lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
According to the Dominion Post, Bret McKenzie--known for his smouldering onscreen performance as Figwit the elf--may have a role in the Hobbit movie.
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
In 1967, the New York Times posted a cringe-inducing interview with Tolkien entitled The Prevalence of Hobbits. I hope that Tolkien didn't read it, lol.
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
*Cues the James Bond theme music*


Long-classified documents reveal that JRR Tolkien trained as a British spy. Shortly before the outreak of the Second World War, Tolkien and a number of other academics were contacted by the top-secret Government Code and Cypher School.


With his genius for linguistics and knowledge of many languages, Tolkien was a logical choice for either translation or code-breaking. In fact, he had studied cyphers as part of his training as a signals officer during World War I.

Not surpisingly, he passed the Government Code and Cypher school's entrance exams and was offered a job. Though notes indicate that he was "keen" about the work, he did not sign on for reasons that are not known.


Or perhaps he did enlist, but his work was so secret that it is still classified...


Dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . .
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Does anyone know what happened to the travelling exhibit of LOTR movie props and costumes? According to the website, the exhibit is closed. If so, then where are all the goodies being stored? I recall that the exhibitors wanted to create a permanent museum, but that plan seems to have fallen through.

[ profile] lord_branwyn and I saw the exhibit in Boston back in 2004. It was well worth the trip.
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
You people seemed to like that last quiz, so here's another one. When you first read the LOTR, did you stumble over the dozens of characters with strange names? For the longest time, I read "Aragorn" as Aragon (as in Catherine of Aragon). Sometimes I would give up trying to sound out the name and just go with very crude character recognition--I would think of the character as "the guy whose name starts with F and has fifteen vowels and ends with R." If you've ever mangled a character's name, then take a stab at

[Poll #1723322]

Note: "Boomer" and "Farmer" is how Microsoft Word's spellchecker tries to correct the names of the sons of Denethor. Kind of appropriate, isn't it? :D
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Gary Gygax, the creator of the "Dungeons and Dragons" roleplaying game, claimed that Tolkien was only a minor influence on its development, despite the fact that the original game included rangers, wizards, ents, orcs, dwarves, elves, half-elves, and hobbits. At the insistence of the Tolkien Estate, the hobbits were renamed "halflings" and the ents became "treants."

DM of the Rings is a webcomic that follows the adventures of a group of gamers who are loot-crazed and clueless about Tolkien as they play through the plot of the LOTR. The artist, Shamus Young, uses stills from the movies to illustrate the epic campaign. My favorite line is when Eomer says, "I would cut off your head, Master Dwarf, but it would require me to look up the mounted combat rules." :D

(But I never had the patience to play D & D. I was the person who would look up and say "What?," having totally lost track of the game, when it was finally my turn to roll.)
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
In honor of "Tolkien Reading Day," I present the

[Poll #1722599]

How to score the test )
lady_branwyn: (typewriter; picowrimo)
Back in the early 2000s, it was announced that Tolkien's own translation of Beowulf had been discovered (though, apparently, it was never lost, just sitting in a box of papers), and scholar Michael Drout had been chosen to edit it for publication. Years passed, and there was no further news. Drout deleted the content on his own webpage that referred to the Tolkien Beowulf because other parties were quoting him out of context. Then, in the mid-2000s, rumor was that the manuscript would not be published. In an interview, Drout confirmed that the Tolkien estate had decided that the project "should go on hold" (his words).
I admit to being puzzled and saddened by the delay. Perhaps the Tolkien Estate was concerned about the literary merit (and salability) of the translation?
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Properly cozy and comfy looking.

Photos of The Hobbit Motorlodge, Ohakune (Slideshow & Video): TravelPod Hotels’s trip to Ohakune, North Island, New Zealand was created by TripAdvisor. See another Ohakune slideshow. Create a free slideshow with music from your travel photos.
lady_branwyn: (Boromir Valentine)
I never collected overpriced plastic toys or junky movie memorabilia. Until the LOTR movies, that is. My initial fall from grace was at Burger King. [ profile] lord_branwyn, who at that time still ate meat, was forced to eat Whopper "Value Meals" until I had all four souvenir goblets. The goblets were followed by Arwen/Barbie and Aragorn/Ken, 12-inch Eowyn doll, several 6-inch action figures, and my prized Boromir Minimate.

Did you collect LOTR toys or memorabilia? Do you still have your collection? Ranger Faramir and the rest still grace my curio cabinet.
lady_branwyn: (FOTR cover art)
This was going to be a post about Bored of the Rings, a parody written in 1969 by future members of The Harvard Lampoon. I even found an online text of the book to share, but then I discovered that it is still in print (so the e-text is pirated) and even worse the e-text is hosted on a neo-Nazi website. (The link above is to a review by someone who seems perfectly nice.)

So instead, let's travel back in time with The Literary Omnivore's photos of the US editions of The Lord of the Rings--the good, the bad, and the outright ugly.

Back in the late 70s, I bought the handsome Ballantine second edition (along with Ballatine's A Tolkien Reader and Smith of Wooton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham). Lord Branwyn has the psychodelic Ace pirated edition. In my opinion, the 1987 Houghton Mifflin is the prettiest of the American editions. The landscape paintings, geometric borders, and style of lettering remind me of Tolkien's own design for the cover of The Hobbit. The Ballantine fifth edition is the least attractive--Aragorn was so busy healing people that he didn't have time to shave for his own coronation, and Bilbo looks like Danny DeVito. (The Literary Ominvore has more to say about the Ballantine fifth edition.)

American readers, which of these is your favorite? Which was the first one you owned?

Edit: Be sure to check out the 1998 "Science Fiction Book Club Special Edition," near the middle of the pack. It's strangely slashy, though I can't tell who all those hands belong to.

Edit: For British readers, I found a site with photos of British editions.
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
I stumbled across an interesting essay about Tolkien's portrayal of evil--Tolkien as a Meanie. The author, suburbanbanshee, doesn't have a biography posted, but she appears to be a translator by profession or avocation and has a wide range of interests (including fandom).
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Interactive calendar from The Encyclopedia of Arda.
This interactive calendar allows you to compare and convert dates from the modern Gregorian calendar and various calendars from Tolkien's work.

Determine today's date in the Shire Calendar or by the Steward's Reckoning.
lady_branwyn: (Default)
There probably weren't many violinists who didn't rush home and try to scratch out the "Rohan" theme after seeing The Two Towers (I know I did, lol). Searching on Youtube for "violin" and "Rohan" brings up dozens of videos of student performances (including one little girl who gave her recital in an elf outfit). There are arrangements for violin trio, violin and piano, and violin solo (sometimes played along to the soundtrack).


It is so great that they published string arrangements of the movie music. Here's "Minas Tirith" on viola with the play-along CD. She rocks (especially considering this was probably recorded on her phone, lol).

And "Forth Eorlingas!" by the same player but this time on the violin.

lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Soon after The Hobbit's unexpectedly successful publication in 1937, publisher Allen and Unwin asked Tolkien for a sequel. Then they eagerly waited. And waited. And waited for years, until the early 1950s. The Lord of the Rings, of course, would turn out to be even more successful than The Hobbit, so Allen and Unwin once more pressed Tolkien for another book.

Tolkien already had a draft version of a mythology of MiddleEarth. He had started working on it during World War I and had continued to develop it over the years. This was to be his fundamental work, his national mythology for the English people, of which the LOTR and The Hobbit were only offshoots. But, like the LOTR, it was written during the hours that were left after fulfilling the responsibilities of work and family. When Tolkien retired in 1959 (at the age of 67), he was suddenly free to focus on his great mythology. When the popularity of the LOTR exploded in the 1960s, sudden wealth was added to leisure. Yet despite repeated assurances to his publisher, he never finished the book. What happened?

It is a cautionary tale for anyone who writes or would someday like to write.

He moved away from Oxford to the resort town of Bournemouth, replacing his academic duties with social ones. His letters catalog the constant interruptions from neighbors, relations, and his growing number of fans. Not surprisingly, he missed the familar and erudite company of his peers and complained about the dearth of intelligent conversation. Free at last from deadlines and lectures and paperwork, he seemed to lose his focus; he lamented that he was easily distracted from his writing.

As he and his wife grew older, their health began to fail. Illness and accident robbed him of energy and time. He was saddened by the deaths of friends and the signs of his own decline. When he did work on his mythology, it was more to analyse and rework his ideas rather than to organize them into a whole. After his wife's death, he returned to Oxford, where the university provided comfortable living arrangements including caretakers for his apartment. Though the familiar surroundings provided some solace, his loneliness and depression are evident in his correspondence, and he lived only a few years longer.

His great mythology--as far as he was concerned, his most important work--was left unfinished. Based on notes and the draft version, his son would attempt to complete it.
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Researchers at the "Tolkien Sarcasm Page" have discovered the truth about Tom Bombadil. Mere coincidence or something more sinister? You decide for yourself.

Edit: As a bonus, here is their review of Bakshi's Lord of the Rings.
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Tolkien called her his "Luthien," and the headstone they share in Wolvercote graveyard is inscribed "Beren and Luthien." Early in their marriage, she was not only his inspiration but also an assistant who typed his manuscripts and, at least vicariously, took part in his world-building. Later, they seemed to drift apart, as he retreated to his study and she to the nursery that held their growing family. The drafts of the LOTR were shared with Tolkien's son and his male associates, not his wife.

She was born Edith Bratt and bore her mother's surname. If she knew her father's name, she never told her children. Her own family was reasonably well-off, and she studied music with the goal of becoming a music teacher or even a performer. Yet after she finished her schooling in her late teens, her guardian seemed unsure what to do with her and found a place for her in a boarding house. It always struck me as odd that she was left unchaperoned in the care of strangers. Not surprisingly, she struck up a friendship with the younger residents of the boarding house--Tolkien and his brother Hilary.

She and Tolkien became engaged in 1913 but did not marry until 1916. Away at university, he spent much of his free time with close male friends. None of them even knew of Edith's existence until the couple was wed. Why the secrecy? Was he ashamed of her relative lack of education and social standing? Was he afraid that he would no longer fit in with his circle of bachelor friends?

Yet the marriage would have much less impact on his life than on hers. He would still have his studies and his companions, but in some respects, her world was greatly narrowed after the marriage.

She was a member of the Anglican Church, and Tolkien demanded that she convert to Catholicism (which at that time was required if they wanted to marry within the Catholic Church). With some misgivings, she complied. She had to give up her position as church organist and leave behind the lively social life of her Anglican congregation. In later years, she expressed disatisfaction with her new faith and resentment about the forced conversion.

In the early years, the household was frequently on the move. That and the arrival of the children precluded the serious pursuit of music, though the family does remember her playing.

Though Tolkien clearly loved her, it is doubtful that he considered her his peer. Letters often referred to her as "little one," and Tolkien was of the opinion that, in general, women did not share the intellectual capacity of men. (Which is very odd since he collaborated for years with a female French academic.) Major household decisions seem to have been unilateral. One of their houses was purchased without her seeing it beforehand!

Tolkien loved conversation and company, but Edith was by nature very shy. She avoided socializing with the other faculty wives. The women soon learned that "Mrs. Tolkien does not call." Certainly, her illegitimate birth would have made the inevitable discussions of family background very awkward, but her reluctance to become part of the university community cannot have helped advance her husband's career.

Perhaps it was inevitable that she and Tolkien would grow apart, for they had very different personalities and the social roles of the day isolated them within their own areas of responsibility. She seems to have felt ill at ease in her prescribed role, yet they remained deeply devoted to each other and to their children. Many years later, Tolkien acknowledged that he had expected many sacrifices from her during their marriage. When they retired, he chose the town of Bournemouth--a genteel resort town where Edith was gloriously happy and Tolkien was utterly bored. He figured that she had earned it.

[If this rambles, I apologize--I was up late last night due to a plumbing emergency. One of the joys of being a homeowner.]

[Edit: A house guest will be arriving tomorrow for a visit, so the next entry may be a day late.]
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Today's entry is in honor of Japan's many and outlandish contributions to popular culture. In anime, adult characters are sometimes portrayed as adorable, round-faced, wide-eyed children. These alternate versions of the characters are called chibis (Japanese for "cute").

Artist JoannaZhou presents
Chibi Lord of the Rings. Gollum is my favorite.

Edit: There used to be the cutest set of chibi Fellowship icons out there, but it seems to have disappeared into the ether. However, I did find the mind-boggling Chibi Sons of Feanor.
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
The news from Japan has left me feeling low, so I decided we needed something funny today--

The Lord of the Rings Spoofs Website

Pages and pages of movie stills with silly captions.

Edit: Bwahaha!
lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
"So you think you know a lot about Middle-Earth?" asks the Lord of the Rings Fanatics website. "Let's re-live The Lord of the Rings in the form of a multiple-choice quiz hosted by Bilbo Baggins!

A few annoying pop-up ads appeared when I first accessed the quiz, but I escaped out of them without any trouble. Each section has it's own goal like "escape the Black Riders." I made it to Level V at Minas Tirith before dying. :)


lady_branwyn: (Default)

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