Month: December 2013

The Hobbit

Let me be as blunt yet precise about this as possible: If you are a Tolkien fan, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sucks.

I am not making an unqualified statement about the cinematic merit of the film. I am simply speaking as a long-time Tolkien fan.

I bristled at The Two Towers when elves showed up at Helm’s Deep; I rolled my eyes when Arwen (not Elrond) told Aragorn to take the Paths of the Dead. I was disgusted at The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when they concocted the ongoing feud between Azog and Thorin.

But in The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson takes his artistic liberties to obscene heights, primarily through the wholly-fabricated character of Tauriel.

I came out of the movie Thursday night with one question about Tauriel:

What. the. hell?

First off, there is no female wood elf in Tolkien’s world. Sure, we can assume that, since there are Sindar female elves and Noldor female elves, and since the wood elves procreate, there are female elves, but there is no specific female elf character. At least Azog existed (he killed Thorin’s grandfather, but was shortly thereafter killed himself). At least there were elven warriors that could’ve fought at Helm’s Deep, and at least Arwen existed and loved Aragorn.

But Tauri f’in el?

Give me a break. That is political correctness run wild.

But it gets worse: She’s the captain … Read the rest



The headline from this article appears to be the misleading: “Regular but moderate consumption of alcohol makes you healthier and happier than total abstinence.”

I’m happy to see such a study, of course, but the headline states that only “moderate” drinkers are healthier, but the study apparently concluded that even heavy drinkers are better off than the teetotallers:

The study tracked 1,824 volunteers aged between 55 and 65. They included teetotalers, heavy drinkers and also moderate drinkers, whose daily consumption did not exceed three units of alcohol. In the first group, only 31% survived to the end of the 20th year, in the second group, 40%, and in the third, 59%.

That, my friends, is reason to celebrate . . . robustly. … Read the rest

Merry Christmas

A Christmas Carol
by G.K. Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.… Read the rest

Something for Christmas Eve Morning

“We consider Christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God and mankind. He who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice.” Pope Paul VI

“There were only two classes of men who heard the cry that night: Shepherds and Wise Men. Shepherds: those who know they know nothing. Wise Men: those who know they do not know everything.” Fulton Sheen… Read the rest

Mencken Monday

Miscellaneous Rambling

Professor Charles Rice used to comment during jurisprudence class that a person didn’t need long hair and sandals to be a radical. A person just needed to be a good Catholic. I’ve long sympathized with that observation.

It was brought to mind when I read these words by a person from the other side of the theological spectrum, the agnostic H.L. Mencken: “It always amuses me to be denounced as a conservative. I am actually an extreme radical, and if I had (or desired) the job of making over the world most of its existing institutions would be destroyed.” Terry Teachout, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken (Harper Collins, 2002), p. 127.

Read the rest

GKC Short

Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the “Tremendous Trifles” column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y’all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.

Chesterton Short(s)

From the autobiography of British actor John Gielgud: “I had already made some amateur appearances. Val, Eleanor and I had got up a play with some friends with whom we were staying for the summer holidays. The performance was given in a charming studio belonging to G. K. Chesterton, and the great man himself came to see it, and delighted us all by laughing uproariously.” [Early Stages, London: Hodder, 1939, 28] … Read the rest


A Random Passage

Kind of interesting: “The anarchist sensibility made its first appearance amongst the Taoists of ancient China.” Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying the other major religions, especially those of the Far East: Buddhism, Zen, a little Jainism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Without a doubt, the most joy-full of the Eastern religions is Taoism.

“In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God.” John Wu

A connection?

Undoubtedly. The joyful person doesn’t want to coerce anyone, and neither do Taoists or anarchists. … Read the rest