Friday, March 27, 2009

Village Politics

Either yesterday or today, my wife and I received an orange newsletter in the mail from the "Village Voice Party". I knew some election was going on so I assume it is for village government positions. I decided to read it today. The letter itself is very professional in design and content which led me to believe that it was some 'junk' mail. To my surprise it was directly and exclusively for the citizens of Justice, IL. I had never considered that villages and towns would harbor their own political parties. As I read further into the literature, it discussed the problems with its rival party, the Peoples Voice Party. No apostrophe. It seemed very well research and presented the information clearly and convincingly. It spoke about the disappointments of every elected official currently on the board from he Mayor to his webmaster/photographer who they pinned as some sort of minion to the mayor. I checked out the Village Voice Party website and it even had youtube videos of a trustee's son illegally dumping garbage. Typically political shit throwing contest. Anyways, I went to JJ's Fish a Chicken, a restaurant within walking distance of my apartment, and guess who walks in. The Mayor. His photographer/webmaster and it looked like another trustee or two. The walked in with fliers and cards in hand to support their campaign. This was hilarious to me. I have not had a single interest into the local politics until reading the orange Village Voice Party letter. They slumped around in the restaurant as they ordered and sat down at a far table. The webmaster/photographer sat next to me, first asking if it was okay to sit. I was only waiting for my food to go, so I didn't protest. After a small bit of chitchat about food, somehow the upcoming village election became the topic of discussion. He stated that the man at the far table was the mayor, in which I replied that I knew it from a poster in the restaurant displaying his portrait. The webmaster/photographer continued to talk-up the mayor saying he has done a lot in the past few years, but not mentioning anything specific. I wondered if I should bring up that I've seen the orange literature being sent around just to see what he'd say about it, but I also wanted to get out of their in a timely matter so I kept quiet. He then asked if I was registered and Heck'f I know. He started to tell me how to get registered and do an absentee ballot since I may not make it for the actual polling when my food was up to grab. I shook his hand and smiled. As I walked out of the door to the restaurant I wanted to bust out laughing. I am not sure if this means I should vote or if God's just throwing me a few laughs. Still it was a very interesting encounter and my initial reaction is I favor the Village Voice Party which is being called "Orange Madness" by the Mayor's party website.

Ah, politics.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen?

I finally finished reading the WATCHMEN Graphic Novel. I guess my overall opinion is that I liked it. There were a few snags for me though that kept it from being truly awesome. While it was very intellectual, it was also very wordy. In some points I had to skim read through certain parts because it broke up the action too much. I haven't done that since a Ken Akamatsu manga. Wordy stuff. It was also emotionally dull. There were some moments that should be heart-wrenching, but the panel template that is used for most of the novel smothers the emotion. When the panels do open up or do anything dramatic, it is for scenes of action or panoramic visuals. Finally, the end seemed anti-climactic. It was a big band of a climax alright, but it too seemed stifled. The characters were excellent. I found myself liking Rorschach the most. The feeling of reunited characters and reestablished roles was very good. There was a lot of foreshadowing and analogy that was also well done. Extremely political and there is no question it does not support the idea of God. What the book did do, really well, was scare the crap out of me about war and humanity. I suppose that was the book's main purpose and it accomplished that.

Good read. Heavy on wordage and light on emotion conveyance. Forcefully sends message.

Now after seeing the movie, I must say there is a lot of slander being said about it that is exaggerated. Mainly people are saying it is a "soft-core porn" and not to go see it. First off, many may be put off by Dr. Manhattan's display of his genitals. I was interested to see how the filmmakers would edit it into the movie. Nudity in American films has been very skewed in a single direction. Woman have been appearing nude in films for years while men have been labeled as taboo when nude in films. This may be because of the intended audience being mostly males between 16-35 years old. Males don't want to see other males nude and Hollywood wants to get the most bucks back as possible so they stick to crowd pleasing. Not only was showing Dr M's genitalia staying in sync with the graphic novel, it was venturing away from deliberate covering, or trying to obviously not show his genitals. What was show is very tasteful and not offensive. The other end of the soft-core porn gossip is the sex scene between Silk Spectre and Night Owl. This may have been a bit of a "fan-service" moment and it did last a bit longer than I would have wanted, but it was the eventual hook up between two people who had obviously felt for each other long before that point in time. Not only did they just give in to their desires to become masked adventurers, but they were giving into their passions and finally letting go of everything that was holding them back. It is quite a pivotal moment and I can understand why the director chose to highlight the scene.
The other thing being said about the movie is that it is excessively violent. What I have to say to that is, well so was the graphic novel. It had a point to say about the inner workings of human nature. We are violent. Not to show this violence in the movie would make it awkward and obvious that it was trying not to offend people.

Some of the problems in the book were still apparent in the movie. It was emotionally stifling. I have now come to the conclusion that it was not the panel layout of the book or the fault of bad timing, but a consequence of a grand story. Watchmen has a huge point to make on a world wide scale. The problems of these few are shrunken by the scope of the story, making the heart-wrenching moments less emotional and more frivolous. I wanted to be more shocked by Laurie's discovery of her true father, or when a favored character is killed when he is in the right. But these moments are less impacting since the entire world is experiencing trauma and death. The story makes humankind look like a parasite or virus.

Overall I enjoyed the movie. It was surprisingly exact to the book at times. It was also interesting to see how certain things were understandably omitted and stitched back together to make everything fit. Go see it in the theater. ALWAYS see a movie like this at the theater. Even a 52" plasma with a great surround sound system will not emulate the classic movie theater experience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


So yesterday, while Emily was at work, I decided to take a walk. The temperature was in the sixties, and I just couldn't pass up such a beautiful day sitting inside doing nothing. Emily and I had walked to a nearby forest preserve park the other day and I decided to do it again. Well, what took us about forty five minutes to do last time, I walked in fifteen minutes. Trails weave in and out of the parks, connecting them throughout the southwest Chicago suburbs. So, I decided to keep going and followed one of these trails. I ended up and the Hidden Pond Park which is a lot farther than I had expected to go. By now it was six o'clock and I had been walking for a half hour. I did not know if I should head home yet or not... so I just kept walking. I departed from the trail, knowing it would only take me further south and away from home, and ended up on 95th street. At this point I could have turned down Kean Avenue and gotten home in about twenty minutes, but instead I kept walking down 95th. I eventually walked to Cork Avenue, which would take me straight back to my apartment in ten minutes. I still did not feel like going back and kept walking. I walked to Roberts Road, which is a mile east of my apartments, and stopped at a gas station for a bottle of water. After a moment of reflection I decided to head back. I knew I still had roughly two miles of walking to do, since i would have one mile to walk north of Robert's and one mile to walk west on 87th Street. This section of my walk was the most interesting.

View Larger Map

Two hours and 6.3 miles of walking.

I started seeing all the restaurants and shops on Robert's road up close and realized that Hickory Hills is a small area. While I knew it wasn't very large, like most the towns scattered through this area, it still seemed large to me. It was intimidating, impersonal, and foreign. Until my walk yesterday. After experiencing the area first hand, and not through the glass windows of my car, my understanding of the area changed. It became personal. It became real. Sometimes when we see things from inside of our cars or through plates of glass, things are less tangible and almost 'displayed' like we're watching a television screen. But when you right next to something and there is nothing but air between you and it, stuff becomes permanent and tangible. Now I know why people like convertables so much. Things are just different when viewed through glass.
For a while now we've felt like bad stuff just lurks in the inside workings of the area. But after my walk, just seeing normal people out and about and doing the same thing I was doing, the fear was gone. In a way I now owned the area. It was mine. Maybe not legally, but emotionally I had conquered it and made it my own. I known that people are territorial, not in the sense of gang territory, but people do have their 'stomping grounds'. My old stomping grounds were Bellevue and Battle Creek. Those places were personal to me. I owned them. But I can't be there now. Emily and I have been confined, voluntarily, to our apartment for most of the year that we've lived here. So getting out into the area and expanding my knowledge and emotional attachment was exhilarating. We may not own our apartment, but we feel like it is ours. We own it emotionally. And until yesterday it, and our workplaces, were all that we owned. I've felt very claustrophobic out here. Yesterday helped to ease that. I've never considered the grassy areas of our apartment to be any sort of personal lawn, but yesterday I did. When I finally got home from my walk I sat down on the stairs out from of the building and just rested. Those were my steps, this was my apartment complex, and this was my town.

I owned it.

Yes, I understand we live in Justice, but that is really only a technicaliy. We live in the absolute most southwest corner of Justice. LITERALLY, across the street of our apartment complex is Hickory Hills. Their Police Department is kiddy corner to us. It is the area that I consider our area over the northern Justice area.

Anyways, I am excited to be able to take Emily out on a walk like this. I don't know if my reaction is a male domination thing or whatever. I just know I see things differently now. This town is not as impersonal anymore. There is still a lot for me to learn and discover, but I don't feel like I am a guest anymore. I feel like a neighbor. I live here now.

TecKrew Founders