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Posts Tagged ‘The Lord of The Rings’

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September 22 is Hobbit Day! It marks the start of Tolkien Week. 

Here are 10 ways to celebrate:

1.) Click to learn more about Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week, celebrated each year since 1978 by The American Tolkien Society.

2.) Read (or reread) The Hobbit. Or share your favorite passages with a friend.

3.) Go barefoot, as hobbits rarely wear shoes.

4.) Eat heartily, and don’t miss Second Breakfast! There is some discussion as to whether Second Breakfast is the same as or in addition to Elevenses. Either way, Halflings eat six or seven times a day and are particularly fond of apples, blackberry tarts, ripe cheeses, mushrooms, hot soups, cold meats, bacon rashers, scones, potatoes (Samwise Gangee’s favorite), and fruit or meat pies. But, perhaps avoid roast mutton, as that is frequent food of Trolls.

5.) Argue with other Tolkien geeks over whether Hobbit Day actually fell on September 12 or 14, since the Shire Calendar varies from the Gregorian.

6.) Noodle some riddles. Hobbits adore riddles. Bilbo used them to get the best of Gollum in the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter. He later wrote “all that is gold does not glitter” in a telling riddle about Strider, which Gandalf gave to Frodo.

7.) Check out the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hitting theaters December 13, 2013.

 

8.) Visit your local library or a local bookstore for more Middle-Earth mythology via Tolkien’s posthumously published works: The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth, or The Histories of Middle-Earth.

9.) Have that “Unexpected” or “Long-Expected” Party! Hobbits like to socialize. Well, except Bilbo of course.

10.) Raise a glass of wine (preferably Old Winyards red), “a good deep mug of beer,” or perhaps a restorative cup of tea, and drink “to The Shire!”

September 22 is Hobbit Day!

The Hobbit: My Own Unexpected Journey

Happy Hobbitversary! 75 Years On

Bring on The Hobbit Movie Triple Play!

A Tolkien Travesty: Nobel Jury Not So Noble

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Hobbit movie image crop etcSomehow, with the bustle of the holidays, I did not make it to the The Hobbit—An Unexpected Journey. We had a collection of extended family—cousins, grandparents, in-laws—almost like a gathering of the Bagginses, Brandybucks, and Tooks. Our festivities kicked off the Thursday before Christmas with people coming-and-going, so it was nearly the six-day hobbit Yule celebration.

After Christmas dinner, when things had finally settled down, I was feeling rather like Bilbo Baggins, ready for a quiet night by the fire with a cup of tea. Then, the phone rang. The family fun was not over, and an evening trip to The Hobbit was proposed. Much like Bilbo with the dwarves, I declined the adventure at first. But my 14-year-old nephew talked me out of this moment of temporary insanity. Just like Bilbo, when I saw everyone leaving, I realized I did not want to be left behind.

There were eight of us, heading off like Thorin Oakenshield’s merry band of dwarves. Among us were three Tolkien geeks (moi aussi), including my brother-in-law who quoted to us impressively from The Silmarillion. Our company also included a couple of people who hadn’t “gotten into” The Hobbit, another way of saying “I just stopped reading.” And, we actually brought along someone who’d never seen The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) film trilogy. (I know, but you cannot pick your relatives.)

Everyone, from the neophytes to the Tolkien-obsessed, loved The Hobbit movie! As with LOTR, Peter Jackson mined Tolkien’s detailed notes and his history of Middle-Earth, The Silmarillion. Jackson starts his story before the novel does, with the exciting tale of the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor and the Lonely Mountain. Also, in the first few scenes, we get a cameo of Frodo—and the whole theater cheered. There were more cheers when Bilbo’s pen scratched out the book’s first words: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Later, there were gasps and some hisses when Saruman showed up in Rivendell.

Thanks to this Star Wars-esque reverse filming of LOTR before The Hobbit, many viewers learn about Saruman’s treachery before they see him as an important force for good in the first book. It’s like watching young Anakin Skywalker, knowing he will grow up to be Darth Vader. Though here it’s a pity, because the Saruman story unfolds with some great twists in LOTR that have much more punch if you’ve read (or seen) The Hobbit first.

Without anymore near spoilers, I’ll add that keen observers will note that the dreaded three Trolls from this film make a brief cameo in LOTR: The Fellowship of The Ring. Finally, I’ll admit that I teared up when Bilbo first reaches for Sting.

My favorite part of the movie, however, is when Frodo heads out to greet the arrival of Gandalf. Yes, this film starts on the very same day as the LOTR trilogy, Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday—now celebrated around the world as Hobbit Day. We will next see Frodo at the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring, on the road waving down Gandalf. This circular approach is a brilliant move by Jackson, and I feel will ultimately weave the two trilogies together perfectly. The Hobbit—An Unexpected Journey is worth the trip!! I just wish, per Saturday Night Live’s trailer above, there really were 18 more sequels.

Bring On the Hobbit Triple-Play!

Happy Hobbit Day! Happy Hobbitversary! 75 Years On

September 22 is Hobbit Day

Ten Ways to Celebrate Hobbit Day

The Hobbit—An Unexpected Journey (official site)

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

Lord of The Rings Wiki

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Tony RomoI’m not sure about all this Tony Romo bashing. It seems rather obvious and easy for everyone to point to him. It’s sort of like blaming the character holding a bloody knife over the dead body in an Agatha Christie novel. Except that person is never the one who did it.

Books are rife with such red herrings, dubious characters who turn out to be just the opposite in the end. There’s the cast-off but ever-faithful Cordelia in King Lear. The men who challenge d’Artagnan to a duel turn out to be The Three Musketeers. The scruffy Strider eventually becomes the king in The Lord of the Rings. Jane Austen was especially fond of offering up red-herring suitors: the simple farmer Mr. Martin in Emma, the not-dashing Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility, and, most notably, the pompous Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice.

Now I am *not* comparing Romo to Mr. Darcy. Robert Martin, maybe. But the point is that these red herrings distract us from the real villains at work: Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Elton respectively. Or, in Romo’s case, Jerry Jones.

Yes, it looked like Romo choked against the Redskins. (Ok, it always looks like Romo chokes.) He threw three interceptions. But some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks have had the most interceptions: Brett Favre holds the record with 361. Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino are also in the top 10, with John Elway ranked 13th overall. The fewest are by Damon Huard and Joe Ferguson—ever heard of them?

Also, it wasn’t Romo who gave up 361 yards and 28 points to the Redskins. It’s easy to blame Romo, but doesn’t that sidetrack us from the bigger, more insidious problem? After all, the Cowboys have been floundering for about 15 years now, ever since owner Jerry Jones inserted himself into the coaching process. Jones has not relinquished full control to a coach since Jimmy Johnson in the early ‘90s, coincidentally the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl or won the Division. (Really, Switzer was mostly coming off Johnson’s coattails in ’95). Current Redskins coach, Mike Shanahan (who took the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl wins) is one of many notable coaches rumored to have declined an offer from the Cowboys because of Jones.

Back to Romo, I do wonder what he could do under a coach like Shanahan. Ok, so Romo’s not Darcy or d’Artagnan. He’s more like Professor Snape, the ultimate red herring who seemed to foil and thwart Harry Potter through all seven books, which I guess rather aptly makes Jerry Jones “He-who-must-not-be-named.”

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We’ve just learned that in 1961, the jury for the Nobel Prize for Literature snubbed J.R.R. Tolkien. But the big news isn’t that he lost—so did Graham Greene, Robert Frost, and E.M. Forster that year. The really shocking news was the release of the derisive and not-so-intellectual commentary of the Nobel’s jury: that august group of judges who had been entrusted, on behalf of Alfred Nobel, to select “only the most worthy.”

One could just imagine the stimulating and elevated conversation that would arise in a year that had such luminary candidates as the aforementioned Tolkien, Greene, Frost, Forster, as well as Isak Dinesen, aka Karen Blixen, Lawrence Durrell, and John Steinbeck, who went on to win the next year.

But instead the excerpts read a bit like the outtakes from a fierce session of sorority rush, with apologies to the Greek system. The Nobel jury found that Tolkien (who was nominated by C.S. Lewis, a tidbit that warmed my heart) was ruled out because they felt The Lord of the Rings trilogy “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality.” Ouch. And also, huh? Did they not read the books? Maybe Tolkien was not Gabriel García Márquez, but his storytelling was epic, mythical, stirring. Tolkien was a medieval history scholar, and he imbued so much of those legends into the many cultures (and languages) he created in the kingdom of Middle Earth.

The same jury ruled out both Frost and Forster, then 86 and 82 respectively, because of their “advanced age.” Despite the fact that the prolific and legendary Frost was still writing and publishing poetry, the jury argued that his age was “a fundamental obstacle, which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state”. They were much less kind to Forster, whom they called “a shadow of his former self, with long lost spiritual health.” Even as a shadow, Forster, who wrote the pioneering and seminal Modernist novels Howard’s End and  A Passage to India, was one of the most significant and influential writers of the 20th-century from a literary and a cultural standpoint. His themes of cultural conflicts, identity, and miscommunication still perplex us today—“only connect!” I’d like to think they’ve gotten over the ageism, as the latest winner, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, is 80, and in 2007, an 87-year-old Doris Lessing won.

I do imagine that it would be an immensely difficult job picking between these lettered giants.  It’s just that I would expect the dialogue to be more focused on the pluses, and er the literary qualifications, rather than on the negatives. One would expect the jury to be awe-struck and full of scholarly wonder at such an impressive slate. Instead, they lobbed a series of blackballs.

One thing I don’t want to get lost in all this hype is the merit and brilliance of 1961’s  winner: Ivo Andrić. There have been a few disparaging comments from the Tolkien camp. Whoa, whoa, whoa. If you have not read his masterpiece, The Bridge on the Drina, then it’s a must for your TBR. The novel looks at the history, strife, and conflict in the Bosnian region as it plays out near a great stone bridge that was built in 1516. It reads much like a novel by James Michener or Edward Rutherford, with layered folklore and a changing cast of characters that unfold over centuries.  There are Serbs, Bosnians, Jews, Christians, Turks, and all of their families, communities, and cultures. The bridge stands indomitable until it is blown away at the start of World War I. “The summer of 1914 will remain in the memory of those who lived through it as the most beautiful summer they ever remembered, for in their consciousness it shone and flamed over a gigantic and dark horizon of suffering and misfortune which stretched into infinity.” Andrić’s “Bosnian Trilogy” (The Bridge on the Drina, Bosnian Chronicles, The Woman from Sarajevo) enjoyed a revival during the terrible unrest in that area during the mid-1990s. The novels still resonate today, and Andrić is claimed as part of Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian literature.

The jury notes from back in 1961, reveal that Greene and Blixen technically came in second and third, though there are no prizes for that. Still, it is confounding that the committee never chose to honor Greene, whose repeated nominations were passed over by several Nobel juries during the course of his lengthy career. He was in good company, though. The Pantheon of non-winners reads like a college syllabus: Mark Twain, Henrik Ibsen, Ranier Maria Rilke, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Theodore Dreiser, and more recently, Michael Ondaatje, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and Haruki Marakami.  In fact, Ernest Hemingway, who lost several times before finally winning in 1954, termed it the “IGnobel” prize.

It does make one wonder. I’m not sure how much crossover is on the committees, but this is the same organization that in 2009 chose President Obama as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize … two days after NASA bombed the moon.

As to all the ire over the Tolkien news, I’m still reeling from the outrageous and rather blasphemous claim that LOTR is not great storytelling. If anything, it is the apex and apotheosis of storytelling! The trilogy is ranked as the third best-selling novel worldwide, having sold over 150 million copies. Andrew Pettie wrote a wonderful article for the UK’s Telegraph “In Defense of J.R.R. Tolkien.” As Pettie noted, so “Tolkien wasn’t Tolstoy.” Then again, back in 1902 the Nobel committee also passed over Tolstoy, in favor of French poet René F. A. Sully-Prudhomme.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Nobel Chances Dashed by Poor Prose

In Defense of J.R.R. Tolkien

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I think there is more to this hobbit than meets the eye.” –Gandalf the Grey

Don’t forget to eat your Second Breakfast in honor of Hobbit Day, celebrated every year on September 22.  The holiday was founded by the American Tolkien Society back in 1978. They chose this date, as it’s the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Indeed, the Fellowship of the Ring opens with Bilbo throwing himself a spectacular “eleventy-first” (or 111th) birthday party complete with fireworks, courtesy of Gandalf the Grey.

Contrary to recent statements made by politicians, hobbits are nothing like trolls. They are somewhat diminutive, averaging 3-4 feet in height, but they have disproportionately large, and rather hairy, feet. They are fastidious in their attire—favoring dresses, breeches, and waistcoats—and also fastidious in the upkeep of their gardens. A hobbit-hole is “not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms,” protested author JRR Tolkien. Their homes are built into the hillsides, with painted green doors, brass knockers, polished floors, crackling fireplaces, cosy sitting rooms, and lots of extra pegs for hats and coats—as hobbits love visitors.

But, what they don’t like are adventures, which they consider to be “nasty disturbing uncomfortable things [that] make you late for dinner.” Nevertheless, Tolkien’s hobbits repeatedly landed themselves in most adventuresome predicaments. Yet, despite their small stature and their distaste for such circumstances, the hobbits consistently rose to the occasion: Bilbo hunted for Smaug the dragon, Frodo and Sam marched into Mordor, and Merry and Pippin galvanized the Ents.

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit,” summed up Tolkien.

It’s an important lesson, played out repeatedly in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Even one person, no matter how small, can make a difference. Another bit of wisdom imparted by Bilbo: “Never laugh at live dragons.”

10 Ways to Celebrate Hobbit Day

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