Har. Har har. Don’t you live a good literary pun? Don’t worry, I hate myself for it too.

BUT. It is so very timely. Whilst I know that The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey hasn’t yet arrived in cinemas over much of the globe, we here in New Zealand, AKA the backdrop of Middle Earth, were lucky enough to get the film on December 12th. I would have, in hindsight, loved to have gone to the midnight screening (hell, I would have especially loved to have hit up Wellington for the premiere), but alas, my 8-5 work schedule doesn’t really permit such things. So instead, I patiently waited through the work day… and to be honest, it wasn’t really the top thing on my mind. I have an odd relationship with the story of The Hobbit, I suppose – in that despite my mad rapturous LotR devotion as a (pre-)teen, I could never get into The Hobbit, and didn’t actually get around to reading it until the past year or so. Which seems ridiculous, both to myself, and so many. How can an eleven year old happily gorge herself on the full LotR trilogy, and in the ensuing year or so, teach herself Tengwar and Tolkein’s Dwarvish runes? How can one take a stab at the Silmarillion, but plead ‘meh’ in the face of ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’?

I just don’t know. But, in some ways, I think that this has set me up perfectly to enjoy the film as Jackson and co. have presented it. I do agree that stretching it out to three films is somewhat absurd. And I did  have a few moments of ‘…they must be getting to an end point soon’. But the film was, nonetheless, spectacular. The extra time that the 3 film structure allows means that we get a chance to really get a feel for what’s going on everywhere (love the inclusion of more Radagast et al), and, more’s the point, we get a feel for the darkness building that connects it all the better to the LotR film trilogy. Obviously this isn’t the way it happened in the book, but it really helps give it the more ‘epic’ edge that the film would probably lack if it stuck solely to the goings on and pacing of the novel.

The CGI, by and large, is unquestionably awesome. There were a couple of moments of ‘mmmhmm green screen’, but for the most part, you can really see the leaps and bounds that the amazing folks at WETA have made – Gollum was phenomenal, for one. The scenery was, of course, spectacular – and really reminded me that I really need another road trip around my fair nation some time soon – and the Howard Shore score (one of the things that really never gets old for me) was pretty damn perfect – themes and motifs from LotR throughout, but it still has its own Hobbity sound – Song of the Lonely Mountain, as performed both by the dwarves during the film proper, and by Neil Finn during the credits, was very much representative of that unique sound.

I saw it in old-school 2D, partly because the boyfriend wished to do so for a very sensible reason – after seeing having first seen Avatar in IMAX, he’s been unable to enjoy it in other formats, because the format was so integral to it. So rather than go straight in for full-bore 48 fps 3D, we went the old-fashioned route first, but sometime in the coming days, we will almost certainly check it out in all it’s high-tech glory. Because I definitely want to check out this film again. And slightly shake my fist at the fact that there won’t be another one for a year.

gollum and government

It seems appropriate, given the current Hobbity furore (which I’m something of a part of, I’ll admit – hard not to be when you were a die-hard LotR fan as teen in the early noughties), that my intestinal word association of the morning as I’m lying in bed writhing (even though I popped Tramadol two hours ago) was of a Hobbity nature.

As I moaned to myself ‘take it OUT, don’t want it,’ some constantly fantastical corner of my brain piped up ‘We don’t… neeeeeed you.’ Granted, if it gets to the point where ‘jpouch looks after us now’, then I won’t even have any angry colon-gollum to talk to (and with its grumbles and gurgles, perhaps it is talking back… bitch). ‘Go away’, ‘leave now and never come back’… bro, those are my vocabulary almost every morning.

The pain for the morning is slowly – very slowly – abating, but this is really just cementing the fact that I really want off this stupid trial. I wouldn’t even care if they decided to skip infliximab/Remicade entirely and just took the damn thing out. That being said, I really can’t take an extensive period of time off work until April (working in a uni bookstore means WEIRD periods of business. March and July are the ‘yeah, you want leave? time to resign, buddy’ months, whereas December is, for most people – except for me, since I deal with the orders for several schools which start back in January, huzzah – our quietest month of the year. The possible problem with Remicade is that typically government funding wouldn’t cover a large course of it for me since I only (at last check) have left-sided colitis, even though the left-side in question is super bad. A long course of Remicade would normally require pancolitis. But, given that I have exercised every other possibility, including way too many months on this damn trial, I think the docs are fairly confident that an exception could be made for me – the hospital has additional funding for situations such as this, or something. Things like this give me the tiniest glimpse into the hell that the US healthcare system must inflict on those with an IBD or any serious/chronic disease really. From what I can tell, it looks as though a single infusion of Remicade runs about 6000USD, and even people with insurance seem to be having to pay a thousand dollars or so towards that.

That blows my mind. It won’t cost me anything, in effect. I know that taxes pay for it, but it’s not like having higher taxes on my hardly noteworthy salary makes me incapable of carrying out day to day work. It sickens me to think that a purportedly first world country can have so many people who think it’s acceptable to maintain such an ‘every man for himself’ mindset, to be so anti tax. No government is perfect, and for sure there are things that they do or say that aren’t to my liking – hell, I can’t stand our current PM or his party – but at least we don’t have to worry that getting sick will bankrupt us. If I had one of these ‘deductibles’ or ‘out of pocket payments’ or whatever the hell it is that the terrifying insurance companies make you pay in the States, I don’t know what I’d do. It would make what is already a horrific thing to deal with so much worse. My prescriptions cost me $3 for a three month supply, regardless of what they are. Because Remicade would be administered in a hospital, it wouldn’t cost me anything.

But, like I say, at this point, I’d almost rather they just take my damn colon out. It may have had 18 or so years of reasonably perfect function, but for the last 3/4 years it has just shut down shop. It’s about 2 years since I was officially diagnosed. And despite going through the rigmarole of Pentasa, Colifoam, Asacol, azathioprine, and now several months of trial injections, not to mention an upper endoscopy, two full colonoscopies and five (I think?) flexible sigmoidoscopies, I’m pretty much as bad as I’ve ever been, if not worse.

So, take it. I don’t want it anymore.

middle earth = new zealand. duh.

I love my homeland an extraordinary amount. We have the best accents (universally loved, it seems, perhaps apart from our Austrahhhhlian neighbours), the best awkward birds (the kiwi and beyond), sauce dispensers shaped like their vegetable originators (tomato shaped tomato sauce/ketchup bottles) and scenery that will kick your country’s scenery (again, maybe looking at our friendly surf-obsessed venomous-animal-attached neighbours who have naught but desert) back to sunrise. Which isn’t hard, since we see the sun rise before anywhere else in the world. OH SNAP!

And the world got to see our shiny pretty (not to mention BAD-ASS) scenery on three little movies called The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers & The Return of the King. Under the collaborative awesomeness that is THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Yeah, I’m a bit of a fan. Not as drastically obsessed as I used to be (my first year of high school was the same year that RotK came out. I may have taught myself how to read and write the Elvish script. I may have obsessively played all the pieces in the piano music FotR book even though I hadn’t actually played piano properly for several years.) but I still appreciate the books and movies alike.

Confession – I haven’t actually read The Hobbit. I’ve read all three volumes of the main trilogy, and churned through a decent part of The Silmarillion, but haven’t, for whatever reason, read the book that started it all. However, I intend to rectify this. Since the movie is finally underway. Or sort of. Which brings me to the ultimate purpose of this entry – The Hobbit film and the fact that it obviously has to be filmed in New Zealand.

It’s possible that before I even finish typing this up they will do the old BREAKING NEWS extravaganza to let the Kiwi populace know whether or not we can still call ourselves Middle Earth. It was the first story of the main 6pm news hour, and they stated that any developments would be brought to light immediately. Our prime minister – the Less Than Honourable John Key, king of Remuera, “Helensville” (since he spends SO much time there) and the centre-right affront to our Parliament that is the National Party – is in discussions with the Warner Brothers execs regarding the future of the film here. That’s right, folks, our nation’s leader gets in on it when our Peter Jackson movie-making gets threatened. Secretly I think this is kind of awesome. I can’t really imagine Obamz getting cozy with Spielberg over location disputes.

There are reasons why the WB suits are concerned, yes – the whole actors’ union boycott didn’t paint the prettiest picture of our local thespians, but now that the whole thing has been put in the past (I’ll personally still be pretty miffed at the actorly public if we get screwed over, though), it’d be nice if they could come to a happy agreement that nowhere can possibly recreate the world conjured for the original films as NZ. Seriously. That little farm out of Matamata IS Hobbiton. I refuse to believe that anywhere else will have quite the same charm as did our Waikato-y friends and their hobbit-holed hills.

The moral of the story is that the movie should stay here, otherwise the entire population of my country will turn into depressed 13 year olds who sit around wearing black mourning gowns whilst rocking slowly humming Lament for Gandalf. Why would you do that to us, WB? WHY? I know we’re sort of know (probably just by us) for our ‘dark’ aesthetic  – cue Sam Neill’s Cinema of Unease documentary, which you should all watch, and readings of every NZ short story anthology ever – but that doesn’t mean you need to further our emo. Let us have our hobbits. We’re so damn far away from everything else.

In other news, I’ve now read the entire Song of the Lioness, The Immortals & Protector of the Small quartets. And I’m switching up between The Magic In The Weaving (apparently also known as Sandry’s Book in some editions – who knew?) and the complete bind-up Trickster (encompassing Trickster’s Choice & Trickster’s Queen). The changing around is mostly due to the fact that I have the former in e-book form on Proserpina Regina Pomi Granatis the Macbook Pro, and I have a copy of Trickster loaned to me by Lola Mulot. This whole Piercian kick has been awesome, and most satisfactory for procrastination purposes.

Also, this weekend is Hallowe’en, obviously, and I’m dressing up as Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Obviously. Since I have work on both Friday evening and Saturday, I may mix it up and go for my usual Tonks look. The outfits will probably be very similar, anyway. Easy peasey!

EDITED TO ADD: It also seems relevant to this entry that I mention the fact that every time I’ve been Tamora Pierce e-bookin’ it, my music of choice has been shuffling through the LotR soundtracks. Because moderately epic fantasy is heightened in its epicness by crazy-epic Howard Shore composed tune-age. Seriously. The music of those films is glorious.