An Unexpected Debateable Movie (part 2)

Well, it turns out I got my nitpicking rant out of the way on the first page (mostly). This page will be more concerned with what I did find fun, because I am capable of liking changes.
Although it was jarring to me that Bilbo was narrating it, I really enjoyed the opening sequence.  I had been longing for who knows how long to see the dwarf kingdoms in all their glory on-screen. (probably since the third time I read Gimli's description of the halls of Moria past). And I got what I wanted, big time. Also, Dale looked really cool and I felt it when it got destroyed by Smaug. (By the way, flying in 3D through Smaug's eyes was brilliant!).
The sequence of the Battle of Anzulibar (or whatever) was awesome. It is the best-looking Middle-earth battle to date, and the biggest and longest is yet to come in the middle of part 3. Epicness anticipation set to Sky-high. I never quite understood until I saw it on screen how an oak branch could be an effective shield. I still don't entirely, but it looked cool. I liked how he was carrying a branch during his "hero charge" at the end too. On the first of several side-notes, I really liked Azog "the defiler" too. I'm happy that he was bald instead of balding. Bald bodybuilders look so cool when they're entirely white...:). The only part that bothered me was that his facial war-cheiftan marks looked like he had had a waffle-maker pressed into his face. it wasn't the best look. It made perfect sense to me that he was out to get revenge, but I did have mixed feelings regarding whether he should have been alive in the first place.
Riddles in the dark was done brilliantly. It was another one that I had been waiting untold years to see played out, and it exceeded my hopes. Although I have to admit that as I watched it I wasn't seeing a shriveled creature, but a guy hopping around in a mo-cap spacesuit. Nevertheless, in that one scene, I would say Andy Serkis surpassed his performance in LOTR. I could see him going nuts.
On the subject of acting, I'll pause here to say I really enjoyed Thorin, even though they messed with his character. I find it impossible to say Gandalf was a weak point, because I don't understand the nuances of acting, and because everyone else says he was the high point. I'd only like to say he was grumpier than I hoped Gandalf the grey would be. They said he was fun to do?! I liked Bilbo too. What negativity I felt toward him was simply due to the fact that the way I read his lines was ingrained in my head. Though I think the writers botched the "and here's the burglar/hobbit" moment in the trees. What he wound up saying through his mumbling was "I'm with you because I have a home and you don't" which was a bit confusing and not at all what I expected. On a side note, he should have been more surprised at becoming invisible. It's like the writers simply forgot that he wasn't aware of the ring's power, or even that it existed before he picked it up. The writers gave us the impression that he was almost expecting to find an invisibility ring on a forgotten goblin trail. whoops.
I liked the whole Goblin town sequence, including the Goblin King, (whom fellow bloggers are now referring to as Goblin the Hutt.- great idea, James), who was a lot funnier than I expected, because I expected him to be dark and spooky and be covered in leathery scale-hide. Instead he's just "fat slob times ten" which works.
The two moments that nearly made me laugh out loud were seeing Thranduil riding a moose, and listening to Saruman monologue in the background about Radagast and mushrooms while Gandalf and Galadriel discuss the important stuff. The whole sequence of the dwarves' arrival was accelerated for length but I really enjoyed how they gave the first four different things to say which kind of introduced their characters. The sequence that shows all twelve companions raiding the pantry until there's nothing left was hilarious. It turns out 13 dwarves is just barely a small enough number to have a good-sized party. The five who got the most screen time were Balin and Dwalin, Fili and Kili, and Ori, I think. I can't tell him apart from Dori and Nori.
This film ended well, leaving me wishing they'd just make it longer. I was, however, bothered by the impression that Gandalf resurrected Thorin. What diid you think of that moment? Although in my opinion AUJ isn't a great movie in itself, it makes it's way through the slow part of the story well enough and leaves me wishing we could skip to next Christmas season already.
This is the end of my post. Merry Christmas.


An Unexpected Debateable Movie (part 1)

Note: Do not read this post yet if you have yet to see The Hobbit, but please come back and comment afer you've seen it.

Well, I am arguably the biggest Tolkien fan I know, and have the LOTR posters on my wall to attest to it. So, I went into An Unexpected Journey assuming the dissatisfied critics were wrong, like most fans of a big fandom probably do. Need I say, I came out of it giving those critics much more credit than I had thought possible.
To review: The source material, The Hobbit, is written for preteens. (The original reviewer is said to be the publisher's six-seven year old son.) the text is full of asides from the narrator, humor of dialogue, and is mainly about how Bilbo grows as a character and by extension learns to appreciate what he has.
In consequence, AUJ has no business being what it is, which is a dark and stormy action flick mainly concerned with Thorin's unjustified beating-down of Bilbo's character, with very little humor of the clean kind.
To start off, my two biggest complaints were the recurring instances of what my brother refers to as "walls of text," wherein somebody is monologuing, and absolutely nothing is going on in the background. Walls of text are fine in novels, because they are often employed to give a complete description of the setting so that the action may continue unhindered. Ivanhoe, Ben-Hur, and Les Miserables are classics full of wall-of-text descriptions. However, monologues are definitely not something that really works in film. But AUJ has at least 3: Bilbo's superfluous prologue narration, Gandalf's modified-to-fit-your pronoun recitation of the "legend" of Bullroarer Took and the game of Golf, and Balin's recitation of Thorin's life story, which would have been slightly longer yet would have fit better had it been delivered by Thorin himself. But enough of this.
my other big complaint was that my first hunch regarding the clip from the trailer of Galdriel's and Gandalf 's dialogue was correct. It was spilling over with sappiness. Remember guys, Gandalf is a higher power in Middle-earth than Galadriel. She's only an elf. He's an "angel-thing." So you're going to say hi to the attractive lady? So do that, nicely, but you, Gandalf, have no respect for us fans if you're going to say something like "I'm never happier than when I'm staring at [Galadriel]" Ooh sappiness burn. and then it continued from there. By the end she was saying "I'll come when you need me" When he needs you?! WTB (what the blank)! Are you kidding me?! Hello! This is Gandalf we're referring to. Mr. Fire Wizard is by nature more powerful than Mrs. Mind Reader lady! And then she vaporized? While he was in a trance staring at her? WIGO(what is going on)?
To continue, there was the business of the languages. Yeah it was fun to see (and sort of hear) characters speaking elaborations of Tolkien's languages on-screen, But there were some hiccups. Namely, Elrond's entrance. I could not figure out why he was bothering to speak Elvish half the time, and then at the end of that scene where he invited the dwarves to dinner in Elvish just so they could get angry with him? WIGO? (side note: Did anybody else get a laugh out of Elrond's addiction to bright purple? Even his armor is purple) ;)
I am trying to restrain myself from hating on it, but there was just so much that jumped out at me... Like for instance, the map. In the film they cut the explanation of why the key and the map weren't given directly to Thorin. (Answer: because Thrain, who had them, was locked up in Dol Guldor and had lost his mind.) So Gandalf just hands them over and they cut Thorin's mostly justified shock, as in "Why do you have my stuff" Then later when they reach Rivendell, Elrond takes the map and glances at it, and then says "There are moon-letters here." even though the moon to see them by was behind a cloud at the time. ; /.
I liked seeing Radagast, mostly, but I couldn't get over the bird-mess in his hair and in the general story of part one he just seemed superfluous.
Also, I am very disappointed in the score for AUJ. I expected to come out clamoring to buy it or be gifted it, whichever came first, but by the end of the film, I realized that, aside from a couple of melodies that were too deep in pitch to crack my hearing level, I already own the score. Yes, it was the father of all occurrences of self-plagarism by my favorite composer, and I have heard several. Besides which, due in part to the fact that it either wasn't original or I couldn't hear it, the music did not help the movie, nor can I really remember any of it. Epic music fail. I did however, enjoy what I could hear of the songs lifted from the text, and the dwarves' Rube Goldberg mechanism sequence of clearing the table and washing up was very entertaining.

(whew. I 0guess I'll need another page to continue ranting about everything. To be continued.)


Les Miserable (Trailer On Demand)


For some time I had intended to do a trailer review for the movie "Les Miserables", which is coming out on Christmas, but recently I have learned two things about it which can be described in a few words and may put you off it, if you ever wanted to go: " probably rated R" (ok so it's not but it's still a musical-I thought that was fishy) and "musical". Now, "rated R" and "musical" may seem to be mutually exclusive terms, but now that this film is being made, it's been done. Below, I have gone through the significant points of the cast you can see in the new international trailer, with notes.
  1. Hugh Jackman, best known as Wolverine of the X-men movies, portrays the protagonist Jean Valjean, an escapee who was imprisoned for stealing one loaf of bread rather than enduring starvation.
  2. Russel Crowe, famous for being Maximus from Gladiator, but who I know best as Jack Aubrey of Master & Commander, portrays the antagonist, the almost atomaton-like Inspector Javert.
  3. Anne Hathaway, most recently Catwoman in this year's Batman movie, portrays Fantine, a destitute single mother who has been forced to give up her child. 
  4. Amanda Seyfried portrays Cosette, Fantine's daughter, who is a major character because she's constantly being practically stalked by 
  5. Marius, portrayed by a guy I've never heard of, he is a central character in the book, mainly because he's the guy in the "guy chases girl" romance in said book.
  6. A couple of notable roadblock antagonists (a married couple of unscrupulous innkeepers) are portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha baron Cohen
  7. In retrospect, it's not hard if you pay any attention to movies to see Carter in this role. She seems to be a specialist at the "Crazy, evil/twisted lady" role. Bellatrix Lestrange has dyed her hair blonde.
  8. Never in 50 years would I have guessed that Sacha Baron Cohen would land a role in an adaptation of such a famous book. Every time he makes that news, he seems to be starring in a new offensive movie in a role he probably wrote for himself. Either that, or he's making the news for acting stupid while "in character" from his most recent release. Total surprise, but the role is what he does all the time: obnoxious jerk.
  9. Samantha Barks, presumably another rising star along with Marius, portrays Eponine, the almost-grown daughter of Carter and Cohen's couple, who has a crush on Marius, but helps him win Cosette anyway.
  10. A character I missed in the trailer is Gavroche, a street-smart mid-teen who is Eponine's younger brother, but has lived alone in a decrepit monument from a very early age because he was fed up with his treatment at home. He is undoubtedly portrayed by a competent minor who can sing.
Please comment if you are interested in seeing a satisfied reader's take on the full trailer.



"Every man dies, but not every man eats a Snickers bar first."

"Some that live deserve ice cream, and some that died deserved good healthcare. But can you give it to them?"

"I wish it had not happened in my time."

"So do all who live to see such presidental campaigns. But it is not theirs to decide. They can decide only what to do with the bumper sticker that is given to them."

Aragorn has been convicted on thousands of counts of voter fraud. Monitors found that many dead people on the rolls.

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of Mordor fails, but it is not this day! A day may come when we forsake our flatscreens and forge new bonds with barbell racks! But it is not this day! An hour of looters and shattered dreams, when Walmart comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we debate! By all that you hold dear on this barren and blasted earth that we're standing on at this moment, I bid you stand! Men of the West!


Sean Bean, Master of Death

Chances are you people have already seen these pics, but I'm posting them here because it's quite a surprise.

Do you get the feeling Mr. Bean has powerful enemies in Hollywood?

You might have to click on it to see it properly. In his most recent role that I know of, Mr. Bean was in the role of Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones. You guessed it: My impression is that he died in the first season. 
If any of you have seen a show in which Mr. Bean was still alive when the credits rolled, please comment. He gets no respect...:D


Trailer + Into the West

Honestly, I've been having some doubts about the practicality of posting screengrabs. I'm simply not ready to try yet, though I may later. But I'm going to talk about the trailer anyway.

I like this trailer because it shows that they are doing things as we hoped they would.

  • Trolls, check, although there is no official proof of the hilarious argument from the book as yet.
  • Dwarves arriving with the full "At your service". Check. But there is no indication whether they are arriving out of order.
  • Dwarves presumably singing "Smash the plates". Check. At least they are dancing around carrying stacks of dishes.:D
  • I like the line "I'm going on an adventure!" Not written, but easily assumed. The Took side won.
  • Bilbo's doubts, which get long paragraphs in the book, are nicely summed up with silly lines like "I'm surrounded by dwarves. What are they all doing here?"
  • There are some impressive shots of Bilbo admiring Rivendell. That will be stretched, it seems; they hardly stayed.
  • The thunderstorm in the mountains is very impressive, the more so because it is lifted directly from the text.
  • Impressive panoramic shots of New Zealand, check. This film is designed for 3D. It will be awesome.
  • The introduction of Radagast is interesting, but not important.  He had one line and no direct appearance in the books because he is a misanthropic-leaning treehugger. However, using his abilities opens new variations on the text to Jackson and co.
  • There are a few things that people perhaps wanted to see in the trailer that were not shown, including Beorn (awesome guy;) ), the five fir trees/ goblin town, and Legolas...;/. There's good reason why the first two were left out, which those who haven't read the story will discover in December. The word is that Legolas has been pushed back into the second film. Not that I wanted to see him, but I hope this means there is more backstory in the first film.
And as I am  wont to do, I leave you with the last song of the LOTR, Into The West, which is based on a verse sung by Legolas in the ROTK text.

Farewell! ( Click on this link to caption LOTR: http://thatroundwindow.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-annual-lotr-caption-contest.html


Those Songs They Sing

There are, as you may have noticed, two prominent songs in The Hobbit, which, fortunately, are included in the trailer. Just for kicks, I decided to set down all the lyrics from each one, which I refer to as "Smash the plates" and "Misty mountains cold", just in case anybody was wondering what they are saying.

This one is very funny. It is a great cap to the silliness of the unexpected party.

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what bilbo baggins hates-
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
pound them up with a thumping pole;
and when you've finished if any are whole, 
send them down the hall to roll!

That's what bilbo Baggins hates! 
So carefully! Carefully with the plates!

The other one is  much longer and darker. 
In fact, it serves to sum up the backstory, so it's worth a listen

Far over the misty mountains cold
to dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
to seek the pale enchanted gold

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
while hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells

For ancient king and elvish-lord
there many a  gleaming golden hoard 
they shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword

On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
they meshed the light of moon and sun

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away , ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold

Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold, where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves

The pines were roaring on the height, 
the winds were soaring in the night
the fire was red, it flaming spread; 
the trees like torches blazed with light

The bells were ringing in the dale,
And men looked up with faces pale;
Then dragon's ire more fierce than fire
laid low their towers and houses frail

The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
the dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom
They fled their hall to dying fall
beneath his feet, beneath the moon

Far over the the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day, 
To win our harps and gold from him!

The first one doesn't work right unless they sing the whole thing, but of the second, partly because of length, they will probably stop at the second verse at most. In addition, since the second song provides the backbone of the story, the central melody of Howard Shore's Hobbit score is sure to be the same as the melody he creates for the song. And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Jackson left out all the great songs in LOTR, except the one which he converted from a happy walking song to a dark one of doom and misery... Here's hoping for awesomeness!

p.s. I just reread The Hobbit, and yes, with a bit of backstory and done Jackson style, it is 3 films. Cheers!


Boromir Walks Again

The Captain of the White Tower is back with some off-cue wisdom...

This one is an inside joke. Readers and listeners of The Hobbit know there are at least five reasons why one says "Good Morning."


The Annual LOTR Caption Contest

Happy World Hobbit Day!
Of course, all screengrabs are really the property of the studio.
These are the 18 most easily captioned images that I found. (I pulled them off the Pimpernel's blog, actually.)
Make us laugh! To be declared the winner you have to do all of them.

Since some of you are not constantly checking blogs like I am, this doesn't close for two weeks.


Tolkien/Middle-Earth Week Approaching

It's that time again pretty soon, when bloggers have Tolkien characters (at least that's how I found out about it) hijack their blogs, and post exclusively Middle-Earth stuff for the week starting on the 22nd (World Hobbit Day!).
I will be trying to come up with something to put up every day. If I fail, well, Geekdom will never die, anyway. Who's with me? I'll be posting Boromir memes, analyzing the new trailer, and trying to listen to the films/read the books in one week even while keeping up with my homework, among other little things.
I am Faramir.


The Third Truth Of Life...

This is a re-post of an old one that got buried on my other blog. I hope you find it silly.

I have been thinking recently, for no reason in particular, about birthday cards especially. About two weeks ago, I looked back at a bunch of stuff I have saved from past years, and I found a birthday card which I had received from a great-aunt a few years ago. Now, this card makes me laugh every time I think of it.
 Imagine this: You have traveled for weeks to a remote mountain peak to seek the wisdom of an Indian guru who lives on said peak as a hermit. You struggle up to the top, exhausted. When you look up, the guru is looking down at you.
He says "What is it that you have come to ask about, my young friend? Is it the secret to happiness, as it always seems to be?" In a tired tone, as if he has been answering the question ever since he retreated to the mountain peak where he was supposed to be left alone.
"Yes." You groan in reply, wondering how long you'll be able to hold on before you lose your grip and plunge to a grisly death.
"Well" the ancient guru replies slowly, stroking his long white beard. "The secret to happiness is to remember this one truth: Not all birthday cards contain money." He smiles, looking down at you as if you were a toddler.
Dismayed at his answer, you forget where you are, lose your grip, and plunge to a grisly death after all, because you may now die happy, after learning the third great truth of life: that NOT ALL BIRTHDAY CARDS CONTAIN MONEY!


Up, Cars, and Cars 2 (Part 5 of 5)

And this concludes my discussion of all the films Pixar has made. Sorry this post is so far behind. Stuff happened.

The story of UP is that a grouchy old senior who idolized a famous explorer is out to complete the dream vacation his wife never got to do. In the process, he accidentally takes with him a "cub scout" kid who's only trying to assist the elderly, so he can finish his projects. The old guy (who was a balloon man at the zoo) achieves his dream trip (plot device alert) by inflating hundreds of balloons out of his chimney. He then floats away, with cub scout kid stuck on his porch. Paradise falls, the destination, is an actual place (although possibly suedonymed) deep in the South American jungle which the directors actually went to to see what it looked like.

I know that some of you don't think this one is terribly funny, but for our part it ranks high on the list, for the following reason: We can take the gags personally. Dug the dog acts exactly like my brother's dog, especially when he says "Oh yes, I would so love the ball. You will throw the ball, and I will bring it back, and you will throw it again, and I will bring it back..." And then the recurring hearing-aid gag makes us laugh too, because we have to live with that.

The parts that aren't so good include the idea that the monomaniac explorer actually killed perfectly innocent people for the sake of his obsession. Less bothersome parts that still stung were elements like the plot device whereby everyone could breathe perfectly well in the higher reaches of the atmosphere; until of course, they wanted a sight gag, at which time the kid suddenly began holding his breath as he floated past. Also, it was awkward that the old guy was kind of nuts, and continues to talk to his dead wife as if she's still there. The end, too, was confusing. At first sight, I was under the impression that some of the photos in the adventure book had appeared from nowhere posthumously, which is creepy.

Cars is an unexceptional "lose your ego" movie which is set in the context of a NASCAR style contest. (There are several inside jokes for people who know anything about NASCAR racing: An announcer named Daryll Cartrip, a car with an huge "Dale sr." mustache, and an aging champion who wears 43) Anyway, in the story, a hotshot rookie named Lightning barely ties on a technicality with 43 and the mustache in the championship race. Therefore, they need to (plot device) cross the country to hold the tiebreaker in a bigger market. In the course of the trip, Lightning gets separated from his truck and winds up in a forgotten backroad town on route 66 called Radiator Springs.

The good includes the aforementioned inside jokes (they are funny), a rusty tow truck named Mater, a retired racer named Doc Hudson, and the race sequences. (the population of RS becomes L's pit crew. it is funny to see how one little forklift can beat the mustaches off the enemy's pit crew...) 

That pretty much leaves Radiator Springs as the lame part. I know, this film is about settling down and, dare I say, "smelling the flowers", but it just doesn't feel like enough. The town has been reduced to a handful of shop owners who live off each other. There isn't a single extra car. Until, of course, the famous Lightning moves his base of operations there, so everyone comes to see him.

"Lose your ego" movies are so obvious. This one is ok but only reaches the third tier of Pixar's films. (at 12+, you can rank them all by dividing into tiers of three/four.)

Cars 2
Now here's a film that should not have been made. It's just plain terrible. What makes it watchable is that it plays like a spoof of Bond movies, with Bond's car as the star. Said Bond Car.

The good was the silliness of the Bond spoofiness. Lightning was better in this one too. Not much else.

And now, shall I rant? The whole story was a plot device, to promote another PC message! Or at least it looked that way. It was so jumbled at the end that I couldn't tell if they were promoting or hating on Big Oil. Mater is too clueless to be a centerpiece. The Japanese toilet sequence was just gross and really unnecessary. Shots of dead and being killed spy cars were slightly disturbing, at the thought "hey, little kids are watching this, maybe? In live action, this would probably be PG-13" Escapes you knew were coming in really plot-device ways. Whatever. You get the idea, right?
This is to date the only rotten movie Pixar has released, and it was. 38 on the tomatometer.

My Personal Ranking

Monster's Inc.

The Incredibles

Toy Story

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 2



Finding Nemo




A Bug's Life

Cars 2



As reported by theonering.net, Peter Jackson and the studio have agreed to release 3 films under the label of the Hobbit franchise. ("There and Back Again" to be changed to "Still Walking") :D

They say they're going to use material from the appendices to the LOTR. That means EPICLY HUGE DWARF VS. GOBLIN BATTLES! And, possibly, you guessed it, appearances in character from Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler in "Overdone Romance, the prequel"

Update: I understand somewhat better where it's coming from now, but that does not really change my opinion that the story is simply too short.


The Batpost: An Impartial Look At "The Dark Knight Rises"

Before I start, I'd like to say that I am a fan of Batman as a role model, not, after all, Batman movies.
Warning: This post is full of spoilers. But Maybe not, I don't know. Anyway, you've been warned.
Now, since, I'm not trying to rate it compared to other movies, don't take this as a review. Here it goes.

1) The Story: I assume the story is basically a dramatization of one or more Batman comics storylines. As a story in itself, it was up and down; sometimes "How are they going to deal with this?" and sometimes "Duh. Of course that was going to happen..." There were two or three real surprises; one in the opening, one in the middle, and a big one near the end. I was told to expect several "what is going on?" moments related to the backstory, but everything was explained. the confusing bits occurred in the present. I can also note that I was sometimes confused by the passage of time; the story takes place over random jumps in time through an entire year.

2) The Music: Hans Zimmer (and probably James N. Howard too) are back with their big, loud, dominating score. In the film, it is unavoidable, but it is actually quite forgettable. The track that played over the very end was the best of it. I did like, however, that this score had more drama in it than the previous one I've heard (Dark Knight).

3) Dialogue: I just thought I would note that because there were so many different voices in this movie, it lessened my enjoyment of it. I especially had trouble understanding Alfred and Miranda Tate. Christian Bale was coherent as Wayne, but inside the Batsuit his voice is lowered to hoarseness, which, though coherent, is a pain to listen to. Bane's "sophisticated Englishman" voice, which was said to have caused trouble in pre-production, was simply amplified in post-production to be at least three times louder than standard.

I don't claim to be judging anyone's acting; I just want to talk about the characters.
4) Batman: The dark knight is  a great hero when he really gets going. He's another one of those heroes whose got something on his mind, and I prefer that sort. He's especially notable because he's willing to be the fall guy; he'll save Gotham because only he can, but at the same time he also wants to be blamed for the problems he's stopping. (ok, so this plays into protecting his identity, but it's still admirable.) Batman has mercy; he doesn't kill his enemies, at least not with guns, though at times that may seem stupid.
5) Bane: Bane is far worse than the Joker. It's no contest. While setting himself up as liberating the people, he's killing them, and ruining any sense of order. Would you be relieved if a guy told you he was saving you, and then added that an enormous nuclear bomb was set to go off next month anyway? He orchestrated a plan to trap the entire Gotham police force underground. He snaps necks (in public too) simply because he can and wants to show off. The Joker was ruining any sense of order too, but he was doing it "for kicks" because he was downright insane. Bane is doing it to convince the people he'll be their savior. Not to mention that Batman can't really stop him. If the Joker won the award, I don't see Bane not being nominated. (more on that under Plot Devices)

6) Catwoman: Catwoman is a good character. Her entrance was a surprise, and I couldn't always tell what she was up to, but in general nothing she did was unexpected. 

7) Commissioner Gordon: Commissioner Gordon is a great character. He would make a great second Batman, but he's too old. Though I don't entirely understand it, I can see why people think Gary Oldman ought to win an award before he retires. 

8) Det. John Blake: I liked him, though I couldn't always understand him. He knows what he's doing. His batman geekness is similar to Agent Coulson's geekness in the Avengers. 

9) Plot Devices: For one, if the military was staying out, how did Bane's minions acquire several military tanks? Second, how were the trapped policemen getting materials, and how is it that they all survived six months in the sewer? If Bane was mining the roads. why didn't he just mine the whole thing? He had several months unopposed and the roadworkers under his control. Apart from all the working out he did, how was it that Batman could beat up Bane the second time? And of course he did it the only way; Pounding on the mask, which shouldn't have been damageable unless he had a knife with him. For that matter, how is it that a kid could escape the pit, but a grown man can't? And is it just me, or was Wayne's back surgery and recovery time a little too easy, apart from the agony of having your spine shoved back in manually?

10) Overall: I'm surprised that I watched it. Sure, a lot of stuff was happening, but I didn't enjoy any of it until the final 15-10 minutes began. As I said later, I practically had to remind myself I was seeing a hugely popular action movie. Marvel makes better movies, but DC makes better heroes.Or so I thought until I realized Wayne hadn't actually died. But for all that, don't be confused: I think batman is a cool hero.


Brave (Part 4 of 5)

This post is a little different, since I'm only doing one film this time. The last post is not far off. Anyway, here's what I have to say.
Walt Disney Studios has had some control over Pixar releases for several years, but it never quite showed until this one came out. This one plays less like a Pixar movie than any that came before. Previous Pixar releases are notable for the fact that they seemed very original every time (except Cars 2). Brave was the first release under the Pixar label to "rip off" a genre without clearly spoofing it in the process. This did not play well with us.

Alright, what was fun? Well, even though it wasn't great fun, as a Pixar fan, the story is watchable, unlike A Bug's Life and maybe Cars 2, although it doesn't rank any higher. The animation, what Pixar is known for, was the best yet, but that may just reflect improving technology. It's set in Scotland. (I've always been fascinated by the Celtic lands. I can't say why.) Archery is big. (the sequence in which the Princess does her practice run through the forest is fun to watch. It involves a knothole absolutely packed with arrows.) The best part of it (and this is what I always say) is the score by Patrick Doyle (Eragon, Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter 4) The music was awesome! At times it actually sounded like Braveheart, but that arises from the fact that they both utilize traditional Celtic instruments to fit with the setting. Patrick Doyle is now my favorite composer along with Howard Shore. I hope he does more films I see. There were a few "inside jokes"; one of the clan chieftains looked like a reference to William Wallace, with handprint facepaint (ok, so the handprint was Hamish) and identical son carrying large claymore. This chieftain's name was Macintosh. Since the film was dedicated to Steve Jobs, who had been the majority owner of Pixar and Disney, we took this as an inside joke. 

And, what was not so good. This film played more like a "Disney Princess" than a Pixar. And they didn't even really try to make it funny! Previous Pixar releases are full of verbal jokes and situational gags. In this film, they dispensed with those, though I'm sure they could have done better. It disgusted me that the humor in this film consisted of "perfectionist has a temper tantrum.", "body part and clothes or the lack of them gags" and "Dad has no social skills." therefore, it wasn't actually very funny. Also, a major plot point turned on elements some find objectionable, namely, the presence of magic. There is one "joke" in the opening where princess and mom have a laugh at dad for not believing magic exists. (all I can say is, it's supposed to be the middle ages. Superstitious people then and now believe in it.) And then, what do you know, they run into a witch who helpfully  "unretires" . The Princess, indulging in the teen stereotype that she's being set upon by her parents, demands something that'll change her mom's personality. Well, that isn't actually what it is and things get steadily worse until she admits that she was at fault, at which point mom changes to "Let's run around and be teens together! That for responsibility! Life should be and games!"

Although, overall, it is not the downright worst Pixar release, (it is occasionally watchable)  Brave can not be said to be safe from even the firmest Pixar fans. Brave also, I believe, has the non-distinction of being the first Pixar film to fail to hold the top spot at the box office for more than one week. Even Cars 2  did better.


Ten, Well That's A First Step

It's happened, and like I said I would, I'm celebrating gaining ten followers. This has been achieved thanks to That Dude, who appears to have clicked the button because I know how to say "What's new with me" in Spanish. Thanks!

Since there isn't much material for this otherwise, I am going to take the opportunity to tell you what sort of posts you can expect to see from me in the not-too-far-off future.

1) I will finish my posts on the Pixar movies in about a week. The delay is because we're about to rewatch UP, and possibly Cars, and I don't want my post to differ with my final opinion. The post on Brave might as well be up next before I forget too much.

2) Prompted by the posts of JandJproductions, I will eventually be doing my own trailer review posts. I will generally constrict myself to films that are based on books I'm familiar with, but since there aren't many of those, I'm not opposed to offering speculative opinions on other movies that look interesting, for instance, the Superman film Man of Steel. The first of these will be on the new film of the classic Les Miserables, which I read and enjoyed.

3) I will admit that I now consider myself a Batman fan, so after I see The Dark Knight Rises, I will do a post which will be intended more as a reaction than a review. I'll leave reviewing to those who understand it better.

4) At any random time, I might post something that looks like rambling nonsense, which will be a completed Mad Libs word game. Until further notice, these will be Star Wars themed.

5) At some point, when I can think of some that would be vaguely funny, I will not hesitate to do a post full of Boromir memes.

6) On JT's Tales, chapter 46 of The Price of a Throne is in progress. I would greatly appreciate it if those you who like reading would occasionally take the time to check it out and read the further adventures of king Valun and the others who populate that story. Any feedback I can get would also help me improve the next draft. In addition, there are also other, shorter, stories posted on the site. Since I have no clue how to do it in a short time, I'm afraid I can't give you the links back to the other related posts. Story posts always go up on the closest Friday. jtslitblog.blogspot.com

Thanks everyone, and maybe someday I'll reach 20.  Thus says JT.


Finding Nemo, "that French food", and A Bug's Life (Part 3 of 5)

It just happens that for once life got in the way of my doing these posts. Whew! But anyway, I've returned to finish them, so let's get on with it.

Finding Nemo
The concept is interesting; it's a "road" movie concerning fish in the south Pacific.
Nemo is the only survivor of a shark attack that swallowed his mom and all the rest of his siblings (considering that the shark got all the rest, that Nemo survived in the first place is a plot device, but we have to overlook that for the moment.) In consequence of that incident, we have a familiar character in this story, the "overprotective parent". Nemo, of course, is the stereotypical teen who thinks his parents are ruining his social life. So, when prodded by a clique he trails out of fish school, he swims out into the ocean and deliberately touches a boat against clear orders. He then gets swept up by a diver and taken away in the boat. Dad immediately begins swimming after said boat.

Now, fun parts of this film are generally focused and triggered by the blue fish Dory who happens to begin following Dad around mid-voyage. She's funny because she has a terrible case of memory loss, the running gag being that she has to be reminded every day who she is, who Marlin is, and where they're going. The second is that she won't stop chanting the boat owner's address (which they got off a set of goggles that were knocked overboard). The other fun moments are running into Crush the sea turtle and being picked up by a vegetarian sharks' club.

I guess, simply as a movie, the biggest problem one could have with it is that it is so slow. There are only so many times you can get a laugh out of having a character forget everything that just happened, but to my memory, (which is poor) that happens a lot in this film. On the other end, Nemo's attempts to escape the fish tank are a bit slow because there's only one thing they can do: jam the filter, which is supposed to cause them to wind up on the windowsill so they can escape.

I don't see anything objectionable in Finding Nemo. There probably isn't anything. Since this one was the most monetarily successful one made before Toy Story 3,  the general public must have thought it worked.

"That French Food"
 Sorry, I can't spell the title and I can barely remember the gist of the plot. Sometimes I forget this one was even made. Therefore I can't talk about it.

A Bug's Life
In our house, this one is regarded as the most boring one made. The story follows an ant who invented a  machine to accelerate harvesting. After this machine causes chaos by breaking down and stalling the line, the innovative ant is banished from the colony. The main conflict, however, is that a horde of grasshoppers demand tribute from the ants. The tribute is delayed, so the grasshoppers begin a reign of terror. Meanwhile, the inventor is looking for warriors to fight off the grasshoppers. Eventually, he convinces a flea circus to follow him. These actors, of course, are totally inept at anything else. 

Good: The climax is a fun scene. It's also fun to see that in the end, everyone is using the machine. the Grasshopper chief's luckless henchmen also provide some laughs.

Bad: In general, this movie simply isn't funny. See the first sentence above. I doubt that we could give you a specific reason why though. It just doesn't feel right.


What Are They Saying In Those Movies (part 2 of 4)

The Incredibles, Monster's Inc., and WALL-E

The Incredibles
The Incredibles is my favorite of the Pixar movies.

Alright, so a lot of the early humor stems from the fact that Mr. Incredible is simply too big. Since most of those gags are visual, I can't really point them out here. I like that "TIs" is a spoof of superhero movies, which actually starts out with Mr. Incredible being sued for trying to save people (one's supposed to laugh at the irony), which results in the govt. starting "Witness protection, superhero division" for the supers themselves. In the very beginning, Mr. Incredible is doing "mundane" things like rescuing cats out of trees and chasing bank robbers (with a very Bondish car). I should also add that he has a run-in with an extremely nerdy fan who invented rocketboots. In response to the kid's assumption that  he will join Mr. I as his sidekick, Mr.I replies "I work alone." and ejects the kid out of his car. Eventually, after a very busy day, he marries another super named Elastigirl. That scene is interesting because you can spot several supers in the background who turn up dead later. As I said above, there are a lot of "sight gags" and the ones that aren't require extensive background.

Things that are good include the fact that this is a very family-centered movie,  numerous sight gags, and basically the whole of the first paragraph. Mr. Incredible's best friend Frozone and the supersuit maker Edna Mode are also funny. Mr. Incredible's idea of a workout is funny because it's so oversized.

Disappointing things about this movie are things like the sequence in which Edna Mode decries the use of capes. At each name, they show a clip of an unfortunate super's horrible death, which I guess they added because the talking wasn't enough. And there are stupid mistakes like "If Syndrome's scanner thing was supposed to detect life, how could it have been fooled by sitting behind a skeleton? Major flaw there" (Syndrome the villain, by the way, is Buddy the ultimate fan at 30 years old, who was turned toward destruction because "You always said to be true to yourself, but you never said what part of yourself to be true to.") We also see a return of the clone troopers. Every kids' movie that portrays a huge army of humans never fails to put them all in identical eye-covering uniforms, so you'll think "oh it's ok, they're bad guys." not "they're people being killed" and Syndrome did not have to be sucked into a turbine.

On the whole, though, this is probably the film with the strongest morals, simply because the whole film portrays Mr. Incredible slowly realizing that he needs help and that no one works alone , and by the end the dsyfunctional family has molded into one unit that works together. In this one above the others, they are definitively glorifying the family as a unit.

Monster's Inc.
Monster's Inc. is the consensus favorite in our house. We have watched it so many times the tape is damaged.

Mike and Sully are hilarious together, Mike is good by himself, Randall's comeuppance (vaguely) resembles Hulk's reaction to Loki, the monsters' opinion of human kids is hilarious, the great spoof "heroes' march" scene,  the awesome "door chase" which seriously ought to be a virtual reality ride in Disney parks, the Abominable Snowman, the CDA (child detection agency,... well, basically everything.

But... there are flaws in everything... It is perhaps overly sappy at some points and there a couple of plot devices/ holes, but not having seen it recently, I can't think of them at the moment.

In Monster's Inc., the question is integrity or success, another question that can only be answered one way. And it's pretty clear: Sully (integrity) becomes CEO. Randall (dishonesty) gets pounded with a shovel. What can I say?

If there's one thing we object to in kids' movies, it's blatant political messages, which WALL-E is based on.

WALL-E is the last working unit of an army of Waste Allocation Load Lifter -Earth class robots, the purpose of which is to clean up Earth, which has been too unsanitary to live on for the past 700 years. (the cubed junk reaches the top of the Empire State building. There is no clean spot on Earth. Somehow, WALL-E finds a plant that's still alive, taking it back to the trailer where he stores himself. Eventually, a scanner comes back to Earth, takes the plant from WALL-E, and reembarks on the spaceship it came on.

It is funny to see how lazy (enabled by the handy hovercraft chairs provided) people get get in space, because the look simply absurd. There is an interesting "suspense" element. People have also gotten absurdly stupid. Sinde that's a main point of the humor, you will never like WALL-E the movie if you don't think that's funny. WALL-E the robot, by the way, only ever says "waall-ee"

First, there's the in-your-face plot-turning Greenpeace message. My family, though not opposed on principle, refuses to believe it's a big deal, so that bothers us when it's shoved in front like that. The entire world is owned by a Wal-Mart-like conglonerate called Buy-n-Large, the CEO of which had far more power than the U.N. assembly combined, or any world governments. 

On the whole, WALL-E is a so-so movie, with unexceptional good parts and annoying, but not terribly so, lame parts.

The quite obvious message of the film is a demand that people focus on the environment and get out and be active, which, of itself, is an excellent compound goal.


What They Are Saying In Those Movies... (Part 1 of 4)

Yes, I like Pixar. You all know that now. However, this post is not intended to be a pro-Pixar essay, or anything of  the kind. I intend only to expound my views on the films and what I think is going on in the "heads" of the movies. The listing of the titles is in the order I thought of them, not the release order (duh) or my personal preference ranking.

The Toy Story trilogy
Toy Story 1
On the whole, TS is an absolutely hilarious movie that never fails to crack us all up. The time-lapse sequences with the songs (i.e. Strange things are happening and "Buzz's flying song") are fun to watch. Also, the climactic bit where Woody is planning the escape with "Sid's" toys is great. "wind the frog!" And the car chase aboard RC is great too. But now to the cons.

I have always looked down on obvious filler "romance" bits, so Woody's relationship with Bo Peep the lamp decoration is rather awkward, but it isn't a bother. The real trouble lies in the film's relationship with the "bad guys" , Sid and his dog. Sid's dog, of course, is nothing more than a dog who tears up toys for his own (and Sid's) amusement. And he chases things, which is really only significant because it provides extra emphasis to the chase and results in the most awkward multi-car crash you'll ever see. Sid himself is a different story. In short, Sid is quite obviously criminally unbalanced, which they had to lay on thick in preparation for the revelation/rescue/reunion bit just before the car chase. That whole sequence where the toys come alive in front of Sid used to be funny, but as we aged, we realized that it's just plain creepy. It results in Sid going from criminally unbalanced to downright paranoid insanity and leaves you pitying him.

The moral code in TS1: This bit is only meant to point out the "why did they have to do that?" elements in the film which might give people pause. For instance, in this film, real families are irrelevant. Andy doesn't have a visible dad, and the most you see of Sid's parents (which might explain his behavior a bit) is one quick shot of one of them (probably dad) slouched on  a recliner in front of a TV, snoring his face off.. And, if you want to say that, there's also the implicit claim that toys have a life of their own when you're not looking. But that, however, is not really a moral sticking point, and it is obvious by now that imagining a non-human centered world, or seeing "us" from the viewpoint of say, a rat, is a hallmark of Pixar. The message I see coming out of TS1 is "Never give up, never leave a man behind, and understand that your relationships trump your ego." 

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 opens the year after the original. The best part of TS2 is the ongoing consequences of Buzz running into a "new and improved" version of himself who comes with a "super utility belt". After some one-sided conflict, during which old buzz attempts to reason with new Buzz over his place in the world, old Buzz is locked in a spaceship package and new Buzz takes his place. The humor stems from new Buzz's relationship with the old toys, in which he calls them by generic names like "slotted pig", "vegetable man", and "lizard man". The opening sequence, which portrays Buzz infiltrating Zurg's fortress, which is then revealed to be a video game being played by the toys. Woody's discovery of his own fame is also good for a lot of laughs. As a bonus, there are Star Wars reference jokes, even if they're a little forced.

What I don't really like about TS2 pretty much amounts to Jessie's hopeless breakup song, which, I'll admit, is more interesting than having her sit there and say it. It's intended to break Woody's confidence that Andy wants him back, thereby inducing Woody to go into the toy museum with them. In my mind, the jury is out on whether Stinky Pete the Prospector is a legitimate antagonist or not, since he amounts to a guy with a grudge that he was left on the shelf. Also, as with Sid in the first one, the results of ruining Al's plans seemed a bit over the top. Yeah, he's upset, but does he have to cry on TV?

The focal point of TS2 is a philosophical question that only has one answer: True happiness or immortality? The Woody's Roundup toys want Woody to choose immortality, but he wants true happiness, which of course is better than immortality. One might appreciate immortality at first, but after a few extra years life would get boring (and agonizing too unless you stopped aging). Happiness or fame?

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 occurs after another ten years have passed. Andy's graduated from high school, and, like many teens these days (so the stereotype says) spends his days in front of a computer screen while maintaining a latent sentimentality toward the old toys who've been in the box for years. Although he never does anything with them, he still likes them enough to put most of them in the attic while adding Woody to the college box. Of course, the toys in the bag can't tell what's going on, so when Andy's mom mistakenly puts them out by the dumpster, they assume Andy did it and their loyalty to him disappears. They wind up in a daycare center room for rowdy toddlers.

The fun elements of this film are Buzz in factory default mode /Spanish voice mode, the gangster Fisher-Price pull-me telephone who outlines the escape plan, the whole escape sequence, highlighted by Mr. Potato's transition into a cucumber by way of a tortilla, and the craziness that goes on at Bonnie's house. It doesn't hurt that the video by the How It Should Have Ended people is hilarious if you like Pixar. (It might still strike you as funny if you aren't a fan, but definitely not as much.)

The parts that are disappointing include the melodramatic bit where the toys, sliding down into an incinerator, resign themselves to their fate, and then promptly get saved by the toy aliens, who conveniently disappeared and found a crane the was conveniently there. ;)... (duh... the main characters are not getting burnt into oblivion halfway through) but when you actually see the scene, that's harder to realize. The villain in this one is a stuffed bear who's so far gone that believes that since he's been replaced, (by another copy of himself) no other toy deserves happiness either.

I know, movies like this are not allegories. I'm just checking to see if they seem to be condoning beliefs that aren't acceptable. What does it glorify or punish? Well, in this one (TS3) I can't see anything notable. You may have other opinions, and if so, say so. I've always had trouble with that sort of thing, so I wouldn't know. In the end, the villain is being tormented and the good toys are having the time of their lives. What is there to say?

I will be going through all the films, up to and including Brave.


The Present Past

I am happy to share with you a set of songs put together by a very good friend of mine.(I go much farther back with him than the The Scarlet Pimpernel...ALL the way back...;D). Anyway, I think these songs are impressive for a start and I hope you do too. I don't have the lyrics written down, but he ought to be comprehensible if everything works properly.

1) My Strength: Described by him as an attempt to break out of the usual formula for hymns.

2) Southern California: I have never heard a Beach Boys song. I guessed this one sounded similar. He says Right on.

3) New World: An amusing take on the Columbus/discovery of America history/legend.

4) Trip to New York: What can I say? Guy goes to New York, guy sings. Simple.

5) Now & Forever: Just guess what that means.

6) Consequences of Fantasy: He doesn't think fantasy is bad; he's a very big LOTR fan. He just doesn't want people to lose their minds.

I hope you enjoy these songs! Please let me know what you think, because the Jman is already working out a second album, and I will want to post those too.


A "Tolkienite"'s Reaction: Oh Really...?

To make everything absolutely clear, I most definitely am a self-professed Tolkienite. It says so in my profile. I have read the trilogy five times, The Hobbit three times, the Silmarillion twice, and the Unfinished Tales. I can't call myself a total geek because there are some collections I haven't read and I never figured out how to write in Elvish...And, in case you haven't seen the photos, I spent an outsize amount of money on 3-foot trilogy film  posters. So I am definitely a fan... of the books.

So you're wondering what I'm getting at. I'm home alone right now, per my last post, and I took advantage of the opportunity to see all nine hours of the trilogy on film in two days. That, for me, is a marathon. This recent showing was the first time I had seen any of the films in several years. That was then. This, unfortunately, is now, when I am nearly grown up and remember differences much more clearly. Being a book addict, my pros and cons will have to be taken with salt, unless of course, you agree. Note that I do not own and have never sat through the EEs, so this rant is directed entirely at the theatrical cut.

The Fellowship of the Ring
Pros:  It was mostly just abbreviated cuts of what went on in the book. I'll admit  that I'm mostly fine with Pippin's conversion into the comic relief.

Cons: The battle with the giant mutant squid thing in the lake of Moria was stretched for it's own sake. Ditto for the cave troll. Why did they have to wait so long to run from the Balrog. Why did Arwen have to be allowed to steal some spotlight. I guess because the writers couldn't figure out any other way to get the "all-important" time-bridging romance across. Aragorn seems rather flat and disengaged. He's seen as just some random guy who jumps out at them and commandeers their mission. Non-readers are given no explanation of the convenient arrivals of Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli; it looks like a plot device.

The Two Towers
Pros: Very consistent with source. This is probably the actual most consistent one if you regard the fact that five chapters (almost 100 pages) of materiel was disregarded in Fellowship.Some dialogue fits better in the mouths of the characters who said it in the film.    Helm's Deep was great; It did not seem overdone like most of the combats did. At the cost of depth of backstory, the arrival of Eomer's makeshift eored fits well.  Grima and Theoden.

Cons: The cringe-inducing destruction of Faramir.The warg-rider battle, which had slight source basis, became a vehicle for more romance sequences. the romance triangle in general was overdone. Gimli's filler line at the beginning that could have been made clear with a subtitle and a bit of dialogue. That awkward line "what do your elf-eyes see?" What, like Legolas has a different set of eyes? Treebeard was messed up because of "time constraints"

The Return of the King**
Pros: Rohan in general, especially the ride of the rohirrim. What individual-level action there was was done right, mostly.

Cons:  Too impersonal. For instance, one never actually sees the history-defying friendship between Legolas and Gimli develop (throughout the books): you only see them counting kills, and then, out of the blue, they're BFF. And there are times in the text when absolutely nothing is happening to the POV characters, or they're just sitting and talking. Those parts were taken out in favor of overdoing the battles: voila! a shallower-than-it-deserves story that serves as vehicle for spectacular effects. The film would be possible without such visual emphasis on gore. Denethor's fiery plunge. The idea that Arwen  abruptly begins to die slowly as soon as she chooses mortality. No explanation of why she's allowed to do so. The Black Gate speech. The proposition of the idea that Anduril has got some kind of self-induced power that is the real control over the dead men. The mostly reversed roles of Aragorn and Gandalf near the end. Aragorn's crown*. No closure on the Rohan side. Theoden was just left on the battlefield? Show us the funeral! Major rejection of the closing that occured after the coronation. No explanation of why Frodo was allowed to pass into the West. And I can't leave without mentioning the wrecking of Frodo w/ring.

* I have come to the conclusion that crowns shouldn't point upward. Plain circle are better. But in any case, the text version is more impressive. It is basically a battle helmet with outsize wings projecting from the sides.

** Can you say Bring on the four-hour remake? Without Peter Jackson? Note that the only element that needs remaking is the script. the visuals are awesome, but the story could have been vastly improved by lifting the text. I no longer like the theatrical cut and will not see this film again until I own the EE. The film's name is what's keeping it in my top five, because the book is awesome.


Sitting In the House All Alone...

This morning my family left to go camping for the weekend in a place called Red Rock Canyon, a desert park that received great reviews from family friends. Why am I not with them? Because various physical difficulties make it a literal pain to hike or even step out the door for an extended period. In addition to that, I wanted the extra time to ensure that I would complete my end-of-year assignment for school.

In reality, being home alone is rather boring. Contrary to some claims of my siblings, I do not immediately start bouncing off the walls.;D In fact, as soon as they were gone, I sat down to work on the essay that I have to turn in to finish the year. I am happy mostly because 72 hours alone gives me the opportunity to play all my favorite music CDs 3 times, and see the whole LOTR without worrying about whether anyone cares...

Although I have repeatedly said, and I stand by it, that the LOTR are some of my top five movies. (the others are Braveheart (censored) and Master & Commander: Far Side of the World*), I have only seen them two or three times because I have younger siblings and my parents don't want them coming upstairs out of curiosity to see all the violence, not to mention the grossness Peter Jackson added. (I think he had a little too much fun making the orcs disgusting). Nevertheless, the movies are great, notably because some scenes, like the Ride of the Rohirrim, were done right. I get thrills from reading that part, without thinking too much about the film.

But partying, as I said, isn't all that I'll do. I've also been entrusted with the task of maintaining our barnyard and gardens (with some help from a family friend). The aforementioned barnyard encompasses 3 dogs, 6-8 goats, some turkey chicks, numerous chickens, and, until further notice, some ducks. If you think that isn't a lot, rest assured that there used to be a lot more.

In the near future I will be posting an album of songs written by a personal friend (as soon as I get the ok to post him online) and later will be posting a video shot by me and my siblings the working title of which is "Have Gun, Will Travel, as you've never seen it before." We hope it's silly enough to make you laugh, but it should come across more easily if you've ever heard about the old western TV show, "Have Gun, Will Travel" about a can't miss, know-it-all gunfighter named Paladin.

that's all for now, and I'm off to cook my requisite six eggs with Cheddar.
*Master & Commander, I repeat, is the best destruction of a book I have ever heard of. I really wish they had done some of the ones that were fun to read. 20 books means they would never run out of materiel...