Tag Archives: hobbit

Happy New Year

“What do you mean? Do you wish me a happy new year, or mean that it is a happy new year whether I want it or not; or that it is a new year to be happy on?”

“All of them at once.”

— With apologies to JRR Tolkien. (Though I suspect it’s only going to be the first….)

I Survived Comic-Con 2013!

And this year, that’s saying something. (I’ll get into that later.)

Gru's Floating Minion

Sometime Thursday afternoon or Friday morning I concluded that we’d remember this year’s trip more for the circumstances around it than for the con itself. I had no idea.

For starters: We had tickets for Thursday and Friday, and planned to drive into town Wednesday afternoon and drive home Friday evening. Sure, Comic-Con is stressful, but we always used to drive home Sunday evening and I was fine.

Of course, most of those times we weren’t bringing a toddler along.

Under Pressure

Comic-Con is a stressful, high-pressure, taxing experience. Vacationing with a small child is also a stressful, high-pressure, taxing experience. And so many little things went wrong the first two days: Leaving the stroller behind and having to buy a cheap one on the way, the leg cramp in stop-and-go traffic, having to search for outlets to plug in the lamps in our hotel room (and having to unplug them in order to charge more than one phone at a time), the fit at dinner that had strangers commenting on how J must be tired (actually, ma’am, he acts like this regardless of sleep quotient). Getting out too late to take the shuttle back and having to take the trolley instead (though that actually worked out fine, as J loved the idea)…at which point we learned that the routes had changed since we last rode the trolley, and we got off one stop too early to make the transfer.

Thursday morning we had everything planned out: We’d go to breakfast at Broken Yolk Cafe, then pick up our badges, then I’d take J around while Katie tried to catch the first big panel of the day. So what happened? We missed the shuttle because they moved the stop from where it had been last time we stayed on this route. Then I ordered blueberry crepes and managed to spill them on my shirt and shorts. They went into the con while I went back to the hotel to change clothes and try to rinse out the blueberry syrup before it stained.

And the first taste of Comic-Con is always overwhelming. Always. Add in these circumstances and you won’t be surprised that when I finally caught up an hour and a half later, Katie was ready to swear off ever coming back.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Always bring spare clothes. (Done, fortunately.)
  2. Don’t start the con with a breakfast that might stain if it spills.
  3. If you’re bringing a small child, find some way that you can start the con without them, then bring them in later.

Overheard: “It was! It was! It was Reptar!”

Settling In

Fortunately, things improved over the course of the day, and the rest of Thursday actually went pretty well. Friday, on the other hand…well, we’ll get to that.

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How The Hobbit Will (and Won’t) be Like the Star Wars Prequels

Posters for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

As the release date approaches for the first movie in The Hobbit triogy, I find myself comparing the circumstances to the Star Wars prequels. Why? In both cases you have…

  • A visionary director returning to…
  • A high-profile trilogy set in a fantastical world…
  • After years away…
  • To tell a prequel set a generation earlier…
  • Including significant events that set up the other story (Vader’s turn to the dark side and the rise of the Empire, Bilbo finding the One Ring and the Necromancer of Mirkwood).
  • Some cast are returning as younger versions of the same characters (Palpatine, C-3PO, Gandalf, Elrond)
  • Other characters have been recast (Obi-Wan, Bilbo).

But of course, Star Wars isn’t Lord of the Rings, and Peter Jackson isn’t George Lucas. Let’s look at four big differences.

1. Time

The Phantom Menace came out 22 years after Star Wars: A New Hope and 14 years after Return of the Jedi. An entire generation of children grew up with the original trilogy and were adults by the time the prequels started. And with 14 years of no Star Wars films, the prequels had to justify the wait.

With Lord of the Rings, it’s only been 10 years since Fellowship of the Ring, and 8 since Return of the King. We’ve spent half the time away from Middle Earth as we did from that galaxy far, far away. Children have become teenagers, and teenagers have become adults, but there isn’t quite the same level of “My childhood is back!” nostalgia that could make or break the films for a large section of the audience.

2. Directorial Experience

According to IMDB, George Lucas stopped directing after the first Star Wars film in 1977. He kept writing and producing, of course, but he hadn’t directed a film in two decades when he picked up The Phantom Menace

Peter Jackson may have slowed down a bit, but between wrapping up the extended edition of Return of the King in 2004 and picking up The Hobbit in 2010, he’s directed King Kong and The Lovely Bones.

3. Source Material

This is a big one. The Star Wars saga was an original story by George Lucas. When he wrote Episodes I-III, he was free to do anything he wanted as long as it didn’t contradict Episodes IV-VI. The Hobbit films are based on Tolkien’s novel, the appendices from Lord of the Rings, and his published notes. The core of the story is a lot more well-established.

4. Executive Meddling Potential

Zillionaire George Lucas wrote, directed and produced the Star Wars prequels, financing them himself. Nobody was in a position to tell him no. On one hand, this is good, because there weren’t any suits with more money than talent to tell him to add an extra car chase here, or add a love triangle there, and does Revenge of the Sith *really* need to be PG-13, can’t we dial down the violence a bit? On the other hand, it also meant no one could say, “George, don’t you think Jar-Jar is a little over the top?” or “This fireplace scene just isn’t working.”

Peter Jackson lucked out with the Lord of the Rings trilogy in being able to mostly do his own thing. But the legal battles and rights-wrangling that have caused The Hobbit to take so long to reach the screen indicate that the studios might be trying to exert their influence to “protect” their investment (which usually seems to involve killing the goose that lays the golden eggs). Certainly the decision to stretch the story out to three movies sounds like the studio trying to multiply their ticket sales, though I can also see Jackson and Weta deciding that this is their last chance to explore Middle Earth, so they might as well make the most of it.

Well, it’s just one week until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens and we all get to see how it turned out. One thing that’s definitely changed for me: Unlike Episode I, there’s not a chance that I’ll be standing in line for hours to see a midnight (or 2AM) showing. I can wait until Saturday afternoon.

Links: Traffic, Scott Pilgrim, Soviet Hobbit, Facts, Moon, Toyota and New Spice

Want to see what Los Angeles traffic looks like on a typical Friday evening? You can! A co-worker pointed out to me that you can view statistical traffic on Google Maps in addition to live traffic. To see it, go to Google Maps, enable traffic, then look at the inset traffic key and hit “change.” You’ll be able to choose a day of the week and time.

A Scott Pilgrim fan tracked down the real-life locations in Toronto that Brian Lee O’Malley used as reference, then took photos to match them up with the comic panels.

It reminds me of a story that O’Malley told at Comic-Con last(?) year about the movie production. They tried to use actual locations when possible, and at one point went to film a scene with a particular phone booth, only to find it had been torn out. They rebuilt the phone booth for the scene!

How To Be a Retronaut has a fascinating gallery of illustrations from the 1976 Soviet edition of The Hobbit. (via @dixonium)

Copyblogger presents: Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb. Please, people: learn the differences between your and you’re, and between they’re, their and there! (via This Is True)

A university library has put together a great parody of the Old Spice ad campaign: Study Like a Scholar, Scholar. (also via This Is True )

NPR story: In Politics, Sometimes The Facts Don’t Matter

New research suggests that misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts — and often become even more attached to their beliefs. The finding raises questions about a key principle of a strong democracy: that a well-informed electorate is best.

This makes me feel a little less enthused about the next two items:

It’s incredibly cool that we’ve got photos of the Apollo 16 landing site. But that won’t convince people who are absolutely certain that the landings were faked.

And a U.S. Department of Transportation investigation of Toyota crashes blamed on sudden acceleration has implicated driver error in nearly all cases. Of the 75 fatal crashes investigates, only one could be verified as a problem with the vehicle: the Lexus crash last August in which the accelerator was caught on the floor mat, leading to a recall. Of course, the court of popular opinion has already made up its mind…