Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Rakshasas, not your average demon

Vampires. Yeah, been there, done that bought the teeshirt. Werewolves. Stock up on the silver bullets and they're TOAST. Fairies? Big problems with iron (kind of a bummer when the world's built of it). Zombies? Run fast and have a chainsaw handy.

The problem is that with most of the big bads we just know too much about them. Sure, they are scary but now come in easy to manage packages. With instruction manuals.

The fundamental attribute of any monster must be its unknown quantity. Think about the first ever Alien. Just one monster, creeping around the dark and scaring the bejeesus out of everyone. JUST ONE.

When a bad-guy is BADASS, you don't need more than one of them.

That's why I'm so excited about the new series, I'll bring you a new level of fear. The demons out of Indian mythology don't fit in boxes. They take many forms. Some haunt graveyards, others search the battlefields at night, feeding on teh dead, others are heroes in their own right and some, a few, challenge the gods. The Indian mythology doesn't play by Western ideas of good and evil. Look at Kali, the goddess of killers and the most bloodthirsty being in all creation whose dance of frenzy almost destroyed the universe. BUT she's the greatest defence we have against the forces of darkness because she's BADDER than the rest.

The same applies to rakshasas. By bringing in a 'new' mythos I can scrap all the things we know and love but (lets face it) have become blase. Can you honestly say that you don't roll your eyes a little when you see another vampire book? Be honest. Thought so.

The unknown. It's the source of all our fears. Lets have it back, shall we?

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Continuing the theme I've been developing over the last few months (the nature of bad-assness) I'd like to take this opportunity to educate you on what are the GREATEST FIGHTS ever. We'll keep ourselves to those of the cinematic variety because, if you've ever been in a real fight you know that they're scrappy and relatively unartistic.
Lets see how badasses fight.

1. Achilles v Hector in Troy. Awesome movie and awesome fight. The whole movie comes down to this point and the rage Achilles has for the defender of Troy, Prince Hector. I know that snobs and purists complain that liberties were taken with the origianl text but, seriously, who wants the List of Ships on the screen? This was a battle between gods.

2. Bond v Red Grant in From Russia with Love. I think this was probably the first 'modern' fight scene. Cramped, desperate and brutal it had Bond fighting for his life like he never has before or since against a man who is in all ways his equal. Connery was the baddest of all Bonds and I defy anyone to disagree after watching this scene.

3. Martin Blank v. Hitman in corridor in Grosse Point Blank. Clearly inspired by our No.2 choice what's interesting is that the actor, John Cusack, is a notable martial artist and the guy he was fighting was a top kick-boxer (and, I think, John's tutor). Lots of fients, kicks, brawling and excellent proof that the pen is indeed mighter than the sword.

4. Bruce Lee v. the henchmen in Enter the Dragon. Unarmed, jo sticks. Bo stick and finally the iconic nunchakus. I don't care how much of a pacifist you are, even the Dalai Lama dreams of being Bruce Lee.

5. Superman v. General Zod and his cronies in Superman II. Hey, they throw a bus at him! I love this because it's supers fight as supers would; lots of flying, being hurled through buildings and THROWING BUSES.

6. Maximus taking on the gang of gladiators in Gladiator. Are you not entertained? We sure are.

7. Spiderman v. Doctor Octopus in Spiderman 2. Full 3D battlefield and the train duel was rather terrific. Again, supers taking to the other level.

8. The Bride and the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill Vol. 1. So over the top and utterly ridiculous you have to love it. What is it about katanas?

9. Tavern brawl in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That was the moment I fell in love with Zhang Ziyi.

10. Opening fight in The Brotherhood of the Wolf. The torrential rain, the mysterious men in long coats, the bad guys in dresses. Too cool and probably the most brilliant costume drama ever. And it had Monica Bellucci in it with not many clothes on.

Do check them out on YouTube.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Beards. Why men have them. Why men NEED them.

I've just finished Giles Kristian's RAVEN, a book that's got loads of Vikings in it. More Vikings that a festival of Vikings during the Viking month of Viking, in Vikingland. It's so Viking even the women have beards.
Now, Vikings liked beards. Plaits too and small bones knotted within them as they brawled and sought out glory and weak-kneed churchmen.

It's the mark of a man, isn't it? At least publically and far less likely to get you arrested.

Then I thought (so rare nowadays). Templars. Beards. Spartans. Beards. Blackbeard. Beard. Santa. Beard. When you look at the stats, nine out of ten bad-asses had beards.

It says "hey, I'm not a woman." Infact, young samurai worried about such a issue used to grow moustaches so if they were ever decapitated (head-taking an honourable tradition in that culture) their killer wouldn't have his reputation blemished by anyone thinking he'd killed a girl. Now that's manly when you're working about your own severed head.

So I'm introducing a 'Beard Rating'. It's to establish how manly a thing is. Now we're not talking about just your DNA, but MANLY. Like don't do the washing up and 'hey, I've only worn this underwear five days and it's fine.' That sort of 'out-on-the-ledge' manliness which is so rare nowadays since we've given up existing in a hunter-gather society. And they say all progress is good.

So, Raven by Giles Kristian. Beardy down to your knees it's that manly. Sorry, MANLY.

Ironclad the movie, starring James Purefoy as a Knight Templar. Ankle-length beard. He's a Templar. 'Nuff said.

Conan the Barbarian. Hmm, maybe waist length beard. Yes, he lives, loves and slays, but there's a certain lack of true barbarism. Would the new Conan expect to hear the lamentation of his enemies women? Not so sure.

Conan the Barbarian as written by R.E Howard, knee-length beard.

So, next time you read something and feel the urge to tear off your shirt and run screaming in the woods wrestling trees, that's because that book has BEARD.

Till next time, folks.

Oh, in case you were wondering about Twilight? Clean-shaven.