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...


The Price Of A Throne

Everything has a price. Given the chance to rule, what would you give up? The four kings had no choice.

It's back! After an entire month of trying to work out the next chapter, I've finally posted that story again. This particular chapter's only three pages long after all that time, and it feels like a rushed job. Which is a good thing, because it means that in the back of my mind I know that in the future I will be able to add to the action in the scene. I'm evolving!

Half of you know that I've been posting this story for the past nine months, and the rest of you only joined the court after the posting of my interview questions on JandJproductions. Thanks for the support! When the tenth person joins, I'll do a celebration post. (I don't bother celebrating blogoverseries; I've passed two already.) But anyway, back on topic.

If you've seen my interview answers, which JandJ hospitably allowed me to turn into a publicity stunt for my writing blog, you know what the story is about as I can articulate it. In case anyone's still unclear, the setting is a human-exclusive world set in the age of chivalry, swords and fortresses. Powers and abilities beyond the bounds of exceptional human physical skill and/or physique have no place in my writing. Just so no one decides I was trying to misrepresent it, yes, it was inspired by LOTR. Weren't most good fantasy stories in some way?

Everyone, please take another look at the story. I consider it my life's work to this point (superficial as it is) and if no one looks at it, it's being wasted. If I can articulate the further adventures of the kings fast enough, it should be completed by the middle of July. The characters are finally deciding steps on their own, so it should be a bit more interesting in the coming weeks. If any of you suddenly start reading it again, remember not to apologize (just in case you have the slightest suspicion this is a guilt trip post; full admission: it is, partly. I miss my readers...) and just give your thoughts on the results of my work and what you think might be upcoming. When I finally get to the second draft, I will go back to square one and build the world around the names.

Just in case the rest of this post drove you to distraction, please be aware that Price of a Throne is not the only story I have posted on JT's Tales. (For some weird reason, I am particularly proud of my loopy "life on Mars suedo-satire I entitled "The Elevator to Mars...hint, hint. Whoops, there I go again...;D)

Thanks everyone

-JT, on behalf of King Valun's scribe.