Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Fun with Yahoo Answers

Yahoo Answers is about the most hilarious site I've come across, for all the wrong reasons.

For instance, the answer to the question will there ever be a remake of Conan the Barbarian:


Uh... huh.

How about... How might Conan the Barbarian act if a radical feminist yelled at him for holding the door open for her?

He might take her over his knee and give her a good paddling until her layers of toughness wore away to reveal a layer of wide eyed, teary eyed, sacharrine sweetness....and then she'de apologise.

He would call her a witch and burn her to death as men have slaughtered women of "independent mind" for thousands of years, such as the five million women of "independent mind" slaughtered in the aftermath of the Christian Malleus Maleficarum.

I fhe was a real barbarian, he wouldn't open the door, he'd smash it in with an axe.

The cheesecake one was funny, if cliche. The third groan-inducing: barbarians aren't mindless brutes. That "witch" comment was was hilarious, what with the "five million" (note how these people never bring up the fact that many men were accused of witchcraft?) being generally considered a gross exaggeration and all. And, of course, I needn't say that Conan certainly would not assume a woman of "independent mind" would be a witch, seeing as there were very real witches to deal with in the Hyborian Age.

Then this question: From Conan the Barbarian, was there actually a god named Crom?

Yes Crom is the Irish/Celtic Day god.
I don't think the author of Conan knew that however

Crom is a fictional deity created by American author Robert E. Howard. He is mainly mentioned in swearing by his character Conan the Cimmerian, and "worshipped," it is presumed, by the bulk of the Cimmerian people. His name is probably derived from the ancient Irish deity Crom Cruach, with the fictional Cimmerians functioning as proto-Celts in Howard's pre-historic Hyboria

"Crom is a fictional deity created by American author Robert E. Howard."

Actually Crom is a fictional God, created by Robert E Howard who wrote the Conan saga...
but it's probably modeled after a real Deity named Crom Cruach...

Which one was chosen as the "best answer?" The one that assumes Howard had no idea of Crom Cruach. Of course. Because Howard was an idiot. Ye gods.

Then, it just gets embarassing. Conan the Barbarian - What is a good anthology?

I'd start with Howard. a lot of other people have also written Conan stories, with his or his estates permission, but Howard is the original. At one point in time, when I read them roughly 20 years ago, these were collected into a numbered series, but to be honest most could be read in any order. Conan doesn't exactly change much over the series.

My advice? Find a local used paperback book store and buy a bunch of what they have on hand. Like reading your way through the Tarzan series, eventually you'll tire of it, most likely before you've read them all.

"With his or his estate's permission?" Nope, just the estate, seeing as Howard died a full twenty years before the first pastiche hit the stands. Also gotta love the "Conan doesn't change much" remark: sure, in the pastiches everyone sticks to the same thing, but there is no way that the Conan of "The God in the Bowl" is "pretty much the same guy" as the Conan from "Rogues in the House," or either are the same as Conan in "The Phoenix on the Sword." It's as profound a character arc as any.

Finally... used paperbacks. Instead of the Del Reys. This is the "best advice." Gah.

I'm a glutton for punishment. Does Conan the Barbarian have a cool religion?

Besides do the bear skin tango with Red Sonja? I've not the slightest. Probably nothing too terribly different than what the average Germanic/Nordic Heathen would do, really.

Edit: Well, look there. I would seem to be right. Crom sounds an awful lot like the Blessed Alfar Odin, yes?

That was the best answer. No, you are not right. At all.

WWCD? He'd pray to Crom.

Feck off.

Oh, joy: Who was the original creator of Conan the Barbarian, and did he really still live with his mother?

Robert Howard.
Well, you only have to look at the film to see that there is clearly a lot of (very badly) repressed anger in who ever thought of this charming story. I guess it has to come from somwhere.
I bet if I were a grown man and I still ived with my mum, I'd be pretty angry all the time.
It's a good theory!

Lord almighty... Howard lived with his mother because he was her primary carer. Hester Howard was suffering from tuberculosis. They could not afford a nurse. Howard was a writer, and so could work at home. This was the Great Depression. It's simple economics, people. As for the whole "repressed anger" thing, well, I guess it's a shame Howard never did invent the story of Conan the Barbarian.

robert e howard was the creator he commited suicide at about 32 years old it was on the anniversary of his mothers death yes they were quite close. then the rights went to L sprague de camp a close friend of howards but i think he died in 2001 or sometime near there

A mite confused there, chief. Howard's suicide is complicated and there is no single factor, be it his mother's impending death, losing Novalyne, or sheer depression which he suffered all his life. But it sure wasn't on the anniversary of Hester's death: Howard actually died before her. And... well, De Camp never even met Howard, so I don't know where that "close friend" thing comes from.

But wait, a light at the end of the tunnel:

Robert Howard was the original creator of Conan the Barbarian and 100s of other stories in that genre. His mother was in ill health for quite a long time, and he and his father- a doctor - took care of her. When it was determined by a nurse that the mother was not going to come out of her coma and that she would die, Robert committed a long-planned suicide with a borrowed Colt .38.
Here are a few links that you can learn a bit more about Conan and R.E. Howard...

Ishtar's blessings on you, d-zine-r, whoever you are. A shame it wasn't the answer chosen, since it's the only correct one.

It's at this point that I just gave up. What a crazy place.


  1. The relationship advice on Yahoo Answers are quite a bit more groan-inducing, though it is worthwhile to pop in there once and a while for a hearty laugh. As you might guess, the absolute worst advice is usually chosen as the "best" answer.

  2. That's pitiful.

    At least with opinions I can see why voting on "best answer" makes sense, with facts, it's pretty creepy.

  3. I dunno, the opinions voting can get pretty creepy too. I remember one question was "I'm in love with my best friend but when I told her she rejected me, what do I do?" and the "best" chosen answer was "get her drunk and.." er, do unspeakable things to her rear end.

    The internet is most definitely NOT a good place to go looking for advice on personal matters.

  4. Heh, perhaps I'll have a look at the "relationship advice" ones. I seem to recall the "How Is Babby Formed" meme originated on Yahoo Answers.

  5. this is funny.. Apparently the goons over at have decided that REH is crap and are doing their best to hammer that point home..

    But then the Goons at Westeros.Org seem to think everything that dosen't have China Meivelle or Richard K. Morgan on it is crap.

  6. Considering both China Mievelle and Richard K. Morgan are crap, I see no need to worry. George RR Martin himself is a REH fan, so what exactly are they trying to prove? That the writer of their favourite series has bad taste?

  7. Really, Lagomorph? I'll have to take a wander over there.

    Onelastsketch is right: GRRM is a Howard fan (and, IIRC, a Tolkien fan) so it just makes things confusing. That'd make their love of RKM rather ironic given his asinine and painfully stupid views on JRRT.

  8. Meivelle is also a dogged anti-Tolkienite.. Though he's somewhat softened that stance But only just barely.

    But I was rather shocked to be honest.. one of them even trotted out the " Conan is just Howard's mary sue " I was waiting for the Dark valley destiny armchair head shrinking to start..

    If anything, in my experience.. the people at that forum dislike Howard and Tolkien simply because they aren't "Progressive" enough.. meaning they don't have huge numbers of homosexual characters or characters who are so morally bankrupt as to not even be recognizable as human beings as the Protaganist. Those sorts of books seem to be endlessly popular there..

  9. Because they aren't "progressive" enough? A series of short stories from the 1930s and a novel only published in 1954? Are you bloody well kidding me?

    China Mieville's anti-Tolkien stance is tied to his socialist background, just like Moorcock's hatred springs from 1960s rebellion, and has little to do with arguments about literary quality. Richard K. Morgan is worst than both of them, since he actually had the gall to suggest how he would "improve" Tolkien's work in a manner that showed he had no understanding of LOTR whatsoever. Putting copious sex, over-the-top violence and homosexual elves into you story does not, in any way, make it more adult (quite the opposite when you have elves who say "fuck"). Sara Douglass and Philip Pullman make the same stupid mistake in saying Tolkien is for children and has no depth (as if Sara Douglass' rape-filled novels have so much more, or Pullman's Young Adult novels, um, aren't actually for young adults?). Morgan's "revolution" in fantasy meant perpetuating tropes for darker & edgier (but more often sillier & more profane) novels that has infected the fantasy genre since the 1980s, or even further back, if you take Elric as the teen power fantasy that it often becomes.

    This kind of horse's assery is part of the reason I find the vast majority of fantasy these days so incredibely unappealing. On the one hand, we have dull and unimaginative Tolkien retreads (Terry Brooks, Dragonlance). On the other, we have the darker & edgier crowd such as those above who base their novels around shock value rather than characterization, good prose, or telling a worthwhile story. Fantasy still has a long way to go before is clambers out of the genre ghetto.

  10. Mieville I'm more forgiving of, since his "Why Tolkien rocks" article was pretty good. I'd say he's reforming, slowly but surely, from the Moorcockian school of anti-Tolkienism. Morgan, however, is still an eejit.

    Oh man, not the "Conan Sue" garbage again. I'm seriously sick of that: anyone who says that either knows nothing of Conan, or they don't know what a Mary Sue is. That does it. I know what my next TC post will be.

    Indeed, for 1930s stories, Howard was pretty damn progressive. He had Conan be friends with black dudes, women as capable leaders, intellectuals and warriors, surprisingly sympathetic portrayals of certain minorities. Some people just have no sense of context.

  11. Whats so bad is, the post started out with some simply asking what they should read next as they'd finished the Conan Stories.. it seemed to be doing well then all of a sudden " Just read Conan, all the rest is crap and Conan is best "...

    Yeah Meivelle does seem to be somewhat reformed.. I dunno what caused it.. I really don't understand how half the people on that forum are even epic fantasy readers.. They strike me as the type who think that they are literati who are just slumming it for a bit.

  12. Eh, I don't really want to talk trash about Martin because I don't think he's a bad writer, but when I checked out his Ice and Fire series it struck me more than anything as a soap opera set in a fantasy world. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it seems like the snobs who read him and rave over the series's brilliance should really try to better their perspective.

  13. The "Why Tolkien Rocks" article struck me as a set of backhanded compliments, in some ways resembling how Moorcock treats Howard, but it is a step up from what Mieville's said about Tolkien before. On the other hand, he even uses that turgid prose styles in essays? Really?