ladyofastolat: (Gandalf mouse)
This has always worried me. Thirty years ago, Balin and the others go to Moria, a place known to be riddled with dangers, to settle it. For a few years, encouraging messages are sent back to Erebor. We later learn that the entire lot of them were wiped out five years later. By the time of The Lord of the Rings, therefore, there have been no messages for 25 years.

Now, I accept that this is world without Skype and social media. This (below) is not a possibility.

More on dwarves )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Many of us have doubtless experienced the Interminable Meeting of Doom. It drags on for hours and hours, but afterwards, when you're asked what was concluded, you can only shrug, and say, "er.... um... Stuff?" Months later, when the follow-up meeting happens, someone manages dig out the Minutes that someone wrote and forgot to ciculate, and you look back at them, and realise that nobody there has any memory of any of the "decisions" you supposedly came to, and nothing has been done about any of them.

Compare the Council of Elrond. It starts "early," after Frodo has watched the sun rise, which is probably around 7 in the morning, if it's anything like England in late October. (Unless Rivendell practises daylight saving? If so, late October would probably be round about the time that Elvish Summer Time ended, so all the timings could be out of by hour. But since nobody turns up an hour late, saying, "sorry! I forgot that the clocks had changed," I think we can discount this as a possible complication.) Worryingly, there's no mention of breakfast beforehand, but presumably there's one of those pumpy coffee dispensers on the side, along with plates of digestive biscuits and fruit shortcakes. It finishes just after the noon bell sounds.

So that is five hours maximum, and probably less, to cover the thousands of years of history and to decide how to save the world. It does kind of put to shame all those meetings that take 6 hours and fail to decide what colour to paint the new office building.

Additionally:

- Nobody turns up late, causing everything to come to a halt as all the chairs get shuffled up to make room for them, and they get invited to help themselves to coffee, which is discovered to be cold, causing fresh coffee to be sent for.

- Nobody runs through the fire drill procedures beforehand and explains where the toilets are. Despite this, no doom results. Doom is indeed discussed, but it doesn't appear to relate to inadequately signposted toilets. (Although I am suddenly now wondering just where are the Toilets of Rivendell, and what they look like. And the Toilets of Lórien! WE NEED TO BE TOLD!)

- Nobody takes any Minutes. There is no agonisingly long half-minute in which everyone sits very still and looks at their feet, desperately hoping that somebody else will volunteer to take them. (Although it occurs to me suddenly that the relevant parts of the Red Book of Westmarch possibly are the Minutes of the Council of Elrond. Bilbo is not one for bullet points, it seems.)

- Despite the lack of Minutes, all Points of Action agreed upon are in fact carried out as planned. "Destroy Ring (FB). Take Sword of Elendil to Gondor (A son of A). Get Facilities Maintenance Team to reforge Sword of Elendil..." This alone is enough to make it remarkable in the annals of all the meetings that there have ever been in all the worlds.

- Despite outlining several thousands years history, Elrond does not use Powerpoint.

- There is no "comfort break," in which the few smokers in the meeting (Gandalf, Aragorn, hobbits) wander outside to smoke (does Elrond ban smoking inside in public places, do you think?) and, during the break, quickly make the only actual decisions that the meeting comes up with.

I think the Council of Elrond should be compulsory reading in business school.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Sometimes I get ridiculously bothered by tiny, trivial things in books and movies. I spent many seasons of Buffy intensely bothered by her habit of wearing huge hooped ear-rings while engaging in hand-to-hand combat with monsters. All I could see in such fight scenes was the ear-rings. I couldn't spare any attention on the quips and one-liners; all I could do was cringe at the thought of what would happen if a monster grabbed one, and berate her out loud for wearing them.

In the movies of The Hobbit, it turns out that the Entirely Trivial Thing That Bothers Me Unduly is Thorin's hair. Such long, thick hair, worn loose when sleeping rough, worn loose when fighting, worn loose when traversing wind-tossed mountains. Think about the tangles! Think about the daily routine of combing them out! No wonder he's grumpy. Think about all the times he can't see a thing because the wind on said wind-tossed mountain has blown his hair into his eyes. Think of the stirring speeches ruined because the wind blows a hank of hair into his mouth at a pivotal moment! Think about the fights lost because the bad guys just grab hold of his head-full of convenient handles, and pull! And think about the worst case scenario: the decapitated head held up one-handed by a triumphant enemy, gripping the convenient handle offered by the hair!

I spend most of the films desperate to rush after him on a pony, offering him hair clips.
ladyofastolat: (Evil laugh)
I posted this yesterday on my fanfic LJ, and it was posted on a community the day before, but some people here might be amused by it, too. This was written for a challenge which called for comic verse inspired by the works of Tolkien. I was assigned the words "participate" and "pontificate," which had to be included somewhere along the way. This was the result:

I am the very model of a fantasy antagonist... )

Mice!

Feb. 7th, 2014 10:13 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
In the past, I think, I've posted pictures of my Morris mice and my Song of Mice and Fire, so I think readers are prepared for the latest manifestation of the mouse-making art.

The Mouse of Sauron )
ladyofastolat: (Are we the baddies?)
Oh dear. I really am sorry.

Sauron in a restaurant. Warning for dodgy artwork (hands are so hard!), bad puns and the possibility of having a serious moment in The Lord of the Rings ruined forever )

Hmm... I wonder if I can track down the ancient Miruvor that contains my pictures inspired by the dramatic miming...
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I'm reading The Silmarillion at the moment. Tucked inside its pages, I find some sheets of handwritten family trees and character lists, headed "The Silmarillion - because I'm confused!" They're all written on notepaper that proclaims itself "from a member of the Puffin Club."

Ah, I remember the Puffin Club...! I can't remember actually doing anything as a member of the Puffin Club, but I remember enjoying the magazines and the competitions. My dim memory is that it was in a Puffin Club magazine that I first read about Dungeons and Dragons, and desperately wanted to play it, but I can't think why they would have been writing about it. I never did get to play it, though. Nobody at school was remotely interested in things like that.

I know exactly when the notes were written, because I remember reading The Silmarillion during a holiday in Edinburgh in April 1987, when I was also busy revising for O-levels. The Lord of the Rings radio dramatisation was re-airing at that time, too. I remember being really upset that the holiday would lead me to miss an episode, although in the end I managed to catch the last quarter of an hour of it in the car outside some wild coastal castle.

Also tucked inside the book are a couple of pages listing all the characters and place names from The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, and listing where the names come from in legend and folklore. I only managed to track down half the names, but a wide variety of source material is listed, so it must have necessitated quite a bit of research. Nowadays, of course, you'd just Google it and find out within a minute - or else find a list that somebody else had already compiled. It's easier to find information now, but I can't help but think that in the past it was more fun. Nowadays, I find myself struck with a spirit of mild enquiry, Google it, find out the answer, and forget it within a week.

I waved the notes around at work, while reading over lunch. "Your handwriting hasn't changed a bit!" everyone exclaimed. Looking back at old diaries, I see that my handwriting settled when I was about 15, and hasn't changed since. However, it's certainly more hard work now. My hand aches after barely half a page.

My diaries have surprisingly little to say about my reading. I read right through a period in which I remember myself being utterly obsessed with The Lord of the Rings, and I find little mention of it, barring occasional references to which chapter I was then rereading, and my glee at getting my first ever Tolkien calendar. Instead, the pages are full of schoolgirl angst and drama about who had fallen out with who, and who said what about whom. In many cases, I can't even remember the people involved, but it was clearly all very angsty and important at the time. It's all disappeared to nothing, but many of the books I was reading and the TV series I was watching have stayed with me forever. Not that this would have been any comfort at all, had somebody told me this at the time.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Okay. So I've reached the Council of Elrond. Aragorn has just stood up and dramatically cast his sword onto the table, "and the blade was in two pieces." This implies that both pieces are on the table. How does he do this?

Scenario 1: He pulls out the top half, the half that's still attached to its hilt. Then he quickly tips up the scabbard and shakes out the other end. Problems with this scenario: It ruins the drama of the moment. When you're shaking something out of a small receptacle, you never quite know where it will go. It's kind of embarrassing to stand up and make your dramatic declaration, then have to hop round going "Ow! Ow! Ow!" as your mighty heirloom pieces your toe. Or to have to apologise as it skitters across the table and falls point down in your host's lap.

Scenario 2: While Boromir's talking, Aragorn thinks, "Aha! The moment of revelation is approaching!" and quietly extracts both halves of the sword from the scabbard, so he can grip one half in each hand, and cast them down with suitable drama. Problems with this scenario: It makes a noise. Everyone starts shooting discreet, angry glances in his direction. "Shh! The man of Gondor's talking!" "What's he doing?" "Why is he playing with a sword during the Council? ASSASSIN!"

Scenario 3: He's cunningly prepared the sword so both halves come out when he tugs on the hilt, but they separate as soon as they're cast down. Something like Sellotape or Blu Tac or elastic, or something. It probably took quite a lot of trial and error and preparation - the true reason why he wasn't at the feast. However, even so, it's fraught with risk. Attach them too loosely, and you're back at Scenario 1. Attach them too strongly, and everyone scratches their heads: "What's he talking about? That sword's not broken!" "Um, wait a moment. I'll just pull this bit here..." "He's cheating! He's breaking it himself!"

I must say that this is one thing where I think the films do things better. It seems a lot more sensible to leave your priceless, but rather useless, heirloom in a safe place, while you go off adventuring into the wilds with a sword that actually works, than to run round going into great dangers, armed only with a vital relic that can't actually help you at all.

Secondly, while we're in Rivendell: Who took the Ring off Frodo when he was unconcious, and transferred it to a new chain? While the stories tell of hobbits and great ones, is there someone a poor unsung little helper elf who is forever tormented by the call of the Ring, felt through the scant few minutes in which he held it?
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Now I need someone wise in the ways of both hobbitses and dogses. Farmer Maggot has dogs, which appear to be employed as guard dogs, and there are dogs in Bree. Hobbits are on average about 3 feet tall. Typical guard dogs are far from tiny. Given that so many things in the Shire are familiar things from rural England, are the dogs the same, too? Are we to envisage these guard dogs as being, to hobbits, the size of donkeys - carnivorous donkeys called "Fang," with slavering teeth? Is a guard dog to a hobbit a truly terrifying creature, and even a lap dog a giant thing to be dreaded?

Dogs are man-made, and the dogs we see in the 21st century have been shaped by man into their current sizes, shapes and abilities. Dogs in the Shire could have been shaped by centuries of selective breeding, and scaled for hobbit use. Just as hobbit umbrellas and spoons and hats are presumably smaller than the ones we use today, hobbits might have mini wolfhounds and German shepherds, much the same as the ones we have now, but smaller. Are their dogs like hats, and the same as "our" dogs, just smaller?

Or are dogs in Middle Earth the same as dogs in our world, but the hobbits avoid the larger breeds, and guard their farms with ferocious and, to them, rather sizeable terriers?

Hobbitses

Sep. 12th, 2013 12:43 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Could somebody wise in the ways of hobbitses explain to me how hobbit economy works. I have become quite perturbed by it. Admittedly my perturbation has been prompted by playing Lego Lord of the Rings, which does differ from the books in several small details. (1) However, the books (admittedly a fairly dim memory a them) also feed my perturbation.

At the start of The Hobbit, Bilbo is a well-to-do hobbit, presumably living on inherited wealth, since he never seems to do anything that would earn him money. (Although I suppose it's possible that he's living on the royalties of the novelty song that he wrote in his youth?) Where does he keep his money? Where does he spend his money? There are pubs, but I can't remember any shops. He has luxury consumer items like silver spoons. Silver spoons don't grow on trees, nor are they created by rural cottage industry by simple rustics who then trade them with their neighbours for marrows. They need mining and crafting, which implies shipping and trading and selling. Wagons full of dwarf-produced products arrive for his party, but this is remarked upon as marvellous. How do hobbits that aren't Bilbo get their silver spoons and their saucepans and their umbrellas? Where are the travelling salesmen and catalogue distributors and peddlers? Why don't Frodo and Sam wade through endless streams of such people on the road? (2)

And who maintains the bucolic rural utopia that they live in? Bucolic rural utopias don't come for free, like clouds or daisies or foxes. Hedges and fields and rolling green hillsides are not the natural state of things. (3) They are the result of a lot of people working very hard for a very long time. I grew up in an area famous for its bucolic rural utopianess (4), and look back a few hundred years, and virtually everybody would be out there in the fields agriculturally labouring away (or fighting soldiers for the rights to engage in illegal tobacco growing, but that's another story.) Yet in the Shire, although we have Farmer Maggot, we see precious little sign of anyone being an agricultural labourer.

So how does it all work, oh ye who are wise in the ways of hobbitses?

Footnotes (which I initially wrote as "Footnoses")
1 )

2 )

3 )

4 )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I posted this yesterday on Facebook, but might as well post it here, too, for the sake of completeness.

They're taking the hobbits to... )

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