Saturday, September 09, 2006

Well, we lost our game to Ohio (by we, I mean the UT Football team). I am down about it, but not entirely surprised. I've been walking around for weeks saying "Yes, Limas Sweed is great, but why are we ranked number 2?" Well, today's game unfortunately may have people asking that same question.

Here's the good news: I think we can go otherwise undefeated.

And we're playing Rice next week. I don't think We've lost to Rice in forty years. In a way, I kind of feel sorry for Rice next Saturday. The Longhorns are going to be looking to rebuild their self-esteem, and they're going to be happy to use Rice's skulls for that self-affirmation.

Oklahoma woke up and looked like Oklahoma in the 2nd half. And, hey! A&M look like they're back to playing like A&M.

What else...?

Packing, packing, packing.

Silly dogs.

Sold sign in the front yard.

Do not (I repeat: do NOT) pick up the cat and swing him around and sing songs to him.

And I had a really, really nice send-off happy hour after work. Faculty, staff and all kinds of folks were there. Juli McG from my office put it together and we had a good turn out. You know, sometimes you think "I'm going to walk out of here after four years and that's going to be that." Well, sure a lot of people are always happy to show up just for the possibility that somebody is going to pay for a round, but, man, it was nice of so many people to come by and say a heart-felt adios.

So if any of you folks from my former-employing University are reading this: Thank you all. It's been great.

Take care of yourselves and stay out of the sun.

Friday, September 08, 2006

1 Hour Left

In an hour, I will be unemployed. I have nothing to do for the next hour. Perhaps I will go bother Eric.

Boy, I hope I get that job I interviewed for.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

24 Hours

So after work on Tuesday I had Octavio drop me at the airport.
"What did you pack?" he asked, eyeing my suitcase.
"My suit. Underwear. A t-shirt."
"A suit?"
"Yeah, I figure short of a tux, you can't be overdressed. Especially in Texas."
"You know," he said, being very Octavio, "This week in eWeek, they had interview tips, and one of them was that companies will now not hire you if you overdress for the interview."
"The heck you say."
"Apparently they think that if you overdress, you don't understand their corporate culture and won't fit in."
I thought long and hard about my suit and decided I was going with the suit, anyway. After all, it was wear a suit and hope that was okay or buy all new clothes when I hit Austin. And these people might not have read the article in eWeek, nor bought into that particular philosophy.

Nonetheless, it was not exactly what I wanted to hear.

The flight went well. I read my Superman/Doomsday collection which literally had the lady sitting next to me looking at the pages and then looking up at me repeatedly. She was, I assume, trying to guess how a 12 year-old got so large.

I arrived at Jason's around 11:30 CST, ate my Wendy's value meal, chatted some and hit the hay. I couldn't sleep so I stayed up reading "Wasted", a true crime book based on a case Jason worked on years ago. There's something odd about a book that portrays real people in what I assumed are imagined conversations. I know it's not exactly journalism when one writes a sensationalistic crime book, but... I dunno. I'm more of a "stick to the facts" sort of guy.

I panicked at 1:45 am when I realized Jason didn't have an alarm clock. Well, he DOES have an alarm clock, he tells me, but I didn't see it. Anyway, I lay in bed desperately trying to pre-program my brain to wake me up as soon as the sun came up. This didn't happen.

I did get up at 9:10 AM Central, which is a repectable 7:10 AM Arizona time. I realized I had nothing to eat, no coffee or hairspray, jumped in my sweet rental car and saw a warning in the LCD display.

"Oil 0%: Oil Change"

I sort of freaked out. I was not willing to pay for an oil change for a rental car, but I also didn't want the engine block freezing up on MoPac. Nor did I want to miss my interview.

I ran to Target, got my goods, ate some breakfast bars, made some coffee, reviewed the company's website (which had been completely redesigned since I'd looked at it the week before), drank the coffee, showered, put on my SUIT and headed off.

I think the interview went well. Anyway, I do like their approach, and the job is almost exactly what I was looking for coming back to Austin. It's project management for a computer based training company that has solid clients. Really, it's probably a little too good to be true, which means if I don't get the job, I'm going to feel pretty blue.

I then called Kerry (our long suffering realtor) and was told to cool my jets for a while until she finished some appointments. I drank some coffee, read three sections of the Statesman, then headed to CVS to get a disposabel camera to take some shots of the house. Instead of a still camera, I found a disposable video camera.


For $29.99.

Do you know how @#$%ing crazy that is? I love technology. I love that in two years a disposable video camera will be something you get in a box of cereal. I already saw a still digital camera for sale for $4 at Walgreens.

So the camera holds only 20 minutes of video, and the lens is a cheap, fixed lens. But you can review the last "scene" you shot and you delete it if you don't want it. At the end of the process you bring the camera to CVS where they "develop" the video to DVD. That sort of irked me because the cost was $12, but in a way I feel like the $42 I spent today means that I'm supporting an industry that I think is a good idea and will drive the price down in the future (for those of us who constantly forget our cameras and won't pay out the money for a video camera in our phone).

Smaller, faster, better.

And Jamie now has a narrated DVD of the house we're going to get.

So, anyhoo, Kerry picked me up and we went and saw the future House of El (my choice) or Hall of Justice (Jamie's choice). I'm pretty excited. It's a cool house. Lots of space for us to spread out and do our own thing. A usable front porch and a balcony porch upstairs where I shall be placing a rocking chair for Jason to sit upon and play me country tunes while we all drink lemonade and throw rocks at passing cars.

All in all, a decent place. Come on over. We'll leave the porch light on.

Wound up my appointment with Kerry, drove to Austin books, picked up a few items and headed back to Jason's. I abandoned my suitcase and suit, put on a t-shirt, jammed a few items into my travellin' Man-Purse and headed for the airport.

My car still hadn't seized up on me with the 0% oil efficiency notice, and when I pulled in to refill my tank: I could not. The gas kept "splashing back". Luckily the good folks at Enterprise completely understood I was verging on being an unhappy customer and gave me a pass on the cost of gas, etc...

I checked in, changed my seat to a window seat, had nobody between me and the guy on the aisle, and settled in with a comic and my iPod for the duration.

A succesful 24 hours, I like to think.

We're scheduled to drive out of here next Friday. Wish us luck!
Dave's Long Box presents us with his point of view when it comes to Fandumentalism.

Whether you're a genre-geek or you want to understand a little bit more about how insane the genre-geeks truly are, I highly recommend his essay.

Because, honestly, as a comic-geek, and particularly as a Superman Fan who has believed he was looking at the end times based on WB casting rumors, this essay speaks volumes to me.

Read here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Well, my three day weekend passed in a blur of packing, watching VH-1 Celebreality programming (which is awesome if you want the TV on, but do not care at all what is on), occasional bouts of napping, dog rangling, Animaniacs viewing and generally being anti-social.

Last night I started the portion of my comics packing that means I really am drawing to a close here in PHX. I only partially organized the remaining comics left out in my room. I did not bag nor board them, and did not place them exactly where they need to go in the correct long box. That sort of sorting will need to take place in Austin. I put the comics in the database, and breathed a sigh of relief.

One nice thing: I located my Justice League of America #0 special edition cover in the process. I had been looking for it for a week, as it cost me $6.00. I was half convinced some kid had grabbed it for the shiny superheroes on the cover while his parents were looking at our house. The other part of me knew it was in there somewhere. I was also convinced a week ago that ruffians at the Austin-Bergstrom airport had stolen my work Blackberry. They had not. It was in Jason's guest room. So I need to quit assuming people are trying to steal from me or else I'm going to turn into the weird old guy who won't answer his door anymore because he thinks those Girl Scouts are up to no good.

In watching Flavor of Love, Season 2, I've decided that Jason needs a show on VH-1 where ladies compete for his affections. I really want to see 20 fame-hungry LA-dwelling club rats talking about what a great guy Jason is and how he's their "man". Mostly I want to see Jason wearing a crown and floating in a pool while girls try to impress him.

Also, I have decided I want my own show on Home and Garden network called "Man, I Have No Idea". It would star me, Mel and Lucy, but I'd wear a tool belt and some flannel. People would bring Mel, Lucy and myself into their home and point out some repair they'd like done or some other home improvement project. I would then pause awkwardly as I looked at what they wanted done. They would say "Do you know how to do that?", to which I would respond, "Man, I have no idea."

That's pretty much it. That's my big concept. Oh, and then Mel, Lucy and I would play fetch for the last five minutes of the show while contractors completed the work. Occasionally I would bring in Jeff the Cat and play with him using a laser pointer.

I could also have a spin-off show called "How Hard Could it Be?" in which I would attempt the repair myself, and THEN bring in the general contractor to repair the damage.

Tuesday night I am off to Austin for a job interview. The total trip will be less than 24 hours. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin
The League will really, really miss you, Crocodile Hunter

Monday morning, Australia time and late Sunday evening AZ time, I started seeing reports that Steve Irwin, better known as The Crocodile Hunter, had died.

You can read more here.

I guess it should come as no huge surprise to anyone familiar with Irwin's television program that he died in the field while taping a new program.

I remember first hearing about Irwin from college-pal Manzo, who tried desperately (despite having indulged in one too many cans of "Sportz") to explain that there was this new guy on cable who tackled live reptiles. A few months later I remember spending hours and hours on Jan. 1, 2000 watching a Crocodile Hunter marathon as I tried to get over Dec. 31, 1999. I was already hooked on the how.

Early on I lost track of how many hours of television I watched of Steve leaping into the water after man-eating crocodiles, wrestling them and then moving them either to safer environs or to the Australia Zoo.

Irwin wasn't just a thrill-seeking adventurer. His program was educational, and he was always most interested in ensuring his audience understood the complexities of the animal kingdom and the wonders of nature. His boyish awe in the face of everything from a walking stick to a brown bear was contagious, and I found myself tuning in week after week for years.

As much as I'd been a "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" fan as a kid, Steve was the logical extension of the school-book lectures, explaining the wilds to his viewership as he handled animals himself.

If you watched long enough, you knew Steve was the enthusiasm, but long-suffering wife, Terri, was the patience that balanced out the act. Terri became more and more integral to the show, narrating and stepping in from time to time (usually to handle cuddlier animals or remind Steve NOT to handle the deadly cobra, etc...). And, just when I moved to AZ, Steve's tiny daughter began making appearances in episodes taped at the zoo. And, of course, Jamie and I went to see "Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course".

The world didn't just lose a great TV personality when it lost Steve Irwin on Monday. We lost a terrific conservationist and a spokesman for a greater balance of man and the rest of the beings with whom he shares his planet.

So long, Steve. I'm going to miss you. Hopefully you can work out a deal with The Man Upstairs to corral animals up there.

From CNN: He is survived by his American-born wife Terri and their two children, Bindi Sue, born 1998, and Robert (Bob), born December 2003.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


We've been busy enough around League HQ that I completely missed the entire WNBA season. I never paid attention to the WNBA before last year, so its not exactly killing me that I lost track of this season.

What IS bothering me is that I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the pre-season coverage of both NCAA football and the NFL pre-season hoo-hah. Why is it bothering me? Leaguers, that's a hell of a lot of reading and pre-season analysis that I will need to have at my fingertips should Reed and I sit down to watch a few games when I return to Austin.

I have no idea who the quarterback is at A&M or Oklahoma, let alone what the predictions are for the season. I even thought Snead was UT's starting quarterback. I feel so out of the loop.

I only watched half of the UT football game yesterday... the second half. And while I felt good about the dominating defeat of NTU, Game 2 of the season is the real test, isn't it? I mean, who didn't start seeing the possibility for greatness after UT's stunning victory at OSU last year? Well, maybe Randy, the Doubting Thomas of UT Football.

Sure, it helps that UT is playing OSU at home, but... Well, it's pretty much going to set the tone for the rest of the season. Here's to hoping The Horns do a little better than the Cotton Bowl this year. And then, after the usual stomping of Rice, UT faces Iowa State. My co-worker's nephew is their field goal kicker. I can't help but read something into that.

Turning to the NFL, I'm excited to see what TO brings to the Cowboys. I know, I know... but we're a Cowboys household.

I've actually been paying a little attention to the Cards this season. With Kurt looking healthy, Leinart already looking comfortable in pre-season play, Berry, Boldin and others looking sharp... dare I predict a winning season for the Cardinals?

So... how are your teams looking? How's Vince looking in Tennessee? What the #$%@ is going on in Minnesota? Is it worth tuning in to my once beloved Packers?

Anyone, football...? speak up...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Poll Position

Howdy, Leaguers. It's the start of a new month. That means a few things around League HQ.
a) time to give the dogs their heartworm pills
b) time to post a new months worth of random comments
c) which means Jim or RHPT will post with a "first post!" post
d) time to put up a new poll
e) time to take down the old poll
f) time to review our results from last month's poll
g) time to call Steanso and remind him to take his monthly bath

Last month the poo was hitting the fan on the international scene. Well, not much has changed in that regard, but, hey... if we're about to turn the earth into a smoldering, lifeless sphere, we might as well do it with a giggle...

So what did Leaguers think? Only 15 of you voted...

2 of you will be happy to don your hockey mask, replace your shirt with bandoliers and don leather pants as you race your muscle car across the wastelands

2 of you plan to emerge from your subterranean layers to take advatange of the chaos and assert your rule over the lowlies, scrambling for the precious resources you may (or may not) distribute, based upon loyalty

Sadly, nobody seems to think that Kid Rock and Pam Anderson will find wedded bliss, tiptoeing through the fallout. Or that the Candaians stand a darn chance of finally letting the people decide the fate of their own nation.

Nor do any of you worry too much about the fate of your dear old grannies. You lousy jerks.

Rather, a surprising 1 in 3 of you crybabies were worried about finding drinking water after the initial atomic exchange.

1 in 5 of you have plainly had it with Lohan.

1 of you got my Star Trek reference. Thanks, Steanso. You may now hang your head in shame.

1 of you fears the mutants.

And only one of you is prepared for the coming age and to live under the banner of the Nefarious Perry. You shall all pay for your insolence.


Apparently some new BBC program is going to be a faux-documentay which takes place in the not-so-far future, detailing the (obviously) fictional 2007 assasination of President Bush and the aftermath.

Read here.

The CNN anchors put on their somber faces this morning when reporting about the program, reassuring the audience that it was a British film-maker and not an American who would dare have the audacity to even think of a world in which someone might touch a hair upon Fearless Leader's head.

Apparently, only a monster could imagine the president being assassinated. How many movies do we watch which use the assassination (or attempt at the assassination) of the president as the plot? Yes, yes... those presidents are fictional, but it IS still the President, is it not? One of the top rated shows on TV is 24 which regularly depicts conniving and murderous members of government and routine presidential assasination attempts. The BBC program happens to use Photoshopped images of Bush instead of Dennis Haysbert.

Never mind the other 10's of thousands of other murders depicted on television (not to mention movies) people are now supposed to see before they turn 18. Or the hundreds of thousands of acts of violence on television.

We don't really care about this.

I'm irritated that CNN (a Time/Warner subsidiary, and thus responsible for creating and broadcasting much of that programming) is playing this up as if the filmmaker has somehow performed a voodoo ritual which is dooming the President. The concerned, knitted eyebrows appeal to our dumbest jingoistic nature. Is the President no longer a mortal American citizen (of whom we don't think about twice as they're blown up nightly on television), but our own duly elected Sun God we can somehow murder with a TV show?

I don't want the President dead. Neither do you. Well, yes, you in the back in the army surplus coat with the scraggly beard and crazy eyes... but you also think your house cat is trying to take over your mind.

Of course it took a person in the UK to create the show. Since the 1960's it's been illegal to even think about killing the actual President in the US. A passing comment to a co-worker could be enough to have the Secret Service putting you in the cooler for a few weeks while they dug through all of your personal laundry. In a way, it's not worth the personal and financial risk.


So apparently the MTV Video Music Awards sucked because they weren't "shocking enough" and the artists were boring.

Let's see if we can't run this down

1) MTV quit showing videos in 1993, choosing only five videos which it will show in repetition for months at a time between detailing teenager's cars and throwing them extravagant birthday parties
2) record sales are off by millions of copies not as much due to filesharing as because nobody seems to care enough about pop music to actually pay for it anymore
3) the FCC is suing CBS and its affiliates for millions after the Janet Jackson fiasco which was supposed to be "shocking". Really, CBS should have sued the pants off of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson for actually executing that little stunt(not to mention MTV, who produced the infamous half-time show)
4) Your headliner was Justin Timberlake. I still have never met a human being who liked the guy's music
5) Basic cable and reality TV have so far blurred the lines about what's shocking and par for the course as to what appears on TV that you'd pretty much have to turn the show into a public execution in order to raise an eyebrow
6) Putting a microphone in front of most entertainers and asking them to speak in complete sentences is no longer possible
7) Xtina and a few other performers apparently had a moment of clarity and realized that being thought of us the town tramp for the entire country is no way to maintain a sustainable career
8) I'm only 31 and I have no idea who 80% of the people on the show were
9) And I'm going to get crucifed for saying this, but maybe Jack Black's rocker-schtick has run its course

The problem isn't the VMA's. The problem is the state of the assembly-line music industry and MTV's belief that the people they promote are actually interesting enough to warrant the reputations they foist upon their viewership.
random comments - August
Day Off:

In theory I took the day off to perform a task that I thought would be both monumental and expensive. It was neither.

When our house was inspected, the inspector wrote that the patch of burned out dirt on the west side of our house (between the house and the cinderblock wall) needed soil. Erosion had apparently taken its natural course and the inspector made a note that continued erosion could get water under the foundation, which, of course, would mean the house would float away. Or something.

We were to add soil, angled away from the house. Technically, a professional was to add the soil, but I figured I'm as professional as the next guy when it comes to moving dirt around with a shovel, so I dubbed myself a landscape architect for the day (and while I was at it, I was also a master geologist) and got to work.

So Wednesday night, after I sold my post-1998 Star Wars figure and vehicle collection to my LCS-owner, I headed to Lowe's where I bought 15 bags of "all-purpose top soil". At $2.43 a bag, I figured that if 15 bags wasn't enough, it wasn't a big deal to come back and purchse more soil, but I also had done no math before leaving the house, so I wasn't sure if the 15 cubic feet would be enough.

This morning I woke up at 6:00, ate a Power Bar, and, at the inspector's direction, laid soil at an angle in order to keep the water from flowing under the house. The entire job, plus time at Lowe's, took maybe an hour. So by 8:00, I was using the remaining five bags of dirt to add soil to my cactus garden, fill Mel's trench (Mel dug one hole in this yard. We do not know why it was a single hole, or why he dug it next to the porch. It's been there for three years. We filled it once and he dug it again), and generally put dirt in places that I thought maybe could use a little all-purpose top soil. Add water to settle the soil, and voila! I had the whole day ahead of me.

I spoke to my neighbor of six months for the first time. We're both moving out in mid-September. Go figure. Our new house has a front porch (two of them, but who's counting?), so I hope this means I might actually meet a neighbor or two if I go outside to read or whatever once we're settled in.

I also got to watch single-Mom across the street chase down her kid for day 2 (I had seen her do it on Wednesday, too) as he made a mad break for the park rather than get in the car for day-care. That is one kid who wants to go the jungle gym.

We did some packing and whatnot in the morning and, as we're a bit ahead of schedule (we have two more weeks and I think we'll be done packing by Monday night), we went to go see Little Miss Sunshine.

At the risk of being called Satan by all the folks who adored this movie, I thought it was okay, but it wasn't something I particularly want to own on DVD. It was funny. The actors were all very good (especially the titular star of the film, who I suspect was mostly playing herself). I more or less liked the flow of the script, but I thought the actors mostly overcame the directing more than they were guided by the directing.

I'd be curious to know what bits were cut from the movie. Toni Collette was good, but it seemed as if her storyline had mostly been excised from the film except as a few throw-away lines about a messy divorce (it's only insinuated but never stated that Kinnear's character is not Dwayne's father) and issues with personal finance.


The story also makes an abrupt turn to the absurd in the Scottsdale/ Phoenix portion of the film that went from daffy family road trip into riffing on one of the "National Lampoon's Vacation" films. Not only did they lift the "let's drive with the dead relative" gimmick, but it happened in the same damn city as in "Vacation". The movie shows every weekend on some cable outlet, and its inevitable that the viewer would draw comparisons (or at least this viewer who has seen Vacation almost as many times as "Empire Strikes Back"). I'm not sure how that scene made it into the film, or why they felt it was necessary in an otherwise fairly grounded movie.

The family's inability to grieve what would be a considerable loss put the whole structure of the film in jeopardy, reminding this viewer that these are characters, and not people. Real (sane) people do not decide to continue on to a talent show when they're dealing with their dead father. Or at least they'd send part of the party along and leave one person behind to deal with the paperwork. It just felt unnecessary and inserted purely for the following scene with the police officer.


Is the movie worth seeing? Sure. Go nuts. Is it phenomenal..?
You know what? I liked Superman Returns a whole lot, so what the hell do I know?

I don't feel it's as fresh and new as everyone is claiming. For long stretches the movie felt like little bits lifted from other movies. But it also isn't bad. I don't want anybody to think that. I guess maybe I saw a lot of potential in the movie and it stopped frustratingly close to where I think it could have gone, and that's usually the kind of movie that elicits the longest posts from me. Again, I wonder how much of that wound up on the cutting room floor.


We wrapped up the night by watching the conclusion of "Who Wants to be a Superhero?", and I mean conclusion and not climax. Anyone who didn't see that ending coming needs to take some remedial courses in "reality" television.

I more or less suspected Feedback or Major Victory had it in the bag from day one. If you pegged it from how these programs work and what they needed to be be able to do for the Sci-Fi original movie, I think everyone got what they needed out of the show. I will be picking up my Feedback comic as soon as it hits the shelf. I'm curious to see what they do with the character and if Matthew, the guy who dreamed up Feedback, will be involved in actually writing the comic in any way. After all, he dreamed up the character, but surely made the classic comic creator mistake of signing away the rights to a franchise when he signed the form to appear on the show at all.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

RIP Pa Kent

Actor Glenn Ford who portrayed Jonathan Kent in Superman: The Movie has passed away. The first Superman film was just one of dozens of movies the veteran actor had appeared in.

From the Superman Homepage.

From CNN.

Mr. Ford may only have been in a few scenes, but like Marlon Brando, Ford had a huge presence in the film, re-defining the portrayal of the Kents in the comics for the next thirty years as well as TV series Lois and Clark and Smallville.

Thank you, Mr. Ford. Godspeed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


So today was one of the most stressful days of my life. Steanso knows all about what's going on. The stress is (thankfully) not Jamie health related, but rather housing related. But we knew when we decided to split from AZ that moving would not be free of its obstacles and traps.

Mister Miracle, Leaguers.

So yesterday we realized that the folks we were two signatures away from buying a house from had decided they didn't want us in their house. The why's and what's will always remain a mystery, but as of 10:30 this morning, we had no place to live or drop our stuff at when we got to Austin.

We're now in a race against time trying to find a place to hang our hats when the truck arrives in Austin in mid-September. But we may have already found a place. Jamie is taking point and is heading to Austin this weekend, and with trusty realtor Kerry R. at her side, we may be doing better than ever when we put down our sorry-selves in A-Town once again.


Last night I was exhausted when I got home, and Jamie declared she had a "mystery" destination in mind for dinner. I was very hungry and too tired to really care where we wound up. Jamie isn't usually so mysterious, but unfortunately for her, I was a bit too punchy to be intrigued so I just loaded myself in the car.

Even more unfortunately Jamie had remembered the wrong major street that our mystery destination was supposed to be, so as we wandered around the Gilbert/ 60 intersection, she revealed we were going to Golden Corral.

We all have our little dining quirks. Mine is that I love a good diner, hamburger stand, or anyplace where there's a lunch counter and hot coffee in clear view. Jason refers to this sort of place as being "Marge", a term coined in the 1990's defining tome "Generation X". I especially love independently owned and run diners, but that's a fast dying breed. So I usually settle for a Denny's when i'm out in the burbs.

Jamie has a secret love of the food-trough buffet. She probably won't even really cop to it, but she does enjoy the food-under-a-heat-lamp environs and the ability to be picky as she wants to be and just toss whatever food she selects but doesn't like. Or something. I also am partial to some buffets, mostly out of nostalgia for hanging in line with Grandma at The Bonanza on Sundays after church, and, of course, hitting the Luby's with the blue-hairs. But those places didn't really invite you back to the trough the way Golden Corral welcomes you, extending an open-armed invitation to gorge yourself until your eyes fall out of the sockets.

And so it was that we wound up at the Golden Corral last night after a twenty minute delay of circling the wrong intersection.

It was 7:40 by the time we parked the car and I saw a contingent of retirees hanging out by the front door.

"Oh, crap. The line is out the door!"
"No way."
"Yes!" I pointed. "The freakin' old people are swarming the Golden Corral!"
We got out of the car to check the situation. The old people were, in fact, swarming the front door, but they were fat and sated and just having some chit-chat before they went their separate ways for the evening... free to go home and watch Matlock or whatever.
But the line extended directly to the door, and it curved around a bit inside.
"The people are crazy for the Golden Corral!" Jamie excalimed. "It's 7:40. This isn't even the rush time."
Jamie knows my patience for waiting in lines is short, indeed. Especially for food. Her dream of a meal at the Golden Corral was over. No dessert bar for her, not when we had fifteen other resaurants to go to at the same intersection.
"Where do you want to go?" the dinner question which plagues any couple who has been together more than two weeks.
"I don't care," I sighed. I was really hungry. I'd had only a few minutes for lunch and had a pretty slim lunch between real estate issues and a meeting.
And then, like a beacon in the darkness, Jamie looked across the road and saw "The Old Country Buffet".

There is a law of nature that states that you can place two identical restaurants side-by-side and one will ahve a two-hour wait and one will have immediate seating and a bunch of staff hanging around looking bored. Locally, I often think of "The OG/ Pomodoro Paradox". In our neck of the woods, Olive Garden sits across the street from a fairly decent pasta place "Pasta Pomodoro". The food is similarly priced and probably a little better, and definitely better for you. Olive Garden seats probably four times as many people at once, and usually has an hour wait on weekends. Pasta Pomodoro usually has immediate seating.

Old Country Buffet was mostly empty. At the door I was greeted with multiple card board cut-outs of the not-quite-in-the-cultural-lexicon mascot of the Old Country Buffet, The Old Country Buffet Bee. I think it used to be the Hometown Buffet bee. I'm not sure why Hometown Buffet would change it's name and nothing else, but my mind whirled at the notion of the corporate shenanigans which no doubt took place to merge several similar family buffet-style resturants and keep the identity of the bee intact.

Go, bee.

There's not a lot of screwing around at The Old Country Buffet. There's no menu of specialty meat items for you to select from, or a Luby's-like line to pass through. You hand the dude at the door a surprising $11 a head, and after that: It's Thunderdome.

Oh, and they were playing "Do the Hustle" when we entered, so I started doing The Hustle, but Jamie asked me to stop. I love familiar dance tunes played completely out of context.

There was enough food to feed a battalion on the buffet, both healthy and deeply unhealthy choices. Rather thant describe what was available, I'll just state that it didn't seem like a good place to take a kid who'd recently been diagnosed as diabetic, so I hope nobody was there putting their little diabetic kid through torture.

But I guess the point is that, really, this was exactly the same place (more or less) as Golden Corral, located just across the street, and Old Country Buffet was clearly not going to make a profit this evening. Just in required staff alone to prepare the mountain of chow, I couldn't see how they were keeping the doors from being shuttered if this was their usual take on a weeknight. What is the allure of Golden Corral that Old Country Buffet was clearly lacking to the line of eager diners across the street?

Is the food actually better? Is the music selection more appropriate (this I doubt as my last voyage to Golden Corral in 2001 all the kids at the table behind us stopped mid-meal to listen to Celine Dion's "The Heart Will Go On" after a hushed exclamation of "Titanic!" "Titanic!" "Titanic!" rippled down the table)? Are the chairs more comfy? The lights appropriately dim?

I don't know. I may never know.

The folks at the OCB seemed happy enough, both staff and customer. A family was having a fairly anti-climatic birthday party for one of the women identified as "Mom", but I wasn't sure who she was. All in all, a fairly harmless place.

But God bless you, Old Country Buffet. I have never seen a finer array of fried and carb-heavy goods on display.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Warren Jeffs... BUSTED!

Not all supervillains wear a cape.

Those of you who do not live in Arizona probably saw a story on this a-hole on 48 Hours or 20/20, watched with some morbid fascination and then promptly forgot about it.

Warren Jeffs is leader of a cult in northern Arizona that makes the Branch Davidians look like a Sunday School picnic. The cult is an off-shoot of Mormonism and does not just fill a compound, but an entire town in the farthest reaches of the state. The town is mostly walled off and is a sort of black box as far as what's actually going on. The police, the school system, the city council and the whole operation are all part of the cult.

Warren Jeffs was finally picked up by the cops last night in Nevada.

What we know: The cult is centered around polygamy and, surprise, surprise... believes Jeffs to be some sort of messiah figure. The polygamy includes a lot of thirteen and fourteen year old girls who are barely literate being placed into marriage with guys in their 40's and 50's (as wife number five or so). Girls who were recently "rescued" from the town didn't know who the President was, where they were in the United States, or, in fact (if memory serves) that they were in the United States. To them, the world was Warren Jeffs and his teachings.

Cult Leading Jackhole

With just about as many boys as girls being born, in order to make the operation work the popular story is that the cult kicks a lot of boys out of town at a very young age.

In theory.

If I were the FBI I'd be looking for shallow graves around the town. I find it difficult to believe that dozens (or possibly hundreds) of boys could have been kicked out of town and only a handful would have gone public.

Traditionally, Arizona's culture has been to let people do as people do. It's a big state, and, culturally, it's had a very laid back atmosphere that boiled down to "if you don't bother me, you can do whatever you want on the other side of the hill." Resources have long been scarce, and nobody has had the political will to bother with things like kooky cults that don't effect the business of the two big cities which are both hours away. Add in one fiasco in Waco, mutiply that by a cult which dwarfs the Branch Davidians, and you've got a pretty handy stalemate.

Well, lately Jeffs has been on the run after being indicted for arranging a marriage between sixteen year old girl and married older man (one of many, many of these marriages). I heard that he'd bought some land near Alpine, TX and planned to move the whole shooting match to West Texas. Unfortunately for Jeffs, (and I heard this only fourth hand) the good folks of West Texas heard what these guys were up to and did their best to use that grand Texas gentle persuasion (ie: threatening to burn his compound down) to convince him that maybe he shouldn't think Texans were going to turn a blind eye to his activities. For once, I'm totally behind the pitchfork and torch wavers.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the stories you hear about the Jeffs cult. As citizens of a 1st World nation, we all like to think we're pretty clever and above falling for some line of malarkey. But, in a way, we're also in our own little fenced town where the cops are part of the operation. We hear what we hear growing up, and we assume that because we heard it growing up and we're comfortable with it, it must be The Truth. Anyway, it's always good to look at the folks trying to sell you The Truth with a healthy dose of skepticism. They could be your Governor or your Ultimate Frisbee captain, and they may even believe what they say, but that doesn't mean they don't want you sitting in your own little compund in the desert without the slightest notion there's a world outside.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Just Say No:

Leaguers, I admit I got a little squeamish this weekend when it came to another taste test and never pulled the product off the shelf.

Jamie and I went to get a sno-cone last night. I got a "Batman" flavored sno-cone. I queried why they had a Popeye and a Batman flavor, but no Superman or Wonder Woman flavor... the jughead teenager behind the counter responded with "Huh huh huh huh huh... I dunno."

How did Batman flavoring taste? I tell you Leaguers, it was the delicious taste of justice. And that is exactly what I told both Jamie and the kid behind the counter.

At the sno-cone shop they have candy, which is where last week's Mallow Dog was discovered. This week they also had Mallow Burgers and Mallow Fries. I was going to have another mallow meal, but I think I've already done my due diligence on mallow shaped into a form resembling foods which I enjoy in their natural state.

Move Update:

I think we're on a good pace for packing and being ready to go on the 14th. That's when the movers are showing up. We've now gotten to packing pots and pans and whatnot, so we can't easily cook anymore, so most of my meals will be sandwiches, cereal or out of the microwave.

I also think we've reached a point where we're just a day away from agreeing on our closing on a house in Austin.

Now... to find a job.


I've never made a secret of my love of the mid-90's cartoon Animaniacs. Most people remember Pinky and the Brain and the Warner Siblings, but the show was more or less a variety show with a rotating bunch of shorts. Rita and the Runt (a singing cat and a Rainman inspired dog), Mindy and Buttons (a play on the classic "baby in trouble" cartoons), Goodfeathers (a Goodfellas inspired pigeon cartoon), Slappy Squirrel (a retired cartoon star and her nephew), Mr. Skull Head, Katie Ka-Boom, the Hippos, Minerva Mink, Hello Nurse, Doctor Scratchnsniff, and, of course, Chicken Boo.

The show worked off the theory that if you tell a joke every ten seconds, it doesn't matter if 2/3rds of them are groaners or stinkers... it's all about keeping pace with the dialogue and visual gags.

Anyhoo, as Nathan pointed out in the post with video below, there's really nothing like it on TV today. Kids cartoons are mostly poorly animated, cheaply produced (and generally unfunny) stuff that relies on lots of screaming and gnashing of teeth in a diluted 3rd generation Ren & Stimpy fashion. Or, of course, the imported anime stuff. Some of which is okay. Other shows are inexplicably popular, like Yu-Gi-Oh, which is a cartoon about people playing a dungeons and dragons-like card game and doing a lot of smack talking.

Whatever the kids like, I guess.

Randy fails to step up

So, Randy had pitched the idea of a "Friends of The League" site. I asked last week what you guys might do with such a site as I wasn't clear on what Randy was getting at. I think the comments section pretty much covers the necessary territory. Also, honestly Leaguers... my life is not a TV show. I'd like to think I'm thick-skinned, but I'm also not sure I'm comfortable with the idea of a forum for people to critically analyze my life. That's creepy.

But, hey... what the heck... if it all went to heck I could tell you guys exactly where you could stick your @#$%ing website, right?

So, Friday night I went on to and spent the prerequisite ten minutes to establish a new blog, dubbed it "Hall of Melbotis", and invited a few Loyal Leaguers to join. I had no idea what would happen.

Well, nothing happened. Of the seven or so folks I asked to respond, only Steanso showed up, and that was more or less to insult me and then disappear. Which is sort of how he was involved in my life from 1991-1995. It was like old times.

Leaguers, thus ends the "We should set up a website for Friends of The League!" experiment. Randy, you really, really, really, really just disappointed all of us.

A Show for Peabo and JMD

There's a good documentary show that's been running on Sunday evenings on the History Channel. It's about the Revolutionary War, and is aptly titled "The Revolution."

You guys would dig it.



For the first time in weeks I actually got a chance to read all of the comics I picked up on Wednesday. Well, all of the new ones. It's been that kind of busy at League HQ.

I'm also busily putting comics in long boxes in the right place for the last time before I move. After the boxes get closed and taped up, that's it until we hit Austin and unpack fully. All new comics will go in a single longbox for a while until I can sort through them and re-organize.

I've come to the sorry realization that my genre/character/ publisher organization system is no longer realistic nor adequate. I may actually have to alphabetize. It doesn't probably seem like a big deal, but the genre/character/publisher system is how I've been sorting comics since I was 13 or 14 and got my first long box. (I still have that box. It says "Ryan's comics! Keep your mits off!" in fat black ink).

My weekend reading did give me a list of at least three titles I think I'm dumping:

Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes

It's too bad, because I was looking forward to those series in the OYL jump. But I'm basically not enjoying any of the three series. I have pedged to pick up the NEXT issue of Supergirl as they appear to finally be getting down to brass tacks and establishing some sort of environment for her to operate in. I really, really don't understand how they've gotten 10 issues in (and something like 3 years since her debut) and nobody has noticed that there's no character established yet.

I'm iffy on:

The Creeper
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters
anything written by Steve Englehart
Blue Beetle
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis

I'm a little peeved about the Steve Englehart thing as I appreciate that the guy was important to DC 25 years ago, but his Batman story last year was mediocre and his runs on JLA: Classified and JSA: Classified were pointless, dull, and reminded me of why I didn't read DC in the 80's. And if he keeps popping up in comics I collect on a subscription basis, then I have to think about things like breaking a run on a series and cancelling and restarting a subscription.

Blue Beetle was on the chopping block until issue #6 when someone finally DID something. This book needs to have a better editor or else someone needs to explain to Keith Giffen how to establish a story before you drop your reader into the middle of the action.

I'm not sure why, but the insistence to get to the action without establishing why we're there seems to be a pretty common flaw in a lot of comics, even by veterans like Giffen.

Which brings us to Meltzer's Justice League of America #1 which I said nice things about last week and I'll say nice things about this week. I read one review which stated that the comic was already detouring into a "soap opera" with the Red Tornado storyline. I'm not sure when fleshing out characterization and giving characters motivations became a "soap opera", but I thought that was a pretty poor reading of what was a pretty darn good comic. Of anything done since the end of Infinite Crisis, this series is impressing me the most, and we've only had two issues (there was an issue #0... it's sort of tough to explain). The point being is that there's a conflict being presented before we come to fisticuffs.
It's a great big universe...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I keep forgetting to post this...

It's a link to some mock-ups and whatnot of what the Transformers will look like in the upcoming Michael Bay-directed live-action Transformers movie.


At some point I lost interest in Transformers. I'm not sure why. I always enjoyed fiddling with my Transformers toys as a kid (Optimus Prime was always my favorite), but as an adult I didn't have a particular nostalgia for the characters.

But, heck yeah... it's not like they don't have the CG down now to handle a cool transformation, so I'll pay $8 and see this movie. I wish they'd hire back the original voice actors from the cartoon for Optimus, Megatron, Starscream and Bumblebee.

RHPT loves the Transformers, so, by God, I'm going to post this for him.

And if you scroll down on this link, there's a pic of a guy with a Bumblebee prop.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hey, Jim Parsons is in a new commercial for Stride gum.

Go Jim!

Go to Stride's website to see Jim here.

Aisde from pondering the imponderables of a universe comprised of multiple dimensions, all separated by a mere vibrational frequency discovered by The Flash, and which has upset comic fans in a way I've begun to find hilarious...

What else do I have for you?

Over at Cowgirl Funk, Maxwell has been considering the Haude Elementary Fifth Grade play. I didn't attend Haude in 5th grade, but Steanso did. And I remember him wandering around our house on Ella Blvd. humming the tunes to himself.


How It Should Have Ended: Superman the Movie

(found at Superman Homepage)

There may be a movie of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's life in the works.

So You Want to be a Superhero? has spun wildly out of control. Apparently by casting fairly decent people who grow to care about one another over the course of a program rather than trying to destroy one another, every elimination round is now filled with tears and hugs. With people in tights and capes. Kind of odd. Nonetheless, I am really digging the show and, despite a sad lack of Monkey Woman, I think they narrowed it down to the best three.

Did you see Fat Momma with the kids? She was really good.

And while this comic strip is rated "R" for language, it kind of reminds me of college. So enjoy.

(Courtesy of Amy C.'s blog)

RHPT asked about setting up a Friends of the League site. I don't want to do it, but if you guys want to do, it go nuts. What would you want on such a site, anyway?
Okay Comic Geeks

Can someone tell me why some comic fans (mostly longtime Marvel fans) find the multiple Earths concept so mindboggling as to swear off DC Comics, but don't bat an eye when Marvel has the Ultimates Universe, the Exiles popping from one dimension to the next in each issue, the Zombie universe, the Negative Zone and wherever Squadron Supreme (both incarnations) is supposed to live?

1) How is this any different from the multiple Earths?
2) Is it the numbering system? Because I think that's the problem.

Okay, so sometimes comics are a little hard to jump right into...