Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Facebook & SXSW


So the new Facebook release reconfigured itself as a challenge to Twitter.

Honestly, due to my non-League commitments, I've been cornered into Twittering a bit of late, and I'm no more comfortable with the technology now than I was a month or two ago. Oddly, the Facebook update to compete with Twitter makes a bit more sense to me, what with the stuff that's behind it and the other applications tied to Facebook. Groups, actual social application, etc... (I don't think I need to tell you what's available on Facebook).

I'm still wrapped up in Twitter, and from the Tweets and reports I've been reading from Leaguers at SXSW, Twitter and "social media" are the word of the moment. So when I hear "social media", it may define for me why Facebook works for me and Twitter sort of works, but just barely. I do not consider 150 character bursts and nothing else to be "social". Let alone how Twitter doesn't really manage "conversations". I consider that to be one-to-many broadcast with little in the way of a communication loop.

Without "Direct Tweets", its not entirely unthinkable to think I am likely to miss out on a "Tweet" directed at me, if I do not scroll through enough pages. "Social" connects that loop in a context, and Facebook's new design works well for me in that regard.

My SXSW Not at SXSW Moment

Leaving the AT&T Conference Center yesterday where I'd taken a new co-worker for lunch at the UT Staff/ Faculty Club. Walking out to find not the usual suits and other conference attendees, but a collection of 15 or so sunglassed, skinny-jeans and $200 t-shirt wearing 20-30-somethings with various stages of gelled hair. All waiting for a ride, I'd guess. And all either furiously texting or on their iPhones. Not noticing each other.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Comic Fodder

If you're wondering why I didn't have a post last night, I did. It was just over at Comic Fodder. Topics include: More on Watchmen, DCU Animated movies, Joker inspired crimes, Sterling at 40, Moving from Online Ordering Back to the Comic Shop


Also, not too much to discuss. We went out for dinner for Jason's birthday the other night and had a lovely time. We'll be having a few folks over for Jamie's birthday on Saturday, so if you're around, feel free to drop by after 8:00 or so.

Longtime Leaguers know I'm not crazy about my own birthday, but I do enjoy other people's birthdays. I suppose it's pretty typical to want to enjoy the party not feel like you have to be "on". Although last year turned out very nicely when we all just headed down to Artz.

I feel I've been a bit overtly cynical of late, which is fine for me, but I don't want to get my pals down, too. I made mention on Facebook of easing off the throttle a bit for a while, and Meredith suggested giving it until my birthday, which seems like a do-able timeframe. I'm not making a pledge or anything, but I am going to make a concerted effort to not automatically make expressions of assuming the worst for a few eeks. We shall see how that goes.

I will probably fail.

Digital Libraries

I've been increasingly thinking about digital distribution lately. (A) I work for a Digital Library initiative, (B) Many are hoping that comics will take a leap into the digital realm this year with the color Kindle and a rumored larger iPod Touch to be announced in 2009. Throw in the Google Scholar/ Google Books efforts, and we're looking at a brave new world of distribution. Which... no kidding, right?

I guess I was thinking this week that it's kind of cool that we're heading ever closer to the endless library of material on demand that Star Trek promised us in the 1960's. While you can currently find some information at this point about virtually any topic, its been tough to find complete works or the sort of scholarship that used to collect dust on library shelves.

Sure, we're not getting flying cars or hovering skateboards, but its nice to know some part of the sci-fi future is becoming true. And its fun to be a part of it in some miniscule way.

See, that was positive as hell, yo.

Achewood takes on Constructivist Learning Theory

And History as a commodity.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


No matter what else happens today, this made today okay.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NBC's "Kings" and PTOD

Before we get any further, PTOD is "Prime Time on Demand", and its an option that recently appeared on my digital cable dial. At long last, Time Warner is offering the same shows that are on that week on some of the networks on "In Demand".

I am actually very excited by the implications of In Demand prime time programming. We've had the technology for years, and its finally being taken seriously by either my provider or the networks (no idea who caved first on that one). Sure, not everything is available. I'm not even sure ABC is listed, but I am POSITIVE Lost isn't listed. However, the last few Friday Night Lights episodes are listed (Connie Britton on demand is always a good thing), as are episodes of "The Office".

I am not ready to give up my real time broadcast of shows as I firmly believe in the power of "stumble upon" as a way of finding new and interesting stuff. And I don't know that the networks or cable providers have to give up the standard broadcast model, provided bandwidth keeps apace and all the technology works.

But in 2009, if you do not have digital cable, you are a sucker.

A show that's currently listed on my PTOD is NBC's pilot for "Kings". I was intrigued by the idea when I first saw the show's advertising. My assumption was that Kings would show an America that has settled on a monarchy rather than a democratic government. I was curious to see if we'd have the House of Washington duking it out with the Hamiltons, etc...

I was completely mistaken. I have no idea if I missed all the marketing for the show or what the deal was, but, Leaguers, I wasn't even close. As it turns out, "Kings" isn't an alternate-history US. Instead, its a modern telling of the story of the rise (and should ratings sustain) reign and fall of Israel's King David. Sort of.

I'm no Biblical scholar, and I was well into the pilot, busily missing the huge, blinking roadsigns like "the Reverend Samuel" anointing young David the auto mechanic, and the fact the writers named the the capital of the nation of "Gilboa" as "Shiloh". It was when Jason said "Is that... 'David' crouching in front of the 'Goliath' tank?" that all the pretty pieces suddenly slammed into order and I just let out a groan. I are smart. But, in my defense, I was also trying to figure out what the allegory was between the show and alternate reality USA which led to me running the wrong mental subroutine.

The KareBear raised us much more New Testament than old, and so I was only really familiar with the story of David in bits and pieces rather than in one, continuous narrative. Except for, of course, my reading of Kyle Baker's amazing graphic novel "King David", which I recommend to one and all.

However, a quick Google search last night and I am back up to speed. And can see how someone might have said to themselves "you know, this would make for an interesting TV show or movie". And in order to keep modern audiences in line, and to demonstrate the modern application of David's story, its an interesting translation.

If you're the rare Leaguer who isn't into a multi-season religious allegory, you may be interested in how they represent an all-powerful monarch in a 21st Century context, but reflective of current Western influences, etc... The creators put a lot of thought into monarch as statesman/ government/ religious figure and beholden to corporate machinery. While the pilot leans closely toward the classic story, I've no idea if that's how it will continue on a weekly basis.

The greatest danger, of course, is that the show slips into Melrose Place territory. It seems almost inescapable in the TV landscape for soap opera not to become the focus of a show as writers get lazy and producers become more concerned with budget than story. But NBC must have some faith in the show at this point as there's obviously a huge amount of money sunk into the pilot.

We'll have to see. Its an interesting enough premise, the talent is good enough and the production values of a high enough level that my curiosity is piqued. I'm in for a few more episodes, but it all makes me miss the day of the Big Budget Mini-Series that marked the 1980's and the promise of a beginning/ middle/ end.

One last note, I think the writer/ executive producer on the show, Michael Green, was responsible for several issues of recent DC comics, such as Superman/ Batman. I'd say his TV work is a bit better than his comic work.

Jason's Birthday is Today

So happy birthday to my second favorite Leprachaun. So whose my favorite Leprachaun?

Is it this one? Or this one? No, it's this one, because unlike those other Leprachauns, this one gives me delicious cereal.

So, Jason has turned 36, by my count.

So, 36 Facts About My Brother

1) Isn't afraid to cry at "A Diamond is Forever" commercials
2) Idea of a good evening is slipping into something silky, opening a bottle of port and listening to the soundtrack for "My Fair Lady"
3) Once kidney-punched a mime
4) Will turn on you like a ripe banana
5) Favorite ice cream? Vanilla with gummy bears mashed into it
6) Dreams of buying a big rig truck and a chimpanzee and becoming a long-haul trucker who stumbles into adventure
7) Thinks Nixon had it right
8) He and Reed took the bronze medal for Men's Synchronized Diving in 1988 Olympics (was later revoked when steroid use was discovered)
9) Sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber
10) Does nightly patrols of his street in a cape and mask, going by the name "The Liquidator". Nobody knows what that means.
11) Is self-taught attorney, like Abraham Lincoln
12) Every weekend covers self in washable tattoos from packs of Fruit Stripe Gum and Cracker Jack boxes
13) Has "a thing" for the Amish ladies
14) As a child would dress up in costumes and delight us with his performance of a one-man show of Peter Pan.
15) Can re-assemble an M-16 while blindfolded and smoking a Cuban cigar
16) Once travelled through time with clever white dog which he nicknamed "Peabody"
17) Is working on his first hip-hop album. Says will "drop" in time for Christmas.
18) In order to get his CRV going, needs 1.21 gigawatts
19) Has kissed Henry Kissinger on the forehead. Said he smelled of "barley, old tires and 'international intrigue'". Or maybe 'Chaps' by Ralph Lauren.
20) Killed him a bear, when he was only 3
21) Is afraid of waffles
22) Can dead lift 1000 pounds
23) Practices "Torquasm-Vo", an ancient Kryptonian mix of meditation techniques and martial arts
24) Has seen both El Chupacabra and a UFO, but years apart and in different locations
25) Memorized entire constitution, has Declaration of Independence tattooed on thighs so he can read it when he wears shorts
26) Fears "The Great Conjunction"
27) Lives by only one rule: There are no rules
28) Can hold his breath for six minutes at a time
29) Has never actually voted for a Democrat
30) Is guy in the H-E-Buddy costume
31) Has bought small bi-plane for Cassidy and is teaching her to fly it
32) Part of underground railroad for runaway circus animals
33) Can jump four feet straight up
34) Only man alive to have made passionate love to all four Golden Girls (not at one time)
35) Can pull a train engine with his teeth
36) Born on a Monday

Happy B-Day, Jason. May your 37th revolution be the best one ever.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Emergency post: Change of URL

Hi all.

Looks like my relationship with GoDaddy is over with. We're now back at publishing at:

Please update your links.
This post is pretty much going to end whenever Leaguer Nathan shows up at my door. Nathan comes into town every year for SXSW and stays at my house while he attends the film portion of the conference. Its after 10:00, and once again, I'm pretty tired. For some reason the time change this spring really, really jacked me up. That was true last year, too, actually. And it makes me sort of afraid to do any serious intercontinental business travel, lest I walk around like a zombie for a week afterward.

I also have a nexus of physical symptoms that all feel relatively the same to me of tired/ nauseous/ headache. I often cannot tell one from the other, because when I have one, I usually have one of the others. Or else I can tell its coming.

Last night we watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", which RHPT had recommended a long time ago. And, hey, it was pretty darn good. The Apatow school of romantic comedy has finally found a way to step outside the hideously formulaic world of junk like "Two Weeks Notice" and give me junk like "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" that at least isn't utterly, painfully adorable and predictable. And often finds its humor in the painful trainwreck of real life rather than in "ha ha ha... Sandra Bullock fell down".

Oddly, it did manage to stir up a weird set of memories as I broke up with my first real girlfriend on the same day I took her to see "Dracula: The Musical" at the Alley in Houston. And, no, I did not react much better than the lead in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", but then lump in the sort of emotional reaction you'd expect out of a 17 year old.

Yeah. I was awesome. I am just really, really proud of that time in my life. (Give self slow clap).

Anyhoo, I don't know that its ever really necessary to see these sorts of movies on the big screen, which is an odd position to put the movies in. I don't think I'm missing a whole lot by watching the movie DVR'd from cable.

And while we were watching the movie, btw, Nielsen called and asked me to do a survey. Upon completion of the survey, I will receive $15.

At last, my opinion is worth something. And it is worth roughly what I'd make working at Chick-Fil-A.

Today we didn't do much but tidy. Between Jamie and myself, we aren't the best housekeepers, and in addition to our cement floors, we probably should have added a drain in the middle of the floor so we could just hose everything down once a fortnight.

Cleaning usually means I disappear into my office for about three or four hours where I basically play with action figures under the auspices of "straightening up". I'll download some podcasts. Stuff like that. But I think I'm more or less moving away from action figures as a collectible. My JLU stuff is finding its way into boxes, which means in 6-12 months, I'll be looking to unload it on some poor, unsuspecting kid.

This is why I wish I had a niece of nephew who was into this stuff. If I could put it in the hands of some kid I knew would appreciate it, it would be no big deal to let it go. But just handing it over to Goodwill in a box makes me think some kid is going to melt my precious, precious Kilowog figure with a magnifying glass on the first sunny day.

This week is Spring break at UT, which should be interesting as that means my fellow employees will probably scatter to the four winds. We've also hired this guy from Mexico who I was informed I need to help find a place to live. Which... ok...? But now some poor jerk is going to have to depend on what I think about Austin neighborhoods, and Lord knows that's not fair. I'm suggesting we find something in Hyde Park on a bus route. Yes, it will be expensive, but it will also be super convenient for him as he's arriving without a car.

I think I am going to try to duck out of the Waco trip I had planned for Wednesday.

Jason's birthday is on Tuesday, so everyone should begin planning their big birthday wishes for my brother now. After much consideration, I know exactly what present I would like to get him. Something he can really use, you know?

SXSW has returned, which means that unless you can afford a wristband, you might as well not bother going anywhere near town for a week. Or any restaurant of note within 5 miles of town. JimD keeps trying to get me to go to a Pop Candy meetup, but I confess I completely do not see the attraction in going to some place I'd never normally go, to meet people I'd never normally talk to, where our only common bond is that we all read the same USA Today columnist. Especially a pop culture columnist that pretty much just points out stuff you might want to watch/ buy/ and/ or listen to.

Leaguers will note that I get a bit grumpy about SXSW. There are a few reasons.

1) SXSW pretty much stakes out Austin every year for a week. People come into town, stay in a hotel, go to clubs that locals can't get into that week, and then talk about how great Austin is. Which is sort of like visiting EPCOT and using that to form your opinion of living in Orlando. It's also made it impossible to go out and celebrate Jason's birthday in town every year since he came back for law school.

2) Its tough to get excited about a festival in which you have no professional reason to participate. And yet every year everyone asks (including locals) are you going to SXSW? The answer is: no. I can't afford the wristband and I sort of trust that if any of these movies/ bands/ etc... are any good, we'll hear about them later when it will cost me $8 to see them.

3) I find Austin's ankle-grabbing for SXSW terribly embarrassing. In college, in particular, friends would give up their entire spring break to volunteer, and their big reward would be "I got to see Horatio Sanz walk by" or some such. Its a grim reminder of the lengths we'll go to hoping that a little of that Hollywood magic will rub off on us. I'm well out of school and I still hear colleagues mention that they're stage managing places for a week for no pay while the SXSW folks rake in the cost of all those badges and wristbands. We're 1 degree away from lining up for tryouts for season 2 of "Tool Academy".

It's not as glamorous as tearing ticket stubs, but it seems like if you're going to donate your time, there's a lot of options in town that might be able to use you...

4) The SXSW web conference, which I think is now SXSWi or some such, actually seems far more relevant than either the film or music conference, but gets none of the attention. Unfortunately, the year I went, half the presenters lost their cool dotcom jobs (circa 2001) and were talking about how sad they were that their BS companies built on a BS premise with BS VC were no longer in existence. Except for interweb Adult Site entrepreneur Danni Ashe, who was making a killing.

5) Somehow either my financial picture or my work schedule hasn't meshed well with SXSW, and so, no... I've never been able to afford to go. So I'm sure a lot of its sour grapes. But I also just don't get a huge charge out of the idea of staying up all night and seeing new bands anymore, if I ever did. The movie side is probably more appealing, but the cost for seeing a bunch of movies seems a little crazy to me. And I honestly don't know how engaged I'd be by the third movie. My suspicion is that I'd have my critic hat on pretty hard by that point.

I would actually really, really like to go to the SXSW Interactive next year. However, convincing my bosses its a good thing to pay for may be a bit complicated. Which means I'm using my dollars and my vacation time for something work related, and that's just something I need to sort out.

And, I do have to admit... I am unsure about movies at SXSW, but SXSW does seem to be able to make bands these days. And that's good. It just has nothing to do with me or my current interests (sorry. I have neither the time nor energy to pretend I'm up on music these days). And I'd like to believe that a younger, less cynical me would be far more pumped about the wide offering of independent film at SXSW. But I don't see 90% of what comes out to the mainstream theater anymore, so... there you have it.

I'm not sure I'm saying that I'm doing anything better or more worthwhile, but I'm not terribly invested in the proceedings.

Well, Nathan still isn't here. Hmmm...

You kids have a good night.

The League (Finally) Watches: Watchmen

Editor's Note: This is a shared post with Comic Fodder. Its too long for me to try to do this @#$% twice. This is generally the format in which I write my longer pieces at Comic Fodder, so the "broken down in chunks" format is replicated here.

This is really, really long, Leaguers. I apologize.


In high school, as my extra-curricular activity, I partook in drama. This meant attending and reading a pretty good number of plays, including work by ol' Bill Shakespeare. Like anyone who has read and seen Shakespeare performed, I quickly noted that not all performances I attended of the exact same material were equal. The translation from the page doesn't always go according to plan, even when the material is exceedingly familiar. I've seen both hilariously bad Romeo & Juliets, and I've seen performances where Lady Capulet was utterly heartbreaking in her calls for revenge. But either way, its Shakespeare, and so you wind up invested in the play, even if its as you tick off the bad acting and directorial decisions you observe throughout the performance. Or you wind up so engrossed in the performance that you forget this is the fourth time you've seen it and that you've read it twice.


There's a notion that I've seen repeatedly rehearsed, including from Patton Oswalt on his MySpace page, that comic fans dissatisfied with the adaptation should buck up. They've still got their precious comic book, and it still exists outside the movie, etc...

Upon reflection, I say: horse hockey.

It's no surprise or secret that the vast, vast portion of the population will much sooner sit through a three hour movie than pick up and read a 12-issue comic. As far as "mass-media" goes, comics are a tiny subset, whose audience numbers in the 10's of 1000's, not the millions who will eventually see the movie in the theater, on home video, etc... Even as Watchmen races to outpace all other comic sales (and is hitting #1 rankings at Amazon again), its still a tiny fraction of even the least successful of studio films. For that difference in audience between those who saw the movie but did not read the book, "Watchmen" will always be the movie. And those folks will most likely will never give the comic a chance.

For those who've seen both, you can't unsee the movie. And short of some head injury, its unlikely you'll ever be able to read the book again without the movie bouncing around in your brain in a parallel "compare and contrast" cycle. I don't turn off comparisons, and I highly suspect most people don't either. So I'm not really sure where that comes from. You can only be glad you read or saw one before the other.

Not too long ago, Time Magazine published a list of greatest novels since 1923, and among these novels they included "Watchmen". As the movie is increasingly poorly received, how is it not likely that Watchmen the Comic will not be taken down with Watchmen the Movie, for at least a generation? Simple guilt by association.

And here our troubles began

Anyhow, yes. I saw the movie. And my wife, being wiser than I, when we walked out and I was still sorting through the thing said it right:

It's not that bad. But then again, they stuck to the story, and the story is very good, so it was kind of hard to screw it up completely.

Much has been made of the fidelity the movie showed the comic, pulling exact frames from the comic for the movie. But one of the earliest scenes is telling of how director Zack Snyder was almost unable to help himself. At the beginning of the movie, masked vigilante Rorschach investigates a murder of a person thrown from a high rise window. To reach the window, Rorschach fires his grappling gun and follows the zip line up to the window.

The movie follows the sequence, with Rorschach performing the action of the comic, frame-by-frame, popping out the grappling gun and alighting on the window sill like a bird of prey before leaping to the floor like a Chinese acrobat. And it all looks pretty "awesome".

In the comic, Rorschach is pulled up, but he does not land like a bird of prey. Instead, he slides through the window frame as a man would. Any person. There's heft and effort. Despite his gadget and mask, Rorschach is not Spider-Man, he may be many things, but he's not superhuman.

And that's where Snyder's reading of the comic and my reading diverge. And why I never thought a general audience would be particularly into the subject matter.

Two Roads

I won't belabor what is a lengthy post here with a plot synopsis, but in re-reading Watchmen and seeing the movie, its fascinating to note that we should be starting our second generation at this point who has no concept of the Cold War as a fact of life, and how and why it influenced so much of culture. I, for one, fully believed I would be nuked at some point in my life, probably before I was old enough to drink. The very specific fear of a terrorist driving a plane into my office building seemed rather small in comparison. I do not know if the Cold War means anything to those in their twenties or younger.

It should be noted that a lot of my divergence came from the tone Snyder took versus how I'd long read the novel. And I am willing to accept that my reading, which has been largely unfiltered by any interaction except between myself and the printed page, may not be what Moore or Gibbons had in mind. But I always read Watchmen as a much more quiet book than what Snyder put on the screen. Despite the context of a world on the brink, I'd always read it as silent as if the world of Watchmen were holding its breath, listening for the ticking of the clock. Snyder's world is... not that one.

Snyder's characters are superhumans rather than humans. His fights are superhuman fights in which the characters feel amazing afterward, not the mix of sick and still full of adrenaline that Moore and Gibbons had suggested. His Drieberg isn't out of shape and messy, he's still toned and looks good in the owl suit. His characters are simply not the very human people behind the mask I came to know circa 1992, and every time they appeared in a costume, I was reminded of that fact.

Some other movie will determine whether or not Zack Snyder is a good director rather than a great plagiarist/ mimic. I've seen his by-the-numbers remake of a zombie movie. I saw him translate Frank Miller's "300" to the big screen (and was disappointed) even as the movie lovingly recreated Miller's artwork, speeches and characters. His reverence for the material is never a question, but whether or not he actually understands the nuance of what he's directing is another question.

For as many moments as Snyder recreates from the comic that works, every decision he was forced to make himself seems... off. Where Moore has made a career out of implicit story after the ellipsis, Snyder is intent on explicit insistence that the viewer not miss a beat, like your weird Uncle Harold who has to repeat the punchline to the joke you just told, or feeling the need to follow up with an explanation of the punchline. It's not enough that we get what's a brilliant summary of the history of the world our characters inhabit, but he's got to drive it home with "Times, They Are a Changing"? We can't just see that Dr. Manhattan was using lethal means to stop underworld characters, we've got to see their guts splayed from the ceiling? And, yeah, I got that they were going to have sex, thanks... Welcome to the world of inappropriate laughter at the movie theater.

And even scenes like the first time Rorschach and Drieberg meet again in Drieberg's house, that's lifted exactly from the comic page, seem curiously misread, with none of the cold stillness that Moore and Gibbons originally injected in the work. Where Drieberg's slump into the chair in the comic makes complete sense after the transaction, it feels like just a bit of blocking in the film.

Perfunctory movie review stuff

This viewer was mostly not impressed with the performances, but isn't sure that a lot of it didn't have to do with either Snyder's direction or lack thereof. I don't think anyone will argue that Snyder has a Lucas-esque attention to detail in his movie fascimile, or that he can't direct a fight sequence (of which he added at least two sequences which weren't in the book). But in many of the standard, face-to-face, we-have-to-talk-about-this discussions, it just didn't click. Particularly in scenes with cookie-cutter Hollywood starlet Malin Akerman as Laurie Jupiter (note that Snyder also excised the Jupiter/ Juspeczyk character point), Akerman seemed to prove herself ready for Smallville or a stint on One Tree Hill, but I'm not sure she was exactly big-screen ready.

And there are character moments that were changed that let me know that perhaps Snyder wasn't quite there. For example (spoiler, I guess): When Rorschach describes the case where he felt Walter Kovacs died and Rorschach began, the ending of the story is changed. He does not split the murderer's head in two. In the book, Rorschach leaves the murderer chained to the oven with a saw, giving him a chance to escape the house which he's set on fire. It's a subtle but telling distinction, and I was left wondering if Snyder understood the difference. And, if so, why he made the change.

Like so many in Hollywood these days, the craft of moviemaking for Snyder is a technical issue rather than one that stems from the footlights and greasepaint. And while Watchmen may not be Shakespeare, its also a comic where people sit around and talk for 12 issues, with a few scenes of action when absolutely necessary to the plot. The skills Snyder demonstrated with his zombie movie and 300 just weren't applicable.

Most of the effects were as cutting edge as anything else in Hollywood, and I can't fault the production design team. Nite-Owl's HQ and townhouse were lifted exactly from the comic, and Archie (Nite-Owl's airship) was beautifully convincing. As was the decision NOT to follow the comics and have Archie rise from a converted warehouse, which seemed a little conspicuous in the comic. The costume design is actually pretty nifty, even if I did miss the huge cowl apparatus on Nite-Owl. Obviously Rorschach and Manhattan were true to their original appearances, as were the Minutemen and Sally Jupiter.

The snake eats its own tail

It's difficult, too, to know what blanks I was filling in as someone not just familiar with the book, but who just read it. Its impossible to know if I was making connections that the average viewer might not. Moore's original series is an intricate piece of clockwork (pun unintended) with all the cogs fitting one way or another to tell the complete story. As a movie go-er, you receive the broad strokes, but you're going to know what time it is, and maybe be aware of the gears, but not see how they pull together in quite the same manner as the book.

Further, the movie does lose a bit in translation. Moore and Gibbons' use of the medium isn't really possible on the big screen, lest you tempt the wrath of movie go-ers the way Ang Lee did with his interpretation of "The Hulk" and his panels. Watchmen's largely 9 -nale per page structure told the story as mucha s words and pictures, with interchanges of color in some sections, or even the breakdown of the panels such as in "Fearful Symmetry" (the chapter of the movie that told Rorschach's past). It's not a loss you'll notice in the film, but its impossible to say that there's no loss moving from one medium to the other.

This may surprise some readers at this point, but as per the huge change at the end of the script, I wasn't sure, once I'd accidentally stumbled upon the change online, how that would work. But in the end, it changed very little and tightened up plot elements that might have become too cumbersome in even a 3 hour movie. It was far less of a change than, say, turning Galactus into a cloud and never actually interacting with the Fantastic Four (although these movies were on two completely different levels).

The movie isn't terrible. It's just that its a single volume story, so given the choice, every time I would suggest picking up the comic rather than watching the movie. The three hour run time means that they had to greatly reduce the content of the comic, dropping several elements that aren't going to make the cut in a WB picture concerned with budget and narrative economy. Snyder claims he'll reinsert some of the stuff, like the Black Freighter, in the DVD, and I'll probably actually give it another shot at that time, just to see how it works. After all, we do get a few shots of the news vendor and the comic-reading kid, so perhaps that whole subplot will be restored?

We did have at least one couple walk out. Maybe more, but with waiters coming and going at the Alamo, its hard to tell. We do know the couple next to us had enough, and left during Jon's background story. Some small part of me wanted to dash out after them and ask a series of questions. What did you think you were going to see? What was the first inkling that you were going to leave? What broke the camel's back?

I have a new fear.

When Watchmen was released as a comic, paired with other comics in the 1980's that parlayed the kid's medium into a a market with an adult readership such as Dark Knight Returns, Elektra: Assassin, American Flagg!, etc... it was seen as giving license to a lot of bad ideas that were welcomed under the idea that comics were no longer just for kids.

Sadly, I think Snyder may have ridden dangerously close to the direction those comics decided to go with his adaptation of Watchmen. From the insert shots of gore, to the lingering shots of superhero lovemaking, this comic fan who survived the 90's isn't looking forward to a repeat of the excesses of the post-Watchmen era played out on the big screen. It took a wide-proliferation of Kingdom Come for that scene to finally die down at the comic shop. And the comic racks are still full of ideas that are "awesome" and totally extreme.

For every Rolling Stones you get, you're going to wind up with thousands of lousy bar bands cranking on twelve-bar-blues and identifying with Keith Richards.

I also have a new hope.

It's that Watchmen can become the Frankenstein of comics. Not as in "sewn together creature of used parts". We'll leave that to the Sci-Fi channel originals and Nicholas Cage flicks. Rather, where Superman, Batman, etc... are a fixed origin and then open-ended serial stories open to anything, Watchmen is actually self-contained. And just as Frankenstein has seen all kinds of adaptations (or Dracula, Moby Dick, I don't care...), maybe Watchmen will survive the dent it takes from its first foray into cinematic adaptation? Maybe in fifteen years, if we haven't toally forgotten about the 1980's by then, we can give it another shot, maybe even as that HBO mini-series every single fanboy thought would work better than a movie (except Zack Snyder)?

As I said, I saw a lot of adaptations of plays. I've seen some really terrible productions of "Midsummer Night's Dream", and I've seen the weirdest "What is It Girl, there's a fire down by the well?" version of "Children of a Lesser God" that a man can stand. It's my hope, that if Watchmen the comic is what I think it is, then maybe we'll get around to a better version one day. In the meantime, enjoy Snyder's popcorn-flick take on Watchmen. Or, better yet, just get on Amazon and buy a copy of the comic. But do not, under any circumstances, buy that frikkin', shameful animated comic version.

Whether this means we'll be free of the adaptations when returning to the source material, its up to someone younger and smarter than me whose going to come to all this fresh.

As an after thought to all that, I should mention... well before I ever read Watchmen, the first I knew anything about Watchmen was an article in "Comics Scene" magazine when I was in middle school. At the time they were talking to Arnie about painting him blue. In the context of the late 80's, this sort of makes sense, and is why, no matter my grief or gripes, why I am still grateful in some small way that its post Raimi's Spidey, Singer's X-Men and Superman and Nolan's Batman that we get Watchmen.