about | contact | disclaimer | home   


The Little People

Legal wrangling about profits and royalties hold up a potential Peter Jackson Hobbit film; it is reported that Australian scientists have found a cave chamber that might help them to settle a debate about some Hobbits; and the Preston-Child effort Cabinet of Curiosities begins with with a cavern or at least chamber filled with bones.

The science article, Australian Scientists Hope Cave Chamber Will Settle ‘Hobbit’ Debate, tells us that “Scientists are confident the mystery will be solved if they can extract DNA from ‘hobbit’ remains they expect to find among the rubble of 32,000- to 80,000-year-old bones and stone tools littering the cavern floor.”

Hobbit, Xerox, Kleenex, Google ...

Slashdot had a poll as to who should direct The Hobbit, should it be made into a live-action film anytime soon. The hope, I suspect, is that either New Line and Peter Jackson settle their differences about profits, royalties, and such, or that, at least, New Line's option or whatever it is runs out, the next interested party secures matters, and employs Jackson.

That having been said, a number of names were listed: Kevin Smith, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and a few others. Some not in the poll, such as Terry Gilliam and Joss Whedon, were put forth by readers. Quentin Tarantino was obviously meant as a joke, as was, in a way, Uwe Boll, the poor excuse for a German director behind such cinematic masterpieces as House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and Blood Rayne—all video game adaptations.

“They were better than actors. We looked for local Romanian actresses, but there they are all from the theater and act very broadly. For 150 euros a piece the whores would be naked and do as they were told. It was better.” (in an interview for Bloodrayne: The Movie talking about why he chose to use real prostitutes instead of actresses)

Yet what amused me most was the single comment about Verhoeven by amper:

“Verhoeven? After fucking up Starship Troopers that badly, I hope he never directs another film for the rest of his life. In fact, I hope he never makes another penny in his life and that I never have to hear his name again.”

This is clearly a comment by an uneducated fan-boy with little subtlety to his thinking. The brilliance of Verhoeven's Starship Troopers is that he recognized the fascist trends in its militaristic post-nationalism and, drawing on his own exposure to propaganda films and such as a child, exploited it for all it's worth, producing an action-packed space-opera satire. I mean, it's got Doogie-fucking-Howser as a Nazi scientist.

On our way to or back from Pan's Labyrinth last week Di and I somehow got on the topic of Verhoeven. Perhaps it was Rutger. In any case we had a number of hilarious mock-titles for genre-mashing Verhoeven flicks, but they've all fled my memory, and I just know they somehow had to deal with a combination of Starship Troopers and Showgirls. Starship Strippers?

Apostrophe PNG file

In the late-90s I had a Heinlein phase, one that was halted not due to dislike or exhaustion, merely a lack of Heinlein novels in my collection, for I read my share and moved on to other things once no others graced my shelves. Sheri Tepper perhaps came next. The prose was generally workmanlike—at his best he was a craftsman—and quite a few novels had great ideas and development of those ideas, along with rollicking plots, though far too often we're talking about pure wish-fulfillment characters. Spider Robinson liked (likes) ol' R.A., and that was good enough for me; I borrowed Starship Troopers my first semester after a night spent in a recliner at Chris Williams's place following an excursion with him and his housemates to a certain East Washington place of business. I originally picked up a Terry Goodkind novel next to the chair to keep myself occupied while the others still slept, but when one of Chris's housemates awoke and found me reading Goodkind he instead searched a while and brought back Heinlein, suggesting it as something both higher quality and more enjoyable. A week later I returned it to Chris so he could pass it on to its owner. Later I got the DVD of the film adaptation, if you will, which is not so much an adaptation as it is a response—Haldeman's Forever War, which I read later that same academic year on a recommendation (and loan) from Jacob, could be seen as another response to Heinlein, though in other regards it's a straight Vietnam allegory ... both interpretations being far too simple and simplistic to do Haldeman's work justice.

The Hobbit by The Mind's Eye
The Hobbit
The Mind's Eye

Verhoeven doing The Hobbit has a certain appeal, but given the lack of strong female characters or female characters at all in the book, I suspect it would lack the punch and trashy fun of Total Recall, Starship Troopers, Basic Instinct, and Showgirls. As long as he were to cast Rutger Hauer, though, I'd watch it.

The Mind's Eye did a radio version of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit with Bernard Mayes, the former on 12 cassettes (four per novel) and the latter on six, meaning The Hobbit was less abridged than the trilogy. While the BBC production of The Lord of the Rings is superior in almost every way to that by The Mind's Eye (regarding the American version: “The script is notable for including the Tom Bombadil scenes, unlike most other adaptation of the book.”), I heartily recommend The Mind's Eye's version of The Hobbit—their version of Beorn has stuck with me, perhaps because I had a professor in Budapest whose voice was quite similar to that of the Beorn performance ... there is just something bear-like about it.

You'll occasionally run across The Mind's Eye productions in used book stores. They are easily recognizable by their pale wooden cases. A few weekends ago I saw one at the west-side Half Price Books.

—January 29 2007