I can't get Texas games here. I can get Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. But Texas? No way.


How can it be college ball season if I can't watch UT?

Friday, September 03, 2004

And you didn't think you had any options this election year...

click on the picture for more info on The League's compulsory candidate

What will next befall League guiding light and all around influence "Weird" Al Yankovic?

Nathan, for some reason I think I was with you when I saw Weird Al at Astroworld.

Can that possibly be right? It seems right.
All I want to do this weekend in order:

1) See my Aunt

2) Put comics in boxes

3) See Hero

4) read my JLA vs. Avengers collection

5) Watch JLU

6) Clean the house

7) go to the gym at least twice

8) Eat some grilled chicken and wild rice

All I want to do this weekend in order (by Mrs. League):
1) See Sir Isaac Neaderhiser (our friends the Neaderhisers had a kid. His name is Isaac.)
2) Put Jeff in a box
3) See Spidey one last time
4) Finish reading War of the Worlds
5) Watch football....dammit, the season hasn't started yet - I hate preseason!
6) Clean the cat box
7) Think about going to the gym
8) Eat

**Edited to add that Blogger is messed up. I wrote this as a counterpart to The League's tale of weekend fun and it posted it before. Go read his first.
It's just. too. easy.

--Mrs. League
The new WB! cartoon "The Batman"..? My fears that the show was going to be more "kiddie" that the Bruce Timm/ Paul Dini show are gone.

Watch Batman v. Bane in Quicktime.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

I think my boss is trying to get rid of me...

--Mrs. League

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

As a Superman-fan, I don't usually have much space to ridicule the proclivities of others.

But this Cuddle Party thing? If you're one of the lucky folks attending Cuddle Parties, I'm going to help you out here:

You are lame.

If you're that starved for attention and affection, get a cat. The cat may not even like you, but it will sit on you when it gets cold. Rolling around on the floor with total strangers while you're in your jammies shows only that your mommy did not hold you enough as a child.

Seriously, this is the lamest thing I've ever heard of. It's right up there with Furries.

A special section for the ladies:

The men are lying to you. They do not just want simple platonic affection. This Cuddle Party idea has been concocted by the same team of evil geniuses who taught you it's okay to wear only a sports-bra while jogging, and that the Beach Volleyball team would perform better in bikinis.

Remember that dude from Rain's Cuddle Party two weeks back? He was laying next to you in the Cookie Monster shirt? he was kind of funny and silly, but sort of weird, but it was okay because it's just a cuddle party..?

He's imagining you naked even now.

He is. I'm sorry. All we can do is hope to distract him next time

This time next year, the Cuddle Parties are going to have turned into big Ecstacy-fueled Roman orgies, and all of the people looking to crawl into their jammies and roll around on the floor with complete strangers (while still pretending this is actually sanitary) are going to be wondering what happened.

Get a cat. They're easy to adopt at the ASPCA. They even poop in a box so they're easy to clean up after.

If that fails, try dating.
I don't follow baseball, but holy cow...

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I get the feeling I am not going to be able to find the Justice League toy of The UltraHumanite.

Note on the link that this company has ALREADY jacked the price up to $35.00 before shipping.

Leaguers, this is highway robbery. This is $.75 worth of plastic.

IF you see the toy at Target or Wal-Mart, let me know or pick it up, and I will send you a PHAT check. DO NOT spend more than $7.50 on this toy. THe last time I ordered a figure online that way, I saw it on the peg for $6.50 the next week.

Anyway, Ultra-Humanite. White Ape with big brain and bondage gear.
Remember that movie Jim Caviezel was in where his father sent him to humanity to save us from ourselves?

Well, word on the comic book street is that he may be about to be in another movie along those same lines.

Jim Caviezel is now rumored to be cast as Superman for the new Bryan Singer helmed Superman movie due to begin production before the end of 04.

If the rumor is true, I'm okay with it. I'm not as excited as I was about Christian Bale as Batman, but it's a far cry from one-time-Super-selection Ashton Kutcher (shudder). Caviezel is supposed to be an excellent actor (I've never seen any of his movies). He's just... smaller than I was thinking Superman might be. And I'd have liked to have seen the continuity of bringing Tom Welling over from Smallville to Superman. But, c'est la vie. No Kutcher means we're that much closer to the movie not being a complete trainwreck.

You can read here where Mark Millar (irritating but talented writer of Marvel's Ultimates and Spider-Man) drops the bomb.

And sounds like the script includes Brainiac. BRAINIAC!!!! Please, God... Let them use the "Where's-My-Pants?" version of Brainiac. Actually, Brainiac has had so many different looks over the years, I am sure it will be a totally new and interesting version if he is in the movie.

I guess Brainiac 13 is too much to hope for.

Actually, these days, expecting this movie not to stink is too much to hope for. Jim D. called me about two weeks ago apparently just to let me know he didn't think they could ever make a good Superman movie. I suspect he'd just finished Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, which was excellent only in it's inclusion of John Cryer as Luthor's bumbling nephew, Lenny.

Monday, August 30, 2004

More Superheroes in trouble...

Superman is in Minnesota causing trouble, so Batman has also made an appearance in the Mid-West.

I always thought The World's Greatest Detective would avoid the sweets. Mayhaps not.

thanks to Shoemaker for the link.
Sounds like Clark's been getting into the red kryptonite again.
Maxwell locates some unfortunate advertising at the Republican convention.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

God knows I love Halloween. I do. I love it. Here at The League, it's up there with Christmas and Arbor Day.

And I am comforted to know it is soon a-coming. How do I know? I just ate a delicious bowl of "Haunted Apple Jacks Manor" with marshmallow bones, skulls, and other little bits. It was frightfully delicious.

Anybody have any ideas for a Halloween contest this year? In order to help out Jim D., I'm a-thinking of a single entry list of "really bad horror movies."

Either that, or something to do with "What shall I carve upon a pumpkin?"

I have to run the contest beginning in about two or three weeks, so I'm taking submissions for ideas.

And it's not too early for you to start planning your costume. This year, I am going to be a chubby white guy. I started working on this costume in 1995. I'm almost done.
So I may or may not have broken Jamie's hand. Ker-whack.

Nothing like injuring the wife to make yourself feel like a total heel.

We were at the gym and I tossed her a medicine ball. According to some reports, I tossed it too quickly or something. I'm not sure. I thought the speed was okay. Maybe she lacks hand-eye coordination. I cannot say. I do know it was I who threw the ball, and she has the injured hand.

I also know that we spent three or four hours at the ER today listening to the lady in the next room get manually cleared of her terrible constipation.

Look, if I had to listen to the whole ordeal, you have to think about it for a few seconds.

Jamie is doing okay. She needs to go for an additional X-Ray later this week, and then she'll know for certain. In the meantime, she's in a sort of cast/ splint and a sling.

And I feel like a jerk.

Luckily, there was my mom on the other end of the phone, lending her undying love and support.

"What did you do that to her for?"
"Mom, I just tossed her the ball."
"Well, you threw it too hard."
"I didn't throw it too hard, Ma. It was a freak accident."
"Why weren't you being more careful?"
"I was being careful. It was an accident."
"It doesn't sound to me like you were being careful."
"I was."
"Well, Jamie can't catch a ball like that. What kind of ball was this?"
"It was a medicine ball."
"I never heard of such a thing. Why were you throwing it at her?"
"Because my trainer told me to. We were like five feet apart."
"It sounds like you weren't being careful."


Friday, August 27, 2004

Anyone remember my self-congratulatory story on my time at The Disney Store?

Well, apparently I'm not the only one who sees the face of evil in the robotic friendliness and efficiency of the Disney Corp.

Heidi reports here from The Beat.

Reading this makes me want to watch Westworld again.


You know what's amazing but absolutely f**king gross?

Growing a jaw in your back.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

It turns out, I am in class with a guy who played Spock's dad in Star Trek V.

How cool is that?
Hi all.

Still busy.

But, here we go anyway...

Comics legend Neil Gaiman has ventured continually into film and television, and is not set to see one of the projects he's worked on actually get wide theatrical release. He's most famous for his Sandman series, and the Death spin-offs.

The new flick appears to be a fantasy movie in the vein of Dark Crystal, Labrynth, Legend or something like that. I honestly have no idea, because all of the pictures look like images done by comic illustrator Dave McKean, a constant Gaiman collaborator. (McKean also worked on Arkham Asylum, I believe).

I don't know if McKean worked on this film, but it sure looks like he did.

The movie is called "MirrorMask". I don't know anything about it, including expected release dates.

Here's a pic

Here's another

another pic

Yet another

I already know my old pal, The My, will be a big fan of this movie. I doubt he knows if it yet, but he will.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

There's a new Batman cartoon debuting this Fall.

Looks pretty much like Batman, all right. It doesn't appear to be any improvement over the Batman series from the 90's, but it does look okay. I have no doubt I'll DVR it (it's on Saturday mornings... The League is so very sleepy on Saturday mornings).

My guess is, WB is re-launching the entire Batman franchise with the release of Batman Begins, and they didn't want to pay Bruce Timm and Paul Dini a decent salary, so they started fresh.

Anyway, for a peek at the show, click here. There's a Flash intro and a stream of a sort of trailer for the show and skin for your media player.

You may or may not know this, but The League is involved with Distance Education by profession. I put classes online for the School of Engineering for a large public university.

Well, it's a fairly new field, this online learning. Maybe ten years old.

Anyway, this is the first time I've seen distance learning related humor. I'm a little blown away.

Check out this article in The Onion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

And just a little something if you have a few extra minutes at your desk...

an ad for Robot Insurance from Old Glory Insurance.
...Doesn't pay to get out of bed...

So it's the first week of classes, which means there are a lot of students on campus all of the time, running from building to building, finding classrooms, lounging about, etc...

Which also means there are lots of folks selling crap all around campus. There are the guys selling newspaper subscriptions, and people trying to move credit cards, etc... Last year there were girls in slinky dresses trying to give out samples of a new cologne.

So I just left a meeting and I'm walking on the street parallel to campus (think west side of The Drag) when this dude in the standard "gym-guy" uniform spies me. I see he has a handful of brightly colored flyers, so I steel myself.

"Hey, dude! You want to get the workout of a lifetime?!!! Be in the best shape of your life?!!!"

I give him the one hand "no" motion near my side, and do the curt head-shake. And I go on my way.

"Looks like you could use it!"

And that's when I stopped and turned to look back.

I THINK he was trying to be helpful or something, because he was still standing there with a flier extended out to me.

As always, I was at a loss for words, but I was standing there with the bird fully extended, so I guess I felt pretty good about that.

I just wondered what school of marketing this guy had gone to where you SHAME people into joining your gym. I can only imagine the hang-dog clientele, miserably trudging along on the treadmill.

"You'll never lose weight like that, fatty!"

Anyway, it was a nice, completely unexpected blow to my self-esteem I just didn't need today. And when that's the case, the finger just doesn't suffice.
Happy Birthday R2-D2!

Kenny Baker, the man in the can, is 70 years old today. 70 years old and they're still making him sit in the little robot while he should be out on the golf course. For those of you who think R2-D2 is Kenny's only claim to fame I direct you to item 4 on his IMDB filmography list.

--Mrs. League
This weekend I did what I always do when Jamie leaves. I freaked out, because, kids... The League does not do well when left to his own devices. At least Mel was there to pal around.

All that went sour, though, when Saturday night I took mel for a walk that ended with me getting him to go down a slide at the park near my house.

I also went to Best Buy this weekend, because there are no other video/ CD stores in Chandler for me to support.

On a whim, I picked up the new album by Scissor Sisters, based upon a strong review I read somewhere, and because they were willing to do a disco cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb."

It's an odd record, and is better than you think it is upon a first listen. Scissor Sisters seem to have two modes: Elton John and Disco Frenzy. I have no idea if that appeals to you, but I do like a good 3/5ths to 2/3rds of the record, which is a much better average then I have been hitting of late.

I also picked up Freaks, which was even better than I remember it being.

Gooble Gobble
One of us
One of us

The extra features are as fascinating as the actual movie.

For a nice little tune about Circus Folk by my old pals in Maximum Coherence, go here to listen.

Anyhoo, I am very busy with work. I welcome you all to enjoy this picture, and maybe write a story about it.


Will Tom Welling (of Clark Kent/ Smallville fame) appear in the new Batman movie as Clark Kent?

SuperheroHype! thinks so...

I love the idea of a shared Batman/ Superman universe in the movies, and I'd love to see each franchise knock out two movies and then do a World's Finest movie. Batman and Superman shared a comic entitled "World's Finest" for decades. Ever since, when referring to the pairing of Batman and Superman, real comic geeks refer to it as "World's Finest." Just a little FYI.

If you CAN'T wait for a World's Finest movie, check out this fan film...

Also, a picture in the article features the ninja costumes worn by the bad dudes run by Ra's Al Ghul. Notice the Batman-like protrusions from the fore-arm guards. Pretty cool.

Monday, August 23, 2004

See, Ryan, we didn't have to get married at Green Pastures.

"Who gives this woman in marriage?" asked Stacey Garza of the Free Will Church.
"Her friends and family at Wal-Mart," Foruria replied.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

When Worlds Collide


I just watched the last 50-60 seconds of Bill O'Reilly interviewing Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

My brain is melting.

Man, did anyone else watch the Women's Marathon this morning? That was awesome.

BTW, Deena Kastor came in 3rd, winning the Bronze. She's awesome.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The League Witnesses (and comments upon) Aliens vs Predator

Do you know when the last time was you checked your watch during a movie? I do.

It was about forty-five minutes ago when I was wondering how much more of Aliens vs. Predator I was going to have to sit through.

That was a seriously dumb movie.

Of course, I KNEW AvP was going to be dumb, which is why I waited until Jamie was safely out of the state before I went to go see it.

I've seen some seriously stupid movies in the theater. Here is a short list.

American Cyborg: Steel Warrior
Man's Best Friend
Street Fighter (not the Jackie Chan version, the Raul Julia version)
Out for Justice
The Relic
Event Horizon
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie
Deep Blue Sea
Halloween 6
Batman and Robin
Dracula 2000
Godzilla (TWICE!!!)

But even in these movies I never spent the duration of the movie saying to myself, "You know what would have created a more palpable sense of tension..? If X, Y and Z had happened."

I am not that smart. I shouldn't be able to out-screen-write the screenwriters while the film is going on.

Nor should I be able to say, "I'm no archaeologist, but their MO for exploring this site seems a little unorthodox. If even one of these clowns is a scientist, they would have put the kaibosh on this whole operation," or "Why are J, K and L even happening? That directly contradicts what we learned in the first six movies tied to these characters..."

Hey AvP screenwriters: Want to know a good way to build tension in a movie? I'll give you this tip for free... Don't use a huge, glowing, neon arrow to point to your "Ripley" at the beginning of the movie. Don't do it. The magic of movies where people get picked off one by one until only one remains is that you're not supposed to know who's gonna make it... Not so in Aliens vs Predator.

This was one lazy, sloppy movie. It was the kind of movie where you never actually catch anybody's real name, because it doesn't f**kin' matter. And stuff happens not because it's interesting or good, but because the movie has a sort of clumsy, tumbling momentum going, and if they look to the sides or back, the whole thing will just burn up the gears.

AvP was the kind of movie where rich-eccentric scientists bribe struggling scientists to join them, and then make silly, dramatic entrances. It's the sort of flick in which actors translate a roomful of runes in almost pitch black in about 5 minutes (no, seriously... 5 minutes). And actors are forced to spout well-worn cliches like "The enemy of my enemy... Is my friend!", only because the screenwriter and director can't trust their own audience enough to actually do some simple math.

I will say this: The Aliens effects looked okay, and the Predator guys looked pretty neat and had cool toys.

I will also say there's a shot at the end of the flick of some of the Predators in which the movie would have benefited from showing less of the Predators. Sadly, the shot makes it pretty clearly the "Predators" are just some dudes in (enormous) rubber masks.

If the rumor that this version I endured was a studio cut is true, and that the director really had some other footage up his sleeve is also true, I would be game to see the movie again to see the new footage. The League just has a hard time believing AvP was intentional.

It did occur to me we're sort of in the same boat folks were in back in the 1950's. Back then, the Universal monsters were tussling with each other regularly as the new creations filling the screen became progressively... sillier. There hadn't been any good horror franchises to come out in twenty years, so the money guys were green lighting Frankenstein meets Dracula , etc... Actually, I guess they literally did FvD with Van Helsing this year, but you get the idea.

I think we're going through that all over again. Which is good news, because it might mean some new, better movies will be coming along.

Anyway, that was $8.00 and 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back.


Friday, August 20, 2004

DC Character Profile: Green Lantern (1) / Sentinel

Secret Identity: Alan Scott

Rating: Pretty Danged Cool

Comic He Might Be In: JSA/ Justice Society of America

DC profile

What makes him a superhero: Alan Scott wears a magical green ring he forged from part of a green, mystical meteor. The rest of the meteor he forged into a lantern. The ring is powered by the lantern every 24 hours.

The ring is able to create tangible, 3-dimensional objects from a mystical green flame. These objects can be used as tools, weapons or defenses. The ring also allows Alan to fly, and has kept him in his physical prime since the 1930’s.

The weakness? For some bizarre-o reason, the ring doesn’t work on wood. So if you want to kill him, hit him with a baseball bat.

What he's about: These days, Alan is a sort of father figure to the other Green lanterns running around Sector 2814. While Alan is not officially part of the Green Lantern Corps, he does okay.

He’s also one of the founding members of the JSA, and is a key-player and heavy-hitter for America’s most publicly adored team.

These days, Alan is all about legacy, and serves the purpose of tying Golden Age comics to the current age of comics.

Why The League digs him:

I think he looks like my old pal, Trevor Dutton.

The League digs the crazy costume design and wild ideas which originally spawned the Green Lantern. His vulnerability to wood is a suspect plot point at best, but is still a nice tie to the past.

Alongside Jay Garrick and Carter Hall, I love the fact that these B-list characters are still kicking around the comics world, and have been since 1940.

Heidi McDonald looks forward to this year's Pimp-tacular Halloween stylings for both children and pets.
As mutually excited as Jim D. and I are about the DVD release of Tod Browning's Freaks, I am just as pleased to note that (surprise, surprise) Marvel and Columbia TriStar will be getting even more of my money. Two different DVD sets will be released for Spider-Man 2.

I have already pledged to pick up the deluxe set.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Was this really a bear, or Jim D. in his bear-suit?

It is the first anniversary of my vegetarianiasm.

And to celebrate, I have quit being a vegetarian. I just ate about a pound of grilled chicken.

And, my God... that was good. I ain't never lookin' back....

Honey, get some charcoal for the grill. Carnivore Ryan is BACK!!!!
So, the League and I had our second 'Fit Test' at our rediculously large gym last night. This was to see how far we had come in training since joining Fort Fitness back in May.

How far indeed.

This test seemed to indicate that I had less flexibility, was worse on cardio, and had improved only an eensy bit in strength. They do this strange analysis where the computer determines 'how old' your body actually is. I believe this calculation to be a load of shit. Back in May, after 11 years of poor health and virtually no exercise, I was told my body was '29' (which is my actual age). Rediculous, mainly because the only factor contributing to this young age seemed to be the fact that I was a reasonable weight. That's it. My other scores blew.

Last night, after 4 months of reasonably consistant training, the computer informed me that I was now '30'. I had aged a year. I don't usually say this since I am in software development and generally get along with my development machine, but...."Ohhhh---kayyy, Mr. Compooter! Whatever you say....."

In case you are tired of me blogging and miss the League (he's been slammed at work) - I will be out of town this weekend in beautiful Berkeley, CA, so you'll not have to listen to my insane rambling. Bug the League to entertain you with stories of being home alone with Swell Mel and Def Jeff.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

We can all rest at ease.

While the article states: "It's unclear how the dog managed to get away",
the answer might be found in The Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries: My Life Tailing Paris Hilton.

An exerpt:
"Say, want to know how my morning went? Well, I'll tell you: I just spent 20 minutes (that's an hour and a half in dog minutes) watching Lady Einstein here try to stuff a $100 bill into a vending machine. "I never have anything smaller than a hundred," she actually yelled at it, before calling it "a complete retread." I think she meant "retard," but who the Christ knows. She's in the other room sulking and drinking from the tap. I spent the rest of the morning trying to lick a power socket."

--Mrs. League
Mmmm....can't think of anything more appetizing than eating next to the smell of cat piss.

Folks, don't dress your kitties up in tuxedos and take them out to dinner. You may think it's cute, but you'll traumatize them and then they'll later want to take revenge. Stick to Cat Chow.

--Mrs. League

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

From: The League
To: Shoemaker
RE: Narrative Strategies

Man, I have been hacking away at telling the story of (Name withheld to avoid lawsuit) without telling her name, which is kind of key to the whole operation.

And I must admit, I'm basically finding it really hard to write the story without sounding like a big 'ol racist. I still think most of my complaints were probably well founded about the pedantic nature of the course. But when you write it out, it makes it sound like I was either a big know-it-all (which I was) or that I was a big ol racist (which i'd of liked to of thought I was not).

I'm struggling on this one.



From: Shoemaker
To: The League
RE: You are a complete sissy

If it makes you feel any better, that class was key in my political transformation from slightly-informed liberal asswipe to slightly-more-informed conservative asswipe. I cannot deny the negative effect that a Marxist-Feminist reading of the Weather Channel had on me. I cannot buy when that's what you're trying to sell me.

again, i'll back you up.


So, Loyal Leaguers... Let me see if I can remember...

Well, it helps to know I was not an "A" student in college. It wasn't for lack of trying, but most likely for lack of intellectual capacity. This is not to mention a strong disinterest in anything which was not EXACTLY what I wanted to be doing at that specific moment. My utter failure in academia would only partially foreshadow my inability to progress in my professional life later.

It also helps to know that in order to take "production" classes in the UT Radio-Television-Film department, students first were required to take pre-requisite courses, one of which was "Narrative Strategies." The class was supposed to be an examination of the principles that go into storytelling, and how all of the elements of a film work together to tell a story. Pretty simple.

In order to justify RTF as anything other than a trade-school type program, an infusion of academia has to be allocated into the mix. So, anyone with an RTF degree should know that faculty are never going to just let it go at "how to tell a good story". RTF faculty also fancy themselves armchair sociologists. So, armed with some cribbed English-major techniques and whichever political leanings they bring to the classroom, Narrative Strategies became a course in which we dissected Arnie movies in order to condemn every facet of them from the proto-Marxist-Feminist POV. And then we watched many, many dumb movies which, we were told, were awesome if you were a smart Marxist like the instructors.

editor's note: For those of you who think RTF majors just sit and watch movies in class, rest assured... Our screenings were during a separate "lab" time. We had three hours of lecture and usually three hours of screenings. Between all of that and the endless readings and other studying, the class was a time sink like none I'd yet seen, and there was almost zero pay-off... Just the far-off hope of getting into a production class one day...

The instructors weren't interesting or creative. They weren't interested in teaching any content on how to make a movie. They there to spout off assertions they'd read elsewhere and pass it off as their own.

Because, see... This class wasn't designed to actually be interesting or show how to do things well. Forget learning how to tell a story... At times, it seemed the course was designed to show us how shitty everything is and send us careening on guilt trips, rather than, you know, show us effective use of three-act structure.

The point is: the instructors were not filmmakers. These were people who liked to watch movies and had somehow found a way to make a career out of watching movies without ever actually producing anything of interest. And because they held degrees and we did not(and Randy will like this), our opinions were tiny and stupid, and their opinions were enlightened and wise.

"Do you," I asked early on, "Really believe that anybody working on these movies really, intentionally does any of this stuff you're dwelling on?"
"That's not the point," I was told. "These are issues which are societal, and the art reflects the society."
"Then why don't you blame society instead of Arnie?"
"Because he's perpetuating the stereotypes."
"Are you saying that no people from the Middle-East are terrorists?" (pre 9-11, post viewing of True Lies.)
"He's saying they're terrorists."
"No, he said these people were terrorists. He didn't say all Middle-Eastern people are terrorists."
"Well, Ryan, look at how they're portrayed. They're bumbling and incompetent."
"So they have to be competent terrorists."
"They don't have to be terrorists. Why didn't he pick a white militant group?"
And at this point, we were getting way out of the scope of what I was willing to argue in front of a class at age 19. "I don't know," I admitted, and I let it drop.

It's not that I necessarily even really disagreed with the instructors, but this was new to me. And the fact that we couldn't really discuss without risking our grade... And I wanted to be a good little lefty, but my brain was frying trying to go along with the little logical loops my instructor was tying.

After two class sessions of endless discussion on the plain-as-day racism of John Ford's The Searchers, (being presented as if the instructor had uncovered the Ark of the Covenant rather than just regurgitating what was in last night's reading...), and then having to sit through general cowboy bashing, and the general emasculation of, say, wanting to ride a horse... I tossed out a point I wanted to discuss.

"In the movie, they wore really big hats."
"Yes, they did."
"I mean, those are big hats."
"And what do you think it says?"
"Well, you know... John Wayne's hat-"
"Ethan's hat..."
"Ethan's hat was very, very large."
"And I think we can see that John Ford is trying to make these characters bigger than life."
"And was there anything else about the hats that you noticed? Color?"
"No. I was watching the movie and I just said to myself, 'Wow. Those are some big hats.'"
She paused, looking down at me in my front row seat, then turned to the class. "Does anyone else have anything to add about the hats?"
The room sat in silence.
"John Wayne had to take off his hat when he came through the door," I offered up.
"Yes," she nodded, trying to decide if I had just dropped one letter grade or two. "He did."

Even as I write this, I am so embarrassed my parents paid for my schooling.

But I am oft fascinated with hats, and my instructor wore this one dumb, sort of S&M biker hat. I remember that. It was her totem to indicate she was some sort of free-spirit thinker-type. And maybe she was. It was also sort of a bleak look into what happened to college-hipsters who hadn't yet given up the ghost. She was still young enough to pull it off, but it was just now crossing this side of dorky...

We watched other movies. The worst of which was King Lear, by Jean-Luc Godard. I don't remember much about it, but I recall it had Molly Ringwald and Burgess Meredith... and I am not making this up... I've had more fun getting teeth pulled. It was the worst movie I have, to this day, ever seen. And I watched most of From Justin to Kelly. But Godard's Lear was the sort of masturbatory nonsense we were supposed to be deriving a lesson from, I guess.

What lesson, you ask? Ho ho ho! You don't get it?

Well, if you don't know, the instructor said, I can't explain it to you.

This was more or less the MO following our screenings.

I do recall being unable to just fall asleep at screenings due to the uncomfortable seats provided. And, man, I tried.

We had to write a paper on a 30-second ad spot we'd recorded. And unsure or what to really do, I figured with the tone of the class it'd be like shooting fish in a brrel if I recorded a "Diamonds are Forever" spot and then talked about how dumb people are for believing diamonds are going to make them happy. I rambled on about the false promise of the commerical for pages on end. And, having no money myself, I figured people who could afford diamonds were jerks, anyway, so it wasn't that hard to write.

I got a B- and everyone else got A's. I was kind of pissed. I'm still not really sure if I picked the wrong commercial, or if my shot-by-shot analysis didn't match up with my instructor's, but she didn't like my paper.

I went and talked to her about it, because, frankly, my grades already sucked.

She looked a bit dazed as I entered her office.

"What's up?"
"Sometimes," and suddenly she was confiding in me, I guess, " I don't think the students like me very much."
"Really?" Because, I wanted to say, we don't, but we were really hoping you hadn't noticed. We all need A's.
"Do you get that?" she asked, wide-eyed, looking for an in...
"Well... It's like this," I had this chance! This shining opportunity to crush her little post-grad heart! To dance about and point out what a lame waste-of-time the class was, and how her inane blatherings always made me late for Danish 502 day after day. "I'm not sure this material is for everybody," I lied. "It's a prerequisite class."
"Well, yeah. You're fine," I was crumbling. "A lot of people just don't get what you're going for."
She nodded that slow, accepting nod. Yes, I had confirmed that we didn't really like her, but it wasn't HER we didn't like. It was this material she presented, we weren't ready for her profound wisdom yet...

I felt bad for her for maybe two weeks. She knew we hated her. Or at least that i hated her. And she never did change my grade, nor was I ever satisfied with her lack of answer as to why my grade sucked.

When we watched "Dead Poets Society", which, at that point, I was sick of anyway... My patience began to dwindle as the instructor spent ten minutes talking about how the movie was full of false promises of hope and rebellion. Keep in mind, the movie ends with a bunch of rich kids standing on their desks shouting "Oh Captain, my captain..." Not exactly the Bastille.

"Well," I asked. "What did you want for them to do?"
"As a form of rebellion?"
"Yeah. I mean, you spent ten minutes telling us these guys are suckers for reading poetry. What do you want them to do?"
"That's not really the point..."
"Yeah it is. You said they weren't rebelling. It sounds to me like you know what you wanted to see."
"I'm not sure."
"I don't understand," I was doing that thing where I can hear myself talking, but my brain is only able to listen as my mouth runs off on its own, "How you can say it isn't the right answer if you don't know what the answer is. You're saying they aren't rebelling. What did you want to see them do?"
"What do you think they should have done?"
"I don't know," I shrugged. "I have no idea. But you sound like you know what the official answer should be."
Her patience was wilting. "It's up to the film maker to say what they thought they should do, and, in this case, they didn't give a sufficient answer."
"Okay. If YOU were the filmmaker, what would YOU have them do?"
"But, Ryan... I'm not the filmmaker. We're talking about what's actually in the movie-"
"Were they supposed to put the evil dean's head on a pike? I don't understand-"
"That's not really pertinent," I was cut off. "And we can talk about it after class."
We never talked about it after class.

The single most bizarre lecture came about when we got to watch The Weather Channel for an hour one day. The bent was: The Weather Channel is racist. Because, you know, it doesn't do enough to appeal to minorities.

At one point we watched "Cops", and were told it was "keeping minorities down." When pointed out how many shirtless white dudes actually appeared on the show, we were instructed that it was really trying to keep down the poor, and race didn't matter. Then the instructor pointed out that all of the people on Cops have to sign waivers in order to appear on the show, and I wasn't really sure how that was keeping people down if they didn't HAVE to appear on the show. Never did get a solid answer on that one.

It went on and on like that. Shoemaker seemed to be in class less and less often.

I studied for the exam with Blake and Johnny (who was actually a really good director, I later found out). We'd spent the last few weeks dwelling on "post-modernism" as a hot topic (this is 1994, I think). And finally we took the exam.

And I did really shitty. I mean, not too shitty, but not great. I got a B in the class.

But by then, I didn't care. This was the dumbest class I ever had, and, even after taking a victory lap and collecting 180 hours worth of credits, is still the dumbest college-level class I ever took.

I recall being handed the evaluation for the instructor and carefully bubbling in the sheet to indicate my displeasure. But then I was facing off against the giant blank space left for comments, which, I understood, the instructors actually read. The risk always being that the instructor would know your handwriting, and you'd see that instructor again at some point, and then WHAM-O!!!

But I knew, sitting there with #2 pencil clutched in hand... I never wanted to take another class from this person. Never. Not even if it meant I'd never graduate. And so, as everyone else's pencils flitted back and forth, scrawling out our shared vitriol, I carefully diagramed how the instructor's last name could be an anagram for "ANGER". And that was it.

This was a far cry from the heart and flowers I had drawn around my "Image and Sound" instructor's name.

"Anger" was going to get the form back, and, I had no doubt, would figure out it was the boy who done it... But I didn't care anymore. She sucked. She sucked bad. She had no place in a classroom bugging the hell out of impressionable young minds.

And that was it.

I did see her in the hallway the next semester, carting around a big box full of stuff from her office.

"Hi Ryan."
She knew. I knew she knew it was me. At least my paranoid delusions led me to believe she knew.
"How's school?" she asked.
"Okay. Busy. You teaching?"
And she launched into some dumb, boring story I can't even recall, nor can I recall whether she was or was not teaching. I don't think so, though.

I looked her up before writing this. She's now teaching somewhere in the UK, where I am sure, she feels she is perfectly understood.

Monday, August 16, 2004

When everyday tom-foolery goes horribly, horribly wrong...

A fair and balanced view of liberalism you can now share with your children!

There's a liberal under by bed!

Here is a picture of Arden. Arden is the child of Jill and Jess Hermann-Wilmarth. Arden showed up on Thursday morning to the great delight of Jill and Jess, as well as that of quite a bit of Georgia and the greater North American region.

Please note that Arden is, in no way, named Ryan 2. For which we shall petition Jill. If you think this little bundle of joy should be named Ryan 2 instead of Arden, fill in the comments below.

In the meantime, congratulations to Jill and Jess and Arden. Arden is now prepared to rock the house.

Arden contemplates a life outside of a bubble of amniotic fluid...

If Arden were a cartoon, he would look like this:

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Editor's note: Jim D. recently purchased a copy of Marvel Comics' "Ultimates". He asked me for a few words of explanation, and then suggested I copy the e-mail I wrote him on Marvel's Ultimates line and post it here, so post it here I shall.

To explain Ultimates is to understand Marvel's past few years as a company.

A few years ago Marvel got a new President, Bill Jemas, and a new Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada. Marvel had been really struggling during the late 90's, and was trying to figure out how to resolve what they perceived as the problems with their current titles. They brought in fresh blood in the higher offices (with Quesada brought in from his mature reader line of Marvel Knights to helm the ship. I don't recall where Jemas came from).

Both X-Men and Spider-Man were (as you will constantly hear about) mired in 40 years of continuity. This made it difficult for new readers to jump in. And even if they did go back and buy old issues, often those stories were dated and didn't make sense if you wanted to say a character was only, say, 30 years old.

For example, the Fantastic Four's origin is tied directly to the Space Race. Sue Storm states "we need to beat the commies!" And then they jump in a space capsule.

So, rather than jettison the ongoing series, Marvel launched Ultimate Spider-Man (pre-movie) to retell the origin of Spider-Man and reintroduce the villains with more updated origins and costumes, etc...

For example, Venom in the original series is tied to Secret Wars, a mini-series from 1982 or so. Secret Wars isn't coming back, and it's kind of lame to point to a series that's 20 years old and outside of the actual Spider-Man titles for reference. Ultimate Spider-Man gave Venom a new origin and tied it more closely to Spider-Man.

Sounds lame, but they assigned a top writer and artist to the project. The rest is history.

I've also wondered if Ultimate Spider-Man wasn't a safety valve for Spider-Man in the "post Clone Saga era" in order to bring back readers who swore off Spider-Man forever.

After Ultimate Spider-Man became a #1 seller, they tried Ultimate Team-Up to introduce "Ultimate" versions of classic characters. Ultimate X-Men followed, then Ultimates.

I pick up the trades of Ultimate Spider-Man. I pick up the trades of Ultimates (mostly because the actual issues have come out very erratically. 13 issues in 2.4 years?). I don't care for Ultimate X-men all that much, and only read the first trade before abandoning it. It seemed almost like a Mountain Dew commerical to me. But I'm generally off X-Men altogether these days. Ultimate FF is definitely the greatest departure from the source material. It's interesting, but it's very different in a lot of ways.

These comics sell very, very well. However, I'm not sure they've expanded sales to "new readers" as intended, and they stand the chance of dropping the value of the source material instead of enhancing it.

On the whole, I don't think this has been either good or bad. The Ultimate line was the success story of the short reign of Bill Jemas before the board fired him for continually insulting readers, retailers and pretty much everybody who came in his path. Not to mention Jemas went out of his way to turn the friendly rivalry between Marvel and DC into Marvel tossing direct insults at DC staff, comics, etc... ruining forty years of cordial relations. Plus, he launched multiple lines which nose-dived, re-wrote whole scripts himself, and was doing other s**t which was kind of insane. Further, Ultimates drove content into a PG-13 direction which the board considered not good if they wanted to expand the market out of retail stores once again and draw in kids. (editor's note: Jemas also began making moves to jettison the old titles and would only sell Ultimate line versions of the characters for various projects. You can still see Ultimate Wolverine turn up in some odd places. You can see how the PG-13 thing, plus putting Wolverine on a towel for 5 years olds might not fly.)

If you can't tell, I couldn't stand Jemas, and I find Quesada (still at Marvel) to be immature and obnoxious. (editor's note: for clarification, Quesada routinely takes credit for the success of all things Marvel whether or not he had anything to do with them. Ie, the success of the Spider-Man movies... He also keeps up the middle-school taunt of calling the Time Warner owened DC Comics "AOL Comics")

I suspect Quesada's days are numbered as well. The success of Marvel has almost occured in spite of these two rather than because of them.

Really, they can thank Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar for pulling their fat out of the fire.

I feel like I can read both Ultimate Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man without too many worries. I've never liked Avengers, but I find Ultimates interesting when I read, so that's a success in my book.

Anyway, none of the series are more than a few years old, so you can probably find all of their trades at the local comic shop without too much effort, and you'd then have the complete series.

Has anyone else seen this synchronized diving? How is that a sport? Apparently pretty much activity two people can do simultaneously is now a sport.

In four years, Jim D. and I will enter in the Synchronized origami folding. We're going to kick ass.

Saw Harold and Kumar today. A very, very silly B movie if there ever was one. I will say, I have to get behind any movie with Neil Patrick Harris as himself, a cheetah and a pointed effort to make fun of the "Extreme" movement. But, again... a B movie. Make no mistake. Wait for cable or DVD rental.