Archive for December, 2012

Liza writes to Santa (fiction)

December 19, 2012

Dear Mr. Claus,

I am writing to you regarding my neighbor, John Van Zaenz (8). I do understand most of the letters you receive are selfish, but in this case I would appreciate an exception, and be delighted if you could provide the chainsaw Mr. Van Zaenz has expressed a wish for.

Yours,

Liza Vanderwaals (9)

*

TO SANTA CLAUS!

— killer mecha 30 feet tall
— lazer eyes
— batman dvd
— chain saw
— NO CLOTHES GIRL TOYS OR LIQQUU RISE!!!

john vanzaenz
8 yrs 11 months
13 days and mom
says 2.5 hours old

*

From: The Office of Santa
To: Head Toy Elf
Subject: Chainsaw? (Ticket #90145107)

See title. You do?

S.

*

From: Head Toy Elf
To: The Office of Santa
Subject: Re: Chainsaw? (Ticket #90145107)

Sketch attached. Okay?

Gr., HTE

*

From: The Office of Santa
To: Kentucky Elf Corps Field HQ
Subject: Persons in tick. #90145107

Please discreetly confirm if requested chain saw is supposed to be plastic, bright colors, funny growling noises or the Black-n-Decker “Dad variety”.

(on behalf of S.)
Sm., Elf 2nd Class

*

From: Sgt. Candy Cane, KEC-FHQ
To: The Office of Santa
Subject: Re: Persons in tick. #90145107

Cpl. Rattan Cane impersonated a wandering Mall Santa and inquired. The subject confirmed the chainsaw should be, quote, “like seven feet long with flames and skulls painted on it and long teeth and horns and growl like a big car and cut everything and walls”.

Epic “Dad variety”, right?

C. Cane, KEC

*

From: The Office of Santa
To: United States Central Elf Department, Office of Quality
Subject: What the fuck

See attached message. “Wandering Mall Santa”? Whose idea is this? What next? Rudolf convalescing from nose surgery? Casual Grinch impersonator? Put a stop to this stupid disguise shit or I’ll let Krampus loose.

S.

*

From: The Office of Santa
To: Head Toy Elf
Subject: Re: Re: Chainsaw? (Ticket #90145107)

See attached message. Don’t spare chrome, rivets, sharp edges, spikes, the like. Let’s give the little bleeder what he wants.

(on behalf of S.)
Sm., Elf 2nd Class

*

From: The Office of Santa (E-mail Division)
To: Smallcloth Wringy, Elf 2nd Class
Subject: WARNING

This is an automated warning. As per a decree of 11/1991,   ”   bleeder  ” is not acceptable internal nomenclature for our customers, no matter how much they may feel like that at times. Please refrain from its future use or face the Krampus Sanction.

MAILER DAEMON
do not reply

*

From the desk of Liza Vanderwaals (9 years old)

Dear neighbor,

I found a dead lizard on my pillow today. Would you have any knowledge pertaining to this unpleasant discovery?

Yours,

Liza Vanderwaals (9)

PS. How was your Christmas present intake this year?

*

lisie,

you is unpleasant intake yousself
I HAZ A CHAIN SAW RRRR
RRRRR R RRRRR

john vanzaenz

*

From the desk of Liza Vanderwaals (9 years old)

Dear new neighbor,

Permit me to introduce myself via this letter, as I am terribly busy with schoolwork and philological research. I am a student of the human nature, and helpful to those who are courteous and honest in their dealings. I do not like gross or loud, irritating boys.

I am sure you must be disoriented, moving to a new location so early in the year, and to a house that has suffered such an outlandish tragedy so recently. (For details, please consult your parents or the archives of the local newspaper, viz. “Ill-Considered Gift Rips A Local Family Apart”, Dec. 28 of last year)

Please write back with an honest description of yourself, and we may be the best of friends eventually.

Yours,

Liza Vanderwaals (9)

USB trollin’

December 18, 2012

Was cleaning; found an old two gigabyte flash drive.

Said to myself, “Two gigs seems so little now. I have so many USB sticks, so many bigger than this. I wonder if I could find some better use…”

Cut to: Me ejecting the flash drive off my laptop. It’s now named TRANSMISS, and has these files inside:

  1. a copy of the Conet Project recordings of numbers stations — lots of creepy mp3:s, in other words — with the file names and all file details filed away, leaving no clue as to what these sounds are,
  2. four grainy photos of what possibly is tree branches against a glowing sky in night-time, and
  3. a plain text file with a letter salad name and contents listing four random numbers stations mp3 files and drawing an equals sign between each and one of the night-tree pictures.

Plus, using the Linux “touch” command the mp3:s were re-dated to one-month intervals over the past 150 months; and the pictures for a day in November. (Originally for midnight tomorrow, but then I got lazy.)

The letter-salad file name was 11 letters, no order or rhyme to them; but also, not incidentally, they were the video ID for a Youtube copy of Rick Astley’s famous feel-good hit Never Gonna Give You Up.

Next I painted the drive black — just to make it seem a little bit more unusual — and now today I, oh woe, kind of set it down at the betting stand of the local supermarket while putting my gloves on, and totally forgot to pick it back up.

Who knows who will find it.

Maybe I need a new hobby.

*

Also: It would be relatively simple to register a domain and make it look like the login page for some subscription service, then drop a flash drive somewhere with a small “sampling” of the supposed contents (“October update”?), watermarked to mention the site.

The site would let you see an index of all the updates, indicating that the sampling was but a minute fraction; but ah, to see more you would need a password, which is not included. In truth the sampling would be all there was; and it would be unsettling enough.

Or if you weren’t going for the creeps, then “Daily Pictures of Left Foot”, and an implied archive of years.

(If registering a whole domain seems too much, just make up a blog, a tumblr, a Youtube channel, or something like. Sneakier still, leave one mysterious identifying, easily googlable bit in the drive contents — “property of the Ykkshaaskh Foundation”, “Project t566vk9c” — and then put up a blog post indicating you found a similar drive (maybe in a far-away place!), asking if anyone else has found one too, and promising to post an update soon. With any luck the drive-finder googles, finds your post, writes you an e-mail, and then there’s no limit to the messing with his or her head that you can do, and incidentally, I would be a horrible evil person if I wasn’t so lazy.)

*

Also: surreptitiously drop a USB drive that contains a treasure map in the form of a sequence of photos, starting from a well-known local spot and proceeding so that each photo shows the location the next one was taken from. The final photo shows some non-obvious hidden spot, and either implies or outright show a “treasure”. (Since I’m Finnish, I’m thinking of trees: a few dozen paces into the forest and something you hang on a tree won’t be discovered accidentally.)

If the mapmaker is malicious, a bunch of money is implied and a mocking note left; otherwise, a mystery box with candy and knick-knacks and stuff: a quest, if one chooses to accept it, should have a reward.

Also, there should be treasure so you know if somebody has bothered to look inside the drive. Or maybe scrawled on the inside of the lid of the treasure box is a Gmail address, and a request to “report which cache has been found, by using which clue-stick or rhyme, and when; any report can win a prize!”

The Hobbit: a second look

December 18, 2012

Saw the film again, this time in 2D. Some additional thoughts to complement the first ones.

*

Some lines grate. (“I cannot guarantee his blablabla.” “Understood!”)

Some scenes grate. (Gandalf and Galadriel talking. Then poof! she’s disappeared. Because apparently that’s how elves do an exit, or Gandalf had a senior moment.)

A bit too much battling and chaotic hack-and-slash escaping, especially since there are so many dwarves, and yet we’re fairly sure this is the kind of a film where the name of the game isn’t “dwarf attrition”. I’m not interested in lengthy scenes of dwarves vs. trolls or dwarves vs. orcs when there’s no chance of dead or even mutilated dwarves. (Thus, when the whole dwarven lot charged the trolls, I sighed and cursed inwardly — now how are you going to get all of them captured without a few severed limbs? And the solution was classic stupid threaten-the-captive drama and the leadership fail of the century.)

Also, rubber dwarves! Bouncing down any number of stony cliffs without a single broken limb.

*

Here’s an alternate subtitle: “The Hobbit: The Home Invasion”. Both by Smaug and by the unexpected company of dwarves.

If you took Detroit instead of Hobbiton, and replaced the dwarves with some not-everyday group of people a bit more rugged and muscled than your everyday mousy homeowner-Hobbit — say gang members, bodybuilders or paramilitaries — then Bilbo’s panic would start to seem a lot less funny. All these muscled, menacing men showing up uninvited and treating themselves to your food! Who knows what they’ll demand next! (“Dwalin at your service, which is not a gang hello if the pig-men ask. Now give me food or I’ll cut you, little man.”)

(Fanfic idea: the dwarves show up, but Thorin and Gandalf don’t. Since they don’t want to discuss business without their leader being present, they don’t tell Bilbo anything — they just settle in and make Bilbo’s life very interesting. “That dwarf kicked Lobelia in the head!” “She kicked me first!” “In the shins! You don’t go from shin-kicking into kicking someone in the head! Hide her in a closet and stop kicking her!“)

*

The riddles in the dark are so very well done; I don’t remember ever getting such an air of tight menace from the book — then again, the book is much lighter, an elegant entertainment for a more civilized age… wait, no quoting Star Wars in a Tolkien review, and no calling twee Thirties children’s fiction “more civilized”. Though I wouldn’t want to be stuck defending a Peter Jackson movie as “more civilized” than a book by an Oxford professor — but overall I’d argue that modern fiction tends to be more civilized than that of (say) eighty years ago. Less sexism and heteronormative whatsit and racism and hard-destiny past-worship and the like. (Much depends on your personal definition of civilization: do you think tweed, tea and tsk-tsk is more civilized than a screaming parade of gay rights protesters in all the colors of the rainbow? Is the heyday tomorrow, or was it yesterday?)

Also, Gollum’s facial expressions will end up in a million Youtube parodies, gifs and piecemeal works. I predict “Gollum reacts to X”, where X is anything.

*

Still unbothered by Radagast, the White Council, and the Bilbo-not-involved additions; still pretty sure what they’re doing with Azog is pretty smart because the original book is basically a bunch of unconnected small adventures until they get to the Mountain.

Also, Radagast? Played by Sylvester McCoy, who played the Doctor in Doctor Who, a long time ago.* And in forthcoming films we’ll see Stephen “the” Fry, and Gregor Clegane (Conan Stevens), and Benedict Cumberbatch (that smug modern Holmes) as the dragon itself. With a cast of this size, even I’m getting the feeling of familiar people.

*

Can’t recall if “Azog the Defiler” or “The Pale Orc” are canon titles; I think not. Can’t say if this is “the evil albino” or “contrary to the norm, the Caucasian parallel is evil!” or just a design choice.

*

The film was a bit flabbier on the second watching; partly because of too much liquid intake before the film, and a half-hour spent lying to myself about my ability to hold everything in until the end of the film.

(A half-hour because the riddles in the dark were not something to be missed, and I didn’t exactly recall their place in the whole Misty Mountain hop and hoopla.)

One day there will be movie theaters with catheters built into the seats. That will be a gross day, a day of great ickiness and disapproval, but that day I will not fear the consumption of liquids beforehand. (If you think popcorn and gum on the floor is icky, consider some hyperactive kid kicking half a dozen urine cans open.)

Since this portion of this review has ran off the rails, what about movie showings for pets? Somebody probably does this, but imagine fifty cats strapped down to plush red seats, watching Pulp Fiction, with automated arms offering nibbles on a stick, and little saucers of milk. Then a cell phone rings (“Who Let the Dogs Out?”), and one hundred eyes turn, glowing in the screen’s wan vibrating light.

These are the sort of things I think about.

*

There were no humans with speaking roles in the film. (Gandalf’s not human, he’s a heavenly creature. The people of Dale had just screaming parts.) I’m actually really pleased by this.

There were no women with speaking roles either, except Galadriel. (Wait a minute, let me think; no, no other women that I can recall. A few at Dale and Rivendell, but nobody that spoke.) I’m actually okay with this; we’ll do the genderflip Hobbit by computer in 2025.

And in both cases, you could cut a minute or two and drop the “speaking roles” to “no humans, no women except Galadriel”. (Except with the orcs, where you can’t really tell. But orcs are a special case, exempt from gender and “true courage is knowing when to spare a life” and a lot of other things.)

(Also, true whatever is knowing when to not kill? This is the sort of a film where that means “don’t kill the gimp, er, Gollum”, and nothing more; certainly not pacifism, given how cartoonishly evil and undifferentiated the mass of onrushing enemies is. A better Gandalf quote would be “Take up your arms and fight! FIII—IIGHT!” — an actual film quote.)

Also, the Bechdel test? A resounding failure here, but might I propose a ra— wait, a fantasy species Bechdel-equivalent test? Are there two named non-human characters who talk about something other than a human? A bullshit test, but this film passes with flying colors!

(My memory of Ainulindale/Valaquenta is a bit hazy, but theoretically speaking you could argue that Gandalf is not male, being a genderless spirit, so taking the Bechdel test in the more inclusive, less canonical form of “two named non-males talking etc.” you could say the Galadriel-Gandalf scene makes this film pass the, um, quasi-Bechdel.)

(How would you judge the Bechdel if you had a female spirit possessing a male body?)

Finally, Thorin Oakenshield appeals to those parts of me that like a good-looking man. I don’t particularly care for Legolas but Thorin and Frodo, rowr.

*

Questions:

1) GALADRIEL. Galadriel mouthed something about coming to Gandalf’s aid no matter what. Foreshadowing for some flashy magical rescue?

2) DOL GULDUR. The Dol Guldur subplot (I loved the “kill in the spirit world” scene!) — we are probably going to see Sauron the Necromancer driven out as in canon; but what are the portions of magic and steel involved in that going to be? I can’t imagine the White Council marching in blazing might and magic, hands waving. (Maybe there’ll be drama and then Sauron flees without a fight.)

3) BOLG. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be seeing Bolg son of Azog when the third film comes around but oh, uh, wait, what, Conan Stevens has been cast as Bolg? How will they handle that, given Azog’s death plus greed is the canonical Bolg-motivator? Will Azog buy it in the second or the early third film?

4) SECOND SPLIT POINT. So the first films ends at Carrock. Where does the second one end? Will Beorn, Mirkwood, spiders, elves be enough to end with the barrel escape? (And will a barrel escape be “enough” to end with?) After that the next obvious endpoint would be leaving Esgaroth, but that would be even less action and drama at the end. Will there be a new scene that ends Azog, with the film then ending with Bolg receiving the news and chewing some scenery?

5) THRAIN. All we know of Thrain, Thorin’s father, at the moment is that he was captured or killed at the Battle of Azanulbizar** (dwarves, orcs, lots of dead) — and since Gandalf had Thrain’s map and key, that was probably “captured”. How did Gandalf get the map and the key? Did the orcs give Thrain to the Necromancer, and did Gandalf find him in the dungeons there? Or did Thrain wander off the battlefield and get captured by a Nazgul? In the film continuity, has Gandalf even gone to Dol Guldur? (In the book continuity, Thrain survived the battle and was caught by the Necromancer much later.)

6) THE OTHER RING. Also about Thrain: he had the last of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves with him when the Necromancer, the original Ring-Maker, the Lord of the Rings Sauron caught him. The films haven’t said a peep about the ring. Will they? (Oh, it would be nice to see a tangent about the partnership of elven Hollin and dwarven Moria, and the coming of Annatar the Giver of Gifts, the betrayal of Celebrimbor and the making of the Rings of Power. Come on, Peter, you did paint an Annatar for Morannon, give us some more! That’ll reverberate nicely against the dwarf-elf feud of the second movie!)

7) GOLLUM. Canonically speaking we’re done with Gollum now, and I don’t think there will be any more Bilbo-Gollum interaction coming. But will the following films hint at Big G leaving the mountains in search of Shire, and getting captured by Sauron’s orcs, tortured for ring-information? (How did that work, anyway? “Hey Orc Boss, this little git keeps screaming about a ring. Do you reckon the Big Big Boss would be interested? He’s into rings, right? Has full nine fingers full of them.”) I don’t think a scene like that is likely, unless Peter Jackson wants a really heavy-handed, depressing after-credits scene for the third film.

8) POP QUIZ. There’s at least one character that will be in all six films. Who? There are three others who almost certainly will be. Who are they?*** I’ve named a Led Zeppelin song and a Black Sabbath song in this review; did you notice this pointless trickery?

*

Also, in the next film: Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn. Mikael “Gunvald ‘Police brutality!’ Larsson” Persbrandt as Beorn “Werebear Beekeeper” Beorn!

This excitement does not make sense unless you’re both a Tolkien and a Martin Beck fan. This is probably, outside Sweden, a very limited set, but my parents are great fans of not too gory police procedurals.

*

*, “the Doctor” : At this point I spent a few minutes wondering who David Tennant could have played. Couldn’t come up with anything better than “a nude dancing elf”.

**, “Azanulbizar” : In canon, Thror wasn’t killed in the battle, and his earlier death in the hands of Azog inspired the war and the battle (“Hey boss, this orc beheaded your father. He burned his name on the face in big runes though, so we know who he is. Whaddaya wanna do?”); and in canon Azog died at Azanulbizar, killed by Dain Ironfoot — but it’s still the bloody battle outside Moria where Thorin got the name Oakenshield.

(One of my favorite parts of the battle description was young Dain Ironfoot looking in the East Gate of Moria, seeing a familiar balrog-y being of shadow and flame, Durin’s Bane, and stumbling back to tell the surviving dwarves that they probably didn’t want to go to Moria after all. But though I think we saw Dain in the battle scenes, and have heard Thorin referring to him as unwilling to help, we haven’t met him yet — so maybe that scene’s still to come.)

(And, finally, I wonder if they’ll hint at Balin and his tragic mistake between the trilogies: in Hobbit-canon the last we see of him is a prosperous dwarf of Erebor, and in the Lord of the Rings we see him as cold bones entombed in Moria, a would-be king in an already occupied kingdom, his grave decorated by scarcely younger dwarf and orc bones and rusted blades. Gimli reacts to that quite strongly; Frodo doesn’t, not having the same connection as Bilbo would have had.)

(Fanfic idea: Take the Lord of the Rings from Elrond’s Council and suppose that Frodo didn’t volunteer, but Bilbo did. How does an elderly, ring-besotted Hobbit survive the journey south?)

(“By the power invested in me by this One Ring of Power, I call thee forth, Balin son of Fundin, my friend of old! Rise! Rise like the Nosferatu! Also, fuck off Balrog you git, I don’t have time for small fries.”)

***, “POP QUIZ” : Gandalf. It’s impossible for Gandalf to not be in the remaining Hobbit films. Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel were in all of the Rings films (I think we see Galadriel in The Two Towers), but though it’s very likely it’s not yet Gandalf-level certain that they will be in both of the Hobbit sequels. Frodo is likely not in the middle Hobbit; and Bilbo wasn’t (if I recall correctly) in The Two Towers.

Meat rabbits

December 17, 2012

“So, what do you do for living?”

“I raise meat rabbits.”

“Is… is that something as creepy as it sounds like?”

“Nah, I use halogens. No guttering candles for me; that’s Halloween shit.”

“Right, Night of the Lepus, ha ha ha.”

“And I have my own plot of land. Here’s a tip: anybody that creeps over to the churchyard is likely to be unhygienic as fuck. Don’t buy from them.”

“Wait, what are you talking about?”

“Raising meat rabbits.”

“I’m not sure I’m sure what you’re talking about.”

“Oh right, you’re thinking I mean ‘rabbits’ when I say ‘rabbits’, right? Right, oh yeah, I told people it’s too cutesy-poo, too ‘sea kitten’, and will cause confusion down the road and here we are. Confusion.”

“Wait. Churchyard… candles… no actual rabbits… you’re a grave robber?”

“The technical term is tomb raider, but I ain’t one. That’s not what I do. I don’t care what people are buried with, and besides the answer usually is ‘jack shit’. And I’ve never opened a single coffin so how should I know?”

“Wait, uh, rabbits?”

“Like I said, cutesy-poo. They’re nothing like rabbits, except the same size more or less — well, some are big, some are damn huge, but so are some rabbits. The first thing is to put a grille in front of the halogen because they can leap and they’re a… a lady dog situation in the dark if they break the light.”

“I’m getting a headache.”

“Oh. Have a pill.”

“What’s this?”

“Meat rabbit extract.”

“Thank you, but no thank you.”

“It’s hygienic and organic, mind you. Nothing of the ‘a pound of tomb dust!’ or the ‘a little PVC for kicks!’, I don’t do that.”

“PVC? Do you mean PCP?”

“Either, actually. Or both. A lot of people in my line of work are irresponsible scum, but I rely on the main ingredient, 85% pure, with a bite of lemon. But like I said, I have my own plot, and I use deer carcasses most of the time. You still got to kit and sew them, but at least it’s legal; no awkward questions at the Farmers Market!”

“Wait. Wait. S—sew?”

“Well, when’s the last time you saw a man with antlers and hooves? The bone structure’s pretty much okay, but there’s a lot of shaving and folding and slipping, and then you take catgut — not from a cat, obviously, that would be gross — and sew it into a position, put it in the box, slip it into the ground, and wait for the, sigh, the rabbits to come.”

“I… I… with every sentence it seems more obvious to me that I have never heard about whatever it is that you do.”

“Well, that’s the problem. And when we try to raise our profile, we do something damnfool stupid like calling them ‘meat rabbits’ and here we are, all confused. If it was my decision, I’d rather call it graveflesh like in old days and deal with those problems.”

“G–g—”

“Graveflesh.”

“Graveflesh?”

“Yeah, the most obvious problem is that people think, yuck, graveflesh is dead people. That’s a myth. And a lie propagated by the cow industry, too; as if cowflesh doesn’t look like people too.”

“I—”

“Never thought about that, did you? How do you know where your hamburger comes from? Could be some Greenpeace type went into the factory and never came out. Conk ’em on the head and stuff ’em into the grinder; people that deal with cows all day long build up a lot of anger.”

“Th—that doesn’t happen!”

“Oh, were you there to see it didn’t? Why do you think vegetarians look so harried? I’d look harried too if the meat driver smacked his lips every time he passed me. They’re… they’re cows led by wolves. Real predatory bastards. Graveflesh is better; you’re actually half farming with it, I’ve hooked many vegetarians with the argument that graveflesh is practically half a vegetable, and basically the ultimate sustainable, recycled, circle-of-life foodstuff there is, it’s beautiful how it ties everything together. Ah Gawd, you got me crying now, it’s so beautiful.”

“I… I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t speak; eat.”

*

So I am reading a genuine raising-meat-rabbits AMA over on Reddit, and this idea comes up and bam! A blog post.

*

“So, raising the dead?”

“No, just raising meat rabbits for dinner. Hand me the pentagram, would you?”

“Here you go, honey.”

“In nomine Lepus, arrivere! In nomine Bunnicula, ascendio! In nomine domine Inferno incarne — come not in that form! Come not in that form! Come not—”

“HEEEEEE—RE’S FLUFFY! RED EYES, WHITE FUR, GARAGE SIZE! CUTE, ARTICULATE AND HOMICIDALLY INSANE! HA HA HA! PET ME OR DIE, HUMAN SCUM!”

The Hobbit: first impressions

December 12, 2012

Overall reaction: This movie is a glorious, overindulgent, geeky hot mess and I love it.

It’s a third of the book at two hours and fifty minutes, but there’s no flab. The movie more leaps and runs from one scene to the other, not resting. (Then again, you shouldn’t trust this unless you trust me, and I am heavily biased: a Tolkien geek with little movie-analytical gifts or interests.)

*

This whole movie feels like they took the Lord of the Rings team, fed everybody lots of drugs, and told them to get to work. (“No no, I can see it! Rabbit pulled sleigh!“)

This-all feels like Peter Jackson read the Hobbit and said, “Thunder giants? Not quite over-the-top enough.” Everything is more extreme, more grotesque, more outlandish; and in this movie, it works well.

*

Peter Jackson is better suited for this than he was for the Lord of the Rings. The latter is a book of great solemnity and stern humorlessness, with occasional professor-of-language nerd jokes, of momentous occasions and great anguish. The Hobbit has talking spiders and bone dead stupid comedy trolls. The Lord of the Rings as done by Jackson was a touch… a touch crass, maybe? The additions didn’t always fit the spirit of the movie. The Hobbit is perfect for Jackson’s phantasmagoria. If you add slapstick to the Lord of the Rings, or over-the-top action stunts, they don’t quite fit. They fit in the Hobbit.

*

The movie is not true to the spirit of the book; but it has found a spirit of its own. The movie is the book, grown up and crooked.

The book-Rivendell is a place of enchantment and elvishness. The movie-Rivendell is a place of tenseness and wariness. I think I like the movie-Rivendell better; it shows more than what Bilbo saw, and since we “know” the Lord of the Rings trilogy is going to happen, we need to see more than just what the clueless Hobbit saw.

Overall, the most outlandish and childish bits have been pruned away. The trolls don’t have a talking purse. The eagles don’t speak — I suppose that would have been hard to pull off convincingly.

*

Just one “For fuck’s sake!” plot moment that stuck with me. Thorin has all his dwarves up in arms, and the trolls have Bilbo. Trolls say, either we rip Bilbo apart, or you-all surrender and (by implication) we eat all of you and Bilbo. It does not seem anyone could be so fecking stupid as to choose the second alternative: what, throw thirteen dwarves away to buy the Hobbit a few hours of life? Madness even in the context of the whole stupid surrender-or-the-friend-gets-it meme.

*

The addition of Azog works nicely, I think. Adds more structure to the episodic, unconnected book-plot.

*

Two hours and fifty minutes is a long time and a lot happens. You could break this movie into two or three pieces like a miniseries and make it a bit easier to watch.

*

The mythology additions and extrapolations fit (on the first look) really well, though I’m pretty certain a lot of them are not even History of Middle-Earth canon. Overall I remember counting just three points where I felt the urge to leap up and scream “Fuck you, Peter Jackson!” — and all were during the first half-hour. (First and second were over the narrative overglorification of the Dale-Erebor realm; what, they were better than Gondor? Preposterous! But the narrator was Bilbo, who really is not an impartial observer. The third was a mention of prophecies and this being the time of prophecy; I really don’t remember that from the original, and I think it takes away from the danger and uncertainty of Thorin et al’s undertaking.)

I never even considered what would happen to Sting’s glow if the only orc present died. Does the glow result from live orcs, or will a dead orc-body do? Very nice, movie!

The Dol Guldur addition — the Witch-King out of the statue — was neatly done. The White Council’s talk of the Witch-King’s body buried in the hills of Rhudaur seems like a break with canon, but one that works very well for mood and plot. In real canon, Angmar (Sauron’s catspaw of centuries ago, set up to destroy the northern Dunedain kingdom of Arnor, from the Shire to Rivendell, the kingdom of Aragorn’s fathers) was defeated at the Battle of Fornost and it is explicitly stated that the Witch-King fled; no capture, death or burial for him. He was long since a shade, a Ringwraith at the time, and there’s no canon source that I can recall that would describe him at all; certainly not as a possessing spirit, capable of leaving some corpse behind or being trapped in one. So, probably a total invention; but it works well.

*

Will probably go and re-see the movie next week; may write something more analytical then.

A switch

December 10, 2012

And now, a quote from Bash.org:

[#86444]

<Dynamo> Do that again, and I will switch your testicles with your eyes.

This, to me and probably only to me, screams like an idea for a comic book superhero. Probably one of those black-and-white comic books with really expressive art, lots of drugs, and really small publishers.

Or then a novel of personal tragedy and coping with it.

*

“Ew, look at that guy.”

“The one with those boxed-in sunglasses? Sitting with his legs spread like he’s the God King of Sex?”

“That’s the one. The one who keep touching his crotch all the time.”

“Eeuw.”

“It’s not just that, there’s something glinting there. I think he has a camera hidden there.”

“A camera in his crotch?”

“What else could it be? A monocle?”

*

“Hey, braveheart, you scram. You ain’t got the balls to stand up to me.”

I grinned as wide as I could, and raised a hand to my shades. From my lowly vantage point I could see the bully shifting uneasily, not knowing why I wasn’t running already. “I ain’t got the balls?” I grated, then swiped the glasses off, feeling a pair flop out onto my cheeks. “I got more balls than you know.”

After that there was only screaming and running on their part, and more mad grinning from me.

*

“Ma’am, did you get a look at his face?”

“I… Officer, I don’t know if I—”

“Anything you can say is of help. Hair color, eye color—”

“Aaaaa—”

“Ma’am? Ma’am, why are you— Did I say something?”

*

“The hell…? Are they painted on or what? Seriously, man, who paints their nuts to look like eyes?”

“That’s not all.”

“Yikes! They blinked! How did you do that?”

“Years of practice.”

“Don’t tell me this is a passed-down-in-the-family thing.”

*

It’s a well-known bit of advice that you should never anger a wizard, for they are cackling mad and quick to anger.

They also don’t do figurative speech. You’d think they would, being all John Dee and alchemy-mumbo-jumbo and astral spirits sloshing all over the place, but they don’t.

They mean exactly what they say. No more, and no less.

Trust me, I know this from experience.

I’ve talked to several surgeons. They’ve mostly just screamed back at me. Then gibbered that even if they tried, I’d end up impotent and blind. That they’ve never seen anything like me. That they were never taught anything like this. That their school would like me to become an exhibit.

No. I have too much dignity for that.

Plus I don’t think there’s going to be a second case of me. The wizard added insult to injury: he laughed so hard he died of it. Then his ghost saw me crying “Help! I see my underpants!” and it died of laughter too.

*

It’s not the loneliness of my condition that gets to me.

No, it’s the sex life.

All I see is a fist, always almost punching me in the eyes. That’s a major turn-off.

On the other hand, I can infinitely delay ejaculation just by tensing my throat a bit. Then I swallow and, boom, here I come. The joys of unorthodox tubing.

As for partners, well, I would be the most attentive of lovers, eyes open for all details, but for obvious reasons I mostly make love in the dark. And, in reality, slapping your squeezed-shut eyes against someone’s butt gets old really fast.

Not to mention that one lady who decided she wanted to see my eyes before we finished. She screamed, kneed me in the eyes, and ran away. I was cross-eyed for a week.

*

I switched jobs pretty quickly. When you see through your crotch, you don’t look good when using your computer. Or reading a book. Plus when you sit down at your desk you’re practically blind. You hear someone coming, you push back, push your crotch up at them, shake it to align your eyes with the discreet slits, and yell “Hello Helen!” — doesn’t get you any friends in the company.

I tried acting like I was actually really medically blind — hey, I was wearing the shades already — but there are lots of blind people and those guide dogs, they were always going for the crotch, nose wet and curious. And they got really angry when I tried to stare them down.

“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten to Fifi-Arnold now. He’s been staring at your… your no-nos for a while now, and I’ve never seen him growling like this!”

“Gee. I never noticed. Been… been watching the skyline or a wall the whole time.”

Does a cloth-covered crotch with eyes look like a dog’s face to a dog or something? I’ve been trying to find an answer to this question, but seems nobody has ever asked it before.

*

I am a rare hero. I’m the only one that can get a broken nose when punched in the balls. I’m the only one whose farts are literally eye-watering. I’m the only one who needs shades and also fiber optics from the crotch to the collar to function in normal society. I’m a loner. An avenger. Wherever there is evil, I will be watching for it. Watching… from below.

I call myself… the Eyeball.

Coming up with an old joke

December 9, 2012

I was in the shower just now, and came up with a joke. It is a horrible joke; it is a low, disgraceful joke, and so I am happy I also came up with some philosophical meanderings to wrap around it.

The joke is:

“I wonder if anybody every called Little Richard… Tiny Dick?”

Now. I am very sure many other people have come up with this joke before me. (That they have actually inflicted it on other people, I’m not so sure about.) That’s the problem with jokes: you can come up with them on your own, and still appear unoriginal. What’s worse, because me and most of us aren’t professional wits, our jokes can appear like mutilated, half-remembered, less funny versions of existing jokes.

This is not such a problem with, say, novels, because literature has a coarser granularity. (Fancy words, aren’t they?) The judged unit of literature is “a novel”, not “a novel idea”. You could give a couple of novelists the same hundred-word novel idea, and each would (could?) produce an independently interesting novel. (Writer types often say that ideas are easy, and execution is hard. This is true; in my amateur novelist capability I’ve come up with hundreds of ideas and ran away from execution like… uh, Wikipedia has no list of famous people who have escaped the death penalty so I have no stinger for this.)

With jokes, there’s the idea and the telling of it, and the idea is much more important. With humor it’s much easier to appear a plagiarist, or an unoriginal hack. (I don’t know if there has been research on people re-telling jokes vs. coming up with original ones, and the spread of such things; if you could inflict horrendous 24/7 spying on people, that might create interesting data. Oh, wait; maybe eventually a university will go to Facebook, cash in hand, and suggest a data transfer…)