Saturday, March 25, 2023

And off to Longfield

 After an unsatisfactory night in Shreveport (waterleaking from the ceiling was only one of that hotel room's failings), we went back over to Waskom for more visiting. 

We had to cancel the trip to Magnolia to visit the graves, since heading that direction at that time wd have brought us into the storm front: thunderstorms and a tornado. 

Instead me went by Jonesville,  a small town near Waskom that reminded me of Washington, Arkansas, which we got to visit some years back. Its main feature is the T. C. Lindsey & Co. General Store, which has been in business continually since 1847 (a record in the state, they tell me, and only a few years after statehood). The original building burned down in 1922, so the current structure is only one hundred and one years old.

Inside is half museum and half store, with current for-sale items at eye level or below and antiques in glass cases further up. Among my favorite items was the Remington typewriter (I asked if they'd sell me a ribbon spool for my Remington Oldstyle Portable, but they declined). A bale of cotton (marked as the last one ginned and baled in the area.  An array of craft rootbeers. And much, much more. My brother-in-law, who was with us, remembered when the store was still someplace you'd go to do practical shopping (such as the time his older brother brought him there to buy shoes). Well worth the visit.

Today it was over to Longview for an enjoyable family gathering. Tonight we're back in Shreveport, in a new room in a different hotel. Tomorrow it's up to Little Rock for a visit with the Smiths.

--John R. 

. . . And in Shreveport

So, the family visit is off to a good start, with a good long visit with my sister yesterday. We even got to see Kashmir the cat, who was deposed to be accommodating. The only sour note was the restaurant. I'd picked, the Shreveport Cracker Barrel, my favorite restaurant in these part, only to find it's not what it was. Service was bad (for example the food came but the knife fork spoon didn't follow till ten minutes later). The soup wasn't hot but instead slightly under room temperature. A pity; it's been a fun stop when passing through the area for years, but I doubt we'll stop there again.

Still, we got more family visit time in, and I bought a Chunky, one of my favorite candy bars in my youth. And the shortcomings of the restaurant turned out to be middling compared to the hotel room, which (to make a long story short) culminated in our currently waiting to be switched to a new room. On without a leaking roof. 

After which our plan is to drive to Magnolia. If the tornado they're predicting for today manifests we'll need to make some adjustments.

--John R.

--current reading: ALWAYS COMING HOME. Easier to read, it turns out, on the Kindle --easier to hold and 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

I'm in Dallas

So, you know you're not looking your best nearing the end of a long day of travel when fellow travellers offer to help you with your luggage. Or insist you take their seat on the shuttle. Or hold the door open for you -- this last from a woman with a walker. Never let it be said that Parkinson's isn't a disease with a sense of humor.

A good night's sleep here in Dallas and we shd be in good shape to start the family visits tomorrow.

--John R.

--current reading: the Dunsany/Clarke letter (finished, as book #II.363)

--resumed Le Guin's ALWAYS COMING HOME, reading almost 10% of it on the flight.

Marketplace covers D&D

So, here's another sign, if any were needed, of how D&D is Big Business. 

The recent turmoil over Hasbro's decision to revoke, by fiat,* the open license under which other game publishers release D&D-compatible products caused a big enough stir that it got covered by national radio:

The show in question is MARKETPLACE, hosted by Kai Ryssdal; the D&D piece is the final segment. 

It takes up roughly the last five or six minutes of that week's show.

The battle for the Dungeons & Dragons economy,


It's good to see one thing hasn't changed: The enduring truism that D&D is, always has been, and remains a license to print money.  This piece also divides the industry into (a) D&D and (b) non-WotC D&D compatibles. That there's a third category, independent RPGs, seems to fall below their radar. Still, it's interesting to see national-wide coverage of what was once our little hobby.  It'll be interesting what effect the release of the D&D Movie this week will have. 

--John R.

--current reading: the Dunsany/Clarke letters

*since rescinded 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023


So, the latest volume of TOLKIEN STUDIES* is now out; my copy arrived today. Haven't had a chance to look through it yet, but it looks to be primary material by JRRT, Wm Cloud Hicklin's edition, sorting out and editing Tolkien's time-charts keeping track of who was where when in LotR. It's a nice bonus to have the "Lorien Time" drawing nicely reproduced on the cover.

As so often with Tolkien, we sometimes have to wait for it; this looks like one of those times when it was definitely worth the wait.

---John R

*officially Volume XIX Supplement (2022)

Monday, March 20, 2023

Sessions at Kalamazoo

So, the program book for Kalamazoo has arrived. I was worried that its offerings might be scant in thes postpandemic days, but a look through shows there's plenty to keep a medievalist busy (462 sessions). Here's a listing I put together of the scheduled Tolkien events.  This doesn't necessarily cover everything --sometimes there is a stray paper on Tolkien that makes up part of a panel that's non-Tolkienish in theme -- but it's a good place to start. And of course there are all sorts of treasures in the form of presentations on a vast array of medieval authors and themes.

  sessions at Kalamazoo, 2023

   Thursday May 11th

   Friday May 12th

   Saturday May 13th

13  Bernhard Center 210    Thursday 10am

Medieval Elements in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (A Roundtable) 

Sponsor: Presider: Organizer: 

Tolkien at Kalamazoo
Yvette Kisor, Ramapo College
Yvette Kisor
Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont 

A roundtable discussion with Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ.; Lydia H. Hayes, Catawba College; Jennifer Fast, Newman Theological College; Christopher Vaccaro; and Valerie Dawn Hampton, Univ. of Florida 


204  Virtual    Friday 10am

Religion along the Tolkienian Fantasy Tradition: New Medievalist Narratives 

Sponsor: Presider: Organizer: 

Tales after Tolkien Society
Luke Shelton, Univ. of Glasgow Geoffrey B. Elliott, Independent Scholar 
Friday 10:00 a.m. 

Do You Even Pray Though? Examining the Worship of the Great Mother Goddess in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall Universe 

Rachel Sikorski, Independent Scholar 

Playing with Medieval(ist?) Religion in Forum-Based Play-by-Post Roleplaying Games: A Case Study 

Geoffrey B. Elliott 



255 Virtual    Friday  1.30 pm

Tolkien and Medieval Constructions of Race (A Roundtable) 

Sponsor: Presider: Organizer: 

Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, Univ. of Glasgow Kristine A. Swank, Univ. of Glasgow
Mariana Rios Maldonado, Univ. of Glasgow 

A roundtable discussion with Robin Anne Reid, Independent Scholar; Luke Shelton, Univ. of Glasgow; Mercury Natis, Signum Univ.; Toni DiNardo, Univ. of North Carolina–Chapel Hill; and Lars Olaf Johnson, Cornell Univ.
Respondent: Mariana Rios Maldonado 


278   Schneider Hall 1155     Friday 3.30pm

Tolkien and the Middle Ages: Tolkien and the Scholastics 

Sponsor: Presider: Organizer: 

D. B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership, Viterbo Univ. Michael A. Wodzak, Viterbo Univ.
Michael A. Wodzak 

Thomistic Evil in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
Mitchell B. Simpson, Univ. of Arkansas–Fayetteville 

Tolkien and Aquinas: The Body, Wonder, and Aesthetics 

Paul L. Fortunato, Univ. of Houston–Downtown 

Was Tolkien a Franciscan? Bonaventurian Themes in the Legendarium 

Craig A. Boyd, St. Louis Univ. 

“What your folk would call magic”: Thomas Aquinas and Natural Power in Tolkien’s Works 

Brian McFadden, Texas Tech Univ. 


340  Schneider Hall 1330 (hybrid)    Saturday 10am

Climate Change II: Social, Ecological, Political, and Spiritual Shifts in J. R. R. Tolkien and Medieval Poets 

Sponsors: Presider: Organizer: 

Tolkien at Kalamazoo; International Pearl-Poet Society Deidre Dawson, Michigan State Univ.
Yvette Kisor, Ramapo College
Jane Beal, Univ. of La Verne 

Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont 

Tolkien’s Old English Exodus and Philosophy of Translation 

Perry Neil Harrison, Fort Hays State Univ. 

Elements of the Bel Inconnu Tradition in Tolkien’s Legendarium Yvette Kisor 

Deep in the Earth: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Transformation of a Motif from the Works of the Pearl-Poet

Jane Beal 

The Fall of Númenor: A Political and Natural Catastrophe 

Gaëlle Abaléa, Univ. de Paris–Sorbonne 


LUNCH     12:00–1:00 p.m.

Tolkien at Kalamazoo  Business Meeting 

Bernhard Center 242 


374  Bernhard Center 210   Saturday 1.30pm

Christopher Tolkien: Medievalist Editor of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium I: The Works 

Sponsor: Presider: Organizer: 

Tolkien at Kalamazoo
Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont Yvette Kisor, Ramapo College Christopher Vaccaro 

The Sun, the Son, and the Silmarillion: Christopher Tolkien and the Copernican Revolution of Morgoth’s Ring 

Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ. 138 

She Put a Spell on the Man U Script: Tolkien’s Edits on BeowulfSellic Spell, and the Foundations of the Ogress 

Annie Brust, Kent State Univ. 

Competing Silmarillions in a Post-Tolkien World Stephen Yandell, Xavier Univ. 


423  Bernhard Center 210   Saturday 3.30pm

Christopher Tolkien: Medievalist Editor of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium II: The Interactions 

Sponsor: Presider: Organizer: 

Tolkien at Kalamazoo
Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ. Yvette Kisor, Ramapo College
Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont 


The Legacy of Tolkien’s Love for and of Nature in His Children: The Evidence from Michael H. R. Tolkien’s Library 

Brad Eden, Drexel Univ. 

“I have written with you most in mind”: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters to Christopher Tolkien 

Deidre Dawson, Michigan State Univ. 

Christopher Tolkien and the Legacy of the Father of Middle-earth 

Iona McPeake, New York Univ. 


Tales after Tolkien Society 204

Tolkien at Kalamazoo 13, 340, p. 133, 374, 423 



Song of the Week

So, the song that's been the theme song playing in my head the past few days is "Top of the Pops" by The Kinks. A classic from the same album as "Lola", this was part of their comeback --their first comeback, that is, from a band who had a string of comebacks, never staying on top for more than a song or two but hanging in there, never quite going away. 

Thanks to my friend Franklin for having introduced me to this song (and several other gems from the same album) back in Fayetteville days.

--John R. 

current reading: Arthur C. Clarke and Lord Dunsany's collected correspondence.