The week before last marked the arrival of the long-anticipated Watchmen movie, which I saw at a midnight showing with the husband of a co-worker. Though he had not read the comic, and I had (surprise surprise), we both agreed that the film fell far short of what it could have been. Director Zack Snyder is nowhere near experienced enough to effectively pull off a story with as much subtlety and complexity as the original Watchmen comic, and substituted graphic violence and a piercingly inappropriate soundtrack for what he couldn't manage. (My apologies to anyone whose aesthetic sensitivities are offended by the use of words like "subtlety" and "complexity" in this context.) Frustratingly, the film fails both to be the profound moral examination that Moore's original work is intended to be, and to be an enjoyable mindless funhouse ride the way some similar failures have managed to be; Watchmen is simply too grim and too gory to be fun, and too absurd to be taken seriously. The visuals attempt to be lush, but, in most instances, simply end up looking fake and stagey; the performances attempt to be charmingly pulpy, but the halfhearted delivery of the cast's B-list actors robs Moore's dialogue of its original understated charm. Overall, the biggest compliment I can pay the film is that, like the Dark Knight (and believe me, any comparison between this film and the Dark Knight is both a high compliment to Watchmen and verging on an insult to Dark Knight), it's the beginning of a new trend towards making superhero/comic book films that are intended for adults, and not children. Snyder's style is more suited to childishness, but there is reason to hope that better, more restrained directors will get a chance to make comic book movies worth seeing, in the near future.
The weekend after that, I got the chance to hang out with some friends of mine from oft-remembered Carbondale, who were in San Francisco to visit family. The weather, which had been abominably rainy and cold for the last few weeks, managed to clear up long enough for them to enjoy their visit, and I joined them and their little boy (my godson!) for a couple of jaunts around the area, including an afternoon in Golden Gate Park, and a visit to the Japanese Tea Garden therein. A few days later I introduced one of my friends to The Trappist, a fantastic specialty beer bar here in Oakland. We sampled a variety of excellent brews, and I got to expand my burgeoning beer education a good bit. Drinking good beer is an expensive venture, but a richly rewarding one when done correctly.
After my friends departed, I expected my social activity would dwindle back to its usual near-extinction, but I was wrong; I was invited to a karaoke gettogether at The Mint with several of my compatriots from the Pacific Center. We sang, drank and laughed for several hours, and I acquitted myself nicely with my performances on Subterranean Homesick Blues and Seven Nation Army, but I struggled with a duet on God Only Knows, and that signaled my steady descent into sucking as I was totally unable to find my key on My Old School or Stuck In The Middle With You. Next time I will have to be more careful about picking songs I'm actually prepared to sing, not just songs I know the words to.
The karaoke outing ended as our party dispersed to various locales for supper, but I was invited to join one of my coworkers and her girlfriend for a quick dinner before they attended a birthday party for their friend. I was informed that this party would be zombie-themed, and that the attendees would be dressed in "zombie drag". Now, my feelings on the zombie issue are a matter of public record; I've long been known for my firm anti-zombie stance. I make no apologies for this; I'm a tolerant man in most regards, ready to embrace and celebrate all manner of human diversity, but I simply draw the line when it comes to the carnivorous shambling dead. However, being as how it was quite generous of my hosts to invite me to this gathering, and quite generous of the birthday girl to accept my presence despite not previously being acquainted with me, I thought this would be a good opportunity to put aside my habitual hatreds and enter into a new relationship with the state of zombie-dom.
I did my best to make myself up in a fitting zombie style, as the following photographic evidence will prove:
Once I was properly decomposed, we set out for neighborhood nightlife spot The Zeitgeist, a rough-and-tumble pub with a sprawling beer garden that was packed to the gills with diverse recreationalists, including a fair number of zombies to round out our party. Despite the rapidly dropping temperature (I hadn't dressed in anticipation of being out that late), our undead congregation managed to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. We mumbled and groaned to the rough tune of Happy Birthday and ate brains (cleverly disguised as a tasty cake), and I spent most of the evening discussing science fiction movies with a couple of Russians. I also got a tipoff from a very nice evolutionary biologist about a regular Dungeons and Dragons game taking place in Berkeley, to which I might be invited. It would be a welcome fix to my RPG-deprived system, I must admit.
It was an exciting evening, and as I lurched home and curled up in a seat on the BART, it took me a minute to figure out why I was getting such strange looks. Fortunately, a nice hot shower restored my vitality and my usual healthy complexion, and the remainder of my weekend has been entirely uneventful. But I'll keep my singing voice in practice and my dice warmed up, in case more karaoke, D&D, or zombie raids should occur.
Hope all of my dear readers have been enjoying the good life, or at least a good undeath, and just so there isn't any confusion about my allegiances, I should clearly state that if any zombies among my audience wish to drop by my apartment for a few friendly drinks and some chuckles, I'll happily put a neat hole right in the base of their skulls and set them on fire.
I hate zombies.