December 17th, 2012

holiday park

Intro to Fantasy

I had yet another busy weekend. I met up with some friends at a nearby diner for breakfast on Saturday, then we went to see an early show of The Hobbit. I had to behave myself during the movie because I had a former student, one of the kindergarteners from my first year doing children's choir, sitting directly behind me.

I thought the movie looked nice, the casting was wonderful, and there were parts of it I loved, but I'm not sure that spreading it into three movies and adding so much padding was such a great idea. When you're padding Tolkien, you've got problems. It's such a relatively simple, straightforward story that you don't need to add all that impending doom stuff to it to make it work. They did extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies, but with this one, I would kind of like the reduced edition, where they just edit together the parts that are actually in the book. There are some things in the movie I'd like to revisit, and I was surprised by some of the casting of actors I'm familiar with but didn't recognize, so I wouldn't mind seeing some of it again to see if I can spot them now, but I don't think I could sit through that movie again.

The Hobbit was one of the things that got me into fantasy. The cartoon TV movie version came out when I was in fourth grade, right at the time I'd gotten into Star Wars and science fiction. Today's corporate placement in schools seems to be about food, but then we seemed to get a lot that involved entertainment, if they could spin it as in any way educational. I remember a number of supplemental lessons or materials related to movies or TV movies, that I then felt compelled to watch because if they talked about it at school, then it was homework in my mind.

With The Hobbit, I'm not sure if it was some kind of corporate-provided lesson material or just the fact that my teacher was into that sort of thing, but I do remember hearing about it at school and then telling my parents I had to watch the movie because it was assigned (even though it probably wasn't). Every day after recess, my teacher would read a chapter of a book to us, and I think I can probably thank/blame her for me getting into fantasy because she read stuff like Roald Dahl's books, and she read The Hobbit. I would get frustrated with the chapter a day pace and get the book out of the library and read it straight through. I don't remember if I read the book The Hobbit before or after watching the TV movie, but I did read it around that time.

Come to think of it, that teacher may have been the first one to encourage me in writing. I recall having an assignment to write something about a picture in a book. Most of the kids were writing a descriptive paragraph, but something in the picture sparked a story idea, and when the teacher realized that I had pages written when it was time to turn it in, she let me take it home to finish the story I was writing, with no penalty for being late. I suspect my usual short story problem reared its ugly head even then, since I got pages and pages into it with no ending in sight and then just ended it abruptly rather than letting it turn into a novel.

I doubt this teacher is even still alive because I recall her being fairly old (then again, I also remember my second-grade teacher as being old, and when I found my diary from those years, I mentioned that we'd celebrated her 27th birthday), but if you're out there, Mrs. Johnson, thanks for nurturing that little spark and for introducing me to fantasy.

Back to Saturday, after the movie I went with a friend to a nearby town that goes crazy at Christmas, with the old Main Street like something out of one of those Lifetime movies. I think I've come up with my main plot for my disaster romantic comedy Christmas movie. The elves are out to get us.