May 22

GlenGreenDotCom’s 11th Anniversary

Hello and welcome to the new face of GlenGreen.com.

The facelift is in celebration of this site’s 11th anniversary, since Glen Green Dot Com made its debut on May 22nd, 2001.

And while this revamped website gets established, I encourage you to peruse the legacy site here at http://Legacy.GlenGreen.com .

So, raise your glass and join me in this cheer: Happy Anniversary! – And with luck, we’ll have many more years ahead of us.

Glen Green's legacy website home page from May 22, 2012

Glen Green's legacy website home page from May 22, 2012

Apr 08

Oft hope is born when all is forlorn

The Fellowship of the Ring

I’ve seen the Lord of the Rings > The Fellowship of the Ring for the sixth time. I was driven to see the movie this last time, in large part due to the four minute trailer for the Two Towers that has been added at the end.

The following passages assumes you have seen or are familiar with The Fellowship of the Rings and includes spoilers.

The first time I saw the movie I was rather under whelmed. But I’ve grown to like the movie an awful lot. It is a flawed movie, but that shouldn’t be too surprising given it has tremendous scope. And the ways in which this movie could have failed, far and away outnumber the ways in which it could be made to work. Perhaps that is too general of a statement, a statement that would be true of many movies and many things. I only mean to imply that, given the breadth, depth and complexity of The Lord of the Rings, it was highly improbable that the movie would work. And yet it does. That being said, it is more than noteworthy that the movie has a distinctly different feel than much of the book and takes great liberties with the original source. In no way do I feel that the movie is more enjoyable than the book. It is a very good movie that echoes much of the book. I feel bad for people who saw the movie before (or instead of) reading the book.

Here are some random thoughts on the movie:

Gandalf suffered from the Worf phenomenon. (Two Towers Spoiler Alert in this paragraph, skip if if you don’t want anything about The Two Towers spoiled for you.)

Worf was the Klingon, security officer from the Next Generation Star Trek. Worf was suppose to be a scary bad ass, tough guy. But in an attempt to prove how scary any given alien was, that alien was shown kicking Worf’s ass. After a while, you never actually saw Worf do anything tough, you only saw him getting beat up.

Similarly, Gandalf is shown getting his ass kicked or failing in almost every conceivable way in this first movie.

  • Gandalf is shown old and klutzy, he bangs his head twice in Bags End.
  • Saruman is literally show wiping the floor with him.
  • Unlike in the book, Frodo solves the riddle of the doors of Moira, Gandalf doesn’t even get to look clever.
  • Gandalf is no where to be seen during the fight against the watcher in the water.
  • Gandalf is not shown actually killing anything in the Balin’s tomb scene.
  • Gandalf is shown fighting and at least partially defeating the Balrog but is then shown simply slipping over the edge instead of being pulled directly into the abyss by the Balrog.

Now the reason Peter Jackson did this is almost certainly to juxtapose Gandalf the Gray from Gandalf the White. But it wasn’t necessary. It should be relatively easy to show the strength of Gandalf the White without making the Gray look inept. Hence: the Worf phenomenon.

Many people have raved about Ian McKellen’s role as Gandalf. It has taken me several viewings before I’ve come to appreciate it. I suspect that I wasn’t doing a very good job of viewing McKellen’s acting outside of the wimpy characterization of Gandalf.

But the highlight of his acting can be found in the scene were Gandalf and Frodo discuss Gollum and the “Pity of Bilbo” in Moria.

Although Elijah Wood who played Frodo wasn’t exactly bad, he wasn’t exactly good. His acting didn’t keep me from enjoying the movie but his characterization of Frodo was rather “simpering”. Some of this might not be Mr. Woods fault, because Frodo seemed to have much of his strength of character watered down in the screenplay. The most notable of these disappointments included Frodo quickly cowering from the Ring Wraiths on Weahtertop, Arwen standing against the Ring Wraiths at the Ford of Bruinen instead of Frodo and his being “let go” by Aragorn even as the Fellowship was being attacked by Orcs. By removing these acts of bravery and will power, Frodo’s eventual loss of control will be significantly impacted. Ah well, at least Frodo got to be more clever than Gandalf at the doors to Moria (sigh).

Viggo Mortenson (Aragorn) and Sean Bean (Borimer) are my hands down favorites in the movie. Aragorn is shown with a kingly demeanor and Borimer as a complicated, tempted but ultimately good man. I found I was virtually spellbound when either was the center of attention. Their scenes together are probably the best in the entire movie. Of course, unlike in the book, Aragorn is shown as less than decisive about his mantel of leadership but it seems a forgivable alteration.

Orlando Bloom (Legolas) does a great job at the very difficult task of playing an ageless, ethereal Elvin prince.

Gimli is adequately played by John Rys-davies. The two things I didn’t like about Gimi were his plastic looking makeup and the line, “No one tosses a Dwarf!”. (I can here Tolkien spinning now).

Samwise Gamgee is played rather poorly half the time and very well the other half. Strangely, Sean Astin never seemed to get the more “yokel” characteristics of Sam down very well. While on the other hand he did a very nice job playing the stout, straight and narrow, ‘hope personified’ aspects of Sam. I simply love the scene at the end of the Fellowship were Sam and Frodo are surveying Morder as Frodo comments that they aren’t likely to ever see the others again. Sam looks at him with this wonderful expression and says, “We might yet Mr. Frodo, we might…”

Most of us could use a little more Sam Gamgee in us.

Merry Brandibuck (Dominic Monaghan) and Peregrin Took (Billy Boyd) are played for too may laughs, they are ninety percent of the comic relief. Their acting is the most cartoonish but they both still seem to have some presence that makes you care for them. One of my least favorite scenes in the movie is at the end of the Council of Elrond where Merry and Pippin race into the council and announce that they want to join this “quest, mission, thing…”

(Tolkien is on spin cycle at this point) while the music swells pompously as Elrond (Hugo Weaving) pretentiously announces, “You are the Fellowship of the Ring”.

The council of Elrond in general failed to capture much of the important back story and robbed many of the characters of their motivation. Why was Legolas there? Gimli? Borimer? It was also a shame that Merry and Pippin joined the Fellowship in such an obnoxious way.

The Balrog was cool. Okay, he was hot. What a great depiction of “fire and shadow”. Still, it is a shame that future readers of the book who see the movie first are likely to have their own imaginations hijacked by the movie Balrog. Tolkien purposefully kept the details to a minimum any may places appealing to the imagination through evocative atmosphere instead.

There are hundreds of other details that I won’t go into now but overall the movie captured much that is good in the book and has been the most enjoyable film I’ve seen in some time.

Apr 03

Roger, Roger. What’s our vector, Victor?

This is Your Captain Speaking…

You’re at the airport. You go through extensive “security”. You board the multi million dollar jet that must function flawlessly under extremes of speed, temperature and altitude so that you, your fellow travelers and countless people on the ground are not injured. You sit back in your seat in this modern day marvel of engineering as the captain activates the intercom to relay some important information to the passengers. “Crkkkkk, myrpilet smekin, thr sms tob tcnikl prblm wi trblnc u ma shl bckl yr seet blt.”

They can make a multi ton tube of metal hurtle through the stratosphere at 400 miles per hour but they can’t make the speakers work. – My car has speakers that work!

Does this ever give anyone else pause?

Apr 02

Terror

Terror, terror, who’s got the terror?

Have you noticed that terror is the new catch phrase being used to justify all means of inhumanity, (censorship and invasion of privacy)?

How is the US defining terror? How is the US defining its policy towards terror?

Are suicide bombings against civilians terror? Hasn’t President Bush’s doctrine on global terror stated, ‘that any nation or group that harbors a terrorist will be regarded as a terrorist and potentially subject to U.S. reprisals?’

And yet…

From Major Garrett – CNN Washington Bureau – April 1, 2002:

When asked why Arafat, whom he has repeatedly said could do more to stop terror against Israel, does not qualify as a terrorist under the Bush Doctrine, the president said:

“Chairman Arafat has agreed to a peace process. He’s agreed to the Tenet [security] plan. He’s agreed to the Mitchell plan. He has negotiated with parties as to how to achieve peace.”

Fleischer added further context, rejecting the Israeli contention that Arafat is no different from the Taliban or al Qaeda.

The situation in the Middle East is indeed different,” Fleischer said. “What makes it different is the fact that you have parties who themselves have agreed together to the Tenet accords, to the Mitchell [peace] accords, which all follows the Oslo peace process.”

Hmmm… So, if a “state” (or leader) is willing to talk about Peace (for 35 years) than they are allowed to use suicide bombings?

We have hypocrisy and Orwellian spin all around…

In an informal (and unscientific) online CNN news poll, 60% of the people didn’t think that the US should be involved in resolving the conflict in the middle east.

Like it or not my fellow Americans, we are VERY much involved in the conflict and we choose not to help in its resolution than we will reap an evil reward.

The Israelis are doing evil things, the Palestinians are doing evil things, the US is enabling both groups but particularly the Israelis. Israel would not exist if it wasn’t for US backing. I’d read years ago (in National Geographic) that Israel derives something like 70% of its economy from its relationship with the US. -Not to mention the discounted weapons we provide Israel.

Now both the Israelis and the Palestinians are using the words “terror” and “terrorism” to define the actions of the other. The Palestinians sacrifice their young because they have little recourse to the Israelis’ (American purchased) tanks. The Palestinians justify this murder with religious zeal and the imagined hope of a paradise and 72 virgins for their Martyrs.

The Israelis treat the Palestinians as little less than human in a manner that should remind even the densest of us of the way Jews were treated by Germans pre World War 2. Ghettos and torture are Israeli state policy. And by many accounts the Israelis also murder civilians (and not just as “unfortunate collateral damage”).- Irony knows no bounds.

The US is involved because of a magic, three letter word: O-i-l. If America wasn’t concerned with oil it would let Israel flatten the Palestinians. But we are concerned about reprisals from other Arab nations – all of which are playing their own games as well.

So again, if a “state” (or leader) is willing to talk about Peace (for 35 years) than they are allowed to use suicide bombings?

-We (the US) review and change our policy regarding terrorism if it will impact our access to oil.

I’m not under the illusion that this ancient hatred will easily be abolished but we must wake up to the realization that as long as we continue to back Israel that we are already involved. If we don’t want the conflict to land on our front door someday we must strive to see it resolved. Americans aren’t mustache twirling villains, but we often stomp around in foreign policy with all of the subtlety of a large Monster Truck show. Of course to be fair, other nations point fingers at our attempts at foreign policy while making no serious efforts themselves. But alas, we are accountable for our own nation’s actions.

Lastly, we need to start thinking of defense as more than just bullets and missiles. We spent hundreds of billions of dollars during the gulf war. We are already gearing up to spend hundreds of billions more in the middle east. And yet we chaff at investing in alternate energy resources. We should approach establishing alternate, renewable energy resources as the equivalent of a war effort.

We will reap what we sow.

Apr 01

The Goblet of Fire

Mr. Potter…

I finished the fourth Harry Potter book – The Goblet of Fire last night. Since last summer I’ve read all of the books and quite enjoyed them. But this fourth book has been the best since The Sorcerer (Philosopher’s) Stone. They are obviously aimed for younger readers but that said, the fourth (and latest) book had some darker undertones that made it more engaging than the previous two. I recommend the books. They’re fun.

Mar 20

Spring – Sprung

At 2:16pm, Eastern Standard Time, spring – sprung.

It also happens that this morning I noticed new, green buds on a tree outside my balcony for the first time this year.

And it’s raining. – All very appropriate for Spring.

It use to be that Spring was my least favorite time of the year due to the exceptional amount of rain. Spring also use to seem like a tease, one day it would be warm and maybe even sunny and the next it would be cold and raining again. But more and more spring reminds me that Summer is coming. (And for me, it always feels like Summer my mid to late May, even if it is still technically Spring.)

I love summer, it’s is easily my favorite time of the year and the least gray and overcast. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good moody, overcast day on occasion but Pittsburgh seems to have more than it’s fair share. And by the time Spring comes, I’m more than ready for the world to have some color in it again.

Unfortunately the day also started with three idiots.

Idiot number 1:

Driving slow in the fast lane, the moron almost made me miss my turn on my drive to work.

Idiot number 2:

As I put my turn signal on to turn into the parking lot this morning I noticed another car coming from the opposite direction with no turn signal. This morning cuts me off, without a turn signal and pulls in ahead of me.

Idiot number 3:

As I’m waiting in line to catch my shuttle into work I notice a smoker standing in front of me. As the shuttle pulls up this moron tosses her cigarette into a drain even though she is not two feet away from a trash can!*
I made sure that I spritzed her with my umbrella as I shook it off onto her.

*Note: One should never throw their trash onto the ground, and that certainly means cigarettes. Not being near a trash can is not an excuse. However, being near a trash can and littering makes an ignorant, moronic behavior, ten fold more ignorant and more moronic.

Mar 15

Not Soon Enough

The Ides of March.

It’s 70 degrees. My porch door is open. Spring can not come soon enough.

Mar 08

Computer Weary

Upgrades Can Be Downgrading

I’ve been burned out on computers for several weeks now. During the new year I added a new printer that acted like a virus and really messed my system for awhile.

Since I had to fix many printer related problems I took the opportunity to upgrade my system from 8.6 to 9.2. This upgrade did not go handily, in fact I’m still not done. The differences between system 8.6 and 9.2 are pretty fundamental and have meant that I’ve needed to upgrade most of my considerable stockpile of software as well. – I dread the idea of upgrading to OS X at this point.

My computer exhaustion was also worsened by problems I discovered on the (private) Friends and Family portion of this site after I’d spent many hours adding a new section to it.

All of this upgrading and trouble shooting has made me particularly computer weary as of late and I haven’t even been turning my computer on at nights, let alone updating my site. (Keep in mind that I also sit in front of a PeeCee eight hours a day, that alone is enough to make anyone sick of technology.)

Feb 06

Dispirit of Justice

Ash-hole Cash-hole

This is like shooting fish in a barrel, but in case you missed it: from AP – WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2002:

“(CBS) No longer will the attorney general be photographed in front of two partially nude statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice.

The department spent $8,000 on blue drapes that hide the two giant, aluminum art deco statues.

Attorney General John Ashcroft in front Spirit of Justice statueABC News reported that Ashcroft ordered the statues covered because he didn’t like being photographed in front of them.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Ashcroft has been photographed several times in front of the female statue that represents the Spirit of Justice. The statue has its arms raised and a toga draped over its body, but a single breast is completely exposed.

The other statue, of a man with a cloth covering his midsection, is called the Majesty of Law.

Both statues were installed in the 1930s when the building was finished, according to the Justice Department.”

Ladies and Gentleman, our attorney General at work.

Feb 02

02-02-02 The Number of the Beast

Happy Ground Hogs Day everyone.

Today also happens to be 02-02-02. I’m sure that numerologists are having a hay day with today’s date. Our primate brains are great at noticing patterns but unfortunately we also tend to try and make meaning out of those patterns where there is no meaning. Still, 02-02-02 looks neat. And it is a good day to pull large rodents out of their holes and hold them up to the light to prophesy the weather.Puxatony Phil Groundhog, February 02, 2012

Jan 12

A Passing Private Note for Friends and Family

Today is a very great day. To find out why, click here to read the Friends and Family News. (Password required).

Jan 07

Look Ma! No Cavities – I Mean, Banners!

Behold! No banner ads! That’s right, I laid down 15 buckoroos so that you – my faithful viewer aren’t troubled by distracting ads at the bottom and top of my Web pages. That’s ‘Glen Green Dot Com’ for you.

Jan 06

Under Construction – In Perpetuity

Almost any good Web site should be considered to be constantly under construction and so no apologies should be made. However, I feel that I must make some apologies for the extensive construction to be found here. As I migrate over my old content, viewers are likely to find an occasional dead or not yet active link. Please bear with me.

Jan 05

Welcome – 2002

2002 – Welcome.

Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

– JRR Tolkien

The Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings

I’d have to say that I’m rather pleased with my choice of quote on several levels.

On the surface, the quote is appropriate given my obsessive fandom of my all time favorite book – The Lord of the Rings, from whence the quote came. Given my track record of loving the book and the recent Fellowship of the Ring, first installment the quote isn’t a surprise choice.

But perhaps more importantly the quote is about hope. And hope is just something that we can’t ever get enough of and a new year is as good as a time as any to remember that.

It can be faint sometimes, but I still have hope for humanity.

“For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

 

Glen Green Dot Com - World View as it first appeared in January of 2002.

Glen Green Dot Com – World View as it first appeared in January of 2002.

Dec 17

Credit Where Credit is Due

I originally credited Ron Edwards for much of the inspiration for publishing a Web site. I now need to credit Teddy Carroll* for much of the inspiration for improving my Web site. I intend to take some direct cues from Teddy, such as a note on the book(s) I’m reading, the music I’m listening and the movies I’m watching.

One of the tricks I’m still trying to solve relates to how much content I should make public and how much I should password protect. My general litmus test is, ‘What would I not want a con man to know about me or my friends?” I’m open to suggestions on the matter.

[important]* Sadly, since this essay was first published in 2001, Teddy’s site has gone the way of the dodo. A loss, I can assure you. [/important]

Dec 16

The First Redesign

I’m going to try and rework this site a bit. When I first laid it out I put zero thought into structure or design. But since I have done a fairly faithful job of updating the site I’ve decided to try and tweak the site to make it a bit less sloppy. I still don’t intend to worry about aesthetics too much but I hope that the informational structure will be improved.

During this reconstruction the majority of the site will be down. Hopefully I can update it by small but sure measures.

Clicking on “Friends & Family News” at the top will still ask you for the same password. After it has been entered you will be directed to the “Friends & Family News” page.

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