Friday, March 2, 2012

End of the Week/Beginning of the Month Round Up

I've been thinking of adding a feature to the blog that rounds up items in various categories -- whatever odds and ends I have been ruminating about lately -- a Mythopoet's Cornucopia, if you will.  I'm not sure of all the specifics, but I'll figure that out as we ramble along.  For now, I feel I might as well stop stalling and get it going.  So, check out the items below, presented for your consideration.

Bruce Heard's career falls in that period of time when I wasn't gaming, so I was never familiar with him, but I'm always interested when someone comes back to gaming, and even more so when it's a former TSR designer. If you haven't found his blog yet, you might want to keep an eye on it.

Book Notes
Finished two novels this week:  The Nemesis from Terra by Leigh Brackett and The Book of the Three by Lloyd Alexander.  Both were first-time reads.  The Nemesis is the first Brackett story I've read that reminded me of Hugh Cook (specifically, his Drake Douay novel).  Besides the main character, it's classic Brackettian Mars.  More specifically, it is her future Mars, not her ancient Mars.  While it is no where near my favorite in her oeuvre, it was a fun read, and I was delighted to discover another one of her Mars stories.

Taran, is that you?
I've heard about Alexander for years -- heck, he was recommended in the reading list of the first D&D book I got as a kid!  But other than the Black Cauldron film, I never read Alexander's Prydain books.  So, on a recent trip to the library with the nephews, I saw the Prydain series on the shelf and grabbed the first novel, The Book of the Three, to see what is was about.  Inspired by Welsh mythology, it's coming-of-age story with a number of Tolkieneqse themes, but with two advantages: it will be much easier for younger readers, and, at least in this first volume, has a strong and attractive female character (albeit, she is presented from the point-of-view of the main male character).  Another quick, fun read, but this one will introduce you to a lesser-known mythos and comes with a handy pronunciation guide that I much appreciated.

Finally, if you enjoyed the first installment of Flames Rising's interview of author Dave Gross, you'll want to finish it, here.

Art Inspiration
Earlier in the week, I posted about some upcoming opportunities in the area for enriching the mythopoetic imagination with art.  While I prefer to go back to historic sources such as these, I do not scorn contemporary, popular art on principle as another potential source.  Given my strong preferences, imagine my surprise when I found it at last month's Superbowl in Madonna's half-time showHaute couture is even less my thing than the Superbowl, and I'm not a Madonna fan, but inspiration should be taken where found.  Spectacle on this scale and something as image-focused as the fashion industry are not a new marriage, but what caught my eye particularly was the obvious drawing on one of Hollywood's most-celebrated big-screen spectacles for Madonna's costume.  Clearly, designer Riccardo Tisci drew on the film Cleopatra for his inspiration, but when she appeared on stage in the costume below, I thought how well she would work as an image in fantasy illustration of the wicked queen, enchantress, or high priestess.  For blogs covering the designs, see here and here.

EDIT: Check out the guy to the right in the Erol Otus helmet in this one!

Big Screen/Small Screen
I finally got to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Even though these films are not my cinematic standards of excellence, I have always seen them on their opening weekend.  I mean, come on, PIRATES!  I'm too much of a boy for this to not to be a compulsory viewing.  Sadly, back surgery kept me away from anything for a month, so I had to settle for seeing number four one at home.  I watched it twice before sending it back, and I still don't completely know how I would rank it next to the other ones.  Clearly, it needed to go in a new direction than the ongoing Sparrow/Will Turner/Elizabeth Swann triangle, although it hard to celebrate the disappearance of Keira Knightley from anything.  Okay, Penelope Cruz is hard to complain about, and her character is a promising one, but again, flying my colors high, I wanted more mermaids.*  Don't judge.  They're girls AND monsters at the same time.  How can you not give them more screen time?  Maybe it is for the best, considering the fact that they didn't have the thickest conception of exactly what mermaids are: they're half-woman, half-fish cannibals.  It's like your standard idea of what mermaids are, but wearing vampire fangs.  There was potential here that needed more.  I mean, what are these creatures, that their tears of such importance (one of the film's multiple MacGuffins**).  I wonder what some of you, gifted readers, would do with them?  The beautiful, sirenic seducer is on display, but one of the mermaids shows us that they are more than just monsters hungering for the flesh of the men.  What's the story here?  The film left my imagination unsatisfied about them.  I still haven't gotten hold of Tim Powers' novel to find out if this is an element that was in his original story, or not (and I shall), but with everything going on in the film, the mermaids sadly were not given that much importance, rightly or wrongly, and I go unsatisfied.  Here's to what Johnny Depp (not officially signed, but really) will bring us in the fifth installment, in which the door has been left open for Ms. Cruz's character to return, as well.***

* If you somehow missed out on my ob-, er, interest in mermaids, here is a good place to start.
** Seriously, wouldn't you rather purse the matter here?
*** Learn something from an analogous series, Disney: The Mummy franchise.  If you can't get one of the major actors to return, postpone and do what you have to, or bring the character back later.  Don't settle on a replacement, because it's likely to not work.  Certainly, Mummy didn't work without Rachel Weisz and Pirates won't without Johnny Depp.


  1. Now see I find a lack of Keira Knightley a great thing for any movie! ;)

  2. Eye of the beholder. Who poked yours out for XP?

  3. Lord President Moorluck.March 5, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I like women. I do however give bones to the dog to enjoy. ;)