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One of the fund classes we have here at Fidelity is the Spartan funds. One of my favorite bands, Remy Zero, has morphed into a new band called Spartan Fidelity. I just ordered the first of their three promised albums.

Miraculously, I went through the last several years without seeing even a single moment of any Lord of the Rings movies, and furthermore not watching any ads or previews, reading no reviews, and listening to few comments from friends about it. For Christmas, I got the ultimate Lord of the Rings edition (until the high-def Blu-Ray version comes out in 2006, of course). Each film has 30 to 50 minutes of additional footage. The third movie alone is now longer than two other long, epic, non-LotR films.

Anyway, wow. The payoff for avoiding all this until now has come. I watched all three extended versions. Cowabunga. Some of the things that blew me away were the patient and luscious pacing, the emphasis of the cerebral over the sensational/attention-deficited, and the fact that in this modern era of cynicism and parasitic irony, they still played it completely straight and didn't compromise it (much) for the MTV generation. Thus, it fulfilled the noble goal of being fabulously escapist.

I plan to watch it all again in a few months, in more detail (alone and with headphones) and with an itchy rewind-button finger. Then I�ll watch it again with the subtitles on and delve into the thirty some odd documentaries (on six discs) that came in my twelve-disc set. I never read the print series � my mother did and still owns them � but I did read The Hobbit when I was younger.

Fantastic stuff, and almost mind-boggling when you consider the grandeur of the films and the monumental task of adapting this vast story to the screen. Given LotR, what else could they do? Robotech�s Macross Saga? Tad Williams� Otherland series?

The PSP � Playstation Portable I think � is coming soon, and I couldn�t be less interested. The Nintendo DS at least breaks a little new ground, but the PSP�s only real benefit seems to be portability, which does nothing for me. Xbox 2 and PS3 are what I want to see. I�ve been playing Ratchet 3 and Beyond Good & Evil a bit lately, but I envy my brother the time he gets to spend on gaming.

I believe videophones are on the way, but why can�t we upgrade phone SOUND? Surely we have the bandwidth. �Telephone quality� is about the worst you can get � much worse than �AM radio quality,� for example.

I�m on the phone a lot at my job. I�ve noticed something. Clients from Mass, NY, and NJ are more often than not rude, impatient, and unreasonable, and possessed of the attention spans of ferrets. I�m hardly able to complete one out of ten sentences with them � and they can�t complete their own sentences either! It gets better as you go further south or get away from the cities, and states like Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Arizona, etc. seem to be about �average.� Florida is a special case � I never know what I�m going to get from there. However, the brightest, calmest, most reasonable clients, as a rule, call from California, including the big cities there, with Seattle included in the list as well.

A co-worker says this is because the folks in the cities in the Northeast have developed �defense mechanisms� for dealing with life as a rat in a very cramped cage � they talk before you can talk, they try and get five sentences into what should be one sentence, they rush in everything they do, etc.