Friday, February 1, 15:47 CST

critic

So I went and found the piece Saalon was ranting about earlier today...

Hollywood myth and fairy-tale stories have always existed a heartbeat away from each other. The first hour of ''The Lord of the Rings'' occupies that Disney-Spielberg-Lucas territory to an almost deadening degree, with its ''Seven Dwarfs''-like hobbits and Obi-Wan Kenobi-like wizard. (This seems to be the ultimate destination for distinguished British actors like Alec Guinness and Ian McKellen. Watch your back, Jeremy Irons.) Mr. Tolkien came first, of course, and it's eye-opening to see what an influence he had on those who followed, but it's also somewhat disturbing to see that the movie of ''The Fellowship of the Ring'' doesn't go far beyond Disney, et al.

Hollywood myth and fairy-tale stories have what?

It's a shame Mr. Tolkien is unavailable for comment on that assertion, but it's probably enough to know that he'd likely rip Mr. Siegel a new one (in the purely verbal sense) with far more skill than I can manage.

I could spend more indignation on Siegel's insulting assumptions about what he clearly fails to understand (not because he dislikes the film - his deficiencies in taste don't bother me any more than mine should bother him - but because he's wrong), but... Well, at some point it's just not worth the effort. There's this thing about critics: Most of 'em aren't much more qualified to have an opinion about art than you, me, or any other random individual. Even fewer are especially capable of conveying that opinion in a way that's worthwhile in and of itself.

You want a sweeping, overbroad generalization? Criticism doesn't mattter, and critics matter even less. (Even when I'm playing the part myself.)

No, it's not entirely true, but I'm fairly certain you could go through life believing it and lose no happiness thereby. Henceforth, it's what I'm going to remember when I stumble across this sort of thing. This life is too short to burn much of it on trying to shout down foolish men.