1. Birthdays. I celebrated mine with a lovely dinner out with my beautiful wife. The evening was great. but didn’t entirely stave off the existential dread of realizing that I have been walking this earth for thirty-two years and still feel lost and clueless when it comes to dealing with adult problems (i.e. something beyond not being able to collect all of Ben Franklin’s draft pages in Assassin’s Creed III). Do all adults deal with this much doubt and worry? Did my parents have as little an idea of how to handle this stuff as I do now? Yikes.
2. Movie Trailers. Last week made me excited about the 2013’s film prospects, especially in the sphere of science fiction, comic book-y movies that let me stave off death by feeding my adolescent power fantasies and maintaining my arrested development. That sounds like a somewhat mature self-critique but on the other hand, GIANT ROBOTS! PUNCHING MONSTERS!
And, KHAAAAAN! (maybe?)
3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
If the worst thing you can say about a movie is that it isn’t as good as The Lord of the Rings, then I guess it wasn’t that bad. Peter Jackson leads another expedition to Middle-Earth with the film version of the early adventures of Bilbo Baggins. Somehow, he has turned the lightest and breeziest of J.R.R. Tolkein’s tales into a six hour epic on par with the LOTR films in terms of ass-numbing theatre seat occupation. While the earlier trilogy was a nearly flawless adaptation of a genre-defining work, The Hobbit shows some serious seams where the source material was stitched together to create a trilogy worthy whole. Maybe it was because Jackson and his fellow screenwriters had to look at things to cut for the Lord of the Rings films and were forced to stretch the The Hobbit into a trilogy, but this movie dragged. There were several high points, but despite the enthusiastically varied showcase of beard-ery, axe-based ass-kicking, and people riding animals that are not ordinarily used as mounts (eagles, rabbits, reindeer, etc.) the movie felt like it could have lost about an hour of run time and still been packed with incident. The effect is somewhat surprising because in the previous trilogy, the film makers showed an admirable ruthlessness when it came to cutting parts of the story that had no place in a compelling, breathless on-screen experience. Things like the Tom Bombadil story were excised from The Fellowship of the Ring while there are many scenes and plot lines that should have been cut from The Hobbit. (I’m looking at you, entire sequence with Radaghast the Brown, Middle-Earth Middle-Managers Quarterly Report, and Troll chef trickery.) Still, the Riddles in the Dark sequence is appropriately off-putting and there wasn’t anything on-screen that I hated. There was simply too much of it.