Category Archives: JRR Tolkien

12 Days of Christmas STORIES; Kringlelander (part 1)

My husband, Bill, gets credit for the concept of this story. We hatched out the bare bones on a family trip (which you’ll read about in a few days).


by Rita
Flake 10

Top five questions I get asked on a regular basis…
5. What’s it like to live in the North Pole? == COLD, and a little lonely. But nice.
4. Is your beard real? == YES. Please do not pull it to see if I’m lying. I’m not, and pulling on it is both rude of you and painful for me.
3. Can reindeer really fly? == Only the reindeer who live with me can fly.
2. Do you and the Elves really make all the presents? == YEP. It takes us all year. But we work very hard and try to give something to every good girl and boy.
1. Have you always been Santa Claus? == Hmmm. Now that’s an interesting question.

I used to answer that with a jolly “Ho, ho, ho… what do you think?” But that is no answer at all. The fact is, I have been Santa Claus as long as there has been a Santa Claus… but there hasn’t always been a Santa Claus…  so, no, I haven’t always been he.

Its a somewhat confusing concept for toddlers, and they are usually satisfied with wink, but for hundreds of years, I admit, I’ve been dodging the question.

It isn’t that I was sworn to secrecy exactly, but there WAS an assumption that one was not to tell of these things. …A sort of “what happens in Middle Earth STAYS in Middle Earth” kind of thing. But then SOME ONE must have spilled the beans to that Tolkien fellow and, although MY story didn’t get printed I feel like I’m at liberty to tell it now.

Hmmm… where to begin, where to begin? Have you read your Tolkien? Do you know about your Hobbitses and Orcs and Elves and Dwarves? You have? Good. Then you know about the War of the Ring and the Ring Bearer and the Fellowship? — Yeah, I wasn’t a part of all that. I was in the Nesterland of the North.

WAIT! Don’t go pulling out your Tolkien map to try and find Nesterland. Tolkien didn’t include that neck of the woods.  It wasn’t germane to his story. Alas, neither was I. Which is why you’ve probably never heard of Kringlelander the Red, or Nickdalf, or Santaron, or any of the other half-dozen names I went by back then.

So while Gandalf and Frodo and the rest were saving Middle Earth I was obliviously exploring the northern most boundaries and building friendships with the wild and wonderful folk that live up that way.

By the time I heard about the trouble in the south it was all over.

I made my way south as quickly as I could, but I was traveling by foot (some of us didn’t  have access to flying eagles) and it took me several years before I made it to Rivendell.

Before I hit the first waterfall an emissary from Elrond bid me to attend a meeting with the Lord of the City and the Lady Galadriel the next morning in the high council chambers.

Now I’m not much for mixing it up with the high and mighty mucky-mucks. — I’m more of sneak in, grab a plate of lembas bread cookies, get the lay of the land, sneak out, kind of guy. — So the thought of a royal audience made me more than a little nervous.

Word to the wise: if you ever find yourself in a strange elven city with a very important meeting the next day… do NOT drink a goblet of unfamiliar local brew, no matter how much the person pouring it for you insist it will help you calm down.

The next morn when the appointed time arrived I was still snoring deeply into my silky elvish sheets. But, I suppose, Elrond and Galadriel were on a schedule of some sort because I was awaken by a mighty knock (could have been on the door, could have been directly to my skull — I was too groggy and hung over to tell) and suddenly the two stately elves were in my room staring down at me.

“Kringlelander the Red” boomed Elrond, “6th Wizard of Valor, Santaron, Wanderer of Nesterland, Defender of the Meek and Powerless, Nickdalf, Dancer of the Winter Night, Harbinger of Deep Snow…” he shifted his stance, the better to look down at me in my cot, “welcome to Rivendell.”

I wiped at my sleepy, blurry eyes and sat up. “Aye. Er, Um, Thank you for the kind greeting.” I tried to remember the requisite protocol. I probably should have bowed, but with the hangover banging around in my noggin I though that unwise.

“You… are… late.” Galadriel told me in an annoyingly mystical voice.

Yeah, even with all the lovely diffused, misty sun in Rivendell I could tell that I was late for our little tête-à-tête. “Um yeah, I’m sorry I missed our meeting.”

“That… is… not… what… I… meant.”

“The hour is late Nickdalf,” Elrond continued her thread. “There is not much time left for magic in the realm. You come upon us at the parting hour.” Never one to utter a simple sentence, the Elf Lord then gave a long and flowery description about how the Elves were preparing to make their way to the Gray Havens and from there to Undying Lands.

As I picked the thread of reality from Elrond’s web of elegant, if gummy, prose I realized that I was late indeed. According to him there was but one ship left and that the Elves in the city were the rear guard, the last to go into the sunset.

“Good thing I got here when I did, I suppose.” I said with relief.

A look passed between the stately Elves. They explained in long, patient detail how some halflings would be traveling with them as reward for their service in destroying the Ring of Power. “The… halfling… has… more… than… earned… his… passage…” intoned Galadriel.

She smiled her glassy smile at me and my stomach pitched.

I understood that this Frodo Baggins had done Middle Earth a great boon. I understood  too about the ship and its limited number of sleeping births. What I couldn’t quite wrap my head around was why MY passage had become HIS passage. Or why if they were such little folk we couldn’t squeeze them in somewhere with out knocking me off the passenger manifest.

Elrond looked like he’d just swallowed a bowl of sour Dragon Egg drop soup and shook his head. “We can  not ask the Ring Bearer to share a bunk.”

Galadriel looked equally unamused at my suggestion.

Those two!  They always got their way in the end. I straightened in my bunk and flicked off a piece of detritus from the white fur that lined my right cuff. “Of course we can’t.”

The elves nodded to one another with superiority. They had accomplished their objective. I’d hoped that would be the end of our interview, but they had other items on their wish list.

“The time of man has come.” Elrond said — I feared another long-winded sermon. “The time of magic draws to a close.”

I sighed. I thought we just went over that. But then it dawned on me. I wasn’t going on the nice pretty boat, but I couldn’t stay here either.

Galadriel did one of her dime store magic tricks. She pulled a simple glass globe from her robe and held it in her left hand. She passed her right hand over it and the globe was suddenly filled with whirling snow. As the snow storm subdued a lovely low castle appeared in the center. Despite myself I felt a pull to the ball, and to the place captured inside it.

“Where is this place?”

“Far… to… the… North.” She said eerily.

“Beyond the Misty Vale, far, far, past the Winter’s snow…” After five minutes of hyperbole Elrond finally took a breath.

“North.” I said, too fascinated by the scene in the globe to be properly annoyed, “got it.”
I watched as a small flock of deer came out the gate and galloped around the compound. “Err… What’s that?”

“Those… are… the… Paracaributias.” The she elf said with her know-it-all smirk.

Elrond explained that before Sauron created the horrible and horrifying winged Nazgul he made these creatures. They were Nazgul beta as it were.

The tiny deer in the globe bounded off the snowy surface and began a slow arch over the compound. “As you can see, the Paracaributias can fly but they have the sinister appearance and violent temperament Sauron  valued, so he developed a second uglier, nastier, deadlier version to do his bidding.” As he spoke a ninth member of the Paracaributias pack came out the gate and joined his mates in flight. He looked like the others, except that his nose seemed to glow bright red. Nine Paracaributii, nine Nazgul. “Fortunately we were able to rescue these creatures before Sauron could destroy them.”

As enchanting as the flying deer were I pulled my gaze from the ball. “So I’m to spend the rest of eternity alone cleaning up flying deer poo at some froze waste land, is that it?” I asked.

The elves raised their collective eyebrows at my impertinence. Clearly that was not “it”. Galadriel gave a shake of her elegant hand and the ball filled with snow again….


Secondary Character Saturday: Sean Bean; Boromir

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a bit will recall that March featured Secondary Characters played by the wonderful Alan Rickman. This month I thought I’d focus on another terrific secondary character (mostly) player, Sean Bean.


Sean Bean as Boromir in Peter Jackson's live-a...
Sean Bean as Boromir in Peter Jackson’s live-action version of The Lord of the Rings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHO: Boromir; Son of the Steward of Gonor, Captain of the White Tower

FROM: The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is...
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring is by a Christian author, and contains Christian themes, Matthew T. Dickerson, Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings, Brazos Press, 2003, though its wide popularity means that many would not consider it a specifically Christian novel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BY: J.R.R. Tolkien

PUBLISHED: July 29, 1954

PROS: Boromir is honorable, noble, strong, brave, couragous , a natural leader, loyal to Gondor and a great big brother.

CONS: His single minded desire to protect his homeland blinds him to the dangers of the Ring. He questions Gandalf’s leadership of the Fellowship and Frodo‘s ability to carry out the task of destroying the Ring. He is stubborn, proud, arrogant. He’s afraid of the Elves of Lothlorien and things start to sour in his relationship with the Fellowship after they’ve passed through the forest.

MOST SHINING MOMENT: Fights to the death in an attempt to keep Merry and Pippin safe from the Orcs.

LEAST SHINING MOMENT: His attempt to take the RING from Frodo. His motive — to take the Ring to protect Gondor — may have been noble, but it is misguided. And he breaks the trust and the bond of friendship of the Fellowship when he tries to take the Ring from Frodo. At first he tries to cajole the hobbit into turning the Ring over, but when that doesn’t work he attempts to seize it physically. Frodo has to put the Ring on to escape (he disappears, but it also alerts the Orcs to his location.) Boromir recovers his senses, but the hobbit knows he can’t trust him anymore. Frodo must go forward on the quest alone. (Until, of course, his faithful servant/friend Sam tags along too.)

WHY SEAN BEAN IS SO GOOD IN THE ROLE: Despite the fact that Boromir dies a third of the way through The Lord of the Rings Trilogy he is still one of the most interesting characters. He’s a leader of men, but Tolkien hasn’t seemed to decide if MAN is really a redeemable species. If the battle for Middle Earth was between Hobbits / Elves  and  Orcs … things would be so much neater. The battles would be black and white. You’d know who to cheer for. But Tolkien throws in Dwarves and Men — greed, pride,  doubt, all kinds of deadly sins — and suddenly the lines are not so pristine. When Peter Jackson made is epic 2001 (yes it was 12 years ago!!!) movie of the book he couldn’t have picked a better actor to play Boromir.  Sean Bean has a look of tired conflict written all over his face. He’s not a  man to be messed with. He’s a soldier who has been fighting for decades to keep his country safe, and he will do anything to further that goal.

But Bean’s performance is multi layered too. He’s gentle, playful, and protective of  the hobbits as they take their long journey.

But there’s heart ache there too…

The perfect flawed hero. And a  truly human performance.


What other Sean Bean roles do you think we should discuss? Drop me a line and let me know.

Top 100 Books proves that Jane Austen is the Teacher’s Pet

CLASS lets get reading…

TES (Think, Educate, Share) a website dedicated to bringing the latest teaching news and strategies to educators and the public asked 500 primary and secondary teachers what their top 10 books were. They crunched the numbers and came up with the following list of 100 top books.

It is an interesting list and it ranges nicely from early-ish chapter books — the kind that got us all hooked on reading in the first place, like Dahl and Lewis — to more mature novels like Atonement.

I was glad to see that my girl Jane made the grade (#1, 32, 52, 58). And you’ll recognize lots of other Thought of the Day authors on here too (I put them in italics — if you  are interested in reading the bioBlogs go to the search box to the right and type in their name.)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).  Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left are: The BFG, Sophie, Dahl with his pups, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James, the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, and Matilda.

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).


26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guid...

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde.

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, facing front, seated, leaning forward, left elbow resting on knee, hand to chin, holding walking stick in right hand, wearing coat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… what do you think? Did the teachers get an A+ for their list?  Are there any other books that you treasure that didn’t make the top 100?

If you were asked to list your top 10 books what would you include?

Happy World Book Day! (What’s on your Night Stand?)

Super quick post to wish you all a Happy World Book Day!

So here’s my quick reader’s quiz for you…

  • What YOU are reading today (What’s on your night stand)?
  • Who is  your favorite author?
  • What is your favorite book of all time?
  • What’s your favorite series?
  • What was / is your favorite book as a child?
  • What genre of literature do you gravitate you?
  • Bound / paper or e-book? And why?
  • Where is your favorite place to read?
  • What’s the one thing that keeps you from reading?
  • AND… what / who do you wish some one would write a book about?

Here, in no particular order, are some of the books we’ve looked at over the last 9 months on ritaLOVEStoWRITE…

tolkien books

Tolkien’s perfect trilogy.

2006 edition of Brave New World published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics

2006 edition of Brave New World published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fourth edition of The American Language is still available on

The fourth edition of The American Language is still available on

The Shel Silverstein collection "borrowed" from the shelves of an obliging independent brick and mortar bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

The Shel Silverstein collection “borrowed” from the shelves of an obliging independent brick and mortar bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Cover of Wives and Daughters. [ Image courtesy:]

Cover of Wives and Daughters. [ Image courtesy:]

Anne Tyler 3 books

The Anne Tyler trifecta

Milne House at Pooh Corner1000

Classic Winnie the Pooh

Anansi Boys

I’m reading Gaiman’s Neverwhere now, but I blogged about Anansi Boys a little while ago.


Tweedeedle by Johnny Gruelle (of Raggedy Anne fame)

Dune cover art [Image courtesy: Book Wit]

Dune cover art [Image courtesy: Book Wit]

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry P...

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry Potter series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]


Clearly I’ve got a thing for the classics and children literature. [Interesting I have no problem airing my eclectic musical taste for all the blogosphere to see, but when it comes to books I hide my paperbacks in the closest… what’s up with that? The fact is I don’t read ENOUGH, or at least — I don’t read as much as I’d like. Maybe I should take a pledge on this World Book Day to READ MORE! But would that mean I’d have to blog less? Hmmmm.]


Secondary Character Saturday Aragorn

I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadain, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the sword that was broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!” [The Two Towers]
Viggio Morgenson as Aragorn in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Viggio Morgenson as Aragorn in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. [Image courtesy:]

Who: AragornFrom: The Lord of the RingsWritten by: JRR Tolkien

Date Published: July 21, 1954

Last week I profiled Samwise, this week it is Aragorn’s turn. Aragorn is the star of his story arc, but he’s not the main character of TLOTRs. That said, his story arc is a lovely one. Left to the protection of the Elves of Rivendell as a child when his father is killed by Orcs he lives a secret life. As an adult he goes from being a Ranger ( some one generally considered to be a dangerous and unsavory character) to King.

Pros:  Brave, skilled, humble, kind to those who are weaker than he is.  He’s good with horses. He’s handsome, and he can sing.

Cons: A reluctant hero he hesitates when it comes to taking on responsibility and the burden of leadership.

Shining moments:

  • Aragorn puts aside his fear and grief and finally takes control of the Fellowship after Gandalf’s fall in the mines of Moria. By the sheer force of his will he gets them out and to the safety of Lothlórien, It is a huge turning point for him. He’s spent his entire life avoiding leadership, and staying safely hidden among the elves or anonymously hidden in the trees.  But now he has takes the lead in a life and death situation.
  • He braved the paths of the dead in  Dwimerberg and took charge of the ghost army in Return of the King. He used the grim army to defeat the Orcs at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. He had promised to release them from their curse at the end of the battle. He could have kept the ghost army under his power and forced them to fight for him at the gate of Mordor, but he honorably kept to his promise and let them go.
  • Of course Aragorn unites the Northern and Southern kingdoms and… gets the girl.

Least shining moment:  He spent much of his life shirking his duties as king. “He didn’t want to step into that position, which is understandable… but still, when the world is crumbling around you … you have step up”. — Dave

Coat of arms from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-ea...

Coat of arms from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Español: Escudo de Gondor, reino de la Tierra Media de J. R. R. Tolkien. Français : Blason du Gondor, royaume de la Terre du Milieu de J. R. R. Tolkien. Italiano: Stemma di Gondor, reame della Terra di Mezzo creata da J. R. R. Tolkien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thanks to Bill, Maggie, Dave and John for contributing to their thoughts to this Blog Post.
On a lighter side Bill adds to Aragorn’s Cons that…He smoked and that he was too cheap to buy his own sword so he has to make the elves put a broken one together for him.
Strider, aka Aragorn

Strider, aka Aragorn (Photo credit: Dunechaser)

Secondary Character Saturday — Samwise Gamgee

Sean Astin [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Sean Astin as Sam in the 2001 LOTR  [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Samwise Gamgee

“I feel as if I was inside a song, if you take my meaning.” –Sam from The Fellowship of the Ring

“I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave. wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.“‘–Sam from the Two Towers

Who: Samwise “Sam” Gamgee

From: The Lord of the Rings

Written by: JRR Tolkien

Date Published: July 21, 1954

Why: Sam is the heart of the novel. The Lord of the Rings is essentially a quest/buddy story with a 9 member fellowship of adventurers trying to get the Ring to Mt. Doom. It is hard to stand out in a group of nine when you are small, socially unconnected and unskilled. Sam isn’t a wizard (Gandalf), he’s not a prince (BoromirAragorn), he’s not a warrior (Legolas, Gimli),  and he’s not even a well-born Hobbit (Frodo, Meriadoc and Pippin). He’s just Frodo’s servant. Yet his character arch from simple Shire gardener to determined hero is one of the 20th Century literature’s most endearing.

Pros: Loyal, Brave, Selfless, Kind, Modest, Inquisitive, Humble, Optimistic,

Cons: Occasionally slow-witted and jealous, Sam can also holds a grudge.

Frodo and Sam enter Mordor (Image courtesy]

Frodo and Sam enter Mordor, while Gollum looks on(Image courtesy]

Shining moment: Sam has several shining moments in the books ( saving the Frodo, Merry and Pippen from Old Man Willow, his fight with Shelob, keeping Frodo fed, sane and going thru Mordor, singlehandedly battling the orcs at Cirith Ungol to rescue Frodo among them) but I think his most shiny moment is when he carries Frodo up the side of Mount Doom…

“Come, Mr. Frodo!” he cried. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.” [The Return of the King]

Least shining moment: Like all of us Sam has his doubts, and Gollum is a master manipulator who plays on those doubts. Sam doesn’t trust Gollum or his alter ego Sméagol, and he doesn’t treat the creature kindly.

Sean Astin embodied Sam for the Peter Jackson trilogy [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Sean Astin [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Conclusion: Sam manages to stay true to himself while evolving into a wonderful hero. He has just as much chance to take the Ring as bigger, more powerful characters, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t need the Ring (or its power) to make him happy. It tempts him with visions of greatness, but he knows himself.  “The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.” [The Return of the King] So he carries it but never puts it on his finger.

In “The Lord of the Rings” it is difficult to find a more honest character. During the journey Sam was to Frodo what Sancho was to Don Quixote – confident, conscious and supportive…Sam is a pledge for the prosperity of Hobbiton both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. When in Lyrien, he received a box with the blessed soil, which would fertilize the land in every corner of Middle-earth. This is what Galadriel said: “Well, Master Samwise. I hear and see that you have used my gift well. The Shire shall now be more than ever blessed and beloved.” [Lord of the]

For more on Sam, The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien go to Tolkien Gateway HERE

Lego Sam

Don’t mess with Lego Sam

J.R.R. Tolkien 1.3.13 Thought of the Day

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on this day in Bournemouth, Orange Free State, South Africa) in 1892. Today is the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Tolkien is the older of two boys born to Arthur Reuel Tolkien and Mabel Suffield Tolkien. The family lived in South Africa where Arthur was head of the Bloemfontein office of a British bank. While he was in England on an extended holiday with his mother and brother Hilary his father passed away from rheumatic fever. Mabel Tolkien then moved in with her parents and a succession of relatives in the West Midlands. Mabel and her sister May caused quite a stir when they (and the boys) converted to Catholicism in 1900. Sadly, Mabel died in 1904, leaving her son’s well-being in the hands of a series of relatives and acquaintances until they were eventually taken in by a catholic educator, Father Francis. It was he who encouraged and refined Tolkien’s already blooming gift with words.

When he was sixteen, Tolkien met and developed a close friendship Edith Bratt. As friendship progressed to love, Father Francis forbade him from communicating with Edith until Ronald was 21 in order to keep his focus on his education. By the time they were reunited, Edith had converted to Catholicism, and Tolkien had completed his Oxford degree. They were together at the outbreak of World War I. [Tolkien Society]


J.R.R.Tolkien (Photo credit: proyectolkien)

Tolkien enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, but married Edith while still in England on March 22, 1916. The match resulted in four children, three boys and a girl: John Francis Reuel Tolkien (November 17th, 1917 – January 22nd, 2003), Michael Hilary Reuel Tolkien (October 22nd, 1920 – February 27th, 1984), Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (born November 21st, 1924) and Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien (born June 18th, 1929).  He was sent into active duty at the start of the Somme offensive, and after four months succumbed to “trench fever”[Ibid] He was sent back to a hospital in Birmingham, England, and was joined by Edith in Staffordshire. It is there that his work on the “Book of Lost Tales” (posthumously published) began. He was promoted to lieutenant and served out the rest of the war on home duty. [Ibid]

He floated through several postwar academic positions finally settling in the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon back at Oxford [Ibid]. He moved through several other posts, but always remained at Oxford until his retirement in 1959. It was there that he founded a group for those of similar interests called “The Inklings”. In 1936, Susan Dagnall, of the publishing firm of George Allen and Unwin, received and incomplete draft of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and implored the author to finish it.

J.R.R. Tolkien - illustration for The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien – illustration for The Hobbit (Photo credit: deflam)

“The Hobbit” was published in 1937 and has remained a staple of school reading lists since then. Stanley Unwin was so pleased by the work that he asked if Tolkien had any similar works [Ibid]. Tolkien initially submitted his current draft of “the Silmarillion” ( posthumously published in 1977), but it was rejected by Unwin, who requested something like “the New Hobbit”(2). Understandably disappointed, Tolkien then began work on what would become The Lord of the Rings“.

English: A 3D model of the One Ring Italiano: ...

English: A 3D model of the One Ring Italiano: L’Unico Anello di Sauron da Il Signore degli Anelli di J.R.R. Tolkien. Immagine 3D realizzata da Hill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He continued to write through the outbreak of World War II, the duration of which he served as an Air-Raid Warden, a job, it is said, he participated in with great zeal and enjoyment [“J.R.R. Tolkien: Master of Fantasy” by David R. Collins – Lerner Publications Company – 1992].

“The Lord of the Rings” was published as six books in three parts from 1954 through 1955. The work’s success was as unexpected as Bilbo’s journey in the Hobbit, Tolkien soon received an occult following, as well as a deal to make a highly condensed BBC radio adaption [Tolkien Society].

Tolkien died on September 2, 1973, two years after Edith. Both are buried beneath the same headstone in the Catholic section of Wolvercote cemetery, just north of Oxford.

[Image courtesy: Geeks of Doom]

[Image courtesy: Geeks of Doom]

Author’s Note: The majority of today’s blog was written by Maggie (Rita’s kid), so if there are mistakes, they are her fault. However, if you really, really like it, Maggie is partial to tea and dark chocolate, so you ought to convince Rita to gives her exorbitant amounts of both.


Rita’s Note: Done! Thanks Maggie!

C.S.Lewis 11.29.12 Thought of the Day

The statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the ward...

The statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the wardrobe from his book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in East Belfast, Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither”
C.S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis was born on this day in Belfast, Ireland in 1898. Today is the 114th anniversary of his birth.

When he was four years old he adopted the nickname “Jack” (short for “Jacksie”) in honor of a beloved neighborhood dog who got hit by a car and died. As a child he and his brother Warren (also known as Warnie) created a fantasy world with talking animals called “Boxen.”

Lewis and Weldon Borland

Lewis and Weldon Borland (Photo credit: Kevin Borland)

When Lewis was nine his mother died of cancer. In 1910 he was sent to Campbell College, a boarding school in Belfast. He withdrew after a year because he developed a respiratory condition. In 1913 he attended Malvern College for a year. There he abandoned his Christian faith and became an atheist.  The following year he left Malvern and was privately tutored.

Lewis received a scholarship to University College Oxford. He started there in 1916, but took a leave of absence to join the Army when World War One broke out. He was injured at the Battle of Arras on April 15, 1918. After his release from the Army in December of 1919 he went back to Oxford. Where he received Firsts in Greek, Latin, Philosophy, Ancient History and English.

He was appointed Fellow and Tutor of English Literature at Oxford University in 1925 (a position he held until 1954 — for 29 years). In 1954 he became chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge.

In 1931 after an evening of discussing Christianity with J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dawson  Lewis converted to Christianity. The following day he and Warnie took a motorcycle ride to the Whipsnade Zoo. ” I did not believe that us Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the Zoo I did.” [Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis]

At Oxford he was one of the founders of the literary group The Inklings.

He wrote more than 30 books including novels, fantasy literature, Christian literature, literary criticism, and essays. He is best known for The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves and Mere Christianity.

English: Map of Narnian world as described in ...

English: Map of Narnian world as described in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

C.S. Lewis died on November 22nd, 1963 in England.

Thought of the Day 10.20.12 Viggo Mortensen

“There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom, ever.”
Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen was born on this day in New York City, New York, USA  in 1958. He is 54 years old.

His family lived in Venezuela, Denmark and Argentina where his father managed farms and ranches.   He learned to speak fluent Danish, Spanish and English growing up. His parents divorced when he was 11 and he moved with his mother back to New York. After graduating St. Lawrence University he moved to Europe and lived in Spain, England and Denmark making his way as a truck driver and flower seller. Eventually he returned to the US ready to try his hand at acting.

Viggo Mortensen in a still from Witness [Image courtesy:]

He did some theatre then expanded to film. His footage in 1984’s Swing Shift and  Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo ended up on the cutting room floor, but he had more luck in Peter Weir’s Witness. Mortensen played Moses Hochleitner, the younger brother to Alexander Godunov’s Daniel Hochleitner. He didn’t have a lot of lines in the Harrison Ford flick, but some how he stood out from the sea of blond-haired Amish men in blue shirts.

His next step was to Television where he was cast as Bragg on Search for Tomorrow [BRAGG, what a great soap opera name, right?]

In 1987 he played a crooked cop on Miami Vice. There was more theatre too, this time in LA’s Coast Playhouse’s production of Bent, for which he earned a Dramalogue Critics’ Award.

Movie still from G.I. Jane []

A splay of supporting roles in the 1990s saw him acting in some good movies (The Portrait of a Lady directed by Jane Campion) and some not so good movies (Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III)  Critics started to take notice when he starred opposite Demi Moore as brutal Master Chief John Urgayle in G.I. Jane (some critics said he stole the movie from Moore) and as the other man in A Walk on the Moon with Diane Lane. He played another ‘other’ man in A Perfect Murder, a reboot of Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. He was Eddie Boone, a major league baseball player with a trifecta of additions in rehab with Sandra Bullock in 28 Days. And rounded out the decade by playing the devil in The Prophecy.

Movie poster from Lord of the Rings [Image courtesy: Beyond]

2001 saw the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, the first in Peter Jackson’s epic Tolkien cycle. With his role as the heroic Aragorn “Mortensen was established as a major leading man among Hollywood’s A-list ranks.” [Viggo Mortensen — Biography, Movies. The Two Towers followed in 2002 and The Return of the King premiered in 2003. He brought quiet strength, “commanding good looks”[ibid] and a rye sense of humor to Aragorn. He embraced the role whole heartedly. He did all his own stunts in the movies (and took quiet a few knocks in the process). He wore his sword and costume for days on end so they would have an authentic lived in look. And he became so attached to his equine co-stars, Uraeus and Kenny, that he purchased the horses after the film wrapped and took them home.

After his success in the Lord of the Rings Mortensen managed to keep himself centered…

Exceedingly humble about success and uncharacteristically un-Hollywood, Mortensen managed to stay somewhat reclusive and focused on other interests outside of acting, namely painting and writing poetry, despite becoming one of the most recognizable stars in the world. [Viggo Mortensen — Biography, Movies. ]

He used some of his earnings from playing Aragorn to start Perceval Press publishing house in Santa Monica, California.

Perceval Press is a small, independent publisher specializing in art, critical writing, and poetry. The intention of the press is to publish texts, images, and recordings that otherwise might not be presented. [Percival Press]

Mortensen’s own artistic, musical and written works are available through Perceval Press. He writes poetry, essays, and companion pieces for his paintings and photographic work in English, Spanish and Danish. Musically he has completed 16 albums, working almost exclusively with the guitarist Buckethead.

Back on the silver screen was Hidalgo in 2007.  It is the true story of American Frank T. Hopkins who participation in a 3,000-mile race across the Najd desert called the “Ocean of Fire”.

He gave “his most compelling and carefully drawn performance to date” [ibid] as an everyday man who’s violent past catches up to him in A History of Violence a film directed by David Cronenberg. He worked with Cronenberg again in 2007 for Eastern Promises, where he played a Russian gangster. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film.

In 2008 he was Ed Harris’ sidekick in the Western Appaloosa. He also starred in Good which takes place in the 1930s. Mortensen is a professor struggling to decide if he should join the Nazi party.

Movie still from The Road. [Image courtesy:]

The grim Cormac McCarthy novel was the basis for Mortensen’s next movie, The Road. It is a post-apocalyptic story of a father and son trying to survive in a bleak wasteland.

Once again teaming up with Cronenberg, Mortensen plays Dr. Sigmund Freud in his the 2011 film,  A Dangerous Method.

Coming up Mortensen has several film ready for release including: On The Road and Everybody Has a Plan; and in 2013 The Faces of January and The Last Voyage of Demeter.

Publicity shot. [Image courtesy: TheReelist]

Found this on Facebook and had to share.


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