Friday, April 06, 2007

Hey, Leaguers!

Last night we headed down to Ben White Florist to see drummer Reed Shaw and Jason's band, The Mono E, play a show for the First Thursdays thing they do on South Congress. Those guys put on a good show, considering their usual guitarist was AWOL and Jason and Eric had to step up a bit.

And I missed the context was, but there was also an Easter Egg hunt. (Oh, I know it's Easter. I don't know who the people were or how they knew about the Egg Hunt). There were all of these families with little kids who rocked to the sounds of the Mono E, and then, in what's probably a first, the Mono E had to pause for the egg hunt. Anyway, I've now learned why egg hunts exist. Watching little kids toddle around with an oversized basket and try to find eggs is just good comedy. I first came to this conclusion when Jamie, Doug, Kristen and I came upon the egg hunt at the Hotel Coronado in San Diego and saw some poor hotel employee in a bunny suit get mobbed...

So congrats to the Mono E on another show successfully pulled off! And congrats to Reed Shaw for a stellar drum solo (man that Reed Shaw can rock the HOUSE)!!

That said, I may arrive late to the next First Thursday as I'd like to actually walk First Thursday at some point and see what the rest of the street has to offer. I like flowers and all, but...

So I don't know if this is all part of the "Day After Tomorrow" scenario of global warming or what... but it's supposed to be crazy cold here in Austin this weekend in the evenings. One report suggested it might even fall into freezing temperatures. I don't think that's likely to ccur, but it could drop into the low 40's or high 30's, and that, Leaguers, is not the usual lovely Easter weather one sees in this berg.

Meanwhile, the UN released a report forecasting that the Southwest is to be become a dustbowl thanks tp global warming. I've already lived in one desert, thank you.

This is on my mind as Saturday I'm scheduled to catch up with some old pals at Freddie's, which is a mostly outdoor venue. Our plan may need some re-adjusting.

I felt like I've been just dropping links and stuff for a while. I need to put nose to grind stone and work on the Mellies questions so we can get some real content up and going once again.

some enjoyable links. sorta.

I don't know how funny this is to folks who've never worked a helpdesk, or to people who've never worked in a tech-based arena.

At any rate, both Jamie and Steven G. Harms sent this to me in the past 24 hours.

Go to the link. I plead of you, go to the link.

And the video below is NOT parent friendly. There is repeated use of some bad words and some generally grim stuff. But I think I'd be remiss if I didn't share. Thanks to Randy for the link.

So much like Jason in high school, it's creepy

Jim, you had a good unicorn related link and I failed to post. Please resend.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Comic Fodder Needs Writers

Hey, Leaguers!

Comic Fodder needs writers!

Do you read an unhealthy number of comics?

The Fodder Network is looking for writers to help us build Comic Fodder into a must-read site for every comic geek with an internet connection. Are you a reader of comics who can put a critical eye to the comics they love, and who isn’t afraid to get a little scrappy defending their opinions down in the comments section?

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Acceptable TV


New show in which they show several new "shows" each week, and viewers vote on which ones they want to see the following week. Only two of the five shows make it. In addition, viewers can create short shows and send them in.

And, the show claims, the clips are only as long as the average attention span.

TV for the internet age.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spider-Man week in NYC

Apparently it's pretty difficult for Spidey to get the fear and loathing in the real world which he gets in the comics.

Somebody... I'll say it's Bloomberg, but who knows... has declared the end of April, beginning of May "Spider-Man Week" across the five burroughs.

go here

Sadly, Austin has no local superheroes in either the DCU or Marvel Universe (although The Initiative will surely change that fact). I read once that the current Hawkgirl is from Austin, and, in fact, was getting a film degree when she received her powers or wings or whatever, but no mention has been made of that fact in years.

But we do get Spam-A-Rama this weekend.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day

Well, both the Astros and the Cubbies lost the season opener. I watched a good chunk of the Astros game, but was then sidetracked by my decision to grill some burgers. So today also marked the start of the cook-out season, although we kept it simple at League HQ. I suppose we'll need to have some folks over for some grilled meat.

The 'Stros were doing okay until the 8th inning when one of the Pirates hit a homer, and I think that was the beginning of the end. I'll never know. For some odd reason we were taping two shows, which meant we couldn't watch a live show on our DVR. So I didn't see that, but I did see the conclusion of Season 1 of "I Love New York". Yes, yes... I'm still following the "Flavor of Love" programs, and will leap right into "Charm School" later this month. God bless you, VH1.

I'll also be watching the behind-the-scenes show about how the Jerry Springer show is put together. Longtime Leaguers will know that I firmly believe that the endless line of nimrods they find to put up on the stage represents the real America in many, many ways. So much poor decision making.... so very much... And not afraid to air their laundry before a national audience.

I do watch a few minutes of Springer now and then. Just as I catch myself watching a few minutes of Maury, and my new favorite... The Greg Behrendt Show. Sadly, Greg's clueless style of trying to help people by utilizing the sage wisdom of an aging LA hipster did not pan out and we will only get one season of the program. But I will always remember it as a show that had absolutely no point, and even the host looked like he didn't want to be there.

I do get to watch a considerable amount of television as an unemployed person, and I'm this close to picking up the phone and calling The Everest Institute. They've now convinced me I could be making more money.

We went and saw Blades of Glory on Sunday at The Alamo South. The movie is exactly what one would expect from the trailers, and, yes... John Heder isn't actually very funny. He mostly plays the straight man to Will Ferrell's... Will Ferrell.

Amy Poehler and Will Arnett play a competing skating duo, and some of their stuff is okay. JD asked me if this was a theatrical must-see of one to save for Netflix. And I gotta say... Netflix. At times the directors and writers weren't trying hard enough, and at other times, maybe a little too hard. Still, it's comfortable middle ground for Will Ferrell. And this is going to reveal a bit more than I'd like, but I expected more out of the skating than what I got. Yes, I wanted silly CGI skating, but for anyone whose spent as much time as The League keeping his wife company during the winter olympics, I'm not sure why they didn't employ more actual skating stuff.

That said, the movie features Scott Hamilton, Peggy Fleming, Sasha Cohen and other skating greats. But, curiously, no Michelle Kwan.

Oh, and The Office's Jenna Fischer is in the movie, but you sort of get the feeling she's barely able to keep it together in most of her scenes. That's okay.

What else...?

Oh, yes...

Somehow this little video of Bully locating the famed Forbidden Planet comic shop was both funny and sweet.

Which makes me want to go ahead and link to...

Ah, Audrey...

Transformers: Robots In a Slide Show

Here for Movie Transformers photos. Here for trailers.

Dear Hollywood,

Was it really that hard? I've been asking for one thing out of a movie since 1991 or so... and that was to see giant robots blowing up the landscape. Why did this take 16 years?

Hollywood, I don't want much out of a movie, but here's what I want:

Giant Robots
Apes or Monkeys
Fighter Planes and/ or Spaceships
Laser weapons
Alien Beings
Heroic archaeologists
Michelle Yeoh
Shoot outs

I do not need, nor really desire, all of these items in a single movie. But it doesn't hurt to include most of this list into your summer faire.

So, thanks, Hollywood, for the movie featuring giant robots and explosions. I owe you one.


League of Melbotis


There are four total posts here today. Let's start with the one for the lawyers in the audience.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

LaLa Weds, Provides Booze and Food

The League's own LaLa got hitched up over the weekend. No pictures, sorry.

LaLa married a gentleman named "Michael", who, by all accounts and my own observations, is a decent sort of a fellow. Michael and LaLa had been seeing one another for quite some time since our sojourn in Arizona, and we'd begun to believe Michael to be a fiction as LaLa would make many an appearance when we'd be in town, but her gentleman friend was never anywhere to be seen.

We adore LaLa (she's the potty-mouthed embarassment-to-the-family I never had), and we wish she and the husband the very best. She won't read this as she's going to be in Mexico for a while, soaking up sunshine and pina coladas in equal measure. I just really hope she likes the wooden hangers I got her for her wedding gift. Nothing says, "Enjoy a life full of love" like the gift of neatly creased trousers.

Matt and Nicole rode out to Driftwood with us for the wedding, and Dan and his fiancee, Ilana (sp?), flew in from Chicago. Matt still refuses to dance, so I was skeptical of my own chances, but who can turn down "Sex Machine"? Not Mr. & Mrs. League, that I can tell you.

I hadn't met Ilana, and I was waiting to kick the tires before agreeing with everyone else that she was okay. Ilana passed my rigorous questioning with flying colors, and they now have my approval to proceed to the altar. Well done, Dan.

A lovely evening at the newly established Mandola's Vineyard out in Driftwood, kind of past The Salt Lick, and then down a bit on the left.

Anyhow, congrats to LaLa and Michael. The League of Melbotis wishes you buckets of happiness.

Maxwell Propagates the Species

...and you can already tell it's Maxwell's child...

From Maxwell's e-mail:

As some of you already know, our first child arrived Wednesday March 28th at 4:14 pm. We're in love with all 7lbs and 7oz. Her name is Sophia Mari Scott, but you can call her Sophie. She's named for Mari Scott, Eric's wonderful grandmother. Mom, Dad, and Baby are all healthy and very happy.

So, a new chapter for our own Cowgirl Funk. It seems like just yesterday that I was driving this little Drama Club freshman home and was amused that she was pleasantly less annoying than most of the rest of her class. God bless 'er.

Congrats to the whole Maxwell clan on the arrival of Sophia.

When the time is right, the League of Melbotis shall be ready and available to teach her The Robot.

A Post for April 2nd

From Mark Twain:

At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty's sake, and invincible determination, may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.

- The Innocents Abroad.

Yes, the announcement of the conclusion of The League of Melbotis was an April Fool's Day sham. I sincerely appreciate the words of encouragement even in the face of the unlikelihood that we'd shuttered our doors and cut the pilot light.

As with any good lie, there's some truth to the post. Of late, I feel much of the relevancy of League of Melbotis has tipped it's hat and ridden off into the sunset. But I think that comes with each spring time and each anniversary. After all, I think April 2nd marks the 4th anniversary of LoM, and after all this time...

Well, a lot of ink's been spilt.

Happy April 2nd, Leaguers.


Hey, Leaguers

After much consideration, I've decided that this post will be the final post for League of Melbotis. We've been in business for somewhere in the neighborhood of four full years, and it's been, I can say, a fantastic ride. I've gotten to know a lot of new people, caught up with long lost pals, and kept up with a lot of folks I might have otherwise lost touch with in our years in the desert.

I think I've accomplished some of the goals I had in mind when I started this blog, and other goals have become less important as time has marched on. I'll leave it to your imagination to guess which was which.

But I think the day of The League has passed. I can only hope that you all have enjoyed peeking in on our life.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

At the Folks'

I'm in Spring for the next 20 hours or so. I came in this afternoon, and tomorrow will be nabbing Jamie and Mel and heading back to S. Austin.

Of course I'm way off schedule and everyone else has headed off for Sleepytime Junction. I was tired until about 9:00, and then my brain's second shift showed up, energized for duty. I had tried to beat them into submission with a large dinner and some wine, but no go.

As many a-Leaguer knows, my folks live in the same house I moved into in high school. And, therefore, not just the house but certain streets, car washes, bridges and loose items laying around the house are marked with that soft glow that, when you think on it too hard, tosses you back 15 years into the past. The magnifying class on the computer table is an odd anachronism, once belonging to my grandparents and now sitting here. The same calculator we bought when I was in high school, and it still works. Easter decorations I made with my own hands when I was in fifth grade.

And, of course, the notebooks of bad, bad maudlin poetry and prose that I'd hung on to at some point when I was ordered to clean out my old room. In reviewing my work, I was a rotten kid, I can tell you that much. Poor me. Lots of talk of anguish and pain, which sounds about right for the time. Drama kids.

At some point in the not-too-distant future my folks will sell this house, and it leaves me in an interesting pickle. I do not want this stuff crowding my house anymore than they want it moving with them to whatever version of Del Boca Vista Phase II in which they decide to land. When these things go to the dump, this external RAM I've been keeping of my life is going to go, too. I guess that's the nature of getting older.

These days when I come back, I don't mind if synapses fire that haven't seen a spark in years. There was a time when I found that almost threatening, but these days... there's a lot of water under the bridge, I suppose.

We'll be heading back tomorrow evening, I think. So we'll have tomorrow to sift through some of this stuff.

I might even venture into the garage attic and see if I can find my Matchbox cars.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

League Links

Nathan was recently here for SXSW. He's a bit of a journalista for Texas Public radio in San Antone...

here's some of his reporting. Go to about minute 20.

here's more

And the Texas Matters site

Neil Gaiman's Stardust is now a movie.



Yes, you can have my $8.00.

And, a timely comic strip...

It's my understanding that the nation of Turkey is a fascinating place with a culture thousands of years old, rich in the arts, and generally not a bad place as long as you don't ride the Midnight Express.

But, here, I don't think they even tried...

Flying Solo

I've been back since Monday as Jamie gets some tests run. Looks like I'll drive back to Houston on Thursday and then drive back to Austin late Friday night. My folks do this kind of trans-290 driving all the time, but I don't particularly care for it. That Stephen King audio book is going to come in real handy.

Yesterday I totally lost track of time as I puttered around the house. At this point I just expect to lose track of time for the first 36 hours or so when I'm left to my own devices.

Last night involved grabbing some pizzas and heading over to Mandy's to catch some Boston Legal (which I realized I had seen before, but had forgotten). Then home for wild night which I planned to spend blogging and watching some Adventures of Superman episodes to wrap up the series. What I forgot was that I needed to catch up on some sleep as I'd not slept much Monday night/Tuesday morning. I made it through two Superman episodes and then toddled off to bed at 11:45, which may be the earliest I've checked out for the day in over a month.

Lucy is clearly missing Jamie and Mel, Jeff is unreadable, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with myself for the next 24 hours.

At least it's sunny and warm. Shorts wearing weather. So beware my milky-white legs as they make their first appearance of the year.

As is my want, I made a detour through Toys R' Us yesterday. The mega-toy store, which was all but the Mecca of toy-lovin' kids has fallen on some hard times since the big box stores got serious about the toy business. The action figure section at your local Wal-Mart or Target is significantly better stocked than Toys R' Us, and short of a few lines Toys R' Us seems to have picked up which otherwise would only be found at comic shops and specialty merchants, their selection has dwindled to near nothing. It's kind of sad.

Toys 'R Us almost went out of business a few years ago, but some crafty Germans swooped in and bought the company right out of bankruptcy, so at least they didn't close their doors. Then Toys 'R Us parted ways with

Anyway, this is all a long, long way of mentioning that the Spider-Man 3 movie tie-in toys are out. Every time a comic-related movie is coming out, I gawk at the toys, and within a short while am able to ascertain the plot of the movie by looking at what toys and tie-ins are on the shelf. I actually figured out the plot to Superman Returns by looking at the toys about two months before the movie was released.

Not this time. Spidey 3 has incorporated a multitude of Spidey villains into the toy line that may or may not be in the movie. And if I hadn't made a pretty specific promise to Jamie that "I'm only buying DC toys from now on" about a year ago, and then a "only Superman toys" rule this year, I might have gone bonkers grabbing The Lizard and other items from the shelf.

There is one item I want, for oddly practically reasons. There's a Spider-Man 3 "bug vaccuum" that is handheld and could easily solve my problem of being unable to get at bugs in corners.

So, yeah, I'll probably be breaking my "no Spidey toys" rule.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007



Sorry I didn't call. And sorry about the rain on your birthday. I had this whole fan-dancer routine worked out I was going to perform in your yard, but it'll have to wait until a sunnier day.

Whenever I think of your birthday, I think of the time we all went rollerskating, you got kicked in the head with a skate, and we all gave up and watched Conan: The Destroyer at your house. You were seriously jacked up, but we all liked the movie. Leave it to your mom to have Conan on tap for a "plan B". Good lady, that Mrs. Peabo.

Also, one year, we went to Malibu and you totally smoked my sorry self on the track.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We had a lovely weekend.

Saturday we arrived at my folks' place, dropped off Melbotis, discovered my parents' air conditioner had died, got ready and then headed for Erica and Scott's big night.

The location wasn't too far off 288 in South Houston. It was a lovely, outdoor ceremony at dusk. The ceremony went off without a hitch, although I later heard rumors that the bride's mom had somehow disappeared prior to the ceremony and this caused some backstage consternation (no drama, she had just wandered off or something).

The reception was similarly lovely. Erica and I went to high school together, but whereas I showed up for the last three years of high school, Erica had lived in the same area since she was five. Therefore, there were a lot of faces at the wedding that I sorta-recognized, but was unable to put a name with. Aside from one, who, of course, had no recollection of me at all. And in this manner the cosmic wheel doles out justice.

Did some dancing, including some of my patented "Robot". Jamie looked totally foxy, so I got to appear as the guy with the cookie on his arm. Go, me.

Returned to Shannon and Josh's place, chatted a bit, got some sleep, and then got up in the morning yesterday for the post-wedding breakfast (which began at 8:00). The breakfast was obviously thought up by people who didn't plan on hanging near the bar at the wedding. Anyhoo, that was nice, and we got to see the bride and groom looking a little less stunned as they made their morning rounds.

Yesterday was Jamie's birthday, and I think my presents were sort of a dud, but she seemed happy enough. Shannon and Josh were nice enough to drop by for dinner.

I also found out (last, as always) that Julie B., wife of Cousin John, is expecting. Bully news, I say. John and Julie are great folks and will make ace parents, I have no doubt.

Today we dropped off Jamie at dialysis, I had lunch, then hit the road. It's raining like crazy in Austin, which I drove into around Giddings. It was all right. During Heather's recent visit, she'd loaned me a book-on-CD of Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher".

I haven't read any King since, maybe, middle-school. And somehow it's comforting to hear King's paid-by-the-word approach to a novel, with his squarely believable characters who eat the same junk you do, get hung up on the same minutia as your neighbors and are usually written awfully close to the folks you already know. In a way, it's sort of stunning how difficult a task that must be for writers to achieve. the Joe Averages who populate most novels are there specifically to remind you that average people are quirky and bizarre in their own way... But King's books are more interested in putting folks that could be you into some odd situations.

One of my great dis-satisfactions of trolling the New Fiction aisle at Barnes & Noble is that the characters all too often might as well appear in books down in the sci-fi and fantasy book sections for as much relevance as they have to my daily life. The kid winning the spelling bee with seemingly supernatural talent, the lonely widower bee keeper, the Indian kid stuck in a boat with a tiger, the Chinese peasant's family getting the tar kicked out of them for generations, the rich scenester with the tell-all about how they realized life isn't about doing copious amounts of blow, the Addams Family/dysfunctional family yarn... It's exciting to write about exciting people, no doubt. And we've all sat in a class where someone mistook their life for being worthy of novelization. So I'm not sure what the happy medium might be that I'm looking for.

That's not a knock on those books, it's much more of a knock on my own taste and patience. All stories worth telling, but none of which dwell anywhere near anything resembling the life of Bill and Kathy Armswagger in Goober Springs, Alabama. It's an oddity of the legacy of American Fiction that the person who may chronicle this period in the US most accurately might do so with stories of killer cars, rabid dogs and weird clown/ spiders. His characters are not just projections of who King wishes he could be, or cooler people living cooler lives than the author which King actually manages to swing...

That said, King still drives me nuts with his endless parenthetical asides (a crime which should be outlawed in any form of writing. It distracts, is tangential, and never really adds to the narrative at hand). I guess I'm mostly a glutton for narrative economy, possibly a by-product of reading too many comics and reading screenplays where much of the action is shown, not told. And I certainly see the flaws of which I feel guilty on the page in his work. Sometimes you wish he would simply kill his darlings... But what editor is going to tell King how to write at this point in his career?

That said, without the asides, how much of that detail I admire would survive? I'm conflicted, Leaguers.

Listening to it can be taxing, when you just want for him to describe the important action, not some-body's goofy hat.

I got through 3 discs today as I took an extra hour on taking The Admiral and KareBear's official shortcut from Manor to 71, and, I believe, missing a turn at 183. Then getting stuck in the molasses of Austin's traffic, when one adds in rain.

Jeff The Cat is quite happy that someone is home, and in a bit I'll head down to Jason's house to retrieve Lucy, whose been inside all day at Jason's. Tonight will be fun.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Flyin' A's, kidneys, weddings

It's been an okay week. We're headed out tomorrow for the wedding of Erica F., taking place somewhere in the greater Houston area. Erica's an old pal of mine from my days in high school, who wound up as one of Jamie's roommates in college. So, yeah, we go back a piece. Actually, if memory serves, Erica and I were tied for ranking in our high school class.

I've not actually met the husband-to-be as he came into the picture while we were in PHX, but early reports have been extremely positive. The bottom line is that I like a good party, and as long as they keep the ceremony short, who doesn't like a good wedding, too? It gives you a chance to really space out until the "I Do's" and the applause. I am unsure how much dancing I'll be doing at the ceremony, but I suppose I shall have to put in another round of doing The Robot.

I'm returning Monday, but Jamie (and Melbotis) will remain in Houston for most of the week. I have some business to attend to in Austin, but Jamie's getting worked up at Methodist Hospital in order to get back on the kidney recipient list. So, Karebear is taking jamie under wing and will be managing that detail. I feel sort of bad about not being there, but I don't think the procedures are going to be terribly upsetting or invasive. If they are, I guess I'm headed back to Houston.

Depending upon your religious preference, I would ask that all of you GET ON THE ORGAN DONOR'S LIST and then INFORM YOUR RELATIVES AS PER YOUR WISHES. If you die and your organs can be donated, many families refuse to go along with the checked box on the driver's license indicating organ and tissue donation. Understandably, it's an emotional time, and many people going through the grieving process may not wish to think about organ donation at one of the roughest times in their life. SO... make sure you speak up beforehand.

Last night we went to see Hilary and Stuart's band, The Flyin' A's, play at Artz Ribhouse. Turns out they're really very good, which i sort of knew, but it was my first time seeing them live, and they more than confirmed my suspicions. The Flyin' A's play some nice Texas country, but covered some Etta James and Johnny Cash as well. They play all the time, and I don't have a very good excuse as per why we haven't gone out to see them, but that's going to change. Folks in Austin (or other places they play (they go on tour this summer) should check them out. Our San Antonio contingent should know they're playing at Specht's on Saturday evening.

Hope all is well with all of ya'll.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


When I was in high school, I first came across the term "McJob" in Douglas Coupland's book Generation X.

McJob: (page 5)

A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one.

And I think that last bit is the sinker.

Anyhow, it appears McDonald's is outraged that the job of burger flipper/ burger warmer is not held in the highest of esteem.

Read about it here.

Apparently unaware of how the English language works, McDonalds has started an effort to convince those they see as the "owners" of language that they've not given the term "McJob" a fair shake and seen the word the way their corporate decision makers would like the world to see the term "McJob". Oddly, these chroniclers of the language seem to go with how billions of English-speaking people use the term. What to do when you're an enormous corporation and you can't buy your way out of your sorry reputation as an employer.

From the article:

The Oxford English Dictionary, considered by many wordsmiths as the gold standard for the English language, is one of those that will be targeted. It defines the noun as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."

I get freaked out by Newspeak at the best of times, but when you get the feeling a corporation is considering doing something pretty vile to try to demolish an image that's been somewhat fairly earned... I dunno. Kind of freaky. Rather than cowboy up and address the issue, is it really that much better to publicly take on the Dictionary?

Somehow, this generates images in my head of the burger wars from the mostly not-discussed Frank Miller comic "Give Me Liberty" in which the US goes to war to protect fast food cows in the Amazon.

I don't want for anyone to misconstrue this particular rant for some sort of disrespect for the hard working burgermeisters who prepare my fast food. The League has not worked fast food, but... We DID work at Chuck E. Cheese, which is mediocre, slowly produced food delivered in a temple in which all pizza eating worshippers must halt eating and conversation in reverence to a mechanical gigantic mouse in a hat. We swept up pizza crusts, handed out tokens to kids when the machine "ate" their token, oversaw the ball crawl*, and polished the vertical bars on the mini-carousel. I've slung records at the Camelot and pimped Tinkerbell shirts at the Disney Store. There is such a thing as a job where the downers (usually created by inept or negative management) greatly outweigh the $4.75 an hour. In two of these three jobs I was asked to wear an ill-fitting and humiliating uniform (we actually requested silver jumpsuits to wear when I worked at UT. Request denied). And had managers that, on a good day, were indifferent to me at best.

I had no skills, no experience, no future within the organization, and was constantly reminded of as much. If not for school and the promise of becoming a middle-class wage slave, I might have given in to the gripping despair that one can only find when told to keep glass doors clean in a restuarant full of children who've been handling pizza, tokens, tickets, and wiping snot on their own palms. For $4.25 or whatever minimum wage was in 1990.

But I also lived with my parents, and/or was earning supplemental money while in school which my folks generously assisted with. I am not an eighteen year old kid living in Goober Springs, Alabama where options are McDonalds or tending to my Uncle's Used Tire Emporium. So when that kid hears "McJob", I have no idea what he or she must think. But I hope to God that with the power of television and our educational system, Buddy McBarnes from Goober Springs at least knows that there may be more opportunity available than what ends when you pass the Exxon and it's all trees again along the freeway.

Thusly, mad respect for folks in the service industry, but I also know that the bright-eyed promising student is far and few between who says "I want to spend my life earning minimum wage and microwaving McMuffins."

Curiously, the CEO of McDonald's from a few years back was once a burger pimp, himself. Here's an article from when someone died and Bell took over.

Bell began his career with the fast-food chain at age 15 as a part-time crew member at a McDonald's restaurant in Sydney, Australia.

He became the company's youngest store manager in Australia at 19, a vice president at 27 and a member of the McDonald's Australia board of directors by the time was 29 years old.

"This is an absolutely right choice," said S&P's Milton. "Cantalupo relied on Bell a lot for crafting the turnaround. This is someone who has been with the company for a significant period of time."

That's awesome. I bet Bell's staff is made up entirely of the crew he started with at that Australian McDonald's**. What happened to you, Bell? You used to be from the street, dawg! You knew what it was to flip a burger and clean up some kids' barf from the McDonaldland Playscape!*** You sold out, Bell. You sold out.

Minimum wage isn't really the thrust of the phrase "McJob". A McJob is more about the drudgery of many jobs that's cropped up since the Industrial Revolution as people become cogs in an assembly line, whether that be McDonalds employees leaping into action when the frier makes that awful "WHEEEEEEEEEEET! WHEEEEEEEEEEEET!" noise. Or whether that person is wearing a tie, sitting in a cube where they can't be seen, anyway, and calling people to donate to the Austin Policemen's Charity (the tie makes you all professional-like).

There's something far more frightening about the white-collar McJob. It's a job intended to mark time, is mostly insulting to the intelligence, and can usually be identified by how often the manager insists that they are a professional of some sort and how unnecessarily cumbersome the tasks assigned to wage slave actually are. Usually because nobody ever bothered to ask the employees how to improve the processes they do all day, which the executives have never actually performed. But they DO pay well enough, these jobs... and there's not necessarily the same sense of temporary employment that pervades when one is loaned their pants and told they must return them when they quit. And, of course, in the white-collr McJob, you are surrounded by lots of other people all doing the same job, many of whom have been their for years and never once considered a promotion.

What's curious is that McDonalds is going after the dictionary in the same manner they go after our elected officials whenever it's suggested the minimum wage see an increase. As I recall, in order to try to dodge out of some legislation or other that might effect the bottomline, McDonald's attempted to reassign their employees from the food-prep category to some sort of assembly line technician. I can't find it now, but in my commute in PHX, I recall hearing the story on NPR.

Perhaps if McDonalds paid a bit better, perhaps if the drudgery of the position wasn't punctuted only with being shouted at by furious managers and customers... McDonalds might be able to actually convince those of us who've used the term "McJob" without blinking for fifteen years to drop the term if their employees did not always look miserable and their turnover wasn't well known as one of the highest turnover positions in any industry. (As someone who has managed part time employees, turn over is a huge time killer and makes managers grumpy.)

*some new parents read this blog. I beseech of thee, if you care at all for your health or the health and safety of your children... do not let your child enter a public ball crawl. New parents don't want to think about this, but little kids are germ factories. Not only are they perpetually ill, they also have no concept of hygiene, and will wipe their nose with their hands and then leap into the ball crawl. It is IMPOSSIBLE to clean the balls in the ball crawl. And dozens and dozens of kids pass through a ball crawl each day, leaving their trail of germs on everything.

Also, while your child may be an angel, other kids are irresponsible horrors with no respect for their safety or that of anyone else. So expect for your kid to get a shin to the back of the head.

And last, but not least... and i can't believe I have to share this, but I speak from experience... Ball crawls are not a good place for infants. Do not toss your infant into the ball crawl in the high hopes that the disgruntled 16 year old watching the crawl will watch your kid while you pound back a cool Coors 16 oz'er. The ball crawl is about 3 feet deep. Your infant could easily disappear and not be found again until the semi-annual ball-crawl vaccuuming. Also, the note about the shin to the back of the head? Kids like to jump off the walls, pretending to be their favorite luchador, often in the direction of your infant's still unfused skull.

When considering the ball crawl, just.... don't.

**I know they eat beef in Australia, but what else is on the menu? Filet 'o Platypus? Koala Nuggets? Ah, it's funny to make fun of Australians. FACT: They're all reprehensible savages****.

***Why is it that really low-paying jobs often require the removal of vomit? I do recall that one of the reasons I was not liked (and I hadn't thought about this in a while) at the Disney Store was that when I was informed that some kid had tossed her cookies in the store, on carpet, I declared "I am not paid enough to clean up barf. At least not without that pink, granular stuff." Apparently not wanting to clean up barf makes you "not a team player". But, you know what... they weren't paying for benefits or nuthin'. I was supposed to shift from fixing the stuffed anaimal arrangements to scooping up vomit.
Other people's barf is super gross, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some sort of special compensation for cleaning it up. If we all worked together and refused to clean up barf for minimum wage, just imagine the utopia we'd all be living in.

****This is not an actual fact. I've met a few Australians, and while I get tired of hearing about how they find my slection of knife completely substandard, our friends from down under couldn't be a more decent people. In fact, if you'd like to point to anyone as an utter savage, it's Canadians, who, FACT: eat babies*****.

*****It is mostly not-true that Candians eat babies. At least not Canadian babies, or there would be no actual Canadians. I suspect some Canadians of cannibalism, but can prove nothing. They probably clean up barf for a shiny dime, too.******

******I feel sort of bad about that. That may have gone too far.

King of Hobos/ PROJECT: H.A.R.M.S.

So last night Steven and I had dinner and he showed me some work he'd been doing lately for the Mellies. Steven is working on an application that will allow Loyal Leaguers to enter a UI and fill in their responses to the queries. This doesn't particularly help you, but it sure as heck helps me.

And, because Steven is King of the Hobos, he has decided to live his life on The Rails. he's trying to learn the technology, and I'm trying to get free help. In this way, my lamprey-like life continues. I'm a bit fascinated with what he's doing, and when he wraps up, we'll have a chat about what this is doing that a JAVA/ Cold Fusion interface wouldn't have done, or what else might have been a competing option. I can feel my work brain kicking in again after too many months of dormancy. Plus, it's a new technology, and while I may never learn to write for it, I can certainly learn about the features.

(I am thinking we need BLOCKS for the users to fill in rather than scrolling lines).

Anyway, Project: H.A.R.M.S. is saving the day.

But what does H.A.R.M.S. stand for?

You decide...