Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I really enjoyed Mainiax

Besides the Fridgeing that happened, takes me back to exactly what I expressed concern over before.

I'm officially now fully into Jerome as the proto Joker.  And I'm starting to enjoy the new Barbara too.

Let's hope they keep consistent this time, and eventually bring Montoya back.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Caesars (1968 BBC series) is very under apreciated

It doesn't come off as Grand as an old Hollywood Epic, or even as grand as I, Claudius (I'll be comparing to I, Claudius a lot here). But the sets look decent, it's in Black and White which it utilizes well, and it more or less doesn't use a score which like in Dracula(1931) can give it an interesting vibe.

For Historical accuracy, some of it depends on how you interpret the evidence, but I think it's better then most including I, Claudius. I liked seeing all three of Caligula's sisters acknowledged for a change.

The key to why it's so good is the Acting, all the performances are Great, it's done with a Shakespearean/Shaw style, the dialogue is all well written and the veteran actors deliver them all well. It' highly entertaining and re-watchable.

The writers must have been familiar with the novel of I, Claudius, because they mostly followed it's characterization for Claudius (Freddie Jones), and he does it quite well.

The most prominent performance is Tiberius (Andre Morell) who is the real star for the first 13 out of 18 parts. It's a very unique and interesting interpretation of the character, and his performance is quite intriguing.

Ralph Bates as Caligula is a very good performance, beats John Hurt and Malcolm McDowell easily. I disagree with making him so villainous already before the illness, but at least he's not born Insane in this take. And I also don't like them making him kill Drusilla, and interpreting his other Sisters conspiracy with Lepidus as being made up.

Other notable performances are Barrie Ingham as Sejanus (Though here I do prefer Patrick Steward) Donald Eccles as Nerva, Suzan Farmer is quite alluring as Livilla. For some reason IMDB doesn't list who played Piso, he was interesting, and Eric Flynn as Germanicus was as well, they played off each other nicely (I never liked how I, Claudius skipped that whole phase and went right to the trial).

But my favorite performance was Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma from Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of The Jedi) as Agrippina. She was strong-willed, ambitious, stubborn but also noble. And I find myself very attracted to her even though she's not trying to be sexy at all. It's by far the most powerful performance. Especially after Germanicus dies, her drive to avenge him is captured well. It's a truly captivating performance, and exactly how I envision the character of Agrippina The Elder. (The Younger I envision as trying to be the same as her mother, but while possibly more intelligent and patient, lacks her noble virtue and honor, this miniseries didn't carry the story far enough to show that however).

So in my view if you're a fan of history, or of good theatrical acting, I highly recommend it.

I'm late in reacting to Gotham's Season 2 Premier

Partly because I was late in watching it.

I'm still ambivalent towards the show in light of my feelings on how season 1 ended.  When Supergirl starts I'll be watching that on Mondays.  But may ro may not keep following Gotham via on demand.

Jerome is gonna be seen regularly now it seems.

Zardon was hilarious.  I still appreciate the show's unique sense of humor.

If they''re gonna keep Barbara crazy, they're gonna need to device a gimmick for her.

The show has James Fran now, James Fran is awesome.  I did not think it was mathematically possible to make Thomas Cromwell likable, but he did it.

Still no signs of Renee Montoya returning.

Only thing that could really grab my interest right now is if they are going a Court of Owls rout.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Holy Grail and The Silmarils

First I want to admit up front that parts of this post will be very clearly drawing on a Jason Colavito article and the Tolkien Gateway Wiki.

Most people don't know that the Holy Grail of medieval Arthurian Lore was not originally universally identified as the Cup of the Last Support, or linked to the Crucifixion.  It's possible origins in the Cauldrons of Celtic mythologies will be a topic I'll possibly discus in the future.

The earliest Medieval Grail Romance of Chretien de Troyes describes it as a dish that contains a communion wafer.  So if it had a Last Supper connection at all (which I'm not sure there was) it was probably to the Bread not the Wine.

Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival (c. 1205 AD) which first describes the Grail in Book 9, describes it as a Stone of heavenly origin.

Graham Hancock in his book The Sign and The Seal makes much of the Grail being a stone rather then a Cup, and speculates that Wolfram's Grail is really code for the Ark being in Ethiopia, he then argues that Zazamanc is based on the Auxumite Kingdom.  I haven't read Parzival in it's entirety so I don't know, but I don't think I've seen anyone but Hancock say Zaxamanc is where the Grail is in that work.  (Rereading it I remembered the gist was he saw the Gail Maiden marrying Feirefiz was a coded way of saying it went to Zazamanc).  None the less Hancock's theory has remained interesting enough to me that it influenced the previous Arthurian Legend post I did on this blog.

Bob Cornuke also argues for the Ark being in Ethiopia but coming there a different way then the Menelik Legend, and unlike Hancock does so as a Bible Believing Christian, but doesn't bring the Grail theory into it that I can recall.  I don't agree with any of Hancock's other alternative history theories, but The Sign and The Seal I highly recommend, it's a fun book even if you disagree.  I agree with all Cornuke's theories but his latest Temple one.

Back to the subject at hand, Hancock does mention the Heavenly origin of the Grail aspect of Wolfram, he goes into a theory about the Tablets in the Ark actually being one of many Meteorites that fell to Earth and became objects of worship (like Acts 19:35, or the Kaaba in Mecca). .But he doesn't reveal the full story of Wolfram's description.
“They who took no part in the conflict, when Lucifer would fight with Three-in-One, those angels were cast forth from Heaven’s height. To the earth they came, at God’s bidding, and that wondrous stone did tend” (translation: Jesse L. Weston)
 It’s possible, given the attribution of the Grail myth to Arabic texts, that Wolfram had in mind the alleged alchemical power of the Emerald Tablet, also from Arabic texts, when describing the Holy Grail as essentially the Philosopher’s Stone.

This, in turn, ties in with a legendary set of songs supposedly composed by bards which included Wolfram, called the Wartburgkrieg, composed at least fifty years later. In the surviving accounts, one of the poems told how Lucifer’s crown had a stone that fell to earth thanks to Michael:
“Sixty thousand angels who wished to drive God from heaven had a crown made for Lucifer. When the archangel Michael tore this from Lucifer’s head, a stone sprang loose from it, and that stone is the Grail” (translation: William Ashton Ellis). 
This, in turn derived from the medieval myth that Venus, the Morning Star, was the jewel from Lucifer’s crown. Many writers fail to distinguish between this poem and Parzival, and some writers mistakenly attribute these lines to Parzival.

In 1832, “San Marte” (Albert Schulz) produced a loose paraphrase of Wolfram in which he interpolated the Wartburgkrieg text without indicating the distinction. He falsely makes Wolfram say....
"The holy Grail is a stone of the most wondrous and mysterious kind. A number of angels having remained neutral and inactive during the battle of Lucifer and the rebel angels against God and the faithful heavenly hosts, after Lucifer’s fall they were condemned by God to support this stone, which had dropped from Lucifer’s crown, hovering between Heaven and Earth till the hour of redemption of sinful mankind. Then they brought it to Earth, and, formed into a costly vessel, it served for the dish out of which Christ ate the Pascal lamb, and in which Joseph of Arimathea received the Saviour’s blood." (translation: William Ashton Ellis) 
Wolfram’s version stops at “support this stone.” Everything after is Schulz’s text. Victorian authors repeated this rather than bother to read the original (which, being medieval German they could not), and thus Wolfram became retroactively the originator of the claim of Lucifer’s crown. Modern people know the story because of glosses and notes on Wagner, using these Victorian sources, interpolated into editions of Parsifal.

Tolkien I'm certain however had a better handle on German then Victorian writers, but could still have been influenced by all of this.  And given his interests and goals in creating his mythology, it makes sense he'd draw on Germanic Gail lore over the predominantly French Grail lore that came to revolve around Lancelot and Galahad.

In The Silmarilion, The Silmarils are three Jewels forged by Feanor to contain the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor.  After the Trees were destroyed by Morgoth formally known as Melkor they became all that remained of the Light, and they fell into Morgoth's possession who had them placed in his massive Crown.

Many Wars were fought over the Silmarils.  Eventually one was taken from Morgoth's Crown by Luthien and Beren.  It inevitably entered the possession of their descendant Elwing.  Elwing married Earendil (name means Evening Star, Tolkien took it form the Norse Aurvandil) son of Tour and Idril, and eventually her Silmaril became the Jewel of his ship Vingilot, which was granted by the Valar the ability to fly though the Heavens.

In Tolkien's Cosmology, Venus is the Star of Earendil, (because Venus is also known as the Evening Star as well as the Morning Star), which is defined as the Light of The Silmaril.  In Greek Heosphorus/Eophorus (the name used in the Septuagint of Isaiah 14) is the Morning Star and Hesperus the Evening Star, later Greco-Roman writers like Cicero became aware the two were the same star.

The other two Silmarils were eventually taken by the Sons of Feanor after Morgoth fell but led to their deaths.  One was cast into The Earth (leading to debatable theories of it being the Arkenstone) and the other into The Sea, where I'd be very interested in Fan Fiction based on it being found by Captain Nemo and the Nautilus.  I can't be the first to think of that idea?

So the gist is, I think it's highly probable this obscure esoteric alternate Grail tradition partly helped inspire Tolkien.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gundam 00 and Classic Science Fiction

Gundam 00 is the only Gundam series I've watched thus far.  I first checked it out when the SciFi channel aired Anime on Monday nights years ago.  I wish they'd bring that back.  I only recently completed it however.

I know enough vaguely about Gundam to know that it does not seem very representative of the Franchise in general.  It's not part of the original Continuity, and is the first to use dates clearly linkable to our real life calendar.

I enjoy it for reasons similar to why Code Geass is one of my favorite Animes.  Tense battles, complicated geo-politics, with good people on each side and moral ambiguity.  And lots of eccentric and quirky interesting characters.

What I want to comment on today is how Gundam 00 draws inspiration from a lot of classic works of Western Science Fiction.

Another thing it has in common with Code Geass is it clearly modeled it's 3 major Superpowers after the three Geroge Orwell envisioned in 1984.  These aren't nearly so blatantly Dystopic however.  The main variation is both put Japan (the native country of their creators) in Oceania rather then Eastasia.  Why (in universe) it's there is different however, in Code Geass it's conquered by Britannia, but in Gundam 00 Japan being the Union seems much more consensual.

The logic behind putting Japan in the same Power Block as America, rather then with China and Russia I fully get, Japan has becomes a very Westernized and particularly Americanized nation.  Thing is that same logic in my mind ought to put South Korea with them as well, but Korea seems to be ignored in Anime.

I also recently before revisiting Gundamn 00 began familiarizing myself with Isaac Aismov's Foundation series.  And immediately I thought of Aeolia Shenberg as Hari Seldon's plan was revealed.  That's largely what inspired me to return to Gundam 00.

But what's really meaty is all the Arthur C Clarke.  Clarke interests me, even though I firmly reject the logic behind Clarke's third law.

The first Clarke connection is of course the Orbital Elevators which are evocative of The Fountains of Paradise.  It's a shame more writers don't draw on that concept, a Christian writer drawing on Biblical Themes could easily go for a Tower of Babel reference with one.

Throughout Series 2 as the metaphysical and Trans-humanist aspects of the story became more and more apparent, I started wondering whether or not a comparison to works like Childhood's End would be accurate.  Then the series ended with a quick little promo for the movie saying that "Humanity's childhood is about to end", so that settled that.

In the Movie, the ESLs have a Lovecraftian vibe to them at first.  But they ultimately aren't really Evil.  And in the end the 2001 and Childhood's End aspects of the story fully come to fruition.  I also suspect where it ultimately goes is something Gene Roddenberry would appreciate.

So it's an Anime I recommend checking out if your into Hard SciFi.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Modernizing Arthurian Legend

With all the different takes on Arthurian legend in modern media, I'm surprised adapting the legend to a modern or futuristic setting isn't more popular.  Plenty of stories with more modern settings have Arthurian themes, but not really proper adaptations of the legends.

All the standard takes on Arthurian legend that define it for modern readers are done in a more (then) modern setting then the 5th/6th century setting of the original Welsh poems and the history that Arthur would have lived in.  The Grail romances are based on the world of the Crusades, and Malory's tale I've read before was largely done with the War of the Roses in mind (making it the Game of Thrones or Final Fantasy Tactics of it's time).

Of course admittedly those were not completely contemporary stories, there is still a sense of an age gone by in them.  Not unlike how people today often call the Second World War the "Greatest Generation".

Then it hit me as I was thinking of that, why not a version of Arthurian legend that is a Diesel Punk alternate history version of WWII.?  And it can draw inspiration from Indiana Jones type movies with the Nazis seeking the Holy Grail and the Ark and other relics, but I'd go with the theory of the Ark being in Ethiopia, and the Grail more directly modeled after the old Grail romances.  (Update, and you could maybe now take inspiration from the Anime Izetta The Last Witch).

I've created a list of Arthurian characters with roles they could play in this setting.  In order to make this work I had to ignore the Pacific Theater, this is focused on Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Also in this alternate History the European Revolutions never removed any Monarchs, but did create Constitutional Monarchies.  And this can be viewed as an Alternate History where George Washington did become the First King of America.. His heir married the Daughter of the Stuart pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie.

King Arthur = King George VI of England (Arthur did happen to be part of his full name)
Anna = Mary Princess Royal
Igerne = Mary of Teck
Gwenivere = Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Soredamore =  Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
Tortolina = Princess Margaret
Loth = Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood
Aurelius Ambrosious = Winston Churchill
Emrys = Prince George Duke of Kent, Grand Master of United Grand Lodge of English Freemasonry
Mordred = Edward VIII
Morgause = Wallie Simpson
Prince Madoc = Prince Henry Duke of Gloucester
King Feirefiz of Zazamanc = Emperor Halie Selassie of Ethiopia
Beowulf = King of Denmark
Emperor Alexander = King of Greece
Prince Alexander =  Prince Philip
Cliges = Prince Charles
Merlin = Aleister Crowley

Heignst and Horsa = Hitler and Himler
Lucius Tiberius = Benito Mussolini

Characters Without (solid) real life analogues

Sir Kay, Gawain and Bedivere = British Spies
Sir Ector = Their handler
Palamedes = Codename of an Arab who spies for the OSS
Blanchefleur = A spy for the French Resistance
Gurnumanz = A spy for the French Resistance
King Pellam = King of America
Pellinore = Duke of York
Percival = Son of Pellinore and an OSS operative
Dindrane = Daughter of Pellinoe and OSS operative
Pellas = Firstborn son of Pellam
Garlon = Younger son of Pellam
Morgan Le Fey = Sister of King Pellam
Elaine = Daughter and only child of Pellas
Bohort = King in exile of France
Ban = Duke de Orleans
Lancelot = Only legitimate son of Ban, serves in the French Resistance
Hector = An illegitimate son of Ban and a British woman
Bors = Firstborn son of Bohort
Lionel = Son of Bohort
Vivian = Wife of Ban and Mother of Lancelot
Evaine = Wife of Bohort and Mother of Bors and Lionel
Titurel = Jewish Exilarch, over 100 years old
Firmutel = Son of Titurel
Anfortas/Boaz = Son of Titurel
Sigune = Alias of the niece of Anfortas, spies for him against The Nazis
Herzeloyd = Daughter of Firmutel and mother of Percival and Dindrane
Heliabel aka Repanse de Schoye = Daughter of Firmutel, mother of Elaine
Budicus = Duke of Brittany
Hoel = Son of Budics
Iseult = Princess of Ireland
Mark = Duke of Cornwall
Tristam = American OSS operative
Blanchmains =  Daughter of Hoel, Mother of Vivian and Evaine
Galahad = Symbolic representation of the Baby Boom

Claudas = Governor of Nazi occupied France

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Eugenie Danglars story will be in TOTS 12

Tales of The Shadowmen Volume 12


edited by 
J-M. & R. Lofficier

US$22.95/GBP 14.99 - 6x9 tpb, 304 p. - ISBN-13: 978-1-61227-447-8

Jason Scott 
AikenArdan at the Pole starring Doc ArdanThe People of the Pole
BaughThe Lament of the Duke and the King starring Doctor Omega
Adam Mudman 
BezecnyThe Revelation of the Yeti starring Doctor OmegaNoraKi-Gor
BovingThe Evil Among Us starring Dr. WatsonMaigretFather Brown
CabanissHouse of El Hombre Loco starring Count Waldemar DaninskyDr. Génessier
Colin : Of Beasts and Men starring FelifaxDr. Moreau
DennionTurning Point starring Sâr DubnotalWerewolf of Paris
GabbaniA Bond between Gentlemen starring Arsène LupinRaffles
GallagherThe Stake and the Sickle starring Captain VampireVon Bork
GatelyRouletabille on Mysterious Island starring Rouletabille
HiltzThe Case of the Curious Cadaver starring SpiridonVan HelsingDoctor Omega
LaiThe Tomb of the Veiled Prophet starring The Phantom of the Opera,
MalcolmThe Adventure of the Orcival Rain starring LecoqSherlock HolmesGourroull
MouillerBehind the Mask of the Ripper starring Sherlock HolmesHarry Dickson
NigroJustice and the Beast starring JudexDoctor CorneliusProfessor Tornada
RivalThe Inn of the First Voyage starring Long John SilverSurcouf
SchildinerAncient Space Lizards and Other Visitors starring Jean KarivenGussie Fink-Nottle
ShookThe Eldritch Stones starring Sar DubnotalChanduEl Borak
StéphanThe Submarine "Gustave Le Rouge" starring William BoltynDr. Moreau
Unbekannt : Leonox Meets Mephista starring MephistaLeonox
David L. 
VineyardThe White Star of Atlantis starring Arsène LupinTerence O'Rourke
WelchThe Piano Maidens starring Eugenie DanglarsThe Black Coats
Once again I am last by virtue of the Alphabet.

The Piano Maidens is much more like the kinds of stories I generally like to write then my prior two TOTS contributions.  Because I generally like to write female leads/POV characters, and also really like including LGBT representation in my stories.  This story is also a dialogue driven one, no action.

The story stars Eugenia Danglars and Louise d'Armilly from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte-Cristo.  They are Lesbians who were removed from the oldest English Translation of the Novel as well as most adaptations.  But they are fully restored in the Penguin Classics translation.  And in Matthew Baugh's The Vampire Count of Monte-Cristo.

I am depicting both of these characters as exclusively Monosexually Homosexual.  In my Headcanon for these characters, and actual Canon of any stories I write, neither ever has or ever will be intimate with a man.

Like all TOTS stories it's also a crossover, It features and mentions a lot of both fictional and historical figures.  It's a very Nerdy story.

I include a number of little Easter eggs only fellow PLL will get.

I hope actual Lesbians will be able to enjoy how I write these characters.  So if any LGBT people read this story and has any criticism of it, please feel free to let me know.  I'd really, really appreciate it if by some off chance Heather Hogan did a review of it.

The Book will come out this December, please buy the book, BlackCoatPress does a lot of important work, they deserve more success.

Other works from the same Publisher that should interest those of us who want more Female representation in Genre Fiction include Rick Lai's Shadows of The Opera and Sisters of The Shadows series.  And Nina Cooper's translations of some early female lead detective and spy stories.  And I of course always recommend Paul Feval as translated by Brian Stableford.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Female Ghostbusters Reboot

When I first heard about an all female Ghostbusters movie I was excited, I thought it was a cool idea, in fact I'd thought before the current film entered production that new female Ghostbusters would be a good rout to do for Ghostbuster III.

Then I heard it was gonna be a Reboot, and my excitement died.

Now I've seen people on Feminists websites saying they don't believe the people who say the Reboot is reason they're unhappy, even though complaining about Reboots is the trendy thing in every Fandom now.

Well I'm not saying I hypothetically would have supported an all Female sequel, I'm saying I did, i wasn't just OK with it I was excited for it.

It seems sites like TheMarySue have blind loyalty to this film now, even though they should be thinking more critically about it.  The ploy worked.

It also upsets me that the Ethnic line up is the same, 3 White and 1 Black.  Why not make the film truly more diverse instead of just gender flipping everything, why not give us an Asian Ghostbuster and a Latino one, or an Arabian or Indian one?

The original Ghostbusters was awesome, but looking back Winston does come off as a token shoe horned in for the sake of making a diversity quota.  I hope at least this time the Black one is there from the start and not someone we don't meet till after the theme song montage.

They way to send a Feminist message is tell the story of young women proving they can do what the original men did.  That's how it's gonna be critiqued by fans (negatively or positively) anyway.  Rewriting the story so it's women from the start is just a cheap gimmick.  It could be a cool AU fan-fiction, but not an official Movie.