Hugo Hiatus

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”

Chief Critic, Collaborator and Cartographer ~ R.I.P. Christopher Tolkien

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.

“Someone else always has to carry on the story.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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.

“I wisely started with a map.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

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).

Christopher’s fold-out map from my First American Edition of The Silmarillion

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honor and privilege of studying several of Christopher’s publications of texts from his father’s prolific treasure of unpublished draft manuscripts, sketches, and poems.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:

“(2) Tom could have got rid of the Ring all along [?without further] . . . . . . . — if asked!

. . .

In (2), most frustratingly, I have not been able to form any guess even at the altogether illegible word.”

Christopher Tolkien, The War of the Ring, p. 98

Rest in peace, Christopher, and Godspeed your journey into the West.

“There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Toasting the Professor

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

Tolkien Trivia This Weekend

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, 2019

(Please RSVP via Facebook Event)

Join us at the Pawn & Pint for a day of Tolkien themed trivia with our friends from the Tolkien Society of Kansas City!

Continue reading “Tolkien Trivia This Weekend”

Winter Reading is Coming

A bleak late fall mid-November day at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library

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.

Late Fall / Early Winter Reading
Continue reading “Winter Reading is Coming”

MiddleMoot 2019 Session Sampling

The elvish quote on the screen intrigued me but was not represented in the handout.

MiddleMoot 2019 (last month in Waterloo, Iowa), like most conferences, consists of multiples sessions competing for the same time slots. Like all good stories, plays and, in this case, moots, there is a beginning, a middle and an end where we all gather together. In between, decisions must be made.

Since I wanted to support my fellow Withywindle Smial presenters, Sessions 2 and 4 were already decided. Thus I need to decide between female grief as foresight or interruptions and musing for the first session. I went with the former for various reasons, but mostly because I’m not a writer of fiction (just a reader), my life is one long interruption and I was intrigue by the concept of female grief as foresight and subcreation, especially after reading about Aragorn’s mother, Gilraen. I created an audio recording of the session on my iPad, but Jude Bleile was so soft-spoken, even with a microphone, that I won’t share that recording here to avoid listener frustration.

Continue reading “MiddleMoot 2019 Session Sampling”

More Memes Than You Can Shake a Hobbit At

Our Smial Hangout is a great place discuss Tolkien, his books, etc. but we also have discussions about board games, trivia and, of course, share the latest and quite often Hobbit-hilarious meme. For example, today we ‘fell back’ and Merry and Pippin had this to say about it:

Other memes shared in October in no particular order:

Continue reading “More Memes Than You Can Shake a Hobbit At”