Maurice Sendak & The Hobbit

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on March 27, 2011 @ 9:27 am

An American edition of The Hobbit, marking its 30th anniversary, was proposed to contain drawings by Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame. Tolkien requested samples, and Sendak provided two. But “the editor,” whoever was the liaison between Tolkien and Sendak, mislabeled the drawings, calling Sendak’s wood-elves hobbits.

This blunder nettled Tolkien. His reply was that Sendak had not read the book closely and did not know what a hobbit was. Consequently, Tolkien did not approve the drawings. Sendak was furious.

In hopes that all could be smoothed over between the two, the publisher arranged for a meeting in Oxford while Sendak was in England touring for the U.K. release of “Wild Things.” The day before their meeting, Sendak suffered his first major heart attack. He was 39. Sendak spent several weeks recovering in a hospital in Birmingham. He never met with Tolkien, and the project was abandoned.

I find this tale of the ignorant “editor” a little far-fetched; the article doesn’t name the publisher, but just says “the American publisher,” which is presumably Houghton Mifflin. Either the “editor” who labeled the drawings wasn’t familiar with the book (unlikely), or looked at Sendak’s drawings and thought they were of hobbits rather than elves and didn’t bother to check (a bit more likely). It also seems reasonable to think it might have been some random person at the company or Sendak himself who mislabeled the drawings.

In any case, I’m not sorry the project didn’t go through. In the sample drawing at the article, Bilbo looks OK, but Gandalf looks about as tall as Bilbo and a bit too Wild-Thingy for me. As my seven-year-old son might say, “That’s boring to my taste.” Gandalf supplies the drama, the not-your-usual-afternoon-tea part of the pastoral Hobbiton scene. If he looks like a dwarf in a long cloak, where’s the adventure in that?

Via Neatorama.

He’s Got Guts and He’s Not Afraid to Use ‘Em

Filed under:Cool,Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on March 15, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

This is pure truth-to-BS awesome:

I interrupt and say “So, your response is that you feel that spending our tax dollars on illegal immigrants is a priority for you in the midst of the fiscal crisis, correct? Thank you for your honesty, sir.” and I turned and walked away for the microphone, as he sputters to answer.

Go read the whole story, because that’s not even the best part, or the end.

What Could Go Wrong?

Filed under:Politics,Television — posted by Anwyn on March 10, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

Julianne Moore to play Sarah Palin in HBO movie penned by Evil Nerd Nemesis actor Danny Strong.

With Apologies to Schoolhouse Rock

Filed under:Jerks,Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn @ 10:04 am

I’m just a bill; yes I’m only a bill,
But if they vote for me on Capitol Hill,
Well, then, the protesters there will go completely insane.
They’ll lock the doors and enter through the window pane
And try to keep me from becoming law–
How I hope and pray that I will,
But today, I am still just a bill.

Wretched Hive

Filed under:Heh,Movies — posted by Anwyn on February 16, 2011 @ 8:23 am

The little bee is a nice touch.

Comair Crash Case Ruling

Filed under:People in Court,Sad — posted by Anwyn on February 11, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

Apparently this lawsuit against Comair for the 2006 crash was the only one not already settled. The judge ruled out punitive damages but called the pilots’ conduct “reprehensible,” which is actually a factor the U.S. Supreme Court has directed be taken into account when calculating punitive damages in cases that allow them.

Do careless mistakes, though bearing horrible results, qualify as “reprehensible conduct?”

The court awarded just over $7 million to the killed passenger’s family–his wife and two daughters.

Bird v. Snake

Filed under:Cool — posted by Anwyn on February 10, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

Not the kind of bird or kind of snake you’d expect.

Awesome photo. I think there’s even a scowl on the little birdy face.

Wonder Why I Don’t Want to Do Business with the RNC

Filed under:Not Cool,Politics — posted by Anwyn on February 9, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

It isn’t just their telephone manners.

She’s a Lady, and Also a Criminal and Maybe a Bad Lawyer. Or a Really Bad Judge.

Filed under:Law School,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on February 7, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

I’m in law school now, and I haven’t had nearly as much to say about it on this here blog as I thought I would have. I hope to change that, but meantime, one general observation that has made a big impression: Remember when all general pronouns were male? “So the owner, whoever he may be, must take responsibility for keeping the fences in repair.” “Anybody who wants it can have the old couch, provided he will come pick it up.” Or if you wanted to get fancy, usually in writing, you could use the cumbersome “he or she” or “his or her.” “A parent must pick up his or her child by 3:00 each day.”

But people made a fuss, because it’s easier to type one pronoun instead of two pronouns and a conjunction, and it’s sure as hell a lot easier to SAY only one pronoun, so that’s what most people did, so people, womyn and otherwise, fussed. I never really have been in an environment where people took the fussin’ seriously, though. Until now.

Law professors and law textbook authors are very conscientious about this. One of my professors uses at least 90% female general pronouns; the rest, as far as my unscientific observation extends, do a more equitable split. The law books are 50/50ish as well. And I’ve discovered the downside: Sure, ladies, we’re now the doctors and lawyers and federal judges. We’re also the criminals, thugs, overbearing cops, and really bad attorneys being sued for malpractice.

Men used to pay for being the pronoun of general use by being ALL the pronouns of general use, whether somebody was talking about an upstanding homeowner or a nasty loan shark. Innocent victim or accused heinous criminal. Awesome attorney or lousy lawyer. I find it gives me the twinges when my criminal procedure professor talks about a horrible crime in terms of what the accused told the police: “And she asked for a lawyer, but not till after she confessed.” Ugh.

I prefer the old way. We all knew it could most likely just as easily be a she as a he, but we didn’t have to hear females discussed as criminals and screwups in cold blood. Darn you, fussin’ feminists.

Republican National Committee: Sigh

Filed under:Not Cool,Politics — posted by Anwyn @ 7:13 pm

All last week there were calls from an “unavailable” number that I didn’t recognize. Some I ignored; some I picked up but didn’t speak first–the machine was smart enough to hang up on me in those cases. Friday night I finally decided to talk to whoever it was to make them stop.

It was the Republican National Committee.

I told the woman at least three times that I would not be making a commitment over the phone, that I knew perfectly well where the website was and how to donate to them. I hope they pay her what she’s worth, because as an attack-caller she’s worth her weight in gold. She was perfectly polite but totally aggressive and untiring. I didn’t hang up on her partly because I’m usually a little too nice to do that and partly because I was sitting there in sheer amazement wondering how many times she would continue speaking after I told her, in increasingly bitchy terms, that I would not be making a pledge over the phone.

Tonight they called back. I had to get frosty with a totally different type of caller, one who was clearly out of her depth and didn’t deserve to be yelled at because it’s obviously not her policy to make repeated calls to people who refuse to pledge over the phone. But she was hapless enough to admit that that is their policy–to call people back who do not donate over the phone. Right–not only did talking to them once not make them stop, but they actually take a refusal as incentive to keep hounding you. I said to her, “Because that will win people over? I think I’m actually going to have to ask you to remove me from the phone list now, which is really a shame. The policy of continuing to call people who refuse is bizarre.” She agreed with me that it was bizarre and said that I would continue to get mailers, just not phone calls. I said, “That’s good, because I don’t want to cut ties to the national party, I just do not want repeated phone calls.”

She said she understood. It’s too bad that her party, which purports to be the one that actually does understand the incentives that drive human beings to take certain actions, does not. Bleah.

I Do Not Forget

Filed under:9/11 — posted by Anwyn on September 11, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

Never forget, and figure out how you’re going to explain the memory.

The Tailor

Filed under:Fiction,Religion — posted by Anwyn on June 28, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

It’s a working shop. No flash. No effort at decorating or slickness. The clothes hang all around, in various states of chalk mark and straight pin, claim sheets attached and the day’s work moved to the convenient end of the clothes bar nearest the primary sewing machine.

I am Thine, O Lord; I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me.
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

The sign above the door, one down the row from the convenience store, says, “Lee’s Custom Tailors.” There are in fact no tailors in the shop apart from Mr. Lee himself. I walk in with an armful of clothes, ringing the bell hanging from the door bar; he looks at me quizzically, waiting for me to explain myself so that he doesn’t have to bring out his small but serviceable stock of English. When I hesitate, he gestures to my arm. “What you have?”

“Oh. Pants, a suit, and a dress.”

The next gesture is to the dressing room, one of two cubbies built against the wall and covered by a length of cotton print hanging from an old spring rod. Dust covers the Stick-Up air freshener. People must sweat when trying on clothes, or maybe the sheer number of them is no match for the limited atmosphere of the shop. “Go ahead.”

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine.
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

I hear the sewing machine hum. Evidence of the obviously busy shop aside, I am depressed. Who would make a living sewing? I gloomily put on my first piece of maladjusted clothing. Poor Mr. Lee. Wonder how long he’s been in America.

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend–
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

I emerge looking sheepish, as I always look when I put on clothes other than what I wore on purpose that day. Mr. Lee looks me over, yanks the pants up by the waist to make sure I’m not wasting his time, that they really do need to be shortened, then gets down to the floor to turn them under. He looks at me in the mirror. “Yes?”

“Maybe just a little shorter?” I suggest.

“What? Shorter? No, no.” He gestures.


This is Oregon; the pants will get wet, daily, if they are even an eighth of an inch too long, but Mr. Lee has hemmed my pants before. He’s the pro. He untwists my hips so he can measure accurately with his little chalk stand.

Back into the dressing room. Next misfit piece. I hear something besides the sewing machine. Mr. Lee is whistling. I recognize the tune.

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

(Written in February. Posted now.)

I Love My Blog

Filed under:Blogging — posted by Anwyn @ 10:11 pm

Lack of posting is more to do with a consuming offline life. I’m at a crossroads and trying to figure out which way to go. Once I do, I’ll have a lot to say about whatever route I pick. Meanwhile, some unrelated (to that or to each other) lines:

This here blog is a must-read for anybody who loves TV: The Masked Scheduler.

I fired up a movie I TiVo’d a few weeks ago, The Ladykillers, thinking it was an old one, only to realize by the lighting and the stylization that it is Coen Brothers, 2004. Favorite part so far: Black gospel preacher “…and the Lord smote them. Y’all know what smote is? … It is GOING UPSIDE THE HEAD, because sometimes, brothers and sisters, that is the ONLY WAY.”

Leaving for Indiana tomorrow for a couple of weeks. It’s gonna be hot.

I can’t wait to take a photography class.

That is pretty much all, except that of Portland beers, I recommend Bridgeport IPA and find Full Sail Amber to be “meh.”

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace