So, Thursday the new (December) issue of EMPIRE magazine arrived from England (think it'll be out over here later this month). This is their special HOBBIT issue, and it was well worth waiting for. They have a special section on THE HOBBIT that runs more than sixty pages, with lots on the cast, the director, the three-film decision, etc. etc. etc. Looks to be really nicely done.
Best of all, from my point of view, is a section on Tolkien himself, and an overview of how he came to write the book. I was interviewed for this, along with Boyens and Shippey, who provides the best description of 'philology' I've ever seen: "language archaeology". Only a little of what I said actually made it in; I think I'm much less quotable than a good source for background -- e.g., I'm pleased to see that they've drawn on my reconstruction of the stages in which Tolkien wrote the book; nice to see my arguments get more widely disseminated.
Even Tolkien lovers who are not so keen on the movies might want to pick up this issue, because it prints a previously unknown picture of Tolkien (p. 106-107).* It's a great photo, one of the best I've seen of him, and clearly taken near the end of his life: outdoors (I think on the grounds of Merton, right next to the old city wall), wearing his glasses (rather unusual for a JRRT photograph), and holding a book (ATB, so the image is definitely post-1962**)
I understand that there will be web extras posted at Empire Online once the issue's officially out over here, so there's also that to look forward to.
For now, I'll be enjoying skimming through this issue, trying to avoid spoilers, and coming to grips with the fact that after all this waiting the film itself is really almost here. With any luck I may even be able to keep all thirteen dwarves straight by the time the film opens.
current reading: MURDER IN THE DARK by Margaret Atwood 
*unknown to me, at any rate, and I try to keep up with these things, even before the days of Dr. Blackwelder's TOLKIEN PORTRAITURE.
**I'd guess 1971-73
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