Tuesday, January 29

Whoa. John wasnt kidding when he said reflections is addictive.
Mildly interesting: blogdex all time index. What you'd expect: Blogger, MeFi, Google, A-list, you know.

Monday, January 28

Steven posted a funny parody of 'Hiawatha' about weblogging on MetaFilter. Then he took it on the chin. He didn't deserve that kind of abuse, in my opinion.

I'm not sure how I missed this on Clueless, but I'm glad I read it.
Looks like they're going to add a preview of 'The Two Towers' to the end of 'The Fellowship of the Ring' in theaters. Guess I'll have to go again. This came to me via MeFi (and tranquileye), and there's some more discussion of the movie over there you might be interested in.

In that thread, verdezza linked Ebert's review. Very well done. There's much to appreciate about Jackson's movie, but it is a definite diminution of the scope and beauty of the books. It is, in Ebert's words, 'a sword-and-sorcery epic in the modern style, containing many of the same characters and incidents.' And it can be appreciated separately. I plan on seeing it again soon. But it's not the same.

I watched the Bakshi version the other night, and liked lots of it. It's much more faithful to the book, plot-wise. I'll post a longer review later. The main point, though, is that I wouldn't want to watch it again any time soon. And it's been at least 3 years since I last watched it, and I own it. How's that for faint praise?

Also, some people around the web (including the MeFi discussion above) have been dissing Tolkien's poetry. Let's add some context. You might not like it if you're used to contemporary stuff and if that's all you appreciate. But it's heavily informed by Old and Middle English poetry (not to mention Finnish, Old Norse/Icelandic, etc.). Blanket disapproval seems inappropriate.

For my part, I listened to an hour of Christopher Tolkien reading from 'The Tale of Beren and Luthien' from 'The Silmarillion' this weekend and I thought it was the most beautiful spoken words I've ever heard without exception. It's so noble and honorable.

Thursday, January 24

Got to post it. Got it from Scott: The ten biggest media companies in the world.

What to say? They're big. And they're far too influential. Think how many people get the bulk of their news and views of the world from these sources alone? But not you, faithful reader!

Wednesday, January 23

Steven has a crazy post about what to do if you have to fight a terrorist on a plane. And I have some crazy reflections:

Sounds to me like the best attack is just the shield rush. Heck, just call out the instructions if the guy(s) only has a knife: 'Everybody pick up your seat cushion and rush the bastard.'.

Good idea about liquid. Get some in your mouth nothing. Send people to get hot pots of coffee and scald the SOB, preferrably on the face.

And remember, I object to violence in all forms. Ahh, the joy of contradictiory human existence. That is all.
Johnny has a funny post about lots of things. One is the Sogg Master from Cap'n Crunch. Anthony wrote in to say he didn't like Cap'n Crunch because it cuts his mouth. That reminds me of my favorite quote from 'Microserfs', which I gave to John. I won't get it exactly right but it's close: I had three bowls of Cap'n Crunch without waiting for it to soften up so I have 'raw gobbets of mouth-beef hanging down on my tongue.'. How's that?

He also wrote that he's reading 'Shogun', if memory serves for the first time. How awesome! What a great book! That's one of those books you wish you could read over again for the first time and envy those who get to.
I'm getting a lot of hits, mostly from searches that are hitting terms I've actually written about. So that's good. If you come here via search, welcome.

Tuesday, January 22

I love Google, even more having read their latest manifesto.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man. He contributed invaluably to arguably the greatest social change that has ever been worked by people here in the US. He died for his ideals. He should be honored.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project
Seattle Times Feature

At the same time, he had real character flaws. His academic writings were plagiarized. He was a womanizing adulterer.

Finally, he broke with the historic Christian faith.

He denied some of the most fundamental components of historic Christianity. He repudiated the doctrine of the deity of Jesus, and he rejected the concept that the Lord was raised bodily from the dead. King disdained the New Testament affirmation of Christ’s virgin birth, asserting that the early Christians devised a mythological story to account for the moral uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth.

In summary, MLK was a great man who helped affect massive social change. But he was a man of deep flaws (as we all surely are). And, though many of his actions rank highly in the best of Christian tradition, Dr King was not a Christian in the historic sense of the word. Historically speaking, you have to believe in the deity of Christ to be called a Christian.
Rolozo Tolkien has the best gallery of Tolkien art on the web of anyone I've seen. That's one reason he gets hosted on TheOneRing.net.
As you know, I'm an Amazon watcher. Well, they posted their first net profit last quarter. That's a good sign. I hope they win through.

Monday, January 21

There are lots of reasons not to have a national ID card:

- Knowing who people are won't catch those with no previous criminal record (like the 9.11 terrorists). So that's no help unless we're going to start profiling.
- There are lots of ways to beat the system.
- It would take a lot of money and effort to make it reasonably effective.
- Police who are given powers to demand ID invariably have powers to detain people who do not have the card.

EFF fears that we'll end up with the worst of both worlds: a system that isn't good enough to protect against terrorism, but is good enough to create an internal passport system for ordinary, law-abiding Americans.
In the Tolkien department: We have a very exquisite Hobbit pop-up book after the work of John Howe. Wil really likes it. But I only want him to read it with me or Christine. So I made him his own little Hobbit book with pictures from the web, printed on a color printer, and simply stapled together. I think he likes it pretty well.

Make your own (these have the advantage of being about the right size):

'Bilbo's house has a round door.'
'There's Gandalf.'
'What do you see?' 'Dwarves and Bilbo.'
'Bilbo met Gollum.' 'He looks like a monkey.' (Elizabeth first made that observation.)
'Bilbo had to fight some big spiders.'
'There's the dragon named Smaug.'
'Bilbo talked to Smaug.'
'Smaug breathes fire.'

You can do more, of course. But Wil's 2 and a half (today). And these represent the pictures in the pop-up book.
Dude, a lot of us in our thirties have decided to make a personal change. Matt's revamping his schedule, running more, and writing his book. John's breaking a big Diet Coke habit and he shaved his head. I'm back to exercising three times a week and watching what I eat. I'd like to lose 15-20 pounds. And Eric's trying to get DSL (that's a little joke :-).

Sunday, January 20

Email about my recent bad experience with Musician's (so-called) Friend:

i looked at your gigbags online. i wrote to ask if one would fit my guitar. your technician wrote back and said yes. i got it. it did not fit. i called. the guy said 'look online because the dimensions are on there.'. they aren't. i called back. James said 'if a technician can't get that right, then i can't.'.

I'll let you know what they say.
Great Plains is a regional airline headquartered in Tulsa. They only fly to Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Nashville, and OKC. Every time I see them advertised I think 'How can these guys be making money?'. So I surfed their site. I still don't know. Non-snarky question: Does the public underwriting have anything to do with it?
After the MeFi Smallest Political Quiz post, Eric Eberhardt of Mythryn sent me this link for IDEAlog (Flash warning, for the averse). It's a well-done site in a similar vein. Some of my answers:

Atheists should be allowed to teach.
Government should help reduce income differences.
Same-sex domestic partnerships should get same rights/benefits.
Government should help provide jobs.
Life in prison instead of captial punishment (esp. because it's proven racist).
"We have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country." disagree
Oppose laws for using Internet records in court.
Government programs helped Blacks some.
Enforce existing gun laws AND pass new ones.
It's the government's responsibility to help provide health care.
Such confessions should not be admissible.
If the government had to choose between keeping down inflation or keeping down unemployment to which do you think it should give highest priority? keeping down unemployment
Possession alone should be a criminal offense.
Favor allowing persons to invest Social Security taxes in the market.
Government is regulating violence on TV about right or should do less.
Government funds should go only to public schools (but maybe there should be breaks for those who opt for homeschool or private).
Disapprove of ruling against required school prayers (but optional might be in play).
Affirmative action has been good overall.
More pro-life.
The government in Washington should help blacks.

What can I say? I'm a plain-old liberal overall. I think government should be involved in helping bring equality. I think that the right to a decent standard of living is more basic than the right to make as much money as you can.

Lest you think that makes me a Democrat, the Democrats do not well represent liberals, so I don't support them.
Really nice Lord of the Rings in Legos. It's nice to see the book represented faithfully.

Saturday, January 19

. Didn't read the article, though.
Remember that post about 'war in heaven' and The Silmarillion? Silus wrote in about it and I'm terribly late in replying.

Curious about your "Rebellion in Heaven" comment from Friday's post.

Basically, I'm curious what your take on it is as a protestant.

Mormons, for our part, take that little passage literally: that Satan
was in Heaven and was thrust out for rebellion -- the Archangel
Michael (pre-mortal Adam) taking part.

That's how we Evangelical Protestants take it, too: pretty literally. It's your basic Paradise Lost kind of stuff. I can't speak for all Protestants, of course.

One difference is that we don't see Michael as pre-mortal Adam. In that way I guess we take it even more literally, Michael and Adam being two separate beings.

Any further thoughts on the idea?
Mild link update: Jim isn't posting anymore, so he falls off. Every one else is still in the game. Ryan posted least recently, so he falls to the bottom. Rob moves up with some recent posts.

Friday, January 18

This is really scary, in a fascinating sort of way: vidcaps from the 1978 pilot Legends of the Superheroes. Kind of like live-action Super Friends (via Hobbsblog).
Speculation about Fellowship of the Ring deleted scenes which may be on the DVD (and further pages at the bottom). As you read, think about how many of these scenes could have better filled out the plot and developed characters and stuck closer to the book than the stuff Peter added.

And according to Dark Horizons, CNN's Showbiz Today segment confirmed the news, saying that the Fellowship DVD director's cut would be over four hours in length. (via IGN)
Let's make a deal: nobody goes to Black Hawk Down without thinking about some of the larger issues(grist via RobotWisdom):

How much was Big Oil a motivation? (Or, why Somalia for humanitarian intervention and not other places (why Kuwait?))?

What about the Somali loss of life?

What about racism in the military?

What about the social class gap between those who fight and those who decide?

What about Full Spectrum Dominance?

We're at war with terrorism (like it or not). Subtlety is hard to come by. Let's not glorify too many military missions. Yes, men (and women) do amazing things. In this case, they went all out to save one another (never leave a man behind). That's praiseworthy, yes. But were these praisworthy men? Should they have even been there? Let's try to keep our heads.
Jeff's Oscar Nomination Predictions

Something is wrong with the industry if Ian McKellan doesn't win best supporting actor.
It's smart to control leaks, and if George the Second is really doing it that effectively, kudos.
In other Tolkien news, I'm thinking about starting a website for Christians who find Tolkien and his work inspirational to their Christian life.
Cognitive-dissonance-inducing dimensional shift:

I didn't know there's basically an English-Elven dictionary over at Ardalambion. (Of course, it's more complicated than that, but that's the basic gist.)
Here's a Flash history of Israel done by the Guardian that I ran into while researching the preceding post.

Synopsis of the early days:

Jews wanted to move back to Israel.
The UN suggested two states.
The Jews accepted. The Arabs rejected.
The Jews declared their state.
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt invaded, but were beaten back.

Since then, 1948, there's been a lot of fighting, which Israel has always gotten the best of.

I don't deny Israelis the right to protect themselves.

However, they bring much of the grief on themselves by their inhumane treatment of Palestinians.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: In such a conflict, special consideration should be given to those who cannot defend themselves, to the ones who don't have power, to the oppressed.

Of course, this is all complicated by the fact that the PLO and the Palestinian state have not dealt lawfully with Israel. Arafat has screwed a lot of things up.

However, Israel has constantly pushed and agitated, like Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount.

Arrrgh! I hate this conflict. Should the world step in and stop the fighting? Even if we should, it won't happen, because Israel has the only superpower in their pocket. I think this is largely a function of American Jewish special interest money. Am I wrong about this? I'm open to being convinced (with good argument and evidence) otherwise. Is the situation much more nuanced? I don't hate Jews. But the effect this American Jewish money-Israeli front has on American foreign policy, all the way down to contributing factors to 9.11 (which has not been acknowledged for one second in public by anyone in federal government as far as I know) is unconscionable to me.
I can't believe this slipped under my radar (probably because I haven't been reading the Web Today): Sami al Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, is in danger of being fired for his alleged ties to terrorists.

First, he was on 'The O'Reilly Factor' on September 26th.. He received death threats and hate mail and the University started to lose financial support, so he got placed on paid leave.

Then, he issued a press release saying he was misused by O'Reilly (which looks accurate to me). (I couldn't find it anywhere else. Did the TBO pull it? Thank God (literally) for Google.)

Now the University is trying to get rid of him. They say they need a safe campus. That's a bunch of baloney. They're losing donations. They've even said so:

USF President Judy Genshaft issued a statement Monday... "This is a unique case of how one person's activities outside the scope of his employment have resulted in harm to the legitimate interests of the university," Genshaft said. She has said she considers Al-Arian, a tenured computer science professor, a security risk whose anti-Israel views have cost the university financial support. (via Salon)

What they need is academic freedom with integrity. This guy is no radical. He doesn't advocate violence. We should all be anti-Israel to some degree.

Wednesday, January 16

I have become fascinated with Justin Hall's life (the guy who's giving away that ticket). Some portion of that fascination comes from the sheer amount of it that he has on the web. I've been looking especially at the Japan thread. Whoa. Never seen a subway system that dense. And I bet those Japanese names are real easy to confuse.
Steven says:

It changes everything. Instead of sticking a disk into your player whenever you want to listen to the music on it, you'll install your music onto the player. The disk will be used the way a computer software install disk is used now. How many people actually need more than 400 albums worth of music?

Bring it on.
interact correspondent Silus Grok threw the quiz up on MeFi with a link to me, so go over there if you want to see the discussion. Thanks, Silus!
I wasn't going to post this, I resisted the temptation, but the pictures just kept coming on AT&T message center: Mary Tyler Moore has had at least one too many facelifts (scroll to bottom). And the banner ad on AT&T is the most Joker-looking of them all. I'm sorry, but there it is. I'm glad she's contributing to a good cause, though. That is all.
Thinking of the playoffs:

Who do I want to win? Chicago, either Oakland or New England, Pittsburgh, and St Louis. Then St Louis (with no subsequent AFC preference).

Who do I think will win? Can't handicap many of the teams except St Louis. I'll throw my lot in with them.

That's a pretty good deal, when who you want to win is who you think will win.
Speaking of Ralph Fiennes, did I even tell you about the time I was discussing with my actress friend how I didn't like Mel Gibson (the action movie sex symbol) as Hamlet (the brooding intellectual) and she said 'Then who?' and I said 'Maybe Ralph Fiennes.' and then I found out he played him on Broadway? That was awesome! He won a Tony for his portrayal. Man, I wish I could get a hold of a copy of that performance.

Warning! In my search for Ralph Fiennes Hamlet I saw that Keanu Reaves once played Hamlet. Can you imagine how bad that must have been? I can't... Be afraid, be very afraid.
Joshua Tyree says the Death Star Trash Compactor is implausible. No doubt!

So I'll add one I've been thinking about lately: Luke Skywalker went from piloting 'speeders' on planet to piloting a fighter in space, in 3-d, without gravity, to great effect. Talk about implausible! Isn't that like me going from driving a car to piloting an F-16?
I'm thinking about Amanda Root today, who played Anne Elliot in the wonderful film 'Persuasion'. imdb. Here's a bio from another project (scroll down a little). She's worked with some cool guys: Daniel Day Lewis, Ralph Fiennes, directed by Kenneth Brannagh. And here's a Google archive interview (but not very interesting).

Tuesday, January 15

John has a couple of dream posts today that only he could have dreamed.
Also from Jason yesterday: Justin is giving away one airplane ticket based on the best trip proposal. Christine, you should definitely submit, considering how much you would love to win it (Will you submit for Disney World? We'll see.). I think I'm going to work on a submission as well.
i was a 20-something dotcom dethroned ceo that went to work the counter at mcdonald's: cool link from Jason (Scott, you must read this). Heck, everyone should read it. Notice, Scott in the article spent some time kicking around Iowa City, where I have, too (though not at the U).
The other was The World's Smallest Political Quiz. I came out Left Centrist. The questions and my answers:

Personal Issues--
Military service should be voluntary. (No draft) yes.
Government should not control radio, TV, the press or the Internet. yes.
Repeal regulations on sex for consenting adults. yes.
Drug laws do more harm than good. Repeal them. no.
People should be free to come and go across borders; to live and work where they choose. no.

Economic Issues--
Businesses and farms should operate without govt. subsidies. yes.
People are better off with free trade than with tariffs. maybe - does it encourage inhumane working conditions elsewhere?
Minimum wage laws cause unemployment. Repeal them. no.
End taxes. Pay for services with user fees. much more so than currently, but not entirely.
All foreign aid should be privately funded. no.
I haven't read Scott for a while (heck, I haven't even seen him for a while, and we live in the same town and I work with his mom), but I found some fun stuff over there. One was his campaign finance reform post to MeFi (which discussion includes some hilarious commentary by our own hyper-libertarian and beloved John 13.
Matt's got an interesting post about this iteration of the iMac and the future of digital publishing:

I can see the Steve Jobs presentation now “The Great American Novel will be written on an ibook running iWrite, and printed, published, and delivered instantly for $14.95 for the first 50 pages.”

Monday, January 14

There's a Lord of the Rings petition asking for an extensive DVD. I support this, too. And let me add another request:

an option to watch a version as close to the books as possible, which would, among other things, cut out:

all scenes of Saruman creating the Uruk Hai
all lines spoken by Liv Tyler
Boromir finding the ring on the snow
that 'jump across the chasm/falling staircase thing' from Moria
most of the final fighting at Amon Hen, including Aragorn talking to Frodo and letting him go, Aragorn facing the Uruk Hai alone, Lursk (or whatever) shooting Boromir with the bow, and Aragorn killing Lursk

Does that cut out a whole hour? It might get close. At least a half hour.

(Thanks, Cody, for pointing me to the petition.)
You know I love Matt, so don't take this in a bad way - just a little fun: It's a good thing a meteor didn't drop on Pt Reyes National Park this weekend, or we would have lost 5 A-listers in one fell swoop.
Dan Gillmor explores the Google Effect and why it's less important to have an intuitive, memorable URL.

Coming soon to an ad near you: 'Just plug 'Sean Meade' into Google, and click 'I'm feeling lucky'.

(Wait a minute. That would be dumb. seanmeade.com is available. Well, you get the idea.)

Sunday, January 13

We've put up a couple of posts on the long-fallow twinlog. If you stopped checking due to lack of new material, you might want to check it out.

Saturday, January 12

Fun found on Daypop (where lots of other fun is found): What would your Advanced Dungeons and Dragons stats be?


Str: 11
Int: 15
Wis: 12
Dex: 11
Con: 8
Chr: 18


Listen, I'm amazed by the 18 on Charisma, too. I was able to honestly answer all of the questions that way. Go check 'em out. And if you have a different opinion about me, feel free to email.

Wish my intelligence and wisdom were higher. I got all the latter wisdom ones but couldn't nail the everyday common sense/presence type stuff. I've always wished my IQ was higher, but I qualify that by saying my EQ (Emotional Quotient) is high, and I'd rather be moderately smart and have good people skills than scary smart without. I guess that's charisma.

Con: 8. Okay, I guess I'm a wuss.
For those of you coming over here for reviews of Rob Inglis reading the Lord of the Rings let me be completely clear: these unabridged recordings rule. I've listened to most of 'The Fellowship of the Ring' and 'The Return of the King'. Buy them as soon as you can afford them, especially if you're going on a trip.

Friday, January 11


one stop to opt out of those infernal pop-up-under ads.

And it's so quick and easy. What more can I say?

Traffic's up with searches and refers from Nathan and Eric.

Nathan says, good-naturedly, that I'm taking this Tolkien stuff too seriously. He may be right. I simply find that I'm not willing to leave it. I could read other stuff, but I don't want to leave Middle Earth. So after finishing the Tolkien biography I started in on part of the Silmarillion. He writes:

I really need to get together with Sean and talk about Tolkien and God. There are plenty of crossovers there as well; Tolkien was a Catholic and infused many of his writings with a near-deist conception of an all powerful creator with little power or volition to intervene. The creation story in the beginning of The Silmarillion is reminiscent of Paradise Lost, especially the part about the rebellion in heaven.

I'd love to, Nathan. Short answer: Tolkien hated allegory. He wanted to write a 'true' story/history that readers could draw lessons and applications from in various ways, not just the limited ways of allegory. As to Tolkien's faith, it was certainly sincere, but different in practice than mine. I find myself asking, almost unwittingly, 'How can a Christian be so into mythology?' I haven't answered that question. There are other things to be said as well, but we'll start there.

Bonus quote: Tolkien esteemed the Germans and their hard work and patriotism, so he said he had a grudge against that 'ruddy little ignoramus Hitler' for spoiling them. Nice.

Some of you are coming over via Eric who says in his siderbar redesign that my site is one of the 5 he reads everyday (one of the 5 being mega-A-lister Brad). I am honored and humbled down to my soles. Thank you, Eric.

Wednesday, January 9

Wow. This has been a productive Christmas/birthday, wishlist wise. The following came to me in this blitz:

Godric, Children of the Mind, Xenocide, All This Time, The Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack, Guide to the Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion, JRR Tolkien (bio), Summershine, Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, The Other Wind, Allied 159-piece Tool Kit, Tolkien Audio Collection, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. (You know how to look these up on Amazon yourself, right?)

How's that for loot? Thank you one and all!
I found the Geek Hierarchy over on blogdex, and it's pretty funny.
Hey, good news: I didn't have a deadbeat Secret Santa. Dan Geiser was my Secret Santa and picked out a very nice book for me. So go read his site. From two days ago I pick The Geeks Who Saved Usenet.
I started looking over Steven's greatest hits. He's got a lot of good stuff in there, even some things I missed:

Why was the US experience in Afghanistan so much different than that the USSR?
Why we lost the Vietnam War
Amway, blogging and you
1,300 enemy men killed by handful of Green Berets. These guys were targetters for the B-52 bombers. Interesting read.
Funny development: remember that 'Yours is a very bad hotel' PowerPoint presentation? The manager of said hotel asked that it be taken down, and the author agreed. Then the manager asked that his name and hotel be removed because Cory didn't have permission to use it. Sorry, Joseph. That's not how it works. (Update via Jason.)

Monday, January 7

Long time no Steven, so let me fix that: lucid defense of having more than 2000 nuclear weapons in our arsenal. Not that I'm championing this view, but I can see where he's coming from, and it's thought provoking.
Want to know how to put photos on the web so people can look at them? Not surprisingly, Dean has it figured out (via Kottke).
Wholey Mackerel! Gregg Knauss is writing again! But be warned: it's not particularly funny or light so far, this novel he's working on(from Matt).
Okay, now that I've logged something non-Tolkien I can post on Tolkien again, right?

This comes in from our Australian correspondent John 'lagado' Hardy: An article from Nando Times on one of the guys who helped with the elvish languages for the movies. Thanks, John!

I'm thinking of becoming a linguist. What do you think?
Coca-Cola, Enron, ExxonMobil, Phillip Morris, and Wal-Mart made Multinational Monitor/Essential Information's Ten Worst Corporations of 2001 list. (Essential Information was founded by Ralph Nader to promote activism, if you want an inkling as to where this is coming from.) Go read the report and judge for yourself!
Okay, here’s the first installment of my longer Fellowship of the Ring review. If you were here for the first one, you’ll remember that I was intentionally uncritical. Now I’m feeling freer.

First, let me begin by saying that Peter Jackson had to make the movie that he thought would sell. He bled it, so he gets to pick how he’s going to make it. I don’t know what would appeal to the masses. What would appeal to me is an adaptation as close to the books as possible. That didn’t happen.

This review comes to you courtesy of me sitting in ‘FotR’ the second time with my Palm Pilot light on, hastily punching in notes on the pop-up keyboard. I gave myself a head-ache, as you might imagine, but it’s worth it for you, faithful reader!

Many things were done extremely well: the change in the size of the ring, the battle in Mordor between the Last Alliance of men and elves and Sauron, the opening synopsis, the eye of Sauron fx, and lots of other stuff that I may list more exhaustively later.

Christine and Ancalagon the Black made a good point: any time spent on the stuff Peter Jackson made up was time taken away from Tolkien’s time-tested vision. We thought some of the stuff here was way too over the top and took up time that could have been devoted to something else, or even cut.

(Note on Ancalagon: His Complete List of Film Changes is messed up on The One Ring. I can only get it to come up sort of properly in the Google caches. So here are the first two: One Two. This dude composed an exhaustive list. It's amazing, and a little scary. He did it before the movie ever came out.)

As much as I liked parts of Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of Aragorn, he’s just not the man for the job. If memory serves, Aragorn is almost a hundred years old when ‘FotR’ takes place. He lives so long because he has some elvish blood in him, way back. Viggo can’t pull of this kind of experience and wisdom. Also, Aragorn is highly educated, having grown up in Rivendell, and knows a lot of ‘lore’. Again, that’s not Viggo’s bag. For whatever it’s worth, I think Liam Neeson would have been a better choice for Aragorn, though not as if portraying Qui Gon Jinn. Neeson can play the older action hero, and wisdom and experience and deep emotions. Then we’d need a different Arwen (Liv Tyler). More on that later.

Jackson makes the decision to portray Aragorn as reluctant. Elrond says he’s chosen exile. That’s not the book’s treatment at all. Now I appreciate Aragorn’s fear that he will repeat Isildur’s folly. Peter is probably especially bringing this out in light of Aragorn’s aspiration to wed Arwen. Elrond is obviously disapproving of men (which was also overdone. In the book, Aragorn is merely reluctant.) This issue could have been handled better.

I like Viggo as an action hero. And that’s part of the problem: Aragorn is not a Hollywood action hero. The fights become progressively more choreographed, less resembling how a fight might actually go. At the end, on Amon Hen, after letting Frodo go, Aragorn faces the entire Uruk Hai force. Wrong. Sorry. He kills the chief Uruk Hai. But after almost being defeated, he really seems scarcely winded. Jackson wrote and directed Aragorn as too spry and too fancy.

I really dislike Jackson’s portrayal of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). I’m sorry, because I love Cate Blanchett, and I thought she was a perfect choice for Galadriel. But this Galadriel is too perilous. She talks funny too much (how else to describe it?). Yes, Galadriel could be hard. But she was also gracious, much more so than portrayed here. In general, Jackson's Galadriel is too over-the-top, especially at in the scene with her mirror and anytime she's talking funny in someone's mind.

Friday, January 4

Wicked cool: the Google zeitgeist for the year. Very must read-able. Some of the top-stories: AYBABTU, the Seattle earthquake, the high correlation of Google with television watching (okay, they're blowing their own horns some, but they do rule), the execution of Timothy McVeigh and his reading of 'Invictus', September 11th and the war, and The Lord of the Rings.
Of the Top 10 Searches on Daypop, half are sex-related. That's pretty lame.
Hmm. Next year is Tolkien's 'eleventy-first' birthday. I should start the website for the celebration right now. All 'eleventyfirst' TLDs are available. Anybody want to go in on it with me?
And here's your Tolkien link for the day: Ardalambion: Of the Tongues of Arda, the invented world of J.R.R. Tolkien. This is a seriously hard-core site. And the author is actually updating pretty regularly (including yesterday).

Tolkien's languages were based on existing languages that he took his own way. Who could describe it better than the professor himself?

"The archaic language of lore is meant to be a kind of 'Elven-latin', and by transcribing it into a spelling closely resembling that of Latin...the similarity to Latin has been increased ocularly. Actually it might be said to be composed on a Latin basis with two other (main) ingredients that happen to give me 'phonaesthetic' pleasure: Finnish and Greek. It is however less consonantal than any of the three. This language is High-elven or in its own terms Quenya (Elvish)" (Letters:176).

Quenya was the ultimate experiment in euphony and phonaesthetics, and according to the taste of many, it was a glorious success. The grammatical structure, involving a large number of cases and other inflections, is clearly inspired by Latin and Finnish.
Speaking of 'okay', I was wondering about its origin the other day. I looked it up on dictionary.com. Fascinating:

[Abbreviation of oll korrect, slang respelling of all correct.]

Word History: OK is a quintessentially American term that has spread from English to many other languages. Its origin was the subject of scholarly debate for many years until Allen Walker Read showed that OK is based on a joke of sorts. OK is first recorded in 1839 but was probably in circulation before that date. During the 1830s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses. Sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add to the humor. OK was used in March 1839 as an abbreviation for all correct, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct. Originally spelled with periods, this term outlived most similar abbreviations owing to its use in President Martin Van Buren's 1840 campaign for reelection. Because he was born in Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and the abbreviation proved eminently suitable for political slogans. That same year, an editorial referring to the receipt of a pin with the slogan O.K. had this comment: “frightful letters... significant of the birth-place of Martin Van Buren, old Kinderhook, as also the rallying word of the Democracy of the late election, ‘all correct’.... Those who wear them should bear in mind that it will require their most strenuous exertions... to make all things O.K.”
I should have just made this the Tolkien weblog for the last couple of weeks. More traffic that way, too.

Here's what I'll do: I'll keep up the Tolkien stuff daily for a while because I'm into it right now. But for those of you who tire of that, I'll have something else, too. Okay? Okay.

Thursday, January 3

Happy Birthday, Professor Tolkien.

The Tolkien Society is organizing a toast at 21.00 GMT (That's 3pm CST (or find other)). The toast is 'The Professor'.

Go read their brief Tolkien biography. I started Carpenter's standard biography of Tolkien last night when I couldn't sleep. It didn't put me to sleep, though. I was very interested. Of course, I can't promise that you would be.

Over there I found a statement by Christopher Tolkien that he did not hate the idea of the movie. He did say he didn't think it would translate to film. I don't think he'd seen it as of the writing of this article. (I wouldn't be surprised if he never saw it.)

Wednesday, January 2

Happy Birthday to me. If you catch it today, here's this day in history on Yahoo. They pointed me to the History Channel.

The most notable January 2nd happening, after my birth in 1972 and my brother Kyle's a year later, in Isaac Asimov's birthday in 1920.

I took today off. I hate working on my birthday. I think I'll go see 'The Fellowship of the Ring' for the third time. That would be festive. It's been a very Tolkien Christmas. More on that later.

Hmm. It appears Meg is just one day older than me. Happy Birthday, Meg.

Coming tomorrow: Happy Birthday, Mr Tolkien.

Tuesday, January 1

While in New Orleans we stayed at the Hotel Storyville, just a short walk from the French Quarter. My brother-in-law's grandfather owns it. We were treated to a great stay. If you're ever in town, you should think about staying there.
The part of our New Orleans trip which I enjoyed the most was the National D-Day Museum (warning: lots of Flash, etc.). We only had about 4 hours there, so we only got to tour the Pacific Invasions and see one of the movies. There's definitely a lot to see.

Believe me, I'm aware that me fascination with military history doesn't fit with my concern over violence of any form. But there you have it.

One interesting connection between D-Day and Louisiana is Higgin's Boat. Andrew Higgins designed and produced shallow draft boats like you'd use in a bayou. They were also perfect for landing craft and were instrumental in the Normandy and Pacific invasions.

It's tempting to aggrandize the men and women who fought the war. Tom Brokaw did it in his 'Greatest Generation'. Stephen Ambrose does it in his works (which carries over to this museum, in which he figures prominently. They were brave and did a great thing. But they don't get a pass on everything. Like the Japanese said, American foreign policy was imperialistic (like it often is today). And they made many mistakes after they came home from the war, a debt which especially came due during the social upheaval of the 60s. But they defeated fascism and made great sacrifices, for which they should be honored.
Speaking of Scott, he had his first front-page post to MetaFilter (and elcited some good discussion). Congratulations, Scott.
The Seven Wonders of the Web, including Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and Blogger, which I use regularly. Good stuff. (Scott had this link, and it's on Daypop as well.)
I'm back. Did you miss me? We spent 5 days in Louisiana, including two days and one night in New Orleans, my first visit. We had a nice time.

Then, my friend, Bryan, has been in town for my 30th birthday, which is tomorrow.

Posting should be pretty much back to normal.