The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


Before I start, I should give a bit of background about what exactly The Hobbit (the book) means to me.

Without a doubt, The Hobbit is the book that shaped my love of storytelling, reading, fantasy, travel, adventure, etc. In short, The Hobbit, more than anything else, helped to shape me into who I am today.

That being said, from the beginning I was leery about a film adaptation of it. As far as the first movie is concerned, I was mostly ok with it, apart from the silliness of Radagast the Brown’s bunny sled and some other things. Other than those, the first Hobbit movie kept to the source material well enough.

The Desolation of Smaug, however…ugh. Now, a lot of people may call me a snob for this, but I’ve always been of the opinion that when you’re making a movie based off of a book, the rule should be to NEVER ADD, JUST SUBTRACT.

Legolas was certainly, well, probably present in Mirkwood when Thorin and Company find themselves there, but was never named, or even mentioned in the book. I get it, though. His being in the movie is a way for Peter Jackson to flesh out the elves and give them some character beyond the dickishness of King Thranduil. Fine, whatever. I’m sure Orlando Bloom needed the work.

However, what I can’t forgive is the half-assed love story between Kili. a Dwarf who, in the book barely has any characterization beyond his name, and an elf who DOESN’T EVEN EXIST in any of the Tolkien source material.

I understand the reasoning behind the character of Tauriel — If I recall, there’s not a single female character in The Hobbit,  I’m fine with her being the captain of Mirkwood’s guards, and God (or whoever) knows I’m a fan of Evangeline Lilly. Yowza. But the love story, however, is as poorly crafted as it is unnecessary.


Which brings us to the scenes in Lake-town. The town itself looks just about exactly as I had imagined it, so no problems there. The character of Bard the Bowman is played by someone who looks a dark haired Legolas. Seriously, it’s distracting.

Stephen Fry was excellent at wringing out as much as he could from yet another character who might not even have a line of dialogue in the book. But he’s Stephen Fry, so, duh.

That’s enough about what’s wrong with the movie. On to the best part.


Yup, that’s pretty much it.

Thoughts on Graduation

Well, I did it. I graduate from Wichita State University on Friday. It’s been a damn long ride, and if my college career were a movie, the Special Thanks section would be the longest part of the credits. First and most importantly would be my parents, you know, for paying for it all, and not getting too mad at me when I changed majors twice. Or was it three times?

Secondly, my teachers. I’m more than certain I drove them all to drink at least a few times in my time at the Elliott School. In particular I need to thank Les Anderson, may he rest in peace, and Amy DeVault, without whom, who the hell knows where I’d be.

Their guidance, knowledge, and most of all, patience, has gotten me through a hell of  a lot over the last few years — school-related and otherwise — whether they know it or not.

This is hard for me to admit as their student, but I really can’t put words to how much they both mean to me. Amy has helped me through so much, and given me so many great opportunities that I’ll never be able to repay her for.

And even now, every time I write a paper or an article, or even a freaking Facebook post, I imagine Les looking down on me with his red pen in hand mumbling something like “Well, you could do that…”

I really can’t think of much else to say right now, so I’ll just end as I began, by saying simply:

Thank you all for all you’ve done. Whether you know it or not, you’ve had a hand in shaping me into who I am today, and I’ll try to live up to your expectations.

Playboy, Wikipedia, and Crisis Management

I like Clay Shirky. I recently watched his TED Talk, and read the first chapter in his book, Cognitive Surplus.

This guy’s TED talk is full of great quotes, and I’d like to comment on a few of them.

“People weren’t couch potatoes because we liked to be, we were couch potatoes because that was the only opportunity given to us.”

— I wrote this quote down in class when we first watched his talk, because it struck me as odd, but then I got to thinking about it. Before all the interconnectivity of the internet and internet-enabled cell phones and tablets and computers, etc, that’s all we did was watch TV. Now, thanks to things like Twitter and Facebook, I can read and watch first hand accounts from friends of mine of record flooding in Nelson, New Zealand— which if you didn’t know, is like 8,000 miles away from Wichita.

That wouldn’t happen if those rain-soaked Kiwis hadn’t had the ability, and more importantly the desire to both pull out their smartphones and shoot photos and video of the flooded streets and downed power lines and share those photos and videos on Facebook.

“The stupidest possible creative act is still a creative act”

— Shirky says this to highlight the differences and similarities between dumb internet memes and collectively creative, intelligent projects like Wikipedia. Both take time, effort, and the desire to share skill, knowledge, humor, and other information with other people

“Even with the sacred printing press, we got erotic novels before we got scientific journals.”

Basically, in today’s terms, Playboy is easier to read than Popular Mechanics. But that doesn’t mean that Popular Mechanics isn’t a hugely important and influential source of information, because it is.

“There are a trillion hours of participatory value up for grabs.”

It’s easy to think ‘So, there are a trillion hours of free time a year for people to basically do whatever they want, and what do we get? Freakin’ LOLcats.’

But that’s only part of the truth. Along with those stupid pictures of cats with bread on their heads, we get truly collaborative, intelligent, and useful things like Ushahidi and Wikipedia.

Trade show thoughts

So, a couple weeks ago I went to the Wichita State Shocker Business Plan trade show competition, and let me just say, that I was actually pretty damned relieved that I wasn’t chosen to participate. To put it mildly, I can only describe it as the earthly embodiment  of my own personal hell.

As I walked through the concourse at Koch Arena, eating all the free food I could stuff myself with (don’t judge me, college is expensive) listening to all sorts of pitches from an electronic scheduling app (boooring) to a shaving supply company I can only assume was named after this man’s sweet mustache:

Pictured: Arthur Harris' moustache.

Pictured: Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris’ moustache.

Most people who know me, know that I really don’t like speaking in public. I get nervous and I stumble over words and I never know what to do with my hands, it’s awful. Honestly it feels like an eternally long job interview, but instead of one interviewer there’s a crowd of them. Ugh. No thanks.

There’s a reason I’m a writer.

Don’t get me wrong — I wish I were able to talk off the cuff about myself the way these people did. Because that’s what they were really doing. I have a hard time “talking myself up” I guess, because I don’t want to sound like some cocky jackass.

I mean, if you put me up there and have me talk about Star Wars or video games or something I enjoy talking about then sure, I’ll go all day. And, for your sakes, before this post turns into a 2000-word “Why George Lucas is actually the devil” epic, I’ll shut up.

But seriously, he’s the worst.


First of all, before I get started, I’d like to take a minute and say happy birthday to Douglas Adams. While I wasn’t introduced to his work until after he passed away in 2001, his work still had a profound effect on my outlook on life, and that is to not take yourself too seriously. And don’t panic.

Maybe I’m just better at handling it than most people, but when people say things like “Ugh, I’ve just been so stressed lately,” all I can think is why? What is so important that you let it dictate the rest of your life? Just relax and don’t panic.

That philosophy is something my dad would likely call “the path of least resistance,” but don’t listen to him. I like to think of it more as not sweating the small stuff. I try bring that way of thinking into everything I do, and my work throughout this business plan will be no different.

So, team Glow Spray Tanning, you better get ready to hurry up and chill out. I’ll be the first to admit to the group that my pale white ass doesn’t know the first thing, or even the second or third thing, about spray tanning, so this ought to – if nothing else – be a neat learning experience.

In closing, I offer up a quote from Douglas Adams, which I believe sums up what we’re about to do:

“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Group projects….eeeewwwwww

Well, my business plan didn’t pass muster in class. Last week we voted on the best two, and I’ve got to say, they were way more thought out and better-researched than mine was. Regardless of how crushed my soul was at not winning, (that was sarcasm) I’m excited to get to work on the group I was chosen for. Wait what the hell did I just say. I just used the word “excited” and “group” in reference to a school project. What’s happening to me?

I think maybe it has something to do with growing up. (gross) As that magical yet terrifying day known as graduation gets closer and closer i’m realizing that yes, in the real world, , I’ll have to interact with actual people. Bummer.

Oh well, this won’t be too bad. Plus, I’m still planning to go forward with my original plan outside of class, so really, I’m not too upset. My plan could have used about 3 more days worth of preparation and hours more research, but what it boiled down to was the fact that I was lazy and I had Doctor Who to watch.

Anyway the comments I got and the notes I took from our guest judges have given me a lot to think about in terms of tightening up the plan and making it more concise and marketable.

Lots to think about.