The Usual Christmas Post, Part 1: Requesting Pictures Of Your Naughty List

I ask every year at Christmas: If you’d like to get me an inexpensive gift that will nevertheless make me do little happydances of joy, feel free to post cheesecake pictures of yourself in the comments here. (Alternatively, if they’re spicy or you’re shy, mail ‘em to me at  Or text ’em to me at 216-965-3895.)
(And as always, every year I do this, some guy goes, “Oh ho, here I am! You didn’t expect this!” and posts a picture of himself. And it’s true that I’m straight, but a) I like seeing pictures of people anyway, b) I’m never shocked by photos of guys, and c) as far as I’m concerned, posting cute pictures of yourself where attractive people – potentially girls – can see them is usually a good idea. So it’s like whoah, you sure are alternative, buddyYou’re one step down from the guy who posts pictures of desserts.)
Merry merry!

San Francisco Meet-Up, December 26th: Meet A Ferrett (And A Gini)

As mentioned in a previous post, my mother has given me leave to play for a day while I’m visiting her, and so we have decided on a place where I can see all my West Coast friends – both the ones I’ve met in person, and the ones I hope to meet!
Kai Chang has generously donated the use of his house for the Get-Together With Ferrett.  So the details are:
Jack London Square Waterfront neighborhood
Oakland, CA 94607
December 26th, 6:00 p.m.

All are welcome, but probably emailing Kai at would be appreciated (and me at, so I know you’re coming!).  Text me at 216-965-3895 (along with who the hell you are) for the address.  He’s also created a Facebook event page for it; lemme know if you want in, and I’ll invite you.
…I feel like I should have some cool con-like name for this, like Ferrett-con or something, but everything I’m devising seems lame.  Alas!

Jack London Square Waterfront neighborhood in Oakland CA

Does An Adaptation Have To Be Faithful? And If So, To What?

There’s been a lot of hubbub about how The Hobbit isn’t a real adaptation of Tolkien’s work – the light-hearted tone of the original work is submerged under a lot of Serious Battle Scenes, there’s a lot of shoehorned-in references to Lord of the Rings to lend if gravitas, and why the fuck does it have to be three hours long?
Yet Jay Lake posted an interesting link today: Dislike Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit? Then You Don’t Know Tolkien.  This essay basically says that Peter Jackson’s knowledge of Tolkien is far superior to yours, and the only reason that The Hobbit is viewed as a light-hearted adventure is because Bilbo and company were ignorant of all the dark machinations going on around them.  Jackson, he argues, is actually putting The Hobbit into the proper context.
Which is interesting.  Because both sides are correct: Peter Jackson is more accurate at depicting all the political and personal pressures that led Gandalf to yank Bilbo out of his comfy little hobbit-hole.  But the tone that Jackson takes is not what most people come away from the book with.  It’s as though someone decided to adapt The Shining like this:

Full disclosure: I’ve seen The Hobbit twice, and I quite liked it.  But I don’t think an adaptation has any obligation to the source material except to be entertaining.  Planet of the Apes is nothing like the book, but it’s good.  Same with The Birds.  So if The Hobbit is a good movie on its own, then I don’t really care how faithful it was – and though the Hobbit is a flawed movie, I think it suffers both from people who wanted it to be LotR 2.0 (which it isn’t) and The Hobbit: the Book (which it really, really isn’t).
Which is not to say that I don’t get upset by bad adaptations.  Tim Burton fucked over two of my favorite movies.  But I’m not mad because they diverged from the source material, but because they diverged from the things I was most entertained by in the original films.  And I reacted in the way I always do to something I’m sure I won’t enjoy; I didn’t watch it.  (Having heard my friends go on at length about the differences, though, I feel fairly justified.)
As it is, I don’t think fidelity is a truism – there have been some mighty faithful adaptations that fell flat, because to turn a book into a film, you have to play to each medium’s strengths.  The Hobbit isn’t really what Tolkien wrote.  But is it good on its own, if you had no prior expectations?  I think it’s decent – not the slam-dunk of Lord of the Rings, but a B, not too bad.  And I think that’s a much nicer way to see it without getting bogged down in the geek wars over what kind of Tolkien-geekery should have made it into the film.
After all, this is the same Tolkien who wrote Tom Bombadil.  I’m quite happy to see his stuff wind up on the cutting-room floor.

Wanna Meet Me In San Francisco, The Day After Christmas?

Whenever I visit my mother in Vacaville, California, I feel guilty.  I have so many good friends in the San Francisco area, but my mother is protective of my time; she only gets to see her son six days a year, and those days are hers, goddammit.  So I have to disappoint many people who are like, “Oh, you’re in California?  Let’s meet up!” and I have to tell them that my Mom won’t let me.
However, since we have an extra-long trip this time, I’m free to play for one day.  But I have so many wonderful people in the area, I couldn’t meet them individually if I tried, and the last-minute scheduling would doubtlessly be chaotic and stressful.
So I’m going to try what Jay Lake does, which is to say, “I will be here, at this time, for dinner.  You are welcome to join me.  Even if we’ve never technically ‘met,’ I’d love to hang out.”
This time will be the evening of December 26th, somewhere in San Francisco.  I don’t know where yet, because I don’t know what restaurants are good for this sort of crazy meet-up, particularly the day after Christmas, so if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.  I’ll finalize the details later.
But basically, I’m letting you know that if you’d like to catch up with me, reserve the date of December 26th if it’s not already taken.  I miss you all.  Lots.  If you think you’re gonna be there, leave a comment or hit me up at
(EDIT: Yes, Gini will be there.  Of course she’ll be there!  I wouldn’t spend the holidays without my sweetie.)

California Dreamin'

So I’m in California, visiting my mother for the holidays, and yesterday we had a delightful stop on the way to the Hearst Mansion: we found a farm that did honey tastings!
California vacation
California vacation
These are the three honeys we bought. And then these jellies were just beautifully colored:
California vacation
Sadly, shitty iPhone photos don’t capture the beauty of the California coast:
California vacation
Our hotel has a fireplace with the employees’ names over the mantelpiece…
California vacation
…and our room comes with its own fireplace!
California vacation
And a gigantic bath!
California vacation
Today’s the Hearst Mansion (“Rosebud”), and we’ll be making our feet sore today. I can’t wait.