Monday 28 March 2011

Why Does It Bother Me So: Why The Upcoming Conan Film Is So Important

Full disclosure: this is going to be a very polarized post.  Yeah, one of those.  Lots of very angry things, and lots of super-duper happy things will be said.  It regards the upcoming film.  Just warning you.

Friday 25 March 2011

The War on Procrastination: Keith Taylor on Almuric

I devour every piece of work produced by my fellow Cimmerian Blog alumni, but Keith Taylor's essays are a particular joy.  Not only is he up for a Cimmerian for his work on the blog, he's the well-deserved recipient of a Hyrkanian Award nomination for his fantastic dualogy, "Donn Othna in 'The King's Service'" and "Uther Was A Black Bearded Madman," which really play to Keith's strengths in the realm of historical adventure.

Here are both series:

"Donn Othna in 'The King's Service'"
"Donn Othna: From Chalons to the Gulf of Cambay"
"The Foreign Raja of Nagdragore"
"Robert E. Howard's Lost Kingdom of Nagdragore"
"A Double-Edged Sword of a Sinister Blue"

"Uther Was A Black Bearded Madman: Part 1"
"Uther Was A Black Bearded Madman: Part 2"
"Uther Was A Black Bearded Madman: Part 3"
"A Bloodstained Map of Britain"
"Uther Was A Black Bearded Madman: Part 4"
"Uther Was A Black Bearded Madman: Part 5"

And now I find he's continued his great work on Damon's Two-Gun Raconteur Blog with an article on... Almuric.  Dern it, as if I don't already have a backlog of reviews, articles, essays and artworks (and a book) to be getting on with...

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Steve Tompkins

I'm sure I'm not alone in observing the second anniversary of Steve Tompkins' passing.  I'm also sure I'm not the only one who thinks they could possibly say anything that isn't redundant.

However, there's always something new to discover. Damon Sasser recalls his erudition and breadth of knowledge, citing some of his best essays, including one I didn't know was available on the internet until know: Black Stranger, White Wolflord. This essay, originally published in Two-Gun Raconteur #12 and third place for the REH Foundation Hyrkanian last year, fits right in with other pieces Steve wrote regarding "The Black Stranger": Grinning, Unappeased, Aboriginal Demons and This, That, T'Other being online, and his introduction to The Black Stranger And Other American Tales.  I'd already read it in print form, but I'm glad to find more Tompkins material on the internet.  And that's for just one of Howard's stories!

If you haven't already done so, go and read over Steve's many marvellous writings, be they on The Cimmerian website, his fanzines, or in print, in addition to some of the fine tributes also printed in Two-Gun Raconteur.

As for me?  Well, I still can't find the words.  So, I offer this small tribute in visual form.  I always felt I should draw a tribute to Steve in some manner, and this just seems appropriate.

Skål, sláinte, prost, and many, many cheers for Steve Tompkins.

Monday 21 March 2011

The Filmgoer's Guide to Conan the Barbarian (1982): The Philosophical Conan

Language and writing were made available. He was taken to the East, a great prize, where the war masters would teach him the deepest secrets: the poetry of Khitai, the philosophy of Sung.
 - Conan the Barbarian

Contrary to the monosyllabic, illiterate brute of popular culture, Conan in Conan the Barbarian is a highly educated and knowledgeable warrior. He was introduced to philosophy, poetry, tactics and strategy by his owners, quoting military maxims when prompted, and contemplating introspective musings on life and death.

Is this intellectual side of Conan a reflection of Robert E. Howard's creation?

Friday 18 March 2011

Let's play the "Totally Looks Like" Game!

No, I'm not actually saying or even implying that the upcoming Conan film is ripping off the original Conan the Barbarian logo, the new Hydra symbol from Captain America: The First Avenger, Lurtz from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Kirk Douglas' titular Spartacus, or the Psychlos from Battlefield Earth.  Sure, there are some vague similarities, but nothing to get in a tizzy about.  I'm just having a bit of fun.

Because if I don't have a bit of fun, I'll probably eat my beard and tear my brains out through my nostrils.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Manilla Road: Metal Ambassadors to Weird Tales

I still need to finish that retrospective on Manilla Road's sonic tributes to Robert E. Howard, but then I found this recent interview, and I'm so thrilled I can barely type.

WC: It's like there's something in the collective mind of people that brings them all to a certain topic at the same time.

MS: That brings to mind that I saw an ad for a new Conan movie that's gonna come out in 2009. I have no idea who's in it but just the thought of another Conan movie is like "Well, I hope they do it right this time".

Watkiss has a rival for my man-crush affections: Mark "the Shark" Shelton, you are my Metal Hero.

MS: I do,too! My favorite movie of all time is "Jason and the Argonauts". I'm stuck on it just like I'm stuck on my old Judas Priest albums like "Stained Class" and "Sin After Sin".

WC: This computer generated stuff of today just doesn't have the personality of what Harryhausen did.

MS: I agree. I still like the original "King Kong". (chuckles)

WC: We better get back on track or we'll spend all night talking about this stuff.

MS: Yeah, I have a feeling we could!

Scratch that: Metal Icon.

WC. I know you've had whole albums where the lyrics are inspired by Poe and Lovecraft. What are some of your favorite stories by those authors?

MS: My favorite Edgar Allan Poe story is "Mystification". It's one you don't often find in the "Best Of" collections. There's a collection out there right now...I can't remember the name of the publisher...that's called "The Complete Poe" and it's a good one to get because it's got everything he's ever wrote. "Mystification" is not one that shows up as much as "Masque of the Red Death"...which would be my next favorite Poe story, by the way...but there's a lot of Poe's own personality in that story. I think he envisioned himself as one of those characters. It's a really good story and I thought he made statements through his storyline that were really statements about himself. That's why we did a song "Mystification", because that story hit me so hard.

As far as Lovecraft goes, my two favorite stories are not the usual Lovecraftian stories. One is a short story called "The Tomb" that I love completely. It's written in almost an Edgar Allan Poe style and I think Lovecraft was after that and he did it just splendidly in that story. That was one of those stories where you could really see where H.P.'s roots in the horror genre were. He proved it in that story. The other one,strangely enough, is his more Mary Shelley strain of work: "Herbert West, Reanimator". (laughs)

WC: If I remember right, Lovecraft didn't think too much of that story himself.

MS: He hated it. I don't think too many people knew about it until the movie started coming out. Jeffrey Combs I thought was really good in the Lovecraft movies. "From Beyond", he was great in that. You know, I actually acquired the original Necromomicon Press versions of "Reanimator". They were just little short stories that originally appeared in "Weird Tales". I've got a little booklet that was put out by Necronomicon Press that was all the little short stories put together. I just thought the whole thing was great!

WC: "The Color Out Of Space" was my favorite Lovecraft story.

MS: All of his work's really incredible. His real ethereal stories are so far out there that nobody could ever write like that, I think.

WC: The one guy who equalled if not surpassed him when it came to weird visions was Clark Ashton Smith.

MS: Clark Ashton Smith's pretty good. My favorite of all time, just because of the way he mixes reality with the supernatural, is Robert E. Howard.

WC: Yeah, he dabbled in just about every genre you could think of.

MS: Just about everything. Sports stories, Westerns...he was all over the board. His unedited works that are coming out now are just incredible. The Conan stuff is great, the King Kull stuff is pretty good stuff. Not as good as Conan, I believe. I love the Bran Mak Morn stuff, Solomon Kane...

Scratch that: Metal Heroicon.

And man, Wormwood Chronicles isn't that bad himself, giving Clark Ashton Smith props!

Wednesday 16 March 2011

A Hundred Fellow Adventurers

It occurs to me that I now have 100 followers on The Blog That Time Forgot.  I'm absolutely thrilled that so many think enough of my blog to follow it, even if it only took a click.  I deeply appreciate it, and my thanks to everyone who's commented, read, or otherwise had a little jaunt around this little pocket of the aether.


Monday 14 March 2011

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue...

However, missing in these images is Conan's oft-remarked-upon blue eyes - commonly used in descriptions of the warrior -  that may leave some die-hard fanboys disappointed (you know, the kind that freak out about that kind of thing).
 - makes my ears burn

Will people really miss the blue eyes?
 - Ciaran O'Keeffe, in the comments section

"blue eyes?"
- sol aka "Cap'n Hates-A-Lot!"

REALLY? Blue eyes? That's the stupidest complaint anyone could ever make. If anyone does, I'm going to their house and kicking them. repeatedly. in the face.
 - Stiver, and by Crom, I really want him to try that, and see if his internet tough-guy act translates over into real life

 Blue eyes? I was a big Conan fan in my teen years, but these days I don't really care that much about the color of his eyes.
 - Relentless Monkey

People who complain about the blue eyes are in the same category as the James Bond fans who said "Bond is not blonde".
 - Omega Dinobot, and for his sake I hope he wasn't one of those people who complained about the flames on Optimus Prime in the Transformers movies: said the frying-pan to the kettle, get away, blackbreech!

This is one of those times where I'm actually at a loss.  I know Conan having blue eyes is important.  You lads and lasses all know Conan having blue eyes is important. But... how can you make the point across that, no, Conan's eye colour is not the same sort of thing as Daniel Craig's hair colour or Spider-Man's organic web shooters?  That it's one of the most important distinguishing factors of the character, a defining aspect of his place in the setting, a crucial visual element which marks him as utterly different from just about every other character?

Well, since I still need to get my mind off the teaser (DREADLOCKS!  LIPS!  GUITARS!) I decided that, instead of going about correcting People Who Are Wrong On The Internet, I would present an argument as to exactly why Conan's blue eyes do, indeed, matter.  All that was left to do was delve back into the Del Reys and pore, pore, pore.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Fun with Skyrim

I really needed a distraction from things.  Thus, I made this.

Before you watch, you need to be familiar with the awesome The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim trailer, and it helps if you've seen the Transformers: War for Cybertron trailer too.  Others have done really fun versions: Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 3.  That's all, though.  Which disappoints me, since the Skyrim trailer is possibly the finest teaser I've ever seen.

It also gives me an opportunity to post this.

It's hilarious, because some think it's a biting satire on the fanboys who get too excited about trailers that don't show you anything, while others consider it an authentic encapsulation of their sentiments.  I think it's a bit of both, really.  See, Bethesda know how to make a damn teaser.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Watch, as Al Descends Into Madness

I don't think I can really talk about the new Conan teaser in any more fairness - or, rather, extreme generosity - than I did on Conan Movie Blog.  I'll probably just descend into gibbering paroxysms, blaspheming cacophonously, screaming words over and over with seemingly no rhyme or reason.  DREADLOCKS!  TEETH!  TATTOOS!  MANGLED!  STILLS!  SYNCH!  INCEPTION!  FACEBOOK!  SWORD!  DELIVERY!  EYEBROWS!  MUMMIES!  BLASPHEMY!

And the fanboys all nod, dripping globules of schadenfreude from their grinning teeth, chanting "We told you.  We told you.  We told you they could never remake Conan the Barbarian.  Didn't we tell you?  Didn't we tell you?"

I rage against the horde, bellowing out more words and phrases.  HOWARD!  THIRTY-TWO!  PULP!  CROSS PLAINS!  EIGHTY!  WEIRD TALES!  LANCERS!  COMICS!  FRAZETTA!

I bash against the cyclopean figures, tall and vast as the basalt pillars of Fingal's Cave, the futility and despair strangling me like a noose.  Still they smile.  Still they chant.  "Milius was right.  Milius was faithful.  Milius was true.  Milius was once, future and forever.  There is none but Milius.  Milius is Conan.  Stone is Conan.  Arnold is Conan."

I scream.  No words come out.  No articulation.  Just roars and bellows, and when my throat fails, rasps and whispers.  I beat the ground with my fists, my elbows, my head.  Exhausted, I slump to the ground.

I see a figure emerge from the congregation of the Milius faithful.  He is tall, strongly built, muscular.  His muscles bulge under his skin like watermelons in a straining burlap sack.  He is smiling.  There is a gap between his teeth.  His chin is strong and proud.  He knees down as I stare, dumbly.

"You weell nevah be free.  Aye am Konahn.  Konayn is aye.  Deny eet ahll you wahnt.  You knoar eet too bee truw.  Konahn ant Ahnuld ah connecteed bay pap calturahl ahsmoarsees ant smoarl rehfehrehnce puls.  Wee cannatt bee sepahrated.  Konahn weell nevah be free, foar een dee ayes oarf der peepul, aye ahm he."

He rises.

"Waht a wayste.  Cahnteemplayte dees oarn der Tree uff Woar."

Thursday 10 March 2011

Oh Man, Oh God: Sam Worthington as Allan Quatermain

Yes, Sam Worthington, he who set the world on fire with his magnificent, nuanced, subtle, understated I can't even continue this sentence I'm so outraged.

Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator Salvation) has signed on to star and produce DreamWorks' "Quatermain" film, based on the "King's Solomon's Mines" novel by H Rider Haggard.

Allan Quatermain was the hero of the book, in which he leads an expedition into an unexplored region of Africa to find the brother of a friend as well as a fabled treasure of the lost mines. A second book called "Allan Quatermain" soon followed.

DreamWorks' version is set in a time in which humans have left Earth and sees Quatermain return to the planet from a temporary stay in space. Mark Verheiden (Timecop, The Mask) was the writer behind the first script when the project was revealed early last year.

Extra tidbit: Back in 2008, when The Asylum (Snakes on a Train, Transmorphers) was trying to rip off "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the company released "Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls" straight to video. Obviously it was awful.
No!  No.  No, no, no.  No.  No.  Nnno.  Nnnnno.  NNNNNNNN

Seriously, why are Hollywood having such an accursed hard time adapting Allan Quatermain? The man was Indiana Jones before George Lucas & Steven Spielberg were glints in their parents' eyes!  He's a tough, grizzled adventurer who goes on rough-and-tumble quests through ancient lost kingdoms.  This isn't hard, people!

King Solomon's Mines in particular is a great adventure, easily suitable for adaptation to the big screen.  It's the template for such great tales as The Lost World, The Land That Time Forgot, The Man Who Would Be King, The Moon Pool, Lost Horizon, "The Moon of Skulls," and who knows how many other Lost World yarns.  The book's been adapted 6 times, and they still haven't done better than the magnificent 1937 one with Paul Robeson.  And now we have... Sam Worthington as Allan Quatermain.  Jings.  What's next, She with Hayden Panettiere?

Oh, and I simply can't wait for all the inevitable squealing about how this rips off Indiana Jones.  Or the recent Mummy films.  Or Drake's Fortune.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Suvudu's Cage Match 2011: Conan out, Solomon Kane in

So, another round of nerdish nonsense for us all to start blustering and spitting about as we argue which fictional character could beat up which fictional character.  Last year, Conan was involved, but even he couldn't stand against Rand Al'Thor, a character so preposterously overpowered - his superpower is that he can wipe any individual from reality with a mere thought - that you might as well consider it cheating.  If nothing else, at least Conan went down to the eventual winner, who defeated Gregor Clegane to become Suvudu Cage Match Champion.  Hmm, Conan vs Gregor Clegane anyone?

Last time, it got really silly, as Harry Dresden went up against Conan.  The comments section is chock full of hilarity.  What's more - and I truly wish I could find the comment - Jim Butcher (creator of Dresden) himself commented on the situation.  He says Conan would win.  So, you'd think the guy who created Harry Dresden would know what he was talking about, right?  Apparently not, as some people said "yeah, but that's just him being polite."  I guess George R. R. Martin disagrees, since when one of his characters went up against Hermione Granger, poor Hermione ends up in pieces.  Again, I really wish I could find that post.

This year, though, another Howard hero gets in the spotlight: Solomon Kane.  His first match is against Malazan's Quick Ben, who I understand is a sorcerer with intimidating intelligence and power, and a favourite for some commentators.  Since I know nothing about Quick Ben's abilities, I can't really comment on what way the battle would go, but I can say that Kane with the Staff of Solomon is a force to be reckoned with.  It'll be interesting to see how this year's battle goes.  It was noted that this was more of a popularity contest (nooo, really?) than an honest assessment of a character's strength, so I guess this'll go down to Malazan fans/Kane haters vs Kane fans/Malazan haters rather than an actual empirical contest.  It's a shame they went with these two first, as if Kane goes out early, I'll be disappointed.

Here's the list of contenders:

MartinRedwall series, Brian Jacques
Logen NinefingersFirst Law trilogy, Joe Abercrombie
Solomon KaneSolomon Kane stories, Robert E. Howard
PugMagician series, Raymond E. Feist
Jon SnowA Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin
Severus SnapeHarry Potter series, JK Rowling
LestatInterview With a Vampire, Anne Rice
Quick BenMalazan series, Steven Erikson
FitzChivalryFarseer series, Robin Hobb
MandorallenBelgariad series, David Eddings
VinMistborn series, Brandon Sanderson
Thomas CovenantThe Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
Corvis RebaineThe Conqueror’s Shadow, Ari Marmell
Paul AtreidesDune series, Frank Herbert
AllanonShannara series, Terry Brooks
DrussDruss series, David Gemmell
SeverianThe Book of the New Sun series, Gene Wolfe
PerrinWheel of Time series, Robert Jordan
Tasselhoff BurrfootDragonlance series, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
GollumLord of the Rings series, JRR Tolkien
ArlenDemon Cycle series, Peter V. Brett
Zeddicus Zu’l ZoranderSword of Truth series, Terry Goodkind
Molly MillionsNeuromancer, William Gibson
John CarterJohn Carter of Mars stories, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Takeshi KovacsAltered Carbon, Richard Morgan
Percy JacksonPercy Jackson and the Olympians series, Rick Riordan
Alvin MakerThe Tales of Alvin Maker series, Orson Scott Card
Katniss EverdeenHunger Games series, Suzanne Collins
Jacob BlackTwilight series, Stephenie Meyer
Eric NorthmanSouthern Vampire Mysteries series, Charlaine Harris
Tally YoungbloodUglies series, Scott Westerfeld

I don't know who half of these characters are.  What the hell is Gollum doing there?  I predict that Snape could win this: Harry Potter magic in the hands of a competent wizard is a frightening thing, and Snape's one of the few competent characters in the series.  I'm not as big a fan of Druss as other Sword-and-Sorcery fans are, but I'm hoping he does well too.  If Kane doesn't go the distance, I'm pulling for John Carter.  Jon Snow's one of the Westeros residents I don't despise, so I'd be ok with him doing well.  Jacob is going to die a horrible death by virtue of the series he stars in.  Beowulf is probably this year's "ridiculously overpowered" character, if we're going by the original and not the watered-down adaptations.  If Thomas Covenant gets past the first round, so help me...

Let the games begin!

Tuesday 8 March 2011

International Women's Day

You're right; women are great actors. But I cant agree with you in your statement that the great women can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Men have sat at the feet of women down the ages and our civilization, bad or good, we owe to the influence of women.
Let us look at the records of the great women.
- Robert E. Howard, Letter to Harold Preece, December 1928

While I find it somewhat preposterous that we still celebrate 50% of the population on a single day, the disparity between men and women is still shockingly high, and many great women continue to be ignored. In previous decades this was a sad fact of life: nowadays, in our allegedly more enlightened age, there's no such excuse.

So, on this very special International Women's Day, the 100th Anniversary of the holiday, I'm going to tip the glass to some of my favourite females, past and present, along with some choice quotes from Robert E. Howard.

Monday 7 March 2011

Conan = Mary Sue?

As Robert E. Howard once wrote for his famous Mary Sue character Conan the Barbarian what the best things in life are (to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women). Respectfully, he was wrong and Conan is a chump.
- The Flying Welshman, who doesn't elaborate on how you can respectfully call someone's creation a Mary Sue and a chump
What you said, specifically, dude, was that Conan was the most badass.
That’s not true. Conan is badass for dummies, just a big mary-sue he-man who always wins in some incredibly manly way every time, with lots of screwed princesses and flexing of mighty thews along the way.
- Samuel, during the "Conan vs Harry Dresden" battle at Suvudu.  By the way, Jim Butcher himself commented on the situation, and he himself said that Conan would wipe the floor with Harry - and yet some Dresden fans still protested Conan's eventual victory!
One thing he's not, though, is a "Mary Sue". While apparently he was something of the author's alter-ego, Conan is not the sort of character who is all-powerful, all-knowing, super-keen that makes you want to vomit. He's not Drizzt or Elminster. He's very much human. Tough, yes, to the point of being a bad ass. But not invulnerable, and not insufferable.
 - RPG Net's review of The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, because I want to have at least one positive quote

I keep seeing things like this on occasion.  Frankly, I'm getting tired of Mary Sue being used to describe any character who's more capable than other characters.  No, just because a character is awesome in every field and endeavour they undertake doesn't make them a Mary Sue.  Some people are just awesome.

So I've decided to use my considerable and unparalleled Howardian expertise (considerable and unparalleled they are, as there is nobody else currently in my house who could challenge my brobdignagian knowledge) to make the great test: put Conan through the Ultimate Mary Sue Litmus Test.

Why not?  Well one reason is sheer length: what follows is a simply colossal post, where I post the questions and my commentary on them.  I don't know how, but it got to something in the region of 8,000 words.  Why is it I can go on and on with something like this and not other projects...

You have been warned!

Sunday 6 March 2011

On Tributes to Howard

I wasn't actually aware that Roy Thomas had written a comic tribute to Howard (inked by Sandy Plunkett) that depicts his suicide.  Frankly, I wish I didn't.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Robert E. Howard Days Schedule Up

From REHupa, courtesy of Indy:



8:30 – 9 am: Coffee and donuts at the Pavilion, compliments of Project Pride

9 am – 4 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.

9 am – 4 pm: REH Postal Cancellation at Cross Plains Post Office

9 am – 11 am: “Trailer” Tour of Cross Plains

10 am – 5 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open

11:00: PANEL: Howard Days History

Noon: Lunch hosted by Project Pride. Donations Welcome.

11:00 am to 4 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet

1:00 pm: PANEL: History of REH fanzines

2:15 pm: PANEL: Howard’s Historicals

3:30 pm: PANEL: Conan Movie Trailers

5:30 – 6:30: Silent Auction items available for    viewing & bidding at Banquet site

6:30: Robert E. Howard Celebration Banquet & Silent Auction at the Cross Plains Community Center

Following the Banquet & Silent Auction: The Second Annual Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards at the Cross Plains Community Center

Afterward there will be some extemporaneous REH Poetry Reading at the Pavilion.


9 am – 4 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.

9 am – 4 pm: BARBARIAN FESTIVAL in the large lot North of the Dollar Store on Main St.

10 am – 3 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open

10 am PANEL: To Be Announced

Noon to 4 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet

Lunch & Festival Activities at your leisure during the day

1:00 pm PANEL: Damon Sasser/Dennis McHaney

2:15 pm PANEL: REH Historical Poetry

3:30 pm PANEL:What’s Up with REH? at the Pavilion

5 pm: Sunset BBQ at the Caddo Peak Ranch

The Robert E. Howard Foundation will host a Legacy Circle Members Luncheon 11:30 am Saturday at Jean’s Feed Barn.

The Robert E. Howard grave site: A visit to the Howard grave site at the Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood is not an “official” activity of REH Days. Directions are available at the Howard House, as are directions to Novalyne Price Ellis’ grave site between Brownwood and Bangs.


PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to pre-register to partake of the weekend’s festivities. All are welcome to attend, visit the House and enjoy all of the activities free of charge. Project Pride likes to pre-register folks to get a head count of how many will be attending the Banquet. All the panels, tours, Swap Meet, BBQ etc. are presented at no cost. Your registration fee covers coffee & donuts Friday morning, lunch at the Pavilion Friday noon, the Friday Banquet and the Saturday BBQ.

The cost for pre-registration this year is $15 per person. Simply send your name(s) & address with a check or money order or register via PayPal (information forthcoming):
Project Pride
Attn: REH Days 2010 Pre-registration
PO Box 534
Cross Plains, TX 76443

Please pre-register before June 1, 2011.
And for only $3.00 more per person ($5.00 per family), you can become a card-carrying Member of Project Pride. Each membership can make a big difference for the House!

Oh boy! A detailed breakdown after the jump, as well as a few observations from last year (I had this whole ten-part "Scottish Invasion of Cross Plains" series planned, but procrastination has proven terminal.  Someday...)

"In bed by nine? That's when life just begins! "

Ah, Jane Russell. She formed a very large part of my childhood in a most bizarre manner: back when I was a lad, my sister and I would watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. We watched a few musicals back then, but this is the one I remember, not just because of the decidedly mercenary motivations of the two lead characters, or the catchy tunes, but because of Jane Russell. Somehow, she shared the screen with Marilyn Monroe, and didn't whither like a pallid bloom in the shadow of some ethereal, otherworldly flower. Indeed, her incredible confidence and physical presence actually somewhat eclipsed Monroe - not least due to her height and powerful personality.  Plus she was pure sonsy.

She lived to a ripe old age, and courted no small amount of controversy. Fare thee well, Ms Russell, in whatever dark worlds unguessed by man lie beyond the void of night.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Tolkien Estate not to blame for Buttongate

I'm not going to say I told you so, mostly because I... didn't tell you so, and it would be fallacious of me to claim otherwise. However, I maintain that the gist of my argument - that one shouldn't immediately blame Christopher Tolkien for all the challenges made by the multi-media empire which has arisen from The Lord of the Rings franchise - is sound, because according to one of the Tolkien estate's lawyers, the Tolkien Estate apparently had nothing to do with the recent controversy regarding buttons. So nyeh.

This morning I heard from Steven Maier, partner at the Oxford law firm of Manches LLP, on behalf of the Tolkien estate. He wrote to say that the estate was not involved in Zazzle's takedown of a badge reading "While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion." According to Maier, "Zazzle has confirmed that it took down the link of its own accord, because its content management department came across the product and deemed it to be potentially infringing."

Which is odd, because Adam Rakunas's post on the subject implied that Zazzle had told him they'd written on behalf of Tolkien's heirs. I've written to both Rakunas and Zazzle for an update.

I suspected Zazzle was more to blame than this, simply because you hear a lot about companies taking down content as a preemptive measure against claims of copyright infringement.  They're so anxious that a claim could be made that they do it themselves.  You see it all the time on Youtube.

That said...

I'm sorry for misidentifying the Tolkien estate as responsible for this inanity. While they have used copyright threats to censor at least three novels tangentially involving Tokien's characters or personage (that I know of), this button wasn't their fault, it was Zazzle's.

For Christ's sake, could they have picked a more loaded word than "censor"? I'm aware of The Last Ringbearer and Mirkwood, but what's the third one?  And can they really be considered only tangentially involving Tolkien's characters or personage?

Again, I'm not commenting on the moral/ethical/whatever rights of the Tolkien estate to protect the creation of a man who's been dead for almost 40 years, but I strictly believe that in the eyes of the law, they have a fair point.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Dan Meth's Fantasy World Map

Just thought I'd link to this, since it's pretty cool.  Dan Meth has previously done a similar, awesome timeline of science fiction films, so I guess this was a matter of time.

First thought: Holy Smokes he has Sodor!
Second thought: Holy Smokes he has Thra!
Third thought: Wait, he has Terabithia as a real place?