Monday, August 22, 2011

Not the kind of Sexism you think of when you Think Conan.

Despite what some would have you think, Most Conan fans aren't sexist against women. They tend to be, from my interactions very welcoming to almost any thing that has a slash between it's legs. On the other hand, there is a decided anti-male sexism which the Conan fandom is absolutely rife. It's one of the reasons I started a blog rather than post at I'm putting this here specifically so as to not incur the wrath of the moderators at that forum. Most of the people there are perfectly friendly, but occasionally this sort of thing pops up.

There are many reasons that I think we all enjoy our favorite Cimmerian and they are as follows:
A.) He's a man's man. In today's American society it almost seems cool to be metrosexual, go to the tanning bed, and shave your chest. Don't even get me started on the emasculation of the American male in today's society. Gone are John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold ENTER Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and the era of the pretty boy.

I don't know about you, but I don't read Conan stories specifically because he's a big strapping guy with loads of hair on his chest. I also don't make it a habit to insult others just because their body types don't fit my ideal. What this poster is attempting to say is exactly what Chuck Palanhiuk said 100 times better in Fight Club. Brad Pitt was awesome in that by the way, So was Edward Norton come to think of it. Neither of them would fit this posters narrow definition of masculinity, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to run into Tyler Durden (Or Mickey the Pikey for that matter) in a dark ally. If you know anything about Palahniuk, you also know that being a small man dosen't make you weak or emasculated, and simply being a big strong man dosen't protect you. That criteria lead partially to the death of his father.

I'm sure a lot of women find Conan to be attractive, but just as many swoon over Daniel Radcliffe, Orlando Bloom, Robert Pattison, and your much derided Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. It's a big world and theres room enough for all manner of body types. You and others like you seem mainly bitter at getting old. Your favorite actors aren't particularly important anymore, or are now directors rather than stars. It dosen't change a thing about them.

It's also unfair to compare people to John Wayne. No one else can be like John Wayne. The fact he was allegedly based on a hodgepodge of character traits culled from the stories of an aged Wyatt Earp (which is unfathomably cool if true) not withstanding, John Wayne was a character that Marrion Morrison made up. That dosen't change the fact he was a cool character, but don't mistake that for acting ability. He had one character and all other characters were written to be played by him. He was already divorced from the real man by 1. When some one attempts to act like him, they come across as a caricature. The same is the case with Stallone, Swarzegnegger, and even tom cruise and Brad Pitt. Just look at Saturday Night Live's Celebrity Jeopardy if you don't believe me. These celebrities you mention are every bit as fictitious as Conan himself.

I have a Y chromosome. I had to sign the Selective Service card. I am a Man. But since I only weigh 140 and am only 5'8". Which by your seemingly arbitrary list body and attitude types of what constitutes a "Man" I wouldn't count. Not every male on the planet fits these criteria of manliness that seem mandated by so many.

Many of those doing the mandating, if the photos from Howard Days are anything to go by, shouldn't be casting aspersions either. Spears and Grass Houses and all that. I'm not trying to be insulting, many people have valid reasons, no, uncontrollable reasons, for being like they are. Malnutrition, over nutrition, poor nutrition, genetics, childhood illness, the list goes on and on. As the recent film Captain America pointed out, it dosen't matter whats on the outside, but whats on the inside that counts.

One last fun fact, the "Average height" around the globe is between 5'2" and 5'5". Which last time I checked, Audie Murphy (who also had a "pretty boy" face), was right on the line for. I'd like to see you argue that he wasn't a Real Man(tm) because of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In honor of the S.H.I.E.L.D. W.A.L.L.

Much like the tone of the video, my own feelings towards this film are pessimistic but with slight tinges of hope streaking the gloom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bout' that time.

So in just 6 days, School starts.

For the last 10 years, when school started didn't matter to me that much. It meant it was safe to go to six-flags or go to a matinee movie again.. but that was about it.

Not so any longer.

On August 22nd, I go back to school. Hopefully in 4 years I'll graduate with some sort of degree, and hopefully without a huge amount of debt. In theory I'd like to plan to continue as a post graduate after the 4 years are up.. but right now I just want to make it through the next 4 months.

If I don't post a whole lot, thats why. I likely will slow down considerably here and at Hyborean Apocrypha.

For now.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Live Action Transformers fans are completely insane.

You may or may not know, that recently the Actor and son of Anthony Quinn, Francisco Quinn died. You probably remember him like most, for his role of Rhah in Oliver Stone's Platoon. He also, apparently provided the voice for some character named Dino in Transformers Dark of the Moon.

On TFW2005, One of the biggest Transformers forums on the internet, which undoubtedly makes a boatload of money from their endless click-throughs connecting to news about the live action movies. It has become entirely verboten to do anything that might alienate or offend the live action movie fans. Apparently just mentioning any of Mr. Quinn's other roles, is enough to confuse and infuriate the fans of the live action transformers films. Thats understandable, most of them are idiots to begin with. or Saddled with the nearly fatal handicap of being teenagers.

The worst affront though, is daring to call these ingrates on their insensitivity. The thread discussing his death, quickly turned into the same thread that all the movie threads do. Some one didn't "Respect" his role in the Transformers Movie.. so therefore it's time to riot and Smash crap and go cry to to the parents. The mods of course, not wanting them to get pissed and not come back.. quickly started editing the offending posts.

I remember when TFW2005 was the best transformers forum on the internet. It was a reprieve from the constant threat of being banned on Bottalk, one of the original transformers forums. On TFW, you could speak your mind, and be relatively certain that so long as you weren't trolling you could share your opinion freely. Now, if you don't two the party line, the mods edit your post. They don't tell you why they did it, or even explain what rule you broke. They simply edit your post, or issue a temp ban.

The Irony is, I've seen the Live action Movie fans, threaten physical violence against non fans and those posts get left alone. If you are a financial contributor to the forum, again, your posts will be left alone. There is a clear and marked bias. In other words, TFW has turned into Bottalk.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

King Conan wouldn't put up with this shit.

Apologies in advance. I'm going to get up on my soap box, I feel I'm entitled. I say this because the city which gave the world Speakers Corner, is currently under attack. It's under attack by hooligans and swine. Dead set on looting and pillaging, and if they can't tote it off, burning it to the ground. The politicians are doing nothing. David Cameron stayed in Italy for a few days while it was happening. His spineless Deputy Nick Clegg APOLOGIZED TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE RIOTING and is trying to hang it all on the Metropolitan police force.

London is, in my opinion, the finest city on the planet, barring only Oxford. It's a vast repository of learning and seat of many fine Museums and universities. It's the seat of a nation which has given the world so much. Longitude and Latitude, Time Zones, the Cornish Pasty. It gave us scholars who cracked hieroglyphics and held out on its own against the Nazis when no one else would. It offends me that this is happening. They are burning hundred year old buildings on a lark. Trashing businesses that have operated for decades.

It pisses me right the hell off.

Most importantly, It scares the hell out of me. My grandmother was born in North London, and she is near to tears over this. You cannot imagine how frustrating it is to have ones family under threat and be stuck 3000 miles away and not be able to even be with them. To have to read the distressed E-Mails, and hope they aren't the ones getting there houses burnt down. To see buildings which she remembers from when she was a child on the news. I still have family who live in north London. In fact I have a lot of family who live in north London. The Bulk of my family in fact.

Family who have to go to bed at night with the glow of fires in their windows. They are in a country who has decided they aren't allowed to own fire arms to protect themselves from these worthless curs. When it comes to family, It's time to fight all comers. Screw the water cannons and bean bags. It's time to bring in the Army and the Challenger Tanks.

"I'll Teach Them a Fearful Bloody Lesson in Slaughter!".

If any of my regular readers are offended by this, if my apology isn't sufficient, then I'll cheerfully bid you adieu.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Impossibility of the Hunt.

Over the last several days, reading more and more positive statements. Not only from reviewers whom I feel have good taste but also from the authors themselves. I have decided to try and read the massive Malazan book of the fallen series.

The problem arises when I go to actually try and purchase the books. You see, I own Gardens of the Moon in hardcover. It's my preferred format. I dislike mass market paperbacks, and Trade Paperbacks slightly less so. This shouldn't be that difficult of a task. Expensive maybe, but not difficult. That would be an incorrect and presumptuous line of thought however.

Apparently, much like a full sized Houghton-Mifflin copy of The Book of Lost Tales Part 1, Deadhouse gates dosen't exist in anything other than Book Club size. I know thats not true. It is difficult to believe though. I've ordered it three times. All three times it has been the book club format. All three times the sellers have claimed ignorance, or simply ignored my complaints about them not making it clear that I wasn't getting an actual hardcover.

Don't misunderstand, I have nothing against Book Club formatted books. I especially like the Omnibus format re-prints of various series. As nice as Tor's recent reprints of the Black Company books are, I'd happily trade them in a heartbeat for the 80's Book Club editions they are reprinted from. Simply put, I like hardcovers and dust jackets, and sometimes the only way to get a book in hardcover with a dust jacket is to buy it from the book club. Though I'm no great fan of his, the First Law series is a perfect example. If you buy it from Amazon, or any other book retailer, you will get the Trade Paperback set and no choice. However if you order from the Sci-fi Book Club, you get it in hardcover, with dust jackets.

So my inability to get the sellers to comprehend there is a difference between Book Club Editions and Hardcovers is hampering that quest. I moved on to Trade Paperback, I dislike it, but not as much as Mass market Paperback. It has the added bonus of Tor printing the books from both Erikson and Esslemont with very similar design cues on the spine. To sort of make them look like Iron Bound books.

The Problem is, while every single other book in the series is in print and available in Trade paperback format.. for some reason Volume #3, Memories of Ice isn't. The only way to get it in Trade paperback is to buy it used. Thats not that big of a deal, however if I'm going to buy it used, I should just buy it in hardcover used. Of course that runs the risk of getting the package in the mail and having it be the Book Club Edition.

I could of course simply buy the 114$ set of all 10 Malazan books from the book club. It's quite a good deal really. The problem with this idea is, though you can get two of the most recent of Ian Camereon Esslemont's books in this format.. and in a completely ironic twist from a few paragraphs ago.. the earlier ones such as Night of Knives are difficult and expensive to acquire in the Book Club Format. The thing is though, I could read the first 1-2 of them and decide I hate it. So that sort of is a big mark against spending the rather serious amount of money sight unseen.

This may see pedantic or quibbling over unimportant things, after all isn't it whats inside the book that matters the most? Are these real leather? Well they're real Dickens. Thats all true. But I enjoy the aesthetic qualities of a shelf with matching, equally sized books on it. If you have them jumping from one size to another, it reminds me of nothing less than a mouth full of broken teeth. As if some one walked up and punched my shelves.

The only way it seems for me to get the entire series, from both authors, in a single unifed format is to break down and buy the Mass Market editions. Which while yes they take up considerably less room.. just aren't as nice to look at. I've had to do that with quite a few series, but not out of choice. Simply because they aren't available in any other formats.

This is going to require some serious consideration, as once I've embarked on purchasing them in one format I have to stick with it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Clarkesworld, Epic Fantasy part 2

Just saw they had posted up part two, and thought I would share a few of my favorite quotes.

These especially get the heart of my problems with George R.R. Martin. Once again, Ed Greenwood really has a lot in common with my feelings. He seems to have an interesting perspective since he more or less wrote novels in order to get paid. It's also interesting to see how a lot of the authors who have answers to these questions I don't particularly care for, also tend to be authors I don't particularly care for.

This probably says more about me than it does about any of these individual quotes. but I've never been secretive about my opinions when dealing with any of these subjects.

After reading these two battery interviews, it really makes me want to give the Erikson/Esslemont duo a try. I may not wind up liking their books, but both of them seem to have their heads bolted on right. But again, the one person who really seems to have the closest opinions to me is probably Ed Greenwood. he's an author i've never read, though I've read maybe 12 forgotten realms books by other authors. I'll have to see if I have any of his and give them a try sometime.

Steven Erikson:
Every death needs to mean something—it's the one conceit authors possess: the one real fantasy in this whole mess. So it needs to be handled respectfully. When it isn't: well, we all succumb to cowardice every now and then; and if not cowardice, then laziness. If those excuses don't fit well, there's always senseless stupidity, which afflicts authors on occasion as much as it does anyone.

The risk with killing off main characters is, if you do it too often and too capriciously, you risk your audience deciding it's not worth emotionally engaging with any of your characters, and then you're screwed.

Peter Orullian: We've all likely read a novel where the death of a character felt like the writer was proving to us that he's got the chutzpah to do it, but the death didn't make sense in the story. I'm not talking about senseless death. It's rather like the rash of fantasy writers who admire George Martin for being able and willing to kill his characters, and so decide they're going to do the same. And that not killing a character becomes a fantasy cliché.

Truth is, trope-avoidance is the new trope. Very transparent.

Patrick Rothfuss: [Kill a character?] On page 603 of your third book.

I kid, I kid....

Never, really. A lot of people think that you need to kill someone to raise the stakes in a book, or build dramatic tension, or prove to your reader that the world is truly dangerous and that seriously bad things can happen.

Ed Greenwood: Writers should resist the temptation to kill characters on a whim or as the easiest way to write themselves out of a situation, but should always bear in mind that to some extent, writing is a service industry: your readers' needs should be paramount. Arthur Conan Doyle discovered the cost of eliminating Sherlock Holmes the hard way, and had to bring him back. I am not saying every beloved character should lead a charmed life, improbably surviving every sticky situation (because the character is thereby lessened in the reader's eyes, and the dramatic tension of peril in your storytelling lost, as the reader becomes aware that any peril isn't real).

Steven Erikson: If there's going to be tears, better have a few laughs along the way. Besides, it's almost impossible to sustain the heavy stuff without ending up wanting to top yourself, or sinking into mawkish melodrama. A novel's like a drug; sometimes for everyone's sake you got to cut it with something innocuous.

Terry Brooks: Violence is a key element in epic fantasy. Wars and battles are almost always involved. Conflict is the bedrock of sagas and of the changes brought about by life. I do have some self-imposed rules. I am not a fan of graphic violence, so I steer clear of elaborating on blood and gore and body parts and the like. I'm not saying it doesn't work; it just doesn't work for me. My emphasis is on issues. How do hard choices impact us? What is the nature of our responsibility to others? How do we balance right and wrong when it isn't always clear which is which? Violence is a part of resolving those dilemmas, but I don't want it to be the focal point.

Ian C. Esslemont: Violence in fantasy, epic or not, gets more attention than it deserves. If it is justified by the needs of the story then it has earned its presence. If not, then it is just shallow gore or juvenile pandering. It must serve the thematics, not just splash prettily.