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What’s With All the Pirates on ‘Watchmen’? HBO Comic Easter Eggs

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  • There have been a ton of pirate references in the earlygoings of HBO’s Watchmen. What gives?
  • Pirates even had a major presence in the original graphic novel.
  • It eventually comes back to a comic within a comic.

    In the third episode of Watchmen, Jeremy IronsAdrian Veidt rides his horse past a black flag that’s been strung across a sickle, emblazoned with a familiar-looking skull and crossbones. Later, he receives a letter sent by the mysterious Game Warden who’d fired a warning shot at him, its wax seal imprinted with that same ominous skull. We’ve seen several such references to pirates—or pirate regalia, anyway. The same episode reintroduces us to Pirate Jenny, played by Jessica Camacho, who was last seen piloting that owl-shaped ship in the premiere. And in a background Easter egg, we see that Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) and her sidekick Agent Petey (Dustin Ingram) have checked themselves into the Black Freighter Inn & Suites, an unusual motel name that’s only slightly less enticing than “Econo Lodge.” These references are subtle, but like everything else about the show, they’re clearly deliberate. If you’re coming in cold to the Watchmen universe, you’d be well within your rights for asking what the hell is up with all the pirates.

    As with so many other things about the HBO series, this is a deliberate callback to the comics—specifically, a comic within the comics. The Black Freighter Inn takes its name from Tales of the Black Freighter, a comic in the dark vein of Tales from the Crypt that’s very popular in the Watchmen world. In an insert appended to Watchmen No. 5, a mock introduction to a book called the Treasure Island Treasury of Comics, we learn how pirate comics dominated the 20th century, with Tales from the Crypt publisher EC Comics ruling the marketplace with titles like Piracy and Buccaneers. That is, until National Comics (the proto-DC Comics) introduced Tales of the Black Freighter in 1960. An anthology series, Black Freighter is comprised of twisty, self-contained tales told by men who have gathered in a tavern—“utterly unprincipled and worthless creatures capable of almost any act of treachery” who begin recounting their stories while a mysterious sea captain sits nearby, listening silently. Seemingly impressed by their scurrilous deeds, the captain invites them aboard his own ship, the titular Black Freighter, which is soon revealed to be a doomed, Flying Dutchman-style vessel that traps their souls at sea for all eternity.

    Throughout Watchmen, one of the fringe characters, a teenager named Bernie, is seen reading Tales of the Black Freighter while he hangs out behind a newsstand (much to the annoyance of its owner). The specific story Bernie is so engrossed in, Marooned, is a particularly horrific one: It’s the bloody account of a young sailor whose ship is destroyed by the Black Freighter, killing his shipmates and leaving him for dead. Convinced that the Freighter is now heading toward his hometown, the desperate mariner builds a makeshift raft by lashing together the bloated bodies of his fallen crew, then sails their rotting corpses across treacherous, shark-filled waters, feasting on raw seagulls as he descends into near-madness. By the time he finally returns home, he’s whipped himself into a vengeful lunacy, believing the town to be already controlled by the Black Freighter he’s come to regard as evil incarnate. In his frenzy, he kills an innocent couple he believes to be conspiring with the pirates, then mistakenly butchers his own wife. Stunned by his reprehensible acts, he realizes to his horror that the Black Freighter wasn’t coming for his village after all. It was coming for him.

    watchmen pirates hbo

    HBO

    In interviews, Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore has said that Tales of the Black Freighter grew out of a conversation he had with his partner Dave Gibbons as they were trying to flesh out their fictional world. Superheroes already walked the streets, they realized, so folks probably wouldn’t be reading about them in comics. At Gibbons’ suggestion, they decided everyone might be into pirates instead. Moore, a fan of playwright Bertolt Brecht, took the name from the Brecht and Kurt Weill musical The Threepenny Opera and its tune “Pirate Jenny,” sung by a maid who imagines pirates coming ashore to slaughter the townspeople who’d oppressed her. “Pirate Jenny” has since become a standard, covered by the likes of Nick Cave and Nina Simone, whose version was included in the soundtrack for Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie in 2009. And of course, it gave Camacho’s TV character her name.

    While it began as a mere background detail, Black Freighter grew to become an important counter-narrative in the Watchmen comic, offering meta-textual commentary throughout on the characters’ actions and feelings, as well as elucidating the general ambience of paranoia and apocalyptic dread. Eventually, it also overlapped with the main story, as it’s revealed that Black Freighter writer Max Shea was among those conscripted by Veidt/Ozymandias to design the alien squid he drops on Manhattan, the apocalyptic event he fakes to stave off a real one. Ultimately, in Bernie’s estimation, Tales of the Black Freighter doesn’t “make any sense.” But placed within the context of the larger Watchmen story, it’s a poignant allegory for Veidt’s corruption, his own fear of a looming, manifest evil similarly driving him to murder the very people he meant to protect.

    So, what does this have to do with the TV show? Thus far, all the pirate stuff has been little more than a recurring motif, a wink to fans who have read the book (and who love throwing around words like “meta-textual”). Still, by the end of the original book, the comic drew an overt parallel between Veidt and the demented mariner: Veidt, before setting off his murderous squid-bomb, mused aloud that he’d been “Troubled by dreams lately, of swimming towards a hideous…” before abruptly cutting himself off. It seems that Veidt realizes, if only subconsciously, the utter awfulness of the act he’s committing and the punishment he deserves. As the sailor lamented in Black Freighter’s final panels, while guiltily surrendering to the dreadful ship: “I was a horror: amongst horrors I must dwell.”

    watchmen hbo pirates

    HBO

    Could the pirate flag on Veidt’s property be a clue that he, too, has been condemned, forced to sail heedlessly on inside a similarly ghostly prison, surrounded by the phantom undead that are his servant clones? If so, does this mean that whoever created that prison has read Tales of the Black Freighter, maybe recognized the parallels to Veidt’s story, and thought it would be a cleverly symbolic way to taunt him? Or do they, like the comics-reading kids in Watchmen, just think pirates are kind of cool? We’ll surely know more in the coming weeks— and Bernie’s protests aside, we’re guessing it will end up being more significant than at first it might appear.

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Try These 4 Pushup Variations for a Better Bodyweight Workout

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Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

When you drop down to pushup, are you really thinking about what you’re doing? You’ve probably been pumping through the bodyweight staple since elementary school, so it’s easy to think you know just about everything about the exercise. It is pretty simple, after all—what you’re doing is literally in the name.

But there’s more nuance to the move than just hitting the ground and pushing off. Your body position is essential to get the most out of the pushup (learn more about that here). Your ultimate aim when doing the exercise is just as important, according to trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S.

“Let’s talk about the goal of a pushup,” she says. “The perfect pushup isn’t doing the most reps. A perfect pushup is lowering all the way down and then extending all the way back up to the starting position.”

Atkins notices that a certain type of person she works with commonly skips out on that form and care for speed and brute strength. Dudes, she’s talking about us.

“Most of my male clients forget the extension at the top and are instead worried about how many they can do,” Atkins says. The trainer suggests that guys who are trying to get more out of their pushups should instead try to vary the intensity of your workouts by adding elements of instability and movement. This four-move series gives you an opportunity to do just that, with three challenging pushup variations and one regression.

Perform each variation for 10 reps

  • Hands Elevated Pushup
  • Iso Pushup Hold
  • Lateral Walk and Pushup
  • Pushup and Shoulder Tap

    You can insert these variations into your workouts in place of standard pushups, or you can take them on as a series, performing 3 to 4 rounds through the whole set.

    Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move.

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The 20 Best Low-Carb Keto Snacks to Buy at the Grocery Store

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EPIC Pink Himalayan & Sea Salt Baked Pork Rinds, Low-Carb, 4 Count Box 2.5oz bags

Epic Provisions
amazon.com

$15.96

Get this—no carbs at all. Yessss. “That gas station snack you always avoided actually qualifies as a keto friendly food. Pork rinds are carb-free and are made up of fat and protein, fitting the keto bill,” says Rachel Daniels, MS, RD, and Sr. Director of Nutrition at Virtual Health Partners.

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What Is a Mandalorian? Explaining History of ‘Star Wars’ Species

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  • The Mandalorian is now live on Disney+.
  • What is a Mandalorian anyway, though?
  • Some classic Star Wars characters are Mandalorians, including one of the most famous ever.

    With the launch of Disney+, that means there’s also the launch of The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars series. The first episode is already live, and between callbacks to powerful substances and a wild ending (don’t click unless you’ve already watched!), the show is already at the top of every Star Wars fan’s chart. But for some more casual fans, there are a couple lingering questions; namely, what, exactly, is a Mandalorian? Who is this main character? And why does he look like Boba Fett?

    And we can answer a few of these questions right off the bat. A Mandalorian is a species in Star Wars, something of a subset of humans—they come from the planet Mandalore. Boba Fett, while technically not a Mandalorian himself (we’ll get to that in a little bit), is the platonic Mandalorian, and wears a set of traditional Mandalorian armor and helmet. The main character in The Mandalorian, now, is no one we’ve seen before (as far as we know); he’s played by Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal, and seems to be more on the anti-hero side than villain. That being said, he’s still a Bounty Hunter, and his goal is looking out for number one.

    There’s extreme backstory lore to the Mandalorians, a human race in Star Wars world based on the planet of Mandalore. For more in-depth reading, you can check out the Star Wars fandom page, which dives deep into the subject, which is mostly explored in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series (which sees the race co-opted and fought by none other than Darth Maul. It’s wild stuff!). But for our purposes here, we’ll stick to the basics.

    Outside of the cartoon series, the only Mandalorians have primarily appeared in the movies. Chronologically speaking, the first major Mandalorian character that is introduced to the story is Jango Fett, a villainous bounty hunter whose silver armor looks remarkably like the titular character of the TV show. Jango is eventually decapitated at the onset of The Clone War by Jedi Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson).

    Some of the extended universe stuff, however, puts Jango’s status as a Mandalorian in question. The Star Wars Fandom page says that despite his wearing Mandalorian armor, the fact that he was simply a human carrying out Palpatine’s evil made him not qualify; the planet of Mandalore supposedly considered him a pretender. Wookiepedia, however, paints a different picture, as Jango apparently rehabilitated his image in a novel called Order 66 (which is no longer considered canon).

    It’s also interesting to note that the most famous of all the Mandalorians—Boba Fett—isn’t, really, a Mandalorian at all. As you may recall in Attack of the Clones (as painful as that sentence is to write), Boba Fett is actually a direct clone of his arguably Mandalorian father, Jango Fett. So your own take on whether or not Jango qualifies as a Mandalorian—and whether a clone counts as anything other than, well, a clone—could lead to the answer of how you’d classify our friend Boba.

    That being said, Boba Fett stands for all the ideals that we would imagine a Mandalorian to stand for. First of all, he’s just a complete, inarguable badass—the man is probably the most famous bounty hunter in film history despite not even reaching seven minutes of total screentime in the original Star Wars trilogy. That’s gotta mean something, right?

    Surely, with a show called The Mandalorian, we’ll learn more about, well, the Mandalorians. But as of right now, we already do know quite a bit—and if the first episode is any indicator, we’ll have a pretty cool character to tag along on an adventure with.

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