Two people I know in real life are traveling down under this spring, to New Zealand, not to attend WorldCon, home of the Hugo Awards ceremony, but just for vacations. Although, I wonder if their plans have changed since I last spoke or saw them over two months ago now. Much ado about something is occurring everywhere now, but don’t even compare it to 1918. Regardless, a trip to New Zealand would check off two items on my bucket list: 1) to see the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky (stars and constellations I cannot see from 39 degrees north latitude) and 2) to visit the closest thing to Middle-earth on this Earth.Continue reading “Hugo Hiatus”
I only had three chapters to read last week in Out of the Silent Planet. I should have listened closer or reread it in the print edition because the discussion covered things that hadn’t occurred to me. But that’s the fun of taking a class like this. Digging deeper and looking at the story from different perspectives.
Joined webinar at 8:53 PM
Waiting . . . 8:57 PM
Still waiting . . . 9:05 PM
Webinar started at 9:06 PM
Now waiting on Corey . . . 9:08 PM
Still no Corey . . . 9:10 PM
Now starting 9:11 PM
33 people attending
Read: Chapter 16-18
Date: January 29, 2020
Announcements about regional Moots and MythMoot (four day annual event). This week we announced Verlyn Flieger will be joining MythMoot. New Book Arthurian Voices (book release party) and wrote a play called “The Bargain” inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century poem). Corey might be the Green Knight.
New registration page (pretty bare bones right now). A custom system written for Signum University. Shifting away from an expensive third-party software. Don’t be alarmed.
Corey recaps and sums up from last week. Let’s see what happens when Ransom starts to encounter the other species.
Lewis Pokes Fun at Oxford Philologists
I’ve reached the point of hknow return in this third week of a five week course on Out of the Silent Planet led by Corey Olsen through the Mythgard Academy arm of Signum University. Please parden my use of a hnot-so-silent “H” throughout this post in honor of Lewis foray into the philological hrealm usually hrelegated to his fellow Inkling Tolkien. For my hnotes from week one and week two, please click on the appropriate week to return to those posts.
I had hoped to publish this Thursday night, but the video for this week’s class has not yet been uploaded to Signum University’s Youtube channel. So I will hold off on publication until Friday evening or Saturday morning.
Joined webinar at 8:38 pm
Waiting . . . still at 9:04 pm
Starting at 9:12 pm
Waiting for Corey now still at 9:15 pm
Starting now at 9:18 pm
Read: Chapter 11-15
Date: January 22, 2020
This is one of his two favorite bits of this book – Meeting the Hrossa. We are going to try to go from his first meeting of this whole interlude all the way to the parting from the Hrossa.
Three open for registration:
- TexMoot on 8th of February in Houston
- Early bird registration for MythMoot VII “Defying and Defining the Darkness”; CFP should be out soon.
- SoCalMoot hosted at Netflix HQ
MootCast is being done again this year for MythMoot. Live access to any session you want to be in; you get recordings for everything; a wonderful way to participate and watch even if you can’t make it.
I meant to post my notes from last Wednesday’s second week of the Out of the Silent Planet class but work life got very hectic and then I spent most of my last three day weekend until Memorial Day playing Aardwolf. I will do better this week, I promise – notes posted by end of week at the latest.
And I discovered a feature of GoToWebinar too late, at the end of the second session, that allows me to save the current slide as an image. Going forward, I’ll capture each slide so my notes make more sense to myself and others. Of course, I always include a link to the video of the session that’s published within a day or two by Signum University (see link above or click here).
Read: Chapters 6-10
Date: January 15, 2020
8:53 PM ~ Joined webinar, organizer has not arrived.
9:02 AM – Webinar started, but we’re holding.
9:07 PM – Broadcast started; 41 attendees, 1 presenter
Two moots in February
- TexMoot in Houston Saturday 2/8
- SoCalMoot in LA (Hollywood at the Netflix HQ) two weeks later Sat 2/22
- Signum University web page (scroll down)
Spring Semester started at Signum U.Continue reading “Reorienting Ransom”
The Ides of January. The day Gandalf’s challenged “You cannot pass” to the Balrog in Moria. Christopher Tolkien, the youngest son of J.R.R. Tolkien, passed away yesterday at the age of ninety-five. The Tolkien Society posted the news on their website earlier today, which rapidly spread across social media and news sites.
I heard the news via a chat message from my good friend and President of the Tolkien Society of Kansas City as I was returning to work from lunch. It was difficult to focus on projects and conference calls this afternoon, when all I could think about was the loss of such an amazing man who devoted his entire life to his father’s legacy. I am eternally grateful but also deeply saddened. My prayers and condolences are with his family.
Growing up reading and re-reading The Lord of the Rings in the 1970s, I did not know, at the time, that the maps were drawn by Christopher. It’s his fault, then, that I despair of reading any other epic fantasy that doesn’t include a well drawn map to aid me in building the author’s subcreation virtually with my mind’s eye. Christopher’s drafting skills set a high bar and my first and favorite maps are his maps of Middle-earth and Beleriand (see photo below).
For the last two to three years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of studying several of Christopher’s publications of texts from his father’s prolific treasure of unpublished draft manuscripts, sketches, and poems. I’ve done this in my local Smial but also online through the Mythgard Academy. I have barely scratched the surface of what Christopher was able to decipher of his father’s sometimes incredibly illegible scrawls and publish in a readable format for study and contemplation. The following quote is just one of the tantalizing treasures buried in Christopher’s published research in The History of Middle-earth:
Rest in peace, Christopher, and Godspeed your journey into the West.
My notes from first session of Mythgard Academy webinar discussion on Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.
I spent a couple of hours past my usual bedtime last Wednesday evening with Corey Olsen and three dozen new friends discussing the first five chapters of Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I’m proud of myself for making it to the end of the discussion, which ended at 11:15 p.m. I’ve probably read the first book of the Space Trilogy a half dozen times since I first discovered it in the 70s as a pre-teen. I’ve never had an opportunity to do a serious in-depth reading and discussion so I am very excited about the opportunity presented by Mythgard Academy and a generous donation of a patron thereof.
While I participated live in the GoToWebinar session, where I could interact with Corey Olsen via chat, you can watch to the session via the Signum University Youtube channel (link to the playlist) or listen via podcast. Old habits die hard; even knowing the session was being recorded, I took transcript-like notes (because I can still type over a hundred words per minute and can easily keep up with a single person lecturing).
What follows are my notes from Wednesday’s first webinar on Out of the Silent Planet.Continue reading “Ransom Kidnapped”
To celebrate Tolkien’s twelfty-eighth (128th) birthday on 3 January 2020, The Tolkien Society invites all Tolkien fans to raise a toast to the Professor #TolkienBirthdayToast.
The Tolkien Society of Kansas Society will gather at Catch 22 Sports Bar & Grill in Liberty, Missouri at 7:00 pm to kick off our “Toast to the Professor” tradition!
Normally we would meet at Inklings’ Books and Coffee Shoppe for this event, but as Inklings’ has moved to Liberty and is currently under renovation, we will meet at Catch 22 and then take a brief tour of the new Inklings’ space.
The official toast occurs at 9:00 pm. Remember, if you can’t join us in person, simply raise a glass of your preferred beverage at precisely 9:00 pm and say, “The Professor!” and use the hashtag #TolkienBirthdayToast to share on your preferred social media platform.
Please Note: Catch 22 does not accept reservations. If for some reason we are inundated with hobbits, we may need to change venues. Any changes will be announced on our Facebook page as well as via Twitter.@TolkienKC
How well do you know your Tolkien? Have you read The Silmarillion more times than you can count? Have you memorized the extended cut of Return of the King? Is Gollum your spirit animal?
2-4 p.m. Saturday, January 4, 2019Continue reading “Tolkien Trivia This Weekend”
Edited by Jared Lobdell
Published (paperback): 1975
Read: November 2019
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Partial Synopsis: Contributors analyze Gollum’s character transformation, the psychological journey of Bilbo, the regime set up by Saruman at the end of Lord of the Rings and its parallels to fascism, the books’ narrative technique, and Tolkien’s rich use of myth and symbol.
List of Essays
Contents courtesy of the ISFDB entry for this edition (“Publication: A Tolkien Compass,” n.d.):
- 1 • Introduction (A Tolkien Compass) • essay by Jared Lobdell
- 9 • Gollum’s Character Transformation in The Hobbit • essay by Bonniejean Christensen
- 29 • The Psychological Journey of Bilbo Baggins • essay by Dorothy Matthews
- 43 • The Fairy-tale Morality of The Lord of the Rings • essay by Walter Scheps
- 57 • The Corruption of Power • essay by Helen Hill and Agnes Perkins
- 69 • Everyclod and Everyhero: The Image of Man in Tolkien • essay by Deborah C. Rogers
- 77 • The Interlace Structure of The Lord of the Rings • essay by Richard C. West
- 95 • Narrative Pattern in The Fellowship of the Ring • essay by David M. Miller
- 107 • “The Scouring of the Shire”: Tolkien’s View of Fascism • essay by Robert Plank
- 117 • Hell and The City: Tolkien and the Traditions of Western Literature • essay by Charles A. Huttar
- 143 • Aspects of the Paradisiacal in Tolkien’s Work • essay by U. Milo Kaufmann
- 155 • Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings • essay by J. R. R. Tolkien
My Favorite Essays
I found most of the essays collected in A Tolkien Compass to be intriguing and thought provoking. At least three of them added twenty new books, journals and articles to my to-be-read queue. The notes alone on a couple of the essays were three or four pages in length and sent me down fantastic research rabbit holes. I can’t decide which essay is my absolute favorite, so I’ll list my top five here (in author alpha order):
- Huttar, Charles A. “Hell and the City: Tolkien and the Traditions of Western Literature”
- Miller, David M. “Narrative Pattern in The Fellowship of the Ring“
- Rogers, Deborah C. “Everyclod an Everyhero: The Image of Man in Tolkien”
- Scheps, Walter “The Fairy-tale Morality of The Lord of the Rings“
- West, Richard C. “The Interlace Structure of The Lord of the Rings“
Honorable Mentions include Agnes Perkins’ “The Corruption of Power” and U. Milo Kaufmann’s “Aspects of the Paradisiacal in Tolkien’s Work”
A Tolkien Companion, originally published in 1975, amazed me with the depth of insight and scholarship gleaned from the then available works published by Tolkien and about Tolkien’s writing. I saw at least one reference to the manuscripts archived at Marquette University in Wisconsin. Yet, these essays still pre-date the publication of The Silmarillion and the volumes of The History of Middle-earth. Unlike Master of Middle-earth, however, I did not gain any new revelations about Tolkien’s Legendarium, but I did experience profound and thought provoking moments. If I had to choose my favorite essay from the collection, it would probably be Richard West’s “The Interlace Structure of The Lord of the Rings” because I had to restrain myself from recording the entire essay as an audio excerpt.
I recommend this to people interested in delving deeper into Tolkien’s writing.Continue reading “Book Review: A Tolkien Compass”
The second week of November looked and felt more like the first week of January. My commute Tuesday morning (the day after Veterans’ Day) involved icy drizzle and in at least one hair-raising incident on an icy untreated bridge (Thanks, Kansas City, Missouri, for being consistent in your street maintenance over the last 25 years). At least the traction control works in my new van. By lunch time, the drizzle had converted to snow blown by a bitter cold north wind (see photo above taken right before I ventured across the circle drive for a cup of soup at the Mixx).
Last week I attended the monthly Hobbit Happy Hour of the Tolkien Society of Kansas City. We returned to City Barrell where our two teams were victorious in LotR trivia back in September. During one of my conversations with friends and new acquaintances, I learned that circulation of print editions was down at the Plaza Branch of KCPL. I am as much to blame as anyone else since I’ve almost completely switched to audiobooks and ebooks over the last decade. Anything I read in print is because it’s out of print and/or only available as a printed edition.