30 November 2012

Hobbit-Themed Week Planned for Colbert Report


Stephen Colbert is, as everybody probably knows by now, a huge Tolkien fanatic. While many of us are gearing up for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey's December 14 release by rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, re-reading (or reading for the first time) The Hobbit, or making elaborate costumes to wear on opening night, the fake TV pundit has found his own way to prepare.

Next Monday (3 December), "The Colbert Report" will kick off its own "Hobbit week," wherein Colbert will interview three of the trilogy's major characters – Sir Ian McKellen on Monday, Martin Freeman on Tuesday, and Andy Serkis on Wednesday – as well as director Peter Jackson on Friday.

"Elen sila lumenn‘ omentielvo*," he said in a statement, adding, "I mean that sincerely."

Recently, Colbert boasted about his victory in a Tolkien trivia contest against Lord of the Rings screenwriter Philippa Boyens. Even Peter Jackson admits that he has "never met a bigger Tolkien geek" than Colbert.

Rumours that Colbert will make a cameo appearance in The Hobbit have also been confirmed.

* "A star shines upon the hour of our meeting"

28 November 2012

'Wisdom of the Shire' Review and Interview


I recently had the pleasure of reading Noble Smith’s The Wisdom of the Shire (“a short guide to a long and happy life”), which came out last month. Having heard many good things about this book from critics and fellow readers alike, I was more than eager to read it myself!

In The Wisdom of the Shire, Noble pulls us away from the craziness of our own lives and sticks us in the heart of the Shire, where its Hobbit citizens live simple, yet rewarding lives, and whose Hobbit holes are the true definition of comfort.

While many of us have grown accustomed to the complex and chaotic routine we call “life,” living like a Hobbit is not a difficult task, as Noble shows us. The main thing is to learn how to simplify – an idea that is both foreign and frightening to many people. Fortunately, Noble provides more than enough suggestions and information to get you on your way to living a more Hobbit-y lifestyle.

And while The Wisdom of the Shire is in some ways a sort of “self-betterment” book, it speaks to – and not at – the reader, which makes it a fun and engaging read. From the very beginning, Noble makes things personal, sprinkling bits of his own opinions and life experiences on top of the many examples he’s pulled from both Tolkien’s writings and Peter Jackson’s film adaptations.

Regardless of whether you seriously want to make a change in your life, or if you just want to read more about Tolkien’s furry-footed characters, this is a must-have. 

Noble was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about his book:

26 November 2012

A Tolkien-Inspired Cookbook

Although Thanksgiving is now behind us, hopefully you've still got food on your mind. If you're like me, then you've always wanted to cook up some dishes similar to those feasted upon in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. While there are many websites which offer creative recipe interpretations – my longtime favourite being this recipe for lembas bread from Council of Elrond – there is not yet an actual Tolkien cookbook available for us hungry fans.

Until now, that is.

With your help, Heath Dill of Massachusetts is hoping to publish (both in print and online) such a cookbook, titled Medium Rare and Back Again. He will be collaborating with his friend Corey Olsen ("the Tolkien Professor"), whose Tolkien Movie Marathon events he regularly caters at, to ensure that these recipes are as close as possible to what you might dine on in Middle-earth.

That being said, raising the necessary funds to research and write a cookbook is not an easy task. And that's why Heath needs your help! Even the smallest donation can go a long way – but if you can't donate, you can still contribute by spreading the word about Heath's campaign on Kickstarter.

Already Heath has raised over $6,000 out of the $10,000 needed to launch this project. There are still 23 days left to spread the word and make a donation, so if you feel so inclined, make a small donation and see this wonderful project come to life.

For more information on Heath Dill and his campaign, check out his blog at Dillicious and his fundraiser on Kickstarter

21 November 2012

Guest Post: 'Temptations and Corruptions, pt. 2'

Here is the second part of David Rowe's (@TolkienProverbs) article on "Temptations and Corruptions."

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TEMPTATIONS AND CORRUPTIONS pt 2
by David Rowe

"In the first of this pair of blogs, looking at the question, ‘Why do good people go wrong?’, I looked at the danger that besets those who trust too strongly in themselves, while also mentioning a significant knock-on effect: that humility breeds co-operation and collaboration (eg. the Fellowship, the Council of Elrond, the Last Alliance), rather than the desire to command.

I finished with Sam, under temptation to claim the Ring, falling back on his ‘plain hobbit-sense’, and that is the point from which I’ll continue.


GOOD SENSE

Sam would never describe himself as much more than a simple gardener. Like his Gaffer and many other hobbits, he has had no formal education – such things as ‘learning your letters’ being treated more often with suspicion than respect. While rich in ‘real life’ experience, the Shire is therefore peopled in the majority by the unschooled and illiterate.

In contrast, elsewhere in Middle-earth learning and aptitude is at times so advanced that it supersedes what even the most brilliant contemporary scientist is yet capable of: Jewels can be crafted to permanently capture light; Rings can be forged that bring power or enslavement; minds can commune from afar through Seeing Stones. Arda abounds with technical brilliance.

However, cerebral cleverness is far from all it’s cracked up to be.

Beginning with Feanor, the creator of the Silmarils and the greatest in skill and understanding of all the Eldar, the repeated lesson is that knowledge (and the power it brings) more often leads to prideful downfall than to wisdom. For example, the influence Melkor gained over Feanor was due to a hunger for greater expertise and dexterity; likewise Sauron became the teacher of Celebrimbor the Ringmaker by exploiting his desire for ever-greater technical ability.

These Noldo learned greatly and became great, only to be overtaken by tragedy and death.

This same process is just as much at work in the latter days of Middle-earth. Denethor was the master of the lore of Minas Tirith, with records and learning compiled over millennia, but his sharp mind was overthrown when desperate need led his honest pursuit of knowledge to the peril of the palantir. Saruman, the Man of Skill, ‘long studied the arts of the Enemy himself’, but his great power through mastery of lore (again reflected in his use of a palantir) became his downfall. He was clever, yes – clever enough to devise his own Ring of Power as well as many as-yet unseen machines of war – but in seeking knowledge above wisdom, he brought about his own downfall.

Wherever you look in Arda, from Aule the Smith and the Dwarves to Lotho Sackville-Baggins and Ted Sandyman, cleverness without wisdom leads inexorably to pride, and pride (as we all should know) comes before a fall. The perverting effects of great knowledge, skill, and technological advancement show them for the great temptations they truly are. Knowledge is power, and good people go wrong when their technical abilities out-reach the astuteness to implement them wisely.

But the Gaffer? Farmer Maggot? Sam Gamgee? Unschooled and barely literate maybe, but at no point are they deceived by pride or by the deceits of others. Shire hobbits of their ilk smelled a rat the moment Lotho knocked down the Mill and fill its replacement with ‘wheels and outlandish contraptions’. Good plain hobbit-sense has a lot to say for it."

Deck the Halls with Lots of Tolkien!

If you’re like me, then you probably got all of your holiday shopping done months ago. But if you’re among those who prefer to wait until the season is actually upon us, you may be scrambling to come up with some ideas for your loved ones. Or maybe you’re in no rush at all, but you’d still like some gift-giving guidance.

Below are just some of the many wonderful things available on the Internet (and, in some cases, your local stores!). Mine is a very basic guide - poke around on some of the websites for even more ideas!


BOOKS

* The Wisdom of the Shire, Noble Smith
In this “short guide to a long and happy life,” Noble shows us that we can all live like the Hobbits of the Shire.

* Hobbitus Ille, translated by Mark Walker
Perfect for the Latin scholar and the Tolkien collector alike. (This book will become available November 27.)

* Exploring JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’, Corey Olsen "the Tolkien Professor"
Regardless of where your loved one stands as a Hobbit fan – whether they’ve already read the book or are simply excited for the films – this is the perfect companion volume to JRR Tolkien’s classic children’s story.

* Check your local Barnes & Noble for more books, as many locations have set up “Hobbit” displays in anticipation of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" arriving in theatres next month.

CALENDARS

* (9x12) The Hobbit - 2013 Special Edition Calendar by Poster Revolution, $9.49 on Amazon.com

* (11x12) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 2013 Wall Calendar by Poster Revolution, $9.14 on Amazon.com

* Official Tolkien The HOBBIT Wall Calendar 2013 (illustrated by John Howe and Alan Lee), $32.96 on Amazon.com

COLLECTIBLES – Statues, Busts, Weapons, etc.


* Sideshow Collectibles – Legendary scale busts, premium format figures, fine art prints, prop replicas, and polystone statues

* Weta Shop – Polystone statues, prop replicas, fine art prints; there is also a section specifically for the Art of John Howe

JEWELLERY

$39.00, Badali
* MyPrecious.us – I purchased my One Ring replica from them in 2004 and to this day am still pleased with it!



* The Noble Collection – I purchased most of my other rings and necklaces from this website





TOYS and GAMES

* LEGO Board game - $26.24 at Toys ‘R US

* The Bridge Direct ‘The Hobbit’ 3.75 inch action figures – choose from Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, Thorin Oakenshield, Legolas Greenleaf, and Grinnah. Available at most toy retailers.

* The Bridge Direct ‘The Hobbit’ 6 inch action figures – choose from Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, Thorin Oakenshield, Legolas Greenleaf, and Tauriel. Available at most toy retailers.

* The Bridge Direct ‘The Hobbit’ 2-pack – choose from Bilbo Baggins & Gollum, Fili & Kili, Balin & Dwalin, Legolas & Tauriel, Bolg & Battle-damaged Gandalf, Fimbul the hunter & warg, and Thorin Oakenshield & the Goblin King. Available at most toy retailers.

* The Bridge Direct ‘The Hobbit’ multipack – set includes Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, Fili & Kili, and Dwalin. Available at most toy retailers.

* ‘The Hobbit’ Plush Dolls – $9.99 from Funko

* ‘The Hobbit’ Bobble-heads – $14.99 from Funko

MISCELLANEOUS 

Some other ideas and helpful websites to check out are:

* Mythgard Institute’s “Ticket to Learning” You’ve got a loved one who wants to study Tolkien in-depth. Why not purchase a gift card allowing them to take a course at Mythgard Institute? Courses available this spring include: Science Fiction Part II, The Story of the Hobbit, Tolkien’s World of Middle-earth, and Elementary Latin I Encourse.

* Pre-order 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' soundtrack today! (Available December 11.)

* Tolkien Town – I have purchased a number of small items from them in the past (keychains, enamel necklaces, patches, stickers, etc.) and am always impressed by their selection

* WB Shop/The Hobbit Shop

Feel free to share some of your gift ideas or favourite websites in a comment below!

20 November 2012

Guest Post: 'Temptations and Corruptions'

My second 'guest post' comes from David Rowe (@TolkienProverbs). If ever you have been in search of a single site which contains the many wonderful proverbs Tolkien has written, then look no further! Be sure to check out the website and follow David on Twitter!

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TEMPTATIONS AND CORRUPTIONS
by David Rowe

"I am going, over the course of a couple of (hopefully fairly brief) blogs, to deal with the question, ‘Why do good people go wrong?’

And by people, I of course mean Tolkien’s people.

The underlying assumption, throughout the history of Arda, is that the World and its inhabitants are good-but-corruptible: whether Maiar or Men, the origins of all peoples and all places are wholesome but susceptible to evil.  Even Melkor himself was created good, as were Ted Sandyman and Smeagol, but they became twisted versions of what they could have been.  I will be giving a couple of suggestions as to why this happened.


Suggestion 1: TRUSTWORTHINESS

I’m going to start with the idea of trustworthiness, and to do that, we firstly we need to look at the nature of temptation.  There are several moments in the Lord of the Rings where ‘good’ characters are explicitly offered, or tempted to claim, the Ring and the power it might offer.

Boromir sees himself driving back the hosts of Mordor, all men flocking to him; Galadriel admits that she greatly desires it, to set herself up as Queen in place of the Dark Lord; Faramir has the chance to show his quality; Gandalf out of pity seeks the strength to do good; Sam sees Gorgoroth turned to a garden.

Of these, only Boromir ‘falls’, trying to take the Ring by force.  The others, in Galadriel’s words, ‘pass the test’.

In addition to these examples, several other characters desire and seek the Ring but never have it within their grasp: Saruman, to achieve Knowledge, Rule, Order; Denethor, to hold as a weapon in the defence of Gondor; and Sauron, its maker, desiring domination.

If we can put these individuals and their temptations into two categories, of those who pass the test, and those who succumb, I believe a very simple pattern emerges.  Those who fail and fall – Boromir, Denethor, Saruman, Sauron – are those who desire strength (albeit, often, in order to achieve noble purposes), and crucially, trust themselves to use that strength.

They trust themselves and fall, the others do not.

When Denethor criticises Faramir for not bringing the Ring to Minas Tirith, Gandalf tells him:

I do not trust you… no more than Boromir.  Nay, stay your wrath!  I do not trust myself in this.

Gandalf is wise enough to not depend on himself.  Those who fall to the lure of the Ring and its corrupting promises are those who think themselves trustworthy and up to the task.

It is natural to presume that being worthy of trust would make you reliable under the onslaught of temptation, but as these examples show, it is the ability (and humility) to be aware of your untrustworthiness that actually safeguards against the corruptions of power.  It should also be observed that the natural outworking of this humility is the willingness to collaborate, rather than the desire to command.  Evil swaggers in self-sufficiency, while goodness stumbles in humble interdependency.

To finish this ‘part one’ (and look towards ‘part two’), here is Sam, when the temptation to claim the Ring came upon him.

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him.  The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command. "

18 November 2012

Guest Post: ‘Hobbits and Christmas’

My blog’s first “guest post” comes from Stephen at TheHobbitMovie.co.uk (@hobbitmoviecouk). If you have not already visited, I would highly recommend that you do. Stephen has put together a marvelous fan site, featuring the latest movie news and lots of other "Hobbit" goodies.

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Hobbits and Christmas
by Stephen

"With Christmas soon here (and remarkably - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey too), I had a spent a few moments thinking about what Christmas is like for those hobbits of Middle-earth…

Despite the best efforts of most supermarkets, toy shops, and so on, Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus – not the giving and receiving of gifts (although the giving and receiving of gifts is a splendid benefit that comes with Christmas). This is a tricky situation, as I’m pretty sure that Middle-earth has no churches and had no Jesus (although Sir Ian McKellen does come close – or perhaps not – as it is well known that Sir Ian is an atheist) – so this destroys any idea of Christmas in Middle-earth.

So, with the exception of the lack of a divine, virgin birth – what would Christmas be like for the Halflings of The Shire?

The first question would be when would Christmas be? On earth, we celebrate Christmas towards the end of December as everyone knows. Luckily for us, the first and last days of each year in The Shire were Yule days, when great celebrating and partying would occur. The first day of Yule would always be Highday (Friday), with the second as Sterday or Saturday. Similarly to the Christmas period, the whole period of Yule would last six days.

As per our Christmas celebrations, there would be lots of good grub – and those hobbits do enjoy their food! Second breakfasts are the norm, along with elevenses, and early lunch and so on. You can imagine those little furry feet tapping with excitement at the thought of munching on Beorn’s honey cake and lembas bread, washed down with copious amounts Barliman’s Best (yes – it comes in pints) and then to liven things up, perhaps a glug or two of Ent-Draught (which might lead to some hobbits waking up taller than they were the day before).

It’s well known that hobbits love the giving and receiving of gifts. Hobbits have the slightly strange tradition of the hobbit whose birthday it is, giving gifts to others. I initially thought this was because those friendly hobbits were such cheerful, giving creatures. Alas, I imagine this is partly because a hobbit only gets one birthday per year, whereas there’s most likely a birthday every day of the year for some hobbit or another, which means that most hobbits should hopefully get more than one present a week.

So, to wrap everything up… Hobbits love to party (as we know with Bilbo’s Long Awaited Party). Those little fellows love to eat and drink and are especially big fans of the old giving and receiving of presents and gifts. You can just imagine the gathering together of the hobbits to celebrate Yule… Young hobbits squabbling and causing mayhem. Older hobbits drinking ale, smoking pipeweed and chatting away whilst munching on good solid grub, before dozing off occasionally…

Tolkien alludes to this, when he talks about the hobbits, “And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them). They were hospitable and delighted in parties, and in presents, which they gave away freely and eagerly accepted.”

Sounds like my kind of Christmas party… "

16 November 2012

Featured Website: Tolkien Brasil


Created just a few weeks ago (22 October), Tolkien Brasil is a fantastic new website that has much to offer Tolkien fans all across the world – from academic articles and book reviews to news articles and their very own "Tolkiencast" podcast (on which they have already interviewed artist Ted Nasmith!)

For more updates, you can 'Like' their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and add them to your circle on Google+.

Be sure to have a look at their links!

13 November 2012

Now Accepting Guest Posts/Submissions!

With the holidays (and the first Hobbit film) fast approaching, it's going to become harder and harder to cover every bit of news that pops up. Additionally, I'd like to begin working on some Tolkien essays to enhance this blog and go beyond just covering the latest news. I hope to make my blog a bit more interactive and personal than it has been recently.

And what better way to start than by inviting you, my wonderful readers and fellow Tolkien fans, to submit some of your own Tolkien-related articles, essays, photos, etc.? I would love to hear more from you guys!

I don't have any real guidelines (you can post anything you like, and at whatever length you'd like), but a few suggestions are:

  • A Tolkien essay or opinion 
  • A review of a book, film, video game, etc.
  • LOTRO screenshots or stories
  • Your review of a LOTRO expansion or general opinion(s) of the game/certain features
  • Original artwork or music
  • Recipes or craft ideas
  • Any Hobbit (or general Tolkien) news
  • Photos and/or details about your Tolkien collection
  • How you became interested in Tolkien's works

The only restrictions are:
  • Plagiarised work
  • Work that may be considered hateful or derogatory towards any individual or group of people (ie racism, sexism, etc.) 

To submit a piece, feel free to e-mail me at BrittaSiemen@Gmail.com.

Additionally, feel free to suggest via e-mail any news stories or important articles I've missed, and I'll be sure to credit you with the find!

Last updated on: 20 November 2013

12 November 2012

Neil Finn's 'Song of the Lonely Mountain' Hits Web

Neil Finn's 'Song of the Lonely Mountain,' which will play during the end credits of The Hobbit film, has now been released online.

"'The Song of the Lonely Mountain' was developed from a dark and mysterious theme which the dwarves sing early in the movie," Finn told Rolling Stone magazine. "After some days of mining underground (actually, in Peter's office) I emerged with the song, then set about recording it with my sons Elroy and Liam. Dave Fridmann came in at the end with a bold mix. He seemed to respond well to my demands for "more anvil! Pop music needs more anvil!"

You can listen to the full track here.

08 November 2012

Low Budget Mockbuster Sued over “Hobbit” Trademark Infringement

Low-budget film company The Asylum, who have released a number of “mockbusters” inspired by hit movies, are now being sued for trademark infringement over their new film, Age of the Hobbits, following previous threats of legal action by the Hobbit studios and Zaentz Co.

Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM, and Saul Zaentz claim The Asylum is “free-riding” on the campaign to promote Peter Jackson’s upcoming Hobbit films, and do not want the word “hobbit” used in the title of a “knockoff film.”

Hobbit producers have called it an “intentional and wilful attempt to trade on the popularity and goodwill” of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, as well as the novels by JRR Tolkien, on which they are based.

The producers also want all infringing packaging and advertising material for Age of the Hobbits to be destroyed, as it could “divert customers and potential customers away from the Hobbit films.”

Age of the Hobbits is due for a DVD and online release on December 11, just three days before The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in the US.

Although court papers not that The Aylum’s film bears a “confusingly similar and misleading title,” the company claims its movie is legally sound, as its hobbits are not based on Tolkien’s creations, but instead on the real-life human subspecies Homo floresiensis (once nicknamed “hobbits”). The company added that as a result, the term is “protected under the legal doctrines of nominal and fair trade use.”

05 November 2012

Regal Cinemas to Host 'LOTR' Marathon


In celebration of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arriving in theatres next month, Regal Cinemas across the United States will be hosting a Lord of the Rings marathon on Thursday, December 8.

The event, which will cost $25 for Crown Club members and $30 for non-members, and includes a coupon toward a "Lord of the Rings" concession combo (a medium popcorn and medium drink for $5).

The marathon will begin with The Fellowship of the Ring at 11:15 am, followed by The Two Towers at 3:30 pm and The Return of the King at 8 pm.

Tickets for the event will go on sale on Wednesday, November 7 at 9 am.

02 November 2012

‘Hobbit’ Lecture Forced to Change its Name


Photo credit: © National Geographic Society

Following legal pressure from the Saul Zaentz Company/Middle-earth Enterprises, a lecture on diminutive primitive humans known as “hobbits” – or Homo floresiensis – is now being renamed.

The free public lecture, originally titled “The Other Hobbit,” was specifically timed to coincide with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – the first of Peter Jackson’s trilogy. But the Saul Zaentz Company and Middle-earth Enterprises, who own some of the rights to JRR Tolkien’s creatures, objected to the use of the word “hobbit” as a generic name for the 1m tall human species.

The lecture has now been renamed “A newly discovered species of Little People – unravelling the legend behind Homo floresiensis,” and will be held at Wellington’s Te Papa museum.

Archaeologists speaking at the lecture include Professor Mike Morwood (University of Wollongong in Australia) and Thomas Sutikna (Pusat Arkeologi Nasional in Indonesia).  Additionally, the event will feature two of the principal archaeologists involved in the 2003 discovery of Homo floresiensis on the island of Flores in Indonesia.

Dr Alloway, who has visited Flores twice this year to study volcanic deposits and address such issues as whether the volcanic nature of the island allowed the species to expand, found the controversy over the name to be disappointing.

"I really want to move on from the controversy about not being able to use The Hobbit,” he said. “I kind of went into this rather naively, not really knowing about these name propriety trademarks.

All I want to deliver is something interesting to the New Zealand public, and at a time when everybody is really getting into the celebratory sense of Peter Jackson's movie, which is going to be quite a classic I'd imagine."

While some people may see the term “hobbit” as being “rather opportunistic,” Dr Alloway explained the reason for nicknaming Homo floresiensis the “hobbit” was because the species, which stood just over 1m tall, had large feet and was able to perform complex tasks.

"It's a new dimension to our ancestral roots which we're only just starting to really begin to understand."

For more information on Homo floresiensis, National Geographic posted an interesting article shortly after its discovery: "Hobbit-Like Human Ancestor Found in Asia."

Empire Magazine Puts 17 New 'Hobbit' Character Posters Online

For those of you who may not have picked up Empire Magazine's 'Hobbit' issue – which features 63 pages of 'Hobbit' goodies and 3D covers – here's your chance to see some of the treats within! Seventeen character posters from the issue have made their way onto the web.

To see the photos, head on over to Empire Magazine's website.

Also included in the 'Hobbit' issue are extensive interviews with cast members Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman, and Sylvester McCoy. So if you haven't yet, be sure to get your copy now!

LOTRO Now Available to Mac Users


Turbine announced yesterday that a beta LOTRO client has been released for Mac. Previously, the popular MMORPG has only been available to PC users; following the release of the highly-anticipated Riders of Rohan expansion, developers pushed to make the game more widely accessible.

"We are really excited to open up the world of Middle-earth to Mac," said Kate Paiz, Executive Producer of LOTRO. "We’ve just launched our biggest expansion yet and we’re happy to welcome gamers to play the game natively on Mac OS X for the first time ever."

Click here to download the beta client.