Thursday 6 June 2024

ents and huorns (11. 612)

Via tmn, we directed to the thirty-two metre tall lone rฤtฤ (Metrosideros robusta) on the west coast of South Island that’s been picked by the public as New Zealand’s Tree of the Year. Given the nickname “The Walking Tree” after JRR Tolkien’s motile, sentient arboreal characters due to appearance of being frozen in mid-stride, the unusual lifecycle of the rฤtฤ bears out the comparison as well with the seeds germinating as hemiepiphyte high in the forest canopy (conspicuously absent for this exemplar) before slowly lowering roots that descend to the ground, forming a hollow pseudo-trunk around its host composed of interlocking rhizomes, and can live upwards of a thousand years. Threatened, replanting and rehabilation campaigns have seen their return.  In contrast to the Ents of Middle Earth (see also, Tolkien invented the army as a more satisfying belligerent for the coming of “Great Birnam Wood to Dunsinane” of Macbeth) that become more tree-like as they age, a huorn is undergoing the process of becoming more animated.

Thursday 22 September 2022

king under the mountain (10. 159)

Courtesy of Things Magazine, we are invited to reminisce about the pioneering illustrated text adventure computer game (see previously here and here) The Hobbit—released forty years ago this month for the ZX Spectrum developed by Veronika Megler and Philip Mitchell. It was quite noteworthy and much intimated for its advanced and intuitive syntactic analysis that allowed players to enter complex commands—the language parser called Inglish, a parred down but serviceable vocabulary—and engage with the game in ways that were previously restricted to the imagination. True to the source material (see also) and like the later snowclone ‘All your base are belong to us,’ the refrain from play about dwarf-king ‘Thorin sits downs and starts singing about gold’ carries some pop culture weight as well as the narrative, ‘You wait—time passes’ as one hides in a wine barrel until the opportune moment for escape. Here is an emulator where one can again experience the adventure.

Monday 5 September 2022

7x7 (10. 110)

ch-ch-ch-chia: University of Virginia research team 3D prints living walls and roofs  

the road to rhรปn: more interactive LOTR maps to explore—see previously  

defenestration: accident-prone energy executives  

doctor doolittle: translating non-human animal vocalisations into language with artificial intelligence 

the hunt for the golden walnut brain of ronald reagan: an adventure from John Hoare (previously)—via Things Magazine  

lady woman: a sample track from Boris Midney’s reimagining of 1979 “Evita” as a disco opera 

reefer madness: researchers make an advance in the race to save Caribbean coral, whose health also affects hurricane intensity

Wednesday 17 August 2022

6x6 (10. 068)

two trees of valinor: an assortment of keyboards in the languages of Middle Earth 

i have, may it please the court, a few words to say: the final address from abolitionist John Brown  

flexi disc: a profile on the mass-market vinyl alternative that bypassed sanctions (see also)  

wimps, pbh: primordial black holes may account for the missing mass of dark matter in the Cosmos 

tribal sovereignty: Irish customs accepts Native American, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) passports—rejected elsewhere  

misty mountains: LOTR: The Rings of Power prequel to preview

Saturday 9 July 2022

there and back again

In the early 1960s, animator and producer William Snyder of Rembrandt Films had optioned the rights to a little-known children’s book called The Hobbit. In order to keep that IP, Snyder and the studio were obliged to produce a colour cinematic adaptation by 1967 and bumping up against this looming deadline commissioned Gene Deitch, in the interest of a bigger project with the story and characters later on, to create this hastily made but artful (see also) and hardly slapdash piece to hold on the rights Snyder had invested in. Made in thirty days and fulfilling the conditions in the contract (rights to the story were leased rather than sold outright) and shown in a screening room in New York, Snyder ended up breaking even by selling his stake back to Tolkien.

Tuesday 22 March 2022


situation of opportunity: a giant soft pillow urban intervention on the streets of Amsterdam—via Messy Nessy Chic 

floor plan: highly detailed drawings of Japanese hotel rooms  

you can’t take it with you: the coffin tradition of the Ga people of Ghana  

photogenic: Tom Hegen captures the symmetries of solar farms  

hobbiton-across-the-water: maps and paintings of Middle Earth curated on-line—see previously  

this is a test—this is only a test: a look at the history of the US emergency broadcast system—see previously  

long life to the lord of men: jade burial suits from the Han dynasty  

anchors in the afterlife: a collection of non-human resting-places

Tuesday 21 December 2021

letters from santa

Spotted by Messy Nessy Chic in a very festive link round-up refers us to a collection of letters from Father Christmas first collected and shared in 1976, three years after the author’s death, addressed to the family of J.R.R. Tolkein. Starting out as simple, illustrated greetings, over the course the youngsters’ childhood evolve to include ancillary characters and support staff, unmistakably shaky penmanship, franking and even an arctic dialect of Qenya, as in the salutation from the Polar Bear: Mรกra mesta an ni vรฉla tye ento, ya rao nea—Good-bye until I see you next, and I hope it will be soon!

Sunday 19 December 2021

samwi$e g

In case you missed pre-anniversary acknowledgments on Friday, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert celebrated, two decades on, the cinematic premiere of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Fellowship of the Ring (previously) on this day in 2001 (I recall seeing this in theatres with my father, not on opening perhaps day but soon after, and it was the first time we’ve been to the movies since 9/11, a fear of large gatherings needed to be overcome) with a rap video about the LOTR trilogy with some Elvish lyrics and featuring cameo appearances that reunite the cast by Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Orlando Bloom and more.

Friday 26 November 2021


limerent limerick: help in recognising unhealthy obsessions and how to work one’s way out of intrusive thinking—hopefully through bawdy rhymes 

there and back again: Gene Deitch’s animated short The Hobbit—the first such adaptation  

roll for perception: a collection of resources, a florilegium from a Society for Creative Anachronism member for the LARP community—via Mx van Hoorn’s cabinet of hypertext curiosities  

avenue of the sphinxes: a restored promenade between Luxor and Karnak opened with fanfare  

opiate for the masses: drug use in Antiquity 

mlhavรฝ: Martin Rak’s fog-draped forests in Saxon-Bohemia—see previously 

here’s mud in your eye: a select glossary of beer and imbibing terminology—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump


Thursday 9 September 2021


terrorstorm: the garbage documentaries that fulled the cult of conspiracy theorist, fragility and New Age Paranoia  

chestbursters and facehuggers:an official Alien xenomorph cookbook to liven up the dinner table  

en hobbits รคventyr: Moomins’ creator Tove Jansson illustrates Tolkien’s work 

skeuomorphs: vestigial, hidden parts of consumer electronics  

docudrama: a guide to making a Netflix style serial on the topic of one’s choosing  

next sunday a.d.: a neglected remix, compilation of the MST3K Satellite of Love theme  

white rabbit: redpilling (previously) and the regime

Thursday 29 July 2021


Preceded by The Hobbit and followed by The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the fantasy epic by J. R. R. Tolkien was first released on this day in 1954 in London by the publishing house of Allen & Unwin—familiar to most as a trilogy but originally intended to appear as a single volume and accompanying The Silmarillion. The highly influential and academically parsed for its mythology, philology and personal allegories experiences of World War I has enjoyed an enduring legacy and continued acclaim, inspiring many adaptions and derivative works. Mainly told from the narrative perspective of the above mentioned Hobbits, the book begins to the follow the quest to find and destroy the One Ring and keep it from Dark Lord Sauron.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

chevron of chain counterchanged argent, sable, argent

Winning entrant designed by vexillologist Gracie Sheppard in a contest sponsored by a local museum to create a symbol for the region, the flag of Black County was first hoisted in 2012—thereafter on this day to mark the invention of the Newcomen steam engine in 1712 that heralded the beginning of the Industrial Revolution with a county fรชte.

The heavily industrialised area in the West Midlands after Birmingham has no single set of defined boundaries to the satisfaction of all with the most common being where the coal seam has come to the surface and refers to the layer of soot that covered everything from all the mining, mills and factories by the mid-1800s. Chain-manufacture was big business there, as was glass-making and brickworks. Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop established the region’s first literary conceit as a vicious hellscape in 1841 with others upholding it including J. R. R. Tolkien’s Mordor—elvish for dark land—corresponding with contemporary accountings, with some suggestion that activist and Communist and Labour party mayor of Bilston in Staffordshire, Ben Bilboe, was the inspiration and namesake for the hobbit character, the author’s family having roots in the West Midlands.

Wednesday 9 June 2021


Via Dark Roasted Blend, we are directed to the extensive archives of the J.R.R. Tolkien Society and their periodic journal—the above titled in reference to the mellyrn trees of Nรบmenor that grow to immense sizes—whose issues include peer-reviewed scholarship, editorial, art work and academic essays on the legendarium of Middle Earth and related topics. Some of the manual typesetting and formatting, illuminated scripts really, of the earlier instalments, like this coda to an argument about the physics of Gimli’s armaments and fighting style with the contributor having developed his own Fรซanorian glyphs to render their by-line, are especially worth a read through.

Wednesday 28 April 2021


First spied by Super Punch, we are referred to a nice appreciation of the recently departed, prolific Dutch artist Cor Blok (*1934), particularly well known in the Netherlands for illustrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (In de ban van de Ring) in the early 1960s.

Later creating a tapestry out of Middle Earth’s characters to showcase his repetoire, Blok went on to become docent of the school of modern art at the University of Utrecht from 1977 to 1999, retiring as professor emeritus at the University of Leiden.

Wednesday 7 April 2021


silvagunner: an appreciation of the remixing collective from Kicks Condor 

film festival: curate one’s own streaming series from a vast, public domain archive  

re-branding: artist FAEL redesigns corporate logos with a perfect balance of retro and progress 

prompts and cues: remedies to exhausting monologues and fostering better conversations  

metronome: a fascinating look at synchronicity  

ะฑั€ะฐั‚ัั‚ะฒะพ ะบะพะปัŒั†ะฐ: a 1991 Russian television version of The Fellowship of the Rings (see also) resurfaces on the internet—including an appearance by Tom Bombadil whose otherwise left out of the adaptations  

the only post-punk supergroup: the musical stylings of the New Age Steppers

Monday 22 February 2021


vanishing london: the Topographical Society laments and documents changes to the city—1900 to 1939 

a murder of crows: a captivating thread about accidentally creating a fiercely loyal avian regimen 

kaitenzushi: a 1948 proposal to move diners from course to course  

genius loci: an investigation into the character Tom Bombadil from the Middle Earth legendarium 

forwarding address: moving a Victorian mansion in San Francisco

Saturday 6 February 2021


The 1974 Irish post-apocalyptic fantasy film starring Sean Connery (*1930 - †2020), Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman premiering on this day in Los Angeles and New York takes its title, the eponymous stone talisman and cornucopia, from a damaged copy of the L. Frank Baum book Wizard of Oz that survived the end of the world and the bibliocaust and supplant older gospels and introduces us to a highly gentrified and segregated society that consists of a ruling class of ageless Eternals and mortal, enslaved Brutals who eke out a subsistence in the nuclear wilderness after satisfying the needs of the aristocrats—with a clan of assassins charged with keeping the exploited under subjugation by following orders issued by Zardoz in exchange for weapons.
It is revealed that Zardoz is an extension of the omnipotent artificial intelligence called the Tabernacle that maintains the precarity of this social order by boundless insight that no human, immortal or otherwise, can comprehend. John Boorman, the writer, director and producer had hoped to create an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (see also) for a film studio at the time but Boorman’s offer was turned down, fearing it was too ambitious and would run-over budget, instead turned his sights to creating this world, which was philosophically challenging with good elements of storytelling and very much ahead of its time but had not played well to audiences by dint of that same complexity, costuming and lack of special effects.

Monday 21 September 2020

there and back again

First published on this day in 1937, English author and academic John Ronald Reuel Tolkein’s (*1898 – †1973) premier work of high fantasy, The Hobbit (previously), was received with critical success and an avid readership with an appetite for more, retroactively finding a niche in the mythopoetic legendarium which Tolkien had been developing privately for decades, realised in his follow-on work The Lord of the Rings. Aside from his keen interest in Norse philology and folklore, Tolkien’s prose is influenced by designer, poet and activist for social justice William Morris and his correspondents C.S. Lewis and W.H. Auden, the latter recollecting the author’s moment of inspiration while grading papers, jotting down: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Tuesday 18 August 2020


From the cabinet of hypertext curiosities of Mx van Hoorn, we are not only introduced to the linguist David J Peterson, whom after JRR Tolkien and lexicographers behind Klingon is probably the most celebrated contemporary figure in constructed languages (see previously) with Dothraki from Game of Thrones, we make his acquaintance in the greatest of fashions—namely, through his handmade landing spot for his various projects. Pictured is a bit of orthography for the invented script of the imagined Njaama culture and the entire enterprise has a lot to explore and is a prompt for reflecting on the organic and inspired development of communication and how that might be resonant and rendered.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

be a gandlum, not a goldo

This cursed chart of unknown provenance (via Boing Boing—I’m sure that no one is eager to take responsibility for this un-unseeable nightmare for fear of reprisal) that blends, cross-references Lord of the Rings characters (previously) is more proof that idle hands are the tools of Sauron—or rather his hybrid Saurumon. That said, tag yourself. What other ensemble paracosm would you like—if any—the Marvel cinematic universe perhaps, subjected to the same treatment?