Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Our Fellowship of the Rings/Two Towers marathon didn't end until 4 a.m. this morning. But it was amazing seeing them back-to-back like that. The extended versions are, I think, wonderful. Especially in the case of The Two Towers, they offer essentially a different film. It was good to get all the missing Ent matter, and the background on Boromir and Faramir. Tonight, of course, is The Return of the King. I'm amazed that it's actually been two years since the release of the first film. Last night, particularly during The Fellowship of the Ring, I was reminded what an important influence Tolkien was on me, and how important his writing was to me as a child. In fourth grade, I found The Hobbit on an aunt's bookshelf and was instantly hooked. I still have that very copy somewhere around here.
Speaking of movies, sort of, all it took to remind me why I left Athens in '97 was a copy of The Flagpole (a local independent paper), which I flipped through last night. The worst of it was a review of The Last Samurai that had me absolutely livid. To quote: The great tragedy here, however, is not the death of the samurai, but the filmmakers' egotistical attempts to valorize such by focusing on a character who is white and American. This bit of fluff stumbles into an old, old pet peeve of mine. Reviewers (and readers and audiences in general) who judge a given work of art, a priori, based on their preconceptions of what something should be, rather than what it actually is. In this case, a "politically correct" sensibility run amuck. I suppose the same person would reject Little Big Man, for examining the plight of Native Americans (at the same point in history), because the narrator is a white American. It's bigotry, this sort of attitude, even if it's bigotry turned inside out, and it pisses me off. This reviewer could not see what was before him, the art and majesty of this film, because it was more important to maintain a rigid political agenda. Oh, and there's an equally moronic anti-Last Samurai cartoon directly below the review, but most of the text was illegible. Anyway, enough said.
Well, I will add that there are a lot of things about Athens that I do like (The Globe, for example), but it's definitely a town where the hipsters and intelligentsia are trying way too hard. Maybe it's the proximity of all those rednecks and frat boys, forcing them to overcompensate...
And as long as I'm grousing, on Monday, Spooky and I were at Junkman's Daughter at L5P, shopping for birthday gifts for Jennifer. While examining something or another, I heard, from off to my left, a girl say, "Voltaire." Odd, but I ignored it. Then she said "Voltaire" again, in a more insistent way, obviously intent of getting someone's attention. Though my name is not Voltaire, I looked up. A vaguely gothish girl was standing a few feet away, staring at me. Fortunately, Spooky was between us. I looked at the girl, hoping that my face displayed the appropriate proportions of bewilderment and annoyance, and she looked back and said, "Voltaire. You're in that band Voltaire, right?" I said no. Spooky said no. But the girl persisted. "Yes you are," she said. "No," I repeated. So did Spooky. "Oh, I know you are," she said again. I began moving towards my right, increasing the distance between us. "Well, then you're in that other band," she said. "You guys played at Dragon*Con." Spooky and I assured her I wasn't in a band, and I slipped away, pretending to be fascinated in an aisle of windchimes.
I've gotten used to being recognized. It happens more often than I'd have thought, in libraries and bookstores, grocery stores and at shows, but, generally, people are polite, and never before have I been mistaken for a member of a nonexistent band. Did she think Voltaire (as in "It's So Easy When You're Evil") is a band? Did she imagine, perhaps, that I was a member of Cabaret Voltaire, and that they've actually played Dragon*Con? Is it just that all goths look alike to her? Did she perhaps mean The Crüxshadows, when she said "that other band? I do spend a lot of time in the company of Voltaire and The Crüxshadows at Dragon*Con, so that seems the most likely explanation. What drives people to behave like this towards total strangers, and to persist, when said stranger has made it clear that the desired attention is unwanted? It's beyond me.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,267 words on "The Dry Salvages." I believe I have reached the halfway point.