Saturday, 30 April 2011

Phase II Settles NuTrek's Hash

Just so you know I haven't forgotten about my post on Abrams' Trek, I came across this delightfully playful little video.  Acme solves everything!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Reading Howard With A Sense of Humour

I may have come under fire for wasting everyone's time yesterday, but hopefully this'll be more worthwhile. Unlike Arthur Knowledge, the commentators of this article appear to be intelligent, reasonable human beings who happen to be grossly misinformed. It is my duty as a Howard fan to correct and enlighten them on several key issues.

The place: Discover Magazine Blog.  (Why is it always the sources that are supposed to be informed and intelligent that end up getting things the most wrong?).  The gentleman in question is Razib Khan, but a certain chap named Leviticus says some things that are just... Well, you'll see.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

I don't really know what to make of this.

So. Huh.

How can a film's main character have no character development when the film is a Bildungsroman, which is - practically by definition - about a child developing into an adult?

How can one be a fan of Mako, and yet be incapable of correctly pronouncing his name?

And, most pertinently, is it possible to review Conan the Barbarian without resorting to gay jokes?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

One of these is not like the other

The second part of Mark Finn's interview with Adventures Fantastic (the first part of which I swore I commented on, but apparently haven't) is up, and as ever, Mark has a lot of things to say.  Mostly in the manner of the Texan, natch.

However, the beginning of the interview just hammered something home to me:

Howard films…I have to tell you a quick story, an anecdote.  We managed to get ahold of a copy of Solomon Kane from a friend who taped a bootleg.  My wife Cathy was real excited to sit down and watch it.  We were five minutes in, and she said, "Was this Robert E. Howard right here?"
And I said, "No."
Then she said, "Okay."  And we watch a little bit more.  He goes through the things he goes through and he's killing people left and right, and she says, "This has got to be Howard."
And I said, "No, this isn't in any of the Solomon Kane stories."  
I said, "I'll tell you what.  I'll let you know when the Howard stuff shows up 'cause I'll probably get real excited about it."
She goes, "Great."
Thirty minutes go by.  She says, "He's met the family now.  Is this Howard?"
"No, this isn't Howard."
We get to about ten minutes before the end, and she says, "Honey, is there any Robert E. Howard in this?"
I said, "Well, the guy's name is Solomon Kane." 
She said, "Honey, that doesn't count."

The friend I went to the cinema with to see Solomon Kane didn't ask, but then, I'd been bleating about SK's divergences beforehand and told her that this was basically a made up story featuring a dude called Solomon Kane.  Come to think of it, I think I might do a Youtube video of Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, Kull the Conqueror and Solomon Kane consisting *only* of the elements one can find in the original stories.  A bit like the purist edits for Jackson's Lord of the Rings, only they'd be about 10 minutes long.  Altogether.

This part spoke to me too:

You know, it's a little sad that the best one of the bunch is still the old "Pigeons From Hell" Thriller episode.  Boris Karloff's adaptation of "Pigeons From Hell" still stands out as following the storyline.  Which is such a novel approach.  Why didn't I think of that?  Why not just take something from the books?  How simple and how basic.  “No, no, no, you don't understand, Mark, we've got to rewrite Conan so that he's on a quest for vengeance.”  Oh, cause that hasn't been done to death.  Yeah, yeah, that makes prefect sense.  Yeah, why not, why not?  In fact, I got an idea.  Why don't you have a Vikings kill his family.  We've never seen that before in a film. 
It just makes me crazy that these guys in LA have…I don't think it's ignorance.  I think it's a willful self confidence there that feeds an ego that has to be the size of C’thulhu.  It's the only thing that makes sense.  If I come to them with a proposal set in a savage land in a distant time about a guy who walks into town out of the wilderness and through strength, cunning, guile, his own wits, he pulls himself up by his bootstraps to become the most famous rogue in town.  But because he's still new in town he hasn't counted on the forces of civilization rallying around him, and so the story ends when he's betrayed and has to leave town.  And they say, "What's the name of this piece?"  and I say, "Krogan the Mercenary".  They'd be like [snaps fingers], "Awesome, we'll run with it.  It'll be just like Walter Hill did in Last Man Standing.  Yeah.  We won't give him an origin.  No, it makes him mysterious.  Perfect!  I love it!" 
That should be the Conan movie.  That should be the Conan movie.  But no, noooo, let's give him a family.  Even though Robert E. Howard's stuff so seldom uses family for anything, much less a motif for vengeance.  Usually it's an excuse to move away.  

Inspired by Mark's post, I created a little bit of comparison between the fantasy films and television series which we've seen in the past decade.

The Harry Potter film series - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

The Lord of the Rings - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

The Chronicles of Narnia - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

Bridge to Terabithia - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

The Golden Compass - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

Stardust - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

Hogfather - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

City of Ember - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

The Spiderwick Chronicles - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

Coraline - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

The Twilight film series - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

Conan the Barbarian - made up a story, characters, themes and settings that can't be found in the original literature. Bares no resemblance to any of the original author's actual stories.

A Game of Thrones - stuck to the story, characters, themes and setting of the original literature. Some egregious changes, a few additions and many omissions, but it's at least recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories.

Can you see anything unusual there?

*As James noted in the comments, calling some of these "recognizably an adaptation of the author's actual stories" might be over-generous on my part, but in comparison to Conan the Barbarian...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Gollancz Fifty

Awesome news: to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary, the folk at Gollancz compiled a list of the 50 best science fiction and fantasy novels they've published (keep in mind that last part, since there are a few very obvious missing names).  Guess who made it!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Art of the Troll Quote

From Know Your Meme:

Troll quotes are image macros that consist of an image, a quote, and a recognized speaker, though none of the three match up to each other. The concept, as the meme name suggests, is to use such images to troll fandom boards for any of the three elements to get reactions to them.

And from its official website (for every meme worth its salt has its own domain):

1) Get a picture of someone people idolize. Obi Wan Kenobi, Barack Obama, Captain Kirk — any beloved public figure will do.

2) Slap on a famous quotation from a similar character from a different book or movie. Pick something close enough that a non-fan might legitimately confuse them. If you’re using Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, for example, you’ll probably want to grab a quote from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica.

3) Attribute the quotation to a third character, from yet a third universe. This way, nothing about your image is correct, and you’re trolling fans of all three characters at once.

This amuses me far more than it should.  These images range from the spectacular:

To the political:

To the ones that just seem truly right:

So, I decided to come up with one of my own:

Too subtle?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

OK, last one, then I'm done.

I never thought I'd read a worse review of Game of Thrones than that one in The Guardian, but The Telegraph managed to do it.

Monday, 18 April 2011

So, Game of Thrones was on...

As a GRRM skeptic, you'd wonder why I'd bother watching HBO's latest series.  Well, truth is, I don't hate A Song of Ice and Fire - or, at least, A Game of Thrones.  Martin's a good writer, there are some really interesting elements to the series, there are some fantastic chapters, and I even liked some of the characters.  I certainly appreciate the straying from the common threads in recent fantasy being little more than shallow Tolkien clones.  However, I don't think it's the Greatest Piece of Fantasy Fiction Of Our Times either.  I don't think the infusion of profanities, gore, violence, incest, and Machiavellian court conspiracies is anything unique to Martin by a long shot.  I think the world's setting has a lot of fundamental issues which aren't really addressed in favour of the court intrigue.  Even the appropriation of historical events, individuals and cultures isn't some fresh, original idea. Thus, my biggest problem with Martin isn't necessarily with his fiction, but the fact that it's being lauded as some great, paradigm-shifting renaissance that's never been done in the history of fantasy.

So it gets a mite irritating where moronic pundits allege that incestuous royals, morally ambiguous protagonists, grim and gritty settings and frank depictions of violence and sexuality somehow didn't exist in fantasy prior to 1991. Even Tolkien dealt with those themes in The Silmarillion.  Don't even get me started on people who think that making everyone a bastard-with-a-dark-past-sordid-flaws is inherently superior to making everyone clear-cut heroes and villains.

However, let's forget all of that.  Let's forget all the idiots calling Martin the greatest fantasy writer in history, or the morons who think sex in fantasy was trapped between Patronising Escapist Fairy-Tales and Puerile Adolescent Wish Fulfillment until Martin came along, or the people who think adding sex and violence automatically makes your setting very grown up.  On its own merits, away from the hype colossus of its followers and the ill-judged opinions of infinitely uninformed journalists, A Game of Thrones is... a pretty good book.

And, wouldn't you know it, a pretty good book looks like it's going to be made into a pretty good series, if the first episode of HBO's Game of Thrones is anything to go by.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

This is why I have the "What In Blazes" tag

What we have here is a pornographic parody of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

What we also have here is one of the most logic-defying situations I can think of: a pornographic motion picture with a plot that sounds more interesting than the last three official Star Trek films combined.

Watch the video: despite it being ostensibly for a pornographic film, it's completely worksafe.  I have no idea how that happened.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Looks like I'm not alone against the Game of Thrones pundits

"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant."
 - Harlan Ellison

No sooner do I have my say about the useless media coverage around A Game of Thrones, then Cimmerian Shield Wall alum Brian Murphy has a comprehensive round-up of some of the absolute worst, some of which I was going to comment on, but then I realised Brian did more in his swift dismissal than I could. Especially since most, like that utterly odious piece from The Guardian (that old Bête Noire) which I hated the most for its attempt to come off as so very mature that ends up doing the very opposite, aren't even worth the effort of point-by-point disintegration.

Luckily, there are others.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Game of Thrones Pundits Continue to Confound Me

No doubt Brian will be fuming if he happens by Troro Daily or The Atlantic, as that old bête noir rears its face of nightmare and lunacy once again:

The show is a departure for the network best known for character-rich dramas like "The Sopranos" and "The Wire." It's a fantasy adventure saga — but not your typical fantasy adventure saga. Earthy and explicit, it has been described as fantasy for people who don't like that sort of thing. Executive producer David Benioff has called it "The Sopranos in Middle Earth."

"It's a bit like 'Lord of the Rings' for grown-ups," says Mark Addy, who plays King Robert Baratheon, embattled ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. "This is definitely not one that you can watch with your kids."

Now, let's not be too hasty in our judgements.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

American Tolkiens and War Weariness

An interesting link regarding George R. "The American Tolkien" R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien.

I don't like calling Martin the American Tolkien for a few reasons.  First, he isn't the American Tolkien.  Not even close, jack.  I care not a whit what Time Magazine has to say on the matter.  When somebody spends their entire life writing a single opus derived from history, mythology and language, then maybe we can start talking about calling people American Tolkiens.  Besides, we've had plenty of preceding authors being called the American Tolkien: Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Stephen R. Donaldson.  Probably even Christopher Paolini.  It's a meaningless phrase that makes light of Tolkien's monumental achievement.

Second, why refer to him as the regional derivative of a more famous author when he could, and should, stand on his own two feet?  I'd rather refer to him as the first George R. R. Martin than the American Tolkien, if it's all the same to you chaps.

But that's just me, of course.  Then there's this bit.

Quite a few of them are adventure stories that celebrate violence, or more often treat it as something unreal and without cost. These aren’t the projects that are reaching outside the usual genre readers to talk to the wider audience. If there were a market for the celebration of warfare, we’d have any number of options inside epic fantasy. That isn’t what people are responding to. We have no appetite for Conan bathing in the blood of his enemies.

Hmm.  Well, at least he gives Conan the credit of being literature, albeit literature that seems to either glorify violence or consider it of no consequence.  Possibly both.  My response:

Perhaps that’s true of the stories by other authors, but the original stories by Howard don’t celebrate violence, so much as render it as an unavoidable facet of the human condition. It is a cause for sombre reflection, as much as the carnal thrill of fear, energy and exertion could be considered glorification. Conan loves the thrill of battle because it is life at its closest to being lost: it’s the same sort of thing that attracts extreme sports enthusiasts, danger-seekers, and criminals. But at no point does Howard give any impression that war and battle in the Hyborian Age is as loveless, petty, relentless, hollow and miserable as it is in real life, regardless of the fleeting joy the Cimmerian experiences in the moment.
Nor can one consider the violence in Conan as lacking verisimilitude, or lacking cost. Conan’s scars sting, bleed and ache following every battle; his dead allies are mourned and their loss is palpable. There are plenty of stories where Conan barely gets out alive, and is dripping with blood from a multitude of fresh wounds. Not all the characters survive the story, be they friend or foe, be they deserving or undeserving of death.
One need not look further than “The Hour of the Dragon” to see the relevance of the Conan stories to the cynical approach to war:
“Men said the gods were satisfied because the evil king and his spawn were slain, and when his young brother Tarascus was crowned in the great coronation hall, the populace cheered until the towers rocked, acclaiming the monarch on whom the gods smiled.
Such a wave of enthusiasm and rejoicing as swept the land is frequently the signal for a war of conquest. So no one was surprized when it was announced that King Tarascus had declared the truce made by the late king with their western neighbors void, and was gathering his hosts to invade Aquilonia. His reason was candid; his motives, loudly proclaimed, gilded his actions with something of the glamor of a crusade. He espoused the cause of Valerius, “rightful heir to the throne”; he came, he proclaimed, not as an enemy of Aquilonia, but as a friend, to free the people from the tyranny of a usurper and a foreigner.
If there were cynical smiles in certain quarters, and whispers concerning the king’s good friend Amalric, whose vast personal wealth seemed to be flowing into the rather depleted royal treasury, they were unheeded in the general wave of fervor and zeal of Tarascus’s popularity. If any shrewd individuals suspected that Amalric was the real ruler of Nemedia, behind the scenes, they were careful not to voice such heresy. And the war went forward with enthusiasm.”
– “The Hour of the Dragon”
Not unlike a certain other war in recent memory that people are increasingly cynical towards…

Any thoughts, lads & lasses?  I'd say Howard, like Tolkien, doesn't so much celebrate or glorify battle and war - rather, they celebrate heroism and bravery.  I easily see echoes of Conan, the Æsir, and the myriad soldiers of Aquilonia in the blood-and-thunder of Gimli, Boromir, and the Rohirrim.  At the same time, they certainly don't shy away from the cruelty, gore, grief and misery war and battle results in.  More than a few Conan stories start at the aftermath of a battle, robbing the reader of the excitement and thrill of action, and leaving us wandering among the red ruin of conflict, screams of the dying punctuating the deathly silence.  One need not deny the feats of glory and triumph to accept the dark, horrific reality of war.  Howard and Tolkien seem to get it.  I'm not far enough in A Song of Ice and Fire to judge whether Martin does this too, but no doubt if they're there, they're plain to see.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


And I don't think I'm ever going to stay in a hostel again.  Camping I can do: sleeping alone in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, I could probably handle.  But stuck in a small hotel with scores of hyperactive twentysomethings from all over the planet is just too stressful for me.  Not so much that I was afraid something would happen to me, rather, that I would happen to someone else.

In any case, Kapow! was a good experience tempered with trials.  It was horrifically badly organized (you account for 10,000 people, but only allow up to 500 people at any one time to some of the panels?  Balderdash, codswallop and poppycock), I missed Simon Furman, there were some truly bone-headed planning decisions, and it was very clearly a profit-oriented venture.  That said, it was also fun to be there.

More relevant to blog-reader's interest is that there was an entire stall dedicated to comic adaptations of classic authors: Conan Doyle, Burroughs, Lovecraft, and more.  I should've taken a picture, the lad and lassie were very nice.

There wasn't much of a Robert E. Howard presence, at all.  All I could find were old comics, trading cards and one or two other items.  The closest was a big poster for ImageFX, which featured... Red Sonja.  I don't know what Lionsgate are playing at.  The film's four months away.  You'd think there'd at least be a Dark Horse presence, what with the new Bruce Jones Solomon Kane and upcoming Conan stuff.

A full report will be in once I've recovered and dealt with some Conan Movie Blog news.  'Till then...

Friday, 8 April 2011

T-Minus: 1 Day to Kapow

I'm getting ready for the plane trip to London tomorrow.  I'll be away for Saturday and Sunday, and hopefully home by Monday.

I had planned on bringing a special project with me, but I didn't get it ready in time, and since I'm such a finicky guy I'm not going to bring it.  Drat.  Hopefully it won't be on the eternal To Do pile.

Anyway, I'll see you all in a few days, and if anyone's in London, look for the big guy in a blue shirt and either a Frazetta Conan the Barbarian T-Shirt or a Star Trek T-Shirt,* with a big bushy beard and a ponytail almost as long as his torso.  I'm not bringing my laptop with me and my phone's a brick.  Cut off from the Aether, how will I manage?

*Since the forecast for London is hot, I'm afraid the trademark leather jacket won't be making an appearance.  Ah well.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Cormac Fitzgeoffrey and the Giant of Marathon

Barely two weeks after his last essay, Keith goes for gold on a subject dear to me: Cormac Fitzgeoffrey.  This week is "The Blood of Belshazzar," first in a series, judging from the Part One. Keith discusses the likes of Belshazzar, Cambyses and more, and I can only guess what else he'll be discussing in the next issue.

A thought occurred to me on reading this excerpt:

The readers are also told “the ancient carver had followed some plan entirely unknown and apart from that of modern lapidary art.” The bandit assures Cormac that “No mortal carved it, but the djinn of the sea!”

Hmm, where has Howard tackled the denizens of Arabic mythology before...

"Over this very trail, legends say, the great Sulieman came when he drove the demons westward out of Asia and prisoned them in strange prisons..."

From that black gaping entrance no tiger-fanged beast or demon of solid flesh and blood leaped forth. But a fearful stench flowed out in billowing, almost tangible waves and in one brain-shattering, ravening rush, whereby the gaping door seemed to gush blood, the Horror was upon them. It enveloped Hassim, and the fearless chieftain, hewing vainly at the almost intangible terror, screamed with sudden, unaccustomed fright as his lashing scimitar whistled only through stuff as yielding and unharmable as air, and he felt himself lapped by coils of death and destruction.

Kane, dazed and incredulous, looked down on a shapeless, colourless, all but invisible mass at his feet which he knew was the corpse of the Horror, dashed back into the black realms from whence it had come, by a single blow of the staff of Solomon. Aye, the same staff, Kane knew, that in the hands of a mighty King and magician had ages ago driven the monster into that strange prison, to bide until ignorant hands loosed it again upon the world.

The old tales were true then, and King Solomon had in truth driven the demons westward and sealed them in strange places. Why had he let them live? Was human magic too weak in those dim days to more than subdue the devils? Kane shrugged his shoulders in wonderment. He knew nothing of magic, yet he had slain where that other Solomon had but imprisoned.

While I have a different view on what the sunken city could be from Keith (sunken cities, monstrous mummies, taloned hands - sounds like a nation akin to Kathulos' Atlantis to me) it's good food for thought.

However, this part stuck out for me due to recent revelations:

Back when I was a kid, they made a movie called “The Giant of Marathon,” starring Steve Reeves as Pheidippides, though in the movie he was called Phillipides. Because it’s simpler to pronounce, I daresay. Steve was Mr. America, Mr. Universe and the Arnold Schwarzenegger of his day, best known for playing Hercules in two sword-and-sandal epics. As Phillipides, unlike the historical original, he survived, got the girl, and just for gravy saved Athens from the Persians personally, swimming furlongs under water with his buddies of the Sacred Guard, setting stakes in the harbour to rip the keels out of the Persian ships. He had to attack one of the galleys personally, since his beloved was chained to the prow, which meant the obligatory muscle-flexing rescue.

(I’ve just looked at the trailer for that old movie. Brings back memories. The girl, Andromeda, is played by Mylene Demongeot. My thirteen-year-old lust for Ms. Demongeot was considerable. But she’s blonde and good. The dark-haired bad girl, Charis, played by Daniela Rocca, looks more interesting to me now.)

I kid you not, yesterday I discovered that The Giant of Marathon was one of a number of historical films directed by Italian horror maestro Mario Bava, and I decided I simply have to check it out.

As an aside, Keith off-handedly quips about Cormac being a forerunner to The Phantom, while I've seen people comment on Toon Boom's interpretation of "Hawks of Outremer" as Conan the Punisher. Cormac and the Phantom, now there's a crossover idea! Toss in the Punisher and you have a wing-dinger.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Conan the Homophobe

This came completely out of left field.

When it comes to antagonists, let's just say that if you have ever played a game about Conan that has featured characters from the books, a few of them were "boy lovers". Conan was before political correctness when it was written, and while it was never a focus, Conan has a major amount of contempt for gays and "boy lovers", and while never descriptive a number of his enemies were supposed to have been weakened by such "civilized decadence". Of course in the video games they rarely even go as far as the stories (both canon, and very old non-canon) did, which wasn't very far. Like most heroes a lot of his enemies "almost get him" in one way or another (a trap or spell, if not a straight fight) so you really can't call them impotent (so to speak) for their orientation irregardless of what Conan might think.

Two words: Citation. Needed. 

I'm absolutely stumped by Therumancer's statement.  I can think of about three situations that might be construed as vague allusions to homosexuality:

 - Thalis' gleeful whipping of Natala in "Xuthal of the Dusk"
 - Tascela's suggestive lust for Valeria's youth in "Red Nails"
 - A couple of naked slave boys on wine-pouring duty in "The Scarlet Citadel"

And that's it.  Exactly zero examples, references, allusions or hints that Conan has anything that could remotely be considered "a major amount of contempt for gays and "boy lovers,"" nor that any of his foes could even be conjectured as homosexual, nor that homosexuality was some sort of result of "civilized decadence."  That's not even getting into the fact that I can't recall a Conan game beyond Age of Conan that does feature antagonists from the stories, and even then, from what I can tell they aren't explicitly or suggestively gay.  Seriously, am I missing something, guys?

What's even more bizarre is how our man says that this was before the age of PC, as if the public perception of homosexuality in the 1930s had anything to do with political correctness.  See, here's the thing: up until the 1970s, homosexuality was largely considered a mental disorder.  Think about that.  For much of the 20th century, it was the opinion of the scientific community that homosexuality was as much a psychological-behavioural problem as anorexia, schizophrenia, and the multitudes of manias, philias and phobias.  In the 1950s and 1960s, you got public service announcements like Boys Beware practically equating homosexuality with paedophilia and sexual predation.

This was made a quarter of a century after Howard's death - and you expect a 1930s Texan to think differently?

So to expect Howard to treat homosexuality as anything other than what not only society, but science considered homosexuality to be at the time - that is, a mental disorder, and anyone who practised what was termed sodomy was breaking the law - is simply preposterous.  It's even more ridiculous than expecting him to produce strong female characters (even though he did) or sympathetic black characters (even though he did).

Perhaps he's thinking of one of the pastiches - Lagomorph?  Charles?  Morgan? - but even then, the first Conan pastiche wasn't around until 20 years after Howard's death.  I wouldn't put it past someone like Carter, Moore or Perry.  Perry had some weird stuff.

Oh, and Therumancer said "irregardless."  That isn't a word.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Literary Omnivore is a wonderful, wonderful human being

You know how me and others are always ranting about the arbitrary silliness of "literary fiction" and "genre fiction"?  Well, The Literary Omnivore, aka Clare, is just as sick and fed up of it as Brian Murphy and I am - to the point where she made a video on the subject.

Couldn't have said it better myself.  I'm going to be linking to this in future whenever someone brings up the "literary/genre fiction" false dichotomy.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Best April Fool's News Ever.

At least, I think this is an April Fool's joke.

Bret McKenzie could be going from being Figwit in the Lord of the Rings to a big-screen presence in The Hobbit.

The Dominion Post can reveal that Sir Peter Jackson is trying to tempt the Flight of the Conchords co-star to take a role in the 3-D Hobbit films now being shot in Wellington.

It would spell a remarkable turnaround for McKenzie, who had a three-second spot as a pouting elf in the first Rings film.

A fan saw him on screen, as Frodo was frantically trying to deliver the ring to Mordor, and thought. "Frodo is great ... who is that?" And from that, the acronym Figwit was born.

It spawned the tongue-in-cheek website in honour of the spunky elf – McKenzie was listed as one of Who magazine's 100 sexiest people in 2008 – and an hour-long documentary called Frodo is Great ... Who is That?!!

The final Rings instalment The Return of the King also saw the return of McKenzie, as an elf escort to Liv Tyler. He got one line.

He and fellow Conchords star Jemaine Clement later recorded the parody song Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring, which featured on their hit TV series and included the lines, "Frodo, don't wear the ring/ The magical bling bling/ You'll never be the lord of the rings".

McKenzie was at Wednesday night's opening of Miramar's new Roxy theatre along with Jackson and Hobbit cast members Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt and Adam Brown.

Hobbit spokeswoman Melissa Booth did not reply to questions about McKenzie and his role in the film.

Figwit is to Jackson's The Lord of the Rings what the Pederast Priest is to Conan the Barbarian: a background character who does next to nothing, but manages to be one of those characters everyone remembers.

I'm more of a Harad Leader 2 guy, the LotR equivalent of Mahmud, but I digress.

So to have Figwit actually return for The Hobbit encapsulates everything I love and loath about the Jackson films: a bishie elf beloved by fangirls everywhere who gets more screen-time than Beregond, Bergil, Radagast, Glorfindel, Ghân-buri-Ghân, Imrahil, Beechbone, Elladan, Elrohir, Erkenbrand, Gildor, Ioreth, and other Tolkien characters who got shunted for Fralippa's fan-fiction.  Gah.

I really need to find out who Mahmud is.  Perhaps the Conan Completist crowd will know...