Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekend Links: Advent, Hobbits, Writers, and more!

"Experiments in Advent":
I admit that I may have ignored Advent for years because I didn’t like the idea of waiting for Christmas. As soon as the sun set on Thanksgiving I wanted immediate immersion in all things Christmas. Instant gratification. Get me the tree and the music and the happy feelings! This year, I decided to try waiting for Christmas. And waiting isn’t just sitting around and twiddling my thumbs. It’s preparing. It’s longing and yearning. It’s daring to hope that in the midst of darkness, Christmas is coming . . .
"Guatamala 1" and "Guatamala 2":
It was like this all day. Case after case, often found in a house full of barefoot children and poultry, of children with bad complications of relatively simple conditions. Congenital herpes infection. Ocular herpes. Blindness from a congenital cataract. So many things I had only read about– or, in the case of the fistulas, that I had to reason out based on my knowledge of anatomy, since I had neither encountered it before nor read it.
"Elevenses And Then Some: How To Prepare A Feast Fit For A Hobbit":
Each year, I swear I will never do this again.
And yet, for the third year in a row, I am preparing to host a day-long Lord of the Rings movie marathon – and cooking up a seven-course hobbit-themed feast, plus dessert, to serve my guests. Maybe it's because, like Tolkien, I too would like the world to be a merrier place.
"14 Ways to Tick Off a Writer":
7) Read ten pages of the author’s book. Realize that it’s absolutely not for you: you thought it was a zombie story, and it’s actually historical fiction about Alexander Graham Bell. Go on Goodreads anyway, and give it one star for not being a zombie story.
"Seeking Abortion's Middle Ground" (note, this one's old, but still very good):
A few years ago, quite by accident, I discovered an important piece of common ground. Something I wrote in a conservative think-tank journal was picked up and quoted widely. I had written: "There is a tremendous sadness and loneliness in the cry ‘A woman’s right to choose.’ No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg."
"'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' Review: 'Pirates of the Caribbean' with Orcs":
Tolkien was a man who was deeply personally scarred by the world wars, and while his novels are not anything so pedantic as allegory, that world view of the miracle of democracies and their common men tearing down the great edifices of tyranny is embedded in every word of his stories.
The single most symbolic event in the failure of Jackson’s films to understand what the point of the story is, is the excising of The Scouring of the Shire. Citing budgets (on these billion dollar films) and time constraints (with extended editions several weeks long) is smokescreen for the reality that Jackson simply doesn’t know what the hell the point of that final chapter is. It drives home the decisions to invent hours of battle scenes at the expense of what was actually on the page. 


Amber said...

A good list of links - lots of interesting stuff there! I love the idea of a eat like a hobbit day (although I think I'd skip the movie marathon part), that would be a fun project.

And I was thinking about the 14 ways to annoy a writer - I wonder, what would be good questions to ask, particularly if you aren't familiar with the author's work?

It also reminded me of something that happened last year... Someone I know self-published a book and I bought the kindle version and started it, however it was so riddled with typos and sleeping errors I just about couldn't take it. And then the plot took a ridiculous turn and I just had to put it down. There were some very awkward conversations when I was asked for my opinion! I'm afraid it rather damaged my relationship with the person, even though I tried to constrain my remarks to the non-disputable and frequent grammar and spelling issues. I didn't even bother. With plot issues, as I was concerned I would just come off as a book snob who didn't care for fantasy/adventure stories. Anyway, it was the sort of thing that gives self-published authors a bad name!

Anonymous said...

Hah, we just bought The Hobbit and I was completely unprepared for it to be SO. BAD. The article's spot on when he says it's full of the worst sort of teenage fan fic, along with everything else. Decided I'd let my kids see LOTR eventually, but The Hobbit just ruins the book, so no. Oh well.

Jessica Snell said...

Oh, Amber, that's such a painful experience! I've had a similar one - and ever since, I've been relieved every time I read a friend's work and it's GOOD, because I remember how nightmarish it is when it's BAD. :)

A lot of that "things not to say to writers" was tongue-in-cheek, I think, but I'm pretty sure any genuine interest in a writer's work is always going to be welcome, even if it's expressed awkwardly. At least, I hope so! Because I know *I'm* awkward a lot!

Maybe just easy, open-ended questions like, "what are you working on? what's your favorite part of it? what drew you to write about that?" You know, that kind of thing.

Jessica Snell said...

Oh dear. I haven't seen the Hobbit yet, but I have it out of the library right now . . . dreading it a bit!

Amber said...

I'm awkward a lot too, although I really am interested in what authors have to say about their work! I guess I'll just have to hope my sincerity is obvious.

I tried to watch The Hobbit and I only lasted about 30-40 min. What a heavy, ponderous, self-important mess! And even in that long they hadn't managed to get further than the dwarves arriving and eating. Ridiculous!

Jessica Snell said...

yes - I read something recently that noted that the average adult American reader could READ THE WHOLE "HOBBIT" in about 3 hours less time than it would take them to watch the whole "Hobbit" movie trilogy!