WEEK IN GEEK: As is often the case with our hosts: everything old is new again. Andrew plans to take on the psychological strangeness ofAtlus’ Catherine in the recently released “definitive” version of the 2011 game called Catherine: Full Body. D. Bethel actually steps outside the realm of Xavier’s School for the Gifted to try out a different Marvel hero, The Silver Surfer, in the 2019 limited series, Silver Surfer: Black, by Donny Cates, Tradd Moore, and Dave Stewart.
THE PROBLEM WITH LOVECRAFT: A lot of controversy was had (mostly on Twitter) over the last few weeks with the release of Evil Hat Productions’ Fate of Cthulhu, a new table-top RPG integrating the systems of Evil Hat’s Fate Core and the Lovecraft mythos. Evil Hat proudly declared that it was bucking tropes of other Lovecraft-inspired games––mainly how it addresses Lovecraft’s prejudices head-on and it doesn’t include sanity meters for its players––and that, for some reason, made a lot of people upset. Andrew talks about the subsequent furor while D. Bethel shows up as our resident Lovecraft scholar.
*Show image is a screenshot of Dean Stockwell as Wilbur Whateley from the 1970 film, The Dunwich Horror.
WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew and D. Bethel start the new year with some things they have only light knowledge of and experience with. Andrew starts watching Netflix’s The Witcher and only briefly plays Haemimont Games’ Surviving Mars. D. Bethel has fun playing detective in the disgusting Lovecraftian world of Frogwares’ The Sinking City.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: As 2019 hurries to a close, our hosts kick up their feet and just chat about the things they’re doing to occupy their time until the new year rolls around. They talk about everything from the winter Steam sale, to finishing Outer Wilds (no spoilers!), to Lovecraftian tabletop games (Fate of Cthulhu), video games (The Sinking City), and novels (Winter Tide), to developing for web browsers, to––of course––Doctor Who and Star Wars.
“Weird World News“––a module for Fate Core by friend-of-the-show, André La Roche.
La Roche, André. “Spotlight: The Joke’s On Us.” A Website [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes, 27 October 2019––André’s critical look at one of the most divisive movies of the year.
WEEK IN GEEK: While still playing Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Andrew tries to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) while D. gets excited by the Lovecraftian undertones found in Get Out.
D. Bethel dives into his history with the Mass Effect series and why he found a lot to enjoy in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Imposter Syndrome is a natural psychological consequence caused by breaking free from personal norms. Trying something new can be scary. For those already beset with anxiety issues, the Imposter Syndrome converts us to flagellants, knowing simultaneously that these thoughts are bogus while also knowing they motivate us to push through the arbitrary and unconscious barriers we set for ourselves.
In graduate school, I had a bad case of Imposter Syndrome––one of many manifestations of my anxiety. The anxiety caused me to eat and drink a lot; it tickled my health in various ways; I lost a lot of sleep. I often woke up at one or two or three in the morning, spinning my impending failure through all possible scenarios or, if it was a good day, trying to harvest and codify all the ideas bouncing off each other like balls in a bingo spinner.
Eventually, I trained myself to just get out of bed. Go do something. Distract yourself. In the case of distraction, I learned that video games did that best.
Most of these nights happened after Nicole and I moved into our second Sacramento townhouse, away from the social thrum of midtown, which left us with mostly quiet nights; so, what sleep I could get would be uninterrupted and pleasant. On the anxiety nights, however, I crept downstairs, headphones already on and listening to podcasts––some video game commentary, some comedy interviews, some political debate, some history––and I’d fire up my Xbox 360 for hours of distraction, getting a good chunk of game in before the world even woke up. When I look back at these nights, the games that I see most in my memories are the Mass Effect series, specifically the two sequels.
Scanning planets captured perfectly the strange, silent calm of what we understand of outer space. Unlike humans…there’s nothing fragile about the cosmos. It simply is, existing slowly toward some end that is neither frightening nor threatening.
Since I was playing with the sound off (so as to consume quality audio entertainment), I rarely worked through story missions during these insomnious sessions. Instead, I searched for the mundane in the games’ side missions: fetch quests, collection runs, delivery missions. The most calming task I could do, and what I did most often, was planet scanning.
WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew spends some time with Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Horror: The Card Game while Dan reads Boss Fight Books’ Metal Gear Solid by sibling team, Ashly and Anthony Burch (a book Dan may actually finish!).
GONNA TAKE YOU FOR A RIDE: Sony had it’s most recent Playstation Experience event which unveiled a lot of new games, most Sony exclusives, but amid that they announce the new installment of the previously-thought-dead franchise with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
Plus, an extended gameplay trailer has been released since the segment was recorded, confirming both Captain America’s and Darkstalkers‘ Morrigan’s presence in the game.
REBOOTING FRANCHISES: With the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Dan and Andrew investigate the approach to legacy franchises. Should we reboot and start from scratch, or keep pushing the continuity forward or leave it be and fill in the “cracks”?
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For all intents and purposes, that was a podcast recap.
-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Player Select” by Mitsuhiko Takano (from Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes)
-“Rey’s Theme” by John Williams (from Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
It’s no surprise by now that I’m a fervent X-Men apologist and proudly so. Such sentiments are only bolstered by their very strange treatment by Marvel over the last eight or so years. Most of my conspiratorial talk is just for fun, but there are some details that eke through and seem just a bit too shady to be mere coincidence. There was the omission of any mutants from the cover of Marvel’s 75th Anniversary magazine, which was given away for free (which Andrew and I discussed early in our show’s history). Since then, they have made Cyclops––the boy scout figurehead of the mutants (ostensibly the Superman of the X-Men)––a terrorist murderer (#cyclopswasright), they have legit killed the most famous mutant character, Wolverine, and now they are having the team nobody really knows about (but they really want people to know about) fight the team they want everyone to forget about in the “Inhumans vs. X-Men” event (but not before they have a prologue event literally called “The Death of X”).
Comicsverse are, admittedly, as apologetic about the X-Men as I am, but they approach this topic with a collectively cooler head. Jack Fisher’s article looks at what he describes as the problem with this fight beyond the obviously corporate undertones that poison the well. He sees this forced skirmish as a severely problematic one based on the origin of these teams and how these continuous “…vs. X-Men” storylines are doing more cultural damage in the long run even if books are being sold. Fisher boils it down beautifully:
Whatever the outcome and whatever the legal undertones, the concept between Inhumans vs. X-Men is flawed. On one side, you have a minority that has been forcibly sterilized twice in the past decade. On the other, you have a team with a tradition of racism, xenophobia, and slavery. It’s not a battle between heroes as much as it is an exercise in contrivance.
I don’t know much about the Inhumans, but it seems that in the cinematic universe they are building them from the ground up. On more than one occasion, it has been noted (especially by co-host Andrew) that they’re just trying to slot them in the empty socket where mutants normally go. But that exacerbates the problem, I would argue.
It’s not as the Den of Geek article linked to in the last paragraph argues that the Inhumans are “the same basic idea, but with the serial numbers filed off.” It’s worse than that. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mutants were created to represent the minorities of this country and to dramatize their plight and struggle to accomplish two things: first, it presents these otherwise uncomfortable and possibly unknown issues to the predominantly white readership; second, it gives minorities (be it color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation) a safe place to go in the world of comics. The X series of books is about showing what true prejudice, bias, and hate looks like and having the minority survive.
And what happens?
In 2005, editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada instructs the X-writers to kill off all mutants except for 198. Genocide. Narratively (and creatively), it made sense. Mutants work best when they are a minority. But they were also presented as being the next stage in human evolution. With so many mutants on the planet (by 2005, at least) it seemed that theory was correct––science wins again––until they were forcibly made a minority again. That, of course, was the big event. But the small things, such as the omission from the Marvel 75th Anniversary Magazine cover, killing off fan-favorite characters, pitting C-level characters against them, etc., when piled together that makes a pretty loud squeaky wheel. Holistically, it looks like corporate monkey-wrenching and favoritism and simple catering to what is popular right now. But that isn’t all of it.
When taken in as a whole with the knowledge of what the X-Men actually mean, it looks like the type of thing the scared majority does to keep a minority down, and, in this day and age, it’s rather sickening.
With Halloween behind us, a lot of Lovecraft-focused articles circulated around the internet in celebration of the ghastly day. Mostly well-trod biographies or overviews of his racism, these are valid and important conversations to have as they can add a lot to the knowledge of the casual consumer. Much like the Luke Cage article I shared before, the most interesting article that I saw this last week was a roundtable discussion of Lovecraft and his work by three writers whose works have been influenced by his mythos: Kij Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, and Ruthanna Emrys.
The conversation is important because, despite being short, it digs deeper than a normal roundtable usually goes. The interviewer gets right to the point and discusses Lovecraft’s racism and what his legacy should be in a modern context, and––even better––the writers don’t shy away from giving tough answers.
As a reader of both Lovecraft and Lovecraft criticism, I belong to a few Lovecraftian fan pages on Facebook in the hope that there will be discussion as found in Joel Cunningham’s article. However, on the whole it’s a rather soft engagement with the material. What frustrates, however, is whenever an article that addresses his racism or intolerance starts making its way around the internet, the claws come out and the hate speech––for lack of a better word––fills the subsequent comments. Just as bad is the insistence on apathy in many cases, and that is a tragedy.
To say anything about Lovecraft’s work requires an acknowledgement of his love for the sciences. Like, a capital-L Love. The scientific method is all about asking questions, not picking sides. Science seeks to find how things thread into their place within the context of the universe and to see how that weave is part of a larger puzzle, a puzzle getting larger all the time. Science does not reward partisanship or apathy, it rewards the explorer. The fact that most Lovecraft stories warn people away from the scientific method is because Lovecraft himself was intrigued by the seemingly infinite possibility that science could offer us and then turned it on its ear for dramatic purposes. Why? Because horror stories are fun.
Again, referring to that previous Luke Cage roundtable I previously linked to, this type of conversation that these writers have about Lovecraft are the types of conversations we should be having because they are new and interesting and the ultimate outcome of this discourse is not to decide whether Lovecraft should be banished from modern thought or not––far from it. If we did that, we would be unable to have some interesting conversations. If anything, it would actually more firmly establish his place in the canon as someone worth talking about. Simply brushing off his racism will only keep him from reaching that place where I, most certainly, and most Lovecraft fans feel he should be woven into.
News Blast: Lovecraft-Based TV Show In Development
A sneaky bit of news hit the internet recently when word got out that Legendary Entertainment was developing an anthology television show based on the works of cosmic horror writer, H. P. Lovecraft.
According to Bleeding Cool and Dread Central, not much is known as only a pilot script exists, to be used to shop around to networks at the moment. The pilot is written by Matthew Francis Wilson––who, based on my research, may have previously gone by M. Francis Wilson, is a newcomer to television writing and it is unknown whether he pitched the show or was hired to write it.
Aside from the Lovecraft brand itself, the producers of the series bring the most clout to the project. Lorenzo Di Bonaventura––who was the tip of the spear when it came to developing the Michael Bay-helmed Transformers series––and Dan McDermott––a screenwriter and producer who seems to have worked on mostly short-lived but interesting television shows.
Legendary Entertainment has made quite a mark as being a rather prominent producer of successful, if not critically consistent, genre films. Big hits for the relatively new studio––established in 2000––300, The Hangover, Inception, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, Crimson Peak, WarCraft, Gareth Edward’s Godzilla, Jurassic World,Straight Outta Compton, and basically all Christopher Nolan movies since Batman Begins.
Their expansion into television is relatively new, but rather high profile with the Netflix exclusive, Love, having garnered a bit of attention on its initial release, as well as the SyFy adaptation of the beloved James S. A. Corey book series, The Expanse, which friends-of-the-show, Nerdhole, discussed in-depth recently, and Colony, created by LOST writer, Carlton Cuse, for USA Network. The latter two debuted this year and are renewed for second seasons.
So, while to some the credentials (or lack thereof) of those directly involved with this new series may seem troubling or make a fan circumspect, Legendary itself has a respectable track record on television even if they are rather new to the medium.
The show seems peculiar because, as sources described, it is unclear whether these will be adaptations of Lovecraft stories or new stories leaning on the Lovecraft stories. Bleeding Cool described the show as including “characters, locations and story-lines from sixteen of Lovecraft’s most popular tales” while Dread Central says the show will “feature characters, narratives, and locations from sixteen of the late American author’s titles.” Both sources cite that the show will specifically draw from “The Call of Cthulhu“, “The Dunwich Horror“, and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” Since H. P. Lovecraft had published over fifty stories in his lifetime and collaborated on almost another fifty with friends and as a ghost writer, there is no shortage of material to draw from.
While this is the first time a show has been explicitly based on Lovecraft’s work, the father of cosmic horror is no stranger to television. His stories have been adapted to varying degrees of faithfulness on horror anthology shows, with Rod Serling’s Night Gallery being the most prominent adapter. In most cases, Lovecraft’s work served as direct or indirect inspiration for stories and series. From the 1991 HBO noir movie, Cast a Deadly Spell to an episode of The Real Ghostbusters titled, “The Collect Call of Cthulhu”, Lovecraft’s creatures and themes have often served as a great starting point for new stories rather than go through the difficulty of adapting his somewhat anachronistic and often problematic work directly. Lovecraft himself even appeared in the season six episode of Supernatural, “Let It Bleed.”Adapting Lovecraft’s work until now has been a particular tough nut to crack. Most famously, Guillermo Del Toro tried for years to get his version of “At the Mountains of Madness” off the ground, only to have funding pulled out from under him for creative and monetary differences. The closest and, perhaps, most successful adaptations come in the form of the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s (HPLHS) cinematic adaptations and their full cast audio drama adaptations of his stories.
The main aspect of Lovecraft that seems to clear the hurdle from page to screen are his monsters, which arguably hopscotches what his stories are actually about. While his creatures indeed played an integral part to many of his stories, they were rarely about the monsters, but rather the existential dread they represented.
Which type of Lovecraftian adaptation we’ll see on screen––either monster stories, pessimistic existential epistolary narratives, or something in between––remains to be seen. Either way, there hasn’t really been a Lovecraftian tv show or movie that has really appeased the devoted fan base as well as broke through to mainstream appreciation. With luck, this new series, if picked up by a network, can bring what so many people love about his stories and mythology to a new, broader audience.
We’re finally here! Episode 100! Kind of. Mostly. Half, at least. But still a full episode. You’ll find out when you listen.
WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew went back to Watch the Skies megagame with a new, interesting twist this time around and relays his experiences while D. Bethel started watching the now-cancelled show, Penny Dreadful. Also, bonus outtakes!
A LITTLE CLASSIC: Nintendo dropped an out-of-nowhere announcement recently with the reveal of the Nintendo Classic, an 30-in-one plug-and-play NES that ignited a lot of people’s interest and nostalgia.
RADIO KILLED THE VIDEO STAR: Dan and Andrew address the rise of audio dramas from their apparent graves with the rise of nerd culture and podcasting and discuss why they are actually adapting to new media and digital consumer habits.
Check out regular articles and old episodes and leave your thoughts at forallintents.net. Be sure to join the official Facebook and Google+ pages to get regular updates and for links and meeting up with other listeners. Also, be sure to leave a review of the show on the iTunes store.
For all intents and purposes, that was the recap of the first part of episode 100!
-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Save Music” by Nobuo Uematsu (from Final Fantasy)
-“Radio/Video” by System of a Down
-“The Final Countdown” by Europe
*also features game over music from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty