just another maniac- no, scratch that, it’s just rambling that goes NOWHERE

i’m going to be honest about this: i was originally going to fire up RoboCop 2 and do the whole “running diary” thing on it, only i recently picked up this Left 4 Dead game and so i was kind of sort distracted from RoboCop 2 by it. well, it and doing my taxes, but the latter doesn’t sound very fun, you know? anyway, in lieu of a well-crafted update, i shall now make fun of myself and the kind of music i listen to.

so the other night, my crazy sibling and i are driving to a semi-local alcohol dispensary to the sounds of her iPod, which mainly means each of us alternating to skip songs we don’t want to hear: she doesn’t want to hear Michael Jackson’s “Another Part Of Me,” i don’t want to hear anything by Katy Perry, and so on. i mainly blame this on the poor quality of her music collection, which has a lot less hip-hop and folk rock than your hero janklow’s. it also begs this question: since when does my sibling hate “Another Part Of Me?” she LOVES Michael Jackson and that song rocks! this makes no sense! she even owns a singing Michael Jackson doll:

janklow and the MJ doll
an ancient photo of janklow dancing around with his sister’s singing doll, circa 2004; please focus less on the fact of my ridiculous dance and more on the fact that she owns a singing Michael Jackson doll

ANYWAY, we finally get to a song that we can both agree on: Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth,” which is really about our poor upbringing and the time period in which said upbringing occurred (apparently, kids younger than us find it disgusting that we let songs like that play out). now, i am willing to grant you this: there’s no excuse for this being the song we agree on; she’s a girl and everything, but it’s not a good look for me. and i don’t know what to tell you except, for some reason, i think that song’s okay.

and THAT reminded me of this anecdote that i could have sworn was posted on the internet, but which, on closer inspection, is not. it goes like this: some 8 or so years back, i was working at my previous job (anecdotes about that job do remain on the internet), and i’m at my desk, just feeling the droning oppression of the work day, when suddenly, the Bangles’ “Manic Monday” comes onto the radio. i immediately have the following thoughts in succession:

01. yes! this song is excellent!
02. wait! why the FUCK am i so excited to hear the Bangles’ “Manic Monday?”

and i was really pleased at the time; it was less a mere “oh, this song’s okay” and more me saying “AWESOME” and doing a little dance while seated. seriously, there’s no excuse for this, it’s just something that happened. but now, when i want to bash myself for rocking out to “Manic Monday,” it’ll be recorded on the internet.

now, before we wrap this up for the day, let me just point out a ridiculous music video that i always sort of think is a Belinda Carlisle song when it’s not: Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart.” you see, there’s this television program on HBO called Flight Of The Conchords that has a lot of music parodies, one of which seemed to parody this video. only while most parodies are crazier than the source material, it’s not actually possible to get crazier than this:

…yeah.

in closing, the moral of the story is that i’m trying to punish myself for being so forgetful and/or obsessed with zombies by telling embarrassing stories about myself. i’m not sure it worked; i guess we’ll find out next week?

in which i steal Bruce McCullough’s idea and relate it to my grandparents

well, the cardinals and raccoons have been behaving over the period of time that’s passed since our last internet open letter, so we’re going to have to run with a different target for such directed complaints. maybe all these deer that keep eating everything? nah, this “directing letters toward animals” thing is just getting a little weird.

and now, janklow with an open letter to whoever keeps taking my grandparents to the goddamn movies.

janklow's excellent grandparents
seriously, i don’t care how harmless they look, STOP TAKING THEM TO THE MOVIES

well, why did you do it? are you some sort of jerks or something? it’s- well, okay, it’s going to be a little hard for me to continue this in the exact format as before, so i’ll just boil it down: people keep taking my grandparents, either one at a time or as a pair, out to the movies, and the end result is always some awkward or weird situation. i suppose this might have been happening throughout my entire life, but recently it’s gotten a little more severe. examples?

Gran Torino
so we have this movie that involves a salted old Clint Eastwood in his final lead actor hurrah, and i gather that he’s basically a turbo-salty old guy who doesn’t relate to the younger generation and then later threatens and loves said younger generation in equal parts, depending on what member of that generation we’re talking about. it’s all well and good and it rates an 8.4 on iMDB. however, there’s a slight problem with people having taken my grandfather to this film.

see, in this film, Eastwood spends some time threatening hooligans by pantomiming a pistol with his hand before actually producing one. after seeing this film, whenever i see my grandfather, he starts making that hand-as-a-gun threat towards me. frankly, i think this isn’t the way old people are supposed to behave in polite society; they should mostly be napping or complaining about the government. and i know he might actually have a pistol in his old man vest one of these days. should i have to wear body armor just because people take my grandfather to Clint Eastwood movies?

Made Of Honor
this movie… this movie… i don’t like this movie. and it’s not just because it’s yet another stupid fucking romantic comedy (starring the divine combination of Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan, no less, though anything with Kevin McKidd in it can’t be ALL bad). yes, i hate comedies for the most part and romantic plots of ANY type in film make my body fill with proverbial rage-flavored vomit, but this film has gone beyond even that.

see, my grandparents were taken to see this film, and at some point a grandmother in the film starts wearing glow-in-the-dark anal beads around her neck; the joke, i guess, is that she doesn’t know what they are, but we all do. only here’s the thing: my grandparents have no idea what the fuck the deal with glow-in-the-dark anal beads is, and that’s as it should be. they’re grandparents and i would prefer they don’t know anything about sex toys of any type. only because they know your hero janklow knows lots of things, my grandmother has to ask me what the joke with the “large plastic beads this old lady was wearing” was all about. so NOW i have to tell her that this old lady was wearing anal beads. bad enough… until she wants me to explain what the hell anal beads are and how they work.

so, Made Of Honor, not only are you yet another shitty romantic-comedy, but you forced me to explain to my favorite person ever, my grandmother, the purpose and usage of anal beads. if i ever happen to meet Adam Sztykiel, Deborah Kaplan or Harry Elfont, i am kicking their asses. or in the case of Deborah Kaplan, since i probably shouldn’t beat up a girl, i’ll get my sister to do it. and she will, because she’s fucking nuts and she likes to punch kidneys.

so maybe i’m being petty about this? just a little? all i know is that i don’t want to have any more anal-beads-related conversations.

quis custodiet ipsos custodies? (AKA the massive Watchmen post)

so recently i went out a saw a film in accordance with my usual routine: on a random day in the middle of the week, i head out early (or, as i am talking about a time around noon, early for people like myself) in order to avoid having to share the theater with legions of unwashed children who, frankly, should really get themselves some jobs. on this occasion, i happened to see the recently-released film Watchmen. this update is the story of this event.

tonight the Comedian died
Watchmen: will the film shatter our hopes and dreams like this window?

PRE-WATCHMENNIUM TENSIONS
now, this movie’s been a long time in the making, what with the many attempts to do so and all the directors claiming it’s “unfilmable” (and by “many,” i mean “at least Terry Gilliam”) and the fact that nerds like myself were incredibly concerned about the source material. for comparison, it might help to think of the rabid, purist Watchmen fans as rabid, purist Lord of the Rings fans, with the slight difference that those of us amongst the former have actually see naked girls once or twice in our lives. but all that being said, the concept is probably not that unfamiliar: a highly-regarded series of comics (which can be pictured as a book, if that helps) that happens to be long and dense and operate on several levels trying to be made into a good film.

and frankly, that’s bad enough, but there’s more: this was written by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore. Alan Moore’s written a couple of comics that i love wholeheartedly, and the last one of those that was made into a film was the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (yes, i know V For Vendetta’s in the middle there, but i never really loved that comic and the film, meh, i can really do without). and League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which is a wonderfully dense and clever comic was something just messy and terrible in film form. even making allowances for various elements of it (for example, i can understand adding an American character as well as a new character who becomes a villain), it was still a crushing disappointment to fans of the series. and you know those people don’t want to make any allowances anyway.

still, Zack Snyder seemed to have really thrown himself into this project and everything i’d heard from people that had seen it was mainly “this film is very, very good” and “wow, Dr. Manhattan’s genitals are EVERYWHERE in this thing.” the latter being true to the source material, i decided this was a good sign and went to check this film out. and now i have comments! oh, yeah, and spoilers.

UNRELATED EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE PRIOR TO THE VIEWING OF WATCHMEN
two quick things i want to mention before we talk about the film. i swear i’ll keep this brief.

01. how much does it suck to have a song you really like ruined by events you associate it with? i realized as i was driving to the theater listening to Warren Zevon records that while i really, really like the song “Carmelita,” the fact that i was listening to it during some unpleasant events really makes it depressing for me. and that sucks, because i love that song.

02. okay, so when i go out, i like to wear ridiculous t-shirts. here’s a picture of the one i was wearing today:

WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!

now, i LOVE this shirt. i love Zombie, it’s a great flick, and the shirt cracks me up because it makes the same declaration that the film’s poster did (“we are going to eat you!”) that captivated me so much as a child. whatever, it’s my shirt and i like it and no one seems to notice it. until i went to buy a ticket to this movie and the ticket seller just STARES at it. i’m saying “i’d like one for the Watchmen” … and he just stares at it. i put my money into his hand and he makes change … while staring at the shirt. and then he hands me my ticket the same way. and then he stares at me, still saying nothing, while i thank him and leave. summation: this is the greatest of all my t-shirts.

Minutemen, 1940
oh, don’t panic because it’s a black-and-white photo, we’re in the realm of flashbacks there

WATCHMEN: APPARENTLY SOME KIND OF FILM ABOUT SOME KIND OF HEROES?
plot: the main point to make here about the plot is that Snyder has really stuck to the source material, so nothing much changes here: if you know the plot, you know the plot. for some people, this makes it less exciting; for me, i didn’t enjoy it any less knowing exactly where it was going the entire time. and the changes tend to be acceptable or mild: the ending’s changed, mainly to make the film flow better, but it’s entirely reasonable and doesn’t actually change much; and things like the Black Freighter and other little subplots (the newsstand operator, the psychiatrist, people related to the original ending, the background of the older heroes) are dropped without much effect and, such as in the case of the Black Freighter, may have been filmed for the DVD release.

direction: Snyder actually broke out some sets and made this thing look good. it’s very much a Zack Snyder film – main example: it’s got that constantly-cutting-between-fast-motion-and-slow-motion-during-fights thing going on all the time – but Snyder really devotes himself to the project. if you think extensive accuracy weighs it down, whatever, but i think it’s a good thing and the film is shot well. and there’s a lot of little touches and allusions to things in the comic that didn’t quite make the film in detail: Hooded Justice (i mean, he’s in there, but i’m not sure they ever NAME him) and the older heroes and the Nostalgia/Millenium ads spring to mind. now, i’m sure i’ll find some stuff to nitpick later… but we’ll get to that.

music: i just wanted to make a special mention of this, because i really enjoyed the soundtrack. part of this was the nice use of popular music (i particularly enjoyed “All Along The Watchtower,” but then, i ALWAYS like when movies use that song), but here we’re taking a moment to praise Tyler Bates, he of the nice 300 soundtrack who comes along here and does another stellar job. i suppose i can’t give him credit for the nice “Requiem” piece that plays late in the film, though, as i understand that’s lifted from Mozart. but Mozart’s nice as well.

but what about the most important part, the cast?

Rorschach
that’s right, i’m taking any excuse i can to reuse this awesome Rorschach photo over and over

OH, YEAH, THAT: THE CASTING OF THE WATCHMEN
basically, there are three characters that really matter to me here: Rorschach, the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan (and in that order). everyone else, well, they should be good, but if those three could be done well, i would probably consider that enough of a victory and go home. for the sake of comparison, if the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Mr. Hyde had been the constantly swearing, human-disparaging, thermographic-visioning, revenge-based-rapist of the Invisible Man that he’d been in the comics… well, i’d have consider THAT film a success. but he wasn’t. anyway, how about some letter grades for no good reason?

Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley): i heard good things going in, and there was no disappointment – Haley was absolutely fantastic as Rorschach. i was saying the other day that he gets all the good lines in the comic, and he did in the film as well; granted, the post-dog-scene speech is quite truncated, but also long as the Pagliacci joke is in there, all can be forgiven. and it is, so there it is. i do miss the comic’s moment where he spares his former landlady abuse because of HER child (who’s very similar to himself) because it’s a neat little scene, but it’s an acceptable loss, and many other things i demanded be in the film (the Pagliacci joke and/or the Big Figure killing). and i have an issue with his… conclusion, but we’ll get to that. anyway, is it wrong of me to say he had some powerful, emotional moments in this film? A+

the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan): same as the above in terms of what i heard and, well, same as the above in the end result – Morgan delivers. actually, the weird part here is that several people have commented to me that Robert Downey Jr. did a good job. granted, there’s some resemblance there, and it’s not like it’s insulting to be mistaken for Downey in that Downey’s a very good actor in his own right (whereas being mistaken for, say, Colin Farrell would suck it hardcore). but while maybe i’m mistaken about this… the guy’s, what, 43? and he’s been around a while? and he’s STILL mistaken for someone else in his big-budget moment of glory? sad. A+

Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup): honestly, Manhattan’s a weird character because he’s supposed to be fairly detached, but it’s got to be done in a way that’s credible so that he doesn’t come off as some magical blue version of a nihilist from the Big Lebowski, and so it’s only right that the guy i consider the biggest star in the film (that would be Crudup, who i describe that way in cast someone wants to go to bat for the star power of Matt Frewer or something) gets the job. and it’s a good one, though, in fairness, Manhattan’s powered as much by effects as acting. he can’t get an A+ because i have to keep seeing his dick; granted, i truly appreciate that Snyder didn’t cave on this point, but still… that’s a lot of flagrant blue genitalia. A

Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson): i can basically sum up his film character with “the changes that were made were acceptable.” i know Snyder basically touched him (and Silk Spectre as well) up because they seemed the most dated in the way that would take people out of the film, and actually, it was all fairly reasonable because it boils down to “the costume looks more modern.” Wilson’s good – not too pudgy to beat up criminals, not so toned that he looks like he never retired – and he does a good job. i suppose i just never felt that strongly about the Nite Owl. still, he has much love for Rorschach, so it’s all good. B+

Ozymandias (Matthew Goode): Ozymandias is just kind of… there in this film, though that probably has something to do with how the whole plot wraps up. stated another way, we follow Rorschach/Nite Owl/Manhattan/Silk Spectre through the plot and the others are where they need to be, and Ozymandias is where he needs to be. all that being said, Goode is, well, good, but the character seems lacking in comparison to the comics at the end – there’s no childish “I DID IT!” self-congratulation after his plans work out; the “bullet-catching” thing is played more as a body-armor thing than “something else i wasn’t sure would work”; and i dislike the change in his big line. yeah, it’s similar, but “i triggered it thirty-five minutes ago” has less punch than “i did it thirty-five minutes ago.” B

Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman): …and this would be the weak link in terms of acting. actually, i don’t think she’s as cringe-inducing as some think, because i attribute some of the issues to her character (who i never found that likable a character) and the way she’s scripted (we’ll get to that), but she’s definitely wooden and the weakest of the heroes. i was also going to call her a “bargain-rate Natalie Portman lookalike” in this film (i think it’s the hair color that does it), but then i thought people might not agree that they look similar, so i dropped it. and yet, here i am talking about it. weird. C-

the rest: basically, the minor characters aren’t as pronounced in this film because back stories and the like have been trimmed down. Matt Frewer looks the part of Moloch and handles the role well, but he should because he’s a solid character actor; Stephen McHattie was a good Nite Owl I, even if i always mistake him for Lance Hendricksen’s little brother; and Carla Gugino as Silk Spectre… well, let me just say that my colleague Smilez would demand i note she always brings two quality assets to the table, without fail. he was not disappointed in this aspect of the film. but everyone, no matter how small, essentially looks the part (case in point: the casting of the psychiatrist) and does the job.

the Comedian
what happened to the American dream? it came true. you’re lookin’ at it.

THE PART WHERE I WHINE AND COMPLAIN ABOUT TINY LITTLE THINGS IN WATCHMEN
–same old complaint: you know what it is: that i refuse to believe 5’7.5″ Malin Ackerman could beat me up, let along the villains in this film. and we’re not talking about someone with super strength or genetic engineering or anything… just a normal woman who can APPARENTLY beat the shit out of men three times her size with ease. i know, i know, it’s the magic of cinema and all that. i just like to bitch about this topic.

–and while we’re on the topic of fights… here’s the thing: it’s not that i think the constant cutting between normal speed and slow-motion during fights looks bad, because it doesn’t. it’s more that when you do it all the time, it becomes an overused joke rather than a cool technique. that’s all i’m saying.

–Danny Woodburn as Big Figure: i demanded that his death be in this film, and it was, and in a fashion true to the comic. but there’s one small thing: casting Danny Woodburn – who played the ridiculous Mickey on Seinfeld – gives the character of Big Figure this randomly comical element that i’m not sure was intended. maybe it was? eh, either way, it’s there.

–Rorschach’s death: so here’s the thing: in the comics, he and Manhattan have their confrontation and everything while the Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II are fucking inside Veidt’s facility, and that’s acceptable. but in the film, right after Rorschach gets his moment of finally, ultimately refusing to compromise in the face of armageddon (on a personal level, anyway), we have the Nite Owl crying and making it HIS moment. it’s not your moment, Nite Owl! you’ll finish out the story alive and rich and happy! fuck off and let Roschach’s death be about RORSCHACH!

Rorschach redux
good night, sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

CONCLUSION-RELATED REMARKS
every so often, you get something you’ve been looking forward to for years and years: Pharoahe Monch’s sophomore album (which took eight years and finally came out as Desire), a sequel to Stephen King & Peter Straub’s the Talisman (which took seventeen years and finally came out as Black House), and that League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen film are examples that spring to mind. but these things are often very, very disappointing (Desire) or terribly shitty (Black House, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen). this, however, was not and i would recommend you all go see it so that you can tell me how distressing my taste in films is. or, failing that, just stare blankly at my shirt. it seems like the popular thing to do today.

in which i yell about… politicians. oh, and also, the men’s bathroom

like we say around here: when janklow’s turbo-bitter and filled with absinthe (which is excellent, by the way) and has no real topic… it’s time for a turbo-angry rant.

men's bathroom
oh, men’s restroom… why must you be the scene of so many horrifying events

on still more proper behavior in the men’s restroom

having addressed this in a rant once before, i was sort of hoping we’d made some progress in the Baltimore-Washington area on bathroom behaviors:

01. now, i get it that sometimes you have a lot of personal property that you have to take into the bathroom with you: coats, suitcases, whatever. and this might cause you to leave it sitting around or hog a stall so that you can hang all your junk up, and that’s fine; that’s sort of the way this whole bathroom thing works. but here’s what’s unacceptable: hanging your coat on a stall door and then using a urinal. it’s not like anyone’s going to use that stall with your coat hanging inside of it, so why don’t YOU use that stall?

granted, this might seem like i’m being extra-bitter because i am a stall-user in my general day-to-day public restroom use, and that would be correct. however, the lack of logic involved still infuriates me. just use the stall!

02. we have simply GOT to have an agreement on how much noise you are allowed to make in the restroom, but more to the point: whatever the agreement is, it has to be something below the level that creeps me out. what’s something that i don’t ever need to hear AND something that i hear more often than i would like? as in, something that i had to hear recently? a man have what appears to be an orgasmic response to using a urinal. i do not care how long you have been holding it and/or how refreshing it feels, CONTROL YOURSELF. enough with the moaning! unless you are literally fucking that urinal, this is completely unacceptable! and it’s also completely unacceptable to fuck a urinal!

in summation, no moaning in the restroom.

lots and lots of pork
for some reason, this “massive amounts of hogs feeding at the trough” image is the only thing i picture when we talk about politics

on this whole “democracy” thing that they claim is going on

you know… i shouldn’t really talk about politics. i tried to beg off from doing so the other night only to get completely livid over the mere thought of these… politicians. i know, i know, it’s all a big game and they’re all on the hustle and we all know this, but still, somehow i find myself able to get completely outraged (probably TOO outraged, but i like to go berserk sometimes) about some new event or statement that’s come out. the recent topics of disgust? this whole “earmarks” thing.

granted, i think we all knew that the opposition to them that was on display last year during the elections was just a show for the elections: we wanted to believe otherwise, of course, but i think we all knew what was up. but still, even taking such a dim view of things, stories like these really get to me:

Lawmakers’ taste for pork returns to Capitol Hill: so last year, 48 of 535 members of Congress forswore earmarks, a shitty less-than-10%-of-Congress number, but still, i suppose a notable chunk. this year? 23. is it wrong of me to assume that the reason a lot of people aren’t repeating what they PLEDGED TO DO is because they assume there’s no need to acknowledge keep their word when it comes to election-year promises? pardon me for being so negative.

Top Democrats cross Obama on earmarks: now let me just say that i don’t think Obama is entirely sincerely about his talk of getting rid of earmarks (he’s cool with signing off on them when they can be blamed on Bush).

also, i apologize for linking to the Washington Times so exclusively; it just happens to be the paper i have found lying around recently. i don’t know what this paper guy is up to, but he delivers in a random fashion. sometimes no paper, sometimes two papers that aren’t the ones you subscribe to!

Eric Holder
yes, it’s true… this man has no dick

on why Eric Holder can “eat a bowl of fuck” or whatever other vulgarity you prefer

oh, Eric Holder… you and your shady talk about my guns. now, i was willing to give Obama’s centrism the benefit of the doubt, and the argument that he didn’t want to spend the kind of political capital an assault weapons bans would require (or, failing that, that he’d be too busy to worry about guns) seemed valid. still, it’s barely been a month into the Obama administration (less than a month for Holder himself) and we’ve already got the Attorney General promoting AWBs… which would, of course, make statements from Obama about keeping his hands off my guns yet another election-year lie from yet another politician. sure, this could just be Holder’s personal opinion, but i don’t think i trust that at this point.

and i also find it annoying when terms like “AK-47s” get thrown around. look, AK-47s aren’t getting sold like that from US gun stores. could they be selling semi-auto AK clones? perhaps. sometimes unrelated guns (like SKSes) get called AKs. i’d just like some accuracy on the topic. i admit this is nitpicking, though, but the language of the debate about guns is an issue with me.

don’t get me wrong: if someone’s illegally selling guns to Mexico (or smuggling them or whatever), lock them up, prosecute them, whatever. enforce the laws now on the books and see how that goes. how is it that the BATFE and/or the Attorney General think this is an issue that deals with certain shops … and yet think a national ban that affects shops that have NOTHING to do with the issue is the appropriate solution?

and i don’t understand the “90% of illegal guns in Mexico come from the US” mainly because i don’t understand why people think that’s the ONLY way they could get there. we’re talking about billion-dollar cartels that make a living smuggling illegal product from nation to nation and, in the process, corrupting state and federal authorities, including things like police and the military. we always hear about organizations in South America that are a) hooked up with drug dealers and b) armed to the teeth. so rebels and paramilitaries further south can sell cocaine and purchase firepower without US gun dealers being involved… but Mexican criminals cannot? and again, we’re also hearing talk of things like grenades and rocket launchers that are not being sold over the counter in the US. so if someone can illegally purchase rocket launchers… why not automatic weapons?

anyway, i’m pretty sure i’m not going to be any less angry about all this next week, but, hey, we’ll see… but if we could just stop guys from moaning like maniacs in the public restrooms, that’d be a good start. i’ll take what i can get at this point.