(Yes, I know it’s been a year since I posted anything here. Tempus fugit!)
desolation: devasation; ruin.
I had the experience of finally getting around to going to the theater recently and seeing (HFR 3D again) Peter Jackson’s most recent installment of The Hobbit epic, The Desolation of Smaug. I posted a review of the first film back on December 16, 2012. First, as stated in that year-old review:
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
You have been warned…
In re-reading that same review, I’m reconsidering a few statements made in 2012:
- I’m planning on seeing the next two without question. I may be re-considering this, although I will (in the end) most likely see There and Back Again next year.
- There were some parts that dragged on too long (more on that below) and some superfluous material,… My word, this year this goes double.
- but, overall, it kept my attention, …snooore…Oh, I’m sorry, nodded off there…uh, yeah, not so much this year.
Okay, so that being said, what did I like in The Desolation of Smaug. This won’t be a long list:
- Legolas: His presence in the movie was fine. After all, the Elvenking is his father; Legolas is a prince of the Woodland Realm. I’ll get into misgivings about Legolas below.
- Tauriel: Believe it or not I was okay with Jackson’s made-up character. She conveyed the difference between the ruling Sindarin family and the Silvan Elf population quite nicely.
- The Spiders: The evil insects and Bilbo’s initial encounter were spot on. I found it interesting that Bilbo could only understand the spider’s language after he put on the Ring.
- Laketown: The town itself was an Alan Lee/John Howe art-piece come to life.
- Bilbo’s initial encounter with Smaug: The first few minutes were great.
- Languages: As usual, I enjoyed hearing faux Tolkien languages (or maybe neo-Tolkien languages) used on screen. For some misgivings, see below.
- Bard: The Lake-man actually comes off alright, but once again a little too much Jackson-inspired backstory.
And that’s about it. It will say that it was nice to see Beorn represented (What was up with the eyebrows??), but he was introduced so suddenly and then exited so suddenly, he seemed far too superfluous. Undoubtedly, he is just being set up for an appearance at the Battle of Five Armies. By that time, many will simply say, “Where did this bear-guy come from?”
Unfortunately, and I say this as one who was hoping for the best, the movie was somewhat forgettable. I just saw it a few days ago, and even now it just collapses into a senseless, 2-hour-40-minute action sequence. I’ve read some reviews that tout this as a ripping, adventure-packed follow-up, and, yes, it is “adventure-packed” but the film rarely stops to take a breath. The characters are running and running and running some more. Quick scene, then back to the running.
Let me address some of those misgivings mentioned above. The barrel-riding sequence seemed interminable! Having the dwarves ride in open barrels was the first faux pas in my opinion. Rhett Allain over at Wired has written a great piece about the issues with standing up in floating barrels. I realize they had to be open to do the whole fighting sequence, but they really shouldn’t have. The dwarves, orcs, and elves action-sequence here went from bad to worse. And Bombur with his spinning arms-poking-out-of-the-barrel move was where I really started to just shake my head and sink further down in my seat.
When the orcs fell through the ceiling of Bard’s house in Laketown, I just started laughing. That was my true WTF moment! It was all just too farcical. The subsequent fight through Laketown by the orcs, then Bard being chased by the Master’s men, then… it was just all too much.
And then we come to the dwarves escapade on the Lonely Mountain. I was with them up for awhile. Even the suspenseful bit with the moon being the “last light” of Durin’s Day worked for me. Thorin’s big old boot saving the key. Nice cinematic touch. Bilbo going down the tunnel, meeting Smaug, the brief interchange between them…. then again… WTF? During the loooooong encounter with Smaug and the dwarves racing around, I kept expecting the score to break into the Benny Hill theme. (aka Yakety Sax). Oh, my, and the whole thing with the forges (I’ll admit it was cool to see the Forges of Erebor lighted up but what came next… shudder). And then trying to drown Smaug in gold??? I realize this was a little homage to Smaug’s epithet as “the Golden” but… really?! That’s how Jackson fits it in? Wired‘s Allain does a great piece about the melting gold, too.
The conlangs? Always nice to hear a well-developed conlang in a film but consider this? Why do Legolas and Tauriel seem to constantly switch back and forth between Sindarin and English (presumably meant to equate to Common Speech/Westron)? If they’re just talking between themselves, why not just speak in their first language? Same way with the orcs. Sometimes they use Black Speech/Orkish, sometimes the Common Speech? Pick one and stick with it! For additional info on the conlangs, check out David Salo’s blog that covers Black Speech, Elvish, Khuzdul, and Orkish.
This movie was such a disappointment. I was ready for Jackson fan-fiction. Even the dwarf-elf “love story” but even taken from a cinematic perspective, there were so many lost opportunities as well as long sequences that did nothing to advance the plot (like Beorn’s segment). Others have pointed out the movie’s shortcomings, including The Top 5 Most Preposterous Scenes in The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit 2 is Bad Fan Fiction, and The 6 Most Pointless Scenes in The Desolation of Smaug so there’s no need to belabor the point. Suffice to say, I’d really like to see the Smaug get stuck by Bard and the Battle of Five Armies (and Gandalf stopping it)… but seeing those scenes through Peter Jackson’s distorted lens may just be too much. I guess we’ll see when Hobbit 3 comes to theaters next year. (Fingers crossed)
Two weekends ago, I was in California for the ALA Annual Conference (as part of my day-job not as Secretary-Librarian of the LCS) and had the chance to hang out a couple evenings with my friends David Peterson, his wife Erin, and Sylvia Sotomayor. Yes, that David Peterson. It had been well over a year since I saw David and Sylvia, and I hadn’t seen Erin since LCC2 back in 2008. It was great, and I’ve been remiss about thanking them all for a wonderful time. The first evening, after dinner at a nice little sushi place, the four of us stopped at the grocery store and picked up various sorbets, ice cream, and “chocolate covered honeycomb.” Decadent! Unfortunately, Sylvia had a long drive back home so I only got to see her one evening.
David and Erin, once they found out that I had never partaken of the experience that is In-N-Out Burger, offered to go out to supper the following evening with me. So, the next evening, David, Erin, and I piled into David’s natural-gas-powered car and rode over to In-N-Out Burger to order our repast. So, back at Erin and David’s then I experienced my first Double Meat, Animal-style, “Lemon-Up”, and fries. None too shabby (although Erin and David gave the meal a “B”… They’re In-N-Out connoisseurs) although I think I’m still a Five Guys guy, which is good since we don’t have any In-N-Out’s where I live.
It was great to hear stories from David and Erin about meeting Jason Momoa and his wife, Lisa Bonet, and other Game of Thrones tales.
I don’t get to hang out with my California conlanging cohort very often, but I have always been welcomed and feel fortunate to be able to be involved with them in the LCS. So, once again, thanks for a great time, for introducing me to In-N-Out Burger, and for sharing some of your valuable time with me. Dothras chek!
It’s been several weeks since a new post here at the Conlanging Librarian blog. Not that anyone is that concerned but, as way of explanation, the primary reason was some wonky home Internet access (either intermittent or non-existent). It’s amazing how reliant one becomes on having reliable Internet access. The problem appears to be resolved now. (Insert sigh of relief here.)
Although I haven’t been able to post, I have been busy (both life-wise and conlang-wise). It’s not necessary to discuss the life-wise points here; but a brief mention of the conlang-wise points seems appropriate. I’ve been working on a new primer of Dritok built around telling a story of a Drushek teaching a Tylnor how to speak the language. The book(let) isn’t ready for primetime quite yet, but stay tuned. I’m rather pleased with it so far. This personal project stems most recently from a discussion on CONLANG-L, but it all started with my being impressed with Carsten Becker’s original primer of Ayeri years ago.
I’ve also been reading several books on language which I plan on posting some conlang-related reviews of in the near future including one on Pirahã.
Finally, I’ve been in preliminary discussions with some other conlangers about the formation of a conlang-related Wikipedia “task force.” This might be similar to something like what we have in library-land called Slam the Boards, a monthly event where librarians answer questions on the online answer boards and specifically say “a librarian helped answer this question.” The basic idea of the Conlang Wikipedia Project (or whatever it ends up being called) would pick one day of the month (Maybe the 17th of each month?) and conlangers (or other language experts) would choose a Wikipedia article to edit, add to, revise, or otherwise enhance. Specific articles that needed work could be highlighted beforehand on the web somewhere. This would also not simply target the English-language Wikipedia, but also other languages as well like this, this, and this. Stay tuned for more information on this project and its logistics, and feel free to comment on this idea as a reply to this blog posting.
This post isn’t necessarily conlang related (but we’re going to make it so). First, my son found Cthulhu in a book of monsters quite some time ago and decided that was what he wanted to be for Hallowe’en this year. At the right is the result of our collaboration. He didn’t think anyone would know who he was…but we did have two teenage trick-or-treaters say “Run away from Cthulhu!” tonight. The slides can be viewed full-screen by clicking in the lower right corner of the slideshow after it starts.
In keeping with the conlang focus of this blog, let’s construct a sentence. Referring back to my theory on R’lyehese: Cthulhu wgah’nagl! or “Cthulhu in his abode”.
This month, The Conlanging Librarian blog is one year old! In some ways, this is very surprising. I didn’t necessarily think it would keep going…but I’m glad to say it’s kept going on a fairly regular basis. (Insert cheering crowds here.) We’re still working on increasing the traffic to the blog and the Library. A year ago, the Library had 418 unique visitors to the Library who had 2,199 page views. As of today, 485 unique visitors with 2,744 page views. So, in a year, we’ve had 67 new visitors and 545 page views…not bad, but with the new LCS Twitter account (Fiat Lingua), we should see some more traffic as well. In any case, here’s to another year of postings. A elea ei!
The Conlanging Librarian just came across an interesting article from March 2010 from France24. It appears French president Nicolas Sarkozy was talking about a draft of the United Nations climate summit agreement when he said it had a text “similar to volapuk.” The article left out the umlaut. It has a nice brief history of the language as well as a lengthy quote. Fredolös! (I think that’s Volapük for “Enjoy!” as best as I can determine. Apologies to all the Volapükists out there if it’s not.)
I thought it might be interesting to share who is visiting The Conlanger’s Library. Since statistics began to be collected (April 1, 2009), there have been 418 unique visitors to the Library who’ve had 2,199 page views. These visitors have come from 37 countries/territories including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Canada, Hungary, Romania, and the USA. A little over 67% of traffic came from referring sites. The largest of which (no surprise) is Conlang.org (The Language Creation Society) with over 46% of all traffic coming through there. 27% came directly to the Library, but others have visited from the Zompist Bulletin Board and Realitysandwich.com.
Thank you all for visiting and keep coming back! New stuff is being added to the Library all the time
I had to include this iPhone app on the blog: The Klingon Language Suite for the iPhone is scheduled to be released by Ultralingua and Simon & Schuster. I tried to find it on the Apple Store, but it doesn’t appear available yet. Now, all we need are iPhone apps for Teonaht, Kamakawi, and Ithkuil.
This is the official blog of The Conlanger’s Library (TCL) web site. Updates to the web site will be featured here; however, this blog will have an even more important function: to serve as the Library’s Exhibit Hall. Different conlang-related websites will be featured, conlanger profiles may be posted (some of these will be reprinted from the Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond exhibit), and more. The TCL Blog will be another entry point for people to find and interact with the Library itself.