Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi & Fantasy’ Category

Signing off

Monday, June 30th, 2008

G’nite, all. See you on the other side.

The end

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Guestblogging is turned off, and I’ll be shutting down comments in a few minutes, and redirecting this URL to the new blog shortly thereafter.

Thanks for the memories, everybody.

Oh, and don’t be deceived by the title of this post. Much like The Return of the King, this blog will have more than one ending. :) One final “signing off” post will follow…

P.S. Since I’ll be signing off as the “Irish Trojan,” I should probably link one last time to the post that started it all, in regard to that name.

Baby’s first hike through the Smokies

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Becky, Loyette and I spent Memorial Day communing with nature, as we hiked the Porters Creek Trail, a roughly 7-mile walk through the woods in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

It was very fun, if somewhat exhausting. (The hike to the campsite at the end of the trail was relentlessly uphill; the walk back was, naturally, downhill, and therefore mercifully less tiring.) We carried Loyette in her Kangaroo Korner slings, Becky using the fleece one and me using the mesh one, as we always do. We passed her back and forth throughout the roughly six-hour hike, and whoever wasn’t wearing the baby would wear the backpack. So that worked out pretty well.

Loyette was amazingly tolerant of the long day. She got cranky exactly three times — twice just before taking a long nap in her sling (i.e., she was tired), and once just before lunch (i.e., she was hungry). She’s a great baby that way. :) Throughout the vast majority of the hike, she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and seemed very interested in all the new sights, sounds and smells. Of course, that meant not just the natural wonders of the forest, but also the more mundane “wonders” like the feel of cold condensation on the outside of our water bottle, and the way a plastic bag full of peanuts (a handy trail snack) changes shape when you grab the outside of the bag. To a baby, everything new is exciting and wondrous.

Anyway, the trail we hiked is renowned for its beautiful wildflowers in early spring. Since it’s late May, there aren’t as many wildflowers now, but there are some, and they’re pretty. Here are a few that I photographed:

See also this one and this one.

Oh, and the trail also has a somewhat scary bridge, quite reminiscent of the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm (although with a railing, admittedly):

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but there’s really quite a steep drop-off; the water is maybe 15 feet below you in the middle. And given the narrowness of the bridge, it’s legitimately somewhat nerve-wracking to walk across.

I really wanted to find a large stick, hold it up, and proclaim, “You cannot pass! I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. Dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udûn! Go back to the shadow! You shall not pass!!!”

But alas, there was another pair of hikers sitting on a rock nearby, well within earshot, so I had to contain my weirdness. :)

I did, however, do what my dad and I call the Indiana Jones pose — notwithstanding the fact that, to my knowledge, Indiana Jones never did any such pose.

Anyway, I’ll upload some more pictures of the hike to Flickr shortly, and link to them here when they’re online.

P.S. I think this photo is cool:

UPDATE: As promised, here’s the Flickr gallery. It’s two pages long. Enjoy!

What The Hobbit must have

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

With producer Peter Jackson and director Guillermo Del Toro set to host a live chat Saturday about their impending film adaptation of The Hobbit, movie site The Deadbolt has posted an excellent article about the "Seven Things We Want From The Hobbit." They’re spot-on. There’s a lot of detail to each one, but the site’s seven basic demands are:

1. It has to be funny.
2. It needs to work as a stand-alone film.
3. The whole movie can’t be about the Battle of the Five Armies.
4. Smaug needs to be a classic movie villain first, dragon second.
5. Don’t cut out all of the songs.
6. Explain the ring.
7. Don’t be afraid to make Gandalf a bit of a bastard.

In the item about Smaug, I particularly like this bit:

Renaissance festivals and lackluster CGI have defanged the dragon for modern
film audiences, so how can Del Toro hope to make Smaug as cool as he needs to
be? Our advice – concentrate on the drama and dialogue of the Smaug scenes first
and worry about his design later. Smaug, first and foremost, needs to be a
classic villain – we’re talking Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader, Hans Gruber, etc.
– and we need to be much more afraid of his words and demeanor than his spiky
claws or teeth. In fact, Del Toro should use the scene in No Country for Old
Men between Anton Chigurh and the gas station owner as the model for the
tone and level of raised stakes in the Bilbo/Smaug scenes. Chigurh was so scary
it didn’t even matter that he had the haircut that he did, so if Smaug’s
character is handled correctly, it shouldn’t matter that movie audiences aren’t
afraid of dragons anymore.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Welcome, InstaPundit readers! If you’re interested in this topic, you should definitely read the Deadbolt article. It has way more detail than I’ve included here.

The line must be drawn here!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Apropos of nothing, except a comment by Josh on a previous post:

Paging William Shatner…

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Fun with Scrabulous:

Oh, come on, that should totally be a word. :)

Sam Gamgee campaigns for Hillary

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Yesterday was the second stage of the Washington caucus process (which is the most convoluted of all the Democratic caucus processes), and Politico‘s Ben Smith reports that Hillary Clinton sent Sean Astin — a.k.a. Rudy, a.k.a. Sam Gamgee — out to be her “surrogate” in one of the state’s legislative districts. Heh.

Astin’s presence made a fair amount of sense when the Clintons were visiting South Bend, where everybody loves Rudy. But Washington-state blogger Eli Sanders is skeptical of Astin’s relevance to this particular event in his state: “the type of people who show up for legislative district caucuses on a Saturday don’t really need a celebrity (or semi-celebrity) to motivate them to take political action.”

Personally, I think Saruman, Grima Wormtongue, or perhaps best of all, Gollum, would be a better spokesman for the Clinton campaign. :) “The presidency, it’s ours, it is! Our precious! They stole it from us, the nasssty Obamasses, and we wants it back!”

Arthur C. Clarke takes his final odyssey

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

An aide to the famed science fiction writer has reported his passing.  Details to follow as they become available.  Sir Arthur C. Clarke was 90.

Clarke was a prolific science fiction writer and futurist, most famous as the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was later turned into an epic film under director Stanley Kubrick.

UPDATE: A little bit more here.

Harry Potter 7… and 8

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be split into two movies. Part I will be released in November 2010, Part II in May 2011. David Yates will direct both. (Hat tip: Andrew H.) [Bumped. -ed.]

All I can say is, I seriously cannot wait for the climactic Battle of Hogwarts scene. It’ll be, for me personally, the most-anticipated cinematic event since the Mount Doom scene in Return of the King. :)

The end has come

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.

The realm of New Line Cinema is ended!

(Perhaps not unrelatedly, in a story I neglected to mention earlier this month, the Tolkien Trust has sued New Line over Lord of the Rings profits, threatening to scuttle The Hobbit.)

Cheesehead Tuesday

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

It’s Badger Tuesday… or, as I prefer to call it, Cheesehead Tuesday!

The polls will close in Wisconsin at 9:00 PM EST — which, coincidentally, is when the Hawaii caucuses will begin. Hawaii caucuses begin at midnight EST and end at 12:30 AM. Oh, and let’s not forget Washington state’s utterly meaningless $10 million beauty contest… actually, on second thought, yeah, let’s forget it. :)

Anyway, in honor of Cheesehead Tuesday, I give you… nearly naked hotties for Ron Paul! (SFW.)

On a more serious note, Fly On The Wall offers an excellent critique and analysis of the the various arguments about legitimacy vis a vis delegates, superdelegates, the popular vote, etc.

And speaking of superdelegates, here is a brief history of how they came into being, and why. Though, on that point, I have a slightly different theory:

HILLARY: "Do you know how the Superdelegates first came into being? They were Pledged Delegates once, taken by the dark powers. Tortured and mutilated…"

[The Superdelegate growls.]

HILLARY: "…a ruined and terrible form of life. And now… perfected. My fighting Automatic Delegates."

HILLARY: "Whom do you serve?"


Yes, I suck at Photoshop. :)

Anyway… the other big story of the day is the Obama "plagiarism" scandal, which may — may — be hurting Obama in the polls. More importantly, will it hurt him at the polls, in Wisconsin tonight? We shall see.

Personally, I can’t believe the media isn’t making the obvious connection between this latest example of Obama plagiarism, and the far more blatant example that’s been hiding in plain sight:

Can we co-opt a cartoon show’s slogan as a presidential campaign rallying cry? Yes we can! :)

Newest addition to Inheritance Cycle announced

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Wow, I can’t believe I beat Brendan to this.

The newest book in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle (to follow Eragon and Eldest, for the uninitiated) will be entitled Brisingr.  The book will go on sale at 12:01 AM on September 20, 2008.  (Brendan: I expect a countdown in the "Upcoming Events" section of this blog…)

Peter Jackson to produce The Hobbit!!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Mike Huckabee was right: There is a God!

Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have reached agreement to make J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” a planned prequel to the blockbuster trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.”

Jackson, who directed “Rings,” will serve as executive producer for “The Hobbit.” A director for the prequel films has yet to be named.

Relations between Jackson and New Line had soured after “Rings,” despite a collective worldwide box office gross of nearly $3 billion — an enormous success. The two sides nevertheless were able to reconcile, with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) splitting “The Hobbit” 50/50, spokesmen for both studios said Tuesday.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line,” Jackson said in a statement. “We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth.”

Two “Hobbit” films are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, similar to how the three “Lord of the Rings” films were made. Production is set to begin in 2009 with a released planned for 2010, with the sequel scheduled for a 2011 release.


(Hat tip: yea.)

P.S. If I recall correctly from previous rumors, the first prequel will chronicle the events of “The Hobbit” (including, I imagine, considerably more detail about the White Council driving Sauron out of Dol Guldur than is featured in the book), while the second movie will deal with what occurred in the 60 years between “The Hobbit” and “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

A lot of important stuff happens in that 60-year period, but to be honest, I’m not sure how you make a coherent movie out of it. However, with Peter Jackson involved (albeit not in the director’s chair), I have faith that it won’t suck. Anyway, after the jump, I’ve copy-and-pasted Wikipedia’s list of the events that occurred in that time period.


Compass goes south at box office

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Apparently I’m not the only one who thought it wasn’t that good. New Line’s $250 million adaptation of The Golden Compass is a box-office flop, making just $26.1 million in its opening weekend, a "dismally low figure" that "almost certainly means no sequel for
the proposed trilogy," according to MTV.

Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke says, "This flop should sink New Line Cinema chairman Bob Shaye’s chances to stay on when his contract expires in 2008." Cinema Blend‘s Josh Tyler says we should just "pray New Line can remain solvent long enough to get The Hobbit made." As for Compass, Tyler writes:

I’m sure the religious right will declare the failure of The Golden Compass at the box office this weekend as some sort of victory for Jeebus, but the truth is the movie failed because it wasn’t that good, and audiences are getting sick of these second-rate fantasy adaptations.

I think that’s about right. Personally, I don’t care what, if any, religious messages my movies preach. But I do generally prefer films that actually take the time to develop their characters in some semi-meaningful way. And if the plot makes at least a modicum of sense, all’s the better.

It’s an Alethiometer. It tells the truth.

Saturday, December 8th, 2007


Becky and I just got back from watching The Golden Compass. Oddly enough, given the genre, Becky liked it and I didn’t. Having not read the book, I felt a bit confused and was never really able to get into the movie. When the climactic battle began to unfold, I found myself thinking, “Is this it? Really? Who are these people again, and what exactly are they fighting over?”

Don’t get me wrong — the movie explained many of the individual plot details well, but I felt they never adequately explained why it all matters, in the big picture. They sort of missed the forest for the trees. There was no equivalent of the scene early in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandalf sits down with Frodo and explains that “Sauron needs only this Ring to cover all the land in a second darkness,” leaving no doubt in the viewer’s mind what the events of the next ten-plus hours will really be all about.

(Some vague spoilers after the jump.)