“how would you cut down the White Album?”

while i mostly steal my ideas from random movies i’ve been watching, animals that have been harassing me and/or my car and brainstorming sessions with Smilez, i occasionally take ideas from sources on the internet, and this is going to be one of those times. so here’s the topic of discussion: how would you edit the Beatles’ “White Album” if you had to cut it down to one relatively normal-sized album? you can tell that i’m not bursting with original ideas when i think this one will serve for our weekly update, but here we go!

rules of engagement: let’s assume that a “normal-sized album” for 1968 would be an LP with two sides of no more than 26 minutes each in length (or 52 minutes total). considering that the White Album in full clocks in at about 93:08, well, as Homer Simpson would say, it’s time for the easiest part of any coach’s job: the cuts. i will try to defend my reasoning here.

disclaimer: if you don’t give a fuck about this album, i admit that we’re about to venture into some boring territory. just think of it as the unexciting calms we have to wade through to get to a violent whale attack! or something like that.

JANKLOW’S CUT AND RE-SEQUENCED WHITE ALBUM

the White Album
“it’s like, how much more white could this be? and the answer is none. none more white.”

side A:
01. Back In The U.S.S.R. (2:43)
i have heard people make claims about how this song is a Beach Boys rip-off (an accurate claim) and how it can easily be dropped from the album (an audacious claim, to say the least), but seriously? no, no it cannot. it rocks and it’s a good lead-in to the album. the White Album is fairly eclectic album as it stands anyway, so it’s not like the Beatles showing Mike Love how it’s done is going to violate some theme here.

02. Dear Prudence (3:56)
03. Martha My Dear (2:28)

now, all that being said, “Dear Prudence” would otherwise be a solid way to start the record (calling it a “mid-tempo song that leaves the listener guessing as to what direction the album will take” seems about right), so we can think of “Back In The U.S.S.R.” as blowing off steam before the album gets serious. and i think these two lower-key songs flow together well, even beyond their matching “referencing-a-woman” names: they’re solid compositions, they’re underrated when compared to flashier songs on this album, and so on.

04. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (2:43)
05. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (4:45)
06. I’m So Tired (2:03)

“Happiness Is A Warm Gun” and “I’m So Tired” have some similarities in their spoken word sections that i think make them bookend “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” well; the former is much too awesome to ever be a candidate for removal from the album, and the latter is generally what i refer to as “the best song on this entire album.” seriously. meanwhile, #5 was kind-of, sort-of covered by the Wu-Tang Clan (it’s complicated, but Harrison’s son was involved), and anything that inspires Ghostface cannot be removed from an album. all in all, i would say that this is probably the strongest three-song section on the album.

07. Piggies (2:04)
it’s goofy, but i like it, and after all, the majority of Harrison’s songs (3/4) did make my cut of this album (and it’s not like the Beatles didn’t make a ton of goofy songs over the length of their career that still manage to be endearing; see also: “I Am The Walrus” or “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!”). now, the Beatles themselves jammed all the songs with animals in their titles together, and that’s cute and everything, but i think it goes better here in terms of sound and, less artistically, space on this side of the album, so the animal theme is going to have to go.

08. I Will (1:46)
09. Julia (2:54)

another pair of songs i think go together well to close out this side (and this is basically what they did originally, so it’s not like i’m particular clever or anything like that). at least “Julia” isn’t yet another song McCartney wrote about Linda or Lennon wrote about Ono. those two really need to mix up their material, though at least here we have Lennon being honest about how meaningless his song content happens to be (i think his estimate is around 50%).

the Beatles
i really do enjoy how young and intoxicated McCartney appeared back in the 1960s, whereas Lennon just kind of seems like an asshole

side B:
01. Blackbird (2:18)
as far as social commentary goes, while this song might be well-meaning and sincere, i think it ALSO qualifies as ham-fisted and cheesy and all that (then again, it IS a McCartney song, so i guess we shouldn’t claim to be shocked), but it’s got a good sound with which to open up the second side of the album, especially since “Birthday” isn’t making the cut (more on that later). and people really do seem to love this song a lot more than i do, so i’ll cave to public pressure on this one.

02. Mother Nature’s Son (2:48)
03. Rocky Raccoon (3:32)

perhaps it’s clear that after breaking up the animal theme, i paired these two together because they have a vaguely Southern theme. people seem to cut them from the album because they’re not that fond of the former (i really am) or they don’t think the latter fits; i can see the argument for “Rocky Raccoon” standing out, but when they’re both left on the album, i think it works. also, if we had a Beach Boys-style song, we now have a Bob Dylan-style song as well.

04. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (2:24)
05. Helter Skelter (4:29)
06. Revolution 1 (4:15)

the “energetic” portion of the album, for obvious reasons. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” has to stay on the album, if for no other reason than the fact that its name is so long and ridiculous; as for “Revolution 1,” it might actually pair up with “Helter Skelter” better if it was replaced with its original, rougher-sounding single form. but i suppose that’s neither here nor there; either way, the trio of songs works nicely together.

07. Long, Long, Long (3:04)
…and we abruptly calm back down with a quieter Harrison-penned song about god (and, really, a very underrated song at that); at full length, the louder songs are a little more separated from the end of the album (which i personally think is necessary given how quietly the album will end), but this will have to suffice.

08. Good Night (3:11)
yet another song that sounds intentionally cheesy, i think it’s one of the best “closing-out-the-album” songs out there.

total run time: 51:32. whew!

and now comes the easiest part of any coach’s job, the cuts:

Ringo Starr
it’s not easy being Ringo: the rest of the Beatles seem to consider your songs to be jokes and janklow cuts them from the album; sorry about that, brother

-Glass Onion (2:17)
i don’t really like this song and i don’t like all the blatant referencing of songs from previous albums. seriously, it really annoys me; it’s like a perfect example of how i find Lennon (who wrote this) too smug.

-Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (3:08)
not a terrible song – people seem to cover it constantly and it was certainly good enough for Life Goes On to run with – but i just don’t think it fits with the sound of the album. did i just say that the sound of the album was eclectic? eh, well, don’t worry about that.

-Wild Honey Pie (0:52)
short, not very good, almost cut from the album by the Beatles themselves… well, i think you see where i’m going with this. it barely deserved to be there as is, and now i have removed it for the good of the nation.

-the Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (3:14)
-Don’t Pass Me By (3:50)

here we have a couple of songs that i really like but that i simply had to cut for the purpose of time. “the Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill” has a flamenco guitar solo and mentions tigers; the latter is written by Ringo Starr, who i find adorable and whose songs i hate to cut… but they have to go if we’re going to fit under that 52 minute total. sorry, Ringo.

-Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? (1:41)
ugh. i believe this was said better by someone else: “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?, that song can go to hell.” seriously, it’s fucking garbage. GARBAGE. and i think McCartney really thinks he was being turbo-clever.

-Birthday (2:42)
a very catchy song, a good way to start the second LP in the original set… and another cut i’m making to save time. we could do the 1960s thing and release it as a single that’s not found on the album; that would work.

-Yer Blues (4:01)
does it bother me to cut a bluesy song that’s such a downer? yes, it really does. but i alternate between thinking it’s good and thinking i’ve heard enough of it to last me for some time, so it gets cut to save time.

-Sexy Sadie (3:15)
the title’s based on a joke that Lennon was making about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which means that this is one of those inside jokes that isn’t very clever or good, but that you include because everyone in the band is in on the joke. well, i’m not and it’s cut.

-Honey Pie (2:41)
well, i’ve already removed “Wild Honey Pie”… no, that aside, i just don’t like the way this song sounds. maybe i’m just not the fan of homages of British music-hall music that McCartney wishes i was, but i’ve shot down a couple of his experiments so far.

-Savoy Truffle (2:54)
i think this was the last cut i made for time, because i generally like it and it’s the only Harrison-penned song not to make my final cut for the album.

-Cry Baby Cry (3:01)
it doesn’t really catch my attention enough to cause me to have strong feelings about it, and that’s why it’s another non-terrible song that’s been removed for time reasons.

-Revolution 9 (8:22)
this garbage goes on for more than eight minutes? EIGHT MINUTES? absolutely the easiest cut on the album. it’s terribly indulgent of Ono (McCartney and producer George Martin wanted it cut) and, most unforgivably, it’s not good music. i might not love, say, “Sexy Sadie,” but i can at least call it a song and see how someone might like it. but THIS mess? ugh. and it’s the kind of thing that shows how bloated double albums can be.

well, okay, sorry to be so weird and boring this week, but there it is. maybe next time i’ll find some double-length rap albums to criticize?

C-A-R-D-I-ah, fuck it, this chant takes way too long

another Super Bowl is upon us, and once again, no team that i really root for has made it to the big stage. but rather than use this time to rail against the quality of the play evidenced by the Oakland Raiders, i figure i should use it to promote the team i am actually going to be rooting for this year: the Arizona Cardinals! “but wait,” you say, “why in the hell would you root for the Arizona Cardinals? you root for Pittsburgh’s baseball team and a bunch of your family original hails from Pennsylvania! and hell, your grandmother was BORN in Pittsburgh and is rooting for the Steelers and she’s your best friend!” well, those are all good points – go Pirates! – but they’re not convincing. and since no one can MAKE me root for the Steelers… well, i do what i like. but i am willing to defend my argument, so here we go!

13 REASONS WHY I AM ROOTING FOR THE ARIZONA CARDINALS (AND YOU SHOULD AS WELL)

Patrick Tillman
ah, Pat Tillman: the reason your hero janklow owns a Cardinals jersey; now if only your statue didn’t have terrible, terrible hair

13. change of pace in SB victors
not only has Arizona never won a Super Bowl in any of the cities they’ve played in, they’ve never even been to one before now (leaving only five sad franchises on the list of those who’ve never made the trip) … and they’re the oldest operating professional American football franchise in the country. meanwhile, the Steelers have been to seven Super Bowls and won six of them. enough already with the goddamn Steelers victories!

12. their football championship drought
…and right on the heels of “they’ve never won this Super Bowl thing before,” i’m going to add that it’s been 62 years since the Cardinals took home a championship. yes, that’s right, they last won a championship in 1947. granted, i’m a Raiders fan and we’ve been pretty terrible since 2002 or so, but i can at least say “well, we’ve played in 5 Super Bowls and we last won one in 1983 or so” … whereas the Cardinals can’t say that kind of thing so much.

11. simple outranking of the Steelers on my list
this is the least exciting of reasons, but i root for teams based on where i rank them on my list of NFL teams from #1-#32. every team has been ranked: for example, if the Lions play the Packers, since the former is #18 and the latter #21, i root for the Lions. yeah, it’s boring, but it saves time. anyway, on my list, the Cardinals are #10 (really? really) and the Steelers are #23. no contest at all!

10. their awesome logo
now i have to say that i preferred the old Cardinals logo: the new one’s all aggressive and mean, but the old one looked stately, like it was above all the fussin’ and feudin’. still, either way, i think they have a cool logo. it’s not as cool as basing your logo on, say, Western actor Randolph Scott, but it’s still SOMETHING.

Adrian Wilson
refs, you have to understand that Adrian Wilson doesn’t appreciate you getting in the way of him hitting men so hard that he takes their souls

09. Travis LaBoy
granted, LaBoy’s a solid player and everything, but he’s making the list because his name is goofy and cracks me up whenever i see it. LaBoy? seriously? that’s the worst last name in the NFL, hands down. and because of that, i really want to see a LaBoy go home a Super Bowl champion. whereas in comparison, all the Steelers’ names are so boring.

08. Darnell Dockett
generally speaking, i have a soft spot for our local players and i always root for them and their related teams to do well, and Darnell Dockett is one of those: he may have gone to college at Florida State, but he hails from Burtonsville, MD. and while he was there, he may have beaten up a guy i and people i know hate a large amount. so that’s two things he has going for him. also, don’t tell me “but janklow, Byron Leftwich is a Steeler and he’s from DC!” because that guy ALSO said he used to cry when the Redskins lost, and if there’s one thing you DON’T do when your team loses, it’s cry. you do what i do: you rant and rave and scream profanity and then you drink alcohol.

07. their high-quality safety tandem
Adrian Wilson at SS, Antrel Rolle at FS… what more do i need to say? i’ve already gone on the record about my soft spot for the safety position, and while Larry Wilson and Pat Tillman were the Cardinals to make my top 13, Adrian Wilson and his ridiculous vertical leap made my honorable mention list. seriously, i could watch that video for upwards of 13 minutes a day and STILL not get bored with it. and Antrell Rolle’s pretty cool as well.

06. my admitted hatred of the Steelers
i can basically sum up this reason in one sentence: THE IMMACULATE RECEPTION WAS NOT A GODDAMN CATCH. seriously. i’ve disliked the Steelers for years (note that i respect them, i just hate them as well) and i’m bitter about the fact that if not for that catch, the Raiders would have had a chance to put down the most overrated AFC champion of all time, the undefeated Dolphins. i’m also sort of bitter about the Rooney brothers getting a pass on their gambling connections in a way i think other owners would not have. you know what? i’m bitter about a lot of things and i don’t want to have to justify them all. fuck the fucking Steelers!

Big Red
now, i don’t approve of members of the Black Eyed Peas sneaking into my photos, but i DO approve of Big Red’s ridiculous facial expression

05. the Ken Whisenhunt irony factor
okay, this comes on the heels of me hating the Steelers, but it’s a little more complicated. see, Whisenhunt was Pittsburgh’s OC and when they interviewed people for the head coaching job, they passed him up to take the DC from Minnesota, Mike Tomlin. Tomlin’s a solid coach, but he inherited a good team and he’s maybe overrated as a result, whereas Pittsburgh fans laughed as Whisenhunt slunk off to Arizona. if he wins, that will be one awesome “IN YOUR FACE” gesture. but you know, i think Whisenhunt spurned Oakland to coach Arizona, so maybe i hate the guy after all? well, whatever, for now i am a fan.

04. 9/11 PATRICK TILLMAN NEVER FORGET
i don’t know the most about Arizona Cardinals football, but from what i gather from NFL statements and/or statues found in Arizona, Patrick Tillman is the greatest player in the history of the team. and accordingly, i declare that Arizona needs to win this for Tillman (it’s not as catchy as “bring it home for Jerome,” but then, that chant didn’t work out ever). for those that disagree, i’m simply going to yell “PATRICK TILLMAN NEVER FORGET” until they cave in. remember: if you don’t want the Cardinals to win, you’re forgetting him. and that’s worse than forgetting 9/11!

03. notable lack of Cardinals fans in existence
now, i live in the DC metro area, where residents hail from every part of the nation, and this means that said residents often bring a lot of random fandom with them… except for Cardinals fandom. guys will move here from Detroit for obvious reasons (such as “Detroit is really terrible”) and STILL take a sick sense of pride in rooting for the Lions, a team i believe is composed of people marked by an angry god like Cain and Judas were. and yet, there are no Cardinals fans. it’s to the point where i randomly assign Cardinals fandom to people who claim to a) like football and b) have no allegiance to any one team. side note: the last guy i made a Cardinals fan is taking some pride in their success, so maybe this concept works?

02. their excellent mascot “Big Red”
this guy’s been cruising around since 1998 or so, and i don’t think his face was affected much by the unnecessary redesign of the team’s logo. and frankly, i think their mascot looks pretty excellent, even if he IS a cardinal… whereas the Steelers have the worst mascot in the NFL, the godawful Steely McBeam. for crying out loud, his name is Steely McBeam! now, my grandmother claims that the Cardinals’ mascot is “stupid,” which doesn’t even make any sense and which goes against her claims that everything that exists is “cute” … but she’s old, what does she know? go Big Red!

some random cardinal that hates me
seriously, i know people say birds don’t have these kinds of thoughts… but that cardinal is absolutely eye-fucking me

01. to repair the relationship between janklow and cardinals
i don’t want to hate on cardinals: they’re the noble mascot of Louisville (which i have a soft spot for) and they rock that sweet crest on their heads (blue jays also rule in this regard) … but as has been documented on this web site before, cardinals and i do NOT get along, unlike mourning doves, crows or vultures, all of which regard me as “excellent.” since i don’t want to fight with these cardinals forever (and since my car could really benefit from a reduction in abuse), maybe we can use this Super Bowl to forge a new bond? i sort of doubt it, but, hey, we’ll see what happens!

Michael Winner’s crime masterpiece Death Wish 3: a running diary

the other night i once again caught a portion of Death Wish 3 on some cable channel (Death Wish 3 is always playing on some channel SOMEWHERE at any given moment of the day) and it reminded me that while i rip on this movie all the time, i have yet to do so on the internet, so why not give it the “running diary” treatment? after all, i’ve done this in the past with a certain awesome film involving a dwarf, so why not apply it to a movie most everyone my age is familiar with and which i can only describe as an acid-enhanced Reagan-era nightmare about “what our cities will soon be like if we don’t DO SOMETHING FAST.” (and apparently that something fast involves Charles Bronson.)

so i proceeded to purchase the DVD of this fine, fine film, while making my excuses to the clerk that this was all for research (though i doubt he believed me), and now it’s time to fire up another bottle of Van Gogh and do this thing! maybe next time i’ll do one of these for RoboCop 2, though that might be taking too far upward a step in terms of “film quality.”

preparatory information: Michael Winner directed the first two of these films, but they never got as crazy as they’re about to get here. all you really need to know going in is that everyone close to Charles Bronson – Paul Kersey here in the Death Wish series – gets brutalized and thus forces him to kill criminals, and he’ll do the latter in Death Wish 3 repeatedly. the only two things i’d add are that a) he doesn’t actually kill the people who kill his wife and rape his daughter in the first film, and b) his daughter gets raped AGAIN in the second film after she gets out of the hospital, causing her suicide. now THAT is a lot of rape.

00:00:00: i notice that the back of the DVD case claims Kersey brings to the table “guns, knives – and even a bazooka” and realize that this is not accurate, as there’s no bazooka in the movie at all (more on this later). i am already annoyed with this awesome film!

eh, Death Wish 3
i apologize in advance for the black bars on the sides of these photos; apparently my DVD is formatted to fit my television

00:01:08: okay, the juxtaposition of the soundtrack with the words “DEATH WISH 3” are almost too much; this is one of those little things you miss when you’re always coming into the middle of the film. and really, this whole credits sequence is weird: shots of guys working on bridge construction? how last minute was the filming of this? “oh, shit, we need something that screams New York, get out there with your camcorder!”

00:03:17: there’s a very multicultural, weirdly-dressed gang here; you’ll be seeing a LOT of said gang. but here we also have Alex Winter waving around a bicycle chain. why does that name seem familiar? because four years later he was Bill in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. and then, after that movie’s sequel… nothing. and yet, Keanu Reeves continues to have a career. it’s weird how things work out sometimes, but then again, Keanu also had the good sense to avoid Death Wish 3. also, when you see how war-torn this neighborhood is later in the film, it will make NO SENSE why this gang has a member function as a lookout.

Alex Winter in deep concentration
yeah, we’d better make sure and destroy this guy’s furniture to make sure the rest of the civilians learn their lesson!

00:04:27: 24 years later, i STILL can’t figure out why Alex Winter is attacking this couch while his friends beat up this old man (who is the friend Charles Bronson has come into town to visit). you can also note the terrible “gang symbol” inked on the heads of these guys. they’re kind of like MS-13, only without the balls it takes to get REAL tattoos, you know?

00:07:05: there’s an awkward police interrogation sequence here; it’s like they want to give the impression they’re hurting Bronson without accidentally hurting him due to his age. then they offer him water … and then tell him he can’t have it! oh, the kinder, gentler days of the 1980s prior to all this water boarding and naked prisoner stacking, how i miss you!

00:10:50: so after Bronson beats up a fat guy with what appears to be a bluebird tattooed on his face (i can’t make this shit up), he shares a brief eye-fuck with the man who’ll be the main villain of this film and who also rocks the most ridiculous reverse mohawk of all time. and if it wasn’t for the dramatic music in the background, this sequence would come off a lot more homoerotic than it does currently. this will also lead to yet another super-awkward beating for Bronson later when the villain “wants to move on” him.

00:15:06: okay, at this point in the film, there’s a great shot of this poster that declares “WANTED By The New York City Police Department: HORSES.” sure, i bet it’s supposedly about mounted policemen… but i prefer to think that the NYPD suspects horses in general of some criminal conspiracy. i know i would lock them all up if i had the chance. anyway, Bronson is now working for the police as a vigilante or something, who knows.

DDE on the wall
Charles Bronson is simply OUTRAGED at hearing about all this street crime in NYC, so you KNOW someone is going to get shot before this is all over

00:22:46: i really like how this old guy (a friend of Bronson’s friend) keeps a random picture of Dwight Eisenhower hanging on his wall; it reminds me of my grandfather, who keeps a random picture of George Washington on his wall. i really need to get a presidential picture for one of my walls; maybe something in a Harding?

00:30:31: we have our first sighting of a gang member wearing a fishnet shirt; yeah, the gang apparel here is all over the map, but a fishnet shirt? i don’t care how tough you are, i don’t care how tough your gang is, i don’t even care if you’re about to chop up a guy with an axe (and that happens shortly after this scene): it’s NEVER okay to be the gang member in the fishnet shirt.

00:37:45: our villain (who is named Fraker) proves to be the gift that keeps on giving: aside from his nonsensical face-painting and reverse mohawk, here he’s rocking a skin-tight hoodie, a ridiculous eagle’s-head belt buckle, and a necklace that i can only describe as “confusing.” add to that the fact that he’s not exactly the most physically imposing guy out there (i guess he’s a little on the tall side, but that’s about it) and you’ve got yourself a classic 1980s movie villain!

.475 Wildey Magnum
there is absolutely no way you can convince me that this sequence isn’t in the movie as an advertisement

00:42:00: Bronson’s “friend Wildey” arrives, proving to be a .475 Wildey Magnum, an odd choice of powerful handgun, and he then launches into a dissertation on the firearm to a room full of citizens (he mentions “real stopping power,” he compares it to the .44 Magnum, and so on) that leads me to believe someone paid Michael Winner to add an advertisement for the Wildey Magnum into the movie; there’s simply no other explanation. well, that, or the scriptwriter was John Milius writing under a pen name, trying to get himself more guns, but i doubt it. he’s not that bad of a writer.

00:43:45: Marina Sirtis (yes, Star Trek nerds, THAT Marina Sirtis) is abducted and gang raped while picking up some groceries late at night. this is about the third time in the movie trouble has kicked off during her grocery shopping; i don’t mean to blame the victim here, but maybe she should at least consider doing her shopping during daytime hours? well, she dies of her injuries, so this is a moot point.

00:48:00: Bronson finally uses the Wildey (he shot a couple of guys earlier in the film for messing with his car, to be fair, but that was with his .38) on the one criminal who’s always snatching purses, the Giggler (yes, we know, this gang is officially lame). and then there’s a really awkward celebration as an old lady starts dancing in the street and a bunch of people start clapping. god, i love this movie!

00:49:21: …and now i hate it again, because Bronson’s busy having an awkward 1980s-era date with that public defender wherein we learn that the public defender is emotional, loves sports and possibly approves of vigilantes. do i detect a love match?

Bronson with flowers
fighting the good fight against crime with… a flowerpot

00:55:45: Bronson hurls a flowerpot at a goon who’s chasing him (named the Cuban, no less) thanks to a “clever” trap and then leaps through the window of a man who’s clearly wearing a beret while reading a newspaper in bed (and who seems undisturbed by EITHER man climbing through said window, be they Bronson or the man chasing him). oh, Death Wish 3, i couldn’t make up stuff like this if i tried. even better, the whole scene ends with the use of a terrible dummy effect and Bronson skipping away.

01:01:29: thankfully, yet another awkward romantic scene between Bronson and the public defender results only in IMPLIED sex, and not anything i have to see on screen. if there’s one thing i don’t want to have to see, it’s younger women going through the motions of simulated sex with wrinkly old men. or, hell, any sex that involves old people. or any sex in movies, period. let’s get back to the nice, clean violence already!

01:03:52: …and we do, with the overly-complicated demise of Bronson’s love interest. because it’s much easier to punch someone in the face and roll their car into traffic than it is to, you know, just shoot them. we also have his friend Bennett’s shop exploding and said friend attempting to attack a gang of youths with an MG-42. granted, the latter plan goes awry and results in the old man’s beating, but all it makes me think is “boy, i wish someone brought ME home some machine guns from a war.”

01:09:23: Bronson returns home (after sneaking out of protective custody) to pick up a machine gun and what will prove to be a LAW anti-tank weapon (this is what the DVD case erroneously claimed to be a “bazooka”). this raises some questions, such as “who asks for one anti-tank weapon when feuding with a gang?” and “if crime is so rampant, why haven’t people burglarized Bronson or his old friend’s apartments and stolen their poorly-hidden guns?” also, “why is Bronson’s friend Rodriguez so chipper when his wife was raped and incidentally killed only days ago?”

Mandy Fraker
WORST.VILLAIN.EVER. well, okay, he’s actually still not as bad as the guy from Commando, but come on… Mandy?

01:10:13: while calling for backup (no, i can’t tell you WHO he’s calling for gangland backup, because it’s never explained and it probably wouldn’t make sense if it was), Fraker inadvertently reveals that his full name is “Mandy Fraker.” he is seriously a weak, shoddy villain with absolutely no fashion sense. that being said, i think his leopard statue in this scene is turbo-cool.

01:10:56: Bronson’s friend Rodriguez declares “all i’ve got is a zip gun.” this is what i refer to when i joke about how the last time a zip gun was used by anyone, it was in Death Wish 3. also, it occurs to me that Bronson has a .38 he hasn’t used in many scenes that he COULD pass on to his buddy… but no, he lets him rock the zip gun for the upcoming action scenes. weak. though he does later use the .38 again, so i guess he had that in mind when he declined to share.

01:11:50: …and the final act of Death Wish 3 is kicked off by Bronson shooting up a crowd of gang members with a machine gun. which makes me wonder why the bikers Fraker called in to “put some heat in my area” didn’t bring, you know, a couple of GUNS with them, because attacking Bronson and his machine gun with rocks and bats seems… well, ill-advised. this machine-gun attack also sparks a montage of random citizens getting out their guns. and as i watch Bronson blazing away with this Browning machine gun, i REFUSE to believe Winner is taking himself seriously at this point.

01:17:00: there’s some VERY gratuitous nudity at this point that always gets edited out when you’re watching this film on cable; actually, in retrospect, i’m impressed how well they manage to remove it.

01:18:15: okay, someone tell me the reason this cop car explodes. yes, i know it’s near a fire, but come on, we all know it explodes for NO REASON AT ALL.

01:18:58: CITIZENS FIGHT BACK! or, at least, they begin to. this will culminate in a scene later where a woman shrieks like a banshee and knocks a man out of her house’s second story with a broom. i am pretty sure said broom attack kills him, but we’ll have to confirm this later. this vigilante spree also results in a burning woman being shot by our main villain, which is pretty ridiculous in its own right, so it’s getting mentioned here.

01:20:20: Bronson’s friend Rodriguez, who vanished after their machine gun ran out of ammo some time back, miracles into the scene to shoot a guy with that zip gun and save Bronson. i take back everything negative i ever said about that zip gun. but just so the universe doesn’t come unhinged, Bronson immediately saves Rodriguez from a jam.

Richard Shriker
if i was ever to front a rock band, i would make this one of our album covers; said album would be called “Shriker Owed You That One, Dude”

01:21:50: Bronson’s cop friend Shriker returns to save him by shooting Bill or Alex Winter or whoever as he’s about to ambush Bronson. (what is it with all these deus ex machina moments?) Shriker declares “i owed you that one, dude” (he says “dude” a LOT in this movie) and a ridiculous arcade-game-style shoot-’em-up sequence ensues. when they separate, Shriker is attacked with Molotov cocktails and poses for the awesome grimace i commemorate above. seriously, it would be the best album cover ever.

01:23:25: the aforementioned crazy broom attack occurs. seriously, who needs a gun when you can bludgeon people into submission and/or death with your broom?

01:24:30: finally, the climatic battle between Bronson and Fraker occurs (though, watching Fraker steal in through Bronson’s bathroom window makes me wonder what happened to his nail-based booby-trap from earlier in the film); Fraker is gunned down, but a bulletproof vest allows him to recover and get the jump on Bronson and Shriker (with a Browning Hi-Power no less, meaning this villain is at least a tad respectable). so Bronson kills him with… that LAW. in a small, enclosed room, with no damage to anyone other than Fraker. yeah… it’s fucking stupid. but hey, it’s Death Wish 3! that’s how it goes!

01:25:58: also, i nominate this dude in the red shirt as “worst looking gang member not currently wearing a fishnet shirt.” he just looks so out-of-place.

01:26:41: and with that, Bronson stalks off into the sunset (while Shriker said he would “buy him a few minutes,” he apparently used that time to pack and change his clothes). and with most people in New York having been killed by now, it’s mission accomplished, roll credits.

so there you have it: Death Wish 3. i’m not sure i really recommend it (or any other movie in the series, for that matter), but if you really want to see Charles Bronson kill the most awkwardly-dressed gang NOT featured in the Warriors… hey, knock yourself out!

“get off the phone, sinner!” (yeah, another listicle)

Mark McKinney of the Kids In The Hall once had this monologue about the necessity of the preacher character. “Every comedian has a preacher character. Every comedian uses the preacher character as a reliable solid comedy device. And why not, I say. Say an ordinary line like “Get off the phone,” and you got nothing. Say it as your preacher character, “Get off the phone, Sinner!” and you’re half-way to a joke.” and i, for one, could not agree more: preacher characters are always good for a laugh, and i’ve tried to base mine on the rantings of my former supervisor, who seems to love Jesus, Hennessy and the large asses of women in equal amounts.

but why stop at just preacher characters when we can celebrate all sorts of religious characters? so, with further ado, in the absence of a real update, yet another listicle!

13 BEST FICTIONAL RELIGIOUS FIGURES OF CINEMA AND TELEVISION

honorable mentions: Father Callahan (‘Salem’s Lot) was a solid, interesting character until the Dark Tower connection(s) ruined him for me almost entirely; Father Mulcahy (M*A*S*H) is not without his charms even as Alan Alda ruins his show; Cardinal Roark (Sin City) is neat in that he’s a criminal priest with whom the religion has basically nothing to do with his crimes; and Father Guido Sarducci (Saturday Night Live) is, well, funny, and funny is enough.

Brother Maynard
Brother Maynard… declaring that five is “right out”

13. Father McGruder (Dead Alive)
i always have to start a discussion of this film by saying that Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (or, if you prefer, Braindead) is a weird movie for me: i respect Jackson’s work (even King Kong) and i love ANYTHING to do with zombies, which Dead Alive has a lot of… and yet this film never did much for me. and considering how much zombie fans seem to like it, i feel a little bad about that. but all that being said, and whatever reservations i have about zombies sexual reproducing, Dead Alive DOES have the stellar moment of Father McGruder declaring loudly that “i kick arse for the Lord” before bursting into some anti-zombie martial arts explosion, and i’d watch the film for that scene alone. i’d probably turn the movie off after that scene, though.

11-12. Father Karras/Father Merrin (the Exorcist)
now, it might be that the Exorcist was followed by some poor decisions meant to cash in on the shock and awe of the film’s success: Exorcist II was an unqualified failure that no one liked; Exorcist III was solid (probably thanks to being once again based on Blatty’s work) but had that weird, shoehorned-in exorcism thing which i am pretty sure was created and added AFTER the film was done; and the attempt to make a prequel became a two-film cluster fuck (just ask Paul Schrader about THAT mess). but the original film was excellent and gave us our classic, heroic exorcism-performing priests who may or may not have been informed as to where their mothers were sucking cock (the correct answer would apparently be “in hell”). and Karras’ later reappearance in the series wasn’t total garbage either; but then again, i have been known to go to bat for Exorcist III.

10. Brother Maynard (Monty Python & the Holy Grail)
yes, i know, Monty Python & the Holy Grail was much funnier before people repeated its jokes to you 13000 times; i’m sorry, there’s really nothing i can do about it but sympathize. and hey, i think the funniest moments aren’t the Black Knight or the whole Knights Who Say “Ni” as well. but it’s not like this is the first film ruined by its fan base, and said ruining doesn’t stop a priest who cruises around with a Holy Hand Grenade (of Antioch, no less) and reads ridiculous religious tomes about its use (“O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy”) from being a most excellent fictional religious figure; it just means that no one will want to have a conversation with you about it. or, if they do, they might just be a terrible human being who’ll scream “Ni” at you several times. i recommend using a punch to the face on THOSE guys.

Dillon
Dillon… about to reeducate some of the brothers

09. Reverend Timothy Lovejoy (the Simpsons)
granted, Reverend Lovejoy doesn’t seem awesome on immediate recollection of his character (he’s not as quotable as, say, Milhouse or Ralph Wiggum), but he’s always having moments that crack me the hell up: fleeing a meteorite while screaming “it’s all over, people, we don’t have a prayer”; fighting baboons to save Ned Flanders; declaring “see you in hell, Simpson! …from heaven!” plus, he’s got that cool hairstyle going for him and he’s a walking stereotype of that 1970s-era “rappin’ about God” priest that Kevin McDonald would run with as Pastor Dave (another solid fictional religious figure in his own right) on That ’70s Show.

08. Dillon (Alien 3)
while many people hate on the third installment of the Alien series, whether because they have some irrational devotion to the characters of Hicks and/or Newt or simply because, you know, they’re stupid, i, for one, am a big fan of it (Alien > Alien 3 > Aliens > Alien: Resurrection; i’m just sayin’). and while the reasons for that are numerous (dog alien dog alien dog alien), one of them is the crazy religious sect of convicts and their religious leader Dillon, played by an angry Charles S. Dutton (like he’s ever NOT angry, am i right?). he prays fiercely, he beats would-be rapists with a length of metal pipe, and he shows aliens absolutely no respect (“so i say fuck that thing!”) what’s not to love?

07. Reverend Preacherbot (Futurama)
and in keeping with my aforementioned devotion to preacher figure stereotypes, here’s one that’s not only a preacher stereotype, but also a robot! and robots are excellent! while i admittedly don’t have a much more in-depth argument for his inclusion this high on the list beyond maybe throwing out there that his theology clearly pitted him against an awesome robot devil… i mean, come on, he’s a robot! yeah, okay, i’m a little obsessed, but there’s really no medication out there that can help me with this.

06. Reverend Harry Weston Smith (Deadwood)
some many consider this sort of a weird addition to the list when you consider that Reverend Smith only managed to last through the first season of the show, but i choose to take that as a sign of the character’s strengths: if he’s weird, he’s also earnest and sincere about the whole religious thing; Ray McKinnon does a great job and the whole scene about “not feeling Christ’s love as i used to” is super melancholy even if a whore DOES try and ruin it with a sour attitude. and more than anything else in the first season with whores and/or cripples, it’s the Reverend Smith’s circumstance that allows Swearengen to be a well-rounded character and not just a villain with a soft spot for a whore. and any fictional priest that can make my sister’s favorite fictional character of all time even better gets on this list!

Alexander Anderson
Alexander Anderson… about to consecrate someone with a bayonet to their face

05. Monsignor Martinez (King Of The Hill)
the good Monsignor is a fictional gun-toting priest who spends a lot of his time escaping outrageous situations and gunning down his enemies while spouting his catchphrase of “vaya con dios”; this is basically the job i personally would like to have. you get a clerical collar, you get a couple of pistols, and most of all, you get the respect: what’s not to like? anyway, one additional thing i learned when making this list was that there was apparently talking of making a live-action spin-off series based around said Monsignor. this is truly one of those times where i am incredibly retroactively bitter about something i never knew. what’s not to like about a Catholic priest going around shooting at people? oh, wait, i think i see the problem.

04. Kareem Saïd (OZ)
i’m not sure if dropping a quote is enough to make the case for OZ’s most excellent Muslim being this high on the list, but here goes: “god does not need you to defend him from a moron. what god needs you to do is to reign in your basic instincts. what god needs you to do is just to be a little patient, brother.” okay, maybe that didn’t do it for you, so maybe you recall this one: “ADEBISI LIVES!” oh, come on, he was stabbing the shit out of a fucking Nazi in the latter scene, and if there’s one thing we can all get behind, isn’t it stabbing Nazis? also, almost uniquely for OZ, there weren’t a lot of scenes that involved Saïd and man-on-man sex. and that has GOT to count for something.

03. Alexander Anderson (Hellsing)
i have to break the Smilez-created rule to, quote, “never talk about anime” and do just that, because Paladin Alexander Anderson is a completely ridiculous Catholic… well, Catholic something (he’s sure as hell a Catholic, but he better not be a priest) who runs around slaying vampires (and non-vampires that get in the way) with a flurry of Bible pages and harshly-flung… bayonets. yes, that’s right, a Japanese-created character who eschews swords for bayonets for SOME reason. there’s also some insane regenerating powers and a pair of gloves that declare “Jesus Christ Is In Heaven” (as if he’d be somewhere else). granted, no one REALLY wants to nerd it up to the level of watching anime, but he really must be seen to be believed. he just doesn’t make sense and that’s why he’s awesome.

02. Reverend Harry Powell (Night Of The Hunter)
now i admit that this might be kind of sort of cheating, because Harry Powell isn’t so much a preacher as he is a con man and serial killer who packs a switchblade, hates women and sex and declares that he’s doing God’s work because “God’s book is full of killin’s.” so you can see why he’s awesome enough to make the list; he’s also the origin of characters tattooing “love” and “hate” on the knuckles of their hands (i will spare you the related sermon). and Night Of The Hunter is such a COOL little film that everyone should really watch it once anyway. also related to this, when my grandmother claims that Robert Mitchum was “cute” back in the days of this film, and i point out that he was always playing psycho killers like Powell, it doesn’t dissuade her at all. what the hell, man?

our inmost selves
we reveal our inmost self unto our god! glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. world without end. amen.

01. Méndez and the rest of the worshipers of the Divine Bomb/Bomb Almighty (Beneath The Planet Of The Apes)
post-apocalyptic scenario? check. worshiping a world-destroying atomic weapon and the related fallout? check. featured in a film that ends with -sorry, but here comes a spoiler- the world being destroyed? check (though it’s weird that it does and, yet, is followed by THREE sequels, isn’t it?) mutants with mental powers? well, i wasn’t going to give a check for that one, but fuck it, check! anyway, Méndez and his mutant friends also fill in for the Fallout/Fallout 3 characters from the Children of the Cathedral and Children of the Atom, respectively, that couldn’t make the list because they weren’t in television and/or the movies, but who ALSO worship nuclear weapons and/or their use.

and like i always say, anything that turns Anglican rites into nuke worship gets a massive two thumbs up from me. may the blessing of the Bomb Almight, and the fellowship of the Holy Fallout, descend on us all, this day and forever more. amen!

welcome to 2009: here are some things to do before i die!

well, the New Year is here and once again we’ve found our trusty house of hate update synced up with a holiday (hence the delay); this New Year has already brought our hero janklow a run-in with a dog twice his size and having part of his car explode, though on closer inspection the latter was simply parts of it falling off and SOUNDING like it was exploding. frankly, i think this makes about 13 Januarys in a row that have completely sucked beyond recognition. i’m going to petition someone to replace it with “Smarch,” though with that comes that lousy Smarch weather. with the combination of all these “good times” with the requisite holiday alcohol, i’m not sure i have a great theme for the week. so i’m going to steal one from a movie! yet again!

the Bucket List, i hear it's cute
remember when Nicholson and Freeman were good, respected actors? remember when they weren’t forcing grins in order to make that last dollar and cent before they died? so do i

this all started when i managed to sober up and visit with my favorite person ever (the grandmother) on New Year’s Day; she was sewing and watching what turned out to be this terrible movie called “the Bucket List.” you may have heard of it: it featured Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and is supposedly the story of two terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” yes, despite the fact that my grandmother said it was a “cute” film, it’s as terrible as it sounds. and she calls everything “cute” anyway: oh, what a cute pitcher! oh, what a cute cat! oh, what a cute outbreak of the Ebola virus! (actually, i WOULD call the Ebola virus cute, but a cat? ridiculous!)

ANYWAY, this film basically brought three things to mind:

01. how well can we relate to the concept behind the movie when having a main character be a billionaire is a necessary plot point? i get that one of those dudes was a “blue-collar guy,” but still… it’s an empty feeling i’ve got here.
02. Rob Morrow’s a doctor in this movie? remember when he had, like, an actual career? Northern Exposure was huge! he was the co-lead in Quiz Show, which was actually a solid movie! and then… nothing. years later, he’s the lead in fucking Numb3rs, you know, that show where math solves all the crimes? terrible! anyway, i feel bad for him.
03. i should make an update about “13 things i’d like to do before i die” or something like that.

and now, here’s the update in which we list 13 THINGS IT WOULD BE AWESOME TO DO BEFORE I DIE:

riding elephants
oh, come on, did anyone thinking that elephants weren’t going to make it onto this list at some point? get real

13. visit Belgium
the concept: having once been to Wales (it was not without its charms, which included excellent Welsh peoples and, uh, a close proximity to deposits of coal), that would make the next heritage-based trip on my list “visiting Belgium.” not only can i visit WWI- and WWII-themed graveyards in memory of my forefathers who journeyed there to “kill Germans” (and who brought back souvenirs of such things), but i can also see where my mass-murdering relatives hailed from! i guess the common thread there is that all the Belgians in my family wanted to kill SOMEONE? oh well.
chances of getting it done: good (85% chance). old man Zippy and i have legitimately discussed it as a trip; we’d just like to figure out who would be speaking the foreign languages at these Belgians who might have the audacity to not speak English in their home nation.

12. ride an elephant
the concept: uh… ride on an elephant? elephants are awesome (i think i was ranting out how they’re deserving of all my money recently) even if they ARE god’s last attempt to make a monster; people often charge kids money to ride on them; and, well, why shouldn’t i have at least as much fun as some stupid kids? they don’t even have JOBS.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). i have totally already ridden on elephants on several non-consecutive occasions, and it was as awesome as you might expect. no regrets at all!

11. learn to dance for Flannigan’s Ball
the concept: well, as i understand it, it basically goes like this: i spend six long months in Quincy, six long months in which i do nothing at all… except for learning to dance for Flannigan’s Ball. this would seem to have to have the advantages of me learning to dance (as i can’t do that now) as well as those of me drinking with presumably Irish people (Faheys, Bradys, McAuliffes, Daleys).
chances of getting it done: not bloody likely (0% chance). it actually turns out that this is a fictional ball in a Dropkick Murphys song. bummer! and it makes me wary of achieving my related goal of drinking sake on a Suzuki in Osaka Bay, because i’m pretty sure THAT happened in a song as well. oh well, at least i HAVE had sake before.

10. become a published author
the concept: sure, it’s great to have an English degree (the most useful degree EVER) and all, but if you REALLY want to be accepted in the high society of the 1800s, you need to get something published. and there’s nothing i want more than that kind of acceptance!
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). now, for the record, vanity presses and/or anything else you essentially self-publish do NOT count towards this goal, but i CAN say that i got a piece of poetry published in my alma mater’s literary magazine back in my college days. while this might sound completely lame and feminine… hey, fuck you, #10 on the list is crossed off!

the HK P7
saving space on the internet in 2009 by totally reusing this photo from an earlier update

09. become a contestant on the Gong Show
the concept: the Gong Show was a variety program started by Chuck Barris in 1976 in which amateur acts would perform for celebrity judges and receive “gongs” from a large gong if they were particularly bad. which, given my skills, i WILL be.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). because i just remembered: i WAS a contestant on the Gong Show back in 1977! i played a giant harmonica while wearing a two-man pair of overalls! i got more gongs than that break-dancing robot that caught fire! no… wait… that was a bit on the Simpsons and it wasn’t my real life at all. let me downgrade this one to no chance (0% chance), mostly because that show hasn’t aired since 1989 and i have yet to develop a time machine.

08. develop a working time machine
the concept: it’s a machine… that travels through time… and takes you with it! also, for me to consider it working, it can’t require you to be shot through time naked like in those Terminator movies which, if they have taught me anything, taught me this: traveling through time makes you stupid and weak! how else could a killer robot fail to take out a 100-pound girl?
chances of getting it done: boy, i bet you saw THIS joke entry coming after the Gong Show one, right? well, it’s still no chance (0% chance), because it’s not like i suddenly became a super-intelligent physicist between the two entries. still, we’ve got to get to work on this thing, because it’s not like i’m going to get any closer to “resolving origin” without a time machine.

07. purchase the greatest firearm of all time: the H&K P7
the concept: pretty self-explanatory. while i have many firearms, the P7 is a notoriously excellent-but-terribly-expensive one; i’d love to add one to my collection, but the price makes it difficult to justify when you consider that you’re basically paying a notable mark-up for the brand name. that being said, the P7 is distinctive enough to make it about more than that… but still.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). i recently (fall 2008) purchased one of these handguns after i got quite a good deal on a used one, and it is every bit as excellent as you might expect. but in fairness, before this my goal was “purchase a Springfield M1A,” that being the most realistically daunting firearm purchase i could think of… and i accomplished that. so i guess this one should actually reset to “purchase the most expensive firearm i want and don’t own yet,” which right now would be a S&W M29 in that Taxi Driver vein, for which the chances are good (75% chance).

06. win a fistfight (or, i guess, any form of unarmed combat)
the concept: well, basically, beat someone in a fight. if there’s two things i’ve learned from Chuck Palahnuik’s fiction, they’re a) that you can’t really know yourself if you’ve never been in a fight, and b) if Palahnuik really thinks he’s a “minimalist,” then he totally has NO idea what that word means.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance); i once got in a fight with a kid in, of all states, Utah. and since after some punches and choking, he ran away in defeat, i’m claiming the victory here; after all, it’s not like he’s about to contradict me. and thus ends the entire saga of my fighting career. unless you count grappling matches at work versus fat boys, which i personally don’t.

fighting leopards
oh, come on, you perverts, it’s not THAT kind of cat fight

05. see the Oakland Raiders win the Super Bowl
the concept: there’s this football team that i root for called the Oakland Raiders and it would be awesome to see them claim victory in the championship game that the NFL calls the Super Bowl. wait… why are you laughing?
chances of getting it done: well, this actually sort of depends on what you mean by “see the Oakland Raiders win the Super Bowl.” i HAVE been alive for two of their three Super Bowl wins (1980 and 1983), i have seen the games in question on tape and i am fairly certain i watched the latter on television as a very young lad, which would mean i HAVE achieved this goal (100% chance). however, i have to admit that when i was that little, while i loved my Raiders, i didn’t really appreciate the sport on an adult level… which would mean i haven’t done this yet, but probably will one day (85% chance). i’m not saying it’ll be any time soon… but when it happens, i WILL be alive for it. the amount of preservatives i consume will ensure it!

04. fight a leopard in hand-to-hand combat
the concept: well, this entry is inspired by Carl Ethan Akeley, a naturalist who was once attacked by a leopard (losing his rifle in the process) and managed to grapple with it, subdue it, and strangle it to death. this was, admittedly, in 1896 when men were men, but he DID also survive an elephant attack in the next century, which mostly just proves that god didn’t like him but wasn’t able to finish the job quickly.
chances of getting it done: not good (13% chance). this is due to a combination of factors: the difficulty of getting to Africa and getting out in “leopard country” (not conveniently located near “flavor country,” sadly) AND then besting one in hand-to-hand combat. let’s face it, i’m 152 pounds of balsa wood and feathers and a fearsome wild cat would probably eat my lunch AND drink my milkshake. but maybe if i practice on some ocelots to start…

03. see the thousands of glittering stars in the sky over Pleiku
the concept: i have a soft spot for Vietnam, notwithstanding any wars that may or may not have ensued there that may or may not have gotten some relatives of mine tortured to death. we’re over all that; water under the bridge. anyway, if you’re going to visit some foreign nation, it’d better be scenic, and that’s about as scenic as it gets.
chances of getting it done: not good (13% chance). the major problem with me and Vietnam ever getting together is not about ideology but about geography; it’s WAY the fuck over there, it requires a plane to get there, and if there’s two things i hate, it’s planes and fucking planes. oh, and heights, which might have something to do with that “hating planes” thing. still, i suppose i could start with Belgium and work my way up to the massive flight to Asia?

02. learn to speak a foreign language
the concept: not only is learning a second (or third or whatever) language a good way to broaden your horizons and interact with new and interesting cultures, but they tell me that if you learn a good one, you can TOTALLY score with the ladies! wait a minute… i don’t care about that! but it WOULD be good to know when foreigners are cursing me out.
chances of getting it done: so not good (7% chance). i’ve tried to learn one before (French), but that was an epic failure and i can at best recall some of the vocabulary; currently my employer (the government) seems to be encouraging me to try again, but all the languages i find actually interesting (Welsh, Russian, Arabic) aren’t spoken by any friends and family of mine. and you need that refreshing in order to keep the language skills. well, okay, my father sort of speaks Russian, but he always claims he can’t anymore and he NEVER calls me a capitalist dog. so sad. also, and more relevantly, i suck at languages.

packing pomegranates
question: how jealous am i of these dudes with their ready access to a giant pile of pomegranates? answer: VERY

01. pick a pomegranate off a tree in Kandahar and eat it
the concept: it’s pretty well-known around here that i am obsessed with the pomegranate: my home is filled with pomegranate juices and various things that smell like them (soaps and candles and the like); they’re well-regarded by Abrahamic faiths (Jews are blessed with their presence, Muslims eat them in paradise, Christians think they’re alright); and as a youth i think i heard the phrase “don’t take any wooden pomegranates” a lot. and it’s pretty well-known that Kandahar is the home of the world’s finest pomegranates: medium-sweet, ruby-red… and oh so savory.
chances of getting it done: downright terrible (1% chance). forgetting that i hate to fly, let’s NOT forget that Kandahar lies in the heart of “Taliban and opium country.” not that i have anything against opium or its related products, but i DO have something against having mujaheddin who don’t love Westerners cutting my head off: it’s simply not worth it for even the best fruit ever. still… i dare to dream a little sometimes (only when it’s late and i have been drinking, you know, times like that) and it can stay at 1%.

so that’s the list! well, 5 out of 13 isn’t bad, even if it IS cheating to include things i’ve done on a recently-compiled list. meh, whatever.