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Wizards and Hobbits
By gzt (Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 03:33:50 PM EST) gzt, alternative medicine, bloodletting, gaming, work, pie, aubrey, maturin, cards, television (all tags)
So, I have finals this week. Two classes. The one today won't be too tough, but the one on Wednesday might be a little rough. Fortunately, I don't need to get above the mid-80s in either.

“It’s not my nature to complain, but so far today we’ve have three movies, two filmstrips, and an hour and a half of magazine time.  I just don’t feel challenged.” – Lisa Simpson
“Of course we could make things more challenging, Lisa.  But then the stupider students would be in here complaining, furrowing their brows in a vain attempt to understand the situation.” – Principal Skinner

It's just statistics wonkery, pretty much.

We have discussed, at various times, raising our children in ignorance of certain things about entertainment or life in general. Or, more to the point, defining how much of something to watch for the partner who has not seen the series yet. For instance:

  1. There is only one Matrix movie.
  2. There is only one Star Wars trilogy.
  3. The Simpsons was cancelled after season 9.
  4. LoTR was never made into a movie.
  5. There are no Narnia movies, only those BBC adaptations.
  6. Maybe only three or four seasons of the American version of The Office. It's still fine to watch when it's on, but somebody taking the time to go back over them won't really feel compelled to watch much after Jim and Pam become an "item".
  7. Only the first season of Dexter. The others are okay, but not really worth it, in retrospect.
  8. Most sequels, of course, never occurred. Most remakes of classic films never occurred, either.
Add your own to the list!

I will be quite glad when I am done with classes. I'm taking two next semester and the semester starts early, but a few free weeks will be good. I can take the time to teach the wifing unit some card games.

I am now on boat book #16, The Wine-Dark Sea, which was apparently the first of the series to make the bestseller list in The America. Still shows no signs of slowing down in quality. I will be quite glad to finish the series and am also quite glad that Aubrey does, in the last completed book, hoist his flag.

Bears are awesome:

We had a bit of a disaster on Saturday while gaming. We had a new game, Loyang, which looked interesting, but we couldn't quite make sense of one part of the rules on our own. We had Mare Nostrum, but we had four people (not ideal) and we had spent enough time fiddling with Loyang that we would not want to play an entire game of that. I thought I had a deck of cards, but we didn't. Solution: break out an iPad and play Catan on it. Not ideal, but pretty okay. A good time was had by all. Catan doesn't play well on an iPad. We also played Carcassonne on an iPhone, which works a lot better because there is no need to hold cards. It also makes keeping score a lot easier.

I've been playing Schnapsen and piquet against the computer. I'm okay at Schnapsen and good at piquet, at least, compared to the computer. To truly be good at piquet, I would have to be a lot better at counting cards. Same at Schnapsen, since, if the deck doesn't close, you should know precisely what your opponent has. The trick is to explicitly practice it. Or, at least, that was the trick in chess. How do you play blindfold chess? You try to do it. Play a few moves, then name aloud the positions of all the pieces. Answer questions (like: what diagonals is the white bishop on? what pieces can the knight on d4 capture?). I presume if you practice the same with cards, you'll get pretty good at it.

Derivatives clearinghouse controlled by banking cabal: Plus ca change...

I'm still sick as a dog.

Awesome idea for pie crust: The secret: VODKA. Not sure whether it's a gimmick or the secret to its success, but it's worth bookmarking.

Blah blah blah work work work. Work keeps on going on, but things aren't so bad as they seemed at first with the new announcements because more announcements have been made. That's all I will say in google-able public.

We were going to go hang out with somebody and watch a movie last night, but a few hours of watching the snow go by horizontally and considering waiting for the bus made us decide to postpone. Then we realized that we did not have much food, so we decided to order pizza instead of going to the store and making anything. A good time was had by all.

Anyway. I'd better get work done, because I'm planning on skipping out a little early to get some studying done before the final. They let us have one notecard filled with formulae for this test, so I have to fill that out.

I found out who discovered that bloodletting was not effective. Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis, the founder of the "numerical method" of epidemiology, did so by tracking outcomes of bloodletting in cases of fever. The wikipedia has information about the sometimes alarming amount of blood 19th century physicians would let, even when they were being treated for, say, a battlefield wound which caused them to faint from loss of blood.

An amusing link stolen from BO that the wifing unit might like: Alternative medicine (reflexology)! I wonder whether the alternative medicine folks have thought of reviving the practice of bloodletting. It's a traditional medical practice practiced in nearly all cultures.

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finals | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Let them see the movies after they read the books by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 03:58:56 PM EST
Fourteen year old has been slowly making her way though LOTR, she's just past where Bombadil saved the Hobbits from the Barrow Wights. When I explained Jackson dropped Bombadil, she was very annoyed. A good lesson in the difficulties in converting media.

I'd go the opposite by Driusan (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:52:48 PM EST
Only let them see the movie if they haven't read the book.

Any book I've read before the movie, I've invariably been disappointed by the movie. If I see the movie first, then I may or may not like it, and if I like it enough to read the book, I invariably like the book better.

Ergo, in order to maximize enjoyment, one must read the book AFTER having seen the movie.

Also, things to add to the list:

  • Spawn is an HBO cartoon (or graphic novel), not a movie
  • Les Misérables is a musical/play (or book), not a movie
  • Wine is always red

Vive le Montréal libre.
[ Parent ]
All filmic versions of Les Mis are fucking awesome by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:13:42 AM EST
Take it back, you poutine-eating bastard. Yes, I'm still a breeder.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
only one season of "heroes" (nt) by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 04:08:46 PM EST

Agreed. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 04:43:24 PM EST
I thought of that and don't know why I neglected it. Perhaps I was skeptical about whether it's really worth watching at all, in retrospect.

[ Parent ]
What I Mean by gzt (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 05:03:31 PM EST
They could have done it in half the time. Too many time-wasting cliffhangers. That's fine for a weekly series, but for somebody going back over it on one's own, one wants things cut down a bit more. It's like with Dickens: it's great to read that serialized, but now that we have the whole volume, we strongly prefer something more redacted.

[ Parent ]
i thought the first season was great. by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 05:11:51 PM EST
compelling at least; i couldn't stop watching it.  i plowed through season 1 from netflix then bought it on DVD.  i've been waiting for enough time to pass before trying to watch it again - enough time to mostly forget what it was about, then see if i still find it as compelling.  maybe it was just a passing addiction, we'll see. season 2 was really terrible though.  everyone i know who has seen the show seems to agree unanimously on that point.

[ Parent ]
That is very true by gzt (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 05:16:32 PM EST
I kept watching, though, and even saw the first few episodes of season 3, but then gave up because it was too horrible. Season 1 is pretty good, I did much the same as you, but think it definitely could have gone faster.

[ Parent ]
S2 Ep1 was pretty good. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:14:49 PM EST
I lost interest pretty rapidly after that. Don't even get me started on S4.5 of BSG. NERD RAGE!!

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
vodka pie dough by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 04:18:02 PM EST
Cook's Illustrated advocates vodka pie dough. If it's good enough for those OCD food freaks I expect it's good enough for most people.

It does work by barooo (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 05:01:40 PM EST
But...  It's a very wet mess to deal with.  getting it rolled out requires wax paper.  Personally, I find it easier to do regular pie crust, but if you're someone that makes one or two pies a year it's maybe a good solution; getting good at pie crust takes making a few dozen to get the feel for it.

man, i need a beefy taco now.
[ Parent ]
sounds about right by gzt (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 05:17:19 PM EST
It's been ages since I've done any pastry because it's such a friggin' pain to deal with. It's not like riding a bike, either.

[ Parent ]
I recently watched the Matrix sequels by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 05:24:32 PM EST
For the very first time. I mostly liked them far better than the first one. But I'm not a big fan of Snow White so I don't think it's any surprise that I thought the first Matric film was vastly overrated.

But as for adaptations of books, I have to disagree. The mythos of ancient world was repleat with various tellings,re-tellings, re-voicings and recapitulations of various stories. I think film adaptations that actually tell a different story are a good thing. The very notion that someone could translate a story from book to film without it being a fundamentally different work boggles my mind. Far better, I think, to expose your children to originals and re-tellings and discuss the differences.

And that Lisa Simpson scenario, I've pretty much seen it play out in front of me at parent-teacher conferences where a teacher tried to explain to me that he doesn't assign an appropriate amount of homework because most students simply wouldn't do it.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Snow White? by notafurry (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 05:42:16 PM EST
I confess I haven't watched any of the Matrix movies in a long time, or watched or read Snow White in even longer, but I don't get that allusion.

As for education - there is no solution to the problem of educating your children that does not involve doing the heavy lifting yourself. This is irritating and inconvenient and has, so far as I can tell, been true for a very long time.

[ Parent ]
Snow White and the Matrix by lm (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:00:41 PM EST
A very special person, Neo, dies at the hand of a villain who would usurp his position and is brought back to life by the kiss of his true love, Trinity. This is basically a recapitulation of the plot of Snow White.

And, as far as education goes, I've not had any SImpson moments since moving to Maryland from Ohio. Granted, parents certainly have responsibility to raise their children. Some school systems just make it more difficult than it has to be.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Got it by notafurry (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:56:57 PM EST
I saw the same plot element and went straight to the Messiah/Resurrection story.

[ Parent ]
You're in MoCo by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 09:23:13 AM EST
Like Fairfax, the parents are (mostly) very well educated, and the kids are surrounded by peers with well-educated parents. All sorts of good role models, plus the kids tend to be from the right hand side of the bell curve. Lots of those kids tend to be self starters.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
books by gzt (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 10:23:03 PM EST
I don't recall dissing adaptations of books in this diary. I don't think there's anything wrong with them per se, though I don't like certain adaptations. Namely, LoTR and the current Narnia films. I like most of the BBC adaptations of the Narnia ones, so I'm not entirely opposed to their being done at all in a videographic form. There are many books that are better as films: The Magnificent Ambersons (who the hell would read that?), The Maltese Falcon, a lot of Grisham and Clancy. There are plenty of books that make good films, though I'm not sure which is better: Diary of a Country Priest, some Graham Greene books, etc. There are also some where the book is probably better but I don't care, like the Harry Potter series.

But, anyway: the LoTR movies just don't exist, nor do the Narnia films, nor do the Matrix sequels. For all the rest, yeah, it's totally a good idea to go through that kind of exercise. Whatever.

[ Parent ]
Movie remakes by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:05:26 PM EST
My one exception would be Ocean's 11.  It's nothing exceptional, but it's a pretty good movie despite being a remake. 

John Carpenter's The Thing by lm (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:17:59 PM EST
A much better take on Campbell's Who Goes There than The Thing from Outer Space.

Also, Tombstone, Scarface and 3:10 to Yuma.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
You have kids? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:16:43 PM EST
Or are these future perfect children?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

I'm guessing subjective or optative by lm (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:19:14 PM EST
But that might just be me.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Anne Frank Fed Hitler To A Lion by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 07:57:09 PM EST
Also, we've told our children that sometimes people do expect the Spanish Inquisition.

Science-fiction wallah, storytelling gorilla, man wearing a hat: Cheeseburger Brown.
I liked the LoTR movies. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 09:27:30 AM EST
I could wish that the extended butt buster versions could've included Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire, but they are still better than, oh, 95% of fantasy movies (or adaptations) out there.

The SciFi Channel's versions of Dune and, especially, Children of Dune, were very well done. Some books need to be miniseries, not movies.

Narnia movies, well, I liked Lion, stopped watching Caspian half-way through, and heard from friends whose opinions I respect that Dawn Treader is Not That Good.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

SciFi's Dune? by gzt (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 09:49:28 AM EST
I'll have to keep that in mind.

LoTR movies are pretty good, as far as movies go. They probably were among the best films of that decade. I just like the books far more and think that the proper way of educating somebody in this instance is to give lots and lots of exposure to the books and then let 'em find the movies on their own after they've grown up - which is, coincidentally, what almost everybody else did until recently. What I don't want to happen is for the movies to ruin the books, which they will do if you have not been well-grounded in the books.

[ Parent ]
insert scouring rant here by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 11:07:25 AM EST
My claim is that lack of the scouring is the biggest issue in Jackson's view of LotR. It might be required for cinematic reasons, but in doing so he removed the part were the hobbits growth as heroes could shown. This lead to showing Aragon's growth, which meant neutering Aragon early in the movie, which lead to reducing Faramir, and so on.

An extended edition which repaired the damage of such editing would be wonderful with or without an actual scouring (and remove all dwarf tossing references while you are at it).


[ Parent ]
I don't see the resolution as all that important by gzt (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 03:30:00 PM EST
To my mind, yeah, the scouring and all that is great, but the book could have ended for me when the ring was destroyed. As a thought experiment, just think about what it would be like if you just closed the book after the ring was destroyed and maybe after the battle is over. You know how most of the resolution will occur, so you'd probably be pretty happy with the book. And then consider reading all the rest. Well, it's all right, but I don't think it really adds all that much, all things considered, but the extra plot points and disposing of Saruman and all that is pretty good. However, a Hollywood audience needs that resolution because they want everything spelled out, and this leads to the problems you mentioned, and they kind of suck.

[ Parent ]
Tolkien insisted it flowed via the story by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 09:54:50 PM EST
and wasn't tacked on to match what was happening in Britain after the war. I always thought that his claim was pretty weak (that type of thing happens after a mass mobilization of all civic minded types, not four guys leaving), but I think the movie's flaws give a lot of evidence that they were needed.

While it doesn't violate the "show don't tell" rule to leave out the return of mighty hobbits of valor to the shire, it does bend it a bit. Also Frodo's end with the shellringshock helps deal with the issue that the ring's damage can't be seen directly, handled in much the same way.

In retrospect, I suspect that ending the movie there, and putting the entire rest of the film on down to the family trees in the extended edition would be better (there might even be a reason to admit that more than one DVD exists of the movie). Pitching the idea of shooting over an extra hour of film after the ending might be difficult.


[ Parent ]
Which war? by gzt (2.00 / 0) #29 Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 10:06:11 AM EST
The Great War or WWII? If you mean the latter, then, well, maybe you're right, that war scarred Tolkien pretty deeply. But I definitely would agree with Tolkien if the claim is WWII.

[ Parent ]
changes after WWII by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #32 Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 12:00:39 PM EST
The political changes in the shire appear to match what I've heard about post WWII England.

Oddly enough, it probably is a direct take on Tolkiens post-Great War life. The trappings might appear to be taken from post WWII politics, but Tolkien was such an archconservative (things went downhill after writers started following that newfangled Chaucer stuff!) that the big change was rural England becoming modernized, presumably shortly after the Great War. I would look more into the inevitable funerals following great victories for the scars of the Somme.

The real reason it is said to match post-WWII is that Sauromanista propaganda seems to closely match the politics of C.S.Lewis's planetary trilogy and they both appear to be mocking the same source. I'd have to say that he skated well over the line of allegory, but I am now also reasonably sure that the allegory happened due to the scouring's existence, and not vice versa.


[ Parent ]
LotR & other realities by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #30 Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 11:21:09 AM EST
I have no serious gripes about the LotR movies. Jackson took one of my iconic reads which should be unfilmable and made something that while less than perfect was still pretty damn good.

However, the movies of The Dark is Rising, or The Golden Compass do not exist.
Most Dune books do not exist.
Oasis only released two albums.
Red Dwarf ran for 6 seasons, Coupling for 3.
Sylvester McCoy was never The Doctor.
There is no 4th Earthsea book.

Agree on most of those. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #31 Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 11:54:38 AM EST
And Peri, most certainly, was never a companion. In fact, most of Colin Baker's Doctor wouldn't exist, either.

[ Parent ]
finals | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback