My Watchmen Experience

You know those days where you can’t do anything wrong? Not like you’re all super righteous and above reproach or anything, but you’ve just woken up on the right side of the bed and things go right. So it may not exactly be a case of “can’t do anything wrong,” but days that are just born good. It doesn’t even have to be anything incredible or momentous, like winning the lottery or saving somebody’s life. No, you have all your homework done ahead of time. You have just enough cash on you for a donut with coffee and a sandwich for lunch. You find that thing you thought you lost. A ton of small, tiny, happy moments that make for a great day.

That’s the kind of day I was having one time as a senior in high school. I couldn’t miss. Woke up easy, had a good hair day so I was feelin’ pretty, got to school early, smoothly hit all green lights when I longboarded to that donut shop, finished the book I was reading that free fifth period, The Works.

“Hmm,” I sighed as I got off the bus that afternoon to walk home, “I think I’m gonna finish reading Watchmen today.”

If you somehow aren’t familiar, Watchmen was a graphic novel written by Alan Moore from the 1980’s. The short version is that it was set in a world wherein the caped-crusader, masked crime fighter phenomenon struck, but in a gritty, noir setting. And when I say gritty, I mean that sh*t was dark. One of the story’s most recognizable characters Rorschach’s – a vigilante type, so named for the psychiatric ink-blot test his mask is designed after – famous speeches goes as follows:

“The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.

The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘SAVE US!’

And I will look down and whisper ‘No.”

No kidding, when it’s described as an edgy (like unto a razor), harsh take on the costumed heroes, it means it. Near the beginning, there’s a newspaper clipping describing a story wherein one hero catches his cape in a bank’s rotating door during a robbery, so the criminals, reasonably, brutally gun him down. It’s not long into it either when another of the main cast exposits his backstory to reveal his joy at raping his way through Vietnam.

Being an angsty, “edgy” (like unto a butterknife) teenager, it was right up my alley.

To that point, I’d read it in bits and pieces over the course of a couple of weeks, and was about halfway through with it. That speaks both to my traditional, savory reading speed, but also to just how freaking dense of a story Watchmen is. I’d sipped my way through the first half and, feeling full of myself that particularly happy day, decided to gulp down the rest of it that afternoon and evening.

So I got home, unloaded my backpack, sit on the couch with a coffee like a sophisticated individual, and got enthralled with the grimdark story until the sun had gone down…

…then I went to bed early and cried myself to sleep into my pillow.

Emotionally, I can be a bit of a tenderfoot, I admit that wholeheartedly. But Jesus Christ guys, that book did not f**k around, especially for my young, virgin mind (in a literary sense – mind out of the gutter, kids). Children are murdered, dogs get cleavers to the dome, throats get cut, loved ones are betrayed, people explode, heroes question meaning in and of reality – The Works.

I don’t remember clearly, but I may have been a bit out of it the next day, too. That thing took a toll. But if you’ve somehow made it this far into life without seeing either the movie or spin-off HBO show, do yourself a favor, steel yourself, and check it out. This is one of those rare exceptions where the film is perfectly just as good as it’s written counterpart.

Just grab some consolation cookies and a hanky beforehand.

A Weakness for Reality TV: A PSA (sort of)

I wish I was going to come into this with some sort of “here’s a way for turning your weaknesses into a strength” angle, but I don’t think that’s present here. The basic fact of the matter is that a seared Ahi tuna with spring greens is wonderful, but sometimes you really just want a greasey burger and fries. A roasted chicken with seasoned fingerling potatoes and balsamic glaze is a worthwhile culinary creation, but I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t take a box of white chedder shell mac n’ cheese for a last meal.

My point is just that there are finer things in life, things that are worth the time and effort that go into them, but sometimes all we really want, crave, and maybe even need are the crap. The Velveeta cheese. The mental diet equivalent of “mechanically separated chicken” (that’s the first ingredient in most packages of bologna you’ll find).

I’ve battled with my weakness for trashy reality TV for years, but with growing older comes maturity, and that maturity materializes with recognizing one’s limits and one’s nature. Turns out that an indellible fact of my being is that I just love this sh*t.

Flavor of Love. MTV’s Are You The One? Love is Blind. Sexy Beast. The Circle.

I love the fights. I love watching them gossip and bicker and drunkenly profess undying love for someone they’ve known for three hours.

I recognize that magic of TV editing, let that not go unsaid. I realize that the show editors can cut, clip, edit, and paste the footage to make anyone come off to look almost any which way. So in that way, I try to keep a healthy barrier between myself and the FULL enchantment of the brainless web it weaves.

But this latest round of binging I’ve done really brought to bare an important question: How the heck is this even legal?

Like, I understand that everyone on the show likely has to sign contracts, sign waivers, and give permissions to be there and have their likenesses be used and such. They sign up for the ride, I get that. But, I mean, we give ZOOS the ethical side-eye for how they treat their captive animals. How is it okay to take a bunch of young twenty-something’s whose hormones are peaking, throw them into a house with a bunch of unerringly hot people, liquor them up, put cameras on them, and whisper, “Go on. Go. Fight!”

Obviously, this isn’t a legitimate grandstand. I’m not on this little soapbox of mine in any serious capacity, and I’m guilty as HELL for consuming it after a hard week of work, it’s just struck me as funny. We worry about the dignity of captive animals (c’mon, obviously, rightly so), but cheerfully commit similar abuses to our youth for the sake of entertainment.

No kidding, season three of Are You The One? showed one guy having a mental breakdown in one of his private confessionals, whereupon he said, weeping, “I can’t do this anymore,” and tried to exit his confessional and hide behind the camera he’d been speaking to while telling himself to “Pull it together, man.” You know how I know that? Another camera on the ceiling filmed the whole thing. These people can’t take a shower or drop a Number Two without a production team seeing the whole thing.

I don’t really know what I meant to get out of this rant, but I feel better now (lol). Next time you just need a mindless laugh, check out any of the above shows. Just make sure no one sees you do it.

“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.