Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bookends: March 2009 (Part 1)

Welcome, good people, to the maiden posting of my new monthly book roundup segment - something I've been thinking about adding to my web journal for quite some time now. What's going to happen is this; at the end of every month, I shall make a list of all the books I've read in said month, and write a short review for every one of those books. There reviews will be as concise as I can make them, each containing just my very subjective spoiler-free opinions on why the book in question rocks (or blows, as the case may be). Yes, this is going to be just like my menstrual cycle but instead blood, I'll be haemorrhaging short, badly written, heavily biased opinions on books I read every month. And yes, I'm calling this segment Bookends - at least until I come up with something cleverer. Suggestions welcomed.

Of course, I can't promise you the regularity of this segment. For one thing, there's a possibility that I might not have finished even one book in a particular month. I am after all a medical student and time is pretty hard to come by for me. Right before I started day one of medical school, a friend of mine - the only other guy in my class in college who shared my love for speculative fiction, and who had already started his course ahead of me - said this;

"You won't have time for novels."

That sounded like a dare, don't you think? In response to that, I made a vow to never yield to pressure, or give up my favourite pastime. So, while I am perfectly capable of scraping up loose time from the floor for frivolous reading (during meals, right before I sleep, in those minutes before lectures commence etc.), I can't guarantee that I will try as hard in updating these book reviews.

Alright, that's about all the introduction you'll ever need. In the month of March, I've had two weeks of exams and a week of class, and only about a week of holiday - so I only read Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook (which is a trilogy containing, surprise surprise, 3 books), Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid by Lemony Snicket, The Well-Built City Trilogy by Jeffrey Ford, Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart and lastly, Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer. I also read the first three books of The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher which I borrowed from Shaki at the beginning of this month, but I'll reserve judgment until I read the rest of the books. That makes... 12 books in total. Damn, I rock.

Chronicles of the Black Company
by Glen Cook

"Evil is relative. You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger."


Cover Chronicles of the Black Company
The cover got me, I admit.

Look at your standard fantasy epic; what's in it? You got your assembly line Dark Lord who had either been quietly gathering his power after his defeat ages ago, was recently released from a magical prison or came from another plane of existence to enslave all living blah blah, and he has his evil empire, his cowled and shadowy lieutenants and his army of always-chaotically evil minions. Then there's the heroes, the shining paragons of light and righteousness who will stand against all odds against the Dark Lord and kick his Dark Ass from this side of Fantasy Land to the next. In books like these, we typically follow the story of the Chosen One and his buddies because, well, who else is worth reading about, right?

Chronicles of the Black Company, published between 1984 and 1985, stabbed that tired piece of convention squarely in the heart as it detailed the trials and tribulations of the Black Company - an elite band of mercenaries made up of exiles, fugitives and amoral killers - as they do the biddings of their employer, the mysterious Lady, a powerful ancient sorceress who runs an evil empire. It's a gritty character driven story, told mostly from the point of view of the company's surgeon and annalist, Croaker, over three books; The Black Company, Shadows Linger and The White Rose. There aren't many words wasted on scenery and description porn, as fantasy writers are wont to do though personally, I find the author's spartan style to be a bit dry at times.

The best thing I like about the trilogy besides the fresh angle of storytelling is that it humanises the extras and working class characters in a fantasy epic. It tells you the story of the little people who got caught between the forces of good and evil, and how they cope with it. And speaking of good and evil, distinguishing between the two in the Chronicles of the Black Company isn't as straightforward as one might think - because there aren't really any good guys.

What truly these novels apart is that, as you read on; you'll discover that there aren't really any bad guys either.

Score: 6/10

Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid
by Lemony Snicket

"Life is a turbulent journey.
fraught with
and inconvenience.

This book will not help."

On the back of Horseradish:
Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid

Cover Horseradish
Vegetable makes people sad.

As I've already detailed in a post earlier this month, Jen gave me this book. It is a quotation book partly drawn from the set of children books, A Series of Unfortunate Events also written by Lemony Snicket (or Mark Handler, as he's known in the real world) in the style - or possibly even in parody - of your usual "wit and wisdom" compilation books.

This book panders particularly to readers who have a warped streak in their sense of humour.
The quotes in this book played an incredible range of emotions; from funny, nonsensical and utterly random to serious, profound and at times, even a little depressing. But what am I doing describing the book to you? The book speaks for itself! Tell you what. I'll just open some random pages in the book and give you a couple of gems from them.

Here's one from Chapter 8, themed Emotional Health,

If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, "Well, this isn't too bad. I don't have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed," but most of us would say something more along the lines of "Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!"

and here's another from Chapter 12, which carried the heading of An Overall Feeling of Doom that One Cannot Ever Escape No Matter What One Does,

Many old folktales portray Death as a cloaked figure who knocks on the doors of the souls he has come to whisk away, but that is not always the way of the world. Sometimes Death may approach the door very slowly and very loudly, so that by the time he knocks everyone in the neighborhood is aware of his approach, or he may prefer to pick the lock of the back door and sit up all night in your kitchen until you stroll downstairs in your bathrobe and learn that he has been waiting for you, sitting in your favorite chair and rearranging your silverware when he got bored.

I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to lend this book to everyone I know. Dammit Jen, now I know why you gave it to me!

Score: 9/10

The Well-Built City Trilogy
by Jeffrey Ford

"A nose to me was an epic, a lip, a play, an ear, a many-volumed history of mankind's fall"

Physiognomist Cley, First Class

Cover The Physiognomy

Now let's see if I can summarise the entire trilogy for you in a single paragraph;

The first book of the The Well-Built City Trilogy consists is The Physiognomy, follows the story of Physiognomist Cley, who is employed by a man who built a city in imitation of a city in his mind. The second book is titled Memoranda, which continues Cley's story as he journey through a world in a person's head. The Beyond, the third book, details Cley's travel through a vast and untamed wilderness which is representative of the world's imagination.

Confused? I thought so. Read on, pilgrim. I'll give you a synopsis of the first book. Maybe I can get you hooked on the trilogy too, as I was.

Cover Memoranda
This demon is wearing spectacles.

Physiognomy is a fascinating scientific concept in the novels' world (a pseudoscience in ours) which allows anyone who is well-versed in its intricacies to accurately gauge a person's character with absolute precision just from reading and measuring a person's facial features and body proportions. Cley, Physiognomist, First Class, is the best at what he does. He was sent by his employer, Master Drachton Below, to a mining settlement called Anamasobia to investigate the theft of a religious relic from a church there and to arrest the culprit using his expertise. And so began Cley's long and arduous journey which is sometimes physical, occasionally cerebral but always spiritual.

Cley is one of the few main characters in fiction who I genuinely have any affection for. He is an arrogant bastard of a man who thinks that everyone is a malformed troglodyte with profound mental shortcomings, and he would say it too. He drug and date rape women he pick up from the streets. He beat up a man who made a joke which he did not find funny. He's the kind of man whose first thought on seeing children building a snowman is to kick it to pieces. Since The Physiognomy was told in the first person format from his point of view, you get to share his hilariously mean thoughts intimately - though I'm not sure how healthy it is for our souls to do so.

Cover The Beyond
This is precisely why you shouldn't do drugs, kids.

Another discipline aside from physiognomy to be featured prominently in The Well-Built City Trilogy is the method of loci, a mnemonic link system used to remember large amounts of information by reducing them into places in the mind - and a person can recall these data by merely walking through the places in their imagination (like a house or a palace) and looking at details in these mental pictures which are designed to invoke specific details. You can educate yourself about it here. I was first exposed to it a couple of years ago when I read Thomas Harris' Hannibal Rising. In it, it was established that the gifted villain protagonist and psychopathic cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, uses a "memory palace" to house his memories and his sizeable wealth of learning.

The titular Well-Built City was built by Master Drachton Below, Cley's teacher and employer, who modeled it lovingly after a mnemonic city in his own mind - because a mere palace would have been insufficient to store the immensity of his genius. The second book features this theme more prominently.

The third book, narrated by a character first introduced to us in Memoranda, has a decidedly Crusoe-esque charm to it. I am confident enough to say that anyone who liked Defoe's definitive and classical take on survivalist and redemption fiction would enjoy The Beyond as well.

I finished all three book over two days. They were like drugs for me - which is an apt comparison because they were quite possibly the first books I've ever read to ever give me a chemical high (or something close enough anyway). The story, while being deftly-structured and plot-dense, has a wispy, unreal feel to it. Half the time, I was expecting that it'd be revealed at the end of each book that it was all just a big, messy, LSD-induced dream. Normally, if an author tries to heap this much symbolism, extended metaphors and masturbatory intellectualism on me, I would quickly lose interest. Mr Ford, however, pulled this off masterfully.

Score: 8/10

Note: The Bookends for March 2009 is only half-completed but unfortunately, I cannot possibly finish this tonight. There's a couple of Surgery case reports I have to hand in for evaluation tomorrow so hang tight, fellas - I will give you the second part of this post tomorrow! Also, do let me know if you guys like this new segment of my blog, alright? Part 2 is HERE.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Couple of Questions for my Readers

As you can see, I have finally updated my minute-long reviews of films I have watched recently in my sidebar. I have been wondering if I should make it a regular monthly update in the form of a proper posting instead of the transient post-it style they are now in. They probably took you a minute each to read tops, but I can assure you that it definitely took me more than a minute to write them. Well, I'm not saying that my reviews are any good at all but there were some I wish I preserved because as soon as I put up new ones, the old ones are deleted, unsaved, gone forever. It makes me feel like I'm throwing quite a lot of effort down the sinkhole.

Then again, I could have been wasting time anyway if no one bothers to read them in the first place. So, if it's not too much to ask, dear readers, I'd like a little feedback on the short movie reviews I've been doing. Put it in the chat box or in the comment section, I don't care which. I just want to know what you think of them.

The other question is: Should I change them into a monthly round-up format in a proper post?

Sekian, terima kasih.

Friday, March 27, 2009

This is a Short and Very Frustrated Post

I have spent the past two hours writing when my web browser unexpectedly froze the fuck up - so I had to 'X' the motherboard-fucker and restart it. When I did, I found that the autosave feature of Blogger had malfucktioned on me and that all my hard-typed work have gone whoosh down the internet flusher. This is all Streamyx's fault. For the past few days, it takes me ages to load the simplest pages. Roger Ebert's website had been loading for two whole goat-fucking hours and even then, only the background of his mainpage was completed. I turned off my modem, pulled out the phone line, jacked it straight into my laptop and used my Jaring dial-up instead - and voila, the page finish loading in two minutes flat! Get this; Streamyx is slower than fucking dial-up!

And I'm not talking about those times when Streamyx just wouldn't connect at all for days at times.

I miss my Airtel broadband back in India. I pay half as much for the same bandwidth and it is consistently fast and stable. When anything went wrong, the technicians respond within the day. They even replaced my modem when it fizzled out from my heavy-duty usage for free! A colleague of mine said that a technician even responded to him after midnight. Now, I wish people would shut the fuck up about how India is a third world country and that everything there is shitty, low-tech and runs on cow-power. They provide better broadband internet than our foremost internet service provider, alright?

Fuck Streamyx. Fuck you very, very much.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My First Attempt at Buying Porn

"They want to be like me . They're seeing the glamour icon but don't realize . . . there are more facets to me besides spreading my legs ."

Jenna Jameson, American Porn Star

I really enjoy reading interviews of porn stars.

Today, or rather, yesterday was my first day of my new semester over at the ol' medical school grind house after a very long, very restful week-long holiday. And today, on my quote unquote first night, I'm already pulling an all-nighter. Then there was that little orientation session for the Semester 7 Surgery clinical posting, which broke the news to me that this Semester is a whole different species of animal from the previous one. For one thing, I didn't a TWO case discussion sessions in the morning back in Semester 6. I didn't have a case discussion session in the afternoon either. Altogether, that trebled my workload. Also, in Semester 6, I only have to take the hour long journey to Muar once per week. Now, I have the dubious privilege of going there every single day. The Surgery posting is now 8 weeks long instead of 6. And guess what guess what? On two of those weeks, I'm going to be actually living in the Muar Hospital! The faculty in charge of our Batch just informed us cheerily that the place we're staying in Muar during our tenure there finally has hot water. It makes me wonder what other essential conveniences they'll finally have next in the subsequent semesters.

After that very interesting introduction on life in hell, the lecturer asked us if we have any questions regarding the arrangements for our posting this term.

"So, where's my life in all this?" I asked while poring over the timetable, just barely out of earshot. That's lucky because they don't really approve of wisecracks in hell. I mean, medical school.

Okay, I got to work my ass off now in this first half of the Ante Meridiem. But first, a little anecdote of a pointless little incident back when I was living at my aunt's in Kepong last week.

I saw a small middle-aged man with thinning hair and gold rimmed glasses, and he was rooting furtively alone through a box of porn DVD's belonging to a couple of street corner pirates. I felt sorry for him - sorry that he had yet to discover the internet. There's a global repository of porn out there so vast that it's enough to put anyone off porn forever (for free, by the way) and this uncle here is still getting porn the old fashioned way, buying a few hours of smut with real money.

Not pictured: sad uncle who has never heard of the internet.

So, as I was thinking; the only logical thing for me to do here was to go stand beside the uncle, root through the box with him and flash him a real friendly smile - which I did, by the way. He didn't smile back though. In fact, he seemed to have lost his appetite for porn right there and then, and drifted away, pornless.

It then occured to me that I have never bought porn from a shady street corner pirate before so I thought I would, y'know, in the spirit of doing everything once. I even called Phoebe telling her that I was doing.

"Can't you just get them from the internet?" she said in weary contrast to my childish excitement.

"But I've never done this before!" I replied, as if it's a real good reason.

Anyhow, after about 5 minutes of digging through that big drippy box of merry debauchery while aunties glare disapprovingly at me as they and their kids walked past, I decided that I wasn't going to buy any after all. The thing is, there's that side of me that just pops up every time I'm looking to purchase any form of fiction; a novel, a movie ticket, or even porn - it doesn't matter which. I call that side of me the wannabe-cognoscente. While trying to pick something out of all the colourful and obscene but not very informative porn DVD covers, I started wondering whether any of them have won any awards, if my favourite porn-stars are starring in them, about the quality of production, the budget, etc... just like what I do with books (which I obviously discern between choices using a totally different set of criteria, of course). I called Phoebe up to tell her about my failure to buy porn, because as my girlfriend, she gets to know every mundane detail of my day.

"You're missing the point of porn," she pointed out after listening to my report

Will stick to the interwebz,
k0k s3n w4i

Thursday, March 19, 2009

13 Things Which Keep Me Awake At Night

"Sleep is a symptom of coffee deprivation."

Author unknown

  1. My progressive detachment from humanity.
  2. The Internet. Nuff' said.
  3. Some people would go through their entire lives without finding out that their spouse has been cheating on them all this time.
  4. Oversized suppers.
  5. That mouse which has taken up residence in my bedroom. I have seen it skittering about from the corners of my eyes while I work nights at my laptop, heard it squeaking after I kill the lights. It might eat my books. I must catch it and bend it to my will.
  6. My unfinished novel, and my inadequacies in ever doing it justice. I don't want to be like Neil Gaiman; having lots of good ideas but sucking at putting them down on paper.
  7. I am 23 22-and-a-half years old but am still stuck in dependency hell. I hate to still be studying when most of my contemporaries have started working. It's killing me.
  8. Am I one of the good guys, or one of the bad guys?
  9. Petroleum will run out one day. Now, I shall go on long string of logical conclusions so do try to follow if you're smart enough (yes, that IS a dare). It took us tens of thousands of years to reach a world population of 1 billion. After the Scond Industrial Revolution and the adoption of petroleum as the de facto global currency, that number surged exponentially to the 6.8 billion of today in 200 years time, largely due to improved food production powered directly and indirectly by oil and partly due to modern medicine, which relies heavily on oil as well (which I shall elucidate in a mo). Now, try to follow me on this other tangent; our planet's biggest source of energy is sunlight, so much so that all other avenues of power we harness for our uses is negligible in comparison. Earth receives a constant amount of sunlight each year which sustains life, grow our food and power our stuff. Petroleum is a fossil fuel, created from compression and heating of ancient organic materials - stuff made using the power of sunlight millions of years ago. Ergo, petroleum is basically ancient sunlight trapped underground. Think of oil deposits as our planet's savings account, accumulating sun energy our planet couldn't finish using in the past. What we are doing in this day and age, is basically drawing cash from that savings account. Our current 6.8 billion world population is grown off and sustained by borrowed energy, surviving on borrowed time. One day, when petroleum is depleted, when all our oil wells run dry, we go right back to using only the constant amount of sunlight alloted to us yearly by the sun. The big question is; can that amount maintain us all? Or will everyone die of starvation till we're back to pop. 1 billion? Also, look at all the cars on every road in the world today. They will all be useless scrap metal once oil runs out. Think about all those airplanes which lets us go anywhere in the world at any time. They run on oil too. And medicine, oh boy. A heck lot of antibiotics, sedatives, painkillers etc are made from petrochemicals - and so is all those plastic we use to make sterile syringes, IV bag, catheters and all manners of disposable medical instruments. Petroleum, the lot of 'em. Imagine a world without petroleum. Scientists have projected that that world will happen in 50 years time or less.
  10. Religions, and how they will be the death of us all.
  11. The Malaysian government. They don't give two shits about the people, or even democracy, for that matter. The Opposition's just the same, or will be.
  12. 99% of my friends, acquaintances and colleagues are virulently homophobic.
  13. Susanna Clarke might take ten years (or more!) to complete the sequel to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which actually did take her a whole decade to write. She might even die before she finish writing it.

P.S. This is not exactly a meme, but if anyone wants to do it, I want to read it. Leave me a link if you do.

Not getting enough sleep,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Hunt for Bifrost

"A rainbow never smiles or blinks
It's just a candy-coloured frown"

Intermission (2005) by Scissor Sisters

The best mornings in my book are overcast, contemplative, peppered with drizzle and marinated in a good night's bedrest. I always feel slightly out of this world on mornings like this, like I'm right on the verge of sliding into somewhere Else. I could feel its tug on the hair on the back of my head, goosing in the cold. I went out with the warmth of my bedroom still lingering about me, and felt the sensation of it leaching away, taking the scent of yesterday with it.

I felt like walking to college but I was already running a little late, so I reluctantly drove - and then I saw it. I saw a rainbow at the gate.

Before I go on, I'm going to give you a flashback. I am not really sure how it's going to relate to anything at all but it was what I thought of when I saw the rainbow. I suspect that it's all I'm going to think of every time I see a rainbow, for the rest of my life.

I was sixteen years old and I was working as a sales assistant in the local Tesco selling school satchels and luggage bags, a job which my godsister, Grace, got for me. She was doing part-time at a nearby cosmetic counter. Our sections, in fact, were adjacent to each other so that really helped to while away a great deal of stagnant time for the both of us. And we would talk, and then talk a little deeper. Time and being stuck in the same place for hours on end with nothing else to do erodes every superficiality we flimsy people so often put up around ourselves, to seperate us, to hide the places where we bleed from. I will not talk about those places, for both our sakes.

Sometimes, I really did not know what to make of her. She's could be a bit of a tomboy, and for her, it's kind of an impressive feat. She the kind of girl who looked as if she's made of porcelain; fair and frail - the type which just brings up the protective instincts of men around her. The uniform she wore when she worked there in Tesco accentuates those qualities. Its was a light white shirt and a simple black miniskirt. She has one bad hand which, by accident of birth, is a little smaller than her other hand, and a lot less dextrous and strong. I remember that hand. I remember it when I see her in my mind, helping a woman put on some eyeliner with her good hand, while her smaller, weaker hand nestled close to her body like a little baby bird hiding under its mother's downs. I remember that hand on my shoulder when I danced with her at a party. It was the first time I danced with a girl to a slow song.

In spite of her vulnerabilities, she's built like a violin string - fiercely taut and capable of beautiful things. With her good hand, she sketches and paints, and she did them so well too. I used to wish I could paint like her. She said that one day, she would be a scientist. Said she would work in cryogenics, which isn't a lot different from art at all. She aimed to preserve, to protect and to perpetuate; to make meaningful things last. I tried to playfully pry something from that good hand of hers once, but it was strong and would not yield. With so much quiet strength, so much determination in those skinny fingers so deceptively weak, I believed her. I believed in her dreams.

Once, just once, I saw that violin string break. All I did was sit there, incredulous, unbelieving that Grace, so independent and tenacious, could falter, could cry. I felt that I should hold her, to touch her hand, to tell her that everything was going to be alright. I almost did too - except, I didn't.

Then, I betrayed her, but with her blessings. I wish I didn't now. I really do. It never was the same after that, between Grace and I. We went to the same college but we did not speak. I wish we did though. I wish I told her that I was sorry except, I couldn't - because I didn't know I was wrong. I learnt now that it is very possible to do right, to follow every single good principle there is in this world, and still be wrong.

There's a rainbow in this story somewhere, and it appeared sometime during a lunch hour, while we were still sixteen, still working together in Tesco, while she was still my godsister and my best friend. We saw a rainbow on our way back from the cafeteria and we stopped to watch it. I remember how longingly she looked at it. I know this sounds stupid, but she looked almost as if she was searching for some explanation to her life in those colours, an answer to everything that went wrong and broken. Time tend to romanticise memories, but we can always do with a little more romance in our lives.

"You go first," she said, a little lost, a little faraway. She cuts an odd figure in her white shirt standing by the parking lot, unmoving in the midst of a drizzle whilst people filed busily past her - people with no tolerance for rain and no time for rainbows.

"You ought to get out of the rain," I told her. "You might fall sick."

She said something in reply which I no longer remember now but I went away like she told me to, and punched the clock on my own. I didn't get her, and I didn't get what's so important about a stupid rainbow anyway. It's just some light fractioned through a raindrop.

Then, at my college gate, seven years later, I found myself standing there and staring at the stray morning rainbow like how Grace did, while the bus I was suppose to board hummed patiently nearby. With a quiet pang of realisation, I understood. I do not know how to put this in words so I shan't try. But I shall say this. I shall say that rainbows are indeed the answers to everything that went wrong and broken. And I shall say that just because you can explain something, it doesn't mean you know it. A rainbow is just some light fractioned through a drop of water in the same way that love is just some electricity firing through someone's brain.

I wonder how Grace is doing now. I wonder if she's still looking out for rainbows.


Later that same day, when I was walking out of the Mahkota Parade mall, I saw another rainbow - or rather, I saw two,


Bifrost 2

Can you see a fainter, reversed outer rainbow circling the brighter arc? It's called a secondary rainbow and it happens when sunlight undergoes a double reflection inside the raindrops.

I want to write something about coincidences, duality and second chances - about how unfortunate it was that I didn't have my camera with me in the morning to photograph that rainbow I saw, and finally getting the opportunity to do so in the evening of the same day (and seeing a doubled one to boot) - but then I thought, "what's the point?"

That's true. There isn't a point. I really need to stop doing pointless things.

And stop wondering about them.

The setting sun which made the rainbows.

k0k s3n w4i

Sunday, March 15, 2009


"What is bought is cheaper than a gift."

Portuguese proverb

Look at what
Jen got me!

Jen's Gift
Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid by Lemony Snicket (the nom de plume of author Daniel Handler).

It's my absolute favourite sort of gift; a book, given under the best of circumstances; none. I always thought that there is a quiet, strong significance in gifts of book. It's a bound piece of loyal companionship, a promise of hours to while in placid pleasure or sometimes to endure. That depends on the nature of the book and the nature of the reader, and how deeply the person who marries the two comprehend either. It takes a heartening measure of wisdom - or a frightful degree of temerity - to perform. These are my feelings of gifts of books.

Jen knew that much, and told me the same. Stressful was her adjective of choice. Stressful it was, she said, her choosing of that book for me. I asked why and uselessly so, since I knew the answer. She gave it to me a fortnight past, in a hastily semi-arranged accidental running into at the Curve. She wanted to meet my Phoebe, and they met. I left with an unexpected book in hand and without the ice cream that Jen wanted to buy me. I am terribly ungraceful at receiving gifts, so I try not to receive too many in too short spans of time.

In case you are reading this, Jen (I can never really tell since you've stopped announcing your ghostly visitations), I give you thanks. Thank you, belated as it is. Why did I deserve this? I have read the obfusticating zen introduction and devoured two hilariously morbid chapters out of thirteen. You knew I like these forms of titrated literary irregularities, you sly woman, you.

P.S. Am in you turf grounds right this moment. I arrived Saturday evening - yesterday actually. Mayhaps, we can arrange that proper date with drinks and conversation which Phoebe, you and I couldn't manage two weeks ago.

At your service,
k0k s3n w4i

Friday, March 13, 2009

How the Dragonball Movie Nearly Did Not Suck (and Why It Sucked Anyway)

"They did not accept my decisions. Maybe they thought the decisions weren't suitable, so they didn't use them."

Stephen Chow, producer of the
live-action Dragonball movie

... and more importantly, fan of the manga.

Don't worry about spoilers, by the way. This movie is already spoilt.

Dragonball Evolution Poster
The clue is in this poster.

As soon as we got out of the exam hall after the very last paper of the semester, my trusty fanboy partner, Shaki, and I beelined to the biggest screen in Malacca with the mindset of someone wanting to get over something very painful as soon as possible (I am fully aware that we're starting to sound a little homo, having so much in common). We knew the movie is going to suck at proportions so epic it'll blot out the sun, collapse some galaxies and cause erectile dysfunction to Dragonballs fans worldwide for the ensuing couple of months at least - but we were still adamant about watching it. It's like driving pass a car crash. Tragic, awful and painful to see, but you simply can't take your eyes off it. Dragonball Evolution is the 20-car pileup cinematic equivalent, all containing dead babies in the front seats and trunks.

I'm pretty sure most people already have some sort of working knowledge of the manga and anime this movie's adapted from (anyone in my age group would almost definitely have grown up with the Malay translation of the comic books) so I shan't waste any space writing about them and go right into the reviewing,

How It Nearly Did Not Suck.


Yeap, boobs. Jugs, tits, tatas, honkers, hooters, handwarmers, bazoongas, chest torpedoes and jigglypuffs. The Weapons of Mass Distraction.

The wily people who made this movie has one simple stratagem. Every time something stupid, ridiculous, or grossly unfaithful to the manga appears on screen - and before anyone can snort in disgust or groan in pain, or cry out loud for our raped childhoods - they distract us with any two of the six tits they hired to star in this movie. Every time I open my mouth to complain to Shaki, I got gob-stopped by some chesticles jiggling into view. The timing of their appearances were impeccable, I tell you. This is just speculation here, but do hear me out.

First examine the theatrical poster up there. Who's in it?

Goku is, naturally, since he's the star of the story. Bulma is too, since she's the female protagonist, at least in the earliest stories.

Bulma Flash
Bulma is also the all-important provider of fan service.

Then there's Chi Chi, Goku's love interest. You can say that his girlfriend (later wife) should be a pretty important person to him but in the manga, it's a stretch to even consider calling her a tertiery character. She only appeared for like one chapter when Goku was still a kid and for a short period later in one of the tournament arcs. Then they got married and had a kid off-panel. Her role for ever after in the Z series was that of a nagging wife, bitching about how Goku should stop getting himself killed and how their son Gohan should be studying instead of learning martial arts (appearing in less than one panel per volume).

And the last chick in the movie, pretty much proves my little theory outright. She's called Mai, and she's a henchwoman in the service of Pilaf in the earlier stories. Many would not remember her - or even remember who the heck Pilaf was at all (he's the guy who freed Piccolo, if you can't recall, and has a role smaller than even some of Piccolo's lackeys). In this movie, she's Piccolo's right hand woman and sole follower. And get this; she has more screen time than Piccolo!

Also, she wears a formless trench coat most of the time in the manga. In this movie, well, take a look at her outfit yourself,

Mai Boobs
"The better to see you with, my dear."

Eriko Tamura, a Japanese actress and singer, played Mai. Golden Globe Award (which is like an Oscar, only no one cares if you win one) nominee, Emmy Rossum, played Bulma. I admit that I have had little exposure to her past performances but from what I can see in the Dragonball movie, I'd say that her talent is limited. In fact, she only has two talents,

Emmy Rossum Bulma Boobs
Man, I like to get my hands on some of that talent.

And then there's that Korean-American actress who played Chi Chi, Jamie Chung, whose biggest claim to fame to date is being as a cast member in the MTV reality show, The Real World. She may be an unknown, yes, but for all we know, she might be hiding some real sweet acting skills somewhere,

Jamie Chung Breasts
Skills you're born with.

Jamie CHung Boobs
It means boobies in Spanish too, apparently. Learning foreign languages is fun!

I bet many of you didn't know that Jamie Chung once appeared in the 2007 Adam Sandler vehicle, I Pronounce You Chuck and Larry too. C'mere, I'll show you,

Jamie Chung Hooters
See if you can spot Jamie in this picture out of all the Hooters girls.

In fact, the director was so impressed with her performance that he decided that we need twice as much of Jamie Chung's Chi Chi as we were suppose to get. He devised (yes he did, 'cause he rewrote the damn script) a contrived scene in which Mai stole some of Chi Chi's blood and used it to magically or bio-genetically impersonate Chi Chi, and we're all treated to that grand old cliche of the hero not being able to tell his girlfriend apart from the clone,

Double Boobs
There is now twice as much boobs in sheer white nighties.

Funnily enough, this is just about the only thing director James Wong nailed perfectly in concept. In Chi Chi's first appearance in the manga and anime, she's dressed in what I can only describe as a slut-suit, giving many of us hormonal pre-teen male readers at the time confusing feelings in our pants,

Chi Chi's slut-suit killed a dinosaur. No shit. That's really what happened in the original story.

And in that same first appearance, Goku touched Chi Chi's crotch to determine whether she's a girl or boy (because Goku is adorably brainless that way). It's obvious that Chi Chi was intended by Akira Toriyama, the author and artist, as a walking fan-service dispenser. Now, for our collective sanity, let us not go into the specifics of Chi Chi's age at the time.

Jamie Chung's Chi Chi in Dragonball Evolution served pretty much the same role as jailbait Chi Chi in the manga. I'm pretty sure I saw her cannonballs more often than I saw the titular dragonballs in the entire length of the movie. Now that I think of it, her appearance in this movie did nothing at all to influence how the main plot goes (except that bit where she seduced a horndog Goku, and in the process, helped him master the Kame Hame Ha - I'm not making this up).

Still, in spite of the valiant efforts the makers of this film, 20th Century Fox, director James Wong and the 6 breasts they casted in this movie in trying to make us forget how much this movie sucks by clouding our faces with boobs (hold a moment, I'm having the awesomest little mental visual at the moment), they didn't quite manage to achieve what they wanted. This movie tried so hard to blow us fans, but in the end, it just blows.

Other Stuff That Nearly Kept the Movie from Sucking

  • The "Ki" attacks were quite nicely adapted to live action. I just wish there's more. On a related note, "Ki" is the correct pronunciation (I've read some Malaysian reviewers who complained about it). I know it was "Chi" or "Qi" in our Malay version of the manga, but "Ki" is Japanese.
  • Bulma's capsules got interpreted pretty well too, and I wish they feature the capsule tech more prominently. Bulma throwing one at Mai and activating it at the same time was one isolated brilliant stroke in the movie. Too bad they didn't just let the motorbike crush Mai. That would have been a scene beyond awesome.
  • Piccolo's airship really reminded me of the one he had in the manga.
  • The landscapes they feature in this movie strongly resembled those desolate nowheres the warriors in Dragonball and DragonballZ often fight in.
  • Emmy Rossum looked like Bulma. Really. Acted a bit like Bulma too.
  • Piccolo is green. The actor who played him, James Marsters, a fan of the anime, insisted on it. Luckily, they listened to him.
  • Master Roshi (Kame sennin) is a lech, just like in the manga! And the cheesy bright shirts! They left out his tortoise shell but still.

Stuff That Killed This Movie
  • Executive stupidity. I'm betting that it was some fat cat Fox exec who is sorely out of touch with the world and pop culture at large who suggested that Goku should be an American high school kid so that "viewers can relate to him better". Justin Chatwick's Goku in Dragonball Evolution is an annoying piece of shit compared to the Goku we all know and love. He bitched about being different and not being able to fit in at school. He moaned that he has no skills with women. It's a fucking cliche storm. They fucking made Goku a stereotypical high school loser! That's completely missing the point of the character. Goku is suppose to be functionally retarded and raised in the wilderness by his grandpa. He shouldn't even know that there are such things as girls or women! He discovering civilisation was what made early volumes of the Dragonball mangas such a joy to read. The whole high school angle wasted a perfectly good half an hour that could have been used to beef up the Piccolo storyline more. In fact, that's not the only thing it wasted. They actually created two archetypal high school bully jocks (original characters, said Wikipedia - MY ASS) to antagonise Goku. And they said the reason (really good) characters like Goku's best friend Krillin (or Kurin, to us Malaysian fans) couldn't be fit into this movie because they think that there's already too many characters! AND THEY HAD ROOM FOR A COUPLE OF HIGH SCHOOL BULLIES AND A HENCHWOMAN OF A THIRD RATE CHARACTER NO ONE REMEMBERS IN IT!!! God, 20th Century Fox makes my blood boil. They can't make anything good, and they tried to sue Warner Bros. over some rights issue regarding the Watchmen movie. I hope they all contract venereal diseases and die in a lot of agony.
Kid and teen Goku.
  • The fight scenes were short and anticlimatic. Even the final one. Piccolo: punch Goku, punch Goku, punch Goku. Goku: punch Piccolo, punch Piccolo, punch Piccolo. Kame Hame Ha. Piccolo dies. Man, in the manga, a fight can last through several volumes while each combatant kept upping the ante on the other. I heard they got the guys who did the fight scenes in the Matrix movies to do this. What went wrong?
  • Chow Yun Fats sucked at being wacky. It's painful to hear him talk and he said things so unfunny that his words can give people cancer. And he has no beard, isn't bald and only wears his trademark shades for a short while in one scene.


How he should appear. Look, it ain't rocket science, okay.
  • Piccolo had no antennas, wore fake rubber muscles and the actor's hair was clearly visible under all that make-up. Would it have killed him to shave his head? Would it have killed them to motion capture Marsters and build Piccolo from feet up in CGI, like what they did for Doctor Manhattan in the Watchmen flick? Piccolo didn't look like a Namekian alien at all. He looks like a B-movie demon or a television series baddie. Shame on you, James Marsters, calling yourself a fan. The only reason fanboys haven't killed you yet is because you got them to make Piccolo green.

And they didn't show his regenerative capabilities too! Travesty! Nincompoops!
  • Goku's grandpa, Gohan, has to be most annoying old man ever to grace the silver screen. I feel like screaming in pain every time he do that daft old Asian guy laugh.
  • The dialogues in Dragonball Evolution sounded like they quotes taken from Primary school essay assignments. The character interactions were bewildering, particularly Bulma's romantic side-plot with Yamcha - or Yamu, in the Malay version. Their lines made me want to hurl. The prayer Goku made at the end to summon Shen Nong using the Dragonballs absolutely took the cake. Shaki and I burst out in manic laughter the moment we heard it, infecting everyone else in the theatre when we did. Soon everyone else was laughing too. It was that horrible. You got to hear it to believe it.
  • This is a lousy movie even if you're not a Dragonball fan. The quality of production, the actors' abysmal performances... what is there to love?
Bottom line is, these Hollywood types should stop putting their own spin on things that are already wildly popular. These people are incredibly arrogant if they think that they can actually improve on some franchise which have already garnered its own vast, worldwide fanbase by its merits alone. You know something? I think Zack Snyder, director or 300 and Watchmen, could have directed an infinitely better Dragonball movie. Now that's a man who always stick to his source material. And after Watchmen, I'm sure he's itching to make something that has a lot of mindless fights in it. He can even put the same muscles on Goku and the other Dragonball warriors they way he airbrushed them over the Spartans in 300.

Or the Japanese should response. They should show these stupid white idiots how to make a real live-action Dragonball movie, and make a bajillion more dollars than Dragonball Evolution ever will. It was an insult to the word evolution. Do they even know what it means?

Angry Dragonball fanboy,
k0k s3n w4i

Monday, March 09, 2009

Who Watched the Watchmen? I Did!

"Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says 'Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.' Man bursts into tears. Says 'But Doctor… I am Pagliacci.'"

Rorschach's Journal, Chapter II of Watchmen

This should give you an idea what sort of comic book this is.

Watchmen Group Poster
Those idiots who has been telling people that Robert Downey Jr and Batman are appearing in this film need to be smacked hard.

Friday afternoon, March 6, 2009. Worldwide premier of the Watchmen movie. For the majority of moviegoers of Malaysia, a new superhero movie opened. For Shaki and I, it's the culmination of a dream long awaited, to put it in the corniest terms I know. Just the two of us, we went to the nearest cineplex as soon as we got out of our Ophthalmology exam to catch it. We've been waiting heckuva long time for this film to be made, to see what many have deemed
"unfilmable" - to see thousands and thousands of comic panels condensed into a two hour plus long picture and still preserve the essence of the story and its spirit. Alan Moore, the writer of Watchmen, has this to say about a live adaptation of his work; "...frankly, I didn't think it was filmable. I didn't design it to show off the similarities between cinema and comics, which are there, but in my opinion are fairly unremarkable. It was designed to show off the things that comics could do that cinema and literature couldn't."

Alan Moore has divorced himself from any Hollywood project of Watchmen, and had instructed that all resulting royalties the Watchmen film should be given to Dave Gibbons, the artist. Who can blame Moore really? Just look at The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V For Vendetta. If you don't see any problems with those two films, you've obviously not read the comics they were based on. Still, I don't see why he dislikes Zack "I-don't-change-a-single-damn-thing-from-the-source-material" Snyder (the director) so much. Then again, Moore isn't the most regular and level of men. Just look at his description in his Wikipedia article. It reads like it belongs on Uncyclopedia more;

"He is a vegetarian, an anarchist, a practicing magician and occultist, and he worships a Roman snake-deity named Glycon."

Alan Freaking Moore!
Meet Alan Moore.

Now, I've been reading reviews of the film on various blogs since yesterday and before I go right into one of my own, there are just a few things that need to be addressed. Chief of these is the ignorance of most people about the source material itself, the original limited 12 issue graphic novel (1986 - 1987). The funniest thing anyone said in these reviews are; "I hope there is a sequel". Yeah, funny. Funny like an aneurysm. Also, I've been reading about some interviews where reporters ask Zack Snyder and some of the actors about a possible sequel. It must have taken heckuva lot of willpower on their part just to hold back and not strangle these morons. For those interested, Zack said, and I quote;

"To continue is to either rehash the same idea again or you're going to try to fix the characters, which goes against everything the book stands for..."

I like the guy who played The Comedian, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's answer better;

"The fans would kill us if we tried to go and do something else. If we tried to do a prequel that wasn't written by Alan Moore, we'd get crucified. We couldn't walk down the street. Unless Warner Bros. wants all of their actors to get killed, I think it's a bad idea."

Watchmen (not THE Watchmen, okay, so say it right) was a DC Comics projected pitched by Moore which originally involved the Charlton Comics characters which DC purchased in 1985. Due to the nature of the story, Watchmen would eventually render most of those characters unusable for future publications, which DC didn't want because they paid good cash for them. The soul of Watchmen is a deconstructionist one, of the superhero genre no less - and in order to break your regular superheroes into realistic, human terms - Moore needed superheroes comic readers knew and recognise.

So, since the Charton Comics characters were off limits, Moore went ahead and created a line of original characters modeled after the Charlton ones. Rorschach was based off Mr. A and The Question, both are objectivist vigilantes created by Steve Ditko. Doctor Manhattan's inspiration was Captain Atom, Nite Owl II's was Blue Beetle and Ozymandias' was Thunderbolt.

I've also been reading how some brain-dead reviewers are talking about how Watchmen lacks originality, about how similar its backstory of the government outlawing vigilantes is to The Incredibles. This is why I always do sufficient research when I'm writing on any subject. It's so I don't get called brain-dead by people like me.

Now, I shall review the film, sans spoilers. Yes, this is a very long post. I hope you like reading.

The Story.

Watchmen Poster 2
A teaser poster for the film drawn by Dave Gibbons, the original artist himself.

I have no quibbles about the story in the movie, which is excellent. That's because the story in the graphic novel is excellent, and the movie departed little (if at all) from it. One dark, rainy New York night, The Comedian, Edward Blake, one of the few costumed heroes employed by the goverment after masked vigilantism was outlawed by the State, was murdered in his apartment, and thrown out to spatter on the streets below. Rorschach, a wanted man by the police for continuing his vigilante work against the law, investigated the Blake's death and set out to warn four of his retired colleagues - Dan Dreiburg (the second Nite Owl), Laurie Juspeczyk (the second Silk Spectre) and Jon Osterman (Doctor Manhattan), who is the only character in both the film and the graphic novel to actually possess superpowers.

The most significant altercation to the original plot has to be the climax, of which I will not reveal here. But I can tell you that when it was first announced the change, lots and lots and LOTS of fans were outraged. I was a little pissed myself too when I first heard about it, and wondered if Zack Snyder and his screenwriter have lost their fucking minds.

Now that I have seen the new ending, I shall humbly admit that I was wrong. Quite amazingly, I actually like the movie's reimagining of that event better than I like the graphic novel's take! The movie managed to preserve every thematic significance of that event while cutting off the one and only part in the original story which I consider unbelieveable, incongruent and unnatural (Shaki simply called that part "stupid").

What I'm not happy about is that they have hurried through Walter Kovacs' psychotherapy session and snipped off a bit of his backstory, like why he started fighting crime as the vigilante Rorschach in the first place, and how he got his mask with its ever changing oily black blots on white. I hope to see that in the extended DVD version, along with the chilling Nietzsche quote at the end of Chapter VI used to describe Rorschach,

"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster.
And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

I also hope to see the story within a story, Tales of the Black Freighter, in the DVD. It's going to be fully animated if I'm not mistaken.

You can see the poster for the Tales of the Black Freighter in this shot, and the kid reading it.

The Characters.

The actors chosen to play the masked adventurers (note that I did not use the term Watchmen - because they've never called themselves that - the word refers to the latin phrase, "quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" which means, "who watches the watchmen") were mostly spot on, particularly Rorschach. Some might think Jackie Earle Haley's put-on gruff voice to be little too similar to BatBale's laughable effort in the Nolan Batman movies, but I beg to differ. I think Haley nailed Rorschach's "dreadful monotone" perfectly, with quite a big bonus helping of drippy contempt. And his physical acting was simply flawless. Rorschach is my absolute favourite character from the comic (and my favourite comic book character after the Joker), so I have had great expectations for his debut on the big screen - and I must say I was very impressed. Jude Law wanted this role initially (the actor is a big fan of the comics and the character, and even has a Rorschach tattoo on him). I certainly wouldn't have minded that after seeing Law perform in Road to Perdition as the psycho photographer.

Rorschach Break In
Rorschach breaking into The Comedian's apartment.

Same scene live. Why the fuck is there a police tape strung across the window? Were they expecting people to come in from there?

Alternatively, Jude Law would have been a better Ozymandias. My least favourite screen version of the Watchmen characters has to be Adrian Veidt A.K.A. Ozymandias. Matthew Goode's Ozy struck me as whiny, weak and needs to put on a few pounds. Ozymandias in the graphic novel was buff, confident and exudes charisma like a skunk exudes stink. Still, I thought how he alternates between German and American accents when speaking in private and publicly was a nice touch. And I get that his suit is suppose to be a parody of BatNipple Clooney's Batsuit in the Batman and Robin movie; but why spoil the character's appearance for a cheap shot?

Patrick Wilson was another perfect casting choice. He embodied out-of-costume Nite Owl II, Dan Dreiberg, to the last feather. I can't get over how similar he is to the mental vision I've always had of the same character. My only complaint is that he was a bit too thin. Nite Owl should have flab aplenty so we can groan at his sex scenes with... never mind.

And Billy Crudup's Doctor Manhattan gave me the willies the first time he spoke in that electric, reasoning voice of his. The presence was almost overwhelming for me, and even though I have imagined it to be deeper, more basso, I kinda like this better. I'm also glad that they kept him mostly nude, like in the graphic novel. It signaled to us fans that they aren't going to do a half-assed adaptation, making changes just because some of the stuff in the comic were offensive (like Doctor Manhattan's swinging beef rod and meatballs). It's very easy for some studio execs to insist on putting some pants on him, but they didn't. The nudity, in my opinion, is a crucial feature of Doctor Manhattan's characterisation. It shows his increasing detachment from the human race as the decades went by.

Apparently, God is a giant smurf. That symbol on his head signifies the hydrogen atom, by the way. They didn't show in the movie how he came around to putting it there.

The Comedian's actor, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Silk Spectre II's actress, Malin Akerman, were okay, I guess. I suspect she's chosen not for her acting chops but more for her resemblance to the character. The chin was unmistakable. Shaki said that they should have just went with the hottest chick they can hire.

Silk Spectre Chin
Note chin in graphic novel.

Same scene in movie, sans runny mascara.

The Cinematography.

The lavish use of chroma key have allowed most scenes from the comic books to be recreated at an astounding level of attention to detail and resemblance to the pages of a comic book, though the real set pieces weren't too shabby either. Snyder's signature bullet-time fights were applied generously in whatever little fight scenes there are (which is significantly more numerous than there is in the graphic novel) and the one at the very beginning where the Comedian were attacked and murdered was FUCKING SOLID. All the other fight scenes succeeding it never quite matched up to its intensity and sheer fuck-uppery of furniture and other such smash-able things set contrastingly to the soothing track, Unforgettable. In fact, I felt that it might have been a little too strong a start, making it hard for the rest of the film to live up to it.

Most epic kiss ever.

The montage of living stills set to Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a-Changing in the film's start was a stroke of genius as well. Aside from being an awesome visual appeal, it managed to convey a lot of historical in-jokes, backstory and plot details which definitely wouldn't fit in average feature length motion picture. This one's mostly for the fans, unfortunately. If you've never read Watchmen, most of it would just fly right over your head.

The headline article in the newspaper she's holding is actually a real, full article you can read in one of the issues of Watchmen.

What sucked was some of the computer generated stuff. Bubastis, Veidt's mutant lynx, looked especially fake in some scenes. It made me wonder why they didn't just stick some faux ears onto a tiger or something and run with that instead. Would have looked tonnes better. And it might just be me, but I think they overdid Doctor Manhattan's blue glow a little too.

But I must praise a scene near the end where Veidt stood amongst the ruins of his Antartic retreat, Karnak. Really brought to mind those lines from Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, Ozymandias, which Moore slipped in at the end of Volume XI,

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

If you know what that entire poem means, you'd see how it relates to this movie in light of Dreiberg's and Doctor Manhattan's parting words to Veidt. I thoroughly commend Snyder's ability to deliver so much gravitas in so simple, so short a shot.

The Summary.

It a good flick for the uninitiated, and an AWESOME flick for fans (though some rabid fans from the other polar end might disagree). The film did not dumb down the complex themes of the original graphic novel excessively and thus, might leave some of the more stupid viewers scratching their heads, but nobody gives a shit about them anyway. However, I'll agree with writer Alan Moore's contention that there are just some things a comic book could have conveyed better compared to a movie, like one of my favourite bits from Watchmen which they left out in the film; an excerpt of Hollis Mason's (the first Nite Owl), autobiography which made me understand why men would dress up in ridiculous costumes and fight crime. It punctuated Volume I with the poignant, somewhat tragic line,

"... And although I've never worn a set of false bosoms in my life, I've stood there dressed in something just as strange, with tears in my eyes while people died laughing."

Or maybe Alan Moore would have to eat his words after all. It was reported that Hollis Mason's autobiography,
Under the Hood, will be a feature in the DVD in the form of a documentary. I'm shitting my pants in anticipation here.

Last Word.

Rorschach, taking a rose from The Comedian's grave.

If this movie does what I think I will do, the face of superhero movies will be changed for good. We can be done with all that simple origin story of hero and his archvillain, and how he will go about stopping the bad guys. That shtick gets old. Watchmen was written for that very purpose - to shit on that line between good and evil, that black and white objectivist mentality that Rorschach is determined to defend (on a sidenote, Alan Moore is unhappy that Rorschach is so popular amongst the fandom, and can't understand why anyone would like a person with such stubborn, inflexible, impractical ideals). Well, I don't like Rorschach's republican philosophies of moral absolutism one bit, but it didn't stop me from recognising what a complex, tortured man he is trying to make sense of the meaningless chaos of the world. That's the reason why he's named after the Rorschach inkblot test. Making sense out of randomness. Moral pareidolia.

I can go on and on about the many themes and interpretations of the graphic novel and the other characters, all begging deeper analysis and understanding - but I think they don't really have a place in this review. What I do hope is that people would go ahead, pick up the comic books and read for themselves. Watchmen really is an amazing piece of fiction. It's not the only graphic novel on the Time Magazine's list of "The 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present" for nothing, you know. They should be studying this in high school literature classes in Malaysia, not John Steinbeck's stupid wallbanger "man finds wealth finds misery" novella. Man, I've read toilet graffiti that show more intelligence than The Pearl.

Last word of my last word; this movie kicks ass.

Watchmen Volume I cover
The cover of Volume I of Watchmen.

Related post:
Lesbians Making Out Snuck Past Malaysian Censors.
The Clown Prince of Crime and The Dark Knight Review (in similar fanboy format).

Watchmen fanboy,
k0k s3n w4i