Belated Happy New Year

Woof. It’s been a second, huh?

The past twenty days have been a conflicting bunch. I’ve spouted for years that my two favorite holidays, as a devoted contrarian to the Christmas Crowd, are Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, in that order. And I think it’s in no small part, if I check the depths of my soul, because they’re holidays that most folks kind of hate.

With Thanksgiving, people dislike needing to get dressed up in their starched Sunday Best for the sole purpose of eating a dry bird and navigating a fight with their uncle over politics; and a lot of folks seem to like making fun of New Year’s for the resolution aspect, pointing out folks running or going to the gym and preaching about how the commitment will only last a couple of weeks.

Well, I say poo-on-you to both of those opinions. Thanksgiving is great (genocide notwithstanding) for the simple fact that it’s a holiday boiled down to its base and most important aspects: togetherness and feasting. Boom. It’s a classic combination, and you don’t mess with a classic. Of course here in the States, I observe the irony that Thanksgiving, a holiday meant for appreciating what we already have, comes mere hours before Black Friday, an annual excuse for the public to stampede over strangers for a deal on a television they never needed.

And if you’re going to crap on someone’s resolutions, wafer-thin commitment or not, I say you’re just projecting your own fear of failure. Allow yourself the wiggle room to try something new, the opportunity to fail, the exercise of discipline and see what comes of it. Sheesh.

Anyway, my 2022 holiday season was great. Halloween saw an awesome house party take place, and Thanksgiving and Christmas both were terrifically cozy, intimate, and memorable affairs, they way they ought to be done, in my opinion. But New Year’s…

2023 ain’t that great yet.

I know this is way too easy to say in retrospect if I didn’t record myself for posterity’s sake, but when all the “2023 is going to be my year, I can feel it” talk started going around a few months ago, I won’t lie, my gut reaction was a little, “I don’t know…kinda feeling 2024 is really going to be what’s better.” And so far, I haven’t been wrong.

I woke up on the 1st of January with a monstrous cramp in my back, and it took me almost two weeks for it to get right. I’m sort of a caveman when it comes to self-care, meaning my first line of defense when it comes to fixing health problems is to just isolate in a cave until the problem goes away. Worked great for the pandemic, not so much for dental issues, vision problems, a hernia, this back thing, etc.

My usual New Year’s tradition is to buy a calendar and start off on some of the resolutions I’ve written, but hot damn have I not been able to giddy-up for much anything yet. Here in California it’s been raining heaps, which further incentivized that “hole up in a cave” tactic, but lot of good that does when the muscles in your back feel like someone mistook you for Dracula and rammed a stake through your chest.

What the time inside did afford us here in the Davis household was some TV time (just what we need), and we finally checked out the Wednesday Addams Family series on Netflix. It was good. Didn’t love it, maybe, but liked it a lot. For some reason, my main takeaway was the episode featuring Wednesday’s birthday, and she refers to birthdays as “another year closer to the yawning oblivion of death” or something. For some reason, I set aside my usual curmudgeonly old man pants and fought that sentiment.

As opposed to another year closer to the grave, I thought, I like to think of each new year as another collection of memoires to cherish when I’m old – if I get old, you never know. Even the bad stuff, the struggles, the loss, you wind up thinking back on those times when you’re past them as notches in your belt, things you overcame or survived, things that added to your story; and I think that’s increasingly important to hold onto, as sentiments go.

Something else I’ve tried in the numbing excitement that’s been my life since last writing was that I tried out Kingdom Come: Deliverance.

For the uninitiated, Kingdom Come is a roleplaying video game that places you in the role of Hal, a peasant boy in 1405 Bohemia. And you know what I’ve found?

I suck at life as a peasant boy in 1405 Bohemia.

In the tutorial town alone, I was: beaten up, berated, covered in shit, and killed, mostly in that order. In the TUTORIAL. I eventually started it up again after some time away, hoping to gain some new ground after learning from my failures, only to find that I can add “ability to eat correctly” to my list of failures. When I wasn’t starving, I was apparently making my character overeat to the point of dizziness.

Dude, f*ck life in medieval Europe. That sucked.

Like, I applaud the game’s commitment to realism or whatever, but dang that was rough.

Anyway, back-ish into the swing of things here, and life is truly good enough that the complaining I do is just for fun. I’m currently taking part in NYC Midnight’s Microfiction Challenge 2022, and while I’m sure my second round submission has a good chance of flopping, I did come in 1st place in my heat in round one. So that was cool. Otherwise, I have some stuff coming out later this month I should probably announce on the day of…so I will, I guess. (I’m not even trying to be funny, the words you just read was my train of thought as it happened. Just felt like being honest with you.)

Ciao, beautiful people.

“Toss a coin to yer Witcher!”

(Hey-o. Little re-post here, for those that missed the action.)

If the title reeled you in, there’s a 50% chance that we’re kin – in the same tribe of mindset, reverence for the world of the Continent, Northern Kingdoms, and Nilfgaardian Empire, and someone with the time to read a seven-book series (eight, if you also went through Season of Storms, but that’s more for funsies anyway) not affiliated with a magical boy named after a fuzzy plant-keeper.

That said, that means there’s also a 50% chance that you’re going to stop reading after the next two sentences, because you’ve had enough “the books were better blah blah bibbity blah” talk in your life. And that’s okay.

But I’m finally finding myself on the other side of that line.

For all the ignorance this statement may thickly paint me with: I made it through Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings all on the movies or episodes alone. I, like many of you (probably) endured the same, “Ah, but the books were better!” talk, and like many of you (probably; I include you so I don’t die on this hill totally alone), gave it the same, “Ah, let it go! They did what they had to for an adaptation!”

But…this time, I can’t.

I played The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt (twice, actually; 100% completion both times, and rp-walked the whole time like some sicko) when it exploded into a worldwide phenomenon, heard it was a series of books, and voraciously tore through them twice. Two collections of short stories, a standalone novel, and a saga of five more. Their spines are lovingly bent, pages affectionately coffee-stained. And in the case of a house fire, they’re on my short list of “will suffer major burns to retrieve” possessions.

So when Netflix announced a Witcher television series, I was cautiously optimistic suuuuper guarded. And when it came out and everybody started raving about how it was the greatest thing since soy sauce on mashed potatoes (not a widely popular thing, but a friend of mine turned me onto it eight years ago, and I’ve NEVER looked back; gravy can suck it on a 8-hour shift – soy sauce is where it’s at), I was worried.

What if it’s nothing like the books, and so everyone’s falling in love with a false prophet?

What if, worse, it takes direct inspiration and then turns it, further lying to the people??

What??? Andrezej Sapkowski saw the first two episodes and LOVED it? But he a CD Projekt Red had such issues. What could that mean???

So I watched the first episode, and I’ve never been more distracted in my life. Remember way back when we went over the Art of Being an Audience? Well, I sure-as-shit did not practice what I preached. But, it’s not a live performance, so I give myself some leeway.

The entire time, I wasn’t in the story, but floating above it. Watching an adaptation of a story I know so intimately (as much as is humanly possible, given how complex and long it is), every scene I was just distracted by being able to see the scissor marks and tape-job that they’d done with the original story.

For the uninitiated, the world of the Witcher is shared through two collections of short stories that serve both to offer little one-off, character-building adventures as well as do some world-building and establish canonical history for the groundwork/foundation of the five novels, which tell the story.

And so, knowing that, I couldn’t help but fixate on every stitch I saw on what was essentially The Blood of Elves (the first book) interlaced with stories out of The Last Wish (the first the short story collections), plus the new characters the show fabricated all on its own.

That, and – without even getting to the disservice done to the dryads of Brokilon – the stories they did take from The Last Wish were super diluted compared to their literary counterparts. Stregobor’s reveal had more impact than just turning the townspeople on a mutant. The adventure in Dol Blathanna hinted at the elves’ history with humans in a much shallower way than original tale. And Pavetta and Duny’s wedding ceremony was super turned into a comedy of coincidences with a forced fight scene rather than a cunning orchestration devised by Calanthe. Don’t like Dara, don’t like what they did with Foltest, and don’t know what-the-fuck was up with that psycho-doppler “we like children best” ass-hat. Aaaaaaaaaugh-

Phew.

Now…that’s enough of The Bad. We’ll say that the Dryads of Brokilon stuff was The Ugly all unto themselves. But, The Good…?

Dude, even in this super distracted first viewing of the season, even I couldn’t help but love the music. That, they nailed without question. Plus, I loved coming in on the joke that was all the buzz surrounding “Toss a coin to yer Witcher!”

For all the shit I could scrounge up for the Blavikin story, that fight scene made my nipples hard.

And for the wedding stuff with Pavetta, for the crap I could give that part of the adaptation, that fight also hardened these- okay, enough with nipples. It was good. Very good.

Some of the references were taken straight off the page. Like when Geralt’s fist-fighting with Torque in the field, that whole “I’m a sylvan! | You’re a dick!” conversation is basically verbatim, and I love it!

Also, the show captures the sense of humor found in the books and games with unreal accuracy. It’s that dark humor, sort of dry-and-sardonic flavor of giggles that serve to remind you that, while it’s telling a bit of a gritty/gory tale, we’re here to have fun. The humor is the wink to let you know that we’re enjoying this together and to not be too serious with it.

I wanted a more faithful recreation of Villentretenmerth, but every second he was on screen being a telepathic golden dragon was a goddamn treasure.

While they could have done better with the Foltest storyline, that striga was so phenomenally well-made and deliiiiciously creepy! Oh. My. God.

And, not least of all by any means, Henry Cavill is…he’s just…he’s such a darling. I heard from friends and saw in interviews that he played the games, devoured the books, and was a super-fan in his own right, and Jesus Christ does that ever show in his performance. He captures Geralt’s angsty curmudgeon attitude so well, especially since he himself is such a charismatic and seemingly-cheerful man. He plays the annoyance true to character, and has perfect comedic timing whenever he delivers his classic:

*sigh*
“…fuck.”

One of the best services my experience was done with regards to the show was actually a comment by my buddy Chris. He said that it has the feel of a passion-project. Sort of like one of those old Sci-Fi channel productions that didn’t have the biggest budget, but made up for it with heart and authenticity.

That…was absolutely true. And it’s what carried me through seeing it the first time. Because whenever I got distracted by a “What the-?”, “Who the fu-?”, or “Why the fu-?” question when the show deviated from or adapted the lore, that un-quantifiable feeling kept bringing me back to it. I kept feeling like I was watching a production made by and starring people who were as big of fans of the original works as I was – and THAT made me feel like we were all in it together.

So, I played my part as an appreciative viewer.

‘Kay. That’s not entirely true. It took about six total hours of raving conversations with friends and now an overly-long, ranty, raving blog post to get it out of my system.

Changes have to be made to suit the medium. Liberties have to be taken. Taken straight as it is from the page, the show either wouldn’t work, or would be 1,000,000,000 hours long and cost the GDP of Canada (1.653 trillion USD as of 2017, for those wondering). Eventually, I re-watched the first episode.

The verdict? How had the opinion changed with a less distracted and more forgiving, compromising Evan…?

Well, I cried twice in tender joy, so I guess we could call that a good thing.

All in all, if the show brings a wider audience to appreciate the world so many of us have already come to love, the better.

Also, word on the street is that Sapkowski and CD Projekt Red have kissed and made up, so we’ll call that our story book happy ending. And if the show was in any way a part of that, all the more reason to love it.

Live. Love. Accept change. All rather than being an obstinate butthole about it like I was.

Hasta, y’all.

Oh Valley o’ Plenty! OooOOOOooh!

If the title reeled you in, there’s a 50% chance that we’re kin – in the same tribe of mindset, reverence for the world of the Continent, Northern Kingdoms, and Nilfgaardian Empire, and someone with the time to read a seven-book series (eight, if you also went through Season of Storms, but that’s more for funsies anyway) not affiliated with a magical boy named after a fuzzy plant-keeper.

That said, that means there’s also a 50% chance that you’re going to stop reading after the next two sentences, because you’ve had enough “the books were better blah blah bibbity blah” talk in your life. And that’s okay.

But I’m finally finding myself on the other side of that line.

For all the ignorance this statement may thickly paint me with: I made it through Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings all on the movies or episodes alone. I, like many of you (probably) endured the same, “Ah, but the books were better!” talk, and like many of you (probably; I include you so I don’t die on this hill totally alone), gave it the same, “Ah, let it go! They did what they had to for an adaptation!”

But…this time, I can’t.

I played The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt (twice, actually; 100% completion both times, and rp-walked the whole time like some sicko) when it exploded into a worldwide phenomenon, heard it was a series of books, and voraciously tore through them twice. Two collections of short stories, a standalone novel, and a saga of five more. Their spines are lovingly bent, pages affectionately coffee-stained. And in the case of a house fire, they’re on my short list of “will suffer major burns to retrieve” possessions.

So when Netflix announced a Witcher television series, I was cautiously optimistic suuuuper guarded. And when it came out and everybody started raving about how it was the greatest thing since soy sauce on mashed potatoes (not a widely popular thing, but a friend of mine turned me onto it eight years ago, and I’ve NEVER looked back; gravy can suck it on a 8-hour shift – soy sauce is where it’s at), I was worried.

What if it’s nothing like the books, and so everyone’s falling in love with a false prophet?

What if, worse, it takes direct inspiration and then turns it, further lying to the people??

What??? Andrezej Sapkowski saw the first two episodes and LOVED it? But he a CD Projekt Red had such issues. What could that mean???

So I watched the first episode, and I’ve never been more distracted in my life. Remember way back when we went over the Art of Being an Audience? Well, I sure-as-shit did not practice what I preached. But, it’s not a live performance, so I give myself some leeway.

The entire time, I wasn’t in the story, but floating above it. Watching an adaptation of a story I know so intimately (as much as is humanly possible, given how complex and long it is), every scene I was just distracted by being able to see the scissor marks and tape-job that they’d done with the original story.

For the uninitiated, the world of the Witcher is shared through two collections of short stories that serve both to offer little one-off, character-building adventures as well as do some world-building and establish canonical history for the groundwork/foundation of the five novels, which tell the story.

And so, knowing that, I couldn’t help but fixate on every stitch I saw on what was essentially The Blood of Elves (the first book) interlaced with stories out of The Last Wish (the first the short story collections), plus the new characters the show fabricated all on its own.

That, and – without even getting to the disservice done to the dryads of Brokilon – the stories they did take from The Last Wish were super diluted compared to their literary counterparts. Stregobor’s reveal had more impact than just turning the townspeople on a mutant. The adventure in Dol Blathanna hinted at the elves’ history with humans in a much shallower way than original tale. And Pavetta and Duny’s wedding ceremony was super turned into a comedy of coincidences with a forced fight scene rather than a cunning orchestration devised by Calanthe. Don’t like Dara, don’t like what they did with Foltest, and don’t know what-the-fuck was up with that psycho-doppler “we like children best” ass-hat. Aaaaaaaaaugh-

Phew.

Now…that’s enough of The Bad. We’ll say that the Dryads of Brokilon stuff was The Ugly all unto themselves. But, The Good…?

Dude, even in this super distracted first viewing of the season, even I couldn’t help but love the music. That, they nailed without question. Plus, I loved coming in on the joke that was all the buzz surrounding “Toss a coin to yer Witcher!”

For all the shit I could scrounge up for the Blavikin story, that fight scene made my nipples hard.

And for the wedding stuff with Pavetta, for the crap I could give that part of the adaptation, that fight also hardened these- okay, enough with nipples. It was good. Very good.

Some of the references were taken straight off the page. Like when Geralt’s fist-fighting with Torque in the field, that whole “I’m a sylvan! | You’re a dick!” conversation is basically verbatim, and I love it!

Also, the show captures the sense of humor found in the books and games with unreal accuracy. It’s that dark humor, sort of dry-and-sardonic flavor of giggles that serve to remind you that, while it’s telling a bit of a gritty/gory tale, we’re here to have fun. The humor is the wink to let you know that we’re enjoying this together and to not be too serious with it.

I wanted a more faithful recreation of Villentretenmerth, but every second he was on screen being a telepathic golden dragon was a goddamn treasure.

While they could have done better with the Foltest storyline, that striga was so phenomenally well-made and deliiiiciously creepy! Oh. My. God.

And, not least of all by any means, Henry Cavill is…he’s just…he’s such a darling. I heard from friends and saw in interviews that he played the games, devoured the books, and was a super-fan in his own right, and Jesus Christ does that ever show in his performance. He captures Geralt’s angsty curmudgeon attitude so well, especially since he himself is such a charismatic and seemingly-cheerful man. He plays the annoyance true to character, and has perfect comedic timing whenever he delivers his classic:

*sigh*
“…fuck.”

One of the best services my experience was done with regards to the show was actually a comment by my buddy Chris. He said that it has the feel of a passion-project. Sort of like one of those old Sci-Fi channel productions that didn’t have the biggest budget, but made up for it with heart and authenticity.

That…was absolutely true. And it’s what carried me through seeing it the first time. Because whenever I got distracted by a “What the-?”, “Who the fu-?”, or “Why the fu-?” question when the show deviated from or adapted the lore, that un-quantifiable feeling kept bringing me back to it. I kept feeling like I was watching a production made by and starring people who were as big of fans of the original works as I was – and THAT made me feel like we were all in it together.

So, I played my part as an appreciative viewer.

‘Kay. That’s not entirely true. It took about six total hours of raving conversations with friends and now an overly-long, ranty, raving blog post to get it out of my system.

Changes have to be made to suit the medium. Liberties have to be taken. Taken straight as it is from the page, the show either wouldn’t work, or would be 1,000,000,000 hours long and cost the GDP of Canada (1.653 trillion USD as of 2017, for those wondering). Eventually, I re-watched the first episode.

The verdict? How had the opinion changed with a less distracted and more forgiving, compromising Evan…?

Well, I cried twice in tender joy, so I guess we could call that a good thing.

All in all, if the show brings a wider audience to appreciate the world so many of us have already come to love, the better.

Also, word on the street is that Sapkowski and CD Projekt Red have kissed and made up, so we’ll call that our story book happy ending. And if the show was in any way a part of that, all the more reason to love it.

Live. Love. Accept change. All rather than being an obstinate butthole about it like I was.

Hasta, y’all.