episode 154: the middle eastern nation ranking listicle

not to make too much reference to unfortunate events, but today’s article was inspired by three things, not least of which was a day in which, after trying to help attend to a house fire (i am not entirely sure what i accomplished, but hey, never let it be said that i won’t be there for people if their house was on fire), i proceeded to spend the rest of the day drinking a less-than-heroic amount of mixed drinks while watching Lawrence Of Arabia. and this got me to thinking: hey, Lawrence Of Arabia is REALLY, REALLY long! and that is when i vowed to write the longest update ever!

but also, when combined with an alias or two of mine, this document screening i did of a Pakistani named Muhammad Ali (seriously, i can’t make something like that up) and the fact that i resort to lists (or listicles, if you will) in the face of lacking better update ideas… well, hey, why don’t we rank all those middle eastern countries in terms of awesomeness?

HOUSE OF HATE PRESENTS: RANKING THE COUNTRIES OF THE SOMEWHAT AMBIGUOUS “MIDDLE EAST” FOR … UH … WELL, PRETTY CLOSE TO NO REASON AT ALL
but wait, as previously established, i’ve got rules to my shit when i throw down! anyway, since the concept of the “middle east” is somewhat, i think it’s important to discuss the countries that i am disqualifying despite their status as being “a nation once or twice called Middle Eastern.” this may be completely arbitrary and/or random, but fuck it, that’s how these nations got IN in the first place:

01. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia: sorry, dudes, but you’re basically like Russia’s attempt to have Middle Eastern provinces, especially in the case of Georgia; note that i will not allow the birthplace of Stalin to be considered “Middle Eastern” (and if i did, it’d be right off the list, because Stalin sucks). nations of the Caucasus will be called “Asian,” not “Middle Eastern.”
02. Cyprus: seriously, Cyprus? you’re too Greek to get in here. think of yourself as a resort island for people who like “somewhat tense situations akin to civil war.” and where’s your oil? FAKE EDIT: supposedly on the seabed near Lebanon. eh, whatever.
03. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan: didn’t you guys see what i said to Georgia? for crying out loud, you’re Central Asian, not Middle Eastern! postscriptum: hey, Uzbekistan, thanks for helping to create my single favorite moment from Borat.
04. Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti: wow, really reaching here. i demand to know what idiot declared these nations to be Middle Eastern. okay, i will grant that Djibouti is less of a reach because they’re building a bridge from the Middle East to it… but still.
05. “Iranian plateau”: Afghanistan and Pakistan: not only to i object to them being called Middle Eastern, but also, i object to this “Iranian plateau” term; we could at least use “Persian plateau.” anyway, Pakistan is just India where everyone is more about Islam and less about stable government, and Afghanistan… well, does it FEEL Middle Eastern to you?
06. Turkey: okay, i get it, you’re RIGHT THERE and once the Ottomans took over everything they could get their hands on, which included a) Turkey proper and b) essentially the entire Middle East. but guess what, Turks: if you wanted me to call you Middle Eastern, you shouldn’t have made your nation synonymous with “constantly sodomizing prisoners, possibly including Lawrence Of Arabia.” YOU’RE OUT OF HERE!
07. the Maghreb: Morocco, Western Sahara, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Algeria: i get it, there’s a lot of desert and Arabic-appearing nomads in robes and, most important, oil. but you guys are too spread across Africa to be Middle Eastern; also remember that Libya’s “ultimate leader” (to steal a Shanahan descriptor) Gaddafi once famous declared that the Middle East didn’t care about them and that they were henceforth all about Africa and Libya was an African nation and all that. but i WOULD like to extend my warmest affection to the Kabyle smile, which we all know is cooler than a Glasgow grin, no matter how cool the Joker makes it seem. anyway, the list!

Oman
“or, imagine, being able to be magically whisked away to… Oman. hi. i’m in Oman.”

honorable mention: Oman
Oman, it’s like this: counting you, i have 14 countries to rank, so someone has to be the odd (and honorably mentioned) man out. i mean, what can you say about Oman? it’s… well, it’s right there in the Middle East and i never hear anything about it. huh. so you see my situation.

13. Syria
ah, Syria: the one nation that the entire world can basically agree on how much it sucks, which is a lot. actually, i can say in complete seriousness that i have never heard anyone say something nice about Syria, and i have heard people defend Zimbabwe and, even more ridiculously, Stalinist Russia. so this is saying something! also, there’s this chapter in Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut To Jerusalem (a good read, for the record) entitled “Hama Rules” and elaborates on the term which, for the sake of brevity, is all about shedding blood and being super-harsh. if that kind of thing sounds “awesome” … well, okay, Syria’s where the city of Hama USED to be.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Syria: well, i can think of an incident where some bad-ass Syrian commandos took an Israeli stronghold at Mount Hermon, so while i can’t name names, eh, let’s say it’s one of those dudes.
hey, Syria, thanks for: Damascus steel. all you edged-weapon nerds out there know that there are basically four preeminent centers for making the metal for those weapons: Toledo, Solingen, Japan (in general) and Damascus. and that’s about all Syria’s had to offer.

12. Bahrain
not to be confused with the Ridley Scott film “Black Rain,” Bahrain’s proper name (Mamlakat al-Bahrayn) means “the kingdom of the two seas.” something more excellent, like “the kingdom of the trampled bodies of our foes” would probably have helped them get a better rating. yeah, it’s got a free economy and that’s nice, but it’s not AWESOME, you know? plus, women can vote there now, and i don’t think that’s the awesome concept people seem to think it is: you know they’ll just vote for the sheikh who’s best looking! well, maybe not a sheikh, i mean, i don’t know everything about Bahrainian politics.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Bahrain: literally no one springs to mind.
hey, Bahrain, thanks for: uh… letting Michael Jackson flee there so that he wouldn’t molest American children anymore? i mean, it’s SOMETHING.

11. United Arab Emirates
ah, the UAE, home of the ridiculous big spenders of the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. there are also some additional emirates (Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain) who are NOT known for building things like “the most expensive airport EVER” or “the largest shopping mall EVER” or a fucking man-made archipelago of 300 islands that looks like a map of the globe. seriously, what the hell is wrong with these UAE dudes?
baddest dude i can think of that comes from United Arab Emirates: again, i strain to think of someone, but the area WAS once known as the “Pirate Coast” back in the day. so i imagine there were a couple of fiercely bearded Arab pirates there you didn’t want to mess with.
hey, United Arab Emirates, thanks for: well, remember when W was all “it’s not a horrible crime if a UAE corporation runs a port” and everyone in America freaked out about the Arabs? well, Bush and i were apparently the only two people that agreed on this issue, so, UAE, thanks for bringing me and an unpopular president closer together!

10. Qatar
this country’s name may come from an Arab word (qatura) that means “to exude?” seriously? anyway, Qatar is mostly known for two things: being the home of Al Jazeera, the best and/or worst news station ever, depending on who you ask, and being a challenge to pronounce for most Americans. KA-tar? “cutter?” personally, i prefer to refer to it as the “Q-Zone.”
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Qatar: well, Qasim ibn Muhammad Al Thani once crushed a town for “piracy” and chased out Ottomans that subsequently came to depose him, so you know what? he wins by default.
hey, Qatar, thanks for: well, like i said, Al Jazeera. everyone either loves it a lot or hates it a lot, and that kind of heated political and social discourse has NEVER been bad for anyone! okay, fine, i guess i should just say “thanks for additional oil, Q-Zone.”

Hassan-i Sabbah, a notable Iranian
upon hearing that Bushwick Bill had declared himself to be a “motherfucking assassin,” Hassan-i Sabbah decided to roll over in his grave

09. Lebanon
ah, scenic Lebanon: one of those countries we make jokes about being so scenic and beautiful before all the warring factions blew the entire country up. plus, it’s notorious for being the location of a massive bombing that killed Marines, which downgrades Lebanon’s status severely. but they have a cool flag with a cedar on it to make up for that: the red represents the blood spilled through history to attain independence and the cedar is… uh, a cedar.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Lebanon: whatever guy put a fucking CEDAR on their flag and wasn’t immediately stoned to death.
hey, Lebanon, thanks for: well, they tell me that Phoenicians come from what is now Lebanon, and that said Phoenicians are the fathers of all alphabets. and as i have an English degree, i love the alphabet! so that’s cool.

08. Kuwait
you know that tiny little country with that massive amount of oil located under/near it? that’s Kuwait! since they funded Iraq’s war with Iran to some extent and then had the audacity to not immediate forgive the loans (and maybe turn over some land for good measure), i SUPPOSE they had that war coming to them, but i like to give them some solid marks because they’re pretty down with the free press and cosmopolitan culture and all that.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Kuwait: well, frankly, if they were known for having a nation filled with bad dudes (as in, dudes bad enough to rescue the emir of Kuwait), Iraq might not have tried to take all their shit. i think you see where i am going with this. but Kuwait DID give us the basis for Generation Kill’s hilarious translator Meesh, dudes.
hey, Kuwait, thanks for: well, aside from the oil, Kuwait once hosted a spectacular show of light and sound around 1990 or so that gave us hours of entertaining video. so, thanks for that, Kuwait!

07. Iran
Iran mostly serves as a default villain, what with their Persian legions (including the excellently-but-inaccurately-named Immortals) being the stock foes for Greeks throughout the ages, Ahmadinejad currently serving as a top-notch heel for George W. Bush, and even the Joker being granted diplomatic status as their ambassador. i mean, come on, the Joker? seriously, Iran, i doubt he even has any expertise in international relations! oh, wait, i think they retconned Iran into some fictional nation. anyway, the thing is that everyone needs a hilarious villain to seize your embassies and talk nonsense, so, in effect, that Joker thing was appropriate because Iran is American’s Joker. they just better not take naked photos of our paralyzed daughters!
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Iran: though some dispute the actual shadiness of his historical record, Hassan-i Sabbah still remains the dude from Qom who’s known for founding that whole Hashshashin thing that is known for being the basis for our word “assassin” and which gets credit for knocking off numerous historical figures and/or fucking with Saladin himself. at least thank him for inspiring that Assassin’s Creed game. i heard it was short but rocked regardless.
hey, Iran, thanks for: okay, the basis for one of my running jokes (and the title(s) of my mixtapes) is that Iran had a military operation during the Iran-Iraq War called Operation Undeniable Victory, which turned out to be just a successful but small part of a war that no one really won. so, thanks for that awesome title, Iran!

06. Iraq
Iraq seems to mostly specialize in being in the news for the wrong reasons: invading countries, invading other countries, absorbing a massive amount of America-dropped munitions, that whole thing about Saddam Hussein and his kids being out of control, and so on. hell, Iraq’s even managed to up their “number of times we’ve lost a war” count by jumping on conflicts that were supposed to be unfair fights with Israel that ended in tears. still, i will always have a soft spot for the land of Abd al-Baqi Abd al-Karim Abdallah, whose likeness i supposedly resemble, thus resulting in me getting the “Five Of Diamonds” nickname at work.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Iraq: Saladin (or, if you prefer, Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub). oh, i don’t know, he was only just about the best military commander of all time, which makes you a pretty bad dude. what, you thought i was going to run with Saddam Hussein here or something? i mean, i guess i could have gone with Gilgamesh, but i hear he might not have been 100% real. like, wasn’t he immortal and/or known to fight fucking DRAGONS? that shit never happened!
hey, Iraq, thanks for: dear Iraq, thank you for allowing us to use your country to train a couple of generations of American combat personnel in actual combat situations to increase their efficiency! also, i heard civilization comes from Mesopotamia, so thanks for that as well!

Auda abu Tayi
“does Auda serve? does Auda abu Tayi serve? i carry twenty-three great wounds, all got in battle! seventy-five men have i killed with my own hands, in battle! i scatter, i burn my enemies’ tents! i take away their flocks and herds! the Turks pay me a golden treasure… yet i am poor! because i am a river to my people.”

05. Egypt
ah, Egypt, land of supposedly the only human creation that would remain visible 10,000 years after us if we were all wiped out suddenly: the pyramids. and i guess those pyramids are pretty cool. plus, their leaders apparently constructed a massive system of tunnels and traps to amuse and confuse old British men with glasses and short pants for years and years during their search for “gold” and “additional gold in the form of death masks.”
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Egypt: so, the story goes that at Kadesh, Rameses II was surrounded by foes (in this case, Hittites) and cut off from the Egyptian lines (possibly by being deserted by his men)… so he killed almost ONE HUNDRED Hittites SINGLE-HANDEDLY before returning to his men uninjured. now, granted, one of the sources for this is Rameses II and he also claims to have had help from gods (which would make the feat slightly less impressive)… but still, you go kill one hundred men and show him up. plus, in that movie where he was played by Yul Brynner and took issue with Charlton Heston, he takes a nonchalant attitude towards fighting a god. so there’s that as well.
hey, Egypt, thanks for: okay, so, i know i am supposed to thank Egypt for being the birthplace of all kinds of agriculture and writing and society, plus all those ancient artifacts. and everyone loves mummies! well, at least until they watch Mummies Alive or whatever the fuck the show was called and get incredibly bitter. still, i must mostly thank Egypt for being the place this CRAZY fucking lamp i have had since i was little came from. it’s way colorful and pro-Muslim and out of control. thanks again, Egypt!

04. Jordan
i’m going to be frank and say that i’m giving Jordan high marks because they always seem to be the country that wants its neighbors to just mellow the fuck out and behave, such as in the cases of “hey, why don’t you guys just chill and recognize Israel” and “hey, why don’t you guys just chill and not be crazy fedayeen.” they have, like, a positive mental attitude. and i dig that. they also had the cooler name of “Transjordan” at one time, which i really miss.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Jordan: Auda ibu Tayi. does Auda serve? NO! seriously, Jordan achieves a major blow by having the man who is clearly the most bad-ass dude in Lawrence Of Arabia actually hail from Jordan (by virtue of being a Howeitat). you can note his most spectacular declaration of awesomeness (which i cannot personally top) above; i think he also plays some random Arabic version of the dozens in that film, which is just cool.
hey, Jordan, thanks for: like i said, that positive mental attitude. hey, someone in the Middle East has GOT to be chilled out occasionally.

03. Saudi Arabia
ranked third is the country that figures prominently in films like the Kingdom, which mostly impart the message that “SA has a lot of oil” and “SA is full of mostly good dudes and a couple of royal assholes,” with the royal there being more about the degree of their asshole behavior and not about their princely status.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Saudi Arabia: i should probably roll with Muhammad on this one: he conquered shit, he founded Islam, and he inspired countless unoriginal people to name their children after him. however, he talked shit about dogs and was pampering of cats, which leads me to believe he may have sucked at life more than most Muslims believe. so i’m going to run with Abu Bakr: he was Muhammad’s buddy, he was the first caliph, he dominated the shit out of numerous adversaries, and you could play him in Civilization III (though i prefer the Saladin of Civ4, i’m just saying).
hey, Saudi Arabia, thanks for: okay, so this is the country i was saving “all that oil” for. thanks again, Saudi Arabia: my Civic doesn’t require that much of it, but it loves your oil! also, good job keeping Mecca clean and all that.

02. Israel/Palestine
that’s right, i am sidestepping the thorny issue of “what’s the deal with Palestine not being its own country” by just claiming it’s all one big, friendly, loving nation. now if only all those Israelis and Palestinians could do this… anyway, we all know that Israel has to get a solid ranking because they control all Americans, and frankly, i think the Dolphin-submarine-enhanced Samson Option is pretty cool.
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Israel/Palestine: didn’t Jesus come from around here? well, if he did, who cares, because Moshe Dayan killed a lot more people (though often indirectly), and he had a much cooler eyepatch. his runner-up would probably be one of the Olympians who fought it out with the terrorists in 1972 (Moshe Weinberg or Yossef Romano), which mostly proves that guys named Moshe will fight like crazy to avenge their nerdy-sounding name. also, i think those Operation Wrath Of God guys are overrated, despite the awesome name for their operation.
hey, Israel/Palestine, thanks for: well, Israel provided me with this sweet Jericho pistol (something that makes me overlook the whole Desert Eagle thing), and that’s awesome. and Palestine… well, thanks for making the kaffiyeh socially-popular attire, even with Rachel Ray. kaffiyehs are excellent… though not as excellent as a fine-quality pistol.

welcome to Yemen
“just as you have your tie, the Yemeni will carry his gun.” amen, brother.

01. Yemen
the champion of this list belongs to the Middle Eastern nation that infamously came in second to the US on that small arms ownership thing in 2007 that, frankly, struck me as bullshit (it’s based on “known” firearms), but i’m not going to hold that against Yemen. as Robert Kaplan once said, it’s possible that Yemen has more assault rifles per capita than any other nation. gentlemen, we have ourselves a winner!
baddest dude i can think of that comes from Yemen: okay, TECHNICALLY, Avigdor Kahalani was an Israeli, but his parents were off the boat (or whatever) from Yemen and other Israeli personnel used to direct racial slurs at him all the time. and then he helped kill a shitload of tanks for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. so, uh, he wins!
hey, Yemen, thanks for: all those sweet jambiyas! i got mine as a young man (huh, this doesn’t help that “he looks like UBL” nonsense) and it still rules; it’s good for making your waist look audacious and, also, settling disputes. also, uh, apparently a lot of guys like chewing khat, so i am sure they appreciate its export.

so, there it is: Yemen rules! and i used the word “seriously” a LOT in this update. seriously.

after seven minutes, this song is still going on? really?

so i’m not sure why seven minutes is the magic number that makes a song go from “wow, what a good song” to “wow, this song is fucking long as hell,” because even though someone once told me that “god is seven,” they also had a thesis that man was five and, frankly, i’m not sure where they were going with that. so let’s just assume that this “seven minutes = wow, long” thesis is solid and talk more about that and less about random references to Pixies songs that i think most people i know will overlook.

ANYWAY, the exact opposite of a Ramones song that makes you think “wait, Blitzkrieg Bop is over already?” is the seven-minutes-and-counting song that makes you wish it WASN’T so good because it’s become such an investment of time that you’re not sure how much you can listen to the damn thing. we’ve all got out own lists of the most excellent songs in this range, but since mine is surely the most accurate, hey, let’s get right to it.

HOUSE OF HATE PRESENTS: THE 13 BEST SONGS OVER SEVEN MINUTES IN LENGTH
but wait, i’ve got rules to my shit when i throw down:

01. no band gets more than one gigantic song on this list, so as to prevent as those sweet-as-hell jazz fusion bands from dominating this list. for example, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin have a couple of contenders for their long-ass songs, but it really wouldn’t be fair to make this list all about how the Rolling Stones dominate the songs over seven minutes in length realm;

02. the following songs are automatically disqualified from being on this list:
–Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” it’s the stereotypical long rock song, we get it, whatever.
–Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven.” granted, if i put a different Zeppelin song below i am allowed to bump it, but then we have to debate if it’s better than “Stairway.” you know what? fuck “Stairway.” it rocks and Tenacious D used it to defeat a demon and all, but it’s just too popular.
–Don McLean’s “American Pie.” not because Madonna ruined it, but because it (like the previous two) are just too stereotypical.

hey, it’s my list. so let’s do this thing!

Mariner's Revenge Song
it even looks completely ridiculous WITHOUT the giant whale props being seen

honorable mention: the Decemberists – “the Mariner’s Revenge Song” (8:45)
i must admit that this is the song that kicked all this off, what with myself and the Irish sidekick drinking some Yuengling beers and said sidekick demanding i rock this tune. it’s ridiculously long and prominently features a tale of destruction (and improbably survival) at the hands of a whale. and if anyone can appreciate whales and/or revenge, it’s an English major who loves the hell out of Moby-Dick. and that would be me. anyway, this song isn’t really beloved by me enough to make the cut, but fuck it, i figure i would shout it out for inspiration reasons. oh, and shout out to Yuengling for being one of the biggest two AMERICAN brewers. fuck yeah!

other honorable mentions:
–the Beatles – “Hey Jude”: i so wanted to include a Beatles song on this list to annoy people, but it just didn’t even happen, not even after 7:08 of mellow rock;
–the Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing”: rules and clocks in at about 8:26, but is always truncated these days because people are apparently afraid to play the “that little faggot” verse;
–Nine Inch Nails “We’re In This Together”: uh, yeah, it’s like 7:01 long and it rocks and this was the first time i realized exactly how long it is, which is weird because, like i said, it rocks.

oh, yeah, the list!

If There's Hell Below
they say don’t worry, worry, worry, worry … or so i hear, but i’m pretty concerned about this “we’re all going to hell” concept, Curtis

13. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird” (10:06)
okay, since this is the OTHER stereotypically too-long-for-modern-rock-radio song, i’m going to throw on here and get it out of the way. despite their devoted legions of beer-swilling redneck fans, i’ve never been the biggest fan of Skynyrd (someone once told me that “Saturday Night Special” was an anti-gun anthem, so they can go ahead and fuck themselves), but even i have to admit that “Free Bird” is pretty cool. plus, i can always praise the ridiculous use of it in the Devil’s Rejects.

12. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (11:05)
yes, i am familiar with the notion that a) this isn’t their song originally and b) you could argue that Marvin Gaye did it better. however, Creedence Clearwater Revival has been known to rock hard on occasion and i really don’t want to see them sneaking onto a list like this through the questionable virtues of a song like “Ramble Tamble.” i mean, okay, “Ramble Tamble” is cool and all, but it’s not as good as “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” that’s all.
other songs bumped by this track: uh… “Ramble Tamble” (7:12), i guess?

11. Billy Joel – “Goodnight Saigon” (7:02)
Smilez hates when i mention his name, but one thing that he and Chuck Klosterman agree on is that Billy Joel is a misunderstood genius. or maybe neither of them thinks THAT exactly, and they just think he rocks, in which case, whatever, the thing all three of us agree on is that Billy Joel gets a bad rap because he dropped shit like “River Of Dreams.” regardless, “Goodnight Saigon” is one of those early “it’s okay to praise Vietnam vets even if you didn’t like the war” moments, which is nice, and i think the song is well done. and, ridiculously enough, i’ve seen Billy Joel perform it live, which mostly just says something about my youthful concert-going.

10. Curtis Mayfield – “If There’s Hell Below” (7:44)
i have stated before that Curtis Mayfield once created the single most upbeat song of all time (his “Move On Up,” which just sounds fucking HAPPY and is completely infectious), and what i really, really love about “If There’s Hell Below,” beyond its crazy two-stage intro, is that is takes this completely negative lyrical message – the world sucks, no one cares about doing shit about it and/or is making it actively worse, and if hell even exists, everyone is fucking going – and sets it to a secretly upbeat tune. it’s sort of like “the world sucks, we don’t give a fuck about it, we’re all going to hell … and that’s cool, because we have that shit coming!”
other songs bumped by this track: “Right On For The Darkness” (7:25)

Jesus Built My Hotrod
LET’S HIT THE FUCKING ROAD

09. Derek & the Dominos – “Layla” (7:08)
now, just for the record, this is a rockin’ tune and it’s certainly way better than the lamer, slower, old-man version of the song that Eric Clapton recorded as Eric Clapton or whatever. it’s a good song and it’s all about unrequited love and that’s cool too. but to be fair, the reason why “Layla” forces its way onto this list has a lot to do with the fact that the piano coda – something so awesome that Martin Scorsese put it alone, without the rest of the song, on his Goodfellas soundtrack – is one of the best pieces of music ever written. and it was written randomly and largely by a guy who would later kill his mother with a hammer, no less! only in America!

08. Ministry – “Jesus Built My Hotrod (Redline/Whiteline Version)” (8:13)
a very tough call, because i could call the track bumped here (“So What”) my favorite Ministry track of all time and feel wrong about that, but the redline/whiteline version of this song is just so utterly packed with insane samples that i have to bow my head to the excellence behind “no man with good car needs to be justified!” still, if you ask me this again next week, i’m putting “So What” in this exact spot. clearly, there’s conflict here.
other songs bumped by this track: “So What” (8:13), “Attack Ships On Fire” (7:42), though technically, that’s a Revolting Cocks song AND the live version of said song.

07. Flogging Molly – “Black Friday Rule” (7:01)
Flogging Molly is not my favorite “crazy drunken micks” band – generally, i tend to prefer the Pogues and the Dropkick Murphys, in that order – and i know my Irish sidekick’s had to absorb many negative remarks directed at his pro-Flogging Molly attire. sadly, this attire was lost in a fire. hey, that rhymes! anyway, all this being said, “Black Friday Rule” is a kick-ass song and it just keeps going and going and going and since “continuous amount of rock and/or roll” is my prime criteria…

06. the Rolling Stones – “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (7:15)
since most of you kids don’t listen to albums like Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers these days, you probably know this song from the supremely awesome moment in Casino when Joe Pesci is talking about starting his own crew in Las Vegas and then, as the camera pans across his ridiculous face (i’m not saying he looks like a joke or anything, it’s just the expression and the composition of the shot and everything), “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” rips into effect and makes me want to immediately rewind and review this moment. plastic boots and cocaine eyes indeed!
other songs bumped by this track: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (7:32)

Won't Get Fooled Again
i believe the phrase you’re looking for to describe this is “conspicuous consumption”

05. Grand Funk Railroad – “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)” (9:47)
more than just a cool name, Grand Funk Railroad dropped one of my favorite tunes to drive around in my car to: “I’m Your Captain.” not only is it yet another song we’re praising tonight that rocks a tortured nautical narrative, but also, Grand Funk allowed provided us with all those jokes from that episode of the Simpsons where Homer, pouring out his love for Grand Funk (who you can consult books on at your local library, it would seem), drops one of my favorite lines of all time: “the competent drum work of Don Brewer?”

04. Led Zeppelin – “When The Levee Breaks” (7:06)
like a lot of young guys who once listened to classic rock, yeah, i went through the phase where you think Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock band ever to live. now that i know better, i admit that i sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction to people espousing such a belief, and have been known to talk shit about Zeppelin in response. so when i need to remember how awesome they actually are, this is the song i listen to… and IMMEDIATELY, i feel bad about the sassafras and settle in for the excellent rock music. and even taking “Immigrant Song” into consideration, Zeppelin has never been heavier or better. yeah, that’s right, i’m saying “When The Levee Breaks” is better than “Stairway To Heaven.” what the fuck are you going to do about it?
other songs bumped by this track: “In My Time Of Dying” (11:04, and it’s a shame to bump this), “Kashmir” (8:27), the aforementioned “Stairway To Heaven” (8:00)

03. the Who – “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (8:33)
we touched on this before, but in case you forgot, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” contains the moment where Roger Daltrey unleashes THE greatest rock scream of all time; you can find it at roughly 7:45 in the song, and i think that once Daltrey dies, this scream will get him canonizing as it continues to make the blind see and the lame walk even from BEYOND HIS GRAVE. anyway, spooky ghost healings aside, the Who love to tease me with 5-6+ minute songs that don’t quite make it over the line, so “Won’t Get Fooled Again” has a surprising lack of competition (in terms of length, anyway) from their catalog. oh well!
other songs bumped by this track: “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (7:10)

02. Pink Floyd – “Dogs” (17:04)
once, i read a list talking about awesome rock songs of great length and it had the audacity to list “Sheep” as the single great Pink Floyd song of that length. now, granted, “Sheep” is a good song. still, perhaps people are taken aback by the 17 minute, 4 second uppercut that is “Dogs” and start thinking it’s actually a series of shorter tracks, but let me break it down for you: it’s not. and now, an anecdote to explain the ranking: having seen Roger Waters perform “Dogs” live, i have to say that it was one of those transcendent moments where when he’s finally wailing out the whole “dragged down by the stone” thing, you come back to reality and think “holy shit, was that just seventeen minutes? it felt like no time at all and all time ALL AT ONCE.” and, to be fair, i was sober at the time.
other songs bumped by this track: “Sheep” (10:18), “Time” (7:04), “Us And Them” (7:49)

Do You Feel Like We Do
yeah… so i’m defending the song, not this whole album cover thing

01. Peter Frampton – “Do You Feel Like We Do?” (14:17)
okay, so, you kids probably most know Peter Frampton from that episode of the Simpsons where Sonic Youth raids his cooler and Homer ruins his inflatable pig and Otto isn’t impressed with Frampton’s talking guitar because his shoes are talking. and that’s great, but you’re missing out on one awesome song (that includes a talking guitar, no less): “Do You Feel Like We Do?” now, before you point out that this song clocks in at a mere 6:44 on the album Frampton’s Camel (yeah, well, the 1970s were a rough time for album titles), i’ll point out to YOU that that was a short, edited-down version, but fine, if you like, then consider this entry the live version. anyway, this is THE 7+ minute song that i will sit in my car and listen to in its entirety no matter where i am or what i am supposed to be doing. oh, and that’s certainly not the reason i was late to that important thing i was supposed to get done. yeah… not at all.

oh, and just a mention of two songs that didn’t make this list (aside from anything awesome i really honestly forgot): Elton John’s “Funeral For A Friend” and Metallica’s “One.” i know two people who swear by the awesomeness of these tunes, but hey, what do you know?

great “fuck it” moments in military history: bayonet edition (with unrelated video)

now, i generally spend most of my time insulting the “fuck it” approach to one’s business, and mainly in terms of the great lack of success that Eddie Murphy’s latest bomb Meet Dave, which, incidentally, has made about $11 million from an estimated $60 million budget. oh, Eddie Murphy, your failures fill my heart with cheer. which really shouldn’t happen, because Delirious and Raw remain hilarious to this day. eh, talking about Eddie Murphy always starts off nice and funny, but then things get depressing.

ANYWAY, the point is that this “fuck it” concept might not work so well in terms of blockbuster comedy careers, but that it does actually pan out on occasion in terms of random incidents from military history, some of these involving the use of the finest retort to a guy with a rifle capable of shooting you from hundreds of yards away: a bayonet of significantly shorter reach. and this is what we’re discussing this week.

Joshua Chamberlain
with a mustache like that, it was only a matter of time before Chamberlain was directing people to give other people the sweet taste of bayonet

1865: Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

since the US Civil War is notorious for a) poor decision making by generals with FANTASTIC beards and b) lots of people charging into bullets in what HAD to seem like a bad idea (or ideas) at the time, it only stands to reason that at least once during its span, someone would declare “fuck it” and take after people with bayonets. though it probably would have made more sense for someone to attack Ambrose Burnside with one (sparing that sweet beard, of course) prior to a battle… but i digress.

at Gettysburg one such event would occur when, defending Little Round Top (a hill, not a circus), Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine would find themselves repeatedly attacked by guys from Alabama purporting to be some kind of military unit, all the while running out of ammunition and having to contend with a command staff that featured such excellent generals as… uh… George Meade? he was okay, i guess. anyway, Chamberlain would phrase in a more classy way than i – “at that crisis, i ordered the bayonet” – but the end result was the same: a bunch of Yankees in too many layers of wool clothing yelled “fuck it” and went swinging through said former residents of Alabama, causing them no great benefit.

later, the US would award Joshua Chamberlain its highest award: to be played in movies by actor Jeff Daniels. oh, he also got a Medal of Honor or something, but come on… we’re talking about Jeff freaking Daniels!

Daniel Daly (or, at least, his grave)
some say Dan Daly lies buried beneath this commemorative tombstone, but others say he died not, but rather, still goes wandering through the night, keeping up the fight, and so on

1918: Battle of Belleau Wood, France

by 1918, it was probably common knowledge to anyone familiar with World War I (or as it was then called, “the Great War” or “the War To End All Wars That Also Inadvertently Probably Started An Additional And Bloodier War”) that charging at people with machine guns wasn’t an especially successful strategy, something that gets exponentially more difficult when said guns are manned by Germans that have broken into your country and smashed shit up and are now afraid that YOU will break THEIR shit the same way.

but while the US was apparently willing to help out the British and French (mostly to gain 90+ years of bragging that “we saved your asses in WWI”), we apparently forgot to make a note of that whole “machine guns can be trouble” thing, and thus, a large amount of Marines found themselves charging across wheat fields and woods at, shockingly, Germans with machine guns. now, granted, this qualifies as a bad life decision, perhaps, but not a true “fuck it” moment… until we get to a little later in the battle, when Daniel Daly would urge a bunch of pinned-down Marines on with the notable quotable “come on, you sons-of-bitches! do you want to live forever?” the answer apparently being “not really,” said Marines would then go on to bayonet the fuck out of some Germans.

some years later, Harry Truman would make some salty remarks about the popularity of Marines, which really just makes one think that he should have said “fuck it” and bayoneted some Germans if he didn’t want to be solely remembered for being “that president that nuked Japan.”

British soldiers supposedly charging
uh… well, in lieu of a relevant picture, please pretend that these pictured soldiers are more “charging the enemy fiercely” and less “leaping through the air as if dancing, dancing, DANCING to victory”

2004: Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders bayonet charge, Iraq

one of the things about the bayonet that keeps happening is that people declare it’s been outdated since, say, the US Civil War, which then, apparently, prompts some British guys to go wild and stab the living hell out of people with them … or at least attempt to, anyway, because the evidence suggests that even in the modern age, people don’t like to catch a bayonet in the face or crotch or whatever. still, for some time there, even the British weren’t able to rush at people with bayonets anywhere except the Falklands, also known as “Britain’s Grenada.”

…until about 2004 or so, when those Highlanders were attacked by Sadr’s Mahdi Army near Amarah while attempting to rescue some colleagues and, when confronted by a lot of insurgents shooting at them and the like, these Scottish guys decided that the most appropriate course of action was to charge them with bayonets. because, as we all know, it’s not like the British military has any idea of what can happen when you charge at people who can shoot at you automatic weapons. somehow, however, this worked out, which, frankly, is just going to encourage them to do this again.

so that’s that: bayonets are awesome, if totally short-ranged and probably obsolete, and sometimes it works out when you just say “fuck it” and stab someone with them. next time we’ll try to theme this around something more exciting, like horses or planes or what have you.

bonus unrelated video

also, i don’t usually do the whole “post embedded YouTube videos” thing here because a) most everything i view has been on 13000 blogs already and b) like, you know, that’s not really the thing that i do … but what the fuck, this one achieves the rare goal of “making me smile.” now, a warning to the white people: if you have no love in your heart for M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” (or the ability to grow to love said song), this joke won’t make much humor happen for you.

the Wire got scammed again, or HILTSWAHTE (includes pictures of a pistol)

so, something i probably should have addressed at the time: the Wire proceeded to get fucked over by the Emmys again and, to a lesser extent, by HBO itself. now, granted, i’m a little behind the times on this (the snub officially came in mid-July), but that doesn’t mean i can’t still be totally outraged about this. i can be outraged by anything! at any time i like! and i don’t really even have to care that much about the topic! and i have done this kind of thing on command before! and i really like using exclamation points right now! but, if i may focus, here we go with the complaining:

target of janklowvian rage #1: the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

Bodie, still waiting patiently for the nomination that will never come
the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences really wanted to have a Wire cast member up for an award, they swear, i mean, it’s not like they can’t relate to black actors starring on a show set in Baltimore or anything

first off, guys, way to have a name so pretentious that it literally turns my stomach. secondly, my beef with you boils down to two things: 1) you neglect to give a good show even a CHANCE at a notable award (the Wire didn’t make the short list for anything but “outstanding writing for a drama series”) and 2) the stuff making the list is totally bullshit in comparison. what’s the list? well, apparently, it consists of “Boston Legal” (ABC), “Damages” (FX), “Dexter” (Showtime), “House” (FOX), “Lost” (ABC), and “Mad Men” (AMC).

okay, now to be fair, i haven’t ever watched Damages or Mad Men, and i hear really good stuff about the latter. further, i think that Dexter, while over-hyped because it’s a guilty pleasure of a bloody show, is a good program and a VAST improvement on the books. seriously, i could go on and on about how Showtime turned mediocre books that only get worse and worse as they go along into a FAR superior television program, but i’ll restrict it to this: i think the third book implied Dexter had magical powers. seriously. we’ll do this another time; we can discuss our positions on plot and character changes and whether or not Jennifer Carpenter is a disagreeable choice for a lead actress (there is some debate about this) and whether or not i remind people of the title character in this show. okay, well, maybe not the last one. that’s creepy.

ANYWAY, so Damages, Mad Men and Dexter get a pass. but this still leaves us with the other three. Boston Legal flat-out sucks. SUCKS. this might be one of those things whether i find their major characters (i’m looking at you, Spader and Shatner) just unamusing, but seriously, there’s no way this is better than the Wire. Lost, well, is simply the most overrated show in the history of television, and you know i’m not someone prone to hyperbole. random shit that has no explanation isn’t “clever!” not planning out your plot in advance isn’t “smart!” killing off Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is just fucking WRONG (and that’s about where OZ lost me as well)! and as for House… well, i don’t have the rage for a show my sidekick and i once re-titled “Lots Of Sarcastic Doctors And Also, Some Omar Epps, If You’re Into That Sort Of Thing,” but again, it’s simply not in the same league as the Wire.

and don’t get me started on the lack of actor nominations.

now, i will concede that there’s obviously some degree of taste involved here – Boston Legal and Lost would probably never have been “my kind of shows” – but it strikes me that a body that did its best to proverbially deep-throat the additionally proverbial rotting sex organ of the Sopranos last year with 15 FUCKING NOMINATIONS could throw the Wire more of a bone when it’s completing its run. hell, it could easily have been nominated for best drama series, lost to fucking Lost, and at least have met us halfway. but all this being said, let’s move on to:

target of janklowvian rage #2: HBO

scenic fucking Baltimore
oh, NOW i get it, HBO, it’s that sets like this are so ridiculously expensive as to prevent you from funding those additional three episodes

thesis statement: plainly put, i think you guys make poor life decisions. now let’s get into why i think that.

so the thing here is that HBO’s long been this cable network that could put out shows that couldn’t be shown on broadcast television for content reasons, and thus, in theory, could put out edgier but BETTER shows, right? at least, sort of, because no one is mistaking Cathouse and Real Sex for anything of value. the whole theory there is not very accurate and the shows have been hit or miss (Arli$$ is a miss, it’s name coming from an ancient Arabic word “arliss” meaning “terrible fucking show featuring Robert Wuhl, who Allah commands us to wage holy war against”), but still, HBO has given us some classic programs of what i will call “real value”: stuff like the Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood and the Wire. i don’t like Six Feet Under. deal with it.

however, i don’t think HBO has handled these shows all that well. the Sopranos, for all its solid quality for the first four years, was allowed to drag on for three more seasons (if a fifth Wire season gets cut down and still counts, then that fucking season 6, part 2 of the Sopranos is now “season 7”) during which time, despite the decreased quality, HBO pushed that show out there for award after award and spoiled the hell out of the cast. look, James Gandolfini might be a great guy, but watch all seven seasons back to back (something i did recently, god only knows why): the latter years are all caricature of a person we saw earlier and who was fictional in the first place. listen to that accent! Edie Falco isn’t that good of an actress! and THIS is what HBO puts up for Emmy contention?

now Rome, okay, had legitimate financial issues, but take Deadwood and the Wire: the former is an admittedly expensive show that HBO pushed and pushed to kill to replace with the much cheaper John From Cincinnati… which was canceled immediately after its first season ended. yes, okay, Deadwood DID get put up for and win Emmys, i’ll grant that, but its end was handled rather shabbily (and the same could probably be said for just about any other series someone liked on HBO, really). and the Wire itself saw its last season chopped down from 13 episodes to 10… and Simon had to argue for those, because HBO wanted less (7, i think). in return, he’s made Generation Kill… which HBO also demanded be cut down to a shorter run of episodes. the Sopranos can be endlessly indulgent with those stupid fucking dreams and HBO begs for more episodes, but the Wire can’t get an additional THREE episodes to end the run – and at that point, that was it, there wasn’t going to be an additional season – of one of the most dense shows out there? fucking bullshit.

so whatever, the Academy sucks and hates actors that live on the east coast and shoot programs in Baltimore and HBO isn’t thankful for what it has got. i’ll calm down now, i swear.

oh, and incidentally, i figured that it wasn’t worth writing out the whole How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Hate The Emmys thing there in the title because a) ridiculousness on THAT level makes even your hero janklow pause and think about if it’s worth it (probably not) and b) come on, like anyone will get the Dr. Strangelove reference. this isn’t college where people watch movies and give a shit about shit. this is, as Angela Bassett would scream into your face, “real time, you hear me, real time!” and people might get this reference with more ease if Fatboy Slim had sampled THAT quote instead of the one immediately proceeding it. yeah.

uh… what about pistols?
oh, yeah, and now, in standard house of hate news: the newest member of the family has come home today. children, say hello to your new brother, the SIG P226. yes, i know that this is not a new and exciting selection, but a) the name of the game was getting a 9mm to plink with because my love affair with .40 S&W has gone on long enough and b) hey, i didn’t own a SIG yet. on the down side, now my Israeli pistol is outnumbered by German pistols 2-to-1.

KMFDM would say something about german engineering here

and in totally unrelated matters, though, actually, they’re not totally unrelated because of the birthday connection, my sibling likes to specialize in gifts that i would never have thought i wanted but which are so ridiculous that i suppose i shouldn’t debate it; past members of this gift hall of fame include my infamous “sassy” pillow and that Willow DVD that i reviewed here after watching it two too many times. and now we have the latest addition: the Snak Shack.

now with 100% more golden honey

it’s supposedly something for my ridiculous pigs to get inside of and eat at the same time, but there’s one problem with that theory (not counting the fact that my pigs can’t actually fit inside it): it looks way too nice to feed to a rodent. look at that thing! it’s made of fresh alfalfa and golden honey and features things like a “natural wood look” and a “handmade thatched roof.” seriously, i cannot feed this thing to those little bastards; instead, i shall be converting it to the role of “possibly tasty modern art.” also, seriously, people are employed making roofs for rodent snak shacks by hand? really? huh.

random movie reviewing: Hellboy II, the Dark Knight

so during my brief vacation from myself (or, at least, my vacation from being sober and working and not buying guns), i did manage to fit in a viewing of two summer films that a) i have been waiting to see for some time and b) didn’t suck as bad as that fourth Indiana Jones fiasco: Hellboy II and the Dark Knight. there may have been mention of these plans in a previous update. ANYWAY, now that i have seen them, it’s time for some reviewing of said films!

Hellboy II: the Golden Army

Hellboy II
“don’t mess with me, lady. i’ve been drinking with skeletons.”

ah, sweet Hellboy, everyone’s favorite well-meaning demon who loves pancakes and dog-related shenanigans (as a youth, anyway), you’ve got a sequel for me! given that Revolution Studios folded and Sony passed on the sequel, i suppose i DO owe Universal a debt of gratitude for stepping up and making this film happen (though they undoubtedly have green lit a remake or something else that pisses me off, it’s the nature of the beast). and since i do want another sequel featuring Bruce Campbell as Lobster Johnson (a phrase that should need no explanation to be noted as containing awesomeness), i need you losers to step up and throw your money after mine into Universal’s pockets.

direction (Guillermo del Toro)
i have been describing this film as “(Hellboy)x(Pan’s Labyrinth)” because it’s clear that del Toro went totally berserk with the fantasy and the faeries and everything here, so if you liked the look of that film, previous Hellboy aside, you should go nuts for this one. and this was all with the blessing of Mignola, of course, so fanboy cries should be muted here. anyway, i don’t want to be totally redundant here, but del Toro is Spanish for “excellent direction, with just a touch of weird character design.”

acting (starring Ron Pearlman and Selma Blair, i guess, star power is muted here)
–Pearlman remains the best choice ever for Hellboy, though, in fairness, this is mostly because he doesn’t require makeup to play roles like “a devil” and “a caveman” and “whatever space mutant he was supposed to be in Alien: Resurrection, because he certainly doesn’t look like a human.”
–it’s interesting that they let Doug Jones take over the voice work for Abe, but he’s solid (it can’t be the easiest thing in the world to act covered in all that plastic), though his voice will never be as classy as that of David Hyde Pierce.
–so is Blair, who’s much improved with a shorter haircut, though i don’t know how much i love the different Hellboy-Liz dynamic of the movies.
–Seth MacFarlane did make me avoid my vow to attack him by NOT saying “what the deuce” and, instead, turning in a good vocal performance. it strikes me that he can probably do this kind of thing when people aren’t being overly indulgent with him because he’s behind a funny program.
–Jeffrey Tambor overacts a little bit, but to be fair, i sort of get the impression he was asked to do so. calling his work here reminiscent of his George Bluth role seems accurate.
–the people playing the elves (Luke Goss and Anna Walton) looked like elves. that’s all i have to say. i don’t get emotionally invested in elves, that’s all. Legolas never meant shit to me!

other thoughts
–that ogre has a hilarious ogre name (“Wink”) and his mechanical goblin hand is pretty fucking cool. so that was nice. and the Golden Army’s look and sweet robots-of-doom action was awesome.
–i’m on the fence in regards to the design of the Angel of Death: solid look, but Doug Jones plays it almost like he’s still wearing the faun suit from Pan’s Labyrinth, which isn’t bad, just distinctive.
–oh, and since when did the Pyramid Head from Silent Hill get a job duplicating himself and guarding an elf king?
–also, if i’m going to get new characters (Johann Krauss), how about we get a little Roger the Homunculus?

conclusion
as some have stated, there’s a little bit too much of the MIB feel to the BPRD sequences early in the film; in the end, you know, i like Mignola’s darker comic version of Hellboy better than the lighter del Toro version… but i still like them both and del Toro’s a good guy, so who cares. but i better get some fucking Lobster Johnson action in the next few years, that’s all i am saying.

the Dark Knight

the Dark Knight
“do i really look like a man with a plan? i don’t have a plan. you know what i am? i’m a dog chasing cars. i wouldn’t know what to do if i caught one. i just DO things.”

all i can say is that this movie really walks a fine line between being so good that you can’t praise it enough and so good that you start to over-hype the film by being the 13000th person to say “the Dark Knight was fucking incredible.” now, granted, it is not, as iMDB’s top movies would tell you, the Best Movie Ever (goddamn motherfucking FANBOYS); it’s certainly not better than Citizen Kane and the Godfather Part II and all of that jazz… but it is fucking fantastic. and it’s probably the best superhero movie there is.

direction (Christopher Nolan)
i can’t thank Nolan enough for saving us from both the depths of Schumacher’s Batman films (i am actually willing to go to bat for Batman Returns to some extent, but that’s where i draw the line, because the following two were just CRIMINAL) as well as from Aronofsky’s insane Batman schemes (for example, he wanted a homeless Batman). and he puts in good work here. i know some people who have beef with the way he lights shots and directs some of the fight sequences, but frankly, i consider those problems to be overrated or non-existent.

acting (starring Christian Bale and a collection of non-Welsh mortals and one dead guy)
–Bale is, of course, the best Batman to date; i don’t mind his Batman voice because isn’t the point to prevent people from noticing that Batman sounds like Bruce Wayne? as always, he’s better than Keaton because he appears to be large enough to actually beat someone up.
–Heath Ledger makes for an excellent Joker (again, we run the risk of the over-hyping here) and, frankly, i miss the guy already, his former starring role in A Knight’s Tale notwithstanding. i’m not sure how impressed i am with some supposed aspects of the role – the “accentless accent” or whatever is supposed to seem extra creepy, but frankly, it’s the crazy shit he SAYS that makes him creepy – but any minor things like that pale in comparison to the overall energy and affect of the role. making pencils disappear? awesome.
–Aaron Eckhart makes for a good Harvey Dent, easily bridging the gap between zealous righteousness and coin-flipping insanity (that might be a spoiler, i guess, but i think we all know who ends up as Two-Face; it’s not the destination that matters, but the ride there), though, despite Skip Bayless’ retardation, he’s not out-acting Heath Ledger.
–Maggie Gyllenhaal does a competent job in a role that a) doesn’t matter much and b) was basically ruined for all of us by Katie Holmes’ “acting.” i wouldn’t say she reclaimed the role because there wasn’t anything there to reclaim, really, but she does solid work. and for those of you that find her less physically objectionable than Katie Holmes, this film can remind you to go perv it up and rent Secretary some time.
–Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine is Michael Caine, so it’s not like they’re going to disappoint, but between the two of them, Caine gets the better one-liners and everything. i suppose that’s a given though, since Alfred’s supposed to be secretly awesome and hilarious.
–the secret guy acting his ass off is, of course, Gary Oldman, who’s yet another actor with a stellar career packaged in here but who ALSO gets overlooked to some extent because of newer and/or flashier roles in the film. but hey, way to be overshadowed by a dead guy, Oldman.

other thoughts
–the best shot of this film, if you ask me, is the Joker driving around with his head out the window, shaking his head in a satisfied, dog-like fashion. it just captures that child-meets-psycho character.
–so i don’t like that the World’s Greatest Detective talks about putting bullets into a “clip.” he’s the World’s Greatest Detective! he should call it a magazine, in accordance with the proper terminology!
–now, since i have been annoyed with Cillian Murphy for not appearing in 28 Weeks Later (and thus damning that film to its garbage state), i must state that it’s awesome that he pops in here for about 13 seconds for a little Scarecrow action. though i am sure he got well-paid for that and all that.

conclusion
uh… i would consider seeing this movie if i were you. i’m just sayin’.

but wait… there’s more:

unrelated topic: Watchmen

Watchmen
“was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. was rorshach.”

so there was this Watchmen trailer before the film that was alternately awesome (Rorshach and the Comedian will ALWAYS be awesome) and awkward-looking (the Silk Spectre II and Ozymandias just seem odd, and Dr. Manhattan won’t seem right to me until i see him in action). i’m torn between being optimistic because the cast seems good and the director (Zack Snyder) is solid and being negative because it’s based on an incredibly good but very dense comic that CANNOT be forced into a single film. and yeah, it doesn’t NEED, say, the pirate comic book subplot to work, but it seems like when you start dropping things… anyway, if they give me Rorshach and the Comedian, i’m good, and they DID actually cast a tiny little guy for the former, and the trailer line “the world will look up and shout ‘save us!’ … and i’ll whisper ‘no'” is just awesome. so we’ll see!