“Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost”

Not All Who Wander Are LostThis thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
-Gollum’s riddle in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Last night, I celebrated the end of the world by getting together with friends for dinner. They came here, and they brought dinner because while I am more settled by the day and finally cooking again, I’m mostly baking and actual meals are as spotty as my posts have been here the last couple weeks. I was at least together enough to have wine on hand (and freshly baked shortbread with whipped cream for dessert–mmmmm, who needs meals with nutritional value anyway?), and the evening was as noisy as this apartment has been, with talking and laughing and more talking.

The talking eventually turned to the first Hobbit movie, which we’d all seen and had some emotional investment in, and it was a conversation full of raised voices and talking over each other and exclaiming.

I offer you the correct opinion about this film.

I really enjoyed Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’ve seen each of the films at least a couple of times, and I found they captured a lot of things that I love about that story, so I had expectations that Jackson would do well with another of my favorite books. The Hobbit opens with promise. Martin Freeman makes a good Bilbo, and the scenes where he comes to terms with the dwarfs invading his home and begins to internalize their story are engaging and entertaining and have some seriousness to them, too.

Then I was bored for about an hour.

To me, there’s a lot of added backstory that felt like added backstory. There were far, far too many flashbacks. I also started to feel like if another character started in with a ridiculous cliched set of lines while sappy music started soaring in the background, I was maybe going to throw something.

Then there was the riddle scene, which I know so, so well, but found riveting even so–well-acted, well-paced, well-shot.

Then, you know, tired backstory and add-ons started ruining my life again.

My disappointment was not utter, but it was significant. One saving grace is that my godson Maxwell loved the film, and I am very eager to bring another LotR fan into the fold. Of course, he knew nothing of The Hobbit before we went to see the movie, and none of us thought to mention that this was just part one of the story, so when the credits started rolling, he got all, “We’re watching the next movie after the credits, right?” Then when no one answered–we were all trying to figure out how to break the truth to him–he raised his voice and almost shouted, “WE’RE WATCHING THE NEXT MOVIE AFTER THE CREDITS, RIGHT? WHAT HAPPENS WITH THAT MOUNTAIN?”

Which, come to think of it, may have been the real best part of the film.

Quotable Wednesday

If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us.

That’s why we have to care about each other.
-A in Every Day by David Levithan

A continuation of last Wednesday’s thought. The universe may not care about me, but it continues to give me worthwhile things to think about. Thanks, universe!

Quotable Wednesday

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
-1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (Authorized King James)

I looked this up in multiple versions, and, per usual, the King James is my favorite. Today, I will think on charity in its original sense and all I don’t know, which, it turns out, is a lot.

Things I’ve Been Putting in My Brain

“It’s also about what you ask for and what you do and how after, later on, when you finally get it, if you don’t want it, it’s not like Amazon. You can’t return it. You actually have to deal with it.”
Ben Folds at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY (October 5, 2012)

“I guess God was right. I can handle this. I can totally take so much more.”
Tig Notaro, “Live”

I had to stop reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s suspenseful, which is what kept me with it through the first half, but then I decided I could no longer spend time with these hideous people. They were making me feel hopeless about life. It’s not that I have a problem with reality or even things that are dark, but I need something like humor or a wee little ray of hope or some affirmation that life is not endless suffering primarily fueled by people I could not stand to spend five minutes with.

On Friday night, I saw Ben Folds Five play in Buffalo, which was more my speed. Ben Folds writes about things like sadness and disconnection and despair, but I just love his music. He’s always playing and singing his heart out, and the songs make me laugh and nod my head in understanding and revisit some of the most difficult moments of my life. He has a couple songs I love that just blaze with anger. Turning up an angry song and singing along is a fine way to deal with that particular emotion, as far as I’m concerned. Seeing the group play live was energizing.

I also listened to Ben Folds on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Also fun.

Today, I finally got to listen to Tig Notaro talk about being diagnosed with breast cancer, which is such a sad and terrible thing, but she turns it into something life-affirming. Listening to the recording, I laughed and cried and laughed and cried. When it was over, I listened to it again. Notaro is at once hopeful and enraged, and she’s not trying to make anyone comfortable, and she manages to find humor in this most improbable place. The fact of her standing there performing is a way of asserting life; she’s not letting herself die before she dies. And good for her.

My brain needs more of those kinds of things.

Quotable WTF

Gilbert Gottfried: How many times are you up there, and all of a sudden it goes into your head and you go, Wait a minute. What the fuck am I doing now? I’m standing here, I’m talking to a group of people, and I’m thinking I’m somehow funny or wittier than they are. What am I doing right now?
Marc Maron: Well, I think the reason we get on stage is to avoid that moment at all costs.
WTF with Marc Maron, episode 320

Quotable Tammy

In the midst of a sentence in a phone conversation the other night, Tammy shouted, “THE PIRATE MONKEY BOTTOMS WERE WITH THE PIRATE MONKEY TOP! GO PUT THEM ON!!!”

I don’t think she was talking to me, but I can’t be sure. When she starts yelling, I usually just agree with her.