22 Apr
2017

It’s April 23rd, which means it’s Talk Like Shakespeare Day again!

Talk Like Shake­speare Day cards! Yes! Get them!

For­sooth! Today is Talk Like Shake­speare Day!
The best of all the days through­out the year!
When all of us who love the Bard will say
“To be, or not to be?” in voic­es clear!
The works of William Shake­speare we shall read
and gai­ly plays and poems shall recite;
until the words ring loud­ly in our heads
and peo­ple speak in iambs day and night.
Of oth­er days may oth­er poets sing,
I’ll keep my words for April twen­ty-third.
For tru­ly, William Shake­speare is the king
of all the Eng­lish lan­guage, says this nerd.
If you be not a faith­ful fan of his,
Then kind­ly up a rope please take a whiz!

In all seri­ous­ness, though, April 23rd is Talk Like Shake­speare Day.  It’s because he was born (prob­a­bly) and died on April 23rd. Same day, dif­fer­ent years, obvi­ous­ly.  I don’t feel the need to tell you any more facts about Shake­speare, as he is prob­a­bly the most well-known writer the Eng­lish lan­guage has yet pro­duced and if you’re that inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about him, you can read his Wikipedia page.  Fas­ci­nat­ing stuff, actu­al­ly.

What I am going to do is post a pic­ture and a video which are both amaz­ing and Shake­speare relat­ed, and leave it at that.

 

Pos­si­ble best post on Tum­blr

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18 Apr
2017

World Juggler’s Day! No… Wait… International Juggler’s Day!

  1. Baqet III is buried in the Ancient Egyp­tian ceme­tery site, Beni Has­san. Paint­ed in memo­ri­als of life’s loves and life’s joys hiero­glyph­ics donned upon his tomb reflect weavers, acro­bats and, pic­tured below, the ear­li­est known record of jug­gling.
  2. April 18th isn’t World Juggler’s Day. World Juggler’s Day is the Sat­ur­day clos­est to June 17th. April 18th is Inter­na­tion­al Juggler’s Day which is anoth­er way to say World Juggler’s Day which, as you learned ear­lier, isn’t today. I asked over at r/Juggling why this was and user thomthomthomthom pro­vid­ed a reli­able answer: 

  3. In 1998 my moth­er and I come across a jug­gler at Mon­roeville Mall who was demon­strat­ing and sell­ing a VHS instruc­tion­al video and 3 ball set from a com­pa­ny called More Balls Than Most which mom bought on the spot for me. From their pristine, suc­cinct and humor­ous instruc­tion I grew skilled in tech­ni­cal jug­gling tricks such as; the cas­cade, show­ers, the reverse cas­cade, columns, the yo-yo, the oy-oy, the claw (what it would look like if cats could jug­gle), Mill’s Mess, Rubenstein’s Revenge and, my mother’s per­son­al favorite, juggler’s ten­nis.
  4. Clouds of dancers and fog pall over the whole stage; lights crash, a creak­ing and woo­ing-ahhs and yelps of the choir spill over as a half-lizard/half-man appears from his smog­gy chrysal­is emerg­ing into a heap of human–ish form. The clouds part, a cos­mic witch of the stars peers through the dark­ness and drops a ball into his hand. I am enrap­tured by the poet­ic menagerie of Vik­tor Kee’s use of his body, the con­quer­ing of the space around him, all for the jug­gle.

  5. In 2000 my high school gym teacher Mr. Veri­co had to put up with not only me but also Shan­non Nor­man in his class. Some­times he’d teach the whole class yelling from his best Hen­ry Rollins impres­sion (whom he looked like) while wear­ing Shannon’s stud­ded and punk patch bedecked leather jack­et just to make a point; we were peo­ple to him, we weren’t just high school kids. For 2 years Veri­co let me jug­gle as my gym cred­it. I showed him pro­gress, he chart­ed it, I aced it. 
  6. Con­tact jug­gling is when the ball, usu­al­ly a large, heavy, clear acrylic ball, glides smooth­ly across the sur­face of the juggler’s body. David Bowie in the movie Labyrinth, for exam­ple, is con­tact jug­gling. BUT! IT’S NOT BOWIE! It is Michael Moschen who is crouched, blind­ed, behind David Bowie and with his right arm under Bowie’s arm he is the jug­gler behind the Gob­lin King’s crys­tal balls. 

  7. In 2010 I made 6 videos for a friend on the basics of jug­gling and how to get start­ed. Heav­i­ly influ­enced by More Balls Than Most I imi­tat­ed their teach­ing style and made a sar­cas­ti­cal­ly awk­ward set of instruc­tion­al videos rid­den with snarky quips about my balls. Here’s step 1! 

  8. I spent much of 2016’s sum­mer in the park film­ing myself and shar­ing the videos on Insta­gram and on YouTube when, through var­i­ous video edit­ing apps and after an inci­dent of acci­den­tal artistry, I found I was able to con­vert my videos from what jug­gling looks like into what jug­gling looks like to me. The video series shows the tran­scen­den­tal­ly emo­tion­al, psy­cho­log­i­cal and psy­che­delic con­nec­tion that I have to jug­gling. I have nev­er felt as if I were sin­gu­lar but rather, some­thing plu­ral and as I have always referred to myself as “we” and or “us” then that makes me a “they.” In the video series I show my selves in coop­er­a­tion; I show you them, work­ing as one. 

  9. In 2016 Ship­wreck Asun­der is in the mid­dle of bar­ber school dream­ing of straight razors and car­ni­val tents when Mike Willis and T.J. Har­ris at Mod­ern Era Wed­dings call him up and hire him to wran­gle Pittsburgh’s finest cir­cus artists. Mod­ern Era Wed­dings (win­ners of 9 “The Knot” awards), a full ser­vice wed­ding enter­tain­ment, plan­ning, DJ, and doc­u­men­ta­tion com­pa­ny decides, “you know what? Pitts­burgh needs a full ser­vice, com­pre­hen­sive cir­cus arts col­lab­o­ra­tive and we’re going to give them one!” Ship­wreck calls me, tells me to get my balls and meet him in the South Side for prac­tice. Now after 18 years of jug­gling I accept my first job as a jug­gler. I choose the stage name Zero, a char­ac­ter from my children’s-book-for-adults “The Adven­tures of Zero and The Girl” which, with all the world’s fin­gers crossed, will be pub­lished and on sale at Kards Unlim­it­ed in the near­ing future. 
  10. Speak­ing of the near­ing future… I will be work­ing with Kards Unlim­it­ed staff to devel­op a jug­gling props and mag­ic tricks sec­tion for the store. How will you know Kards Unlim­it­ed will be sell­ing jug­gling props and mag­ic tricks? Why you’ll see me and my friends from Pittsburgh’s Cir­cus Arts Col­lab­o­ra­tive (web­site com­ing soon!) giv­ing demon­stra­tions and inspir­ing the youth of today to fol­low in our play­ful foot­steps. Per­haps one day some child’s moth­er will turn him or her into a jug­gler because of me. Which I think would be pret­ty slick.
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15 Apr
2017

This Post Sucks

There are a lot of things that suck: Tax­es, vac­u­ums, and pay­ing cov­er fees, just to name a few. Or, if you have the men­tal­i­ty of a thir­teen-year-old boy, pret­ty much every­thing sucks.

Well, April 15th is Nation­al That Sucks Day. It’s the day to let the world know just what you think real­ly sucks. Sucky exes, sucky group projects, sucky knock­off brand prod­ucts. But to put your own sucky expe­ri­ences into per­spec­tive, it might be good to know some of the things that have actu­al­ly hap­pened on That Sucks Day. His­tor­i­cal­ly, Fri­day the 13th real­ly has noth­ing on That Sucks Day.

  1. Tax Day. Yes, this year’s tax day is actu­al­ly April 18 since April 15 is a Sat­ur­day, but while tax returns can be fun, and some tax­es go to real­ly great stuff, in gen­er­al, tax day just caus­es a lot of headaches and frus­tra­tion.
  2. Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lincoln’s Death. Hon­est Abe was pro­nounced dead at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865, the morn­ing after being shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s The­ater. He was the first pres­i­dent to ever be assas­si­nat­ed. Co-con­spir­a­tors failed to assas­si­nate Vice Pres­i­dent Andrew John­son and Sec­re­tary of State William H. Seward, so I guess that sucks a lit­tle less.
  3. HMS Titan­ic sinks. The leg­endary “unsink­able” ship hit an ice­berg a lit­tle before mid­night on April 14 (per­haps also one of the suck­ier days in his­to­ry). The ocean lin­er, car­ry­ing about 2,200 peo­ple, took two and a half hours to sink, mak­ing its offi­cial sink day April 15, 1912. It was on its very first jour­ney.
  4. Most peo­ple read­ing this will also remem­ber the Boston Bomb­ing, on this day in 2013.

The thing is, even sucky days can’t suck all the time, right? Plen­ty of good stuff has hap­pened on April 15, too. Now that I’ve got­ten you a bit down, let me prop you back up with some not-so-sucky things about April 15 his­to­ry:

  1. Jack­ie Robin­son, 28, takes the field for the Brook­lyn Dodgers on this day in 1947. 42 forever.
  2. The first bot­tle open­er is invent­ed in 1738 (to help us get through those That Sucks Days).
  3. In 1923, insulin becomes gen­er­al­ly avail­able to the pub­lic, which is def­i­nite­ly a good thing.
  4. Rand McNal­ly pub­lish­es its first road atlas in 1924, launch­ing the dreams of road trip­pers every­where.
  5. William Shat­ner, Leon­dard Nimoy, and DeFor­est Kel­ley are induct­ed into Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Broad­cast­ers Hall of Fame in 1992, for their work on the ground­break­ing series, Star Trek.

So there you go. That Sucks Day is a day to com­mis­er­ate about all the sucky things in the world, but also a day to remem­ber that may­be every­thing doesn’t suck quite as bad as it seems.

Here’s hop­ing your That Sucks Day doesn’t suck.

11 Apr
2017

Boost your basket: Easter done right

This one East­er, I got a note from Mr. East­er Bun­ny him­self inside my East­er bas­ket. Hand-drawn in pic­tures (because I guess he doesn’t know how to write? It makes sense, he is a rab­bit.), the pic­ture-note sig­naled that I would be receiv­ing a half dozen baby chicks for East­er. I did, in fact, receive chick­ens a few days lat­er. They lived long, healthy lives, and pro­vid­ed eggs for the entire neigh­bor­hood. But this is not their sto­ry.

My point is, East­er bas­kets are won­der­ful. Noth­ing beat rac­ing my broth­er to see who found their bas­ket first, and then rum­mag­ing through the goods and trad­ing can­dy. Oth­er than that one year, our bas­kets were always pret­ty stan­dard, but it nev­er took away from the excite­ment of East­er morn­ing.

So, if you don’t feel like going the baby chick­en route, there are still plen­ty of ways to boost your bas­kets for East­er morn­ing. May we sug­gest some of the fol­low­ing?

Kards has just about any cud­dly stuffed ani­mal you could want. Daughter’s favorite ani­mal a skunk? Got it. Son love uni­corns? So many uni­corns here. And, yes, we have bun­nies galore, plus chicks and their mamas.

We have light up, col­or-chang­ing eggs. I may be tempt­ed to buy them all and zen out to the slow parade of col­ors. But I won’t. I’ll leave some for you, our loy­al cus­tomers. Kids will won­der at the­se small marvels–they’re a nice way to bright­en a dark bedroom–but par­ents will get a kick out of them, too.

Do I real­ly need to say any­thing about this one? Every­one loves stick­ers. Just trust me, get some stick­ers.

A time-hon­ored tra­di­tion, an East­er bas­ket just isn’t an East­er bas­ket with­out can­dy. Instead of, or in addi­tion to, stan­dard jel­ly beans and choco­late bun­nies, add a lit­tle excite­ment with themed can­dy from a favorite movie, video game, or wherever Hel­lo Kit­ty is from. Add a game of chance with Bean Boo­zled. Will the jel­ly bean you’ve cho­sen be deli­cious or one of the box’s trick fla­vors?

Toys and games for the car ride to church, out­door pic­nic, or rainy day inside, we have some­thing fun no mat­ter what East­er day has in store.

Here’s a peek at some of the bas­ket stuffers we have to offer, but stop in 9–9 Mon­day through Fri­day or 12–5 Sun­days for even more options. We’ll be open East­er day for that last-min­ute shop­ping, as well. Hop­py East­er!

6 Apr
2017

The Joy of Burritos

Who doesn’t love a deli­cious­ly packed bur­ri­to? Just look at that. The types of ingre­di­ents can vary so much, it’s almost mind-bog­gling. Choose beef, poul­try, fish, veg­gie; add avo­cado, beans (pin­to, black, kid­ney or even refried), let­tuce, toma­to, corn, onion, and rice (white or brown). Don’t for­get cheese, sour cream, gua­camole, sal­sa, and pico de gal­lo. Do you like your cheese saucy or crumbly? Do you like your sal­sa chunky or smooth? Not to men­tion spice lev­el. How spicy would you like it? What sort of spicy? Hot jalapeno? Smokey chipotle? Chile? Per­haps a hint of sweet­ness? How about your tor­tilla … would you like white or wheat? It’s all up to you.

Ever had a break­fast bur­ri­to? Yeah, I said it. Break­fast. Bur­ri­to. Eggs, bacon, and cheese wrapped up? Uhh, yes, please. But again, your options are end­less. Switch out the bacon for sausage. Throw in some veg­gies. Make it spicy. Try a crepe instead of a tor­tilla. I know it sounds amaz­ing, but try not to cry.

    Behold, the dessert bur­ri­to

Or how about some of your favorite berries topped with fresh whipped cre­me, all wrapped up? Deli­cious, of course! Dessert bur­ri­to.  You’re wel­come.

A go-to of my own is the PB&J bur­ri­to. It may sound unusu­al, but it’s just as sat­is­fy­ing and easy to make as any sand­wich that uti­lizes bread. Already “been there?” Try switch­ing out the jam for a banana. Add some hon­ey if you like!

Are you hun­gry yet? Mouth water­ing? Head out to your favorite bur­ri­to stand or restau­rant. Bet­ter yet, hit the mar­ket for some qual­i­ty ingre­di­ents and have your­self a Bur­ri­to Buf­fet with all of your friends.

San­gria any­one?

1 Apr
2017

April 2017 Calendar of Events

Wel­come April! April show­ers bring all sorts of fun hol­i­days! While swin­ter fin­ish­es up and we get those quin­tes­sen­tial grey ‘burgh days, we’ve also got a bunch of things to smile about. Grilled cheese, Nation­al Uni­corn Day, Drop Every­thing And Read Day, and Inter­na­tion­al Juggler’s Day, to name a few. Read on to see what else we’re cel­e­brat­ing this mon­th! Read more »

27 Mar
2017

If you give a mouse a cookie, that’s cool, but giving him a sword is better.

While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Tread­er. When she fails me, I pad­dle east in my cor­a­cle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s coun­try, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sun­rise and Peep­iceek will be head of the talk­ing mice in Nar­nia.” — Reepicheep, The Voy­age of the Dawn Tread­er

Ok, so here’s the thing about giv­ing swords to mice.  It’s the freak­ing best.  While the sym­bol­ism of the swords­mouse prob­a­bly goes with­out say­ing, let me at least say that one of the rea­sons swordsmice are awe­some is that they remind us nev­er to be daunt­ed by long odds and to always per­sist in the face of adver­si­ty (two lessons that are becom­ing increas­ing­ly impor­tant).

In the case of Reepicheep, a well-known char­ac­ter from C.S. Lewis’s Nar­nia and my very favorite swords­mouse, the lessons about being fierce despite small size are still there, but they’re slight­ly over­shad­owed by the main thrust (no pun intend­ed) of the char­ac­ter, which is that you should be a total and com­plete badass in every and all sit­u­a­tions, no excep­tions. Full stop.

Reepicheep’s whole thing is that he might be the tini­est bit inse­cure about being, you know, a mouse, so he way, super over­com­pen­sates by being real­ly into fight­ing every­one who even slight­ly annoys him in any capac­i­ty.  Now. On the sur­face, does this seem like real­ly not an admirable qual­i­ty?  Yes.  But!  Reepicheep com­plete­ly makes up for this egre­gious old-timey bel­li­cos­i­ty by being extreme­ly noble, chival­rous, and basi­cal­ly just a big, damn hero.

This is a fan­made piece of art depict­ing Reepicheep and Matthi­as in a sword fight. Vis­it the artist’s DeviantArt page, here!

Anoth­er great swords­mouse is Matthi­as, the main char­ac­ter of Bri­an Jacques’s Red­wall.  Matthi­as is a clas­sic unlike­ly hero and real­ly, who doesn’t love that?  Matthi­as is oppo­site of Reepicheep in most ways. He’s a peace-lov­ing mouse who pret­ty much just loves work­ing at Red­wall Abbey and is por­trayed as a bit of a bun­gler at first.  But he ris­es in defense of his home and his loved ones when the Abbey is threat­ened.  With­out spoil­ing the book for you, I’ll tell you that Matthias’s trans­for­ma­tion from hap­less pas­toral duf­fer to mighty swords­mouse is exact­ly what you need to read if you feel help­less.

Nar­nia and Red­wall are very, very dif­fer­ent from one anoth­er, but aside from swordsmice and being writ­ten by Brits, what they have in com­mon is the deep-root­ed the­me that good will defeat evil as long as heroes have the will to per­se­vere.

 

This should prob­a­bly be the KU mot­to. It’s def­i­nite­ly one of mine and is a per­fect depic­tion of the best of what swordsmice rep­re­sent.

Basi­cal­ly what I’m try­ing to say, you guys, is this: Swordsmice are one of the great­est things ever given to us by lit­er­a­ture.  They remind us that val­or, brav­ery, and phys­i­cal prowess are not the domain only of the large and strong. They teach us not to be afraid to pick a fight, if we feel threat­ened.  They show us that you can be peace­ful and still pro­tect those you love.  The­se are impor­tant things for every child to learn, which is why swordsmice are most­ly found in books for chil­dren and young adults, but I have found myself need­ing reminders late­ly. If you do, too, the­se books, and oth­ers like them, are the places to find them.

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25 Mar
2017

Isn’t Tolkien Reading Day every day?

Hap­py Tolkien Read­ing Day, folks. Held on March 25, this is gen­er­al­ly the time each year that I decide to re-read at least one of the nov­els relat­ed to Tolkien’s Mid­dle Earth (I nor­mal­ly choose The Hob­bit; it has always been my per­son­al favorite). J.R.R. Tolkien is a pret­ty amaz­ing dude who did a whole lot with his life. He served dur­ing the first World War and began to write many of his sto­ries while injured. He stud­ied lin­guis­tics and his­to­ry, both of which inspired his works.

Hey, I get it. I’m not here to learn about some Eng­lish dude. I want to read about orcs and gob­lins!”

How rude, infor­mal read­er. But, alas, let’s talk books. Well I am talk­ing. Typ­ing tech­ni­cal­ly. You get it.

The father of high fantasy

J.R.R. Tolkien (source)

Nev­er read a drop of Tolkien before? I would start with The Hob­bit (1937). The Hob­bit is a won­der­ful sto­ry, a fan­ta­sy nov­el writ­ten, in a lot of ways, like a his­tor­i­cal epic (this trend is always present in Tolkien’s work, and I would wager it is the rea­son his sto­ries are so well done). It is a children’s nov­el pri­mar­i­ly, and that lends to its cred­it. Many of us read it when we were young, and the themes of adven­ture, excite­ment, and fear help us remem­ber a time when we also saw the world as Mr. Bil­bo Bag­gins does: fright­en­ing­ly large and excit­ing. This book has a sooth­ing qual­i­ty around it and tru­ly puts me at ease. The char­ac­ters are all very real, which is essen­tial for a world that isn’t. If we can’t relate to any­one, why should we care? If some­one is the best at every­thing and has no faults, then I will stop read­ing.

Uh, what about Gan­dalf?” you may ask. Oh dear read­er, Gan­dalf has to be great and pow­er­ful and mys­te­ri­ous. He alien­ates us, the read­ers, to a degree. Also all the wiz­ard real­ly does is set pine cones on fire, so how great is he? The ver­sion you buy most any­where will not be the orig­i­nal. Tolkien edit­ed it when The Lord of the Rings was being made so it fit in with the world (hel­lo ret­con).

I won’t take offense if you duck out now and go read The Hob­bit. I am half tempt­ed to. But for those who want some­thing a bit meatier and meant for adult audi­ences, then how about this lit­tle ol’ col­lec­tion called The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955)? Three dif­fer­ent books each made up of two parts, it will take a bit to read, but the jour­ney is worth it.

Hey guy, I watched the movies. I know the sto­ry.” Hey, I hate to be that guy who goes on and on about how the books are bet­ter than the movies (I don’t hate to be that guy), but that is what I am going to do. The movies had this prob­lem where they had to fit 20 hours of con­tent into a sin­gle movie. And they had to make it more excit­ing for the typ­i­cal movie-going audi­ence. And while the movie has an amaz­ing sound­track, won­der­ful cin­e­matog­ra­phy, and a great cast, there’s just some stuff that didn’t trans­late.

Let’s take one of my favorite book sce­nes. Strid­er (yes, Strid­er) is dis­cussing the Last Alliance of Men and Elves and becomes lost in his thoughts. “Sud­den­ly, a low voice mur­mured:

Gil-gal­ad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sad­ly sing;
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Moun­tains and the Sea.

His sword was long, his lance was keen.
His shin­ing helm afar was seen;
the count­less stars of heaven’s field
were mir­rored in his sil­ver shield.

But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into dark­ness fell his star
in Mor­dor where the shad­ows are.”

Gil-Galad from the movie

Gil-Gal­ad screen time: about 3 sec­onds? (source)

This is nar­rat­ed by none oth­er than Sam­wise Gamgee, who is fas­ci­nat­ed by elves but doesn’t even know if they are real. Strid­er goes into it more, but I hope you get the point by now. This one snip­pet devel­oped mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters all at once, in many dif­fer­ent ways. We know Strid­er is even more mys­te­ri­ous and knowl­edge­able than before, we know Sam wants to believe in some­thing mag­i­cal about the world, and we know this world is filled with estab­lished poems and sad tales. This poem has a beau­ti­ful sad­ness to it, which has stuck with me since the day I read it. And the­se sto­ries are mag­i­cal because moments like this hap­pen every­where. The­se very real char­ac­ters, whom we relate to, live and fight and hope and dream, and die, and we feel for them. It feels more real than most fic­tion because of this. While I do enjoy the movies, this is one of the things it gets wrong (not out of choice I am sure, but neces­si­ty. You only have so much time).

Char­ac­ter devel­op­ment isn’t plot, Mr. Man” you may say. Well let’s assume you are right. I did promise sig­nif­i­cant plot dis­crep­an­cies between the films and books. Let’s look at one (I don’t want to spoil too much if you haven’t read the books yet). Gen­er­al­ly the same stuff hap­pens, but in dif­fer­ent ways. In the film The Return of the King, Aragorn leaves with Lego­las and Gim­li for no real rea­son and asks a bunch of ghosts to kill the bad guys in a city. Well ok, may­be I am over­sim­pli­fy­ing a tad, how­ev­er this has stuck with me since I saw the film. Aragon doesn’t real­ly deserve this vic­to­ry; it is given to him. Kings should earn their king­ship, birthrights are what the bad guys have. At the end of The Two Tow­ers book, Strid­er meets some fel­low rangers. He, Gim­li, Lego­las, and the rangers meet some ghosts. Because they are ghosts (you know, incor­po­re­al) and can’t real­ly touch stuff, they scare a bunch of Southrons off of their boats, which Strid­er and co. use to approach Minas Tirith from the back and they lib­er­ate the city. They do it. They fight and die and earn the vic­to­ry. When Strid­er becomes Aragorn, becom­ing king, you feel he is the right­ful heir and has escaped the curse of Isil­dur. This is the kind of depth you can only get from read­ing the book.

Watercolor of the lonely mountain

Tolkien’s paint­ings have this lev­el of charm that you just don’t see any­more (source)

Wait.…you read the­se four books and you want some­thing else? Well, on the Tolkien nerd flow­chart, we now go to two dif­fer­ent books: The Sil­mar­il­lion and Unfin­ished Tales. The­se books were nev­er fin­ished. Christo­pher Tolkien, J.R.R.‘s son, edit­ed and pub­lished the­se sto­ries (and most of his oth­er short sto­ries, let­ters, and poem col­lec­tions which are also worth look­ing up). The Sil­mar­il­lion is a his­to­ry book, make no mis­take. But it is a his­to­ry book about elves and their relat­ed adven­tures. Many of the sce­nes added to The Hob­bit movies came from The Sil­mar­il­lion. It goes in to a lot of detail of who Gan­dalf and the relat­ed wiz­ards are and what they do as well. There is so much con­tent I can’t even scratch the sur­face, so I hope that you will take a look. Unfin­ished Tales is basi­cal­ly a book of short sto­ries and drafts. It is an odd read because going in you know what you are read­ing will nev­er be fin­ished, but it isn’t a bad one.

You can’t tell me that he didn’t write any­thing else?!? I read all of this 10 times!” Look, dear read­er, I feel you. Sad­ly, as the elves left for the Grey Havens, our jour­ney is com­ing to a close. Tolkien has many crit­i­cal essays writ­ten involv­ing old poems and epics. He knew his stuff well, and if you are a fan of Arthuri­an leg­ends and such, worth a read to see where his inspi­ra­tion comes from. Many poems and sto­ries here and there involve Mid­dle Earth, as well, but, alas, that will be left for you to find.

Con­grat­u­la­tions if you made it this far, but don’t you have some­thing to read by now? I know I do. Time to find some Old Toby and my own Glam­dring. Now where did I put that Light­ing Brand.….

T.