Today’s TV show, tomorrow’s ‘everybody knows’

The Headless Horseman, according to the new Fox television show Sleepy Hollow, is none other than the first of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” from the book of Revelation.

That premise calls for an indefensible exegesis both of John’s Apocalypse and of the short story by Washington Irving — two of the many texts enlisted and reinvented to serve the show’s convoluted premise. The Wikipedia entry linked to above refers to the show as “a modern-day retelling” of Irving’s story. Nonsense. This is not that story and very little of that story can be found in Sleepy Hollow, apart from the words “Sleepy Hollow” and “Headless Horseman” and “Ichabod Crane.” Irving’s story is just one of the many bits of raw material reprocessed to create the new fantasy/horror/mystery/romance story the show wants to tell.

Katrina Van Tassel might have had second thoughts if this were Ichabod Crane.

It’s unfair to the storytellers producing this new story to criticize them for infidelity to Irving’s tale. They’re just trying to make an entertaining TV show. So we should first set aside concerns about whether their story is compatible with Irving’s — or with John of Patmos, or with American history — and just ask if the show is any fun.

Judging by the pilot episode, I’d say, well, sort of. The two leads seem to be likable characters, and they’re played by two very likable actors — Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. Creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci — who helped bring us Fringe — still have a knack for creepy atmospherics and occasional touches of humor (my favorite fan-service gag was their casting The Kurgan as the sheriff). But it’s also a bit of a mess, like a big stew with way too many disparate ingredients. It’s like The X-Files meets National Treasure, with big chunks of Highlander, Supernatural, Warehouse 13, The Da Vinci Code, Buffy, Beauty and the Beast, New Amsterdam, Charmed and Millennium tossed in. I like most of those things, but I’m not sure they can all fit together.

I’ll cut the show some slack for having to cram so much implausible exposition into its pilot and agree with David Sims of the AV Club that it’s got some goofy appeal, despite being “catastrophically silly.” Even so, though, it wasn’t nearly as much fun as the other couple of pilots I’ve seen this fall — Agents of Shield and The James Spader Show (The Blacklist — which I’ll try to keep watching just for Spader’s delightfully weird line readings).

But I’m not trying to write a TV review here. What I’m interested in here is not the way that a TV show like Sleepy Hollow reprocesses the raw material of literature, scripture and history, but rather the way that our understanding of literature, scripture and history can be reshaped even by a weird little TV show like Sleepy Hollow.

Let’s take history first. History teachers watching Sleepy Hollow will be in the same uncomfortable position they found themselves in watching National Treasure or Warehouse 13. These stories incorporate bits of real history and mix them with a heavy dose of fantasy, and it’s not easy for history teachers to sign up for that ride without some misgivings.

George Washington is a character in Sleepy Hollow. Or, rather, “George Washington” is a character in Sleepy Hollow. This “George Washington” bears many similarities to the historical figure of the colonial general and first American president. “George Washington” looks just like George Washington. But “George Washington,” unlike George Washington, is also part of the convoluted mythology of Kurtzman and Orci’s show — apparently a leader in an ancient secret society, aligned with a coven of good witches (or “witches”), and dedicated to preventing the forces of evil from bringing about the end of the world.

I imagine some history teachers tuned in to watch the first episode, hopeful that it’s time-traveling hero’s Rip Van Winkle experiences in modern-day New York might do some pedagogical good. But then they got that familiar sinking feeling — probably in the scene with the ominous close-up on the pyramid on the back of the dollar bill — as they began to realize that their students would be absorbing all sorts of new “knowledge” about “George Washington” that it will be frustratingly difficult, later, to separate from what those teachers are trying to teach about George Washington.

What’s interesting to me is that this won’t just be a problem with the relatively few students who watch this show. It may be, as Sims writes, that Sleepy Hollow is “so delectably silly … it’s practically guaranteed a swift death by cancellation,” but if the show finds its footing and endures for a full season or two, or lives on in syndication, then its mythology will begin to influence the culture far beyond its core audience. Future storytellers enlisting George Washington will also incorporate bits of this “George Washington,” and it won’t just be young students who will have a hard time distinguishing between the two.

The show’s literary influence could wind up being just as pernicious. One of the lead characters is named “Ichabod Crane,” but he is a revolutionary soldier and spy, not a superstitious schoolteacher. This “Ichabod” is woefully misnamed — his glory is quite intact (the name Ichabod means “the glory has departed”). The climax of Irving’s story involved Ichabod Crane fleeing the Headless Horseman, but on the show, “Ichabod Crane” runs toward the Horseman as the only soldier brave and strong enough to face him in battle. Irving’s Ichabod Crane never looked like he was about to say, “I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and I believe your fight’s with me.”

My guess is that more than a few students are in for some embarrassing grades after trying to bluff their way through a quiz on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” based on what they’ve “learned” from this show. I’d also guess that some future fans of the show may later come to dislike or even resent Irving’s story for besmirching the honor of their hero. After getting to know “Ichabod Crane,” meeting Ichabod Crane is bound to be a disappointment.

Which brings us to the show’s conscription of the symbols and language of the book of Revelation. Here again we have the same problem of familiar words and symbols enlisted for different purposes and invested with different meanings.

But the problem here is more complicated than the problem frustrating history and English teachers. Those teachers may be troubled by the show’s blurring of “George Washington” and “Ichabod Crane” with George Washington and Ichabod Crane, but they’re fully aware of the distinctions and they’re working to maintain them. The relationship between popular theology and popular culture, alas, never involves such clear distinctions. Pop-culture mythologies that work their way into what everybody “knows” about various religious symbols or biblical passages inevitably wind up influencing the way some people preach and teach about those symbols and passages. Those new meanings invented by storytellers thus become, for others, something they heard in church or in Sunday school, and for them the fanon becomes the canon.

The pilot of Sleepy Hollow presented us with a host of ideas and assumptions about the devil and the book of Revelation. Most of that comes from earlier such stories — earlier fantasy/mystery/thriller/romance stories that drew on those symbols, reinventing or elaborating as required by the story being told. Kurtzman and Orci aren’t really starting with the biblical book of Revelation, then reinventing it for their purposes. They’re starting with the pop-cultural mythology of the book of Revelation and then further reinventing it for their purposes. And their reinvention will, in turn, influence future revisions and reinterpretations.

That same endless cycle is also at work in other aspects of this show. The starting point for Sleepy Hollow’s “George Washington” isn’t only the historical George Washington, but also all the previous “George Washingtons” from all the previous popular stories invoking his name and image. Or consider the “witches” of Sleepy Hollow and the near-impossibility of trying to sort the popular mythology of such “witches” from any actual women who may or may not have been anything at all like what the show means by that term.*

When it comes to “Revelation,” there’s a century-old industry feeding off this endless cycle of storytelling appropriation and reinvention. The “Bible prophecy” business involves thousands of speakers and writers, many of whom are guilelessly ingesting all manner of popular reimaginations while themselves imagining that all those stories are somehow a part of the actual text. Others seem to do this intentionally — the “Bible prophecy” biz is highly competitive, so you need an edge. If people like The Omen, then they’ll enjoy it if you work that into your shtick and start pretending that Revelation has something to say about Damien Thorn.

It’s too soon to say much about how Sleepy Hollow will feed the endless cycle of what “everybody knows” about the book of Revelation, but already we can see one way in which it reinforces the pop-mythology of what everybody knows and one way in which it seems to challenge it.

For the storytellers of Sleepy Hollow, Revelation is a book of prognostication — a collection of predictive prophecies foretelling the future and describing the end of the world. That’s such a widely accepted notion and such an essential part of the mythos of everybody knows that it’s very, very difficult to read John’s Apocalypse today without reading it through that interpretive lens. That’s so much the case that even the word “apocalypse” has come to mean that, and only that.

But that’s not really what John of Patmos and the many other apocalyptic writers were trying to say. An apocalypse isn’t about the future of the world, but about the meaning of the world. In order to say what a story means, of course, you have to know how the story ends, and so it’s common in apocalyptic literature for writers to portray an ending to their story that accords with their meaning of it. But such portrayals are not predictions, they are assertions. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” is an apocalyptic statement. It’s not a prediction of the end of the universe, but an assertion about what the universe ultimately means.

By reinforcing the everybody-knows idea of Revelation as a predictive bit of coded fortune-telling, Sleepy Hollow steers us further away from being able to understand John’s Apocalypse.

Yet there’s another sense in which the show’s mythology seems to steer us back toward a more constructive reading of Revelation. The role of the heroes in Sleepy Hollow, apparently, is to save the world — and thus to prevent the “apocalypse” foretold by the “biblical” soothsayer. They see all the destruction and chaos and the “end of the world” supposedly “predicted” by “Revelation” and they ask the hero’s question — the same question asked by Buffy and Giles and Crowley and Aziraphale — “How do we stop it?”

That’s the opposite question from the one asked by the “Bible prophecy” industry. It reasserts something else everybody knows but that the “Bible prophecy scholars” seem to have forgotten: heroes and Good Guys try to save the world, not to facilitate its destruction.

Here I find it interesting that Sleepy Hollow’s Good Guys — “Ichabod Crane” and “George Washington” — are revolutionaries. That steers us closer to what John of Patmos was on about. It’s not about the End of the World, it’s about the end of the empire — revolution, liberation and a new beginning.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* I’ve been distinguishing between the show’s “Ichabod Crane” and Irving’s Ichabod Crane by using quotation marks, but that over-simplifies things by implying only one layer to this ever-repeating cycle. We can’t really say that Sleepy Hollow gives us a “book of Revelation” based on the book of Revelation. It’s reinventing and reappropriating symbols that have already been endlessly reinvented and reappropriated. Conveying that with quotation marks would get unwieldy — a “””””Revelation””””” based on “”””Revelation”””” based on “””Revelation””” … This is also an over-simplification because it implies a too-direct genealogy of this-begets-that, while the truth is that Sleepy Hollow’s “Revelation” draws on a popular mythology that has a myriad of sources, each of which, in turn, was also shaped by a host of different sources.

 

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  • LL

    I like it well enough. It is silly, but then most “supernatural-themed” shows are. I enjoyed the hell out of “Fringe,” but it was ridiculous. Every time Walter came up with some harebrained way of doing something impossible, I would roll my eyes and say, “Really? OK, Walter.” But the characters were so delightful I was willing to suspend all disbelief and just enjoy the ride.

    It’s the only way I could watch “Lost,” too (and no, I didn’t care for the ending, but it didn’t “ruin” the previous years of show watching, either).

  • Lori

    If I can get past the heaping helping of American Exceptionalism on steroids in the premise this is how I’ll watch the show. Enjoy the silly and pretty and the creepy and just let the rest of it go for as long as the good stuff seems worth it.

    For the record I stopped watching Lost fairly early on. There came a moment when I looked at what had just happened and said to myself, “I have taken this ride before and there is no freakin’ way that where this ends up is going to be worth the convoluted trip to get there. I’m out.” I take no issue with the fact that other people loved it, but for myself I have never regretted that decision. If at any point I get that same feeling about Sleepy Hollow I’ll quit it too.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    If I can get past the heaping helping of American Exceptionalism on steroids in the premise this is how I’ll watch the show.

    I didn’t know that much aside from one horrendously glaring part in the third episode where a character says something along the lines of “Do you really think the apocalypse is going to happen here, just to destroy America, the greatest nation on the planet?”

    That was a serious WTF moment.

  • Lori

    If someone actually says that next week the show will have a fan for life.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The problem is, someone actually did say that, and they were completely serious- they’d rather not believe in the Four Horsemen because America is too awesome to fail just because of a little thing like the end of the world. He also equated “the end of the world” with “America is destroyed,” because that’s the only reason the Four Horsemen would show up is to trample Starbucks and McDonald’s beneath their fiery hooves.

  • Lori

    Who said that? There have only been 2 episodes aired, right? Did I miss something while grabbing a snack or something? (My house is DVR-less so when I watch on TV, as opposed to online, I am totally old school.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Three. I haven’t really paid close attention to it, so I can’t recall the particulars. Maybe I’ll put it on again tonight and see if I can track it down.

  • Lori

    Are you in some kind of time vortex? I looked it up. Fox itself is telling me that ep 3 doesn’t air until next week.

    If you are in a time vortex please retrieve lotto numbers.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Apparently I was mistaken. Either that or I stepped into the wrong paradigm again.

  • Lori

    Damn. I was really hoping for those lotto numbers.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Tell you what — if I win the lotto, I’ll be happy to share. (Seriously, I don’t need that much money.)

  • Lori

    Right back at ya.

  • Shayna

    How have you seen the third episode? I thought only the first two have aired so far….

    On a side note, I will watch the show cuz I like snarky Ichabod. He amuses me.

  • Ben English

    Someone saying that wouldn’t bother me if it made sense for them to have that attitude or said it as an aspirational thing and not a tautology. (Though it would be a seriously anachronistic statement in the time of the American Revolution given the thing where America wasn’t officially a nation yet.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Walter cracked me up SO HARD with that line about car seats warming your ass. To this day I cannot repeat that line without dissolving into laughter. XD

  • otrame

    “Catastrophically silly” is a good description. I kinda sorta liked it, but they tried to cram too much of the “Revelation” stuff and the “witch” stuff and a bunch of other stuff into the first episode. Bad move. If “Lost” didn’t teach them that they can take a while to reveal what is going on, it should have.

    Hell, they could have spent half the first season with half of each episode dealing with what should have been “Ichabod’s” massive case of Future Shock.

    And one thing really pissed me off. His wife’s grave stone. As if. As if they would bury a witch in a church graveyard. I never mind them getting silly with the supernatural, but stuff like that, there is no excuse for that.

    I quite liked the actors, especially the woman. And Clancy Brown. I LOVE Clancy Brown when they let him play a good guy (rarely). The trouble is if Clancy Brown is the good guy Clancy Brown dies. I hate that.

  • Lori

    And one thing really pissed me off. His wife’s grave stone. As if. As
    if they would bury a witch in a church graveyard. I never mind them
    getting silly with the supernatural, but stuff like that, there is no
    excuse for that.

    Not just you. I don’t care that her body isn’t in there and never was because the grave was just a place to hide the Horseman’s head. That gravestone would never, ever have been allowed in a church graveyard. It would have been trivially easy to locate it somewhere else for purposes of the story. I have no idea what they were thinking putting it where they did.

  • tatortotcassie

    Aha! Your comments have just given me an idea that clears up the “witch buried in a graveyard” problem and addresses me biggest pet peeve — the appearance of the headstone. I used to work in a cemetery. Even headstones as young as 90 years old get worn and lichen-covered. A headstone more than 200 years old in an abandoned graveyard would be virtually illegible.
    Anyway. Here’s my new theory: the headstone was a recent addition. Very recent. Within the past 50 years or so. The good witches put Katrina’s name on the headstone so they would be able to locate the Horseman’s head more easily, and maybe the artificially aged the stone a smidge, just enough to blend in with the older stones but not enough to be illegible.

  • Lori

    The stone still says that Katrina was burned as a witch, which is a no-no in a church yard. If anyone saw it, it would be a problem no matter when it was put there. I think it was just a lazy screw-up on the part of the show.

  • Launcifer

    So they managed to screw up both the manner of execution and the conventions surrounding the burial? I’m surprised someone didn’t just say she weighed the same as a duck and have done with it.

  • Kirala

    My students can’t reliably tell you whether the Salem Witch Trials happened before or after the Boston Tea Party, but since we studied the Crucible, they can reliably tell you that witches were never burned to death as a part of the American legal system. (Hanging was NOT considered too good for condemned witches, I suppose.) I really, really hate it when shows make easily-researchable history a major part of the workings of the show, then fail to get it right.

    … then again, all my friends and family are tired of hearing my rant about National Treasure and time*, so my sense of “easily researchable” might be a bit off.

    *So they take the time to make it a plot point that our characters realize that our modern 2:22 isn’t the same as the Founding Fathers’ 2:22, which means that the exact minute they need to be watching a shadow is at a different time than expected. Yay for realizing we measure time differently now! Unexpected historical accuracy is unexpected! Way to go, calculating for Daylight… Savings… wait, how could you forget the difference between local time (used historically) and Standard Time (used now)? That’s forty minutes off in Philly, people! This affects a down-to-the-minute timing issue rather enormously!

  • Launcifer

    No, I know the feeling. I wasn’t particularly interested in watching this anyway (it starts next week in England) but the words “burn” and “witch” instantly put me off even checking it out. It’s probably because I wrote far too many essays about the English Reformation, way back in the mists of time.

  • Jenora Feuer

    Gah, yes. Standard time didn’t become an important issue until we had railroads going all over the place which needed to synchronize with each other across great distances. Worldwide standard time was proposed by Canadian Sandford Fleming (who, not unsurprisingly, was also one of the main architects of the Canadian Pacific Railway) in 1879.

    The U.S. railways started doing their own standard times mostly based on the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh in 1869, though they wouldn’t all agree on the same standard until 1883, and it didn’t become law until 1918. So even the concept of standard time didn’t really exist in the U.S. until almost a century after the American Revolution.

  • fraser

    I suppose that fits with Fred’s point: popular mythology says America burned its witches, ergo–

  • Lorehead

    I didn’t see the episode, but: she might have been reburied after 1711, when all the people accused of witchcraft posthumously had their names cleared. (Or rather, from your description, her heirs might have pretended to move her body there like she “would have wanted,” while in fact hiding the horseman’s head.)

  • Lori

    She didn’t die until 177-something (I don’t remember the exact date). Ichabod “died” during the Revolutionary War and she dies after he did.

  • Lorehead

    Wait, witch-burnings after the Revolution? That’s really, really anachronistic. Nobody had been executed for witchcraft in America in over eighty years (that I know of).

    There were a handful of accusations in the 18th century that didn’t go anywhere, except sometimes to defamation suits, including one in Bristol, Connecticut as late as 1760, but Ben Franklin was already making fun of them by 1730. I don’t know of any conviction after 1706, and that defendant, Grace Sherwood, was still alive in 1733.

  • Lori

    I think it’s a witch-burning during the Revolution. Or possibly a handful of them, but only from the coven(s) in Sleepy Hollow. I don’t think we’re meant to believe that Katrina’s execution was part of some general witch hunt. It was a localized event tied to the attempts to keep her and her group of good witches from stopping the bad witches and the Four Horsemen and the whole falderal.

    That’s why the fact that her “grave” is in a church yard bothers me way more than her means of death. If her execution is an event tied to the whole Sleepy Hollow thing then it really doesn’t matter whether it gibes with historical witch trials. It does matter that the participants in the weirdness not call attention to the goings-on by doing things right in the open that are just not on, like burying condemned witches on hallowed ground.

  • Lorehead

    Or burning witches at all by the late 1770s. Fred opened by saying that it’s not the kind of story where historical accuracy matters, and I’m not going to complain about a show I didn’t watch. If they were trying to keep their secret history possible by never contradicting the record, which evidently they weren’t, I would have bought: it was a lynching, or the authorities covered it up because country bumpkins executing a woman for witchcraft would have been such a scandal.

    None of those is consistent with giving a woman a Christian burial and then putting on her grave that she was executed for witchcraft. Much less by burning.

  • Lori

    Katrina wasn’t killed by country bumpkins. Or if she was, they were bumpkins whipped up and directed by some follower of the Big Bad. The Big Bad in this case is seriously old school, so there’s no reason to expect that the killing would follow new-fangled, “modern” trends. The more I think about it the less burning bothers me.

    The grave in the church yard still sticks in my craw.

  • Lorehead

    But that’s what everyone would have thought by the 1770s, or even by 1730, when Ben Franklin was mocking them in the equivalent of an Onion piece (which some later historians even found Literally Unbelievable).

  • Lori

    When I say old school, I mean old school. The bad guy on this show is a demon or some such and there are indications that at least some of the humans, or “humans” as the case may be, live hundreds of years. There’s no reason why they would give a rat’s behind about anything that happened in that century. They’re the kind of bad guys who would still be burning witches now.

  • Lorehead

    Right, right, I mean, they are trying to hide the fact that’s what they’re doing, though? Because they don’t want the attention? So that would have applied to the 1770s.

    Hmmm. Maybe she was innocent in the eyes of the law, but they later defaced or replaced the original stone themselves to boast that they had burned her for witchcraft.

  • Lori

    Yeah, it’s sloppy. I’m not sure how the show plans to deal with that, if at all.

  • Fanraeth

    Yeah, the burning I didn’t have much of a problem with either. I hand-waved that as since these were real witches, they had to go to drastic measures to actually succeed in killing them. The church grave though? That’s a bridge too far. I suppose we’re meant to believe the supernatural reverend was responsible, maybe some kind of Jedi mind trick thing to keep normal people from seeing the grave maybe. But I do prefer it when a show actually explains things like that instead of forcing the viewer to contrive up an explanation.

  • MarkTemporis

    There is the possibility that witch trials in the Sleepy Hollow universe went markedly differently due to the actual existence of witchcraft.

  • Alix

    (haven’t seen the show, but) That’s the sort of thing that needs to be made clear, though.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Well, the pastor in the first episode wasn’t exactly a typical Christian shepherd either, and I seem to recall him implying he could have been there when the headstone was placed…

  • Lori

    He was something not normal human, but he still wouldn’t have had a witch buried in the church yard. It would have called attention to him and if you’ve been around since the American Revolution attention is not your friend.

  • Persia

    Yeah, but if, say, there was vandalism in the cemetary or something he could have quietly replaced the stone with something else.

  • Isabel C.

    Oh, or! Headstone wasn’t originally in there, and neither was the grave. Graveyard expanded sometime between her death and the start of the show; the original headstone got broken at a tourist-y enough time that “burned as a witch” seemed like a good idea.

    …this is a fun game. ;)

  • Persia

    Oh, yes! I like that.

  • Kirala

    Sounds perfect to me!

    I love fandom fixes for canon fail. This affirms my theory: almost every franchise would be the better for having some fan beta testers for all new content. It would be too cost-prohibitive to even consider for TV, but movie franchises might be able to pull it off.

  • Arrendis

    Pfft. It wouldn’t be cost-prohibitive at all. All they’d need to do is hire 1-2 people to ‘moderate’ a set of ‘official discussion forums: talk about the show! What does it mean??’

    Then you get exactly these discussions on those forums, and the moderators harvest the best ideas, filter them back to the writers, and you wind up with a more engaged fandom and a serious conspiracy thread of people on the forums going ‘are we that good, or are they stealing our ideas?!?!?’

  • Kirala

    I was thinking of the cost of the time and box-checking for getting the extra round of approval. Although I don’t know all that much about TV; maybe they’re more flexible than I think.

  • Kagi Soracia

    Supernatural tried that to a point – it kind of backfired.

  • Amaryllis

    Yes, me too.

    I don’t care if a writer reinterprets history, or imaginatively fills in the gaps in history, or personalizes history. I can’t deal with getting basic facts wrong. I’m with the history teachers on that one.

    (I haven’t seen the show, but from what I’ve gathered– witch burnings in the late 18th-century American colonies? Weren’t people still embarrassed by the memory of the Salem witch hangings almost a century earlier?)

  • otrame

    You put it much better than I did. And the comments above show once more why I like fan fiction better than the shows they are based on. There is a hell of a lot more creativity surrounding us than we have any idea of.

    “Fanfiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by folk.” —Henry Jenkins

  • Jamoche

    “It’s open-source creativity.” – Mark Ruffalo

  • Kirala

    Best kind, at least for thriving stories. New baby ones might need a little, ah, sheltering from the enthusiasms of a highly active fandom. (And by “sheltering” I mean keeping canon control limited; I can’t think of a case where the existence of fanfic or fanon would seem likely to hurt a story.)

  • Persia

    (Well yes, but there are two rival witch clans in this story, so it’s entirely possible that that course of history went kind of differently. I’m always sort of the opinion that once immortal headless guys stat running around, an alternate timeline is inevitable.)

  • Alix

    …You’ve just nailed why a lot of fantasy supposedly set in the real world fails for me, actually. (Most urban fantasy falls into this trap, which is why I am leery of the genre.)

    Once you get, oh, vampires or the undead or wizards running around, you have to do some damn good explaining for how history mysteriously turned out the same or I ain’t buying it. And no, “these super-powerful people just sort of never crossed paths with human history in any meaningful way” doesn’t really fly, especially not that really annoying “because they must work to prevent humans from noticing them!” variant. >.>

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, Harry Potter and Narnia work for me even so because they don’t get too detail-laden about things that are supposedly in “our” world and focus on the fantasy element instead.

    But your statement? Is exactly why I can’t stomach the second Eugenics Wars novel.

    The author tries so hard to squeeze in the material into the ins and outs of our own timeline that it completely denies the nature and execution of the Eugenics Wars in Trek canon. You say 37 million people get killed in it, there damn well BETTER be an honest to God war.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    You say 37 million people get killed in it, it’d better not be completely forgotten by the next episode.

  • Lorehead

    Also, C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowlings set the opening chapters of those books in a child’s-eye view of the world they grew up in. So they were writing what they knew. Granted, you have Tim LeHaye, who’s actually been to Israel, signing his name to a book where smugglers row boats up the mighty river Jordan and cashing his check.

  • Alix

    they don’t get too detail-laden about things that are supposedly in “our” world

    That works. And honestly? If the story even bothers to give me a vaguely plausible reason, I can buy it – I was (still am) a big fan of the Animorphs series, for example, which at least tries to think through the whole “secret war” and “aliens have been stopping by Earth for ages” thing – and promptly takes all this stuff to its logical conclusions in the later part of the series, veering off into a divergent reality.

    But the stuff that’s all “oh, these people are so powerful yet somehow never alter history” or “oh, this major epic event happens but somehow never gets noticed” – no. Especially when the author goes on and on about it, which is what tends to bother me most with urban fantasy.

    …Even Harry Potter got annoying for me, once I started to think through the history there. (I can’t help it! And I still maintain it was the advent of gunpowder in Europe that led to wizarding seclusion, but that’s another ramble entirely. XD) And frankly, I’m not the biggest Potter fan, but the books were a fun enough read that if you treated them like, well, kids’ books or fairy tales, they worked because so much of the worldbuilding was silly and illogical.

  • Kirala

    With this and the Arthurania stuff below, I think we need to compare book recs. Because I am finding that most of the stories you mention liking are also stories I like.

    Though if you LIKE the ultimate ending of Animorphs, there may be major discrepancies. I appreciate the ending and don’t know how else it could have ended, but I still pretty much hate it.

  • Alix

    SPOILERS BELOW for the end of Animorphs, if anybody cares. XD

    “Like” is … probably not the right word. It was fitting. There’s not really a way things could’ve gone much different, given all the setup. The cliffhanger/everyone dies (depending on how you read it) ending annoyed the crap out of me, and still does.

    But it seemed fitting, as I said. In a rather harsh, uncompromising sort of way, that sits rather oddly but somehow rightly with the optimism underlying the arc of the series.

  • Kirala

    Which pretty much matches my opinion. This is the sort of fiction which reminds me that for all I demand consistent internal logic of plot, setting, character, and consequences, I often hate to see it played out.

  • Alix

    for all I demand consistent internal logic of plot, setting, character, and consequences, I often hate to see it played out.

    Haha, well put.

    It was jarring for me because, in addition to all that, I usually also insist on hopefulness/optimism in my stories. (Not pie-in-the-sky unearned crap, but I … am not a fan of depressing fiction, and do. not. get. me. started. on folks considering depressing stuff more “realistic.”)

    Animorphs had both, and kept both up – and then bam, the consequences all hit, and ouch. And it’s still sort of hopeful/optimistic, but from a less immediate-to-our-protagonists view. From their perspective, it’s damn depressing.

  • Deacon Blues

    Animorphs SPOILER

    My biggest problem with the ending of Animorphs is that they start a completely different and out of left field adventure, and then die one chapter into it. It left me feeling like I was missing half of the freaking book. Everything else, I was actually okay with, generally speaking, though I wondered if Marco was really as… I dunno, healthy, as he was letting on? I mean, I get that he probably wouldn’t suffer PTSD the way Jake and (sorta) Tobias did, but still… I wondered if he wasn’t hiding his true feelings, and well… guess it doesn’t matter anyways.

  • Alix

    Continuing the spoiler theme….

    The “start a new adventure and croak” thing pissed me off for the same reason, even though I got what Applegate was doing: showing that they couldn’t just stop the saving-the-world thing, having them go out in a blaze of glory.

    I … really don’t think Marco was okay. It’s admittedly been a while since I last read that book, and as I’m in the process of moving all my books are in storage, but I seem to recall thinking it was pretty clear he was hamming it up, playing the role he kept insisting he’d play when things were over – living large as the hero of the world – but that it was just a role for him. He did, after all, drop everything to go off on a suicide mission. I think if he’d truly found meaningful work and begun to move on like Cassie had, not only would he have never gone, but Jake would’ve never asked him.

  • Fanraeth

    I read that book in Walmart because my library didn’t have it yet and there was no way my parents would buy it for me. I broke down in tears in public over that ending. I think that was my first introduction to the trauma a book can cause you.

  • Arrendis

    Well, keep in mind that for Narnia, you’ve got very specific time-frames being viewed through lens of children who are purposefully being kept from knowing about the Blitz.

  • Kirala

    I know the 2005 movie emphasized this point, but I’m not sure it’s in the text. The Blitz always felt like a narrative convenience in Narnia, a way for children to be away from close adult supervision without having a tragic family life. “And this is from that one summer they were away from home and parents. Because of Reasons That Sound Plausible.”

    Which is not to say it’s not a great angle to use in thinking about the story and/or reimagining it, but I just don’t see it in the original text.

  • EllieMurasaki

    But given other narrative conveniences in Narnia–specifically the ‘all the Narnia time is an instant of England time’–the absence of close adult supervision hardly seems to matter.

  • Kirala

    The first sentence is literally the only time in the story when the Blitz is mentioned, and the children never mention their parents or family or home.

    On the other hand, it would be impossible for the question of Narnia’s reality to remain a quarrel between equals if close-supervising guardians were around. The stage of sibling rivalry, uncertainty, and doubt would have gone from an epistemological puzzle to Lucy Versus Sane Adults, or Implausibly Credulous Adults Versus Incredulous Children, or the adults would have had to become well-rounded characters with an actual role in the story which would not be forgotten by the children and readers upon spotting a Beaver.

    I think it’s telling that in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when set with the same problem, Lewis sends the parents off to America – but it is only Susan whom her siblings miss. The story really is trying very hard to keep responsible adults out of the picture.

    Just because one can imagine other narrative conveniences for the free-adventurer child, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the narrative convenience chosen was deliberate or meaningful. I’d say the Blitz is less meaningful to the Pevensies in-text than familial child abuse is to Harry Potter.

  • Jamoche

    Speaking of free-adventurer children – I’m having trouble with the new Avatar, Korra, because the world is settled enough now that she can’t just go off on her own, but it seems like the adults are stifling instead of encouraging her growth. Yeah, it’s the common teenager coming of age story, but somehow it’s not working. She’s the Avatar, she should be taking on more responsibility than the usual teen does. When she whines that nobody told her about a big important story – well, on the one hand she’s making it “all about me” and dismissing the people involved, but on the other, Avatar.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Urban Fantasy: Celtic Urban Faeries living punk-grunge in the bad part of town, followed by Celtic Urban Faeries as rock stars, Celtic Urban Faeries as fill-in-the-blank.

    At least until vampires started SPARKLING in the sunlight and the Zombie Apocalypse of the Week.

    Clop these horseapples, I’m getting my fantasy fix from MLP:FIM and its derivative fan works. At least there’s no Elves, Dwarves, etc or Celtic Urban Faeries in the magical land of Equestria.

    A year or two ago over at the Lost Genre Guild, there was some go-round about how realistic-background fantasy (set in the real world like Forks, WA) was a lot worse at getting you living in a permanent fantasy than the actual fantasy fiction usually denounced for it. Because with a real-world b/g, it’s far too easy to get delusional about meeting your Sparking Vampire Hunk at your high school to sweep you off your feet in wish-fulfillment fantasy. At least I know Twilight Sparkle or Rarity or Fluttershy (or even Nightmare Moon) won’t show up at my doorstep for real; the fantasy milieu allows for a safe distance from reality without mixing the two into delusion.

  • Alix

    Some serious studies have been done (and if I hadn’t lost the links, I’d link them) showing that the people who are most fantasy-prone in real life are usually not the people who like and consume fantasy as entertainment – the vast majority of folks who do enjoy fantasy essentially exercise their imagination and their mental ability to, hm, understand when things are imaginary.

    This kind of goes hand-in-hand with how a lot of conspiracy theorists are really unfond of fantasy literature – many of them get a lot of the supports for their theories from out-and-out fiction, and admit it’s fiction but “there must be something to it.” As someone else pointed out once, the folks on Ancient Aliens, for example, are really unimaginative, in the sense of being unable to appreciate human imagination or imagine humans doing things they can’t, and that plays into their desperate theorizing.

    I also tend to think we need imaginative breaks, and if we aren’t providing them ourselves, that’s when we can pop a spring, so to speak, and find that bleeding over into other areas of our life/reality.

  • Persia

    I don’t mind so much when it’s something like this where it’s clearly a Big Damn Secret that the two forces are struggling. Plus the priest knows, John Cho’s character knew, the sheriff had records going back centuries.

  • Kirala

    And this sums up MY chief objection to Twilight vampires. Without weaknesses, there is absolutely no plausible reason why the egomaniacal control freak Volturi didn’t take open control of their world back in ancient Rome. I’m not sure real modern humans with flamethrowers and nukes could pose a serious threat to sparklepire control; Twilight helpless-humans in the Iron Age would definitely be easily held off.

    …Yes, I know, easy target, but it’s one of those things that is at the top of my grievance list and so far down the list for most other people that I don’t get to air it out much.

  • Isabel C.

    Honestly, it’s how I work myself. For my books, I research as much as I can reasonably do with the Internet and a decent local library, and do more research for major plot points–but if something’s a little off? Eh, this is a universe where wacky magical people and/or hijinks have been real for a while. That’s totally the reason this thing was around two years early.

  • Alix

    I do the same, but my personal writing preferences are … pretty obviously fantastic (in the “I write fantasy” sense, not the “my writing preferences are awesome” sense), so anyone who thinks my stories are set anywhere close to the real world … really weren’t reading my stories. So.

    And I can totally buy that sort of premise that you do – this world’s off. It’s not our world. My problem is when the author keeps trying to insist it is really, truly our world – and botches it. It throws me right out.

  • Isabel C.

    Oh, see, Lost–for me–took too long to reveal what was happening. Possibly I wouldn’t have minded a longer reveal if more time had been devoted to the progressive reveal, and less to the Jack/Kate backstories and love triangle about which I can’t even imagine actual rats giving a rat’s ass. But I was definitely all “Fireworks! Factory! Motherfuckers!” by S3.

  • Jamoche

    I’ve got a Glarkware Lost-themed messenger bag that I got because the slogan was amusing- “Oceanic Airlines – Getting halfway there is all the fun!” Occasionally a Lost fan notices it and I have to explain that I gave up on the show before the bag even arrived.

  • otrame

    I lost interest shortly into the second season. I agree that they took too long. But the first part of the first season was a delicious blend of “Swiss Family Robinson” with a bit of Lovecraft and some soap opera. I liked it. And I still think the first 5 minutes were an amazing opening for a TV show.

    I’m not suggesting they wait until season 3 to get serious about the “Revelations”, just that it didn’t ALL have to come out in the first episode.

  • dpolicar

    The first season of Lost, I fell in love with their storytelling style… they weren’t really telling the story of what happens after the crash on the island at all, they were doing this extended season-long snapshot of these people on the island and giving us flashbacks of their individual stories, which wove thematically into what they were doing. Locke can walk — and here’s an hour about Locke and why that matters. Jack is taking charge — and here’s an hour about Jack and why that matters. Etc.

    I loved it. It was one of my favorite things I’ve seen done on television.

    Then they started actually doing stuff on the island in real time, and I kind of got bored.

  • Isabel C.

    Good point: I think the first episode would have been just fine without, for example, that one glurgey dream sequence. You’ve got the Horseman, you’ve got GW and Revelations, you’ve got the weirdo conspiracy room. We are not dumb; we can figure out the rest, or wait, or whatever.

    I wonder if there was actually some overcompensating going on because of Lost?

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I figure Lost and Twin Peaks fell completely in love with their reflections in a mirror and went all-out into “See How Clever I Am? See This Twist? See That Deep Symbolism? See That Twist? See How Clever I Am?”

    You couldn’t have done worse with Jerry Jenkins in full creative control.

    “Stop showing me how Stylishly you can write and just tell the damn story!”
    — attr to a rejection slip from author/editor Marion Zimmer Bradley

  • Isabel C.

    Ha!

    Except I did like TP–well, except for mid-S2, when Lynch decided that we all needed to care about James Hurley’s love life.

  • John Alexander Harman

    Clancy Brown was a good guy who didn’t die in Starship Troopers (although the hero didn’t see him that way at first — recruits in basic training rarely think of their drill instructors as good guys, at least in fiction). Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that the movie sucks big, dirty, jagged rocks.

  • otrame

    The ONLY thing I liked about that movie (and mind you, I still consider that one of Heinlein’s best and have occasionally re-read it over the years) was the shower scene, where all the soldiers, men and women, showered in a common room and it was no big deal.

  • John Alexander Harman

    That was a nice touch; Battlestar did the same thing, with equal nonchalance. I also like the book, and was pissed at Verhoeven for fracking it up so badly. Aside from making a hash of the political thought-experiment, he did away with the armored combat suits without replacing them with the kind of armored vehicles that even present-day armies use, and made the Bugs non-technological, and thus not any kind of credible threat to a high-tech, star-faring civilization.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    We can’t really say that Sleepy Hollow gives us a “book of Revelation” based on the book of Revelation.

    That’s because the characters in Sleepy Hollow insist on calling it the book of Revelations, plural. Even while reading directly from it.

  • Eric Boersma

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one bothered by that.

    I’ve since come to accept that this is an alternate universe in which a different book is at the end of the Bible, which explains how everything else is so totally off the rails.

  • Persia

    Yeah, me too.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    In an afterword to “The Fairy-Tale Detectives,” the first book in Michael Buckley’s “The Sisters Grimm,” Buckley says that he thought that writing a book about fairy tale characters would be easy because everyone knows their stories. Then he began to research the stories and found that the stories that everyone knows aren’t the original stories at all. He then reread the original stories in order to get his characters to be as close to the originals as possible. Then he proceeded to do quite a bit of reinterpreting of his own.

    Also, the eye in a triangle plays a role in my new favorite TV series “Gravity Falls.” GF has been renewed for a second season, and now I get to spend until sometime in 2014 worrying that Season 2 won’t be as awesome as Season 1 was.

  • Kirala

    *wants to make snarky comment about “oh, someone found the ORIGINAL version of multiple fairy tales?!” or something like that*

    *decides that it’s disingenuous to deliberately misread the post thus*

    *resolves to limit self to asterisk-restrained third-person expression of thoughts when unable to resist posting entirely*

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I apologize for being imprecise.

    Despite my use of the word “fairy tales,” which is the term the characters use throughout the series, not all of the stories referenced in the book are “fairy tales,” technically. Many of the characters are from tales such as the Alice books, the Oz books, Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, “Pinocchio” “Gulliver’s Travels” and others which we do have the originals.

  • Kirala

    Ahhh. Yeah, of those the Alice books are the only ones I experienced before the Disney versions. (Or, in the case of Oz, the MGM version.) The originals were quite surprising.

    Idly wondering now – is the basic qualification for being a “fairy tale” the fact that the version that “everyone knows” is noticeably different from and narratively tidier than the original source? This would explain SO MUCH about the fact that Once Upon A Time includes Doctor-freakin’-Frankenstein in a show based on fairy tales. (I don’t care if they gave him and his a separate universe to originate from, it’s still weird.)

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Basically, I worked out, at least in the “Sisters Grimm” universe, that “fairy tale” is any story that has become part of the cultural literacy of the United States and that are in the public domain.

    As a result, the characters of tales like “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter” and the works of Tolkien do not show up in the “Sisters Grimm,” but the characters in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (which I just realized is why this connection occurred to me in the first place) and “A Christmas Carol,” among other stories, and of a whole passel of actual folk tales, are.

  • Kirala

    So they are, in fact, Stories, of any kind, provided there is no pretense of connection with our history (and no possibility of lawsuit of mentioned).

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Does “no pretense of connection with our history” include Robin Hood, Arthurian Legend and things of that nature? Because those characters show up as well.

  • Kirala

    Ooh, toughie. My instinct is “no”, because… you know what? If Scrooge is fake despite being Victorian, and Crane is fake despite being linked to a real time and place, and Alice is fake despite being the friend of an Oxford don, I think it’s safe to call the shameless mishmash of Camelot and Sherwood’s heroes total fiction.

    I mean, King Arthur is almost always “once upon a time” for most people, and Robin’s closest connection with history is a tenuous link with Richard Lionheart created by Sir Walter Scott, as best I can tell.

  • Lorehead

    What about Sherlock Holmes? Public domain, instantly recognizable, but not a children’s story and set in a defined moment in real-world history.

  • mattmcirvin

    Sherlock Holmes is actually tricky to deal with: some but not all of the stories are public-domain, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s heirs are notoriously touchy and litigious.

  • Kirala

    I’d argue that Sherlock is losing touch with history as we speak. Two popular TV series are modernising him in radically different but still recognizable ways, a major movie series which modernised him 70+ years ago (and solidified the most stable visual conception of Sherlock), any number of recognizable adaptations with none of the Sherlock dressing (House and Doctor Who spring to mind) – the story is clearly capable of divorcing from its setting.

    But as I look at it, I like my earlier criterion more, the one for fairy tales. Everyone knows Sherlock, and the story “everyone knows” is fairly consistent while also noticeably inconsistent with its source material. It’s simplified into less nuanced, more archetypal characters and plots and tropes.

  • Lorehead

    Scrooge never goes to his nephew’s Christmas party instead of the Cratchetts’ any more, either.

  • fraser

    And it’s not like Disney has any particular stake in Frankenstein, unlike so many of the other characters.

  • banancat

    Gravity Falls is fantastic. Out of the mass of shows made and marketed to children, a handful of them turn out to be pretty good, maybe about 5%. I’m not even sure how I keep finding them, but I do. In addition to MLP:FIM, I also loved House of Anubis and Wizards of Waverly Place, which I later found out had decent-sized adult fanbases. It’s interesting that in each of these four cases I stumbled across the show completely independently of all the other adults watching them. Something drew me in, and it wasn’t hearing about it on the internet first.

  • mattmcirvin

    “Reality is an illusion the universe is a hologram buy gold BYYYEEE!!!”

  • MaryKaye

    My 16-year-old and I were playing Grand Theft Auto and trying to break into a military base, and he asked me, “What do you think is in Area 52?” When I denied having an answer to this, he told me with great confidence how much security it has, what’s supposed to be in it, why these are incompatible, etc, etc. I haven’t tracked down the origin of this story, but it was a fine piece of urban-legend-in-action–nicely specific and detailed, yet surely completely made up.

    (The discussion came to a sudden halt when the character went skydiving without a parachute, hit a mountain, and inexplicably, instead of dying, rolled down the entire mountain going “Ow! Damn! That hurts! Crap!” over and over. It’s the only reason I play (watch) this obnoxious game: to enjoy really bad stuff happening to Lester.)

  • Lori

    Is Area 52 the new Area 51, now that Area 51 has been declassified? I am so out of it.

  • Hawker40

    No, Area 52 is the new distraction location while the real testing goes on somewhere else. Just like Area 51…
    (If everybody knows about it, it’s not a secret base.)
    (“We can’t test fly our latest airplanes here anymore, sir, there are too many people watching for UFOs!”)

  • Kirala

    As my sister likes to point out, Area 52 has already been thoroughly uncovered in Looney Tunes: Back in Action and is clearly under the control of Joan Cusack. Continue with your lives, citizens. And ignore the terracidal Martian in the back corner.

  • Matri

    *holds up a silver pen* You mean this one?

    *FLASH*

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    No, the Sonic Screwdriver from that Doctor guy with the disappearing blue Police Box.

  • Jamoche

    Area 52 is where they put the stuff that came through the Stargate.

  • Eric Boersma

    If we may devolve into a bit of World of Warcraft nerddom for a moment, Area 52 is in Netherstorm. And you can visit any time you like. Hardly secret at all.

  • Michael Pullmann

    There was a comic called Area 52 about ten years ago. The premise was that it was “Area 51’s attic”, a storehouse for all the weird stuff the government finds and doesn’t know what to do with. So when an alien monster hatches out of one of them, they crack open the boxes and fight it with just-shy-of-a lawsuit GL rings, phasers, lightsabers, and (I’m pretty sure) a quantum leap accelerator.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Don’t forget The Lost Ark.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I don’t know if it makes Fred feel any better, but it’s not just “Revelation” and “The Four Horsemen” that get this treatment.

    The general understanding of “evolution”, “genetics”, and “mutation” are just as badly mangled (if not more so!) by pop culture storytelling.

  • SirThinkALot

    You mean a ‘mutation’ to my ‘genetic code’ cant give me psychic powers or adamantium claws?

  • Launcifer

    Nah, you need government funding for that kind of thing.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Not only that, but we’re not “more evolved” than other species, and in 10,000 years, humanity will not be “more highly evolved” than it is now.

  • Kirala

    Are you dissing the Star Child?

    …because I could get down with that.

    Though I would argue that we are more evolved than, say, stromatolites, which seem to be pretty happy with their body forms and niche for the past couple billion years. Perhaps I would only argue this because I have insufficient scientific information.

  • hidden_urchin

    I once read an interesting study on horseshoe crabs that looked at their genetics and concluded that, despite their morphology being largely unchanged for millions of years, they are still evolving. Their form is just so perfectly adapted to their environment that we can’t see it.

    Anyway, I don’t think we’re more evolved than any other organism. We’re well adapted to our place in the ecosystem as they are well adapted to theirs.

    I will freely admit to being strange, though.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Are you dissing the Star Child?

    No, just the Star Trek.
    “WE’VE EVOLVED BEYOND ALL THAT(TM)!”

  • MarkTemporis

    That’s sort of ‘evolved’ like President Obama’s opinions on marriage equality, which is a perfectly good use of the phrase. There’s no expectation that Federation-era Humanity is physically unable to accept the existence of God or some such. (There is an X-Men character who actually WAS, but I don’t know his backstory).

  • Lorehead

    There was an alien race in the X-Men called the Uncreated. They didn’t believe in God because, according to them, they killed Him.

  • dpolicar

    Accepting the existence of God in the Marvel universe is just a whole different thing, though. I’m reminded of Nightcrawler having a crisis of faith after meeting the Beyonder… I actually found it a jarring scene, because it immediately raised the question of how in the world anyone avoided one. (Ditto the Celestials, Eternity, etc.)

  • Lorehead

    In the DC Universe, Wonder Woman, who was created by the Greek gods, has been sexually harassed by Zeus, dated Rama and teamed up with an angel who’s nondenominationally Abrahamic. (And incidentally, looks nothing like Ezekiel’s visions, the shout-out in Revelation, or the messengers in Genesis, but who remembers those? Everybody knows that angels are people with wings.)

  • Lorehead

    Oh, and as for crises of faith in that universe, there was a nice little story many years ago in The New Mutants where Amara, who still followed (some version of) Roman religion for backstory reasons, meets Hercules, who at the time was slumming it as comic relief. In fact, his father was so annoyed by his antics, he’d decided to take away Hercules’ powers temporarily as a punishment. Amara declared him a fraud and flew off to sulk, and the rest of the story was about Hercules proving he deserved her respect after all.

  • Alix

    That sounds like a pretty cool story, actually.

  • Jamoche

    Or the Voyager Lizards. Definitely dissing those.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    You mean a ‘mutation’ to my ‘genetic code’ cant give me psychic powers or adamantium claws?

    That tradition goes back farther than Marvel Superhero Origin Stories, to the Atomic Horror movies of the Nifty Fifties. You know the ones, where you get exposed to massive doses of Radiation(TM) and instead of dying of radiation poisoning or long-term cancer, you just wake up the next morning with two heads, three arms, and superpowers? AKA Gamma World Syndrome?

  • SirThinkALot

    I was actually well aware of that. Godzilla was also born as a result of radiation from nuclear testing. But my initial post was what was commonly known as a ‘joke.’

  • Jenny Islander

    “Child discipline.”

    1. Books of the Bible are written down at different times and in different places.

    2. Christian canon is assembled.

    3. Several different versification systems are developed for the Jewish and Christian Bibles, as navigational aids. One of the Christian versions eventually sticks.

    4. There is a long-standing tradition in the area that is taken over by western Christendom that when children are taken out of their home settings and put with groups of unrelated children, as in schools or apprentice workshops, they should be beaten on the back with a thin rod for failing to obey. This tradition is taken up by people who think that they can make human beings perfect if they will only get with the program. Now all children are to be struck in all situations. Everyday interactions between people of all ages are growing more violent at the same time. This is called the Age of Reason.

    5. Slapping upon the buttocks as a comedic version of drumming practiced by rather bawdy clowns is also known in Christendom. It becomes a method of punishing children for disobedience.

    6. The word “discipline,” as in “to treat as a disciple,” enters English.

    7. So does the Bible.

    8. Five widely scattered verses in the Christian Bible use a word that can be translated as “authority” or as “big stick.” (It’s actually more complicated than that, but this is already a big block o’text.) Guided by the now well-entrenched tradition of hitting children to get them to conform to the program of perfection, the KJV translation team translates all five verses to mean that children should be beaten.

    9. Nearly all following translations use the same assumption. In fact, some of them actually use the word “spank.” This is not a translation issue; there is unequivocally absolutely no word in the Bible that can be translated as “strike upon the buttocks with a hand.”

    10. Nevertheless, generations of preachers and teachers, at least in the U.S.,* go on about the holiness of spanking children, with the hand or an implement, to make them better Christians. They use the word “discipline” to describe this. When the children, provoked to anger, protest, they are spanked more, because spanking is Biblical.

    *Actually, the publications I know of that advocate programs of “switching,” “chastising,” etc., while consigning non-hitters to Hell date back no further than the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement. Before that time, at least in the primary sources I could find, the debate seems to have been less fraught.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Don’t forget the Christianese child-spanking manuals which are actually based on Victorian Porn, i.e. “Erotic Flagellation” manuals to be used with wife or mistresses.

    Funny thing about Victorian Porn; like they were with everything sexual, the Victorians were often very indirect about their porn. To the point that if you don’t know their symbolism, you might not realize you’re reading porn.

  • Lorehead

    So much of it had to stay deniable. A good example was the letters column of Englishwomen’s Domestic Magazine, which became a forum for enthusiasts of the whipping of young women to exchange “testimonials.”

  • Isabel C.

    As a cheerful consumer of the above: eh.

    Realism is cancer from the spider bite/gamma ray/whatever; it’s taking so long to cross space that we never meet the fun aliens; it’s sexism and bad teeth and no indoor plumbing; no thanks.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    English MFA here! And yes kiddies, the original “Sleepy Hollow” was about pure salt-of-the-earth Knickerbockers pulling one over on a foolish city boy through superior manliness and common sense.

    I haven’t seen this one. I don’t watch much TV beyond Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and a soccer game here and there. I have seen the 90’s film version of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ a few times. I’ve no objection to that ones impurities though looking back it does seem to mark Johnny Depp’s transition from somewhat bonafide subversive force to ham-fisted, overly self aware “eccentric artist”, and I do resent the film for that.

  • Meruror

    Who saved Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen? Many people might answer that it was Arwen, because they’ve seen the movie. Sure, Tolkien said it was Glorfindel, but then someone comes along and says: “This is a great scene, but it would be even better with Liv Tyler in it.” Whether that’s true is a matter of opinion, but what is inevitable is that it would happen sooner or later.

    Culture is always borrowing from itself, re-using bits and pieces of other things. If the new interpretation is good and captures the imagination, it will be absorbed into the cultural heritage. If it is stupid and dull, it will be forgotten. If a story becomes popular, there is no way it will remain unchanged for long.

    If everyone had to do Hamlet exactly like Shakespeare did it, the play would not be as enduringly popular as it is. The freedom to put a new spin on it helps to keep the original version relevant as well. Yes, in real history Shakespeare never teamed up with an alien Time Lord to defeat witches with Harry Potter spells, but the fact that we have stories saying that he did, proves how important Shakespeare is to us.

  • Kirala

    Yes, but the legend of Shakespeare is sturdy enough independent of the Doctor’s meddling that the entire encounter with the Carrionites will be remembered only in proximity to the TARDIS, for most people. Similarly, most people who think of Camelot will have other stories in mind before thinking of it as a silly place where knights eat ham and jam and spam a lot. (Those who do think of the silly place first will know darn well there’s a serious version that is almost totally unrelated and has far deeper roots.)

    When you’re reworking a little-known or little-understood legend, you have to weigh the responsibility you may have for entirely altering a legend’s nature. I adore the way “A Very Potter Musical” turns my beloved Dumbledore into an egotistical jerk, because it’s a plausible-if-horrifying twist on a story I like and does no damage to the original story. I despise the way Peter Jackson turned my beloved Faramir into a stumbling kidnapper, because it’s a plausible-if-horrifying twist on a story and seems likely to replace the original story in popular conception.

    I haven’t seen the show, so I don’t know how it relates to these metaphors. Frankly, I don’t care overmuch about Ichabod or the Horseman; Revelation’s legend can’t get much weirder in my mind, and is likely too sturdy to be altered seriously by one TV show; it’s no skin off my nose either way. But saying “culture changes” as a way of dismissing all complaints about potentially-BAD changes seems a little thoughtless to me. At least, if you think this culture is worth enough time to get involved in a discussion about it.

  • David S.

    For Camelot, the original stories constantly get stomped on. How many people’s conceptions of Camelot are shaped by the Mists of Avalon and Disney’s the Sword in the Stone? I have a number of vague impressions of Camelot, but I’m pretty sure they’re all filtered through 20th century media. Not that there’s a solid “original” Camelot story under there; the earliest we have are rewritings of still earlier texts.

  • Kirala

    Oh, true, but Malory has held well enough that I think any modern readers would recognize it as the same story with few surprises. Granted, Geoffrey of Monmouth might have been weirded out at how his “histories” got mangled, Chrétien de Troyes might have been horrified at how his commissioned slashfic got canonized, and the Dark Ages Welsh bards would have stared in near-complete unrecognition… but 500+ years of a relatively stable core legend is not to be sneezed at.

    At least, of the dozens of versions I’ve experienced*, no version has been able to replace that core story. Disney seemed like the Disneyfied copy it is, once I’d read a few other versions. I’ll admit that Mists of Avalon is not on my list of read books, because I have limited patience for stories which place my femininity and my Christianity at odds, but if it’s legend-shakingly seminal, I may have to give it another try for completion’s sake.

    *May be exaggeration. Let’s see, I’ve read Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave series, Peter David’s Knight Life, Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon series, Gerald Morris’s Squire’s Tale series, Jane Yolen’s Sword of the Rightful King, Jack Whyte’s Camulod series, Patricia Keneally’s Keltiad, T. A. Barron’s Merlin and Merlin Effect, the comic Arthur, King of Time and Space, Connecticut Yankee, Malory, Monmouth, Mabinogion, Chrétien… seen Sword in the Stone, Excalibur, King Arthur, Merlin-the-miniseries, Merlin-the-TV-series, Monty Python, Quest for Camelot, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice, Camelot-the-musical… hey, that’s exactly two dozen sources mostly-off-the-top-of-my-head! Wow, I DO spend a lot of time in Arthurania…

  • cyllan

    How odd. You’re showing up as MaryKaye, but you’re obviously not. Dear Disqus, WTF?

    Also, I’m pretty sure the other MaryKaye was actually Isobel C…snu?

  • Lori

    Disqus does that every now and then for no apparent reason. Because Disqus sucks. Reloading the page usually gets the problem to correct itself.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Have you read Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Arthur books (“The Seeing Stone” in particular)? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. In 1199, an old man who calls himself Merlin gives a boy named Arthur a stone that shows him the tale of a different boy of the same name in a different time.

    The chapters are very short, which makes the book a fairly quick read.

  • Kirala

    Ooh, no, I haven’t. Reading material!

    Of my list, I must most heartily recommend the Squire Tales series by Gerald Morris. It has a mix of Arthurania from across the Middle Ages, a mix of solemn epic heroism and shameless parody, down-to-earth main characters, melodramatic and farcical cameo characters, and a lot of stuff I like. :)

    Google the phrase “Nobody sets a trap that obvious. You could have thumped me a good one.” Google Books should start you on the excerpt of the second book that best demonstrates a taste of the series. So sad it’s over. (Though it finished marvelously.)

  • Fanraeth

    I still haven’t finished that series. It’s one of the few series that managed to make me like Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot simultaneously and I don’t want to read about them all dying tragically.

  • Alix

    NGL, the ending’s pretty bittersweet. I cried, and I don’t usually cry over my entertainment.

    That said, it was poignant and fitting and still strangely hopeful. I put off reading the end for a long time for the same reason, but reading it was … weirdly cathartic, at least for me; it’s one of the few versions of The End of Camelot that actually works.

  • Amaryllis

    It’s one of the few series that managed to make me like Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot simultaneously and I don’t want to read about them all dying tragically.

    In which case, I’m not sure I should recommend Gillian Bradshaw’s trilogy: Hawk of May, The Summer Kingdom, and In Winter’s Shadow, which I would otherwise do enthusiastically. Some of her earliest work (I believe the first was written while she was still at university) but I loved them anyway.

    I did not love Philip Reeve’s YA novel Here Lies Arthur, but it seems germane to this discussion. Set during the Anglo-Saxon/British conflicts of the 6th century, it’s about the deliberate construction of the “original” myth, for propaganda purposes, by people who believe that legend is more important than fact. Or at least more useful.

  • Kirala

    Gillian Bradshaw! How could I forget Gillian Bradshaw, the only contemporary writer I know of to remember that Lancelot’s triangle was predated by Bedwyr’s! Oh, I adore her.

    Tangential to Arthurania, her book “The Wolf Hunt” is an amazing retelling of the Marie de France’s Bisclavret. More importantly, it’s an amazing novel that I love to pieces and wait a sec WHY DO I NOT OWN THIS? *goes to Amazon*

  • Fanraeth

    Yeah, I get attached way too hard to characters. I’ve never really been able to develop a taste for tragic endings, which makes me being a Joss Whedon fan seem somewhat masochistic.

  • Kirala

    Seconding Alix – the series got hints of foreboding with the 8th book, dark with the 9th, downright bleak by the climax of the 10th, but somehow the ending felt good enough to be worth it. And I don’t generally do tragedy.

  • Alix

    I heartily second that recommendation. Those books are, imo, the best modern retelling of the Arthurian stories. And they are also the only ones I’ve ever found that don’t make me really, really hate Guinevere and Lancelot – in fact, I actually like them here. There’s a lot of nuance packed in with all the parody and silliness, and I love how it all ends up pointing out, over and over again, that people are human and prone to all the mistakes and silliness because of that, but still very much heroic and worth it.

    …My second-favorite Arthurian novel, since y’all beat me to ST, is Phyllis Ann Karr’s The Idylls of the Queen. Kay and Mordred team up as detectives trying to prove Guinevere innocent of murder, and it is exactly as weird as it sounds like, and is an extremely engrossing tale. I’m not doing it justice, but it is a very good book.

  • Alix

    Argh, forgot to mention my other favorite Arthurian series, also YA – Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince and sequels. It … is very good, but probably not everyone’s cup of tea; it’s a five-book series that starts right before the end of everything and goes on afterwards, and the story starts moving further away from Arthur and Camelot (in both place, time, and people) as the books go on. I still love that series, but if it’s Arthur and the usual knights you’re interested in, it’s probably not gonna interest you.

  • Fanraeth

    I have the vaguest memories of this series. Is it the one with Arthur’s daughter and she ends up somewhere in Africa/Mesopotamia?

  • Alix

    She ends up in Ethiopia, yes.

    It’s actually really good, but if you’re less interested in Arthur’s children and more interested in Arthur, his knights, and Britain, it’s probably not your cup of tea. I personally rather like things that broaden the mythos past just Britain (which is one reason I love the ninth book in the Squire’s Tales series).

  • Fanraeth

    That sounds really cool. I’m going to have to look for that one.

  • Alix

    Karr also wrote an Arthurian companion dictionary thing, and it’s hilarious. It’s like she got bored halfway through and started being sarcastic, but it’s actually a great resource.

  • This Wicked Day

    [delurk] Have you read Bernard Cornwell’s Arthur books (The Winter King, Enemy of God, Excalibur), Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Arthur books (The Sword and the Circle, The Light Beyond the Forest, The Road to Camlann), or the frankly indescribable comic book Camelot 3000? Recommend all of them (the last because it’s so bizarre it’s hilarious, true).

  • Aine

    oh I LOVE the Bernard Cornwell ones SO MUCH- I’ve read a lot of them and that’s one that really really stuck with me.

    There’s a good collection of short stories edited called An Invitation to Camelot; it’s not long, but the stories are really, really good.

  • Kirala

    I THINK I read Cornwell and then entirely forgot his take on it – I know I at least started The Winter King. Maybe I should look it up again. Sutcliffe I’d like to read, and the idea of someone creating a comic book of futuristic Arthurania sounds like cracktastic fun. Thanks for the recs!

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Is Mists of Avalon the Wiccan retelling of Arthur where MZB used all those incomprehensible Gaelic spellings and pronunciations?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, I think so. Been a while.

  • Isabel C.

    It’s the one every third girl brings to her freshman year of college. And is the first person in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE to ever have read, because the entire concept is SO REVOLUTIONARY YOU GUYS WHAT IF GOD WAS A *WOMAN*.

    …sometimes I’m sad to be out of academia, and then sometimes I’m really not.

  • Alix

    Yes. And it is the first book I ever failed to finish (I used to be pretty big into the “always finish a book” idea; this cured me), and it is the first book I ever literally threw at a wall. I then promptly put it in the “free book” box at my college and never read anything else by MZB, even though people tell me her other stuff is good.

    …People told me that about Mists of Avalon too. >.>

    And for me, there’s the added annoyance of every single Pagan I knew pushing that book hard for a very long time (and some still do), to the point that I started feeling very alienated. It was somehow fine to say I’d never watched Charmed or didn’t like the paranormal-witchy romance novel of the day, but if I even simply stated I didn’t like MoA I got blasted for it, because dontcha know that book revolutionizes Paganism and shows how the evil Christians took over the world from us and it’s an important work of Pagan identity… GAH. And if people found out I usually liked Arthuriana – seriously, I’ve read most of the books we’ve mentioned in this thread and am noting down all the rest to read immediately because there’s no faster way to get me to read a book than to say it’s Arthurian* – the badgering and outright shaming got even worse.

    Pointing out that a) I am not anywhere near Wiccan, b) I don’t actually incorporate Arthurian elements in my personal religion, and c) I know too much history and mythology to buy the “ancient Mother Goddess toppled by the Christian God” shit got me “well, you’re not really Pagan then, are you?” And a lot of me storming out of Pagan spaces. Aaaaaand I just realized that the fallout from all of this is one reason I don’t associate with most of the local Pagan groups. :/

    *sigh* Sorry, epic rant is over. MoA is totally


    *or mythological.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    MZB wanders between extremely good and crushingly dull or heavy-handed. I was introduced to her with Lythande, a fantasy tale about a sorceress masquerading as a man. I absolutely loved it, so I thought I’d get more of the same with her other books.

    Consequently, I don’t read her books. It’s too frustrating. There are some good ones, but for every good one I’ve found, there were three that I just couldn’t finish.

  • Alix

    …Apparently my last sentence got cut off. It should read “MoA is totally my berserk button, though.”

  • Isabel C.

    Lord, I’m sorry.

    And likewise. I’m slightly more Wiccan, not particularly Arthurian, but…I’d been identifying as pagan and feminist by early adolescence. When I got to the point in my life where people were coming up to me all “…oooh, have you read this?” about MoA, I was already cynical, and Larval Feminists/Pagans made me tired.

    And that was eleven years ago.

  • Alix

    Part of my problem is I get really twitchy about the ancient matriarchy crap, and I get twitchy whenever Wiccans try to push their religion anachronistically on ancient cultures. I don’t think Wicca’s somehow invalid ’cause it’s new, but I’m a historian – I take issue with folks screwing with the past to support their own agenda, whether they’re “on my side” or not.

    The idea that being Pagan somehow means embracing the values of only a particular subset of paganism and throwing out actual history … annoys me. (See also: my annoyance at the damn Burning Times myth.) It’s very reminiscent of how a lot of fundie churches police their members, actually, which is probably what really sets me off.

  • auroramere

    Thomas Berger’s Arthur Rex? It may have gone creaky over the years (it was published in 1978) but I liked it well enough to read it aloud to Dear Spouse, and he liked it well enough to listen.

  • fraser

    I’ve brought this point up when people complain that the TV show Merlin isn’t true to the original–that basically there’s no original (and if there is, it’s not one we’d recognize)

  • Kenneth Raymond

    The traditional King Arthur story is that there is no traditional King Arthur story because it’s a succession of adaptations and changes to the creator’s own time and preferences. “Merlin” is perfectly within the Arthurian tradition.

    (Also, of what I did watch of the first season, they had enough nods back to the history of the legends that it felt obvious to me they knew very well what they were doing with every change.)

  • Lorehead

    Each evening from December to December,
    Before you drift asleep upon your cot,
    Think back to all the tales that you remember
    Of Camelot.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    How many people’s conceptions of Camelot are shaped by the Mists of Avalon and Disney’s the Sword in the Stone?

    Or Boorman’s Excalibur (where he filmed the legend).

    And then there’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail

  • Abel Undercity

    I admit, when I think of Merlin I tend to picture Nicol Williamson.

  • Meruror

    I am not dismissing complaints about potentially bad changes. On the contrary, I think we need even the bad changes, because discussion about why they were bad can help us better understand what was good about the original in the first place.

    After Shakespeare’s death King Lear was changed to have a happy ending. That may seem foolish to people today, but it was performed that way for over a century. Tolkien’s original text is not lost. If future generations feel Faramir’s different characterization was a bad move, they can reverse it, just like King Lear was given back its tragic ending. And they’ll make the choice because they have come to a conclusion about which version feels more meaningful.

    There must be a million stories that humanity has long since forgotten, because no-one thought they were interesting enough to meddle with. Stories live only as long as people keep retelling them. Sure, sometimes they are retold very badly, but you can’t always know what will work until you try it.

    My point was that there is no reason to seek to enshrine “original” versions of stories, because in storytelling there are no originals, just the best variations we have so far. I like the version where Han shot first. But I also like knowing why it’s important that Han shot first.

  • Aine

    Weeeellll, King Lear is based on a story that did have a happy ending, originally. SHakespeare was smart enough to see that it worked better as a tragedy.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Shakespearean endings are usually depressing. I mean, Hamlet might as well be “rocks fall, everyone dies”. :(

  • EllieMurasaki

    What’s his comedy:tragedy ratio? I forget.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, there’s Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth that all count as varieties of “rocks fall, everyone dies”, so I’m expecting it’s a pretty bad ratio. I would imagine 1 out of every 5 or 10.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Now I have to go look this up.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare%27s_plays#Canonical_plays–sixteen comedies, twelve tragedies. Ten histories, I don’t know where or whether to count them.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Huh, so almost 1:1. Well, that’s way better than I expected.

  • Lorehead

    Um, if Shakespearean tragedy depresses you, you might not want to read Julius Caesar or Richard III.

    Richard III is another example: when archaeologists found his body and he made it back into the news again, all the stories said that everybody thinks of Shakespeare’s play whenever they think of him, but it took drastic liberties with the truth. Then reminded everyone just what Shakespeare wrote about him.

  • Kirala

    Wikipedia counts JC as a tragedy, not a history. And I note that it doesn’t have a proper category for “romances” set apart from “tragedy,” “comedy,” or “history,” which I think skews the count. Separating the romances may be academically controversial, but for mood-categorization I think it works much better. Even if the name is misleading to the modern ear.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve read Julius Caesar.

  • Meruror

    I’d say it’s more “everyone drops rocks, and stands right under them as they fall”. Aside from Ophelia, everyone dies because of their own bad decisions. At the end Hamlet specifically orders Horatio NOT to die, pretty much on the grounds of: “This getting ourselves killed is ridiculous, we need to stop doing it. At least one major character should survive, otherwise what was the point of all this?” :)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Who saved Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen? Many people might answer that it was Arwen, because they’ve seen the movie. Sure, Tolkien said it was Glorfindel, but …

    I look upon that as two different skalds singing variations of the same Saga.

  • Alix

    I was just thinking that the idea that there is One True Version of a story is … really modern. And not even all modern people hold to that idea.

    It’s something I’m discussing with a history group right now – the idea that even with history, where we do (in theory) try to deal in real facts, there’s no One True Version of how it all went down, because nothing ever goes down the same for everyone involved.

  • Jamoche

    Conveying that with quotation marks would get unwieldy

    And that’s why fandom adopted the modifier!Noun form I used in a previous post – show!Crane vs simply Crane for the original is easier, and allows for more variants.

  • Enoch Root

    I enjoyed the first two eps of Sleepy Hollow, because they require me to turn off my brain and just go with it. The closest comparison is Grimm, which is also ridiculous and fun and literary, without the Biblical stuff.

    I like that we can approach this TV show and say, “See how far away from the source material it goes? See how ridiculous?” And the reason I like that is because we can then go on to say, “See how ridiculous the source material is? A spooky story about the supernatural. Oh, and also a story about a headless horseman.”

    I have to say I most like the corporeal-but-also-invisible devil in this show. Kind of there, kind of not there, unclear how to invoke him or send him away. What I like least about him: The ‘mystical’ language he speaks is Romani. Because those folks haven’t been insulted enough yet, apparently.

  • Meruror

    But if the devil is a fallen angel, wouldn’t that make Romani the language of angels?

  • Kirala

    I’m sorry, after two marvelous seasons of WTFery I’m still waiting for an episode of Grimm which contains more literary references than gleeful butchery of literary references. Oh, and FakenDeutsch.

  • Launcifer

    Heh. I saw an episode of that dubbed into German. Rather than using the closest possible word or concept for the monster of the week, they seemed to have translated the fake German into what I guess must have been English and then translated it back into actual German. The result was… er… yes. My (German) grandmother spent the rest of the episode just trying to understand that.

  • Kirala

    Really, they should have gone with the obvious option and used Canis Latinicus. To sound like a Very Scientific Grimm family classification system.

  • Launcifer

    I dunno, actually. The not-German in the show didn’t really bother me until one episode where they wandered into Orcadian folktales for no apparent reason and then immediately wandered straight back out again with no explanation. That didn’t even make sense to me in a “oh, this is how they handle this kind of thing” sort of way. I started getting a bit critical after that.

  • Lindenharp

    Why not ig-Pay atin-Lay?

  • Kirala

    Eil-way es-ay ingen-klay ürde-way eltsam-say? (Because it’d sound weird.)
    I can just see trying to transform Blutbad into ut-blay-ad-bay. Doesn’t sound nearly as intimidating.

  • Launcifer

    They could try something really off-the-wall and start naming them after German electrical goods. Instead of bludbad, we get blaupunkt or something. It’s not like it would sound more silly unless you happened to know the item in question.

  • dpolicar

    That would be marvelous.

    I keep wanting to find the Mock German entertaining. I mean, it’s clearly being done tongue-in-cheek, and I often appreciate this sort of thing. But the director seems to otherwise be playing the show perfectly straight, so every time the names come up it throws me out of the show.

    A slightly more fourth-wall-breaking version where the detective (or someone) actually notices how silly these names sound (and the bludbad is just “what? that’s what they’re called!”) might be funnier.

    But it’s hard to lampoon the absurdity of something while at the same time telling a coherent story and not degenerating into farce. Early Buffy did a quite marvelous job of this, but not everyone succeeds at it.

  • Launcifer

    Well, if they’d played it for a sly laugh from the off, it might well have worked. Hell, it could work both ways: the sidekick guy could ask the Grimm which one of them came up with that name, legend, idea of wessen society when this is quite clearly what’s going on/what this one’s called or whatever.

    If nothing else, it would reinforce the notion of the monster being an actual outsider, as far as the monsters are concerned. It would also help with the whole “let’s hit the books” get-out clause if the books weren’t always correct, but were cobbled together from folklore, certain stolen truths and a whole shedload of outright gibberish.

  • Jamoche

    I watched the first season and decided that the writers really need a copy of the Evil Overlord’s List and variants for the heroes, specifically “If I have a secret that is dangerous to my friends and family, I will tell them about it so they will be prepared. Otherwise my significant other will unwittingly get chummy with my nemesis, and that never ends well.”

    Seriously, those all ought to be taught in schools.

  • Kirala

    Actually, I was impressed at how quickly Nick learned those lessons compared to similar characters in other shows. By the end of the first season (and he has a steep learning curve in general distracting him through that season), he’s trying to come completely clean to his significant other and is clearly actively CONSIDERING the question of telling his secret in any situation where it would be beneficial.

    Contrast Smallville, contrast Heroes, contrast Chuck… after the second season, the way Grimm deals with the stupid-secrecy trope is one of the things that makes me love it. (They also got points for keeping relationship tension mostly more plausible than a soap opera in the first season, and I think by the end of the second season made up the ground they lost for the first bit.)

  • Isabel C.

    See, I loved it–haven’t seen Ep2 yet–because, y’know, I grew up on Disney* and comics and was raised by a mythology teacher, so I’m comfortable with multiple versions of any given story, and indeed with history. I’m not a teacher; I’m not a parent; I don’t care about entertainment getting the facts right if wrong is more fun, as long as it doesn’t bill itself as ultra-accurate. And as far as a bunch of stuff going together…eh, I love fruity cocktails, too, and those Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors with two jillion ingredients, and spaghetti sauce with whatever’s in the fridge. Why *not* throw a bunch of things together and see how it works?

    I liked that the lead female character is a woman of color, and a smart police officer with goals, and is motivated, if for any backstory reason, by another female character. (And yes, her partner, but still.) I liked that the main cast does seem to be pretty diverse. I liked the (tasty, which doesn’t hurt) fish out of water hero, and his habit of calling the lead female “leftenant”, which a) adorable, and b) kind of nice to see some I’ll-call-you-by-your-title respect, even when they’re snarking at each other. The banter actually seemed to have kinder undertones that most such exchanges, which helped too.

    I’d much rather have silly and inaccurate and fun than original and serious and accurate and boring, basically.

    *Which: “Disney are a bunch of evil fascists for butchering the True Original Very Very Dark Fairy Tales which by the way I know,” is totally the fantasy geek version of “I liked the band *before* they sold out.” Simmer down, freshman.

  • Kirala

    Silly and inaccurate and fun is marvelous as long as it’s clearly recognizable as such. Which… sounds like it’s the case here?

  • Isabel C.

    Pretty much.

    I mean: George Washington, Warrior of the Possible Apocalypse. Ichabod Crane, fighting the Four Horsemen.* You go in taking this seriously, you deserve your F in Literature/History/etc.

    *Which: I get our host’s concern, in an abstract way, but I think it’s a lost cause. Everyone writes about Revelation that way–RTCs, atheists and whatever Neil Gaiman is, my vaguely agnostic GM friend, etc–because…apocalypses make fun plots. Supernatural apocalypses with lots of symbolism to mess around with are extra fun. I can’t really bring myself to be sorry about it.

  • Lori

    I’m somewhere in the middle. I lean more toward, “I’ll play as long as it’s fun and it works within the world I’ve agreed to inhabit with you”, but some stuff still bugs me. One of the things that bugs is being wrong for no good reason. That’s why the thing about Katrina’s “grave” bugs me. There was no real need for it.

    With very little rearranging the bird could have lead Ichabod somewhere other than the church yard and the stone didn’t need to say how she was executed. It could just have said that she was a witch. Or it could have just had her name and the date, but I suppose identifying it as a witch’s grave might have been intended to keep away grave robbers or anyone else who might disturb it and find the Horseman’s head.

  • Isabel C.

    Oh, I agree. It just doesn’t push any particular buttons for me that it wasn’t: eh, they got it wrong, whatevs, this happens in a pop culture version of history. But then, I was one of the few people who liked the LoXG movie.

    That said, my least favorite part of the pilot *is* the Dreams of Dead Chick/Love That Will Never Yabba Yabba/thing, in part because it feels unnecessary and in part because I felt like the pacing was way off with that. Three-fourths of the episode unravels with weird headless horsemen and Ichabod and Washington and the Silent Hill conspiracy times, and then suddenly “Hi honey I’m talking in your dreams this is how you kill the dude infodump infodump.” Seems like they could have put the one necessary bit of information in earlier or had ’em figure it out on their own (or had Reverend Chainfighting talk to them, because that guy rocked) and left that sequence out. Or made it shorter, if they absolutely *must* do the Oh Woe, I Am Attracted to Hot Future Chick But Still Pine for DeadWife shtick.

    Fucking love triangles, man. Should have gone out with Archie and Veronica.

  • Lori

    I’m actually hoping they don’t jump into “Oh Woe, I Am Attracted to Hot Future Chick”. It would be nice to have a m/f partnership that can resist being all about the lurv.

    Mind, I’m not opposed to romance in general. I just think it’s good to occasionally take a step back from reinforcing the When Harry Met Sally idea that men & women can’t be friends. At least not if they’re both physically attractive.

    Fucking love triangles, man. Should have gone out with Archie and Veronica.

    So. Much. Word.

  • Isabel C.

    On the one hand, I agree. On the other hand, it would *also* be nice to have the action heroine who gets the hot guy be a woman of color. So I could go either way.

    But either way, I want DeadWife to stop floating about in his dreams driveling about their Eternal Wuv, because we really do get it, and some of us have dental work.

  • Lori

    True. I’m entirely in favor of Abbie getting the hot guy. Partially on principle, but mostly because I love her.

    I actually really want this show not to irritate me so bad that I can’t watch it because I like Abbie and Ichabod so much. Abbie’s sister also shows promise. I will be super impressed if she’s not dead by the mid-point of season 1. A show where the fate of the world rests on not one, but two women who aren’t white? Oh hell yeah.

  • Isabel C.

    Me too!

    I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the combination of the Founding Fathers and FOX doesn’t bode ill: like, I am not yet giving anyone the side-eye, but the side-eye is at hand and will be handed out at the first mention of the Second Amendment or ERMEGERD FREE MERKETS.

  • Lorehead

    Don’t worry, he died in the Revolution, so The Wealth of Nations hasn’t even been published on this side of the Atlantic and the Second Amendment doesn’t exist. That’d be like conflating the post-Revolutionary period with the Salem Witch—

    Oh.

  • EllieMurasaki

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70vzf8WOfys –bonus content for Sleepy Hollow says the execution of witches in the US didn’t end until centuries after Salem. So I think we can safely say we’re dealing with an alternate timeline here.

  • Lorehead

    Yeah, well, I’ll still be annoyed if, in this alternative timeline, the 2012 Republican platform appeared two and a half centuries early.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s what’s kinda been making me wonder if I should start watching it at all, with the tendency to (in some corners of the media) hagiographically portraying the 18th-century USA as some kind of bounteous land of Eden.

  • Abel Undercity

    The rant about doughnut holes being taxed raised such suspicions in me.

  • Kirala

    This is one of the things I love about Elementary. However, they’ve only had one season; I am apprehensive about whether they will continue this practice if they get to a fourth season.

  • fraser

    I was amused that while they play with him being a fish-out-of-water, Ep2 shows they had the term “eidetic memory” in 1776.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I might give SH a go, but I’m not totally sold on the premise. Kind of ironic given that I like “Continuum”, which is another time-travel series. I guess maybe there’s something about possibly seeing the show romanticize aspects of the 18th century in the persona of Ichabod Crane.

  • mattmcirvin

    The thing about Irving’s actual story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” is that anyone adapting it for a modern retelling has a near-irresistible temptation to mess with it somehow, just because it doesn’t follow the schema of a modern story of that general type.

    Ichabod Crane is the villain! Or at least the closest thing to a villain the story has. He’s a grade-A BS artist who is corrupting the womenfolk with his slick and sneaky ways. And when the Horseman takes care of him, we’re strongly hinted with a wink and a nudge that it was everyone’s pal Brom Bones dressed up as the Horseman, scaring him out of town, and good riddance to bad rubbish. The end.

    A writer schooled in modern formulae would look at these elements and think, obviously, fish-out-of-water story with a supernatural twist. Ichabod Crane is the awkward underdog hero; Katrina is the girl he woos against all odds; Brom Bones is a local bully who puts on the Horseman show to freak him out. And it maybe seems to work, but then… the REAL Headless Horseman shows up and gives that nasty lunkhead Brom Bones his terrible comeuppance!!

    And maybe Ichabod then gets to play the big hero and dispatch the real Horseman. His soul was in the fiery punkin! Squish it and he explodes!!! Ichabod and Katrina kiss. Roll credits. Credit cookie: wait, he’s not really dead!!?!! Smash cut to black! Ichabod Crane will return in: Sleepy Hollow II: Quest for the Head!

    Or something like that. (I never saw the Tim Burton movie, sounds like he might have gone in a different direction with Ichabod as Scooby Gang member, or something.)

    But that’s not “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at all. Our expectations of stories change over time.

  • Kirala

    Heck, I got the “writer schooled in modern formulae” story from Disney when I was a kid. (And it scared the bejeebers out of me. And left an impression. To the point where, reading the original as a college student, I completely failed to miss the anvil-sized hints that the Horseman was actually Brom until we talked about it in class.)

    Tim Burton movie … contains a character named Ichabod, connected with academia. A Headless Horseman. A very minor blustery character named Brom Bones. A beautiful character named Katrina. And that, as I recall, is the exact sum total of its connection with the Irving story.

  • mattmcirvin

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I saw the Disney version on “Wonderful World of DIsney” a kazillion years ago, but I wasn’t sure exactly how it went. Wouldn’t be surprised if I just recapitulated most of it up there.

  • Kirala

    Heh. Googling “Disney Legend of Sleepy Hollow” got me straight to a YouTube video of the whole half-hour. Which I am now foolishly playing.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Pretty close, yeah, but for the ending. The Horseman only attacks Ichabod, and it’s implied he succeeded. There’s a button that suggests he survived, moved away, and married, but I never really bought it as the actual conclusion.

    ETA: Ichabod was still portrayed as quite the womanizer, however. I haven’t seen it for a few years, but I’ve seen it enough that I’m pretty confident I still remember the details.

  • fraser

    There’s a 1996 TV film with Jeff Goldblum as Crane that pretty much fits your rewrite.

  • mattmcirvin

    I did see a nice radio version, put on by the Post-Meridian Radio Players as a staged audioplay (actors reading from scripts on stage, but with some costuming and props and live practical effects). It kept to a pretty faithful reenactment of the original story, but added a twist in the form of a frame-story in which the narrator turns out to be an actual Headless Horseman. I thought it was a nice way to give the audience the additional horror frisson they expect without doing too much violence to the source material.

  • mattmcirvin

    Anyway, I changed my mind. The post-credits cookie is: Brom Bones’ headless body gets up and gets on that horse! Oh yeah! We never saw that one coming!

  • Jurgan

    How exactly is casting Clancy Brown as the sheriff “fan-service?” He’s a very talented actor who’s been in a number of respectable productions (Shawshank Redemption, for example). I don’t see why his presence is anything other than an actor playing a role (granted, I haven’t seen the show- maybe I’m missing something).

  • commonlaw504

    He’s Kurgan and Mr. Krabs. That’s a little bit of fan service.

  • Deacon Blues

    And Lex Luthor. Don’t forget Lex Luthor.

  • flat

    and long fen and yakone.

  • MarkTemporis

    Having the fellow who played the Kurgan in “Highlander” losing his head in the second act does smack of fanservice.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That just puts a whole new spin on the series so far. Given that the horseman is already headless, though, apparently the catchphrase should be “There can be only none!

  • Jurgan

    Ah, now that makes sense. His mere presence isn’t fanservice, but having him die in the exact same way is.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I wish he’d lasted until the second act.

  • fraser

    As for Blacklist, I lost 90 percent of the interest when I learned James Spader was “The Concierge of Crime.”

  • Lori

    I’m not sure Blacklist is going to work for me either. Spader’s odd line readings are weirdly compelling, but the set up is just annoying to me. There is only so much of the smug asshole thing I can take, even second hand and Spader’s character was over my tolerance line by the end of the first ep.

  • MarkTemporis

    I always felt sorry for the people trying to pass ancient history classes using the anime series “Reign: The Conqueror”, which depicts Alexander the Great as more or less a 20th level D&D character who wears the male equivalent of the chainmail bikini. And there are assassins from the cult of Pythagoras who can split into three like Triplicate Girl.

    As far as Sleepy Hollow, did anyone notice the horsemen are named in episode two as “Conquest, War, Famine, and Death”? I guess poor Pestilence gets to be the Pete Best of the Bible.

  • http://estneillaamata.blogspot.com/ JulianaSundry

    Famine is, in fact, the original name–there was a cool link in the comments ’round here a while ago to an essay about how it wasn’t just any famine, either, but a specific kind of famine that ensues when luxuries for the rich are produced at the expense of basic necessities for the poor.

    …I feel like there’s something extremely pertinent to the post to be said here, but as it’s late and I’m tired, I’ll leave figuring that out to someone whose brain is on.

  • Alix

    Famine, War, and Death are three of the traditional identifications – it’s the first horseman, the white one, that nobody can agree on. That’s the one traditionally (well, for that nebulous sort of “tradition”) seen as Pestilence; it’s also where some modern-day interpreters get support for the idea of the antichrist as false peacemaker/diplomat, because the rider on the white horse (supposedly) has no arrows.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I always learned it as false religion – i.e. people pushing a form of Christianity that was not the “true faith”.

  • Alix

    Ooh, interesting. I’ve never actually heard that interpretation before.

  • J_Enigma32

    I haven’t either. That’s a very interesting take. I’ve always known the rider on the pale horse as either “death” or “Conquest”/”the Antichrist”, depending upon the particular needs for whatever story is using them.

  • Alix

    Pale horse is the last one, isn’t it? He’s Death, the only one explicitly identified. White horse is the one with the identity crisis. But if we can have two kinds of war (conquest/slaughter), no reason we can’t have two Deaths.

    ‘Sides, they’re kind of all death. Death by [means yet to be determined], death by being slaughtered by your neighbors, death by famine (if you’re poor), and the last death comes and catches whoever’s left.

  • J_Enigma32

    Oh, did I confuse them?

    That’s easily enough done given how many times those characters have been spun through the wheel of pop culture. I mean, I was just reading about them the other day in the Rifts: Africa book (they were given there as “Death”, “Famine”, “Pestilence” and “War”, but the book makes it clear they’re not to be taken as the “originals” from the Biblical source material).

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which is why I think only one horse is War, and one is Pestilence. Then it’s death by being killed by your neighbors, death by disease, death by starvation, and just plain death.

  • Alix

    I’ve seen interesting stuff on the white horse being either political machinations (not the word I’m looking for but I am tired) or imperialism, actually. It does depend a bit on how literally we take the notion that all four horsemen represent kinds of actual death, though.

    I find it fascinating that that first horseman is so undefinable.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The first, not the last. The interpretation of “conquering and to conquer” was that it represented attempts to sway people away from God.

  • Ymfon

    Nah, the white rider is Pollution. He took over when Pestilence retired in 1936, muttering about penicillin.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hey, that’s win. Can I steal it?

  • Ymfon

    Actually, it comes pre-stolen: It’s from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …I need to reread that, clearly.

  • Jamoche

    I loved the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse (and the Other Four, too), and I really wish Supernatural had carried on with the pony car theme after giving one of their Horsemen a Mustang.

  • Lorehead

    Kind of strange, though. “So, you don’t believe in evolution? No need to worry about antibiotic resistance, then. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!” Wonder what he could have meant.

  • The_L1985

    I always liked the Good Omens take on the white horseman. The fellow signs his name as “something that could have ended in -ence or in -ution.” Implying that Pollution and Pestilence are closely related.

  • Lorehead

    See, that’s a good example of how the Apocalypse of John has been displaced by its many adaptations. The original says, “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” If people don’t remember that here, on a blog whose author has quoted and even parodied it repeatedly (And he rode out as a peacemaker bent on peace?) nobody does.

  • Alix

    I’m actually not sure the Pestilence identification is as out-of-left-field as it seems. Sure, it’s not explicitly identified as such, but neither are the ones traditionally identified as War and Famine. (I’ve seen some good arguments that the latter is Economic Collapse, but that’s not a catchy name.) Conquest and War can be seen as a bit redundant, y’know?

    Pestilence makes sense if you’re reading “conqueror bent on conquest” as a simile/metaphor, and not a direct statement, and the bow imagery ties in with European folklore about diseases being (akin to) arrows shot by God/the gods/elves/whoever. (I don’t know if that image/metaphor/motif is common in other regions.) It also, frankly, fits the flow: plague leading to slaughter and economic collapse/famine, and then death.

    I do find myself wondering when the Pestilence identification really caught on, though – pre- or post-Black Death?

  • Alix

    I should add: I’m not saying the rider of the white horse is meant to be Pestilence. I just think it’s not a completely bizarre connection to make, though it rests on a lot of other folkloric and cultural assumptions.

  • Lorehead

    Right, and I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, any more than it was unreasonable to think that the woman who washed Jesus’ feet in Luke was Mary Magdalen, that Lt. Uhura’s first name is Nyota, or that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are lovers.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Conquest doesn’t have to entail war. One of the big markers with the Antichrist in premillennial dispensationalism is the concept that the Antichrist will take over the world without firing a shot — hence a bow with no arrows.

  • Alix

    Oh, I know, though I have to admit I find the “but the bow has no arrows!” thing … rather a stretch, given that you’d think that if the rider had no arrows it’d get mentioned. What’s more logical: assuming that someone carrying a bow has arrows to go with it, or assuming he doesn’t?

    Conquest, imperialism, plague, the false religion identification Invisible Neutrino makes above … all those I can see. The whole “this one’s the Antichrist” thing doesn’t really make sense to me, because it breaks with the theme of the rest – that they’re not actually individual people.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I could see conflating false religion and the Antichrist as a collective persona and calling that the fourth horseman. Certainly, evidence abounds for how people are happy to fall in line behind the oppressive regime so long as the regime assures them how pure and sanctified they are.

  • Alix

    This is what’s both beautiful and frustrating about that first horseman for me: John’s image fits so beautifully with so many potential disasters and causes for the subsequent slaughter/collapse/death … and yet I get the distinct impression he had something specific in mind, and we can’t figure it out. Odds are pretty good someone’s hit on what John meant to convey at some point, but we’d never be able to know.

    That’s one of those verses that shoots literalism dead: you cannot read Revelation 6:2 without interpreting it.

  • Abel Undercity

    That’s my thought too. After all, nobody says: “He’s got a gun! With bullets!”

  • Alix

    And, well, “bow and arrows” is a standard phrase in English, but even still, someone talking about a guy going out and taking his bow still probably means the guy took the arrows with him, unless other context indicates differently. And other languages, of course, not being English, don’t use English idioms or set phrases.

  • The_L1985

    I can’t watch it. Ichabod Crane doesn’t look enough like the Disney version to suit me. :P

  • Kirala

    As a heterosexual female, I approve of this spitting upon the hallowed Disney version of Ichabod’s visage.

  • Persia

    The show is ridiculous, but I admit one of the reasons I’m still watching it is that the leads are 100% committed to stopping the apocalypse, because of course they are, and there’s not a moment of doubt or hesitation about it.

  • Lorehead

    I commented on the post about Rapturepalooza that this was one trend in pop-culture End Times stories that was probably going to stick. Saving the world not only aligns with the moral sense of any person not consumed with resentment and a sense of superiority, it gives the heroes something heroic to do.

  • Persia

    Yep, exactly.

  • ReverendRef

    I’m way late to this one, and someone may have already commented on it, but this:

    But “George Washington,” unlike George Washington, is also part of the
    convoluted mythology of Kurtzman and Orci’s show — apparently a leader
    in an ancient secret society, aligned with a coven of good witches

    Maybe if the show takes off and does have the influence Fred suggests it might, maybe that portion that I’ve pulled might have the consequence of getting people off the silly idea the the U.S. was formed as a Christian nation.

    “No, no, no …. we were formed as a coven of witches!”

  • MarkTemporis

    I have heard of a tradition that has Jefferson and Franklin(?) conducting a ritual by which they evoke the ‘Spirit of the Nation’ called Columbia. If the nation has any religious nature, it should be for her, I’d think.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    There’s already a ton of wacky conspiracy-theorist type stuff surrounding the Founding Fathers if you know where to look, anyway. The whole “Masons are coming to get us!” stuff is just scratching the surface, and the witches’ coven thing would be a drop in the bucket.

    I got both of my favorite such stories from the Illuminatus! trilogy, which may have invented them or may have just been using them because it could. It’s that kind of series.

    First: Washington was murdered and replaced by Adam Weishaupt, the founder of the Bavarian Illuminati (who were an anti-monarchist secret society promoting secularism, accountable government, and equality of the sexes), who used Washington’s identity to found and influence a new nation built upon the Illuminati’s ideals. Obviously in the novel the ideals aren’t so high-minded, mostly because the Illuminati were a secret society – if they weren’t plotting to put the world under their thumb, then why were they acting in secret, huh? (Well, they were seen as radicals and revolutionaries and faced prosecution for speaking against the monarchy, pretty much.)

    Second: Jefferson was commissioned to design the Great Seal of the United States, and spent a long time agonizing over it. Then, late one night in his home, a strange man dressed all in black comes in and hands him a copper plate engraved with both sides of the Seal, then the man in black disappears. The novels hint at it being Weishaupt, again imposing his Illuminati symbolism on the country.

    If you look into actual history, this is obviously how neither of these events goes. Jefferson, for example, was one of several people tasked with presenting a design for the Seal and in fact none of those initial designs made the cut. It took several rounds, only the first of which Jefferson was involved in, before a Seal was settled on. Doesn’t matter, you can easily find sites where those stories are taken basically as true.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got a version of the second story written up where the man in black is Nyarlathotep and the US was founded to help bring about the awakening of the Old Ones, so hey.

  • ReverendRef

    First: Washington was murdered and replaced by Adam Weishaupt,

    Ah . . . sort of like Paul McCartney dying in that car crash after getting pissy with his bandmates and being replaced by William Campbell.

    Got it.

  • VMink

    It kind of reminds me of the warning I was given at the beginning of my visual effects class: “This class will ruin movies for you forever.” Ever since then, I look at a scene with VFX in a movie and think about how to do that scene with Maya, Shake, and Final Cut.

    (This is not limited to movies. We were at lunch — Firehouse Subs, mmm — and saw footage from Afghanistan through a night-vision sight, and we started talking about what filters in Shake to apply to do that effect.)

  • Alix

    Firehouse Subs is awesome. That is all. XD

  • Jamoche

    My kid sister said that halfway through her college music theory class she just could not listen to any music – she was always pulling it apart.

  • dpolicar

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded, everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the fight was fixed: the poor stay poor, the rich get rich.

    That’s how it goes.

    Everybody knows.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Regarding the Kurgen: as I was watching the opening credits, I said to myself, “Hey, Clancy Brown! Well, there’s at least one thing in this show worth watching!”

    SCHNICK!

    “Alrighty. Nevermind, then.”

    It didn’t really improve from there.

  • Jamoche

    Don’t count him out so quickly.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    That would mean having to watch another episode…

  • Lorehead
  • Moustache De Plume

    THANK YOU. I couldn’t stop thinking about what you’d say about it when trying to watch the first couple episodes.

    A reviewer described the show as “Tea Party friendly,” what with the Left Behind-yness, rewriting of Founding Fathers, American Exceptionalism, and Crane bitching about taxes… but it does star a black woman. A cool, smart black woman in a position of authority, even if it does get continuously undermined. That is definitely not Tea Party friendly, and like your observation on Good Guys, I’m digging how it could alter what “everybody knows.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m fully in sympathy with Crane’s complaining about taxes. Mind, that’s only half the conversation. The complaint of the revolutionaries, I understand, was ‘no taxation without representation’. Our legislators are by and large a poor cross-section of our population, but we did elect them to represent us.

  • Moustache De Plume

    Yup, drove me nuts that that was just left hanging, but his companion doesn’t seem like much of a history buff, presumably to play up his culture shock. Plus, since he was using it to avoid the actual conversation at hand, it was more of an unconsidered throwaway line, in character. Annoyed me anyway!

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Hey, don’t blame me — I voted for Kodos.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    ^This being the problem. Our representatives don’t really, but our other choices are either more of the same or laughably unlikely to win.


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