Pop Culture

Confirmed: George R.R. Martin is Screwing With Us.

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Yesterday, Martin’s official Twitter account posted this:

Which prompted the Internet (and especially Reddit) to lose its damn mind. Because, 12 days from yesterday is December 21st, the first day of Winter. The next book in the series is titled The Winds of Winter. Therefore, on that, day, he will announce that book’s release.

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And while I would love for this to be true, I just can’t get my hopes up. Writing epic fantasy takes a long time. Doing a good job with it takes even longer. This isn’t some Dragonlance novel you can poop out in a few months; this is A Song of $(*&ing Ice and Fire. He’s got a million threads to weave together: Stannnis’s deathmarch, Jon Snow touching the void, Cersei’s trial by combat, Sam in Oldtown, Arya in Braavos, Sansa in the Vale, whatever the hell is going on with Brienne and Jaime and Lady Stoneheart, etc.

Oh, and Dany riding a dragon with a khalasar at her back.

We’re gonna be waiting, people. Embrace it.

 

 

Nerds are Never Happy: The Force Awakens Trailer

It was pretty cool.

First off: the slow intro, empty desert, sense of dread, reminiscent of There Will Be Blood. Dug it. The darkness sitting dormant.

Stormtroopers: Same but different. Questions abound: Are these Republic Stormtroopers? Some Imperial rump state? Is the guy who pops up in the desert a good guy pulling a Luke, or some poor stormtrooper who stumbles on to the source of all evil?

R2-Polie-Olie: Looked weird, in a cute way.

Girl on the Desert Speeder: I want to assume that this is Han & Leia’s daughter, based on what I know of the Expanded Universe. The speeder itself has a very Episode IV-Tatooine feel, without being an obvious knock-off of Luke’s T-16.

X-Wing Surfing: I want to assume that this is Luke’s son, based on what I know of the Expanded Universe. Or perhaps Wedge Antilles’ son. But for all I know, it’s someone else altogether. Still, cool effect.

Lightsaber with crossguard: I liked it. Sloppy, kinda goofy, but cool. The entire scene is menacing, but looking at the presumed Sith from behind makes me curious: is this a scene in which the good guys try to sneak up on Darth Whosis and fail? Is this Darth Whosis stalking a prey of some kind? I want to find out.

Millenium Falcon, now with obligatory J.J. Abrams lens flare: First time – Okay, pretty cool. All subsequent times – GREATEST THING EVER.

But that’s me. Warsies (what the Trekkies call SW fans) are now arguing over ever single aspect of this. For example, at the bottom of this Dorkly anthology of Force Awakens fan art (yes, already), somebody calls the Lightsaber-with-crossguard a “light claymore”. This creates an argument, because it’s a standard length-sword! This provokes a rehash of why a lightsaber with a crossguard is and is not totally impractical. Because magic swords have to make sense.

Also, did you know all Star Wars fans were racist? This is true because of a reddit thread in which people admitted to being confused by black stormtrooper, because obviously not a Jango Fett Clone. Cue arguments about whether the stormtroopers in the Original Trilogy were clones or not.

Also, rolling droid is totally the new Jar-Jar Binks. Totally.

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EU Novels are Lucasfilm-approved! They’re CANON! Naaaaaah!

The only hope from all this pissy slapfighting is that we go in with low expectations. Between the Prequels and Lucas being an obstinate troll about the Special Edition, we have become a bitter and jaded fandom, ever ready to pounce on minutiae as preparation for disappointment. If The Force Awakens is competent (and there’s no reason to suspect it won’t be), that might draw some of the poison out, so we can go back to the important things, like making fun of Trekkies.

LOL.

 

Charles Manson, Star Wars, and the Joy of Hate

Kevin Williamson opines on how monsters make the ladies swoon.

The phenomenon of young women falling in love with death-row inmates, particularly with serial killers, is not new: Women flocked to Ted Bundy’s trial — his trial for raping, torturing, and murdering young women as a prelude to acts of necrophilia — and he received stacks of love letters and marriage proposals. Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Ramirez got the same treatment, and Anders Behring Breivik might as well be the Beatles during their heyday. An investment banker may have a Ferrari, but the serial killer, the terrorist, and the mass murderer are at the top of the food chain. On the subject of Nazis, P. J. O’Rourke famously joked that “no one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.” Like all good jokes, that is fundamentally true — even if the truth behind it horrifies the nice people at National Public Radio, who remain “bumfuzzled” that a rich and powerful woman would allow herself to be beaten bloody by a psychopathic meathead, repeatedly.

That all sounds thoughtful and probably true. Meanwhile, in nerd-world:

I cannot quite express it, but I feel as though there’s a similar dynamic at work. We Warsies (thanks Trekkies) could not stop complaining about Phantom Menace back in the day, any more than we could stop paying money to go see it. It was almost as though we enjoyed the abuse.

Is Seinfeld’s Clio Speech the Greatest Award Acceptance Speech of All Time?

He switches from praise to insult without skipping a beat or changing tone.

Of course, this could only happen at the Clios because advertising execs are entirely comfortable with having the scorn of the chattering class with their dinner. They make illusions for others, and so have none. Whereas the earnest dorks at the Oscars, etc., would never stand for being told that they’re a bunch of  lie-peddling whores.

Then again, maybe they would. I nominate Jennifer Lawrence for the job.

She looks ready.

Let Us Perform Cruel Postmortems On Legendarily Bad Films: Highlander II

Still waiting on Decider to give us another “Disasterpiece Theater“, so instead I’ll link this cruel fellow beating the dead horse that is Highlander II, a film I haven’t even seen (because I never saw the big deal about the first one, but whatever. Geek does not require explanation).

This is what sometimes happens when you try to ressurrect a film, to apply charity to film criticism, to wipe off the snotties and say you’re not really such a bad boy, are you? Sometimes you find yourself staring numbly into the raw horror of a universe devoid of reason, where nothing makes sense.

Highlander II almost immediately goes back over every plot point of the first film. The immortals were never immortals but in fact aliens, Sean Connery can resurrect himself (ironically making him more immortal than when he was actually an immortal), and the Highlander wasn’t actually from the Highlands but instead from another planet. It also retcons the prize to a choice between dying slowly or being executed. Also, all that bit about MacLeod first meeting Ramirez, learning his true nature and all that character development? Retcon! Turns out they already had some sort of weird civil partnership thing going on, using magic space honey. Also, MacLeod was head of the immortals, I mean “Zeistians”.

dude huh

That’s the beginning of the long discussion of a plot that was clearly written by coked-out monkeys via William Burroughs’ cut-up method. That’s my theory, anyway, because despite the headline, the linked article doesn’t actually explain how this happened. How did a director make a film he walked out on? How did human writers conceive of this madness? What studio head looked at this and said “Yes! Put it out for the public! Now!”

Amazingly, it didn’t destroy the franchise. Far from it. The 90s saw a Highlander explosion, with a new film, a TV series (that got its own films in the 2000s), novels, video games, and even a cartoon series. They all have one thing in common, though – they all pretend that Highlander II never happened.

I would like to offer a counter-theory. Because the first Highlander struck me as kinda “whatever”, I would like to ask if the horribleness of Highlander II is precisely the reason that the universe went on to thrive in the 90’s. A merely boring sequel, that would have let to audience and studio indifference. But a terrifyingly bad monstrosity as a sequel to a film that was pretty good and sold well, that gets remembered (as evidenced by the fact that I’m writing about it this many years after the fact). And more, it creates a need for redemption. Somebody said “Boy we hosed this! This is embarrassing! We need to fix it!” Thus, the first film build a fan base, the second film outraged it, hence, other films and TV. Highlander II died that others may rise.

Oh, Good. MTV is Getting into the Buzzfeed Market.

Lists! Lists all the time!

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Here’s what I have to say in response to this paint-by-numbers men-are-icky listicle:

1. They know how to wire 17 devices through one surge protector…

Is that difficult? Put the plug in the socket. This is beyond female ken? Really?

2. But have no idea how to put down the toilet seat.

*sigh*  Yes we do. We have the idea to put it down every time we have to go no. 2. The only idea we don’t have is this odd expectation that the toilet seat is always going to be in the optimum position for us when we approach it. If we have to sit on it, and the seat is up, we put it down! I know! Like, without complaining or anything!

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3. They can proficiently operate an elaborate system of multiple remotes and cable boxes…

If you say so, sister. I get frustrated with mine a good deal. Inanimate objects vex me. My wife is much better with them.

4. But feel overwhelmed by using more than one shower product for all of their bathing needs.

Not overwhelmed. We just don’t see the point. You come out of the shower, you’re clean. We come out of the shower, we’re clean. Except you do it with fifteen different products and we do it with one. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

5. They can easily be slipped vegan food if you focus on the fact that it is a “home cooked meal.”

Deception. The basis of any healthy relationship.

You do realize that you’ve given him a license to sneak bacon into your food, right?

6. They like football.

Because women don’t.

7. Like, a lot.

Because they like it so much that it takes up two places!

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8. But are totally not into reading laundry labels.

Okay, so far there’s been at least a tenuous juxtaposition between complicated things we do/simple things we don’t. But here the heuristic falls apart. How does “liking” football contrast with “totally not being into” laundry labels. Do women actually like reading laundry labels? Or do they just own clothes in so many different fabrics that it’s simply good sense to pay attention to them? Whereas guy clothes usually come in three fabrics:

  • Cotton, which washes well, and can only be dried wrong once
  • Polyester/blends, which wash and dry fine
  • Wool, which gets dry-cleaned

Our laundry lives just aren’t that complicated.

9. They collect tools in the same way that we collect nail polish…

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10. And the poor things think doing chores is as fun as having your nails did.

It’s the difference between doing something and chatting while something is done for you. Different strokes for different folks.

Also, I feel like most guys don’t consider mucking around with tools “chores” in the same sense that vacuuming and dishes are “chores”.

11. Finally, the three farts a day when you each had your own place? That was him holding back.

Women are dainty flowers who never expel methane from their rectum, said no husband ever.

You’re terrible at this, MTV. Go back to doing…whatever you do these days. Exploiting dumb people for giggles, last time I checked.

Examining The Emperor’s New Groove: Because Sometimes Buzzfeed is Right…

Yes, it’s the usual feast of gifs and OMGLOL, but they have stumbled upon a point.

The Emperor’s New Groove is so unlike any other Disney animated film, that I often have to remind myself that it’s Disney.

In the first place, it’s not a musical. Not really. There’s a quick song at the beginning, reprised at the end, but otherwise it’s remarkably capable of establishing characterization without bursting into song. This is just before PIXAR took charge of all non-musical Disney films, so it’s noteworthy that they even tried this.

In the second place, it’s spirit is snarky, silly, and self-aware, in a way that Disney movies almost never are. Sure, you have the occasional Flynn Rider, but most of the time they end up Facing Their Feelings in the third act. The very basic moral lesson of TENG – being a self-absorbed jagoff leads to misery – does not require any real shift in tone.

That tone bears far more resemblance to classic 30’s screwball comedies (in fact, the film is classified as such on Wikipedia) than to anything else Disney has ever done. Basically, this is the closed Disney ever got to making a Looney Tunes cartoon.

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Wikipedia also says the the director, Mark Dindal, was a Disney journeyman who “drastically” altered the script to a comedy after an initial effort to make a traditional Disney animated film called Kingdom of the Sun, “didn’t work out.” He also directed Chicken Little, and so no longer works at Disney.

So that might explain that.