Smaug the Stupendous

Oh just a fine day. We caught a matinee of the new Hobbit movie:

Better than the first Hobbit movie, with fewer plot elements that were recycled from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But if the existence of them annoys you, sorry. (And don’t pretend like you didn’t notice.) There were drunken elves. Legolas and friends had a fine, running fight among the barrels. Loved the barrel chase. Hated the spiders.

The elvish love triangle is boring, and surely directive from some studio suit. Legolas seems like a different character. Older and harder, though it is the better part of a century before the other movies. This is another way prequels (let’s call the Hobbit a series of prequels) are difficult to swallow.

I’m sure it abandoned Tolkien — I don’t care; I read the Hobbit years ago and found it tedious and not worth my time, feel free to leave now if this is what you judge people against. — but it also gives you Martin Freeman, who is better than you realize. And Smaug is a grand visual thing. It takes a lot to visually impress us in movies these days, but the dragon should.

I wanted Smaug to be Benedict Cumberbatch, but this is a dragon, and they’ve modulated the voice so much that it isn’t Cumberbatch, which is fine. I’m ready to be free of the mercurial dwarves.

But a good movie. It cost $8 per ticket. This was a matinee. Back in my day, and get off my lawn.

We had Mexican with our friend Sara, whom we have not seen in a long while. We had cookies after that. We watched a comedian perform on Netflix after that. It was all a very fine day.

Things to read … These first few are submitted without comment or, simply put, have a nice day:

Capitol Hill Reacts to Judge’s NSA Phone Surveillance Ruling

Expanded Medicaid’s fine print holds surprise: ‘payback’ from estate after death

In Alabama, car insurance premiums jump an average of 22 percent after 1 claim, study finds

Sometimes I think the people in Washington over-complicate things. (Which is a naive way of suggesting that they’re actually doing things without grand and sweeping ulterior motives, but we all know better.) So allow me to simplify this. Let’s keep the obligations we have to those with whom we’ve obligated ourselves. Sen. Jeff Sessions: Leave military retiree pay alone, close tax loophole for illegal immigrants:

Sessions said lawmakers should “scour the federal budget for other available savings,” before cutting veterans benefits.

“America’s service members have already sacrificed so much on our behalf and Congress should not put additional burdens on them even as it spares federal civilian workers from the same treatment,” Sessions said. “Removing this unbalanced treatment of our military retirees ought to be one of the key actions we should take before this legislation moves forward.

Disregarding veterans is no way to run a government. You could put a lot of things in as the subject of that sentence. You’d be right. I feel like this is one of the important ones.

This is neat: The story of Bud, the Toomer’s Oak offspring that refuses to die.

Some of these I wouldn’t have put on such a list, but there are some real gems here: 54 Reasons to Love Photography in 2013. That will just make you want to click the shutter button a few hundred more times.

Speaking of photos, the next several days here, at least through Christmas, will likely be just that: snapshots. Come for the ornaments, and come back to see whatever surprises turn up.

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