eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)
Just a couple of weeks ago I had the very good fortune to be part of A Long-Expected Party 4 at the exquisite Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

(You can see my photos from the event here and from the last ALEP three years ago here.)

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While I was there, I heard some wonderfully spooky ghost stories, several of which revolved around faces seen in the topmost windows of the West Family Wash House (1842), shown below, the building in which I gave my presentations and workshops for the event.

image


Since then, I’ve indulged in Shaker Ghost Stories from Pleasant Hill, Kentucky by Thomas Freese (2005) and learned some more spooky lore from the place. Here is one of my favorite anecdotes from the book, which is about the Meeting House and told by Bill Bright, a former Pleasant Hill employee:

Since I was a bit bored, I walked over to a spot between the two front doors to sing a little. I was next to a gap in the wall benches, facing the back wall. I started to sing sets of three (triads). Since I had spent plenty of time in high school band, I figured that it’s be a neat exercise to try the acoustics in the large room of the Meeting House.

As I was singing, something appeared in the middle of the benches to my right, on the sister’s side. For lack of a better explanation, it looked like a human form, very similar to the special effect done in Star Trek when they beam up somebody. It seemed to rise up from the floor to my height. At that point, the hair on the right side of my body stood on end, while the left side was not affected. I immediately got cold chills, like I had just walked into a meat locker. I just wanted to get out of there. I left the building immediately…

When I saw Randy [Folger, the music director], I told him about the experience and he simply asked me if I knew what I had been doing. At that point I had no idea. Then Randy asked me to sing as I had been singing in the Meeting House. After I sang for him, Randy explained to me that I had unwittingly been singing the “Angel Shout.” The Angel Shout was a set up notes that were sung like: “Lo…lo…lo…” and were sung in descending thirds. The Angel Shout was supposed to call the Shakers to meeting.  

This photo is from the Shaker graveyard at the village (1811).

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eldritchhobbit: (SW/Luke/What You Take With)
My guest scholar talk (from the recent A Long-Expected Party 4 celebration) on the relationship between J.R.R. Tolkien and Star Wars storytelling is now up in full for free here on the latest episode of the StarShipSofa podcast.

If you listen, I hope you enjoy!


imageimage
eldritchhobbit: (Default)


Today is the anniversary of the Long-Expected Party celebrating the
eleventy-first birthday of Bilbo Baggins and the coming of age of Frodo
Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. It was on this day that Bilbo
gave his infamous birthday speech, saying “I don’t know half of you half
as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well
as you deserve,” before disappearing from the Shire forever.

Also on this day, according to the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings,
99-year-old Samwise Gamgee rode out from Bag End for the final time. He
was last seen in Middle-Earth by his daughter Elanor, to whom he
presented the Red Book. According to tradition, he then went to the Grey
Havens and passed over the Sea, last of the Ringbearers.

image

And now, in honor of the Baggins Birthdays, the departure of Samwise, and
Hobbits in general, a quote about the Ring’s temptation of - and failure
with - one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s (and, for that matter, world
literature’s) greatest heroes, Samwise Gamgee:

“Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age,
striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies
flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And
then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his
command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and
brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his
own, and all this could be. 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.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Secret Gate)
Today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of Dwarves and Elves and all of Middle-earth, who was born this day in 1892. You're invited to participate in The Tolkien Society's International Birthday Toast for 2017. Thank you, Professor, for your words!



From The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, here's one of my favorite passages, as Samwise Gamgee sings:

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.
eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Road Goes Ever)
My heart and my thoughts are with my hometown of Tulsa and my next-door neighbor city of Charlotte today.


Today is the anniversary of the Long-Expected Party celebrating the eleventy-first birthday of Bilbo Baggins and the coming of age of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. It was on this day that Bilbo gave his infamous birthday speech, saying "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve," before disappearing from the Shire forever.

Also on this day, according to the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, 99-year-old Samwise Gamgee rode out from Bag End for the final time. He was last seen in Middle-Earth by his daughter Elanor, to whom he presented the Red Book. According to tradition, he then went to the Grey Havens and passed over the Sea, last of the Ringbearers.


And now, in honor of the Baggins Birthdays, the departure of Samwise, and Hobbits in general, a quote about the Ring's temptation of - and failure with - one of J.R.R. Tolkien's (and, for that matter, world literature's) greatest heroes, Samwise Gamgee:

"Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be. 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."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Road Goes Ever)

Happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! Today is the anniversary of the Long-Expected Party celebrating Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday and Frodo's coming of age in The Lord of the Rings. It was on this day that Bilbo gave his infamous birthday speech, saying "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve," before disappearing from the Shire forever.

Also on this day, according to the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, 99-year-old Samwise Gamgee rode out from Bag End for the final time. He was last seen in Middle-Earth by his daughter Elanor, to whom he presented the Red Book. According to tradition, he then went to the Grey Havens and passed over the Sea, last of the Ringbearers.


And now, in honor of the Baggins Birthdays, the departure of Samwise, and Hobbits in general, a quote about the Ring's temptation of - and failure with - one of J.R.R. Tolkien's (and, for that matter, world literature's) greatest heroes, Samwise Gamgee:

"Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be. 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."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Secret Gate)
I first met artist Jef Murray over a decade ago when we were both guests at the Tolkien event The Gathering of the Fellowship in Toronto. I most recently spent some wonderful time chatting with Jef and his lovely wife Lorraine last year when we were guests at A Long-Expected Party 3 in Kentucky. In between conventions and conferences, we kept in touch. His artwork delighted me, and I was thrilled when he offered to illustrate the deluxe hardback version of my edited edition of The Magic Ring by Baron de la Motte Fouqué. He shared his breathtaking art-in-progress with me as he worked (the book contains more than forty of his gorgeous illustrations), I shared my annotated music mix for the project with him, and the experience was a true joy.

The Magic Ring - Illustrated


If you're unfamiliar with Jef's remarkable art, do check out the website of Jef Murray Studios.

I was looking forward to seeing Jef again next year in Kentucky. The news of his sudden passing saddens me greatly. He was a rare soul and a truly gifted artist, and he brought beauty to everyone who knew him. Namárië, Jef.
eldritchhobbit: (Dracula/Gorey)
Christopher Lee's elegant and intelligent presence looms large in so many of the 'verses I love and study and research and teach: the Gothic, Holmesiana, Tolkieniana, Star Wars, etc. I'm handling the sad news today by imagining his *epic* reunion with his dear friend, Peter Cushing. Two one-of-a-kind gentlemen.

*moment of silence*

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Be At Peace)
* My friend Matthew Sanborn Smith (of the Beware the Hairy Mango podcast) has launched a new Kickstarter for his work-in-progress, Hive Five, which is a "weird and funny science fiction novel about five members of a hive mind who are not very good at being a hive mind." Matt's fiction has been published at Tor.com, Nature, and Chizine, among other places, and this new work sounds very promising. Please check out his Kickstarter!

* Are you in or near Boston? Check out this Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon, complete with Q&A and discussion with my fellow Mythgardian, Dr. Corey Olsen.

* Last, here's a new book recommendation: Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon (2015). My review is here.

22294061
eldritchhobbit: (HP/Snape/Tori)
Curtis Weyant, who is both an all-around terrific guy and my former graduate student, addresses Michael Moorcock's (in)famous "Epic Pooh" essay and its assertions about J.R.R. Tolkien's work in his latest blog post.

And now, here are the most important film scenes about Severus Snape - in chronological order. Watch this. For reasons.

eldritchhobbit: (VA/love and despair)
Today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of Hobbits and Dwarves and Elves and all of Middle-earth, who was born this day in 1892. You're invited to participate in The Tolkien Society's International Birthday Toast for 2015!

Happy thirteenth birthday to The Shire's Virginia Lórien, a.k.a. Virginia, the world's most beautiful Boston terrier and our very best friend, who was born this day in 2002. We love you, Sweetheart!

Here is the birthday girl.

Virginia in May 2014


More pictures of Virginia are here.


The quote for the day is from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, and one of Virginia's favorite verses (because, after all, it mentions part of her name):

"Gandalf's Song of Lórien"

In Dwimordene, in Lórien
Seldom have walked the feet of Men,
Few mortal eyes have seen the light
That lies there ever, long and bright.
Galadriel! Galadriel!
Clear is the water of your well;
White is the star in your white hand;
Unmarred, unstained is leaf and land
In Dwimordene, in Lórien
More fair than thoughts of Mortal Men.

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Boromir/Life is Good)
A Long-Expected Party 3 was a fantastic experience I'll never forget: reuniting with old friends and making new ones, enjoying brilliant music and costumes and food (enough to satisfy the most gluttonous hobbit!), and endless discussions with my colleagues and fellow attendees. I was delighted by the attendance and participation at my talks. The final night, the recreation of the Baggins birthday party under the stars and the trees, was truly magical.

Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014

Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014


Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll about October. September is almost over! Starting tomorrow, please join me for a month of daily posts as I celebrate the spirit of Halloween. If you know of anyone who would enjoy these posts, please pass along the word. Thank you very much!

If you'd like to see the posts from past years' countdowns to Halloween, go here.

You may want to check out other blogs that likewise are celebrating Halloween all October long. The wonderful Countdown to Halloween 2014 is a clearinghouse site that links to this and other blogs with similar month-long post-a-thons.

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Bilbo/Not at Home)
On this day ten years ago, thanks to encouragement from dear [livejournal.com profile] thrihyrne, I started this blog. Ten years! How time flies... Thanks to all of you who have shared this space with me and touched my life in such wonderful ways. {{{GROUP HUG!!!}}}

A Long Expected Party 3


I am off to the Shire for A Long-Expected Party 3: Ever On and On. I'll catch you on the flip side. Have fun, my friends!

Here's my speaking schedule for A Long-Expected Party. )
eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Road Goes Ever)

Happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! Today is the anniversary of the Long-Expected Party celebrating Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday and Frodo's coming of age in The Lord of the Rings. It was on this day that Bilbo gave his infamous birthday speech, saying "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve," before disappearing from the Shire forever. My thoughts are with the Lómelindi Smial of the Tolkien Society and everyone else who will be celebrating the Baggins Birthdays. Tomorrow I head off to spend several days in the Shire for A Long-Expected Party 3: The Road Goes Ever On and On. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Also on this day, according to the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, 99-year-old Samwise Gamgee rode out from Bag End for the final time. He was last seen in Middle-Earth by his daughter Elanor, to whom he presented the Red Book. According to tradition, he then went to the Grey Havens and passed over the Sea, last of the Ringbearers.


And now, in honor of the Baggins Birthdays, the departure of Samwise, and Hobbits in general, a quote about the Ring's temptation of - and failure with - one of J.R.R. Tolkien's (and, for that matter, world literature's) greatest heroes, Samwise Gamgee:

"Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be. 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."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

eldritchhobbit: (Cabin Pressure/Dames and Horses)
It's official! I've happily accepted the position of Department Chair of Literature and Language at Signum University. Speaking of which, registration is open for my online "Science Fiction, Part I" course for Fall 2014 at Mythgard Institute at Signum University.

I'm getting ready to head out for a quick trip south to offer guest lectures on intellectual history and The Hunger Games, Serenity, and YA dystopian fiction. (It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.) Here is a quick look at my upcoming speaking schedule.

Science Fiction, Part 1 at Mythgard Institute


Where I Will Be Speaking When

***JULY***
"Life Is Improv" Seminar at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia

***AUGUST***
Loncon 3/the 72nd Worldcon in London, UK
Here is my updated schedule. )

***SEPTEMBER***
A Long-Expected Party 3 in Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

A Long Expected Party 3
eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Emo Hobbit)
Just a quick fly-by post...

This is worth reading: "J.R.R. Tolkien Has A Touching Message For His Former Teachers In Newly Discovered Letter."

This also deserves a look: from NPR, "Harry Potter And The Forbidden Books."

J.R.R. Tolkien's dust jacket painting for The Hobbit
eldritchhobbit: (Excalibur/Arthur)
* R.I.P., Mary Stewart (17 September, 1916 – 9 May, 2014), best known for her Merlin series of Arthurian fantasy novels: Mythopoeic Award winners The Crystal Cave (1970) and The Hollow Hills (1973), followed by The Last Enchantment. Read more from The New York Times: "Mary Stewart, British Writer Who Spanned Genres, Dies at 97."

* Is Tolkien's translation of Beowulf better than Seamus Heaney's? From Katy Waldman at Slate: "The Don’s Don: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Beowulf translation finally arrives."

* I should mention again that scholar Michael Drout has written a most enlightening blog post clarifying his work with Tolkien's Beowulf papers, etc.: "Tolkien's Beowulf: The Real Story."


And here's some amazing street art, a tribute to The Professionals.

The Professionals ~ Gatecrasher Fence
eldritchhobbit: (Space/Jupiter)
Things that are cool:

* Scholar Michael Drout has written a most enlightening blog post clarifying his work with Tolkien's Beowulf papers, etc.: "Tolkien's Beowulf: The Real Story."

* From US Weekly: "J.K. Rowling to Pen Fantastic Beasts Trilogy as Harry Potter Spin-Off."

* From The Guardian: "Black death was not spread by rat fleas, say researchers."

* The Heinlein Society is pleased to announce its third annual scholarship essay contest for the 2014-2015 academic year. The scholarships will be awarded to undergraduate students of accredited 4-year colleges and universities majoring in engineering, math, or physical sciences (e.g. physics, chemistry), or in science fiction as literature. Here are more details.

* From Muskrat Magazine: "Indigenizing Sci Fi" by Zainab Amadahy. This is a three-part study of how science fiction/fantasy con organizers everywhere might grow and diversify their events. I'm honored to be mentioned in this piece.

* My dear friend Tony C. Smith has opened a new shop, SeaDriftSoaps. If you're after soap that is natural, unscented, cruelty-free, and handmade, check it out!

* I'll be offering my two-semester history of science fiction with Mythgard Institute again this Fall (2014) and Spring (2015). Consider yourself invited to a free online Q&A session on June 5 for more information! (Note: I'll post a reminder closer to time. Another session timed for UK convenience will take place later this summer, and I'll post about that, as well.)



Last but definitely not least, happy early birthday wishes to [livejournal.com profile] sarah531, [livejournal.com profile] vg_ford, [livejournal.com profile] tunes84, [livejournal.com profile] captnofmyheart, [livejournal.com profile] wildviolet4, [livejournal.com profile] savagedoc45, [livejournal.com profile] lalam, [livejournal.com profile] silveraspen, [livejournal.com profile] denorios, [livejournal.com profile] prettybirdy979, [livejournal.com profile] sakuraember, [livejournal.com profile] cherylmmorgan, [livejournal.com profile] muuranker, [livejournal.com profile] izhilzha, and [livejournal.com profile] justicemuffins. May you enjoy many happy returns of the day, my friends!
eldritchhobbit: (VA/love and despair)
Today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of Hobbits and Dwarves and Elves and all of Middle-earth, who was born this day in 1892. I hope everyone will participate in The Tolkien Society's International Birthday Toast for 2014!


Happy twelfth birthday to The Shire's Virginia Lórien, a.k.a. Virginia, the world's most beautiful Boston terrier and our very best friend, who was born this day in 2002. We love you, Sweetheart!

Here is the birthday girl, chilling out.

Virginia in the Sun


You can see more pictures of Virginia here.


The quote for the day is from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, and one of Virginia's favorite verses (because, after all, it mentions part of her name):

"Gandalf's Song of Lórien"

In Dwimordene, in Lórien
Seldom have walked the feet of Men,
Few mortal eyes have seen the light
That lies there ever, long and bright.
Galadriel! Galadriel!
Clear is the water of your well;
White is the star in your white hand;
Unmarred, unstained is leaf and land
In Dwimordene, in Lórien
More fair than thoughts of Mortal Men.

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