Friday, June 17, 2005

A Super-Meme

This one's been circulating for a bit. I just saw it on Return to Comics, so now I feel like I can use it, too.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Mostly, I'd like to be able to make people healthy with the touch of a finger. I'd be like "ET-Man". And I'd charge like $10 a visit. I'd do nothing all day but poke people with my finger and fix them.

If that didn't happen because I'd refuse to let anybody ever get sick and God would get irritated with this globe swarming with undead people, I have a choice #2.

Invulnerability. Sure, flight would be the most fun, but I can always buy a jetpack, right? No? Oh. Well, invulnerability. I would never worry about getting hit by a bus again. I could intentionally walk into terrible situations and let bullets fly off of my skin. If the wait for the elevator is too long, I'd just jump out the window.

There's a lot to be said for cannon shells bouncing off of your hide.

If that didn't pan out, I guess I'd like to have the power to know when I have either irrevocably won ro lost an argument. Or the ability to ignore Tom Cruise. Most useful, though: The ability to have an answer when Jamie asks "Where do you want to go to eat?"

Which, if any, 'existing' superhero(es) do you fancy, and why?

Here's a creepy question! Which superhero would I like to go on moonlit strolls with?

I don't feel terribly comfortable answering this. I'm a grown, married man, for God's sake.

Wonder Woman. Because she twirls.

or, Barbara Gordon/ Oracle/ Batgirl. Because she would be great IT support.

What would your superhero name be?

I'd like to be sponsored. You know... Captain Justice, presented by Rayovac Batteries!

Given that I'd either be fixing people or invulnerable, I think I'd pick a name based on my powers.

If I were healing people, I'd want to be referred to as "Dr. No-HMO". Or "The Blue Band-Aid". Or "Neosporin Lad". (brought to you by the makers of Neosporin).

if I were invulnerable, I'd want to be called "The Awesome-aitor." (presented by Hooters).

However, even Superman didn't pick his own name (Lois slapped that name on him). So I am fairly certain some reporter would pick a name for me. And I am sure it would be: "The Blue Panda" in honor of my astonishing physique and penchant for wearing a blue shirt most days (with blue jeans, natch).

For extra credit: Is there an ‘existing’ superhero with whom you identify/whom you would like to be?

I think these are two very different questions. Identify with? Possibly a JLI-era Martian Manhunter. Sure, I seem to be fairly useful most of the time, but I don't understand the earthlings around me and instead of bickering or fighting cosmic menaces, what I'd really like to do is have a glass of milk and a bag of Oreos.

Like to be? If you can't answer that question on your own and you've been reading this site for more than 5 minutes, we will make sure we put the bumpers up when we take you bowling.

The League gives up on the Spurs to go see Batman Begins

So, this evening at half-time, the Spurs appeared to be within a hair's breadth of having the bejeezus kicked out of them by an astoundingly invigorated-looking Pistons team. Jamie and I sighed, looked at one another and decided to take in a viewing of Batman Begins.

Followers of the Batman comics will find that the script has stuck to familiar characters from the Year One storyline, adding in elements of later stories (no Scarecrow in Year One) as well as picking up the 90's-era explanation of Batman's background (which I believe was created by Christopher Priest). The only notable addition to the cast of characters is the Bruce Wayne love interest, Rachel Dawes, played by Tom Cruise's new romantic prop.

Unlike previous Bat-films, this movie follows the pattern set out by Superman The Movie and Spider-Man, giving us a good hour of film introducing the audience to the central character before allowing him/ her to put on a cape/ mask. The movie acts as a comprehensive origin story which could provide ample footing for the sure-to-be-made sequels.

Director Christopher Nolan is also responsible for the screenplay, teaming with former comics-scribe David Goyer (JSA). Nolan's casting director deserves bat-kudos for his/ her role in selecting the players. Certainly the casting (which almost read like an comic-internet geek's who's who of dream casting) helped to elevate the movie. While the script is certainly good, good material in the wrong hands can land you with your typical Schumacherian take on the Caped Crusader.

Gotham is not the Anton Furst post-Blade Runner city scape which The League has always liked. But, you know, the design changes really went with an idea Nolan uses to sell Batman this time around: Batman is a person. He doesn't live in a mythical, fantastic city. He lives in a city you can believe is a plane flight away. And while you might not personally know any ninjas, Bruce Wayne has trained with highly proficient martial artists, which you might believe. And he doesn't build all his stuff himself. He co-opts from his own company's R&D department. he has to buy his masks mail-order from China. He uses a lathe to make bat-shuriken.

A lot of comic fans have selected Batman as their favorite superhero because he's "just a guy", and doesn't rely upon magic power rings or an invisible jet to get the job done. And while The League is an avid Batfan, we never bought this argument. After all, with all the work it would take to complete the Batcave with just Bruce and Alfred as labor, it's difficult to visualize Bruce having much in the way of time enough to go out and do any crime-fighting at all. Not to mention the difficulty of maintaining a bat-plane, boat and endless supply of Bat equipment.

Batman Begins tends to stick to a certain reality slightly closer to our own as it visualizes what near-future or not-yet-to-market technologies and a pie-in-the-sky budget could do towards bringing a person toward collecting the famed Bat-arsenal. In fact, this movie probably makes one of the best arguments since Year One regarding how on earth this whole Batman thing would work without Bruce being found out in a week or two.

Although the movie is somewhere over two hours, certain elements do seem overly compressed. The Bruce-Rachel relationship doesn't get enough attention for the audience to really become invested (an element which a viewing of Spider-Man before a rewrite might have helped solve). Batman also seems singularly fixed on one mission for the duration of the film. We don't see Batman getting involved in multiple situations and building the reputation which he seems to suddenly have among the Gotham criminal community.

Before the film came out, there was quite a bit of concern regarding the Bat-Suit. And as fans of the 1989 version of the movie will recall, that fear probably was well-founded. Keaton's suit looked great. As long as he stood absolutely still.

There are times when I wish the Bat-suit makers would try to just cover Batman's eyes completely and get those great white slits he has in the comics. It would resolve the issue of the black make-up around the eyes and make Bats all the more more menacing. And I'd buy the "you have to act with your eyes" argument a lot more if Spidey hadn't raked in a billion dollars with red pantyhose and sunglasses over his head.

The movie is rated PG-13, and rightfully so. The villain here is the Scarecrow, and the visuals tied to Scarecrow's fright gas would have melted my brain at age 8. He is one scary dude (and written better in this movie than I can recall him being written in the comics since that Grant-Breyfogle issue I alluded to earlier this week).

If this is what DC and WB are doing for their properties, count The League in. While the movie wasn't "true" to the comics from a chronological retelling of the Bat-Mythos, the characters remained true to what's on the page, and the tone matched the Batman books of the past 15 years. I do anticipate that some movie-goers will have a problem with that. I sincerely do. Even Burton kept some "Pow! Whap! Comics are for Kids!" stuff in his cartoony world of Batplanes and Jokermobiles. People expect it, and when you defy people's expectations at the box office, a lot of times you pay for it.

But I like it.

I'll probably be doing another viewing in pretty short order, and I am sure it will be then that I'll see the plot holes and a bucket load of other problems, but for now, I've got a Batman movie I never thought I'd see, cared for by people who wanted to believe in the aspects of the character that have kept him popular for more than 60 years.

Sadly, The Spurs got their asses handed to them by a margin of 30 points.


I failed to mention Gary Oldman nailing his portrayal of a pre-Commissioner Jim Gordon. Well done.

Do NOT read the comments section if you haven't seen the movie. Randy has spilled the beans on an important plot point.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The inevitable disappointment of dealing with a large corporation's consumer complaint department.

Hello Melbotis:
Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's. We always appreciate hearing from our customers and apologize for any misunderstanding with your previous contact.

The phrase "fruit buzz" is just an advertising slogan that is associated with eating the Fruit and Walnut Salad and refers to the refreshing taste of the salad.

We value your comments and will share them with the appropriate people at McDonald's.Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again soon.

(customer service rep's name removed by The League)

McDonald's Customer Response Centerref#:2852205
Sometimes, as a proponent of the comics of Superman, I lose sight of the forest for the trees.

As you might know, "Superman Returns" is being filmed in Australia at the moment. (Truth, Justice and the Australian Way...?) Warner Bros. is producing the movie, and by no small coincidence owns DC Comics as well as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and many of the other heroes you've seen described here in these pages.

The fact is, most people on the street would be hard pressed to tell you either who publishes Superman comics, or which company owns DC Comics. And that's fine, from a certain point of view. I am sure DC and WB would like for the branding of WB, DC and Superman to go hand-in-hand, but that's a tough sell, especially when the real primary concern is selling licensing and product.

I'm not sure how accurate this is, but I've heard that DC's comics themselves CAN lose money (but it's not smiled upon) as long as they publish and print enough to assist in keeping the Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman licenses viable. In short, what WB really values is the ability to make movies, sell toys, and license the image of Superman to put his face and highly recognizable logo on boxes of Fig Newtons. It's all income at some point.

And there's some pay-off. As many tickets as were sold to both X-Men movies, it was less likely that all age groups were willing to don an X-Men baseball cap.

As a reader of comics who sincerely enjoys his monthly adventures of The Man of Steel, sometimes I forget that it's not necessarily Superman's never-ending battle for the betterment of Earth that folks find appealing. Sometimes it's just the symbol seen for kitsch value, or emblematic of power one would like to associate oneself with (I see a lot of Superman stickers on the F-250's). And you know what? That's fine.

Superman is ingrained in the psyche not just of the U.S., but, in fact, of the entire world. He's a huge, mythological symbol of hidden strength and power used for the right purposes. He's instantly recognizable and yet unknowable. In a few hundred years, he could be up there with Hercules and Perseus as a mythological figure for the 20th Century. Who knows?

Superman, however, apparently holds some cachet in virtually all demographics as a licensable idea. You can read about it here.

Now, The League is a collector by nature and has already infiltrated almost all corners of League HQ with different aspects of The Man of Steel. And while Jamie is a patient and understanding person, one wonders how much Kryptonian Kookiness she will be able to endure with the proliferation of the Superman theme as the release date for "Superman Returns" nears.

If the linked article is any indication, I am just several months from Superman wash cloths and a shoe horn.

2006 looks as if it shall be a Super Year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hello Melbotis:

Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's.

You may be interested to know that "fruit buzz" is just an advertising slogan that is associated with eating the Fruit and Walnut Salad. We're sorry if you are disappointed with this commercial. We take pride in producing commercial messages that will be enjoyed. We certainly never intended for it to offend anyone. Your comments have been shared with our advertising staff and independent advertising agency who work together to develop our commercials. Please know your feedback is helpful and will be considered in the future planning of our commercials.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. Your trust and confidence in our company's tradition of producing high quality advertising are important to us.

(name withheld)

McDonald's Customer Response Centerref#:2849033

The League has resubmitted his original question to the nutrition group at McDonalds, but has not yet given up on holding a conversation with McDonald's regarding their ad campaign. The League has a sneaking suspicion that the responder located The League before replying as she did not even TRY to address the concerns of The League.

The League writes:

RE: McDonald's Customer Response Centerref#:2849033
Dear McDonald's,

As a longtime customer of your restaurants, I confess to being more than a little disappointed to learn from your customer service rep that "You may be interested to know that "fruit buzz" is just an advertising slogan that is associated with eating the Fruit and Walnut Salad." And, then, of course, the inevitable form letter.

If no "buzz" is to be gotten from consuming the salad, as advertised, I have a difficult time understanding what, exactly, it is you are marketing. I would like a full description of how McDonald's Restaurants defines a "fruit buzz."

Further, I am incensed that you have refused to address concerns noted in my previous correspondence.


Melbotis Steans

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The League presents:
Suggestions for Further Reading

Batman and Me

Superman may be the superhero about whom The League harbors a pathological obsession. But it wasn't always that way.

It's the battle of nature vs. nurture trying to decide how The League became interested in superheroes. In truth, the fascination goes back to well before The League has any true recollection. But we've heard in anecdote and seen in snapshots the early signs of trouble.

I kid you not, my first word was "Batman."

At least this is the story passed down over the years in the Steans Clan. The baby-book speaks a different story. It claims I said, "Mom" first, but when you ask the woman herself, she always says, "I don't remember that. I remember 'matman'."

Matman, indeed.

This tale has been verified through a cousin. My dad claims little or no memory of actual first words. However, evidence suggests that even if it wasn't the first word, it was the first interest.

With a blanket tied around my neck and a pacifier in my mouth, apparently I patrolled the hallways of our apartment. The inspiration, of course, was the Adam West starring Batman television program (1966), then running in syndication.

Why, yes, Commissioner. He has no idea the show is supposed to be funny. He's 2.

Simultaneously, both Superfriends and a Batman cartoon were running on Saturday mornings.

The League only vaguely remembers the Batman cartoon running at the time. It played with Tarzan and The Lone Ranger as an hour of action.

Batman flees in fear from his own car.

Batman in the Superfriends cartoon seemed to be in a tough spot. With Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and others covering all the heavy lifting, usually it was up to Batman and Robin to sort of stand around and lose their utility belts whenever a villain showed. Batman was sort of prone to speechifying, but he had an endless supply of vehicles and gadgets, and the other heroes seemed to take him fairly seriously.

The Superfriends... a friendship which seemed sort of forced in order to keep their PR people happy.

I had a Batman costume for Halloween when I was 3 or 4. My mom dutifully tied the highly flammable plastic sack over my clothes and allowed me to wander into traffic, peering through the narrow slits of a scratchy, plastic mask.

When not in full Halloween mode, I had an everyday Batman cape I could wear playing in the yard or basement. My Grandma had somewhere found an iron-on of a Neal Adams inspired Batman and had fixed it to the back of the cape.

I continued to watch the Superfriends cartoon until it ran it's course and was eventually replaced with something like Hammerman. I don't really recall.

In second grade I received a Fisher Price tape player and a book/ tape combination of Batman and Robin in "The Case of the Laughing Sphinx". The art in the book was actually top-flight comic art by Carmine Infantino, I believe, and was actually well voice-acted. In addition, the story contained not just Robin's origin (which some poor voice actor had to play), but also several major players in Batman's Rogues Gallery. Robin's origin is dramatic, sad, and oddly dated. His parents were circus acrobats killed by some crooks shaking down the circus they worked for. Anyway, it's probably too complicated to go into here.

We'd had a storybook record of Batman back in the day, but I don't remember much about it. I sort of wonder if it's still under my parents TV tucked in with the other vinyl.

In third grade my parents bought me a Batman comic book. I think he was fighting some guy who had hi-jacked a dirigible. What I remember most was that Batman said, "damn." I can't tell you how much this jacked with my head. Batman was the nice guy who hung around with an idiot teen-ager in swim trunks. At my house you ate a bar of soap for calling somebody "dummy" in front of my parents, so I was utterly unprepared for Batman to drop the "d-bomb" in the course of a crime involving a large balloon.

It was not until years later that I would again pick up a Batman comic.

But in middle-school I began picking up issues of Detective Comics and Batman, published by DC. I was fascinated by the sharp, angular art of Norm Breyfogle and the punchy writing of Alan Grant.

I think the scene on the cover never really happens. In fact, I think Robin (Jason Todd) was dead at this point.

As if this wasn't all enough, at some point I picked up a copy of Frank Miller's genre-defining work, The Dark Knight Returns.

Batman and Robin (Carrie Kelly) are takin' it to the street...

An "imaginary" story of Batman, aged 55 and 10 years retired from crime-fighting, Dark Knight Returns re-imagined Batman as a man truly possessed. The series redefined Batman as the grim, relentless bone-breaker that carries through to today's comics.

The series did little to draw in new fans of Superman, painting him as a stooge for a corrupt authority (an idea rectified with a vengeance in the sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again).

Bruce and Clark debate the finer points of over-sized golf shoes.

I went nuts.

Suddenly I was wearing a Batman shirt to school two days a week (out of my rotation of 5-6 Batman shirts). I drew Batman on book covers, on folders, in the margins of notes in class. I spouted off Batman trivia as often as possible and planned my own Batcave.

And, lucky for me, right around this time Tim Burton released his movie version of "Batman" starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.

So very hard to fight crime in a neck brace...

This led to a common scene in the six months leading up to the movie as my classmates approached me in the hall to inform me, "Hey, they're making a Batman movie. Did you know that?"

Yes. Yes, I did.

I returned home from basketball camp the day the movie was released. Even on the way home I was informed Peabo's mother had gone out and bought us tickets for the 7:00 show at Barton Creek Mall.

My mother, who had less superheroic priorities, insisted I mow the lawn before leaving. I literally ran, pushing the lawn mower, finishing mowing the lawn in record time. Even Jason was impressed.

Of course, I lacked anything like objectivity, declared it the greatest monument of human achievement, and saw the movie four more times in the theater that summer.

a 14-year old League knew that criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot

Special thanks to Jeff and Sandy Beno for supplying this pic. They sent it in this year's Christmas card. Peabo, Reedo and Steanso will remember this era all too well

In high school I went underground with my Batmania. Something finally clicked between my ears that informed me that maybe girls weren't as nuts about a man in tights and his young ward as I might be.

My high-school girlfriend was a sport and saw "Batman Returns" with me.

I was still picking up the comics, but not on a monthly basis anymore. Just when villains, artists, etc... struck my fancy.

Just giving me some really unrealistic expectations of what girls were going to be like after high school...

At this point, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini launched Batman: The Animated Series, a series which dug into the purest elements of the Batman comics ever brought to screen. Initially, I had assumed that the series would be a kids show bent on selling toys, but, instead, each episode was an intricately crafted Batman story.

Batman realizes he has the world's most obnoxious beeper.

Most interesting about the Batman Animated Series is that it tied directly in with the later Superman Animated Series, Batman/ Superman Adventures and later Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. In total, this televised portrayal of Batman has been guided by roughly the same creative voices since about 1992.

In college I still picked up Batman books, and somewhere located a map of the Batcave that, for some reason, I pinned to my dorm room wall. It was like instant girl repellent, but it did help me to quickly sort through which girls I was going to want to deal with.

I suffered through the Joel Schumacher movies, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

Jamie seemed to tolerate Batman fairly early on, and, just a year after we began dating, actually read "Dark Knight Returns" in its entirety. Thus winning the approval of The League's sizable inner-child. Most importantly, she didn't just read the comic, she actually engaged in an interesting discussion with me after she had finished the comic.

Can't tell you how important that was.

To this day, Jamie continues to watch the Batman cartoons on DVD when i watch them. She knows the schedule for JLU air dates. And in 1999, she was Catwoman for Halloween.


I now have about three long boxes full of Batman comics, having jumped fully back into the Batcomics once more in 2000. This is not to mention a shelf-full of Batman collections. League HQ is also home to a large collection of Batman toys, models and a growing Batmobile collection, several movies on DVD, as well as the animated series on DVD. In truth, The League sees no end in sight to an ever-growing appreciation of the Dark Knight Detective.

Of course we're both super-psyched for the new Batman Begins film, opening on Wednesday. Jamie is probably more excited about Christian Bale zipping about than I am, but we agree that this is the Batmovie we've been waiting for.

If reviews trickling in are any indication, no Loyal Leaguer shall be disappointed.

For prior editions of Suggestions for Further Reading, you can click here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Steven G. Harms is a genius.

Recently, The League has been severely annoyed at McDonalds' advertising of a promised "fruit buzz" from eating the fruit cup they've begun to schill in the wake of the SuperSize Me phenomena.

Being McDonalds, it's not enough that it's a cup of fruit. It also contains "candied walnuts".

From the McDonalds' website:

Fruit & Walnut Salad:
Apple Slices and Red Grapes, Low Fat Yogurt, Candied Walnuts

My question is, of course, what is a "fruit buzz?" Is it the feeling you get in your body when you are no longer filling it with happy meals?

Steven had other well-deserved gripes concerning the quality of McDonalds' advertising, and sent them a letter.

And, McDonalds, terrified of losing one customer to Captain D's, I guess, wrote back.

The League LOVES when low-paid mouth-pieces are forced to write-back about consumer questions. We also like to call the phone numbers on toothpaste tubes and soda cans in order to find out what info they can reveal about the product.

It appears that McDonalds is directly attacking questions regarding their product by pointing to "flawed science" in "SuperSize Me." Of course, it's not really what Steven was asking about, and I'm not really concerned about getting fat from fruit-cups. What I am concerned about is getting addicted to the emotional high resultant to the fruitbuzz experience.

So, Melbotis sat down and penned a letter to Mickey D's.

Dear McDonalds Restaurants,

I have recently begun to follow health standards proposed by McDonald’s and the Food and Drug Administration. Coincidentally, McDonalds has also taken steps to provide choices which appeal to me as health-conscious consumer.

However, I am concerned by the advertised “Fruit Buzz” affect touted by your advertising and attributed to the fruit cup.

Unfortunately, I am not entirely clear on how the fruit cup is considered to be entirely fruit. I have noticed that McDonalds has chosen to include sugar-coated nuts in the fruit cup, as well as some sort of cream which covers the fruit.

Is the promised “fruit buzz” delivered by the fruit itself, or does the sugar covering the nuts, or, alternatively, the creamy sauce on the fruit, provide the “fruit buzz.”

Perhaps I am unclear as to what you might mean by ‘buzz.” I am forced to assume that the promised buzz is engendered by a state of well-being artificially induced by a chemical change in the consumer’s make-up brought on by ingestion of the fruit cup. Such as, “I drank that six-pack of Pabst, and now I am enjoying an excellent ‘buzz’.”

My question is two-fold.

1) Is it reasonable to assume that instead of consuming alcohol and other drugs in the future, I will reach a similar state by merely digesting a fruit cup?
2) If so, as a recovering alcoholic, do I need to worry about an addiction to the promised highs related to the fruit cup?

In the past I have enjoyed fruit in many different forms. Dried. Baked. Fresh. Canned. Pickled. Roasted. At times, the fruit would even be accompanied by a side-dish of cream or embedded in a mold of Jell-o. At no time did I experience anything like the “buzz” I experienced while I was drinking.

I would like to know how the McDonalds fruitcup is different, and what physiological effects I can expect.

Your loyal customer,

Melbotis Steans
Nancy Grace is going to go apeshit.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Saturday, June 11, 2005

So, The League returns from Vegas.

The League's last visit to Vegas bridged 9-11-2001.
During a visit which occured prior to 9-11, I was watching CNN with a co-worker while Harris and Klebold changed what it meant to go to high school.

So, you know, The League was sort of wondering what national tragedy was going to light up the headlines while we were away. Looks like we got off lucky.

In truth, it was a very un-Vegasish Vegas trip. No walking of the Strip or Freemont street. Virtually no gambling. No shows. Only a handful of hookers and drug deals gone bad.

Due to circumstances beyond The League's control, instead of leaving Tuesday after work as planned, The League didn't get out until Wednesday morning.

On the flight, I was trying to mind my own business and read my book, and ended up sitting next to a guy hitting on a married woman for the entire duration of the flight. Even more creepy, I think she was going for it to some extent. Both were dumb as dirt, and the woman made it very clear she'd spent her adult life living off of a series of wealthy men while the guy lied about being in the Marines (I'd heard him talk about his 2003 discharge on my way down the ramp to the plane).

Conference was nice. Took place at the Hilton and the Convention Center. Ran into folks from my employing university and a few other folks I know.

The League was nominated for an award, but we lost. The pain quickly subsided as The League's evening was paid for by the company sponsoring the awards in the first place. First, we watched the Spurs defeat the mighty Pistons in a hard-fought contest and drank a lot of beer. Then we moved on to a steak house which looked like a cheesy set from Miami Vice and had a really good meal and some wine. Then we went to the Ghost Bar atop The Palms casino.

You know, it doesn't matter how much money you spend or how how much time has passed. I always feel like odd-man out at the 8th-grade dance when I go to a club. It just makes me want to crawl out of my skin. The League has a few social issues he's working on, but large crowds and having to scream to be heard makes us want to run for our life.

I stayed down at the far-end of The Strip, and the truth is, Circus Circus is a really weird place. It's not a high-end expensive-type place like the Bellagio, and it draws a different clientele. Nice folks. Less flashy. Folks who enjoy a good clown-theme when they see one.

Vegas, itself, smells bad. It's a city which makes money off of getting as dirty as possible 24 hours a day. The air in the casinos smells awful and is weird and recycled. I'd say it's what the guys must be breathing on the ISS, but astronauts don't contend with millions of retirees puffing on their Kools. Outside, once it gets a might-bit warm, it always sort os smells like someone might have cut one just and you walked right into it. I can only guess where the smell comes from, and it seems confined to the far-end of The Strip. But it's there.

Today The League conferenced again. Then we went to the midway at Circus Circus for about an hour, then we flew away. Luckily, this time I sat with a 10 year old girl who spoke no english, but was really very nice. We looked at the SkyMall catalog together and she told me about a few products in Spanish. She wound up getting the stuffed dog I won for Jamie on the midway for not being obnoxious like the folks on my flight in.

My folks are in tomorrow.

Gotta go check e-mail.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Some odds and ends before I depart:

1) While not a contest, Leaguers sent in some great names for Nathan's new blog.

We now have:

Attack of the Cones
Send in the Cones
Mr. Blog
Nathan's New Groove
The Wrath of Cone

And my personal favorite: The DaVinci Cone

I do believe this one somehow crossed the line from giddy silliness to certain sublime absurdity. Is Nathan the sacred feminine? An inverted Cone, if you will?

Nathan has suggested, himself: I Like Cold Water

This title also seems like a good fit for Nathan. Of course, there is no guarantee of a blog appearing at all, but I think Nathan has to be happy to know that maybe he'd get some spillover readers from The League if he did, indeed, launch his own journal. That, and Nathan routinely broadcasts his own voice to the greater San Antonio area, so he's got a better chance at drawing folks in. This is in contrast to The League who can't even keep the attention of a puppy.

2) Heroes and Villains

I felt as if we had acceptable participation in the "who do you like for a villain" sweepstakes.

Jim felt the need to bring up MadCap, and has been dealt with. The very fact that I can't find a decent bit of reference on MadCap should tell you something.

The League will be working on a Top 10 villain countdown. We may even do a top 10 Marvel Villain AND a Top 10 DC villain countdown. But that all depends on comments posted below.

3) Site redesign

So, what do you chumps think? Telling you guys how long this took would be totally embarassing as it would reveal exaclty how much I don't know about html.

You may recall the former color-scheme. Some time ago, when we were ready to leap head-first into blogging, The League had sort of picked the least offensive template we could find and just stuckw ith it. But recently, we'd begun to feel a little down about an orange, red and green scheme. It just didn't scream "HEY, KIDS! COMICS!" Also, the many, many items tossed into the html gutters around the daily copy had sort of left The League feeling as if the site was looking like a yard sale.

So, anyway, MAKEOVER!!! (You must all find a copy of Clone High, Season 1. Do it now.)

Masters of site design, Jim D. and RHPT, have been making suggestions. I've taken them all under consideration, and the ideas have really worked. I think. Randy's suggestion to make all of the text scrolling blink tags is still in the works. You can expect to see animated gifs of torches here soon.

4) Saw Madagascar this weekend. I wasn't expecting much, but it was pretty funny. Most kids' movies have a sort of sappy moral homily buried under the fart jokes and grannies falling down. Madagascar is mostly moral-lesson free. That is, unless you want for your kids to be prepared with a moral compass should you guys ever get stuck on a trip and suddenly you realize your dinner reservations are under "Donner, party of four... no, three!".

Anyway, maybe not something for which you'd pay full-price, but it's a decent renter, or maybe worth matinee price.

5) Batman Begins was screened at a comic convention in Philadelphia. Reviews have been universally glowing, which is extremely rare in the nitpicky world of comic geeks.

I'm excited. Expect a full "Batman and Me" post in the near future.

6) I read "Mage: The Hero Discovered" over the weekend. While aspects of 80's comic storytelling linger, it's an enjoyable read with classic Matt Wagner art. I kept thinking Jason would have liked this series during it's initial run, and I'm not sure how he missed it.

7) Ring a ding-ding

Off to Vegas. Jim D. called to let me know of a targeting range off the Strip which works on an hourly rate. Apparently, under close supervision, one can rent an M-16, an uzi, or any number of firearms. Then, one buys a box of ammunition and unleashes a lot of frustration upon a helpess paper target.

The League isn't nuts about guns in general, but this, Leaguers, sounds right up our alley.

Also, Lt. LT chimed with some Las Vegas ideas. Well, one idea: El Cortez Casino. Sounds like exactly The League's sort of place. Not much appears to have been updated since the El Cortez's booming 1960's success. If the low-fi website is any indication, it seems a swell time.

8) Return to Comics must be reading The League. Which is good. We're reading Return to Comics, and we highly recommend it.

Return To Comics also brought up Halo, who The League probably had some sort of twisted crush on back in the mid-80's. Alas, Halo was much older than me, sort of dead/ sort of a cosmic entity, and a fictional character. It just didn't work out.

It was the 80's. I was 11. I have no further explanation.

9) The League was meaning to react (or, more accurately, opine) to The Beat's recent postings about the perception of women in comic books as well as the role of women working in the comics industry.


and here

I do want to get to this, because I do think it's an important topic and not much discussed. When it is discussed, the topic of women in comics is usually addressed on comic fan sites and message boards with all the maturity you would expect out of grown men who think they can never get too close to anyone, because if their enemies ever learned who they really were...

But rather than dwell for too long on social issues, The League turns to the schadenfreude you've come to love and respect.

Here, Heidi notices The Invisible Girl is wearing an invisible dress. This one's for Jason.

10) Ya'll entertain yourself while The League is away. Mayhaps Mrs. League will materialize and fill in for The League while he confers with other folks working in his exciting new field. (Apparently if I can get five of MY friends to sell these exciting products, and they can each get five of THEIR friends to sell these exciting products...)
This person really knows not only how to hold a grudge, but really committed to her fairly unimpressive plan.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Comic convention season is upon the comic geek community. Wizard World Philly is currently going on.

The cover art to Jim Lee and Frank Miller's "All-Star Batman and Robin" was released.

Looks like it's going to live up to the promise.

No major Superman news to speak of.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Some bits and pieces

1) The League may be undergoing some aesthetic changes. Our content won't change much, except in the usual, organic sort of way as The League's interests flit from place to place. I do predict a decent into critical analysis of adult film by 2009.

The first sign of the change is the banner I made in Photoshop. It's directly above. Check it out.

2) Nathan Cone is considering launching a blog of his own, but he needs a title.

Thus far we have:

Attack of the Cones
Send in the Cones
Mr. Blog!
Nathan's New Groove

and... (from Nathan himself)

I like cold water.

You know, Nathan should be able to make just about anything work. He's an interesting guy, he's got an interesting career, his wife is really cool, and when he runs out of material, he's got a kid to discuss. So I totally think Nathan should jump on this blog thing. Vote for your favorite title, Leaguers, and convince Nathan this blogging thing is where it's at.

3) Not so long ago a high school chum of The League resurfaced after several years of absence. Scott Wiser is a part-time musician, part-time film maker, and full-time master of funk.

At my behest, Scott sent along several videos he's worked on. The only downside is that Scott's been pretty busy making videos over the past few years, and so there's a lot to watch. I've only made it part way through the tape he sent. So far I've gleaned that Scott's got a good eye and an interesting, if off-kilter, story telling style that serves him well. And he's not afraid to still insert absurd chase sequences, just as we did in our 1992 collaboration "The Spatulator". A damn fine piece of film, that was.

Anyway, Scott's in a band. Austin Leaguers should seek him out. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the band is called, so, Scott, pipe up and let me know.

4) Next week The League will be on hiatus. The League is going to fabulous Las Vegas for three glorious days of EduComm excitement. If you plan to be in the greater Las Vegas area during this time, The League will be spending his days at EduComm and his evenings alone in a hotel room at Circus Circus eating circus peanuts, drinking malt liquor from the gift shop and watching basic cable.

Mrs. League is not going to Vegas, which sounds like a wacky time for The League. But the League has been associated with Mrs. League for so long that he tends to go a little stir crazy when he doesn't have Mrs. League around to keep him in check.

Anyway, I'm going to try to get a lot of stuff posted for you guys to read next week while I'm out.

5) They closed Bento Bar today. I went there at least once a week every week since I began working here in Arizona. Some weeks I ate there every single day. It's the end of an era.

6) The League un-celebrated his third anniversary in Arizona on the 1st of June. It feels like the winds of change may blow soon. Nothing going on. It's just a gut feeling.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs, 2005 Western Conference Champions!

Great game. Seriously. Fantastic game. Wish the series could have gone on longer so I could have seen another one like that, but, hey... a little rest for San Antonio before the Finals.

Ginobili, Duncan and Parker looked great, and I think the whole team is going to smoke Eastern Conference in the Finals.

The Suns had a fantastic season with the highest number of regular season wins and the highest average scores all season.

One wonder show many players will return to The Suns next season. I hope we get them all back. I think next season will be even better.

Honestly, becoming a Suns fan has made living in the Valley of the Sun a lot more tolerable. It's given me something to enjoy which is directly tied to my local area. And God knows, anything which can improve life in this miserable desert is welcome.

We're not huge baseball fans at The League, so we haven't really taken to the Diamondbacks. We don't understand golf, so we've missed out on the PGA fun which occurs here semi-regularly. And we'd LIKE to know more about the Arizona Cardinals, but since they black out all home games which haven't sold out, we miss half of the games every year.

I've been a Spurs and Rockets fan for years, so I didn't think I'd ever jump ship, and I still don't really think I have. But they show every single Suns game on local TV out here, and after a while, you learn to pull for the hometown squad.

The Suns played great this year, and I'm hoping to get tickets to a few more games next year. We like watching games on TV, but The League has a deep, deep love of shouting at opposing teams from really bad seats.

So here's to a great 2004-2005 season. Let's hope 2005-2006 winds up at least as well. reviews the ideal of pop music bringing the world together.

The League would like to buy the world a coke.
10 minutes of clips from Batman Begins.

It's tough to be a superhero without them. Not impossible, but it makes it tough. And, hey... There are really piles and piles of villains out there. After all, Batman's been kicking it since 1939 and he doesn't fight the Joker in every issue.

Batman's villains get together every week for a supervillain potluck.

In regards to my posting about favorite heroes, brother dearest, The Amazing Steanso, said:

By the way, I think it's a lot more fun to come up with a list of favorite supervillains than heroes (being flawed, they're just more interesting people). Here are three of my all time favorites:

1. The Marauders (from the X-Men's Mutant Massacre)
2. Ras Al Guhl (I understand that he may appear in Batman Begins, but I promise that I'm not just being trendy)
3. Braniac (from Superman)

So some of you guys currently or once read comics. And some of you have seen a superhero type movie or two. or maybe you have a favorite villain who isn't part of the cape and mask set. Maybe it's even Erica Kane. The League does not care.

So... Who do you guys like?

And why? (After all, villains are despicable criminals, aren't they?)

Black Manta, Scarecrow and Luthor enjoy a good larf as an old lady trips while crossing the street. Man, these guys are evil.

Seriously, I'm curious. You tell me who makes you shiver, and I'll do a top 10 list of awesome supervillains or something. I guarantee, it'll put that Villains train wreck on Bravo Network to shame. So sayeth The League.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

So, Congratulations to the Phoenix Suns. They won their first game in the series with the San Antonio Spurs for the Western Conference Championship. Sure they're three games down, but, it was one in the "W" column.

Part of me wishes they hadn't won, despite the fact that I've been following these guys all year long. The Eastern Conference is pretty good this year, and I would have liked to have seen San Antonio have a week to rest before the Finals began. Tim Duncan has been hurting a little bit, and a rest would do them good before facing off against either Detroit OR Miami.


I didn't want to see The Suns get swept. They really are too good a team to just lose it in the Western Conference Championships, and they really were championship level this season. They've played hard, and they've been fun to watch, even when they don't win. Steve Nash took a lot of unnecessary hell for winning the MVP over Shaq this season, and if they'd been swept, I think he would have had a hard time ever shaking off the innuendo.

One quick criticism of the Spurs, which I am sure will draw the ire of mi hermano...

When did the Spurs start flopping every time an opposing player breathed in their direction? I never noticed them doing this a few years ago, but now everytime they get near somebody, they're flat on their back. Horry has really taken to this, but Ginobili and Parker pull their fare share of this maneuver as well.

Nash goes up while Ginobili flops like an Italian soccer player

I've watched enough play-off series to know that, barring an act of God, The Suns are not going to come back and win this series. But I'm glad they woke up long enough to put up a decent fight for at least one game.

Go, Suns!

Monday, May 30, 2005

So The League usually isn't one for beauty pageants, but there's not much else on and I'm trying to just mellow out before what is sure to be a goofy week fo work. And this evening the 2005 Miss Universe Pageant is on. And if you wanted a greater sign that American schools are failing us... I give you the following:

The program was hosted by TV-journalista extraordinaires Nancy O'Dell and Mr. Billy Bush of TV's ACCESS HOLLYWOOD!!!

When the final five were called out, Mr. Billy Bush first announced Miss Mexico. Next up was Ms. Puerto Rico. Ms. Dominican Republic was called third.

Upon calling up Ms. Puerto Rico, Billy Bush announced, "It's a South American dog fight in the final five!"

Then, calling down the fourth contestant, Billy Bush said, "Our first representative from North America, Miss Canada!"

The League writes:

Dear Mr. Billy Bush,

I may have gone to public school and attended a state university, but in those years, I did manage to stay awake long enough to learn a few items. Perhaps you were too busy cultivating your "talent", and could not make time for items such as maps and, say, knowing where shit is, as you studied the romantic history of Tom Cruise and what TV Heart-Throb David Hasselhoff thinks of going to the beach.

But as you are hosting the Miss Universe 2005 pageant, I thought this might come in handy:

On this map, you will see

1) The Dominican Republic
2) Puerto Rico
3) A sort of unpopulated blue patch between these places and South America.

I understand this map might not be very clear. The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are those tricky, smaller land masses called ISLANDS (this is why nobody could find Gilligan. He was on a small land mass surrounded by water).

So here's a picture of Mexico (it's that tiny place just South of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas with a shared border of well over 1000 miles).

The League has been known to have been wrong, so we've turned to the Central Intelligence Agency to tell us a little bit about Mexico, just to make sure I didn't tell you anything that was incorrect.

According to the CIA (as well as The Minutemen currently playing GI Joe a few hours south of my home), Mexico is, in fact, just south of the the United States. Some might say it even shares a continent with the United States.

Here is a picture of South America. You will notice that Mexico, The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico do not make an appearance. Not even as an island.

So, Mr. Billy Bush... Next time you agree to go on TV in front of the entire planet, it helps to know where the hell the contestants on your program are from. Especially when you, yourself, are estimating that 1 BILLION people are going to watch the telecast.

Just a helpful tip from your pals at The League.

Mr. Billy Bush brought up the fact that Ms. Canada was representing North America at least one additional time during the telecast. I am proud to say that North America (REAL North America, not those losers from Mr. Billy Bush's SOUTH AMERICA) won the contest. It should also be pointed out that Billy Bush hosted the Miss Universe program from Ecuador in 2004.

And it should also be noted that Miss Universe 2004 was clearly NOT wearing a bra when she came out to hand off her crown to Miss Universe 2005.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

It's a weekend at home with the kids!

Lucy sees a bug.

Lucy trots about.

Riiiiiiissse, Darth Botis.

Jamie gets Mel ready. He's off to see Star Wars Episode III for the eighth time this week.

The League and Mel take in some sun.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Something for the weekend, courtesy of Doug. investigates comic book character fashion faux pas.

Click here to read.
Hey, kids.... hot tip from your ol' Uncle Ry.

We here at The League know that with the increase in wearable technology that social norms are changing on a month-by-month basis. When we see a person walking down the street talking to themself in a loud voice, seemingly to an invisible person, we no longer assume that the person is crazy. We give them the benefit of the doubt that mayhaps that person is merely on their tiny earpiece to their cell-phone and assume that the person in question is a total jack-ass who doesn't mind loudly sharing his conversations with everyone in a square-block.


What is STILL not okay is to use the office-floor bathroom, enter a stall, do your business and simultaneously call your parents to wish them a happy anniversary.

1) You should really plan a more special time of day to call your folks to wish them a happy anniversary
2) I don't need to hear your conversation echoing around the bathroom when I am trying to focus
3) I don't need to participate in the symphony of sounds echoing around the bathroom and ending up on a phone hundreds of miles away when I go to flush

Leaguers... be careful how and when you decide to use your portable phones. The League was caught by surprise this time, but next time this gentleman decides the bathroom is a good place to make a call, we're adding a lot of sounds to our usual bathroom routine.
Some movies which don't take place on Earth or have Earth-people in them which were developed post-Star Wars.

Items like Lord of the Rings and Conan don't count as the material was originally conceived before 1977. Items like Flash Gordon or FarScape don't count as the main character is an earth-people. Movies liek DragonSlayer are suspect as they don't exactly say they DON'T take place on Earth. But submit them and the jury can hash them out.

Here's my very short list:

Dark Crystal

Come on. Anyone sending in submissions will get an official "Mellie Award".

Bravo is running a series of three specials, each an hour long, "counting down" the top 20 super heroes, vixens and villains.

In order to make the show tie into movie stars and whatnot, they seem to have limited their selection to characters who have managed to appear in TV or movies.

They've also got three non-superheroes in their top 7 super heroes.

And Austin Powers is, for some reason, on the list.

Now, I'm not saying that you need a cape or a mask to be a super hero, but the selection seemed to ask that "the character is working for a good greater than him/ herself and have a costume." Which might include Rumsfeld during the Tech-vest days.

I'm going to go ahead and ruin it for all of you and say Superman doesn't win.

The show just has that same sort of vibe of "well, we want to do a show with lots of clips, but they really don't have that mnay different superhero movies, so... Okay. Austin Powers is a superhero, right?"

I don't know. I don't care that much.

But, because it's late, I didn't post yesterday, and I think bravo knows about as much about superheroes as McDonald's knows about healthy dining, I shall put it to you Loyal Leaguers.

Who are your three favorite superheroes? And, if you have time... why DO you have such a huge Aquaman collection?

Hawkman and Atom are easily distracted.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


RIP, Thurl Ravenscroft.

Mr. Ravenscroft was the voice of Tony the Tiger from the early 1950's, the voice behind the tune "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," and numerous other voices from TV, radio and elsewhere.

NPR ran a story last night on Mr. Ravenscroft's passing. Apparently he also was one of the voices singing on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland.

You can learn more about Mr. Ravenscroft here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Spurs win, Suns do not.

Hard fought game, and I think it's fair to say that the Spurs are as good as they've ever been in any incarnation. I'm finally learning to appreciate this Mohammad guy and Barry.

I do think Horry took a flop that resulted in Stoudemire's unwarranted foul, but Spurs were playing so well, they would have bagged this one, anyway.

Not much going on with us here at League HQ.

We realized recently that we'd fallen into a vicious circle in regards to raising Lucy to be a good little dog. We'd leave her outside all day while we were gone, letting her in only to eat and sleep. Then we'd go out and play with her, and try to do some training outside.

This meant that each time we let her into the house, she thought that it was time to eat. And if she didn't eat, she would just run in circles and tear the place up. This, of course, would get her booted back outside. We'd go outside again to play with her, but it was never for enough time.

Realizing we sort of had a wild dog living in our house, we've now been letting Lucy just tear the place up. It does help that she's older now and does seem to at least try to understand what's going on. She's got a long way to go, but I think with a bit of patience, in a few months time she'll be used to being inside for longer durations.

Will she ever quit chasing Jeff the Cat? Only time will tell.

Mel, on the other hand, both loves and is annoyed by Lucy. She tends to hop on him quite a bit, pull on his ears and just sit and bark at him from time to time. And sometimes he seems to really just want some quiet time away from her. Other times he looks positively amused with her. So, you know, it's a family.

Summer is on in Phoenix. We went from below average temperatures all spring to 110 in just a few weeks. I've heard Texas is already cooking, too. So good luck to all of ya'll. Keep an emergency case of Shiner nearby at all times.

I'm watching The Chronicles of RIddick out of the corner of my eye. It's not just Uncle George who likes to write silly space movies.

And what was once the DC Comics homepage has undergone a minor hop in what I think is probably the right direction. My guess is what you'll see there now is just a place holder for things to come.

It's now quite clear that the company is trying very hard to diversify it's audience, and step away from only being a company publishing comics in the world of Superman.

Last month, however, DC stepped away from what should have been a profitable venture into republishing European comics from Humanoids. I assume the partnership was dissolved due to low sales, but haven't heard anything definite. But if it WAS due to low sales, as always, The League has an opinion.

Too much of a good thing.

For years and years and years, Americans have heard how European comics are infintely superior to American comics in structure, writing and art. This is all subjective, but European comics do tend to be handled with an eye toward an adult audience. Unlike American comics where this usually means they've drawn naked ladies (which I assure you, they do in European comics), the content seems to require a greater sense of maturity than, say, Spawn.

I checked out the famous Metabarons series, Technopriests and a few others.

But here's the problem.

I actually LIKE the comics I'm reading already. They're fun. And I already spend probably an unreasoanable amount of money keeping my comic habit going. So when even something really nice looking comes out, I MIGHT check it out. BUT, keep in mind, now that comics are a direct sales item, they're pretty much printed to order.

Each month, as a loyal comic fan, I check a guide to see what I might want which is coming out in three months. I have to then tell my shopkeep what I'll want, and he places the order. So, essentially, I'm buying items without ever getting to hold them in my hand first.

Now, if I'm following a character, or writer, or artist I like, I can KNOW there's a good chance I'll like what I've ordered when it arrives. But my shop keep can't afford to way over order items he has no idea he can sell. So, consequently, my shopkeep might not order any of the Humanoids comics at all if nobody in the shop has been talking about them.

And knowing the crowd in my shop, believe me, they aren't talking about European comics. It's Wolverine or nothing.

So what does DC do?

They flood the market with these things.

They start releasing five or six of these things a month. That's over a hundred bucks a month in material they're suggesting I pick up on top of what I'm already picking up. Now, I'd probably only pick up maybe one or two a month, maybe. But that still adds up over a while.

So if it appears that these comics are only selling a few at a time, well, DC is going to think that nobody wants to even check the comics out. Which isn't and wasn't true.

I would have loved to have always had the option to pick up one or two of these books each month. But I was never going to buy all of them at once, and if they're printing to order... when, exactly, am I going to be able to pick them up?

Anyway, so long DC/ Humanoids relationship. I thought Metabarons was okay.

Yeah, who hired these assholes anyway?

Monday, May 23, 2005


This is a little tangential, but follow me here...

Here's a knock-off Darth Vader Doll known as "Galaxy Cop".

In order to bring greater value to Galaxy Cop, the makers have provided a real head under the helmet.

And this is not intentional, and maybe it's my own Rorschach test, but I think it looks suspiciously like Bill Frist. He just looks so HAPPY under that helmet.
Today, Jason said:

I think that the biggest question to come out of the whole Star Wars phenomenon is why can't there be more movies that truly engage the imagination of the audience and still pull off an interesting storyline with characters that we appreciate and care about? The crappy thing is how few movies there have been SINCE Star Wars that have managed to deliver a sensation of unfettered imagination and fantasy without immediately seeming silly. Star Wars reminded us that sci-fi and fantasy need not just be stories for children- they can also be the stuff of modern mythology.

Is Jason just smoking crack, or does Jason have something here?

This evening's post is meant to challenge you, the reader, to mention and debate Jason's point.

Is Star Wars the only film or film series to have created a viable reality outside of our own?

I'll go ahead and short circuit The Matrix film series and try to point out what I think Jason means. The Matrix is supposed to take place after Skynet finally defeats humanity. On Earth. At some point. But it doesn't provide us with an entirely new world. In fact, it REQUIRES our world as a reference point when the heroes enter The Matrix and do Kung-Fu and whatnot.

Okay, Leaguers... debate.

Chewbacca's Day at Glamour Shots

As noted last week Jennifer D. and Reed T. Shaw have been visited by Senor Stork and Meredith Cynthia is now an honorary member of Mono-Music.

Reed, Jen and QuickDraw have a bonding moment.

QuickDraw gives a wry smile. She has Daddy's keys, and tonight, she RIDES!!!!

QuickDraw cackles in delight, imagining her future life as a tiny bandita in the deserts of Old Mexico!

Tired out from a day of imaginary ransacking, QuickDraw takes a siesta with Jen. Jen looks forward to getting back to her life of actual ransacking.
Yes. Oh, yes.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The League Faces the End of the Star Wars Saga

My earliest memories are of abject terror.

1) Stepping on a bee outside our apartment and getting stung on teh sole of my foot.
2) Realizing that going headfirst down our apartment stairwell was not a grand idea
3) Wanting to crawl under my seat and die when the Tuskan Raider popped up over the ledge and shook his gaffi stick at Luke.

As a wee child of two or so, The Admiral (then just the Lieutenant-Commander) took my brother and myself to see Star Wars. He'd already seen it with my mom and some friends. On a lazy Saturday he took my brother and myself to go see what, for him, was a WWII fighter pilot movie in space.

In our house in Canton, MI, I can recall assembling Jason's Death Star toy and opening the bridge so I could swing Luke and Leia across, blissfully ignorant that the scene was stolen from a Ray Harryhausen creature-feature.

My mother saw to it that, though we didn't have a boatload of money, her kids had some cool Star Wars toys, Star Wars bedspreads and Star Wars wallpaper.

We saw Empire Strikes Back in Dallas, and my mind fizzled as AT-ATs walked across a barren snowscape. I was terrified of the Wampa, and a little disgusted at Han for sticking his friend in the corpse of a TanTan. Yoda spooked me a little bit, and like everyone else, I was amazed at what really lay behind the silly facade. And Vader, that bastard, could NOT be Luke's father. He was a liar.

Hours were lost after school trying to decide what it would mean if Vader WAS Luke's father. Hours were lost discussing the tactical advatange of having your gunner facing backward in your Snowspeeder. Even more time was lost trying to figure out what would become of smuggler who was put on ice for the amusement of an interstellar gangster we'd only heard whispers about.

Jedi was released, and we all went nuts. The creatures were even crazier in this outing. The Empire was seemingly defeated. Ewoks had saved the day. Vader was dead, but he had reconciled with his son, and somehow that made it okay.

Two things in particular stuck out to me upon my first viewing. 1) I liked this Admiral Ackbar guy. I liked his style. 2) Princess Leia in a metal bikini. Sure, I was in maybe third grade, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea.

All was resolved with Jedi. No more stories to tell.

I went to bed under Star Wars comforters for another year or two. My floor was covered in Star Wars action figures and assorted toys for about the same duration.

We all know that reaction to Episode I and II was, shall we say, mixed. But even then, my jaw hung as each new ship crossed the screen, as each new alien wandered from screen right to left. As each new world unveiled itself, alive and well, and not possibly just something plucked from some human imagination.

And, today Jamie and I caught the 5:05 showing of Revenge of the Sith.

Even before leaving, I felt as if I was jumping in the car to head off for a wedding.
"How do you figure?" Jamie asked as I noted the odd sense of uneasy anticipation I had in my gut.
"I don't know. It's like, when we come back, something is going to have ended or changed forever."
And I was right. It's over now. No more Star Wars movies from Uncle George. Not that I know of, anyway.
A lot of folks are going to draw a wry smile and say, "Good. These three sucked." And I'm not going to dispute that. The quality of the movies is almost neither here nor there. The point is, it's over.

Sure, Uncle George has stated that he'll allow some TV shows to be produced, or maybe some cartoons or something. But the feature films are over with. Everything now will be others riding on George's coattails, making a buck and, at best, hoping to catch some of the fire that he brought to our imaginations a lifetime ago.

They run these silly documentaries on basic cable on Star Wars almost non-stop. In each of them, it strikes me as odd to hear someone say, "Well, I thought Chewbacca was a crazy idea. A seven foot ape who doesn't talk?"

I grew up with Chewbacca. He's as familiar as peanut butter. He's like a friend from summer camp you haven't seen in years, but you feel like you can still speak knowledgably about him. He wears a bandolier and carries a bow-caster. He's an exceptional mechanic and pilot and doesn't care much for droids.

And all my life I grew up knowing what a Jedi was, and knowing that making the Kessel Run in under 9 Parsecs is really, really good time. And that Droids aren't allowed in bars. And that The Force will be with you. Always.

I can't imagine not having Star Wars in my life, no matter how much I bitch and complain. And I'll always be greatful to Uncle George for giving me a world to grow up in when I was too tired and bored of my own tiny little world.

It's over now, and whether or not I loved the new movie, it doesn't really matter. We all knew where this was headed, and part of me is glad to know that Uncle George wants to leave us standing on our heads so badly, we're going to all have to reach back into ourselves some 20-odd years and remember that it did all wind up okay. And what an odd way to end it all, on a dark and bitter note with the knowledge in hand that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

So long, Star Wars.

The Force Will Be With You.


I just want to be clear, before the game ends...

I don't care who wins the Western Conference. These are my two favorite teams. This is better than the Finals for The League.

Friday, May 20, 2005



The League Presents:

Why I Hate the News
Is it the public that's made up of mouth-breathers in search of instant gratifcation, or have editorial standards really dipped this low?

Front page of CNN as of 2:20pm PT.

I'm sorry... I'm sorry...

I thought we had two wars on, Iran threatening nukes again, N. Korea ducking nuke talks once more, and several humanitarian crisis lurking in Sub-Saharan Africa. It DOES appear somebody got a picture of Saddam in his undies (titter!). Not to mention our own legislative system in turmoil, senators threatening judges, and 2000 pages of testimony on hand of prisoner abuse at quasi-legal military prisons.

Note to self: When you are finally overthrown by the liberty-loving peoples of Greenland and Patagonia, make sure you kill yourself by self-immolation so nobody can take photos of you while you're in your undies.

Thank Christ CNN is STILL concerned with how many people are going to the theater. And that Topher Grace is going to be in Spider-Man 3. In two years. And they haven't even announced the role yet.

You know, I LIKE Star Wars. I own a Darth Vader helmet and a toy of Sebulba's podracer, but even I know that none of that shit is news. It's just not.

Nobody is going to quit making movies, and people aren't going to quit watching them. Just because we're all too dumb to understand the jacked up shit in our world doesn't mean the press needs to pander to that nonsense.

We deserve whatever the f@#k we get.

F@#k it.
Alas, The League has still not made it to see the new Star Wars flick, Revenge of the Sith. We've been watching some of the "Science of Star Wars" programming on Discovery Channel, but it's not really the same, and every once in a while, they interject in a scene containing Jake Lloyd, and next thing I know Jamie's holding me down and has a spoon jammed in my mouth.

Work has gotten in the way of my usual midnight showings on premier night. Hopefully I'll get to go see it this weekend at matinee prices.

Jim has already seen the film, and he loved it. His only complaint? Not enough Jar-Jar. "Where is my precious Jar-Jar?" he complained, just sobbing like a baby. It was hard to make out EXACTLY what he said as his voice was muffled by a lifesize latex Jar-Jar mask.

I had recorded Smallville last night, and while The League is a fan of all things Superman, we're beginning to believe that Smallville is no longer actually Superman at all and just some TV show.

The good news is that after the show concluded, WB showed a ten minute segment with clips from the new film "Batman Begins".

The movie looks like it's going to be pretty darn good. It's an origin story (thus the "Begins" bit), and looks like a much better first look at Batman than the Tim Burton flicks. I think you kids will like it.

Anyhow, sorry my posts have been sort of spotty of late. Busy busy.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Look. I don't like Kelsey Grammer.

I sort of watched Cheers in the 80's and 90's. I watched enough episodes of Frasier with my Cheers adoring roommate in college to know that I was probably only ever going to watch the show under duress and in hospital waiting rooms.

I just never felt as if... I dunno... There's something about Kelsey Grammer that seems more like a dumb guy with a good baritone ACTING like a smart guy, that really sort of cheeses me off.

But, you know, none of it usually effects my day.

Now, the geniuses at Marvel who brought us recent hits such as Elektra and Man-Thing, and who hired the director of "Taxi" to direct Fantastic Four... bring you Kelsey Grammer as the X-Men's resident egg-head Hank McCoy.

Bear in mind, Grammer is 50 years old, and not exatly in Schwarzeneggerian condition. Also, bear in mind that the Beast's only real power is to leap about and hang from chandeliers by his toes and whatnot. Given his acrobatic turn at the recent DisneyLand 50th Birthday celebration, I am, at best, suspicious, of this casting decision. In short, I am praying for a completely CGI Hank McCoy.

Which begs the question.... Ah, screw it.

With Singer gone to direct Superman Returns, the director being brought in has complained that Singer's plots were too simplistic, and that he plans to jazz it up. My personal guess is that the guys making decisions on this movie are totally freaked out with Bryan Singer gone. To compensate, they're madly scrambling to put together a movie which at least looks like it should be a success on paper.

Successful television actor... check! Director who plans to shake up the "Status Quo"... check! Diva actress (Berry) demanding a more important part for her tangential character... check! Possibility that Cyclops actor will be passed over for being in new Superman movie... check!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The League is sorry to announce the passing of actor Frank Gorshin.

Gorshin played the Riddler in the Adam West-starring Batman TV series.

Gorshin's Riddler was a manic, frantic portrayal befitting the series, and wound up dictating the portrayal of the Riddler in the comics for years to come. Jim Carrey's Riddler never really matched Gorshin's performance for The League, and we'd liek to think if Supervillains roamed the earth, they'd be a lot like Frank.

I last saw him in the TV movie "Back to the Batcave" in which he played himself, having gone mad and believing he was the Riddler.

Of all the villains who were not Julie Newmar in a Catwoman suit, Gorshin is still my favorite from the movie and TV series.

Godspeed, Frank.

It sounds as if Loyal Leaguer Reed T. Shaw has become a father.

Meredith Cynthia Shaw was born at 5:30pm on the 16th of May to Reed and Jen Shaw.

It is predicted the child will know more about the Minnesota Vikings and Texas A&M Football before her third birthday than most people will know in a lifetime. Jen will surely interject some Longhorn lore into the child, as well as ruin the child for all other cooking. I am sure even Jen's mashed beets will surpass the average mashed beets.

I spoke with Jen on Sunday and she was saying the baby was due midweek or later. The early arrival proves nothing less than that the baby carries more of Jen's genes than those of Reed-o (that would be an inside joke, Leaguers).

Congratulations to the Family Shaw! And welcome Meredith Cynthia. And just ignore Daddy. He always gets like that when the Vikings lose.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Rusty writes:

Hi Melbotis this is Rusty Steans

Im a Bedlington Terrier and live across the pond in South Yorkshire England my hobbies include chasing rabbits, tennis balls and lady terriers

This is my dads bands Web Site:

Here is Rusty:

Dear Rusty,

Mel is so happy to hear from other doggy. Too often, Mel hear from nobody all day but stupid baby dog. Stupid baby dog say, "Hello! Hello! Hello! Me too! Me too! Me too!" That all she say all day.

Sometime Melbotis despair.

So Melbotis VERY happy to hear from Rusty.

But Mel must ask: Where does Rusty keep his eyes? Mel sees no eyeballs.

I ask Chubby-Couch-Man what pond is.

"It's like a sort of standing body of water. Usually associated with pussywillows and lily-pads and... Wait, we live in Arizona. Why the hell do you care what a pond is?"
"Rusty live across pond."
"He lives in the UK. It's a sort of group of islands off the coast of France. They have kings and stuff. Occasionally they dominate the world."
"So what is Pond?"
"Uhmm... I dunno. It's a way to make fun of the Atlantic ocean and display friendship between the US and UK. We're just separated by a pond, not an ocean, see?"
"Is England an archipelago?"
"You know what, buddy. We're Americans. We don't need to really know a darn thing about geography. It's just not in us."
"I see."

So Mel not entirely certain what England is, but he happy to have friend like Rusty who lives on same island as Harry Potter.

Melbotis have pal, Steanso, who in band in Austin, Texas. You may try to understand what Mono Ensemble up to, because Mel not understand.

Mel more of a fan of Al Green and this record.

Anyway, Mel so happy to hear about Rusty and Trev. Hello! Hello!
So, thus far, not only has The League not made one cent by placing ads, The League noticed that the three click-thru's he placed himself came to nothing.

So, The League is looking at a bleak future of having to do this for free.

C'mon, you jerks! Buy something! Support The League's Sponsors.

I was thinking the other day...

Where the hell are Loyal Leaguers Nathan and Jill? Nathan has gone mostly AWOL since the appearance of his child, and Jill disappeared from my Inbox just after announcing her move to Kalamazoo.

No, really. There's a place in Michigan called Kalamazoo. It is where the Hermann-Wilmarths go to nest every summer.

I am going to try to read the following actual books this summer (before I return to school and cannot make time to read fun things).

1. Theodore Rex
2. Eisner/ Miller

I'm wanting to read a good political biography or other book regaling me with some historical interest. But it's been a while since I was a history major, and I really don't know where to start.

Anybody know any good historical non-fiction?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Entertainment Weekly, (sorry, the story is gone now. No link available) and others have all been jumping on the low box office receipts for this year.

Lots of had-wringing reports have come out recently stating that box office has dropped off to such a degree that movie going will most certainly end and we'll all end up watching movies on pay-per-view.

But check out the Top Ten.

Kingdom of Heaven20th Century Fox
House of WaxWarner Bros.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyTouchstone
CrashLions Gate
The InterpreterUniversal
XXX: State of the UnionColumbia
The Amityville HorrorMGM
A Lot Like LoveTouchstone
Fever Pitch20th Century Fox

Of the top ten movies:

2 were remakes of Horror Classics with a B-level cast (the original House of Wax scared me to death when I was 13, and Amityville... Amityville was debunked years ago, and the story really isn't THAT compelling. Not to mention the glut of haunted house movies from the past six years or so) In a seeming effort to drive away a good chunk of the audience, one movie has even inserted Paris Hilton.

1 was a remake of XXX. Without the titular actor returning. Nor any sign of the rocket-propelled, nuclear-powered submarine.

1 was a period piece about a period which most Americans, I am guessing, know about mostly from having seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Hitchhiker's is an adaptation if nichey, culty book, which may have produced a nichey, culty movie audience.

2 romantic comedies (because the earth will quit spinning if we don't have two romantic comedies at the cineplex at all times) . One stars Jimmy Fallon. The other stars Ashton Kutcher, who everyone over the age of 19 (Ms. Moore excepted) kind of hates. *

Crash, which looks kind of preachy

And Sahara which looks like... well, sort of like "The Jewel of the Nile". Except with all the star power of Penelope Cruz. Because, we are all told, we all love Penelope Cruz.

and The Interpreter, which looks like those thrillers from the eighties which take themselves very seriously and usually involve people talking in hushed tones and looking at photos and whatnot. But you can be sure, everyone will be very, very grave.

It's not that anything in the top 10 even looks all that bad, it's that none of it really looks all that good. Even Kingdom of Heaven looks like a movie you're asking me to make an investment in before sitting down. I mean, I see a horse and a suit of armor, and I figure, with trailers, the fastest I'm getting out of the theater in 3 hours, 10 minues. That's a sizeable chunk of my weekend. It better be pretty darn good. And yet it stars Orlando Bloom.

Mostly, everything just sort of looks like something I've seen before. And I've got cable if I want to see things I've already seen before.

That, and Hollywood has decided it's already Summer Movie Season, and if they decide, it must be, right?

1. It was snowing last week in Michigan. I know this because my consultant from Ann Arbor told me this. It may be 72 and breezy in LALA Land, but the rest of the country is still trying to decide how many layers to wear.

2. Kids aren't out of school and college kids are in finals. This is your audience. If you really want to get kids to skip studying in order to go to the movies, you better have some serious explosions up your sleeve. I mean, you'd best be offering up the "choose between the red pill and the blue pill"-type explosions.

And I don't know if it's just me slowly going crazier (this is what Steanso blames), but if I have an option between paying $8.00 to half hear my movie and half hear somebody else's conversation, or, if I can just watch a movie on my 27" TV, stop and start it at will, and not worry about some kid kicking my seat... well, The League knows what the League is going to do.

Honestly, we now pick movies, movie times and venues pretty well. We've gotten it all down to a bit of a science. Aside from the kids under 10 running about during The Aviator, we've done pretty well lately.

But for the most part, there's just not much I want to see. Or at least, for $8.00 a ticket, plus $3.50 for a coke, and $2.50 for a box of Hot Tamales, I mean... do I really want to do all that in order to see Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore? Isn't there something on Discovery?

Not every movie is going to be gold. In fact, I usually think 1 in 5 being something of interest ain't bad. But I hate the whining. Why isn't anyone going to the movies? Because the movies look really uninteresting.

And it's tough to take anyone seriously who complains that Star Wars' $300+ million take won't meet expectations... but, who is setting these expectations? And how are they setting them? Last I checked, $300 million is the GDP of some smaller countries.

The League loves movies. Really. We do. We try not to be film snobs (and certainly do not feel that we've got the pedigree to be a film snob). And we try to enjoy movies for both escapism and for the commentary they can deliver in teh right hands.

But we don't like articles written chastising the general populace for not going to the movies while refusing to suggest that, maybe... just maybe... the product the studios are offering us just doesn't look like it should cost us $30 after candy and soda are accounted for.

*The League hereby declares Our services open to the Hollywood elite. But, especially, to casting directors.

The League would make ourselves available 24 hours a day to all casting directors. For a nominal fee, you could call me up, tell me :

  1. the story of the movie in some broadstrokes
  2. a bit about the character
  3. your intended audience
  4. how much money you really want to make, gross
  5. which well-known actor you're considering for the part
The League will then tell you:

  1. if the League perceives the well-known actor to be a complete jack-ass
  2. whether or not the coveted 18-34 year old male audience will see the movie
  3. if he'd pay matinee or full price
  4. and why he really, really hates the actor you just called to ask him about

We think we'd find this service to be not only a step toward the betterment of mankind, but, also, we'd find it personally gratifying.
Some additions to The Royal Roster of Loyal Leaguers

We've added a few items to the blogroll recently. Check out Return to Comics and Dave's Long Box. Both have linked to The League, although The League does not know these people. We assume they are nice folks.

On a less comics-oriented front, God of Biscuits linked to The League, so we're returning the favor. We don't know God of Biscuits, but we assume he is the deity who gave King Biscuit his Flower Power.

And, of course, Michael Scaljon, whom I have not figured how he knows Jim.


Jim sent me two more folks who have linked to the League.

Pleadings star Heather Durham has linked to the League

as well as this person, known for their Profundities.
The League Totally $@%*ing Sells Out!

So, recently added advertising to It's his personal blog and, like The League, the blog is Randy's personal gift to humanity.

Randy was attacked in his comments section, and responded here.

The biggest accusation? had lost his indie street cred (which, with $2.50 will get you a cup of coffee), and had TOTALLY $@%*ing sold out. To, I assume, The Man.

For your files, an image of The Man (aka: The Admiral)

The League loves doing anything with will make Jim D. sigh with resignation, and so has applied to join Google AdSense himself.

What, indeed, IS the earning potential of The League of Melbotis? Thus far The League has received goods and services from Loyal Leaguers, and hopes to receive more free stuff in the future. However, The League is morbidly curious to see, exactly, what can come of this.

So, The League decided to see what can happen with the profit-making potential of the internet (thanks, Al Gore!). Especially when you select the biggest ad type which won't totally jack-up your formatting?

The League turns to his usual financial advisor for advice on whether or not this will work.

I do plan to fill in Loyal Leaguers as to the processes and windfalls of my advertising here.

1. I applied to AdSense
2. They e-mailed me back a day later to say "welcome" and provide instructions.
3. The directions are relatively simple to get this thing up and online.
4. I have no idea how I'm actually going to get paid for this, or even what the math is on click-throughs.
5. It doesn't really matter. It's all in good fun.

I have noticed that Google has already done a crawl here at The League. We're now schilling Superman costumes and Justice League outfits.

I've also gone aheaded and added a web-search, courtesy of Our Dread Lord, Google. Have fun with that.

It's capitalism, ahoy! here at the S.S. Melbotis!