10 Best Scenes from Lord of the Rings: #6

10 Best Scenes from Lord of the Rings: #6
CaveTroll_2Click to view video

6. Killing the cave troll. What sets this fight apart from all the others in the trilogy is Peter Jackson’s decision to make the troll a sympathetic enemy. Even though you know the troll has to die, you feel sorry for it, knowing it’s no more than a slave the orcs have abused and forced to do their dirty work. The Foley techniques used for the troll’s howls both pre and post its mortal wounding are crucial to making this the highlight of the first film for me. The scene also features Legolas’s first acrobatic move (running up the chain), some well-delivered lines from Sean Bean (“They have a cave troll!”) and John Rhys-Davies (“Let them come. There is one Dwarf yet in Moria who still draws breath!”), and the hobbits realizing they have to fight and kill to stay alive.

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10 Best Scenes From Lord of the Rings: #7

10 Best Scenes From Lord of the Rings: #7
Click to view video.

Galadriel_28.gif#7. Galadriel refuses the ring. There are few stories where a major character is an inanimate object, and the One Ring in Lord of the Rings is possibly the best. There are many very good moments of characters either refusing the ring or trying to claim it. Cate Blanchett’s performance as Galadriel, however, is spectacular. This video includes the entire scene at the Mirror of Galadriel with Frodo, with her key moment beginning at about 2:57.

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Plotting and Re-plotting

Plotting and Re-plotting

Sequels are deliciously difficult to write. I should know. I’ve attempted a handful, ranging from articles to short stories to novels.

The first story, for me, usually forms with a specific beginning and ending in mind and a general plot follows in short order. This leads to a unique character or two fully developed by the time I’ve written the introduction, and I often have the first draft of the climax completed before the main character has embarked on his or her journey. J.K. Rowling did this with her Harry Potter series (i.e., the climax of Book 7 was written long before Book 1 was complete).

The problem I find with writing sequels is not only uncovering the basic plot–which needs to not simply repeat the previous story, yet somehow compliment and continue it–but discovering how the characters can further grow as well as develop a convincing reason to continue the story.

Jay thinking hardIn my current attempt, all I had was a villain from the first story who I didn’t kill off and a title that was a nice variation on the original. I began my research (which has included Irish, Navajo, Chinese, and Central American mythology as well as the history of ancient Ireland and Teotihuacan) and ended up with way too much information, all of which I’ve tried to shove into the story. This has left me with messy lump of unshaped clay.

It’s a wonderful thing to have patient editors who aren’t afraid to tell me something doesn’t make sense, is too much, or simply sucks. Their advice has led me to reorder chapters, take a part of one chapter and move it elsewhere, drop entire sections, or write something new. Inconsistencies develop as old ideas linger, forcing more rewrites. It’s a fun challenge to overcome requiring a steady supply of caffeine.

Slowly, the story reshaped itself into a coherent plot with a definite ending point and, in the past month, I’m hoping this new sequel stands on its own. Of course, this doesn’t mean the problems suddenly end. The plot’s coherence only lasted to the two-thirds point; I know where it needs to end, but no idea of how to get there in a logical manner. Have I boxed myself in by dumping too much research? Should the plot have turned left when I thought right was the correct direction? Somebody get me another cup of coffee!

thinking 2It’s almost like being back at square one: sorting through my research to glean what I can, re-reading to pick up threads I’ve forgotten that need to be carried through, and making sense of my recent plot twist (which I’m too proud of to want to change! LOL!).

On top of this, I have to make a living. Ugh! Why does something so mundane get in the way of the fun things in life? Maybe I should’ve ordered a venti caramel frappuccino instead of another refill of drip (no room for cream, please!).


Forgotten Bands of the 1970s: Slade

Forgotten Bands of the 1970s: Slade

If you’re in the UK or Europe, you’re probably wondering what the heck Slade is doing here. If you’re from the US, however, you can consider yourself knowledgeable if you know their two monster hits from the early 1980s, Run Runaway and My Oh My. What Slade are best known for in the US, however, is being the band who were the original artists for Quiet Riot’s two metal classics, Cum On Feel the Noize and Mama Weer All Crazee Now.

slade.jpgIn the early 1970s, Slade were the UK’s biggest glam band everywhere but the US. According to Wiki, they had 17 straight Top 20 hits and six number one singles, not to mention a lot of goofy misspellings! In the US, we were pretty much limited to one album: Sladest, a collection of most of their hits up to 1973, although we were also limited to 10 tracks. It wasn’t until the CD was released with the full UK album that I learned the US had been cheated of another four songs!

The album opens up with the aforementioned Cum On Feel the Noize, showing that Quiet Riot’s version was an almost note-for-note copy, albeit a bit heavier. Even Quiet Riot’s singer (Kevin DuBrow) sounds like a copy of Noddy Holder. It also sets the blueprint for much of Slade’s music: having fun in life.

The video below will give you an idea of the band that sold more records in the UK in the 1970s than any other.

The next song, Look Wot You Dun, slows down the tempo, showing that Slade could play more than party songs. A good thing, because the next several songs are nothing but the good time rock n’ roll Slade is most known for, including Gudbuy T’Jane and Skweeze Me Pleeze Me.

The US version including My Friend Stan, but this was left off the UK version for some reason, even though it was a #2 hit. Both versions also leave off Slade’s biggest hit of all, Merry Xmas Everybody, which is to UK Christmas music what White Christmas is to the US. It’s re-entered the charts multiple times in the UK, most recently in 2013.

The album ends with three brilliant rockers in a row that should have even the most adamant of rock hater’s toes tapping: Get Down and Get With It, Look at Last Nite, and Mama Weer All Crazee Now.

The band are still around with lead guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell, but without Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea (the two wrote nearly all of Slade’s songs), it’s not the same. You can learn more about the band’s current activities at their website here.