Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Man who Opted Out

So, a while back the NYT had an interesting piece about someone who's chosen to opt out of the current endless political news. He voted, his candidate lost, and he can't put up with the endless back-and-forth shouting that marks our times. As someone who has at times in my life done without a tv altogether, I can sympathize. Sometimes the shouting gets to be too much and you have to just walk away for a bit. I know it probably did me good when we gave up cable tv a year and more back. The next time I'd been on one of my research trips I'd binged, watching four to five hours a night of MSNBC. I wondered if I'd do that again this trip, and the answer has turned out to be no. I've spent the evenings working on a side-project and sometimes just reading and resting up for the next day's session.

As for the subject of the article, he's using his down time to create an ecological area, his own little Walden Pond he hopes to turn into a protected nature park. So he's putting his away-time to good use.

Here's the link:

--John R.

John Bellairs movie

So, thanks to Friend Richard, I just learned that there's a new movie coming out based on the work of one of my favorite authors: John Bellairs, author of one of the best fantasy novels ever written (THE FACE IN THE FROST) and the inimitable ST. FIGETA & OTHER PARODIES.* It's based on THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS -- not his best but probably his best-known work, the start of the Lewis Barnavelt trilogy (later extended beyond the first three books into an ongoing series). Have to say, I'm looking forward to this one. It's due out in September.

--John R.

*which asks the question: Does the olive in the martini break the Lenten fast?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Waiting for the Bus

So, this morning while waiting at the corner of Van Buren and State Street for the bus to bring me from the Lower East Side, where I'm staying (in the part of Milwaukee that still deserves the title 'Cream City'), to Marquette, I saw a peacock cross the road.

 This was surprising, given that downtown Milwaukee's not the sort of place where I'd expect to see an exotic animal wandering around --especially a tropical one, given the bitter cold weather we'd had here last week. I assumed it was an escaped pet, though it certainly seemed very much at ease in its surroundings. Then a second one came and joined it, coming like the first out of the Yankee Hill complex, crossing Van Buren (a major street; luckily traffic was light) and making its way over to a green grassy spot between two apartment complexes.

I asked after I got to the Archives, and they were as surprised as I was by the unlikeliness of free-roaming peacocks in Milwaukee. I asked again at the front desk of the hotel, and the desk clerk said no, he'd never heard of peacocks roaming about, but they did have wild turkeys in the neighborhood.

So that's it. I got to see something really neat -- just not what I thought it was. And at the cost of thinking that Mr. Lacy and Dr. Rogers, who used to take me out birdwatching with them sometimes back in my Scouting days, wd be sadly disappointed if they knew about my decayed bird-identification skills.

--John R.
--working on: Council of Elrond drafts (days) and a book review (evenings)
--current reading: pre-Columbo Dr. Thorndyke stories by R. Austin Freeman (1912)

UPDATE (W. March 28th)
And here's a local news story about Milwaukee's fashionable East Side's urban wild turkeys:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tolkien Day (unObservant)

So, thanks to Janice S. for reminding me of Tolkien Reading Day, which fell yesterday this year. It's a holiday I honor more in the breech than the observance, in that while I like the idea I tend to forget the actual event when it rolls around each year. Kind of like Arbor Day.* To be fair, I'm probably reading something Tolkien wrote, or something someone wrote about him, or something connected with his life and works, more days than not. So every day is kinda like Tolkien day with me.**

Today was good Tolkien-reading days, here at the Marquette Archives where I'm taking a look at and slowly working through the sequence of MANY MEETINGS and COUNCIL OF ELROND -- the latter one of the two trickiest chapters in the manuscripts. This is Day Six of a ten-day research trip, and despite still-lingering effects of the cold it's been a really good session this time. Here's hoping the next four days go as well, and get me to a good stopping point. 

--John R.

current reading (Kindle): THE SINGING BONE by R. Austin Freeman (1912)

*which these days seems to have been more or less swallowed up in Earth Day.
**just ask Janice C 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I'm in Milwaukee

So, just arrived in Milwaukee for two weeks working with the Tolkien manuscripts, starting in the morning. Really looking forward to it.

--John R.

current reading: THE INKLINGS AND KING ARTHUR, ed. Sorina Higgins; WAR IN HEAVEN by Charles Williams (fourth reading, I think; this time as my read-on-the-plane book)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Texas in June (NETrpgCon)

So, I wanted to share the news that this June I'll be travelling down to Dallas to attend the NETRPGCON, or North-east Texas role-playing games convention. I've been wanting to go to this for years but other commitments have prevented that from happening. This is the year it finally all came together. I'm really looking forward to it.

First off, playing roleplaying games (esp. AD&D 1st edition, Call of Cthulhu, and Pendragon) is my favorite hobby. And the chance to spend a weekend playing games and watching other people play games and talking with folks about games is my idea of a good weekend.

And second, it's been a long time since I've been to a rpg con. I always used to go to GenCon, but the last one of those I attended was the last one held in Milwaukee, back in 2002. And this one is geared to old games, which are the ones I like best.

Here's a link to general information about the con itself.

And here's a list of guests -- some of whom I worked with back in Lake Geneva days (1991 to 1997), some I know only as legends of the industry who'd worked for TSR back before my day, whom I look forward to meeting:

We have the following confirmed guests at this time (Bill Barsh, Wolfgang Baur, Jobe Bittman, Bob Bledsaw Jr., Jason Braun, David "Zeb" Cook, Chris Clark, Michael Curtis, Darlene, Jeff Dee, Jeff Easley, Matt Finch, Ernest "Skeeter" Green, Allan Grohe, Jeff Grubb, Allen Hammack, Lance Hawvermale, Jack Herman, Jon Hershberger, Alex Kammer, Tim Kask, Doug Kovacs, David "Diesel" LaForce, Stephen Marsh, Frank Mentzer, Erol Otus, Terry Pavlet, Steve Perrin, Stefan Pokorny, Merle Rasmussen, John D. Rateliff, Mike Stewart, Dr. Dennis Sustare, Jeff Talanian, Jim Wampler, Bill Webb, Steven Winter). The lineup usually includes several of the more important figures in the history of RPGs as a whole and Dungeons & Dragons in particular.

So, if you're there and see me wander by, say hi.  If you want to sit down and talk a while, ask me about Tolkien.

--John R.
current reading: Stephen Jay Gould, BULLY FOR BRONTESAURUS (?1992)