Whew. Just finished the first extended bonus-edition director’s cut LOTR movie. I’m watching both EBEDC LOTR movies to prepare for seeing the third installment in the theater. I have the same reaction to this movie as I did the first time I saw it: gratitude. And a certain amount of awe – there’s not a note out of place. Every works; nothing clangs. Every frame has some sort of beauty, be it bright or dark. When asked for my favorite movie I give the old standard reply – Casablanca, because it has everything I want in glorious Warner Brothers monophonic silvery-toned perfection. It’s a movie in the sense that LOTR isn’t. Short, self-contained, pop culture that effortlessly transcends its limitations (perhaps because it isn’t trying to do anything of the sort.) But LOTR may be the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen on the screen. I say this as someone who was utterly immune to hobbitry right up until the day I saw the movie.

Gnat came into my room as Gandolf fell off the bridge. I paused the movie.

“I want to see it,” she said. “I’m not scared.”

Since the coast was clear, and no Orcs were imminent in the next few minutes, I hit play.

“Why are they sad?”

Their friend fell down a hole, honey.

“Is he okay?”

What do I say? Yes, he’s fine, he shows up at the start of the next movie, charging up the maw of hell itself riding the back of that unspeakable beast. But then I’ve spoiled it for her. Nine years later we’ll watch this together, and she’ll say “Oh, he comes back on disc three.”

They don’t know if he’s okay, I said.

"Is he undergwound?" she said in a hushed voice.

Yes. Yes, he is. But he has lots of magic.

“I have a magic wand. I can do magic.” Pause. “But magic’s just patend.” I think she realized this the other day when she waved her fairy wand and said she was going to use magic to make herself a sister. An arrow to the heart, that was.

He has real magic.

“He does?”

Someday we’ll watch this together. And I only hope that Elijah Wood still has a good career, and isn’t reduced to cameos in hootchie-skank videos on the channels I don’t let her watch.

Noted today at the grocery store: Lunchables has two promotions going on. One is for the Cat in the Hat; the other is for the Hulk. This may be the clearest barometer of sucktitude: a Lunchables tie-in. I will wince if the Fantastic Four movie bears the Lunchable taint. I have high hopes for that one. If only they’d let me write and direct it – I could have guaranteed a boffo BO on opening weekend just by going to sci-fi conventions, promising a sneak peak, and telling them I was going to show them the last scene of the movie. Whaaaa? He’s going to give away the ending? The room goes dark; the screen lights up; we see Ben Grimm all Thinged out, no CGI. He’s walking down a narrow dark New York street in the rain, wearing a coat, smoking a cigar. He pauses at a light.

A rock pings off his head. He turns around. His eyes narrow. The camera leans back and we see a sign: YANCY STREET.

That would be alllll the fanboys would need to know: okay, they get it.

Then again, Mark Frost from “Twin Peaks” and other projects is the writer, so I’m not that worried. Yet.

Double-T had a post today abouta track on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira. He loved it; I concur, but there are other cuts I prefer. I have that album as a constant reminder that one can regard an artist’s entire canon with disinterest, but love one work with intense fascination. That album is hypnotic. Her voice is the least of it, for me; what counts are the compositions, which seem like strange obvious things that had been in plain sight for decades but never noticed by anyone. The tone of the guitar was utterly unique, then; implacable, purposeful, melancholic, contemplative. What truly sews the album together is Jaco Pastorius. His bass is a lead vocal, a solo instrument, a knuckle in the ribs and a finger on the cheek. And of course a bass guitar. All good. And all useless without her voice, the voice I never really liked. But the mere mention of it today made me call it all up on iTunes and hear it from start to finish.

Still good. Hit the “Buy the Book!” button below, go to Amazon, search for Hejira, spend a buck. Not for Quiet Riot fans, but you might like it. And if you are, or know someone who is, an early 20s Young Werther possessed by the noble spirit of post-adolescent apartness, trust me: this talks right to you.

I think I’m going to take December off, Bleat-wise. I need a vacation and I have too much work to do. There will still be something here every day, even if it’s just a matchbook or a Gnat picture or a link, but if I don’t take a big break A) brains will shoot out my eardrums, and B) I will not meet the deadline for the proposal for the next book. I’m also doing a big nasty overhaul of the entire site, supersizing for today’s modern monitors, and this means rescanning galore. Stay tuned, but don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. My guarantee to you: Something different for a while, perhaps - then back to the same old crap!

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