Gollum For Best Supporting Actor

…or Andy Serkis, rather.

The Hobbit was the first “big book” I ever read.1 And Gollum made a huge impression on me. I’ve had an image of Gollum in my head ever since, for more years than I care to recount. The Hobbit cartoon? No. That other cartoon? Nope. But now, in 2002, boom, there he is on screen.

Well one thing’s for sure — there will be no precious Oscar for poor Smeagol. Andy Serkis might have done the voice, he might have done the body movements and modeled the facial expressions… but the fat hobbitses in the Academy aren’t likely to award a computer-generated character a real-person’s award any time soon, thank you very much. Not to mention the everyday bias against SF and fantasy in the ordinary media. In the last few days, I’ve listened to no less than two radio interviews with writers talking about the writing process. The first was a twentysomething kid, an up-and-coming writer who mentioned offhandedly, “I used to read fantasy and stuff like that when I was a kid, but…” He now writes “literary”2 short stories about a fictional town in Maine. The second was Carolyn See, a professor who writes and teaches creative writing at UCLA. “My students have to write about real things, real relationships.” she said. “What if one of your students wants to write about — I dunno, Mars?” “They can’t write about Mars,” she chuckled. I was waiting for her to follow up with something like, “unless they write about real people on Mars,” something like that. But she wouldn’t even throw me that bone. They just moved merrily on. Feh.

Anyway, I’m spending my evening drinking wine, listening to This American Life archives, and sewing. Yes, sewing. The washing machine in our complex is pretty rough, and it’s torn apart the seams on the corners of my comforter. I really don’t know how to sew, and all I have is a button repair kit that Mom gave me for Chanukah during my last year in high school. “What’s this?” I asked. “So you can sew on buttons when you go to college!” she said. “Oh,” I said.

But now after all these years, the kit has finally proved useful. It just has a couple of needles and some short lengths of a variety of colors of thread, but that’s enough. Unfortunately the threads don’t really match the comforter so well, and I’ve used up the thread for three colors already. Which begs the question, what happens if I actually lose a button? I might be missing the right color. I guess I’ll just have to go back to Mom… which was what she was trying to avoid by giving me the kit in the first place. That’s OK, I’m not sure I actually know how to sew on a button anyway. I do a mean whipstitch, though.

Just another crazy Saturday night.

1. The first book I ever “read” was You Will Go To The Moon when I was about two. Actually, it turned out I wasn’t so much reading it as reciting the text from memory — it was my favorite book, and my parents must have read it to me about fifty times. I have continued this proud tradition of reading-without-comprehending ever since.

2. As for the whole silly literary-vs.-genre debate, only one thing is clear: as soon as you allow someone to label their favorite group of books as “literary” and your favorite group of books as something else, you’ve lost the battle.