Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Retort to The Fictional Castles List

So I have to agree with Neil's best fictional castles list. But that is because I am a jadded adult, deserted from the heart of his youth. I am Ed Norton in the beginning of Fight Club, Tom Hanks in Big when he is trying to be an adult businessman, and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly at the Catalinia Wine Mixer. ______________

Castles are the essence of childhood made tangible. As Billy Batson is to Captain Marvel, so is the-two-chairs-with-a-sheet-over-it-fort to a castle. And to carry forward that analogy, one fateful day, with the discovery of castlemagic, the bates watchtower allegiance brought to the heavens a collective SHAZAM!
But as we go forward, to realize a dream of our yesteryears, we must continue to listen to our inner voice, that high pitched prepubest one. The one without intelligence, reason, or taste; only passion and heart. The one that tells us that the best car in the world is not a 1967 GTO, but actually is a piece of crap airbrushed van with shag carpet and couches inside which the cool 17 year old down the street has. Yes, the smart money is on Hogwart's as the best fictional castle ever. It has it all, hands down. But I submit that a castle is only of worth if it is the fever dream of the past. And Harry Potter came too late in our development for it to have established the foundation of the definition of "castle" for us. So I take us back, to what castles defined "A Castle" as we grew up. And don't take my word for it, let us hear directly from the characters surrounding the castles themselves.
5. Latveria
A Letter From -
Doom MD.

Greetings future peasants. As you should have been taught, I am the shit. I'm dressed like some kid couldn't make up his mind when asked "What would be the coolest things to wear?" "Umm a Suit of Armor!! No, no, A Hoodie!!" Damn right, you got the best of both worlds, my little costermonger. Admit it, up until about 5 years ago, you weren't 100% sure if there really was a Latvaria or not. Check it out on wikipedia, Its fictional but they have it in the map of eastern Europe. It is the dream of every megalomaniacal kid; to have his own nation with his own badass castle. Tell me you don't want to name a capital after yourself, "Joestadl". I have wenches. And alewifes. And milk maids, but I got no cows if you get what I'm saying. This place is the tits. You should totally come. Ok maybe it isn't as great for you as for me. Yes, you will be immediately enslaved. I will take your most beautiful women to use as an uncomfortable mattresses, and your strongest men to slave away in my sugar caves, but....... well, I have no buts. Just check out my travel brochures, and come soon, I'm running out of fat kids to prop my feet up on.


Honorable Mention - To "Castle"
On a Post-It Note from Bobby Fischer

"To Castle" huh? The only castle on your list which is a verb. How dare you sully yourself. Verbs aren't fictional. You think you are so smart because you came up with a "castle" that isn't a castle. Well don't drag my haunted corpse from the grave just for kicks (am I dead, not sure if I watched the whole movie or not. Was Bobby Fischer even in it?). Well this deserves a little payback. I'm going to kick a little glitch in here that accidentally posts a picture from the tab you're checking out now for a break from this....

Oh,, umm........ yeah.... That's something......
So Castling. If chess wasn't impossible enough, it was that mysterious move which you had no idea how to execute, or even have the remotest idea of why you would use it. Except for if you were playing your younger brother (or demented grandmother) and they were about to beat you, so you called "castle" and moved your rook and king anywhere on the board you wanted. Who knows why this is on the list. I'll strike you a deal, it only goes as high as an honorable mention, or I'll share the fart hammer video you're watching right now. Bobby out.

4. Dracula's Castle, A.K.A. Castlevania

A Letter from Count Dracula to His Apostles

So good news is that the vampires are cool again. Loving that. Problem is, the last time this happened in the late 80s and early 90s, it spelled bad news bears for me. Every creepy douche in the valley was driving a stake into me while I was sleeping. I mean even Keanu killed me. I'm pretty sure he just came over from the set of Bill and Ted, without changing his outfit, and slit my throat. Me and Patrick Swayze killed by Officer Traven. Speaking of Patrick Swayze. What was up with that Castlevania guy. This was the only game where the kid playing it despised the hero they were, and only played it to get to me, the cool guy, just to see me turn into a bat. Before kids knew what 'gay' was they were going, "There is something about the Castlevania guy that is like Freddie Mercury, but I'm not sure what". Castlevania was probably the coolest game the NES had. Not necessarily the funniest, but it was just cool to think about, or even just show the case to people. It was the first game to introduce darkness, horror, and suspense. Name one other game that had ominousness catholic crosses at the time. It taught you that Castles were to be feared and that ancient terrors lied within. You learned that castles were only lit by candles, because there is no daytime anywhere near a castle. And these candles are afire for eternity, but a slight breeze from a whip will put them out.
Mine is the double whammy castle. Castlevania was an important enough castle reference, but you also know Dracula's Castle from tons of other references, from Halloween to Bram Stoker's, and even my future bestiality porn Lamb Stroker's Dracula. And to throw another wrench in the mix, it is the only one from both lists with an actual castle in real life which precedes the legend. Yes Camelot and the Disney castles control the reference parts of your mind tied to castles of honor and nobility, but only Dracula's Castle takes up the neurons which will make you stop your march at the base of a castle-topped-mountain, backlit by lighting; and put your head down, take a deep sigh, and go, "shit, this is going to suck so much for me."
That's really all I got, but I leave you will some evidence of the overt sexual confusion of the regrettable Castlevania hero. I mean the cover ass shot should have spelled it out for you.


3. Frank Castle
Pinned to the Chest of an Upside Down Perp
- From Batman

Hello Fanboys. Dark Knight here. That's the Batman who actually speaks like a normal guy and doesn't put on the fake gravely voice like a 12 year old trying to get some prank pizzas delivered to his next door neighbor. I would gladly pay an extra $50 for a bluray with an alternative audio track for when he speaks. Why don't I just speak in a Mexican accent, in that case?
Whoops, put a long string on that kite, huh? Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, Batman speaking. Put a condom over your head, because I'm about to blow your mind. Ready?
Frank Castle is my father. I know I know. I just dropped you in the dark woods, lost without your mama, but don't worry, I'll take your hand and guide you home.
As you know, I am one of the, if not the, favorite characters for the modern fanboy. Any story which includes me, can do no wrong. But I wasn't always like this. I changed only a few years before you met me. About 30 years ago, at the beginning of the 1980s I was like this, on the right here.
And yes, that does say "Watch out for Crazy-Quilt. The Man who stole his eyes" Those were the villains back then; Crazy Quilt. Not to mention the TV show a few years before, which was originally called Fun-Time Prancing Hour, but the network wouldn't actually pay for an hour. Most of you aficionados know the history of the switch to the dark, conflicted vigilante who is the modern batman. Tim Burton made Batman in 1989, which took its' essence from the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns from 1986, which recast batman from campy character to badass. But most of us don't know the history which precedes this.
During the era of the Hero in comics, superheros never used guns, they never sinned, and most of all, they never killed. The Punisher, Frank Castle, made his appearance in 1974 as a hardcore vigilante in Spider-man. He killed in order to clean up the streets, which was unheard of at the time. The writers half ass tried to make him a bad guy. But he turned out to be amazingly popular. Marvel started to throw him in team-up issues regularly whenever they wanted to boost the sales of a series.
At the beginning of the 80s, a new writer took over the Daredevil comic. He wanted to change how we saw comics. Marvel and this new writer saw the popularity of Punisher, so they ran with it, putting him regularly in the Daredevil story line. The writer's future depended on this move. For the first time Frank Castle became a regular character. The 'anti-hero' in comics was created in him. He killed, kidnapped, and beat his way to winning. He wrestled with his morality. He showed depression and anger. Just as an example of how different this character was, look at this cover of a Punisher comic which was occurring around the same time as "Crazy-Quilt" in Batman. Of course the Daredevil comic did amazingly well. The new writer was amazingly successful, and was now seen as the future. He was offered new positions as the head of the most popular comics. He left Marvel for DC, where he took his format and story arc to Batman. As you guessed, the writer was Frank Miller and the new series with the old story was the Dark Knight Returns.
And so I argue, without the Punisher shaping Miller and showcasing his skills, the Batman would still be the goody two shoes of the 70s, and those movies you love, would be on the same path as the modern Superman flicks.

2. Bowser's Castle

From the Wedding Invitations of Mr. and Mrs Thwomp

We offer the blasphemous insinuation that Bowser's Castle is the greatest video game castle of our time. And this is where I must appeal to your earliest experiences and beliefs about castles. I agree that Hyrule Castle is architecturally and ascetically far more impressive than Bower's Castle. I mean look at it. Its basically every other underground stage in the first Mario, but gray. But Hyrule Castle was not in Zelda until the 3rd game, which was in 1992. There is a gap for the castle in gaming before this. I agree, Hyrule perfected the principle, but who created the concept of a video game castle on which Hyrule could be built upon? I submit that it was Bowser's castle.
Take a few seconds to watch the first 30 seconds of this clip. Tell me that your heart doesn't start racing at the first few notes. This is where you learned that a Castle was the ultimate challenge. It is what everything led up to. You learned that this is where you were tested for the last time. For the next 20+ years you would know that every Mario game you played would end here, and you never thought that it was repetitive. It would be like thinking that using a controller for every game was repetitive. You learned that pools of fire automatically kill, ejecting you several feet in the air in the process. You learned that dragons resided at the end of the Castle, even if they looked like turtles. And yes Neil, this is where you learned about a draw bridge, and how quickly an aptly placed axe can spell demise for that bridge and the lizard it supports.
Mario 1, 3, Mario World, Paper Mario, all of the karts, yoshi's island, RPG, etc., etc. From NES to Wii, it has been in every system. It is conceivable that without Bowser's Castle, the typical last level in video games would have been taken from another one of the most popular early nintendo games, such as a dungeon (Legend of Zelda) or a fortress (Mega Man). And I believe we will find out from one of our wise post writers that a fortress is very different than a castle.
As one final test. Close your eyes, and think of every castle you drew when you were a kid. Now look at the top picture from the first Mario. 9 time out of 10 you gave drew the walls with that same brick pattern. And you took that from the castle you knew the best, Bowser's.


1. Castle Grayskull

Note to Self - December 26, 1989

Dear Me in 2010,
This shit isn't funny anymore. This is the second year in a row. Two years, with Castle Greyskull being number 1 through 14 on my Xmas list. There was a huge present under the tree, and I was sure this was my year. I tear it open, but there was no fortress of Eternia, only those beady ursine eyes staring back at me. "A Fucking Teddy Ruxpin!?" I scream, as my sausage fingers grab the neck of the nearest Santa-like representation. "Does this look a joke to you!?" I'm wrestled to the ground and given a mild dose of Haldol which most parents carried with them during this time period for just such an occasion.
Castle Greyskull is what I live for. I have spend the past 700+ days being nice to that putz, Ryan, because he is the only kid in the city with this toy. You have no idea how hard that is. He collects Styrofoam salad bowls in his desk for weeks. Salad bowls, for christ's sake. He smells like onions and has some kind of crust on his upper lip that never goes away. And the douchebag always wants to play with every other toy other than the Castle every time I go over. But it is all worth it for those 5 minutes when he goes to the bathroom and changes his retainer. Experiencing Castle Greyskull is what life was created for. I'm only 3 foot something, so this is the most gigantic toy ever to be created. It is 3 feet tall!! Whole rooms must be used for it. It has it all. Three levels for your action figures,..... skull entrance, and.. it shoots ....cannons at attacking enemies.. (Hold on).. Ok I'm back, I needed to take a puff from my inhaler, I was getting way too excited.
I suspect that life will remain to be unkind by not delivering onto me my lifeblood, so I must solve this injustice myself. I figure by 2010 it will have been enough time for you to have the technology and resources available to execute this plan. Step 1: By now, you are grown up, so you should be a pirate astronaut as planned. Take your hoverboard down to the nearest bank. Withdraw $125, and purchase Mount Greyskull. I'm assuming it is the same price. Step 2: I need you to withdraw another $125 and purchase a time machine, which should be readily available by this time. Step 3. Enter in the date December 27, 1989 and come find me. I will be waiting for you, in my room starting now. And be careful when coming in. I saw Time Cop, so I know that if we bump into each other, we will turn into piles of goo.

P.S. In case you have forgotten the importance of this, let me explain this a little. Castle Greyskull is the quintessential castle of childhood. It costs about $125 in the 1980s, which to a 7 year old is unfathomable. If only my parents were bank robbers or royalty, then I could have one. Castle Greyskull is the unattainable. The dream. What if you could own this? Well if that was possible, well maybe even you could one day own a real castle. Castle Greyskull is a gigantic fortress where your imagination goes wild. Where people jump from the top level to drop kick the villain, claiming victory, as you ride away on a gigantic tiger.
The Castle has it all. Mystical Powers which transform ordinary people into masters of the
universe. It not only has a drawbridge, it has a "Jawbridge". And I'm not making that up. The mouth of the skull opens and closes to make the bridge, which they call the jawbridge. You like moats? Well the moat around the castle is actually an infinite abyss. Try and wrap your head around that.
This is the Castle of your childhood. It was one of the most popular toys for the later half of the 80s. And maybe it may have missed some of you prepubescent boys of the 90s, but the principle remains. Toy castles and homemade forts were what defined what a castle really was for us as kids. And any effort to build or purchase a castle is only just the continuation of a childhood fantasy of capturing the essence of fantasy, fun, strength and protection, friendship, immortality, and adventure.


  1. wow, i mean that was just an experience to read. Some of the phrases you threw down were just unreal. That line about the condom? Jesus.

  2. What would the Mario games havebeen like without the use of castles and what about Ganon's Tower from OOT?

    To me Ganon's Tower is actually pretty small and violates every building code in existence.

  3. Do you think Bowser's castle would violate any building safety codes and have to be modified?