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Wendigo Mountain

July 21st, 2008

Journal Info

Clint Harris


July 21st, 2008

Well, it's Monday.  Garfield's antithesis of lasagna.  I've been clean a week from the Asimov's forum.  It's really not that hard to get off that junk.  SSDD.  I worked on my book a little over the weekend.  No impressive word counts, but there was a consistency of 500-800 words for a couple of nights. 

One of these days when I get this thing published, I might catch some heat from the wiccans or something.  See, in my story, witches are bad news.  They aren't the friendly herbalists who like to shuck their clothes for a nice midnight stroll on Samhain.  Nope, these witches confer with the dark arts, they summon creatures they often cannot control, and you always pay a price when you bargain with them. It's probably just a reaction to those cheesey YA novels where girls become really cool witches and learn something about themselves and Gaia.  The reason I think this will get some flack is because often people cannot distinguish a story that stands on its own from a criticism on their beliefs. 

But, waitaminute?  Didn't I just say this was in response to those YA witch novels? I sure did, but the only reason it has anything to do with that is because I miss the old stories.  You know, the ones where witches lived in gingerbread houses and tried to fatten Bavarian children up before eating them.  Or the good old days of "Boil boil, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble."  Yes, I know these have, as of late, been considered ways that witches throughout history have been misunderstood by the partriarchal Church and long have those followers of the Craft been silenced.  Blah blah blah...You know what?  I just have always thought witches were cooler when they were the baddies.  Nowadays they come off like these bohemian flower children that shop at Hot Topic or Mellow Yellow, more concerned with their carbon footprint or using pesticides than they are of seducing weary travelers or cooking up a fresh batch of eye-of-newt.

Not in my book, pal.

See, I've been thinking it over, for say, the last seven minutes.  Other than the part about witch stories, that I love, where you are walking through the forest and come across someone who doesn't seem like they belong there, doing stuff normal folks wouldn't do, it's a creepy element.  In American Indian traditions, witchery is different from Shamanism, though in many traditions, the two are separated by intent.  Witchery is usually defined by malice.  Shamanism is more related to tradition. Anyway, I was going to talk about why I wanted to use it...I think it's because (on the story level) I think the Unseen World is not something people should mess with lightly.  And if people were to start doing that they would either gain power beyond their understanding, become mad, or both.  It's a lifestyle that doesn't lend itself too well to being some sort of earth-mother herbalist.  Much less wanting them to be your neighbor. 

It's like the Ibsen thing about showing the gun on the mantel in act one, you are going to use it by act 3.  Well, if you have the power of the universe at your fingertips, yet using it for harm is a no-no, will that ever stop you?  Nope. You're gonna use it.  Why?  Because people are weak.  We make bombs so big we could braise the planet in nuclear fire, and we will probably use them eventually.  We are builders and destroyers.  And very often, we built things that also destroy.  We've figured out bugs and chemical compounds that could eradicate life in any form for scores of miles.  I don't see how magic would be any different.  Somebody is going to be the bad guy and curse somebody.  And I think when faced with properties of the arcane, that possibility quickly approaches 100%.

At least in my story it will.  You betcha.  Being a good guy with the power of the universe at your fingertips will be the exception to the rule.

Anyway, speaking of the Unseen World, I saw Hellboy 2 this weekend.  It was pretty good, but I did like the first one better.  The first one had Rasputin and Nazi's and the Ogdru Jahad.  This one had the Troll Market, some elves that turn into jade when you kill 'em, the tooth fairy, and a forest god (who was especially cool).  The content of the movie was very neat, but I thought it leaned a little too much towards Tolkien or some kind of Neil Gaiman story (the Troll Market was nearly identical to the market in Neverwhere, which was cool, but I had seen it before.)  I think what was sort of flat for me in the story was how there didn't seem to be any love for the HB stories.  You've got Hellboy who wants to be famous, or at the very least just outside.  In the comics, he was always out and about.  He was less of a superhero and more of a paranormal detective with a shady birthright.  In the movie, Abe Sapien is this fastidious fishman, but in the comics (and the animated versions), he's very much the badass, running the BPRD with his wits and tough attitude.  There is also more chemistry between Abe and Liz Sherman in the comics than anything between Liz and the Big Red Guy.  Dr. Krauss was introduced in the movie as well.  He's an ectoplasmic mist that once was a psychic medium, but now he's got no body and has to live in a bubble-headed suit.  In the comics, he's more akin to Abe in the movie.  In the movie, Johann Krauss is an acerbic German who does everything but bark Macht Schnell! at everyone.  His voice is also pretty grating.   The movie was good, but it lacked the awe-inspiring class of technology and the Arcane that the first movie had.  It was heavy on Tolkien elves, and too light on the H.P. Lovecraft tones this time.  If they make a third movie, I'm hoping Roger the Homonculus makes an appearance, Col. Daimo would be great to see as well.

Something that shed light on this whole thing was, oddly enough, buying Conan the Barbarian on DVD.  $6.00!  You can't beat that.  My wife rolled her eyes and said "Hey, it's your money if you want to waste it."  I have the VHS, but it's getting really grainy.  Anyway, I decided to watch the "Making Of" feature. 

Apparently no one that had anything to do with making the movie had heard about Conan.  Well, Oliver Stone is credited with writing it, but I don't even see why that is.  He wrote this ridiculous movie about a barbarian facing down armies of mutants.  Bug mutants, people mutants, etc.  They said the script was too violent, so they re-wrote it.  At least one of the people rewriting it had actually read Robert E. Howard, so that was good news.  Everyone else thought Conan was a comic book character. 

So, with a bit of a stretch, I think I've learned why it seems like the Hellboy movies aren't very true to the source material.  Probably because no one has read it.  Well, Mike Mignola, I guess, but he probably had little control over the final script and such.  The movies are fun, but I think they lack a lot of the weird of the comics. 

And yes, I am a nerd.

Oh, and in further Nerd News, this last weekends episode of the Venture Bros. was the funniest EVER!  Man, I love the Monarch episodes.  
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