my sister and I talk about books and movies

I was talking to Mar on the phone tonight. Mar’s in Indianapolis. she said:

Hobbit movie’s coming up. you psyched?”

yes and no, Mar. but yes first. yes, because I love The Hobbit. such a wonderful book. one of my favorite parts, I told you on the phone tonight, is early on. it’s the note the dwarves leave for Bilbo the morning after essentially crashing out on his couch and clearing out his fridge:

Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting! For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all traveling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if the occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise paid for.

Thinking it unnecessary to disturb your esteemed repose, we have proceeded in advance to make reequisite preparations, and shall await your respected person at the Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, at 11 a.m. sharp. Trusting you wll be punctual,

We have the honor to remain,
Yours deeply,
Thorin & Co.

man, I wish I could write like that. I’ve always loved this letter inside a book. it catches the humor of the story so nicely.

so yes, I’m psyched, and I’ll definitely go and see it. but at the same time: no, Mar, I’m not psyched, because I’m worried this will color my impression of The Hobbit forever. I can only imagine how stupid this sounds, but I had the same problem with the Lord of the Rings trilogy of a few years ago. by the time the third blockbuster wrapped up with my ass dutifully planted in a stadium seat, I said to myself:

“well, there it is. I’ve seen it all, everything Peter Jackson could throw at me. I have toured all of Middle-earth and I handled it, saw all of its scary shit, its mysteries and mythologies and unknowns, and ate an entire goddamn tub of popcorn at the same time.”

yeah, that’s just what I said. so witty! but really, upon reflection, while I loved the movies, the books are better.

and that’s a common complaint. but that’s because in most instances, I feel, the books are better. the way I see it, a book generally frames the story, while the reader ultimately fills most of it in. only you know just what the characters look like, or just how they sound, or just how the angles of its fictional world come together. only you will be privy to your interpretation of a book, and that makes reading one an intensely personal thing.

a film does all of the details for you, impersonally, and that’s ultimately limiting. and in this way I’d argue that even the most kickass movies — and yes, the Lord of the Rings flicks were pretty kickass — are limited. not to say that I didn’t really like Peter Jackson’s trilogy. I just liked mine better.

but, if you disagree, come at it this way: remember the Battle of Pelennor Fields? that Zeppelin sang about? remember it in the movie?

didn’t you always imagine the Battle of Pelennor Fields to be bigger than even that big-screen spectacle?

yes, I bet you did. I did too.


to wrap up: Colorado! I spent a few days last week driving around under the speed limit in that state, listening to an album called 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields on loop, and holy hell, but has everyone seen this place? I’ve been trying to disprove the adage — via the preceeding deluge of text — that a picture’s worth a thousand words, but I’m clearly a terrible goddamn writer.

so instead, I’ll throw a link in here to someone’s very nice pictures of the Wet Valley, a place I just kind of stumbled into. everybody’s got places like this, I bet. but I drove through the Wet Valley last Friday on the way to my good friend’s wedding and I swear that I thought, “oh, my god: thank you for seeing that places like this are out here.”