Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Truly a Phyrric Victory

To be frank, I don't know why I decided to enter this particular Topless Robot contest, but something pressed me onward. Some ghostly hand was pushing on my shoulder, and I treated Disqus as a sort of electronic confessional booth. It turns out I got a T-shirt for my troubles!

This may be more of a confessional than an entry, but...

Since July 2010, I've been the site runner for the Conan Movie Blog. I'm also a very devoted Robert E. Howard fan. In November 2009, I read the character sheet and script for the film, and dismissed it as worthless garbage. Why, then, did I take over the site? Because this film was going to be the biggest widespread exposure of Conan in a long time, the first new film in almost 30 years, and already the vast majority of the internet seemed content to believe this was a remake of the 1982 film, blissfully unaware of the franchise's literary pedigree. I felt somebody had to make sure there was a voice in the wilderness spreading the word of Robert E. Howard.

So over the course of 2010 and 2011, I wrote an obscene amount of material on the upcoming film and it's, at times, completely nonexistent relationship with the source material. Every screen cap, every behind-the-scenes photo, every magazine cutting went over with a fine-toothed comb. All for a film that would end up one of the biggest critical and commercial flops of 2011 - and I knew it would be since 2009. It all culminated in a 20,000 word critique of the film written shortly after my initial viewing, though I dread to make a word count of my hundreds of other posts.

The Phyrric victory? I knew that no matter how terrible the film ended up, no matter how poorly received it was, I know that I did my best to promote Robert E. Howard on a wide platform, to educate the masses who thought this was just another '80s remake, and to provide the most information possible. Many news sites linked to my posts, journalists and crew members involved in the film contacted me to clarify reports, I got a press pass to the London premiere, and I made new friends. All for a film I predicted would fail in 2009.

Rob's comment:

Wow. Devoting four years of your life to running a mostly negative website based on film that no one else ever cared about, or will ever care about, and in fact most people have probably already forgotten? That's quite an accomplishment -- and certainly a victory in the sense that you were doing as right as possible for your favorite nerd franchise -- but one that accomplished absolutely nothing. Your hard, meaningless work shall no longer go unrewarded, sir, although I don't believe winning this t-shirt will upgrade your act from "Pyrrhic victory" to "regular victory."

That damned film. Or, rather, that damned me. I was going through all my unfinished posts, of Almuric, gazetteers, filmgoer's guide, barbarians, reviews and whatnot. I wondered how I let everything get so out of hand. Tens of thousands of words on ephemera like Bob Sapp's costume and the CGI matte paintings, yet I still haven't finished the series I started on The Cimmerian. I must've been absolutely mad. So I started working again. I'd been working hard getting Aquiromian Holiday done, as well as working on a few other posts. Then blogger ate a very long post I had started last year* and I quit in a fit of rage. Then I hit a rut with the Encyclopedia. Then I got another cold.

And then (that's enough of "then") I remembered the Don Herron kerfuffle, and a phrase I used in one post is starting to bother me: "this isn't a serious scholarship blog."  I don't know how that can be so, considering I take great pride in the scholarly material I've done on the blog, and that the Robert E. Howard Foundation saw fit to grant me a second-place Cimmerian Award. I started to think that saying this wasn't a serious scholarship blog was disrespectful to everyone who voted for me, and disrespectful to myself by proxy.  I'm glad I've talked things over with Don, and I really hope nobody was offended by that particular phrase.

Aquiromian Holiday has expanded to five parts now, and I think I might just release certain posts in my Almuric and gazetteer series out of sequence rather than let them fester away in Blogger. I was saving "The Lion Passes" for December, but I realised I didn't have anything appropriate for REH's birthday, so bumped it ahead of schedule - I have something else for Conan's birthday. I really don't want to lose my momentum.

*Why does hitting backspace randomly delete everything?  Why does it choose to save the draft RIGHT before I can undo it? And why, oh why, does Blogger not have a draft history function like Wordpress?


  1. Yay. A free T-shirt.

    All's well that ends well. ;)

  2. And why, oh why, does Blogger not have a draft history function like Wordpress?

    Because, to put it simply, Wordpress was and always will be the more reliable platform. The only time I've ever had problems was with Windows Live Writer, not Wordpress itself.

  3. Hey, anyone that put down so much time and effort in a movie that most likely will fail in so many ways, still giving it all those words of fair reflection, posess a seriousness anyone ought to admire.

    Its perhaps not academic literary cristisism, but its really serious, well argumeted and thought through. Again, your humble approach say you are more interrested in "getting it right" than than to proclaim your own importance and stubborn theories. Perhaps mixed with some of the manic nerd fury that grant the ability to transform into an incredible hulk of indignation and true understanding of what most important details matter at the moment ;)

  4. finally able to get back on herelol.Alot of people appreciate the work you did.youre hard work will pay off, time to put the movie behind you ( as most others have by now,liking or hating it.) REH survived it as he has survived DeCamp, Milius...Turtledove( crom!).I strongly suggest you pursue reh studies on a scholarly level, objective analysis seems to be your strength,your passion for the material your fuel.Now go kick some ass!-mario

  5. Congratulations, Al! You win clothes!

  6. Humble you may be, but you do have a backbone. It's that dynamic combination ("tempered steel" you might say) that will help you to be a serious scholar.

    And if you ever have doubts, which you will, remember Frodo—when there's a job to be done, no matter how long it takes, finish it.

  7. Mario wrote: "I strongly suggest you pursue reh studies on a scholarly level, objective analysis seems to be your strength,your passion for the material your fuel."

    Well said, Mario!

    Taranaich, recite the following every day: I will never again write tens of thousands of words--or even one thousand words--on ephemera like Bob Sapp's costume and the CGI matte paintings!

  8. Of course your a Howard scholar Al. And a damn good one at that. Good scholarship doesn't always have to come from acadamia.

  9. Hero of the Federation28 January 2012 at 23:32

    Warm it up, everything you've got.