Wednesday 30 November 2011

Hyborian Musings: Of Iberians and Cloods

I've decided I'm going to periodically share a few random musings in regards to the Encyclopedia, both as a form of soundboard, and to let you all know that yes, I am still typing away and tearing my hair out (that list of Cimmerian names is driving me berserkamad), though hopefully some of my theories won't sound quite so insane as they might in my head.

One valuable resource I've been utilizing is de Camp's "Hyborian Names," which appeared in Conan the Swordsman: lest you think I've gone soft on the Spraguester, I find myself disagreeing as often as agreeing when it comes to derivations that aren't crystal-clear like Khorshemish.  A perfect example is in regards to the etymology of Belesa. Here's what de Camp thinks:

Belesa, Beloso Respectively, the Zingaran heroine of TT and a Zingaran man-at-arms in CC. Origin uncertain; remote possibilities are Belesis, a Babylonian priest of -VII mentioned by Ktesias; a Belesa River in Ethiopia; and Berosos (or Berossus, &c.), a Hellenized Babylonian priest and writer of early -III.

It's been remarked upon that de Camp was an extremely intelligent, erudite and well-informed man who has a curious habit of utterly failing to see the simplest of things. As such, while de Camp was struggling to draw comparisons between a fantastical-Spanish noblewoman and Babylonian priests, I think there's a far simpler origin for Belesa.

Thursday 24 November 2011

A message!

First, a sincere apology for the lack of updates.  A series of events behind-the-scenes have been mounting, particularly one situation which started in August (not what you think) but didn't really escalate until a few months ago.  It's a deeply personal family matter, so I won't get all morose or maudlin, but suffice to say I've been in a somewhat erratic and unpleasant state of mind.  I had hoped to keep this off the blog, but it spilled out in some unpredictable ways: again, I can only apologise.
Secondly, and more pleasantly, I have a renewed sense of purpose.  This is going to be the final post I make regarding the film for the foreseeable future.  I've said before that I felt a tremendous sense of futility when the film came out: all that time analysing screen captures, set photos, cast documents, script pages and magazine interviews.  Thousands of words of analysis and conjecture based on every morsel of detail I could get.  I must've written something like a hundred thousand words at the end of it all.  All for a film that I personally considered barely a Conan film at all.

I was distraught. Actually, it was worse than that: I felt destroyed. I felt like I had wasted over a year of my time on something that didn't deserve all that effort.  Look at all the things that fell by the wayside: my look at Almuric, the Hyborian Age Gazetteers, Barbarians of Middle-Earth, Frazetta & Howard, the Newcomer's Guide - how much more work could I have done in those series?  The Encyclopedia didn't suffer as badly since I was determined to work bit by bit on that every spare moment, but I certainly would've spent more time on it without the film.  All those posts, articles, essays, drawings and projects took a back seat to The Wrath of Zym.

If I found the film good enough on its own merits, that may have helped; if it was at least a box office success, I could take solace in the fact that many more potential Howard fans may use it as a gateway.  But it was a disaster critically and commercially.  It didn't matter that Howard fans and scholars whose opinions I respected enjoyed it, found it an enjoyable enough film, even found it better than the 1982 film - I didn't enjoy it.  I didn't see what they're seeing.  For all the good it did in being freer from the 1982 film's influence than the series or films before it, and for Jason Momoa being closer to Howard's creation than Arnold could ever be, I couldn't help but think: just how many people are going to go out and buy a Howard collection?

It may be that I'm being unfair on the film. The filmmakers seemed to be happy enough with the product despite the problems in the production.  I don't doubt that they thought they were making the best film they could.  Yet, well, the numbers speak for themselves.  If there's anything good I can glean from the experience, it's the knowledge that I felt I did my best.  I sought to mention or bring up Robert E. Howard as often as possible, explaining the divergences and similarities to his work, and bringing up all the books and essays I could.  I met a lot of new Howard and Conan fans, and I feel I must've done some good being one of the few blogs reporting on the film from a different point of view from the Remake Brigade.

But, as they say, onwards and upwards.  There isn't any upcoming news apart from the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital release.  If a sequel's coming out, it won't be for a long time - and I honestly don't know if I'll be covering it if it does.  Solomon Kane fooled me once.  Conan fooled me twice.  I have serious concerns about Kull and Bran Mak Morn (if the latter's still coming).  And I'm absolutely terrified by what Christophe Gans might have in store for Sword Woman.  I just don't think I could muster the enthusiasm, knowing that any or all of those films could be at best as "good" as Solomon Kane, and at worst as bad as Conan.

But that's in the future.  For now, I have more time to dedicate to the Encyclopaedia, and I'm going to use the blog as the central news network: previews, sketches, queries, the works.  I may do cross-posts on other sites to maximise saturation and get the most possible feedback.  Since I'm kicking the Encyclopedia into overdrive, however, this means that the Blog may not be updated as often: I'll endeavour to keep you all informed, but if you don't see new posts for long stretches, know that this is because I'm hard at work on the Encyclopedia behind the scenes.

I may be knocked for six, but I'm not licked yet.  Conan didn't kill me, and it isn't going to kill the Encyclopaedia.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

8-Year-Old Reviews: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

As we wait for the Beeb to respond, here are my thoughts on my most recent trip to the cinema, which again can only be expressed through the medium of 8-year-old.

Saturday 5 November 2011

S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. Operation Auntie




The Review Show does a drive-by on Howard

After all that heavy emotional lifting Germaine does, it's time to send you into the weekend on a slightly lighter note. Here's comedian Stewart Lee with a selection of his favourite books, most of which appear to be out of print - should that tell us something?
 - Kirsty Wark's condescending lead-in to Stewart Lee's discussion of Robert E. Howard, Arthur Machen and Nina Hamnett on The Review Show, and yes, it should tell us that The Review Show needs to learn how to use %&$@ing Google

The more I think things are getting better, that people are finally starting to let go of the old myths, the more angry I get when something like this comes up.  Mike Chivers of Necronomania sent me this, and I simply have to discuss it.

Warning: I am seriously ticked off by this.