Sunday, 4 June 2017


A century after it was first conceived, the very personal tale of a forbidden romance between a human and an elf which the author struggled to complete over the span of his entire literary career, has been stitched together and edited by JRR Tolkien’s son and collaborator, Christopher, and is available as a stand-alone book. Set during the first age of Middle Earth and whose ill-fated love are alluded to as legend in other works, the mortal man Beren and the immortal elvish maiden Lรบthien are faced with difficult choices, unsupportive parents asking the impossible and werewolves and is an allegory for Tolkien own difficult courtship. Though the project defied completion in Tolkien’s life time, the author’s burial plot that he shares with his wife Edith also bears the inscription Lรบthien and Beren.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

minas tirith

Boing Boing reports on one of the recent acquisition the Bodleian libraries of Oxford, a map of Middle Earth annotated by the author himself.
Tolkien was a little wary of inviting illustrators into the world of Hobbits, Orcs and Man, wanting to ensure that his vision remained true and imagination unprivileged by an inaccurate depiction, and used this map as a working-version of a poster commissioned to show the lay of the land. Notes reveal that places in Middle Earth have real world correspondence, with Hobbiton having the same latitude as the storied university town and further insights into the creative process.

Saturday, 24 October 2015


brightest london is best reached by underground: glorious, vintage gallery of Tube posters

einstein-bose condensate: new, preliminary research suggests quantum-entanglement can be harnessed

not your typical disney princess: Leia Organa is a force to be reckoned with

she doesn’t even realise she’s a replicant: Liartown, USA variations on the Voight-Kampff test for humanity, more sophisticated than CAPTCHA

frogmorton: JRR Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-Earth

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

magical mystery tour

After the box-office success of HELP! there was a pitch to the legendary film director Stanley Kubrick to cast the Beatles in a production of the Lord of the Rings saga. The Tolkien estate eventually rebuffed the proposal, but just imagine how our conception of the characters would have been otherwise, not to mention the scoring. Incidentally Carl Sagan had approached the band about including the track Here Comes the Sun on the golden records carried aloft on the Voyager space probes. The Beatles were enthusiastic and honoured but for whatever reason, their record label refused. That would-be first encounter would have been surely even more monumental and definitely immortal.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

franklin mint and in the darkness bind them

There’s a lot of talk about minting a pair of trillion dollar platinum coins, taking advantage of an economic fiction and a loophole in the language addressing what the Executive branch may or may not do in regards to with a fiat that effectively negates the statutory debt-ceiling (also an economic fiction) by having enough money in reserve to cover those outlays. At best, it may be the wedge that the US president needs to unyoke the country from financial hijacking, and at worse, it seems sort of a silly tactic that’s hard to consider fully the ramifications of and just more delays, but I don’t necessarily believe it’s the black-magic option (as opposed to the nuclear-option) and something malevolent forged in the bowels of Mount Doom.

A coin in this denomination is certainly not the same as a collectors’ item but other such limited runs of commemorate coinage definitely have a more sinister side, that some in the US government are using to their constituents’ advantage. The Legislative branch culled riders that would funnel money to pet projects in the working-copy of the budget, however, there are scads of concrete and abstract causes (witness the calendar of awarenesses for all sorts of worthy things) that are all championed by special interest groups, to whom some representatives are beholden to oblige even with their earmarks taken away. One roundabout way to appease the lobbyists is through minting commemorative coins, whose sponsors are owed any profits after production costs (borne initially by the US Treasury). The public is not forced to buy these coins but doing so would be a way to support a particular campaign or lobby group more or less directly—not to mention, collectibles are usually taken out of circulation (with or without an agenda or ideology—grandma would rather do without than spend her Lawrence Eagleburger eagle dollar coins even if she just got them as change at the toll booth) and all those dollar coins (or whatever the face value) are sequestered in individual hands—with tokens and scrip, rather the heads or tails’ of ones choosing, becoming good for all debts public and private.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

the abiding place or ัั€ะตะดะธะทะต́ะผัŒะต

Some months ago, I remembered, a contributing curator for the panoply of pasts real and imagined, the Retronaut, re-discovered and introduced a wonderful illustrated Russian edition of The Hobbit (ะฅะพะฑะฑะธั‚) from 1976. It is interesting how despite the difference in the way the characters are interpreted (I suppose all readers had their own formative images on how the figures ought to look), they are instantly recognizable and impart the same exciting scenes without having to puzzle anything out, like the lands depicted on this map of Middle Earth that don’t require a legend.