Friday, May 30, 2008

The Lost Season 4 Finale - What's in the box?

Everyone who watches Lost, male or female, has experienced blue balls. The scriptwriters are masters of misdirection worthy of David Copperfield, who once moved the Statue of Liberty, which is on an island. He didn't move the island, he had the audience on a slowly rotating platform so they didn't realize they had moved. It wasn't that great a trick if you ask me. Claudia Schiffer must be sapping his essence.

Pop goes the island

The other night on Lost, they moved the island. It wasn't quite the release that we'd seen in previous season finales, such as when they discovered the hatch and opened it, or when they didn't enter the numbers and the hatch caused an electromagnetic anomaly and made Desmond unstuck in time, or last season when they flashed forward to seeing Jack and Kate off the island. But it was fucking awesome.

They'd long hinted that the island was mobile, or surrounded by a space-time anomaly, or something similar that made its location difficult to reach by conventional means; helicopter pilot Frank found that the only way to reach it was to follow a precalculated bearing and ignore your senses. Faraday's time rocket experiments on the island reveal that time behaves differently there. Even beforehand, once they met the Others it was constantly hinted that escape and rescue were impossible due to the nature of the island.

Last night blew all that away. Many of the show's detractors pine on the idea that the writers have no idea where the story is going, and I think that's not only true, but the show's strongest point. It's led to some forgettable episodes like that Tales from the Crypt-esque Exposé with Nikki and Paulo, and the unfortunate end to my favorite character arc, that of Mr. Eko. But on the other hand, we've gotten a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" story that just keeps on giving. If you harp on past mysteries like "what is the black smoke," you'll be disappointed. If you enjoy the sense of wonder the show gives with having almost anything happen within a certain wavy set of rules, there is no better show on television.
He may look like a bug-eyed hedgehog, but he is a bad-ass

Ben has quickly surpassed Locke and Sawyer as the most interesting character on the show. Locke first appealed as a sort of shaman survivalist and is still living proof of the island's miraculous power; Sawyer is still the show's greatest source of comic relief, even if he's slipped a bit from bad boy to the good guy and reluctant hero, snatching that away from the whiny and driven Jack. Benjamin Linus began as an infiltrator we despised, oh how we wanted Locke or Sayid to paint the walls with his brains! But he has grown to have such depth, and such a wry sense of humor that it's impossible not to admire him if only for his Machiavellian cunning.
Wait, who's behind the bomb?

The show also rarely cheats; if we see a gun in the first act, it will go off by the third act. This time the gun is a huge chunk of C4 on the rescue freighter, and the writers do not disappoint us with a red LED timer that stops at 00:03 thanks to the gumption of our wily protagonists. They sometimes play fast and loose with the technical aspects. For example, Keamy, the psycho mercenary sent to hunt down Ben, has a transmitter on his bicep that will detonate the bomb if his heart stops. When he follows Locke and Ben into the deep underground chamber, the Orchid hatch where the mechanism to move the island resides, there's no way the transmitter would send through hundred of feet of rock and topsoil. Of course, the island may exhibit strange properties that allow this. I would have liked Michael, tending the bomb as one last act of redemption for murdering Linda and Ana-Lucia, to have set it off manually. After all he has little to live for now that Walt won't talk to him.
"And then the Texan says 'Remember the Alamo!' and throws out the Mexican!"

We got a lot of fan service this show but it was deftly handled. Kate & Sawyer get one last kiss, and a whisper we'll be wondering about. I must say I laughed when their chopper was running out of fuel and they cut to Hurley when Frank said they needed to lost a few hundred pounds to make it. He's been one of the funniest characters and now he doesn't even have to say a word to get a laugh. It's been refreshing to see a huge hairy fat dude and and a hawk-nosed bald guy star in a show that is otherwise crammed to the gills with six-pack abs and eye candy. It's part of what gives the show its character.
"Freckles, I faked all my orgasms."

We also get to see Sayid, eye candy for girls and combat candy for guys, beat the living shit out of Keamy in one of the show's best-choreographed fight scenes. Usually we have two brawlers going at it, now that superhuman Ethan is gone, but two trained fighters was a treat. Nice touch having him get stabbed with his own knife, too. Another fun bit of action was when the Others took out Keamy's squad by the chopper; we hadn't seen the Jungle Others or "Other Others" as I like to call them in a while; they took out the mercs with tasers, bolos and grenades- apparently trying to take out the chopper as well. They went down like Reepicheep was after their ass (see the Prince Caspian movie for details).
Yay, blood!

And while they gave us one hell of a cliffhanger (what's in the booox!?!) they tied so many loose ends this time around that you can't give the usual complaint that nothing happens. Penny and Desmond are finally reunited, in a touching scene; I doubt it will be the end of that story arc, since Widmore is still out there. We also get to see what happened to Jin, though I have a feeling he's in the water surrounding the shipwreck after the explosion.
Penny, like the viewers, I have a 4 year case of blue balls.

We also find out how Ben got off the island to do his work against Widmore & company with Sayid, and why he was wearing a parka in the desert when he showed up. Moving the island from that hieroglyphic-marked chamber sent him there, leaving Locke to lead the Others. The big reveal at the end tells us that will be short-lived.
Sweet dreams, Mr. Clean

According to TVIV, the alternate endings hinted about were ruses in case it got leaked-
In addition to the televised ending with Locke in the coffin, two more possible endings were shot, likely as misinformation so that the true ending would not be leaked. These endings were broadcast the morning after season finale on Good Morning America, one showing Sawyer in the coffin and the other showing Desmond.
Just imagine the pranks you could have played with that Sawyer clip. The collective scream of female Lost fans keening out from across the country would have been deafening. Though admittedly, I'd have missed his attitude and the nicknames he gives everybody.

Of course we have some new mysteries; what happened to Locke? Did Michael and Jin die in the explosion, or where they saved by Jack's Ghost Dad? Is Sun working with Mr. Widmore against Ben, or is she planning to betray him? Does the island want everyone back, including Walt and Aaron? Can't they just move the island like Ben did and get pooped out in the Sahara? Why does that Aussie chick from the freighter look like Rocky Dennis from Mask?

All this and more next September... and I'm sad to see a sixth season mentioned. I really liked the idea of a 5-season encapsulated series. Good stories have endings. And they aren't too long.

Catch up on Lost, you loser!

The most expensive toy soldiers ever

If you ever painted toy soldiers or miniatures, you can make a fortune. Just be an established artist and make a huge sprawling diorama of them, and call it "Hell Art."

Take me to ze strudel!

Dinos and Jake Chapman, two British brothers, sold theirs for several million pounds to a collector. They painted mostly Nazi soldiers and a lot of zombies, two subjects dear to the heart of internet nerdery. They also spent millions purchasing Hitler's godawful watercolor paintings that look like Yellow Submarine meets Yard Sale Art Crap. They surrounded their exhibition with them to juxtapose the horrible kitsch of Adolf's rainbow-encrusted landscapes and the vision of hell on earth he created, I guess.
"We have deep things to say about the banality of evil that haven't been said before."

Their miniature painting is actually quite good and full of humor. Zombies pull caravans of rusted Beetles, der Volks Wagen of course. Hell is populated with zombies from all walks of life, and even Stephen Hawking is in there. He's still alive and probably typing a witty rejoinder to them as we speak.

Link to the CNN video that shows their work.

Hitler couldn't paint for shit.

80's Trash of the Week: Commando

Sully, remember when I said I would kill you last?

Only Arnold Schwarzenegger could say something so stupid and make it so damn awesome. Commando is the pinnacle of the Arnie movie, and has never been topped. Sure, he's been in better action movies, like The Terminator movies (the first two at least), but Commando is the paragon of the One Man vs. Army of Cannon Fodder movie. It embodies the utter ridiculous of it, never takes itself seriously, and does so with just enough camp to sustain the perfect balance of comedy, energy and mayhem. It has been released in a gorier Director's Cut that every red-blooded male must own.
I once heard someone say Stallone's movie Cobra is better, because it is worse. Hipsters who ironically like bad movies need to choke on a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, preferably inserted into their throat through the anus by vigorous ass-kicking. By me, or a sexually frustrated psycho gorilla with crabs. Either/or, not that there's much difference. Stallone shot his wad with First Blood, kickstarting this genre, and never topped it in my opinion. But enough about everyone's favorite marble-mouthed, steroid-sucking tough guy. We're here to talk about that other musclebound charismatic actor with a speech impediment, Arnie the Governator.
Let me gif you wood.

Commando begins with Bill Duke, yet another Big Bald Black Man I Admire, assassinating three men. When we meet Arnold, he is walking down a hillside carrying a chainsaw and lugging a redwood tree over his shoulder. We think he's about to be attacked as he's chopping wood, but when he whirls around it's just his daughter Chenny sneaking up on him, played by Alyssa Milano (She was like 12, you perv). From there we go into a charming montage that shows his family life with his daughter. Fishing, teaching her commando kill moves, feeding a deer by hand that he later strangles off screen to make venison burgers out of, and letting her mush ice cream into his face with no violent repercussions. John Matrix is a nice guy, really.

Chenny, I've got your numba...

A helicopter shows up with General Kirby, who warns John that someone is killing his old squad. He leaves a few soldiers to defend the house, but they are killed a few seconds after he leaves. Men spring from nowhere to machinegun his house to shreds. He tells Chenny to hide under the bed, and goes to his Secret Murder Shed to collect weapons and exterminate his new visitors. In the few short seconds it takes, Chenny has been captured and a lone villain remains to tell John the deal.

Bad Guy: My people, they got some business with you. And if you want your kid back, then you gotta co-operate, right?


When John is finally captured, he meets his old buddy Bennett, played by Vernon Wells from the Road Warrior doing his best Aussie Freddy Mercury impersonation. Seriously, Bennett wears what we always thought was a chainmail vest, but it turns out that it's a mithril Cosby sweater. He's one of the most flamboyant villains of the 80's, and we're not sure whether he wants to gut Matrix like a hog or put up some damask curtains in his living room.
That is the gayest sweater vest I have ever seen, mang.

He's working for a South American dictator named Arius, played by Dan Hedaya- you know, Carla's greaseball husband from Cheers. He does a great job with an over the top Hispanic accent, and definitely does better than Pacino in Scarface. So he's more authentic than Carlos "Ned the Joke-Stealing Douche" Mencia. He wants Matrix to assassinate the elected leader of Val Verde, a fictional country that has its own wikipedia entry. If he doesn't do it, Chenny will be fed to Bennett in a tangy Vegemite sauce. I think her name might be Jenny, but when Arnie calls someone Chenny, I assume that is what he named her.
Chess King: For the Stylish Gent

Sully and a dude with a hilarious halfro (that's half an afro) take Matrix to the airport to send him there. Sully is played by veteran character actor David Patrick Kelly, also known as Luther from The Warriors. He's wearing a suit that was made from spaceage 80's material that is no longer produced, and I wish I could own such a suit. Just look at him. Even Arnie is impressed. "I like you Sully. That's why I'm going to kill you last."

Arnie quickly dispatches Halfro and jumps off the plane as it takes off, from the landing gear, splashing into a convenient swamp. From there he finds Sully hitting on a hot flight attendant played by sexy Rae Dawn Chong (Quest for Fire) and stalks the stalker, kidnapping her so he can get close to him. I'll put it in her words:
Cindy: "You steal my car, you rip the seat out, you kidnap me, you ask me to help you find your daughter which I very kindly do, and then you get me involved in a shoot out where people are dying and there's blood spurting all over the place, and then I watch you rip a phone booth out of a wall, swing from the ceiling like Tarzan, and then there's a cop that's going to shoot you and I save you and they start chasing me. Are you going to tell me what's going on or what?"
It just keeps getting better. He chases Sully down and "lets him go" in the famous scene I started with, where he breaks his promise to him. If you look closely, you can see the cable holding Sully up.

Ruining a great suit.

It just keeps getting better- the movie really never lets up. They track down Bill Duke at Sully's hotel, where Arnie accidentally throws him into a room full of gratuitous 80's boobs and impales him on a coffee table. Oops. Matrix is not good at questioning people. Luckily they find a CLUE in the glovebox of his Cadillac and track the nefarious villains to a warehouse with a seaplane.
That was your last mis-stake...

Even though the warehouse is full of weapons including a halftrack and a howitzer, Matrix decides to drive a bulldozer through a gun shop to get supplies. He finds the secret switch to the cool illegal stuff that every gun shop has. Seriously, ask to see the room sometime. All gun owners are fans of Commando, so just say "John Matrix sent me," and you'll get to play with the rocket launchers and claymores.

The cops don't look kindly to driving bulldozers through local businesses, so they throw John in the paddy wagon. Thankfully Cindy reads the rocket launcher manual and manages to save him, and they drive off to the seaplane. Bill "Hudson" Paxton has a small role as an comms officer who tells them to get out of the airspace, but soon afterward Arnie is storming the beach in nothing but a banana hammock. You'd think they'd be fair and show a little Rae Dawn Thong, but no such luck.
If you're a beast like Arnie, you can carry a small arsenal on your back and wipe out an entire island of lazy extras with mustaches so they look vaguely like South American mercenaries. And that is what he proceeds to do. I counted 4 knives, a battle rifle, a shotgun, a pistol, a rocket launcher, half a dozen grenades and enough explosives to turn half the island to matchsticks. He expends all these in short order, without stopping to even breathe, beginning by blowing up the barracks.

When he runs out of weapons he runs to a convenient Secret Murder Shed like he has at home, and uses pitchforks, axes, machetes and circular saw blades to eviscerate a squad of baddies. If you get the Director's cut, you get some hilarious extended scenes of them looking at their severed limbs in horror. Trust me, it's worth every penny.
Wake me up before you go-go, John!

When he finally tracks down Bennett, they have a balls-to-the-wall knife battle through the compound's Fire and Pipe Room, which is the equivalent to the Dripping Chain Room found on spaceships and space stations. They fight using knives made by Jack Crain, who designed the knives for Predator as well. Bennett's squeals and facial expressions during this fight are worthy of an Oscar. They really must be seen to be believed. He really does need to let off some steam, and thankfully Matrix lets him.

Includes alternate takes with even worse one-liners.

Commando is not even a guilty pleasure, it's a straightforward pleasure. It really is the benchmark for the ridiculous action movie, and 23 years later it is still a blast. A lot of 80's movies have a really cheap look, and this is no exception when we see Sully's Porsche repair itself over and over, but most of the time it holds up. The soundtrack by James Horner uses Caribbean steel drums and is lots of fun, with "We Fight For Love" by The Power Station over the end credits solidifying it as an 80's movie. The only downside is if you make your girlfriend watch it, the female equivalent of this movie is The Sweetest Thing, and that has been known to cause testicular cancer.

Count de Money RIP ... goodbye Harvey Korman

de Monet, de Monet...

Comedic actor Harvey Korman died yesterday at the age of 81, from complications of heart surgery. Harvey was a mainstay in the comedies I enjoyed growing up- Mel Brooks, the Carol Burnett Show. He usually played the straight man or the bad guy, and no one played a funnier villain if you ask me.

A video tribute to Harvey Korman.

Probably most famous for playing Hedy Lamarr (Hedley, HEDLEY!) in Blazing Saddles, Harve also appeared in some of Tim Conway's best sketches on Carol Burnett, like The Dentist, and some of his own. Most memorable was their spoof of Gone With the Wind, where he played Rhett Butler. He could ooze slime and still give off a sympathetic weakness, as in Blazing Saddles when he could say stuff like:
"I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists."
and then scramble in the bath tub for his little froggy toy. The sad fact about the Mel Brooks movies is that unless you can empathize with the characters, many of the jokes are just puns. Comedy is a lot different today, though Judd Apatow is putting good characters back into the genre. He'll be sorely missed. So, I'll leave you with the Carol Burnett video, and some of my favorite lines ol' Harve uttered in his illustrious career.

Hedley Lamarr: My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

Count de Monet: Don't get saucy with me, Bearnaise.

Hedley Lamarr: Shut up, you Teutonic twat!

It Went With the Wind

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Extraterrestrials fly a billion miles to say... Peekaboo!

This Friday, Denver politicians get to see a gen-u-ine space alien on infrared video footage. At least according to Denver resident Jeff Peckman, who is also pushing a ballot initiative to create an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission to prepare residents for dealing with visitors from beyond. He's bringing the footage as evidence they exist, and to embarrass Coloradoans.

This guy looks trustworthy, don't he?

The rest of us have to wait for a documentary including the footage to be released. Generally speaking earthshaking footage of such calamitous magnitude is usually released to the public, wouldn't you think? Apparently not.

"It shows an extraterrestrial's head popping up outside of a window at night, looking in the window, that's visible through an infrared camera," he said. The alien is about 4 feet tall and can be seen blinking, Peckman said earlier this month.

In a statement, Peckman said "other related credible evidence" proving aliens exist will be shown at Friday's news conference, too.

I can barely wait to see the alien equivalent of the window-peeping scene from Animal House. Then again, maybe it was a cannibal creature that escaped from the catacombs beneath Denver airport. Yeah, built in 1995, apparently it is a plot for the British Crown to bankrupt America, and also where the aliens are kept, when unsuspecting tourists aren't fed to them. It's all told in murals, since Illuminati conspirators can't help but secretly document their nefarious plots in rebus form.

Well, it certainly is some creepy shit.

Rescue Dawn and Little Dieter Needs to Fly

Werner Herzog is a fucking animal. He makes a movie every year practically, from art house classics to gripping documentaries, and now he's taking on Hollywood at its own game, with Rescue Dawn, and an upcoming remake of Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant with Nicholas Cage. Part of me thinks that will be like The Wicker Man remake, but if anyone can beat a performance out of an actor, it's Herzog. He kept a gun on set when working with Klaus Kinski in Aguirre, the Wrath of God to keep him under control.

When he's not making movies, he's been known to save people like Joaquin Phoenix from car crashes.
Probably best known for his documentary Grizzly Man, Herzog has made literally dozens of films over his career. In the beginning he worked with a stolen camera, the ultimate in rogue filmmaking. By the time Grizzly Man came along he had his own cameras, but the energy and spirit he manages to capture on film has not changed. He has always been interested in obsessed individuals, and Timothy Treadwell, the guy who walked up to wild grizzly bears, was definitely one of them.

Another, more heroic figure is that of Dieter Dengler. He was a pilot in the early days of the Vietnam conflict, was shot down on a raid, and was held as a prisoner of war for many months. Rescue Dawn, starring Christian Bale as Dieter, dramatizes his account as a pilot, prisoner, and how he escaped and survived in the jungle for 23 days before being rescued. It's a very naturalistic movie and feels like an old war movie at some times, and brutally realistic at others. Shortly after his plane is shot down, he is captured in Laos and dragged to a prison camp, with a few other U.S. and Thai soldiers. He is tortured with bamboo splinters, beatings, and submerged in a well up to his neck; overnight he and his fellow prisoners are shackled by the ankles.

Holy shit Steve Zahn can act!

Steve Zahn is one of his fellow P.O.W.s and gives a stunning performance as a broken-down man. Bale on the other hand does a fine job playing Dengler, a man who grew up in post-war Germany scrounging for scraps, so he has undergone suffering before. He's steeled to it, and keeps the men in good morale by planning their escape. He ingeniously builds a lockpick out of a shell casing, and dries and stores rice in a hollowed-out bottom of his shit-can; he was a tool and die maker before he joined the Air Force, and has a way with metals. It takes months for his plan to come to fruition, and nothing goes as planned; he and Zahn end up on their own, with a single tennis shoe to protect their feet from the jungle floor.

This is no Missing in Action or Rambo 2, and when they do escape, it is by the skin of their teeth. When Dengler was rescued, he weighed a mere 85 pounds. Bale doesn't pare down to that extreme weight like he did for The Machinist, but does look like a man fighting for his life in the jungle. The story is exciting and realistic, and beautifully filmed. Herzog has always had an artist's eye for composure and presenting nature in all its terrible beauty, and the jungles of Indochina are the perfect palette for him.
I'd do it all again for a currywurst

If you pair the film with the 75-minute documentary he made prior to dramatizing the story, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, you get the story behind the man who seems always too cheerful to be in a prison camp. He stockpiles huge amounts of dry goods after his starved childhood and time as a P.O.W., and talks about how we take simple thinks like an unlocked door for granted. As a child he saw a bomber pilot, and resolved to fly planes. In Germany after the war this was impossible. He tells us of how his mother would cook wallpaper for the nutrients in the glue, things were so dire. He remembers the first time he saw a sausage for sale in a shop, and how no one he knew could afford it.
Nice to see you guys again

His dream of flight eventually brought him to America, where he joined the Air Force. His dream of flight has led him to join the very army that bombed him as a child; that's the kind of drive that makes Herzog make a documentary about you. He brings him back to the jungle so he can re-enact some of his capture and escape with the Pathet Lao, and you can see that Rescue Dawn sticks very closely to the facts. It really should come in a two-pack. After his escape, he became a test pilot and survived 4 crashes. Like the movie says, Death didn't want him. He passed away in 2001 of Lou Gehrig's disease, and is interred at Arlington Cemetery.

Rest in peace, Dieter.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove

Christopher Moore writes a unique kind of humorous fiction. I first found him when I picked up a hardcover titled Coyote Blue, a novel about the Trickster of Native American legend paying a visit to a rich wheeler-dealer who's lost his roots. It's a rude, funny and bizarre little novel that reminded me of Tom Robbins.

After that I read Bloodsucking Fiends, about vampires in California. This one was more of a comedic horror novel, goofing on Anne Rice and the romance of vampirism by setting it in a supermarket where a slacker gets bitten and put under the spell of a sexy vampiress. I still wonder why a movie never got made of this one. Apparently his first novel, , got optioned by Disney but was never made into one. With his sense of humor I can imagine why.

In Coyote Blue, a man comes home to find a coyote fucking his Italian leather sofa. In Island of the Sequined Love Nun, a missionary and nurse have co-opted a cargo cult of islanders to pose as high priest and priestess. In Lamb, we learn the gospel according to Jesus's childhood pal, Biff. He has a gift for the absurd and making hilarious yet touching stories out of it. Anyone can write about the ridiculous, but it takes talent to make us care about the characters dealing with it, and to stick with the increasingly bizarre story as it plays out.

He manages this well with the book I just read, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. This one involves a picturesque village on the California coast where business revolves around tourists. The small town is over-medicated for depression by their one shrink, and order is kept by the stoner constable, Theo Crowe. They've also got a B-movie actress who's off her meds and starts to think she really is Kendra: Warrior Babe of the Outland. The harridan who runs the local watering hole hires a bluesman named Catfish Jefferson to try to make folks sad enough to drink, and many miles away, something crawls from the slime, at the bottom of a dark ocean trench. (No, not a Scottish loch.)

The sea beast is no Godzilla, he's lured by a twang of radiation from a nearby power plant and senses easy prey in the town's gaggle of depressoids, so he sticks around for a snack or two, but gets wounded when he tries to hump a tanker truck. Hey, it gets lonely at the bottom of the sea. Underneath all the humor is the mystery of whether the Mennonite Martha Stewart who's found swinging from a rope in her living room did herself in or not, and we've got a collection of likeable and humorous characters to help us along. Catfish Jefferson the bluesman was my favorite. The story of his buddy who never got the blues, and how Catfish tried to give them to him, had me rolling. Sometimes it's better to have the blues.

Molly, aka Kendra the Warrior Babe, is a lot of fun too. If you've ever watched the apocalyptic trash of the 80's, you can see where she was drawn from. Her interactions with the sea beast, who's entertaining as hell himself, get a little fanficky but don't make you feel dirty. If anything, that's my one peeve with Moore's work, that sometimes he does seem to cater to his fans. Thankfully, not too much.

If you've never read him, it's hard to say where to start. His books are so different from each other, I'd say read a blurb and go for what grabs you. Vampires, Jesus, Jimmy Buffet-alikes in Micronesia, a Native American yuppie dealing with Coyote, demons, whales, and Death so far. He's sort of like Carl Hiaasen for the fantasy/sci-fi crowd; funny, with a little bite to it, and loads of talent. Give him a try.

And if you're looking for a signed first edition of this book or Coyote Blue, send me an email.

Watchmen photo leak #2

Another photo leaked from Zack Snyder's production of Watchmen, the adaptation of the ground-breaking graphic novel by Alan Moore. This one shows that they don't seem to be ignoring at least one subplot, that of the original old-school heroes. It came from AICN.

Alan Moore's other works have been adapted with varying success; the terrible League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the good V for Vendetta. Both inspired huge amounts of internet nerd rage; I can see League being torn apart, since it changed the plot and characters so much, and added some of its own for broader appeal. V for Vendetta also veered from the original in some ways, but I felt it worked well. From Hell was alright, but I found it kind of boring. Moore hates all the Hollywood adaptations, but according to wikipedia, "Moore is a practising magician who worships a Roman snake deity named Glycon," so take that as you wilt.

Watchmen is using the original comics as storyboards, so we can at least expect it to visually resemble the graphic novel. I liked Snyder's adaptation of 300- whatever flaws it has arise from the puerile source material. Which I liked, anyway. Sometimes you need history rewritten for 13 year olds, it makes for fine entertainment. Watchmen keeps looking like it will be great, but the worst thing to do with a big movie is to follow it closely on the internet and build your hopes up so high that they can never be satisfied.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You're Gonna Regret It For the Rest of Your Life

Johnny wanted a tat tonight. I myself was deep into the task of murdering a nest of wasps when he called. The insects had built their home in the window where my air conditioner fits, and were therefore scheduled for slaughter.

"I want to get another tattoo," he told me, as I hosed the nests down with a virulent poison unknown to the EPA.

"Of what?" I delighted as I sprayed the wasps' nests from afar with my hornet blaster aerosol ("Shoots 27 feet!" the can promised).

"The Mandalorian skull from their battle armor."

If you don't know what a Mandalorian is, Boba Fett is kind of the Last of the Mandalorians, as in the Mohicans. He already had the U.S.M.C. letters across one arm, so I knew he wouldn't faint or wimp out. When someone asks you if you want to watch them get a tattoo, I recommend you always say yes. It is always entertaining, especially if it's their first. I should know, I have 3. Tattoo parlors are unique places. Now that the tribal tattoo fad is over, they've returned to that slightly seedy kind of place you expect to meet bounty hunters, hell's angels, and graphic designers who hate photoshop in.

We went to Jinx Proof Tattoo in Montclair. Iron Maiden was playing in the background; flash, what tattoo art is called, covered the walls in poster flippers like booklets of wallpaper, except when you choose the skull & crossbones or big boobie babe motif, if goes on your bicep and not the bathroom wall. Tattoo flash hasn't changed too much- you can still get Sailor Jerry's old designs at most places, or stuff that comes from 70's album covers, and the famous stuff like a melange of booze, boobs and blackjack cards labeled "Man's Ruin," my personal favorite.

Nice clean parlor with the Pit Bull sign for friendliness

The place was busy with hairy tattooed dudes buzzing behind their needles. I found a little Italy boot I wanted to get next to my shamrock, but they were full up! Maybe next time. I also don't want to nurse even a tiny tat in Hawaii. Though that might be a good place to get one, since Sailor Jerry's last studio was in Honolulu's Chinatown.
Give 'em the boot

After a few minutes a friendly long-haired tattoo-covered fellow copied the image Johnny brought in, brought him back to the clean area, and began to stab him repeatedly in the arm with a needle. As his good friend, it was my duty to sit and listen for any cries of pain and make fun of him. I listened to Johnny talk about Rob Zombie's directorial prowess and blogged from my phone. Nerdy, but when your buddy is getting obscure Star Wars symbols tattooed on him, you have already been painted with the nerd brush.
We embrace our stereotypes here, thank you very much.

They also have some cool Irish themed flash, like a beer mug surrounded by shamrocks and stuff.I asked the owner about the little boot and unfortunately seawater and sun are not the best idea when its healing, so I'll have to come back after Hawaii. If I don't go native and pass as a Samoan, and get some of their tattoos. I wish I brought my copy of Hunter S. Thompson's The Curse of Lono to re-read. This Boba Fett tat is taking forever. I can only listen to "Flight of Icarus" so many times, despite Piece of Mind being the soundtrack to my sophomore year in high school.

I've always liked tattoo flash, though. Something about the encapsulated art with its stylized brush stroke outlines has always appealed to me. It's a language all its own, from the bitter cynicism of the "born loser" stuff to the sentimentality of the Mom heart, a crying Jesus, or a cute widdle devil. The darker stuff, like a 13 signifying the judge & jury who screwed you, the Iron Cross and the hooded skeletons with double-barreled shotguns hinting at the nightriders of the Klan. Back in the 80's when I got mine at the Tattoo Factory in Butler, the Klan tats were right there alongside the faeries and butterflies.

Tattoo parlor etiquette is civil. Everyone might be a badass; look at all the pain they endured. You go out of the way to show ýour tats if they're hidden, so you fit in. I'm a piker, I only have 3. Signs say stuff like "No Whiners!" "Yes, it hurts!" And "you can't have just five!" Nowadays girls outnumber guys; they come in gaggles to get them, the sisterhood of the traveling tats. There's nothing daring about it anymore, in enlightened areas; some places still find them immoral somehow. Mine only mean something to me, and are all vaguely ridiculous.

My first one was a fox. I've only seen another one on girls, which means I alone am manly enough to bear it with pride. My buddy at the time was a complete idiot obsessed with Navy SEALs and he got their insignia; I still wonder if he got the snot pounded out of him by real SEALs, since the closest he ever got to the Navy was the Charlie Sheen movie. I just looked over the flash, saw a cool fox, and got it.
2 very manly tattoos and a huge bruise

Later I got something even lamer, Pepe le Pew and Penelope- she's the hapless cat he chases. So I've got cartoon date rape on my left arm. I love it though- Pepe has that oblivious confidence and assured sense of romance I think I have. Firecracker keeps me modest, thankfully. I got that in Minneapolis at Tattooing by Yurkew, whose founder passed away last year. My last one was done at Atomic in L.A., with friends I no longer consider such. It was a whim, and I like it. A shamrock to mark my grandfather's ancestry. I need to mark my 3/4 Italianity, maybe I ought to put a pizza behind the bit of green.

Tattoos are one of the last rituals we have- in the old days we marked important changes in life with painful rites. It burns them in the memory. Usually the pain commemorates the headstrong decision to have a strange man jab you with needles for an hour. I sure as hell remember all the dumb things I did when I was getting my tattoos. Maybe that's why its been ten years since the last one, I haven't done anything dumb enough yet. I'll let you know when I do.

The euphoria of endorphin rush has not worn off yet.

Venture Bros. t-shirt club

This is sort of the nerdiest thing ever, but I really like the super secret Brock Samson shirt you get if you subscribe. Not worth $250 to me, though, but I'm sure some Venture Brothers fans will go for it. I have an older Samson shirt where he's eviscerating an alligator, so that will have to do.

The new season starts June 1st- confirmed on my DVR, hooray. So remember, if there's an episode you especially enjoy, check the AstroBase Go! website to see if they made a related shirt for it that week. Then you can be King Nerd at the Starbucks that week.

It's too bad the Brock shirt is exclusive, it would go well with my Cobra Kai dojo shirt. They were the bad guys from Karate Kid. That's about as nerdy as I get, and I've only worn it to my mixed-martial arts class, as a goof.

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