Saturday, December 25, 2010

Over the Hills and Far away

I've previously written about the Sharpe Television series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Well since watching the series I've read the books, and my opinion of the character and his creator has only gone up. Here is a tough as nails, no nonsense guy who could give almost any action hero a run for his money. He knows his weakness, and is ashamed of most, and would almost rather cut his own leg off as ask for help.

Favoring the straight forward approach to most problems, the series follows his path from a Private in the British infantry in India. All manners of trials and travails follow, taking part in the bulk of the western land battles of the Napoleonic era.. and one Sea Battle which is perhaps the most preposterous of the books plotwise.. but still a great romp due to how well written Nelson is. He encounters innumerable foes, but only a few villains. One of these, I'd easily rate as one of the greatest villains of all time. It's truly a shame they didn't have the India trilogy when Pete Postlewaite was playing Hakeswille...

Over the course of the year, I've read the entire run of Sharpe's novels in Chronological order. There are a few inconsistencies but most are not anything major. The Television series is truly a great companion piece to the books, even though it did require some creative finagling to explain how London Boy Sharpe, spoke with Bean's Sheffield accent.

I feel this series as a whole is one which REH would have enjoyed, I think he especially would have enjoyed Patrick Harper, so I do. The wine swilling, dark haired Irishmen would be right at home among REH's Celtic heroes. Singing songs of Cuchulain as he wades into battle brandishing his 7 barreled rigging gun, yet quick with a joke or a hand up to his friends should they need it.

When dealing with any series the length of the Sharpe series, you are bound to have your down points along the way, I've pretty collectively rated the books highly based mainly on the series as a whole. The individually poor books are buoyed by the fact that none of them are unreadable.. but some do veer a bit too much into the fantastical. The very concept that Sharpe could have been at both Trafalgar and Waterloo is pretty preposterous.

The books tend to be very well researched as far as historical details are concerned, and Mr. Cornwell gets a lot of credit from me for including historical notes in the back of his book. He frequently sites non fiction works which contain a very complex history of the Napoleonic war in Spain and Portugal. I imagine for many American's this period dosen't have much interest, though we did become a belligerent in a sideshow of the wars in Europe, we pretty much came out of it in the + column as a newly united country with a national anthem and some new national myths to add to Washington crossing the Delaware and valley forge.. but for me, a good chunk of my family were still in England at this time.. and one poor soul was even killed during the battle of San Jose De Tenerife, that would be the same battle that Admiral Nelson was when he lost his arm. So In that regard it let me see just how my anscestors may have lived, and for that I enjoyed it even more, and marvel even more at the tenacity they must have shown to survive. Truly we have come a long long way in 200 years and I'd not trade it to live in any other time period.

But as for listing a specific reason as to why I liked the series so much, its something I have a difficult time quantifying.. all the things I listed make up part of it.. they are all important.. and all add something to my enjoyment of the series. Your mileage is likely to vary, what one person likes another is equally capable of disliking.. I'm sorry its over, but the series is frequently compared to Patrick O'brian's Aubry and Maturin series.. this is an author I've not yet read but have spent the last 2 years collecting that series. I plan to read these over 2011, and see how well they do for the sea, what Sharpe did for the land battles. So I'm really looking forward to giving it a shot.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Richard Rahl Raised my Taxes.

I'm going to try and explain my seemingly quixotic quest to finish the Sword of Truth series, despite it being mostly unpalatable.. After watching the Television show, and rather enjoying it for what it was.. I was some what dismayed that it was canceled just as it seemed to be finding its direction. I felt the first season was padded considerably, and that the idea of adapting 1 book per season for an 11 book series was insane as the actors would age considerably in 11 years time.. So when the second season was announced along with the notation it would be adapting books two, three and parts of 4.. I felt they would be making a much better show. The second season was better, but it was the last.

In researching this series, I kept coming across references to how bad it was.. surely not I thought to myself, since the TV show was alright. And besides, so many of the people attacking the series spent the rest of their time exalting books from authors I can't stand.. Maybe it's just a difference of Opinion I thought. With that I made my first mistake. I set out and relatively quickly read the first 5 books in the series. There were a lot of differences between the books and the show.. but over all it was a decent enough adaption. I've read a lot of not so good Genre fiction, and considering these to be fair to middling, epic fantasy I decided to continue. This was where I made my second mistake. When I got to Volume 6 of the series, Faith of the Fallen, I realized just how accurate all of the reviews on the internet were. This is a book which you either like or you don't. But, I'd started the series, and spent a good bit of money buying it before I realized how bad the series really was..

After taking a few weeks away from Richard and Kahlan, I picked up Volume 7, Pillars of Creation. This book was a marked and drastic improvement on the previous. It featured new characters, and unveiled a considerable amount of background information about the Sword of Truth world. It began to drag towards the end when Richard and Kahlan showed up, and lead immediately into Volume 8, Naked Empire, and thats when the squealing brakes, and thundering blast of a train's horn begin to penetrate your inner Ear. By the time Richard is on his 3rd soliloquy on the nobility of the human spirit (so long as you agree with him 100%, and aren't a pacifist) you start to hear the screams of the dieing inside the cattle cars being pulled by that train that just wrecked. And so at this point, it ceased being a "read them because you paid for them" type of mindset, and became more of a "Read them just to see HOW bad they actually get" sort of mindset. Volume #8 is also the one where Richard and his half sister have a rather lengthy discussion on the right of hair to live on your head... yeah, I still don't get it..

The books never really get better, they go from being a generically plotted fantasy series to simply having no plot. Richard repeatedly falls of logical traps, at one time explaining that a group of people shouldn't hold him responsible for his fathers deeds, and follows that up by blaming that entire group for the deeds of one of its members. In this process he becomes every bit the dark lord his father was at the beginning of the first book. Even if he's doing it for more noble reasons than his father, the outcome is still basically the same. He murders pacifists for refusing to fight his enemies, He dispatches kill teams of soldiers into the heart of his enemy's lands instructing them to inflict pain on the civilian population and disrupt the supplies of the enemy force. What follows is debauchery and depravity as his soldiers rape and torch at will.

At the end of the series we wind up with "Woods guide" Richard, married to Mother Confessor Kahlan, living in the People's Palace of D'Hara.. ruling high and mightily over his subject empire. The problem with this is, that the books from volume 6 onwards, are essentially one long anti-government screed. So how exactly can Richard rule this massive empire without some form of government interference in peoples lives? Surely he must have a police force, and we've seen repeatedly he has an enormous military. How does he pay these soldiers he dispatches to slash and burn the Old world? Clearly when one is dealing with the concept of an entirely hands off, free market system, one needs to be conscious of the fact that infrastructure costs money. Palaces don't upkeep themselves, roads don't build them selves, armies don't just magically have full bellies. All of these sorts of questions would have, had they not even been answered but at least brought up, dramatically improved these books. Instead they simply became a case of "Richard is right, everyone else is wrong 100% of the time" and that was annoying and grating and I fail to see what anyone sees in these books which makes them so popular.

All in all my conclusion is that the television series was a dramatic improvement over the books. It kept all of the fun interesting bits, and with a judicious use of a black sharpie, redacted all of the crap that Goodkind padded the books out with and then tried to con people into thinking was actually a story. So It really is a shame that the TV series went away, had it have stuck around I doubt I would have actually read the books. My only solace is, Goodkind didn't make any money off of me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Books read in 2010, the Compleat List, Part 2

81. Viktor Rydberg, Tuetonic Mythology Volume1, Part 3, Non Fiction, ****
82. Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth, Fiction, ***
83. Stephen King, The Drawing of the Three, Dark Tower #2, Fiction **
84. Edward Hausbruck, The Practical Nomad, Non Fiction, **
85. Robert Brown, Semetic Influence in Hellenic Mythology, Non Fiction, **
86. Stephen King, The Wastelands, Dark Tower #3, Fiction, ***
87. Terry Goodkind, Blood of the Fold, Sword of Truth #3, Fiction **
88. Eberhard Jackel, Hitler's World View, Non Fiction, **
89. Bernard Cornwell, Enemies of God, Arthur #2, Fiction, **
90. Frank Herbert, Children of Dune, Dune #3, Fiction, **
91. Viktor Rydberg, Tuetonic Mythology Volume 2, Part 1, Non Fiction ***
92. Stephen King, Wizard and Glass, Dark Tower #4, Fiction, **
93. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Sword, Sharpe #14, Fiction, ****
94. Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself, The First Law #1, Fiction, Did Not Finish
95. Nick Hornby, High Fidelity, Fiction, ****
96. Margeret Weis, Dragon's of the Autumn Twilight, Chronicles #1, Fiction, ***
97. Terry Goodkind, Temple of the Winds, Sword of Truth #4, Fiction, ***
98. Phillip Roth, The Plot Against America, Fiction, ****
99. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Skirmish, Sharpe #15, Fiction, ***
100. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Enemy, Sharpe #16, Fiction, ****
101, Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Honour, Sharpe #17, Fiction, ****
102, Nick Hornby, About a Boy, Fiction, ***
103. Leonard Carpenter, Conan the Outcast, Conan #24, *
104. Terry Goodkind, Soul of the Fire, Sword of Truth #5, Fiction, **
105. Nick Hornby, How to be Good, Fiction **
106. Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, TR #1, Non Fiction, *****
107. Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, Non Fiction, ***
108. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Regiment, Sharpe #18, Fiction, ****
109. Stephen King, The Wolves of Calla, Dark Tower #5, Fiction, ****
110, Thomas Evan, The War Lovers, Non Fiction, ***
111. Tre Tyckare, The Viking, Non Fiction, ****
112. Margeret Weis, Dragons of Winter Night, Chronicles #2, Fiction, ***
113. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Christmas, Sharpe #19, Fiction, ***
114. Nancy Marie Brown, The Far Traveler, Non Fiction, *****
115. Johnathan Strahan(ed.), Swords and Dark Magic, ***
116. Margeret Weis, Dragon's of Spring Dawning, Chronicles #3, Fiction, ***
117. Terry Goodkind, Faith of the Fallen, Sword of Truth #6, Fiction, *
118. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Seige, Sharpe #20, Fiction, ****
119. Stephen King, Song of Susannah, Dark Tower #6, Fiction, *
120. Viktor Rydberg, Tuetonic Mythology Volume 2, Part 2, Non Fiction, ****
121. Nicholas Basbanes, A Gentle Madness, Non Fiction, ****
122. Alfred P. Smythe, King Alfred the Great, Non Fiction, ***
123. Bernard Cornwell, Excaliber, Arthur #3, Fiction, **
124. Stephen King, The Dark Tower, Dark Tower #7, Fiction, **
125. Chris Wickham, The Inheritence of Rome, Penguin History of Europe #2, Non Fiction, ***
126. Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast, Gormenghast #2, Fiction, ***
127. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Revenge, Sharpe #21, Fiction, ****
128. Ben Croshaw, Mogworld, Fiction, **
129. Bernard Cornwell, Redcoat, Fiction, ****
130. C.W. Ceram, Gods, Graves and Scholars, Non Fiction, ***
131. Christini Rossetti, Goblin Market, Fiction, ***
132. Colin Thubron, Shadow of the Silk Road, Non Fiction, ****
133. Charle Penglase, Greek myths and Mesopotamia, Non Fiction, ***
134. John Marco, The Eyes of God, Inhumans #1, Fiction, ***
135. Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites, Discworld #3, Fiction, **
136. Robert Jordan, Conan the Magnificent, Conan #4, Fiction, ***
137. Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country, Non Fiction, ***
138. Leonard Cotrell, Life under the Pharohs, Non Fiction, ***
139. Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, TR #2, Non Fiction, *****
140. John Marco, The Devil's Armor, Inhumans #2, Fiction, ***
141. Terry Goodkind, The Pillars of Creation, Sword of Truth #7, Fiction ***
142. Mervyn Peake, Titus Alone, Gormenghast # 3, Fiction, **
143. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Waterloo, Sharpe #22, Fiction, ***
144. Stephen King, Different Seasons, Fiction, ***
145. Terry Brooks, Scions of Shannara, Heritage #1, Fiction, ***
146. Robert Jordan, Conan the Invincible, Conan #1, Fiction, **
147. Terry Goodkind, Naked Empire, Sword of Truth #8, Fiction (See Notation)
148. John Marco, Sword of Angels, Inhumans #3, Fiction, ***
149. Terry Brooks, Druid of Shannara, Heritage #2, Fiction, ***
150. Terry Brooks, The Elf Queen of Shannara, Heritage #3, Fiction ***
151. Terry Brooks, The Talismans of Shannara, Heritage #4, Fiction ***
152. Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt, TR #3, Non Fiction, ****
153. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Devil, Sharpe #23, Fiction, ****
154. Terry Goodkind, Chainfire, Sword of Truth #9, Fiction (See Notation)
155. Bernard Cornwell, The Fort, Fiction, ****
156. Terry Goodkind, Phantom, Sword of Truth #10, Fiction (See Notation)
157. Terry Goodkind, Confessor, Sword of Truth #11, Fiction (see Notation)
158. R.F. Dederfeild, To serve them all my days, Fiction ***
159. Robert E. Howard, El Borak, Fiction ( Still reading )

As you can see, only 26 of these books were Non Fiction. It generally takes me longer to work my way through a Non Fiction book, for every question they answer they make me ask a dozen more and I wind up spending an inordinante amount of time on the Internet researching further information. I'll have to do better next year. I also padded out my count by reading stuff like the Brak books which only amount to about 100 pages.. but I like to think I made up for this with tomes like Rise and Fall which measured nearly 1200 pages. On a semi-relevant note, the Forgotten Realms books were read during the time period when I had some Dental work done and simply didn't feel like reading anything particularly challenging and wasting the effect of my (dentist prescribed) painkillers.

The only book of the year that I didn't finish was Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself, At the time I attempted to read it I think I just wasn't in the mood for the sort of book that it is. I thought the writing was good, I just couldn't get into the story which was taking far far to long to get going. Sometime over the next year I will attempt to re-read this book, and hopefully read the series fully. I try never to abandon a book without seeing it through, it is disrespectful to the author not even to see where he wants to take you. If nothing else, I'll skip to the end and have a look, and if it looks inviting go back and read the rest.

As for the notation on the Goodkinds, I'll be having a full post on those coming up in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Books read in 2010, the Compleat List, Part 1

Since I don't feel like following the crowd and writing a "top ten of O'Ten" list, and since I'd posted a partial list back in May or June, with the first 70 or so that I'd read for the year. I will instead be providing my full list and associated ratings and whether they were Fiction or Non-Fiction. What follows is part 1 of the list, including how I'd rank them on a scale of 1 to 5 and the series they belong too if applicable.

1. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Tiger, Sharpe #1, Fiction, ****
2. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe #2, Fiction, ****
3. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Fortress, Sharpe #3, Fiction, ****
4. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Trafalgar, Sharpe #4, Fiction, ****
5. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Prey, Sharpe #5, Fiction, ****
6. Bernard Cornwell, Winter King, The Arthur Books #1, Fiction, ***
7. Frank Herbert, Dune, Dune #1, Fiction, ****
8. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe #6, Fiction, ****
9. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Havoc, Sharpe #7, Fiction, ****
10. Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah, Dune #2, Fiction, ***
11. Margot Adler, Drawing down the moon, Non-Fiction, ***
12. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Eagle, Sharpe #8, Fiction, ****
13. Glen Cook, The Black Company, Black Company #1, Fiction, ****
14. Glen Cook, Shadow's Linger, Black Company #2, Fiction, ****
15. Glen Cook, The White Rose, Black Company #3, Fiction, ****
16. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Gold, Sharpe #9, Fiction, ****
17. K.J. Parker, Devices and Desires, Engineer #1, Fiction, ***
18. Harry Harrison, Hammer and the Cross, Hammer and Cross #1, Fiction, ****
19. Harry Harrison, One King's Way, Hammer and Cross #2, Fiction, ***
20. Harry Harrison, King and Emperor, Hammer and Cross #3, Fiction, **
21. Steve Perry, Conan the Defiant, Conan # 13, Fiction, *
22. Terry Goodkind, Debt of Bones, Sword of Truth #0, Fiction, **
23. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Escape, Sharpe #10, Fiction, ***
24. Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, Gormanghast #1, Fiction, ****
25. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Fury, Sharpe #11, Fiction, **
26. Sean A. Moore, Conan the Hunter, Conan #31, Fiction ***
27. R.A. Salvatore, Homelands, Drizzt #1, Fiction, ***
28. R.A. Salvatore, Exile, Drizzt #2, Fiction, ***
29. R.A. Salvatore, Sojourn, Drizzt #3, Fiction, ***
30. R.A. Salvatore, The Crystal Shard, Drizzt #4, Fiction, ***
31. R.A. Salvatore, Streams of SIlver, Drizzt #5, Fiction, ***
32. R.A. Salvatore, The Halfling's Gem, Drizzt #6, Fiction, ***
33. L. Sprague DeCamp, The Falliable Fiend, Novaria #5, Fiction, ***
34. Glen Cook, The Silver Spike, Black Company #4, Fiction, ***
35. Glen Cook, Shadow Games, Black Company #5, Fiction, ***
36. Glen Cook, Dreams of Steel, Black Company #6, Fiction, ***
37. John Jakes, Brak the Barbarian, Brak #1, Fiction, ***
38. John Jakes, Brak Vs. The Sorceress, Brak #2, Fiction, ***
39. John Jakes, Brak: Mark of Demons, Brak #3, Fiction, ***
40. John Jakes, Brak: When Idols Walked, Brak #4, Fiction, ***
41. John Jakes, The Fortunes of Brak, Brak #5, Fiction, ***
42. Jack Mckinny, Genesis, Robotech #1, Fiction, ***
42. Jack Mckinny, Battlecry, Robotech #2, Fiction, ***
43, Jack Mckinny, Homecoming, Robotech #3, Fiction, ***
44. Jack Mckinny, Battlehymn, Robotech #4, Fiction, ***
45. Jack Mckinny, Force of Arms, Robotech #5, Fiction, ***
46. Jack Mckinny, Doomsday, Robotech #6, Fiction, ***
47. Glen Cook, Bleak Seasons, Black Company #7, Fiction, ***
48. Jack Mckinny, The Zentradi Rebellion, Robotech #19, Fiction, ***
49. Jack Mckinny, Devil's Hand, Robotech #13, Fiction, ***
50. Jack Mckinny, Dark Powers, Robotech #14, Fiction, ***
41. Jack Mckinny, Death Dance, Robotech #15, Fiction, ***
42. Jack Mckinny, World Killers, Robotech #16, Fiction, **
43. Jack Mckinny, Rubicon, Robotech #17, Fiction ***
44. Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic, Discworld #1, Fiction, ****
45. Jack Mckinny, The Master's Gambit, Robotech #20, Fiction, **
46. Glen Cook, She Is Darkness, Black Company #8, Fiction, **
47. Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic, Discworld #2, Fiction, ****
48. Jack Mckinny, Southern Cross, Robotech #7, Fiction, **
49, Jack Mckinny, Metal Fire, Robotech #8, Fiction, **
50, Jack Mckinny, Final Nightmare, Robotech #9, Fiction **
51. K.J. Parker, Evil for Evil, Engineer #2, Fiction, **
52. Jack Mckinny, Before the Invid Storm, Robotech #21, Fiction, ***
53. Glen Cook, Water Sleeps, Black Company #9, Fiction **
54. Glen Cook, Soldiers Live, Black Company #10, Fiction *
55. Jack Mckinny, Invid Invasion, Robotech #10, Fiction ***
56, Jack Mckinny, Metamorphosis, Robotech #11, Fiction, ***
57, Jack Mckinny, Symphony of Light, Robotech #12, Fiction, ***
58. Steve Perry, Conan the Indomitable, Conan #20, Fiction, *
59. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Battle, Sharpe #12, Fiction, **
60. Jack Mckinny, End of the Circle, Robotech #18, Fiction, **
61. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Company, Sharpe #13, Fiction, ****
62. Steve Perry, Conan the Freelance, Conan #21, Fiction, *
63. K.J. Parker, The Escapement, Engineer #3, Fiction **
64. Terry Goodkind, Wizard's First Rule, Sword of Truth #1, Fiction, ***
65. Tanith Lee, The Birthgrave, Birthgrave #1, Fiction, ***
66. Tanith Lee, Vazkor, Son of Vazkor, Birthgrave #2, Fiction, ***
67. Tanith Lee, Quest for the White Witch, Birthgrave #3, Fiction, ***
68. Patricia Mckillip, Riddle Master of Hed, Riddlemaster #1, Fiction, ***
69. Patricia Mckillip, Heir of Sea and Fire, Riddlemaster #2, Fiction, ***
70. Patricia Mckillip, Harpist in the Wind, Riddlemaster #3, Fiction, ***
71. Terry Goodkind, Stone of Tears, Sword of Truth #2, Fiction, **
72. Steve Perry, Conan the Formiddable, Conan #22, Fiction, *
73. Stephen King, The Eyes of the Dragon, Fiction, ****
74. Viktor Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Part 1, Non Fiction, ****
75. Louis Pauwls, The Morning of the Magicians, Non Fiction, **
76. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Non Fiction, ****
77. Viktor Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Part 2, Non Fiction, ****
78. Louis, L'Amour, The Walking Drum, Fiction, ****
79. Nick Hornby, Slam, Fiction, ***
80. Stephen King, The Gunslinger, Dark Tower #1, Fiction, ***

I'll put up part two tomorrow, and then follow that up with a few thoughts and introspection on this challenge.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

movie review - Royal Deceit a.k.a. Prince of Jutland

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

I came across this title rather randomly via Wikipedia. I'd been looking up historical dramas set during the dark ages, and found this one. It's a retelling of the story of Amled Prince of Jutland, the same story which William Shakespeare adapted for his play Hamlet. This movie filmed in 1994, is set during an indeterminate period, and features a very strong cast. With Christian Bale starring as Amled, and co-starring Helen Mirren, Gabriel Byrne, Brian Cox, Kate Beckinsale, Andi Serkis and a huge host of British character actors who pop up repeatedly in films as disparate as Snatch and Black Hawk Down.

The scenery is fantastic, and theirs no shortage of the things which make Shakespeare's adaption so wonderful. However you can tell, due to the way in which the Battle scene between Osmir and Lindsey was filmed, the the movie was made on a very small budget. Some historical inaccuracies exist of course but when you are dealing with the Migration period, and especially with semi mythical events in general, its not particularly distracting.

As I mentioned before it's difficult to know precisely when the film is set, a number of character are shown prominently wearing Thor's hammers pendants around their necks. These didn't become popular until Christianity was being adopted on the Continent, by which time it was already the official religion in England. So since the men of Lindsey are shown as being predominantly Pagan still, but the group with which they are at war, the men of Osmir declaim the actions of Amled as the work of the Devil. I'd say the film is set in the 600's or so.

It is to me, certainly a better telling of the story than any of the more recent ones. So if you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it to you if you have any interest in the time period, and are unhappy with some of the other adaptions of legends of that time, such as Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf...

Friday, December 3, 2010

A pair of my favorite People.

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

I just received in the mail today, copies of the 3rd volume of Edmund Morris's seminal Theodore Roosevelt Biography, If it is as good as the other two, I suspect I will be floored. If it's better than them I don't think I will be able to contain myself. The only U.S. President with both the Medal of Honor(Posthumous) and the Nobel Peace Prize(for mediating during negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05) He's someone that for whatever reason, I've always liked. He was ahead of his time, and it was largely thanks to him that we have the National Parks, and the FDA. I understand that at some point, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are supposed to be producing a film series based on these three books. I'm not a person who feels that DiCaprio would be wrong for the part of TR, but he won't be able to replace Tom Berringer who played a wonderful representation of him in John Milius's "The Rough Riders".. Which is itself something of the middle chapter in a trilogy of Roosevelt movies, its "Sequel" being Milius's "Wind and the Lion".

I also received a copy of "Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia" by Micheal Korda. I've previously read B.H. Liddel Hart's "Lawrence of Arabia" and John Mack's "A Prince of Our Disorder". I found both fascinating, especially in the parts surrounding his Archeological work. I'm hoping that Mr. Korda will refrain from too much supposition in regards Mr. Lawrence. All to frequently, as is the vogue these days it seems, every aspect of his personality must be dissected. It isn't enough to look at his accomplishments, or allow his actions to speak for him. One must endeavor to include as many scandalous details as possible.. even if they are largely unprovable or based on hearsay. I felt that, Mack's volume edged to close into that sort of territory a number of times, especially in regards to Lawrence's activities after the war. So I hope this will be better, as I would very much like an Authoritative Biography.

These are men from different parts of the English speaking world, who both influenced and indeed still exert influence on the world to this day. Roosevelt was instrumental in turning the USA into the military power that it is today with his insistence on having a powerful navy. His work on domestic issues, largely stemming from his 1912 Bull Moose platform and later enacted in some form by his cousin FDR also are still shaping the future of the US.

Lawrence, is much trickier. Its possible, and even likely, that eventually the Arabs would have thrown off the Ottoman yoke. But when or how is less certain. I hesitate to turn him into the Hero of the Arab Revolt, something he himself disliked having done to him by the world's press. But he if nothing else added a buoy to Prince Feisel(himself a remarkable person) which allowed him to keep the various disparate tribes together and march as far as Damascus.

There really is no telling how different the world would be had these two men's stories not ended as they did. Had Roosevelt won the 1912 platform and gone on to be President again. And had Lawrence not died in a fatal motorcycle accident. One can only imagine.

I'm now currently very much looking forward to the third volume of William Manchester's Biography of Winston Churchill.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

again with the book club editons.

After some recent troubles with Borders books, I've decided to cease shopping with them.. and instead turn my resources towards filling in some gaps in my collection. So I started out by purchasing the 6, Crown of Stars (by Kate Elliott) books I needed in hardcover on Amazon marketplace. The total was nothing spectacular, and I can now trade in my paperbacks. However, as they began to arrive, some came in just as I expected and two of them came in, in the dreaded book club format. I politely explained the situation to the sellers, returned the books, and was issued refunds. I then re-ordered the two that had been incorrect. One of them came in as the normal hardcover, then the other came in a second time as.. book club format.

Several other books I've ordered have come in this way as well, I ordered a hardcover copy of the second volume of Stephen R. Donaldson's Mordant's Need. It came in in book club, the seller is going to refund my money but now I have to wait around for a replacement to come in.

It's not exactly a hardship I hear you saying, Theres nothing wrong with the book club books persay, I simply feel that it is false advertising, or lazy, to not list that your book for sale is in fact not the real hardcover book. This is excusable if the book has never been issued in hardcover otherwise.. if I bought The Chronicles of the Black Company in hardcover, I'd know I was getting a book club edition since its never been released in any format other than that and trade paperback.

So yeah, please, people who re-sell used books online.. take the extra 5 seconds when you check the notes in the front and it says *BOOK CLUB EDITION* or *PUBLISHED FOR SFBC by >insert publisher here<* to make a note of it on your item description. It will save both of us time and aggravation.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fallen off the wagon.

yup.. not proud of it.. but I've gone back to playing world of warcraft. I kept hearing all about all the changes that were being made to the game preparing for the launch of Cataclysm and I just had to check it out. The rumors of changes vastly shortchange the scope of the change. For all intents and purposes, this new game is WOW 2.

Even though I was never a very serious WOW player, I can already state unequivocally that it is a vastly different game, even while the mechanics are generally unchanged.

The general storyline has been advanced by about 5 years, which in my opinion vastly improves the general game. As some one who is generally concerned with the "big picture" rather than the small details, it always bugged me how despite all the enormous changes which were supposedly undertaken, the game never really altered because of them. Partly this was simply logistical, it costs money to change the game, and partly because the game designers didn't want to make new players feel as if there was no reason for them to stick around. This time however its not the case, the implementation of phasing has been brought into great effect on several zones, this is something I felt that Lord of the Rings online did very well. Now if Blizzard will implement the ability to move backwards through the phased zones in order for you to be able to help your lower level friends, they will have caught up to Turbine.

I decided that rather than using my old character, I'd simply start a new one, on a new server. I'm glad I did as its a vastly different experience this time. Dare I say it, being a low level character dosen't suck any more. The developers have redesigned nearly every zone in some way or another, they have re aligned quests so that they radiate around central hubs, making it much easier to do more than one quest at a time and cuts down on the backtracking which used to plague the game. Especially in the 30's to 40's which required tremendous amounts of travel and must have been some what similar to the "Doldrums" in the days of sailing ships.

They've clearly taken note of some of the most gregarious examples of these problems and fixed the majority of them. Some of the most obnoxious zones however, such as the dreaded Stranglethorn vale, still require a rather obscene amount of out-and-backing, but nothing to the extent to which it used to do. As a bonus they have also added a "Calling all heroes" bulletin to the capital cities, so that if you are at a loss as to where to go next, the board will provide you with a quest to seek out some one at the first quest hub in which ever zones you are currently at level to play in, this is a very nice touch.

I'm not sure yet how excited I am for Cataclysm itself to launch, the idea of having all those flying mounts circling me while I'm on a low level character is unnerving. And I'm still not entirely sure why, now that the events of the Burning crusade and war against Arthas are over, that we still have to go through the expansions in order to get to level 80. I could be mistaken, as I've not gotten far enough yet to find out, but I doubt seriously if there will be any attempt to explain these excursions via the story.

I doubt I will play for any considerable amount of time, but it is definitely enlightening to play it now, especially after having played several months of Lord of the Rings online, and previously over the year other MMO's such as Everquest 2 and Guild wars. It's nice to see what aspects of all these games are becoming standard for all MMO's.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I admit it.

I managed to succeed in my goal of reading 150 books in the year 2010, with just about 36 days left to spare... A few times I was afraid I wouldn't succeed. it brings my total for the previous 10 years (since I've been keeping track) to 1400 books. Not all of the books I read were good, some were longer than others, but the average worked out to be about 300-400 pages per book. So a good estimate would be about 60,000 pages this year. could be slightly less, could be slightly more.

I won't post a complete list yet as I want to see just how many I can actually get completed. If I'm feeling particularly bored I might add up the actual number of pages I read too. It's maybe not that interesting.. but last year I only managed about 75.. so I'm certainly doing well in doubling that. but next year I doubt I will press myself so hard. rather than saying bluntly I've got to finish a book every 2.3 days I'd rather take my time and enjoy them all a bit more..and I also slacked off a lot on my non fiction reading this year in order to meet my goal. Reading dry non fiction just takes longer than reading novels.

Now that I met my goal, I'm going to go back and finish off Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series.. and then if I have enough time try again at reading Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

movie review - Comic Book Villains

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

Comic book Villains starring DJ Qualls, Donal Logue, and Carey Elwes was an interesting sort of film. It was most certainly not a comedy like Netflix advertised it as being. It was gruesome and tiring.. and beyond a few gags had very little in the way of levity.

The basic story of the film is that in a small town some where in America two competing comic book shops are looking for an edge, one which is run by the extremely knowledgeable comic guru played by Donal Logue is struggling to make ends meet. The other run by a husband and wife team who care little about comics but more about making money. One day they are both separately visited by the character named "Conan" (as I mentioned previously) who is "Switch Hitting" meaning he opportunistically shops at both stores, where in he informs both shop owners of the recent passing of a man who had been collecting comics for some 50 years or so.

The race is now on for the two owners to convince the mans elderly mother to sell them the books, which turn out to be the equivalent of Aladdin's cave of comic books. She's not interested however in selling to anyone.. and things inevitably break down from there as the two owners become more and more desperate to get these books. Throughout all of this, Archie (DJ Qualls) is legitimatly making friends with the old lady. Helping her around the house and listening intently to her stories of visiting Europe, Something which has been hinted that Archie longs to do.

Eventually Donal Logue enlists the aid of Cary Elwes's character, Carter, who used to beat him up in school.. and also used to really like comic books. There follows a long series of back stabbings.. and culminates in Carter simply stealing the collection... by the end of the movie essentially everyone except Archie is dead and the comic book hoard is dissolving in a fish pond.. As mrs. Cresswell expends her final breaths she tells Archie to look in the closet, though the comic are gone her son collected something else. something far more valuable than even comic books. Baseball cards. So we end the movie with Archie having sold the vast collection of baseball cards, and is now sitting in a cafe in Spain. The End.

Over all I was admittedly disappointed in the film. Not least of all because I'm not used to seeing Cary Elwes as the bad guy.. I grew up with the Princess Bride being one of my favorite movies.. And I also disliked the message that the old lady seemed to be setting out to send to poor Archie. That comics are for kids and that he was to old to enjoy them and should be liking more adult "Literature" like Hemingway. And it is mainly through his acquiescence to this goading that endears him to her. Essentially he fulfilling the job of her own son to 'Grow up'. I especially felt that towards the end of the film when the death toll begins to mount that it was gratuitous.

I'm glad I didn't buy it, and I seriously doubt I'll watch it again. It just wasn't that great of a movie.. and thats probably why it's taken me nearly 10 years to even find out about it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An REH mention.

Watching a movie on Netflix called "Comic Book Villains" and theres a character in it with the nickname "Conan" because he claimed that "Robert e. Howard was his great uncle"

The "Conan" character is played by the same actor who played Hyde on That 70's Show.

Its nothing earthshattering.. and I'm sure others have mentioned it in the REH fandom.. but I still found it to be neat.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Flanders Fields,...

Today, is Veterans Day, or if you are not in the USA, Armistice day or Remembrance day. The point is the same however, to remember the Veterans of the Great War. And all of them since. Every year, around this time you might, if you look hard enough, see people wearing a small red poppy. The material differs from paper to silk, and many things in between.

The idea for selling the red poppy was thought up by a lady named Moina Michaels who was born near Good Hope Georgia in 1869. Good Hope is a small town in Georgia, barely a blip, but it is close to where I live. The town light posts are typically bedecked with hangings depicting the red poppy, and there is a Georgia Register of Historical places plaque and signpost at the corner of Moina Michael road and US 83 just outside of town. Most people in town though don't realize the significance of this.. It is after all only the second most famous event/person from this small corner of Walton County Georgia*

Ms. Michaels had the idea after reading a poem written by a Canadian by the name of John Macrae entitled "In Flanders Fields", She wrote a response to that in the form of her poem "We shall keep the faith" and while working at the YMCA war secretaries headquarters in New York, purchased the first 25 red silk poppies and distributed them among the other workers. Two years later at the American Legions national conference it was decided to make the Poppy the official National remembrance symbol. Field Marshall Douglas Haig liked the idea so much, he founded the Royal British Legion and adopted the Poppy as their official symbol as well.

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

*unfortunately for the small town of Good Hope, being able to boast this unique and inspiring citizen has not been able to overshadow the most famous event to take place there. Some 5 miles from town there is a small bridge called Moore's Ford. And in 1946, after a long string of unfortunate circumstances, one evening culminated in the murder of 4 African-Americans, one of whom was pregnant. The murders have never been solved, and every year attract regional and sometimes depending on who is in attendance, national attention.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a post about nothing, something and Video Games

well not exactly.. but of late I've been finding it really difficult to think of anything that anyone else might actually be interested in reading. This is of course the busy time of year for me, so I've been at work a lot more than normal which sort of saps one's creativity. Going back to work after a week off really does this worse than normal too. Sometimes it almost feels as if it isn't worth it to take time off you get so behind while you are gone.

I'm trying to decide if I want to spend the 60$ on Fable 3, I've really enjoyed the first two games. But its a tough choice since I know if I buy it now, in 6 months they will release a better version or some DLC. They did it with both of them so far.. I can't help but think they will do it with this one as well. So It's a tossup between that and getting the Dragon Age set with the expansion and both DLC's in it. That seems like a better deal personally, and will probably be a bit cheaper too.

I'm still slogging away on LOTRO, it was really a lot of fun up until about level 32 or so, and now it's just way to much travel and not enough pay off. so I'm not 100% on whether I will keep playing it or not. Further out on the MMO front, the new World of Warcraft expansion comes out in middle December, I'm relatively certain I will get it and play it, but for how long I'm not sure. It only adds 5 levels but it more or less completely revamps the entire world.. so there will be lots to look at.

After a month with no posts on my other Blog, Hyborean Apocrypha I've jumped back into it with reviews of the first two episodes of 1997's Conan the Adventurer TV series. If you have never seen it, do yourself a favor and avoid it. It really is that bad. I've also got a bunch of reviews ready to go for Robert Jordan's Conan the Magnificent which I will be posting soon and hopefully get back in the groove of reviewing more than one of these books a month. Some of them are just so soul crushingly bad though its beginning to feel like a job just to read them.

Maybe one day soon I'll hit on something thats actually interesting.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It takes dedication.

Coinciding on the day I came back to Georgia from Oregon was the release of Towers of Midnight. Well, I went out to the west coast with a friend of mine. He is the one who insisted I read the Wheel of Time in the first place.. and I thank him for it.. mostly.

On the 1st, he tried valiantly to get the good people at Powell's books to sell him a copy of the book using the logic that it was midnight in New York.. so it would be ok to sell to him at 9pm on the west coast.. they didn't buy that.. so we board our flight from Portland, sadly Towers of Midnight-less, for our 4 hour layover in Charlotte. upon deplaning we made a line direct to the book sellers in the airport. they had no idea what he was talking about. Again balked.

But just short of our boarding time, he goes to check again. And comes back with the biggest smile I think I've ever seen on him. Clutching the much coveted tome. He payed a whopping 32$ for the book too.. which is above its MSRP.. but was able to start reading it on the plane home.

I really think it makes him some sort of chief among the Wotheads...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Magic is in the Hole.

Alright so I'm back from my holiday/fact finding.

The Flight out was atrocious. US airways deserved the low ranking they recently received. My plane was taxiing onto the runway in Atlanta when the tornadoes were starting to come through.. and water actually leaked into the cabin. I realize that planes swell when they become pressurized.. but it was amazingly disconcerting. The flight was overbooked and way to crowded.. 2 rows of 3 12" seats has to be one of the worst plane layout.. only behind the dreaded 2-5-2 layout.. Airbus's A320 series planes also send my claustrophobia into overdrive in ways which Boeing's do not. I won't fly on any airline who uses them again. All in all, including my wait at Atlanta, and all the delays along the way.. It took me just shy of 20 hours to cross the US from one corner to the other. But only roughly 9 to get back, including a 4 hour layover...

Atlanta airport as usual was a nightmare.. but Portland's Airport was wonderful, and security was a breeze. It wasn't intimidating like Atlanta's is.. it was courteous, efficient and quick. Once you actually get into Portland's airport there is no need for a car at all unless you are leaving Portland and its suburbs. The Tri-Met system is comprehensive and a steal at 23.50$ for a 7 day pass. Just get on the Red Line Max, and you are in down town and munching a Voodoo Doughnut in about 28 minutes.. or an hour and 28 minutes depending on the line at Voodoo Doughnut.

On my way out there and back I read two books, the first Yatzhee Croshaw's "Mogworld" and the second Bernard Cornwall's "Redcoat".. I really enjoyed Redcoat.. but Mogworld left a lot to be desired. It had Yatzhee's normal sense of humour but lost a lot due to being a print medium rather than his video game review which is audio-visual.. I'd love it if he did an Audio-book... Redcoat was just like a Sharpe novel.. except set in colonial America. Some bits of it were odd, but over all I enjoyed it and finished it all in the transit phase.

Once I got to town though I instantly remembered why I loved it so much. It's packed to the gills with all sorts of things that are near and dear to me. Quite a few good pubs which served good local brews, a Huge book store by the deserved moniker "Powell's City of books". The aforementioned public transit system which by US standards is top notch. It's an extremely pedestrian friendly city, where car drivers sometimes even stopped at green lights if we were waiting at the crosswalk. It's actually an extremely friendly city in general. It has none of the normal arrogance and anti-social feelings of your normal big city.

I'm not sure if anyone is actually interested in my fact finding.. so I'll refrain from posting it.. but its a pretty decent chance I'll be attempting the move out there sometime next year after getting all of my affairs in order here. Lots of stuff to be pared down, inventoried, alphabetized and put into storage. Not to mention money to be saved. Thankfully the public library is free as I will likely be cutting down on my book purchases.. and more than likely ramping up my reading as all other activities get pruned in an effort to save up at least 6 months worth of money on which to live while I try to establish myself in a town 3000 miles from where I grew up in a city where I know nobody.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Notice of Absence - 10/24/10 - 11/02/10

Today, I'm leaving to go out to the west coast for a few days.

I'm of course not looking forward to the hassle of the airport, I don't much like to fly to be honest. but I like the places I can get too via a plane.. so its a useful inconvenience if nothing else. So beyond that, and having to sit in Charlotte North Carolina each way for a 3 hour layover.. It won't be too bad.

I might post some small stuff on my netbook while I'm there.. but I'm hopefully going to be too busy doing other stuff to remember. This will be my second trip to Portland Oregon, and I also am planning to head out to Astoria, and to a few other places on the coast. Have been a huge fan of it since seeing the Goonies for the first time 21 years ago.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The gunslinger chased the man in black through the desert, and I followed.

Having just, no more than 5 minutes ago finished turning the last page of the last of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series.. I can say that I am left with only one feeling.


I could spoil the ending, but I'm not going too. This isn't out of any particular urge not to ruin the series for anyone else.. I just don't not want others to be as annoyed as I was when they get to the ending, and then think.. Is that it? Is that how the series ends?

If it wasn't for the fact that the proposed 8th volume actually would fall between the 4th and 5th volumes.. I'd be prone to fall back on cynicism and say the ending was done specifically to set up for more sequels.. but then I think, this is Stephen of the most prolific authors in the world, and maybe not the wealthiest but he isn't hurting either.. I don't really know if he comes across as the sort who would write sequels just to cash in.. like the writer of a certain boy wizard seems to be doing now that the movie money is going to be running out soon.

To say I was unimpressed is an understatement.. but then I've not really liked either of the last two books in the series.. I felt that the inclusion of the writer himself was just a tad too strange. And the character of Mordred served no clear point except to up the gore factor.

Now comes the waiting, soon they will begin working on the hybrid Television/Movie adaption of the series. We will get to see how they change it, what they opt to leave out. I have no idea if Ron Howard and company will do a good job or not. I felt he was perfectly adequate for adaption of Dan Brown novels. But then I don't really hold those in much esteem to be honest. And while I am ambivalent towards the ending of the Dark Tower, the journey for the most part, until book 6 anyway, was one hell of a ride.

I look forward to one day in the future being able to sit and watch it all as one epic film. It probably won't happen. After all, I'm still waiting on a single edit of Lord of the Rings which seems destined to never appear. But I can hope.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Towers of Midnight, Who dosen't have a copy?

Maybe its nothing, but I for one am kind of sick of bloggers posting photos of this book just to show off the fact they got it 2 weeks earlier than everyone else. I won't go into any theories as to why.. but it is an odd fad thats cropped up...

Its driving my friends nuts.
Which means I have to deal with it.

So stop it.


Think of my sanity rather than your page hits.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Battlestar Gallactica.

I never watched this the first time it was on, I didn't really know anything about the original except for the robot dog. So because of this ambivilance, and the stigma of change for change sake Starbuck. I chose not to watch the Mini Series back in 2004/5 and so when the show started I was completely lost.

But it's since been added to Netflix's Instant view system. So I started watching it. And have just finished the Mini-Series. It was an extremely bleak couple of hours. But Edward James Olmos really shines as Commander Adama.. even if I don't really care for Donnie Darko's Mom as the President. And I'm still not sure how I feel about Starbuck. And I really really dislike the Cylon woman.

Just the mini-series so far. But I've got a few things that kind of bug me about it. For starters, why do the space battles have sound effects? After going to all the trouble to show how the Vipers fly in space, they add sound effects?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meanwhile on

I don't post there, so I don't check it that often. But I happen'd across this rather interesting thread.

Apparently, some chap in Russia has written himself some Fan Fiction set in Middle Earth.. at best one could call it an "Unauthorized Pastiche".. But I prefer to reserve Pastiche for "Authorized Fan-fiction".

Anyway, they are having a very heated debate about the quality or lack thereof of this book. I dunno what to say about it really. It looks like utter drek to me. And I don't see why any of them are even treating it as if it is anything but fan-fiction..

I'll refrain from re-posting the samples given in that thread, but they are there for you if you want them.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

They keep saying "Maybe"

Yesterday was October the 12th, that means it was Columbus Day. Saturday was the 9th, which means it was Lief Erikson day. No one gets Lief Erikson day off from work, but then not many people get Columbus day off either.

But I've noticed something on a large number of websites. Every one that is running a fluff piece on Columbus, makes mention of the earlier Norse exploration of the "New World".. But they always do it with the caveat that they "Maybe" found it first. Now, I don't understand this.. since I thought the L'Anse Aux Meadows site was pretty certainly Norse, and pretty certainly built around the year 1000. Which is just shy of 500 years before Columbus "Discovered" jack diddly.

I realize that in the US, there are, how shall we say, political ramifications of this shifting history. If you've seen the TV show "The Sopranos" they show several very outraged people's reaction to the altering of teaching about Columbus. But cultural identity means nothing compared to Facts. And the Fact is, that neither Lief Erikson, The Chinese Grand Fleet, or Columbus "Discovered" the new world. But as far as we know, even if it wasn't Lief specifically.. the Vikings were the first Europeans to build a settlement here as far as the current research allows us to know.

So why do they persist in making it sound as if its just a theory?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disappearing act.

As I have mentioned before, one of my hobbies is Genealogy. I work on it together with my mom, and a few various other family members. For the most part, we are fairly successful in this endeavor. Having been able to reliably trace the majority of my family back at least as far as Colonial America, if not back to the British Isles or Europe, and a few even back as far as the late middle ages.

To me, this adds to my story. It means that my anscestors were the lucky few who didn't die in child birth, who made it past age 5, who didn't die of the plague, who weren't killed in one of the infinite numbers of wars which Europe can boast throughout its history, and didn't freeze or starve to death, and who weren't hanged for poaching a few ducks eggs.

But my family tree has a glaring black mark on it. In the form of my maternal grandfather's, father. We know his name, and the fact he was born in 1906. But we don't know a thing else about him except where he died. We don't know what town, county or state he was born in. Worse, he was born during a void in the draft, but after the state militia ceased to exist. Before the Income Tax began. Marriages, Births and Deaths were frequently unrecorded. And the vaunted U.S. Census only recorded head of household and how many people live there. Not their names.

His wife, who we know slightly more about, only goes back through her paternal grandmothers line. But it, is one of the few that goes back to the middle ages, and while I don't trust it, without some sort of paper trail to prove it at least.. to the dark ages.

This is nearly a full 1/4th of my ancestry that is proving elusive. I've searched and searched. And while I've got living relatives who might know, the annoying thing about Genealogy in the South Eastern United States is.. people are interested in breadth, not depth when it comes to "findin' Kin" They want to know who you are related too, that they are related too, but don't seem so much interested in where they came from to begin with, at least in my experience.

I feel that I am beginning to know how Pellinore must have felt during his endless chase for the questin' beast.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I think I may have figured it out.

I finished reading the Anthology " Swords and Dark Magic " today. At the beginning of the book, there is a small introduction from the editors, it briefly explains what Sword and Sorcery is and where it came from. Upon re-reading it, I've had an epiphany.

I've mentioned here before that I don't care for the ambiguous morals of a lot of modern day Fantasy stories. I wondered why, especially after having been repeatedly asked how I feel Conan or Fafhrd and the Grey mouser are different.

The Difference is length, and the plot.

It seems simple now, looking at it, but it really didn't before. I can deal with morally ambiguous characters so long as the fate of the world dosen't rest on their actions.

The average Conan story, is less than 100 pages long. It gives Conan enough time to do his thing, and then go back to whatever it is he does between stories. He does some thieving maybe, pilfering some candle stick from an open window in Shadizar then slipping back to the Maul for a tankard or three. But had he been written by one of these modern writers. He would have slipped in, raped the dog while the owner watched in horror, slit the persons throat then peed on the rug for good measure. But Howard didn't have space as a luxury with which to dwell on all the possible anti social things Conan could have hypothetically engaged in. Space was a premium. He got paid by the word, and the magazines were crunched by the depression. He had to get on with it. But the longest, though not the only Conan story where the fate of the many rests on his shoulders, Hour of the Dragon, he makes the right choice and proves he is a better king than his predecessor.

But I came to this conclusion after reading Joe Abercrombie's short story in this anthology. I'd said before on my review of the first 300 pages of The Blade Itself, that I didn't think he was a bad writer, merely a writer who created characters I didn't like. And thats what got me thinking about the length issue. In The Blade Itself, big things are clearly afoot. But if it was my world, I wouldn't have wanted any of his protagonists to be the ones it was left too to fix. All the characters except Logan Ninefingers. I didn't feel I could trust any of them to do the right thing.

Logan was the closest thing to a "Hero" the book could boast, and it was made clear upon the introduction of his cronies when they murder a child, that he wasn't really all that Heroic. If only by virtue of associating with people of their ilk, it marred him. And thats the whole point, Abercrombie had essentially limitless space to expound on all these reprobates. Had he been limited to 50-100 pages to tell the story of "The Blade Itself", or maybe a single 300 page novel for the entire story, instead of closer to 1000 pages.. I may have liked it better.

Since the late 1980's a fantasy novel isn't really a fantasy novel without at least 400 pages.. On the one hand, it gives writers the luxury of endlessly illustrate details. This itself can turn into monotony like what Robert Jordan did with the Wheel of Time. He minutely details the dress of his characters, of their mannerisms and quirks, what the furnishings of a room are like. Or it can give you lots of time to flesh out the History of your world beyond what is immediately needed for the story.

But, on the other it allows for the kicking over as many rotten logs as they want. Forcing you to see all the creepy crawlers that skitter away when the light hits them. Stuff that would normally be left quietly along the roadside due to having more pressing concerns.. are now gleefully dragged into the street and rolled in like dogs.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And with that, I'm done.

I just finished reading the 6th book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. It's the one everyone warned me about. It's the one where Goodkind's Objectivist/Humanist politics come front and center, where as they had been mainly in the background (and hence easy to ignore) since a quick scene in Wizard's First rule which was forgotten about just as quickly. It's not that I hold his political views against him, thats not the case at all. But I do hold against him ham handed preaching of said ideas. I don't like any book, trying to convert me to any thing. Whether it be a political idea, or a religious one.

The other thing I don't like, are the more and more sadistic sex scenes. I realize you want to make your villains appear to be evil.. but you already had one of them be a pedophile way back in the first book. It's kind of hard to top that, and simply getting more graphic with the scenes just make you like you have a problem.

It makes me wonder, had the TV series lasted this long, how would it have handled Richard's preaching? How would it have handled the increasingly sadistic sex scenes in the book?

It's really a shame too, as I really liked his character Zedd. Along with a few of the others.. But if the rest of the books in the series are this bad, I just don't want to waist my time trying to read them. I skimmed big chunks of this one as it was. I dunno, maybe I will give #7 a try after the new year.. but for now I'm through with them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dawn of the Book Scanners

This past weekend, was a big weekend for me. 4 different libraries near me all had their annual book sale. I loaded up big time. At least at one of them. Last year, I loaded up at none of them. The difference being, this year, the biggest of the sales, banned Electronic Scanners.

It vastly improved the selection of books, and also improved the overall atmosphere of the sale. Over the last few years, these sales, along with Goodwill stores have become demon haunted wastelands thanks to the efforts of some of these " Resellers ". They show up, riffle through all the books as fast as they can. Scan all the bar-codes, using a PDA and cartridge, loaded with software that checks Amazon for sales chart status and approximate value.

On the one hand, this is a good thing. Instead of the book languishing at a goodwill for a few weeks before being sent off to be pulped.. it gets bought and put online and some one who wants it can buy it. It's also fueling an ultra cheap after market for college text books. At least some of the time.. some of the resellers simply list them for at or slightly below cover price. A second hand college text, bought 2.00$ at goodwill.. can net them a 50-60$ profit. On that note, they are buying a Donated book for a very small amount of money and then reselling it for many times what they paid for it. That's not the worst aspect of them though. Their attitude is.

Of the ones I've had the misfortune to run across, they tend to be rude, they elbow you out of their way. Treating other shoppers, as if they are literally taking food out of their mouths. I've seen them go through other shoppers carts if they think no one is looking. At a Library book sale last year, I even saw one of them going through the 'Hold' boxes you get up at the front of the room under the check out tables. Until the library people made them leave, he was taking books that other people had already picked out and put aside to continue shopping. They denude goodwill stores so badly sometimes that its not even worth going to them anymore to look for books. I've read of people having confrontations with the. Its a related concept to that scourge used to plague the toy world. The Scalper. They engineered scarcity, but didn't take advantage of a charity.

I know there is nothing legally wrong with what these guys are doing, it's almost always men, but I can't be alone in feeling that perhaps its unethical?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Books I'm looking at for 2011 or not

was looking at Locus's list of upcoming books.. and color me disappointed..

The List goes all the way through June of 2011, and I can't find a single thing on it.. apart from maybe a new Elizibeth Moon book.. that I'm even remotely interested.. there are two Malazan books on the list.. but I don't really know much about that series. I know it gets touted as being great, and TOR certainly lavishes enough effort on them.. every one of them seems to have three different editions.. and its the only series from TOR that I think you can usually find every book in it in Trade Paperback format at most mega book stores.. but I've also heard that its its very much in the grim and gritty style which I really don't care for.. On the other hand.. I've heard a lot of people compare it to Glen Cook's black company books.. which I really liked.

So I dunno, looks like this year will be another year of scouring book sales, goodwill and ebay looking for authors I've read, books I've not read yet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

sameness in the blogosphere.

I can't be the only one who's noticed it.. because I know I've read some other similar comments lately somewhere.. but does it seem like an awful lot of blogs all seem to review the same books.. and always seem to give them good reviews?

Do they never review a book, and then think.. my god that was horrible? the cynic in me thinks they review these "big release" books.. and then give them glowing reviews whether they really like them or not.. just to keep the gravy train of ARCs flowing. Many Many of these same blogs who are guilty of this dodgy reviewing scheme also seem to continually post pictures of "what came in the mail today".. which generally is all the books that aren't the ones the publisher really wants to push. Are the blogs simply being used as part of a marketing scheme?

I know I got taken by it once already, I bought in to the hype of the First Law trilogy entirely. So I'll admit that perhaps I'm just skeptical now about anything that reviewers like. Though it does seem to be an inordinate amount of stuff from PYR and ORBIT that gets the reviews these days.. and having read an author each from PYR, Joe Abercrombie and ORBIT, K.J.Parker.. I can't help but find the only similarity that these authors have.. with another pair of authors that are tremendously hyped on the blogs but I can't stand. China Meivelle and Richard K. Morgan.. they are all British.. so what happened in Britain? Is British fantasy going through a period like British Sci-Fi went through in the 60's and 70's? or British Comic Books went through in the 70's and 80's?

I feel it's important because, just like the Comic books.. it seems to be spreading to this side of the pond.. through the likes of Scott Lynch and Sam Sykes.. Authors I've never actually read but feel no desire to read simply because they have either been compared favourably to one of the British authors I mentioned.. or have been reviewed favourably by a blogger who gave high marks to one of the British authors I mentioned.

I find the grim and gritty, morally shady, cynical to a fault fantasy novels to be at complete loggerheads with anything remotely resembling what I would consider to be good. I like Anti-Heros as much as the next guy.. But I feel that a balance must be met some where. I personally see enough "bad" people exploiting "good" people in real life.. and part of the reason I like the Fantasy Genre is.. the bad people actually get punished.. instead of in real life where they just get elected to high Office or install themselves as president for life in a coup.

I know I've wandered a bit by this point.. But I just feel as if bloggers, in their efforts to score free swag are contributing to the destruction of something I really enjoy. It's really pretty bad.. I've actually found myself reading the blogs to find books that the reviewer dosen't like.. and then seeking them out just to be contrary.. and in some cases really enjoying the books.. but of course the criticisms leveled at these books tend to be things like "too traditional" or "Too black and white".. I think I'd happily read hundreds of Tol-clones rather than be subjected to one more K.J. Parker..

But if thats the case, and "traditional Fantasy" is a clear category.. what exactly does this new stuff get called? my own vote, of crap, is a bit too laced with hyperbole.. but I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

... and then we get to the bad news.

So.. now its being reported by the L.A. Times that the Hobbit is perhaps only days from being green lit, that all the kerfluffle's with the actors unions, the Tolkien estate and everyone else in the the world are close to being sorted. If this is true, it would allow the movie to go into production on schedule in January, and still make its projected December 2012 release date.

However, the New York Times, as usual, brings the bad news.. and is reporting that it will more than likely be shot in 3D...

So I guess that means no Midnight show for me, since I'm officially refraining from spending my money on any movie shot in, or converted to 3D.


Friday, October 1, 2010

It's amusing, really.

I dunno if you guys have ever heard of writer who's initials are W.R.S or not.. I'm not going to go into too much detail about him... (I don't want a letter from him posing as a Lawyer, like so many other blogs/forums have gotten) except that he is a relentless self promoter, and is notorious for getting negative reviews of his books removed from Amazon.. I certainly don't wish the guy ill or anything.. and I almost kind of admire him for not letting the publishing industry deter him from doing something he obviously enjoys..

On the other hand..

when I went to the public library the other day, and found they had more of his books than they had of nearly any other Fantasy author except Robert Jordan or Mercedes Lackey.. I was absolutely astounded by this. They had 7 of his books at my local branch, and when I looked it up in the card catalog (Georgia uses a system called PINES, which links all the libraries in the majority of the state together with one card catalog.) and in the entire system, there were probably 40-50 copies of his assorted titles..

It really pissed me off.. thats my SPLOST money going to buy those books.. I think I'm going to have to see about joining the Friends of the Library and see if I can't figure out who's responsible for this and explain the situation to them. Whats done, can't be undone but I can do my best to make sure it dosen't continue. My local library system dosen't exactly have a big budget. They are heavily dependent on volunteers and book sales in order to purchase new books.. and the occasional splost grant.

No Sir, I don't like it.

netbook armed and ready comrade

you get a bunch of geek points if you can place the quote I paraphrased there.

been spending the last few hours getting my netbook all ready, got open office, firefox, chrome, pigin, security, the whole nine yards.. I'll neither confirm nor deny a torrent app. a few other things, like updating flash, silverlight, adobe reader.. and setting up my book marks. since its primarly for travel I've made sure to put all my travel tools on it. booking sites, favorite B&B's and Hostels that I've stayed at.. car rental... maps of various airports I've been through and am likely to go to again.

all in all its a neat little critter, the keyboard takes some getting used too so you will have to excuse any typos in this post.. its about half the size of what I'm used too. but it makes up for it by only weighing 4lbs.. slightly less than a jug of milk. loaded all the rest of my mp3s on it that didn't fit on my mp3 player... and while I was doing all this I watched Buckaroo Banzai on it via Netflix. which if you've never seen you really should.

starting next week, will be Voltron Wednesdays, sure its not as snappy as Warlord Wednesdays, but said with my Swiss friends accent and its Woltron Wednesdays... so it sort of works. I've never actually seen the entirety of Voltron.. but since they are fixing to start working on a live action version, i figure I better that way i will be better equipped to moan about how much the live action one sucks when it comes out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Lord of the Rings Online is Turbine's answer to World of Warcraft. I have to admit, that when it launched, I was unimpressed with it. It was difficult to play, the graphics were not very good and it seemed to be very buggy. It didn't hold a candle to World of Warcraft. It was however, the second best MMORPG that I had played at that point. Easily outpacing the dreadful Final Fantasy 11 and lackluster Warhammer Online.

At the time I had not played Age of Conan, Guildwars or Everquest 2. I've played those three now as well. Guildwars is fun, but suffers from scale problems. It's not a very large game, and its updates are few and far between unless you want to shell out for the expansions, some of which are still going for full price despite the length of time they have been out. Age of Conan suffered from simply being excruciatingly difficult once you got into the "real" world.. huge grinds against enemies who easily outclassed your pitiful character, not to mention the ever present threat of randomly being killed by assassins. Everquest 2, I played at the behest of a friend. I'd grown up during the Evercrack fear mongering, and had never given it a second thought. Not to mention, I didn't have Internet during most of the time it was out. But EQ 2 was something of a surprise, it was generally pretty fun, it just had really poor graphics for a game they expected you to pay for.

I quit playing WOW a little over a year ago, I had completed all of the quests included in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. And one day it dawned on me how silly it was to keep shelling out money to loiter in Ironforge while waiting (usually in vain) to run the same dungeon I'd already run 50 times again. So I just stopped putting coins in the machine.

But recently, Turbine, who has Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have converted them both over to a free to play via micro transaction scheme. I had played DDO this way, and didn't think much of it, but then DDO was apparently a pretty lackluster game to begin with. But when I saw they were fixing to have a Beta for LOTRO, I jumped at it. I can't say much, as I'm pretty sure I signed away my soul when I agreed to their EULA for the BETA.. But now that the actual game has launched. I have to say, I'm impressed.

They have clearly fixed some of the annoying problems the original had, toned down the monster and quest difficulty (sometimes to the point of being silly, but still) and the fact that you have to pay to unlock various things dosen't really negatively impact the game, at least not so far anyway. You have to unlock certain questing areas, but most of them unlock pretty cheap.. and certainly cheaper than paying a monthly subscription. And it is a style of pay for play that I feel vastly improves the over all experience. I don't feel as if I have to keep playing in order to get the most for my money. If I don't want to play at all, I've not lost anything. If I wanted to play a lot and run out of stuff to do, I can pay a bit (usually about 10$ for 100 - 200 new quests) and continue to play.

I'd not say the game is as much fun as WOW is, but WOW has a sort of homey cartoony feeling that is extremely inviting. And it is marked forever as absolutely being a Blizzard game. Lord of the Rings Online, dosen't really succeed in meshing with either the books, nor the live action films. But the people who assembled it clearly know their Tolkien lore, even if they have had to invent a tremendous amount of geography in order to fill in the blank spaces. In the North Downs, you can even do a quest for Trotter. If you don't follow that reference, you need to turn in your Tolkien fan card at the door on your way out.

And they give away the soundtrack for free. It's on, and if you ever need some good background music for a D&D game, or something along those lines.. its quite good.

I plan to play Final Fantasy 14 at some point, but currently all I've been able to find are the extremely expensive Collectors Editions. And since I have to pay for it every month, I don't really want to shell out two months subscription just to get an Onion Helmet. I'll give it a shot once I can play a demo.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Time to call it a day, Mr. Jackson?

According to, and their various sources.. the already troubled adaption of the Hobbit has hit yet another problem. This time, due to some Minuscule new Zealand actors union.

I have very little time for Unions when it comes to anything to do with the film industry.. they aren't essential to the welfare of the Nation or planet the way that air traffic controllers or coal miners or teachers or firefighters are. And since we are still feeling the effects of the 2008 SWG strike.. in other words I hold them responsible for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.. and a sin of that sort takes a long time to atone for.

Now, Ian Mckellen, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett are all making noise that they may decline to be in "The Hobbit" unless Warner Brothers/MGM and Peter Jackson agree to the demands of this Union. So no Gandalf, no Elrond, and no White Council scene.

I'm going to admit, I'm looking at this only from my perspective. I want the adaptions made, I wanted them made back in 2004, and feel that a lot of the problems the production has been beset by are Peter Jackson's Fault alone. He didn't strike while the iron was hot, he dawdled and made King Kong and the Lovely bones.. two movies which vastly underperformed when compared to the Rings adaptions. I understand that, The Lord of the Rings was an immense undertaking, it was a huge project which consumed nearly a decade of his life. But I still feel that a large chunk of the production problems rest on his shoulders.

But the financial squabbles have plagued the Tolkien adaption since Return of the King swept the Oscars. And they cannot be laid at the feet of Peter Jackson alone. No one cared when they didn't think it was going to make any money.. And yes, a lot of the actors who were in the Rings adaption were treated very shabbily from all indications. The financial problems have come from all directions, from the Tolkien Estate, from Tolkien Enterprises, from New Line, from Peter Jackson, from Warner Brothers. Not even taking into account MGM's own financial problems, which are essentially the Hobbit's financial problems because of the ridiculous Intellectual property laws at work.

But at this point, I feel that if it's going to turn into such a fiasco that they may have to move the production to eastern Europe (following in the footsteps of Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and then do without the few actors who would bring continuity to the new production from the previous films.. it simply isn't worth doing.

It's a huge screw up, and as always, the only people who truly lose out here are the fans, that and the non union people in New Zealand who would stand to make a tremendous amount of money off of the production, not to mention the upsurge in tourism.

I for one, as a fan, am tired of this constant march of good news, bad news. Every time we think something might be maybe going to happen, an actor yaps their gob or column of figures dosen't add up right and we are back to waiting.

So when is it time to throw in the towel?

Monday, September 20, 2010

but what about Robert E. Howard?

Over on, they had a discussion naming off the "Top ten Lizard people".. and noticeably absent were the Serpent Men from "Shadow Kingdom".. I know they aren't technically " Lizard People ".. but they are Reptillian humanoids none the less.. and since as far as I know, apart from examples in mythology, the oldest representation.. they definitely need to be represented..

I've told them so, but so should you. You can do so, here.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I'll admit it now, until two days ago I had never seen any of the Original Series Star Trek films all the way through.

Sure, I'd caught them in part many many times on cable, and never bothered to watch them. Maybe it was because of the commercials or maybe its because I've never really been able to sit and watch a movie all the way through. I fidget and have to take frequent breaks..I'll read while watching, or do something else.. I can't stand to just sit in one place for 2+ hours..

But netflix recently added, along with the bulk of the star trek films (I think all of them except Generations) to its instant view system.. so I decided I would make myself sit in one place and watch them all, all the way through. So starting with the first one, and with only one intermission, I finished it in the same night I began.

I didn't hate it, I didn't think it moved to slowly, and I didn't even mind that it recycled aspects of a TV episode.. I really liked the score. The thing that actually drove me nuts, were the costumes. I really disliked the white spandex.. it was not as bad as the wool sweaters from "The Cage".. but it was pretty bad.. the special effects I liked, the script I liked..

So now that I've seen it, I'm going to continue and watch what most people think to be the best star trek film ever.. "Wrath of Khan".. which is also the only one I've seen better than half of.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Red Box

I bought it last night on a lark at Barnes&Nobel. I already have the 4e books, but my group really hadn't had much fun trying to make heads nor tails of them. I think it was too much like jumping into the deep end without being able to swim.

we wound up playing through the entire boxed game last night, in record time. The extreme simplification of the game with the addition of chits and a map to move them around really seems to help. Unless you have an extremely skilled DM, I think it helps to have some visual representation to prevent people getting "lost" in their minds.

Its got a neat retro box, with nice artwork, and was a pretty solid investment for 20.00$ considering how much fun it provided for the evening. It was certainly better than the boxed game for 3.0 when I got it what seems like ages and ages ago at Toys R' us.

I'm hoping that after we run through it a few more times, using its more simplified system.. that I can then begin to ween the players off of using the cards and chits and begin to incorporate more and more detail from the full version of the game.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And now... Time for the New Book Song.

well not really new.. but I went to goodwill today and came out with quite a haul.

The complete Elric stories in Hardcover omnibus format, and a collection of Elric pastiches being the big find. But I'm quite pleased with the rest too. I had just bought the new TPB of the Dying Earth stories from Orb too.. so I guess its off to the trade-a-book with that one.. can use it to buy a few more of my Ballantine Adult Fantasy volumes I need.

Though a bit Redundant I'd also gotten the eleventh volume of the Eternal Champion mega series.. which is the same as volume 1 of the hardcover series and Revenge of the Rose.. simply printed in chronological order. It isn't pictured, but it will go with my Kane of Old Mars book from the same series.. maybe one day I will get them all.

I wish that the Reluctant King had its dust jacket, but I'm not sure I'm going to keep it or not.. it depends on if I can get the Honourable Barbarian to match. If not, I will be content with my paperbacks for it.

And the Complete Compleat Enchanter is an upgrade, as before all I had was Compleat Enchanter.

The two Stargate volumes form sort of book ends for the film, there are a few more in the series.. but I am not really sure I care enough to hunt them down.. I've not made up my mind yet.

And last are a couple of World War II related buys, a Jack Higgins Omnibus so I can replace my tattered paperbacks.. and a nice Coffee Table book of maps about General Patton's 3rd Armoured's career in the European Theatre.

Got a couple of Book sales coming up later this month too.. so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will score a few goodies.

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Sword

I'll admit to not being really knowledgeable about modern music. If it came out much after 2000 then I don't really have a clue. It could be because I have a hard time finding stuff made after that that I like.. to much Metal is just Death Growl nonsense.. or a bunch of angry Scandinavians screaming about Satan. I mean I've had a few exceptions that I've come across.. I really like the Faroese group TYR.. but its not a really common occurance..

I happened to be in one of the only local music stores remaining.. Athens Georgia has I believe three.. but I only really ever go into two of them.. Wuxtry, and School Kids.. I went in Wuxtry first but they seemed to be having some plumbing problems or something so I didn't stick around. But when I went into school kids, I came across a group called " The Sword ".. so I wound up buying two of their albums based on the cover art.. I've been quite pleased with them so far..

I think I like their first album better than the second one. And so I'm now trying to scour Youtube hoping to find some other groups similar to them. But without a whole lot of luck in that regard..

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fantastical Randroids

I've finished reading the 5th Terry Goodkind volume.. I forget exactly the title.. though thats sort of a summation of the whole series up to this point.

He gets flack a lot, and I don't always agree with it. I'm not someone who just seem to say he sucks as a blanket statement.. He may, but not so far.. His books just aren't memorable and I've been having a harder and harder time working my way through each one. He has moments that are very close to being riveting, and then ruins them with pages of completely out of place drawing room style dialogue.. but I've read much much worse, and their is a lot worse out there.

The thing though, that I think bugs them, Is that Goodkind is heavily influenced by the "philosophy" of Ayn Rand.. of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and other such books. I'm not going to comment much on its Political implications except to say that I feel it requires a much higher caliber of human being than actually exists in order for it to work as she describes it. Beyond that I don't really have an opinion on it.

But that seems to be what Goodkind is attempting to produce, the clean cut wholesome sort of people who are so lacking in avarice and greed yet are driven and ambitious enough that they can actually live harmoniously in a world where her concepts can flourish. It isn't a world in which you work to simply get rich, but rather work to produce really good output and that all proceeds from such are rightfully yours.

You could see bits of his fascination with her ideas creeping in as far back as the first volume, Wizard's First Rule. But it was largely absent from the 2-4th volumes. But it reared its ugly head with a vengeance in Volume 5 with his transparent caricatures Bertram (Bill) and Hildemara (Hillary) Chanboor (Clinton).

So it got me thinking, I know that this particular Author (Rand) has an extremely devoted following, especially amongst college kids and reformed-via-Reaganomics Hippies like my father. Quite a few Fantasy and Sci-Fi books, lots of music, and a Government Think Tank(the Rand Corporation) that if not actually influenced or named for her, clearly share many of the same philosophical leanings instanced in their infamous concept of Game Theory on which almost all modern politics and marketing are based..

I know that Anton LeVey, the leader of the Church of Satan was inspired by her.. and also by the grotesque "Might is Right" written by the enigmatic Ragnar Redbeard (possibly Jack London in a Johnathan swift, A modest proposal sort of mood).. So I can't personally say how much of her philosophy he borrowed.

I know that quite a few early tracks by the band RUSH were heavily inspired by her.

Anyone else have any specific Examples?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Substitute Expendables

Finally got around to seeing the new Stallone film, the Expendables. I don't get to the theatre much these days, I prefer to go during the day when there are fewer people.. but a lot of theatres are making up for loss of income by not opening until later in the day.

I thought it was an alright film, not spectacular or anything, but not bad either. I enjoyed seeing some old favorites back in action like Dolph Lundgren. I rather enjoyed his "The Punisher".. It wasn't as good as Thomas Janes but it wasn't bad either. I thought Stallone was rather understated in it, not hamming it up like he perhaps rightfully could have done. But I really prefer Statham as the quiet Frank Martin of Transporter series( and a small cameo in Micheal Mann's Collateral). But I enjoyed it for what it was. I hope they make another one, and manage to get some more of the old staples for the second go around.

The obvious ones, like Seagal and Van Damme would be nice, but I'd thought of some who perhaps don't get mentioned a lot today while watching TV. I came across one of the films in the Sniper series, staring Tom Beringer.

Berringer has been a favorite of mine ever since I was about 12, when he stared as Theodore Roosevelt in John Milius's made for TV mini series "The Rough Riders".. and solidified by his role of Sgt. Barnes in Oliver Stones "Platoon". He was in "The Big Chill" also but during the 90's and into the 2000's he really hasn't done a whole lot of "Big" stuff.. But he did make the great film " The Substitute" which I feel is a good send up of films like Stand and Deliver and their type. and of course the multi installment, Sniper series. He is a bit older sure, but not any more so than Stallone.

I'd like to see maybe, Francisco Quinn. Another Platoon Alum and Rough Riders alum. He's one of those actors who has been in a lot of parts but you maybe don't know his name. but one of his more recent ones was Larry Bishops HellRide.

Keith David is a lot older now than he was back when he beat the crap out of Roddy Piper in an alley in "They Live" But he's always fun to have around.

And then some more obscure people, like Al Leong.. you might remember him as Enzo from Lethal Weapon.. and the guy who steals the candy bars during the Lobby shoot out in Die Hard. He's recently been on "24" quite a bit.

Other great options would in my opinion include people like Jean Reno, who stared in "Leon" and the Crimson Rivers series.. not to mention shoot first, ask questions later, Cop in "Wasabi".

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Arise... Netbookimus Prime.

A trifle melodramatic.. and a tad garbled in transmission.. but I'll be excitedly waiting for UPS to bring me my new Netbook sometime this week.

I've wanted one for a while now, to be able to go out but still be able to keep up to date on my RSS feeds and what have you.. and desperate not to look like a complete phony, I didn't want anything that began with an " I- ".. so its just an Acer. But it will work with my Sandisk MP3 player, and my pay as I go cell phone..

The other news is, the new Masterpiece Transformer figure which TakaraTomy is at this moment putting the finishing touches on is none other than Rodimus Prime.. but wait.. it is also Hot Rod. The toy actually changes and "Grows" from smallish Hot Rod.. into biggish Rodimus Prime.. I think its a pretty neat idea.. when they could have made both as separate toys.. If it is anything as good as Masterpiece Megatron, or my much coveted Masterpiece Grimlock (curse you Toys R' Us) He will be pretty nice.. Now if they will just go back and give us a new Masterpiece Optimus Prime incorporating more of these new engineering advances the other toys boast.. we will be all set.

I promise I will finish up the Leonard Carpenter Conan book on Hyborian Apocrypha soon too.. It's not that it is bad.. per say.. in the same way that the Steve Perry ones were.. But I'm nearly 150 pages into it and nothing has happened so far.. He's not even traveled long distances while nothing happens like the Steve Perry books.. I felt if I didn't take a break from it for a bit I'd start having moss grow on me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It never rains...

I've not mentioned it previously, but I'm in the early stages of trying to write my own book. I got tired of people saying, in response to some complaint I would make about another persons book, " Well if you think you can do better...." so since I do think I can do better, I'm trying my hand at it..

I never expect anything to come from it. I never even intend to submit it to any agents. I simply want to see if I can do it.

The odds aren't in my favor even if I were so inclined. That is something thats been intoned into my brain over and over and over again by countless blogs, and websites that all claim to be able to help you write a Query or Proposal. But I think they really are just anti-creativity landmines waiting patiently for some one to step on them and get their literary legs blown off.

Many of them pack the force of small nuclear yields when wielded against a persons creative impulses. You are left with an all pervasive sense of " Why even bother then? ". After several days of reading them, I've felt that same way. but have slowly been able to pull myself back from the brink of total despondency. And it frequently makes me wonder, with the odds so stacked against a person.. how does so much amazingly bad fiction make it into the corner book store?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jesus had Long Hair.... and

He'd so get suspended in Itasca, Texas.

This is the second time I've posted something regarding the length of some lad's locks. I wish I didn't have too. But I see no changes forth coming. The Previous time was a much younger child, but I see nothing wrong with either of these boys chosen paraphrase Public Enemy, It's straight up sexist simple and plain.

It might seem a bit odd to post about young kids.. but to be honest I sympathize with him entirely.. growing up I wanted long hair really badly.. I grew up in a house hold surrounded by photographs of my parents and their friends in the 60s, long hair and long beards. I suffered all the same discrimination, and suffered the clearly encouraged attacks by school mates.

So here is to you Kenneth.

I'd give them the finger myself.. but I'm kind of holding the camera.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Robert Jordan and the Tor Conan series.

I'm not going to divest at length on this subject.. I really dunno the stories behind the constant swapping of publishers for the Conan pastiches back in the 80's...

But I had noticed, that in Barnes and Noble, you can get a Hardback collection of three of Robert Jordan's tales "The Further Chronicles of Conan". And if you go to Book-A-Million, you can get its precursor in hardcover "The Chronicles of Conan". I know that TOR had reprinted 6 of the 7 that Robert Jordan had written in both individual volumes and in Omnibus trade paperbacks.. But I didn't realize that they had re-printed the hardcover omnibus versions too.

I don't know if it was done to cash in on his death, or if its simply trying to get some extra cash for his wife by milking the publicity from the Brandon Sanderson completed Wheel of Time Series.. I really don't care either way. But the similarities of the names, Robert E. Howard and Robert Jordan, has in my experience already caused some confusion in the racks at the book store.. I could be surrounded by exceptionally dumb people.. true.. but I'm sure some people are no doubt genuinely confused..

I've not bought either hardcover, and don't plan too.. as it would interrupt my Conan Pastiche shelf which barring 3 of the tors, are all Mass Market Format. And I don't currently own any of the Robert E. Howard Originals in hardcover.. so it seems in bad taste to own pastiches in the format.

I wish I hadn't missed out on the book club ones when I had the chance.