January 1st, 2003


Happy New Year!

So, up Arthur's Seat I went. Or rather, round the curve of it until I could see Edinburgh Castle, Blackford Hill and Carlton Hill (as well as that hill to the West of Edinburgh that I have no idea about) and at midnight fireworks went up from all of them for about 10 minutes of glorious lightshow. And for a moment I forgot how ill I felt.

And then down again, and along to Guy's house, where I chatted for half an hour before plodding home to collapse.

To all of you a Happy New Year, and may you have a better year next year than ever before!

Tolkein Types

Stolen from here:

(Type 1) Those who feel a film shouldn't be made at all. Just by
existing, they moan, the film robs the reader of the opportunity to
use his own imagination to visualize the characters and places of
Middle Earth. (I have to wonder if this includes naked buxom woodland
elves, a detail that's not likely to be filmed.) A Type 1 fan begins
by hating any attempt to film Tolkien's stories, gradually descending
into a place of madness, where calendars, posters and cover art from
the Brothers Hildebrandt or even Tolkien himself are also forbidden,
and the only version of the story that should be allowed to exist is
plain text in the exact font of Tolkien's personal typewriter.

(Type 2) Those who hate the film because it couldn't be an exact
literal translation of the stories. These fans rage that filming The
Lord of the Rings should only be attempted if every word in the books,
including every syllable of the songs and poems, are on the screen.
The project, they estimate, should be at least a six film series, and
should use CGI for the elves, because mere humans can not (by
definition) be beautiful enough. Type 2 fans are split on whether the
appendices should be filmed. Some say that the appendices are not the
story and no detail revealed therein should be on the screen,
regardless of how germane. Others say that the appendices are part of
the story and should be filmed entire, including the family trees and

(Type 3) Those who hate the film because of a particular detail.
These fans typically obsess on one or two key details of the film,
working themselves up into remarkable expressions of rage over
surprisingly small details. Examples are Liv Tyler at the Ford, Liv
Tyler is not a good enough actress, the absence of Bombadil,
misspelled Dwarvish words on the walls of Moria, Cate Blanchett isn't
beautiful enough, Gandalf bumps his head on a beam at Bilbo's home.

(Type 4) Those who hate the film for reasons that are simply mistaken.
These people have misunderstood the text, and expect the filmmaker to
misunderstand the text in exactly the same way. Example 1, "Elijah
Wood looks too young" although he is precisely the age that Frodo
would have appeared, according to a careful reading of the text.
Example 2, Legolas shoots his bow too fast. (Don't ask me -- I just
record these things.)

(Type 5) Subsequent experiences have caused me to add a fifth
category, Tolkien "fans" who have *never read the books* but
nevertheless think that the film got major details wrong. Examples
include people who think the Ralph Bakshi treatment from 1978 is
canonical, (placing Legolas at the ford instead of Glorfindil (text)
or Arwen (latest film)) and fans of various Lord of the Rings
offshoots (Dungeons and Dragons, EverQuest, Shanara, etc) who expected
the film to better match their own vision of Middle Earth.

(Type 6) And finally, I've been forced recently to create a sixth
category specifically for print-fans who think the film was too
violent. Despite all those hacked off arms and legs, all those
beheadings and arrows through the throat and eye, the strangulations
and throat slitting all in the text, these print-fans have, against
all reason, built up a mental image of a bucolic Middle Earth where
everything is cute and fluffy; where the most evil thing that happens
is a sharp word or an imposing presence, where violence occurs only
offscreen, and where the only loss is a clean disappearance down a
chasm (followed by a miraculous re-appearance several chapters later).
Even when the text in question is read to them, they still can't
imagine that a print-accurate version would earn an NC-17 for
excessive violence.

Recently, the more clever of the fans types above have tried to build
credibility by trying to make their objections more substantial, but
they usually give themselves away in the third or fourth paragraph.
"All these abominations are undeniable proof that Tolkien's books
should never have been filmed" (Type 1). "But I'm not surprised at
how horrible this film is. I knew that Jackson was a liar and a hack
when he put Arwen at the ford" (Type 3). "If Bakshi could film the
literal text, why couldn't Jackson?" (Type 5).


For those on my friends list who care about the characterisation of Faramir, here is a decent discussion of how the book differs from the film. The answer is "not much".


When I'm tired, everything seems overexposed, faded slightly, and scratchy. Listening to music starts to feel like having sandpaper pulled over exposed nerve endings, even when it's not the kind of music that's supposed to have that effect. I can't keep my concentration long enough to read anything in-depth and I can't empathise enough to make it worth reading much fiction.

It was not, therefore, probably the best time to finally get around to watching Broken Bow, the first episode of Enterprise.

However, having thought about it, I suspect it still would have come across as shallow, derivative, clumsily scripted and blankly acted. Sure, there's a few interesting characters in it (the doctor and the British guy, for instance), some nice special effects and a few interesting ideas but the hammering home of "We have to do it for ourselves, even when it's a bloody stupid thing to do" moral, the flaky "Trust the wind, even when it's a bloody stupid thing to do" philosophising, the fact that yet again we have a captain who throws himself into combat rather than being, well, a captain and the lack of any pace or feeling of threat meant that I have no interest whatsoever in watching any more of it.

If anyone would care to tell me that it gets better and it's ever worth caring about this crew, then let me know.

Ooh,in case it helps to know my prejudices, in order of preference:
1) Deep Space 9
Long arc plots, writers that clearly cared about the characters, moral decisions that make a difference to people's lives and a darkness that fits in better with my worldview than Voyager. Oh, and a fair sprinkling of humour too.
2) Next Gen
While it could sometimes be lacking, generally the acting is of very high quality, lots of the ideas are first rate and there's a lot of incredible episodes in there.
3) TOS and Voyager
Both TOS and Voyager and TOS have some fantastic episodes, but never managerd to sustain quality enough to make me watch a random episode, I'm afraid.

Quote of the Day

There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, [...] we've got work to do