Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Nostalgia Critic Reviews Barbarian & Destroyer - 19th January

I'm a fan of That Guy With The Glasses: he's a funny dude, and anyone who has Brazil as one of their twenty greatest films is alright.

Come 19th January, though, comes the single review I'm simultaneously anticipating and dreading: The Nostalgia Critic reviews Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer.

Witnesses to The Siege of Van Ostrand will know how nervous I am about this. The Critic is generally thorough in his research, although his greatest snafu--where he jokes about Mako's voice in a role sounding "like he smoked a million marlboros a day" unaware that the actor was suffering from oesophagal cancer during the recording--caused quite a bit of controversy. I dearly hope the Critic has the right sources, and that we won't have to order another assault in such a short time.

Still, even if NC trots out the same old nonsense, I doubt he has the malicious intent Van Ostrand did, and would be perfectly willing to apologise for anything he gets wrong, as he did with the Mako incident. Until 19th January, I'm hopeful.

Here's a couple of my favourite Nostalgia Critic Reviews:

Batman & Robin
Captain Planet
Saved By The Bell
Red Sonja
Alone in the Dark

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Triangulation: Ishtar, Worms and Christmas Bounty

I still don't know why I celebrate Christmas. It's such a bloody hassle getting the dinner organized, strategically mobilizing the presents, and dealing with the madness of a West Coast family. Still, for all the trials and tribulations, it's great being with the family, and spending a bit of time to appreciate them. Unfortunately, it means I've been a bit light on the posting this week, but I'm sure you'll forgive me.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. Operation Defenestration - SUCCESS!





Outstanding news, gentlemen!

Operation Defenestration is a complete success. Although Ms Van Ostrand's essay has not been removed from Fandomania, it has been effectively neutralized by an Editor's Note detailing the controversy.

S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. New Orders: Operation Defenestration





Disturbing news, gentlemen.

The Enemy has many faces, some connected, some sprouting from the quagmire of intellectual pretension independently. Regardless of the origin, the heads of the Enemy must be relieved of their shoulders. Howardom has advanced far in the past few decades, and we cannot allow the old mistakes, myths, misinterpretations and outright lies to gain a foothold.

Your target is Margaret Van Ostrond. She is a humour writer, most well known for writing the insufferable gags of countless game shows, light opinion pieces in minor newspapers (light in tone and light in opinion), and her own technicolour-bordered website. However, this does not make her any less dangerous than former adversaries, for the power of The Enemy is subtle and insinuous. Already, two subjects known as Kelly Melcher & Summer Suzuki have been compromised, believing Van Ostrond's outrageous nonsense as truth. She must be stopped. A photograph of the target is provided here:

Your orders: review Margaret Van Ostrond's essay "Was Conan the Barbarian Really a Fictional Character" and post your response in the comments section. Van Ostrond's poisonous, sensationalist tract must be destroyed and discredited as the sub-literary hackwork it is. Many allies of S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. and fellow proponents of The Cause have made their presence known: Damon Sasser, Scott Oden, David Gentzel, Dennis McHaney, Frank Coffman, Rob Roehm, Scotty Henderson, James Reasoner, Lisa Tomacek-Bias, and the mysterious al-Harron. S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. are the front line in defense of Robert E. Howard, and we must lead by example. Suffer not the hack to lie.

Shields Up,

Agent Taranaich

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Troll & Flame, Living Up to the Name

As I've mentioned more than a few times, I quite like Conan the Barbarian. It ain't Howard, it ain't Conan, but it's a fun film. Great music, good set & costume design, good acting by the actual actors James Earl Jones and Max Von Sydow, a real atmosphere of a ruder, barbaric time. I'm always willing to defend it on the grounds that it deserves, despite it being about as Conan as Ally-Oop.

However, I'm not going to defend it for what it isn't: a good Howard film, a good Howardian-in-Spirit film, or a good Conan film.

What brought this on? This post.

Triangulation: Of Snow-Things and Female Hobbits

I neglected to put a Triangulation post for last week, sorry 'bout that folks.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Transformers: War for Cybertron

You know what I did this morning? I played the voice of a toy. Some terrible robot toys from Japan that changed from one thing to another. The Japanese have funded a full-length animated cartoon about the doings of these toys, which is all bad outer-space stuff. I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen.

- Orson Welles on Unicron, his final film role

You know, it only just occurred to me that despite being listed third of my main interests up underneath the blog's title, I haven't really talked about Transformers that much. I'd been meaning to, though, especially things that I've noticed few really talk about: the themes, history and metaphors of the Transformers. Most people tend to dismiss the Transformers fiction as little more than a soulless means of advertising an increasingly commercialized childhood, and that's certainly how the comics and cartoon came into being. However, the various writers took the inherently surreal SF mantra of gargantuan robotic organisms that, somehow, transmogrify themselves into vehicles, and they ran with it. Bob Budiansky & Simon Furman are probably the most famous of these, the latter in particular famed for bringing some much needed explanations & gravitas to a setting that could so easily have become a campy, trashy mess.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Trouble brewin' at the Ol' Conan forums

Recently, the Official Conan forums had been discussing a second leaked script for the upcoming Conan film. There were a number of differing details within the script, but nothing that saves it from the mediocrity of the previous iteration.

The posters over at the board thus expressed their discontent at the state of affairs. I myself noted some of the differences between the two scripts. However, that post, and others, have now been deleted:


In regards to any illegal links - such as links to the new Conan script - and all snippets that have been obtained illegally have been removed from this site. Posting illegal links is a forum violation and will be result in official warnings that may lead to suspension/banning from the site. Snippets obtained from such illegal links will also not be tolerated. All such posts have been removed or are in the process of being removed.

Worrisome news. Such a post and mass culling of messages did not occur when the first script was released, nor for the Solomon Kane script: there were reminders, but I don't recall messages being deleted as well. I don't hold the Mods or Admins, ever tireless and beyond reproach as fans, responsible for this. This is clearly the doing of CPI/Paradox.

Why now? I'm guessing the script is fairly close to the final draft. That bodes ill for the film, since outside one or two "improvements" (or rather, excisions of particularly odious elements), the script is no closer to Howard than the original was.

This is the first time something like this has happened on the forums, to the best of my knowledge. I really hope it's the last.

*Edit: originally, I called the mods "tiresome", when I meant "tireless": a very funny slip of the tongue in retrospect, but I certainly didn't want to offend any of the fantastic fellows bearing the Twin Spears of Moderation. You guys are great!

**Edit the Second: It has been made clear that CPI/Paradox were acting at the behest of Lionsgate. Damn you, Lionsgate!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Triangulation: Turtles All The Way

After a veritable hurricane of posts (by my standards anyway), I've kinda burned out a bit, so only one this week, about the upcoming Discworld fan film.

I really dislike shallow parodies. They bug the hell out of me. Now, I like Terry Pratchett's work, even if I've only read the first half of his ouvre (and The Last Hero), but to be frank, certain aspects kind of rear their ugly head. One is Hrun the Chimerian: a big, dumb barbarian with a magic sword from a Land of Mists which "only exist to produce heroes" who is involved in much derring do. Now one could make the point that Hrun is a parody of pastiche or movie Conan, or the poorly-disguised Conan clones who transplant only the surface elements, but it's pretty evident Hrun is meant to be Conan himself. Thus we get lovely phrases like "The strength of twenty men, the speed and agility of a black panther and the intelligence of a garden snail."

Honestly, if you're going to go to the bother of parodying Conan, then at least parody him right. Musclebound, hulking numbskulls just doesn't cut it: that could describe dozens of half-price barbarian protagonists. Luckily, Pratchett got more involved with his next Conan-alike in Cohen, though there are still a few annoying things like the permanent loincloth.

I don't know, maybe it's iconoclasm for the sake of iconoclasm.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. New Recruit, Codename: Le Vyonnaise





Gentlemen, we have another new agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. joining us today. As with Agent Theagenes, Agent Scammonjam had him under observation for some time, and is assigning him to the main division of S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. Agents.

Agent Le Vyonnaise' role will be the search for news and information pertinent to The Cause. While it is the duty of all S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. agents to be ever watchful of such matters, Agent Le Vyonnaise will be primarily active in this regard. All agents are encouraged to peruse Agent Le Vyonnaise' MINAC reports, the first of which, Assignment P-7920, has been delivered to S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. HQ and disseminated online. Assignment P-7920 reports on Scott Oden, ally of S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L., and the release of his new book, as well as Tantor Media's release of Kull - Exile of Atlantis in audiobook form, The Men Who Made Argosy, and the latest work by Steve Jones.

We at S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. welcome a new shieldbearer to the cause, and look forward to what he brings to the game.

Shields up,

--Agent Taranaich

Friday, 27 November 2009

Is it possible for a man to love a blog?

Every so often, I come across a blog that I just fall utterly in love with: The Cimmerian, The World We Don't Live In, The Anthropogene. This one is new to me, begging the question of just where it has been all my life:

Prehistoric Pulp is a blog dedicated to fantastic fiction about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, with reviews, cover blurbs and news about upcoming works.

Also covered here, although less comprehensively, are comics and board/roleplaying games featuring prehistoric critters. There are no reviews for movies or television shows, but I do include news items about upcoming films.

Already I'm smitten. However, it's here that I truly fall head over heels:

Most fiction featuring prehistoric animals is targeted at children, and a few of those works are covered here. This site, however, is mainly about books and stories with an adult audience in mind, from Journey to the Center of the Earth to Jurassic Park.

If I could swoon, let me assure you, I would be having difficulty typing this as I lie prostrate on the floor. Sadly, being a Scots highlander, I cannot swoon of my own accord.

Unfortunately, the site hasn't been updated since 2007, but there's still a wealth of reviews and information. Count me in!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. New Recruit, Codename: Theagenes





Gentlemen, we have a new agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. joining us today. Agent Scammonjam had him under observation for some time, and is assigning him to the main division of S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. Agents.

Agent Theagenes specializes in archaeology and historical research: his expertise will be a considerable boon to S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L., and I don't doubt his input will be vital in future operations. His first assignment is complete, and the first report in. Assignment P-7515 is an introductory exercise highlighting the Agent's vast span of material pertinent to S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L.'s goals, which will be interned in Area CP-A.

Agent Theagenes' weekly MINAC reports will be submitted on Sundays. We at S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. welcome a new shieldbearer to the cause, and look forward to what he brings to the game.

Shields up,

--Agent Taranaich

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Conan: The Wrath of Singh

I was initially happy with calling the new "Conan" film Conan the Rehash, but over at the conan.com forums, Conan: The Wrath of Singh has gained footing.

This is delicious. Why? Because it's a play on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (obviously), a film which is dominated by a revenge story, the difference being that it's the antagonist rather than the protagonist acting as Captain Ahab. It's thus an appropriate title that encapsulates how utterly derivative the script is: the revenge plot, the Ceti eels, and best of all, the villain.

Why best of all? Because Khan's full name is Khan Noonien Singh.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Triangulation: Conan the Rehash

Seriously, I've written over 5000 words on the Conan film, and I'm barely a third of the way through the script. I decided to concentrate on only the most important points for the Cimmerian article. No sooner do I publish it, then Waldgeist drops this bombshell.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Conan the Barbarian Review Reviews: Empire Magazine

Part of the reason I started up a blog was to discuss things which I didn't feel were appropriate for my usual haunts. Too low-brow for the esteemed Cimmerian blog, too off-topic or impolite for the Conan forums. One of these is "reviews of reviews", where I spend a little while ranting and raving like a loon about a particular reviewers' interpretation of Howard, usually via Conan the Barbarian.

Sure, there are plenty of good reviews out there, but there are also lots of terrible ones. While not truly horrific, Clark Collis' Empire Magazine Review is flawed, with one or two very annoying elements.

Lay on, Macduff, and damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'

Monday, 2 November 2009

Well, it was bound to happen...

Anime Conan.



And not just anime: Bishōnen Conan. Ye gods. If anything, though, I'm surprised it hasn't been done before, with the incredible popularity of anime in recent years. Something done in the style of Berserk, Hellsing or Fist of the North Star (graphics-wise, not necessarily style or story-wise) probably wouldn't be too bad, come to think of it.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Triangulation: The Letter of Glenn Schuyler Hoffman

A little bit of fun for Samhain.

There are two major inspirations for this post: my own weird idea for Howard, Smith and Lovecraft to roam the world fighting crime and solving Cthulhoid mysteries, and this marvellous video based on the work of Andrea Bonazzi. I very much hope Mr Bonazzi doesn't mind my use of his artwork in such a blasphemous exercise.

I might turn "Weird Tales Investigations" into a mini-series of its own. It'd be of the same scary/absurd nature of Sam Raimi's horror more than anything else, but chock-a-block with references and allusions to pulp fiction. There's already a popular counterpart for the Inklings in Here There Be Dragons (which I haven't read, but really should) featuring Tolkien, Lewis and Charles Williams going off on high adventure, but apart from certain works which I won't dignify by naming, nobody's really done the Weird Tales Troika.

Of course, the holy grail is the one that few people really consider: a Howard/Tolkien mashup. Bob & Tollers fighting off modern Morgoth cultists, battling the "nameless things" that gnaw in the deep places of the earth, uncovering the lost histories of Middle-earth and the Hyborian Age. Deuce'll probably kill me for trying to mash-up the two again, but I'll think of some copout.

Until then!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Running the Asylum: The Land That Time Forgot

While I have a special place in my heart for the 1975 Doug McClure romp co-penned by Michael Moorcock, it wasn't as close to the novel as I was hoping. As with a certain other adaptation of great pulp source material, however, it seems the earlier iteration will still be the most faithful in comparison to their modern counterparts.

Caspak 90210. How utterly depressing. Any dinosaur worth their salt would've chomped those idiots within the first minute of their landing.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

It Is The End Of All Hope

When Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer were announced as scriptwriters, I tried to be positive: perhaps they just didn't have their break yet. When Kickinger was rumoured, I was optimistic: it was just a rumour. When Nispel was attached, I looked on the bright side: Pathfinder was fairly nice visually, perhaps a good script and supporting crew will balance it out.

I mean, with Nispel directing, Donnelheimer writing and the insistence on an origin story, there was no chance it would be a good Robert E. Howard movie. It probably wouldn't even be a good Conan movie. I had no hopes for the film to be anything like the film REH and his fans deserved. Still, I was interested in seeing how it turned out.

No more. The movie holds no further interest to me, save to criticize and decry.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Triangulation: "And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by..."

Following on Karl Edward Wagner day, the Cimmerian has led the charge in a celebration of 25th October, a day of blood and thunder if ever there was on.

I extol the Thin Red Line, Deuce commemorates Agincourt, and Barbara imparts a magnificent three-part odyssey on the famous Charge of the Light Brigade.

October has one last day of fame and infamy: Samhain itself, 31st October. One wonders what horrors and wonders will come that day...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Triangulation: The Terror of the Absurd: Karl Edward Wagner's "Sticks"

On this day fifteen years ago, Karl Edward Wagner passed away. Deuce shares his reflections, while I contribute with a look at my favourite of his stories.

Karl Edward Wagner is one of those authors I'm eating my heart out to read more of. To date, I've only read precious little of his work: "Sticks," "Beyond Any Measure," "The River of Night's Dreaming" and a few others. I hope to rectify that.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Triangulation: Things are Looking Up

My first triangulation post with The Cimmerian discusses Pixar's Up.

While I adored the film, that's not to say it was perfect. Spoilers ahead!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Van Helsing 2 1/2

I've been following a very talented film editor's work: Dan Oles, going by the handle "bloodrunsclear" on youtube. He's made some very impressive "fake" trailers for films that will never come out, but you wish would: a more faithful Neverending Story, a brilliant conception of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and a truly extraordinary teaser for Fallout that I can see as a genuine article. He also made a nice trailer for a computer animated Conan, using footage from various game cutscenes.

Then he made this.

This doesn't exactly help with the Solomon Kane/Van Helsing comparisons, but it's scary how easily the two films bind together. It's slick and professionally done, but it kind of makes my skin crawl at the same time.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Barack the Barbarian

Oh Yes.

"Know, O Prince, that between the years when economics drowned the Soviets and, and the years of the rise of the Sons of the Fallout, there was an age Undreamed Of, when shining cities lay spread across the world like scattered diamonds beneath the stars. Germany, France, Great Britain, The Russian Federation, Brazil with its dark-haired women and towers of industry, India that bordered on the mountainous land of Pakistan, Japan with its shadow-guarded tomes, China with its accountants of steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was America, reigning supreme in the Dreaming West. Hither came Barack, the barbarian, black-skinned, solemn-eyed, axe in hand: an attorney, a senator, a slayer, with gigantic economic trials and gigantic promises of reforms, to tread the old ways of the US under his shined size-11 shoes..."

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Van Helsing 2

The film Van Helsing was released in May of 2004. The hero, Gabriel Van Helsing, is not the same character as Bram Stoker's 1897 Dracula character Abraham Van Helsing, the character whose name and role as Dracula's foe - and nothing else - inspired the former.

Kyūketsuki Hantā Dī, or Vampire Hunter D, was first published in 1983, predating Van Helsing by twenty-one years.

Solomon Kane first appeared in the August 1928 issue of Weird Tales, in the story "Red Shadows," one of the first Sword-and-Sorcery tales. It predates Vampire Hunter D by fifty-five years, and Van Helsing by seventy-six years.

The next person who says Solomon Kane is a Vampire Hunter D ripoff or unofficial sequel to Van Helsing, is going to get shot by a cannon.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

And so it hath begun...

Introductions are in order: I'm Al Harron, literary adventurer. To date, my claim to internet fame is being a blogger on the esteemed Cimmerian blog, one of the premier websites for discussion and news regarding Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien and other classic fantasy authors. I also go by the handle Taranaich at the official Conan forums, and developer of the Conan: Total War modification for Medieval 2: Total War.

Being a very scholarly website, The Cimmerian requires a rather high level of composition and sobriety, and dealing with subjects related to its primary aims. This blog, then, is devoted to anything else my wandering brain trips upon during its meandering through the desert of musings, running the gamut of higher subjects like history, folklore, mythology and palaeontology to pop culture like Transformers, Star Trek, Futurama, western animation and comics.

Since The Cimmerian is the primary focus of my free time, with Conan: Total War secondary, this blog will be occasional and rambling, little rhyme or reason, and nowhere near as rational as I try to be elsewhere. So, watch this space...