Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jamie has her say on 10 Years of Blogging

Jamie and I have been together for over 17 years, married for almost 13.  Of that, 10 years has been spent online.  She really never has to wonder what I'm up to or thinking because: there you go.  Just check the post in the morning.

She's been a sport about her supporting role in this endeavor, and her level of joy at participation waxes and wanes, depending on what's going on.  I will say, I found it pretty hilarious (and telling) that we essentially end our posts the same way.

I have been extraordinarily lucky to team up with a partner who is as patient and understanding not just about my hobbies, but about this endless blogging business of which she's been a part.  She's the light of my life, my north star, all that jazz...  Love you, pumpkin.

When Ryan sent out a request for reflections on his ten years of bloggership, I immediately thought - "what better way to toast the League than the League's own words?".  I decided I wanted to go back through League of Melbotis and The Signal Watch and select the most memorable posts from his impressive run.

Holy smokes, ten years.  Do you have any idea how much material that is? That's a LOT of blogging.  I would have regretted this decision had it not been a joy to comb through the archives in search of my favorite posts.  The hardest part was selection.  My first pass through all ten years netted no fewer than 50 entries.  Fifty seemed a little too much for a "best of" tribute, so I have narrowed it down to 10.

I am well aware that everyone has different opinions and some of my selections may seem strange, but I tried to nail down those posts which I immediately remembered or to which I had a significant emotional response.  So without further ado, in chronological order, I present to you:

10 Posts of Note: A League of Melbotis/ The Signal Watch Retrospective

When Ryan fist started League of Melbotis in April of 2003, we had lived in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler for almost a year, had yet to make any friends aside from one of the guys I worked with, and were gearing up for another soul sucking Arizona summer.  The blog was a great outlet for Ryan's frustration and talent for writing. Some of the more common earlier posts took the form of relaying our outings in and around the Chandler area:

1. The Chandler Jazz Festival

Birdemic 2 in Austin! Join us!

I have secured my ticket for Birdemic 2: The Resurrection for when it makes its Austin debut on April 18th, 2013.

If you would like to join me, I'll be at Lakecreek Alamo on April 18th in seats 5509 and 5510.

Buy your tickets now and do not miss out on this unique experience! 

Birdemic 2!

League of Melbotis: 10 Years of Blogging

March 30th, 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of my blogging habit.  Ten years, something around 5000 posts.  That's just the blogs of which I've been chief proprietor.  I also wrote briefly with other folks at Nanostalgia and at Film Fodder (a paying gig!  I made, literally, about $1.25).

So, I've written and posted a lot.  Big whoop.  Sometimes I wonder if I've a small case of hypergraphia that's gone undiagnosed, but we won't dwell on that here today.

Pushing through the haze and trying to remember why and how...  you start making up stories in your own head to make it sound better.  But it's mostly right there in print.  At the age of 27, looking down the barrel of 28, I kicked off the first blog, League of Melbotis.

this is no fantasy... no careless product of wild imagination...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Horus Kemwer shares some words on the eve of the 10th Anniversary

In the way things go with Horus, I have met him officially once.  We ate food, drank beer and then liquor.  We swapped stories.  I was given a comic series to begin to pursue (Dungeon).  I may or may not have met him previously in a bar in Beaumont, Texas.  Flash Gordon and Superman were involved.  So was RHPT and JimD.  It's hard to say what really happened.

Horus can be found at Against the Modern World.  And sometimes in Hong Kong.

On the 10th anniversary of the League:

There's only one blog which I have consistently read since I started reading blogs 7 or so years ago. There's only one blog I check on a daily basis (sorry JD, shouldn't have gone corporate). There's only one blog I started reading for one type of content (comics) and yet grew attached to the rest (the noir, the family updates, the rants, the pinups). There's only one blog I've ever contributed guest content to.

There's only one person I've ever met first on the internet, then met later in person.

That person is the League and that blog is his - the best all round blog I know.

~ horus kemwer

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Siouxsie Sioux

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Steven Harms on the 10th Anniversary of my Blogging Endeavors

I didn't meet Steven until the fall of 2006.  By that time I had already followed his own blog that he kept at the time, and knew roughly the cut of his jib.  He'd met and fallen madly in love with Lauren.  They'd decided to leave the cool climes of the San Francisco area for the sweltering heat of Texas.  They beat us to Austin by a few months.

Somehow, our paths took some small amount of time before we did cross (I recall getting a note on our door from when Steven and Lauren attempted a surprise visit), and finally we met up for the most Austin of traditions: breakfast out.

Prior to Steven, the only other person I think I'd met who knew me only from my online presence was RHPT, so it was a bit odd.  I didn't know exactly if I'd live up to their idea of who the man behind the pixels might be, and, I assume that - yeah, I have a lot of rough edges.  They didn't run away screaming, so, that seemed decent of them.

At any rate, I was immediately fond of both Steven and Lauren, and until they decided to return to San Francisco, we spend quite a bit of time with them both, and, frankly, I miss having them around.  They're good company.  You should look them up.

Steven doesn't comment often these days, but he was kind enough to send in the following:

On the occasion of your site's anniversary

Most web site fashions are temporary, coming and going with a season or
an era: Huffington Post faded for me after the Bush administration, stopped updating, was overtaken by
refugees, and in its turn I'm sure Facebook will one day be called old
hat. But The League's enterprises: The League of Melbotis and the
Signal have not wavered in terms of my visitation in, I'm surprised to
admit, nearly 10 years. In fact, as I just found out while typing this,
my fingers still have the muscle memory of the original URL

What could make this small, personal blog so entertaining for such a
long time? As mentioned above, bigger, better-funded players have been
killed or committed seppuku in that same time span. What makes The
League's endeavors different? I think it comes down to this: his
site(s) have always been a nice, friendly porches with hot dogs and
spiked Dr. B in red solo cups. They've always been friendly, they've
always been positive and humorous in a vaguely James Thurber fashion,
and the content has always been coming (that is, there was something

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Gillian Anderson

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Everything About Superhero Comics is Wrong - Part 1

As I've transitioned from weekly comic shop junkie who picked up way over his allotted budget in comics every month, who read every article on five comics websites every day, to: guy who stops by the comic shop once a month and is mostly picking up Superman, Daredevil and the occasional other book...  I've been thinking a lot about the American Comic Industry.

The summer movie The Avengers made more money than the GDP of many nations last year*, comic conventions fill 100,000 attendee halls in single cities, and, of all things, Pepper Potts is now a popular character in the zeitgeist.

Most comics sell a few thousand copies per month.  So I'm going to say a few things that are patently obvious, but need to be said.

If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you've heard these sentiments before, but I figured one last, grand parting shot couldn't hurt.

Appealing to adults was woefully misunderstood

When Time Magazine and other arbiters of the zeitgeist were saying things like Watchmen read as, finally, a comic for adults, they weren't talking about boobs and blood.  They were talking about a rich, layered story with characters that had motivations, flaws that couldn't be sorted out with a magic crystal, and who behaved in ways that felt true to experience outside of a comic-book universe.

somehow Dan Didio thought this should lead to his version of "Suicide Squad"

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Michelle Yeoh

Today is Carl Barks' B-Day!

Carl Barks is largely responsible for the Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics as we know them today.  We were lucky enough to also have the amazingly talented Don Rosa pick up where Barks left off, and I am truly in awe of both their efforts.

You'll hear of Carl Barks referred to as "The Good Duck Artist" as, back in the day, all the comics put out by Disney obfuscated the names of the creators.  But fans knew there was one artist working on those comics who was particularly great as artist and storyteller.  They just didn't know the name of the man behind the pen.  Thus, he became known as "The Good Duck Artist".

Born this day in 1901, Barks created great Duck stories, and also worked on other characters, including Barney the Bear.

In recent decades, Barks' name became known and he's now a legend among comic aficionados.  We're lucky to have had Gemstone, Boom! and Fantagraphics collecting his work the past few years, in increasingly lovely volumes.

Here's a bit from "Lost in the Andes".

It's Gloria Swanson's Birthday!

Yesterday we posted our Daily Dose of Good Cheer, showing an image of film star Gloria Swanson.  Well, if I knew her birthday was coming, I'd a baked a cake and moved the post to today.  But I didn't know, and so here we are.

Born this day in 1899, Gloria Swanson is now most famous for her role in the absolutely mesmerizing Sunset Boulevard where she plays Norma Desmond, an aging actress of the silent era, now living in a decaying mansion of ridiculous splendor.  She meets a handsome, younger, out-of-work writer, and, well, things go south from there.

Swanson had never quit acting, and was, in fact, a huge star of the silent era.  But she had faded into the background of Hollywood and did a lot of work in theater.

I cannot imagine the bravery that it took to accept the role of Desmond, but in doing so, she turned in a performance that still resonates through American culture.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

10th Anniversary - You Humans Weigh In

Hi, y'all!  As the 10th Anniversary of this blog approaches, I asked for folks to send in comments about the site.  

On March 30th, 2003, I posted the first missive to The League of Melbotis blog.  I think that post was seen by upwards of three people, including me.  But soon, that number grew!  We now have maybe eight to ten readers!

Over the years we've had a wide range of folks at the site.  Many of have stuck around, most have not.  It's the way of the world.  

What I did not expect, and something I don't think bloggers with audiences in the thousands can appreciate, is that this whole blogging thing can be personal.  It's great to get web-lebrity status, but I've found a lot of joy over the years in having a small audience that I feel like I've gotten to know in comments, over social media, and, occasionally, in person.  I genuinely consider you friends, even if I don't know what you look like or what you like to eat.  

I think Jamie is still working on her post, so we may not be done.  If you other humans want to weigh in, please feel free to send something my way via email or carrier pigeon.

Stuart Ward of Kansas chimed in with:

I can’t remember when I first started reading your blog. I would guess some time in 2010. I read the first few articles because I thought the ‘Signal Watch’ title was clever, and also because I like Krypto (and all he represents, ie the slightly goofier/more colorful/more fun/Silver Agey side of Superman).

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Gloria Swanson

Today is the birthday of Sterling Hayden

from "The Asphalt Jungle"
You probably know Hayden from Dr. Strangelove, where he was worried about fluoride in the water and what it had done to his virility, or The Godfather, where Michael put a bullet in him from a gun he took from a toilet.  Hayden is also the featured player in a couple of my favorite movies, The Asphalt Jungle and The Killing, two great heist movies with a noir core.

Born this day in 1916, Hayden was never overly excited by his Hollywood career, and he was a bit of an odd guy.  When War II broke out, he joined the military and served under an assumed name (in the OSS, no less).  After the war he had communist ties, later named names, and generally seemed to never recover from the overall experience.

He also once ran off with his kids against court order and sailed them to Tahiti.  Literally, he captained the boat.  That was his thing.

Nobody puts Sterling Hayden in a corner.

We salute you, Mr. Hayden.  You always look how I feel.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jamie's B-Day. I made a cake.

This is the Duncan Hines cake I made for Jamie for her birthday.  It was basic yellow cake with frosting out of a can.  I'm not a baker and I don't play one on TV.  This was what I could do with the know-how I've got.  Also, I didn't destroy the kitchen, which I think Jamie appreciated, as I'm also bad at cleaning up the kitchen.

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer (Jamie's Birthday Edition): Kaitlin Olson

In honor Jamie's birthday, today we post the lovely Kaitlin Olson, who plays Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Jamie knows why.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spy Shows, Melodrama, Planet of the Apes

The only TV I had time to watch this weekend was an episode of Archer and a week-and-a-half-old episode of The Americans.  I'm still liking the show well enough, but I kind of think they need to slow it the hell down.  I'm no master spy, but having a new mission every week while you're supposed to be undercover and a sort of sleeper agent feels like a lot of missions.  Perhaps it makes sense in the context of Archer, but I'm cool with long-game sorts of scenarios and letting the domestic issues the show writers seem to want to focus on (and I welcome) broil from episode to episode is fine.

But, really, I have no complaints.

Well, one.  Every episode now seems to end with our leads in their bedroom having a whispery and angry conversation, and it's a bad pattern to get stuck in.  Yes, we need to see these two together, but somehow it reminds me of how Smallville started going downhill when every episode started ending the A Plot with 10-15 minutes left, and spent 10 minutes with Lana and Clark in Clark's barn-loft with Lana making cow eyes at each other and being weepy teens.

If the killer Russian spies turn into Clana, I shall be disappointed.

I also picked up and read the second volume of  a trade of a Planet of the Apes comics series that has to be two or three years old now.  It's well written and fantastically drawn, and, like all POTA stuff, it's also headed somewhere incredibly nihilistic and depressing.  Just showing a world where humans still talk is the start of the end of a world where humans cease talking and become primitive and beast-like by their first appearance in the Cheston films.  And, of course, when you blow up the Earth in the second movie (spoiler?), there's just not really a "and things get better" to be had.*

All of this makes it hard to go seek out the third volume as... I kind of know how all this wraps up.  Hmmm...

Mostly, I worked on Saturday, and today I made a cake for Jamie's birthday.  And then we made dinner.  And now I'm sort of done.  And the weekend is over, and we're starting all over again.

*yes, there are three more films after they blow up Earth.  What of it?

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Peggy Cummins

Happy Birthday to Jamie

Monday (the 25th) is Jamie's birthday.

To celebrate, Saturday we went out to Lucy's Friend Chicken on South Congress and then to Midnight Cowboy Modeling, a former 6th street, uh... modeling location, now a speakeasy bar.

Y'all, I ate so much chicken...  It comes in aluminum buckets.  It's not even fair.

oh, the carnage
A lovely evening out, and kudos to Nicole for driving and organizing.

Jamie isn't getting a present to open on her b-day as we've got tickets to a show later this spring and she's flying out to see Rebecca in a few weeks for some fun in TN.

So, here's some things she likes, all here in a blog post: