When a blogger writes a brilliant piece of absurd comedy that exquisitely melds together two of my great passions in life — USC football and The Lord of the Rings — it’s worth breaking moratorium for. :) Excerpt:
The tide was turned…when the Texas Longhorns - led by Vince Young, the captain of the Burnt Orange Host - defeated the Trojans at the Battle of the Arroyo Seco on January 4, 2006. The key moment of the struggle came when USC running back Reggie Bush - the chosen instrument of the Dark Lord Carroll’s wrath - inexplicably chose to lateral the One Ring to, of all people, walk-on wide receiver Brad Walker. Walker, like the millions of people watching the telecast live and the tens of thousands present for the climactic battle, was completely surprised and thus fumbled the Ring away.
A reenactment of Bush’s lateral.
On the ensuing possession Young stumbled upon the One Ring and, his powers amplified by the unspeakably powerful artifact, began hurdling Trojan defenders and tossing aside anyone wearing a cardinal and gold jersey. The Longhorns won 41-38, derailing Carroll’s plans to “cover all the lands with a second darkness,” according to [prolific college football announcer and official historian of Rivendell Keith] Jackson.
In the aftermath of Texas’ victory celebration, head coach Mack Brown and Young argued over what should be done with the One Ring. According to witnesses, the two could not come to any agreement over a course of action.
“It is a gift. A gift to the foes of Southern California. Why not use this Ring? Long has my daddy, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, kept the forces of USC at bayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ mainly by sacrificing himself to the tune of 55-19 to their howling hordes. By the blood of his people are our lands kept safe. Give Texas the weapon of the Enemy. Let us use it against him!” Brown reportedly pleaded to his quarterback.
“But coach, it’s shiny! I wanna use it for an earring,” Young retorted.
ROFL! Seriously, read the whole thing.
And now, back to the fiery Gilbert’s FedCourts outline from whence I came…
Reviews for the Toronto stage production of The Lord of the Rings (previous post here), which opened on Thursday, have been, um, pretty bad, for the most part. See, for example, the devastating New York Times review. On the other hand, the Detroit Free Press liked it, as did Canada’s National Post. But most critics have been less kind; more examples here.
That said, there are some indications that the show may be “critic-proof.” Time will tell.
P.S. The Boston Globe liked it, too.
Tonight’s a big night in Toronto, where a stage production of The Lord of the Rings makes its world premiere.
The show is, strictly speaking, neither a musical nor a play. The official line is “a play with music.” Producer Kevin Wallace calls it “a hybrid - one part drama, one part musical, one part spectacle.” (”Early reports about the show - which has been in the works since 2003 - conjured images of hobbits singing and dancing their way through show tunes, an impression Mr. Wallace has been ardently trying to correct,” the New York Times reported in October. “It’s in tune with the books,” Wallace says. “It has the gravitas of Tolkien.”)
From what I’ve gathered, it seems like the show may be more faithful to the books, in some regards anyway, than Peter Jackson’s films were. For example, this article states that the Scouring of the Shire will be included. (Still no Tom Bombadil, though.) Then again, with a running time that’s nearly three times shorter than the trilogy of films put together, a lot of stuff will obviously have to be cut out of the plot. (For example, apparently there’s no Faramir. Bwuzzah?)
LOTR has been in previews since February. Initial reviews from preview audiences were very positive, though at least one blogger dissented. But getting the show down to a manageable length has been an enormous challenge. And there have been other difficulties — plenty of them. Like Jackson’s films, the making of the stage production has proven to be an epic in its own right. The Toronto Star had a detailed article in Sunday’s paper about the behind-the-scenes drama. Excerpt:
Rich Gallagher, my Weather Channel contact guy, sends along this very funny parody of TWC’s commercials for “It Could Happen Tomorrow.”
P.S. Speaking of very funny parodies… while looking through old computer files over the weekend in Connecticut, I came across my video clip of Billy Crystal’s awesome Oscar intro from 2004. The highlight, of course, is the part that involves Michael Moore and an oliphaunt from Return of the King:
That never stops being freakin’ hilarious, no matter how many times I watch it.
Michelle Malkin nominates me for “Blogger of the Year.” She writes:
Prescient, comprehensive coverage of Hurricane Katrina. If only this Notre Dame law student with a passion for weather had been in charge…
Thanks, Michelle! I wouldn’t want the responsibility of being in charge, but I do wish the people who were in charge, at all levels, had been just a little more competent. As I’ve pointed out before, nothing I said was extraordinary, nor even really “prescient”; it was actually rather obvious to anyone who was paying attention and had a modicum of knowledge about these things, which it would be nice to believe that our government emergency planners have. But alas.
Anyway, if we’re talking about Bloggers of the Year, I gotta give some love to Dr. Jeff Masters and Charles Fenwick, who, unlike me, actually have formal meteorological training, and who, just like me, had their “hair on fire” with regard to Katrina as early as that fateful Friday when the computer models suddenly turned scary. You can read their “prescient” threat-to-New-Orleans posts here and here. And throughout the storm’s trek toward the Gulf Coast, Masters and Fenwick provided excellent analysis that I was able to draw upon (and often quote extensively), to give my suddenly burgeoning readership some information from real weather experts (Masters is a certified meteorologist; Fenwick is a Florida State meteorology student), as opposed to my I’m-not-a-weatherman-but-I-play-one-on-the-Internet brand of expertise/nerdiness.
Also, props to Yale meteorology student Bryan Woods, whose blog The Storm Track became an excellent resource throughout the hurricane season for up-to-date information and analysis — so much so that it took the Boeing and moved to Breitbart after getting linked by Drudge a bunch of times, thus achieving exceptionally gaudy traffic numbers that yours truly will probably never come close to, even if the USC and Notre Dame football teams, the entire cast of Lord of the Rings, and Joe Lieberman all somehow get caught up in a Category Five hurricane together. :)
Irish Buckeye Alex and his friends have been posting their top 15 favorite movies of all-time… so naturally, I can’t resist joining in the fun. I love making lists!
(Please note: these aren’t necessarily the 15 “best” movies I’ve ever seen; they’re my 15 favorites. I’m not sure what my criteria are, exactly… I’m just sort of going with my gut. Also, there are quite a few “movies that everyone should see” that I’ve never seen, so that explains the conspicuous absence of some movie classics and recent gems you might expect to see on here. I’ve always been somewhat deprived in the movie-watching department; Becky is only slowly but surely getting me caught up. :)
Anyway, without further adieu…
15. Back to the Future: “One-point-twenty-one jiggawatts!!!” What can I say, this is just a classic. It made me a time-travel nerd, and forever shaped my view of movie/TV plots involving time travel. All other time-travel stories are measured against “Back to the Future rules,” in my mind at least. :)
14. Beauty and the Beast: The only animated movie ever nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. I’m still mad at Silence of the Lambs for beating it. :)
13. Cast Away: Proof that Tom Hanks is the best actor in the universe: he and a volleyball were the only characters on screen for like 90 minutes, and it was completely riveting. His relationship with “Wilson” had more emotional depth than many movie relationships between two real, live people. Alas, this movie lost its chance for a Top 10 finish because of the totally inane “tomorrow the sun will rise” scene near the end. LAME!!!
12. Forrest Gump: I was tempted to leave this movie off, because I’ve watched it so many times, it’s almost starting to become passé in my mind. But I can’t justify ranking Cast Away ahead of Gump, which really is a very entertaining, and very good, film. And as always, Tom Hanks is excellent.
11. Finding Nemo: One of the most genuine, heartfelt animated movies out there, and very funny. Ellen DeGeneres is great.
10. Road to Perdition: Did I mention I like Tom Hanks? I’ve only seen this movie once, but I remember just absolutely loving it. Hanks and Paul Newman are great, and of course the Irishness of it appeals to me as well. And the tragedy is so complete, and so, well, tragic… it’s Shakespearean, really.
9. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut: Funniest freakin’ thing ever. I love Trey Parker and Matt Stone because they have no sacred cows — they regularly skewer liberals, conservatives and everyone in between — and this movie is a great example of that. It’s also a great example of the totally anarchic, apolitical side of their sense of humor. The best thing about this movie, though, is the music. Blame Canada got the Oscar nod, but La Resistance Lives On is a true masterpiece. Listen closely; it even has the opening chords of One Day More at the very beginning.
8. Fight Club: I missed out on this movie when it first came out, but then sometime during my sophomore year in college, I caught the bulk of it one night while drunk at Becky’s apartment. I thought it was so good, I watched it again the next day, in its entirety, sober. A fantastic mindf**k of a movie.
7. Aladdin: The best of Disney’s pre-Pixar animated features, thanks to Robin Williams. Watching it never gets old — again, thanks to Robin Williams. Plus, in this post-9/11 era, there’s something undeniably quaint about watching a Disney movie where a giant Arabic sand monster screams, “INFIDEL!!!” You think they’d let that in today?
6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Harrison Ford and Sean Connery both totally rock. And the scene where the Nazi chick falls into the abyss? Classic. Even more classic: “He chose… poorly.”
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*: An excellent movie, but my least favorite of the three LOTR films because of several cringe-worthy moments, such as: Frodo holding out the Ring to the Nazgul at Osgiliath, which utterly and completely destroys the whole plot (the Nine would all be there within minutes, they’d take the Ring and the war would be over); Sam’s lame speech to Frodo immediately afterward, during which the battle around them magically and inexplicably disappears (”there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for” — sort of Peter Jackson’s equivalent of the “tomorrow the sun will rise” lameness from Cast Away); the Ents, after a suitably un-hasty Entmoot, randomly and hastily changing their minds in about 10 seconds after Treebeard roars, and magically all appearing spontaneously at the edge of the forest; etc. Still, the awesomeness of what’s good about the film vastly outweighs the bad, and easily lifts it into my Top 5. Rohan is the most exquisitely adapted culture of the whole novel (with the possible exception of the hobbits), and I absolutely love the Rohan music. Gollum is remarkable. Theoden is perfect, and his “now for wrath, now for ruin” speech, followed by Gimli blowing the horn of Helm Hammerhand, is my third- or fourth-favorite scene in the whole trilogy. “Forth Eorlingas!!!”
4. Collateral: When I went to see this movie, I really did not expect that it would ever grace any sort of “Brendan’s favorite movies” list. Suspenseful crime thrillers are not generally my thing, and Tom Cruise is no Tom Hanks. But thanks to sterling performances by Cruise and Jamie Foxx, and some incredible directorial work by Michael Mann, this film was exceptionally good. I wasn’t familiar with Mann’s work before, but Collateral was amazingly well-conceived, well-directed, well-shot, well-everything. I was absolutely blown away. The scene where Cruise’s character is searching for the female lawyer in the pitch-black office building is suspense at its best.
3. Shrek 2: Just absolutely wonderful and totally hilarious. There are so many great, hidden little jokes that it sometimes takes multiple viewings to notice, like the funny store names (”Old Knavery,” “Versarchery,” etc.) and the customers at “Farbucks” fleeing in terror across the street — to another “Farbucks.” The plot is great, the characters rock. But what really makes the film, and causes it to far exceed the original Shrek in my book, is Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots. LOL! He cracks me up every time. The best scene, of course, is the scene where Fairy Godmother is singing “Holding Out for a Hero” while Shrek & co. are storming the castle, with the help of the giant gingerbread man (”beeee goooood”) and Puss, whose “today I repay my debt” cute-kitten act is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on screen.
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring*: Although not the best movie of the three LOTR films (see #1 for that), Fellowship is the best adapation of a Tolkien novel. Jackson and his screenwriters did a really excellent job of cutting out what needed to be cut out, while staying true to the original film’s spirit and, for the most part, its plot. There aren’t really any major changes that I object to. And the confrontation between Gandalf and the Balrog is truly epic, far more well-done that I think anyone could have imagined. Roughly tied with the aforementioned Helm’s Deep scene for my third- or fourth-favorite scene in the trilogy, the Balrog battle was a preview of things to come in terms of how well Jackson would pull off the really important scenes. The Shire was also perfect, and I love the Hobbit music. The prologue was excellent. Almost, everything, really, was excellent… well, except Lothlorien and Galadriel, but now I’m getting picky. This movie could easily have been #1, except that two years later, something even better came along…
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King*: Tied Ben Hur and Titanic for the most Oscars ever won, and unlike Titanic, thoroughly deserved it. (In fact, it deserved a record-breaking 12th nomination and win: Sean Astin for Best Supporting Actor.) Just a mind-blowingly, earth-shatteringly, unbelievably good movie, from start to finish. There were some aspects of the adaptation that I didn’t like — Frodo sending Sam away comes to mind; that would NEVER happen in the book (or, more to the point, even if Frodo, under the influence of the Ring and Gollum, ordered Sam away, Sam would never even consider following that particular order) — but if you look at it independently as a movie, without reference to the source material, even those aspects where I quibble with the adaptation of the book still work very, very well in the movie. Again, the Frodo/Sam thing is Exhibit A: the tension it added to the plot, leading to the scene where Sam reappears and tells Shelob, “You will not touch him again!,” is excellent. Anyway, I mean, damn, there are just so many things to like about this movie. I could rattle off scene after scene after scene. It contains my two favorite scenes of the trilogy: #2, the climactic Mount Doom/”the Ring is mine”/fight with Gollum/destruction of the Ring/fall of Mordor/”don’t let go” mega-scene; and #1, the Gandalf-Witch King confrontation (inexplicably left out of the theatrical version) followed immediately by the epic charge of the Rohirrim. Several times, I have cued up the DVD just to that portion of the movie and watched it. It’s art. It’s a masterpiece. As for why King beats out Fellowship? They’re both great, but King is great on a grander scale. Its “highs” are higher, if you will. And perhaps most importantly, it has the one thing Fellowship lacks: an ending. (Actually about five of them.) It’s ultimately much more satisfying to watch from start to finish than either of the first two films (though really, you’ve got to watch all three movies in succession to get the full experience — something I’ve done three times now). Anyway, Return of the King is definitely one of the best movies ever made, and it’s definitely my personal #1.
*In all three cases, I’m ranking the LOTR movies based on what appears in the Extended Edition DVD, which is, in all three cases, better.
So, there you have it. I’m impressed with myself that I was actually able to whittle it down to 15. That said, I do have a few honorable mentions…
Amadeus: This movie is sort of like the bubble team that got squeezed out of the tournament because somebody won a conference tournament unexpectedly. Really good, really deserving of being in the top 15, but just didn’t quite make it.
Monty Python: Also very close to making the list. A true classic, and a source of much glorious, quotable nerdiness through the years. “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! … Now, go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!”
The Lion King: I was obsessed with this movie for a couple of years when I was younger. I even founded a “Lion King Club” on CompuServe. I know, way lame, right? But anyway, great music, great characters, great film. Scar is awesome. “No, you idiots! There will be a king! I will be king!”
Sweet Home Alabama and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Nowhere near the top 15, but they deserve a mention for being my favorite “chick flicks” (that I can think of, anyway).
The Day After Tomorrow: A terrible movie, but oh, so much fun to watch! Has the distinction of being the worst movie I’ve ever voluntarily seen in the theater twice. (I say “voluntarily” because Becky dragged me to see the Britney Spears movie, Crossroads, twice.) Also the worst movie that I’ve ever, voluntarily or not, seen twice in one weekend. :)
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: You know, the one with the dogs and the cat that airs on the Disney Channel now and then. So cute!
Star Wars, Episodes III-VI: I’m really not enough of a Star Wars buff to differentiate, off the top of my head, among the “original” three movies, which is at least partly why none of them made the list. But they’re all very good and very enjoyable, as is Episode III. Hell, I didn’t even mind Episode II. As for Episode I… let us never speak of it again.
Philadelphia, Apollo 13: Left off the list, lest people start to think I have a crush on Tom Hanks. Not that there’d be anything wrong with that.
Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc.: I haven’t seen these movies in quite a while, but I remember I liked them a lot. And, hey, Tom Hanks was in the Toy Story movies, wasn’t he? Heh.
Jurassic Park: What can I say? Another classic. Love it. “Must go faster…”
Dr. Strangelove: My mom’s favorite movie of all time, and for good reason. “You can’t fight in here! This is the war room!”
Others I considered, in no particular order: The Sixth Sense, Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ghost, The Truman Show, Seabiscuit, Chicken Run, Enemy of the State, The Matrix, X-Men 2, the Harry Potter movies, the Star Trek movies.
I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one or two important ones. Oh, well.
Jesus Aslan… very cool. Neither buffoonery nor nightmare. Excellent.
Lucy… SO CUTE!!
The scene where the big evil buffalo thing, at the head of the White Witch’s army, gets up on a rock, holds up his weapon, and roars… hilariously derivative of the Uruk-hai captain at the beginning of the battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers.
But really… an excellent adaptation. If you like the book, you’ll like the movie.
That is all. Going to bed now. Must study tomorrow. Must… study…
P.S. You can read more detailed reviews here.
They’re putting on a Lord of the Rings musical in Toronto, starting next February.
Must… go… to… Toronto…
(Official site here.)
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Hat tip: Nick.)
I’m reminded of a scene from the South Park episode “The Return Of The Fellowship Of The Ring To The Two Towers,” in which Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny spend the entire episode playing an elaborate Lord of the Rings role-playing game. The whole episode is freakin’ hilarious; the “Ring of Doom” equivalent is a porno movie, Butters become Gollum, etc. But I digress. In this scene, they’re walking down the street — continuing on their Lord of the Rings “quest” — when they pass a different group of boys who are waving sticks around and playing a different role-playing game. From the transcript:
Boy 1: I shall put a magic spell on you!
Boy 2: I have blocked your spell, wizard!
Kyle: Hey, what are you guys doing?
Boy 3: We’re playing Harry Potter.
Cartman: HA!! Fags!!
Heh. I don’t normally approve of, let alone use, that “f” word, but man, that’s funny. :) Of course, you have to picture Cartman dressed up as Gandalf when he says it…
Walking home from the bus stop yesterday, I noticed the lovely pairing of Venus and Jupiter close together in the evening sky, and I was almost immediately reminded of my favorite Lord of the Rings quote, which struck me as quite relevant and applicable to the situation on the Gulf coast right now. The premise is this: Frodo and Sam are trudging through the benighted land of Mordor, surrounded by nothing but misery and despair. All seems hopeless, even moreso than it does in New Orleans and along the Mississippi coast right now; the hobbits have every reason to believe that not only their little corner of the world, but the entire world as a whole, is about to come to an utterly evil end. And then…
The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was a light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.
In the end, the Shadow is only a small and passing thing: there is a light and high beauty forever beyond its reach. Words to live by, when all else seems lost.
As various commenters have been noting, Governor Kathleen Blanco “says the thousands of New Orleans residents who are huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers will have to be evacuated,” according to WDSU.
Yet another Lord of the Rings movie quote comes unbidden to my mind: “By order of the king, this city must empty!” Of course, the mayor issued that same order almost 60 hours ago (at which time the LOTR analogy would have worked much better, with the Superdome filling the role of Helm’s Deep, but oh well). This time, though, the city really has to empty. It is, for the moment, a cesspool of toxic sludge not suitable for habitation.
Alas, putting Governor Blanco’s words into action will be considerably harder than simply saying them.
936 mb, and looking very impressive on satellite.
If it’s not a Category Four yet, it will be very soon.
P.S. Charles Fenwick writes:
While the traditional worst case refence for a hurricane is Camille, the potential path of Katrina makes me reach further back for such a reference, 105 years to be specific. I am referring, of course, to the Galveston storm of 1900. If Katrina bears on New Orleans, that is the sort of devestation we will see. While the death toll need not be high, inaction by individuals and the government could lead to that.
Pray for last minute shear, pray for an ever so slight delay in the sharpening of the turn to the north such that Katrina heads towards the less populated areas of the coast.
Various Lord of the Rings movie quotes come unbidden to my mind. Like, “there is always hope.” (Aragorn). Or, “courage is the best defense you have now.” (Gandalf). Alas, this is not a fantasy movie. The death and destruction, wherever it may occur (New Orleans would be the worst scenario by several orders of magnitude, but any landfall by this thing will be bad), will be very real.
Blog updates are light because I’m busily working on getting the new server set up. I hope to complete the switch tonight or early tomorrow. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Taking a break from website work and Lord of the Rings-watching to go to The Backer with fellow returning 2Ls. Be back in a few
Long Islands hours. :)
Watching the Fellowship of the Ring with Becky earlier tonight, my mind jumped ahead to the scene in Return of the King where Aragorn sends away the Army of the Dead after the victory at the Pelennor Fields — but before the final battle at the Black Gates — and it occurred to me that, if Gondor were a democracy with a free press, the reaction surely would not have been very favorable:
GONDOR WINS, THEN ARMY DESERTS
Invincible soldiers allowed to depart
in apparent strategic blunder by “king”
Minas Tirith was miraculously saved from certain destruction yesterday by the last-minute arrival of a mysterious “Army of the Dead” — but defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory when the army’s commander, who claims to be the rightful king of Gondor, sent away the apparently invincible army instead of launching an immediate attack on Sauron’s remaining forces.
“I did what I had to do,” said the commander, Aragorn, son of Arathorn. But with thousands of enemy troops believed to be lurking in nearby Mordor, and Gondor’s regular army decimated by the disastrous days of battle that preceded the dead army’s arrival, many were unconvinced. Some even questioned Aragorn’s motives.
“This guy shows up on the same day that Lord Denethor dies, ’saves’ Gondor, and then leaves us defenseless?” said Democratic leader Pelosi, daughter of Pilates. “How do we know this alleged ‘king’ is even on our side?”
“What a loser,” added Reid son of Screed, another Democratic leader.
How do I know that the Democrats would be the opposition party, you ask? Because it’s wartime, of course! :)