Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Top 5 Supervillains

Though this gesture may be really insignificant, I'm dedicating this Top 5 list to Heath Ledger, whose death really shocked me when I heard about it today.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Dr. Octopus (Spider-Man) - Doctor Octopus has always struck me as the ultimate badass, for some reason. Maybe it's because he's a doctor, or maybe it's because he's got those sweet metal arms. Anyway, he was probably the first comic book villain I really remember, and he's always been a terrific foe.

2. The Joker (Batman) - The idea of a villain who likes to kill his victims via fatal hilarity is really a genius idea. As a side note, I don't think anyone who has portrayed the Joker has ever been bad. There was Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, the voice of Mark Hamill, and now the late Heath Ledger.

3. Lex Luthor (Superman) - The only one on the list who (to my knowledge) doesn't have any superpowers. He just represents American greed, and his existence as a villain allows us to divorce that quality from the necessary definitions of the American identity.

4. Magneto (X-Men) - Magneto loses points for having the ridiculous helmeted costume. But just a few looks at what he's been able to pull of really makes you have a new respect for the potential effects of the electromagnetic field.

5. Doomsday (Superman) - Easily the latest of the list, I think he (or it) deserves to be here as being the only thing powerful enough to kill Superman (at least for a little while). I remember reading an article in the newspaper when Superman had been killed off. To little old me, it seemed so monumental.

Ryan's Top Five

Dan adeptly covered comic books, so I'm going to digress a bit with my top 5.

1. Dr. Moriarty - The "Napoleon of Crime," in many ways he is the original supervillain. But, frankly, I put him #1 not for his timeless status but because, in Lawrence, we have a dentist named Dr. Moriarty, and amazingly he still gets business (though I've never met any of his clients...perhaps he is consolidating power as we speak).

2. Carmen Sandiego - The leader of V.I.L.E., a criminal mastermind, and the heinous bitch behind hours upon hours of my childhood spent attaining newer, increasingly meaningless detective rankings ("Super Action Gumshoe Level III"). Capable of stealing large geographic locations (e.g., Venice) and geological formations (e.g., the Andes). Abortively chased through the United States, time, and the world, by myself and various kids on PBS (some lucky to receive the US map, other poor bastards unfortunate enough to receive Asia or Africa).

3. Dr. Claw - The leader of M.A.D, Inspector Gadget's archnemesis, and my introduction to the faceless supervillain. (I would later discover Wilson on ABC's Home Improvement.) On the plus side, his dastardly deeds are quite easily foiled, apparently, as evidenced by the tenacity of a young blond girl and her dog.

4. Cobra Commander - Terrorist overlord and leader of Cobra. Responsible for untold death and destruction, specifically at the hands of myself ritualistically wielding an aluminum baseball bat (like the neighbor kid in Toy Story). Also responsible for much of my parents' money being spent in the Hasbro-aided counter-terrorist measures of the late 80s/early 90s.

5. Shredder - The best supervillains have names that are at once supremely ominous and also useful around the office (why don't we have a supervillain named The Printer? Come on, DC). His chief crimes involve masterminding the HARDEST FUCKING VIDEO GAME EVER in the original NES TMNT. He's probably a tough villain to beat, but I never got past the underwater levels.

Honorable Mentions: George Steinbrenner, Mike Shanahan.

Tim's Top 5:
Hm. I should mention that I don't have any comic books and have never had any...thus, this is incredibly difficult for me.

1. Lex Luthor - What does he have that all other supervillains don't have? Easy...a reason to be villainous. The poor bastard's bald as all get out, so of course he wants to kill Superman. I'm only balding and I'd be hoarding kryptonite as a last ditch effort to once again look like I'm not a ponytail away from Michael Bolton-ness. Note: wikipedia informs me that he wants to kill Superman precisely because he blames Superman for making him bald. This is a villain I can really get behind, I hereby also make it my life quest to kill Superman.

2. The Riddler - I don't know that he even counts as a "supervillain", but he's the most notorious of all the Batman villains because he's the one you'd have Phil 344 with, he'd get off on reading shit like Plato and then coming up with little puns and jokes to let you know how smart he was. Seriously, just because Einstein got lousy grades doesn't mean you're smart when you fail Stat 101. Too bad he couldn't develop any job skills besides delivering for Jimmy John's. Riddle me that in the unemployment line, douchebag.

3. The Red Skull (Captain America) - He gets the vote because wikipedia informs me that he was a Nazi twice and then a Communist. What an asshole. But really he wins because he looks weird (the Luthor factor) and because the only comics I've read were my Dad's, which means I've read plenty of Sad Sack comics (they really lack a villain) and Sgt. Fury, where the villains were just Nazis in a general sense. They do make good villains, much like in that popular reality show...what the hell was its name...oh yeah, World War II.

4. Not Me - The evil mastermind that haunts Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and PJ by running off after breaking a lamp, murdering a prostitute, or knocking over a spoonful of Thel's black tar heroin (seriously, she's that thin for a reason, and it's not Slim-Fast). Unlike said children, he cannot be traced from a vertical map with dotted lines showing the circuitous path that he took either. Truly a mastermind who is responsible for those children's ritualistic beatings from their ill-tempered and unstable father Bill. Oh god, put the wrench down, Bill, P.J.'s already dead.

5. George W. Bush - He has the superpower of being immune from common sense and maintaining tremendous popularity among the Christian right for being a former cokehead with a drinking problem. He's led to the point that the entire slate of non-Giuliani candidates on the 2008 slate would be an improvement...something that can be said about nearly no one short of Stalin.

Tory's Top 5

1. Hank Scorpio - How he wasn't mentioned by anyone else is a sin. He scores number one by comprisng all of the possible qualities that you could want in a supervillain: powerful position, complete armory, soldiers that do his bidding, an awesome personality, an excellent sense of humor, extensive knowledge of his town (i.e. hammock distributors,) on hand sugar (even if it is not in packet form,) and the ability to obtain anything (see: a football team.) He also helps out around his town, handing out fruit baskets and wine to new arrivals in the neighborhood, as well as doing fun runs for charity. Also, killed James Bond.

2. Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd - This is a dual villain, as both of them play the villain as well as the victim. Any episode of bugs bunny is a constant moral crisis akin to Abraham's decision between whether or not he should kill his son Isaac as the Lord has instructed him to do: does Elmer Fudd to catch Bugs, or does Bugs outsmart Fudd? To this day I cannot tell you which one I would side with, and this in my hypocrisy of eating meat but not wanting to hunt.

3. Hitler - Statistics:

- Responsible for the deaths of 6, 000, 000 Jews
- Responsible for the deaths of 5, 000, 000 Slavs, Chinese, Roma, and homo-sexuals
- Responsible for 2 suicides
- Responsible for countless works of terrible art

4. Roger Klotz - This is a difficult one to sum up as Roger himself is not a supervillain himself, however he did embody countless villains facing off against one of the greatest (and definitely the smartest) superhero's of all time: Quailman. Roger Klotz, in his tenure as the bully of the show, faced off against Quailman no less than 3 times. As Klotzilla, he kidnapped Patty Mayonaise, and as Baron Von Klotz and Dr. Klotzenstein he aimed to wreck any attempt Quailman had at saving the world or getting a date with Patty.

5. Baby Gerald - Though not faceless, his crimes are so unbelievable that they are not even mentioned. His biggest offense is his hatred for Maggie Simpson, followed by his unibrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Top 5 Worst U.S. Presidents

After reading a lot about Hunter Thompson's Nixon-hate, I figured I'd exercise my history muscles and try to come up with this one. It was a bit harder than I first anticipated.

Dan's Top 5:

1. James Buchanan - The man who probably did the most to destroy the United States. Bleeding Kansas, Dred Scott, and the disintegration of the country. Historians in 2006 voted his failure to deal with secession the worst presidential mistake ever made. Probably the worst thing you can say about him is that Abraham Lincoln's presidency was so exceptional because Buchanan destroyed the country for him, like when you see some asshole kid who challenges you to a game of 52 pickup.

2. Richard Nixon - The man who probably destroyed my faith in the presidency, if I ever had any. He became the father of the modern imperial presidency by encroaching on Congressional power, which I think is part of the reason the U.S. government can accomplish so little these days (The other reason is that it's the U.S. Government.) Then there's that Watergate thing. There was a poll shortly after Watergate that showed that even if the American people knew about Watergate heading in to the 1972 election, he still would have won in a landslide. Maybe it's my faith in the public that should be destroyed.

3. George W. Bush - Eventually, I suspect that he will be ranked higher on this list. I wouldn't be surprised if he's eventually tried for war crimes or something. Think of how well this country was doing back at the turn of the century. Of course, part of the blame could also be put on terrorist attacks and the fact that Congress was controlled by Republicans, allowing Bush to get away with more. Allow his "legacy" to sink in, and he'll probably be regarded as one of the worst presidents of all time.

4. Andrew Johnson - The other half of the Buchanan-Johnson Oreo cookie, with Lincoln secure in his status as the excellent cream filling. He opposed the Reconstruction movement and the establishment of civil rights. He also actually worked to block the Fourteenth Amendment, which is probably the most cited amendment in history (except that 24th Amendment.) He even once wrote, "This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men."

5. Warren G. Harding - He once said, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." I never did learn much about his administration apart from the Teapot Dome scandal, but for what I can gather, he didn't have much control over anything. I'm happy to let him speak for himself here.

Ryan's Top Five

1. George W. Bush - Jesus, Christ. Keith Olbermann says it better than I could ever hope to right here:

Part 1.

Part 2.

Worth the 12 minutes.

2. James Buchanan - I mean, really every president from 1840-1860.

3. Andrew Jackson - He gets the spirit award for A) being such an outrageous racist (I'm sorry, I don't forgive people for the times they live in, fuck that) and B) being well too-admired by critics.

4. Richard Nixon - Douche.

5. George W. Bush - In the interest of being topical, I will rank him twice. In the years (decades) to come we will realize his Legacy of Pain. A murdering liar.

Honorable mentions: There are very few that I actually respect.

Tim's Top Five:
1. Ronald Reagan - This was the face that launched a thousand idiots. Before Ronald Reagan, we had a trade surplus, we were making things and selling things. Ronald Reagan shows up, decries how unions are destroying our ability to compete, effectively ends organized labor in the United States, and now we make nothing and buy everything from other countries, with our only domestic industry being arms. He is the face of the military-industrial complex and has millions of Republicans in lockstep behind anyone who can claim to be a buffoon. He is responsible for #2 on this list, and cannot possibly fall any lower on this list.

2. George W. Bush - He created a fake war, destroyed the last lingering belief that this country was guided by the principles he constantly belabored, and got re-elected by dropping our elections to an all-new low. He helped create the new economic depression and was so bad that he convinced a lot of Republicans to vote for Barack Obama. Read that twice. And he's not sure about evolution, understandably, being the best argument against natural selection that we've seen recently.

3. James Buchanan - Such a bad president he couldn't even get a woman to marry him.

4. Sarah Palin - I don't want to have to edit this list in a few years, so I might as well just get it right the first time.

5. William Henry Harrison - It's hard to be a caretaker president when you spend your entire tenure being taken care of. You shouldn't have let Akira Kurosawa write your speech.