Does A GAME OF THRONES Hate Women?

The Women of Game of Thrones

I’m a fan of George R.R. Martin, and I’m a fan of A Game of Thrones, both in its original literary and its more recent filmic iterations. And not only do I consider Martin’s epic work to be some of the best fiction I’ve ever read, I’ve been on board longer than most because, through unlikely fortune, I got an early copy of the first book in hardback, signed, well before it went on sale…

signed copy

And yeah, I’m showing off my library…forgive me.

Of course, I’m not alone in my love for this series. But such love is far from universal, and some folks downright hate it. Some hate it because it’s brutal and dark and filled with not-happy endings. Some hate it because it’s loaded with sex and nakedness, and if you’re uncomfortable with the human body and the things people choose to do with it, that can be a turnoff. (If I seem dismissive of people’s discomfort with nudity and sex, that’s only because I am; there is plenty of entertainment available for more chaste tastes, and not everything needs to be appropriate for eleven year olds.) I will say this: the series should show more naked men, both because it would be more fair and because it would head off some of the arguments of misogyny.

Some people’s hatred of this series, though, is starkly political, pardon the pun. Continue reading

Crazy Restaurateurs And The Writing Life

Batshit Crazy

You’ve probably heard about, or seen, the batshit crazy Arizona couple who went on Gordon Ramsay’s show Kitchen Nightmares and were so relentlessly, hopelessly, stupidly terrible, both as restaurateurs and as human beings, that Ramsay, for the first time, wound up simply throwing in the towel and walking away. This was followed by an epic psychotic meltdown by the couple on Facebook.

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I’ve never seen this show, as I usually ignore reality shows of any sort, but curiosity got the better of me today and I watched the segment on YouTube. And folks, this is some juicy viewing, I tell ya. Being around people like this in real life would be horrendous; I wouldn’t be surprised if you got ulcers inside of fifteen minutes. I can’t believe Ramsay put up with them as long as he did. But watching them on this show, knowing that they are completely ruining their own business once and for all and reaping what they sow, is schadenfreude of the most delicious sort.

So what does this have to do with the writing life? Two things.

First, if you want to be a writer (or artist of any sort, really), you need to be able to take criticism. It can be tough to put aside your ego and listen to someone saying nit-picky or even awful things about the wonderful work you struggled so hard to birth into the world out of your very essence…but if you can’t do that, you can’t grow, and likely you’ll start shitty and stay shitty. Even if you disagree with the person offering criticism, you should honor their opinion and take it with grace. And unless their points are completely, patently stupid, you owe it to yourself to actually consider them before disregarding them. Nobody is perfect, and armoring yourself in ego or defensiveness will stunt your growth as an artist and a human being, just as we see in the video above.

Second, this video is a perfect example of just one of the many reasons why it’s a bad idea for authors to agree to read unpublished material by folks they don’t know. I’ve written about this before, rather colorfully and more comprehensively, and these folks are just some bloody kitchen knives short of the worst case scenario for this sort of thing. People you don’t know may be good writers or bad writers (odds tilt dramatically toward the latter), but they may also be neurotic, obsessive, crazy, or even violent. You just don’t know. And, as I wrote in the blog post linked above, when a lot of folks ask for you to critique them, what they’re really doing is asking for your praise. They don’t want actual critique. And they may react badly if you give it to them.

That was exactly what happened with Gordon Ramsay and these assholes. They had already damaged their reputation and business, and they invited him not to let him help them fix their restaurant  but to come in and use his show to give them praise so that they could be vindicated by an authority on TV. Then, blindly evil fucks that they are, they reacted horribly to his critique and dug themselves even deeper.

Good for them. Nobody deserves such a fate more than they do, except perhaps current GOP leadership.

For more on this, please do read “Why I Will NOT Read Your Stuff“. I’m pretty pleased with that post, but I’m open to criticism on it.

Comics and Me

Comics

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. It got me thinking about my relationship to comics.

The comic above,  The Amazing Spider-Man # 119, is the first comic I remember buying. I know I had others before it, but perhaps I didn’t actually choose them myself, but had them given to me. Whatever the case, I remember going into the 7-11 and choosing this comic and reading it. The result was an obsession that lasted for years, and a strong love of the medium that I still retain today.

That said, I can’t recall the last single issue of a comic I bought. I still read bound collections here and there, like the recent “Court of Owls” storyline in the Batman comics. There are some things I buy for my library as soon as they appear, like the incredible cloth-bound library editions of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, or the “Absolute” edition of Warren Ellis’s Planetary. But mostly, I just don’t bother with comics these days.

I still love them. But they’re like old friends who’ve drifted away. I keep up with them via gossip. “Oh, Superman is seeing Wonder Woman? Good for him.” “Oh no, Damian Wayne died? That’s terrible, Bruce must be in agony.” “Peter Parker’s dead? Oh my god, that’s…actually really fucking humdrum at this point, unfortunately. Tell me when he’s back.”

It’s not that I’m not interested in reading them, because I am. But the reasons not to are so compelling. They’re too damned expensive, for one thing; for ten bucks, I can get two or three comic books I’ll read in under fifteen minutes. But that same ten bucks will get me two hours of entertainment at the cinema, buy me a book or ten that will give me many hours of enjoyment, get me ten songs I’ll be able to listen to forever, or even pay for a month of Netflix. Comics just don’t offer much bang for the buck when they cost so much.

It’s also a chore to keep up with them. The big companies love crossovers, and to be honest, so do I. But I’m too busy and distracted to have to follow all related series, and read the issues every month in proper order, in order to keep up with a storyline. The latest Batman mega-arc may be incredible, but if I have to hop spastically from title to title, and research the fucking reading order online, to keep up, it’s too much work for too little joy. You can’t just buy a single title, in individual issues or trade collections, and get a coherent storyline.

So, these days, though I miss them, I’m fine following the lives of my favorite comic book characters through hearsay. And, of course, through other media. I’m re-watching The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon at present, and it’s exceptional. Of course, it lasted just two seasons, and now we have Ultimate Spider-Man, which isn’t. DC’s animated efforts tend to be incredible; we watched the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns a few weeks ago, and it was great. And, of course, there are the movies. That’s where most people get their comics fix these days, and there, for the most part, the companies are getting it right.

Speaking of which, today we’re going to see the new Iron Man flick. Can. Not. Wait.

Shadowy News For Pulp Movie Fans…

The Shadow

Some news on the Doc Wilde blog for fans of pulp action movies in general and 1994’s film version of The Shadow in particular:

Shadowy News

Which reminds me of one of my better Twitter statuses last year:

CHASE ME (A Charming Animated Short)

Chase Me

This is for Nydia…

A lovely animated short from the creators of the classic Batman animated series, silent movie style, all elegant art and sleek action, with a great musical score.

Enjoy.

Doc Savage Vs. King Kong!

Doc Savage vs King Kong

I have returned from the jungled mountains of Brazil, renewed, a silly smile on my face, and ready to get back to work on the Doc Wilde adventures. I have a lot to write about, and will get to it as I can, but I wanted to share this cool news from friend of the Wildes and fellow pulpster Will Murray:

Eighty years ago in February, 1933 the Street & Smith company released the first issue of Doc Savage Magazine, introducing one of the most popular and influential pulp superheroes ever to hit the American scene. Doc Savage was the greatest adventure and scientist of his era, and while his magazine ended in 1949, he influenced the creators of Superman, Batman, Star Trek, The Man from UNCLE and the Marvel Universe—to name only a few.

While that first issue of Doc Savage was fresh on Depression newsstands,  Universal Studios released one of the most important fantasy films of all time. Everyone  knows the story of how King Kong was discovered on Skull Island and hauled back to New York in chains, only to perish tragically atop the world’s tallest  skyscraper, the Empire State Building.

As it happened, that was where Doc Savage had his world headquarters. For decades, fans have wondered: Where was Doc the day Kong fell? Continue reading

License To Thrill (Song of the Week, 9/19/2012)

In the past few weeks, I renewed my long dead passport. Today, I visited the Brazilian Consulate, where I was granted a visa allowing me entry to the country for the next decade.

My status as International Man of Mystery has been restored. I have a license to thrill. If you notice the processing label the consulate used on my passport, you can see that even the Brazilians seem to recognize my status. Look out Most Interesting Man in the World…

Considering my last vacation wound up reminding me entirely too much of Stephen King’s Misery, I am really looking forward to a few weeks in a tropical paradise with a gorgeous hostess and no fear of potential sledge hammers. It’s going to be a few months before I go, but I AM READY. Except that I really need a hair cut.

Boa noite. My name is Byrd. Tim Byrd.

Cookie Monster Presents The Song Of The Week, 8/30/2012

It’s all about the cookies this week…

First, this isn’t a song, but it is the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a couple or three weeks on the internet. I’ve probably watched it twenty or more times and I always laugh:

Our actual song this week I offer in honor of the Republican National Convention currently infesting Tampa, “God’s Away On Business” by Tom Waits, karaoked by Cookie Monster…

I’d sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck…
If you’re looking for someone to pull you out of that ditch
You’re out of luck, you’re out of luck…

Thoughts on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (No Spoilers)

Walking out of Reign of Fire in 2002, two years before casting for Batman Begins took place, I announced that Christian Bale should be Batman. When he was actually cast, I was naturally pleased, and have loved his performance as Bruce Wayne from the first frame.

Bale captures the surface of the character, the handsome, athletic leading man who can wear the costume well (and has a square enough jaw that he doesn’t need a prosthetic chin to look right in the mask, as Michael Keaton did). But he also masterfully portrays the complexity, and torment, of Bruce Wayne, and over the course of the films we see him struggle in very human ways with the life he has chosen. It’s not as simple as being tragic or sad or brooding, or dynamic and intense and implacable. Bale’s Batman is real.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Bale shows us something truly surprising for a big screen superhero movie: he shows us not only Bruce Wayne’s tragedy and pain, but his frailty. His Batman is a force of nature, but he is also a man who is scarred and beaten by his experiences and by his age. And that makes his battles, and his triumphs and defeats, resonate all the more. Continue reading

And Finally… CATWOMAN!

We finally get a really good look at Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in Christopher Nolan’s next Batman flick.

Gotta tell you, I like.

Of course, I always thought Hathaway was an awesome choice, and I tend to trust Nolan’s choices when it comes to these films. Aside from the ridiculous growly voice Batman used last time, the movies have been damn near perfect.

My one quibble with Catwoman when I saw her in earlier pics was the choice to have her in high heels. Not smart footwear for anyone engaging in active athletic activities, much less catburgling.

But looking closely at this image, I see that the heels are visually set off from the rest of the boots, which makes me think that they may well be detachable, allowing her to go flat-footed when functionality is called for. If that’s the case, that’s pretty damn cool. Nolan will have found a way to keep the over-the-top sexy of traditional Catwoman depictions while also embracing her more practical and realistic current incarnation.

I’m really looking forward to seeing her in action. In the meantime, I’ll be in my bunk…

Buffy vs. The Black Widow, Who Wins? (Joss Whedon Lets Us Know)

In a short Q&A with USA Today, Joss Whedon was asked who he thought would win in a fight between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Natasha Romanov, the Avengers‘ Black Widow. His response is a very entertaining action sequence all by itself:

Buffy would go easy at first, but as soon as Natasha popped her with a Widow Sting, she’d start bringing some slayer brawn to the fray. Natasha’s fast, but a couple of good connects and she’s wobbling, possibly something broken — she whips out her glock and now Buffy’s dodging — right where Natasha wants her. Natasha shoots the cable holding the steel barrels and they tumble onto Buffy, nearly burying her — Buffy just arcs out of the way, grabbing the splintered cable and swinging directly onto Natasha, a bullet grazing her cheek as her feet land hard on the Russian’s shoulders, sending her back flat — crack! — on the floor, Buffy wrenching the gun away and tossing it, fist ready for the final strike. Natasha, struggling to stay conscious, says the fight’s over. Buffy agrees, but Natasha explains: She poisoned Buffy hours ago. That waitress that brought her salad …? Natasha smiles. The poison is dormant — ’til it’s activated by adrenaline. Buffy’s eyes narrow. “Too bad I didn’t use any.” Wham! Natasha’s out for the count, and Buffy’s heading — slowly — to Willow for a mystical cleanse.

That’d be my first guess.


Lethal Wimpin

In Empire Magazine, Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner (who, as I know all too well, once made the wrong choice about Lethal Weapon 3) recently showed that whatever understanding of Riggs and Murtaugh he may have initially had is now completely gone:

There was a fifth one that I would have loved to have made. Shane Black wrote another treatment, which I never saw… But we had a totally different story. The two crazies decide to cool their lives, but it’s impossible for them to stay out of situations. It starts with Riggs and Murtaugh out in the country in a motorhome. They’re on a trip and they stop to get gas, but Roger forgets to put the brake on. So the motorhome rolls through a village, annihilating everything, and they get in serious trouble…

Sure, Dick, you definitely showed in the latter films you know better than Shane. Heck, just cast Rob Schneider and Martin Lawrence instead of Gibson and Glover and go for it. Or better yet, just make Little Weapons  for Nickelodeon…

"I'm still too young for this poop!"

Lil Avengers (A Must See!)

Aside from my own upcoming Doc Wilde releases, there’s no media event this year I’m looking forward to more than Joss Whedon’s Avengers. And I usually wouldn’t share a Target commercial, but this one is just cute as hell and friggin’ cool, so you need to see it.

For Your Batmanny Weekend Enjoyment…

I failed to post this week’s “Free Fiction Friday” post yesterday because I was so swamped with everything I needed to do for the Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde Kickstarter launch. For the untold millions who only bought a computer so they could get their weekly fix, I’m sorry.

The Doc Wilde relaunch is off to a great start; just over twenty hours in, we’re at 26% of our funding target (which is the minimum we need for the Kickstarter to succeed, not a maximum amount for the relaunch). If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll visit the link above to see what’s up.

As a special treat to make up for my Free Fiction lapse (which I shall endeavor to remedy later today), I offer you this incredibly endearing and goofy piece of Batmania that someone put a helluva lot of time and money and work into…and which kinda makes me think Bat-Mite is around somewhere… Continue reading