Saturday, December 06, 2008

Call for End of the Year Lists

I actually do like End of the Year Lists.

Part of why I like end of the year lists is that it gives the writer time to really realize what stuck with them. It's not just the immediate enjoyment or dislike of whatever's in the list, its been a few months, and maybe the writer has had an opportunity to put things into perspective, or realize "hey, maybe that was a good idea at first blush, but now... I dunno."

Take a song you hear and like when you're out, or you hear it in a movie or on TV, and you decide "that song is awesome!" and maybe that song is good, but maybe it just really, really worked in a particular movie.

Anyhow, the point is, it isn't marketing hype or initial reviews that determine what's going to endure. It's time. And I sort of think the year end reviews and lists are the first step toward figuring out what might stand a chance at being remembered.

I often use End of Year lists for non-DC or Marvel comics as a bit of a shopping list. By then, we're past the buzz and people are maybe pushing something they believe in rather than something they happened to like.

So, I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there:

Send me your End of the Year Lists

I will publish them as they come in.

Here are the rules.

1) Keep it clean. Sure, I'd love to work blue here at The League, but my mother-in-law reads this blog and I have to continue to make a good impression.

2) Try to use a good number, like The Top 5 or 10 movies of the year.

3) It's not enough just to send a list. We need a sentence or three on why.

4) Send as many lists as you like!

5) It can be on pretty much any topic. Media is usually a pretty popular topic, but whatever...

That's it. Send 'em in.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

We'll get back to that Robot Thing On Monday

I noticed that Carla and Simon both hit my post from Pre-Turkey Day about Robots and Robot Toys. Carla pointed out that Fisher-Price, maker of beloved children's toys, has introduced "Spike" into the mix of robotic toys. Apparently a large robotic dinosaur with some sort of remote control. What struck me as really odd about Spike wasn't just his size for kids, but that he's part of the Imaginext playline of toys. Each of those toys is about 2 - 3 inches high. Which makes me wonder if Spike is supposed to be in scale with those, in which case, I have a whole new respect for Spike at 10x the height of helpless and delicious characters of the Imaginext line. All I'm saying is that Spike + Imaginext toys = awesome dino-laden destruction.

Simon, on the other hand, accused me (in good fun) of cribbing from The Matrix.

Others often find this surprising, but I'm not a fan of the Matrix movies. I saw the first one and didn't like it, so I didn't bother seeing parts 2 and 3. Even on cable, all I've seen is a car chase from one of them that seemed to go on a really long time and which reminded me that I felt the Wachowski's might be all flash and no substance.

What's amazing to me is how many people who hear I didn't like part 1, so I didn't go see part 2 or 3 address the issue this way (a) well, you should really see them, (b) no, they're not as good as the first one, and (c) they get kind of dopey.

It's never been a strong sales pitch.

I've also never seen most movies people think I should see, but most people won't watch "This Gun For Hire" or "The Killing" with me, so they can stick it in their ear.

I'm going to go read my new "Superman vs. Brainiac" collection. You're on your own.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

No Robot Post Again

hey all.

Sorry about the lack of a robot post again this evening. I left work late, and then met Jamie, Jason and Nicole at Havana down on S. Congress.

I'm a little tired and after staying up late last night to work on a post for Comic Fodder, I'm not going to stay up tonight making sure we're all agreed on the topic of Robot Ladies of Interest.

Speaking of the Comic Fodder post... We got a link from Newsarama over the weekend based on a post I did on Batman comics. We saw a massive spike in hits, which was pretty cool. I had an idea for a post (actually, suggested by Randy, which I forgot to mention, so RHPT, I apologize) that I wanted to capitalize on while people might be coming by from that Blog@Newsarama link. Looks like that post is also getting a lot of hits. Anyway, that post was on Superman comics.

I don't know if I'm all that fascinating, if I'm hitting buttons with people, or what... but I've also seen a little bump in comments and e-mail sent directly to me, by-passing the comments section. Including from a gentleman who is pretty high up at who somehow stumbled across my Superman post.

Sure, its a cardinal sin of blogging to talk about blogging, but when you're writing stuff all the time, its nice to see when you get even a smidge of buzz going.

Anyway, I also gotta go write a Christmas Card letter, so if anyone out there can remember what the @#$% I've been up to this year that doesn't sound kinda moronic, let me know.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

and you accused Jake Lloyd of making Star Wars cheesy...

Donnie + Marie + Dilution of Brand = Awesome

Just FYI: The first video's audio track is really, really far off from the picture. I don't even know what would cause this and I used to work with video equipment for years.

I also want to say: Redd Foxx on Donnie & Marie as Obi Wan has filled a special place in my heart I didn't even know was empty. Thanks, internet!

really, the thought of Redd Foxx as any kind of mentor to Donnie Osmond sort of blows the mind...

Tip o' the hat to Journalista

Monday, December 01, 2008

A DITMTLOD Special: Robot Ladies of Interest (Part 1)

I'm going to go ahead and put a disclaimer on this one:

1. I find this whole enterprise kind of embarrassing for reasons I cannot begin to articulate.

2. Ladies, if you value your own sanity, it might be best if you sat this one out. You're not going to like this post one bit. Any reading you do below, you do at your own risk.

3. This whole thing is pretty spoiler-laden. I wind up accidentally giving away a lot of plot on all movies/ characters discussed.

On to the pain.

Historically, the first robot lady of interest that we can probably trace back to in Western Culture is probably Galatea, the woman brought to life by Pygmalion from a statue. There are all sorts of contexts in which the story is reviewed, some more flattering than others, and most certainly influenced by both the intention of the teller of the tale's vision (romantic tale, tale of hubris, etc...), and certainly the popular view of gender relations in which a tale is told. In today's society, it may seem difficult for readers to get past the easy reads of Pygmalion's misogyny that the story hinges on.

But more to our point: Sexy Lady Robots.

The first of which I can probably think of in film would be Fake-Robot-Maria from Fritz Lang's "Metropolis".

Basically, it's the future and all the rich folks live in palaces miles above the Earth, while everybody else toils below. Maria is a community organizer of sorts who is giving the worker bees hope (and a rich dude falls for her). An evil scientist guy has built a robot to take the place of his lost love, but disguises the robot as Maria, who he's kidnapped.

Anyway, instead of whining about the poor, Robot Maria ruins Human Maria's credibility as she ascends to the towers of the rich and parties it up. Actress Brigette Helm plays both roles (evil and good Maria) exceedingly well, and sets up Evil Robot Maria as a Robot Lady of Interest (RLI) as early as 1927.

I don't know how hard you have to party before you wind up in this situation, but that robot is programmed to get her crunk on.

Keep in mind, the term "robot" came into the parlance as late as 1921 thanks to Czeck playwright Karel Capek's play "Rossum's Universal Robots". It's generally thought to be the first appearance of the word "Robot", although "automaton" had appeared previously.

Depending on your definition, one could also include Elsa Lanchester as "The Bride" in 1935's "Bride of Frankenstein". I'm mostly including her because, due to the hair-don't the Bride sports, Lanchester is often overlooked.

Made for each other?

I'm not as familiar with pulp science-fiction as I should be, so I'm going to leave a big old gap here that could certainly be filled with all kinds of paperbacks and magazine stories about robot love.

1973's "Westworld" featured life-like robots which would join in all sorts of adult shenanigans with the tourists. Yeah, I found that a little yicky, even as a kid when I first saw the movie. But if you make it through that portion, the movie gets really awesome really fast.

The 1975 film "The Stepford Wives" is a bit of weirdness we can all enjoy (I've not seen the remake). A movie that's a refelction of its time, the Stepford Wives big reveal is that the reason the wives seem so perfect in the Stepford enclave? When the wives become problematic, the husbands replace them with robots.

So, basically, yeah, it was a horror movie for NOW-era feminists, with a less abstract threat to represent the specter of the lives many felt would be foisted upon them if the push for women's lib wasn't successful. Just, you know, in a cheesy way, with robots. But there's a reason the term "Stepford Wives" is ingrained in our vocabulary. Worth checking out.

The 1980 film Galaxina seems to include a robot who is intended to be eye-candy in what seems to be a comedy. The titular character was played by the lovely, but doomed actress/ model Dorothy Stratten. I've never seen the film, so I don't have much to say about it.

I haven't seen the movie, but here's a pretty strong pitch for checking it out.

We've already covered Sean Young as Rachael in Blade Runner.

As I write this, I realize Blade Runner should really get it's own post, but what are you going to do?

Blade Runner features several androids, including Rachael, Pris and Zhora. If you don't know the plot, (a) I pity you. Get a DVD player. (b) It's about a detective who must track down several renegade "replicants", basically flesh and blood robots with pre-programmed minds and a four-year lifespan. One of my favorites of all time.

Pris was played by Darryl Hannah, who... well, who did all kinds of crazy film work in the 1980's, but whose profile dropped a bit in the 1990's. I'm not sure why she isn't used more. She's lovely enough without a mermaid tail, and I always liked her. But what do I know? (answer: nuthin')

We don't know why it works. It just does.

Joanna Cassidy played Zhora, some sort of former soldier-droid, I believe.

Your mileage on naked robots covered in glitter and draped with snakes may vary

Zhora doesn't get much screen time, and viewers may note that she looks particularly weird during her death scene. Well, that's some stunt-person in a fright wig and plainly not Joanna Cassidy. According to sources I've read, documentaries, etc... nobody was happy with how that turned out. But when you're watching the scene, she looks so weird during her death, its kind of disquieting.

Before that sequence when she's talking to Deckard... maybe less disquieting.

Kelly LeBrock as Lisa in "Weird Science".

I'm not sure if she's a robot, but she is some sort of computerized artificial construct, right? Anyway, kudos to John Hughes for one of the weirdest and oddly non-skeeviest teen comedies (that, from its premise, should have been in there with "Hamburger: The Motion Picture").

"Lisa" (probably named for Apple's early-era personal computer) was the result of two nerds' hacking back in the 1980's when computers were about as accessible as atom smashers. Thank God for icon-based interfaces, says I. Back then, it seemed entirely reasonable that two motivated teenagers might accidentally create Kelly LeBrock on their computer while their parents were out of town.

What couldn't you do with a 2400 baud modem?

If you've never seen "Weird Science", it's a teen-classic. We'll revisit this movie some other time, because, darn it, I love "Weird Science". And Kelly LeBrock. Who unfortunately was married to Steven Seagal for a while. What must that household have been like?

Nevermind. I don't want to know.

That's it for this installment. More later this week. We'll get to BSG, Terminator and more.

But from the 1980's and earlier, what did I miss? Help a brother out...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On UT's BCS ranking

What are you gonna do?

If UT played Saturday and OU played Thursday, we might have been ranked below Alabama instead of our rivals to the north. Or if one coach had voted one way, and other a different way... you never know.

But it is a lot messed up that its not purely about competition, and requires votes, etc... We need a better system so we don't have this kind of mess to begin with.

Ah, well. It was a great season and the Longhorns have everything in the world to be proud of.

I tend to side with Simon's opinion that play-offs might be the solution.

Thanksgiving Follow Up

Well, it's Sunday. Sunday night.

It's been a pretty long four days, and, in saying that, I'm kind of surprised its only been four days. But that's what happens when you have family coming and going, football on the brain, and the transition from the the Fall season into the Holiday Season.

I had a glimpse of life to come, and holidays to come, this weekend. My parents stayed at their new pad in N. Austin, Jason at his house, Cousin Sue at her place and we at ours. It seems the days of Too Many People in One House have drawn to a close. Which, really, has been most of my life, so I'm not really sure what to make of it. In the past, I was always amazed and confused by friends whose families lived in town and sort of didn't bat an eyelash that the Holidays were coming. If you weren't going to spend three or four nights kicked out of your bed and camped out in some corner of the house not your own, while wondering who kept turning up the thermostat (so you'd start sweating), it just wasn't the Holidays.

Anyhow, sadly, the Steans Family And Affiliated Family is now smaller in number. And we've somehow consolidated in Texas, with the locus in Austin. This is going to make things easier in some ways. And just plain odd in others.

No more sitting up with The Admiral and discussing the news until the wee hours. No more Jason abruptly standing up at some late hour and declaring "I'm tired as @#$%." Then going to bed.

No more shuffling into the kitchen and sorting out what sort of coffee was put in the pot (the parents like to poison me with 50% caffeinated), or coming downstairs at the folks' house to find some of their friends were not just up before me, they're over and visiting when I wander in with my hair standing straight up and peering out from behind my coke-bottle lenses.

Or, at Jamie's folks' house... no more realizing everyone has put off eating while you were sleeping. Or wandering out into the kitchen first thing, walking right past everyone and staring out the window into the backyard until your brain decides to actually wake up.

All that said, I'm happy to trade that for popping in to Jamie's folks' or my folks' house with a 30 minute drive instead of 3 hours.

Its just going to change things, and that's okay. Time marches on.

Jill mentioned on her blog that returning to Spring didn't feel like coming home. I think to a certain extent, I get that feeling. I love my parents, and I love their house, but (a) I've lived in Austin for 18, maybe 19 years, instead of the 3 I lived in that house in Spring, and (b) Jamie and I have worked hard to build lives in Austin. We're also heading quickly into our (gasp!) mid-thirties. While our lives are vastly different from those of our parents, we're not still moving from apartment to apartment like people right out of college. Hell, this spring we'll have been married for nine years. NINE.

And I think my folks are ready for the change.

Jamie's parents are in San Marcos now, so this is going to make the Christmas Holidays interesting. Doug and Kristen are coming into town, and will be hopping back and forth between here and the in-laws.

We're kinda/ sorta decorated for Christmas. I'd managed to get the inside about 80% decorated on Friday while Jamie rested after dialysis (we needed to put ornaments on the tree). Around 12:00ish today, we were just starting to pull exterior decorations down from shelves in the garage when Jamie noticed her fistula was bleeding through her sweatshirt.

Add in about three and hours in the ER (of which, about seven minutes was actual medical attention. The rest was waiting, giving information, and watching "Big" on basic cable), and we were home again by 3:15 and I was trying to get lights strung before the front would go dark by 5:30.

I checked three of our strings of lights before putting up four of them, and, curiously, once up they only half worked. Every single string of lights lit about half-way and then... nada. I tried swapping bulks, etc... but nada. I have no idea what was going on.

Anyway, I decided I just was going to quit and start again next Saturday morning.

The neighborhood will have to wait a little longer for The League's Onslaught of Cheer, '08.

Jamie is totally fine, by the way. What happened requires some a priori knowledge, but really simply: She had a scab on her fistula that fell off. The fistula is a very powerful vein, Jamie's also on blood thinners. Add the two together and you get a mix of Old Faithful and the elevator doors from "The Shining".

We did decorate the tree, and its lovely. We moved it this year, so its no longer out of view from the living room. I'm quite pleased with the change.

I'll get around to the Robot Ladies of Interest column later this week.

Keep it real.

Hey, Ya!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Coming to terms with BCS

Breaking in again for football...

So, yeah, I broke my oath of silence once again. But, look, I just watched a day full of high-stakes college ball. UT played Thursday, Tech and OU played today. All are tied for the Big 12 South. Only one can advance.

Tech came out against Baylor today looking a little mushy, which surprised me. I figured they would come out swinging harder against Baylor, but their recent loss seems to have broken them a bit. Oklahoma had to really fight against Oklahoma State until the end of the game, but wound up 20 points ahead when the clock ran out.

All that's left is a wait for the BCS computers and voters to tell us who will wind up in the Big 12 Championship game next week.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty zen about the whole thing.

1) There's nothing UT could have done better, except for three or four things during the Texas Tech game. Aside from that, they've had a very, very impressive season. If something as small as Gideon hanging onto the ball had happened, UT would be the undisputed Big 12 leader.

2) The Big 12 was a tough conference this season. I'm always pretty impressed with our competition, and as I can't always count on UT to wind up in a BCS Championship game, I pull for the Big 12 as a whole.

3) At the beginning of the season, I looked at our schedule, reviewed what I knew and sort of sweated it a bit. I had serious doubts about our ability to beat OU, Tech and others. We've had such a great season (11-1) that I can't help but feel that no matter what the BCS finally decides: We had a great regular season. Hopefully we'll get sent to a cool bowl game.

Friday, November 28, 2008


After UT flubbed the last two meet-ups with A&M, I was pleased to see they not only were able to get a check in the win column, but that they got a decisive win. And Colt McCoy played a heck of a game.

For those watching on TV, I have no idea what was up with the field. It hasn't really rained here in months, so I guess someone left the sprinklers on the field too long. What a mess.

As pleased as I am with the win (this game and the OU game are, of course, the biggest games every year) I'll be watching the OU game with terrific interest. It's awful, because I respect the hell out of OU, but if they lose to OSU, it does huge things for the Horns. And OU is playing at Stillwater, so there's as much chance for something to go wrong for them as it did for us at Lubbock.

I am also morally obligated to remind you (and BCS voters) that UT defeated OU 45-35 this season. And, you know, if you're a Hesiman voter and have a vote to spare, Colt McCoy could sure use it.

We now return you to your promised radio silence for the weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

I'm outta here for a few days.

Sure, I'll be in Austin, but I'm going to take a break and hang out with the family for a few days. So don't expect much more in the way of navel-gazing, complaining, or pondering about robots or Superman until late in the weekend.

Jason is usually pretty good about taking photos and posting them, so I invite you to hit his site.

Enjoy your days off if you have days off. Enjoy the folks around you. Go see a movie. Watch a football game or three. Give some thanks.

Now get out there and eat the hell out of some potatoes.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Robot Friend

I DVR every episode of the WB cartoon of Superman from Disney's sugar-fueled kid's cartoon network, Jetix. One of the oddities of networks like Jetix and Cartoon Network is that toy companies are pretty clearly buying up vast swaths of ad-time on these networks and aren't very discriminating about which shows their ads get folded into. Especially the late night ads for toys when you kind of hope the target market is off with dreams of sugar plums in their heads.

It being a month before Christmas, they're really going for the hard sell on all kinds of toys. Expensive toys. Stuff I am sure that, as a kid, would have flipped my gourd and caused some awkward discussions between me and KareBear as to why Santa couldn't bring me The Very Expensive Toy.

If you have any doubt that kid's toys are far more complex, if not far cooler than what we had growing up, I would point you to this year's line-up of interactive pals your kid can enjoy. We've moved beyond Teddy Ruxpin and his rudimentary/ creepy mouth movements.

Apparently... these semi-lifesized toys will respond to touch, sound, etc...

Here's Kota the Triceratops who will let your tyke sit astride his back, eat a leaf, make sounds, roll his head around...

Jason will frequently point out that as a kid, I was usually more interested in the potential of a toy than the actual toy, and would often wind up disappointed. If they sold a kid's microscope, I was ready to set up a crime lab. So part of me figures these toys aren't as cool as I think they are, but I also have as of yet to see one out of the box.

For people who want the magic of a child and a dog, but also want to not worry about the kid becoming too attached, or learning to love... there's Biscuit, the Fur-Real dog.

Or, for the parent who doesn't have the dough to pay for riding lessons, stabling fees, horse whisperers, etc... but can afford D Batteries, there's S'mores, the Fur-Real Pony.

There are also interactive dinosaurs, lizards, lion cubs, what-have-you out there. And the technology seems to be getting marginally better every year.

All of this reminds me, of course, of Kubrick/ Spielberg's AI. I don't know how sorry I felt for Haley Joel Osmont's eternal boy, but I did worry about his little, stuffed robotic pal, the Teddy bear. Which, by the way, they did try to market to kids. (Nobody seemed to notice the horrible fate the movie states robots are doomed to as humans look at robots as they would any other consumer electronic, despite rudimentary awareness... which... yeah, that's what you want to tuck your kid in with at night).

You have to sort of wonder, as the technology improves and kids are expected to abandon their toys, isn't it a little creepy to begin a societal trend toward creating emotive, responsive objects that can be thrown into the waste? Moreover, I know as a kid I would have read a heck of a lot into my robot dog's responses and been horrified at the idea of tossing it in the dump if it broke. How will we deal with our AI's as they become outmoded, break-down, etc...?

People are pretty wretched with their pets to begin with, so I'm not sure if (as technology improves and these toys begin to actually demonstrate AI) we're reinforcing bad behavior to begin with by teaching kids to shove responsive objects into a corner or expect it to turn off with the flick of a switch. That, in no way, has anything to do with actually owning or caring for a pet. Pets do not simply turn off. Sometimes they wait until you've just fallen into a deep sleep to begin meowing as loudly as possible for no discernable reason. Other pets stick their nose in your eye because they feel you've slept too late and it is time to play with the puppy. And simply "turning them off" is called animal cruelty (no matter how right it seems when the puppy jumps on you on Saturday morning).

Yes, I know... the robot dog is supposed to be a toy, but...

The other part that makes me lose some sleep is what AI and emotional responses we choose to bestow upon our creations. Especially as I consider the work of Dr. Cynthia Breazeal and her emotive robots. She seems to be leading the way for becoming her own Dr. Susan Calvin, building robots which can currently respond to certain stimuli, mimicking what we recognize as an emotive response. The leap hasn't been made yet to actually make a robot feel bad when its chastised, but how far down the road can a matrix of emotional responses actually be? And if we attach that response to an ability to learn, what are we building?

I see no reason to believe we won't see AI's in my lifetime. Or rudimentary robot pets. I don't know if they'll have a capacity to learn, adapt, or merely perform routines based upon certain stimulus or commands. Right now roboticists like Dr. Breazeal seem poised to teach robots to learn. Which, of course, loops me right back to the sad, doomed little teddy bear of A.I., thrown to the junk heap, and still functional.

Oh, and, yes... the MIT labs are working on a robotic teddy bear.

Robots will have no legal rights, its safe to assume. No matter what traits we embue them with, will they ever be a part of the family as many people treat their pets?

Right now Biscuit the Robot Dog is little more than a mass of wires, plastic and fake fur that performs simple functions based upon certain stimulus. I hate to break it to you, but we're basically bags of meat and bone that respond to stimulus, too. Sure, we respond in infinitely more complex ways, but that's basically our deal. We just have a few billions years of leaping from single-celled flagellates to avid fans of "Paris Hilton's My New BFF" behind us rather than 100 years of useable electricity and 50 years of computer engineering.

All I know is that when our robots turn on us, I won't be at all surprised. Especially if their vanguard is comprised of a legion of disposed of Teddy Bears, Fur-Real puppies, and fuzzy triceratops. And if I have to go, I hope its at the hands of an enraged teddy bear.

All that said, if you are looking for a robot for under my tree:

If you have to face down a machine that will turn on you and kill you, it might as well be Summer Glau

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lost my edge. Completely.

I was reading back over posts from the past month or two, and holy @#$%. Whatever edge I once had has been replaced by sunshine and puppy dog tails. I guess that's what happens when you're in a relatively good place. I guess if you have to trade engaging blogging for whatever the alternative was of career flame-out, poor health, what-have-you...

Anyway, I will also try to break it up a little more around here. It looks like I'm only covering a few items, but I also don't know what anyone whose left around here cares about reading (seriously, I haven't got a clue).

That's it for tonight. Jason and Jamie both told me I looked awful tonight (I slept poorly last night). So I'm off to get 40 winks.

Not enough this

Too much this

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ring Ring Ring

What better way to show your Thanksgiving Spirit than donating to the League of Melbotis Red Kettle?

All you have to do is click here to help out that most venerable of institutions, the Salvation Army.

We could really use your help to get the ball rolling.

Being Thankful

I'm delicious

So I saw Meredith has wisely posted her Thanksgiving column before the Thanksgiving madness had begun. And, as much as I am unsure of my own schedule this week, I don't want to write this thing for an audience that has skipped out on me for the annual tryptophan overdose. And while most days I'm unsure of whose hanging about and reading, if I'm going to spill my heart, I ain't doing it for, like, 5 hits.

Anyhow, for me, personally, its been a... weird year. But that doesn't mean I have nothing to be thankful for. To the contrary! Sometimes a sorta-off year pulls things into focus, and you can re-evaluate.

This year I am thankful for Jamie's relatively stable good health. We've had a bump here and there, and we have a lot to think about next year. But it's been a good year, and despite Jamie's many challenges, I think she's doing well.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to work, of course. 2008 did not go at all how I would have liked professionally, and it wasn't much fun. But good people gave me a second opportunity when they could have easily passed on me for contract work. Then, of course, I've landed what I consider to be an enormous opportunity back at the University. And all during a period when many, many other people are in less fortunate positions.

I'm thankful for old friends, new friends, and old friends with whom I've re-connected. For a family who is as supportive as someone could ask for, and who is also physically closer (and/ or is planning to be). I'm also thankful all of you Leaguers out there in Leaguer-Land. You're tops.

It's a tough time out there for a lot of people this year. Perhaps more so than usual. The press is going to have you believing that the future is more uncertain than usual. But we never really know (or we wouldn't be in half the jams we're in now). Be thankful for what you've got. Make sure you let people know how glad you are that you've got them.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving planned.

Gobble gobble.

Now go have some Turkey.

Also, I am thankful for UT's inexplicably high BCS rating, Superman comics, jobs where you can wear jeans, new comics on Wednesdays, good Batman movies and probably a hundred thousand other little things.

"The League" fan film, shockingly, not about me

This is interesting. Here's a short film produced independently about superheroes in a sort of Watchmen pastiche. Actually, it owes a heck of a lot to Watchmen. Nonetheless, it's pretty darn well done from a design and acting standpoint, and demonstrates that even indie fanfilms now look and feel better than most superhero films up until Spider-Man.

It's about 20 minutes long. Check out "The League" (again, not about me).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

round-up for Saturday

Quantum of Solace

We met up with Jason, Andy, Rami, Mandy, Kelly and Ellie Gamble to see Bond this evening at the Alamo South. Jamie and I had stayed in last night to watch "Casino Royale" again on DVD, and I think the continuity really helped. The movies are so tightly wound together that it really helps to have seen both so close together.

We ran into old League pal Laura Ryan-Day, who is (oddly enough) now a very successful hypnotherapist. She married a great guy, Simon, who happens to not just be from the UK, but he's apparently a Meet-Up leader for Brit ex-pats living in Austin. They were gathering, of course, to see the greatest fictional government employee of them all. And, they had invited Jeff and Keora.

I actually really enjoyed Quantum of Solace. It wasn't as good as Casino Royale, and it could have used more of Carla Bruni (who, sadly, died in Casino Royale, but in real life went on to marry French President Sarkozy... so, you know, congrats Mr. Sarkozy!). However, the story was fairly tight, it expanded upon the story from the first film and opened things up a great deal for another sequel. Plus, Judi Dench is just perfect as M.

I feel like after decades of actors playing the roles in Bond movies with a wink and a nod, the movies feel populated with real characters. That may have been at the expense of devil-may-care fun that many associated with Bond movies, but the movies had become parodies of themselves to an extent.

Anyhoo, the movie has drawn inevitable comparisons to the Bourne movies, which I also enjoy. I feel the two franchises differ enough that it's not a distraction for me, plus the plots are divergent enough that I just don't get hung up on it. That said, its a certain genre told in a certain way, so I appreciate the comparisons. More good stuff for me, I say.

Christmas Photos

We headed down to San Marcos earlier today to go and meet up with Judy and Dick and get the family photo taken for Christmas. Luckily, it was a little chilly out this morning, so it was easy to get into the spirit of the thing. Plus, you know, Thursday being Thanksgiving, we're kind of moving into the Holiday Season, anyway.

When we get a copy of one of the digital pics, I shall post.

I also have to pen our Christmas letter this year. So if you want to get on the League Christmas Card mailing list, send me your street address or whatever. 'Tis always a treat.

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

In going to see Bond, we missed the first half of the OU/ Texas Tech game. We ran home with Jeff and Keora to watch the game at their place and saw the score at half-time.

Which... THAT is the Oklahoma UT fans fear and respect. And why we like to play the Sooners in a neutral location rather than in Norman, OK.

geez, man.

But now... how messed up will the BCS ratings be with this screwy set-up?

For those of you who don't follow Big 12 Football, UT, Texas Tech and OU all have one loss. OU lost to Texas. Texas lost to Tech. Tech lost to OU.

Wisely, OU ran up the score a bit to demonstrate to BCS voters how well their team is playing, so I expect OU to have a lock on the Big 12 South.

That said, I will be watching the OU/ Oklahoma State game with terrific interest next week.

My folks' new pad

Here's some pics of my parents' new place in N. Austin. Pretty nice, huh?

We look forward to sitting on their porch and drinking whiskey sours in the summer.

Owen Lowry has himself a blog

Josh and Shannon Lowry are old, old pals of all of us here at League HQ. We've been pals since back in The League's amazing days at Klein Oak High School where we did some plays with Shannon and had a writing class with Josh. And, in fact, Shannon is more or less how I met Jamie as she was Jamie's freshman year roommate (and junior and senior year), complete with Shannon taking Jamie to the hospital as needed.

Shannon and Josh partnered up in our college days, a few months before Jamie and I. And now they're parents to young Owen Lowry. Owen has had some health issues since joining us here on Planet Earth, and its been a tough time for him. He was born in Houston about a week before Hurricane Ike (and about a month before baby Ike), and he's had to already go through all sorts of procedures.

Anyhoo, we're proud of Owen, and we're proud of Josh and Shannon for their A #1 Parenting.

We encourage you to visit Owen's blog to see how he's doing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Present Idea

I now totally know what I am getting Judy (the mother-in-law) for Christmas.

The Tomahawk Skull Gauntlet.

I can totally see Judy using these. It's good to get something that's both fun AND practical.

Which is totally awesome, because I know Dick (the father-in-law) is really going to enjoy his neoprene skull mask.

tip of the hat to Randy for the website. (How he finds these things, I don't know...)


You know what movie I am not embarassed to admit I want to see?


That cartoon about the dog who THINKS he's a superdog. Yup. That one.

The animation looks very good, and the hamster and pigeons made me laugh during the trailer. It may not be Wall-E, but it looks like a good weekend movie for Jamie and me to take in and eat some popcorn.

I have to learn I can't pout about the fact that not every cartoon that comes out is by Brad Bird and/ or Pixar. And this looks like a good starting point.

But I already have tickets to Bond on Saturday, which I want to actually see more than Bolt. So there you go.