Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Narnia in Glasgow

So, not surprisingly, a family visit turns out not to be the time for some researched blogging (unless the blogging is about the visit). So I have't had the time to write up the Lewis/Anscombe piece, which is still pending. Instead, here's a bit of C. S. Lewis news for those who might have missed it. 

The University of Glasgow's CENTRE FOR FANTASTY is hosting an event later this month: 

From Spare Oom to War Drobe: A Journey to Narnia with Katherine Langrish

This event is scheduled for Thursday June 17th (about two weeks from now) at 5pm to 6.30 BST (which I make out to be about nine in the morning, Seattle time --a great improvement over the middle of night timing of some transatlantic events).

I haven't read Languish's book, which contrasts the experience of reading Narnia as a child vs. revisiting it as an adult. Perhaps her approach will lift some of my antipathy to the Narnia series. 

Here's the link: 


--John R.

--current reading: DOROTHY AND JACk; also a light novel.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Warnie Lewis, ditchcrawler

So, a while ago the new issue of THE JOURNAL OF INKLINGS STUDIES arrived --always a welcome event. The two articles that stood out for me this time around were a piece on Warnie Lewis's experiences as a ditchcrawler -- that is, the owner of a narrow canal boat he used to take little holidays exploring various spots all around Oxford -- and an insightful well-sourced look at the famous Lewis-Anscombe debate.

The canalboat piece is by Don King, who I hope will expand his researches into Captain Lewis (as he was at the time) into a book one of these days. While Warnie's boat sometimes gets a passing mention in his brother's biographies, I had no idea that Warnie wrote several essays about his experiences,* including advice to help others better enjoy their shared hobby and how to cope when things go wrong.

King's article quotes generously from eight essays, which are very much in the voice of W.H.L. as we know it from his journals. The Bosporus, which he had built to order, emerges as a leisurely alternative to the Lewis brothers' walking tours. Unfortunately Warnie only got to enjoy the boat from 1936 through 1939, when wartime restrictions and rationing made it too hard for him to carry on.

The other piece is more complex and I think deserves a separate post of its own (though it'll take me a day or two to get it drafted).

current reading: LETTER OF JOSEPH CONRAD (the bookmark dropped out and had trouble finding my place, so decided to take a hiatus) and a light novel (more portable)

*published in THE MOTOR BOAT AND YACHTING magazine.

The Cat Room Has Kittens


Quite a crowd in the cat room today, even with the two sisters/bonded mother cats pair (Willow and Maple) having already been adopted. We had senior pair TIKA and KINDA, young LEO DECATI,  little ROCKY ROAD (the solitaire kitten, off in a cage of his own), and eight little grey kittens — some light grey, some dark as black; some smooth, some with a bit of fluff; all adorable.

So, a dozen cats in all. First things first, so I got the leash on TIKA and took her out. She didn’t seem to enjoy herself much, but still think the change will do her good in the long run. She mostly sat on the half-high cat stand outside the room and watched everything go by. I also carried her about some. Next came KINDA, who did his usual explorations all over. He got some good comments by staff and customers alike. When he (reluctantly) went back in I put him and his sister back in their cage. Whoever recommended the blanket blocking their vision from the rest of the room was right: both settled down and didn’t do any hissing or growling aimed at the other cats that I heard.

LEO DUCATI had his turn next, and explored even more than Kinda. He turned on the charm and made a big impression on folks he encountered during his explorations. I wanted the kittens to have a turn, so eventually he had to go in and I put him back in his cage, where he settled down.

Then it was Kitten Time. I took them out of their cages one at a time and gave them the run of the place. After that it was kittens everywhere. I liked how they have distinct personalities already in what toy each likes, favorite spots to hide in, tolerance at being petted, and the like. Little Road kept to himself, except when one or two of the grey kittens sought him out to see what game he was playing. He likes to seek out interesting places —say, beneath the cushion atop the bins.

I hope both kittens and senior cats find new homes soon. 

Reminder: Next Friday (the 11th) I won’t be able to come in that day for my usual shift.

—John R.

Monday, May 31, 2021

A New Barnes & Noble Opens in Kirkland

So, I was surprised and pleased last week by news that Barnes & Noble has opened up a new store in Kirkland. Bookstore news over the last few years has mainly been the announcement of stores shutting down one by one: the extinction of Waldenbooks and B. Daltons, the disappearance of Borders (my favorite of the chain bookstores and a great place to work with a laptop and a pot of tea), with Barnes & Noble seeming to be following the pattern.

So, it's nice to get some good news on the bookstore front.  



Look Familiar? (a D&D test)

 So, if the following list looks familiar, you can probably spot the connecting thread between all these publications.

--John R.

PENUMBRA (Atlas Games)

Three Days to Kill—John Tynes


Green Ronin

Death in Freeport—Chris Pramas

Alderac/AEG  (Adventure Boosters) 

   The Last Gods—Kevin Wilson

   The Illusionist's Daughter—Travis Heermann


Fantasy Flight (LEGENDS & LAIRS)

   The Thief's Gold—Brian Wood

   The Weeping Tree—Brian Patterson 


Troll Lord Games

A Lion in the Ropes—Stephen Chenault

The Fantastic Adventure—Mac Golden


Privateer Press

The Witchfire Trilogy, Book One: The Longest Night—Matt Staroscik


Hammerdog Games  (Building Block Adventures) 

The Grande Temple of Jing—Danny O'Neill


Nightmare Game

The Horror Beneath—Eric Metcalf


Wick Press

 What's That Smell?—John Wick


Sunday, May 30, 2021

WotC's Tolkien Game

So, yesterday I came across my file of material relating to Wizards of the Coast's attempt at a Tolkien roleplaying game --or more accurately what parts wd have gone into the core rulebook of Middle-earth as a D&D world. I thought this was gone forever, at best stuck on some twenty-year old floppy, so I'm happy to have unearthed it again.* 

While this file has very little material that wd have gone into the game itself --the Brand team killed the project before it got very far into the actual design stage-- it does have a detailed preliminary table of contents, assignments of who wd draft which chapters, some memos and meeting notes, and the like.

Also with this was the detailed outline I wrote for a trilogy of adventures to go with the Decipher's LotR game, called Cold Waters, Deep. I rather liked this one, so I might go back and work it up sometime to run with my local gaming group if they're amenable to the idea.

Have to say it'll be nice to have the bits and pieces for all three Tolkien rpgs I worked on at some point to be gathered together in one place.

--John R.

*sort of literally -- it was mixed in with a lot of papers relating to various unfinished projects on a lower shelf of the bookcase that collapsed recently. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday Cat Walking (5/28-21)


The addition of three newcomers to our bonded pair already in residence brings our total in the cat room up to five cats: KINTA, TINA, LEO DUCATI, TWIX, and BABY RUTH

Baby Ruth lights up the room.

Since TINA objects strongly to other cats coming into what she considers her space, I had to let the cats out in phases.

First up came the pair of three-month old kittens, ball-of-fire Tortie BABY RUTH and Tabby TWIX, who were adorable. They tried out various games and enjoyed them all. They don’t mind being picked up too much, though the squirming starts if you hold them what they consider too long. They're still very much in the explore everywhere stage.

LEO DUCATI sat quietly in his cage, enjoying a catnip-suffused sachet, until the kittens had to go in their cage and give him a turn at being out. He was so mellow that I took him out for a walk. He did great! — v. self-possessed. He stayed out a long time and wd gladly have stayed out longer.

Finally it was KINTA the Yellow and TINA the Black, time for our semi senior cats. There’s been a good deal of growling and hissing from Tina inside her cage at the uncaged cats passing by, which must have gotten on Kinta’s nerve, since he uncharacteristically hissed at her as they were coming out. He had another long walk and once again did really well. Poor Tina asked for a walk, growled, asked to be petted, hissed, and generally was so worked up by the other cats in her cat-room that I had to pass on walking her. Next time I’ll do her first of all the cats, before she has time to get upset, which has worked well in the past.
We had a lot of lookers and, at the end of my shift, two separate serious inquiries, one for Leo and the other for little Ruth. I gave both would-be adoptees the information on contacting the adoption counsellors. Hope their applications go well. 

No health problems that I noted, but we did have someone who brought a great big dog (a huskie or something of that size) and parked right outside the cat room for a minute or two. Everyone but the kittens took it calmly enough: Twix puffed his tail out a bit and came over close to me, while little Ruth took refuge under the cat-tree, from which she happily came back out when the episode was over.

Amused by a conscientious potential adopter who was concerned that the cat’s information sheets said he ‘enjoyed pets’, since he intended to adopt him into what wd be a single-pet home: I reasured him that this meant the cat liked being petted, not that it wd do best in a home with multiple cats.

—John R.