Saturday, July 22, 2006

The world revolves around Ron Weasley. He is the chaotic spire in which the world is balanced upon.

Not in reality of course, although many teenage girls may damn me for saying so. Oh, and by the way, I've read seen the things you've posted online and you should all be very ashamed of yourselves! I won't subject these people to it, and only say that it involves the male characters in the Harry Potter series, a large tub of baby oil, and gay sex.

But I digress...


The best way to describe this effect is merely to watch it in action. Let's start with the first Ron Weasley appearance in the first book/movie.

Ron Weasley sits in Harry Potter's cabin, and starts up a nice conversation with him, introducing him to the world of magic further, and by practicing magic, draws the attention of Hermoine Granger, bringing the golden trio together for the first time. Had Ron not been there, Hermoine would have passed by, and do you know who the first person that Harry would meet would be?

Draco Malfoy. Imagine a version of the series where Harry made friends with Draco Malfoy instead of Ron. At that point, Harry was very impressionable, as Ron easily impresses upon him that Slytherin is bad (Slytherin is not that bad of course, not if it has alumni like Snape ^_^). Harry would have most likely joined Slytherin instead of Gryffindor, and the series would have taken a dramatic turn for the tragic. What prevented all this? Ron Weasley.

Although it's certainly not intentional, Ron Weasley is the driving force behind the Harry Potter universe. Every instance of Duex Machina is in fact RonEx Machina, as Ron is more than just a good, helpful friend, but a pawn of the powers that be, which could be anything from God, to fate, to destiny, or to simple unbridled chaos itself.

Now sure, Hermoine helps point the trio in the right direction, and Harry kills the monsters, but the important difference is that Ron does it all by accident. He'll wander into a scene, trip over something, and irrevocably change the fate of the universe.

If Harry never met Ron, then Ron would have never gotten Hermoine upset in the first book, which led her to be out when the troll was on the loose, which led to Harry and Ron fighting it, gaining valuable first hand experience in battle.

If Harry never met Ron, then who would rescue him from being a prisoner in his own home at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets? Even if Harry got a ride some other way, then the car definitely wouldn't have been there to save him in the woods, because Ron would never have stolen it, and he wouldn't have even lived to have his memories obliterated by Lockheart, who only failed because he was using Ron's broken wand! Also, the trip to diagon alley in the beginning wouldn't have involved the misuse of the floo powder, which meant that Harry wouldn't have seen Lucius there with Draco, and wouldn't have been there when Lucius palmed the book into Ginny's things. Let's not forget poor Dobby either. If Harry didn't see the palming of the book, he wouldn't have figured out the part that Lucius played in it, and Dobby would have never been freed...which might be a good thing. He's annoying.

Now, in the the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermoine gets more screen time than Ron, but then again, she wouldn't be friends with Harry if it weren't for Ron, which would have meant no connection to the Time Travel, which would mean the deaths of both Buckbeak and Black. Also, this is the book where we find out the truth about Scabbers...

...RON'S PET! That's right, by PURE CHANCE, Ron just happens to have been keeping the main villain of the movie as a pet for all these years, drawing Harry deeply in to the plot by association. Sirius Black knows this, which draws him closer to Harry as he tries to get to Scabbers. Without Scabbers looming near Harry, which could never have happened without Ron's association with him, thus severing Harry's connection to the subsequent events.

At this point, can we even imagine a series without Ron Weasley? Imagine Neville taking his place, helping in all the necessary ways, but causing none of the random events that Ron's responsible for. That golden trio is just doing their homework every night, passing classes, going to dances and utterly failing to save the world. They can't. They're too far removed from it all.

In book four it doesn't get any better. No Ron means Harry doesn't go to the Quidditch finals, doesn't get his wand stolen, doesn't become involved in any of those events, or give Barty Crutch several of his ideas. Also, no Ron means there's nothing to stop Krum from dating Hermoine and getting arrested for statuatory rape.

Yeah, I know that she just turned 15, and he's like 17 and a half, but I still think the whole Hermoine/Krum thing is creepy, especially in the movie, where she looks 15 and he looks 23. Besides, if she visited him over at "his place" during the summer, he'd be 18 and she'd still be jail-bait. It's like a senior dating a freshman in high school. It just isn't right.

In the fifth book, this swirling child of chaos takes more of a back seat, as Umbridge enforces order. Ron doesn't do as much, and I do blame this on Umbridge, an agent of cold order to counteract Ron's chaos. Ron does give Harry a connection to his father, who subsequently helps him when he's in trouble with the ministry, but this all happens BEFORE Umbridge shows up. As soon as we're in school and we meet the new teacher, the firey spirit of chance is snuffed out, as a smiling, sharp, block of ice in a pink sweater enforces her version of justice. Ron, having no ability to affect the plot, settles on becoming Gryffindor's hero on the Quidditch field, and waits for the next book.

There, Ron resumes his task as fortune's gopher, leading Harry to his brother's joke shop, allowing him to see Draco make off with the large 'mysterious object'. After this, Ron gets tied up pretty well in a giant heaping helping of 'teenage angst' that never fails to get me to turn the page. This angst helps drive Harry from the party at Slughorn's, allowing him to witness Draco being shadier than ever, wandering the corridor alone. Moreso than in the other novels, Harry's connection with Ron, and subsequently the Weasley family, gives him first hand sight into the inner workings of the ministry, and although this was partially prevented by Umbridge in the last book, there's nothing to stop him now!

It only gets worse when Ron accidentally drinks a love potion and has to be brought to Slughorn for help. There, Ron takes the poison that would have otherwise claimed Slughorn's life! No Slughorn=no information on Horcrux's. No information on Horcrux's=no way to stop Voldemort. At this moment, more than any other, Ron has literally saved the entire wizarding world...just by showing up. Just by being there. Just by doing what comes naturally.

Did he do all this on purpose? Of course not! He's Ron Weasly! Unwitting agent of chaos, accidental savior to billions, and the tool in which the invisible powers that govern the fate of the cosmos use each time they need things to go their way!

A single person, a simple brave fool, who's only purpose is to be there and accidentally save everyone, in a way that nobody would ever expect. Fate always intervenes in the Harry Potter universe, and it always intervenes through HIM. That is the Ron Weasley effect. All you need is one lucky fool, doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

There are many factors that govern the universe: planning, choice, invention, alliances, destruction...but none of them are as powerful, and unpredictable, as chance. The world of wizards, chance has a name, and that name is Ron Weasley.

I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen in the last book, but my money's on Ron falling over, causing Voldemort to trip over him and fall into a bottomless pit. Either that or Harry uses the power of love, or Snape sacrifices himself to save everyone.

I figure Ron's got a 1 in 3 shot. ^_^

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Special thanks to


What's the measure of a true badass? It's not merely being able to win in a fight, or else Mike Tyson would be a badass instead of an idiot. If anyone trains long and hard enough, they'll be able to beat any of our finalists in a straight fight...but would this well trained individual be willing to fight, even if the odds were against them? If it was an entire room full of drunk thugs holding pool cues, and they've decided they're not going to stop bothering your family, would that pro fighter step up...or slink back and call their lawyer? Anyone can train enough and become resistant to pain, but could they crawl across glass while they DO feel pain?

Being a badass means doing the right thing, being completely self-reliant, and taking no crap from anyone, especially when the chips are against you. Badass, is 99% attitude. The other 1% is the badass glare.

Anyway, let's have a quick review of the finalists:

Christopher Walken has been an insane badass for decades despite his straight bloodless roles, Animaniacs appearance, and constant, non-stop singing and dancing. He was the headless horseman, a deer hunter, the scariest girlfriend's brother in history, and the greatest Saturday Night Live guest ever.

Willum Dafoe can make any role, even a forgotten silly Spiderman villain or a rediculously gay cop and still be as tough as metal. He tends to play the martyr a little too often, but never whines or complains about it. He also gets bonus points for being a much bigger badass then he has to be.

Samuel Jackson has a nasty habit of dying in his movies, but as I said before, that's the real calling card of a badass. Go ahead, kill him, see if he whines. He'll be fed on by raptors, and just before the shark comes and finishes him off, he'll announce at his own trial, "Yes, they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in hell!"

Lucy Liu is incredibly hot...tough! I mean tough! Lucy Liu kicks ass in every movie she's ever been in, including the ones that suck. *cought*angels*cough* If her awesome performances in bad American movies and good Chinese movies didn't outweigh her incredibly mediocre attempts at speaking Japanese, then Kill Bill pushed her way over into badass country, as she starred as O'Ren, the most richly detailed and badass villain of both movies (sorry Bill, you're cool, but you fight like a coward).

Bruce Willis may have very well started the modern badass movement with Die Hard, kept going strong with Pulp Fiction (the scene with him, the katana, and the cop is priceless), faltered a bit and was partially responsible for some of the worst movies ever made, but came back strong with Twelve Monkeys and Sin City.

Humphrey Bogart is the original badass detective, soldier, and villain, and he did it without huge muscles, explosions or 100 million dollar budgets. Some of Bogey's greatest badass moments involved him just talking, proving once and for all that badass, is merely an attitude.

Now, let's set up some challenges, to see once and for all, who is the greatest movie badass of all time!


In all great action movies, the hero gets roughed up, and not because he's hit with his only weakness, but because he's only human, and no matter how much of a badass you are, ten guys attacking at once are going to bring you down. (This is why Robocop is only an okay action movie, but Yojimbo is a great one)

Christopher Walken lands a few good hits and tears something important off one of the attackers, then says something really creepy and confusing (like singing "New York, New York" really loudly), then reaches for the phone and calls his girlfriend/wife to see how they're doing. BA rating: 8.5

Willum Dafoe laughs at them, calls them gutless pansies, and winces quietly with each kick to his ribs, then the movie cuts to him in his apartment, bandaging himself up, smoking and drinking. BA rating: 9

Samuel Jackson cries out at them in equal parts agony, honest fear and rage, refusing to tell them anything, taking a swing at them when he can, until he's beaten unconscious. He's found by the widow who hired him, who offers to call an ambulance. He declines. BA rating: 8

Lucy Liu keeps a stone cold emotionless face, and perhaps seems a little childlike in manner, until they let their guard down and she kicks one of her attackers out
the window. This alerts the police, and forces the thugs to flee. She sits in the corner waiting, looking tough, but not selling the pain as well as she possibly could, leaning slightly into the 'invincible hero' category, which is never badass. BA rating: 7

Bruce Willis suddenly turns on the attackers, hits one with a phone, runs into the bathroom and pulls out his own molars with a pair of pliers. The goons are too freaked out to continue the beating, and leave. BA rating: 9 (Was a 10, but he received a 1 point penalty for hitting him with a phone. That's a girly move.)

Humphrey Bogart takes the beating like a man, and afterwards lights up a cigarette, receives no medical attention what-so-ever, and continues the case. BA rating: 9.5

Hmm...Lucy Liu dips a little too much into the action movie star and not enough into the badass hero on that one, but let's move on to event #2.


Anyone can be a badass beating guys up, but if the situation suddenly calls for a loaf of fresh bread, are they going to painic, sitcom style, or are they going to buck up and just do it? Being a badass renegade cop is easy, being a badass stay at home dad is hard (honorable mention to Michael Keaton, for Mr. Mom...oh and Batman...which reminds me, I owe Val Kilmer and George Clooney a punch to the head each). But I digress...

Christopher Walken practically dances around the room as he flambouantly throws together a wonderful dish...which is kind of gay. Walken needs to be doing something creepier. BA rating: 6

Willum Dafoe kneads the dough with his knuckles in a poorly lit kitchen while smoking. He looks pretty badass, but something isn't completely right. A guy who can cook well should really be heavier. If he's that thin, something's wrong with his food. BA rating: 8

Samuel Jackson is surrounded by his wife and kids, and he puts together a fantastic loaf of bread, showing his son how to do it right, and correcting him when he's wrong. Then they all sit together and have some of the best bread they've ever eaten. Then a ninja jumps in, and Samuel kills him with the bread knife. BA rating: 9

I make the mistake of telling Lucy Liu to get in the kitchen and bake me a loaf bread. In return she smiles and beats the ever living crap out of me. When I explain it's for the contest, she gives me an incredibly small apology and then gets to work. Lucy Liu can actually cook very well, and whips together a very nice loaf of bread. I sit in the corner with an icepack and whimper. BA rating: 9

Bruce Willis immediately reverts to 'Moonlighting' mode and fumbles making the bread. After ten minutes it's grown to rediculous proportions and he has to admit that he needs his girlfriend's help. He learns a very valuable lesson and the credits roll. Real men do not star in sitcoms...but at least he tried, and didn't do the Ricky Ricardo thing and try and cheat. BA rating: 4

Humphrey Bogart was around before men cooked, and I don't think he'd do it. At most he'd make coffee. Not badass, but that was the way of the times. DISQUALIFIED, BA rating: 1


Christopher Walken gives a dribbling spray that mostly goes down the villain's shirt and his own chin. Creepy. BAR: 8.5

Willum Dafoe does a short spray, covering most of the villain's face. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. BAR: 7.5

Samuel Jackson gives a short spit, and a curse. It isn't much spray, but he got the villain right in the eye. BAR: 8

Lucy Liu doesn't bleed much (that whole invincible action movie heroine thing is acting up again), but she does get some hair pulled out. She spits at him, but somehow the hairpulling was creepier. BAR: 6

Bruce Willis sends a big ol' spray of blood into the villian's kisser, and then breathes heavily, ready for the beating to continue. More blood= bigger spray. BAR: 9

Bogart doesn't spit blood, but says something to REALLY piss them off. Sometimes words speak louder then actions...but not always. BAR: 8


Suprise everyone! Your darkest moments have come to haunt you!

Christopher Walken, do you remember...WHO AM I THIS TIME, AN ORIGINAL USA ROMANTIC COMEDY?! DO YOU?!!! It might be a Kurt Vonnegut story (one of literature's great badasses), but it's his sappiest story. Bonus: he does Streetcar Named Desire, but is nowhere as badass in the part as Brando! BAR: 4

Willum Dafoe, do these words mean anything to you...American Dreamz? The Hitchhiker? XXX: State of the Union? Or how about that great movie you were in after Spider Man 1...what was it again...oh yes, NOTHING!!! BAR: 4

Samuel Jackson shame on you. I understand you were completely star-struck when you working with George Lucas as Mace Windu (and I like the purple lightsabre), but you read that part exactly as George Lucas wrote it for you. Real men take risks...although I do give you credit for making the part of Frozone your own...still, you had the perfect chance to be a badass in a Star Wars movie and got overshadowed by Yoda (come on, you could have at least told Lucas that Jango looked stupid just standing there while you whacked off his head). BAR: 3

Lucy, I'm afraid I have two things for you. First, I know I already touched base on your lousy Japanese, but if you can't do it, then why keep trying? Just tell Quentin that your character prefers speaking in English all the time, and move on. Secondly, please turn down parts. I'm not saying you were bad in them, but I've seen your filmography, and some of these parts I wouldn't give to my dog. Please, learn to say no...but not to Matt Groening, you were awesome in Futurama (the secondmost kickass cartoon on television, with Boondocks' one-sided preaching getting it knocked down to third). BAR: 5

Bruce Willis. Hudson Hawk. I understand you did your best in Bonfire of the Vanities (and was the funniest thing in it), but you are solely responsible for Hudson Hawk. As soon as you're done apologizing for that, you can move on to 'The Kid'. BAR: 2

Remember that really terrible Humphrey Bogart movie? No, neither do I. BAR: 10


This is it, the final round. We're covered beatings, cooking, defiance, and their weakest it's time for their strongest. The catch? There's only...35 points to go around.

Christopher Walken announces loudly, with supreme authority, that he's got to have more cow-bell. He's got a fever that only cow bell can cure! HE NEEDS IT!!!

Willum Dafoe resists threats and temptations from a being of pure evil, and is killed as a result. Of course, it's not hard to play the martyr when you're playing Jesus Christ. Platoon did it better. It takes a real badass to break your heart without evoking any pity.

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish, and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers, and YOU WILL KNOW THAT MY NAME IS THE LORD, WHEN I LAY MY VENGENCE UPON THEE!!!" Too bad his target wasn't more impressive than a chubby geek.

Guy talks smack about her family heritage and she collects his fucking head...and gives a very informative speech about it. Badass? Yes. Subtle? No, but I certainly don't have anything else to say, do you?

Bruce Willis takes away his weapon...then takes away his other one...twice. Pretty soon he was just pounding meat into the floor. Then he went outside and did what few hwould ave the courage to do. I love you Nancy.

It's tempting to give Bogey's final speech from the Big Sleep, but that wasn't his most badass moment. At the end of the Maltese Falchon, he finds out that the woman he loves killed his partner. They have the ultimate way to shift the blame to other guilty parties...but Bogey's having none of it. He doesn't get angry, he doesn't yell. He just turns her over to the police, and tells her that in eight or twelve years, when they finally let her go, he'll be there, waiting for her. She doesn't die, he doesn't get a sweet 'girl next-door' that was helping him all along the case, and he never stops loving her, but she's guilty, so she has to go to jail. Now that's guts. It's not exactly 'walking over glass' badass, but it's still badass.



Christopher Walken: 5.5
Willum Dafoe: 5.5
Samuel Jackson: 6.5
Lucy Liu: 5.5
Bruce Willis: 9
Humphrey Bogart: 7


5th + 6th place: 32.5 points - A tie between Christopher Walken and Lucy Liu

Everyone knows they're both badasses, but both fall short of legendary badasses. They didn't do that badly though, and each did best in their own categories: Creepily Funny Badass and Sexy Badass.

4th place: 33 points - Bruce Willis

I'm getting nosebleeds looking at Bruce's career. He's achieved the highest levels of badassery, and plumbed its very depths. I'm afraid he's going to have to accept the consolation prizes of having banged Demi Moore, and the secure knowledge he could totally kick her new boyfriend's ass.

The Bronze: 34 points - Willum Dafoe

Willum Dafoe's specialty is taking parts that would not be badass if any other actor starred in the role, and turning the character into a complete ass kicker. The Green Goblin was a complete joke until Dafoe donned the green mask. Goody-two-shoes whistleblower in war movies become heart wrenching heroes. Do I even have to mention the homosexual cop in Boondock Saints? Is there any way to describe how awesome he was in the role? The bad news: although he brings a little bit of badass into every role he performs, I can count the truly badass characters he's played in movies on a single hand. We like what we see, Willum, but you'll have to settle for third.

The Silver: 34.5 points - Samuel Jackson

You cannot even begin to understand how much I wanted Samuel to win this, but alas, he only takes second. Did I possibly not give him enough credit for Pulp Fiction? Was I too hard on him for Star Wars? I stand by my ratings and present to you the one thing keeping Samuel from reaching the highest point on this chart: he doesn't take enough risks. It isn't that hard to be a badass when the word 'badass' is in the character description. In movies like Shaft, Snakes on a Plane, and SWAT (lot of S movies now that I think of it), it isn't that hard being a badass, but Coach Carter? Remember the Titans was better. The Great White Hype? You were merely crazy silly. Jackie Brown? Nothing new...and of course we can't ignore Star Wars. These aren't bad movies, but they should have been better, and could have been better if he took more chances with the roles.

Now, I don't want to spend all this time merely trashing him, because he's definitely earned the name on his wallet. From being the coolest hero in Incredibles, to being the ultimate badass yet repentant hitman in Pulp Fiction, to making our jaws fall and crash to the floor in Unbreakable, to stealing the show in a Time to Kill, and to so much more, you've earned your place...and who knows, Snakes on a Plane might just get me to change my mind.


Now some may call me impartial, but screw them, they can make their own blog.

Anyway, Bogart is truly the man, and no other actor from his era, or any era, can equal the performances he made in classics that will last the test of time: Casablanca, Maltese Falchon, the Big Sleep, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the Caine Mutiny and many more. What sets these movies apart from other 'top 100' movies is they would never had been as good if he wasn't in it (the Harrison Ford of his time...yes, I'm looking at you again Lucas). As a matter of fact, the only real weakness he has as a badass is that he doesn't completely fit the modern perspective of what a complete badass should be. He was a product of his times, back when men were soldiers who did the fighting and women were dames who took care of the home. Not PC, of course, but that's the way it was, and of the truly manly men, Bogart was king.

As the hero or villain, if he was talking, everyone else was listening. With each role he brought fire, rage, subtlety, and perhaps the most important part of being a badass: humanity. When Bogart's on the screen, he isn't a cybernetic cop, or a maverick cop with nothing to lose, or the greatest martial artist in the world. When he's up there, he's merely a single man, with human limitations. What makes Bogart a badass is the fact that just about anyone could do the things he does in the films, if they had the courage, the grit, and the will to do it. His body is flesh and bone, but his spirit and his personality are invincible. If a dog ran up and bit him, he would be hurt just like anyone else, but let's face it, that dog would never even try it.

It'd just cower and make him coffee. ^_^