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Had a lovely Christmas. We now own three copies of 'Firefly'* and two of 'Black Books', which seems like more than we really need.

Saw 'The Hobbit' on Boxing Day. I enjoyed it; I don't think it was quite on a par with LotR, but will be seeing #2 next year.

They made quite a few changes to the story from the book - more than in LotR - and I expect there will be a lot more in #2. In particular, the Necromancer/Dol Guldur plot and related stuff.

A lot of this is in Tolkien anyway; it was mentioned in Silmarillion/Appendices/etc as happening in Mirkwood during the action of Hobbit, so it's not like PJ et al made this up from whole cloth. Plus, it's good to see Christopher Lee again, and while I don't usually notice soundtracks during the movie, it was fun hearing that hint of the Isengard theme... There were some changes to the material - e.g. the Necromancer is presented as a new and unknown threat - but I can see why they might have wanted to make it a more self-contained story instead of having to provide another five minutes of background. Azog: well, they're going to need SOMEBODY to lead the Goblin army in #3.

My main gripes were with the camera work, the excessive "jumping/dodging puzzle" action scenes (see also: King Kong), and the dwarves needing name tags. After seeing it twice, I can name eight of them by sight, as long as Bofur keeps his hat on.

We saw it in 2D and there were a couple of odd spots where perspective seemed to be reversed - characters are walking in a deep valley but it looks as if they're on a high ridge, and a similar optical effect during the Goblin Town chase. IANA expert on such things, but I got the feeling this was made for 3D and not checked to see whether it still worked for us Luddites.

Positives: Martin Freeman is an excellent Bilbo. Erebor is pretty (although Rey was muttering darkly about the geology). Barry Humphries was a great Goblin King. And it was weird looking at Hobbiton as a place I've actually BEEN to, even if it didn't have the gardens back then.

After Boxing Day we took Senior Dog up to my dad's place at Long Beach for a few days. (Junior Dog doesn't like cars, and we thought Senior Dog might enjoy a spell of being Only Dog again.) It was a bit of a nostalgic visit: it's been my parents' holiday home since I was a kid, and has a lot of memories attached. But we've all moved away, so we don't get there often enough to give it the maintenance it needs (had a couple of pest-control scares this time, not including the wee scorpion I found in the bedroom) and this may be the last time I go there.

Still, we had a nice relaxing time there. It was a bit cold for swimming, but I got some work in on my year-long NaNo, and dragged out my old leatherworking gear to make a snazzy red suede sleeve for New Laptop to protect the beautiful Gelaskins made from this diptych. Senior Dog enjoyed his time there, and even managed a staircase for the first time in months. I discovered a trove of #1 Ladies' Detective Agency books and have been scarfing them up. And some time with my father and stepmum, which is always nice.

Now, spending a few quiet days at home trying not to die in our current heat wave, before I go back to work on Monday.

*the TV series, not the Piers Anthony monstrosity.
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