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Saturday, September 01, 2018

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (September 2018)

The new TV season is upon us.

[H]ere is Deadline’s annual rundown of fall premiere dates for new and returning series. The list covers hundreds of broadcast, cable and streaming shows bowing between September 1 and December 31 and some high-profile one-off programs.

Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: September 01, 2018 at 12:05 PM | 341 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: movies, music, off-topic, television, whatever else belongs under the rubric of 'popular culture'

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   301. McCoy Posted: September 12, 2018 at 11:30 AM (#5742869)
Flip
   302. jmurph Posted: September 12, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5742870)
He and Tarkovsky are two of the “Grand Masters” whose work I do not connect to one iota. To my great shame!

Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice is great. Or maybe just haunting and captivating, I'm not really sure.
   303. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 12, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5742876)
He and Tarkovsky are two of the “Grand Masters” whose work I do not connect to one iota. To my great shame!


Insufficiently woke!
   304. PreservedFish Posted: September 12, 2018 at 11:41 AM (#5742882)
There's a British author I like named Geoffrey Dyer that I like a lot. He likes noisy jazz, he likes travel, and he wrote a book about aircraft carriers. He wrote a book about DH Lawrence that was in reality a book about his own inability to complete a book about DH Lawrence. He wrote an entire book about the Tarkovsky film Stalker, which I've never seen, but I'd like to, just to read the book.
   305. McCoy Posted: September 12, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5742883)
I saw thin red line in a theater when it came out. What movie going experience I ever had. Wise than Star trek generations. Watched tree of Life at home. Wound up fast forwarding through most of the movie.
   306. jmurph Posted: September 12, 2018 at 11:45 AM (#5742886)
I love Dyer, he's great. I have the Stalker book but have yet to actually watch the movie so I haven't read it yet. But the Lawrence book, the novels, and the essays are all great, he's one of my favorite writers.
   307. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 12, 2018 at 02:53 PM (#5743039)
This video of a track from The Joy Formidable's upcoming album showed up this morning. After just a couple of times through it, I adore everything about this song - the drum sound, the guitar sound, the off-kilter crunchiness taken to the extreme...
   308. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: September 14, 2018 at 09:12 PM (#5744681)
I actually saw a Tartakovsky film with my son tonight.

There’s one part where the villain trucks Dracula into eating garlic, and, ya know, you think it’s gonna kill him, right? WRONG: the reason this Dracula avoids garlic is cuz it makes him......FART!!!!
   309. PreservedFish Posted: September 15, 2018 at 09:52 PM (#5744979)
Update in my quest for a fantasy book or series to enjoy. I picked up a collection of the earliest Conan stories, Conan the Barbarian that is, although in this edition he's called Conan the Cimmerian, which for all I know was how he was known pre-Schwarzenegger. I had no idea what I was in for, but only a couple stories in and I'm loving it. The prose reminds me a lot of HP Lovecraft, hilariously purple and self-important, the story so chock full of ancient ineffable terrors as to be ridiculous. Here's a typical sentence, in which Conan grapples with some magical hellbeast that, in Lovecraftian fashion, the author more or less refuses to describe precisely:

Conan felt his soul shrivel and begin to be drawn out of his body, to drown in the yellow wells of cosmic horror which glimmered spectrally in the formless chaos that was growing about him and engulfing life and sanity. Those eyes grew and became gigantic, and in them the Cimmerian glimpsed the reality of all the abysmal and blasphemous horrors that lurk in the outer darkness of formless voids and nighted gulfs.


I don't know if this Robert E Howard influenced HPL, or the other way around, or if they both just belonged to a milieu wherein everybody wrote like this, but I really get a kick out of it.

The other thing about it is that it's amazing how many stock fantasy elements are packed into just a few short pages. This one story I read, of 12 pages or so, could easily be stretched out into an entire epic novel. Conan has a dream about an ancient sorcerer, and finds that his sword has been emblazoned with a magic symbol, and uses that sword to kill the hellbeast, and learns that in his dream he was shown the secrets that only a handful of members of some ancient cult of acolytes over thousands of years had ever been shown ... all that happens in like 4 pages. The summoner of the hellbeast was a magician, lost his magic ring, was enslaved by another magician, then found his magic ring and regained ... that all took about 3 pages. Meanwhile every other sentence is dense world-building exposition that at the moment is just total gobbledygook to me - "through his princely kin in Nemedia, it was easy to persuade King Numa to request the presence of Count Trocero of Poitain, seneschal of Aquilonia" - I assume that A Song of Ice & Fire is also chock full of this kind of stuff, there's just something amusing about finding it in a short story.

And this was all published 5 years before The Hobbit! Is Conan a towering achievement in the history of fantasy? Or were there a bunch of writers all working on the same kind of material all around the same time?
   310. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: September 15, 2018 at 10:22 PM (#5744981)
Remember, these guys were paid by the word; Howard made his living with his typewriter. (Lovecraft was too much of a self-styled gentleman aesthete to partake of such Philistinism, not that one could tell that from his prose style.)

Other than whatever passages might've shown up unadulterated in the Marvel adaptations (both the color comic & the b&w Savage Sword of Conan), I don't believe I've ever read any Conan. I did read & enjoy Howard's Kull collection as a teenager, though -- pretty much the only sword & sorcery I've ever read, with a couple of minor exceptions (John Jakes' first Brak novel, David R. Mason's Kavin's World ... that might be it).
   311. cardsfanboy Posted: September 16, 2018 at 09:37 AM (#5745029)
And this was all published 5 years before The Hobbit! Is Conan a towering achievement in the history of fantasy? Or were there a bunch of writers all working on the same kind of material all around the same time?


He was more or less the inventor of the Sword and Sorcery style. He combined a bunch of influences into stories he was writing for Weird Tales.
   312. yo la tengo Posted: September 16, 2018 at 10:22 AM (#5745035)
Just took my 15 yr old son and a buddy of his to Madison Square Garden last night for Childish Gambino. Gotta say I am pretty wowed by Glover as an artistic voice. Not much of a singer, but a great performer and his music resonates. Balance this with his TV work, his movie acting, his stand up comedy, his videos for music. Dude is on a roll and it was a special evening.
   313. PreservedFish Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:47 AM (#5745436)
Conan just chased an ice nymph for miles in an attempt to rape her. She escaped. That was basically the whole story. In his defense, you should have seen what she was wearing, which is: nothing.
   314. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 17, 2018 at 10:33 AM (#5745471)
I don't know if this Robert E Howard influenced HPL, or the other way around, or if they both just belonged to a milieu wherein everybody wrote like this, but I really get a kick out of it.


They were contemporaries, and apparently corresponded frequently after Howard praised Lovecraft in a letter to Weird Tales.


Conan just chased an ice nymph for miles in an attempt to rape her. She escaped. That was basically the whole story. In his defense, you should have seen what she was wearing, which is: nothing.
Frost-Giant's Daughter, right? Don't forget to mention that Conan had to kill her brothers too. She really was asking for it.
   315. PreservedFish Posted: September 17, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5745486)
Yes. She really was asking for it, but after he killed the Ice Brothers it became clear that she didn't really want to have sex, and I think at that point we have to concede that Conan was trying to rape her. Not sure what allowances we have to make for his easily inflamed barbarian passions, perhaps the Kavanaugh hearings will be instructive.
   316. PreservedFish Posted: September 17, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5745493)
He was more or less the inventor of the Sword and Sorcery style. He combined a bunch of influences into stories he was writing for Weird Tales.


What influences? How immediate were his sources?

I mean, obviously he didn't invent, like, the idea of the wizard (Merlin duh), but I'm surprised to see his stories full of fully recognizable pre-Gandalf wizards, guys wearing cloaks with long beards that cast spells. I thought that Gandalf was the modern ur-Wizard, the guy that set the archetype, but he isn't, this guy's got wizards up the wazoo. And magic rings, eery prophecies, ancient priesthoods, demi-Gods walking amongst us, magical weapons, ancient bloodlines, etc etc.

My point is that my understanding of the development of fantasy fiction is so sketchy that I can't tell if his stories are sui generis or rank pastiche or something in between.
   317. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2018 at 01:34 PM (#5745664)
I've been cannonballing through the Sopranos lately. Have gotten almost all the way through season 4 now. Have two episodes left in that season. Surprisingly the Pine Barren episode didn't hold up as much as it did in my mind. My wife had watched a few episodes back in the day but couldn't get into it but has joined me in watching the show this time around. She finds it interesting and when I realized we were watching the Pine Barren episode I kind of jumped around in glee. Afterwards she asked me why people think that was the best Sopranos episode and I had to say I couldn't really put out there a great argument.

Watching it again reaffirmed my hatred towards virtually all of Tony's immediate family problems and scenes. Watching AJ be AJ and Meadow be Meadow while Carmela does Carmela is just laborious.

I also figure that the Dr. Melfi gets raped storyline that goes nowhere got thrown in there as filler when the actor portraying Tony's mother died in real life. From what I have read recently season 3 was going to deal mostly with Livia testifying/going on trial and the maneuvers Tony employs to keep her from testifying. So when she died all of that had to be scrapped and you can kind of feel that the show was a bit rudderless because of that. The whole airline ticket storyline disappears and I think I hear a mention of it once in season 4.
   318. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 17, 2018 at 01:54 PM (#5745694)
I've been cannonballing through the Sopranos lately.



The Sopranos was more a like thing for me than love. I watched it all, but have no desire to re-watch. As opposed to The Wire, which I did re-watch. I never understood the adoration. It was well made and the acting was terrific.
   319. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 17, 2018 at 01:58 PM (#5745704)
Watching it again reaffirmed my hatred towards virtually all of Tony's immediate family problems and scenes.


I have the same problem with Casino and Goodfellas. It's like when the Marx Brothers had a musical interlude - you just have to assume that they're talking to a different part of the audience for a while.
   320. jmurph Posted: September 17, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5745713)
Watching it again reaffirmed my hatred towards virtually all of Tony's immediate family problems and scenes.

That stuff seems like, essentially, the entire point of the show.
   321. PreservedFish Posted: September 17, 2018 at 02:16 PM (#5745737)
That stuff seems like, essentially, the entire point of the show.


Right? I feel like the gangster stuff is there because it needs to be there - but the show is really about how even a kingpin has the same quotidian problems as the rest of us.
   322. BDC Posted: September 17, 2018 at 02:22 PM (#5745740)
What influences? How immediate were his sources?


I would bet that Howard had read H. Rider Haggard, especially She, which was published in 1887 and very popular for a long time. Haggard's prose can be somewhat purple and his settings somewhat over-the-top. But if I am remembering She correctly from having read it a very long time ago, it is only semi-fantasy, in that it starts in the known world and our heroes wander into the fantasyland in darkest wherever. I seem to remember that Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar books (from the 1910s) are similar, and Howard would certainly have read those too.

As you can tell this ain't exactly my field :-D
   323. Nasty Nate Posted: September 17, 2018 at 02:24 PM (#5745743)
I've been cannonballing through the Sopranos lately. Have gotten almost all the way through season 4 now. Have two episodes left in that season. Surprisingly the Pine Barren episode didn't hold up as much as it did in my mind. My wife had watched a few episodes back in the day but couldn't get into it but has joined me in watching the show this time around. She finds it interesting and when I realized we were watching the Pine Barren episode I kind of jumped around in glee. Afterwards she asked me why people think that was the best Sopranos episode and I had to say I couldn't really put out there a great argument.
I always thought that episode was strangely over-rated. But then again, I loved the Test Dream episode, so what do I know.
   324. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: September 17, 2018 at 02:49 PM (#5745777)
Unlike Lovecraft, Howard wrote everything, just about -- boxing stories, Navy stories, cowboy stories ... Whether those displayed the same sort of overwrought prose as the Conan excerpt above, I have no idea, but I doubt it.
   325. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:00 PM (#5746066)
Which one was the test dream?
   326. PreservedFish Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:10 PM (#5746075)
Unlike Lovecraft, Howard wrote everything, just about -- boxing stories, Navy stories, cowboy stories ... Whether those displayed the same sort of overwrought prose as the Conan excerpt above, I have no idea, but I doubt it.

Makes me want to read some of the other stuff! A cowboy story with this grandiloquent prose would really be something. Definitely give Zane Grey and Louis Lamour something to think about.

I would bet that Howard had read H. Rider Haggard, especially She, which was published in 1887 and very popular for a long time. Haggard's prose can be somewhat purple and his settings somewhat over-the-top. But if I am remembering She correctly from having read it a very long time ago, it is only semi-fantasy, in that it starts in the known world and our heroes wander into the fantasyland in darkest wherever.

I've read King Solomon's Mines, which I enjoyed, it being an amusing cross-section of fantasy and colonialism. It's mostly an imperialist adventure but there is one ageless voodoo priestess character and a lot of prophecies, ancient runes etc. Both he and Howard like to say things like "from his fine high forehead and trim mouth one could tell that he was of a noble race." (Sidenote - when did authors stop describing mouths and foreheads? I feel like it's ubiquitous until about WWI.) Looking at the wikipedia summary of She, the two books seem to have virtually identical plots.

I seem to remember that Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar books (from the 1910s) are similar, and Howard would certainly have read those too.

He's been on my list to get to as well.

As you can tell this ain't exactly my field :-D


Is it anyone's? Can one get a PhD and a job while specializing in this sort of stuff?
   327. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:20 PM (#5746083)
What influences? How immediate were his sources?


Howard was a pretty smart guy, so it's hard to really pinpoint exactly, since he actually intentionally wrote his stories and style to get published often times. (for a guy who killed himself at age 30, he wrote a ton of different genres.... at the time of his death he was mostly writing westerns, but has significant credits in boxing fiction, obviously sword and sorcery, horror, poetry and even a bit of detective writing)

But he was a fan of gaelic and greek myths, he created the hyporean(sp) world based upon Texas, but he has credited Jack London, Kipling and Bullfinch as influences. Basically imagine a nerd living in Texas in the 20's who has a fascination with reading and writing and being smart enough to combine those influences into whatever it was you wanted to write about. He created a character for one magazine, and it got popular enough that other magazines were asking him to create a rip off of that character for their own magazines, and would have three of them being published at the same time. (and no this wasn't Conan, but a travelling boxer)
   328. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:31 PM (#5746093)

I mean, obviously he didn't invent, like, the idea of the wizard (Merlin duh), but I'm surprised to see his stories full of fully recognizable pre-Gandalf wizards, guys wearing cloaks with long beards that cast spells. I thought that Gandalf was the modern ur-Wizard, the guy that set the archetype, but he isn't, this guy's got wizards up the wazoo. And magic rings, eery prophecies, ancient priesthoods, demi-Gods walking amongst us, magical weapons, ancient bloodlines, etc etc.

My point is that my understanding of the development of fantasy fiction is so sketchy that I can't tell if his stories are sui generis or rank pastiche or something in between.


That I couldn't tell you. Before Howard you did have Edgar Rice Burroughs and his John Carter of Mars which had some similarities to Kull(which preceded Conan) but at the same time there was enough differences that they were considered different genres. Howard was really the first writer to combine the swords aspect of the Three Musketeers with the sorcery aspect where it was a 'vs' type of thing instead of magic happens type of thing. And there are plenty of influences before Conan that exists, but for the most part Conan was successful because it was something new. (combined with a few famous writers loving the source material that they kept reviving it every 20 or so years)


The one thing to be careful of while reading Howard is to see whether you are reading actual Howard or if you are reading edited Howard... some of the editing didn't happen until the mid 60's.
   329. PreservedFish Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:35 PM (#5746094)
Thanks for your answers CFB. The edition I'm reading is at pains to explain that these are the original, un-edited versions of the Conan stories.
   330. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:36 PM (#5746096)
Makes me want to read some of the other stuff! A cowboy story with this grandiloquent prose would really be something. Definitely give Zane Grey and Louis Lamour something to think about.


Here is a wikipedia explanation of his first "almost" published novel.

A Gent from Bear Creek

A Gent from Bear Creek is a collection of Western short stories by Robert E. Howard. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1937 by Herbert Jenkins. The first United States edition was published by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in 1966. The stories continue on from each other, like chapters in a book.

The stories are humorously written as if told by Breckinridge Elkins, a hillbilly with no schooling. He and his kin live in the Humboldts in Nevada. Elkins is six feet six inches tall, is as strong as a grizzly bear, and he can be just as bad tempered if riled. And there is a lot to rile him, especially his relatives.

Though a dead shot, he prefers to use his fists, feet, teeth, etc. In numerous fights he attacks whole groups of armed men and commits mayhem. No one actually dies but limbs are broken, jaws shattered, faces are trod on, skulls fractured, ribs broken, and so on. Even buildings do not always survive such an attack. He picks up many injuries himself, but being shot, getting many cuts with Bowie knives, head bashed with numerous objects, having his ear chewed, scratched up by a mountain lion he then threw into a room full of feuding men and such are just minor nuisances to him.

He previously rode an old mule called Alexander, the only animal that could carry him till he came across Cap'n Kidd, his equine equivalent, and tamed him. Elkins is the only man tough enough to ride the giant, pugnacious horse. Glory McGraw (a local girl) is his sometimes love interest but he is often too dumb to see it.
   331. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:43 PM (#5746101)
Thanks for your answers CFB. The edition I'm reading is at pains to explain that these are the original, un-edited versions of the Conan stories.


There is a reason for that. Howard was popular enough in his own lifetime, but was a prodigious writer and had a lot of stuff that went unpublished. And had a lot of stories edited even when they were published.... but the rights to his work changed into a lot of hands for a short time and when he got repopular, people put out a lot of his work with heavy editing to combine them into stories that would work. (this was the mid 60's) .... eventually of course in the 80's there was a push to make sure that his work was published as written...even though Howard was a publishing whore who would pretty much make changes that was asked of him by the editors(he was literally out to make a buck) for some reason this faction of people want to make sure that Howard's first/early drafts got published, even though he rarely ever submit a first draft(except a few times when he got lazy)
   332. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: September 18, 2018 at 01:37 PM (#5746601)
Last night I had that most awesome experience where right after I finished watching a movie I just sat there for a bit and was all....”Holy ####, did I just see the greatest movie ever made?”

Granted, I was buzzed, and while buzzed I’m prone to hyperbole. And also I mean, it’s happened before of course and usually a couple days later I’ll be down to “No of course not, but it was still really really really good.” So I mean, I’m sure that’s where I will land here.

Anyway. The movie was Honey, from 1999, written and directed by David Ball. I saw it on YouTube here.

Please note you’ll need a high tolerance for amateurism and lack of technical skill. Because boy are they both on display here.
   333. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2018 at 01:46 PM (#5746615)
Davo, have you ever gone down to your local university to see the film thesis presentations? Seems like it would be up your alley.
   334. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 18, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5746697)
Holy ####, did I just see the greatest movie ever made?”


I recall a similar feeling after first hearing Bobby Goldsboro's song of the same name.
   335. The Good Face Posted: September 18, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5746702)
And this was all published 5 years before The Hobbit! Is Conan a towering achievement in the history of fantasy? Or were there a bunch of writers all working on the same kind of material all around the same time?


It was a towering achievement, but as others have pointed out, Howard also had predecessors that influenced him. If you like Howard's Conan stories, you'd probably enjoy Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar books, which came out in the late 60s and were sort of spiritual successors. Much swashbuckling, deeds of derring do, and epic benders (Leiber was a raging alcoholic, and he could write drinking bouts like nobody's business).

Yes. She really was asking for it, but after he killed the Ice Brothers it became clear that she didn't really want to have sex, and I think at that point we have to concede that Conan was trying to rape her. Not sure what allowances we have to make for his easily inflamed barbarian passions, perhaps the Kavanaugh hearings will be instructive.


My recollection of that story is that the ice nymph was intentionally trying to lure men away so they could be killed by her brothers, although it's been a few years since my last read, so I could be wrong. Throughout the Conan stories he never actually rapes anybody and tends to treat women with a kind of rough chivalry. Of course, they pretty much all throw themselves at him anyway because he's just that manly and awesome.
   336. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2018 at 04:05 PM (#5746775)
Your recollection of the story is correct. And thanks for the Leiber tip, I'd never heard of him.
   337. cardsfanboy Posted: September 18, 2018 at 07:52 PM (#5746940)
And thanks for the Leiber tip, I'd never heard of him.


So I'm guessing you never played D&D? Or if did, was never a huger follower.

Note: I never read Lieber, but Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser along with Lankhmar are pretty major components in the early history of AD&D.
   338. cardsfanboy Posted: September 18, 2018 at 07:56 PM (#5746943)
tends to treat women with a kind of rough chivalry.


I like that term, rough chivalry, and it's a pretty accurate description.
   339. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2018 at 08:18 PM (#5746962)
I sort of played D&D. Bought a bunch of books and got really into the idea of it for a couple years around 7th grade probably, but I never actually played a game with a competent DM.
   340. cardsfanboy Posted: September 18, 2018 at 08:50 PM (#5746987)
I sort of played D&D. Bought a bunch of books and got really into the idea of it for a couple years around 7th grade probably, but I never actually played a game with a competent DM.


Fritz Lieber was a pretty big influence in the AD&D world... they got mentioned in the first edition of Deities and Demigods(had to be removed for copy-write reasons after that if I remember correctly) but any adventure that took place in a city, clearly had a Lieber influence on it most of the time.



I like that you list 'competent' DM as a qualifier. I think that makes a host of a difference in people's experience in continuing to play... I've tried to be the super prepared DM, but the party always f-s you over and I quickly learned that overly prepared is not as important as flexibility on what the party wants to do. Once I learned that I got people literally knocking on my door to wake me up to play a game. D&D is interactive storytelling, not interactive rules playing. But I always sucked at "flavor text" but fortunately my parties never cared about that as much as moving the story along.

Every campaign I've ran in the past 30 years features me and each individual player creating the character together separately from the party. And maybe even playing a 1 hour adventure, but the important thing is that I get an idea of what the player wants from his character... I do that with ever individual player in the party... and my prep for the next game is creating a full background history for the players that includes potential motivations, contacts and the hook for them in this introductory adventure.

I hate pre-gen adventures because they are generic to a group motivation, while everyone in the party has their individual motivation, so until about 4-6th level every adventure needs to have a personal reason for each character to work with the others, eventually of course they gel and work with each other on their own..

anyway I digress.... it's fun, and I've converted dozens of people to being fans of it. (and I'm hoping by this time next year that I will have created a rudimentary rpg computer game based upon the Talislanta World.... although I still haven't heard back from it's creator on whether the fact that he has open sourced it will allow me to do that)
   341. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 18, 2018 at 09:00 PM (#5746999)
Just took my 15 yr old son and a buddy of his to Madison Square Garden last night for Childish Gambino. Gotta say I am pretty wowed by Glover as an artistic voice. Not much of a singer, but a great performer and his music resonates. Balance this with his TV work, his movie acting, his stand up comedy, his videos for music. Dude is on a roll and it was a special evening.

That's fantastic! Well done raising your child well enough that he recognizes greatness at 15. At that age I was disturbingly pro-Nas.
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