Archive for July, 2011

Gen Con 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011 16:48
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Here’s talking about your favorite author, me! I’ll be attending Gen Con in just a few days.

The LOTR Name Quiz

Saturday, July 30, 2011 17:11

Here’s the “Can you name the top 50 characters in the Lord of the Rings series by number of mentions?” quiz, which is absurdly difficult. So how did I do?

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6 Reasons Wheel of Fortune Contestants Suck

Saturday, July 23, 2011 20:06
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Okay, I admit it. I like Wheel of Fortune. I’ve been watching since the 80s, and I think I’m pretty good at it. (My wife and I play the wii game all the time.) But the contestants drive me crazy! Here are ten things they do that annoy the hell out of me.

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Hobbit in 5

Friday, July 22, 2011 17:02
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Here’s Rebekah with the latest Hobbit news. Sadly, Rebekah seems to be running out of cool T-shirts.

And here’s “Soundscapes of Middle-earth”, with the Seattle, Washington version.

LOTR Blu-ray FAQ

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 13:22
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This is a very nice FAQ about the Lord of the Rings Extended Blu-ray set that a reviewer posted at amazon. I agree with everything he says:

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Deathly Hallows Part 2

Saturday, July 16, 2011 6:54
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I saw the new Harry Potter film yesterday. It wasn’t as good as the first part, and it wasn’t nearly as good as the book. I still think it would have been better to do Deathly Hallows as one fast paced, slick film with less characters. As is, the filmmakers seemed to have run into the trouble of trying to get all the details into the film but not being able to pay them off. (For example, the first part has a long introduction of the three Hallows, but in Part 2 one of them is ignored completely while another is barely touched upon.)

Nonetheless, I didn’t think Part 2 was the worst film in the Harry Potter series – just not the best. And as a series, the movies are fantastic.

Hobbit in 5

Saturday, July 16, 2011 6:45

It’s double Rebekah day. First, here’s the latest on The Hobbit:

Second, it’s the Portland, Oregon segment of “Soundscapes of Middle-earth”:

Another Car Accident

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 17:30

Hi, I’m J.W. and I’m a car accident magnet!

I was just in my second car accident in a week. (I’m fine… again.)


I know, I know… you’re probably thinking, “J.W, you really need to learn to drive.” And if I tell you that the other drivers were at fault, you’d probably be thinking, “Well, you must not be driving defensively.” (I’d be thinking the same thing if I were you.) But the thing is, one came when my vehicle was at a stop light, and the other while I was a passenger. So what gives?

It all started last week, when my wife I had finished a day of work. Our kitchen was a disaster, because we’ve been painting our cabinets, and so we decided to go to Subway to get subs for dinner. I was driving, and we stopped at a red light with some traffic in front of us. Everything was fine for two or three minutes, and then just as the light was changing, a truck hit us from behind. It was quite a jolt and quite a surprise.


The truck was a commercial truck, and the driver – clearly upset – told the police exactly what happened and admitted he was totally at fault. And now I’ve spent the last week contacting the necessary people and getting the ball rolling for the car to be repaired. It was the first time I had ever been in a vehicle that was hit by another, and the first time anything had happened to my car, Antares, in the ten plus years I’ve owned her.

This morning, I got an estimate on the damage from my dealer, and then my wife and I drove to a meeting in another town. This time, although it was the same car, my wife was driving and I was the passenger. As we approached an intersection where we had the right-of-way, the driver of another car became confused. She was approaching from our left and had a stop sign, but I don’t think she saw it, because she nearly hit another car before stopping. Then she hit the gas and hit us.


She was a teen girl about 16 years old, and after the collision she was very distressed and didn’t know what to do. My wife and I tried to calm her down, and then a police officer came, and we went though the whole post accident thing again with an accident report, calls to insurance, and estimates from a body shop. All told, it will cost more money to fix my car than what it’s worth; but because the damage stems from two different accidents and will be paid for by two different insurance companies, I’ve been told they won’t declare the car totaled. And, fortunately, everyone is okay – and I shouldn’t have to pay for anything. (Which is nice, since I just took collision off my car a few months ago!) Really, though, I hope people stop hitting me – although I do have to say I’m getting to be an expert at handling the aftermath of car accidents.

Unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to use my car to travel to Gen Con next month, and until the damage is fixed, I’m going to look like the world’s worst driver.

The Whiter Album

Monday, July 11, 2011 21:16

Okay, I’ll admit it: the White Album might be my least favorite Beatles album. Or at least it was. It’s not that it’s a bad album – it has great songs on it! But there’s always been something about it that I’ve disliked, and I wasn’t sure what it was. I think people (including me) have historically placed the blame on the divergent styles of the four guys, and the varied sort of songs on the album not going together, but lately I’ve been thinking this might not be so. Now I think I’ve figured it out: it’s the order of the songs that is maddening! Whereas Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road seem to flow from first track to last track, The White Album is a nightmare when played as a single (or double) album.

Fortunately, today we can choose the song order ourselves. And so that’s exactly what I’ve done (on my ipod). And now (at least in my opinion) the album plays much better. But before I get to my version, let’s look at the original version, with its hodgepodge of moods:

1 Back In The U.S.S.R.
2 Dear Prudence
3 Glass Onion
4 Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da
5 Wild Honey Pie
6 Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
7 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8 Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9 Martha My Dear
10 I’m So Tired
11 Blackbird
12 Piggies
13 Rocky Raccoon
14 Don’t Pass Me By
15 Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?
16 I Will
17 Julia
18 Birthday
19 Yer Blues
20 Mother Nature’s Son
21 Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey
22 Sexy Sadie
23 Helter Skelter
24 Long, Long, Long
25 Revolution 1
26 Honey Pie
27 Savoy Truffle
28 Cry Baby Cry
29 Revolution 9
30 Good Night

Okay now my version: Just like the original, I begin with “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Dear Prudence”, because it’s a great way to kick off the album, and “Prudence” pivots well off of the opening rocker.

Then I stick in “Honey Pie” before getting to the hard edged “Glass Onion.”. This smooths over the awful transition from the original album where “Glass Onion” was like a slap in the face following “Dear Prudence.” Then I go to “Piggies”, which unlike the polka “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da”, pivots well off of “Onion”.

This is followed by “Rocky Raccoon” and “Don’t Pass Me By” just like the original album, building some momentum with each song, before we pivot into “Martha My Dear” – which sounds ten times better in this order than where it was originally. (I love “Happiness” but “Martha” is not the sort of song you want to follow it up.) Then I continue with “I’m So Tired”, before speeding things up slightly with “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?”, which I once saw on a list of “Rock’s strangest rhetorical questions”. And then after this, HERE’S where you stick “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”. Seriously, listen to these last two songs back to back and tell me that’s not what the order should have been. Sometimes I think “Wild Honey Pie” (which I lopped off my version of the White Album) was only stuck in to smooth the bridge between “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da” and “Bungalow Bill”. But it just makes the album order stranger.

Anyway, back to my version: I follow “Bungalow Bill” with the same followups as the original: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – before pivoting into “Savoy Truffle” and “Mother Nature’s Son” (the latter of which is a very pretty song that on the original album is buried between two totally different sort of songs; it sort of like putting a John Denver song between songs by the Rolling Stones and The Who.) Now we’re ready to polka, and that takes us to “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da”, another song badly misplaced on the original album.

We pivot off of that joyous fun into the sympathetic “Julia”, followed by the sensitive, “I Will”. Now we’re ready to rock with “Yer Blues”, followed by the underrated “Cry Baby Cry” and the overrated “Blackbird” before another rocker, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey”. Like the original album, we pivot off of that to “Sexy Sadie”, “Helter Skelter”, “Long Long Long”, and “Revolution 1” – all of which have a nice flow when put next to each other.

Following this slow version of “Revolution” we speed things up with “Birthday”, which is actually a great album starter – but I wanted to make one album (as opposed to the original double album) for my ipod, and so I had to move the song somewhere else. It does make a nice “almost finale”, like the reprise of Sgt. Pepper’s does for its album. This leads to “Revolution 9” before the finale, “Good Night”.

Now I realize many people have grown up with the original White Album order and will stand by it. (And it’s not like I have a lot of influence when it comes to this sort of thing anyway.) However, I’m glad I finally have what sounds like a complete, cohesive album! Thankfully Paul already fixed the “Let It Be” album for me with the superior “Let It Be Naked” which reorders the songs and gets rid of the unpolished snatches of songs from the original (replacing them with “Don’t Let Me Down”). Most people were upset with Paul for doing this. I guess if Paul McCartney can’t get people to accept change in a Beatles album, I have little hope.

Hobbit in 5

Friday, July 8, 2011 18:10
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Here’s the latest Hobbit news, courtesy of Rebekah:

And here’s Rebekah with the Anaheim version of “Soundscapes of Middle-earth”:

Grey HR Line

U.S. Residents Can Now Purchase a signed copy of The Lord of the Films for $5

Or Purchase the Book From These Retailers:
Barnes & Noble | Powell's Books | Amazon: US | US Kindle | Canada | UK | UK Kindle

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