I have been rewatching the documentary known as Superheroes: Decoded, which gives a detailed description of the origins of the modern superhero genre and how it reflected the past century of American history. Even though there were several pop culture heroes such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Zorro, the first true superhero was Superman, who was introduced to the world in 1938. After Superman, comic book companies tried to make something that could rival Superman in terms of popularity and there were countless failures that are largely forgotten. However, the next major superhero to follow Superman was Batman. Batman was created to reflect the urban fears of the gritty city. The thirties were a time when the Great Depression struck America hard. While Superman was meant to give people hope in the face of the Great Depression, Batman was created to reflect the grim reality of crime-ridden cities. From this perspective, both Superman and Batman represent opposing sides of the human psyche with Superman signifying the ego and Batman signifying the dark subconscious. Even Batman’s origin story, which is the most unchanged out of all major superheroes, represented what could happen to you in a crime-stricken city.
I discovered that one of my favorite television hosts, James May, has a new television show where he travels across Japan. While he was in Kyoto, James tested a prototype robot called Robohon, which is equipped with information about all the locations in Japan. To use Robohon, James had to type in a nickname on the robot’s back and that was the name the robot addressed him. He tried to type in “Jim”, but accidentally typed in “Bim.” So for the remainder of the trip, Robohon called James “Bim” and proceeded to malfunction in hilarious fashion, much to James’s amusement. This scene was super funny and it showed just how funny James can be when he is by himself without Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. James’s interaction with Robohon was just one of countless funny encounters he had when he traversed Japan.
Good news! I got to be in a documentary recently. The filmmakers are in the process of making new versions of the video and we plan to collaborate on a full-length version in the near future. Enjoy!
I watched another castle documentary that talked about Arundel Castle. Arundel is a section of Wessex that is fertile and rich and it is the oldest earldom in England. The families who held that castle traditionally held the titles Duke of Norfolk and Earl of Arundel. These two titles make the owners of the castle twice as important and prestigious than an average noble. Like Warwick Castle, Arundel’s wealth was based on two things: the spoils of war and loyalty to the crown. The wealth of this castle was so great that the owners traditionally held three percent of all the wealth in the kingdom every year. That made the owners the wealthiest nobles in England second only to the king himself. The first owner of the castle was one of William the Conqueror’s most trusted lieutenants, who maintained order in Normandy while William was busy sacking England. As a reward for his loyalty, this lieutenant was given the most fertile patch of land in Wessex, where he initially built a motte-and-bailey castle before replacing it with a stone fortress. For almost a thousand years, Arundel Castle has been the property of many Dukes and Earls. One Duke was an avid art collector and he decorated the castle’s walls with all the art he gathered from Europe. The immense wealth of the castle meant that this Duke had access to the best of the best in European art. There was another flamboyant Duke who would routinely get so slobbering drunk that his servants waited for him to pass out before changing his clothes or giving him a bath. Over time, Arundel Castle become a mixture between an impregnable fortress and a pleasure palace. Overall, I think this castle is overflowing with potential inspiration for future fantasy works.
The next castle documentary I watched talked about the Tower of London. It was first constructed during the reign of William the Conqueror as the original royal palace. It was meant to frighten the Anglo-Saxons into submission to Norman rule. When it was constructed, the Tower was the tallest building in all of 11th century London. The Tower of London is most famous as the sight of the disappearance of the twelve year old Edward V and his younger brother Richard Duke of York. During the reign of Charles II, the bones of two children were discovered inside the Tower’s walls. The bones were given a royal funeral, but certain groups banned any attempt to confirm the bones’ identities with modern science, which leaves the ultimate fate of the Princes unknown. During the reign of Henry VIII, the Tower of London was the monarchy’s personal prison. Countless people were condemned to the Tower for execution, including one of Henry VIII’s top ministers, Thomas Moore, and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. The royal family of England were given exotic animals as gifts of good will from monarchies across Europe, including a polar bear from the King of Norway. The Tower became a zoo for these exotic animals until the Duke of Wellington had them moved to a location that would become the modern London Zoo. Overall, the Tower of London is a castle with a history of murder, power, and intrigue.
For now, I believe I have acquired enough knowledge of medieval battles, wars, and individuals for a while. Tonight, I will begin watching a series of documentaries that talk about several medieval castles. By learning about the history of castles such as the politics and everyday life, I am hoping to gain a better idea of what it is like to live inside of a castle. I will keep you updated on any developments.
For those of you who are skeptical of the idea of bringing dinosaurs back, please feel free to check out this documentary from the Discovery Channel, which is how I discovered the project.