Happy Noon Year!

Noon Years Eve2

This morning, my husband and I took the kids to the Family Museum a few towns over, in a blatant effort to wear them out so they wouldn’t be able to stay up until midnight, so we wouldn’t have to.

Our strategy clearly isn’t going to work,* but it was a good time.

Exhibit A, with a huge, gappy grin:

Sunny Noon Years Eve

With the regular stuff that makes family museums a blast were crafts, a live band, dancing, and a Count Down a few seconds before noon.

Noon Years Eve3

And confetti.

Noon Years Eve4

A lot of confetti.

And people.

Noon Years Eve

Then we had lunch, a quick trip to the store t pick up nibblies for our annual New Year’s Eve Snackdinner, which we usually have while arguing over and eventually watching classic movies and/or ancient television shows on DVD.

This year, the options I schlepped home from the library are My Favorite Martian, the first season of Mary Tyler Moore, the first season of The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency-for my MIL—the tenth season of Murder, She Wrote,the only season of Briscoe County, Jr.—that one’s for me—and a couple of Charlie Chaplain collections, because the Marx Brothers shelf was bare.

As usual, we went with organic noisemakers this year, who won’t have any problems staying up to see the Mommy** ball drop.

Should be fun!

Have a Happy and Safe New Year’s Eve!


* The reason this is so late is that I took an After-Noon Year’s nap, so I had half a chance of keeping up, and maybe a chance of rustling up a New Year’s Post, which may or may not include poetry . . .

**But before I do, I’m planning on dropping in at Averil Dean’s blog around 9 PST to help celebrate the release of her new book,  Alice Close Your Eyes, which I reviewed here a while back.  


The Hobbit: The Desolation (and Subjective Pronunciation) of Smaug

Desolation of Smaug

Watson and I abandoned the children to my husband’s care Saturday night so that I could finally see The Desolation of Smaug.

Most of you have probably seen it already and/or read all the reviews, and/or just absorbed the unavoidable reactions to and opinions about it via sheer proximity to other human beings/Wi-Fi hotspots.

This has never stopped me from sharing my own reactions and opinions, and it won’t now.  The blog must be fed, people.

But if you haven’t seen this movie and still want to,* you might want to watch out for mild spoilers below.  I generally try to be careful about those, but unlike Unexpected Journey, which, with only a few exceptions, was taken from stories Mr. Tolkien actually wrote, Desolation, like the Dwarves in Mirkwood, ventures far enough off the source-material path that I can’t take the Librarian High Road and say with a sniff that my post can’t possibly spoil anything for anyone who’s read the book(s), which I’m sure you have, yes?**

So I’m going to lead off with something that I hope will earn me your forgiveness, if I do end up mentioning something you wish I hadn’t.

No matter what I say about this movie, any scene in which Smaug appears is worth the full price of admission and I cannot take that away from you, even with a frame-by-frame break down of those scenes.

Same goes for the Spiders.


There’s a lot of good stuff in this movie.

The Dwarves, who are outgunned (or at least out-Orc’ed) for most of the flick, remain impatient, endearing, infuriating, competent, clumsy, stubborn, and undeniably badass (I’m looking at you, Dwalin and, oddly, Bombur). Thorin continues to wallow gorgeously in brooding refusal to make sane, reasonable decisions about almost anything, because his head is apparently also made of solid oak—but at least it was carved to look like Richard Armitage, so thank you, movie.   Bilbo is troubled, determined, smart, and irresistibly huggable in that special Martin Freeman way and Gandalf manages a couple of badass—if ill-advised—moments himself.

Beorn is played with great power and heartbreaking gentleness by Mikael Persbrandt, whose accent adds both beauty to his words and a certain weight of history to his character. Bard the Bowman is noble and angstridden—Luke Evans has the perfect face for this—as behooves a man who aches to Fix Things, but can’t get enough support from his downtrodden, complacent neighbors.  And Stephen Fry’s Master of Lake Town is so sodden with privileged discontent and brandy that you can smell the rot, and so perfectly jealous of his power over a place he hates that it’s a joy to detest him.

King of the EyebrowsIt was nice—if technically unnecessary, for reasons I’ll explain later—to see Legolas again; he’s decades younger and far more arrogant here, but still as pretty as a sharpened stiletto.  His childhood friend Tauriel—whose necessity is discussed a little further down—seemed natural in a way Arwen Evenstar never really managed.  His father, King Thranduil of the Disturbing Eyebrows—who is necessary—is the ethereal and far more hygienic flip side of the Master of the Lake.

The Necromancer did a good job of scaring the holy crap out of the audience—or at least this member of the audience—and the Orcs were . . . plentiful.***

And Smaug . . . Oh, Smaug.^

In fact, there’s enough good stuff in here to make three movies . . . but only one of those movies is  The Hobbit.

Look, I’m not a purist. I wouldn’t have minded if Mr. Jackson had kept the script strictly to what happened between the covers of The Hobbit—if nothing else, there would have been fewer parts and a shorter wait to see the whole thing—but since he already made LOTR, and a goodly percentage of the whole world watched it, I have to admit that it might be weird from a continuity standpoint if Legolas didn’t show up at the Wood Elves court or the Ring didn’t have at least an indication of the same terrifying effect on Bilbo as it did on Frodo.

I say “might,” because without the second of the three, merged minimovies, which is undeniably a prequel to Mr. Jackson’s hit trilogy, it probably wouldn’t have mattered as much.

Tolkien’s two or three sentence explanation about a necromancer hiding in the woods never quite did it for me, motivation-wise,^^ so it’s not that I don’t appreciate being offered a solid and beautifully filmed reason why Gandalf reluctantly abandons Thorin’s Gang of Thirteen at Mirkwood, just when a wizard would have come in handy—plus a more detailed account of what prevented him from returning until the penultimate chapter of the book.

And again, LOTR is a thing that exists—a fixed point in time, to jump franchises for a second—and cannot be ignored, lest the Goddess of Continuity be angered, even if Mr. Jackson was the one who evoked her in the first place.

It’s still not The Hobbit.  But it works.^^^

So, really, the only minimovie in the amalgamation that gave me real problems was the third one, and here’s where I’m going to drop spoilers, because Tolkien didn’t write it and it messes with what he did write, and that annoyed me.

I’m talking about Kili in Love.

I have nothing but admiration for Evangeline Lilly, who takes what could have been a token love interest/catalytic part in The Rise of Sauron and makes it goodAnd heaven knows I’d happily watch Aidan Turner eat sandwiches for three hours, if there wasn’t a semi-decent script available.  These two have undeniable interspecies chemistry—enough to make Legolas realistically jealous, which he is, which may even have been the point—and their scenes together are enjoyable and bittersweet.

But in my opinion, those scenes don’t belong in this particular flick.

I’ve been told that Tauriel’s existence isn’t Peter Jackson’s fault—according to rumor, the studio insisted on a female elf and a romantic subplot involving Legolas, either because without Galadriel, they were afraid of backlash from the gender imbalance, or they thought audiences wouldn’t go see a Middle Earth movie without the prospect of a possibly-doomed romance between two sentient bipeds.°

Fine.  A little insulting to movie-lovers and Tolkien’s work, but the flirtation of Tauriel and Legolas doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, et cetera and so forth and fine.


I’m not sure whose fault it is that Kili became the unlikely third corner of an elf-majority love triangle or that his involvement ends up changing things about the plot of The Hobbit (remember The Hobbit? It was in here somewhere . . . ) in ways I can’t personally condone, especially when those changes were specifically made to promote the romance.

I’m guessing that whoever it was figured that Tauriel by herself wasn’t enough to get Legolas moving along the Path of Good Guydom in time to join the Fellowship, so they decided to add some hottie Dwarf incentive for Legolas to Impress the Girl, flipped a coin, and Dean O’Gorman lost won chose heads instead of tails.°°

And to be absolutely truthful, these scenes were brilliantly filmed.  There’s a quiet, emotionally-wrought moment here that made my shriveled old heart melt.  It was beautiful—really, really beautiful, see compliments to actors above—but it doesn’t belong in this flick.

The thing is, Desolation has three great parts, but it isn’t greater than the sum of them.

But Smaug is. 


Trust me.

*I’m not sure why you’d be tuning into this blog if you’re the kind of person who didn’t and don’t, but you’re welcome anyway and feel free to explain in the comments, if you like, or not.

**To be honest, I don’t feel guilty spoiling things that are directly from The Hobbit, because it still shocks me that there are literate people out there who haven’t read it—I’ve been known to mail copies to people who claim they haven’t.  Oddly, I also don’t mind spoiling the bits taken from The Simarillion, even though it still shocks me that there are literate people out there who read that thing for fun—but  anyone who’s already read or seen LOTR knows the score anyway.

***Seriously—a band of thirty Orcs split up and the Dwarf-chasing half was killed right and left and never seemed to get smaller.  They were like the fantasy equivalent of thirty continuous shots with a pair of six-shooters.

^There is, by the way, nothing like hearing the collective reaction of a hundred-plus fellow movie lovers the first time this dragon is called by name on screen:


It totally trumped the reaction to all the extra syllables the LOTR cast put into Mordor.  I’d personally agree that UK audiences have a prior claim on the official pronunciation of Tolkein-produced vocabulary, but Americans really aren’t feeling the Sm-oww-gg.  Sōrry.

^^Even after I started writing stories of my own and realized that sometimes there are perfectly legitimate plot- and page count-related reasons you wouldn’t want to bring a perfectly good wizard to a dragon fight.

^^^ And regardless of how one feels about Mr. Jackson shoehorning The Rise of Sauron into the movie he was supposed to be making, his retro-plotting still beats the hell out of the first three chapters of Star Wars.  So there’s that.

° Rather than a doomed relationship between a brooding dwarf prince and a giant diamond—or a simple Hobbit and his precious  golden ring.


I see what you did there

Weekend Writing Warriors: Anti-Cupids (Jealousy . . .)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Jack understands why Renee is annoyed with him for forgetting lunch but he isn’t sure why the cake tasting, while it appears to be a valid excuse, seemed to be upsetting her on its own.

Until she asks him about the Maid of Honor.

Mysterious Face

“And what is she like?”

“She’s a technical writer and a raving caffeine addict,” he said, grinning.

Renee’s smile dropped to quarter power. “Does she look like Kirsten?” Renee had met Kirsten at a dinner hosted by one of the agencies’ clients a few months ago. They’d been instantly friendly in the way that beautiful women were, when they weren’t competing for the same man’s attention.

“Not much,” he said, “except maybe the eyes.” He hadn’t thought about taking a picture of Viv at the time, but he wished he’d captured her expression when she’d faced down Bibi.


I originally thought the image was Viv, but now I’m thinking it’s the model-formerly-known-as-Renee-but-who-doesn’t-have-a-new-name-yet . . .

I temporarily misplaced all my handwritten Anti-Cupid notes yesterday—about six chapters-worth of looseleaf sheets, envelopes, and scraps, ’cause that’s how I roll—but after a twenty minute search, during which I convinced myself I’d have to dumpster dive to find them, I eventually discovered the bundle in the Very Safe Place I’d tucked it while I was working on something else.

Perhaps it would be better if I stored this stuff in the middle of the room under a large traffic cone with a bright orange flag stuck on top.  Or stuck a sticky note treasure map on my monitor.

Or used my file cabinet . . .

Random Thursday: A Randomly Illustrated Wesson Christmas

The last two days contained a lot of Christmas.

Here are some random highlights, which don’t include much from Christmas Eve, since I was too busy badgering the kids to get ready for the pageant rehearsal before the Children’s Service, making myself presentable from the neck up—the “best” part of my Sunday Best depends almost entirely on green polyester choir robes—and shoving water bottles, pretzels, cheese cubes, and a square foot of washed grapes into our rolling cooler for the young actors, who tend to get cranky without Craft Services on hand,*  to remember my camera.

Just as well, really.


My brother-in-law arrived Sunday and left this morning.  If I had to sum up his visit in one photo that wouldn’t give a family therapist a field day, it would be this one:

Sneaky Niece

This is Sunny, tying his shoelaces together.  He totally deserved it, for not allowing her to decorate his Scott Ian beard** with her pink rose barrette.

We’re actually kind of proud of her—he had to take off his shoes to get the knots undone.

Can tying her own shoes be far behind?


Christmas morning was unexpectedly peaceful for longer than anticipated, possibly because the kids were sugar crashing exhausted from the chaos of the night before.

We even had time to take a pre-discovery photo:

Santa Scat

This year, Sunny waited until 7:30 before she thundered down the hallway to find the musical snowglobe Santa had given her.

Christmas Morning

And the flashlight.

Flashing Christmas

Her sister woke up half an hour later, pretending boredom with the whole ritual, though we noticed it didn’t take her long to get into the spirit of the thing—or into the contents of those wrapped boxes.

She even admitted out loud that Santa gave the best awesomesocks.

Awesomesocks Reprised

It was difficult to stop the kids in full present-ripping mania—surprise, surprise—but certain traditions must be upheld and delaying the gratification of desperate small children on gift-giving holidays is a family favorite.

So it was only after my MIL went to church,  my BIL was retrieved from his hotel, and some of us had showers and we all had a leisurely brunch of sausage casserole and eggs and chocolate pumpkin bread, and the dishwasher was emptied and refilled . . . the adults mutually decided that we should go down to my MIL’s living room and open presents before the children detonated.

Christmas 2013

There was a special package for Janie, too, thoroughly wrapped by her father, in the hopes that he would use up That Roll of Christmas Paper.***


True story:  even though Janie rushed towards it like a cross between a demented kangaroo and an air horn, it wasn’t until this point:


. . . that she screamed, “Oh!! It IS a bike!!”

I think it says a lot about our family that  after almost eleven years in it, she wouldn’t find it at all strange that a bicycle-shaped package would turn out to be something entirely different—though we weren’t sure what she thought it could be instead.

A book, maybe, or a giant Hexbug?  A puppy?

We were afraid to ask.  But at least she wasn’t disappointed.

I received some great stuff this year myself.  This kids gave me Myrtle and Hortense, because turtles are definitely a thing now.

Christmas TurtlesI don’t mind at all.

My parents bought craft and activity sets for everyone this year—the kids were given paint sets, origami and sock puppets, my husband has a new yo-yo set and Watson has a juggling kit.  I was given Knit and Purl Pets by Claire Garland and a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory pop-up book, which are  exactly what I would have wanted, had I known they existed.

Even thought I’m probably going to have to knit Mom an aardvark now . . . 

Speaking of awesome gifts, remember that Lord of the Rings bookpurse Watson made earlier this year?

Look at this!

Sherlock Bag

It’s perfect.

She wrapped the denuded book in the same box, because it hurt her to think of throwing it away—it would have hurt me, too.

Looks like one of us is going to have to take a bookbinding course . . .


After we cleaned up, Watson and I decided that it was time to make Christmas cookies to keep the kids from playing with the messier gifts we didn’t want to deal with happily occupied.

I’m probably going to do a longer recipe post on this later, ’cause it was a hoot and this post is getting a bit long to fully explain the spontaneous Ethel Merman competition, which I won by sheer volume—plus my kids were at a chronologically-based cultural disadvantage —or why it’s absolutely necessary to sing “Making Christmas” as you roll out the dough, but here are some of the results.

If you look closely at the decorated ones, you can tell exactly when we realized we had more cookies than patience.

But before we reached that point, we made cookies with an astounding array of cutters, including Watson’s special Star Wars set, because nothing says a Wesson Christmas like pretending to be Sarlaccs with a tray of sugar-frosted Boba Fetts.

The Cookies Strike Back

Or making Chia Yodas.  His face is still visible because of the Force.

Chia Yoda

These are mine.  I would like everyone to know that I did the mitten with my left hand, because I didn’t know I couldn’t.

Happy Cookies

Edible Louboutins.  Couldn’t you just die ?

But then things got surreal. I don’t remember the Gingerdeadmen being this difficult last year^–thank goodness we keep bone candy sprinkles on hand!

Surreal Cookeis

The Rainbow Unity Ninja on the right is Sunny’s—she’s a modernist at heart.  The mutant angel at the bottom is mine . . . I’m pretty sure I was trying for a pinafore, but it went terribly wrong somewhere . . .

But Christmas didn’t.

How was YOUR Thursday?


*And who were given bags of candy by someone else anyway, oh, well. By showtime the start of the service, all the shepherds and one cow had chocolate beards.   And so did Mary, who was visibly vibrating.  I don’t suppose y’all would be shocked to know Mary was one of mine?

**Lead guitarist for Anthrax.  This is probably not a coincidence.

***You know the one.  No one remembers buying That Roll, but it’s there in the stash with its sidekick, The MultiSpool of Faded Self-Shredding Ribbons, and it will continue to dole itself out for Christmases to come, sending its package-shaped spores to other households like festive and probably benign mushrooms.  Our Roll is reversible, to prevent us from using it for any other occasion and eyeblindingly electric lime fugly on both sides.  And, no, of course my husband didn’t use it up, because it can’t be done.

^Are those the same plates?  Do we have a Those Holiday Paper Plates problem now?

The 2nd Annual Chrishanukwanzmadanfestivus Contest Winner!

Thanks to everyone who took the time out of your annual Yuletide Panic—or coping with other people’s Panic—to participate in the Second Annual Chrishanukwanzmadanfestivus Poetry Contest.  Even if there was some bah humbugging over the rules this year.

Once again, I’m glad I set these things up for drawing instead of judging, because there’s enough Yuletide Panic going around and I can’t afford to hand out prizes to all of you, anyway.

Eleven names were placed in Sarah’s Lumpy* Red Felt Hat of Win and one was eventually** grabbed this morning by an extremely sleepy fuzznoggin of a six-year old, who had probably forgotten all about it by now.

Special recognition goes to Mike, who managed to work in the ACLU; Kev, who managed to fit ménage à trois into the scansion this year; indyclause, who created a sonnet of bitter exasperation; Linda and her granddaughter for alluding to cat barf in the cutest way; Grace for saying what we’ve all been thinking about automatic sorting machines; liligrif for almost agreeing to post a comment this time;  Siobhan, whose poem I will be sending to her mother-in-law unless I get some new pics of my fairy godkid; my two favorite Anonymous-numbered poets whose sense of humor deserve better than anonymity, and so who should expect much nagging in the coming year, and; George, who needs to learn to take a compliment, dude.

But, the winner of the $25 online gift card to Powell’s Books is:

Cha Cha

whose Hogwarts themed entry leaves Rita Skeeter in the dust.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me —

12 Grimmauld Place
11 pensieve lessonsThe Golden Snitch''.
10 ton-tongue toffees
9 phoenix feathers
8 fizzing whizbees
7 golden Galleons
6 Weasley sweaters
5 socks for Dobby
4 Privet Drive
3 deathly hallows
2 blast-end skrewts
and a thrashing from the Whomping Willow tree

Congratulations, Cha! I’ll send the card to you tonight with the e-mail you provided—if you would prefer I send it elsewhere, please let me know!

Christmas Stress

It’s possible no one would have noticed, but I thought I’d mention again that I’ll be taking the next two days off from the blog, as we have a houseful of company to enjoy, several hours of emergency Christmas Pageant rehearsals to attend, the traditional Last Minute Holy Cow I Forgot a Gift Waltz to choreograph,  and for some reason, our choir director has chosen Handel’s “A Child is Born” for the Christmas Eve service:

This is either a sign of great faith in the possibility of miracles or complete insanity, as there are only eight of us, one small organ, and—in the opinion of at least half of the Alto section—way the heck too many notes along the way.

But that’s half the fun, right?

Have a Happy Merry!

*And Damp, as the weather decided to spray our area with that iced napalm the meteorologists like to call Wintery Mix over the weekend.

**It took  few tries.  The first time, she grabbed all of them at once and nearly popped me in the nose with her fist, as well as potentially bankrupting me.  The second time, she tried with the hand holding the toothbrush, while telling me she was too tiiiiiiirrrrrrred, Mommy. This is the same kid who will be impossibly wide awake at 4am Thursday morning.