I'm not going to spend much time on this review, because, frankly, the movie doesn't deserve it.

I've long said that special effects alone do not a good (or even entertaining) movie make. There needs to be a solid, relatively believable plot and realistic, interesting characters who we as an audience give a shit about. Mindless blather about a league of assassins who get their marching orders from a "loom of fate" (yes, I said loom, like what weavers use to make clothes) that spits out assassination targets' names in binary does not even come close.

I can honestly say this movie bored me. Not quite to tears, but close. The special effects and action sequences, while certainly well-done, reeked of CGI fakery, and were nothing new, to boot. The advent of computer generated effects has been both a boon and a bane to the film industry in recent years. Producers and directors seem to think if they just slap some shiny CGI sequences into their films, they don't need to worry about little things like plot and story. Silly me for wanting something more for my $10.

Wanted is about a nobody office drone who discovers he's the son of the world's greatest assassin, who was recently murdered by a rogue assassin from a group called The Fraternity. A group, mind you, that was started 1,000 years ago by a bunch of fucking cloth weavers who, for some reason we're never told, took it upon themselves to rid the world of certain people, to "balance the scales," whatever the fuck that means.

The movie has lots of gun fu and car fu, though no actual kung fu. CGI bullets collide in mid-flight, CGI trains tumble off CGI bridges, CGI cars flip through the air and land without missing a beat, let alone popping a tire. It's violence porn taken to the nth degree, a ADD-addled adolescent male's ultimate power trip. Women, the few that make the cut in this fanyboyish wet dream, exist solely to be sexual objects or to be mocked.

I didn't care about a single character and the surprise double-crosses were anything but. It's a shame that such high-caliber actors wasted their talents in such an empty, soulless film. Don't get me wrong, the actors all performed their roles admirably. It's just that there wasn't much for them to work with. Part of me wishes the writers had hewed more closely to the original source material, but that story is pretty nigh unfilmable.

Wanted is extremely loosely based on a comic book by writer Mark Millar and artist J.G. Jones. How extremely loosely you ask? When scripting of the adaptation began, only the first issue of the six-issue mini-series had been released. The screenwriters had less than 20 percent of the story to go on. Hence, a movie that completely abandons the very premise of its source material to such a degree that it's nearly unrecognizable to anyone who's read the comic.

The comic is a black comedy, a self-parody of not only superhero comics but of the people who read them. It's a self-mocking, over-the-top, absurdest farce, the sole goal of which is to take the piss out of the recent comic book trend of overly-glamorized violence and sexuality. It's a joke. The movie adaptation, however, doesn't get the punchline.

But hey, if mindless drivel, boring, derivative action and a veritable cornucopia of explosions is your cup o' tea, then have at it. Wanted is definitely for you.



So I applied for my degree today. Graduation is in less than two months, August 15. I'm almost halfway through my first summer class, Principles of Public Relations. Our first test is Wednesday. I'm feeling fairly confident so far. With the class being only five weeks long, the schedule is really compressed, so we don't go over material so much as the teacher points to certain chapters and pages in the text book and says, "I'd take a look at this if I were you." Then he takes off his glasses, throws his head back and kind of laughs maniacally for a few seconds. Not quite sure what that's all about. Guess I'll find out Wednesday.

It felt a little weird actually applying for the degree (and, you know, paying the university even more money for the pleasure). It's just one of those things, another marker along the way to being done with school. (Undergrad, anyway. If I don't land a job this year, hey, there's always grad school.)

George Carlin, 1937 - 2008


Family Ties

Tomorrow is my grandmother's 90th birthday. Ninety years. She was born shortly before the end of World War I. She lived through the Great Depression and World War II and the Korean War. She saw a president assassinated and the Civil Rights Movement unfold. America landed men on the moon. My grandmother saw the Berlin Wall being built and also watched it come tumbling down. She was alive during the formation of Iraq out of the crumbling Ottoman Empire and she's watched as that country has fallen apart over the past five-plus years. Ninety years.

In honor of his mother's birthday my father, using his much vaunted iMac, put together a book, a collection of photos of her and her family and friends from the past 90 years, many of whom are no longer with us. My mother and father sifted through piles of old, weathered photographs, pictures of my grandmother as a small child, pictures of her parents, even. I saw pictures of my grandfather, my father's father who died at the age of 50 when my father was only 13 and newly Bar Mitzvahed, one of when he was a big-eared little boy in Russia before his family immigrated to America, and others of when he was a big-eared man, a father, enjoying time with his two children.

To join in celebration of this milestone of longevity, my brother and his wife and their son and daughter drove to town from Colorado, and my cousin, my father's nephew, the son of my father's sister who died nearly 15 years ago, flew to town from Pittsburgh with his wife and their almost-one-year-old son. My sister, of course, lives here in Omaha with her family, her husband and their son and daughter, as do I, my parent's youngest child who has struggled to find his place in the great, vast scheme of things.

Today, in the midst of my grandmother's birthday celebration, is also Father's Day, a not insignificant day in my family, given the number of children born over the past seven years. It was really something special, seeing my father surrounded by not only his children but his grandchildren and grandnephew as well. It was impossible not to think of my cousin, whose father, an incredibly disappointing and selfish man, died shortly after his mother.

And as we grew closer to this weekend, it's been difficult not to think of my grandfather as well, especially after looking through all those old photos of him for my grandmother's book. I regret not having had a chance to know him, and I know my father regrets it, too. But such is the fate life bestowed upon us. Life is tenuous and requires of us to enjoy every moment. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. And all that remains are memories and old photographs.

So here's to making those memories and taking those pictures. Here's to not only my own father, but to my brother and my cousin, and to my brother-in-law as well. Happy Father's Day to you all. One day I hope to join your ranks, and I can only hope I exhibit the same love and patience (especially patience) that I've witnessed in all of you.


Yes We Can!

Hillary as VP

As Obama closes in on (finally - Iowa was five months ago, but it feels like years) securing the Democratic nomination, talk has once again surfaced about the possibility of Obama choosing Clinton as his running mate. It's as though after all she's put the party through, she thinks she deserves a reward, that she's earned the right to be vice president, just like she thought she was entitled to be president after what her husband put her through when he was president. And to that idea, I have but one thing to say:

Go Away. Go back to New York or to Arkansas or to wherever the hell, and take your damn husband and all your fucking baggage with you. We don't want you around anymore. We've moved on. We're turning the page. No more of this Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton bullshit. We're tired of your style of politics. We're tired of the petty partisanship you represent. Please, for the sanity of the nation, just go away.

There are scores of better VP candidates for Obama to choose from: John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Kathleen Sebelius, Chuck Hagel, Mike Bloomberg ...

Obama has promised CHANGE, and if there's one thing Hillary doesn't represent, it's that.

Hillary might "be open" to being Obama's VP as some sort of consolation prize, but he sure as hell doesn't have to give it to her.



Any Clinton supporters who choose to vote for McCain instead of Obama are petty, insecure children who shouldn't be allowed to vote at all (I've long thought we should institute an intelligence test, given every four years, before allowing people to vote).

[sarcasm]Why yes, it would certainly be better to have four more years of the disastrous, idiotic Bush policies (not to mention a continuation of the Iraq war and possibly an invasion of Iran) in the form of a brain-addled, senile old man, than to vote for the young, intelligent, vibrant, articulate black guy. What could I have been thinking?[/sarcasm]

Grow the fuck up, people. Stop whining and help us take our country back. Either vote Obama or stay the fuck home. Remember, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.