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The Ninety-ninth Roving Ranger

Life and Works

February 16, 1974. On the advice of Christopher Tolkien (Opens in a new window), The Tolkien Society (Opens in a new window) appoints J.R.R. Tolkien as Honorary President in perpetuo.
February 17, 1938. Tolkien writes Letter #23 (Opens in a new window) on publishing Mr. Bliss; the book would only come out in 1982.
February 18, 1937. Tolkien's poem "Knocking at the Door (Opens in a new window)" is published in The Oxford Magazine - aka The Mewlips.
February 20, 1968. Tolkien writes Letter #300 (Opens in a new window), mentioning Lewis’ words “We were talking of dragons, Tolkien and I / In a Berkshire bar…
February 23, 1945. Tolkien writes a long letter (Opens in a new window), published in the Catholic Herald on the derivations of “convent” and “Coventry (Opens in a new window)”.
February 28, 1949. Tolkien writes Letter #119 (Opens in a new window), hoping for a ‘sabbatical’ after ‘years of service’, wishing to ‘finish a few things’.
February 29, 2004. The 76th Academy Awards (Opens in a new window): The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Opens in a new window) wins 11 Oscars out of 11 nominations.
I know this is not about Tolkien’s life and works but wanted to include it as I remember very fondly participating in a pyjama party and celebrating the wins as if my national team won the football world championship; also, another leap year.

The National Library of Scotland has quite a brag (Opens in a new window) for its readers.

All dates are taken from Tolkien Gateway (Opens in a new window).

Events & Shows

The Tolkien at UVM conference is celebrating its 20th anniversary with The Psychologies of Middle-earth. [hybrid; (Opens in a new window); Robin Reid (Opens in a new window); Facebook (Opens in a new window)]

In one of the recent Graham Norton Show episodes (Season 31, Episode 17) both Sir Ian McKellen (Opens in a new window) and Michael Sheen were guests - the former being mistaken for Michael Gambon, the latter for Gollum (that is, Andy Serkis!]

“I was once followed out of a restaurant by someone screaming Gollum! Gollum! Gollum!”

The Tolkien Society has made the presentations of last year’s Tolkien and Religion in the 21st Century (Opens in a new window) seminar available. [Youtube; h/t to Tom Emanuel (Opens in a new window))

John Garth will give his talk Inventing on the hoof: How the Riders of Rohan suddenly became Anglo-Saxon as part of the Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series (Opens in a new window) on Feb 23.

The Hobbit is shown Feb 23-March 3, in Northfield, Minnesota, by the Purple Door Youth Theater (Opens in a new window) (also, listen to this podcast with the director (Opens in a new window) and the team; it is based on the Patricia Gray adaptation).

For all events check out the International Tolkien Fellowship (Opens in a new window) [FB] and the Tolkien Guide Calendar (Opens in a new window).

Scholarship and Fandom

The nomination round for the Tolkien Society Awards 2024 (Opens in a new window) is open until March 8th.

Douglas A. Anderson has something on Tolkien and Beerbohm (Opens in a new window).

NASA has named the resting place where the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (Opens in a new window) landed after a rotor failure: Valinor Hills (Opens in a new window).

Tom Hillman has some thoughts on Arwen’s Green Grave (Opens in a new window).

Trotter with the Tolkien Guide team has done a great piece on Tolkien and the Swan Press (Opens in a new window).

Artist Miriam Ellis (Opens in a new window) has made a short film out of her drawings - Bag-End to Bree (by the book) (Opens in a new window). [Youtube]

For those interested in Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis in connection with Tolkien - the Canadian ebooks site Fadedpage (Opens in a new window) has several works available freely. (h/t to Bruce Charlton (Opens in a new window)) Please note: Canadian law applies.

Dennis Wise has some notes on the new edition (Opens in a new window) of Letters.

Franchise and Merchandise

It is always lovely to see a first-time-viewing report on the film trilogy (or the books, for that matter!) - in this case by Athena Scalzi (Opens in a new window) and the extended edition of FotR (yes, the name is a bit of a giveaway). I particularly like this bracketed line ☺️

(Also, I never got the hype around Aragorn before, but dang. I definitely understand now.)

Amazon Prime Video’s spending on content (Opens in a new window) has risen, with a mention of LotR: RoP [Variety; compare this opinion on Netflix vs. Disney (Opens in a new window); Financial Times]

In the last couple of years I have seen thousands of real estate ads - literally, thousands! - loosely inspired by Tolkien’s works - very loosely - but finally we have a reliable definition of a ‘hobbit house’ (Opens in a new window):

"(a) rounded front door, a large bay window and a skylight."

Anything signed by Tolkien has become incredibly precious so the antiquarian market has seen many new players entering the market in recent years with steadily rising prices. Reid Moon of Moon’s Rare Books (Opens in a new window) now has two books in his vaults, one a gift from Tolkien to his wife Edith, and one a gift from Edith to her husband. Spoiler: One of them gave away a novel by Agatha Christie (Opens in a new window). [Instagram]

“Boring? Elves aren’t boring? They’re the greatest creatures in all of Middle-earth.” (Opens in a new window) You may ask why Kevin Bridges still knows this line from a certain trilogy he never actually said on screen. [Jonathan Ross Show]

Alasdair Beckett-King’s humour may not be to everybody’s liking but his Every Epic Quest (Opens in a new window) to me is absolutely hilarious. [Youtube; h/t to Soni Alcorn-Hender (Opens in a new window)]

Cameron Rasmusson has J.R.R. Tolkien’s Life in Languages (Opens in a new window) with the latest edition of MultiLingual (Opens in a new window). [pdf download]

Yes, MtG will get us more and more cards: Hasbro CEO wants two Lord of the Rings-sized sets of Magic cards every year (Opens in a new window) [Polygon; Hasbro Q4 report (Opens in a new window)]

Guess who profited off this? Right, Embracer (Opens in a new window). [Variety; Reuters (Opens in a new window)]
Please note that out of 153 video games in development in June 2023 only 124 remain - 29 games gone. So beautiful investors’ numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt. [IGN Germany (Opens in a new window)]

By the way, if you need any proof at the wide range of “Tolkien-inspired work”, take this short trip to the Ukraine and its Hobbit House military-use shelters (Opens in a new window), a 3d printed ‘white tower’ (Opens in a new window) in Switzerland, or environmental education in a Hobbit Hole (Opens in a new window) in south-east Alaska.

Available now and until #RovingRanger100 and on until March 8th: trial memberships with the Tolkienist at Steady

Alan Sisto of the Prancing Pony Podcast, John Garth, members of the Tolkien Guide team and one of the world's leading Tolkien linguists have already joined my in my Steady adventure 🤩 (Opens in a new window)

Inter alia & Back in the day

George R.R. Martin takes a rather grim, yet rather understandable view (Opens in a new window) on the future, looking back.

Rob Maslen has an exceptional two (Opens in a new window)-parter (Opens in a new window)on the unfortunately forgotten writer Mary Fairclough, a contemporary of Tolkien’s.

Star Trek: The Next Generation has received a very special SATURN award (Opens in a new window) this year. And Star Trek’s Discovery will start showing its fifth and final season on April 4 (Opens in a new window). []

Carl Weathers has passed away - to me he will always remain Apollo Creed but later in his career he played an important part with the Mandalorian (Opens in a new window). [Star Wars]

Interestingly enough, 25 years after their first release Episodes I-III of Star Wars get their celebrations (Opens in a new window). [Empire]

The discussion on the recent Hugo awards is not abating. If you are interested in this, the reporting via File770 (Opens in a new window) is the best way to go; this Esquire (Opens in a new window) article is interesting but missing many things. An in-depth article has illuminated the issues (Opens in a new window) and many people, including John Scalzi (Opens in a new window), are now coming together and working on a solution that this will not happen again.

This absolutely splendid interview (Opens in a new window) does not only talk about the Discworld games being redone - but that King Charles III might have a say in it. Terry Pratchett would probably have a laugh at that. Immediately after Rhianna Pratchett chimed in! (Opens in a new window)

The Boy and the Heron by Studio Ghibli sounds like a must watch (Opens in a new window). [INDAC]

All Super Bowl movie trailers (Opens in a new window), including Deadpool 3, Wicked, Kung Fu Panda 4, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes etc. (h/t to PhantaNews (Opens in a new window))

BookTok plays an ever bigger role in publishing: TikTokers help drive Sarah J Maas ‘romantasy’ boom for Bloomsbury (Opens in a new window) [Guardian]

It is not new that ‘tech bros’ love (and usually willingly misinterpret) Tolkien but with the latest LLM to hit the so-called A.I. charts the name says it all: Smaug (Opens in a new window). I have read too many scifi novels to find this exciting:

In the near future, AI, not humans, will build applied AI systems. Data scientists will play a supervisory role, instructing and evaluating the results produced by Generative AI agents. [Source (Opens in a new window)]

And it comes as no surprise tech bros know they might get away with stealing the works of others and making money off of it because the US legal system is hardwired to such abuse: OpenAI Scores Court Victory After Copyright Lawsuit From Sarah Silverman Is Partially Dismissed (Opens in a new window) [Forbes] Right now the lies being shared ever more quickly by so-called “A.I.” are being called “hallucinations”: The New York Times’ AI copyright lawsuit shows that forgiveness might not be better than permission (Opens in a new window) [The Conversation]

According to German law I have to infom you all links to enterprises, artists, products etc. are [unpaid advertisements.] Some purchase links may earn me a small commission from Blackwell's, the bookshop of my personal trust.

If you are interested in my other Tolkien-related work please have a look:
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As this is 2024 I would like to note that this newsletter is 100% human-made, curated by me, Marcel R. Bülles. This also holds true for everything I write with my blog and here at Steady.

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