It's That Time of Year Again

I’ve mentioned before that The Wife has a particular fondness for this Christmas movie. I never thought that calling it a Christmas movie would be so controversial.

How about a soundtrack dominated by Christmas music? Does that make it a Christmas movie?

Vaughn Monroe – Let It Snow – Die Hard – Film Version

Making a Nakatomi gingerbread house? Does that make it a Christmas movie?

Imgur

How about an advent calendar? Is that good enough?

Reddit

I saved the best for last. Yes, there is a Die Hard christmas storybook.

Sideshow CollectiblesDie Hard Christmas Book with Steve Blum – Dec 17, 2018

Hat/Tip to Merbrat for all of these. I used to refer to her as a stoic (specifically an email stoic) when I mentioned her on the blog because I thought it was a funny joke to label someone as effusive and outgoing as she is with a philosophy marked by asceticism and reserve. I’m not sure why I thought it was a funny joke back then, but I did. What can I say? I have a weird sense of humor.

A Major Improvement

The Children of Hurin (2007)

I picked up The Silmarillion after reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings on a suggestion from a fellow reader that I was sweet on during my senior year in high school. The other works of J.R.R. Tolkien that I read had been a wonder to experience, but I wanted desperately to know more of the Elves, and to dig into the rich history of Middle Earth that was hinted at in them. The Silmarillion satisfied that curiosity, but left me wondering what the notes that Christopher Tolkien had used to create the compilation that was The Silmarillion had looked like before he had tried to arrange them into a cohesive narrative after his father’s death in 1973. I can only imagine the size of that herculean task, given the scattering of notes that every writer generates over the course of their lifetime.

Many people have complained over the years about the heavy slog that The Silmarillion was for them to read. That was not my experience of the book, but I could tell that The Silmarillion was not the direct works of J.R.R. Tolkien, or rather that the work it represented was not as refined as his later published works had been. I don’t place blame on Christopher Tolkien for this lack of refinement. He had nothing but notes to work from, a loose framework of tales written over several decades, as J.R.R. Tolkien pursued his passion for telling fantastic tales of Elves, Dwarves and Men. Tales that publishers of the time refused to publish for fear that the works simply would not sell.

I wonder what would have happened to his best-loved works, had his earlier passions not be frustrated by recalcitrant publishers? Would we even have the stories of Hobbits, the creation of Hobbiton as a location in Middle Earth, if Tolkien had been satisfied to see his earlier labors rewarded? We’ll never know.

I have wanted to get my hands on the twelve volume set of The History of Middle Earth, what was promised to be the definitive collection of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, published serially from the years 1983 to 1996, since I first heard rumor of its existence. I was desperately trying to stay in the business of architecture by that time, trying to raise two children to boot, and I had little time for reading for fun during those years. But I kept my eye out on the rare occasion that I made it into libraries and bookstores, hoping that I might run across them so that I could at least touch them on a shelf somewhere. I never have had the chance to find all twelve of them at a bargain price, and when I looked on Amazon.com today there are several sets of books listed that promise to be the definitive collection of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, some of them even calling themselves The History of Middle Earth, but aren’t the originally published twelve separate books. All of them requiring more cash than I’m willing to spend just to set them on a shelf in my library.

The back and forth eye motion of reading text on a printed page has gotten difficult, sometimes even producing minor bouts of vertigo when I have tried to push myself to read for any lengthy amount of time. I doubt that I could ever bring myself to go through all twelve volumes of the set all on my own, if I had to read them directly. The last few times I tried reading anything on the printed page I became fatigued so quickly that I had to resort to buying the works on audiobook just to be able to finish them.

When The Wife and I ran across the Children of Hurin on Audible recently, read by Christopher Lee, we both agreed that we needed to get it. She loves Christopher Lee having grown up watching him play Dracula in all the old Hammer films. His narration of Children of Hurin was beautiful to listen to. I couldn’t have asked for a better voice to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s words to life. The story itself is a major improvement on the rough draft of the story that is preserved in The Silmarillion. There is more depth to the work in this form, the story of Turin Turambar and his sister made all the more tragic by the voice of Christopher Lee. It is a credit to both of the authors who have worked on these stories over the course of their lives that this version flows so well from beginning to end. I can’t recommend it highly enough to any Tolkien fan.

TÚRIN TURAMBAR DAGNIR GLAURUNGA

Writers Write

I’m a slow worker and I think a steady worker. You know, so many writers don’t like to write. I think that is their chief complaint. They hate to write. They must, they do it under the compulsion that makes any artist what he is. But they really don’t enjoy sitting down and trying to turn a thought into a reasonable sentence. But I do. I like to write, and sometimes I’m afraid that I like it too much because, when I get into work I don’t want to leave it.

Harper Lee

Her final trial and associated literary work were never finished, as is documented in the book Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep a story described in this episode of Criminal,

StitcherCriminal Episode 127: The Reverend

In the eyes of those who anxiously seek perfection, a work is never truly completed—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned; and this abandonment, of the book to the fire or to the public, whether due to weariness or to a need to deliver it for publication, is a sort of accident, comparable to the letting-go of an idea that has become so tiring or annoying that one has lost all interest in it.

Paul Valéry

Existence

What is the meaning of life? You assign your own meaning, there really isn’t any mystery there. If you aren’t happy with what your life will end up meaning, only you can change that, and you don’t have limitless amounts of time to do that in. Get to it, Man!

The Meaning of Life with Martin Hägglund by Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes

Part of what’s so moving when someone commits to you for life is precisely that you know that this person doesn’t have eternity to lead their lives and they’re making you a priority. You can only do that if you understand that you have limited time.

Martin Hägglund – This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom

I have no qualms about my own death and probable ending of existence in any form beyond not wanting my death to happen anytime soon. I do carry a fair portion of caution with me everywhere I go. However, the universe existed before I was born and it will continue to exist after I’m gone. The universe does not need me, and anyone who is bothered by that probably needs to be talking to a therapist.

The only thing that bothers me about passing from existence is dying without knowing why the universe exists at all. It is a question that is not likely ever to be answered. The universe is for all intents and purposes its own reason to exist. It is, just like I am.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980)

More Facebook Fail

I’m going through my notifications on Facebook. A tedious task that I frequently just hit Mark All as Read in order to complete it quickly, and then I go on to the next thing on my todo list. Today there was a video notification for Robert Reich being live in amongst everything else, and it was recent, so I figured I could click on it and at least catch the end of the video. Let’s see what the link brings up when I paste it here.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/142474049098533/posts/?notif_id=1574188482955442&notif_t=notify_me_page&ref=notif
Robert Reich was live.

Well, that’s interesting. The pasted link renders out as plain text even though WordPress recognizes it as a Facebook link and gives me the default warning Embedded content from facebook.com can’t be previewed in the editor while I’m in the editor. Robert Reich leaves his videos on Facebook, so I can go to the video later using the link and have it come up as the the video I wanted to see. This is the video:

Posted by Robert Reich on Thursday, November 21, 2019
Robert Reich was live. (that is what Facebook titles these. All of them)

Robert Reich talking with Solana Rice about the fifth Democratic convention, how the slate is shaping up for the future and what the Democratic party needs to do to address the concerns of minorities into the future. A conversation that I wanted to hear but couldn’t when I first saw the notification because when I clicked on the link, I got this video instead:

This swimmer got surrounded by three Killer Whales which she misjudged them for dolphins 😯Credit: storyful

Posted by Ben Phillips on Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Facebook

A over-dramatized video of a swimmer being investigated by killer whales (Orcas) complete with music designed to hype the terror and suspense. Will she get eaten? Won’t she? The answer is no, she won’t get eaten. Wild Orcas don’t attack people except by accident. There was one link in the comments that pointed to a story on a site named Orcazine (that spells quality journalism. A site name that excludes all other kinds of stories other than stories about Orcas. Are any of them true? You can’t know without further research) a story that purport to document one of the rare instances of an Orca mistaking a human for prey. This is an even rarer occurrence than a shark attack, which happens so rarely that you stand a better chance of being struck by lightning than you do of being attacked by a shark. So, Orca attack? Not high on the list of things to worry about.

If you want to talk about Orcas killing someone the facts are not hard to find. A trainer at Seaworld died because one of the Orcas attacked her. It can happen. Orcas are carnivores. Orcas that have been mistreated by humans over and over again, kept in cages all their lives, etcetera, can become violent. It doesn’t mean that the swimmer was in any real danger in the hyper-dramatic bullshit video.

My beef here is, the two videos have nothing to do with each other, and wouldn’t have anything to do with each other unless an Orca appeared on stage at the fifth Democratic debate and ate one of the other candidates. Now, that video might have been worth watching.

Facebook video fail. Just because I click on a link that Facebook says is a video, it doesn’t mean that any video Facebook wants to serve up to me will be something I will find interesting. When I click on a notification, I expect to see the thing the notification says is there wherever you send me, Facebook. If I don’t, I’m liable to get angry and tell a pod of Orcas that seals live at your home address. You wouldn’t want that.

Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains

Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains (2019)

(No, it’s not that kind of movie)

Jacob Anders ReviewsVirgin Cheerleaders in Chains – Nov 13, 2019

This is how you do a movie review. The film he is reviewing is the one that I felt I had to write a Movie Rating for Dummies post for just to help the entertainment challenged understand that if you sat through the entire movie, it’s probably at least a three star experience. This guy gets it, and he understands how to mix praise with criticism.

Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains is better than three stars, as Jacob Anders does a much better job of explaining than I can. He’s nicer to the movie than I was, and he doesn’t have to sleep next to the producer of the film knowing she could kill him in his sleep if he trashes her movie.

Which I wouldn’t do to this movie anyway because it is hands down the best made movie she’s worked on. The credit goes to the writer, the director, the cast and crew, all of whom would never have found each other without the producer, the woman I sleep next to. So she gets credit too, even if she isn’t one of the named credits in the movie. The editing job is superb, the acting is excellent, the script won awards. It’s a great movie. Go see it.

I’m simply not a person who watches horror films and enjoys them. I’m still haunted by The Ring after watching it more than a decade ago. I laughed at and was traumatized by Scream when it came out. Halloween still gives me goosebumps, and I’m a certified John Carpenter fan. Don’t ask my opinion on horror films if you want more out of me than it’s not my kind of movie. I’m more at home with dry, intense dramas than I am with action and horror.

This movie scared me, too. So if you like scary movies, go see it. You’ll enjoy it.

RAnt(hony)-ings

If It Didn’t Exist, We’d Have To Create It Anyway

Yesterday (2019)

Picture the Emerald city as seen in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. Imagine that you had lived there all your life. Born there, raised there. It was what was normal for you. Then one day you wake up and you live in Kansas, the dull, drab black and white existence from the same film. No one has ever seen or heard of the beauty of the Emerald city. No one knows what the hell you mean when you say Emerald city to them.

Wouldn’t you try to create a version of the Emerald city? Just so that the beauty that you remember could be shared by everyone you know? So that they would know what you mean when you say the words Emerald city.

That is the essence of Yesterday. The story of a man who wakes up in a world in which the greatest influences of our past no longer existed. It is a movie with soul. A movie that makes you want to shout to the rafters about the beauty and inspiration that was the Beatles, and quite a few other things as well. Watching Yesterday was one of those rare instances when the movie that I’m watching is better than the movie I expected to watch when I queued it up. Give this movie a chance and it will surprise you.

Love is all you need.