ChristopherTolkien interview

Noodling about things Tolkien (inspired by the attempt to establish a literary center at one of his old houses) I came across this interview with Christopher Tolkien, which may be of interest. I particularly enjoyed the tidbit that JRR asked his opinion on whether he should change Sam Gamgee's name to Sam Goodchild and fortunately Chris said emphatically not.
I am reminded that Christopher Tolkien passed away January 16 of this year at the age of 94. He fortunately missed the woe of the pandemic. Many thanks to him for working a good part of his adult life to preserve and document his father's work. We owe him a lot.

Series on Middle-earth Characters

You all might be interested in this series on Middle-earth characters by Megan N. Fontenot, published in It includes essays on Gandalf, Galadriel, Melian, Fëanor (in 4 parts no less),Faramir, Sam Gamgee,Ulmo,Merry, Theoden, and Pippin. I just read the one on Pippin and enjoyed the depiction of his evolution through various of Tolkien's ms. drafts.

Hope everyone is doing okay out there.

New Dune article

Just read this article about the upcoming adaptation of Frank Herbert's book Dune. I read the book many years ago and still remember it vividly. Herbert was a pioneer in telling this tale in all its complexity, its many factions all struggling for power and control, as well as its deep sense of history with an overlay of Fate, elements of a timeless human tale. But I remember especially being blown away by the incorporation of the ecology of the planet that turns out to be key to the whole story. That is still revolutionary and still not often used in sci fi, at least not as well as Dune (maybe Avatar?). As the article says, Herbert's story was farsighted and is more relevant today than ever. However it came out about the same time as the ecology movement heated up, so maybe it would be more accurate to say we are now reaping the harvest of the warnings we've had for over 50 years. I'm really looking forward to this movie (HATED the Lynch adaptation, which apparently Lynch did too. It is simply too large a tale to tell in a 3 hour movie.) This version in 2 films looks very promising. And I love Timothy Chalamet. Imho, he's the perfect choice for Paul Atreides. The article's author phrased it beautifully. "[The Director] Villeneuve praised his [Chalamet's] performance, calling him “by far, the best actor of his generation” and pointing out that a key reason he cast him in the lead role was because of his unique mixture of having such a young look on camera while also still coming across as an old soul. And according to the director, Chalamet also has “insane charisma that can be found in the old Hollywood stars of the ‘20s” – something that may come in handy when playing a character who might need to lead an army one day."
As I said to Oshun the other day, I'm just gutted that I won't be able to experience this in a large-format theater. (Not worth contracting covid to see.)

I'm also posting the new trailer, which Oshun also posted a day or two ago. I must say, it's fun to feel excited about something again. (BTS, Dune) Squeee!

BTS Dynamite

Yes, so I'm still on a BTS kick. Love these guys! The more I watch them, whether in James Cordon's carpool karaoke (link below), or watching them fooling around while learning a dance, or in their actual (super polished) performances, I'm impressed with their talent and charm. Not to mention they're serious eye candy, which they seem to know. Here's their latest song Dynamite, the first all-English song they've performed. The beginning solo voice is Jungkook (gorgeous voice). Yes, the whole thing is very pop, and sorta over-the-top sweet. The band themselves say they wanted to do something upbeat in the midst of the current darkness in the world. Band member Suga said, that Dynamite has a "message of confidence and happiness. It's like you fell on the ground, you're trying to get back up again."
This may not be your cup of tea, but you don't have to watch. LOL. But seriously, how can you resist, they're so charming! I thought I'd post because we could all use some escapism.
Addendum: BTS won every category they were nominated for at the VMAs yesterday!

This is the carpool karaoke bit. I just love RM (group leader, he's sitting in the front seat talking to James C. He speaks perfect English and is super smart and charming). Other favs are Jungkook -- the youngest sitting right behind James. He's got an angelic voice and is good at pretty much everything, including running and archery -- J-hope in the middle with the wonderfully sunny disposition, and Jimin -- baby mochi! In the very back seat are Jin on the left, Suga in the middle and V on the right.
Danila Kovalev hat

New favorite video -- BTS On

Always late to the party, it's only recently that I've come across the K-pop phenomenon (South Korean pop music), particularly the group BTS. I LOVE their song 'On.' Here's the video: gorgeous guys, emotive, amazing music, incredible dance moves, evocative scenery and complex symbolism. Definitely worth watching. Let me know if you like it.

Below is a vid about the complex meaning and symbolism of On, referring to the interconnectedness of life, journey, cycles, the soul, and expanding that vision to encompass humankind. I love the mishmash of cultural symbolism. They draw a lot on the work of Carl Jung. This actually gives me a lot of hope that these young people, admired by so many, are being so contemplative, self-aware, affirming, and forward thinking.

Here's another stripped down version of the same song with less scenery and more dancing.

If you like it, there's lots of other vids featuring the choreography.
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New movie version of Dune coming

I read Frank Herbert's seminal Dune as a young teenager -- probably shortly after I first read Lord of the Rings. I remember the awe of being sucked into a completely realized world, with the interlocked ecology of the worms and the spice on Arrakis, its connection to commerce, the space-faring guilds, and powerful families all vying for supremacy. It was and still is a major, game-changing creative work. (Even though, yeah, when you read it now, some of it feels dated, plus groovy drugs). So, I was intrigued to note in this article in Vanity Fair about a new set of movies (2 parts)based on Dune, the first due to open Dec. 18. I was excited to see that Timothee Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides. I can totally see that. He's such a good actor. It sounds like they may do a much better job than the horrendous 1984 version by David Lynch (hated that movie because it tried to cram too much novel into too little time, plus too much unnecessary weirdness even though the sandworms were awesome and I liked the casting -- Kyle McLachlan was a good Paul, Patrick Stewart played Gurney Halleck and yeah I did appreciate Sting as Feyd coming out of the bath -- or whatever it was in his little speedo.) I also saw the version done as a T.V. series, which imho was way better than the movie. What do you guys think about the new version? What about the older versions?

And yay, Timothee Chalamet!

Amazon Middle-earth series supposed to adhere to canon

Just read the following article about the upcoming Amazon series. According to Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, the Tolkien estate has required that it adhere to Tolkien's canon. It's taking place only in the Second Age, (not permitted to show events in 1st or 3rd ages) so therefore will not include a young Aragorn. So, it's Sauron and the fall of Numenor. Gah, really wish I'd finished Elegy before these guys tackle it.

Here's the link.

Here's the link to the actual Tom Shippey interview.

Sauron & the ring

Seanan McGuire writes about fanfic

Thought you all might be interested in another article on (a great e-publication). This is by Seanan McGuire, a successful fantasy writer who also writes under the name Mira Grant and has won Hugo & Nebula awards, (and who I have met) about how writing fanfic made her the author she is today. She's pushing back against all the stereotypic ideas about writing fanfic -- and concludes that the low opinion some people have about it is in large part because it's primarily written by women. Here's the opening of the piece:

A good friend of mine—whose name I am not using here, because some bruises deserve to go unprodded, and she has a right to be hurt—said recently, “Every time I talk about writing fanfiction, I get hate mail.” She wasn’t exaggerating. I’ve seen, with my own eyes, what happens to authors, especially female authors, especially female authors of young adult fiction, when they mention their time in the fanfic world. I got angry. On her behalf; at the world; at the unfairness of it all. What you are about to read came out of that anger.

Then, of course, there is a lively discussion in the comments. Here's the link:

or you can google,, The Bodies of the Girls Who Made Me.

Would love your opinions.
Danila Kovalev hat


Hey friends, is life doing you wrong? I dare you to watch this and not smile. (I'm just a sucker for lovely young dancers.)
The caption said the dancer, Sven Otten, recorded this himself in his room and created his own dance channel. It's gotten over 40 million hits. The music is Parov Stelar - All Night.