Friday, October 9, 2015

Needed: a copy of TOLKIEN STUDIES volume X (2013)

So, one of the things I've discovered as I've been getting the shelves in my office in order is that I seem to have misplaced my copy of TOLKIEN STUDIES volume 10. After a good deal of looking I have reluctantly concluded that it's not in any of the places where I might expect it and at this point might not turn up for the foreseeable future. Which means I really ought to get a replacement copy so as to have it with the other volumes on my shelf. 
   To my surprise, buying a recent copy of this prestigious journal is harder than I wd have thought. The publisher doesn't have it. Amazon doesn't have it. Abebooks and ebay don't seem to have it. So I thought I'd put out an appeal: does anyone have a spare copy of TOLKIEN STUDIES volume X (2013) they'd be willing to part with? I have duplicate (contributor's) copies of Vol. VI (2009) and VII (2010, the Kullervo issue) if anyone wd like to trade.
   If so, let me know.

--John R.

current reading: EMPIRE OF IMAGINATION, the new biography of Gary Gygax

UPDATE: Copy found! Thanks to NFB Elf for the tip. -- JDR

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gygax Biography is Out

So, I've been waiting for the copy I ordered of the new biography of Gary Gygax, (co)creator of D&D, to arrive in the mail, only to find it today on the shelves at the friendly neighborhood Barnes & Noble.  At a quick glance it looks chatty and informative, with a useful timeline and listing of E.G.G.'s publications (rulesbooks and modules; don't think it included his many articles and interviews*)

Here's a link to a brief discussion of the book: EMPIRE OF IMAGINATION: GARY GYGAX AND THE BIRTH OF DUNGEONS & DRAGONS,  by Michael Witwer.

--John R.

*perhaps a Gygax bibliography wd be a gd project for someone else out there. Though I suspect Jon Peterson has probably already done all the work during the research for his own opus.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Best Tolkien Interview, Ever

So, sometimes I belatedly discover great things out there on the web.

In this case, it's thanks to Marjorie Burns passing along to me something she'd learned from John Garth, that Tolkien's 1965 radio interview with Denis Gueroult is available online.* Not only that, but this recording is much fuller than the one I currently have, the one issued on an old cassette by AudioForum back in the 80s or early 90s. That one was about thirty minutes in length;** this new one is thirty-nine, so about a quarter of it is new material.

I think this is by far the best interview Tolkien ever gave. It's one of only two that extends to a good length (the other being the Henry Resnik interview, as printed in NIEKAS) and the only one in which the interviewer had both done his homework and clearly carefully prepared for the interview. Just as importantly, Gueroult was not been content with extracting from Tolkien a few disconnected soundbite but asked follow-up questions and pressed Tolkien to expand upon his answers. Would that we had a half-dozen interviews like this. Instead we have only one, but what a treasure it is. It's rare that I write any article on Tolkien in which I do not quote from this interview at some point.

Here's the link:

--John R.
current reading: ibid.

*and apparently has been since April. I will say, in my defense, that this has been a really busy year.

**with an interview with Basil Bunting on the back

UPDATE: I've substituted the correct link, for Tolkien, in place of the one on Lord David Cecil (which belongs to a pending post instead). Thanks to Magister for the corrective.  --JDR

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Good Day for Marquette

So, one of the interesting things that happened when the pope was over here on his American visit the week before last was his naming of four great Americans he personally admired: Abraham Lincoln, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day.

Now, of these four, two are universally famous and the third pretty well known: our most popular president, a martyr to civil rights, and an icon in mid-century Catholicism. But the fourth, Dorothy Day, is less well known, esp. to a southern Presbyterian like myself.

I knew about her from the Marquette Archives. Two of their most extensive collections, which cd not be more different, are J. R. R. Tolkien's manuscripts* and Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker papers.**  And so just by osmosis I came to know a bit about her in a general way. And I've come to realize there's much to admire: she was a pacifist and worker for social justice, someone who took quite literally the gospel injunctions to love thy neighbor, feed the poor, et al. I was also bemused, within the last year or so, to learn that there's both a movement to declare her a saint and an opposition movement opposing her canonization.

Clearly, at any rate, someone it'd be worthwhile to find out more about.

Here's the link.

--John R

current reading: IDYLLS OF THE KING, by Tennyson (tedious), STRIKE THE BLOOD (young adult 'light novel').


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Another RPG Purge and a disgruntled cat

First, the photo.

Note the disgruntled cat (not one of ours) as he surveys the boxes of old rpgs.

Next, the explanation.

On the way back from my most recent trip, I was thinking of getting back to work on various projects once we got home. I'd made a stab at straightening my desk before we left and now began to think of ways I could free up some space in my office. My shelves are drowning in books and the area around my desk in piles of papers and stacks of books, which makes finding what I need at any given moment more difficult than it need be. The only solution was to move some stuff out of my office to make room. So I decided, partly inspired by the example of my father-in-law and also of some friends in decluttering, that it was time to let go of a lot of the old rpgs I never play (or, in some case, have never played). This included all of MERP (for which I found a good home) but also other games like JAMES BOND 007 (for which I kept only the boxed set, giving away all the supplements), CHILL (likewise), DOCTOR WHO (likewise), EVERWAY (plus its three supplements), EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE / TEKUMEL,* et al.  The only things I kept everything of from all the games kept in my office were (1) all the AD&D/D&D stuff (of course),** (2) all the CALL OF CTHLUHU, and (3) all the PENDRAGON.

By now being on something of a role, I next tackled the old TSR games on the shelves down in the box room. Aside from the original Marvel Superhero Game (which felt prey to water damage long ago) and the WotC Star Wars game (which I never had any interest in), I had pretty much all the rpgs TSR had put out before and during my time with them. So out the door went AMAZING ENGINE (except for the two that I worked on), all of ALTERNITY (including DARK MATTER), BUCK ROGERS (both IN THE 25TH CENTURY and HIGH ADVENTURE), CONAN (by Zeb Cook!), DUNE, INDIANA JONES (all), DRAGONQUEST, DRAGONLANCE SAGA SYSTEM, MARVEL SAGA SYSTEM, all of d20MODERN, all of STAR FRONTIERS; even BULLWINKLE and POKEMON JR.  The only things I kept were all of GANGBUSTERS, all of BOOT HILL, all of the original TOP SECRET (getting rid TOP SECRET / SI), and the original GAMMA WORLD box and first two modules.  Whew.

All these have now found new homes --- quite a bit of it with a friend whose cat, pictured above, was displeased that his owner's attention was on the new games and not said cat.

Next up, it's time to purge those d20 shelves. Which will take a deal of sorting.

Being both a collector and something of a horder, I hate to see all this go, but it's a good feeling to have more shelves to work with. And it'll be worth it to have what remains be so much more accessible and to have my office in much better shape.

--John R.

*I kept only the original 1975 EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE boxed set, the much later T.O.M.E. boxed set, and the one JUDGE'S GUILD adventure for EPT (i.e., three out of thirteen items).

**virtually everything from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th edition, as well as virtually everything from D&D that predated or was parallel with AD&D.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Three Years Ago Today (Stonehenge)

So, Janice reminded me today of where we were three years ago today: STONEHENGE.

We also, on the same day, got to walk around Avebury and see Silbury Hill in the near distance, among other neolithic sites.

One of those dream-come-true days that actually come along once in a while.

--John R.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Nice Review

So, thanks to Steven Schend for forwarding the following link to Janice, who forwarded it to me.

It's nice to know that all that work found its way into the hands of readers who like this kind of thing, and they liked it.


current reading: BROTHER TO DRAGONS (still), IDYLLS OF THE KING (still). Alas.