Thursday, December 10, 2009

This looks about right...

found at Calvin's site

Steve Hooperee

I don't know who "Steve Hooperee" is, but people keep finding this blog looking for the guy.

Neil Diamond Brings It Home For the Holidays

found at Pop Candy

Comic of the Decade?

Time posted their comics of the decade and came up with a sort of wonky top 10.

You can see it here.

Ultimates is listed as the best comic of the decade. And this, clearly, is wrong (unless you're a Marvel fanboy of the highest degree). Most successful at what it was trying to do? In many ways, I could agree. Some of the best artwork in comics? Absolutely.

As a time capsule of the belligerency of a decade where the American Spirit coalesced into an angry child damaging everything in his path to prove he isn't scared? Sure.

Ultimates started with a lot of promise. It took Avengers, one of my least favorite concepts in comics (and Lord knows I tried to enjoy it, because so many others liked it, and I wanted to understand why), turned the cartoon cut outs of the Avengers into 2.5 dimensional characters, and said "No, its 2006. What ARE these characters?", did a good six first issues, and then promptly lost its way as a comic about set-pieces rather than story, and abandoning the implicit, post-9/11 agreement in comics that images and scenes of mass destruction should have weight to them, and that destroyed cityscapes and body counts of "Authority" (who Ultimates was always more or less imitating, anyway, and which found itself at #6 on the list) were a thing of the past.

Its fairly clear that whomever penned the list is into the "kick-ass", Ellis-infused-Machismo aspect of comics that so defined the last decade. Its all about seeing superhuman feats (Authority, 100 Bullets, Planetary all make the list) by just-over-the-line-of-fascist-"heroes" taking on even more diabolical fascists. It's adolescent power fantasy realized by way of lack of moral compass. Again, more or less how I'll remember the 'Oughts, anyway.

It's not that I don't LIKE parts of Authority, Planetary, Ultimates, etc... all of which I've read (not 100 Bullets. Azzarello's work leaves me bored and sort of bemused in a way he probably wouldn't appreciate). Its just that I got so bored of the schtick by the second volume of Ultimates that I ultimately gave it up. That doesn't say "Best of Decade" to me by any stretch.

But maybe it does say "Encapsulating the Decade".

Colbert/ Krampus/ The League - WTF?

So, this is @#$%ing BIZARRE.

A week ago, co-worker Dan Z. started telling me all about Krampus, and we all had a good laugh about terrorizing his children. I actually wrote my Krampus post while watching Glee on my DVR, starting around 9:30. So... yeah.

Now Colbert, in my final two weeks here at The League, is making me look like I'm copying stuff off TV and passing it off as my own.

Anyway, seems last night around 10:30 central time, Stephen Colbert and the Colbert Report aired this (skip to 2:34):

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Blitzkrieg on Grinchitude - Hallmark & Krampus
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

I'm kind of freaking out.

Obviously Colbert Report tapes well before airing.

I... just don't know what to make of this. Is it possible it is, in fact, time for Krampus in America?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More Disturbing Yuletide Joy

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Christmas Totally Needs Krampus

My co-worker, Dan, recently informed me of something that I really want to start working into my Holiday season.

Apparently in Germany there used to be a tradition in early December that, in order to get little kids to behave in the Holiday seasons operated on the "more stick, less carrot" model. Germans, being Germans, had cooked up a surefire way of managing their kids by scaring the bejeezus out of bad kids with a fellow named Krampus (complete with horns, fangs, etc...) who came by in early December with Santa to warn little bad kids about how rotten they were, and apparently rattle chains and pop them with birch branches.

I'm not clear if an early December birch-thwacking was it for the kids, and if they still got apples in their shoes on December 25th or whatever the little stone age German kids used to get for Christmas, but I think we could work something out if we wanted to bring Krampus into the modern American Christmas.

Wouldn't this look awesome as an inflatable lawn decoration?

I like the idea that Santa and this Krampus guy can operate on a good cop/ bad cop model in a way that kids can wrap their heads around. It certainly puts a whole new spin on Santa when you consider that he seems to endorse Krampus's @#$%ed-up shenanigans.

Anyway, I guess in some parts of Alpine Germany, people still do this Krampus thing.

You know St. Nick thinks its totally hilarious to have a jack-ass side kick who makes those ungrateful little miscreants sweat a little

Oh, Germany. You are a font of never-ending old-school terror.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Charity Opportunity

Hey Leaguers.

I am now beginning to recall that last year's charitable efforts went largely unnoticed here at The League. I'm giving it 24 hours more and then we're pulling it down. This is just sort of sad.

If you want to participate, click on the links on the left.

Just checking in

Every week Jamie watches "So You Think You Can Dance?", the American Idol of dance shows. Despite the fact I found lots of American Idol chatter in my early posts, I've not watched the show since the second season or so, and I don't normally watch reality competitions.

I have no real knowledge of dance other than that I grew up in a household where it wasn't considered strange to go to musicals or watch them as movies. So I really have no idea if what I'm looking at is any good or not. The style is hardly Gene Kelly or Cyd Charisse in most dances, but I don't find it as embarrassing as I find the typical, hackey cover of a Queen song on American Idol (it does not matter who you are. You aren't Freddy, so stop it.).

This week has been very busy. My office Admin is out, so I'm doing parts of her job and trying to do my own. Today a major screw-up was uncovered, and so I spent the middle of my day sweating bullets around whether or not I was going to be able to fix that situation (it resolved itself imperfectly).

Its also been a week of announcements for DC Comics. Little things most of you guys won't care too much about, I guess. But stuff I believe is healthy for comics with one foot in the past and an eye on the future.

Superman Earth One

Mostly, I'm kind of tired. Which is why I don't think I have it in me this evening to say a whole lot.

An upcoming cover for Wonder Woman #600. New George Perez art!

Monday, December 07, 2009

DC's Earth One Initiative

I'm guest blogging over at Comic Fodder for Travis while he travels. Wrote my three-page navel-gazing missive on what it means to put out new, original graphic novels hard rebooting Superman and Batman.

Go here.

Happy Birthday to Dug!

Happy B-Day, B-Dug.

P-Squared, if you need help saving Christmas, we're your buddies!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Unnecessary meme

Calvin posted this meme. And I hadn't done one in a while, so here you go.

1. What is the color of your toothbrush?
Gray. It is a fat Colgate toothbrush with a gray strip on the handle. I prefer fat-handled tooth brushes with a "medium" or "regular" head.

2. Name one person who made you smile today.
My co-worker Pete has a kid, Alex. Alex is about 3 months old. Babies are cute. I smiled at him during the office Holiday party. Also, The Admiral made me laugh several times on the phone.

3. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Sleeping off the "celebrating" I did during the Horns game.

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
Talking to the Admiral and watching football.

5. What is your favorite candy bar?
Probably the Hundred Grand or whatever they call it now. Although if its just a chunk of chocolate, I prefer dark chocolate.

Bonus Question: What no-longer-available candy would you bring back?
Grape bubble gum. How the hell did that disappear from the candy aisle?

6. Have you ever been to a strip club?
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

7. What is the last thing you said aloud?
"That looks good". Jamie was showing me a printout of the annual Christmas letter to the family.

8. What is your favorite ice cream? How to choose?
I am lactose intolerant. I choose "no" when it comes to ice cream. As a kid I liked Peppermint and Bubble Gum. As a teen, coffee.

9. What was the last thing you had to drink?
I am drinking "Canada Dry", a delicious Ginger Ale. I understand that in Canada, its just referred to as "Us Dry".

10. Do you like your wallet?
Yeah. Begrudgingly. Its the first wallet I've had in years without a Superman logo on it, but I got tired of placing my wallet face down when I was in mixed company. This wallet is a fairly standard folding affair from "Fossil". However, you can remove the ID holding part, which is nice when I want to just carry my ID and a credit card.

11. What was the last thing you ate?
Taco Cabana. I'm not proud.

12. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
I bought slippers at JC Penny this morning because they were half off and had a UT logo on them. Also, I owned no slippers, and we have concrete floors, and it was in the 30's this week.

13. The last sporting event you watched?
I am watching NFL football. Cards vs. Vikes. Cards are winning.

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Plain with salt is fine. But I do not turn my nose up at caramel corn. Last year I realized I no longer care for cheesy corn.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to?
The aforementioned co-worker Peter, who I texted at the end of the UT game last night. He is an Aggie thrice-over (undergrad, Masters, PhD), and was hoping UT would lose.

16. Ever go camping?
Not really. Last camping trip was Spring Break 1994, and it was a disaster. I sprained my ankle when I got out of the car, and the camp site was across the lake from a power plant, and somehow I neglected to actually bring food. It was awful.

I also love indoor plumbing. Call me crazy.

17. Do you take vitamins daily?
No. I try to eat as many foods as I can each day so that I absorb vitamins the old fashioned way.

18. Do you go to church every Sunday?
No. And it makes certain people sad, so we shall discuss it no further.

19. Do you have a tan?
No. I inherited the ghastly pallor of my Finnish forebears and have no ability to brown up when exposed to El Sol. I just go red and get cancer-y.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza?
That's like asking Archie if he prefers Betty or Veronica.

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw?
Driving: yes.
At the movies: sometimes.
At home: Never.
At restaurants: no, but I constantly worry I'm sharing spit with the last person who drank from that glass.
From a bendy straw: I'm not ready for that part of life.
From a crazy straw: As often as I can find one.

22. What did your last text message say?
Incoming: Your Horns are looking a little rough tonight.
Outgoing: That game was RIDICULOUS.

23. What are you doing tomorrow?
Working. Why?

24. favorite color?

25. Look to your left; what do you see?
A TV remote. Beyond that, Jamie.

Bowl Schedule 09-10

Well, the Bowl schedule is up, and UT did manage to land in the National Championship. Pretty cool that two teams I follow (UT and OU) have each had a shot in back to back years.

I am, of course, a Longhorn by academic and professional affiliation. But these days I work with 17 other universities, and so my professional affiliations spread a little outside of that particular scope. But as a sports fan, I bleed orange. Just don't tell anyone.

Its sort of cool to know I will want to watch all five BCS games and a load of non-BCS bowls.

The Rose Bowl on New Years will be the scrappy Ducks versus the Buckeyes, and I think the Ducks stand a darn good chance of winning that one.

The Sugar Bowl (also New Year's Day) will feature the former National Champs and team who was ranked #1 all season against Cincinnati. I watched Cincinnati play three times this year, and I think this could be a surprisingly even match-up.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 4) will feature Boise State (who I don't care about) versus TCU (whom we should ALL care about). TCU will spend the next month whining about how they should have been in the Championship Bowl, so its a chance to see what they've got against a serious challenge.

The Orange Bowl I'll be watching mostly because its on, but GT and Iowa...? Could be fun.

And, of course, my Longhorns in the National Championship. Versus Alabama, who seems superior in so many ways. It's my sincere hope that the Longhorns will embrace their underdog status, just as UT did in the 06 Championship, and play against an over confident Alabama. Or... Alabama could just walk all over my pals Colt and Kindle.

C'est la vie.

Some other bowls I'll consider watching:

12/22 - Oregon State in the Maaco Bowl.
12/26 - Pittsburgh in the Mieneke Car Care Bowl
12/28 - A&M in the Independence Bowl
12/31 - Houston in the Bell Hleicopters Armed Services Bowl
12/31 - Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl
1/2 - Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl
1/2 - Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl

That's a lot of football, but I have a lot of time off from work.

UT (barely) Beats Nebraska: Headed to National Championship Game

(editor's note: This is being written at about 1:30 AM Sunday. If the BCS comes out tomorrow with a different ranking than I expect, and UT is NOT in the championship, I will not be entirely surprised. But it @#$%ing better not be Alabama and Florida)

At this point, I guess it means that the worst ranking UT will pull this year is #2? Which I can hardly complain about. Something tells me the other bowls will be the ones worth watching this year. So if you can't find me end of December - January 7, I'll be camped out and watching football.

Dear TCU Fans,

Hey! Feeling cheated that UT is headed to the National Championship and that you're going to have to play in some other stinky bowl game? Let me introduce you to me, this time last year when Oklahoma got to play in a National Championship game that we knew they weren't going to win while UT pondered how we'd beat those guys...

The BCS is ridiculous. You now have your own taste of it. And let me further instruct you that after watching the Cincy game today and the Alabama game, I sincerely doubt that UT would beat those guys either. But funny thing: UT started out ranked very high, played very well in most games, and won every game. That could be TCU next year if your team isn't a fluke this year.


The League

UT now isn't going off to play in a bowl game with decent ratings that nobody will remember by July. UT is going off to get their asses handed to them by an overwhelmingly superior Alabama. And, I assure you TCU fans... you would not win that game, either, and for the rest of his life Colt McCoy will have to live down the whispers that he (despite breaking school and NCAA records) and his team were always frauds.

I would love to believe UT is going to win against Alabama, and I will be wearing burnt orange the whole week leading to January 7th. But I'm not laboring under any illusions. The divine providence which gave UT a win this evening will most likely not replicate itself in Pasadena.

I'm just glad to follow a team that's strong enough that even when the offense decides to go bonkers for the game, the defense can win it. And if you look at the TAMU game, vice-versa.

Nah. If you want to catch a good bowl game, I'm going to recommend the Ducks in the Rose Bowl, or wherever the hell Cincy winds up. Those guys are insane.

But you can't say UT didn't keep it interesting the past two weeks.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Revisiting The First Posts

League of Melbotis soft-launched in March of 2003.

You can see that first week's worth of posts by clicking here.

Its worth noting that I actually pulled down the League after its first week, then put it back up. I might have saved myself and all of you a lot of time and trouble if I'd just shut it down back then, but then who would have been around to give you lengthy reviews of "Santa Buddies"?

My very first post at this blog?

March 30th, 2003:

Greetings, mortals. This is my very, very first post to this blog. Jim Dedman is a weenie.
posted by Ryan at 10:29 AM

Two years into the Bush presidency and a year and a half out from 9/11, America was in an interesting place. We'd rolled into Iraq in a war that made little sense to me at the time. I did not understand how, if Iraq indeed had the WMD's we said they did, they hadn't lobbed them at our military as they spent a month gearing up on Iraq's borders. I also couldn't begin to guess what the gameplan was for occupying such a large and hostile country in the wake of an invasion.

Well, a funny thing happened...

Those early posts are fascinating to read in the here and now. At the time, I was in a very different place in my life. I had no real reason to believe my parents would find the site, nor anyone else that I not pointed to the site. Blogs were only semi-known as a publishing medium, and I couldn't fathom anyone Googling my name (and once it became clear that was an issue, I began referring to myself in 3rd person as "The League").

Jim and I were passing emails on various political topics back and forth, and looking at some of my opinions now, I don't necessarily think I was wrong, but would certainly address the issues in a different way.

Its also clear the contempt with which I held The Valley of the Sun. Neither Jamie nor myself were very happy when we arrived in Phoenix, and after four years, at best I'd say our opinion didn't improve. With three years behind us back in Austin, the majority of the four years is a blur of long work hours, hospital visits, odd social situations, boredom, and the endless planning necessary for scheduling visits to Austin, Houston and Lawton.

Last night Jamie, Jason and I were watching a Canadian documentary entitled "Cat Ladies" (recommended, btw), which reveals how managing, caring for, rescuing, etc... of cats has become a crutch and coping mechanism for the women in the film (a cop interviewed from the Toronto animal detail states that 99% of the animal hording cases are women).

Its not a huge leap to say that some of my obsession with comics, etc... and, indeed, getting into the habit of blogging stemmed from my own dissatisfaction. At one point, I considered winding up this blog when we returned to Austin because I was aware that the person who was writing this site in Chandler, Arizona would be a bit different from the one who was writing it in Austin. However, in the end, documenting the return and re-engagement with a life we'd left behind (and, of course, the aspects of "you can never go home again" which followed) was all part of it.

By April 2 of 2003, I was already ranting about Superman. Superman, comics and pop culture would immediately begin to overwhelm the conversation at LoM. I've never been particularly comfortable arguing politics, and find it odd that I thought a public website discussing politics was a good idea. But we can talk Superman, or Spidey or the latest movies without faces changing color or people feeling like they absolutely must have the last word.

By April 03, 2009, I was getting into details of the latest releases in comics.

At one point, blogging was still fairly new, and I wondered if LoM wouldn't accidentally find itself a wider audience of comic fans. There were little flirtations as I was linked to from bigger sites such as The Beat once or twice (Heidi is still my gold standard for industry coverage), the old Blog@ Newsarama, etc... Always enough to spike interest for a day or two, but I wasn't able to get any real traction.

Luckily, I had no expectations, just wishful thinking. And I do think that my comic work at Comic Fodder made a dent or two in fandom and saw quadruple digits on a couple of posts.

As I didn't believe my folks or anyone else was reading LoM, the language in those early posts is a bit salty. I don't apologize for that. It was what it was, and once I knew Judy and the KareBear were reading, I cleaned things up a bit, and also learned that "@#$%" is infinitely more satisfying than actual profanity, anyway.

And every time I type it, I think of Sgt. Snorkel from the Beetle Bailey comic strips I read obsessively as a kid, and who I recall first employing the tried-and-true technique.

My first pic of Melbotis appears here.

Leaguers may recall that early on, I didn't have titles on my posts, didn't have a comment section, etc... For years, we used HaloScan, and it was a tough decision to abandon the comment section that was sort of the comments of record. We've used the embedded commenting tool for a few years with great success, but I've since lost the comment the time musician "Meco" showed up in the comments to outline how George Lucas had screwed him on the Star Wars Christmas album, and when I'd complained about a McDonald's commercial and the actor's aunt wrote in to tell me I was a @#$%.

Here's a pic I posted on our 3rd wedding anniversary.

kind of sums it up

We'll be married 10 years in April. Go figure.

Here's my first link to Randy.

Its been a long, strange trip.

It is true that, in part, I am looking to close the blog to close a chapter in my life. Many of the reasons why League of Melbotis sprung into existence have wound down or come to a natural conclusion. We're in a different place in how we're dealing with everything from politics to career to comics. And, of course, we're going to have to dig deep when we return to a few outstanding projects that we promised ourselves we'd do touch on again some day.

Still, I'm glad to have such a long period of my life (6.75 years of the past 34.75. That ain't bad.).

And who knows? We could be back.

This could be cool

I don't know too much about this except what I saw in this video, but there's a show coming on called "Slingers" that looks sci-fi interesting.

io9 had this to say.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Giving Opportunity #2: Heifer International

Here's attempt #2 to find a charitable organization which we can support in the season of giving.

Team Melbotis at Heifer International

Here's a blurb describing Heifer International's general approach to things:

Heifer has learned over the years that a holistic approach is necessary in order to build sustainable communities. So we’ve developed a set of global initiatives – areas of emphasis that must be addressed if we’re to meet our mission of ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth.

Here are some areas Heifer is working in:

Animal Well-Being
Gender Equity
Urban Agriculture
Young People's Initiative

Again, this isn't about the size of a donation. If you can afford $5, that's plenty. I want to see what we can do together. Last year we did quite well with the Red Kettle, and I think we can do even better this year.

-Give here and get your name shown.
-Give here sort of anonymously.

So let's put our money where our mouth is when it comes to this time of year. Let's see what we can do with our hard earned dollars to help out some folks elsewhere who are less fortunate.