Sunday, July 23, 2023

Baffled (David Lindsay)

So, I've been re-reading David Lindsay's novel THE VIOLET APPLE and have come to a passage that puzzles me. What I know about girls' education circa 1924 is negligible, but what are we to make of this?

It's the modern female education. A girl is encouraged -- practically forced by her mistresses - to cram for matriculation, while the rest of her time is largely spent on hockey or other violent sports. That means that nervous waste goes on continuously, at the expense of that quiet slow growth of the physical organs so beneficial to young girls, and one might almost add, so essential to a successful marriage later on. Of course, some have to pay for it more than others, and Haidee [Nt1] is one of the unfortunate ones. I expect her nervous system has been so exasperated during her school course that now she is sometimes hardly responsible for her actions. What she wants, she must have -- not tomorrow or the next day, but at once. I blame her mother very much.  She has been a teacher herself, and there is no excuse for her not recognizing the evils of the modern educational methods. The blunder is appalling.

[THE VIOLET APPLE, circa 1924, published 1978] 

--I have to confess that if asked to name major problems bedeviling girls' schools of the era, hockey wd not have been among my guesses. 

--John R.

Nt: (one of the novel's characters)


Oh, you are a boy, aren't you?

Friday, July 21, 2023

I'm Speaking at Oxonmoot (remotely)

 So, I've been invited to give a presentation at at this year's Oxonmoot, only a little over a month away. With Janice's help we came up with what I think will be an interesting topic: my project in the early 1980s to meet or correspond with a number of the surviving Inklings: Nevill Coghill, Owen Barfield, Dr. Humphrey Havard, Lord David Cecil, and a few others. Also included are several others whom we may describe as 'Inklings adjacent', such as the widow of Tangye Lean (founder of the original, undergraduate version of the group) and Christopher Wiseman, the single surviving member of the T. C B. S., the most important of all the writers' groups Tolkien founded before the Inklings. Most of the presentation will consist of me reading aloud some of these unpublished letters, with bridging passages to establish the context. 

--Here's hoping people enjoy.

--John R.  

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Three Pictures of Charles

So, here are three photos of Charles Noad, in his element: with fellow Tolkien scholars.

This one I think dates from my first trip to England in July 1981. 
Charles, Christina, and I are just outside the door to Jessica's back yard.
This is the time I made hushpuppies for Northfarthing Smial in Jessica Yates' kitchen. 

This one dates from the Marquette Mythcon in Milwaukee, summer 1987.
Left to right are Charles, Doug Anderson, and Taum Santoski

The third shows Charles and Christopher at Oxford at the Tolkien centenary in 1992.  They're walking around the quad at (I think) Keble College.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Marquette Archivist wins Hamer-Kegan Award

 So, congratulations to Bill Fliss, the keeper of Marquette University's Special Collection of J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts, for winning this year's Hamer-Kegan Award, an honor granted by the Society of American Archivists for his work  in digitizing, re-organising, and making far more accessible the thousands of pages of manuscripts in their Tolkien collection.   Here's the link to a piece describing the honor and placing the award in context

And here's a second link describing the reason why the committee judges Bill's work worthy of this recognition.–elizabeth-hamer-kegan-award-dr-william-fliss

A lot of Tolkien scholars from this point forward will find their work made easier by Bill's having conceived of this project and recruited the resources to see it through.

--John R.

--current reading: THE VIOLET APPLE by David Lindsay

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Charles Noad

Today I heard the news that one of my closest Tolkien friends has died. 

Charles was the first fellow Tolkien scholar I met, back in 1981, where typically we began by correcting the way each pronounced the other's name. The two of us exchanged books for years, wherein he'd buy and book printed over there and send it over here, while I'd send him books from over here (the most recent being sending him a copy of the catalogue from the recent Marquette exhibit). And for a long time he got me each of the Terry Pratchett books as they came out, standing in lines at UK signings and events.

 He had a powerful but subtle influenced on Tolkien studies, especially when it came to considering the History of Middle-earth books as a whole. He proofread many of the Tolkien books published over decades --including LETTERS and at least some volumes in the History of Middle-earth series. At my request he turned a meticulous eye on the entirety of THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT, to its improvement. He's the only person I've ever bought a beer (at the Eagle and Child).

Though I only saw him rarely (when I was in England  or he was in Milwaukee), he remained someone I always enjoyed getting a letter from. 

I'll miss him.

--John R.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Flooding in Arkansas

Just saw the news that there's danger of flash flooding in Stamps, Arkansas -- which is in Lewis County, which is adjacent to Columbia County, in the middle of which is Magnolia, Arkansas: my home town. The news alert didn't have much information, but I assume this is the Red River, which used to flood on a regular basis when my father  was growing up nearby (he went to high school in Stamps). That all stopped when they put the levees in. I think the last big flood came with Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Now I suspect the protection the levees have offered all these years may not be enough to face what climate change is sending.

More on this story as there's more news coming out of the area. 

DUNSANY rhymes with Rainy

So, thanks to Doug Anderson for his extremely useful post on his blog, giving the pronunciation of the names of several authors of fantasy or the supernatural:

James Branch Cabell (rhymes with rabble)

Lord Dunsany (rhymes with fun + say + ny)

Arthur Machen (rhymes with blacken)

John Cowper Powys (rhymes with Lois). also applies to his brother, Llewellyn Powys

J. R. R. Tolkien (rhymes with tol + keen) 

It's good to have this confirmation of the right way to say 'Dunsany' to add alongside the two we had giving the pronunciation as rhyming with both RAINY and (less kindly) INSANY (from his eccentricities).  Certainly not Dun-sin-nay, as most Americans say it.

I'm sorry to say this source confirms that I've been saying Tolkien's name wrong all these years --something I've been aware of for some time but have not been able to break myself from (I say TOLL-kin).

--John R.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Charlie Watts, book collector

 So, as Chuck Barry famously said, 'it goes to show you just can't tell'.

In this case, it's the split between a person's public persona and his or her private life. Specifically the news that rock'n'roll drummer Charlie Watts, whose passing left The Rolling Stones with only two of their original members,* turns out to have been a serious book collector. Among prize items in his collection are autographed copies of first editions of THE GREAT GATSBY, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Dylan Thomas's first book, as well as books by Agatha Christie, Virginia Woolf, and others. Here's the link:

--John R.

*Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The other remaining member, Ron Wood, is a Stones-come-lately, having come on board in 1974. Surviving original member Bill Wyman retired in 1993, saying he was too old for the rock-n-roll lifestyle.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Didn't quite go according to plan (but that's okay)

So, Saturday we went to downtown Kent to enjoy Cornucopia Days, our local street fest (previously Canterbury Fair), in and around Kent Station, the pedestrian mall.

Only it turned out that that's next week.

So we walked around and enjoyed the farmer's market, bought some artisanal bread at Wild Wheat, our local bakery, and generally enjoyed ourselves, including the unseasonably pleasant weather.

Then Sunday we went up to The Landing to meet up with friend Shelly outside The Dough Zone, where I was looking forward to some soup-filled dumplings. 

Only it turned out the restaurant, and two more alongside it, were closed. With two ServiceMaster trucks (specializing in repairs and restoration, according to signage painted on the sides of the truck) parked across from it.

 I heard a passing security guard say something about fireworks and Tuesday, from which I assume someone who didn't know what they were doing made a mess and did some damage, but not bad enough to keep the place closed for long. So we ate elsewhere and will make a point of it to give them our business again soon.

Today I stayed in and worked on my Oxonmoot paper, which seems off to a good start. As a break to get out and about at some point today, I walked down to the Kent wetlands, where I have mixed feelings to discover they're bulldozing several short paths to link up the main wetlands trail with the sidewalks among the offices and warehouses immediately to the south of the wetlands. 

At some point during the coming week we'll see if there's time to go by and take a better look at Kent's new downtown park, featuring some great space-themed equipment (like a lunar rover) for kids to climb on. Accompanied by a sign saying that by no means shd kids be allowed to play with them.  I'm thinking crossed signals here: more on this later.

--John R. 

--current reading: J. I. M. Stewart's THE GAUDY (nearing the end).

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Sometimes I'm Alone

Sometimes I'm alone

Sometimes I'm not. 

Sometimes I'm alone.


So, thanks to Janice for the following link. Be warned that it's insidiously addictive, but in a good way.

--John R.


Saturday, July 8, 2023

The Cat Report


With the adoption of all six kittens, the room was back to five cats: bonded mother/daughter pair MABEL and ASHER; torbie bonded pair VERA (the more outgoing and brightly colored one) and WILLOW (the pastel shy one); and MUFFIN (friendly with people but wd do best as a one cat household's only cat.


Vera and Willow came out first, shifting from their cages over to the cat-stand, where they could enjoy being out of their cages yet see the whole room. Both indulged in some catnip sachets, which they promptly shredded. Both got lots of petting (including for Willow some inside the ear) and some games. 


After they'd had a good long while out (though no doubt not long enough from their point of view), it was time for little Muffin. She's very friendly, very playful, very affectionate. She's the only one of today's cats we tried taking out on a leash. She did well, right up to the point when she revealed she cd slip out of her harness any time she wanted. 


Asher has a new favorite toy (see photo) and has discovered the joy of dragged off defeated prey to her lair.


Janice took lot of pictures and has already posted some.


We were a little late in arriving so we stayed an extra half hour; Asher dominated the room with his games but his mom wd swoop in and pounce from the sidelines when a toy caught her attention.


--John R.


I've now fixed the gender references for little Asher. Those wanting to see her and the other cats currently on location in Renton shd take a look at


I'm happy to share the good news that Muffin has been adopted yesterday and is in her new home.