Friday, January 02, 2004

Over the Christmas holiday, I saw the latest Lord of the Rings movie, thus completing the set -- which is something of a milestone because I so rarely bother watching either (a.) fantasy or (b.) action-adventure that it's extremely unusual for me to see even one such film voluntarily. I guess my take on it resembles Greg's more than anyone else's. I did find it somewhat enjoyable, as I did the second film. The first one elicited impatient foot-tapping in not only myself, but the much more Tolkien-aware Rick; however, both of us did like installments 2 and 3, and I might enjoy the first one more on second viewing, although revisiting it is not high on my to-do list right now. At the very least, the first film did inspire me to try hacking through Tolkien again after a few early failures to engage; during the parts where I got burned out on following the story, I just flipped to the linguistics and genealogy sections at the end of the last volume, and this entertained me for some hours.

So, for the obligatory comments:

* In the scene where Sam unwraps the Shelob-envenomated Frodo (very nice, arachnocentric spider action, BTW, except for the growling!), did anyone else besides me get the distinct impression that Elijah Wood was struggling very, very hard to not crack up laughing?

* And, speaking of Shelob: I frequently realize that I really, truly, married a keeper, and this event was no exception. Show me another man who won't flinch when, during movie scenes in which a gigantic man-eating spider stalks and attempts to devour one of the heroes, his wife makes creepy-crawly hand gestures on his leg in the movie theater!

* What gives with the movie's omission of the Faramir-Eowyn story? Sheesh, not only were they the two most likeable human characters in the books, but their pairing was crucial to closing a major story line. Even this portable curmudgeonette was looking forward to seeing them hook up instead of merely bowing and curtsying side by side as the king walked by. (Maybe I shouldn't complain about this, though. Most of the other trimming of the story has been well-planned. For example, the first film did at least eliminate Tolkien's most irritating character, Tom Bombadil.)

* Viggo Mortensen would probably look really good after having an actual shampoo.

* Orlando Bloom would probably look really good if the script allowed him to actually slow down enough so that you could see him once in a while. Do elves wash down their lembas with triple espressos?

* David Wenham looks really good any time, although he was cuter as the game warden in Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.

* And, given what I wrote earlier about fantasy and adventure: If the above is really true of my tastes in entertainment, then why have I seen Finding Nemo at least four times in the last six weeks?

Processing all of this cognitive dissonance,

Thursday, January 01, 2004

I quite happily drink wine with dinner, mixed drinks at parties, and beer with the usual gang of biologists on Friday nights at the local brewery, but there's something about New Year's Eve that leaves me less than interested in alcohol. I'd estimate that about half of my New Year's Eves as an adult have been alcohol-free, as was last night. It was, in fact, my idea of the perfect New Year's Eve; just Rick, Gail, and me watching Finding Nemo on DVD and then the Cartoon Network Adult Swim special, sipping sparkling grape juice, munching snacks, and generally enjoying one another's company. It especially pleased me that Cartoon Network did nothing special to mark the arbitrary transition between calendar years then taking place in our time zone. Rick was mildly disappointed by this; he and Gail marked it by humming Auld Lang Syne, and since I don't particularly like Auld Lang Syne, I hummed the theme fromThe Brak Show instead. (My usual alternative New Year's Eve anthem, Mexican Radio, just didn't seem to fit at that moment.) It all kind of worked together anyway.

Last week, we gave especially creative Christmas gifts to our niece and nephew; we took each of them out to lunch, the 14-year-old to his favorite seafood restaurant on Friday and the 9-year-old to her favorite Italian place on Saturday. I highly recommend this kind of experience to folks who don't want to buy schlocky over-advertised flotsam for their young relatives. (He's got all the Yu-Gi-Oh cards he needs for now, and she really doesn't need a starter tile bracelet that will eventually cost her a year of her allowance to fill up with the charms she wants before it becomes obsolete and unfashionable by next winter.) They're old enough now to have the full attention of their aunt and uncle on separate occasions, and seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to a few more days of slughood, but am hoping to start my new part-time job at Michigan State soon. We have to figure out the exact starting date (as in, when there's actually some space I can use). It was supposed to be January 5, but may be delayed slightly for the above and other reasons. So, for now, I'm going to have some leftover bagels and sparkling grape juice, then read the Jon Krakauer and Stephen Jay Gould books I checked out of the library. And, arbitrary or not, it's the start of a whole new year, and for now I'm not planning to worry about a thing.