“You can still UGGGGH walk away,” Danny Rand gasped as Lance Bass’s fist crashed into his face. The billionaire staggered backwards. Gathering enough focus to channel his chi was proving impossible. His fingers curled. “I am the Immortal Iron First, sworn protector of K’un-Lun! I honor the sacrifice of–ARRRGHHH!” His voice dropped; Joey Fatone had shoved him into a wall. Even his yelp sounded pompous.
“Well, I played Mark in Rent, and garnered fairly positive reviews!”, Fatone hooted. “All you do is punch people!”
“But it’s really hard!”, Rand whined, unaware that Justin Timberlake was seconds from bodyslamming him.
“This hunt had best be worthy of my attention, Girl of Squirrels,” Kraven the Hunter said, his voice like scraped gravel. “If Stark created a dinosaur, why did the great and terrible Kraven not hear of it?”
Squirrel Girl grinned as she crouched and then hurled herself several stories. She waited for Kraven to catch up. “Um, because Stark is no fun whatsoever and would spend a mountain of cash to keep something like that to himself?”
Kraven grunted, daydreaming about scaling his prize like the wall of a building. Squirrel Girl guffawed. Tony was going to be so annoyed.
Listen, TV executives: I know Game of Thrones is popular, but you can’t go on this way.
Two weeks ago, we learned that Amazon has greenlit a multiple-season Lord of the RingsTV series. It’s set to occur either before the events of The Hobbit or in-between that book and the LotR trilogy. ** Imagine being the writer who’s got to sift through dialogue like this passage from The Silmarillion and translate it for television:
And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: ‘Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.’
**The first option is more likely, since placing the show in-between the two franchises would set up the audience’s expectation to see some of our elven, dwarven, or hobbit-y friends from Jackson’s films, and frankly, those folks are probably both too expensive and too committed to other projects.
Then today, I woke up to the news that Damon Lindelof, showrunner of Lost, is working out a development deal with HBO for a WatchmenTV series because “we need dangerous shows.”
Firstly, Watchmen is the best-selling graphic novel that’s been published up to this point. It’s won a Hugo award. It’s been deemed by several critics to be one of the most significant literary works of the 20th century. It was dangerous when it was published 30 years ago, but the world has changed. What about epics starring people of color? Women? LGBTQA characters?
In the early 2000s, I was working at Blockbuster** while attending college, and I watched a flood of LotR knockoffs pollute our proverbial shores following that trilogy’s success. As ever, the studios didn’t seem to understand why the films had resonated so soundly. We therefore got dozens of movies with dragons, men on horseback fighting epic battles, magic swords, and lofty speeches. It turned out that distilling a complex story people loved to a few items on a checklist was not a winning strategy, but Hollywood had done it many times before. The lesson never clicks.
**I’m already having trouble remembering that was a thing, and I shelved VHS tapes for nearly 2 years.
I think that to many of us, this sort of expansion that no one asked for reminds of us how we felt when it was announced that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit–a book that clocked in at only three hundred pages–would become its own trilogy. You can argue about whether or not all the additional material served the films well, but it was first and foremost a cash grab. “We made $3 billion–we can give these people ANYTHING with a hobbit on it and they’ll buy the lunchbox.”
Branding takes top consideration. Earlier this year, it was announced that the Kingkiller Chronicle, an excellent fantasy trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss, is being adapted for television, and when I did a Google search just now, every headline I found mentions Lin-Manuel Miranda, not Rothfuss. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of Hamilton and of Lin as a human. But it’s made me angry to watch outlet after outlet attribute the books to a man who didn’t write them and only mention Rothfuss as an afterthought. You only do that when you think it’ll result in more clicks and thus more cash, and authors deserve better.
Fans know when they’re taken for granted. Story matters. The LotR and Watchmen shows appear to be in development solely because HBO has a hit with Game of Thrones, and the networks are hoping we’ll support anything that has a franchise we like tied to it.
So @jillwebb and @snarke and I watched Thor: Ragnarok yesterday for the first of what will likely be multiple times. I laughed. I cheered. I was worried for a bit about the lack of Heimdall.
But as Legolas once said to Aragorn: “We have trusted you this far and you have not led us astray. Forgive me. I was wrong to despair.” For Hemidall there was, dear Reader.
Heimdall, for those not familiar****, was the sentry of the Bifröst, watching for any attacks against Asgard. He has the superhuman strength, speed, etc of a typical Asgardian, but is much stronger than most. However, he also possesses powers of vision and hearing that can traverse time and space. It is said that he can hear sap running through trees and the flap of a butterfly’s wings from a thousand worlds away. His weapon of choice (as well as the key for operating the Bifröst) is an enchanted sword that contains, in his words, “all the cosmic force of the universe.”
****Why would you be unfamiliar? Get on that.
I love Thor as a character. And Loki. And Sif. But Heimdall is a special kind of awesome, and I desperately want him to have his own film.
This tweet from 2013 was most likely sparked by perhaps the most badass takedown I’ve seen on screen, from Thor: The Dark World.
Racing a CLOAKED ship, jumping off a bridge, and bringing it down primarily with two daggers (yes, there was also some sword action in there, but the daggers did the majority of the work)? I YELLED IN THE THEATRE, READER.**
**I mean, really respectfully and such. I’m not THAT kind of fan.
For his loyalty to Asgard and to Thor, Heimdall is stripped of his position during the events of The Dark World.
But he doesn’t just go off to a beach and order quesadillas and tiny umbrella drinks for the next thousand years. NOPE. In Ragnarok, he manages to steal the sword that controls the Bifröst and hide it from Hela, while also secretly collecting Asgardian citizens and stowing them away, like a Hungry Hungry Hippo to a tasty marble.
While he may no longer have access to the golden armor, Heimdall remains an incredible formidable fighter throughout Ragnarok, spending most of his time thwarting enemies with his smolder.
At the film’s conclusion, we learn he’s also an instant spaceship pilot for some reason, because why not? He’s had the time and resources to watch virtually anyone do virtually anything. To Heimdall, all the worlds are a giant YouTube channel.
Last night, @jillwebb and I attended a book release party for Jade City, the latest novel from @FondaJLee. It’s The Godfather with magic and martial arts, set in an Asia-inspired world. Fonda has previously written two YA sci-fi novels (I’ve read and quite enjoyed Zeroboxer, and I look forward to reading Exo).
I went to the release party for Exo as well, just a few days after I arrived in the Portland area. Fonda’s events / readings are always particularly interesting to me because she likes to talk about her process. She gives presentations showing how the book evolved from an idea to a complete story and a finished world, and she does so in an entertaining and engaging manner. As a writer myself, I enjoy seeing the construction and evolution from a few pen strokes to an entire mythos.
“City of Books” is the tagline for Powell’s, the famous city-block-wide bookstore here in Portland, but I think it also can refer to Portland itself. In the 10 months I’ve lived here, I’ve seen a number of authors read from their work, both at Powell’s and Barnes & Noble (including Ryan North, whom I’ve wanted to meet since Dinosaur Comics).
**Orycon was the reason I initially visited Portland back in 2014. I returned the following year, and the workshops I took were the primary inspiration for me to begin writing again. There’s a very strong writing community in this city; most of the authors who attend the con are local.
SWFA hosted an event last week and has another next week. John Hodgman was interviewed by Matt Fraction a few days ago, which I’ve written about elsewhere. Fonda’s reading was last night, and those are just the events that appeared in front of my face without any effort.
This was something I craved in Upstate New York and never had. I’m grateful, City of Books.
We’re about to enter the season of celebration! It’s that hallowed time of year when we are filled with spirit, rejoice in the things that bring us joy, and receive gifts.
I’m speaking, of course, about Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Comic Book Movie Time.
It begins next week with Thor: Ragnarok, which you already know because you watched The Hulk’s entrance like 495 times over the summer.
So I thought that today, I’d paint Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer.
This was my first time working with watercolors in several years, and I’d forgotten the extent to which they tend to be a bit….what’s the word?
Right. Within the first two minutes, it became abundantly clear that whatever I was panting did not resemble a hammer, nor ANY kind of tool or weapon. So instead, the painting’s focus shifted to the *aftermath* of said hammer. What would the sparks look like upon collision?
Salvaging some of the black and blue hues from the original work, I washed off most of the rest and used a combination of brushes and sponges to create a bruised, bubbly effect. I finished by adding sky blue as an accent. I particularly like the magenta / ultramarine tattoo in the bottom left.
Jean Grey School For Higher Learning
1407 Graymalkin Lane
Salem Center, NY 10560
September 27, 2015
Ms. Aimee Mann and Mr. Ted Leo The Both
c/o 2015 High Road Touring
Sausalito, CA 94965
Dear Ms. Mann and Mr. Leo,
First, permit me to express how much I am enjoying your band’s eponymous debut. I have followed your respective solo careers for many years, and your collaborative efforts thus far are exemplary. The songs are intimate, but exude a mature intensity that I find most satisfying. Relaxation is a luxury in my line of work, and I maintain that one must celebrate leisure. A listening party with old friends, a bottle of Stolichnaya, perhaps a hand-picked selection of organic cronuts…there is a nary a greater feast of finery to be had, and listening to your album invariably kindles that sentiment in me. I am quite accustomed to multiverse travel–usually involuntarily–and it is my fervent hope that just once, I shall be flung into an alternate reality where my principal responsibility is to kibitz with David Grohl about The Colour and the Shape over eggs Benedict and mojitos. I remain optimistic.
Some years ago, I enjoyed considerable success as a commercial artist, and while my preferred medium differs from your own, I trust that we share an affection for depth and subtlety. Those attributes shine through most brightly in “The Inevitable Shove,” which is, for me, the pinnacle of your remarkable album. The first time I heard that chorus:
No, you can’t blame the ones that you love But you’re still gonna blame the ones that you love So now I’m steeling myself for the inevitable shove
Oh, how my heart sung then, as it has every time thereafter! I do not wish to appear boastful, but steeling myself to avoid shoving is my area of expertise. It is a difficult and often unacknowledged practice, and the burdens I bear feel significantly lighter because after several decades of doubt and frustration, I know now that someone understands. I have attempted to discuss the matter with my co-workers after substantial field engagements, but they always seem distracted. One of them walked through me mid-sentence. Another simply shrugged and said “Sorry. It’s a tough world, bub.” I cannot avoid steeling–it is a job requirement–but I can alter my perspective on its application. When my skin hardens and the Earth is threatened with complete annihilation, I hum your lyrics to myself and they reassure me that the metallic barrier is only skin deep and not a reflection of my character.
And truth be told, I do frequently blame the ones I love; coping with family members can be hellish. Especially sisters. But I remain a work in progress, as are we all, yes?
I appreciate your time and wait with anticipation for your follow-up album.