Amy Fox

Writer. Editor. Feminist knitting designer.


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Not quite the same thing: HBO’s Newsroom and my week at work experience

Stay classy.

This week, two significant things have happened to me so far:

1) I finally started work experience at my local paper.

2) I finally started watching HBO’s The Newsroom.

Now, I should point out that by “started watching”, what I mean is I watched all five episodes available so far in just two nights. For some reason, I can’t stand that much TV in a row when I’ve got nothing to do with my time, but going out and having a purpose makes me feel perfectly justified in coming home and doing nothing.

Plus, I need to entertain myself while I finish knitting the tea cosy I promised my aunt and uncle six months ago.

ALMOST THERE.

Anyway, it was only logical that while I am doing journalism again for a week, I should also start watching TV about journalists. You know, as inspiration in case the residents of my town suddenly decide to overthrow their local council and govern themselves in a quaint ex-manufacturing town revolution. Power to the people! If you don’t mow out our publicly-owned grass right, we will mow YOU right! (Note: I am pretty sure this hasn’t happened yet, and that if it did they would have better slogans.)

Despite my optimism, my newsroom and HBO’s portrayal of an American broadcasting newsroom are a little different. While Will informs America on primetime TV that BP has caused the biggest environmental disaster in many years, I inform the local area that a questionnaire is being sent out to pensioners and disabled people asking what they think of their free bus pass. I don’t write about the results, mind you. Just that it’s being sent out and here is how you can have your say.

There are some other key differences: Will gets paid millions; I do this for free (in fact, I am beginning to have nightmares where endless faceless figures chant “It will look great on your CV!” as they dangle a career on a stick in front of me, and I am left eating raw potatoes for all of my adult life). Their team tries to come up with the most accurate and moral way of informing a nation about complex international events; I try to think of puns about woodchipping. The staff in America are caught in a series of complex love triangles and rivalries; we throw grapes at each other across the desks.

(Side note: what is it with America and cute floppy-haired Jims tortured by unrequited love? I keep expecting Steve Carrell to show up and do an inappropriate impression of Gadaffi on national TV.)

Pam, is that you?

Basically, there are highs and lows each way. The point I’m trying to make is that I really enjoy them both so far. I love being at a proper local paper, and I’m actually learning a lot about what makes good news articles. And The Newsroom is also pretty fantastic. Did I mention it has Dev Patel being an adorable nerd? Because it does.

Plus it is well-written and intelligent and saying some cool things about journalism, even though a lot of journalists apparently hated it. But if my life does not end up like Mackenzie MacHale’s, I will just be really sad.

Maybe now that I’ve been spending so much time reading about local council decisions, I will also get around to catching up on Parks and Rec.

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I talk about John Green a lot: a review of Jonathan Safran Foer

I have been struggling for a couple of days to write a blog post about Jonathan Safran Foer’s two novels, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I absolutely loved them both – halfway through reading each, I declared it to be my New Favourite Book, slightly illegitimising my own statement – but when I tried to explain why, I couldn’t.

But, dedicated new blogger that I am, I kept struggling on, determined to share my Safran Foer epiphany with the world in a well-written and structured post which would inspire people to open up a new tab, head straight to Amazon and order them both. But I couldn’t. I should have known that I couldn’t – when trying to explain the book to my housemate a few days before, I had said, “He just – he uses all these – it has all these, like, different ways, you know?” Needless to say, I am far more eloquent on paper (or rather, through screen) than I am out loud, and my housemate was left looking confused, and also amused.

But even through-screen, I couldn’t really get my thoughts across. The literature student took over and I just banged on about “narrative voice”, put the word “about” in quotes (a pretentious habit picked up in a Contemporary Writing class), and reverted to rather dry phrases like “non-traditional methods”. Now, that would all be fine if I was writing an essay about the two books, and I kind of hope one day I’ll get the chance to, because writing essays about things you love ought to be the whole point of writing essays, and often sadly it isn’t. But I was writing a blog post, and kind of boring even myself.

In the end, crippled with post-book sadness and frustrated that I couldn’t accurately portray my mid-book rapture, I just started copying out whole chunks of quotations in the hope that they would do my work for me. Spoilers: this is also not how you write a good review.

And then I just gave up completely and wrote a post about Fifty Shades of Grey for someone else’s blog instead, because it is a whole lot easier to just make fun of all the stupid stuff in the world than it is to write something meaningful. Finally, I decided to just put the review aside and come back to it later, and instead went about my daily life, giving my various siblings lifts to various places, answering emails about Concrete (my university’s student newspaper, which I am editor of and without which this summer I feel bereft of all purpose), and moving on to the next book waiting in the pile – in the form of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

This was also a good book. I mean, it wasn’t Safran Foer good, but it was pretty great. It’s a Kids With Cancer book, but the kids are doing their utmost to avoid the Kids With Cancer stereotypes, and frequently point out that most of those stereotypes are a load of crap. It did really well at portraying Kids With Cancer who were actually just kids who wished they didn’t have cancer any more, because they are too young and it’s not fair and the universe can be kind of terrible. But they were also incredibly funny, and the book made some beautiful observations about life, while acknowledging that life can often kind of suck. I enjoyed it a lot.

And it was talking about The Fault in Our Stars that I finally realised what I wanted to say about Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. My dad asked, as I was around 20 pages from the end and hadn’t moved in a while, probably looking quite distressed, how it was. I told him that it was sad, “but then it is a book about cancer.”

“Oh. So not a comedy then?”

“Actually, it’s really funny. Just not right now. The best sad books are also really funny.”

It was a slightly pretentious-literature-student comment to make (what the hell gives me the right to decide what makes the best sad books? Maybe what makes the best sad books is being sad ALL OF THE TIME, with no humorous respites to remind you of the beauty of life whatsoever) but it made me realise that it was also exactly what I wanted to say about Safran Foer.

Because both his books were also immensely, heart-breakingly sad. The first was about (or maybe “about”) the Holocaust. The second, 9/11. These are not fun topics. Neither, I don’t need to tell you, is cancer. It doesn’t take a literature student, pretentious or otherwise, to make this observation.

But it was the humour of all three books I am writing about which made me love them the most. And it was Safran Foer’s humour which I enjoyed more – the difference between “I really like this sad-funny book” and “this is my New Favourite Book, no really this time, I can’t even put it into words, please just read it and find out for yourself.”

It was all in the language. Everything is Illuminated is narrated – partly – by someone who learned English through a thesaurus (“all of my friends dub me Alex, because that is a more flaccid-to-utter version of my legal name”), while Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is narrated – partly – by a nine-year-old boy who can’t stop inventing (“… or maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of “Yellow Submarine”, which is a song by the Beatles, who I love, because entomology is one of my raisons d’être, which is a French expression that I know.”)

Safran Foer created totally unique and hilarious characters, who were also completely traumatised and deeply sad. But it wasn’t one-minute-you’re-laughing-the-next-you’re-crying. The laughter and the sadness were all mixed up into one, each trying to conceal the other, adding to the other, taking away. I’m getting pretentious again, but I sort of can’t help it. I really loved these books.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, especially, stuck with me. It’s very visual – there are photos and diagrams; two pages of numbers and punctuation as a man who can’t speak tries to communicate what may be a lifetime’s worth of thoughts down the phone to his wife, but we’ll never know; partially-overheard conversations with huge gaps missing in the text; a flip book of a man falling from the World Trade Centre in reverse, so he appears to be flying upwards.

These could easily come across annoying, gimmicky or too Literary (capital L), but I enjoyed them – and they worked just perfectly at their own points in the novel, adding just enough to make it stand out from all the Good Books I’ve read to become Maybe My New Favourite Book. I absolutely adored it, and if I could, I would force everybody I know to read it just so that I could look them in the eye and say “I know, right?”

But then again, I’ll probably change my mind in a couple of weeks.


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Concrete: Police close Climategate case

Police announced yesterday (18 July 2012) that they have closed the investigation into the theft of emails which began the Climategate scandal at UEA in November 2009. No criminal proceedings will be followed, with the breach being described by the Norfolk Constabulary Major Investigation Team as a “sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s [Climate Research Unit’s] data files, carried out remotely via the internet.”

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Julian Gregory, said: “Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.

“The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging … There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

In response to the case’s closure, UEA vice-chancellor Professor Edward Acton said: “We are naturally disappointed that those responsible for this crime have not been caught and brought to justice. We are very grateful to Norfolk Constabulary for their sustained effort over the last two-and-a-half years, and appreciate the difficulty of devoting continued resources to such a complex international investigation. Clearly the perpetrators were highly sophisticated and covered their tracks extremely carefully.

“The misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen emails – including the theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee – did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change. The results of the independent inquiries and recent scientific studies have vindicated our scientists, who have returned to their important task of providing the best possible scientific information on this globally critical issue.”

Meanwhile, Professor Phil Jones, Research Director of the CRU, commented: “I would like to thank the police for their work on this difficult investigation and also for the personal support they offered me. I am obviously disappointed that no-one has been prosecuted for this crime but hope today’s announcement will draw a line under the stressful events of the last two and half years. My colleagues and I remain committed to the research CRU undertakes to illuminate the globally important issue of climate change.”

The investigation, “Operation Cabin”, focused on the unauthorised access of material, an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. However, there is a three-year limit to proceedings after the original offence, meaning that Norfolk Constabulary, in consultation with The Met, were forced to close the case, with the possibility of finding the perpetrator deemed unrealistic.

Independent inquiries into the Climategate emails did not find any evidence of wrongdoing by the CRU scientists.


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The Fifty Shades dilemma: it is all our fault

So something pretty terrible has started happening to me recently, and when I was asked if I wanted to do another guest post for Bad Books Good Times (cheers guys!) I decided that this would be a pretty good chance to get all these confusing emotions out.

By now, I’m pretty sure everyone is sick to death of Fifty Shades of Grey. I am, and I’m not even reading the stupid things, I’m just reading a blog about reading the stupid things (it’s pretty good, you should check it out).

But I have, nobly, been keeping up the good fight anyway. I am a student of literature! There are so many great books in the world! It is basically our responsibility to warn people away from being sucked in by this nightmare. Besides, everyone is acting like erotica has only just been invented. But Mills & Boon has been around for decades, Lady Chatterly’s Lover was first published in 1928, the ancient Greeks weren’t shy about it at all, and there are Paleolithic cave paintings which are positively filthy. So pointing out to everyone you know that EL James doesn’t even write good erotica seems like a pretty decent way to pass the time.

Also, doing dramatic readings for your friends in the middle of a bookshop and watching their horrified reactions is kind of hilarious too.

But I’ve started noticing disastrous consequences. Despite reading a passage aloud in Waterstones during which Ana referred to Christian as “Mr Orgasmic” and my friends promptly vomited everywhere, a few days later I received a Facebook message from one of them, excitedly announcing that she had bought the books (and continued to want to vomit everywhere). It happened again with an entirely different set of friends. One day we were laughing about how Jose totally isn’t Jacob. The next it was “But it only cost me £9 to download all three onto my Kindle! And I kind of got really into them!”

I was appalled.

Instead of dissuading all my friends from falling into the trap, I seemed to be actively pushing them towards it.

Not even Admiral Ackbar could help them now.

There are many articles all over the internet trying to explain why Fifty Shades has become so popular so quickly. Some theories include:

  1. The ebook form which meant it could be bought and read without anyone ever knowing (this may have been true at first, but now the paperbacks are everywhere and no on seems bothered about reading it in public AT ALL).
  2. It is a slower build up than most pornography, so women respond to it better (thank you, internet, for telling women what we want).
  3. It helps to articulate previously unexpressed female fantasies (okay. I am all for women being able to explore their sexuality freely and openly. Obviously, that is not a bad thing. But see above, re: not the invention of erotica. Maybe studying an arts subject at a liberal university makes me totally biased, but come on, this is not the first time female sexuality has ever been discussed. I mean, did no one listen to Rihanna’s S&M? It’s right there in the name, you guys!)
  4. The recession means that cheap, escapist novels are more popular than ever (after all, reading about wealthy businessmen who casually own helicopters certainly makes me feel better about my life!)
  5. The most obvious, and probably the most true: no one will shut up about it.

And it’s this last one that got me thinking. I am absolutely complicit in that reason. I am writing a blog post about it. Right now. That is what I am doing. I am adding to the 88,800,000 results which turn up when you google “why is Fifty Shades of Grey so popular?” Of course my friends went out and bought it! They want to be part of the discussion too! Not being able to talk about Fifty Shades of Grey is probably now an official handicap during conversations at parties. Or at work. Or on the bus.

Plus, making fun of things is hugely entertaining. It’s an easy way to get a laugh, and it indulges that part of you that likes to feel smarter than everybody else (although it just occurred to me that “indulging the dark secret parts of your psyche” is another alleged reason the series is so popular, so if our making fun of it does just that, we are actually proving it’s own intentions true, just not in the way it expected. Balls.)

In conclusion, based on pretty much no evidence at all, the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey is all my fault. It is all of our faults for talking about it in the first place. The more we talk about it, the more the entire phenomenon spreads. The more we retweet jokes by 50 Sheds of Grey, the more people wonder what all the fuss is about. And the more people wonder that, the more it outsells Harry Potter.

I’m not saying we should stop doing those things. Making fun of Fifty Shades of Grey is basically an entire sub-genre of comedy now, one that I don’t really want to give up. There are just so many good jokes to make.

I just hope we can all live with the consequences.

Yes. This is a Fifty Shades cufflink. Whatever point I was trying to make, it has now been made.


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King in the North: the five best things I saw in Yorkshire

In my quest not to be bored this summer, while I wait for various work experience placements to start – I am going to be the best local newspaper intern there ever was – I have not only been catching up on all the pop culture I seem to have missed, but have also been visiting various friends around the country.

Last week, I went to Yorkshire for four days, during which time I visited York, Whitby, Scunthorpe and Westwoodside, a village which is technically in North Lincolnshire. But never mind that.

I saw many things during this journey into the North, many of which included Game of Thrones references. But really, if you go to “the North” and there’s a “Wall” there, what else are you supposed to do?

So, without further ado, here are the five best things I saw in Yorkshire:

1. York wall, which may or may not protect the rest of the country from wildlings and White Walkers.

That is probably the last reference now.

2. Whitby, where Bram Stoker’s Dracula was set. I was kind of expecting Whitby to be the tackiest themed tourist town ever, but in the end it turned out to be quite classy and well thought out. I was sort of disappointed.

It was very pretty though.

3. Some horses sleeping by Whitby Abbey. As I was taking this photo, one of them snored.

It was cute.

4. Some Hebridean sheep. I was going to help shear them, and I already had an entire blog post planned about the future experience. I was going to be so bad at shearing! It was going to be hilarious! There would be posed pictures of me looking useless! All the farmers would probably hate me!

But then it rained so instead I just helped to feed them instead.

I sort of wanted to steal one.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man. Ignore anything anyone says about those other versions, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are probably the two greatest people alive.

I mean, really. I would marry them both.


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Amy watches Lord of the Rings for the first time: The Return of the King

So in case you haven’t been following avidly (and if not, why not?) I recently did a marathon of ALL three Lord of the Rings extended editions. This was the first time I had seen the movies, and I knew surprising little so I thought the obvious thing to do would be to narrate my thoughts on this experience for all of the internet to enjoy (including occasional contribution from my brothers, Harry and Jack, who were also there). For the Return of the King, you join my liveblogging after seven-and-a-half hours, as I begin to lose grip of all time and reality.

19.04 All right, we’ve all recovered for 20 minutes, time to get on and finish this thing. Return of the King! Yeah! New Line Cinema logo! My old friend!

19.05 Opening shot of a maggot and a fishing hook. Going well.

19.06 Hey, this is totally Gollum’s back story! And he has his own male companion! KISS. Or fight. Fine.

19.09 Basically Gollum was always Gollum, even before he was actually Gollum. Boom.

19.11 I enjoyed that Gollum Origin story. That was fun. Now we are back to our good friends Sam and Frodo (Sodo) who are as cute as ever, but there’s already earthquakes and foreboding and so hopefully things will finally start happening.

19.14 The most dated thing about these films seems to be the cheesy opening titles.

Does it remind anyone else of Heartbeat? Or The Vicar of Dibley?

19.15 Meanwhile, the Weasley twins are still smoking their magic weed and are high as kites when Gandalf & Crew arrive. For all we know, they are hallucinating it all. Imagine if the entire final film was just the Weasley twins tripping out, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style? That would be an unexpected but amazing twist.

19.17 Come on Gandalf, is reasoning with Evil Beard really your plan? Although everyone looks upset when Evil Beard suggests that Gandalf knew Sodo would never complete their mission alive. How is that a surprise to ANYBODY? Everything is stupid.

19.21 SNAPE TOTALLY JUST STABBED EVIL BEARD. I did not see that coming this soon. And then he fell on a spike and nobody laughed? That seems unlikely.

I mean it’s just so Sean of the Dead.

19.22 I am glad that the fellowship is already coming back together and stuff is happening though, that is a step in the right direction. But why couldn’t that happen at the end of the last film?

19.23 Also Legolas being drawn into a drinking game with Gimley is kind of hilarious, because Orlando Bloom’s confused elf face still makes me laugh.

19.26 Stryder and Gandalf FINALLY acknowledge their concern that Sodo might not complete the mission alone, but Gandalf’s wizard heart tells him they are okay, so that’ll be fine then.

19.30 Sam has figured out that Gollum is planning to kill them because OBVIOUSLY, and the whole Sodo/Gollum love triangle continues to be cute-with-a-dash-of-psychotic.

19.31 Then Stryder and Strong Female Character are having a moment and blah blah no one really cares about YOUR love triangle.

19.34 Then we learn that a) Gandalf sleeps with his eyes open and b) Fred and/or George is still really stupid and good at creating problems for people when he steals the crystal ball and it tries to kill him.

19.39 Aw no, the Weasley twins are splitting up! That’s no fun for anyone! Now one of them will definitely die.

19.40 Elves are walking slowly in the forest, including Female Character 1. Does anybody still care about Female Character 1? Oh, except now she’s turned around and is ACTUALLY doing something, that makes a nice change. But I’m pretty sure nobody cares about the love triangle. Still.

19.45 Slow-mo epic sword re-forging that requires TWO blacksmiths. YEAH, HIT THAT SWORD. HIT IT MORE.

Why do I find this weirdly homoerotic? Am I that far gone?

19.47 So Gandalf and Fred are visiting Ned Stark’s douchebag father, who is still clutching his dead son’s broken horn and apparently hasn’t moved for the entirety of the last film.

19.50 Gandalf says “return of the king”. NAME OF THE FLIM IN THE FILM. Then he storms out because he all mad that a bunch of kings who didn’t do their job properly aren’t in charge any more, and Ned’s dad doesn’t think it’s too hot an idea to bring them back. Sure, Gandalf. Autocracy never has consequences.

19.55 Okay, I stopped paying attention during the last scene. It had Sodo in it. Let’s just assume there was lots of euphemisms and/or they were making out.

19.58 Gollum has FINALLY led them to the secret way into Mordor which is basically just a wall. (Harry: If only they had some kind of MAGIC ROPE.) Then Frodo wanders off AGAIN because they still haven’t got him a bell, and then the sky explodes. Or something.

20.01 The Bad Guy army goes past, and they look pretty evil, so things are not looking to good for our heroes, but JUST KEEP CLIMBING, you won’t die yet, that would be incredibly lame.

20.05 Meanwhile, Robin Hood totally gives away his own position and has a battle with a bunch of orcs. I’m really not sure whether we’re supposed to be on his side or not. I mean, sure, we don’t want him to be killed by orcs, but is he completely a Good Guy? It would be nice to have a character with SOME moral ambiguity, but he will probably turn out to be fine.

20.08 MEANWHILE, Fred sets off a fire beacon and Gandalf says “Hope is kindled”. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

20.10 But apparently he was right because everyone is on the move and armies are gathering and STUFF IS HAPPENING. Although are they basically all just marching towards Gandalf? Is he in that much trouble? It kind of just looked like he was chilling on a tower. Shouldn’t they be marching towards Mordor and, I dunno, helping Sodo out?

20.12 My brothers inform me that they are going to Gandalf’s tower because that is where the orcs are also going. I completely missed that somehow, but cool, good to know.

20.16 Robin Hood and his dad have more fights and douchefather is all “But WE should have the ring. And I swear we’d never use it. You know, unless we really wanted to.” Then he hallucinates that Ned Stark is there after all. But he’s not. Cue even more daddy issues for Robin Hood.

He will just never be as good as Ned Stark.

20.20 Something happens with Sodo and Gollum, but basically they’re just still travelling a lot.

20.22 George Weasley has joined the Night’s Watch (or something) and has some bonding time (whey) with Robin Hood. And I just referenced three different things at once, none of which were Lord of the Rings.

20.25 Douchefather STILL hates Robin Hood for no discernible reason. Like, what is even his deal anyway? Did he steal from too many rich? Give to too many poor?

20.27 Someone has stolen Sodo’s bread and at first they blame it on Gollum, then Gollum blames it on Sam and everything is terrible. Let’s be honest, we all know who the real culprit probably was.

I can’t believe it took me this long to make a Hunger Games reference.

20.29 Sodo breaking up is genuinely quite sad. Poor Sam! I am hoping that Frodo is doing this to protect him, because if not I’M GOING TO BE MAD.

20.33 Douchefather: “Can you sing, Fred Weasley?” Um. Okay.

20.34 Oh but this is actually kind of moving, with the singing and the riding into battle and the single tear! (Harry: This could be a 90s music video.) Never mind.

20.37 We get distracted talking about 90s music videos for a bit, but then I pay attention just in time for Stryder to look broodingly at a haunted rock. Or something.

20.38 Strong Female Character: “Why shouldn’t George go to war, huh? Fight for those he loves? By George, I mean me.”

20.40 Just when everybody had forgotten about her, Female Character 1 comes back to … be dead? Or in a coma? Or just really sad?

20.41 The evil elf king tells Stryder that someone is going to betray them, but I’m not sure who any more. Then I think he tells Strong Female Character that he doesn’t love her? And steals off into the night with Legolas and Gimley. That is a much better solution to the love triangle.

20.49 Some stuff happens, there are some voiceovers, the three of them wander into the haunted rock which is probably important.

20.50 Despite attempts to leave them behind, Strong Female Character and George Weasley sneak into battle anyway. YEAH, equal rights for women and hobbits! Woo!

20.52 Stryder, Gimley and Legolas are battling ghosts because apparently that will help. I feel like they should have their own awesome triple act name, so let’s just call them the Avengers to get as many pop culture references into this thing as possible.

I assumed that somewhere on the internet, someone would have photoshopped Legolas’ head onto Hawkeye’s body. Or vice versa. BUT NO. Internet, consider this a commission.

20.54 I’m not sure why the Avengers are trying to enlist dead people to help them, or why Legolas thinks shooting arrows at them will help. NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE FIXED WITH ARROWS, LEGOLAS. Although apparently everything CAN be fixed by Stryder’s fancy new sword, and that makes him king of everything.

20.57 Oh, no, avalanche of skulls, never mind. Thankfully the Avengers escape unharmed, making the whole expedition pointless. Except wait! King of the ghosts is going to fight after all, my bad! Whew, what a rollercoaster.

20.59 But Robin Hood is dead! Was he mysteriously killed offscreen, or did I just miss it?

21.00 Harry points out that one of the orcs has a skull on his helmet, names him “General Head-Hat” and everything is hilarious.

Still funny.

21.01 Meanwhile douchefather has lost any sanity he had left, so Gandalf hits him with a stick and now he’s in charge. Nothing in these movies really makes sense to me any more, but I’ll just roll with it. They’re using trebuchets to fire giant rocks, most of which miss their targets. Sweet.

21.05 More fantasy battle scenes! MORE Gandalf wielding his stick like a ninja!

21.07 Giant wolf battering ram thing shows up, it is the end of disc one, and that means it’s time to order Dominos.

21.21 Okay so pizza is here I am typing largely one-handed. I hope that my dedication to this project does not go unnoticed. So. Ghost army has arrived! Unsure how non-corporeal beings will be any use at all, but great.

21.24 Back in the caves, Frodo is lonely and there are spiderwebs everywhere! Spiderman crossover time?

21.26 The magic perfume bottle from ten hours ago is finally back! Basically it is a torch but then Frodo gets trapped in one of the webs, which was actually spun by a giant spider, and not spiderman. Way to be PREDICTABLE, Tolkein.

21.28 A deathmatch between Gollum, Frodo and Gollum finally happens, after three films’ worth of build up. It ends with Gollum/Gollum falling down a hole. Lame. Can’t help feeling that is not actually the end of either Gollum.

21.31 Blonde Elf Lady is back for a dream sequence (I guess?) and I don’t think I’ve mentioned how creepy it is that she keeps talking without moving her lips yet. But it is.

21.32 This pizza is awesome.

21.33 Also, George Weasley and Strong Female Character and wandering round without any form of disguise, but apparently no one has noticed.

Totally blending in.

21.34 Then a flower is symbolic of hope blah blah SYMBOLISM blah.

21.37 And Frodo is stabbed. Again. This time by spiderman. Until SAM ARRIVES with the MAGIC PERFUME apparently now in his possession. Seriously, as if Frodo is the hero, Sam is the only one who gets anything done and avoids BEING STABBED ALL THE TIME.

21.39 AND he kills Spiderman while Frodo just lies there all spider-mummy.

21.40 Sam is the best.

21.41 Orcs show up to explain that Frodo is not dead, just paralysed, and they are going to take him to a tower. Cue SAM IS BETTER THAN EVERYONE rescue mission!

21.42 Also Robin Hood = not dead after all. Douchefather = still all kinds of cray cray and going to burn him anyway.

21.44 Oh no! It seems like Gandalf is about to be killed! If only this wasn’t quite obviously not the end!

21.45 Yup. Army shows up in the distance, and this is enough to completely distract the dementor and stop him from killing Gandalf like he was just about to.

21.48 Charge charge, battle battle, rising music etc.

21.50 Elaborate non-consensual suicide fire pact thing with douchefather and Robin Hood. Until Gandalf and Magic Horse save the day!

21.51 Getting kicked in the face by a horse, landing on some fire, then running around until you fall off a cliff is not the most dramatic death ever for douchefather. It’s mostly just really funny.

21.52 Charging at the giant elephants goes pretty badly for someone, but I’m not entirely certain whose side they’re on.

21.54 Oh, okay, elephants are bad guys and George Weasely/Strong Female Character make a pretty sweet team battling them until they don’t any more.

21.58 Strong Female Character totally just TOOK OUT A DRAGON, YEAH FEMINISM.

21.59 Then General Head-Hat is back and then SO ARE THE AVENGERS AND THEIR ARMY OF GHOSTS. Which apparently can kill things. Still no explanation why that’s the case.

I honestly just do not understand.

22.00 Strong Female Character gets around “no man shall kill me” because she’s a woman (Harry: “Totally invoking the Macbeth Clause there.” I am mad he made this joke before I got the chance).

22.02 Legolas makes an appearance and so does the Wilhelm scream. Legolas surfs some elephants. All right, Legolas, settle down.

22.03 Strong Female Character’s father dies and that’s kinda sad I guess.

22.06 So the battle is over now I think? Seems sort of over.

22.07 Strong Female Character lets the side down by fainting but then Stryder is there for sexy slow-motion healing times.

22.09 And the Weasley twins are reunited too! Everything is great. Now to destroy the stupid ring and get this over with. Speaking of which. Why did the orcs not untie Frodo, yet still manage to steal his clothes?

22.10 Fortunately for Hero Sam, the orcs guarding Frodo randomly all turn on each other so he doesn’t have to fight so many of them. We are running out of time I suppose, we’ve gotta wrap this up pretty quickly now.

22.13 Sodo are reunited! And Sam mysteriously has the ring now! And Frodo is still shirtless!

22.16 Once again, everyone stands around talking about how difficult it will be for Frodo to do this alone, but don’t actually do anything. Except apparently Stryder’s plan is to have a staring contest with the Giant Fiery Eye until Frodo sneaks past. It’s about as good as all the other plans these idiots have had I suppose.

22.19 Strong Female Character has given up on Stryder in favour of Robin Hood. Which kind of came out of nowhere but no one really cares about the romantic outcomes of these characters anyway, so sure, Robin Hood also has a beard and floppy hair, that’ll do.

Basically the same.

22.22 Apparently even orcs are subject to inspections. The more organised and sentient these things become, the less they are actually scary. There is nothing threatening about inspections.

22.24 Sodo throw away all their supplies and armour and stuff, which also makes perfect sense, then start shivering because it’s cold, despite all of the fire. Ugh, whatever Lord of the Rings, I’m kind of done with you now.

22.27 Stop, drop and roll apparently tricks Fire Eye into not realising Sodo is about to destroy the source of all his power.

22.33 Stryder leads the armies into battle, Sodo are so close to the volcano but not quite there, things are definitely coming along nicely.

22.34 Legolas to Gimley: “What about side by side with a FRIEND?” Hahahahahahaha, lame. After 11 hours, I am running out of ability to actually form jokes.

22.35 Hero Sam is carrying Useless Frodo the rest of the way because you know what? HE IS THE HERO. Frodo has done nothing but get into trouble.

22.37 Oh look, Gollum isn’t dead! Surprise! And Sam is the one actually fighting him. Not a surprise!

22.39 Eagles arrive to save the day for Avengers & Co. (Harry: For AMERICA.)

22.41 Useless Frodo cannot destroy the ring, because Useless Frodo is an idiot. Gollum biting off his finger is kind of gross though. But look how happy he is now he’s got his ring back! Aww!

22.42 Yup, now he’s dead.

22.45 And Giant Fire Eye is dead too. Awesome. And everything conveniently stops caving in just where the Good Guys are standing. Of course.

22.48 Does this film ever end? Now they have to outrun lava. “I’m glad to be with you Samwise Ghandi.” KISS.

22.49 Okay maybe not. Screen goes black! Maybe Sodo actually do die? That would be kind of cool … Oh, no, Gandalf saves them with flying eagles, of course. Movie still not over.

22.51 Then Frodo and Gandalf just sit about laughing, although for all Frodo knows, Gandalf was dead and this is heaven. Until everyone else turns up for a big slow motion group hug pillow fight! (In heaven?)

Ho ho ho. We’re probably all dead.

22.52 Screen fades. WAIT NO, BACK TO STRYDER’S CORONATION.

22.54 NOW STRYDER IS SINGING WHAT IS HAPPENING SO CONFUSED. And it is not even an N-Dubz cover. WHAT.

22.56 And he and Female Character 1 or 2 or whatever I called her are back together, despite a lack of any chemistry or personality.

22.57 And everyone bows to the hobbits and Hero Sam looks super awkward.

22.58 And everyone’s back in the Shire and it’s all come full circle and the movie still isn’t over how cute.

22.59 And Sam marries a barmaid, and not Frodo? Boo.

23.00 And Frodo is STILL NARRATING STILL NOT OVER COME ON GUYS, IT’S 11PM.

23.02 Bilbo is back and super old now, and the movie is still going this is touching but ridiculous.

23.06 So Frodo’s also getting on the Death Boat despite no actual motivation to do so? And do we really need the goodbye hugs in slow motion too? REALLY?

23.08 This makes no sense to me.

23.09 Even the screen fading to WHITE doesn’t make the film over. We have Sam with his tiny children first. In slow motion. Of course.

23.10 AND THEN HIS DOOR SHUTS AND IT’S FINALLY OVER THANK GOD.

Final thoughts: It has been twelve hours. I want to go home. Also, I see why these are the extended versions. I would have cut some of that stuff too. Buy anyway, serious thoughts, the third film certainly had a lot more in it than the second which I’m happy about. Not really sure how I feel about Frodo not dying in his pursuit to destroy the ring, but just deciding to sail off into the distance? Is the boat even supposed to be death? I thought the boat was supposed to be death, but I really just don’t know any more. I suppose it’s better than Frodo living out his days in the Shire with a bunch of kids, although that ending does suit Sam quite nicely.

Final thoughts on the entire trilogy: I feel bad it took me this long to watch it. No, really, I do. It was good. Even if it was kind of stupid and over-reliant on slow motion. But it didn’t look out-of-date and I enjoyed it a lot. Although I’m still kind of disappointed that Stryder never did a rap.

I’m so glad this is finally over.


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Amy watches Lord of the Rings for the first time: The Two Towers

So, in case you are unsure what is happening, up until a couple of days ago, I was probably the last person on earth to have never seen Lord of the Rings before. So naturally, my response to this problem was to marathon all of the extended versions in one go, then liveblog my reactions (including some additional comments from my brothers, Harry and Jack). At this point, you are joining me at around 3pm, after a short break following the end of Film One. I am still relatively sane.

15.06 Okay, Film Two, let’s go. Sweeping mountains! Where is the Night Watch? King in the North! (Getting all my Game of Thrones references out of the way now.)

15.07 Gandalf is back! We have returned to about halfway through the last film, apparently just in case we forgot what happened. Come on, it was only an hour ago, guys.

15.08 No wait, now Gandalf’s fighting the fiery demon thing! Could he have survived all along?

15.09 No, never mind, just a nightmare. But like, Gandalf is probably still alive.

15.10 So we’re back with Sam and Frodo (Sodo) and they are doing some rock climbing with Sam’s magic rope and they’re basically still both useless. Also Mordor seems to get further away the more they try to find it. Come on, just walks TOWARDS the fire mountain of death, it’s not hard.

15.13 Frodo saying patronising things about “nothing ever dampens your spirits, does it Sam?” leads to rainpour. That seems like it was probably his fault.

ADORABLE.

15.15 Gollum is here! He’s kind of cute in an angry baby rat child way, writhing around in the dirt.

15.19 Make that angry baby rat child with a personality disorder. I’m with Sam, this is not the best plan.

15.21 Back with the comedy Weasley twins substitutes. Why exactly have they been captured instead of killed? They’re even getting piggy backs!

15.23 Now Stryder the grime hip-hop artist, Orlando Bloom and the dwarf are here. Everyone yells at the dwarf for being slow. My brother Jack points out that he is the only one who is actually wearing heavy armour.

15.25 Meanwhile Evil Beard is teaming up with the giant eye made of fire. I’m sure that will only end well for him. I hear giant eyes made of fire ALWAYS keep their promises.

15.26 Now he is directing some peasants to attack other peasants and also trees? This is all happening very quickly.

15.29 Suddenly there are lots of new human-type characters I am supposed to care about. Severus Snape shows up to insist that actually fighting Evil Beard will not be a good plan, and he is TOTALLY NOT EVIL (apparently no one has noticed until now that he is quite clearly evil).

I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even team up with a giant eye made of fire.

15.33 The orcs arguing about what to have for dinner makes them considerably less scary. But apparently the reason the Weasley twins are not dead is that everybody assumes THEY have the ring, so at least that clears that up. I’d make some sarcastic comment, but with the quality of the plans in this series so far, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they HAD given it to these two.

15.36 Legolas can tell that blood has been shed because the sky is red. Shut up Legolas. There’s a war happening. What do you expect?

15.39 Then the new people turn up just to say “Oh yeah we probs killed your friends, have some horses to make up for it?”

15.41 Harry: Fun fact! Aragorn’s scream of manly rage is actually because he broke his toe kicking that helmet.

15.44 The tree is totally alive and rescues Fred and George, then laments about how nobody likes trees any more and he’s never heard of hobbits anyway. I like the tree.

15.46 Once again, Sodo have travelled seemingly for days, but I swear they are still getting further away from Mordor. Gollum continues to be weird and adorable and overdramatic. Apparently there is some sort of Sam/Frodo/Gollum love triangle, and I would love it if the rest of the film actually turned out that way.

15.50 Despite everyone telling him not to, Frodo falls face-first into the lake full of evil dead bodies, and how has he survived this long again?

15.54 The dementors show up on dragons (Harry: It makes you wonder why they bothered with horses in the first place) and everybody hides while Frodo has some sort of incapacitating trauma flashback, rendering him useless. Again.

15.57 Then Gandalf is back! And looking more like Dumbledore than ever! Yeah! But apparently he remembers everything except his own name. (“Gandalf? Oh yeah, THAT’S what they used to call me. Yeah, that’s still my name I guess.”)

16.00 “The coming of Merry and Pippin …” Too easy.

16.01 New Gandalf comes with all sorts of fancy new powers, such as whistling a slow motion white horse into existence. Seriously guys, this is the coolest horse ever. JUST LOOK AT THIS HORSE.

Fuck yeah fabulous white slow-mo horse.

16.02 The talking trees sure can talk. Middle Earth poetry slam part two is apparently no fun for anybody, and the hobbits just want to go to sleep.

16.04 The tree leaves the twins asleep (ha! Leaves) saying “I have business in the forest” and we all know what that means. #awkward

16.06 Gandalf totally ships Sodo, and apparently STILL has no worries about them being left to destroy the ring alone when there is really no evidence so far that they are even remotely capable of doing that.

16.08 After seemingly walking AWAY from Mordor for last hour, Sodo and Gollum are suddenly at its gate! And their “Let’s just walk through it no one will mind” plan goes just swimmingly. If falling down a cliff was their plan. Gollum points out that walking through the gate is a STUPID IDEA, and amazingly is the only one who is actually talking sense.

16.13 Back with the Weasley twins, who first start turning into trees, then get eaten by one.

16.15 After rescuing the idiots, the tree explains that all the tree wives and tree kids have gone missing, and he can’t even remember what they look like, which is kind of sad.

16.17 Now we’re back with the new human characters and Creepy Old King has died, while Snape continues to be super evil and not have any eyebrows. Still not really sure who these people are or why I’m supposed to care about them.

16.22 Wait, Creepy Old King isn’t dead after all? He’s just possessed by Evil Beard? That’s … good … I guess?

16.24 Creepy Old King is no longer Creepy or particularly Old. They decide to spare Snape’s life for reasons that completely escape me. I mean, seriously, you’re just letting him go? Not even holding him prisoner? Sure. Fine. Whatever.

16.33 Stryder goes all horse whisperer on us, proving that he is once again fabulous and good at everything. Also already sensing another love triangle between Stryder/New Girl/Elf Girl From The Last Film.

16.35 Snape is ALREADY by Evil Beard’s side. Like, come on guys, what else did you expect? If one of you dies later because of this, I’m not even going to feel bad.

16.37 New Girl is pretty handy with a sword, and actually seems kind of cool, so that’s nice I guess. Not sure how Elf Girl From The Last Film is going to take this, if she ever shows up again.

16.39 Sodo are having a domestic over Gollum, and then the ring. But even more interesting is Gollum’s domestic with himself, which I have seen parodied so many times that it’s actually kind of familiar. Also, happy Gollum is kind of cute, with his weird leaping about and stealing rabbits for Frodo. Although if Sam and Gollum don’t have their own buddy movie moment by the end of this, I will be extremely sad.

16.45 Wait, elephants?

16.47 More new characters! I’m calling this one Robin Hood. End of Part 1. Coffee break.

This is the face of someone who needs coffee almost as much as I do.

16.55 Disc 2 opens with the dwarf (Gimley?) talking about bearded dwarf women, and everybody having a nice time, including Stryder and New Girl making eyes at each other.

16.56 New Girl makes a terrible stew (Harry: Strong Women cannot cook! Cooking is for ladies, not Strong Women!) and Stryder reveals that he was actually 87 all along, because royals live longer. Wut? Oh, and Elf Girl From The Last Film shows up for sexy times in his dream. Awk.

17.01 Wait, maybe it’s not a dream? It’s actually happening? Or a flashback? And the two female characters have the same name? Really, Tolkein? Whatever, I don’t care any more, bring back Sodo and Gollum, they’re the only love triangle I care about.

Gross.

17.05 An army of orcs has appeared out of nowhere, and then Legolas does something fancy with a horse (whey) and everything is slow mo!

17.06 While the fighting is happening and it’s all just swords and hilarious battle/sex faces, I will take a moment to reflect that considering these films are kind of old now, they haven’t really aged too much at all. Other than having a bit too much a thing for slow motion. I’m kind of impressed.

17.08 Hang on, Stryder died? That can’t be true. He’s far too fabulous to die, and he has that whole love triangle to resolve. I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU, ORC WHO CANNOT BE TRUSTED ANYWAY.

17.12 Meanwhile, Snape somehow missed that there was an entire army outside his window, then looked comically surprised.

17.13 Back with the tree and the twins for basically another dick joke: “He no longer cares for growing things”.

17.14 Stryder’s alive! I am so good at this. And Elf Girl From The Last Film is still sitting around waiting for him, blah blah blah, nobody cares.

17.20 Then Blonde Elf Lady recaps what’s been happening, because let’s be honest, nobody remembers any more, and predicts that Frodo will probably die on this quest. Well sure, if everybody keeps IGNORING him when he is on this obviously insane mission which he is COMPLETELY UNPREPARED FOR. Seriously, why is everyone just assuming that he’ll be able to complete this highly dangerous and impossible task without anybody’s help?

17.23 Oh, no, they have Robin Hood’s help now. Forgot about that. Apparently he is also Ned Stark’s brother, which just seems super convenient if you ask me, but fine. I got all excited when Ned showed up again, but then my brothers told me it was a flashback, so I’m not actually sure what the point is, other than to be all “everybody has daddy issues!”

17.28 I’ve been doing this for six hours now.

17.32 Robin Hood captures and beats up Gollum which seems kind of unfair. Don’t hurt Gollum! He’s just singing and beating a fish against the wall, he won’t hurt anyone. This is probably why your dad loved Ned more, Robin.

17.34 Frodo is becoming more and more cray cray, which we all could have seen coming, and Robin Hood is more and more of a douche. But basically nothing is happening and I’m getting kind of bored.

17.38 Except now Stryder is home! And Gimley is happy to see him, which is cute. Ooh, and so is Legolas, and there is a weird awkward tension between them. KISS! KISS! MAKE OUT! DO IT NOW!

17.39 Boo.

Greatest love story ever told … in my mind.

13.42 Aw, now there are LOADS of tree people! They can all read their tree poetry together with the Weasley twins and live happily ever after! Yeah!

17.44 New Girl wants to “ride next to you in battle” and we all know what THAT means. #awkward

17.45 Legolas points out that an army of 300 old people and children against 10,000 orcs is probably a bad idea, and for once speaks more sense than Stryder because, yeah, that seems like a fair assessment to me. But apparently Stryder no longer cares, because he is BROODY NOW.  We all love a good broody hero sending innocent people to their death for no reason.

17.50 KISS, STRYDER AND LEGOLAS, KISS!

17.51 Boo.

17.52 The elves are here to help! I am sure that will make just ALL the difference. Also, Gimley is still short for comic effect, and also pathetic fallacy.

17.57 Arrows! Fighting! Ladders!

18.01 Explosions!

18.03 Legolas uses a shield as a skateboard. Show off.

18.04 The Weasley twins get annoyed with the trees for basically not doing anything, then have a rousing heart-to-heart, and meanwhile one of the elves dies. The sad music makes me assume I’m supposed to be upset, but honestly I don’t even remember him showing up before now.

18.10 Everyone suddenly seems to realise that the battle is never going to be won, and decides to retreat. No shit, army of Sherlocks who are mostly all dead now.

18.11 TREE LOGIC: Those words you just said made no sense. But then, you are tiny, so you’re probably right. (WHAT?)

18.17 Back with Sodo. Their plot this film is basically just Get Captured While Stryder Does Cool Stuff Elsewhere. Seems kind of like the bad end of the stick.

18.19 So the two armies of men are uniting and is this movie over yet?

18.20 Gandalf arrives to show off his fabulous horse, reminding me only of this.

Saving the god damn day.

18.22 Also the trees and the Weasley twins are here and Evil Beard is pissed and it feels like this movie will be over soon! The whole “environment is good, love the trees” metaphor is getting a little heavy-handed though.

18.25 “It’s me. It’s your Sam.” KISS!

18.26 Boo.

18.27 Sad/inspirational speech from Sam. “What are we holding on to Sam?” SAY EACH OTHER. SAY EACH OTHER. I CAN MAKE SUCH GOOD DICK JOKES.

18.28 “Hope”. Boo.

18.32 The Weasley twins find the holy grail of all weed to smoke and hilarity ensues.

18.33 Robin Hood is not such a dick after all and releases Sodo, but that basically leaves them in the same position as the start of the film. So has anything really been achieved here?

18.35 “I wonder if we’ll ever be in songs and tales?” Oh you’re so meta, Lord of the Rings. I see what you’re doing there.

18.36 “Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.” THAT’S WHAT HE SAID. KISS.

18.38 Oh look, Gollum is totally planning to kill them and take the ring, no one could have possibly seen that twist coming. AND NOW IT’S FINALLY OVER.

Final thoughts: I don’t really see what the point of this film was, other than to introduce even more characters before we finally get to the big showdown. Other than that, everyone seems to be in exactly the same position as the end of the last film. No one even died! In fact, Gandalf came back, so that’s like MINUS a death. It is basically just suffering from part-two-of-a-trilogy syndrome. Bad.

Hopes for the next movie: I really want Gollum to turn out good in the end, maybe sacrifice himself for Sodo’s mission to destroy the ring. Also some cool deaths in the final battle scenes. I would love it if Stryder died, tragic hero that he is, but I am predicting it will be Legolas and Gimley instead. Also if Stryder does not reveal his hip-hop side soon, this whole joke is NOT GOING TO BE WORTH IT. Oh, and Gandalf’s a goner.

I mean he is practically a ghost already.