mollyringle: (MST3LOTR-dance - arwen_elvenfair)

Steve and I have finally started watching The Lord of the Rings with the kids. I have only been waiting to do this with them since before they were born.

They haven't seen or read any of Tolkien, so they went into this without any background knowledge (other than a general feel of how fantasy stories work from other series and films, which does help), but they've followed it pretty well actually. Given their untrained status, though, we're starting with the theatrical releases. Extended editions are a bit much to spring on someone the first time through.

During Fellowship, they were totally not taken in by the fall of Gandalf. One was all, "He'll use his magic to come back," and the other was like, "Totally." Then our younger kid perkily said he'd like to be the Balrog next Halloween.

Last night we finished The Two Towers, and they agree that the Ents trashing Isengard is one of the most satisfying things to watch ever. It then occurred to us to wonder: what would happen if Treebeard took the One Ring? My first flippant thought was, "Moss and lichen on EVERYTHING," but actually (of course) it turns out there is a long and interesting fan discussion about this already.

Also, I managed not to break into song at "They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!", but it took effort.


Bonus material: our younger son doing his Gollum impression.

mollyringle: (arthur)

I was lately remarking to various people in comments that, by the end of Merlin, Arthur and Merlin "out-Frodo-and-Sam Frodo and Sam." But maybe it's a tie, to be fair. Now my mind won't rest until I've delineated all the items on the bromance checklist that both pairs seem to be using as their guidebook. Let's go!

Master and servant situation: check!

Save each other's lives a whole bunch of times (bonus points if you get soaked): check!



Also make verbal promises about continuing to save each other's lives: check!

Wear armor together even if that isn't usually your thing: check!

Play with ropes together: check!


Occasionally fall under evil magic influence and try to kill your bro: check!

Carry each other in case of unconsciousness: check!


Come around to seeing servant's mighty worth even if you took him for granted at first: check!

Hold your bro tenderly at the end and make us all cry: check!

Tearfully see him off on a boat headed for magical lands: check!

Yeah. I guess it's a tie.

I will go down with these ships. Bromances. Things.

mollyringle: (Frolijah)
Review as posted on Goodreads:

The long-expected re-read is done! I am not honestly sure if that was my third full time through, or fourth, or what. But it definitely had been over ten years since the last one, so a lot of the details were practically new to me again, and it was a delight to rediscover them.

I feel like I can't give it less than 5 stars, given the huge importance this trilogy had for a section of my life. But this time through, in honesty I'd go for 4 or 4.5 stars. My attention flagged on occasion. I kept wishing Tolkien would give even half as much attention to characters' feelings, and romance in particular, as he does to descriptions of roads and landscapes. (Wow, does he like describing roads. They go ever on and on, apparently.) I couldn't face all the appendices or even all the long songs; those sometimes got skimmed. I was sometimes uncomfortable at Sam's slavish if not-totally-requited devotion to Frodo, which we can either view (happily) as a subtextual gay love story, or (unhappily) as the way servants "ought" to behave to their masters. I wished that from an author talented and smart enough to give us Éowyn and Galadriel, we could have had MORE female characters doing more things. While I approved of Tolkien's love of peace and gardens, and appreciated that he showed the nasty side of war, I didn't fully believe he was utterly un-enamored of war, since those descriptions of sunlight flashing off shiny armor and swords, and horses and riders charging to glory, and axes triumphantly hewing Orc-necks, are all rather orgasmically written. In comparison, moments of tenderness between characters are understated and matter-of-fact--which is fine, but really, "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend," as Faramir says? I didn't entirely believe that in Tolkien himself, given how the battle-glory was written.

Still: the mythology, the magic, the world-building! I honestly felt Tolkien knew every inch of Middle-earth, whether it was touched upon in the story or not, and every character's lineage going back several generations, even the minor characters'. (The appendices bear me out on that point.) His astoundingly detailed creation, and his unabashed treatment of it as if it were perfectly real, makes it FEEL perfectly real, even when we're subjected to stilted old-fashioned dialogue. (Maybe more so because of said dialogue?) The Fellowship's meander through Middle-earth not only encounters a hundred beautiful and terrible wonders, but overturns a thousand little stones, under each of which is an age-old story. It's easy to see how countless readers, including myself, have fallen into this rabbit-hole of a world and wanted to dwell there forever.
mollyringle: (sleazy surprised fandom)
In my re-read of LOTR, I lately began book 6 - the final leg! Here be more musings, this time all about Frodo/Sam as the One True Pairing. Be warned.

I do honestly believe Tolkien didn't intend to make Sam and Frodo's relationship romantic. But I also know from experience that characters start doing their own thing after you've been writing them a while, and I'm sorry, Professor, but those two hobbits REALLY seem like a couple. And they seem like they have been for YEARS before this quest. Or, at the very least, Sam's in love with Frodo, and Frodo complacently humors it. I'm not even trying to be a swoony shipper here--the conditions of the quest are not exactly sexy--nor am I trying to be subversive. This is my (admittedly 21st-century) writer's instinct talking.

Sam does marry Rosie after they get home, so maybe the strain of the quest is what finally ends the relationship. I can see how the Ring would do that. (Curse you, Ring!) But up till then--really, I'm trying to bring non-shipper-ish, clear-headed analysis to this, and they STILL feel like a couple to me. I keep shrugging off one eyebrow-raising endearment only to have them voicing new ones the next page.

Yes, LOTR is a book full of close male relationships--which it would have to be, given the absence of females. But none of the other guys act the way Frodo and Sam do. Merry and Pippin are close and chummy, but theirs is more a bromance. Legolas and Gimli make a nice Odd Couple or pair of Grumpy Old Men willing to travel together after the quest, but that's about all. And Legolas does say how he, and others, will follow Aragorn anywhere because they love him so much, but that feels like a kingly-worship thing, along with an Elvish-courtliness thing.

None of them sleep in each other's laps the way Sam and Frodo do. They don't gaze at their buddy as he sleeps, find him "beautiful," and murmur, "I love him" (Sam, The Two Towers). They don't fondle each other's hands and say, "My dear" (both Frodo and Sam, lots of times). When parted from one another, they don't long only for that fellow, "for one sight of his face or one touch of his hand." (Sam looking for Frodo, The Return of the King.) In fact, only Éowyn so far, to Aragorn, has used stronger words of romantic love, and shown stronger signs thereof, than Sam and Frodo have to each other over and over throughout.

Sam is Frodo's servant, which does alter the nature of how they'd relate to each other, especially since this is a fantasy world where social norms could be different. Frodo's role as "master" could--people say--account for Sam's brand of loving devotion. Tolkien claimed he meant their friendship to resemble that of an officer and his batman in WWI. A rural gentleman and his familiar valet, perhaps, one could also say. As regards the cooking and pack-carrying and looking-after that Sam does for Frodo, sure, I accept that. But I'm sorry, Professor, my instincts say he's gone beyond the feelings of a faithful servant. Or else being a batman apparently means acting like someone's boyfriend.
mollyringle: (Buffet of victims)
So I read: "Aragorn and Legolas went now with Eomer in the van." And of course automatically I think, "Hehe. Wonder if anyone's photoshopped the image in my head."

eomer aragorn legolas van

Yeah. Of course they have.

Saruman would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids.

(Though in my head I was more picturing one of those white or dark blue generic vans they share at college science departments. Aragorn driving, Legolas looking out the window with iPod earbuds in, Eomer asleep in the backseat with his mouth open, weapons packed awkwardly all around them. Woo, Helm's Deep road trip!)
mollyringle: (MST3LOTR-dance - arwen_elvenfair)


Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings. Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld Éowyn, Lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood. And she now was suddenly aware of him: tall heir of kings, wise with many winters, greycloaked, hiding a power that yet she felt. For a moment still as stone she stood, then turning swiftly she was gone.

- "The King of the Golden Hall," The Two Towers

See, Tolkien? It doesn't take much to give us some romance. One beautiful paragraph sings it clear. And you even follow it up with two more moments in the same chapter: Éowyn's hand trembling as she brings Aragorn the wine cup, and her gaze moving to him while saying goodbye to Théoden before the men set off to Helm's Deep.

And this isn't even a couple that ends up together.

So if you wanted us to feel the Aragorn/Arwen bond, all you had to do was give us *one* such paragraph describing something similar between them, somewhere in all the pages of The Fellowship of the Ring. On basically every page you give one beautiful paragraph to the scenery or weaponry, or you recite several stanzas of a poem. So why merely a few murky enigmatic hints about Aragorn and Arwen's love, when it's got such emotional potential (a long-lived Elf giving up her immortality for the future King of Men!), and would only have taken a moment like the lovely one you just gave Éowyn? If you'd done so, maybe a lot more people would love Arwen, or at least like her half as much as they adore Éowyn. I, for one, would have appreciated it.

I know. I can't stop editing when I read nowadays. It's an affliction.
mollyringle: (couple w/ umbrella on street)
I finished re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring last night, and will turn the page and keep straight on into The Two Towers, since this is the big heavy single-volume edition I'm reading. I was inspired to get out the Extended Edition DVD this morning and re-watch the ending scenes of FOTR to note the various subtle changes.

One thing I like about the movie version is the parting between Frodo and Aragorn at the breaking of the Fellowship. After having been rushed at by Boromir, it makes sense that Frodo would next turn upon Aragorn with suspicion and test him by tempting him with the Ring. So I love that we see that happen, and can see for ourselves--and Frodo can see--that Aragorn will only close Frodo's hand over the Ring and step gently back, and swear he would have gone with him all the way to Mount Doom. Similarly, I appreciate that Merry and Pippin get to glimpse Frodo, recognize he has to leave, and help him by creating a diversion, rather than just realizing he's gone and not getting to say goodbye. Both partings are well-paced and poignant, with satisfying inter-character relationship closure (for the time being), so I'm glad they were added, even though they aren't strictly necessary. That is, Tolkien's version might make slightly more sense: i.e., Frodo decides to sneak off alone because if he announced he was off to Mordor, everyone would insist upon following him and he couldn't bear to let them all get into such danger on his account. Still, I can't help preferring the sweet farewells.

I especially think so since in this re-read I'm appreciating Aragorn more than before. Hobbits are still the most lovable, but Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, and many others are striking me as a lot cooler and more sympathetic than I remembered from earlier readings of the books. And the Aragorn-Frodo friendship is particularly likable, the King and the Ringbearer, especially since (and I had forgotten this) Aragorn is buddies with Bilbo too. They hang out and talk poetry when Aragorn visits Rivendell. It's wonderfully cute.
mollyringle: (Buffet of victims)
A mini condensed parody happened during my re-read of The Lord of the Rings. Here's the page I whipped up to bring the long and dense Council of Elrond chapter into a shorter form. Perhaps we can call it "A Shortcut to the Council of Elrond."

Elrond: Hi everyone. Welcome to the secret meeting about secret dark things. Glóin, start us off?
Glóin: So a guy from "Lord Sauron" came by the Dwarf towns and was all, "Nice civilization you got here. Real shame if anything happened to it." And he wanted us to join Sauron and tell him about the Shire and hobbits and a ring. But we didn't.
Elrond: Good. Here's some background, then!
(Two hours later, after he has read The Silmarillion aloud to the assembled company...)
Elrond: To sum up, it was ugly last time Sauron was in a fighting mood. Trust me. I was there.
Frodo: You were THERE? How ancient are you?
Elrond: A little tact, Frodo, kthx.
Boromir: My turn! It might interest you guys to know that over in Minas Tirith, we're always fighting Mordor and keeping the world safe for epic sung poems and beer. So, YOU'RE WELCOME, everybody.
Aragorn: Well, I'VE been guarding everywhere OTHER than Minas Tirith, plus I've got the sword that was broken. See? I'm Isildur's heir. Ha. It's okay, you can thank me later.
Boromir: Yeah, I'm sure you've been real useful, hitchhiking around with your guitar and your weed, but Gondor's getting along fine without you.
Bilbo: Don't you disrespect! Whew, I'm hungry, is it lunchtime yet?
Elrond: Your turn to talk about the Ring, Bilbo.
Bilbo: Woohoo! Lunch can wait!
(Two hours later, after he has read The Hobbit aloud to the assembled company, with "actual unedited riddles" scene added...)
Elrond: Okay thank you. Enough. Gandalf, now you.
Gandalf: Twenty long years did I spend upon my doctoral thesis, What Is Going On With That Ring Bilbo Found, but finally my research proved that it was indeed the One Ring forged by Sauron to rule them all. So THEN, I tracked down Gollum, and found out he'd been tortured and told the enemy all about the Shire. So I handed him over to Aragorn.
Aragorn: But he was stinky so I dumped him in Elf prison. He's totally locked up for good.
Legolas: Oh. Um. Yeah, about that. Funny story. He uh...kinda escaped.
Glóin: What?? Way to go, hairspray-brain.
Legolas: We didn't mean to! It was Gollum's tree-climbing day and there were Orcs and stop blaming me!
Gandalf: Okay so ANYWAY, you guys are interrupting me, THEN I went to Saruman the White for counsel, only he was all, "I'm Saruman the Rainbow-Colored now!," and I was like, "White looked better," and he locked me up but an eagle rescued me and I got the awesomest horse from Rohan; his name's Shadowfax; seriously, he's so fast; and I tried to find Frodo but he had already left the Shire, so THEN, I went to Bree and found out where Frodo was. Btw, did you guys know Barliman Butterbur is fat?
Aragorn: LOL, OMG, so fat.
Elrond: Okay then. The Ring. Ideas?
Erestor: Give it to Tom Bombadil?
Gandalf: Interesting, but no.
Glorfindel: Throw it into the sea?
Gandalf: It wouldn't stay there.
Boromir: USE IT TO RULE THEM ALL, duh.
Gandalf: It's EVIL; were you listening? Big "no" on that idea.
Elrond: So we're down to "throw it into Mount Doom." Who wants to?
Everybody: ....
Bilbo: Me!
Gandalf: *snort*. No.
Frodo: Sigh. Fine. Me.
Elrond: Good! I was going to make you do it anyway.
Sam: Me too me too me too!
Elrond: SECRET meeting, Samwise, I said SECRET. Yes, fine, you too.
mollyringle: (bat)
34 wonderful voices from awesome people all over the world, coming together in one file to read a crazy dragon attack scene from a little book called The Hobbit - it has finally come together and is ready as my Halloween present to the world.

Listen here:

http://mollyringle.com/halloweenhobbit.mp3

And read along below to see who our courageous readers are and which lines they are rocking. Thank you so much, all my lovely friends, family, and mysterious-but-so-cool volunteers! And special thanks to composer Michael Gordon Shapiro (also one of the readers) for letting me use his beautiful music in the background.

Happy Halloween!

TRANSCRIPT:

Toby: The Hobbit.

Molly: By J.R.R. Tolkien. This section is from Chapter Twenty-Two, "Inside Information."

Kevin: The dwarves were still passing the cup from hand to hand and talking delightedly of the recovery of their treasure, when suddenly a vast rumbling woke in the mountain underneath as if it was an old volcano that had made up its mind to start eruptions once again.

Shay: The door behind them was pulled nearly to, and blocked from closing with a stone, but up the long tunnel came the dreadful echoes, from far down in the depths, of a bellowing and a trampling that made the ground beneath them tremble.

Phoenyx: Then the dwarves forgot their joy and their confident boasts of a moment before and cowered down in fright. Smaug was still to be reckoned with.

Paul: It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after long possession; and Smaug was no exception.

Peggy: He had passed from an uneasy dream (in which a warrior, altogether insignificant in size but provided with a bitter sword and great courage, figured most unpleasantly) to a doze, and from a doze to wide waking.

Zac: There was a breath of strange air in his cave. Could there be a draught from that little hole?

Katy: He had never felt quite happy about it, though it was so small, and now he glared at it in suspicion and wondered why he had never blocked it up.

Ben: Of late he had half fancied he had caught the dim echoes of a knocking sound from far above that came down through it to his lair.

Amanda: He stirred and stretched forth his neck to sniff. Then he missed the cup!

Rich: Thieves! Fire! Murder! Such a thing had not happened since first he came to the Mountain!

Michael: His rage passes description - the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted. His fire belched forth, the hall smoked, he shook the mountain-roots.

Shmuel: He thrust his head in vain at the little hole, and then coiling his length together, roaring like thunder underground, he sped from his deep lair through its great door, out into the huge passages of the mountain-palace and up towards the Front Gate.

Lily: To hunt the whole mountain till he had caught the thief and had torn and trampled him was his one thought.

Kris: He issued from the Gate, the waters rose in fierce whistling steam, and up he soared blazing into the air and settled on the mountain-top in a spout of green and scarlet flame.

Michelle: The dwarves heard the awful rumour of his flight, and they crouched against the walls of the grassy terrace cringing under boulders, hoping somehow to escape the frightful eyes of the hunting dragon.

Justin: There they would have all been killed, if it had not been for Bilbo once again. "Quick! Quick!" he gasped. "The door! The tunnel! It's no good here."

Andrew: Roused by these words they were just about to creep inside the tunnel when Bifur gave a cry: "My cousins! Bombur and Bofur - we have forgotten them, they are down in the valley!"
"They will be slain, and all our ponies too, and all our stores lost," moaned the others. "We can do nothing."

Dougie: "Nonsense!" said Thorin, recovering his dignity. "We cannot leave them. Get inside, Mr. Baggins and Balin, and you two Fili and Kili--the dragon shan't have all of us. Now you others, where are the ropes? Be quick!"

Beth: Those were perhaps the worst moments they had been through yet. The horrible sounds of Smaug's anger were echoing in the stony hollows far above;

Molly: at any moment he might come blazing down or fly whirling round and find them there, near the perilous cliff's edge hauling madly on the ropes.

Carina: Up came Bombur, puffing and blowing while the ropes creaked, and still all was safe. Up came some tools and bundles of stores, and then danger was upon them.

tallfemalemanta (LJ): A whirring noise was heard. A red light touched the points of standing rocks. The dragon came.

Lynn: They had barely time to fly back to the tunnel, pulling and dragging in their bundles, when Smaug came hurtling from the North, licking the mountain-sides with flame, beating his great wings with a noise like a roaring wind.

Joan: His hot breath shrivelled the grass before the door, and drove in through the crack they had left and scorched them as they lay hid.

Cara: Flickering fires leaped up and black rock-shadows danced. Then darkness fell as he passed again. The ponies screamed with terror, burst their ropes and galloped wildly off.

Runefurb: The dragon swooped and turned to pursue them, and was gone.
"That'll be the end of our poor beasts!" said Thorin. "Nothing can escape Smaug once he sees it.

Anka: Here we are and here we shall have to stay, unless any one fancies tramping the long open miles back to the river with Smaug on the watch!"

Judith: It was not a pleasant thought! They crept further down the tunnel, and there they lay and shivered though it was warm and stuffy, until dawn came pale through the crack of the door.

Jed: Every now and again through the night they could hear the roar of the flying dragon grow and then pass and fade, as he hunted round and round the mountain-sides.

Jos: He guessed from the ponies, and from the traces of the camps he had discovered, that men had come up from the river and the lake and had scaled the mountain-side from the valley where the ponies had been standing; but the door withstood his searching eye, and the little high-walled bay had kept out his fiercest flames.

Frank: Long he had hunted in vain till the dawn chilled his wrath and he went back to his golden couch to sleep - and to gather new strength.

Kate: He would not forget or forgive the theft, not if a thousand years turned him to smouldering stone, but he could afford to wait.

Steve: Slow and silent he crept back to his lair and half closed his eyes.
mollyringle: (bat)
Item the first: If you've signed up to read Hobbit lines for the Halloween audio project, here's your first reminder to record them and send them in. I've gotten a handful so far and am looking forward to stringing the whole thing together.

Item the second: Hey look! I got featured as an "author we love"! Fred LeBaron, who put together this little tribute, is a librarian (and dad) who stumbled upon my books a year or two ago, and decided he liked them. In our correspondence since, he has also proved to be one of the nicest people who ever existed. Thank you, Fred! It's not every day I get called "smexy." (But I hope it will be from now on.)

Item the third: I finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy. They were very well done, but I think I will *not* be writing parodies of books 2 and 3, because then I'd have to spend more time in that grim, grim, grim world. Here are the reviews I left on Goodreads:

Catching Fire: 4.5 stars, that half-star mainly only taken off because this world is so dark and upsetting, I can't entirely say I'd read this for fun. Still, it was so compelling, very much a page-turner, that I do give it more or less full marks. The love triangle actually is believable--either Gale or Peeta would be a decent match for Katniss. And boy do I love Finnick so far. Yum. Way to end on a cliffhanger! Ack. Guess the third book is next on the list, then.

Mockingjay: 4 stars. Just finished it, and my immediate, emotionally drained reaction is, "Well, wasn't THAT the most depressing happy ending ever."

Collins is still a very compelling writer here, and the story put tears in my eyes many times, as with the other volumes. But by now everyone just feels so *damaged*. I suppose I was wishing for a stronger feeling of hope by the end. I see how that isn't realistic--Panem wouldn't inspire hope in anyone sane. So maybe that's my beef with the series as a whole: grim grim grim. Too grim. The Hunger Games = war, and war = horror, and no society should do either. Yes, we got that. Loud and clear.

Similarly, I wanted the legendary District 13 to be more interesting, more unusual. Instead it was more of the same. Bland, humorless. No fun. That's Panem for you: no fun.

I make it sound like I disliked the book. I didn't. Things were tied up nicely, and there was plenty of excitement, and even some romantic moments. But maybe three volumes of this is too much for a sensitive humor-loving temperament like mine.

Or maybe I'm just unhappy about who she killed off in this one. (There are at least two that make me particularly sad, and you can guess which.)

Meeting adjourned. We'll bring cookies next time.
mollyringle: (bat)
Happy October, everyone!

Today I'm extending an invitation to you all: read aloud a few lines from The Hobbit for the world to enjoy. All ages, voices, and accents welcome. It'll be a Halloween audio project like the ones we've done before--click here and scroll down for examples, which you can listen to as you wish. (I re-listened to them lately, and they are so cool.)

As you can see on that page, in past years our brave band of volunteers has read aloud from Poe's "The Raven," Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and Stoker's Dracula. With the first film installment of The Hobbit coming up this December, I thought our 2012 Halloween selection could be a spooky piece from Tolkien's novel. Likely it will be about Smaug, the dragon, roaring out of his mountain and torching everything with intent to kill, but excerpt selection may depend on final number of volunteers.

So please do volunteer! All you need is a voice and a way to record the lines and send them to me. Your part will be short and manageable, probably only a sentence or two. We love including kids, grandparents, roommates, whoever you've got around. Don't worry about the quality of your voice or accent. I'll let you in on a secret: nearly everyone dislikes their own voice and/or accent. What makes these projects cool is the variety of voices coming together on one literary passage.

Simply comment here (or email me) with the number of volunteers your household is providing, and I'll get you on the list and send you your lines soon. Signup deadline is one week from today: October 10. And obviously I'd like the lines recorded before Halloween (Oct. 31).

Thank you, and I'm looking forward to hearing what you've got!
mollyringle: (haunted house)
I'm considering another Halloween literature read-aloud (see 2010's Project Dracula for example). Maybe in honor of the Hobbit movie coming out soon, we could use a spooky section from that. What's the most Halloweenish part? Bunch o' giant spiders? Smaug? Other? Also, would you guys be up for reading parts and actually recording them on time?

If so: yay! Official sign-up and assignment of lines to follow.
mollyringle: (Buffet of victims)
Good couple of days for my fandoms lately.

We have of course the newer, longer Hobbit trailer...



...in which I found myself unexpectedly thinking, "Dang, there are some hot dwarves in that bunch." (Particularly Kili, though Thorin is handsome as well.) If it looks as though we're in for some broad, slightly dumb humor--well, let's be fair; that was kind of canon for The Hobbit as a novel. Drunk carousing elves and plate-chucking dwarves are part of what Tolkien gave us to work with. Can't expect Peter Jackson to just leave that lying on the table, can you?

Incidentally, as [livejournal.com profile] serai1 and I were discussing yesterday, Martin Freeman looks perfect as Bilbo, partially because he's already proven himself a great Arthur Dent--and, if we think about it, Arthur Dent kind of is Bilbo. They're both grumpy homebodies hauled at great reluctance from their houses to go on a grand perilous adventure, and spend most of the time wishing they had their tea. Or handkerchiefs. Hey, I can completely relate.

Switching gears, we also got an extended preview/trailer/thing for the new Les Misérables:



The more I see of it, the more I dare think they're getting Hugo's story as right as they can. They're adding book-faithful details that weren't in the stage show, such as the elephant statue inside which Gavroche sleeps. And the cast's voices sound awesome so far.

But if that's too heart-wrenching for you, and you want something funny, enjoy Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel breaking into an impromptu version of Javert and Valjean's confrontation song:



I LOL'd. Now I want Neil Patrick Harris to be in a production of Les Mis. He'd be a great Javert, but honestly he could be any part he wanted. Enjolras, Fantine, Eponine--whatever. He'd rock it.
mollyringle: (dome - Gothic Choir)
I hadn't read The Hobbit since I was a kid, so, given the upcoming movies (evidently there are going to be two, not one), I felt it was time to revisit Bilbo and Smaug. Having finished it, my review:

Though this was a re-read for me, the first go-round was so long ago that I'd forgotten a lot of the book. (Hey, look at that! A whole passel of giant spiders! And Frodo and Sam thought *they* had arachnid problems.) Tolkien, as ever, excels at his world-building: the landscape and its unusual inhabitants feel totally real, and made me look around with new appreciation at rocks, plants, and streams in my own neighborhood, as if they all might harbor magical beings or properties.

I take a star off because, as with The Lord of the Rings, the pacing is kind of screwed up. They kill the dragon too soon (shot by a guy who barely figures in the story up to that point), then *other* battles happen as the kinda-sorta-climax, and then (as with LOTR) the giant Eagles end up saving the day at the last minute rather than our heroes saving themselves. Also, that Necromancer who Gandalf was off fighting, completely off screen--well, that makes sense if you've read LOTR (oh yeah, it's Sauron), but viewing The Hobbit as a novel on its own, that development is a bit perplexing. LOTR has more human (/hobbit/elf/dwarf/etc.) emotional drama to give it greater merit despite the pacing issues, while The Hobbit feels more like it's meant for children--and that's okay in some ways, as it's also a lot less heartbreaking.

Also, what was up with the silly elves? I said to my husband, mid-read, "The elves in this one are weirdly happy. Like, cracking jokes and being goofy. Maybe later on, the whole Ring situation, and the going-west stuff, was making them grumpier...?" But it still doesn't completely make sense. So I'll be curious to see what Peter Jackson does there. I really cannot see Elrond singing tra-la-la rhymes and dancing merrily. Legolas, maybe, if he had a frat-boy phase. Orlando could totally play that.

All that said, Bilbo is a charming protagonist, and there are lots of gems of scenes in this book. Also some actual gems, like the Arkenstone. Hah.

Incidentally, have you seen Peter Jackson's video blog entries about the making of the new films? Huge fun. I need to go back and view the ones I haven't seen yet.

From The Hobbit I moved straight to a long-intended re-read of Les Misérables. I'm now about a third of the way in, and so far I am annoyed with Victor Hugo for these things:

1) Burying a wonderful, amazing novel among a bunch of extraneous chapters about French history, which dissuades people from reading it. Therefore I recommend you read the *abridged* version--or else get the unabridged, but skim when you find yourself wading through Waterloo or the Paris sewers or someone's needless monologue. I want people to love this novel as much as I do, and they won't if they force the unabridged upon themselves.

2) The title. Jeez, Victor, who's going to want to read this? There's misery in these pages, sure, but the story is much more about love and compassion. And it's even funny or sensual in several places.

3) Creating seriously huge dilemmas for his characters, reaching a point of agonizing conflict which *my* novels may never approach. Example: Ex-convict Jean Valjean has disguised his identity and established a new and benevolent life, in which he's about to do a dying woman the favor of rescuing her little daughter from the slavery she's currently trapped in. However, that same week, he hears that the "real" Jean Valjean has supposedly been caught on a petty theft, and, being an ex-con, is going to be put back in prison for life. So. Save the innocent guy by revealing his identity, and thus get recaptured and be unable to help the little girl? Or save the girl and let the innocent man go to prison for life? I mean, seriously. I never manage to plot stuff this awesome. (Spoiler: Valjean manages to do both of the good things. That's why he's a hero.)

4) Being heartbreaking enough to hurt, but beautiful and romantic enough to keep me obsessively reading. I cain't quit you, Les Mis.

There's an upcoming movie for this too, complete with new and fully heart-rending trailer:



Marius fangirl sidenote: though I liked Eddie Redmayne perfectly well in The Pillars of the Earth, and though he looks lovely in that trailer, he just does not look like the curly-black-haired, marble-skinned Marius described in the book. For me Marius will always look like Rufus Sewell back in the young days. (Rufus also starred in The Pillars of the Earth, as it happens. Kinda why I watched it.)

Rufus Sewell
mollyringle: (Frolijah)
Regarding this useful article on the dos and don'ts of novel endings, something they could have said, expanding on "light the fuse and run," is "get it done and then get out." That is, don't let the post-climax material run too long. Even some otherwise great novels make that mistake.

I know this will alienate me forever from die-hard Tolkien fans, but I felt The Lord of the Rings (the novel, that is) went on too long after the Ring's destruction. Specifically, the scouring of the Shire didn't work for me. I see how it's important to show that the war extended even to the gentle faraway Shire, but our good professor basically already showed that with what happened to the four hobbits (actually five; Bilbo too). In terms of pacing, it felt like a big stumble or hiccup. We were winding down and watching what happened to each hero as he or she went home, then boom, we're back into battle scenes? Didn't like it. As far as I'm concerned, it's okay if Saruman does meet his doom back on his ruined tower, from a tidy arrow fired by Legolas.

For that matter, I also felt the Tom Bombadil sequence was a big hiccup or stumble on the path of getting the action started. Therefore I totally understand why Peter Jackson didn't put either of them in the film. And I utterly forgive it. Though I know my elf- and dwarf- and hobbit-costumed friends will raise an outcry at my saying so.

(Admit it, you miss the days when 90% of my LJ posts were about LOTR. It's kind of nostalgic, my posting this, isn't it?)
mollyringle: (Froud - bad faeries)
Interesting things people have entered as search terms, which have landed them on my webpage:

how many arrows pierced isildur [sorry, I didn't count]
hagrid stripped ginny and molly [uh...]
naked eowyn kissing aragorn [again, sorry. Photoshop isn't my strength.]
do legolas and aragorn kiss [alas, no]
aragorn and eowyn make out naked [see above]
girl falls off refrigerator on broomstick [I have no idea. But my website isn't what you're after.]
when i was in taiwan i had a dog named gandalf [how nice for you]
frodo tortured by merry [heh. Domlijah dies hard.]
long-haired draco dirty harry licking greenhouse [Dirty Harry? Really?]
you can be my sugar daddy i will do whatever you want script [was that a movie?]
draco and harry kiss in detention in half blood prince [someone has made that happen; just not me or Rowling]
harry grabbed ginny and tongue moan hi mum [well, that's more or less canon, at least]
one day there was a nice house and a lady called molly she was 19 years old. she saw the nice house and molly said to herself i think i should get this house. she asked the man if she could have the house the man said yes it is 1500 ponds. molly said ok when should i pay it. the man said today or next week. she said ok ill pay it next week. the man said ok. molly went in the house and 3 years later molly died of canser. after she died a man named joe wanted the house there was a difrent man and the house [I KID YOU NOT. Who enters Google terms like this?]

To be fair, many of the fandom search terms were non-pervy. I just cherry-picked the good ones. :) And plenty of people were in fact searching for me and my works, so that was gratifying too.
mollyringle: (Minas Tirith - John Howe)
Released today online and free:
http://thehuntforgollum.com/

LOTR fans, go watch! This is a short film, slightly over 30 minutes, made entirely by volunteer fans on a non-profit basis. And given the shoestring budget, I must say it looks, sounds, and feels amazing. If it weren't for the different cast, I'd believe it was a long extra sequence from Peter Jackson's extended DVDs. And actually, the guy who plays Gandalf looks so much like Ian McKellen that I might not have noticed the difference there, at least for the first few minutes.

Basically it covers the little sequence mentioned in the Council of Elrond, and the Appendices, in which Aragorn goes out hunting for Gollum, before the main events of LOTR take place. The filming and writing is very much in the style of the New Line movies, complete with a brief dream-sequence by Arwen and some amusing grumbling by Gollum. I'll be keeping my eye on this production team to see what they do next.

Thanks to Dave in the UK for emailing me about this project! Might not have reached my radar otherwise.
mollyringle: (moon over ocean)
FYI, the online ebook superstore Fictionwise has now added THE GHOST DOWNSTAIRS to their catalog:

http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook86349.htm?cache

And since it's a "new" book in their system, it's 15% off for the time being. Get it while it's hot!

I'm honored to share the New Book At Fictionwise category with J.R.R. Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which also is out this week for the first time as an official ebook. :)

If you have a Kindle reader, Amazon.com now carries my title in that format as well. And there's a free Kindle application for iPhones and the iPod Touch, so you can always try it that way if you're one of those folks newly wedded to their iPhones.

---

In other news:

Young men of the world, let me discuss for a moment how stupid those long, baggy basketball shorts look on you. I was walking behind a young man wearing those the other day, and had some time to observe the effect. The material was so satiny, so loose and flowing, and so long, that it honestly looked like he was wearing a skirt. So, if the effect you want is that of walking around in a pretty, silky, rippling spring skirt, then carry on. If you want to wear something manly, try, I don't know, pants that fit.
mollyringle: (Giles - librarians)
I'm taking this space to pay tribute to Modern Male Actors Who Can Sing. Women are encouraged to take voice lessons, and are less shy about singing, so it's no surprise when they turn out to sing well. But men have to get past that whole "singing is for sissies" stereotype, especially in recent decades (unlike the '40s and '50s when, like, every movie was a musical), so I want to salute the ones who have made the biggest impression on me.

In this list I'll only include instances where I've seen the whole movie or play in question, not just YouTube clips. For example, I know Hugh Jackman has sung on stage many a time, but I've never seen one of his performances, so I can't really say I've formed an impression there.

However, I will provide YouTube clips for each of these men so you can enjoy them yourselves.

1. Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge. Ewan won me over as a lifelong fangirl through this film. The tragic love story and glittery sets would have been enough, but the heartfelt, skilled singing clinched it.

2. Neil Patrick Harris, Dr Horrible. Neil's a Broadway actor and singer, too, but this is the first time I was treated to his talents. So sweet, so funny!

3. Billy Boyd, The Return of the King. The Lord of the Rings films were full of great music, but Billy's a cappella gave me the biggest goosebumps.

4. James Marsters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. More Whedonverse here. God love the man for encouraging singing. Not only is James, as Spike, witty and sexy, but he can sing a mean Goth-rock, too.

5. Anthony Stewart Head, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And while we're on "Once More With Feeling," I can't omit Giles and his golden English voice. *sigh*

6. John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He's adorable in drag, and the movie is ten times sweeter and more clever than you expect going in. Plus, could the music rock more? I thought not.

7. Guy Pearce, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. For the most part, Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving, and Terrence Stamp don't do any actual singing in Priscilla, just lip-synching. But they're so fabulous that I had to find a way to include the film. So here's a clip of Guy singing for a few seconds. (Warning: some cheeky profanity in this one.)

8. Rick Moranis, Little Shop of Horrors. Reaching back to the 80s for this one, but what the heck. I sure hope Rick's gotten a chance to sing more than this one part, because he totally rocked it.

9. Tim Curry, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Reaching back even further for this one, but how can I not include Tim Curry in Rocky Horror? I rather doubt anyone else ever took camp so far, so successfully.

10. Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera. Okay, not everyone can live up to Michael Creighton, but Gerard did a fine job trying, and is a fine man as well. Way too good-looking for the Phantom, actually.

It occurs to me that I could go on way too long with this list if I wanted, so I'll stop at ten. And I'm sure I'm forgetting someone obvious, so remind me.

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