“lyrics will use the phrase “…and I’m Swayze,” meaning that the speaker has become “like a ghost”…”

now, around these parts our unabashed fandom of Patrick Swayze is pretty well-known; while i am not going to argue that he qualifies as the acting superior of, say, Robert De Niro (my default choice for America’s Greatest Actor), i will go to bat as a general rule for his filmography. to be specific, i believe the exact phrase i used regarding this in the conversation that has spawned this update concept was, “i can say i will always stop what i am doing to watch something from Swayze’s filmography, with absolutely no regrets. well, except for that one movie that was nothing but regrets.” granted, i immediately undermined this bold statement by cracking wise about some specific films, but it DID make me wonder exactly how accurate my hyperbole was.

so basically, what i figured i’d do is run through Swayze’s films and see a) if i have actually seen all this stuff, which is unlikely when you consider some of the material, but more likely when you consider i say things like, “well, i have seen that episode of M*A*S*H Swayze guest-starred in about 13 times,” and b) maybe, you know, crack wise about some of them. i am, however, going to eliminate television shows, television movies, voice work and cameos from this list. now let us adventure through the past of Swayze!

and yes, this is the second time in four years i’ve made a list of Swayze things. what the hell? only i think last time i ranked a performance I HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN, so you tell me what the hell was going on there. anyway, let’s move on.

HERE BEGINS JANKLOW’S ADVENTURE THROUGH PATRICK SWAYZE’S FILMOGRAPHY

Patrick Swayze in... Red Dawn
yeah, i’m reusing this image because, quite frankly, have you ever seen a better one of Swayze? i rest my case

Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979); Swayze’s role: Ace Johnson
has janklow seen this? not at all. it seems to have a lot to do with competitive roller-skating (i guess this was popular in the 1970s, because the only films i can really recall having a significant amount of roller-skating going on were ATL and Rollerball), so i am not exactly chomping at the bit to do so. i guess that makes me 0 of 1 for his filmography so far.
janklow’s opinion: well, i haven’t seen it. but the internet DOES tell me that Swayze “roller skated competitively as a teenager,” which is pretty excellent in that ridiculous way that it turns out that Kris Kristofferson has done EVERYTHING in life.
regrets? none! can’t regret seeing a terrible movie i never saw! 1 for 1!

Uncommon Valor (1983); Swayze’s role: Kevin Scott
has janklow seen this? so as i have seen a lot of Vietnam War films, i really, really thought i had seen it. but upon reading the synopsis, it really seems like i haven’t and maybe am just fantasizing some fictional movie where Swayze cuts a swath of vengeance through a plot that’s cobbled together from Missing In Action II and Rambo II. this is a movie that i would watch if it was real, obviously. anyway, 0 of 2.
janklow’s opinion: it cannot be any worse than Missing In Action II, which i have seen at LEAST twice. so it has to be worth viewing at least once. consider this one added to my queue.
regrets? well, Ebert gave this movie a thumbs down, so it probably sucks. still, you can’t regret seeing a movie you’ve never seen. 2 for 2!

The Outsiders (1983); Swayze’s role: Darrel “Darry” Curtis
has janklow seen this? i recall watching this film back in my grade school days because we’d read the book (ugh) and it was one of those “let’s view the film adaptation and Have Opinions about the differences between the two” kind of events. so we’re finally on the board at 1 of 3 Swayze films actually viewed.
janklow’s opinion: so, to be totally fair, i hate the book the Outsiders and i hate that someone’s named Ponyboy in it, and all in all, i didn’t like this movie, although it has a white-hot cast for this time period and i don’t think my hatred of the film has anything to do with Swayze (although i cannot say the same for that “Ralph Macchio” character). and i think it’s cool he worked with C. Thomas Howell in a film before… well, we’ll come back to that.
regrets? not really: i don’t like the source material, but people seem to legitimately like this movie, and i can’t say it was terrible, more that it wasn’t for me. so no regrets! 3 for 3!

Red Dawn (1984); Swayze’s role: Jed Eckert
has janklow seen this? OF FUCKING COURSE. seriously, i used to religiously watch this movie all the time when i was a kid, which is weird because a) i always remember it coming on around Easter time despite the fact that b) back in the 1980s, this was THE most violent film (in terms of that whole “acts of violence per minute” concept) out there. this might explain a lot about my upbringing. 2 of 4!
janklow’s opinion: i love Red Dawn to death. once again, we’ve got a white-hot cast for this time period, plus America’s hero Powers Boothe (i mean, he DOES have a great name) and the plot alone (alternate 1980s where the USSR invades the US and gets fought by a band of teenage guerrillas known as the Wolverines) is priceless. PRICELESS. yeah, it’s not a perfect film, but it’s about as fun as a 1980s movie gets.
regrets? i am going to say no because i ADORE this movie… but i do sort of regret the fact that some money-hungry executives allowed someone to make a shitty, soulless remake of this film. still, that doesn’t count against the original film. 4 for 4!

Patrick Swayze in... Steel Dawn
i think my brother-in-law actually watched this movie on purpose recently. may god have mercy on his soul

Grandview, U.S.A. (1984); Swayze’s role: Ernie “Slam” Webster
has janklow seen this? nope, and based on the long-winded plot summary on Wikipedia, i do not think that i am missing very much in this regard. 2 of 5.
janklow’s opinion: is it weird to anyone else that Swayze has TWO films whose titles end in “U.S.A” only five years into his career? because i find that weird. anyway, this film sounds completely nuts (to quote the aforementioned Wikipedia article, there is a scene that can be described as “Later that night, Candy and Donny are having sex in Slam’s house when, suddenly, Slam appears on a bulldozer and knocks the walls down. The cops arrest Slam.”), but not in a good way.
regrets? well, it’s the movie for which Swayze wrote the song “She’s Like the Wind,” but since they didn’t lose it, i have no regrets in that regard. and if it was all Swayze smashing shit with bulldozers? it would be Regret Central… but it’s not. 5 for 5!

Youngblood (1986); Swayze’s role: Derek Sutton
has janklow seen this? apparently not. i was sort of hoping that it was some kind of crazy 1980s vampire movie (as there can NEVER be enough of those), but it’s just some hockey drama that’s more of a Rob Lowe vehicle than anything. or at least that’s the impression i get. 2 of 6. boy, it really seems like i am slacking on my Swayze viewing.
janklow’s opinion: well, i have known dudes who love hockey movies and none of them have suggested i watch this; apparently Swayze did not sweeten that pot for them. and it appears to end up with an incredible improbable hockey fight AND Swayze gets seriously injured by someone Rob Lowe beats up at the end of the movie, so i think it’s safe to say that if i HAD seen this movie, i would probably have vomited into a bag during it.
regrets? in keeping with our policy of dodging trash, no regrets. 6 for 6!

Dirty Dancing (1987); Swayze’s role: Johnny Castle (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe)
has janklow seen this? i have, of course, seen Dirty Dancing, if for no other reason than i was a kid in the 1980s and my mother and sister essentially forced me to watch it by default. also, did you know Swayze is excellent? because he is the best thing going in this film. 3 of 7.
janklow’s opinion: well, it definitely seems like a movie pitched to the ladies; it’s a coming-of-age story about a female teenage, for crying out loud. but between Swayze and Jerry Orbach declaring that “nobody puts Baby in a corner” (a popular phrase i think i still don’t understand) and the movie’s overall ridiculousness, it’s just kind of fun. that’s right, i support everyone watching Dirty Dancing. although i want to say for the record that i don’t see what’s so great about the actual dancing in this movie.
regrets? the closest thing i have to a regret is not realize for YEARS that “She’s Like the Wind” was written and performed by Swayze. shame on me! anyway, it’s not like that goddamn Seven Brides For Seven Brothers movie. no regrets! 7 for 7!

Steel Dawn (1987); Swayze’s role: Nomad
has janklow seen this? unfortunately, i have. this is, to ruin the suspense, “that one movie that was nothing but regrets.” 4 of 8.
janklow’s opinion: honestly, as ridiculous as this makes me sound, i think this is a good idea for a film: a nomadic swordsman wanders through a post-apocalyptic world (let’s assume it’s America), sort of looking for some guy that killed his mentor, with no one really clarifying the apocalypse or what happened after it, and everyone with edged weapons because no one has guns. then he ends up defending a town against a local dude that wants its water. however, despite the presence of Brion James, this film is an absolute mess: no good action, no good dialogue, awkward chemistry between Swayze AND HIS REAL-LIFE WIFE, lame villains. honestly, i think people consider this to be a rip-off of the Road Warrior and thus doomed to suck, but i think it could have been saved! of course, i also think that about the Godfather, Part III.
regrets? nothing but regrets. 7 for 8. but this was the permissible exception!

Patrick Swayze in... Road House
still the gold standard for bouncer movies, guys; i don’t think we’re ever going to top it

Tiger Warsaw (1988); Swayze’s role: Chuck “Tiger” Warsaw (shocking)
has janklow seen this? no, i have not, despite the fact that it’s nestled in between his great 1980s phase. 4 of 9.
janklow’s opinion: well, this film has an incredibly vacant Wikipedia entry –literally, the contents are “Chuck “Tiger” Warsaw (Swayze) brought sorrow to his family fifteen years earlier when he shot his father Michael (Lee Richardson) and made him a semi-invalid. After fifteen years of self-destruction, Tiger returns home to the steel production community of Sharon to seek forgiveness”– so it’s hard to say if i’m missing something or not, but let’s just assume that this was an entirely forgettable venture.
regrets? it seems unlikely that i should have any. 8 for 9!

Next Of Kin (1989); Swayze’s role: Truman Gates
has janklow seen this? you know, it sort of feels like i have, because this weird plot of “Swayze as a Kentucky-born Chicago cop who gets into an inadvertent blood feud with the Mafia and probably wins, and Liam Neeson is there, and Adam Baldwin is there” sounds familiar. but i am going to be honest: i probably have not seen it, or i would assuredly have strong opinions about it, and i don’t. 4 of 10.
janklow’s opinion: well, Swayze got nominated for a Razzie in 1989; as he also had Road House released in 1989, and since that can’t be what he got nominated for a Razzie for, he must have been deemed to have done poor work in Next Of Kin by the precursors to today’s internet nerds. still, this film features Ben Stiller being tortured to death, and between that and the above synopsis, it’s very hard for me to believe this film is THAT bad.
regrets? well, as we’ve said, you can’t regret seeing a movie you haven’t seen. but i am THIS CLOSE to feeling bad about not seeing it. still, 9 of 10!

Road House (1989); Swayze’s role: James Dalton
has janklow seen this? well, not to be redundant, but OF FUCKING COURSE. in fact, i am pretty sure that a long time ago, i did a house of hate update that covered this. 5 of 11.
janklow’s opinion: if i am being honest, Road House is pretty much the definition of a movie that’s entirely fun to watch and where, clearly, the cast (Swayze, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazzara) is just having a great time with the ridiculousness of it all, but which we cannot (with a straight face, anyway) call a GOOD movie. that said, as a half-assed film snob, i would absolutely watch Road House before a lot of GOOD movies. but i am known to be crazy like that. and i do love me some Road House. my colleague J.Millz pointed out that all door staff in America know and love this film, but i think it’s great for everyone, what with the crazy fights and ridiculous one-liners and all.
regrets? NOT A ONE. it’s goddamn ROAD HOUSE, after all. pain don’t hurt! 10 of 11!

Ghost (1990); Swayze’s role: Sam Wheat (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe for a second time, presumably because Ghost makes ladies as wet as October)
has janklow seen this? well, like i said about Dirty Dancing, i have “if for no other reason than i was a kid in the 1980s and my mother and sister essentially forced me to watch it by default.” 6 of 12. hey, we’re getting back to a respectable percentage of Swayze films seen!
janklow’s opinion: so … you know Ghost is not really a movie meant for my demographic (which would be “cool dudes”) and that’s probably going to seal the deal right there, but to be frank, i still think it sucks as a movie. fine, fine, he loves Demi Moore, wow. but while the supernatural aspects are okay in sort of a nuts-and-bolts way, the thriller stuff just seems lame to me. it’s like a more romantic version of Darkman up in here.
regrets? on the one hand, no, because this is the movie that gave us the title of this update. but to be honest, this is a balance between “it’s very well-known and i can say i have seen it and rate it honestly” and “i don’t fucking like Ghost.” let’s give me a break and say “no real regrets, no matter how convenient that is.” 11 of 12.

Patrick Swayze in... Point Break
i hear they’re going to remake this movie without any surfing in it, to which i can only say, what the hell, man

Point Break (1991); Swayze’s role: Bodhi (for which he was nominated for some damn MTV Movie Award for “more desirable male,” as if he needs an award to prove THAT)
has janklow seen this? yes. and i have actually watched it while sitting on my deck cleaning assault weapons, if you wanted me to hit some crazy “redneck ridiculousness” points regarding Point Break. 7 of 13! a majority!
janklow’s opinion: remember what i said about Road House? “pretty much the definition of a movie that’s entirely fun to watch … but which we cannot (with a straight face, anyway) call a GOOD movie?” that definitely applies here as well. i will weirdly argue that it’s not as good as Road House: Swayze as a leading man is superior to Reeves as a leading man, and i do not even say this to mock Keanu; and Road House, thanks to its setting, is somehow a more realistic scenario for a film. but all that being said, Point Break is still pretty cool. and there’s few Keanu moments as funny as the “rage-shooting into the air.”
regrets? nope, Point Break is terrible, terrible fun. 12 of 13.

City Of Joy (1992); Swayze’s role: Max Lowe
has janklow seen this? yeah… no. sorry about that. 7 of 14. so much for that majority.
janklow’s opinion: well, it sounds fucking TERRIBLE: basically, Swayze is a “disillusioned Texas doctor” who moves to Calcutta and, through a series of events (aren’t they all), becomes very emotionally invested in this slum neighborhood called the City of Joy. that being said, it was directed by Roland Joffé, who has a legitimate filmography (i really do dig the Mission), so it’s probably more serious and boring than anything else. i guess what i am saying is that my opinion is not likely to get any better based on an actual viewing of this film.
regrets? nope, as i have not seen it. 13 of 14.

Father Hood (1993); Swayze’s role: Jack Charles
has janklow seen this? actually, i have, and this might be the last one before we enter a dry spell of Swayze films that i have not seen for reasons of all sorts. anyway, it was the early 1990s and so we’ll blame my mother/sister for making me watch this. 8 of 15.
janklow’s opinion: you can probably guess the drill: Swayze’s a career criminal who, when burdened by the appearance of his kids, first seeks to ditch them and commit crimes (some kind of heist or robbery or whatever), but ultimately goes straight (and probably stops all the crime) because of Love For His Kids. you know, the love that didn’t exist for the years and years they were growing up while he was out committing crimes? then again, i recall Halle Berry being the love interest of sorts in this film, and we’re talking prime early 1990s Halle Berry, so maybe that explains his decision to go straight.
regrets? alright, i waffled last time, so i’ll make up for it here: yes, regrets exist. it’s not a FUN movie. it’s not a GOOD movie. it’s just a stupid fucking family comedy that i cannot remember a single positive thing about beyond Swayze’s glowing smile. full-on fucking regrets, and there goes my contention. 13 of 15.

Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures Of Pecos Bill (1995); Swayze’s role: Pecos Bill
has janklow seen this? a crazy Disney movie involving folk heroes sort of being real? i think i would remember it if i had. actually, in fairness, i think i DO remember some ads/trailers for this movie that featured Swayze, but i cannot in good conscience say i actually remember seeing the movie itself. 8 of 16.
janklow’s opinion: seriously, it sounds entirely berserk: a daydreaming child (fittingly enough, played by Nick Stahl, who specializes in being in crazy movies) goes on to, “through a series of incredible adventures, [meet up] with the legends that his father has spoken about – cowboy Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze), lumberjack Paul Bunyan (Oliver Platt), and ex-slave and strongman John Henry (Roger Aaron Brown),” and then have them help him fight a land developer. but not so berserk that it would actually motivate me to watch it of my own accord.
regrets? haven’t seen it, so no regrets to be had. 14 of 16.

Patrick Swayze in... Black Dog
are these two guys bad enough dudes to rescue the president? it sure looks like it

Three Wishes (1995); Swayze’s role: Jack McCloud
has janklow seen this? god no. one prays that will never change. 8 of 17.
janklow’s opinion: it sounds TERRIBLE. TERRIBLE. reaching new lows terrible. Swayze is a magical drifter who bonds with a single mother’s child over motherfucking baseball and, i presume, from there works his way into the family dynamic. yes, that is correct, he is literally a drifter and, i think, is introduced to the family when the mother hits him with her car. this sounds like a textbook script for a TERRIBLE romantic comedy to be played on the Hallmark channel and make me convinced there’s no purpose to humanity’s continued existence.
regrets? again, i haven’t seen it, so there are no possible regrets. 15 of 17.

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995); Swayze’s role: Vida Boheme (for which he received his third Golden Globe nomination; no luck on winning any of them, though)
has janklow seen this? no, and to be honest, it’s probably not anywhere near as bad as i imagine. still, i am not about to risk it. 8 of 18.
janklow’s opinion: i think we all know what the scheme here was: cast three macho actors (well, Swayze and Snipes clearly qualify; Leguizamo is not quite the same level, but is clearly a macho guy playing against type) as drag queens and collect dollars and awards from the results. i don’t think they QUITE got the results they wanted (i guess it was at least profitable), but i suppose they garnered some level of satisfaction from freaking out the squares. well… good for them.
regrets? no; i think this is the kind of movie i would end up being annoyed with even if it was awesome through and through. 16 of 18.

Letters From A Killer (1998); Swayze’s role: Race Darnell
has janklow seen this? no; like i said, we’re entering a phase where i admittedly have not seen a lot of his work. 8 of 19.
janklow’s opinion: the plot (“a man who is falsely convicted of the murder of his wife … during his time in jail, he finds comfort from four women with whom he corresponds … he is finally freed from prison only to be framed for yet two more murders which he did not commit”) sounds pretty ho-hum, so we’re probably talking about something that is either forgettable in every way, or is elevated by Swayze’s performance (as there isn’t much else of a cast involved here). and as much as i enjoy Swayze’s work, he’s not THAT phenomenal of an actor, so i suppose we should be realistic and take a dim view of this film. that being said, “Race Darnell” is a pretty excellent name for a character, so i did miss out on THAT.
regrets? “haven’t seen it, so no regrets to be had.” 17 of 19.

Black Dog (1998); Swayze’s role: Jack Crews
has janklow seen this? unfortunately, no. 8 of 20.
janklow’s opinion: seriously, the plot is Swayze as a truck driver with a checkered past hauling a load of illegal guns which are trying to be captured by criminals who feel cheated (and are led by fucking MEAT LOAF) and the FBI/ATF/whoever, who back in 1998 were less about allowing illegal guns to be smuggled all over the place. ZING! oh, and Randy Travis is his sidekick and there’s a pit bull named Tiny riding in the truck with them. it all sounds gloriously insane, much in the vein of Point Break’s 100% realism, and thus i actually feel like this is one of the few Swayze movies that i have not seen that i really, really should. first Next Of Kin, then Black Dog.
regrets? strictly speaking, i do not have regrets under the terms we have laid out for such regrets. 18 of 20.

Patrick Swayze in... Donnie Darko
this role always leaves me torn between “such a good performance” and “HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO SWAYZE”

Forever Lulu (2000); Swayze’s role: Ben Clifton
has janklow seen this? as a general rule, a movie named Forever Lulu is never going to be one that i will watch. 8 of 21.
janklow’s opinion: an ignoble start to the 2000s, this movie is apparently so lame that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. i am sure you can work this joke out in any manner you see fit to, but whatever the worst, most terribly lame movie you can think of is, i bet you that it has a Wikipedia page. unless, of course, the turbo-lame work of film you were thinking of was Forever Lulu, in which case, you’ve won at the internet! look, my go-to film for “the worst fucking film i have ever, ever seen” is Glitter, and Glitter has a goddamn Wikipedia page. this might indicate something is wrong with the world, or that Forever Lulu is really, really bad.
regrets? “haven’t seen it, so no regrets to be had.” 19 of 21.

Donnie Darko (2001); Swayze’s role: Jim Cunningham
has janklow seen this? of course, as it was once very popular with nerds on the internet, and internet nerds are my kind of people. 9 of 22.
janklow’s opinion: i really, really enjoyed this film when it came out, although it’s probably not aged that well (it’s been a little while since i have seen it), it’s more fashionable to bash it than love it, Richard Kelly didn’t seem to capitalize on his success her, and the director’s cut idea seemed ill-advised. but that all being said, it still Swayze’s got a plum supporting role as a motivational speaker inadvertently busted for possessing child pornography, and he really does nail it. so even if you DO find the film more bad than good, you’ve still got his work to look forward to. plus, it’s got a phenomenal soundtrack no matter HOW you slice it.
regrets? no, i still stand by Donnie Darko at this point in time. maybe i should watch it again? 20 of 22.

Green Dragon (2001); Swayze’s role: Gunnery Sergeant Jim Lance
has janklow seen this? sadly, no. 9 of 23.
janklow’s opinion: well, it’s not exactly a Vietnam War film as much as it is an “immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War” film, so my failing to have viewed this film is less extreme. and Swayze/Forest Whitaker is a solid tandem to headline a film, to be fair. but considering that the internet claims “initially, Bui did not want Patrick Swayze for the role of Jim Lance due to fears that his big name would overshadow the story and message of the small film,” my reaction is, “i bet this is one of those films that the writer/director thinks is REALLY good and REALLY important and will just leave me thinking “eh.” this might, of course, be unfair.
regrets? still having no regrets over films i have failed to watch. 21 of 23!

Waking Up in Reno (2002); Swayze’s role: Roy Kirkendall
has janklow seen this? an advertisement calls it a “swinging feel-good comedy?” yeah, absolutely not. 9 of 24.
janklow’s opinion: first off, i don’t understand what “comedy drama” means: dramas can have jokes, you know, and comedies moments of seriousness. so frankly, the fact that someone’s trying to claim something’s a “comedy drama” turns me off completely. also, the plot? well… it “focuses on two redneck couples taking a road trip from Little Rock to Reno to see a monster truck rally.” so that’s strikes two through about one thousand. also, is it just mean, or does the name “Roy Kirkendall” sound like one of those “oh, man, this is such a funny COMEDY NAME” name? also, the cover is fucking APPALLING to look at.
regrets? …still having no regrets over films i have failed to watch. 22 of 24!

Patrick Swayze in... Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
at least, i am assuming this is Swayze in that movie, because i didn’t actually watch it

One Last Dance (2003); Swayze’s role: Travis MacPhearson
has janklow seen this? it’s a dance movie and i don’t want any part of that. 9 of 25.
janklow’s opinion: to be fair, this is really a project for Swayze’s wife, which he DID probably owe her after that whole Steel Dawn fiasco we talked about above. it’s basically a movie she directed and wrote that revolves around her and Swayze showing off their dance movies. now, to be honest, that’s probably a much better plan than saying, “hey, honey, what do you say we start in a weird sword adventure through a post-apocalyptic wasteland?” since, if nothing else, we know they actually CAN dance. but in the end, i will always give weird sword adventures through post-apocalyptic wastelands 100 more chances than even the best dance movies. that’s just how i roll.
regrets? yes, well, you know my position. 23 of 25.

11:14 (2003); Swayze’s role: Frank
has janklow seen this? i am really getting disappointed in myself for how few of these i have seen. 9 of 26.
janklow’s opinion: okay, so, Wikipedia tells us that this movie “involves a series of interconnected events that converge up to the same time at 11:14 p.m. The connections between the events are not apparent at first, but are gradually revealed by a series of progressively receding flashbacks” … which means it’s 99% likely to be one of those films where the idea is SO novel and SO cool that we spend most of our time and energy on that, and that tends to not leave a lot left over for the performances. then again, it DOES involve someone’s penis getting cut off by a window somehow. that has to count for something.
regrets? yet ANOTHER Swayze film that i have not seen. 24 of 26!

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004); Swayze’s role: Dance class instructor
has janklow seen this? no, no, no, and we’re down to 33% of these. 9 of 27.
janklow’s opinion: so i guess this is a weird scenario where someone said, “hey, let’s remake Dirty Dancing, and set it during the Cuban Revolution for some reason!” okay, granted, the Cubans are known to love to dance, or so they tell me, so i guess there’s that factor involved… but still. anyway, Swayze shows up in here in an homage to the original as a throwaway dance instructor role or something. so that’s cute, but is it really a reason to watch this movie? well, i suppose that depends on how obsessive your Swayze fandom is.
regrets? well, i haven’t seen this one either. 25 of 27.

Keeping Mum (2005); Swayze’s role: Lance
has janklow seen this? (hangs head in shame). 9 of 28.
janklow’s opinion: oh, a comedy with Rowan Atkinson in it? yeah, i’m out. i mean, okay, i know the guy has/had his fans and so i suppose, if any of those fans are still living and employed, that’s who’s being targeted here, but that’s not a demographic i’m part of. i mean, come on, it’s not a Swayze movie, it’s a Rowan Atkinson movie that happens to employ Swayze. i appreciate the effort, but it’s not going to get me to watch some random lame comedy, you know?
regrets? running out of ways to put this… 26 of 28.

Patrick Swayze in... Powder Blue
so i think we can all see what i mean about “trying too hard”

Jump! (2007); Swayze’s role: Richard Pressburger
has janklow seen this? (continues hanging head in shame). 9 of 29.
janklow’s opinion: so this is around the time Swayze’s sick, and i have to think that, since we’re sort of entering the tail end of his career regardless and the TV movies have been especially thick as of late (hence the more sparse nature of these later films), he wanted to do something a little more serious here, which this vaguely seems to be. that said… i don’t really think it can have been that good. more like a sincere attempt to be serious, is all, you know? anyway, i didn’t want it and i don’t plan to and here we are.
regrets? well… 27 of 29.

Powder Blue (2009); Swayze’s role: Velvet Larry
has janklow seen this? well, let’s close with failure: 9 of 30. what a catastrophe this scoring turned out to be!
janklow’s opinion: if you look at the list of people in this film (Swayze, Jessica Biel, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker) and then you look at the roles they’re playing (sleazy owner of a strip club, dancer and single mother, head of a corporate crime organization, former crime employee, suicidal ex-priest), it seems pretty clear to me that maybe we’re all just trying a BIT too hard here. let’s just go ahead and say “well…” and walk away from this whole mess right now, what do you say?
regrets? same deal. 28 of 30.

so in conclusion, i was wrong: i didn’t have just one regret, i had two. but since i was ESSENTIALLY right? fuck it, i’m calling my bold-ass statement accurate. there we go! and now this hot mess is finally concluded after about a month in the making. wow.

talking about Rick Ross, and trying not to hate on this king-sized sack of crab meats 24/7

for 2013, i eschewed my usual policy of making a resolution to do something like “bake all the pies” or “lose all the weight” in order to make some negative resolutions, one of which might actually apply to this website. but recent conversation makes me feel a LITTLE bad about such negativity, so what i have decided to do is be a little positive for a change, and a recent video viewing has given me something to be vaguely positive about: that giant sack of crab meats known professional as “Rick Ross.”

now, i have ripped on Ross many times on this site, despite the fact that i know people that i respect who love him to death and, you know, if i go digging in my milk crates of CDs, i bet i can sadly find a Rick Ross album in there. these things happen! but i am man enough to admit that he’s more infuriating on a personal level rather than a professional level, since, let’s be honest, there is a lot more dishonesty to sell records in the hip-hop industry than just the stuff coming out of Ross, and it’s that dishonesty that makes me object to him. professional, he’s clearly a worker and a furious self-promoter and that’s that. he’s not a lyrical mastermind or anything like that.

so as a tip of my hat to my grandmother, who is not a Rick Ross fan AT ALL, but who likes positivity, here we go with…

13 REASONS WHY JANKLOW IS WILLING TO ADMIT RICK ROSS MIGHT NOT BE ALL BAD

Rick Ross' beard
GAZE UPON THE GLORY OF THIS BEARD

13. occasionally, he actually makes music that doesn’t suck
some things run against this: he’s been very prolific (which is not something in favor of minimizing the shitty music you make) and his strengths clearly run more towards “picking some quality production and collaborators” and not so much “writing some damn lyrics.” that said, if you ARE good at picking production/collaborators and you keep cranking out tunes, you’ll occasionally stumble on some solid material. i happen to think Port Of Miami (this is the Ross album i admittedly own) is overlong and bloated with sub-par material, but i wouldn’t own it if “Push It” and “I’m Bad” weren’t kind of my jams.

12. he rocks a high-quality beard
there’s not much else to say here: the man rocks a beard of impressive size and texture, and i stand impressed with it. in fact, i can probably think of people who are not big rap fans and certainly not big Rick Ross fans who would STILL acknowledge that Ross sports a fairly impressive beard (J.Miles springs to mind). look, we’re not talking about Civil War era beards circa Gods and Generals here, but that’s a bygone era when men sported beards so impressive they were capable of stopping space and time (hence Stonewall Jackson’s impressive run in combat, despite his intense religion-based insanity), and that era isn’t coming back. Rick Ross simply sports a high-end beard meant for our modern times. it might pale a little in comparison to his MMG colleague Stalley’s, but come on, more than one man at a time can have a cool beard.

11. he seems to actually promote artists signed to his label
look, he COULD be fucking them over financially (i consider that very likely). and he CLEARLY assisted in fucking over my boy Pill, although we should admit that Asylum seemed to have something to do with that. but while a lot of artists seem to pull in artists with a buzz and then do nothing with them (i’m looking at you, Young Jeezy, and what you did to my hero Freddie Gibbs, although a LOT of artists seem to do this), it’s also fair to say that Ross really does push his guys: he’s released two MMG compilation albums that gave out some shine, and both Wale and Meek Mill have gotten releases (Meek Mill also being a guy kept on the bench by another notable artist previously). now this may fade out as i think MMG is losing some steam, but i can’t hate on the fact that Ross seems to have legitimately given a fuck about his people.

Rick Ross, enjoying a nice chair
honestly, it’s all for the best that he stays seated all the time: he doesn’t want to exert himself into a three-seizure day, and i don’t really want to see him moving around

10. his predilection for staying seated as much as possible cracks me up
i first noticed this during his video for “MC Hammer,” where Ross dances FURIOUSLY despite being stationed in a chair; granted, it’s lazy as hell to make fat jokes about a fat man who does his dancing while seated, but that’s immediately where my mind went. it was HILARIOUS. and then just the other day, i’m checking out this video for Pusha T’s song “Millions” (which features Rick Ross), and what do i see? Rick Ross dancing while hanging out in a chair. now, it’s a little overshadowed by Pusha T’s insane level of dancing (this video sadly makes me suspect the artist formerly known as Terror might have a coke problem), but it’s still seated dancing. and i love it for its pure shamelessness. and speaking of “Millions”…

09. his solid chemistry with Pusha T…
i don’t like Rick Ross that much, but i love Pusha T, and on the last couple of releases from said Pusha, Fear Of God/Fear Of God II (there’s a reason why i lump these as one release) and Wrath Of Caine, Rick Ross has shown up (cue Pusha’s “EGHCK” ad-lib at the mere thought) and, most shocking of all, featured adequately on probably the best tracks from each: “I Still Wanna” from the former and “Millions” from the latter. now, okay, these songs have solid production (Lee Major and Southside/Kanye West, respectively) and are essentially held down by Pusha T (and, to a less extent, Ab-Liva on the former track), but i cannot deny that Rick Ross showed up, did his thing, and not only did the songs not collapse under the proverbial weight of his awfulness, but they actually turned out well.

08. …as well as with those other aforementioned collaborators
ultimately, i may think Ross is fake as shit and a poor rap artist, but he seems to work with a lot of people i respect, and there has got to be a reason for that. sure, there’s got to be an element of embracing the commercial aspects of a turbo-popular rap artist that even those i consider above reproach are going to find hard to turn down, but still, he’s managed to hang around for a minute now and ever expand the number of artists he’s done SOMETHING with, so i have to consider the possibility there’s a LITTLE more going on there than “well, i guess we can make a couple of extra dollars by throwing this crab meats eating fool on a couple of our records.”

Rick Ross' one true love
this actually qualifies as pornography for Rick Ross

07. as far as i can tell, he’s yet to sing on any of his releases
which matters to me because, damn it, if there’s one thing i DON’T want from rap artists, it’s awful attempts to sing. i don’t care if you can sing a little or if you’re trying to pull off some bullshit about how this is an emotional topic and thus you feel compelled to sing and blah blah blah, i don’t want to hear that nonsense. period. now, it’s never going to be enough to turn me off from some artist i really do like, but it’s definitely a deal-breaker for artists that don’t mean shit to me (i’m looking at you, French Montana, as you are goddamn terrible in every respect). but as far as i can tell –and please, someone, prove me wrong– Ross has never sung on any of his songs (or on anyone else’s song). and i give credit where credit is due.

06. the whole “crab meats” thing
search Google for “crab meats” and you’ll see Rick Ross results immediately; you might need to run with “crab meats” in quotes, but either way, i think you get Rick Ross results very quickly. the joke: Rick Ross dropped the line “used to run the street, young nigga bare feet/now i’m in the suites and i’m eatin’ crab meats” in his song “Mafia Music,” and his use of the phrase “crab meats” has become an ongoing way to generically mock the man… and it never, ever gets old. well, at least it never gets old as far as i am concerned, and isn’t that what really matters?

05. he clearly has a work ethic
there’s a few artists who i don’t really love that much (if at all) but whom i have to respect for the fact that they get in the studio and produce: Tupac probably pioneered this concept, as i was never a huge Pac fan, but remain staggered by the amount of posthumous records he made possible by grinding out tracks; Lil’ Wayne (who i don’t care for) was once much the same, and i think it’s fair to throw Curren$y (who i am mixed in opinion on) on that list, given his steady stream of releases. Ross isn’t necessarily as prolific as those guys, but since the time Port Of Miami dropped in 2006 until 2012, the man’s put out 5 albums, 2 compilation albums for his label, a fistful of mixtapes, and countless gust appearances. i don’t have to like much of that output to admit that the guy at least puts in the hours at his job. there are a lot of big stars who feel less motivated.

Rick Ross, shirtless
some things, you just can’t unsee

04. any man who loves Scarface this much can’t be ALL bad
granted, it’s not like a love of Scarface is anything unique to Rick Ross, and as a Miami-based artist, i figure it’s to be expected. but come on, there’s a reason why everyone loves Scarface: it’s fucking AWESOME. and ultimately, our shared love of this classic movie is probably some common ground for Rick Ross and i to share without anyone getting hostile. and Rick Ross clearly loves it: he sampled it and its soundtrack for various purposes on his first two albums, and i have to presume his tales of being a cocaine kingpin are less “shit i did in the streets” and more “shit i saw Al Pacino do in the movies.” but maybe that’s just me being negative?

03. his total embrace of his awful, awful physique
granted, i really, really wish he would keep a shirt on at all times, but i have long felt that way about many artists who have better physiques than Rick Ross. the thing is, though, i think even HE knows he’s fat and disgusting and he just doesn’t give a shit about feeling bad about it. i would never, ever want to compare Ross to the Notorious B.I.G. (a man who could, you know, really rap), but they do have a similar embrace of embodying the dynamic that led Biggie to declare himself “heartthrob never, black and ugly as ever.” this is an embrace i can respect.

02. the release of Gunplay onto the world
internet dudes seem to currently love Gunplay as much as they once loved the Clipse back in the day when their brand of coke rap had the internet going nuts, and since we’re here on the internet… seriously, though, just for “Bible On The Dash,” i can’t hate on Gunplay. and even though i sort of suspect Ross was secretly trying to slide his little MMG group Triple C’s aside in favor of all these higher-profile artists he’s subsequently signed, he’s still allowed this ridiculous maniac to prosper and make records. and for that, i give him credit. i do note that i consider this different than actually promoting artists like Meek Mill and Wale because while those are the kinds of guys who had a buzz and could thus have been shelved or pushed, i can’t remember ANYONE giving a fuck about Gunplay before Ross gave him a push.

William Leonard Roberts II
like i said, absolutely SHAMELESS

01. his absolutely SHAMELESS state of denial
so, long story short, Rick Ross once worked as a correctional officer, and while many (if not all) rap artists exaggerate (if not completely fictionalize) their backgrounds/criminal histories, claiming to be a multimillionaire drug kingpin while ACTUALLY have worked as a correctional officer is an incredible contradiction. and accordingly, Ross has been attacked by rivals and media for this … only to completely deny it for some time, before moving on to a more current “it was my legit job while drug dealing/break from the hustle” claims.

now, first i found this infuriating because of the lies involved, and THEN i found this infuriating because, hell, we all know rappers are storytellers and none of them are drug kingpins, so let’s just admit it. but now? i am just stunned that he blew this off and none of his fans seemed to mind. not one person i know stopped listening to Ross or buying his records as a result, and i cannot think of any artists who stopped working with him. and all i can say about this now? “damn, well-played.”

and there we go! now i shall go back to hating on Rick Ross as per the normal state of affairs.

Big Boi > André 3000; nothing more really needs to be said

once upon a time, there was this rap group –well, i guess they’re really just a duo, but for some reason, people always call them a group– called Outkast, and it contained these two rapping dudes: “Atlanta native André “André 3000” Benjamin (formerly known as Dré) and Savannah, Georgia-born Antwan “Big Boi” Patton,” if we go with Wikipedia’s description. anyway, you know, they became hugely successful and sold all these millions of records and everyone loves them. and i am okay with that; we’re not going to veer into some kind of weird “tear down the memories of Outkast you once held dear” territory or anything like that. what i am not okay with is something else: the commonly-held notion that Andre 3000 (i am not going to be using those accent marks from here on out) is somehow light years more advanced and important than Big Boi.

Outkast
i think this highlights the juxtaposition fairly clearly

now, let’s be clear: Andre 3000 is good at rapping and he has a cool, futuristic stage name. i am not going to argue that he SUCKS. for some reason, though, everyone seems to visualize the group as if Andre 3000 is a once-in-a-lifetime talent who outshines his partner at every time and in every way. this i strongly object to, and have decided to argue against in the form of a listicle, fittingly entitled:

THE LESS-THAN-13-ITEMS LIST OF THINGS THAT MADE ME REALIZE I DON’T REALLY NEED ALL THIS ANDRE 3000 IN MY LIFE
(sorry, i kind of messed up on the usual listicle M.O. here, so you’ll have to forgive me)

Erykah Badu
warning: this woman WILL destroy your favorite rapper’s ability to focus on making solid rap music for years to come

getting involved with Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu must have something going for her: she can clearly sing, she can clearly lure rappers of respectable talents (Andre 3000, Common, and saddest of all, the D.O.C.) into her web, and the internet tells me she’s known as “the Queen of Neo Soul,” which surely is the kind of title you have to EARN. the catch is this: once she lures you in, you get looping and start making shitty music; the prime example of this remains Common’s Electric Circus fiasco. now, Andre 3000 was probably always a bit of an oddball, but when he started messing around with Badu, i knew deep down that we’d have to prepare ourselves to lose his rapping forever.

changing his rap sobriquet to Andre 3000
it’s been awhile since this happened, so Wikipedia had to remind me, but man, does it really annoy me to remember it. let me just run with a quote from Wikipedia: “Outkast’s fourth album, Stankonia, introduced Benjamin’s new alias André 3000 (largely to distinguish himself from Dr. Dre).” okay, first off, his ACTUAL NAME is Andre, so people are going to call him Dre, and adding 3000 to your name is not going to stop that. second, by the time Stankonia came out, Outkast already had a pair of PLATINUM albums. people knew who Dr. Dre was versus who Dre from Outkast was, so this “to distinguish himself from Dr. Dre” stuff is just lame. now, ultimately, this may just be internet foolishness and have nothing to do with Andre, but fuck it, i am holding it against him.

Outkast
actually, forget what i said before: i think THIS highlights the juxtaposition fairly clearly

the whole Speakerboxxx/The Love Below thing
basically, whenever Outkast does something ridiculous (“let’s make a double album that seems like it’s a solo album from each of us that thus make people believe we’re breaking up the group”), i blame Andre for it. that’s the deal: he’s the crazy, flashy one, and Big Boi is the other guy. so when they did this and it became a huge debate about if/when Outkast was breaking up, i became annoyed and i hold it against Andre to this day. plus, i’m not actually convinced that Andre has the better half of this double album; as far as i am concerned, “the Rooster” is better than anything on Andre’s disc. finally, the way it comes off is Andre’s high-concept musical experimentation versus Big Boi’s Southern hip-hop sensibilities, and you know what? i side with hip-hop on this point.

the whole Idlewild thing
remember when i told you that if Outkast did something ridiculous, i’d blame Andre 3000 for it? here we go again, because this Idlewild fiasco qualifies. i don’t know a single person that recalls this fondly, and it took Outkast from their diamond-selling prior effort (which, being a double album, was sort of cheating) to a mere platinum release. now, okay, in this day and age, that’s phenomenal success and never was really something to sneer at. except… i kind of suspect a lot of people bought this on the strength of being serious Outkast fans before realizing what they’d done. i don’t know, maybe i am just being overly negative about this?

Sir Lucious Left Foot
it was at this point when i realized we might be freed from the tyranny of Andre 3000’s dominance; THANK YOU, BIG BOI

Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
i know, i know: it SOUNDS like some horrible mistake visited upon the word by Andre 3000, but it’s actually Big Boi’s first solo album… and it’s actually really good. Big Boi’s rapping like a machine and hanging out with a weird assortment of rappers and singers (which i suppose is to be expected from a rapper who declares his favorite artist to be Kate Bush), and it all works, and yet, i am sure if Andre 3000 was attempting to do the same thing, it would be driving me crazy. but then he’s on hiatus at this time and Big Boi’s out there giving a damn, and basically, what occurred to me was this: we don’t need Andre 3000 to get an excellent album out of Outkast. at least, at this point, i don’t THINK we do…

collaborating with all these damn singers and not making Outkast albums
so, on Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, Andre 3000 has no guest appearances, despite that being the kind of thing you’d expect the other half of a rap duo to do on his partner’s album… but he did PRODUCE one track, which just makes the whole thing weirder. and yet, he started popping up and throwing verses on people’s songs, teasing us with the prospect of rapping again. this wouldn’t be SO bad… but when you have time to appear on songs by Ciara, Ke$ha, Beyoncé, Chris Brown and Lloyd, to name a few (and i think it’s Ke$ha that really hurts) and you don’t have time to appear on your partner’s album, that’s pretty fucked up.


Andre who? Big Boi may just have all the ridiculousness covered on his own

Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
so Big Boi went out and released ANOTHER rap album where he’s still rapping like a machine and collaborating with all kinds of weird indie pop and rock groups like Phantogram and Little Dragon, all while Andre 3000 is sitting at home doing nothing but pissing me off… and this one is good as well. and i think that’s what did it: you could presume the first solo album was a fluke (it happens), but two of them? Big Boi must actually be onto something here, and it’s clearly something that does not require Andre 3000 to work.

now, the thing is, shortly after all this, i find myself listening to T.I.’s Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head album (short review: it’s of uneven quality), and all of a sudden, Andre 3000 appears and raps for two minutes straight on “Sorry,” completely killing it, and it leaves me thinking the obvious: goddamn, Andre 3000, THIS is why you’re so fucking infuriating. just make another goddamn Outkast album already!

really, it’s sad because the whole thing mirrors an abusive relationship: Andre 3000 keeps jerking us around, and yet we’re so into him, whereas Big Boi is the nice, stable guy that we’re just not attracted to on the same emotional level. okay, this just got too weird. we should maybe wrap it up for now.

“Harlem Shake? shaking to bake, shaking the jakes; kill you, shoot the funeral up and Harlem Shake at your wake”

you know, i listen to a lot of different kinds of music –except jazz; i just can’t get into jazz– but as we all know, my primary musical tastes generally return to hip-hop no matter how many folk rock or soul records i listen to; even Dean Martin is no match for it. but most ridiculous of all, despite the fact that my favorites of the genre are pretty well known (i believe this website has a tag just for articles even loosely connected to Ghostface Killah and i believe my house features a swearing doll version of the man), there is one particular song that i consistently return to as my all-time favorite: Cam’ron’s “Down And Out.”

very quickly: no, i am not really a Cam’ron fan; yes, it’s produced by Kanye West (in his pre-turbo-fame, sped-up soul sample days); no, J.Millz doesn’t want to see me posting about rap music; yes, i am doing it anyway. and that is why this week’s update shall cover…

13 OBSERVATIONS FROM JANKLOW UPON VIEWING CAM’RON’S VIDEO FOR “DOWN AND OUT”

a couple of quick notes:
–i assure you that i have gotten into legitimate heated debates about the excellence of this song (case in point, quoting this update: “i have, on occasion, been on the phone with someone, heard this song come on, declared this song to be the greatest rap song OF ALL TIME, and then, when they loudly protested, turned the stereo up and jammed the phone against the speaker”), but i will say this: it’s my favorite song. i’m not arguing it’s the Best Song Ever, or the best rap song ever, or the best lyrics or production or anything else. JUST THAT I LOVE IT SO MUCH THAT IT HURTS;
–i have never watched the video for this song before, which sounds weird when you consider that i have listened to this song at least 13000 times, but i guess i’m just not a big video guy? i accept that explanation;
–apologies in advance for the sizing on the images. it’s just the way things worked out, but yeah, it IS annoying, isn’t it?

now here we go!

Down And Out

00:01: let’s be clear: whatever Cam’ron’s other failings are –and they are numerous, starting with the regrettable cover for Confessions Of Fire— he excels at just being ridiculous. he furiously rocked the color pink, he made the movie Killa Season, and he totally steals Paid In Full away from better actors by doing less “acting” and more “being Cam’ron.” so it is no surprise that when i see this video kick off with some beauty shop worker turning on a little shitty television version of Cam’ron, i think two things: first, “what the fuck is this?” second, “oh, right, Cam’ron at work.”

00:14: i kind of miss this era of Kanye. you know, where he’s not a star and he’s surrounded by all these rappers who are the stars (and in most cases can still out-rap him). don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely progressed as a rapper and he makes better music now than he did back then; i still love all of his albums (well, love might be too strong a word for 808s & Heartbreak, but the rest of the albums remain stellar), but i freely admit that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the best of all his work. ultimately, though, i still miss exuberant youthful Kanye. call me nostalgic.

Down And Out

00:37: don’t get it twisted: Cam’ron is the king of the smug facial expression. it’s not QUITE at the level of the spammed-all-over-the-internet “you mad?” image, but in a pinch, this will do. it’s almost like he’s fully aware of how ridiculous (in a good way) the whole “drinking sake on a Suzuki/we in Osaka Bay” scenario is.

00:58: thinking back to the days when Bill Cosby lost his goddamn mind (to the extent that Bill Cosby can lose it) simply because his son saw a raunchy Eddie Murphy show wherein Eddie used PROFANITY, i cannot imagine how mad Cam’ron’s “i feel like Bill Cosby, pouring in the pudding” would make him. luckily, though, i imagine that rap music is one of those newfangled things that Bill Cosby doesn’t really understand, if he even knows that it exists at all. i’ve had my grandmother ask for an explanation of hip-hop and be COMPLETELY befuddled by the concept, so i figure Bill Cosby is sort of like that.

Down And Out

01:13: fundamentally, i don’t really like it when the rappers who aren’t tough act like tough guys (yes, yes, i know rap music involves complicated and awkward discussions of “realness” and the like), so i love that we leap immediately from Cam’ron’s drug-dealing-and-violence-committing scrapyard posturing to circa-2004 Kanye bouncing around in that beauty shop in a goofy t-shirt. now THAT is what i call “juxtaposition.” i’m not going to comment on how these ladies seem completely unimpressed, because that might sound a little mean.

01:23: yeah, yeah, the “their coochie the juicest” part of the chorus is pretty terrible. it’s the single greatest strike against an otherwise stellar song. seriously, it boggles the mind that someone intentionally wrote that lyric as part of a song, even a part as mindless as a chorus. but let’s move on!

Down And Out

01:38: a considerate Cam’ron begins to pantomime the specific steps his ladies need to take, and that’s helpful in theory, but i think “open vagina” is a pretty straightforward command. if you’re having trouble working out what Cam’ron needs you to do, you may have bigger problems in your life than merely being one of Cam’ron’s motorcycle-riding jump-offs. cut to a picture of Cam’ron riding on a motorcycle BEHIND his lady, and the contrast of “spitting hyper-explicit lyrical sex instructions” and “riding what is traditionally termed ‘bitch’ on a motorcycle” completely blows my mind.

01:44: simply the high point of the song for me: “you got pets? me too: mine are dead/fox, minks, gators, that’s necessary/accessories, my closet’s a pet cemetery/i get approached by animal activists/i live in a zoo/i run scandals with savages.” and this is where i stand up and begin to slowly, slowly clap because i just love this track SO GODDAMN MUCH.

02:05: so this is the part where Cam’ron lists off his war-making equipment: old Timbs, battered boots, hand grenade, goggles, a parachute. the best thing about this list? that while there is somewhat generic gun talk during this song, this list gives us the mental image of Cam’ron prioritizing goggles and parachutes above any kind of firearm. true, he IS packing a hand grenade, but this is not typically the sole armament you’d want to bring to a gunfight, and it’s certainly a far cry from the typically stuff rappers lovingly describe (presuming they’re gun-loving rappers, of course; not EVERYONE is).

Down And Out

02:22: for the record, Kanye West is CLEARLY better suited to hanging out in this beauty shop than mean-mugging in that scrapyard with Cam’ron. CLEARLY. so what do you say we just leave him right where he is, guys? the ladies are clearly starting to warm up to him… and whoa, here’s Damon Dash! so, yeah, Damon Dash: i get that Cam’ron was his little buddy, but at this point in time, does anyone ever look back at see Dash in his heyday and NOT think, “you know, in retrospect, Damon Dash looks like a douchebag?” i admit this is heavily based on after-the-fact knowledge of how Damon Dash grew up to be a failure –he WAS considered cool and successful at the time– but still. and he really, really looks like he’s TRYING to appear foolish here.

02:45: at this point, something cruel happens, for while there is no indication such a thing is going to happen –the video is exclusive titled as that for “Down And Out,” suddenly everything switches over to “Get ‘Em Daddy.” now, i know this was the b-side to the single for “Down And Out” and promotion is promotion, but i do not think i am going to like this, even if Cam’ron starts it off with his traditional ridiculousness. i’ve already sighted Juelz Santana, and if there’s two things i do not like, they’re Juelz Santana and Juelz Santana. also, something something bandana.

...Get 'Em Daddy?

03:00: fifteen seconds in, and i am already remembering that i don’t really care much for “Get ‘Em Daddy.” and look at all that damn Santana!

03:41: and man, is that “get ’em, daddy” sample annoying! see, this is what happens when you trade in classic Kanye West production for whoever the fuck this I.N.F.O. character is. i scanned a list of his production credits and while i cannot swear i have really, truly listened to everything on it, it remains, in my opinion, a distinctly unimpressive list. and frankly, i expect much better from Cam’ron. “Down And Out” has truly ruined me for the rest of his music.

all in all, it was good times until that surprise twist. oh, and speaking of a swearing doll version of Ghostface Killah…

and if you were concerned that an actual Ghostface doll WOULDN’T pose the question “remember when i long-dicked you and broke your ovary?” … well, don’t worry, it absolutely does.

Django Unchained: in which Jamie Foxx apparently DOES kill all the white people

so our hero managed to overcome his annoying bout with influenza and the subsequent coughing and sad tiredness and make it to the cinema to catch a screening of Django Unchained. this viewing actually violated several of my movie-going positions, including “only go to the movies as early as possible in the day” and “only go to the movies when there is a minimal amount of people there,” but i deemed it necessary. occasionally i like to vote with my dollars in favor of certain films and filmmakers, and oddly enough, Tarantino makes that list. so away i went! and then, once there, i acquired a series of observations and opinions that i shall share with you now!

13 of janklow’s observations about Django Unchained

Django Unchained
if nothing else, it has a solid poster, despite my efforts to crop it into submission here

01. the main thing this movie reminded me of? that Chappelle Show episode where Dave Chappelle is talking about skits that didn’t work; one of them was a variation of their “Haters’ Ball” sketch, and features the characters traveling through time, hating on things, until they reach the “good old days” of slavery. Chappelle describes a moment where he (in character) shoots a slave master dead as “stopping the show cold,” and goes on to opine that, apparently no one but he and show co-creator Neal Brennan finds shooting a slave master funny, but that he would do it every episode if he could. and i said the same thing then that i did when i was watching Django and thinking about people’s negative reactions: who doesn’t find shooting slave masters funny?

02. so as always, Christoph Waltz kills his supporting role, which makes me wonder: how much does it suck for other actors in Tarantino movies to know Waltz is in the picture as well? between this and Inglourious Basterds (which won him four awards, including an Oscar), you have to figure that if you’re another supporting actor, you’re definitely getting overshadowed and beaten for any award nominations, so i guess you have to fall back on enjoying your paycheck and hoping Waltz is a fun guy on set.

03. the thing about Tarantino movies is that they really, really make it hard to care about tiny inaccuracies or things that are otherwise weird: patterning Django’s crazy blue velvet outfit after Gainsborough’s painting The Blue Boy is awesomely ridiculous, and even if it’s more accurate (or possible, anyway) than all the sunglasses and derringers shooting out of sleeves Taxi Driver style, they’re both part of the crazy Tarantino atmosphere that makes me just plain not care. it reminds me of Inglourious Basterds killing Hitler: i really, really SHOULD care because what kind of WWII movie does that… but then it’s a Tarantino movie and i couldn’t care less. these things happen.

04. Django likes the way M.C. Gainey dies? well, he should, because M.C. Gainey is a solid character actor who’s in a ton of stuff, and he’s usually in some kind of racist or corrupt role that could probably benefit from a good killing. and those of us who caught season one of Justified know he dies well in projects that also feature Walton Goggins.

Walton Goggins Unchained
Walton Goggins: king of the racist Southerner supporting role

05. i seem to remember some critics bashing the regulators sequence (you know, the hooded mob led by Don Johnson’s character, Big Daddy) as being overlong and unfunny, and maybe in retrospect i exaggerate that position… but man, does that seem completely wrong. it totally killed in the theater and the pacing seemed excellent to me, so either i’m wrong about the level of bashing (i remember at least some low-grade bitching) or critics saw some other edit, because i think it worked 100%. and while i’m at it, the funniest line in the film? when a slave asks Big Daddy, “you want me to treat [Django] like he’s white?” and Johnson answers with a flat “no.”

06. so while they’re taking this slow ride to the Candyland plantation (we’ll just let that name be what it is), we get treated to a revenge-themed snippet of a Rick Ross song. now, to be upfront about it, the use of modern music in a period piece doesn’t bother me; i recall in the past being totally supportive of Tarantino rocking “Cat People” during a WWII-era movie. and the Rick Ross song sounds good in this circumstance. what it ACTUALLY reminded me was how frustrating Rick Ross is: he’s a huge, fake, self-important blowhard who seems 100% unlikeable… and yet, every 20th song or so, he makes something i really enjoy, like his understated verse on Pusha T’s “I Still Wanna” or that “Accident Murderers” verse he had for Nas. and now this Tarantino soundtrack appearance!

07. okay, full disclosure: whenever i spot Tom Savini in a movie, it doesn’t really matter what the movie is or what role he’s playing, i get all surprised and excited. “is that Tom Savini torturing that slave with dogs?!” it probably helps that he a) wasn’t a cameo that was ruined for me and b) always plays something crazy and ridiculous, like a saber-waving bikers or a guy rocking some kind of gun for a penis.

08. talking about this movie before i saw it, it came up that Walton Goggins is playing what he is the king of: sassy Southern racists. between this plantation overseer/goon role in Django, the Shield (set in LA, but Goggins’ character is from Georgia, as i recall), Justified (okay, he’s not really racist there, but he still sports racist tattoos and seemed that way for the first season), Predators (racist and PROBABLY a Southerner) and that shitty, shitty Miracle at Saint Anna movie (which i always call Miracle at Santa Anna), we could not think of any role where Goggins is NOT some racist Southerner. as in, literally, we tried without looking up his filmography (because then it becomes “let’s see which Walton Goggins movies we’ve seen), and the only thing i could remember was when he played a transsexual prostitute on Sons on Anarchy. he featured giant fake breasts and assless pants, but at least he wasn’t racist! that we could tell, anyway.

Quentin Tarantino Unchained
prepare yourselves for the greatest Australian accent OF ALL TIME

09. so i’ll just say it: i don’t think Tarantino’s Australian accent was that bad. was it great? no, but this was a director’s cameo, not a major role. and come on, we all KNOW he’s not actually from Australia. it was weird –i really don’t understand why all those dudes were Australian out of fucking nowhere like that– but not deserving of all the outrage it’s gotten on the internet. and actually, speaking of things that Tarantino does that make people go CRAZY…

10. where were all the shots of ladies’ feet? seriously, i was told before that there were none, and yet that there WERE enough ladies to see some feet at SOME point. my only other theory was “maybe Kerry Washington has gross feet,” but she appears to have appropriately attractive feet, so there goes that one. did i watch this entire film looking for shots of feet? i did, and there were MAYBE a couple of shots, albeit of men’s feet, that might have qualified, but that seems forced. maybe Tarantino knows we’re mocking him and held back? maybe it was always a weird editor of his (after all, this is the first non-Sally Menke film of his) that was running wild with the foot stuff? although he did admit to having a foot fetish and casting Salma Hayek in From Dusk Till Dawn due to that… well, the world may never know.

11. serious topic warning: despite the fact that this film stars Jamie Foxx shooting up things so soon after his “demand a plan” anti-gun bullshit ad, i really, REALLY didn’t want anything like that to color my opinion of the film… but i have to admit that when Django is having his major shoot-out in the Candyland plantation, i was thinking, “boy, this seems like EXACTLY the kind of situation where Jamie Foxx should see the benefit of high-capacity magazines!”

12. serious topic warning redux: so i guess the Big Deal about this film was the racial language, which i will describe here as the generous use of the n-word, even if dancing around the word disappoints Samuel L. Jackson, and to be honest… i have no idea what the big deal was. you know what’s weird to me? Tarantino casting himself as a character in Pulp Fiction who drops said n-word freely in dialogue. THAT was disconcerting, if only because you’re sitting there saying, “well, this is weird.” but in a movie set in Tennessee and Texas and Mississippi during the 1850s? filled with slave trading and slave owning characters? it didn’t seem crazy. ultimately, this is probably something where everyone, both those defending and those attacking Tarantino, are just excessively worked up about it; i know i dismiss Spike Lee as a general rule and in this specific case, i do it on the grounds of “someone sounds JEALOUS…”

Leonardo DiCaprio Unchained
clearly DiCaprio is embracing that phase of his career where you just do crazy nonsense and refuse to care what others think

13. ranking this movie with the rest of Tarantino’s work? well, it’s hard: i like everything he’s done (yes, even Jackie Brown), but his pre-Kill Bill work and post-Kill Bill work just seem very different to me in some respect. i think Inglourious Basterds was better, but this was probably better than Kill Bill (at the very least, it’s less indulgent in some ways) and probably tops his early stuff just because it achieves more. and it’s better than Death Proof, even if it doesn’t end with the combination of Rosario Dawson beating someone to death/the dulcet sounds of “Chick Habit.”

ultimately, between Django Unchained and, in the past few years, films like True Grit and No Country For Old Men (which i am calling a Western no matter what you think about it), it seems to me we shouldn’t be spending a lot of time bemoaning the death of the Western. granted, we’re not going back to the phase where dozens and dozens of Westerns were cranked out successfully, but in retrospect, a ton of those movies also sucked, and frankly, so do a ton of whatever kind of movie is popular at any given time. i just want a periodic awesome Western and i’ll be satisfied.

well, i’d be more satisfied if someone could give me a great adaptation of Blood Meridian, but since that’ll never happen…

somehow, this is all going to turn into me angrily demanding that you acknowledge the sport of fencing

since the election is coming up, i am trying my best to not post raging, bitter election-related posts, and in this case, it’s going to involve me posting about trivial politics-related concepts so that i don’t have to take all this seriously. it’s better than the alternative in which i discuss how all politicians lie and accomplish nothing, and nothing about my vote will matter at all this year? anyway, let’s get right to it:

something about how my taste in sports relates to my politics?

What Your Favorite Sports Say About Your Politics

yes, we’re doing an update partially based on one of these graphs again: this time, instead of your beer selection making political observations, it’s your choice of sports (which, i suppose, demands you pick a major sport to run with, as i know there are lots of dudes out there who watch multiple sports). so here are my THIRTEEN SAUCY OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THIS CHART:

01. alright, WNBA, way to be an incredible outlier! i suppose this should have been predictable (as the WNBA is typically seen as a sport rejected by men, despite the sound fundamentals of the ladies involved in its boring, boring play), but does this mean there are legions of angry extreme liberals, albeit liberals who are not incredibly inclined towards voting, bitterly watching the WNBA as some kind of protest statement? because if so, i don’t think it’s working, guys.

02. i like how “European soccer” is slightly more liberal than “Major League Soccer” … and also the fact that we’re ranking these as separate sports. i mean, i grant you that they ARE different, league-wise, which makes this nit-picking at its finest, but are there THAT many soccer fans that we need to fuss over this distinction? and do people ever support one and not the other? a Manchester United fan might balk at the MLS being “actual professional-grade soccer,” but are there a lot of MLS fans who wouldn’t just say “soccer” as the answer to their favorite sport? i suppose the survey-taker deems this to be an insufficient answer: “I DEMAND YOU DECLARE YOUR SOCCER ALLEGIANCE TO EITHER EUROPE OR GOD’S AMERICA THIS INSTANT!”

03. i wish the MLS would do advertisements calling the MLS “professional-grade soccer,” like the MLS was the GMC Sierra of soccer. seriously, sometimes i get sad when i think THE INTERNET has stolen my clever ideas (i am still looking at you years after the fact, Dunkin Donuts), but in this case, i will make an exception because i want it to happen SO BADLY. doesn’t this make sense, considering how Americans seem to resist soccer on the grounds that it’s so wussy and European? “fuck your pussy-boy Euro-soccer, i got my PROFESSIONAL-GRADE AMERICAN 9/11 USA #1 NEVER FORGET Major League Soccer to watch!”

04. i admit to being a little more surprised as to where professional wrestling and MMA fall (although not surprised about where the turnout part does, as these sports to have some massive douchebag fans who probably don’t have a lot of time to vote because their schedules are full of trying to fit into their skin-tight skull-covered Affliction t-shirts), if only because they seem naturally geared towards the conservatives, what with their lust for innocent blood and all. the only possible explanations i can think of involve things like “i guess these sports have lots of younger fans who are more willing to embrace what some men describe as “gay skinhead fighting”” and “all these awesome Brazilians who love MMA must also be voting Democrat.”

05. the UFC must LOVE the branding-related fact that all of the chart-related MMA is summed up as “ultimate fighting (UFC).” meanwhile, there is some turbo-liberal Bellator fan who votes all the time out there who is INFURIATED by this reckless chart that fails to recognize the excellence of his high-quality, tournament-loving B-league.

06. also, there’s professional wrestling on this chart… and “ultimate fighting” on this chart… but no boxing? that has got to be depressing for all three of the remaining boxing fans in America. although, in fairness, i cannot think of a single person i know who WOULD declare boxing to be their favorite sport… and i know people who love tennis! TENNIS!

07. also, seriously, professional wrestling is not a sport and does not belong on this chart. if you answered “professional wrestling (WWE)” when someone asked you what your preferred sport was, they should have said “no, i asked what SPORT you preferred.” and they should probably ask it slowly, since you clearly failed to understand a simple question the first time. and to be clear, professional wrestling fans, this is not like when someone decides “oh, NASCAR isn’t a sport” or “oh, golf isn’t a sport.” professional wrestling is ABSOLUTELY not a real sport.

08. that said, man, am i glad that all you people who answer “professional wrestling is my favorite sport” aren’t voting ever.

09. monster trucks lean left? you rednecks are REALLY surprising me here… although, again, who the fuck declares “monster trucks” to be their favorite sport? “yeah, Billy Bob likes the football and Billy Ray loves baseball, but as for me, when it comes to sports, i love watching a giant truck drive on cars, yup!” wait… monster trucks are ALSO not a sport. this poll-taker (or poll-takers) was accepting some SINCERELY bullshit answers, and yet was so strict about how you’re allowed to answer “soccer.” weird.

10. also, horse racing leans left? you would think that since it’s the sport of rich, rich kings, it wouldn’t… although i suppose there’s something to be said about how much ladies love horses here, i guess, because the news stories tell me polls tell me they’re all voting for Obama SO HARD. also, the average degenerate gambler probably relies heavily on the social welfare programs the politicians of the left support.

11. who’s out there supporting random “high school sports” over ANY other sports that’s not a sex pervert? like, okay, say you love football: some like the professional game, where football is played at its highest level; some like the college game, where they can hold lame ideas about the integrity of the game and other nonsense like that. but if you like football and yet answer “OMG HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS” to the question of “what is your favorite sport,” it seems pretty clear to me that your ACTUAL favorite sport is “whatever keeps the teenage boys in those tight, revealing uniforms.”

12. am i at all surprised that men’s golf is a turbo-Republican sport? nope. am i surprised that the sport that indicates the highest voter turnout is women’s golf? yes, although this is mainly because i am stunned to see women’s golf on this chart at all.

13. finally, WHERE THE HELL IS FENCING ON THIS CHART? wait, i guess it falls under the Olympics? okay, then, but i still feel that we fans of fencing have been neglected. let’s be clear about this:

professional wrestling = not a sport

THIS IS NOT AN ACTUAL SPORT

fencing = sport

THIS IS, IN FACT, AN ACTUAL SPORT

monster trucks = not a sport

THIS IS NOT AN ACTUAL SPORT

fencing = sport

THIS IS AN ACTUAL SPORT, GODDAMNIT

okay, i think you all get the point. next week, we’ll be much closer to the actual election and thus that much closer to me no longer losing my mind.

in which we’re defending and/or promoting Allen Iverson for no good reason? seems like that’s the plan

recently, the Miami Heat won the NBA Finals headed by one of the great sporting douchebags of our time: LeBron James. yes, i acknowledge that he is a great player and can now shove in the faces of all those who would hate on him (such as myself) the fact that his Miami experiment, with all its poor planning and execution and raising legions against him, did in fact result in him getting a championship. more to the point, however, it came around the time one of my cousins was visiting, and as this kid loves the Heat (because he was raised incorrectly, if you ask me) and by extension LeBron (which makes sense if you’ve already committed to rooting for the Heat, i suppose), this raised the following debates: “are you aware that LeBron and/or the Heat suck” (he was not) and “what’s so great about Allen Iverson,” a debate that seems unrelated to current events. i’m not EXACTLY sure how it came up, but i was probably being insulted at the time.

the thing is, however, that i will ALWAYS defend Allen Iverson, even when this seems like a poor decision. so even though this has NOTHING to do with the recent Finals, i figured this might be as good a time as any for…

JANKLOW’S 13 POINTS HE BRINGS UP IN A DEFENSE OF ALLEN IVERSON

so let’s get right to it!

Allen Iverson
after finishing this update, i realize i should have added “infectious smile” to it

13. the fact of janklow being Philadelphia 76ers fan
for whatever reason, i am a 76ers fan; personally, i attribute this to hating Michael Jordan and loving Charles Barkley when i was little. but the side effect is that there isn’t a lot to celebrate as a 76ers fan: Chamberlain’s title team was well before my time (1966-1967) and the one i was barely alive for, the Moses Malone/Dr. J 1982-1983 championship team, is something i can celebrate but not something that’s particularly memorable to me. what have i really had to root for? Barkley, Allen Iverson, and maybe Andre Iguodala (and i do really like Iguodala). let’s just say there’s a reason why Wikipedia has the following stops on the 76ers history:

1.5 The Julius Erving Era
1.6 The Charles Barkley Era
1.7 The Dark Ages
1.8 The Allen Iverson Era

HE ENDED THE DARK AGES! enough said.

12. the social issues involved in Iverson’s 1993 arrest
many of you might not remember this (it WAS 19 years ago, after all), but the short version is this: Iverson and friends got into a fight with a bunch of white teenagers in a bowling alley; Iverson was accused of hitting a woman in the head with a chair; only Iverson and three of his friends (all black) were arrested. Iverson was 17, convicted as an adult for maiming by mob (a Virginia statute designed TO FIGHT LYNCHING), and got a 15-year sentence (10 years suspended). now, i am sure a lot of people think he did the deed (something SURELY not based in race and/or what teams they root for) and it’s certainly not a badge of honor for Iverson to have been arrested. but here’s why i mention it: as Iverson is someone who’s frequently portrayed as kind of a jerk, i have to imagine getting 15 years for a fight you might not have been involved in and which CERTAINLY featured one-sided arrests would make one a little fucking hostile.

11. that Iverson’s casino troubles are either hilarious or of moderate importance
some athletes gamble away thousands and thousands in casinos; some athletes get involved in the most severe of criminal troubles. aside from the brawl we recently covered, Iverson’s troubles, if Wikipedia is to be believed, have been more along the lines of “got into a fight at the Taj Mahal over and overpayment of chips” and “banned from Bally’s Atlantic City casino for urinating in a trash can.” and really, come on, what man among us HASN’T urinated somewhere or into something we shouldn’t have? true, there was that arrest in the 1997 offseason for possession of marijuana and a concealed weapon, but then i think that arrest is mandatory for anyone who wants to cultivate an edgy image. it’s the cost of doing business!

10. that Iverson was conspired against by NBA referees
that’s a sentiment that a LOT of players have voiced at one time or another, with varying degrees of truth being involved, but if Wikipedia is to be believed, this was actually the case with Iverson:

“Iverson was fined $25,000 by the NBA for criticizing referee Steve Javie following a game between the Nuggets and Iverson’s former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, played January 2, 2007. During the course of the game, Iverson committed two technical fouls and was ejected from the game. After the game, Iverson said, “I thought I got fouled on that play, and I said I thought that he was calling the game personal I should have known that I couldn’t say anything anyway. It’s been something personal with me and him since I got in the league. This was just the perfect game for him to try and make me look bad.””

now that’s not THAT bad of a statement, but you can still see why he got fined, and if you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t like Iverson, you’ll sure to presume he’s just whining. but then again:

“Former referee Tim Donaghy supported the claim that Javie had a longstanding hatred for Iverson in his book, Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA, which a Florida business group published through a self-publishing arm of Amazon.com after it was dropped by a division of Random House, who cited liability issues after reviewing the manuscript. In a December 2009 interview with 60 Minutes, Donaghy said he and fellow referees thought the punishment was too light. Before Iverson’s Nuggets played the Utah Jazz on January 6, 2007, Donaghy said he and the two other officials working the game agreed not to give Iverson favorable calls as a way to “teach him a lesson”. Iverson attempted 12 free throws, more than any other player on either team. On 12 drives to the basket, he drew five fouls, three of which Donaghy whistled himself, and did not receive a call on one play in which he was obviously fouled by Utah’s Mehmet Okur.”

Donaghy can probably be discounted in many ways if you consider his history, but considering that his crimes were related to the EXACT thing we’re talking about here, it seems quite plausible. and who doesn’t want to root for someone the man is trying to keep down? especially when the alternatives –say, LeBron James– seem protected by the NBA and its referees, when not outright benefiting from outright flopping?

Allen Iverson
in trying to find photographic evidence of Iverson’s bad attitude, i have found him rolling his eyes a little. success?

09. the level of intensity and/or the “fuck you” attitude Iverson played with
first things first: i like sportsmanship, so i am not arguing for some kind of universal bad attitude to be adopted. that said, you know what you want to see from your millionaire athletes? acting like they give a damn, both about the game they play and the team/city they represent. Iverson was an undoubtedly gifted player, but he didn’t sit back and coast on talent: he played HARD. could you see him declining to come into a game with eight seconds left? or benefiting from the level of flopping we complain about in today’s game? yeah, the latter will be waved away by fans of those plays who claim they HAVE to flop to get the calls they deserve … but we all know that they don’t deserve those calls AND that a true player doesn’t want to get the calls that way.

08. that Iverson’s rap career could have been worse
so back in 2000, Iverson decided to try his hand at a rap career (or side-career, i guess); the result was a terrible moniker (“Jewelz” or “Jewels”), a single that was maligned for its alleged derogatory remarks about homosexuals (“40 Bars,” which was probably more him using inappropriate language than actually ranting about homosexuals, if i recall correctly), and not much else. but okay, let’s look at the bright side: he didn’t pretend being a rap artist or running a music label was his REAL JOB (a mistake made by many an athlete), and he didn’t go the Shaq route of cranking out terrible album after terrible album to the point where there’s a

and speaking of his rap career:

07. the existence of Don Trip’s “Allen Iverson”
for those unaware:

tell me what player’s inspired a better song. for all the times rappers mention LeBron, there’s still nothing better inspired by him out there.

06. janklow’s admitted regional loyalties
granted, Iverson is from Virginia, and i am not; he attended Georgetown, which is not a school i typically root for; he played predominantly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and although i have family ties to the state, i am not from or residing in either the city or state. all that being said, i would be lying if i said i didn’t always have a subconscious desire to root for the teams and people that represent the Mid-Atlantic, where, as a region, i AM actually from. and since it’s a pretty ridiculous and confused region (to say the least, we don’t seem to know if this is the North or the South), we can use all the positive representation we can get.

Allen Iverson
pictured: Allen Iverson, giving a damn

05. that Iverson managed to somehow prevent himself from going broke
Americans seem to LOVE when a) athletes who earned millions go broke and b) divisive athletes a lot of people don’t like get their public comeuppance. this seemed to be happening in early 2012 when Iverson, who’s made something like $150-250 million from the NBA and endorsements, was reported to be broke, the major straw being a Georgia judge seized the bank account of Allen Iverson in order to pay out a substantial debt for an unpaid jewelry bill amounting to $859,896.46.
this, in turn, let another wave of commentators and angry fans rant about the latest thug idiot athlete who lost all that money he didn’t even deserve. only, as it would turn out, Iverson wasn’t ACTUALLY broke like you and i would be broke:

“However, hold the bankruptcy proceedings. He is far from insolvent, at least in the real world, if not in harmony with his “nothing in moderation’’ lifestyle. Someone who cared a great deal for Iverson and grasped the extent of his habits, loyalties and generosity protected him to some degree from financial ruination, at 36, at any rate.
A person with a firm grip on the situation informs me Iverson has an account worth $32 million, a principal he is prohibited from touching until 55. In the meantime, it feeds him $1 million annually.
At 45, Iverson is eligible to start drawing on an NBA pension that maxes out at 10 years of active duty, or take whatever’s there as lump sum. He will be entitled roughly to $8,000 per month ($800 per x 10).
If at all possible, Iverson will issue a restraining order against himself until he’s 62 or so. At that time, I’m told, his lump sum will be between $1.5 million and $1.8 million, or he can elect to take monthly checks of approximately $14,000 per.”

so yes, he has not been financially careful in every way (32 out of 250 is not that much), and yes, he could STILL manage to ruin himself financially somehow, in some way. that said, how many athletes DIDN’T manage to have someone who gave a damn about them set up that kind of trust fund?

04. that Iverson actually gave a shit while playing on the US 2004 Olympic team
especially considering that this was in the post-Dream Team era of allowing phenomenal basketball talent to play for the Olympic team, this was not, to say the least, our finest hour. in that time, we won gold in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2008, making our shameful bronze finish in 2004 all the more shameful. the team had some undoubtedly great players (Iverson, Tim Duncan, Dwayne Wade, early versions of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James), but played and practiced and did everything else in a half-assed fashion. and the only person to really seem to give a damn about doing well in the Olympics? Allen Iverson:

“”It’s an honor to be named to this team,” Iverson said. “It’s something that you should cherish for the rest of your life. And honestly, this is something that I will cherish even without winning a gold medal. I feel like a special basketball player to make it to a team like this.” … “For as anybody who grew up in the U.S., and was able to be a basketball player in the NBA, you understand the things that your country has done for you and your family,” he said. “It gave you an opportunity to be able to support your family and be recognized as a household name. It was just an honor to be able to do something like that, and I would advise anybody selected to a team like this to take that honor and cherish it. It shouldn’t be a question in your mind. When you get a chance to represent your country, what’s better than that?””

also, considering that LeBron played on this disappointing team, it’s extra points against my cousin’s hero.

03. that one playoff win Iverson and the 76ers got in the 2001 NBA Finals
when you say “the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2001 NBA Finals 4-1 over the Philadelphia 76ers,” it doesn’t sound like much of anything to be proud of. but then you have to remember the following:
-the Lakers were the defending champions, and absolutely predicted to sweep the 76ers;
-this is the Kobe/Shaq Lakers of which we speak (although the feud WAS beginning around this time);
-the Lakers’ loss in Game 1 of the Finals was the ONLY game they lost that ENTIRE postseason

…and to make that loss happen, Iverson overcame a 21-9 Lakers lead AND a fourth-quarter Lakers comeback; scored 48 points himself, an impressive score in pretty much any game; and a 76ers starting lineup of Aaron McKie, Jumaine Jones, Tyrone Hill and Dikembe Mutombo. granted, i will always have a soft spot for Mutombo and his finger-wagging, and he WAS good that year … but that is not an awe-inspiring lineup.

02. that infamous “we’re talking about PRACTICE” press conference
i think we all know what i am referring to:

…to which i can only say, if you can’t appreciate the comedy Iverson gave us there, you must live a sad lifestyle. and yes, i may have launched into an impromptu rendition of this when debating with said cousin earlier. i can’t help it.

Allen Iverson
back when the 76ers came in three sizes: king-size, standard, and fun-size

01. that Iverson 5’11”, even if Wikipedia claims otherwise
yes, i know, other men, some even smaller than Iverson, have played professional basketball and yes, 5’11” isn’t THAT small (it allows you to be listed as 6′ or so in order to help your draft prospects, if nothing else). but i struggle to think of any guys who were that size (Iverson was somewhere in the 165-170 pound range, which is a shade above what a tiny person like myself weighs) playing as ridiculously hard and physically against opponents who tower over them (and who, incidentally, are probably also pretty good at playing professional basketball). to play that hard and that well at that size against that level of competition? how can you NOT respect it?

this, admittedly, was not the most necessary of updates, but sometimes, that’s how it goes. until next time!

this Stephen King-related outrage of mine must be reported to the internet IMMEDIATELY

now, look, before i get into the following listicle/rant/whatever it is, i will acknowledge this: when we rank works of art, be they books or movies or whatever, there’s bound to be some disagreement based on taste and personal preference and all that. i accept this. on the other hand, sometimes you read a list –say, a list supposedly tasked with “ranking all 62 Stephen King books“– and you become entirely outraged, and you say to yourself, “this outrage of mine must be reported to the internet IMMEDIATELY.” so i think you see the genesis of this particularly update.

now, while i have largely given up my passion for reading works of fiction –at some point, it occurred to me the basis of fiction was that people have some sort of connection with each other, but they don’t– i will always have a soft spot for Stephen King. he strikes me as a writer who really, truly wanted to be a Great Writer writing Important Books, but whose gift lay in another direction, popular fiction. this i don’t say as a shot at King, but more as a reason to why i generally think he deserves some respect even from people who turn up their nose at the kind of books with vampire babies and incredibly, incredibly awkward group sex scenes. (shudder) i’m still not over that one.

all that being said, i think some of his work IS pretty close to out-and-out shit, and that it’s definitely possibly to rank it all better than this garbage list did, a list that may have resulted in my yelling at my computer in PURE RAGE. what i shall focus on here, though, is my 13 major outrages regarding this list as opposed to my specific “this is how i would have ranked them all” position.

JANKLOW’S 13 MAJOR OUTRAGES INVOLVING THIS VULTURE LIST “RANKING ALL 62 STEPHEN KING BOOKS”

these are not in any particular ranking order; it’s more of a “things that pop out to me as i read the list” kind of listicle.

some assorted King books
janklow is determined to make a random ranking of these books CONTENTIOUS

01. the inclusion of Stephen King’s nonfiction works on this list, period
granted, i understand that the premise of the 62 book list is “if you count novels, nonfiction, and short-story collections,” but let’s be honest: his nonfiction works (Danse Macabre and On Writing) should NOT be on the same list as 60 fiction books, especially when you consider the fact that they’re ranked quite highly (#11 and #02, respectively), and that one (Danse Macabre) is basically described as densely-written but essential if you like horror (sort of a weak review for such a high ranking) and the other (On Writing) as “a new Strunk and White of sorts.”

02. the Tommyknockers being ranked #61
do i think the Tommyknockers is great? no, and to be honest, i think the heavy dose of anti-nuclear sentiment weakens the book (King periodically gets obsessed with hammering on some topic in a work, a notion that never works to the benefit of the book). but ranked second from the bottom? under books that are clearly much worse to anyone that’s read them? i admit this is subjective to some extent, but come on, now. someone is CLEARLY holding a grudge against that mediocre 1993 movie featuring Jimmy Smits and Marg Helgenberger. pretty much everything in this book related to the shed is strongly than every single aspect of his weaker books.

03. the slightest positive sentiment about King letting Rage go out of print
Rage, at #57 ranked second-worst of all King’s books published as Richard Bachmann (seems about right, although maybe 57 is too harsh, as it does read like an awkward early novel), is not a great book that needs some impassioned defense. however, this list touches on something King did when they mention that “wisely or not, King allowed the book to go out of print, partly because of a fear of having future school shootings linked to it.” let me be frank: this was a chickenshit, pathetic gesture on King’s part. in fact, i believe in the forward to Blaze describes Rage being out of print as “Now out of print, and a good thing.” is it true that a couple of school shooters seem to have read or owned the book? sure. but note that King talks about Rage and the short story “Cain Rose Up” as something that “would have raised red flags, and I’m certain someone would have tabbed me as mentally ill because of them” … and yet he did nothing of the sort that these shooters did. so the point is what, exactly?

full disclosure: i have a weird habit of buying old copies of the Bachmann Books that include Rage in them because the current printings don’t include it, and if someone was to mention purchasing a new copy to me, i will give them one of my old ones. it’s like my weird, silent, pointless protest against King being a gigantic pussy about the whole matter. yeah, it’s his work and he’s well within his rights to see it not in print. he can do what he likes. but anything that smacks of censorship of works based on what kind of content is appropriate makes me a little sad, King. that is all.

04. the claim that Gerald’s Game omits the supernatural
to be specific, the list claims “though the supernatural is absent from this novel (as it is in many of his books, despite King’s reputation),” and while i must admit that it has been YEARS since i have even glanced at this work (i would give strong consideration to ranking it at the bottom of my list), i am reminded that one of my major complaints with Dolores Claiborne and Gerald’s Game was the inclusion of the supernatural. huh, you say? well, both books are not about supernatural matters: Gerald’s Game is about a woman escaping from the results of accidentally killing her husband during a bondage game, and Dolores Claiborne is about a woman accused of killing her employer admitting to murdering her abusive, molesting husband. that’s it. however, i’ll let Wikipedia handle this:

“In King’s subsequent novel, Dolores Claiborne, it is revealed that the title main character shared a telepathic connection with Jessie Burlingame on two occasions, first during the solar eclipse when Jessie was assaulted by her father, and later when she is handcuffed to the bed. The two novels were initially conceived to be part of a single volume titled In the Path of the Eclipse. Later editions of Dolores Claiborne have a foreword that explains the connection between the two.”

now, i am going to be honest: i forget if this connection is explicit in Gerald’s Game –whereas it is absolutely used to describing seeing events from Gerald’s Game in Dolores Claiborne– but given that this ranking list seems to defend books connected to the whole Dark Tower series mess based on the strength of other books, i’m going to insist we don’t pretend the pair of eclipse-themed books aren’t unrelated to the supernatural. frankly, the fact that they mashed it in there is something that i found unnecessary and annoying. and now i will apologize, because this is a weak complaint and an entirely complicated one. I JUST CAN’T HELP IT.

05. motherfucking BLACK HOUSE existing at all
now, this list doesn’t rank Black House very highly (only #49), but it’s more the way they excuse some of its faults: “as with Insomnia, there are chunks of Black House undecipherable to the Dark Tower uninitiated.” this is not the problem with Black House. the actual problem is that King and Straub wrote a sequel to a book i enjoyed very, very much (the Talisman), as evidenced by my internet alias here, and which had its own universe and its own back history… and then attempted to cram tons of Dark Tower mythology into the sequel. i admit the “interconnected worlds” plot/setting is very similar to the Dark Tower series (and by extension, King’s shoddy attempts to tie all his books together), but the execution is so sloppy that we shouldn’t just say it’s awkward to those uniniatied, we should say it’s repugnant to those who read the previous book.

general statement: King should just not bother writing years-later sequels to his books that were probably never intended to have sequels. there’s going to be a sequel to the Shining THIRTY-SIX YEARS after the Shining was published? i can’t imagine any way in which this sequel will entirely suck and ruin the original for me just a little!

Stephen King?
i do kind of miss the 1970s-era “awkward schoolboy” look of Stephen King

06. the Long Walk ranked far too low; Roadwork ranked far too high
i will sum up my position with “there is no better Bachmann novel than the Long Walk”: the Regulators is a messy pile that deserves the low ranking it gets; Rage and Blaze are both middling early works; Thinner and the Running Man are fun, but just inferior. i won’t even try to justify it beyond that, because hey, if you REALLY love Thinner, i cannot satisfy you with any real argument. but there’s two other things that i know for a fact: the Long Walk is better than Roadwork, and ranking the former #47 and the latter #20 is fucking DISGUSTING. i think Roadwork was ranked highly because a) it feels the most “different” of all those Bachmann novels and b) it feels much more like a “serious work of fiction” than the average Stephen King book: nothing supernatural, no fictional or outlandish setting, just a period piece from the 1970s. Roadwork is not a shit book at all, but the Long Walk crushes it. CRUSHES IT.

also, a bonus snide shot at King: so Roadwork has a guy getting guns and shooting at authority figures and blowing up their stuff because he’s angry and fed up. given that people have also done this at various times in life, why hasn’t King asked THIS book to be removed from print? because none of those guys owned copies of Roadwork? hmmm.

07. the review of Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla being entirely negative without punishing the book (Dark Tower VII’s review as well)
i’m not about to defend this book at all; i hate all that Dark Tower stuff. ALL THAT DARK TOWER STUFF IS AWFUL. but here’s what annoys me: the list gives us what appears to be an unmitigated trashing of Dark Tower V: it calls it a “loose rewriting of The Magnificent Seven” (something that cannot be good for the fifth book in what’s supposed to be your life-defining series); it calls it out on being a massive and all-encompassing genre mash-up (including “significant references to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics,” which sounds awful); and it adds that “the climactic confrontation is a prime example of what King does not do well — battle scenes.” my objection? #38 is high enough on the list that i want to know why this book is better than all the books you’re telling me it’s better than (say, the Long Walk).

a similar thing happens when we get to Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower at #26. the book is called “bloated to a certain degree” (which is really saying something when you consider how King can run on and on if he chooses to) and goes on to say “the book also falls flat when it finally unveils the villain who has loomed so large over the series.” what’s the single positive thing said? the conclusion “also contains one of the most honestly tear-jerking scenes in all of King’s work.” wow. granted, i totally get that while many HATE the ending of this book, some love it, so there’s surely a case to be made for it … but then where’s that case? this book is ranked #26!

08. again, the inclusion of Stephen King’s nonfiction works on this list, period
oh, did i mention that this list ALSO includes King and Stewart O’Nan’s work Faithful, a book that, to again quote Wikipedia, “chronicles exchanges between King and O’Nan about the Red Sox’s 2004 season, beginning with an e-mail in summer 2003, and throughout the 2004 season, from Spring Training to the World Series.” again, this nonfiction stuff (especially this Red Sox fandom nonsense that i could care less about) should not be getting ranked against fiction.

09. giving the Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands “demerits” because of Blaine
now, i don’t really want to be sitting here defending a Dark Tower book, as i don’t care for them very much. however, our author here pushes Dark Tower III down to #31 (still in the top half, and probably too high of a ranking) with the remark “demerits for the puzzle-happy talking train that arrives at book’s end.” so here’s the thing: the puzzle-happy talking train is no more ridiculous than a) anything else that happens in this book or b) the concept of mashing up Harry Potter and Star Wars and all kinds of other popular fiction you didn’t create together in your book. Blaine’s at least a unique character (unless someone could tell me where King stole him from) and i like him, damn it, although i wish he’d killed off every character in that series that he could.

Roland, i suppose
give them all the attractive art you want; i will still think the Dark Tower series is AWFUL

10. King’s more recent work being ranked too highly
i have a suspicion that books people have read more recently (as in, works that King has published more recently) are better recalled and are being rewarded for that fact by the author. 11/22/63 was published last year, and it’s ranked #24: i’ve heard decent things about the book, so okay, maybe that’s legit. Full Dark, No Stars was published in 2010, and it’s ranked #32: not THAT outrageous, i guess. From A Buick 8, a 2002 book, and thus probably the outer limit of “more recent work,” is ranked #16: granted, our author is arguing that it’s an underrated book, but i remain unconvinced. but Under The Dome is a 2009 book ranked #12, and while a lot of people i know called it okay, i can’t fathom any of them nearly putting it in King’s all-time top ten. worse still: Lisey’s Story was 2006, and was ranked #10, and i have never, EVER heard anyone say a single good thing about this book. not one person, not one thing. so how the fuck is this book #10?

granted, some modern books got tossed further down the list, and i definitely sound like an old crank hollering about how the older works are the better works. no debate there. but here’s the thing: i truly believe the older works ARE the better works. sure, books like Rage and even Carrie may read as comparatively immature, but this was also the era where King had editors, had to cut his books down, and most of all, didn’t have the incredibly permissive atmosphere that comes from being STEPHEN FUCKING KING. if i rank these books, i theorize right now that i don’t put a book that’s less than 20 years old in my top ten.

11. Night Shift (#21) being ranked below Skeleton Crew (#13)
this isn’t REALLY a major outrage when you consider that both are ranked fairly highly and fairly close together. however, the argument for the superior ranking of Skeleton Crew is basically “King’s second short-story collection shows a range that most authors of any genre would be incapable of achieving.” i happen to think that Night Shift shows the same range, with the slight absence of not including “an ambitious novella.” here’s the thing: i don’t think including a novella shows any variation in range, so i don’t see how that’s an argument for Skeleton Crew.

ultimately, they’re both solid collections and his best two short-story collections, so i’m being a little bitchy about this one. but there it is.

12. ANYTHING BEING RANKED HIGHER THAN ‘SALEM’S LOT, DAMN IT
‘Salem’s Lot is ranked #8, and that’s a good ranking, and they even give it the shout-out of “it remains one of the best vampire books ever written,” which is a motherfucking FACT. the books that outrank it include some iconic works that you’d expect (the Shining at #4, IT at #3, the Stand at #1), as well as a book i think a lot of his fans underrate, but which is a really good work: Different Seasons (at #5). the only other ones above it are Misery (#6), a book that i’ve already stated shouldn’t be on this list at all (On Writing at #2) and one other work we’ll come back to in a minute. so this is, again, personal preference.

…however, let me just say what i have said many times before: if people read Stephen King 50 years from now, or 100 years from now, or whatever, ‘Salem’s Lot is going to be the best example of the merits of his work. it captures all the good King and skips the non-editing later years or the bloat of works like IT and the Stand, and the fact that it’s about a clear-cut scenario with solid characters –vampires move to a small town in Maine– will help it stand the test of time. it’s probably his only work that i would call a Good Book and not feel compelled to immediately defend, beyond to say “well, as far as a vampire book can be a Good Book, anyway.”

13. Dark Tower books ranked way too goddamn high, as expected
again, ALL THAT DARK TOWER STUFF IS AWFUL. but look at where they’re all ranked: Dark Tower VI, #56. Dark Tower V, #38. Dark Tower 4.5, #35. Dark Tower III, #31. Dark Tower VII, #26. Dark Tower II, #19. Dark Tower I, #14. and worst of all, WORST OF ALL, Dark Tower IV at #7. AT NUMBER SEVEN! incidentally, this is the Dark Tower book that made me realize the Dark Tower series was absolutely turning to shit. I and II are decent enough, and III has its merits… but IV sucks. completely.

however, here’s the larger point: 5 of the 8 books (or 7.5, if you like) are ranked in the top half of the list, and that feels undeserved. we’ve heard several times how not reading the entire series weakens each individual book. that’s totally fine and you’d probably expect as much, but i personally would expect that to weaken each of these works in the face of standalone novels that don’t require you to read a handful of other books just to get caught up. IV is being called “an incredibly well-told tale,” and it might be true to some, but #7 is far too goddamn high for a book that’s fourth in the series. also, it completely sucks, so that’s another objection i have to the rankings.

so there we go. I AM STILL OUTRAGED. also, fuck it, i’ll rank these damn books myself:

'Salem's Lot
it’s really the best of these books, no matter how fond of the Talisman i am

JANKLOW’S RANKING OF ALL 59 RELEVANT STEPHEN KING BOOKS

59. Insomnia
58. the Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole
57. the Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
56. the Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
55. the Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
54. the Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
53. the Regulators
52. Dreamcatcher
51. Lisey’s Story
50. Cell
49. Gerald’s Game
48. Black House
47. Duma Key
46. Rose Madder
45. Blockade Billy
44. the Colorado Kid
43. the Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
42. Blaze
41. Rage
40. Bag Of Bones
39. Hearts In Atlantis
38. 11/22/63
37. From a Buick 8
36. Under the Dome
35. the Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
34. the Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
33. the Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
32. Cycle Of The Werewolf
31. Roadwork
30. Full Dark, No Stars
29. Four Past Midnight
28. Just Past Sunset
27. Nightmares & Dreamscapes
26. Everything’s Eventual
25. the Green Mile
24. Needful Things
23. Desperation
22. the Dark Half
21. Eyes of the Dragon
20. the Tommyknockers
19. Dolores Claiborne
18. Thinner
17. Firestarter
16. Christine
15. Carrie
14. Cujo
13. the Running Man
12. Pet Sematary
11. Skeleton Crew
10. the Long Walk
09. Night Shift
08. Misery
07. IT
06. the Dead Zone
05. Different Seasons
04. the Stand
03. the Shining
02. the Talisman
01. ‘Salem’s Lot

here’s a gem, here’s a dragon, now the dragon’s dead, now your iron deficiency’s cured, OKAY

and now, to address the question that literally no one is asking: what exactly did our hero janklow mean when he wrote “perhaps, ever so slightly, foreshadows the upcoming update?” well, a combination of “angry magician” and “Patton Oswalt” might lead you to realize that this week’s update is about this incredibly random and ridiculous role-playing module purchased for yours truly by the Irishman: ANGRY WIZARD. brace yourself, because this week’s update is about to get about as insane AND nerdy as one update can possibly get without involving that tentacle pornography Japanese people seem to like. there’s no way i can top that.

the back story: the Irishman spotted this module on the internet (of course) and picked it up for me solely because of the “ANGRY WIZARD” title and basically nothing else, which led to a string of discoveries about this module that i, because i am sometimes easily amused, find to be incredibly hilarious. so here we go!

JANKLOW’S 13 FAVORITE RIDICULOUS THINGS ABOUT THE ANGRY WIZARD MODULE, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

and by “chronological,” i mean “starting with the front cover, and then i flip through the book to the back cover,” just in case that wasn’t clear. was that actually very clear? eh, well, that’s what i get for trying to be helpful.

ANGRY WIZARD
clearly the only thing more powerful than this wizard (and his anger) is THIS INTENSE FONT

01. the title of this module: ANGRY WIZARD
so let’s just take a look at the above image and start with the screamingly-obvious bright red title bursting out from the cover of this thing: ANGRY WIZARD. technically, when you get to the introduction part of this module, you learn that it is actually called FEZ III, The Angry Wizard, being as it’s the “third in a series of adventures” featuring this Fez character… although whoever designed the cover clearly wanted to give us the wrong impression, since ANGRY WIZARD is printed in letters about about three feet tall, with FEZ III hiding in the shadow of the D in WIZARD.

also, there’s still some deranged grammar at work if the wizard’s name is Fez, because then shouldn’t the title be Fez III, not FEZ III. clearly, someone at the Role Aids corporation is of the mindset that role-playing modules DEMAND TITLES PRINTED SOLELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS, THE LETTERS OF MAGIC AND DRAGONS… and i cannot say that i truly disagree.

02. the “suitable for use with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” declaration
okay, okay, i swear that we’re done with the above cover once we get through this. anyway, if you’ll note, this product, which was clearly NOT made by the company that brought us D&D (TSR), has a little yellow corner that declares ANGRY WIZARD to be “suitable for use with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons*.” now, i have to admit, i found this shameless hilarious, and THEN i noticed that on the back cover (we’ll cheat and skip ahead this one time), the full claim is “suitable for use with all popular roleplaying systems including Advanced Dungeons and Dragons*.” thus i am forced to ask: well, what about the not-so-popular role-playing systems? is this module not suitable for use with them because they’re not the proverbial cool kids in school, or is it just that we’re not willing to guarantee they’ll be up to the task of allowing you the full pleasure of ANGRY WIZARD?

and yes, there’s an asterisk in each case, because there’s a tiny notation on the back stating that “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of TSR Hobbies, Inc. Use of this trademark is NOT sanctioned by the holder.” this surprises me (although i think the internet told me TSR and Mayfair Games had a weird arrangement for some time), because i didn’t think you could use someone’s trademark and then just say, “they’re not okay with this” in very small letters… especially when you consider that on page 2, it’s angrily declared who FEZ is the trademark of, and that you’d BETTER NOT USE IT WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF LEONARD BLAND.

FEZ III
just pretend that the effect from the flash is the ANGRY WIZARD magic bursting out of the module

03. the cover image itself, in all its ANGRY WIZARD glory
okay, keep looking at that above cover. as stated, the Irishman saw a scowling wizard on the cover of a role-playing module, thought to himself, “well, janklow is king of the nerds in this state AND angry wizards are funny, OKAY,” and bought this thing for me on a whim. that in and of itself is fairly insane as is… but then when he actually received the module, he learned that the ANGRY WIZARD is sitting in what appears to be a reasonably-appointed but ill-kept modern kitchen drinking a can of beer. i’ve examined this image closely, and as best as i can tell, he appears to be drinking a generic Budweiser, which may be popular, but seems to lack the magic you expect in a beer that can be described as “the choice of angry wizards everywhere.” the copyright on this module also leads me to believe that we’re talking about a “modern kitchen” circa 1984.

other questions raised by this cover image include the following: “is it possible the wizard is mainly angry because the kitchen is simply FILTHY?” and “is it counter-productive if i engage in a fantasy role-playing game to escape the misery of my mundane life only to find myself adventuring in an early-1980s kitchen filled with dirty dishes and trash?”

04. the “Role Aids” name and logo
so you might notice that, in the lower right-hand corner of the cover, you’ll find name and logo of the company behind this masterpiece: ROLE AIDS. while i suppose what they were going for is apparent (if a bit clunky; does this aid my role? or more my adventures?), it still seems like a tactical error to have your company’s name sound exactly like a brand of antacid meant to alleviate “muscle soreness and stomach aches relating to constipation” that also has more than 60 years of existence on your company? yes, i know that Role Aids is a brand pushed by an actual company (Mayfair Games) because i researched this module on the internet because i have nothing better to do with my life, but it’s still incredibly lame.

also, let’s note the logo they chose to use: an angry unicorn. not a unicorn, which is maybe a little feminine but still an iconic fantasy image, and not something classic and angry, like a dragon breathing fire (or even an ANGRY WIZARD)… but an angry unicorn. i’m picturing a board room full of nerds fighting over the logo, with half demanding “something beauteous and magical” and the other half demanding “something fearsome and mythological.” that’s the story of how you get a ridiculous angry unicorn as your logo.

05. the somewhat awkward names of the adventurers in the adventures of ANGRY WIZARD
as i skipped over the part of this module where they gloss over FEZ I and FEZ II (which also feature our ANGRY WIZARD, but are not titled ANGRY WIZARD because life doesn’t make any sense sometimes), i got to the part where they assign the players characters, as it’s one of those kinds of modules (many provide this option, but in less demanding terms), and they’ve got fairly generic names. some are appropriate: Stoutarm, dwarf fighter; Nightstar, female elf illusionist; Fern, female human druid. some are generic: Roshan, human ranger; Moman, human cleric. one confuses me: why is Ramble the human magic user? shouldn’t the ranger be named Ramble, since that would kind of keep with the theme that Fern has established regarding “the outdoorsy types of characters.”

and then we have Ughblow, human fighter. Ughblow? Ughblow? what kind of twelve-year-old nerd wants to play someone named UGHBLOW? it’s bad enough that the kids playing this are being forced to stomach a second-rate knock-off version of a D&D module; now one of them has to throw himself on the proverbial sword of being the one to bear the name Ughblow? maybe i’m just being incredibly immature about this (most likely true), but i find it to be just plain cruel.

also, on the last page of this module, FEZ violates the naming we have already established to address this character as “UghBlow,” which essentially confirms my theory that this is all a cruel joke.

SPECIAL UNDERWATER CONDITIONS
“#8: Please remember that you cannot breathe water in real life, nerds!”

06. the “special underwater conditions”
so shortly after we learn our players awful names, there’s a box that helpfully tells us that “even though the characters have been given the permanent ability to breathe underwater, there are still a lot of differences between adventuring on dry land and adventuring underwater.” now, okay, some of the upcoming rules are clearly in the need-to-know category: movement in water, decompression sickness, speech under water, and so on. but then we have a couple things that don’t really seem to need to be spelled out:

–“Wooden objects in water: Care must be taken with wooden objects as they tend to float in water.” now this section ultimately ends up telling us some specific rule for the rate at which they float… but listen, if your elven illusionist needs to be told by the guy running the game that WOOD TENDS TO FLOAT IN WATER, then you probably need to get out of your house more.
–“Paper in water.” it turns out that if you leave a scroll unsealed after reading it UNDERWATER, it gets ruined. SHOCKING.

07. the part about “how the character sheets are used”
now, those who have played role-playing games generally understand the part where you get a character sheet (or at least some paper) and draw up the character you play on it; even in the case of those aforementioned modules that provide characters (like this one), you tend to still need a sheet for the same reasons. what does ANGRY WIZARD direct us to do with the sheet that explains the characters?

“This page should be torn out of the booklet, photocopied, and cut into sections for each character.”

for one, i reject any product that immediately tells me to start tearing it apart. i probably paid good money for this in 1984! for another, this module lays flat: could i not just photocopy the page and cut the photocopy into sections WITHOUT tearing anything out of the module? like, oddly enough, almost every single other role-playing book would recommend? i am willing to bet that i can. oh Role Aids, please don’t think i’m going to be tricked into purchasing extra copies of ANGRY WIZARD.

LEPRECHAUN PROSTITUTE
hopefully this has killed off anyone’s remaining desire to play this module… and if it hasn’t, then we’ve discovered their fetish

08. the picture of what can only be described as “a leprechaun prostitute”
yeah, it’s an awkward picture. now, it’s not ENTIRELY random: when i examined this module closely, it turns out that one of the characters (not Ughblow) gets turned into a leprechaun by FEZ for some reason, because we all know that when an ANGRY WIZARD wants you to fetch a gem for him (this is the general plot of the module), it’s incredibly helpful for him to turn the cast of heroes into random monsters, and for those random monsters to include a leprechaun. anyway, it also turns out that this leprechaun might be helpful in obtaining a “reptile-control staff” and this is all very important to this adventure that even i, a guy who played first edition D&D at age five, find grotesquely nerdy.

none of this, however, explains why the leprechaun is shooting the reader a come-hither stare while posing with the “reptile-control staff” in front of what appears to be a leg made out of smoke. clearly whoever is responsible for this art (and the credits tell me that one “Susanna Griffin” is responsible for the “interior illustrations”) has done a wonderful job… of making me incredibly distressed by their art.

09. “the Dwarf is indestructible”
i pointed this line out to the Irishman, and he about lost it, but yes, there’s a part in this module where the characters are confronted by an old Dwarf who teaches them a valuable lesson about greed, which boils down to “if you choose what appears to be a better option that you’re told that you can have for free, and continue to choose apparently better and better options that appear in sequence, all still for free, you will ultimately be punished by fighting a lot of kobolds and always getting the same thing: dwarf-size armor.” reading through it, i’ve learned nothing about greed, but i HAVE learned that i might want to kill a dwarf.

however, as the module takes the time to explain to us, possibly for reasons like “they saw this need to murder said dwarf coming,” the players won’t be able to live out their dream, as “the Dwarf is indestructible. On any attempt to attack him, he will vanish and reappear.” let me just say this: FUCK THAT. if i was running this module –which would never happen– i can assure you that i would promptly violate its rules on the grounds of not recognizing the powers of dwarves that fail to teach us reasonable lessons.

RUST MONSTER
this image of the least-threatening monster EVER also features a bonus mention of UghBlow

10. the “rust monster”
so i may have mentioned the thing where our ANGRY WIZARD turns the cast of heroes into random monsters? well, one of those (Nightstar, our elf illusionist) gets turned into a rust monster. however, it seems that Role Aids didn’t want to stop with making your precious character one of the most random and lame of all the D&D monsters; no, Nightstar is described as looking “like a teddy bear,” but with “an insatiable appetite for metals (chiefly brass and iron).” now, my understanding of rust monsters was that they at least didn’t look THAT fucking pathetic, and that while they loved to eat metal, it wasn’t some kind of insatiable hunger.

but to make matters worse, of all the characters the aforementioned Susanna Griffin illustrated for the module, she chose not just the courtesan leprechaun Moman, but ALSO the pathetic “rust monster” Nightstar… and yes, that means this module features a crude sketch of a teddy bear tossing a handful of nails into its mouth from a pot marked “BRASS NAILS.” brass nails?

this also confirms my theory that if i was standing in a store debating whether or not to purchase this module and flipped through it, seeing these pictures… well, i would put this shit back on the rack.

11. the closing rewards found in FEZ’s castle
so you’ve finally beaten the “adventures” contained within the module and brought the ANGRY WIZARD some mysterious “Queen’s Gem” that he needs to defeat a wizard, which sounds like a much more exciting adventure that you’ve missed out on because you were busy dicking around in leprechaun form. FEZ rattles off this list of rewards for all the characters, which make sense if you’re aware that early in this module, on the sheet we were supposed to TEAR OUT FOREVER, your characters learned what their adventurer motivation was. i found this to be weird, but not funny, so i skipped over it.

so some of the rewards make a little sense: Stoutarm got some dwarf armor, Stealthwidow gets a small but sustainable amount of money. some are weird, considering that these are throwaway characters you didn’t create and will never play again, but that i guess are still reasonable: Roshan gains “an important clue to [his] wife’s recovery”; Moman gets a staff that controls reptiles (remember that?) because his village is plagued by snake attacks; Fern gets a cure for a plague afflicting her forests; Ughblow gets to be a two-headed ogre forever, which is apparently a good thing, for some reason. but two are a little more off, if you ask me:

–Nightstar gets a cure for her iron deficiency. while i am sure this is important to ACTUAL PEOPLE, doesn’t it seem beyond lame for a role-playing game? “i’m setting off on a noble quest TO CURE MY IRON DEFICIENCY!”
–then there’s Ramble, a human magic user whose motivation is to become a fighter. i’m not sure why you wouldn’t have just made a level one fighter if that’s what you wanted, but there it is. so what’s his reward? well, you can become a warrior… but you have to maintain your charcoal-skinned warrior physique that was your MONSTER FORM for the entire adventure. luckily, since you cannot be attached to this lame character, i guess you just say “fuck it” and go charcoal.

…and then FEZ “will invite them all into his castle for dinner.” now THAT is what i call an absurd conclusion.

ANGRY WIZARD REDUX
please enjoy an additional dose of ANGRY WIZARD (and stern ANGRY WIZARD gaze) with your terrible, terrible grammar

12. the punctuation of “time traveling Wizard”
finally, we find ourselves on the back cover of this module, where we’re told that “at the beck of Fez, a time traveling Wizard-” woah, stop right there, whoever the hell is writing this thing: where’s my hyphen? (and i suspect they think i forgot that “roleplaying” spelling from earlier.) why is Wizard capitalized? sure this is some nitpicking, which IS one of the things i love to do, but i find it hilarious. also, i should note this: this kind of grammar runs rampant throughout the ENTIRE module in question. commas are all over the place, capitalization is consistently weird (nouns are randomly capitalized all the time, and then there’s that whole UghBlow thing); the whole thing is just a mess.

it also goes on to this “claw your way through opponents and hazards on a mission” thing, but for some reason, after that last preceding ridiculous moment of non-grammar, my brain reads this sentence as “claw your eyes out.” make of that what you will.

HEROES AS WELL AS CONJURERS
Role Aids gets in one last stab at those poor conjurers

13. the subtle insult directed at conjurers
so after you’re told to claw your eyes out on a mission for ANGRY WIZARD — and really, the disparity in the text makes the way i wrote that insufficient; it should be more like “you’re told to claw your eyes out on a mission for ANGRY WIZARD” and then a massive explosion of EXCLAMATION POINTS– we get to the second part of the description:

“He has guaranteed each hero or conjurer the time of their lives, soon you realize that it may be the time of your death instead.”

yes, to start, we AGAIN have atrocious writing. ignore that, however, and focus on “hero or conjurer.” now, i am pretty sure that every nerd playing a wizard throwing LIGHTNING BOLTS around sees themselves as an adventuring hero even if they’re not a strapping warrior (or even Ughblow), so this just seems like an unnecessary insult aimed directly at your target audience: “he has guaranteed each hero the time of their life, and even you stupid guys playing wizards can come along!” plus, to really nerd this up, doesn’t the average conjurer (for the non-nerds, think… uh… Gandalf, i guess) come off as more heroic than the average thief or rogue or whatever you want to call the class?

plus, remember this: the game that ASSIGNS you seven characters to play… and FOUR of them are arguably conjurers (Moman, cleric; Nightstar, elf illusionist; Fern, druid; Ramble, magic user). granted, one of them has the motivation to not be a magic user, and i GUESS you could argue that “we didn’t mean the cleric and the druid when we said that,” but you’re still alienating one or two of the people playing the game after FORCING them to play those conjurers.

so, all in all, it’s a pretty ridiculous module. i need to hang it on the wall somehow next to my autographed picture of Steven Seagal.

sometimes janklow finds motion pictures of absolutely no consequence make him VERY EMOTIONAL

sometimes i like to take a terrible film that’s SO RIDICULOUS and do the whole “running diary” thing (and believe me, i am sincerely overdue on my Zardoz running diary, this i know)… and sometimes i like to find something inconsequential and get totally worked up over it… but sometimes, i like to combine the two into some kind of weird mash-up and go from there. and as i have often been told that my ridiculous ideas are the best of them…

13 REASONS WHY JANKLOW GETS VERY ANNOYED BY THE MOVIE TAKERS

frankly, the “2010 crime film directed by John Luessenhop” known as Takers deserves neither a) appreciation of any sort or b) the type of energy required for a running diary. and have you not noticed that in the latter case, i generally have a grudging respect for those films? i tend to own them all, you know. and is this sort of picking on an easy target? well, maybe…but then you don’t tend to rip on movies that aren’t filled with garbage. but enough of this build-up!

LIKE I SAID, 13 REASONS WHY JANKLOW GETS VERY ANNOYED BY THE MOVIE TAKERS

well, what are we waiting for? also, SPOILERS AHOY.

Takers
so i think the concept for this movie was “get me Idris Elba, and then surround with as many douchebags as you can.” although i actually do enjoy TI in the movies, so that’s a little unfair

01. the audacity of Takers trying to out-Heat Heat
let me start with what is perhaps my biggest issue: i am 99.4% certain Luessenhop was trying to make his version of Heat here, only cooler. the two major reasons:

–both feature a flashy ensemble cast, if you will allow me to demonstrate:

Takers: Michael Ealy, Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, T.I., Matt Dillon, Jay Hernandez and Zoe Saldana;
Heat: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo, Jon Voight, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Tom Noonan, Hank Azaria, Henry Rollins, Jeremy Piven and fuck it, Tone Loc.

now, does Takers absolutely pale when compared to the murderer’s row of leads and supporting actors in Heat? ABSOLUTELY. but consider this sad, sad fact: the Takers list is probably putting more asses in the seats. i love Trejo and Studi and Levine to death, but absolutely no one but me gives a shit, so i can see a studio executive sees no difference between the two lists. although i totally grant that Saldana is an upgrade over Brenneman here.

–both feature a mysterious set of similarities: both feature awesome (and somewhat flashy) robbery crews, perhaps even to the point of similar wardrobes, although Takers mistakes “acting bad-ass” for Heat’s ruthless efficiency; both are pursued by a detective with daughter issues at home; said pursuing detective talks about shaped charges and degrees of difficulty; both have a flashy armored car robbery; both have robbers being chased throughout the city with their massive satchels filled with money (although while Heat had robbers toting what could have been bags filled with cash, the one carried during a chase scene in Takers clearly weighs NOTHING); the list goes on and on. now, i grant you that some of these things are not THAT unique –in fairness, almost every movie involving a heist HAS to have a flashy one– but they make me suspicious in light of the ensemble cast. Takers only really lacks the “hey, we got Pacino and De Niro together at last” thing.

now, to quote everyone’s favorite show about scenic Baltimore, when you come at the king, you best not miss. Takers, however, mistakes the only way actually out-Heat Heat –making a very similar movie with an even higher level of craft and/or material– with “well, let’s TRY to do the same thing, but even flashier.” so instead of an ambulance getaway, we get a HELICOPTER getaway. instead of camera work that highlights the reality of the robberies, we get camera work going above and beyond to make everything COOL.

02. Idris Elba’s British accent in the opening robbery
so our flashy crew is robbing a bank in their not-at-all-like-Heat suits and body armor, and Elba starts to give the crowd the De-Niro-style lines about “we’re not here to hurt you” and “don’t look at me” and all the rest … and all the while, he’s using a British accent. one of the ridiculous police officers even references it later.

now, i grant you that what passes for characterization in this film is that Elba is the British one, but here’s the thing: don’t you think a member of a high-speed robbery crew who presumably doesn’t want to get caught would AVOID an identifying trait like “obviously British accent?” especially when you consider that Brits are generally renowned for their ability to adopt other accents… AND especially considering that Elba HAS dropped his British accent for an American one on many occasions, such as in the aforementioned Wire. hell, have him drop the accent ONLY during the robbery.

03. TI’s recovery of his stashed firearm and money
so we’re supposed to see how TI’s character hits the ground running by IMMEDIATELY scoring a pistol and some cash from where he’s stashed them away years ago. i have some problems with this: one, why is it that you ALWAYS see people collecting these stashes, but never setting them up for the future? hopefully he’ll die by the end of this film so that he won’t need that again! and two, really, not one single crackhead randomly found this by now?

also… tucking a pistol into the back of your pants when said jeans are clearly sagged almost beyond recognition? does that even work? i have no admit it might (this is not how i wear my jeans OR how i carry my guns), so i don’t want to make this a full-on complaint, but i have a feeling i am being sold a bill of goods here.

Chris Brown
Chris Brown, seen here giving Sean Penn a sincere challenge for the “most punchable face in America” title

04. Chris Brown, period
one of the curses of a film with an ensemble cast full of “stars” is that you inevitably find one or two who are very famous (at the time at least) and who are clearly included ONLY because they are famous and DESPITE the fact that they are guaranteed to produce a performance that makes me want to gouge my eyes out; in Takers, we have Chris Brown filling this role.

now sometimes that non-acting star is making an effort and we have to admit, “well, he’s TERRIBLE, but we can tell he’s really making an effort, god bless him,” and sometimes, what the hell, the whole concept actually works… but, here, no, Chris Brown overacts in a manner that tells me his position was essentially, “sure, i’ll lower myself to accept a six-to-seven figure salary to appear in your film, but only as long as i am a totally sexy, totally cool bad-ass the entire time!” every time he speaks –hell, every time i see him on screen– my only thought is “why isn’t someone shooting him in the face RIGHT FUCKING NOW?!”

seriously, though, i find his voice incredibly annoying; when i hear it, i find myself considering the merits of suicide.

also, if the fact that he’s a terrible actor who should be kept away from films with a team of attack dogs does not bother you because he’s just SO CUTE or releases photos of himself naked with his junk out or whatever, and you’re thinking, “well, he’s in the film to bring in women viewers” … please remember that this IS a post-woman-beating Chris Brown we’re talking about here, so that shouldn’t work, right? right? i think there’s some gender-based commentary there.

counterpoint: Chris Brown’s character is VERY annoying, so maybe this is all intentional? and it’s a masterful job casting someone who cannot help but be annoying? counter-counterpoint: there is absolutely NO WAY that the writers of Takers are that fucking clever.

05. showing me Paul Walker’s naked ass
is the demographic you’re trying to get into the theaters for this film NOT turbo-masculine men who don’t really care much for Paul Walker’s naked ass? because i don’t think they found that any more necessary that i do. plus, we already have Chris Brown in this movie to attract the ladies, making the

06. the stupid fucking money launderer scene
this is another good example of the out-Heating Heat concept. now, you may remember that a subplot in Heat involves them trying to make a little extra money by selling stolen bonds to a money launderer; note, however, that this is an idea floated to De Niro by their fence, and there’s no pretension of these guys being knowledgeable of that aspect of crime (or even that level of finance): everything’s suggested by Jon Voight and expressed in basic terms.

in Takers, however, i get treated to a scene wherein i’m expected to believe EVERY MEMBER OF THIS CREW is spouting financial jargon with a mastery of the topic and advising the money launderer as to what he should do. do you know why armed robbers pay guys to launder money for them? because they’re NOT masters of the topic. would you, as a robber, really want to trust your money to someone who listens to what YOU say to do with the money?

and then, to add insult to injury, i’m force-fed the notion that our robbers are heroes because 10% of the money they rob “goes to the usual charities.” look, i’m watching the movie through their perspectives and we all love anti-heroes in America. you don’t need to try so hard, Luessenhop!

07. this film replacing “professionalism” with “coolness”
now, there is one thing this movie COULD have stolen from Heat: the notion that a scene where a crew of high-speed, distinctive armed robbers would be immediately hanging out in public showing off incredibly expensive cars and other luxury goods is RIDICULOUS.

i suppose you could assume that these guys are unknown to the authorities (and it certainly seems that way), because if they weren’t, you’d see police having a vague knowledge of their activities… but then i remember that one of the characters (TI) has recently been released from prison after serving time for armed robbery… and having been caught in the aftermath of a robbery as part of a crew that remains uncaught. unfortunately, if you have highly-skilled robbers act like act skilled robbers, they don’t get to act REALLY COOL for the cameras.

then again, this IS a heist movie wherein the most clever member of the team (Paul Walker), who is supposedly known for meticulous planning, says things like “bet big, win big” as being the only way to operate, so it might just be more effective to overlook all the logical inconsistencies and just assume this is the single luckiest band of criminals of all time.

Hayden Christensen, unfortunately not dying
don’t worry, everyone: that tiny little man will easily beat up that team of goons in hand-to-hand combat

08. making tiny men too physically potent
early in this film, TI effortlessly hurls a Russian gunman to the ground; later on, Hayden Christensen beats up something like one hundred goons in an office when he goes to buy some plastic explosive. now, i have often railed against the concept of making tiny, 95-pound women into these wrecking machines that toss huge men around, so let me be fair and do the same thing when 95-pound men are beating up everything in sight: no. just no. stop it.

i should also note that in Christensen’s case, it’s clearly not presented as a case where his technical fighting skills overpower his assailants, but one where his tiny frame absorbs a sincere beating while bashing a TEAM of men who are all twice his size into submission.

now, i grant you that much of my “curse you, tiny women” ranting is based in pure sexism, but that should also make it matter that much more how FURIOUS this tiny man nonsense makes me. and as a member of Team Tiny Dudes, it think we all now how much it hurts me to rail against their actions. still… it must be done.

09. TI’s armored car “play-by-play”
so we finally get to the big heist we’ve been promised (the one that TI wanted to be done in the style of the Italian Job, which is the kind of planning no robber you’re supposed to believe is real would EVER make)… and TI ends up doing this ridiculous “let me overreact to everything that’s occurring” running monologue during the entire thing. it’s fucking annoying because he’s literally just telling me THE THINGS I AM WATCHING OCCUR ON SCREEN. it’s not necessary. it adds absolutely nothing to this film, unless you think the sound of TI talking makes everything better.

you know how in fiction, people say things like “show, don’t tell?” this concept also applies to movies.

note: during the armored car heist, you can see the “coolness, not professionalism” thing come out again as Luessenhop tries for his own large-scale streets-of-LA shootout; the difference being, of course, that Heat’s is an all-time classic and Takers’… well, it’s not.

10. this consistently uneven characterization that keeps occurring
okay, so we have two cops (Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez), with the former getting a TON of screen time for his father issues and the latter almost none, despite being a dirty cop forced into it by his financial situation.. we have two masterminds (Idris Elba and Paul Walker), with the former having an incredibly amount of time devoted to his drug-addicted sister’s problems and the latter having… nothing. i think all we know about him is that he likes what is supposedly excellent Scotch.

now, Takers really moves too fast (and is too poorly constructed) for such character studies that have NO BEARING on the plot to be taking up space in this film; honestly, it really would have been better to scale back Elba and Dillon and use that extra time for making the robbery crew seem more competent and less like a band of teenage girls posing in their latest outfits.

also, speaking of characterization: Michael Ealy has some sort of a romantic sub-plot in this film. we didn’t need that either.

Hayden Christensen, hopefully dying
you are correct if you assumed that this dramatic death is as incredibly lame as it looks

11. shitty dramatic death shootout

after the inevitable betrayal by TI, there’s a shootout in the hotel where the Russians he fucked over first run into the robbery crew he’s fucked over second. this is almost –ALMOST– an interesting concept, and it’s definitely a good scenario for a shootout, but it gets ruined by this over-dramatized, lame-to-the-bone shootout, featuring problems like:

–everyone being incredibly excited pre-shootout because Chris Brown shot a cop, despite the fact that this crew of criminals was just SHOOTING IT OUT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS AROUND ARMORED TRUCKS;
–said shootout starting with Hayden Christensen being shot in the chest/stomach with a shotgun through a door, an injury that only hinders him when it’s dramatic and that appears to cause no visible injury;
–in fact, the notion that several people are shot almost point-blank with shotguns, a wound that causes neither blood nor damage to anyone’s clothing;
–an INCREDIBLE overuse of slow-motion and people shooting locks with pistols;
–a slow-motion, John-Woo-style leap into a dramatic death by Christensen over very loud, “deep” music, which is as terrible as it sounds;
–Russians shooting through walls as a team as opposed to looking for a target to shoot at.

it’s really, really fucking bad. and just when you thought that was the worst shootout…

12. shitty dramatic death shootout REDUX

so now Michael Ealy and Chris Brown are SO SAD after the events of the film that they have to die; if only we’d gotten some back story on them, their crushing depression might make more sense (although they do find Ealy’s girlfriend dead on a bar for some reason, so i suppose that romantic sub-plot was of SOME use). anyway, the house where they find their dead Zoe Saldana and their money stolen is surrounded by the police … so they wade out the front door in the same damn slow-motion to the same damn dramatic music and die in what is supposed to be a hail of gunfire, but which ACTUALLY seems to be “the awesome power of a very bright light.”

all that being said, this scene has a ton of shots of Ealy’s grotesquely-crying face in close-up, so he HAD to die after making me gaze upon that.

also… why did Ealy and Brown dramatically tuck pistols into the back of their pants when they intended to march out to their immediate deaths? did they HAVE to favor coolness over professionalism to the bitter end?

13. Stephen King’s review?
finally, let me point out that Wikipedia tells us that while “Takers received negative reviews from critics, garnering a 30%, or 4.5/10 rating, on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes” and the like, it ALSO added that “Stephen King, in his end of the year Entertainment Weekly column, listed it at #5 of his best films of 2010.”

so i guess what i am saying is that Takers made Stephen King go insane. and THAT i don’t like.

so that’ll do it for this week; i hope none of you make the same mistake i did and watch Takers. maybe next week will contain some actual comedy? maybe?