Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Omniblog (May 2009 Edition)

I’ve been sitting on several posts lately that I just haven’t had time to get to. Figure I’ll get them all out of the way tonight. Let’s start with the oldest one… this one is called:

Dirty little secrets

I’m not one to complain. Anybody who really doesn’t know me would agree, I’m a go-along-to-get-along kind of guy. “Stoic,” I think, is the word most often applied to my temperament by strangers from all walks of life.

But a lifetime of assiduous attention paid to not taking care of myself is beginning to bear bitter fruit. I am getting old. The physical plant is finally succumbing to the dirty little secrets of mortality.

Not as bad as old my pal Floyd. He’s only a couple years older than me and just had to get his hips replaced. And they’re not rich and he lost his job because, I presume, he could no longer physically execute it due to his fucked up hips.

So I’m not complaining, exactly. But after I got my shoulder surgery over with, I thought I’d be on the bounce back to good health. Not so.

To make a long story short, my lower back is all fucked up. I’ve got the x-rays and MRIs to prove it. I’m on NSAIDS and muscle relaxers and just finished a round of steroids and I can’t say that any of them have done a damn bit of good. The only sure cure for what ails my back is to sleep sitting up, or reclining.

If I sleep the night in our perfectly comfortable bed, I wake up with lower back spasms that drive me to my knees. If I take a handful of OTC downers I sleep like a baby sitting up on the couch and wake up in the morning feeling fit as a fiddle.

My doctors don’t know what to make of it so they’re contracting me out to various specialists. I’ve already gotten off the muscle relaxers and I’m ignoring the pain clinic referral. My physical therapist (with the stripper’s body and the heart of gold to go with it) assures me the back surgeon I’m going to see next month is going to give me an injection or two that should dispatch with the symptoms for up to several months.

If it works, I’m golden. Every time I need to travel away from my reclining couch I can just get an injection from Dr. Feelgood. As if holidays away from home don’t come front-loaded with enough stress factors for borderline agoraphobics like me. I already feel like I’m being beamed in from Planet Wrong Side Of The Tracks, I’m not looking to add Must Sleep Sitting Up to my resume of quirky character malfunctions.

So that’s that.

The next entry is an update on Obi, Woody’s replacement dog who likes to bite houseguests and everybody tells me we gotta get rid of. It starts like this:

We have three dogs

One is the cuddly lap dog of my dreams, another is a terrific rough-housing companion to our 3-year-old and the third one is just a goddamned walking nightmare. They’re all named Obi.

When Obi and I are home alone during the day, most weekdays, he’s the perfect house pet. Comes in the office to hang out with me while I work, lets me know when he has to go out, doesn’t get into shit even if I leave it laying out, even rests his head on my leg and looks up at me with those big brown eyes.

That’s dog #1.

Dog number two is the goofy motherfucker who likes to jump into the stream of hose water when we’re watering the yard and chases bubbles and lets our son visit all manner of indignity upon him without rancor or retaliation. The one who runs circles in our back yard at Mach 2, doubled over like a greyhound.

It’s when he’s dog #3 where he still falls down. Dog #3 is an insufferable shithead. He’s like pure id and a destructive force to be reckoned with. He’s completely disobedient, raiding the garbage, the kitchen counter, the sink (!!), the clothes drifts that dot our happy house... He digs up The Missus’ garden repeatedly and he totally disrespects her personal space. And he can barely be walked for spazzing out on the leash, $300 dog-whisperer be damned.

And he only acts this way when the wife and boy are home. It’s like a switch clicks over inside in his tiny brain and all the energy he’s been storing up while being perfectly behaved during the day comes bursting out. I hate this fucking dog! I’m constantly, eh, er, admonishing him, chasing him into the metal cage he sleeps in in the kitchen, throwing household items at him to correct misbehavior that is occurring inconveniently across the room.

The bastard knows better, which is why I see red when he repeatedly, flagrantly misbehaves when the rest of the family is home. I don’t know what to do. He’s the boy’s best friend but one of these days, one or the other of us is going to tear the other’s throat out with our teeth.

The last item concerns our transition to digital HD TV. It’s called:

We have met the digital revolution…

…and it has made us its bitch.

We decided to sink some of our tax return into a flatscreen, high-def TV, like all the in-laws got. It was hundreds of bucks, but it was gonna be so worth it. Went to Costco and comparison shopped, bought a lesser name-brand but with the same tech specs as the big boys. Then it cost $50 to have it delivered and set up, which consisted of them dropping it off in our front room, plugging it in and beating feet before we had a chance to test it out.

We soon learned to get true HD on the satellite, we had to spring for a new box, so I called up Direct TV and ordered us up a new box. The Missus gets home and discovers I have fucked up ordering the new box. I’m still not sure how or what I did wrong, but I’m confident she’s correct when she says I fucked it up.

So she calls Direct TV and rescinds the old order and places a new one. Turns out we not only need a new HD box, but we need to have an installer come out and hook it up. More money.

Then she discovers that our DVD player does not work with the new TV, so we have to run out to Target and get a new DVD player to go with our new TV and new box-gizmo. We also have to buy a new kind of connector cable that is 30¢ online but $20 at Target.

So we get home and hook all that shit up, bit the TV still looks skeevy because our new Direct-TV HD box is not hooked up yet. The installer shows up the next day, today, and proceeds to spend 4+ hours in, around and on top of our house, building stuff up and tearing it down and re-building it elsewhere. Our neighbors to the south have a very tall tree, so finding the satellite signal is hard.

Oh yeah, and we need a new high-def satellite dish to go with all our other new tech. We now have a 200-pound old-school 36” television, a TiVo machine and 2 DVD players – along with their individual clickers – gathering dust and cockroaches out in the garage.

And while the Direct TV guy is hooking up the new DVR box he brought with him (more money), FedEx drops off the DVR unit that The Missus called a couple of days earlier to have cancelled so I have to get back on the phone to customer disservice tomorrow and try to get them to take the Fed-Exed unit back without incurring even more extracurricular financial hemorrhaging.

On the plus side, bazillions of dollars later and we don’t even have a high-def DVD player yet, the local news anchor’s ill-fitting suits are more threadbare and laughter-inducing than we ever could have imagined. And the chase scene at the beginning of “Casino Royale” is even more vertigo-inducing than it was at the theater. I think this is one ridiculous overindulgence that is going to amortize well over the long run.

And that’s pretty much what’s been going on this last month. I’m falling apart, the dog is still a lawsuit waiting to happen and our modest investment in the digital transition has turned into a money pit rivaling Boston’s ‘Big Dig’ back in the nineties.

And my job is still killing me by degrees, but I promised myself I wouldn’t write about that anymore.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Movie Review: Terminator: Salvation

Damn it, there went two otherwise perfectly viable hours of my life. No wonder Jim Cameron declined to give this installment his blessing, according to various promotional materials timed to the release of this weekend’s film.

A franchise killer, this installment of “The Terminator” series is the plastic nipples on George Clooney’s Batman Suit. The nail in the coffin. Not even as good as a middling episode of the recently-cancelled television series “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” but more than twice as long.

I’ll admit I don’t like the whole “The future is a machine-littered hellscape so we were able to film this thing in a junkyard in Wilmington, California” genre of film. You can always tell them at the video store. The cover is usually a conceptual painting instead of an image from the film, and the back also contains no images from the film, or a couple but they’re too tiny to really make out. If I had known that’s what this film was, I probably would’ve waited till the DVD came out and then never got all the way through it.

Besides being from a lazy genre that I don’t really care for, what else didn’t work for me?

No story. I couldn’t reveal any spoilers here if I wanted to. Robots, machines and a resurrected serial killer run around shooting at each other and blowing shit up in a monochromatic hellscape. Uh, everybody is either looking to kill Christian Bale’s character, rebel leader John Connor (if you don’t know the Terminator mythology, shame on you! Go buy the first two movies and begin watching immediately), and his father or is looking to protect them. Then more shooting and running.

It turns out the key ingredient to the success of the three earlier films might have been the time-travel element, forcing at least part of the story to unfold somewhere other than a junkyard in Wilmington. Once you take the time travel out, all you’re left with is another variation on “Robot Holocaust.” Machine overlords? Check. People dressed in rags, living as slaves to said machine overlords? Check. Buff, interchangably dressed and coiffed dudes running and jumping over stuff while they shoot and get shot at? Check. How much longer till this fucking thing is over? Check.

Even the few nods and winks to the earlier films feel dropped in from another mythos, out of place, or given such plodding, heavy-handed treatment you wish they hadn’t even bothered. They’re just fleeting, depressing reminders that the movie experience you can’t wait to end is the death rattle of a once-great film series, not just another anonymous, shot-on-a-thumbnail post-apocalyptic snoozer.

All the press reports ‘let it slip’ that one of the Nolan brothers, of “Dark Knight” fame, gave the script an uncredited polish, which begs the question: Wow, how bad was thing originally?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Unhappy anniversary

One year later and the hole in my heart still hasn’t been filled by anything but missing him.
• • • • • • • •
May 15 Is A Motherfucker addendum: Out of the blue, it occurred to me that it was exactly 14 years ago today this other terrible thing happened:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

He likes to water

And he’s not taking any guff about it.

Best. Saturday. Ever!

To think it all started out with Newt Gingrich and it just kept getting better from there. My 3.5-year-old came in as I was finishing up the Gingrich post and took one look at the photo and announced, “Bad Guy!” (Not much gets by that kid. I gotta be more careful what I say and do around him.)

The Young Man is in fine form today, meaning we could leave the house and go do stuff, despite the fact that he’s in the middle of his weekly fecal offload (another issue for anther day). Luckily, I recognized the signs and signals in time and transitioned him from briefs to pull-ups about a half hour before the shitstorm started. The first one was so pronounced it looked like he was growing a tail under the pullup.

But before that we hit the farmers market and bought some kettle popcorn and played a game at a booth that rewarded us with a Roma tomato plant, which we took home and planted.

We had hot dogs for lunch while watching Bill Maher’s HBO show, then went out and played in the yard before it got too hot. He watered the grass till it was muddy then splashed around in the mud. Came back in, cleaned up and had some cookies and milk while watching “Thunderball” on TCM. What was state-of-the-art big-screen violence in its day is all-ages fare now. Well, practically.

Then, on a completely spur-of-the-moment impulse, I decided to take him swimming at the neighborhood community pool. He hasn’t been swimming in at least a year, and a year in the life of a three-year-old is a long time. Wasn’t sure how he’s react to it. The sunlight, the noise, all those people, all that water… there were so many things that could have pushed his panic button. He’s bold when he’s in a familiar situation, but new situations tend to bring out the wallflower in him until he’s conquered them.

Still, it was relatively easy to lure him into the water as this community pool’s first gradation of depth is one inch. (Good job, pool-people!) It also helped that most of the people there with us were also parents with young children, and the place was crawling with buffed, tanned, indifferent-looking lifeguards, so the potentially scary rough horseplay was kept to an absolute minimum.

Plus he had a pair of vise-like deathgrips on my forefingers. Neither one of us was going anywhere without the other.

After about 10 minutes in, wading up to his bathing suit top, he got concerned and said he wanted to go home. I paid $5.75 for the two of us to get in, I really didn’t want to leave after 10 minutes. Plus, goddammit, I wanted to achieve a parenting success here, and ten-minutes-and-out is nothing to write home about, let alone a blog entry. So I said, “Okay. Are you scared?” He said, “Yeah…”

I said “Okay,” and put my arms around him, lifting his feet off the pool bottom and scooshed us back to the lip of the pool. When we got there, I said, “Okay, Daddy just needs to rest here for a minute, okay?” He said, “Okay.” So we sat there together, him completely resting in my arms, and watched the other kids playing in the water. He was fascinated. After a little bit, he squirmed out of my arms and took my finger again and pulled me back out into the pool. “Come on, Daddy. I want to go this way.”

And I spent the next 45 minutes getting pulled all around the shallow end of the pool, venturing as far into the deep end as the bottom of his chin. He laughed and commented the whole time. After a while, he let go of my hands completely and only grabbed me when he wanted to go in a different direction.

When I began to worry about us being out in the sun too long and suggested we head on back home, he didn’t want any part of it. But I guess I planted the seed because it was only another ten minutes or so after that he walked himself up the stairs out of the pool and over to our blankets.

I was so pleased. If we had had a bad experience there, he’s old enough now that he could remember it well enough to fuck with his head, and make the inevitable future swimming lessons a traumatic event for him. Instead, by not pushing him too hard too fast, he can’t wait to go there again next weekend with Mommy, too. (Mommy’s away on business this week.)

Came home, had some more popcorn and watched a little bit of “You Only Live Twice,” before he began curling up on the couch. I turned down the TV volume and said, “You want to take a nap?” “Yeah… carry me?” and held his arms out. He doesn’t really ask to be carried much these days. It was very sweet and I was happy to comply.

He went down for his nap in record time. I came in here to check my email and found a rare laudatory comment left on a YouTube clip of my mid-90s band, which never happens because we weren’t really that good to start with, and the videos that survived never seem to have captured the performances I was giving in my mind. Then there was the beer and the box-wine... But I digress.

I’m telling you, I’m considering going out and buying a lotto ticket. I don’t allow myself many good days a year, but I definitely checked one off today. By the time he gets up from his nap, TCM will be showing “Blue Hawaii” as our bachelor Week comes to a close.

The next time I’m bellyaching about what a rough life I have, I’m going to remember this day, have myself a Coke and a smile shut the fuck up.

Newt Gingrich: Still ready to party like it’s 1996

Here is the headline this morning that jumped off the monitor at me… what was it about it that was so strangely familiar…?

Gingrich: ‘Absolute obligation’ to investigate Pelosi

Let me see if I’ve got this straight… the Republicans don’t want any investigations into the Bush administration’s actual use of torture in interrogating prisoners, but one of their leading lights is demanding an investigation into when Nancy Pelosi knew about that which they don’t want investigated?

I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning…

I haven’t been following the news very closely this week – busy at work, busy at home – but every time I turned on the tv in the afternoon, the news channels were full of people talking about Pelosi. What did she know, when did she know it? Apparently some time early on, she was briefed on the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding and now is in a world of trouble for fudging when she was told about it.

Must be a slow news day, I thought.

By the second day I was kind of surprised it was still all the rage. Slow news week!

And this morning informs me that an outraged Newt Gingrich – until this morning, one of the more reasonable surviving Republicans I thought – is demanding an investigation into what Pelosi knew about Bush’s crimes and when did she know about them.

Newt is making the classic mistake... actually, it’s a beginner’s mistake and I’ve heard him talk enough about political history to know that he considers himself some kind of expert. Go figure. Anyhow, he’s fighting this war (with the Democrats) using the last war’s battle plan. In this case, tie up the opposition in endless investigations and turn the public against them – hell, the last time they tried it they only half succeeded. In spite of their best efforts, Clinton still sauntered out of office with a job approval rating in the sixties.

It still pisses me off, though. And disappoints me, too. I thought Gingrich was tacking to the middle in his run-up to the 2012 election, the middle being a woefully underserved constituency in today’s GOP and just waiting to be tapped. But no. Sorry, middle. Instead, it turns out he’s still courting the same ultra-partisan voters he always has and flogging the same old tired agenda of winning through character assassination that was only partially successful in the past.

The problem today’s GOP faces is the perception, based on the last eight years of Republican governance, that the GOP doesn’t know how to govern. Crying for spurious investigations doesn’t do anything to address that perception, it just perpetuates it.

If this is going to be the big philosophical face-off of the 2012 GOP – the Sarah Palin/God, Guns & Guts wing versus the Gee, Weren’t the Nineties Fun faction – they should just cut to the chase and cede the election to Obama right now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This is your politics on DOP

“Obama reverses policy, won’t release detainee photos”

I think my man got this one right. According to, President Obama said today that he told government lawyers to object to a court-ordered release of additional Pentagon photos showing alleged abuse of detainees because the release could affect the safety of U.S. troops and “inflame anti-American opinion.”

I agree with the president. Our kids are in enough trouble over there. There’s plenty of precedent for not releasing this kind of anti-propaganda while troops are still in the field.

There will be a time when we can release all the ugly details of the “War On Terror” and go after the surviving war criminals. Hell, we’re still deporting former Nazis to Germany. Yay us!!

Regrettably, justice will probably have to settle for being served just as cold in this instance as well.

Because it’s not like Obama’s actions today are going to magically turn time backwards and keep us in the dark about the horrific events that took place, or that losing access to this particular batch of pictures will significantly misconstrue the ugliness of what we already know about what occurred in our name on Bush’s watch.

No, the interest in these photos is more like slowing down when you pass a fresh wreck on the freeway, or hauling ass over to as soon as you see a former beauty queen on “the Today Show” making excuses for the nude photos that have just wrecked her pageant career.

We don’t need to know this, we want to know it. We want to see some metaphorical blood on the allegorical asphalt.

The same goes for opening up investigations right now on all the twisting and torturing of the Constitution by Bush administration officials. “Right now” being the key part of that sentence. Obama either can’t do it all right now, or he’d have to somehow maintain a clean-hands stance while the Democrats and the media linked arms and went after the Bush administration with pitchforks by torchlight.

Obama’s good, but he’s not that good.

The sad political reality that Obama is facing is that, if he wants to have even a hope in hell of getting any GOP votes attached to any of his pending legislation, he can’t participate in what would inevitably devolve into a partisan snipe-hunt, which is how the opposition media would spin it from day one anyhow.

The really sad part is, I think Obama’s going to bow to this political reality and still not get any Republican votes. The GOP’s strategy these days is to hope like hell that Obama fails, as so eloquently put forth by their preeminent radio mouthpiece. If the president falls on his face and none of their names are associated with his failure, the political zeitgeist gets a reboot native to their OS.

That’s it. That’s all they’ve got, and they’re going to work it like a two dollar whore on Fleet Week. Already it’s all they’ve done so far this year and everybody on that side of the aisle is just holding their collective breath waiting to see if this is a gamble that pays off and things get even more desperate for Americans. Proud patriots that they aver to be...

They should change their name to the DOP, the Delightful! Old Party.

Like: Oh won’t it be DOPe when the lawsuits are settled and Al Franken is finally seated in the senate and Republican votes suddenly cease to have any practical political currency anyhow? Then no one can blame them at all for hitting the cruise control, cranking up the Rush Limbaugh Show and hoping for a good, old-fashioned wreck on the highway to make their day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An unnecessary death

My cousin Danny killed himself yesterday. He was 33. His mom found him with part of his head missing the day before Mother’s Day. The day before his sister’s new baby was going to be christened.

The fourth or fifth of five siblings, the average size of Catholic families of our parents’ generation, I really only met Danny once or twice. Honestly, I hardly remember a thing about him – my parents whisked our branch of the family tree off the great American Southwest before he or his brother were born.

(Actually, there is one anecdote I can relate about Danny, one that certainly won’t make it into the official record. It was at his brother Chris’ ill-fated first wedding a few years back. Near the end of the reception, the photographer was trying to round up all of the cousins for an all-the-cousins shot. Danny was the Best Man and there was no way the photo could be taken without him, but he was seriously MIA. I mean, nobody knew where he was. The rest of us were assembled on the steps of the joint they had the reception in, a swanky, secluded place out in the woods. After at least a 15-minute search, Danny came walking sheepishly up the dirt road with only a shit-eaten grin and an apology for his absence. As he passed me to take his place next to his brother, I caught the unmistakable scent of freshly cooked cannibis and thought, “This is a cousin I could get to like.”)

There literally are no words of comfort for those he left behind. As the strict Catholics that his family are, they’re taught to believe that suicides go straight to hell. There’ll be no joyful reunion in the sweet bye and bye. That’s it. Danny’s gone.

My heart goes out to his mom, who found him. He had to have known that was a likely scenario. How could anyone be so cruel? As far as I know, he didn’t have any particular mommy issues. He left a note which the police were scheduled to share with them today.

But I’m willing to bet he wasn’t a good enough writer to erase the image in his mom’s eye of what he looked like when she discovered his body yesterday.

I’ve thought about suicide… all of us depressives have. Oddly, it used to give me the solace and strength to go on that my church-going relatives draw from their faith. Suicide and God are both the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free cards. Their presence means there’s always a way out, so I might as well soldier on another day and see what it brings.

I always used to tell myself, “Maybe tomorrow is the day I’ll finally get laid again.”

But the real reason I never pushed the button was I cared too much for the people who would survive me. My pain, I guess, never got bigger than the love I have for my family and my disinclination to destroy the entire rest of their lives. No matter my issues with her, I would never, ever do that to my mother. It’s the ultimate repudiation of your work as a parent, when your kid kills him or herself.

And now that I have a son of my own, the suicide option is no longer on the table, not even in a get-out-of-jail way. I don’t need to tell you what kind of lives the kids of suicides lead. Plus, I was born to raise this kid; I’m no longer interested in getting to the head of the check-out line, no matter how bad a day I’ve had.

Today, my aunt and uncle are suffering agonies I can’t even imagine. Like I said earlier, my mom and her four sibs believed in having big families. (When my parents discovered they couldn’t have kids the regular way, they went out and adopted four of us.). Danny’s parents had five kids; all three of the girls have dutifully fulfilled their parents’ fondest dreams, marrying successful, Catholic men and producing mass quantities of grandchildren.

The boys, not so much. Danny’s brother finally got married a few years back, late in life relative to the rest of the family. The marriage was kaput in less than a year. The brothers both took menial jobs (ie: blue-collar jobs, not the cool-titled jobs of their dad or their sisters’ husbands) and for a while even lived together in the same apartment.

I never heard a bad word spoken about either of the boys, but they were always brushed off with a couple sentences each at the end of the annual Christmas letter – which, to be fair, tended to enumerate accomplishments – and among the cousins, they rated near the bottom in terms of accruing the kind of accomplishments the family valued. Right there next to me at the bottom of the rankings.

The difference between me and Danny and his brother, I think, is that I decided at an early age it wasn’t worth giving a shit that I was failing to fit into the family model. For one thing, as my parents were less accomplished than their peers, the bar was pre-lowered for me, so I almost certainly had fewer expectations placed on me than Danny did on him. Add the fact that I distinguished myself as a hard-core fuck-up at a very early age, successfully lowering expectations to the point where as long as I didn’t end up an institutional man I was considered to be doing pretty good.

I started out without much expected of me to begin with, and then didn’t buy into the guilt when I couldn’t meet even that low bar. Honestly, I was one of the people who thought I was doing pretty good just by not being jailed or shanked in a bar fight.

And I’m passing the blessing of low expectations on to my own son, in the hope that they will serve him as well as they have me.

When people ask me how my son is, I tell them, “He’s happy. He’s doing his thing and his head is screwed on tight.” Everything else is just details.

As long as he stays happy, we’ve both hit our marks.

On a related note – and as long as I’m already sad – today marks ten years since Shel Silverstein was taken from us.

Shel was also pretty good at separating out what was important from what was just details, and he did it in a way that brought a smile to your lips and a tear to your eye. I defy you to remain stoic after watching the Uncle Shelby clip below, from The Johnny Cash Show, ca 1970.

Friday, May 08, 2009

More Next-Generation artwork brilliance

If I find out what The Boy calls this piece, I’ll amend this post to include the title. Click on the pic to enlarge it to really appreciate it. This kid has something going on.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Summer Movie Review: “Wolverine”

“Curse you, Christopher Nolan!”

You’ve raised the bar so high with “Dark Knight” that this otherwise perfectly likable comic book movie barely rates a “meh.’ Although frankly, even if you hadn’t, “Wolverine, Origin of the Whatever” would have failed to measure up to “Iron Man” or “Watchmen” either.

6’3” golden god Hugh Jackman returns as Marvel Comics’ diminutive super-hero James/Logan/Wolverine in this extension of the “X-Men” franchise. Shit blows up real nice, lots of bad guys get sliced and diced, Liev Schreiber (who was so brilliant as a young Orson Wells in “RKO 281”) gamely slums it up as Logan’s brother/nemesis Sabertooth… everybody seems to be having a good time. But speaking of time, if I had been wearing a watch, I would have been checking it repeatedly during the screening.

And in the film’s defense, I might have come away from it unimpressed at least partly because of my familiarity with the source material (comic book geek that I am). It’s like when I saw Michael Mann’s “Manhunter” in the theater years ago. It just felt so totally predictable to me that I went home disappointed, only realizing much later that its familiarity was the result of having read the source material years earlier under its original title, “Red Dragon.”

But even with that caveat, “Wolverine” still impressed only on a surface, technical level. Competently acted and directed and looking real fine, it hit all the marks it set out for itself; the real was problem with the film was a distinct deficit of ambition. The whole time I watched it, I kept wondering, “Was there any reason other than the studio’s bottom line for this film to exist?” And the answer kept coming back no.

And before “Dark Knight,” that wasn’t a question I asked myself about comic book movies. It was enough that the bad guys chewed the scenery, the babes were in body-hugging spandex (or naked and painted blue!) and shit blew up real good. And of course, that the filmmakers didn’t take too many liberties with the source material.

But after the troika of “Dark Knight,” “Iron Man” and “Watchmen,” just burning a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon isn’t enough anymore. Now that I know that comic book movies can hit all their whiz-bang-boom marks and still resonate on a deeper level, I’m going to expect them to.

“Wolverine” is agreeable eye-candy, but nothing more. Recommended for fans of the franchise and summer-movie lovers in general (and people who like to see Hugh Jackman shirtless; I’m looking at you, Doll), but if you already know Wolverine’s backstory or are hoping for a transcendent movie-going experience, you’ll probably go home feeling unfulfilled.