End of the movie year

I’ve seen a few top movies lists lately, what with the close of both the year and the decade. I’m thinking about amending my Top Films of the Past Seven Centuries but don’t have much to add right now, except “City of God”, which I saw a few years back and am occasionally reminded of how good it is. (We haven’t watched many new films in the last couple of years, and even fewer that hit all their notes.) Another candidate might be “Tropic Thunder”. And maybe the “The Darjeeling Limited” and “District 9”. I’ll have to watch those again and see they have “re-watch value,” as James Rolfe of Cinemassacre would say. Movies need to marinate a little before going on the the list.

Lore and I recently revisited the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. All three movies are impressive and entertaining, but I can’t put my finger on why they haven’t become as immortal as the “Star Wars” saga. Perhaps it’s because they were adapted from familiar books and something was lost in the transfer. Frodo Baggins is a boring character who is sufferable in print, but watching Elijah Wood act for nine hours like he’s been kicked in the nuts can be a little tedious. On the other hand, I can’t get enough of Ian McKellan growling “Fool of a Took!”

My brother suggested to me last year that because movies are now made for very specific audiences, it’s unlikely for a film, even a really popular one, to stay relevant across generations. We can’t imagine “Titanic” or even “Lord of the Rings” being as popular with future 20-somethings as they were with their original fans.

Blast off

So far, every winter I’ve lived in Iowa has been horribly frigid, and this one is off to a typical start. I suspect it’s the price for those tame summers we’ve had.

We’re getting our first really icy blast this weekend. The “blizzard” didn’t bring much snow—it barely covers the grass—but man is it cold. It’s about 9 degrees but the sun is poking out now, so maybe it will warm up to about 12. Then there is the wind, forecast for 25 to 30 miles per hour.

State of the blog

It seems I have not written much since our trip to Europe. After long, busy trips like that, it takes a while to get my journal typed up, and the photos uploaded and captioned. I was ready to take a little break when I finished with that, but I’ve barely been back to writing and I don’t know why.

I’ve been at this for a while, so it’s fun to go back and read older posts. When I started blogging (on LiveJournal) it was more of a “I did this today” kind of thing. I bet that’s how most people start out. The last few years, as I’ve become a better writer, the posts have become more like essays.

I’ve delegated some of the functions of this blog to other technologies. I rate movies on Netflix, for example, which helps them recommend movies to me; therefore I’ve become lazier about writing about movies.

I’ve also stopped writing about politics. A year or two ago, I toyed with idea of making this blog more focused and involved in online political discussion. But I realized that the Web is already clogged with people carelessly spouting off their opinions and not listening to anyone else. I doubt I have much to add.

Facebook provides a more sequestered platform for the routine updates that once populated this space, and are more likely to be read by my friends. Also, I’ve learned the hard way to shy away from committing my immediate thoughts and feelings to the open spaces of the World Wide Web.

Trying to coordinate these various specialized platforms—making the website a hub for my online content—involves much more work than I was putting into this site four years ago. I used to focus my labors on the layout and design; now I have to fuss with the function.

In many ways WordPress 3.0 is a very good blogging platform. The developers focus on the core functions of writing and organizing of posts and comments, and that stuff works really well. The rest depends on plug-ins and themes to extend function and design, some of which is a little too wonky and technical for me. I have mostly failed at these efforts. (WordPress’s new system of modifying themes is particularly difficult). The result is a less interesting-looking site with dwindling content.

I’m not sure if I’m complaining or just self-critiquing. I’ve heard blogging is being made obsolete by more proprietary social media. I don’t think it has to be so. There’s always a place for the individual creative voice. It might be time to get back to some of the basics, to make it fun again.