Monday, December 03, 2007

Sensational Spider-Man #41


Probably the worst kept secret/ most telegraphed play in comics of late has been Marvel's long pondered method of ending Peter Parker's 20-year marriage to Mary Jane Watson.

How does one end a marriage and manage to keep everyone smelling like roses? How does one split up two characters incredibly popular across all of comic fandom? Especially after all the craziness Peter Parker and Mary Jane have supposedly endured together and always come up totally pleased as punch with one another?

Fortunately, superhero universes, especially SHARED superhero universes, tend to be littered with all-powerful mystical whatzits and whatnots. And while Spider-Man is mostly famous for containing his adventures to the sky-scraper canyons of the Big Apple, fighting a string of animal-themed cretins, he does live in the same fictional vision of NYC that contains the Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange and the Avengers.

It's probably worth noting: at the conclusion of Civil War (like, a year ago...), dear old Aunt May took a bullet meant for Peter. She was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. In order to save Aunt May's life, Peter and MJ have been given an opportunity for a possible deal, literally with the devil. In order to save May's life, Mephisto wants... (wait for it...) THEIR MARRIAGE.

Because Peter and MJ are supposed to be all-around good folk, we know that they'll make the deal and Joe Quesada will have his swingin' bachelor Peter Parker he's been wanting since taking over as EIC a few years back. We know that neither Peter nor MJ would allow May to die. I'm not disputing this point as some bloggers have done. I'll accept it as a believable character decision.

Supposedly the Devil Mephisto gets something out of the knowledge that Peter was happy, and now he will be less-so. EXCEPT that Peter won't remember that he was ever married, so its some teeny-tiny part of his brain that can remember, but, really... no. Neither Peter nor MJ will remember. So... Really, Mephisto seems much more interested in confusing 20+ years of comics continuity.

Here's what's bugging me, Leaguers: Rather than writing a story that reflects the grim realities that a tense time can put on a marriage and end it in the ugly, not-terribly-fun way that marriages actually end, they've created a Magical Divorce Machine.

To this reader, the method of dissolving the marriage is editorial cowardice.

Comics readers are big boys and girls, and as much as we don't like it when Mommy and Daddy fight, having the devil steal Spider-Man's marriage makes no sense. This sort of plot doesn't seem true to forty years of comics. It isn't in keeping with the street-level tone Spider-man has maintained for the vast, vast duration of its run. It's not true to the Spider-Man we've seen lift up a 100 ton undersea machine. It's not Spider-Man. It's a deus ex machina plot point and a fairly lazy one at that.

If he was any sort of devil, wouldn't Mephisto ask Peter to kill a random person and remember it? Or do something else hopelessly heinous? Maybe turn the past twenty years of Parker's life into one in which Spider-Man is a horrible criminal? Not that forgetting your marriage is a bad thing, but if neither of you remember it... I dunno.

I guess I'm just casting aspersions on Mephisto's ability to be actually evil and not just a nuisance.

It's interesting to note that Marvel has apparently come to an executive decision that, despite fans responses of "don't do it!" and "meh" when asked about a bachelor Peter Parker... they've resorted to a plot contrivance like Mephisto in order to make it work. This path, I guess, keeps Parker's nose clean as a face to put on lunchpails, etc... and I can appreciate the business necessity of such a decision. After all, some editors have tried to find a path to divorce Superman and Lois, but nobody could come up with anything not involving a Crisis Wave. Plus, really, the Magical Divorce Machine is going to give editorial a "get out of Jail" card if the fans do revolt. After all, writers can turn to that greatest of Spider Wish Granters, Dr. Strange, and make it all go away.

It is interesting that comics will show, in detail, all sorts of physical hurts and injuries that most readers will never experience. What they will not show, however, are the fairly mundane aspects of everyday life. And that's just weird. I know, I know... escapism. Whatever.

Perhaps the readership can't actually handle their Spider-Hero getting a divorce, but can handle grim destruction and violence as the idea of a building coming down around one's ears. Unlike divorce, the Scorpion coming at you with his deadly tail is so foreign an idea, its nothing but an abstraction. Perhaps the image of Mommy and Daddy agreeing that they'd be happier apart than together hits a little too close to home. But it's certainly not the sign of mature storytelling to avoid such a common topic as divorce and believe only the devil can make two good people go their separate ways.

As I said. Editorial cowardice.

I'm not sure if I'll actually drop Spider-Man. I'm not outraged. And I've seen plenty worse. I'm mostly just disappointed that Marvel couldn't continue down the organic path of the story of Peter Parker and, if they felt the need to dissolve the marriage, simply do so in a way that would make sense in context of the past forty years of comics.

The next and final issue of "One More Day" is coming out soon, and we'll find out if Petey and MJ give up a life of wedded bliss for a nice old lady to have a few more years. So far the decision isn't made. Marvel has a chance to actually do something interesting here. And, in the hands of the right writers and editors, anything could happen.

RIP Knievel

Jesus. They killed Evel.

When I was a kid Evel Knievel was past his heyday of jumping the Snake River Canyon, breaking hundreds of bones and generally making an American Hero out of himself.

It wasn't so much that I remember actually watching Knievel on TV. I don't think I ever did. But I was familiar with the jumpsuit (and occasional cape), and I was familiar with the man's deeds. Including the fact that the mad would occasionally do time. Tate, the kid down the street, had a Knievel motorcycle toy we relentlessly drove into his wall.

Later, I heard the jail time was for hitting his wife, which may or may not be true. I don't know. Facts about this kind of stuff were impossible to come by in 1981 or so. It was the same way we all thought Mikey from Life cereal had died from a spider bite or Pop Rocks or something.

But if one performed a stunt of any kind, be it jumping off the dresser or hopping your big wheel off a curb, at my house you were labeled Evel Knievel.

Knievel would do time and later more or less disappear from the public eye as he had no bones left to break. Robby Knievel would take his spot as a motorcycle jumping daredevil, and I hear most of Knievel Sr.'s records have been broken in the past thirty years. But Evel Knievel will be the one they remember.

I dunno.

He was sort of one of those mythological figures you build up in your head as a kid. Someone with steely determination and grit you wish you had. It's kind of sad when you begin to tie the notion that he lived his life recklessly to the fact that he was also living it selfishly.

Also, The Admiral's tendency to refer to folks like Knievel as "that idiot". The Admiral knows keeping your bones intact and not being in jail is where its at.

But even then you hold some grudging admiration for the man, maybe the same way you admire the boozy old singers who made up the Flatlanders. Clearly nobody was telling Knievel what to do, just like you couldn't tell those old cowboys. Not a surgeon, health insurance company nor gravity could convince Knievel not to jump over a GD canyon in a rocket cycle if that's what he was going to do. And, dammit, people would pay to see that, so there was something to it.

There's only so many lands left uncharted and unexplored, I suppose, and then they're all mapped. Then you find yourself figuring out what a man can do with high octane gas and some good shock absorbers.

To be clear, nobody killed Knievel. Perhaps Knievel's own lifestyle killed him, but he managed to squeeze a lot of living into those years.

He's been out of the public eye so long, its questionable if anyone will really miss him.

Surely that is not how Knievel saw himself going out, though. How many times did he sit on a ramp, wondering if he was going to wake up in a hotel room somewhere tomorrow, or maybe in a hospital room, or just not be around at all.

My Office's Holiday Greeting

Behold and be terrified!


Leaguers, it's December. Which means I can now insist that you be in the Christmas spirit. To that end, here are a few videos to get your Holiday juices flowing.

From the under-rated "Invader Zim"

J'onn has a Christmas in Smallville

Christmas with Flash and Ultra-Humanite

Sunday, December 02, 2007

May the League Recommend...

No Country for Old Men

It's been a while since I thought the Coens were making a movie that I wanted to see.

I did not enjoy "The Man Who Wasn't There". I skipped the Tom Hanks heist movie and the George Clooney/ Catherine Zeta Jones flick.

But I did manage to make it out for No Country for Old Men.

Honestly, I don't even really want to talk about it, but the movie will defy many movie-goers' expectations, and that's either going to work for you, or it isn't. It worked for The League.

Also, performances were uniformly sharp, and the setting of West Texas makes sense not just in the context of the story, but is the perfect backdrop for the grander themes of the story.

I have not read any Cormac McCarthy book, but I know his fans were probably a bit nervous about the translation to screen. I've no idea how close it might have been to the book, but Jason, who had read the book, seemed fairly pleased.

We the movie at the new Alamo DraftHouse, which is where the Ritz once stood on Sixth Street. Technically, its still the Ritz, complete with sign, but the interior is unrecognizable. A very small part of my twenties has been compromised.

Parking isn't so much an issue as it is expensive if you don't want to walk several blocks back to your car. On top of ticket price and food, its an expensive night out.

Fortunately, the movie was good enough that expense didn't play into the equation. However, had the movie been a dud...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Wild Zero: Greatest Movie Ever or simply Most Amazing Thing Your Eyes Will Ever Behold?

A while back I read a review at Chris's Invincible Superblog for the movie film "Wild Zero", and, immediately, I added the movie to my Netflix queue.

This movie doesn't just have a little something for every audience imaginable, it was as if someone took everything that would be cool in a movie, and then went and made that movie.

It's not enough that this is a movie featuring rockin' Japanese Punk/Rock'a'Billy outfit, Guitar Wolf. Mere words may not convey the rocking perfection of Guitar Wolf, and this post is not ready to contain my maserplan to henceforth shape my life to be like unto either Bass Wolf or Drum Wolf, the two best supporting characters in filmdom. Really, any scene featuring the heroic trio of Guitar Wolf is filmic perfection, from their flaming microphones to their coif-maintenance in the most dire of circumstances.

Also, icy-cool, leggy, weapons-dealing soldiers-of-fortune in curiously hounds-tooth-printed one-piece outfits are always (I repeat: ALWAYS) a must for your perfect movie. Especially when they take out zombie home invaders who surprise them in the shower.

Wild Zero is also a superhero/zombie/UFO/romantic/musical/action movie. And it believes in Rock 'n Roll in a way I have not seen in a movie in decades. Also, UFO's and blue, shambling zombies. And true love.

If, at this point, you were having doubts about the movie, the inexplicable ending of the movie (which i refuse to give away) has the most awesomest scene ever committed to film. Ever.

I dare you to find a better ending.

Anyhoo... Wild Zero.


And now a trailer:

If you want a bit more spoiler: a clip

Thursday, November 29, 2007


'twas a busy day for The League.

I go to work an hour early, and could have probably used more time than that for the crazy day I had. Included two photoshoots, a release, and all sorts of additional mayhem.

We use actors for certain parts of our work at my company, as well as photographers and lights and a green screen and stuff. It's all very exciting and technical and exactly why I went to college. But today we were down a talent, and so I was asked to step in not just as a producer, but as Angry Customer. So, The League got pose. And be hugged by one of the talent who was having, perhaps, too good of a time working on my project.

Look, you work on one of my projects, and you're just going to want to hug me. That's how it works. That's the sort of project manager I am.

Anyhow, I'm contacting my lawyer to see who I can sue. Keep that in mind, Leaguers. Anyone touches you or looks at you funny at work... retain an attorney.

Immediately after work, Steven and Lauren popped in and we all headed out for some dinner at a place that used to be Mars, but is now an Italian place with a name I cannot recall. The food was good. The staff friendly. And I assume we were annoying other diners with our loud conversation about how sitcoms rely on scatological humor vis-a-vis the writer's strike.

It seems the writer's strike is a hot topic. And will be affecting us in weird ways. Today I heard that we may not see many new commercials as writers won't be around to write those. Also, one of the actors we used today usually lives in LA, but she's hanging out at her mother's in Austin because she knows she can work here, but probably can't in LA right now.

It was also new comic day on Thursday this week. And DC put out about a month's worth of comics in one day. I assume they are trying to get stuff out before Year's End. Anyhow, I have too much to read. But I lived the wrap-up to the Superman "Camelot Falls" story, even if it wasn't what I expected (more Subjekt 17, please). And I am getting a real kick out of the Sinestro Corps War storyline in GL and Gl Corps.

I will also be re-engaging in "Blogging Countdown" here and at another blog in coming days. Countdown has taken a few bizarre turns of late, including what I think may have been a mass dumping of the writing staff and a replacement crew. Crazy stuff, but after 25 weeks of going absolutely nowhere, the series seems to be richoteing off in an entirely new direction. Whether anyone cares at this point... I've no idea.

It is late. I am tired. Good night, Leaguers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pictures from Upcoming Movies


Yes, that's probaby an un-CGI'd Rorschach.

from the upcoming Batman Begins sequel: The Dark Knight

Thanks to Randy for the forward.


Some people have complained that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is too long of a title, but I dig the pulp, Doc Savage feel of the name.

I still am not sure if we get Karen Allen back in this one.

And the upcoming Justice League: New Frontier had a press release with some stills and images of box art-work. This was a great, self-contained comic and I think it'll be a great movie.

Keep the Car Running = Thunder Road?

This morning I was driving into work and listening to Springsteen's "Thunder Road" and it struck me how much parts of the new Arcade Fire album (or, rather, latest Arcade Fire album) sound like Springsteen when Springsteen is at his rocking best.

It must have been something nigh-tangible in the zeitgeist.

Check out this post on Stereogum.

Yeah, that's the E Street Band with Win and Regine playing "Keep the Car Running". Holy smokes.

Apparently I was very late in making the comparison, but as I don't think I've read an actual music or album review since college, I missed out on the comparisons at the time of the release of Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible".

An article in SPIN.

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Blog Featuring the Baby-Growing Talents of Denise!

Hey, Leaguers!

Our own Denise is about to have kids. No, not a pair of goats, but a pair of babies.

And, for once, there is a slight chance one may be named Ryan II. You see, Denise's husband is also named Ryan. So while she may lead him to believe that she is naming the babies after that guy, we at League of Melbotis know the truth.

Check out the Bambino Blog!

Day Off

I had today off, sort of. Technically, I had the day off, but the world of eLearning never sleeps, and so I had to get online and do some work in the afternoon, as well as call a client.

Mostly, I just hung Christmas lights.

When we bought our house, I knew that the two-tiered porch and columns meant we'd be lighting the whole front of the house. Fortunately, this year, I didn't have to figure out how this was going to work, and I more or less repeated from last year, with a few extra items and ideas I got walking around the neighborhood last year.

I also managed to get the tree up, but we didn't decorate it yet. Perhaps tomorrow night. We'll also need to figure out our floor plan for the 2007 Holiday Heckstravaganza and think a bit about getting out the rest of the decorations.

Tomorrow is back to the office for a short week, and cramming in the last few weeks before everyone disappears for Christmas, including me.

Jamie slept a lot.

When one is on dialysis, the body does not adjust terribly well to temperature changes, and so, with fall-like weather now upon us, Jamie is getting cold quite easily. I actually woke up last night to her shivering and covered her with a few blankets. I give her a hard time for getting cold during winter, but I know she really does get chilled to the bone. So I don't think she slept terribly well last night until I located the blankets.

The dogs, still recovering from their respective Thanksgiving weekends, also spent most of the day asleep.

It was nice having a day off and getting some sun and enjoying the cool weather.

Writers Strike = Return of Best Show Ever

Do I even need to tell you what that show is?

That's right, NBC is doing The League a big favor and bringing 90's late-night viewing fave "American Gladiators" back on the air.

American Gladiators was a staple of my TV viewing during my high school years, which can be accurately reflected in the list below:

1) MST3K
2) Tale Spin
3) Tiny Toons
4) USA's "Up All Night"
5) 120 Minutes
6) Cheers
7) Headline News (with the always amazing Lynne Russell)
8) Saved By the Bell
9) American Gladiators
10) Ren & Stimpy

American Gladiators
featured a colorful cast of 'roid freaks doing sportsman-like battle with steroidless athlete-types. Sometimes this included pummeling one another with huge q-tips. Sometimes it entailed the Gladiators shooting tennis balls from a gun at the contestants as they tried to make it through a maze, or climb up a rock wall.

Basically it was Malibu beach freaks beating the snot out of one another in games designed to favor the Gladiators. And they wore sort of superheroish costumes.

This was back before there was a sort of backlash against competitive women's fitness. Younger readers may not recall, but in the 80's, women joined in with body-building, which meant that the women competitors took on the same, weird muscleliness that the men were aiming for. In recent years, the Ms. Fitness competition took a turn towards being less... uh... about huge muscles and more about being in really good shape.

My favorite Gladiator? Zap.

I guess as a high school dude, you feel like you have to pick a favorite.

So, anyway: American Gladiators returns in 2008. Be prepared to see 'roid freaks totally wail on one another.

And some blasts from the past

A (musical) note on food

CB's latest Musical Recipe is up at Dessert Lounge!

Also, Scan My Recipes is now LIVE! And if you haven't been there yet, remember to check out Key Ingredient (not a bad thing to try out as you head into the holidays, Leaguers...)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I should probably be getting to bed.

It's Saturday night at the end of a few days stay here at Jamie's parents' house, and, as I understand it, this could be the final holiday we spend in Lawton. Jamie's parents recently purchased a home in San Marcos and will be moving there in the not-too-distant future. It's going to greatly change things, which I think came to a stunning conclusion in my head during dinner when Jamie suggested that my desire to consider Wisconsin or Minnesota as a destination when we were looking and wound up in Arizona was something that would no longer apply. Not sure of where she came to this conclusion, I stated that I would, in fact, go to Wisconsin now.

This was met with a "You better not" by the in-laws who have recently made plans to live closer to their daughter by buying the aforementioned house. Luckily, I have no plans to leave Austin, so all is well. But it does illustrate a point as to where I am in the game of life.

Fortunately, the point I was trying to make vis-a-vis the Wisconsin conversation was that I still don't mind the cold. When you are of the unconventional size of a Steans Bros., and tend to sweat when you just think about a hot day, places like Arizona lose some of their je ne sais quo. Even Austin on a humid day in August loses some of its charm.

Today we visited the new Comanche Nation Museum in Lawton, as well as the Great Plains Museum. The past which is reflected in both museums is not necessarily long-forgotten history, but of people who have lived during my parents' lifetime. Oklahoma is only now celebrating its Centennial of Statehood, and as much as one would like to imagine that the range wars are of the ancient past, they most assuredly are not. The inhumane treatment of Native Americans continued through much of the 20th Century, well after the Comanche were on reservations and the paternal Federal government took children from their families and placed them in Indian Schools.

As much as that recent history continues to live on in the language and memory of the people who've established and run the museums, its too infrequent we look away from our laptops and iPods and remember that 100 years ago, the machines we used to till the soil were pushed by hands and pulled by animals. It's the dates on photos of men busting horses and pulling steer to the ground with their bare hands that now is left as mostly a sport, when, once, that was s kill that put meat on the tables of millions across the US. Maybe we haven't grown soft, but it reminded me that I am.

Perhaps we weren't meant to sit behind desks and push icons around on a screen of glowing liquid crystal, or maybe that's where we're headed. Maybe that's why we try to invent $100 laptops for starving kids in Africa, because we haven't got a clue what those kids need to make food as readily available as a Lunchable for them, but maybe if they can blog about it..?

There was a time in our grandparents' and great-grandparents' lives when they could live in Indian Territory, at the edge of the world as maybe they'd known it. When a day of work meant pushing the seed tiller and hoping it didn't break today because you had how many acres to plant, and you had no animal behind which to pull the damn seed spreader.

It's an odd thing to realize you could not survive in your great-grandparent's shoes, and wouldn't begin to know how to put in the effort that was expected daily of people for the past 60,000 years. But, hey, you know how to freeze a pane in Excel, so that's something, right?

I have an idea how to carve something out of nothing, but we're an odd people now, we are. Brilliant leaps as we've touched the moon and done the math that tells us the Universe is expanding and collapsing. We've got the ability to store our food endlessly and the ability to chat with someone via voice and picture as a basic add-on to our Power Mac. But, really, we can't feed or clothe ourselves.

I dunno. I'm going to bed.

Hope you're well, Leaguers.

Friday, November 23, 2007


It is into the fourth quarter of the UT/ A&M game, and, goodness, UT's offense has not actually played a lick of football yet this game. Any doubts I've had about UT's offense have been completely confirmed as they look towards being stomped for the second year in a row by the sheep romancers of College Station.


Thanksgiving has thus far been lovely. Yesterday we had a very nice Turkey Dinner complete with yams, green beans, homemade rolls, and several other items. Dallas handily won their game and Green Bay also went to 10-1.

It's now 37-17. Our defense just rolled over and died. Because Colt McCoy will not keep the offense on the field for more than three plays.


Today we dropped Jamie off at a dialysis unit in downtown Lawton and then Doug, Kristen and myself hit the two comic shops here in Lawton. One shop was in a former house and completely filled, wall-to-wall with back issues in absolutely no organizational order. I lucked into finding some of Jack Kirby's "Captain Victory" issues from his Pacific Comics days when he went indie, and some back issues of Airboy, The Spirit and a few DC comics which looked kind of interesting.

If this guy who owned the shop cleaned it up a bit, bagged and boarded his stuff, actually inventoried his comics, and got rid of the mountain of 90's-era refuse clogging the shelves, he might actually have a really interesting store on his hands. In the meantime, I suffered through an allergy attack after leaving the store, my stack of comics in hand.

At the second shop I found some Superman comics that are probably worth exactly what I paid for them, but were good finds for me, anyway. This shop was obviously a lot newer, and was very tidy inside, even if the selection was not as wildly varied. I mostly grabbed what 70's and 80's Superman stuff they had that I didn't (with an eye toward trying to keep the cost down), and then stumbled into the original Superman Red/ Superman Blue issue up by the counter (Superman #162).

It's been very chilly here in Lawton, although thus far no precipitation has come down. It's just cold and dry. Austin was warm when we left, but it won't be that way when we return Sunday and I'm supposed to be hanging Christmas lights.

Mel came with us for the trip. Jeff is staying home under Nicole's watchful eye, and Lucy has been dropped off out in Driftwood at a place called "The Austin Pet Ranch". I do not like leaving Lucy behind, but the guilt evaporated when I saw Doggy Fantasy Camp when we arrived. The place sits on a couple of acres, and she'll be able to run around and play with other dogs all day. The people running the joint were also really nice. I look forward to seeing her roll over and go to sleep from so many days in a row of excitement.

I hope your Thanksgiving Holiday is going well.

We'll be back in a few days.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day Man

Thanks to CB and David, I've been watching a lot of the FX Network's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia".

In an episode this season the characters put together a couple of bands, which resulted in two songs, "The Night Man" and "Day Man".

Apparently a few folks have adopted the "Day Man" tune as their own:

And, of course, jack-hole frat boys

Curiously, I could find no covers of "Night Man"

Doug Makes a Friend

Originally uploaded by RSteans
Also seen in Wisconsin this past September.

Yes, it seems the Weiner Man is prepping himself for some form of auto-cannibalization.

Best comic page ever?

Non-sequitur lifted with proper awe from Mike Sterling's "Progressive Ruin"

Nash Rambler

Originally uploaded by RSteans
I meant to post this a while back. When we were in Wisconsin in September for Jamie's cousin's wedding, there was a car show. The car I'm posing with here is a 1951 Nash Rambler. This isn't the exact car, but its the same make, year and model as the car driven by Lois Lane (played by the lovely Noel Neill) in the TV series "The Adventures of Superman".

Sadly, I started telling Jamie about how this was Lois Lane's car and how exciting it was to see one, before I saw the license plate. Yup, it read "LOIS LN".

By sheer coincidence, I'm wearing a very pro-Lois shirt in the photo.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Howdy, Leaguers.

It's in the 80's during the days right now and someone on the street perpendicular to mine has hung Christmas lights. Thanksgiving is at the end of this week, so its hard to say that its too early to hang the lights. After all, Christmas commercials hit the air in the days around Halloween and we've already sent out the announcements about our own Holiday party (you're coming, right?). Which means I'll be using the Monday after Thanksgiving (I asked off way back in September) to climb a ladder and string the front of the house with a million twinkling white lights.

There is a point: This Fall is going by too fast. Just how summer seemed to come and go too quickly, Fall is only a month from wrapping up. Hell, there's only one football game left in the regular season for the Mighty Texas Longhorns. With the change in time, the windows of my office (which face out onto a derelict building, complete with hobos, smashed bottles, graphitti and the occasional colorful act) aren't waiting until 7:30 to begin to go dark like they were during the summer. At 5:00 the sun dips low enough that my office is abruptly plunged into darkness, leaving me typing away by the light of my monitor. So I get up, turn on the $15 floor lamp, and sit back down to spend another hour-and-a-half or so wrapping things up, trying to catch up for another day.

It seems like there's been a lot of catching up lately, which makes me wonder where the time is going.

This weekend I bagged, boarded and boxed more comics than I want to think about. We made time on Friday night for grabbing BBQ at the Green Mesquite and then 18-holes at Peter Pan Mini-Golf on Lamar and Barton Springs. Matt demonstrated some amazing superhuman ability at the course, coming in pretty well under par and sinking at least four hole-in-one's.

Two photos can be seen here. As always, I wound up mixing and matching friends from various concentric circles in my life, with Julia from the office coming along with Matt, Jamie and Jason.

A somewhat impromptu Austin-Thanksgiving was cut short when poor Nicole, who'd planned to cook, was laid low with an illness I have yet to hear properly described. She's been out of pocket, staying at Matt's, so hopefully they've gotten all that resolved.

As much as I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with the family (we're headed to Lawton), a part of me is really trying to figure out how to better incorporate friends into the Holidays. Sure, we throw the Holiday Heckstravangza, but that's also seeing 40 people in the span of a few hours. My mother always had some folks at Thanksgiving and Christmas who (especially when I was in college) I really didn't know. I used to wonder how on earth that happened, but generally was so busy emptying the Box O' Wine at the end of the table that the mystery was never fully resolved... but I think I get it now. You open your doors and your table to your friends and even folks who maybe you don't know all that well, you feed everyone and pass around a few bottles of wine and hope for the best. Maybe that's where I'm headed, trying to coordinate some force of will that insists we'll all see one another on the Holidays despite the shopping and perfunctory office parties.

There won't be time enough for everyone between now and Christmas, and that's too bad. Hell, there's a birthday or two in there (right CB? when is that), and I know people with kids and jobs and all that are even more busy than their usual crazy schedule...

All that said, this weekend Jamie and I stuck close to the house and had a weekend not unlike the ones we'd have in Arizona. I was dinking around with comics, Jamie was on her laptop or puttering with the pets. It was very quiet and, should I go to bed sooner rather than later, I might actually catch up on my rest.

Time for bed, Leaguers.

I have no idea how busy I'll be over the next several days. Hope everyone has a good Turkey Day.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chronological Snobbery

If you are not reading Chronological Snobbery, you hate America. and Freedom.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Marvel DCU

It's probably not a good omen for the new online effort from Marvel, but they've named it Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, aka: Marvel DCU. Keep in mind, DCU is also how DC Comics (Marvel's prime competition) refers to its entire line of comics: The DC Comics Universe. Sadly, I doubt anyone at DC ever thought to copyright "DCU", or else they couldn't. Apparently DCU is also the stock ticker for Dry Clean USA.


In addition, Marvel hasn't made it clear what you're actually buying if you sign up for their annual subscription service. It's a $60.00 investment for a year, which... when comics are going for $3.00 a pop, that's not a bad price for access to thousands of comics. Especially when you know it's less than $5.00 a month.

The problem is that I'm not sure which comics they're making available. I'm certainly not interested if Marvel is placing all of their failed series online, but only a few issues of a series I want to read. If they're placing a bunch of their content online and planning on keeping it there, that's great (think Netflix comics).

Right now the entire first 100 issues of FF, Spidey and X-Men are online. Buying collections, that might set you back over $100. But what about newer stuff? What if I want to read all of Annihilation online?

It seems almost as if Marvel is using the online effort as more of a marketing effort than a new way to approach comics. They seem interested in providing back stories, etc... but they seem overly concerned with treading on the toes of their current distribution model (ie: 32 page comics followed by trade collections).

Marvel isn't going to want to step on the toes of their distributors. It doesn't behoove them to lower the number of folks walking into comic shops and killing the golden goose, so it more or less makes sense that they aren't putting new comics out online. The fact is, had Marvel or DC gone online in the 90's or early 2000's, they probably wouldn't be as worried about cutting into the comic-buying/ paper collecting audience. However, with an audience that only ever expands to about 150,000 for a best-selling comic (and down to about 20,000 before it faces cancellation) losing any sales from comic shops is a major problem. Especially at $5.00 a month.

Whether Marvel learns to offer their newer comics online at a premium rate remains to be seen. It certainly seems like a possibility.

Despite the better arguments of Scott McCloud for how comics were going to go online and change the world, comics don't work terribly well online. clicking to reach the next panel doesn't necessarily jive with the composition and gestalt of the comic page (and I am not limiting comics to the usual folded tabloid size here). There's no flow between panels as a passive experience when you have to engage the page.

That said:

Either a very good sign or very bad sign, the site has been so busy that Marvel hasn't actually made this work. In two days, I have yet to see an online comic. Not exactly awe-inspiring from a technical standpoint. I can understand the problems in the first few hours, but...

For collectors like myself, I'd like to not have a house full of comics or graphic novels I've read once, and I'd like the option of not dropping $20 to read reprints I may not find I enjoy. But mostly, I am sure Jamie would like it if I found a way to NOT bring more collections and comics into the house. I think that's easily worth a handful of shekels per year.

I'm still pondering the Marvel subscription. I'm never a first adopter, and this is one more case where I'm waiting to hear more before I jump on board. That said, if anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas... a Marvel Digital Comics subscription would be swell...


I finally got on to try a sample. I did find their interface to be straightforward and easy to use. I'm still not sure all of what is available to the subscriber, but any fears I had about how the pages would be formatted is no longer a concern. You just need a decent sized monitor set to a decent sized resolution. I guess buyer beware on that count.

Monday, November 12, 2007

More time killing links

No matter how poorly written, I see no way in which this book wouldn't be a good read.


Poorly thought out comic strips


Marvel makes a move they should have made years ago. DC still trying to figure out if they can put comics online now or must wait until 31st Century (I love Superman comics, but I know DC will not be the first to make sense of late 20th century technologies like PDFs)


For whatever reason, these Jack Kirby monsters and pages have never been reprinted.


Also, New Spock. Same as the Old Spock?


Super Time Wasting Clips

Lady Super Heroes have better theme songs:

I admit, I do not know what to make of this clip

Ultimate Cap?


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Check your local listings

Austin City Limits is now broadcasting a few episodes recorded during ACL Fest this September. This doesn't mean they're showing the live shows from Zilker Park (which I seem to recall them doing in the past). However, they are showing sessions recorded during the festival while the bands were in town.

I watched the Wilco episode and am waiting to watch Arcade Fire for a time when other folks who might want to watch that episode might be around.

Nova recently had an interesting episode about the American space race, and that maybe we weren't as behind as we led the public to believe.

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
seems to be broadcasting during Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. Not a cartoon, but highly recommended by us here at LoM.

I think I am done again with Smallville.

Friday Night Lights, unsurprisingly, seems to be struggling in its second season. Two of the main plots seem simply too far fetched for the realistic spirit of the show.

Meanwhile, 30 Rock managed to handle the "green week" on NBC the best of any of the programs I caught. It also gave us Al Gore and restored some of my respect for David Schwimmer.


UT soundly defeated the Red Raiders of Texas Tech on Saturday. It was actually a great game, even if the Horns defense allowed 40-odd points. Colt McCoy played, possibly, the best game I've seen him in. Charles, Cosby and Nate Jones all looked really good. I hope Colt can remember how this works when he hits the field again next year.

Cowboys beat the Giants, which is always a welcome victory. I only really don't like the Giants when they play the Cowboys, but I am annoyed with Shockey every day of the year. Man, that guy is annoying. He's awesome, but something about him is so... very... irritating.

And, man... Green Bay clobbered Minnesota. Sorry, Reedo. Brett Favre is playing so well, one can only assume he's drinking again. No idea what happened to the amazing Adrian Peterson. Someone had his number.


Special Thanks to the Shoemakers for Meatfest 2007. Holy cow, not only was the meat fantastic, but there was more of it than the entire assembled party could possibly consume. I need to go get some of those sausages from Whole Foods.

I am also horrible at Guitar Hero III. You know things have gone south when someone tells you "Wow, after you did so bad the first time, that really took courage to get up there again and do just as bad."

Officially much more together on this whole "retirement dreamhouse" thing than my parents, Jamie's folks were in San Marcos this weekend working on their new place. It sounds like they're enclosing the porch to add what should be a really nice sun room, and adding a raised porch elsewhere off the house. The Father-in-law is still not biting on my idea to add an observatory.

Anyway, we saw them Friday night.

OCD and Comics

This is going to sound weird, but I sorta like bagging, boarding and inventorying my comics. I missed my calling by not working at that big warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark where you seal stuff up and lock it away forever.

The huge downside to the bagging and boarding of comics is that, I think, most people assume it doesn't take that long to deal with. Also, most folks don't realize that in order to accomplish the task, you need (a) space, and (b) time. While space is important, in order to get things really sorted, getting a few hours uninterrupted to just knock out the various portions of the task (yes... hours), its also hard to get the task done when other things are vying for your attention. Worthwhile, fun things.

The problem, of course, if that if you don't handle the task on a routine basis, you have just made the process take that much longer. You have that many more comics to deal with.

With our Holiday party coming up, its sort of imperative I not have piles of comics just strewn across the living room, so the day of reckoning is at hand. Now is when I have to tell people "No, I cannot go to Slippy Village or whatever fun place you're headed off to. I have to sit on the floor and put comic books into polymer bags with non-acidic backing boards. I must then place each individual comic into my database where I may track the value of the comic and size of my collection. After that, I will place each comic in publishing release order in a specialized box which will help preserve the integrity of the comic. These will be placed in a (a) by publisher, (b) by character arrangement of my choosing. No, I am not completely OCD."

So, I apologize to everyone in advance if I drop out of site for a few nights while getting this task completed. I am not being a misanthrope, I am trying to clean up the living room.

Norma Rae!

Not much content being generated of late here at League of Melbotis. It is time to reveal that my writers are on strike.

Yes, when contracts were originally negotiated here at the League, nobody anticipated the gold mine that League of Melbotis would become. Especially not the basement full of elderly Philipino women I keep who write most of my posts. I tell you Leaguers, when you want to write musings on the Man of Steel, you can do no better than to hit the canasta parlors of Manila. Those ladies like nothing better than playing games while chatting about Superman's latest adventures.

Unfortunately, the contracts we negotiated never took the internet or merchandising into account. Neither they, nor I, ever really guessed that downloading LoM from iTunes or selling full seasons of LoM on DVD would become so very profitable. I'd like to say that I was paying more attention to the wants and needs of all the gals, but, really, when you're distracted with the multitude of needs that an operation like LoM brings to your attention on a daily basis, soothing the fears of the investors and Board of Directors, sometimes the most important people of all get lost in the shuffle.

So it was that last week, while I was putting out fires, Norma Rae Sarmiento, one of our staffers (she usually covers super-hero related movies), put out her cigar, stood atop her folding chair beside her Smith Corona type-writer with the words "UNION!" typed out in an 11-pont font. Eventually someone wandered over and saw what was typed on her page, and word spread like wildfire. Indeed, it seems Norma Rae had brought in the WGA. And the WGA was on strike. Thus ended production on League of Melbotis.

As a responsible CEO, I took the only step I could to try to find middle ground with the folks on strike. I immediately set a gang of toughs upon Norma Rae to soften her up.

Nonetheless, it seems my erstwhile gang of writers has gone on strike, so I'll be stepping up to the old keyboard to take over until the strike comes to an end.

In the meantime, can someone tell me who this Randy person is?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

League of Melbotis Holiday Heckstravaganza 2007!

Yes, Leaguers... I'm not ready for it, and neither are you, but it's that time of the year again. We're hurtling toward the Holidays like a comet towards Dinosaur-infested Earth. So it's time for ordering that Hickory Farms basket, pretending someone else sent it to you, and then eating the whole thing in one sitting.

It's also time for The League of Melbotis 2007 Holiday Heckstravaganza!

Needless to say, you're all in invited. Yes, even you.

So hire a baby-sitter, contact your parole officer and free up your calendar for the night of December 8th, 2007. For that night, mi amigos... we ride upon the Federales!

There's a small possibility that from 9:00 - 9:30, we will be entertained by the smooth, Holiday sounds of Jason's band, CRACK.

Further, there will be Wii. And snacks. And booze. Really, rum and egg nog sorta make my memories of last year's party kinda hazy, but it seemed we all had a good time. And the cops who showed up were real swell guys.

This party is BYOB, so bring a bottle of your favorite libation and we can all join in the merriment. There will be carols, and Ritz crackers and bum fights.

We're hoping you can come on down!

If you're planning to show, shoot us an e-mail or request a link to the Crusher invite. We'd like some sort of tally.

It's gonna be a good one.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Get Out the Vote

I went to vote on a few ballot measures last night after official work day and before dinner/ night work.

For once, nobody was running for office, so it was entirely voting on propositions, 3/4's of I had not done any research. So I skipped a few items and tried to understand what they were asking for on a few others, some of them fairly straightforward, like bonds for road work.

The controversial issue on the ballot was the request for state money for cancer research. Like most folks, I have a beef with cancer. Like most folks, cancer has touched my family and friends. I also know cancer is not a single disease but a blanket term to describe a plethora of conditions. I am also concerned about the distribution of money, and understand that there are many diseases to worry about. Take kidney diseases like FSGS. That one is much less fun than it sounds.

I guess my reasoning came down to: in 500 years, what will we have done? Will we have spent our vast resources building giant robots to kill people who do not have giant robots? Will we have chipped every person on Earth and spent money to make sure we were keeping a close watch on them? Will we have made any inroads to actually stopping the causes of grief and people raising their hands against one another? Or will we have insisted that the fight to heal the sick is someone else's mission?

I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse, or even much of a caretaker. I am not a researcher, and I am not able to help people much in my day to day life (and this is something I am considering in depth these days). There is very little I can do out there to help more people than myself and my family and friends. But there is a lot WE can do to help each other.

Without passing judgment on the rightness or wrongness of the current wars, I would rather live in a country at war with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many other killers than with other nations or peoples. I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. One of the number one things any candidate could do to make me feel safer would not be to promise me endless war against any enemy or outside threat. They could promise me they would dedicate their term to the eradication of disease and hunger. In the end, I doubt I'll die from a dirty bomb. That may be naive, but I am certain diabetes, cancer or heart disease will kill me.

These things seem simple enough at face value, but they aren't where the people we elect put our money or our priorities.

As I mentioned, I am concerned about the use of the money. Government agencies are run by people, and people make ridiculous decisions. But I'm not sure that doesn't mean we shouldn't try, or that nothing will come out of the research, even if it isn't a cure.

So I voted for Proposition 15. And against getting rid of the office of taxidermy or whatever that wacky bill was.

Some Additional Super Costumes

Halloween has come and gone, but I feel that I would be negligent if I didn't post some additional pictures of some super Halloween costumes.

Below is SuperXan and CB. More here. And, here.

CB proves she is a person who knows how to raise a child the right way.

My parents live next door to some great folks who have taken on the unlikely task of producing substitute grandchildren for my grandchildless parents. It's a great arrangment as my parents get grandkids and I get to continue to spend money on comics.

I always said Jonathan and Kelsey were sharp kids, and it appears that they really know how to pick out a costume.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I may go see Fred Clause. Just to annoy other people.

Jeff the Cat had a few teeth pulled this week. He is doing very well and doesn't seem to miss them.

Carla made very good cupcakes. I bring this up not just to say Thanks!, but to point out that she's launched a new site, Dessert Lounge!

My folks were in town this weekend once again looking at property. This time, they may have even found something.

I slept a lot this weekend.

We walked the dogs. That was very nice.

I also read comics.

I ran into a co-worker at Austin Books.

Jason bought an X-Box and Halo.

I didn't watch the UT game and am regretting that decision. I did watch the Colts game and the Dallas game.

I briefly did some work.

The weekends are too short.


Action Comics 858: After Infinite Crisis, DC decided that it was a good time to join the past/ future of Superman together with the Legion of Superheroes once again. A great set-up, wonderfully drawn, and for those (like me) with a gap in their DCU knowledge regarding the Legion, this is a great read.

Batman 670: You can't keep a good Demon's Head down. I didn't like the loss of Bat-villain Ra's al Ghul, as al Ghul was always one of the more complex characters in the Bat-Rogues Gallery. Morrison is doing the most to redefine Batman's world of any writer since the post DKR-era.

Justice Society of America 10: Do you like Superheroes? Did you enjoy mid-90's DC project Kingdom Come? Do you like Superman? Can your brain handle the multiverse? I don't know why this volume of JSA is so much better than the previous volume, handled by the exact same writer, but... man. Every month when this title comes out, this is the first comic I read from the stack.

Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood (1 of 5)
: Montoya is back as The Question. Cult conspiracies, hard-boiled detectives, Greg Rucka, Tom Mandrake... Worth a look.

Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Superman-Prime
: Uhm. Look, this just isn't going to necessarily be a great first comic for anyone to read, but it is a good read as it basically ties together the entire past of the once Superboy of Earth Prime.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cutest Kids on Halloween

The League, Mrs. League, CB and David
requires sound

also, not our dogs. Just something from YouTube

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 07 Kid Pic 2

Arden prepares for a fire breathing rampage upon the nearby villagers...

Jill's kid was a more-cute-than-fierce dragon this year. It sounds like Jess's mom made the costume. Well done, Jess's mom!

Halloween 07 Kid Pics 1

Nathan's Kids are Horrifyingly Adorable

Max = Pooh, Sam = Tigger

And, yes... Sam and Max look like their dad.


A typical moment of romance at League HQ

Hey, Leaguers.

You can tell I am off my blogging game when I don't do a big build up to Halloween.

Work got crazy this week, including work on Sunday. Add in being sick on Saturday, and... well, it was a perfect storm of not blogging.

Tonight we are going to get costumed up and hand out candy. (Jason, are you coming over?)

Last night we carved pumpkins and I force fed Nicole, our house guest, Evil Dead II. I don't think she really liked it, but, dammit, I'm not having a pre-Halloween viewing of a movie that's cute and sweet.

After candy distribution tonight we'll pop over to Carla's for Halloween fun.

Not too late, though. I have a big work day on Thursday.

Hope all Leaguers have a FRIGHTFULLY FUN Halloween. Those of you with kids, send in pics. I'll post 'em up. Or of yourself.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Trinity Tigers Crazy Game Winner

Both Jason and Jamie are proud Trinity University Alumni, and, in theory, Trinity Tigers.

Now, behold... the craziest ending to a football game. Ever. Courtesy the Trinity Tigers.

For the full story: Here.


Trinity Tiger Nathan Cone, now a proud employee of Texas Public Radio, has sent along this link with a good listen. Thanks, Nathan!

Halloween Fun: Zombie Apocalypse

Cracked finds the five ways in which mankind could face an honest-to-God Zombie Apocalypse.

JimD and Jason will, no doubt, be prepared.

On to the zombies

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Originally uploaded by sgharms
Cookies. Halloween cookies.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Best American Comics of 2007

Editor's Note: This post was up for a few hours yesterday and was removed to give me a chance to clear up some points and possibly give the post a bit more coherence.

Recently popular comic blogger Heidi MacDonald (aka: The Beat) took some lumps after posting on her site an actual opinion essay. This was followed by MacDonald displaying a willingness to unburn bridges, etc...

Basically, Heidi pointed out that Chris Ware had put together a book called "Best American Comics 2007" which was filled with a lot of stuff that was Indie comics, that could be construed as not too dissimilar to Ware's own work. For those with , he's responsible for landmark comic "Jimmy Corrigan", as well as the Acme Novelty Library and the very fun to look at Quimby the Mouse.

She then went on to state that she didn't feel that Ware and his pals were making the best American comics. The reason presented was that the ability of these writers and artists to construct a compelling narrative was often found wanting. She said she wanted a story.

I read The Beat on a regular basis, and have rolled my eyes at Heidi's snarky sniping of superhero comics, but also understand there's context there and do not expect her tastes to match my own. The same sort of complaints regarding superhero comics crop up online amongst the indie comics crowd, of which MacDonald has seemingly been identifying with, especially since she jumped from Comicon.con to Publisher's Weekly.

Before I go any further, this is my opinion, so, you know... whatever.

Ware is a master of form, and has managed to create unique comic experiences with each work I've picked up. He's sort of the consummate comic fiend's comic. He plays with the form in intricate and fascinating ways, both subtle and less so, with a unique understanding of how the medium can be manipulated.

But... and here's sorta where I agree with MacDonald. With all the artistic expertise in the world at his fingertips, I still never felt more engaged than being wowed by the form of Ware's comics. There just wasn't much to the narrative to make it particularly page turning. It's about a mopey guy who had a rotten life and sorta tries to do something about it, but, whatever...

If you dig a good Todd Solondz movie, I may have a comic to recommend.

It's a delicate thing, because I do genuinely appreciate Ware's work and vision, but I'm simply not engaged by the misanthropic comics he puts together. At least Eisner figured out how to tell the story of an unlucky soul in a few pages.

The sad, unlucky soul as protagonist is also the focus of the work of Daniel Clowes, and it seems the success of these two opened a path for comics about sad sacks being an end unto themselves, and often with far less artistry than the two guys I've menioned above.

This is, of course, a small fraction of the indie spectrum, which contains an infinite number of genres and genre-less comics.

Here's the thing... from reading blogs like The Beat and Journalista!, one would get the impression that there's this huge industry of independent comics where lives were being bought and sold, and all the world hung on the opinion of what someone like Chris Ware thought were the best comics of 2007. This, of course, isn't the case. Not just in popular culture, but in comic shops and in the larger book publishing industry.

Exact distribution numbers are somewhat hard to figure, as I'm not sure where to dig up Fantagraphics distribution versus Diamond, nor do I have any knowledge of Indie comic distribution channels.

All that said, distribution isn't the point of The Best (American) Comics of 2007. Artistic merit and writing come into play somewhere.

So, really, now you're talking subjective criteria. That's okay. I don't necessarily think that the stories listed in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told are, necessarily, the Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, either. But that's a publisher putting their name on a collection and putting as much out there about themselves as the comics included in the collection.

If you actually clicked on the links above to MacDonald's post, you'd notice over one hundred comments, many of them extremely heated. MacDonald may have done herself a disservice by not better framing her argument, and certainly by refusing to name names. But, really, in her line of work and with the vitriol tossed her way, can you blame her? If she knew it were coming? And did she know that this was going to put a ding in her career and reputation as indie comic fans, creators and critics each stepped up to the plate to take a shot at her?

If she didn't know that was going to happen, she hasn't been paying attention to her own work since the inception of her blog.

But was she necessarily wrong? Or did she just point out that the Emperor was parading down 5th Avenue in his tidy whities?

The folks who got rankled, like Tom Spurgeon, are more or less arbiters of the indie comic scene. Of late, its been the indie comics that get the faint praise of the literary establishment when they take notice of a book like "Jimmy Corrigan", and the occasional cross over hit like the deserving "Fun House" or "Persepolis" ("Fun House" made a critic's list or two last year under the "book" category, but went largely unnoticed in most comic shops. Likewise, Persepolis was winning awards, and I've seen it all but ignored in most comic shops. Likely any tie-in with the feature animated film of Persepolis will appear at Barnes & Noble long before it appears at Slappy's Comics Universe). Whether the indie comic reviewers and blogging press had anything to do with the discovery of those comics, or that those comics reflected pre-existing tastes of the literary establishment is a tough call.

Artistic commendation is worthy of striving for, so I don't want to dismiss any praise anybody has received from folks outside of the comic-sphere. And, honestly, I haven't seen the damn book that MacDonald is discussing, so I can't answer my own questions on this one.

But the fanboy behavior that the Indie-fans drum up in the comments makes the usual Gwen Stacey-related Spidey post on Newsarama look like a blip.

Unfortunately, Heidi is in a professional position where she CAN'T name names. She's not in the easy position of the critic as a face for Publisher's Weekly and as a blog manager. People give Matt Brady a hard time for not giving creators and the Big 2 the business, but... seriously, how long before that fatted calf would disappear if he decided to take Joe Quesada to task for every slight superhero fans believe he should answer for?

As does Matt Brady, so does Heidi.

Meanwhile, Tom Spurgeon and Co. are in a comfortable position where the artists and writers need them far more than Tom needs the creators. Any exposure is good exposure in small publishing where no marketing or advertising budget exists. As readers of The Comics Reporter, etc... make their decisions for purchases based upon comments on sites like Spurgeons or from other journals, its a different balance of power.

The bottom line in this case seems not to be that Heidi pointed out that some comics which get the indie street cred maybe aren't all that good (that's no secret), or even that Heidi may have divergent taste from the arbiters of the self-appointed comic literary meritocracy.

A recent post at Chronological Snobbery takes a pass through Chuck Klosterman-land to dish up a reminder of how hipsters and taste-makers believe their subjective tastes to be better informed than that of pretty much everyone else. While the Chron Snob post is interested in the legacy of 1980's hair band Ratt, it seemed to echo some of the same traits of the Best American Comics argument, albeit in a medium which even the people inside of the fanbase find divisive and geeky.

Success breeds contempt in any industry. Whether "SexyBack" is a good song or not is going to be diluted by the insistence that anything that popular was made for the masses and therefore not worthy of note. For more on the Klosterman ponderings, go here.

Comics being an almost sealed system, DC and Marvel are bigger kids on the block, and are therefore "mainstream", despite the small audience compared to almost any other medium. There's a built in snark factor for the crowd who loudly refuses to be associated with the super medium.

It doesn't seem that Ware and Anne Elizabeth Moore meant the name of their collection ironically, but the book reflects little outside of the tastes of a niche within the already nichey world of comics. All things being equal, it's either a ballsy or arrogant statement to assume that your taste in comics is going to define the best of the year, I don't care how diverse your buying habits. It's probably somewhat fair to state that a lot of what went into the volume is a lot of the same, as Heidi suggests. After all, its fair to say the same of DC's output, tentacle porn, or anything that someone has tried to dub with a genre name. Indie comics have remained mostly genre-free in the same way that "college music" did until a marketing exec dubbed Nirvana and Pearl Jam as "alternative" in 1992 or 3 (and, unlike electronica, the name stuck). Staying under the radar gives you the advantage of staying out of a category unless you're seeking one.

Most likely publisher Houghton-Mifflin can't get the reprint rights to most of DC and Marvel's stuff, anyway. If DC were interested in a best of the year, they quit printing their Blue Ribbon digests a long time ago. Not to mention the fact that a self-contained, single issue story in this era in a post Bendis superhero comic is far more the exception than the rule.

Not that Moore and Ware would consider those sorts of stories, but...

Is Heidi correct in asserting that the kids these days can't tell a story?

Oh, hell. I think (thus, my opinion) more DC writers fit that profile than not, just as 90% of any medium isn't all that great (including independently produced comix).

It's just a bitch to buy a $2.99 comic, get home and say "That was it?" Moreso when its an expensive graphic novel or indie comic that you wanted to take a risk on. Like any movie that's getting good reviews, its always an interesting venture to see what and why a comic is getting hyped outside of superhero circles. (my personal theory: With stunning regularity, the comics are about outsiders trying to make good and overcome their traumatic past. Sort of the same formula as Spider-Man and Batman, only without the spandex and web-shooters.)

Just as even the best comics of 2007 come at a price of $22. Is $22 the price of finding out if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a noise?

I will watch and reject dumb TV

Last night I watched three episodes of Elivira's "The Search for the Next Elvira".

I refuse to watch the new NBC show "Phenomenon".

Pulled comic post

hey, i want to apologize to anyone who read the comic post I'd had up earlier this evening. I actually read what I'd wrote and decided that maybe writing a lengthy post like that over several days and taking several angles ina single post wasn't working.

Jason had posted a well articulated and well thought out response. Which also led me to realize that my post made absolutely no sense.

Anyway, I apologize.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I am sorry about the huge fire in California


I know two days ago I blew off the fires in California (to people I was talking to at work and elsewhere, not here at LoM).

I am sorry.

California burst into flames every year that I could recall, and I wasn't really clear until yesterday that this is a lot more serious than the usual fires which consume a few homes.

So, anyway, The League shares our sympathies and best wishes with the folks of Southern California and Mexico who are dealing with the fires.

Nerd Mailing List Catalog

Apparently my nerdiness caught up with me. Someone bought some nerd mailing list I was on, and this catalog recently showed up at my house: The Pyramid Collection

It's not nu-agey stuff. It's sort of a weird mix of Ren Fest wear, pixie costumes, fantasy-novel themed lingerie, and other good ideas.

My favorite item: Dragon Commode Lid

This item screams out to be found by the Admiral under the tree on Christmas morning

Don't worry, Judy! There's one for you, too.

I can't really make fun. Anyone whose ever been to League HQ knows what it means to commit to a particular geeky lifestyle.

One of the things I find bizarre about wallpaper stores, etc... are how all of the stuff looks pretty much the same. Inoffensive patterns on inoffensive earth-tone colors, so your house can look pretty much exactly how everybody else's house looks.

I don't really understand people who don't have a pursuit or two, so certainly that plays into my thinking on the subject. And while our doors are always open to whomever wants to pop by, it's still where I live, and if I can't use that space to suit my needs, what space am I supposed to use?

I do understand needing to compromise with your spouse on home decorating, our house seemingly not a good point to that fact. But sometimes you find particular stuff interesting and you go with it.

That isn't to say that people without lots of knick-knacks all over their houses haven't found something that works for them, or that home decoration isn't a passion of theirs to begin with. But I think when you cross a line from "this would look cool and people would like it" to worrying about what other people will think if they see your house and it somehow makes them itchy. That said, somethings are just bad ideas.

As much as I want everyone to be able to do whatever they want, there are some rules about what's in your house versus your choice of wardrobe. You can STILL go out and look like an everyday schmuck on the street. You don't need to dress up as Superman just because you like the character (although, you know... would it be totally crazy to do so...? Jamie says yes, but I don't know...).

The Pyramid catalog is full of all kinds of ideas, but you might want to save those for your special times. or LARPing.

Some ideas are just more socially acceptable, whether we like it or not. After all, Jason loves his music, live and recorded. Nobody bats an eye at his music festival posters or guitars strewn about his house, but you get one Monster Commode Seat (this one's for Mom!), and everyone thinks you're crazy.

So, if you're into your fantasy novels, why not decorate with the dragon lamp?

The weird one is sports. Into football? Wear a jersey like you're the fat guy who got cut and nobody cares. However, you can't paint your living room Viking purple and gold. And your child, at that, even though you have to look at them anyway.

Cookie Party

Last night we had a Halloween Cookie Party.

Nicole made a delightful spaghetti dinner (which was great, but nowhere near as shocking as Jason's decision to invite us over for Jambalaya on Monday. Jason often uses the grill, but his gas stove usually goes untouched). Anyhow, we all had too much to eat, even with both Steans Boys in attendance, and Nicole and Jamie having a pile of spaghetti. We still had leftovers. That's a lotta pasta.

Around 8:00ish, Steven and Lauren came over, and the cookie making/ nonsense commenced. Well, really, Jamie spent like, an hour sifting sugar.I have no idea what was going on, but when I asked was greeted with a disgruntled shout... something about lumpy frosting.

No sooner had Steven and Lauren shown up (with Australian delicacies in hand) than JimD called the house to instruct me to go see 30 Days of Night. I passed off the phone to longtime JimD friend and fan, Steven, and I sorta hoped that would push JimD over the edge and relocate him to Austin.

Anyhow, we watched a bit of Ed Wood and the 1931 Frankenstein (which I view annually). We glazed cookies, and then got into the Tim Tam (very good!) and the Vegemite (which tasted just as bad today as I remember it tasting when I was 10).

There were many delightful Halloween cookies. Sadly, few photos. Steven took some, so perhaps he'll post them.

It's good to have Steven and Lauren back in town and frosting cookies.

However, there was absolutely nothing spooky about our pre-Halloween party.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Fall is Falling

Today we got up and immediately agreed to hit The Salt Lick to get a plate of brisket and go hear the Flying A's. Fall is here, as evidenced by the lovely weather we had on our way out.

Tomorrow the temperature drops from the high 80's to somewhere below 65 for a high.

It's Austin. Don't like the weather? It'll change in ten minutes.

Return of Robb

It's been nothing short of a lovely weekend since I walked out of work on Friday, second to last to leave the building. No matter where I work, somehow I'm always last to leave.

Friday we headed to Manuel's on Congress where we met up with Matt & Nicole, as well as Lauren, who was flying solo as Steven prepared to return to Austin after a few weeks in Australia. Lauren had been with him, and for reasons I never gathered, she returned slightly ahead of our man, Harms.

At dinner I got very drunk. I have no idea why, but it seemed like a swell idea at the time. I do not drink much. Honestly, I never have. Certainly the years we were gone to Arizona, huge chunks of time would pass and I would have not so much as a beer with the fellows after work. But with Fall coming on, more than a year back in Austin under our belts, work seemingly going well, dinner with good friends and Lauren's birthday so recent... it seemed a good night to tie one on.

We all came back to League HQ after dinner, where I gradually sobered, and Lauren unwittingly popped open old wounds regarding my opinion of portions of my undergraduate education which led to an unpleasant tirade about the critical analysis of film as an academic pursuit vis-a-vis the Narrative Strategies course I took circa 1995... Anyway, it got late and Matt and Nicole bothc amped out at League HQ.

We woke up today, got breakfast for our guests, found the game on cable and watched Ut spiral out of control, eventually pulling it together again in the 4th quarter and putting a score on the board that suggests things were much more in hand than they ever actually were.

Ate an early dinner at Chuy's as we never had lunch (Matt and Nicole had departed), and came home to a message that an old friend, Robb K, was in town and would be appearing at the Texas Showdown for a limited engagement.

Once upon a time... when we were young and probably much more fun than we are today... Anyway, it had been, we realized, seven full years since we'd seen Robb. Honestly, I wasn't really sure what continent Robb was on. I'd heard he'd been craching in Berlin for a while, and would occasionally hear dispatches from the Seattle contingent that he was in New York or God-knows-where.

So, really, a sudden appearance by Robb is something one should really always have in the back of their mind as a possibility, even when one has not seen Robb in seven years.

We met up at the Showdown, pulling together with a fragment of the folks from back in golden, old days of college. Pat, Jeff, Matt, Robb and Jamie. It could have just as easily been an evening in 1997 or so, sitting around with a beer out back of some bar with Robb still hand rolling cigarettes.

We've gotten older now. Jeff is married, and so Keora was there. Nicole came and saw a glimpse of Matt's sordid past. But we're not all so different, even with jobs and mortgages and all that. We worry about different things, maybe. Certainly not school or grades or whatever we were worried about then. We're now almost ten years from when college graduation, and life's rolled on.

A gentleman cut in on our conversation and asked for a haiku.

We tried to push him off, but, as Matt said, there's so little Austin weirdness left, sometimes you have to grab onto the weirdness when it happens. Even when the guy ashes on Jeff by accident while asking for the haiku. So we had a collaborative haiku.

And despite the fact I kept wondering how this guy was going to try to make money off of us, I dashed off the final line and handed it off. "Time passes us by."

Because sometimes it does.

Whether we've been doing the same things for ten years, or whether we occasionally manage to pull it together and catch a glimpse of good days, I don't know. The days in Austin have been good again. We talked over that while we were eating at Chuy's thsi evening with Jason. It's been a strange 15 months or so. Lots of good days and bad, as I guess it goes, life is evening itself out. 24 months ago, going to Chuy's for an early dinner was something we would have talked about wishing we could do.

As much as I loved parts of yesterday, the parts you can remember while watching your friend hand roll cigarettes for the first time in seven years, there's always tomorrow. You sort of have to think about what you're going to do then, and the next day.

We made our Mister Miracle escape from the X-Pit and the Orphanage of Granny Goodness, but, like Scott Free, I know that's only the beginning. The traps aren't always so obvious, and complacency is as much a trap as anything else. We'll keep moving, listening for the pinging of Mother Box to tell us when its time to spring the manacles and jump free from the nose cone of the rocket.

Lately, I hear people grumbling a bit about Fall coming on, about shorter days and the end of summer. Maybe its too many years at universities and in education, but Fall is a time for new things, for thinking about the year ahead.

Up in Seattle, My and Brandy have found out they're pregnant. Jeff and Keora are talking about trying. On Thursday Peabo and Adriana stopped by with Owen (who looks like every other male member of Peabo's family already), and Peabo's as happya s I've ever seen him. Xander is already moving so fast, CB should put him in red jammies and call him The Flash, and David is here from North Carolina.

The world moves on, and time passes us by.

That's not a bad thing. We're doing okay. Both despite and because of the events of the past year, so are our family and friends.