Monthly Archives: September 2013

October, The Warriors, and Stupidity

Last year, I blogged every day in October. I called it “31 Days of Post.” I’m going to make a tradition of it. And I’m excited. I’ve got so much to talk about. 

But, I’m going to need a brief vacation before hand. So this is the last post until October 1. 

Before then, I want to post a mini review of The Warriors and rant a bit on obvious literary stupidity. 

The Warriors 

This movie, from the late 70s, is freaking awesome. Yeah, there are some awkward moments. And yes, the acting is wooden at times. But it is fun and engrossing. 

And, in many ways, it is an example of fantasy without magic. The vision of a street gang infested New York is fantasy in presentation and execution. Seriously. Those costumes! The themes of the gangs! 

It also doesn’t hurt that many of the members of the Warriors street gang spend the whole movie practically shirtless. 

So, what is the movie about? Gangs across New York have congregated in a park in the Bronx to hear the prophetic vision of Cyrus, leader of the Riffs. But things go wrong when Luther, leader of the Rogues, shoots him. In the ensuing panic, the Warriors are blamed. In the following hours, the Warriors fight to reach their home turf, with a bounty on their heads. 

I just love this film. 

Now, there are some problems with the movie. The six letter f word is used rather frequently throughout the movie. And one of the Warriors attempts to rape an undercover police officer. So be warned.

And by the way, I wonder how much of the Cyrus character influenced the Rock?

If You Want to Literary Criticism, Do the Fucking Research

I don’t like Orson Scott Card’s politics. Especially when it comes to marriage equality. But that does not mean I would mangle a reading of his works because I loathe his politics.

Which makes a recent essay in Salon so laughable. Because that is exactly what happens. 

The thesis is that Card actively defends genocide in Ender’s Game

That is fucking stupid literary criticism.

I read Ender’s Game almost ten years ago. And I knew that wasn’t the theme of the book. 

If anything, the theme is the exact opposite. 

Because it is made perfectly clear that the genocide of the “Buggers” is ultimately tragic and heartbreaking. I rarely tear up when I read. But the revelation at the climax is one of the times that I did. 

Honestly, where did that reading come from?

See you in October

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The College Football Rant

College football has become, over the past few years, the second most popular spectator sport after, you guessed it, the NFL. With the increase in popularity, money has been pouring into the various networks, conferences, and individual school programs. But there is a dark side to this popularity.

The students, whether they are players or not, are getting screwed. Student athletes don’t get paid. Yes, they get scholarships. But, from my understanding, those scholarships might not go far enough. Especially when it comes to discretionary spending. And seriously, could a student athlete really be able to juggle classes, practice, games, and holding down a job (even if it is part time)? Hell no. And the players don’t even own their own image, that is held by the schools. 

Furthermore, there is the ever present danger that the player’s education is being neglected in favor of games. A recent article in The New York Times pointed out that the new schedules imposed by the networks play havoc with classes. A small number of student players will migrate to the professional level. But for the vast majority of players, the education they receive is infinitely more important than playing a game, no matter how much they love it. 

I hope I’m wrong. I hope no university athletics program sacrifices the education of the players for the sake of the money being raked in. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the sacrifice is all too common. And if the schools don’t truly care about the education of their student athletes, then that is near criminal, in my book. 

A few years back, Mack Brown’s signing a contract extension caused a huge amount of controversy for UT. At the time, I felt a sense of indignation that some coach, no matter how good, is making so much money when that money could be better used to improve the university as a whole. 

I get it, though. UT’s athletics program makes money. A lot of money. And UT itself has an impressive endowment. So UT itself can afford to make Mack Brown one of the highest paid coaches at the collegiate level. But what about those schools who don’t have UT’s money? Can they afford to sacrifice? 

And don’t get me started on Baylor’s replacement for Floyd Casey Stadium. Does the university need a new stadium? Probably not. Could the money be better spent elsewhere? Without question. Will the new stadium play a role in the revitalization of Waco? Yes, so I really can’t complain too much. And as I don’t really follow Baylor news, I really can’t say where the money should go. Then again, it is the most expensive university in Texas. . . 

Let me be clear, I’m all about the education. If college sports demands a sacrifice to be made at the expense of education, then I say that sacrifice comes at too high a price. Especially for the students. 

Where does the money go? I don’t know. I’m not a reporter. I’m ranting, One would hope the money goes to support the whole university. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. 

 

Mini Post Day

Nothing much going today, but there are a few things on my mind.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is an awesome movie. I mean absolutely awesome. If you haven’t checked it out, do so. One of the best films I’ve ever seen. 

I want to rant about college football, but I may hold off till this Saturday. Much of the impetus dropped out when UT lost last weekend. I love the game, but I have a ton of issues with it as well. And I do mean a ton. Especially when it comes to the student players getting doubly screwed. Okay, I’m going to expand.

After watching BotSW, I also watched Star Wars. I will never call it A New Hope. Just no. I only bring this up because I want to rant about Star Trek, and I think Star Wars is a wonderfully inverse relationship with Trek.

Am I the only one who is getting tired of having to rehash the same critical/ theoretical arguments within SF every few months? 

Speaking of SF, I need to do a grand post or two on the subject. Regardless, I’m finding myself gravitating away from being fantasy exclusive. Hell, The Lion and the Hare does not look like it will have any magic save for folklore (which may or may not be real). This is, honestly, very interesting.

And finally, damn it all, I really want some of my projects to be comics.

I’ll have my college football rant up Sunday morning.

Researching Myths with the Intent to. . . Reboot!?

Of course, I have to be the one who whines when Hollywood butchers Greek mythology. So, it is understandable if I’m feeling as if I’m teetering on the edge of abyssal hypocrisy. Why? Because it just feels right in this case. 

And maybe, just maybe, I’ve been to strict with my attitude towards adapting mythology. What makes Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans (1981) work while Immortals and Troy fail miserably? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t even have anything to do with mythology, but rather the execution of the whole film. 

Is this change in position self serving? Hell yes. But I do think that I should try to moderate or change my position. Seriously, it’s not like I worship the Olympians. So playing with and reinterpreting ancient myths should not be a problem. Hell, myths are always in flux. As an originally oral story telling form, myths changed with each telling. So why was I so strict? Must be a character flaw.

Researching various mythologies is both fun and frustrating. The fun comes from discovering things I never knew (and I am quite knowledgeable concerning Greek mythology). But the frustration comes in trying to find good sources. Or sources period.

My initial focus is on the Mediterranean and Near East. So that means I’ll need to research Greek, Italic (including Roman, Etruscan, etc.), Hittite, Levantine, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, etc. Now, some of those will be very easy to research. Namely Greek, Roman and Egyptian. But what about Etruscan? What about Levantine? Such a pain. 

There is also a matter of quality and interpretation at work. What are good sources to look for? I love Graves’s Greek Myths, but I am well aware that he imposes his own critical philosophy onto those myths. And I wouldn’t be surprised if other sources did the same thing. I could stick to primary sources, but then tracking some of the more obscure texts down may be incredibly difficult. Particularly if the home cultures are lacking in recent scholarly popularity. . .  (And age has issues all its own. . .)

But hey, that is the joy of research, feeling the rush of excitement as weeks or months of work bear fruit.

The idea I have, working off of the third option from my last post, is to reimagine various mythologies on an alternate Earth. I have some ideas already for stories. And I have a protagonist/narrator. Now I just need to figure out who the hero is (I’m splitting up the two).

I’m excited with what I’ve come up with so far. But I’m in the research phase right now. In the meantime, I’ve got some sorcerers to deal with. . . 

 

 

Time to Think About It

In my last post, I wrote about my problems with “damn wizards” and “bleeping gods.” With time to think, I’ve finally figured out how I want to approach those damn wizards, but those bleeping gods are still bugging me. 

It was only recently that I finally managed to get a handle on my own thoughts about sorcery and witchcraft in fantasy.

Often, and increasingly, magic is used as a means to inject a sense of modernity or more advance technologies relative to the setting. In this way, magic becomes a technology substitute (with Clarke’s Law in mind). 

To be honest, I don’t like this specific approach. Like I said in my last post, I’m far more partial to Howard, Smith, and Lovecraft’s approach to sorcery. For me, sorcery is dark and forbidden. It is an arcane and eldritch power. Not a substitute for a telephone. Or cheap parlor tricks. 

For me, sorcerers and sorceresses should be suspect whether they are antagonists or not. The best example, for me, is Pelias in “The Scarlet Citadel.” While he aids Conan to escape and defeat Tsotha-lanti, Pelias is, himself, a very dark character.

So, what does that mean? Well, I think it means that sorcery has to be pursued. It has to be a choice, even if it is an inborn trait or talent. There is, inherently, darkness and corruption to the desire to be a wizard or a witch.

So, how does this relate to my problems with sorcery? Easy. I’m going to put all of that, all my thoughts and beliefs about wizardry, into a single work. But, that does not mean that I can’t use forms of sorcery ever again. I just won’t focus on it as the subject of the project. I can focus on some other subjects or questions that fascinate me, instead.

But what is it about sorcery that fascinates me, even as I, personally, view magic in a negative sense (or at least certain forms of magic)? Simple, power. I realized that my wanting a powerful young wizard to be my protagonist in a sword and sorcery influenced world (no matter how punk or modern it is) is a power fantasy. (Now that I think about it, I have to wonder why I’ve always been more partial to the sorcer(ess)er rather than the standard sword and sorcery hero).

Now, let’s move on to my god problem. In my last post, I had two options for how to play with gods. Now, I’ve got a third. Here’s a recap:

Option One is an alternate history/ universe that explores what our world would be like if all mythology actually happened. Would things be the same or would things be radically different? Would we still have the same level of technology? The same culture? The problems with this idea, honestly, are the potential for offense and the difficulty of reimagining all of human history (or explaining why everything is the same). 

Option Two is a completely secondary world. My original idea was that gods would answer prayers in an organized way (like early Naruto and Fairy Tail). That’s why I have described the idea as having a shonen manga inspiration. The major problem is that I’m not very good with making up names and languages. And while Demeter may work, Mother Earth doesn’t. So I can’t use English or pan European names. Trust me, I’ve tried. They sound even campier than Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.

Option Three is a mix of the two, honestly. Rather than using our world or a secondary world, I can create an alternate world using as a base the mythologies of the ancient and classical world. I think that this one is a good mix of the two previous ideas. I just need to research non Greek Classical, Near Eastern, and Egyptian Mythology in far more depth. 

Excepting for Option One, I haven’t given much thought to what type of world I’m going to create. Should it be more historically oriented or a schizo-punk world?

But that is a question for another time.