So, on Saturday I saw that the new Tolkien calendar was out, and available through Amazon. I'd realized the last time I was in Barnes & Noble (before the bad-air sequester) that their entire calendar section seems to have gone away, so I had no qualms about not 'shopping local'.* And trying to order through Amazon UK last year had been an unmitigated disaster.
And yesterday it arrived, just the third day since I ordered it. Now that's service.
As for the calendar itself, this looks to be one of the good ones. It features the work of three artists, all of whom have a long track record, dedicated fans, and a reputation for fidelity: John Howe, Alan Lee, and Ted Nasmith.** The general theme of the calendar is a celebration of UNFINISHED TALES --is it really forty years ago that this came out? It's always been a favorite of mine, and when I got the chance to have Christopher sign one of his books, this was the one I got signed.
The cover, by Nasmith, is my favorite of all the pieces in this calendar: the two Blue Wizards striding purposefully across the scene on their way east to make trouble.*** Other standout pieces include August ("A Chance Meeting"), a quintessential Alan Lee work, and October ("The Hunt for the Ring"), a brooding Howe piece divided between starkly contrasting halves, sinister Black Rider on the left and peaceful hobbitlands on the right.
The whole is wrapped up by what might be called liner notes by Brian Sibley about UNFINISHED TALES, including a brief recollection how he was able to put some of UT's revelations to good use with his script for the BBC radio adaption of LotR, then in the works.
Have to admit that I found it slightly odd that special events called out on calendar pages were both those found on most calendars (e.g. Martin Luther King's birthday) and Tolkien-specific (Tolkien's birthday). The latter are mostly limited to the original publication dates of various of Tolkien's works (e.g his BEOWULF translation). If they were going to include the latter I wish they'd have availed themselves of Wayne & Christina's excellent CHRONOLOGY and done more of it. But this is a v. minor quibble: the art is what matters, and they've done a good job with it.
*besides which Amazon is about as local as you can get where we are
**we have two original Tolkien pieces by Nasmith hanging in our living room downstairs, so obviously we're admirers of his work
***that is, if you go by the latest version of their legend found in HME.XII.385