Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Leavin' On a Jet Plane

If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements.
Thank you to those who have been so interested in my pledge to write every day this year, and who have attempted to hold my feet to the fire. This weekend, I fell off the post-every-day wagon only two days after getting on. I have also realized the importance of a routine, since I put off writing any posts until I was too tired to actually write. I had a better record in July. I wanted to spend some extra time with Scooter, because I left on an extended business trip today. So far, my hotel internet connection does not look promising for prime-time gaming, given the load times just for web pages.

The Desolation of the Hobbit
On Saturday, Scooter and I went to see The Desolation of Smaug. I enjoyed the movie, though that is at least partly because I haven't read The Hobbit in years, and only know in broad strokes what liberties Peter Jackson took with the text. Not that I think it is necessary for movie makers to slave themselves to a book text.

My favorite recent movie, Cloud Atlas, unfolds quite differently from the book, cutting from scene to scene in different eras, whereas the book was basically five stories cut in half and sandwiched around a sixth like a Dagwood. That approach would not have worked well onscreen, but the intercutting does. More recently, Scooter and I saw Saving Mr. Banks, about P.L.Travers' trip to Los Angeles to finalize the film rights to her books with Walt Disney. The movie Mary Poppins is quite different in tone from the books. I'm not sure if it would be the classic it is if they had stuck to the way Travers wanted it done.

One problem with the "Jacksonverse" Hobbit is the weight of knowing what is yet to come chronologically. Bilbo's ring isn't simply a magic ring. It's THE ONE RING. That blond wood elf isn't just a soldier, it's Legolas! The Necromancer in Mirkwood isn't simply a sorcerer, it's the not yet-full-strength Sauron (whom Gandalf should have had no trouble defeating and driving out, as related after the fact in the book). So The Hobbit can't simply be the grand adventure that the book was. The same sense of doom infused the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy—and Titanic.

Anyway, Smaug was quite an adventure and certainly moved the story forward. But it suffers from Middle Movie Syndrome, much like Back to the Future Part II. The Two Towers suffered a bit from this, but not nearly to the same degree. In the end, I realize that it is mainly there to get us from the first movie to the third one. I can tell you what happened in Smaug, but I'm not sure I can tell you what it is about. But . . . I did like it. Though I do wish they had left more of Benedict Cumberbatch's voice in that of Smaug.

New Adventures in Norrath
Sort of taking some advice from commenters on Friday's post, Scooter and I decided to start new characters in the Fae lands near Kelethin. I chose a Ratonga Conjurer and named him Chervil; his first sidekick I named "Tuff." I was this close to making Chervil solid white with those shades. Scooter went with a Half-Elf Warden named Farreyn. So far it's been pretty fun, we played for a few hours after finishing chores and errands yesterday. I like Mage classes well enough, and Scooter decided the melee Swashbuckler wasn't much fun, she also prefers ranged combat. We also dipped our toes into EQ-style housing, and perhaps I will post on that in the coming days.

I hope everyone has a great week, I'll be offline during most of the day in the coming weeks, but hopefully I can find a routine for posting.


  1. The Hobbit is a difficult choice for a book->movie conversion. The book was essentially about a dozen or so fellows walking a long distance. There were few fights, as are required in most movies. There is not a distinct adversary until they finally get to the Mountain, practically at the end of the story, and encounter Smaug. The only big battle is at the very end. A memorable scene, Bilbo playing riddles with Smaug, had to be torn apart because half an hour of riddles doesn't play well in theaters.

    I think the magic ring was great. If anything it's quite a thrill to think that he had this enormously powerful ring and no one has the slightest clue about it. Even in The Fellowship of the Ring it takes Gandalf a lot of time to figure out what it is. Though much of the rest of it ends up being ridiculous: in the book there was such a preponderance of side-quests that the Necromancer could seem like just another bit of evil, whereas the movies are trying to be prequels and therefore everything they do must point directly toward The Lord of the Rings. That was rather short-sighted, since there are what, ~50 years between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, during which he could make a proper prequel and tell any story he wanted, since I'm pretty sure that's a somewhat empty part of the lore.

    1. I agree, after the Lord of the Rings books were published, The Hobbit was referred to as a "Prelude." It was never a prequel the way we think of them today. I'm not sure that was even a word until the 80s, was it?