Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hobbit Rumors

It's a new year so there are lots of new rumors about the long-awaited Hobbit movie, directed by Peter Jackson. The latest news is that Elijah Wood (pictured left) will be playing Frodo, who isn't in that book. This prompted me to look for cast info on and The Internet Movie Database.

I was surprised by two things:
1. The release date (Dec. 2012)
2. The inclusion of characters who are not in the book

The latter includes Frodo, Saruman, Radagast, Galadriel, and Legolas. It's rumored that Orlando Bloom will be paid $1 million for a two-minute cameo as Legolas. Since Legolas wasn't in that book, I had hoped they wanted Bloom to play Thranduil, King of the Mirkwood Elves (and father of Legolas). Now it rumored that David Tennant (who recently played Dr. Who and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter IV), will play Thranduil.

Speaking of Elvish characters, what the heck is Galadriel doing here? Where is Elrond? I hope the writers don't send Bilbo and company to Lorien instead of Rivendell. (Let's all hope they stick to the book and take a good look at the map of Middle-earth before they make any radical changes).

Perhaps Jackson has other plans for these non-Hobbit characters. In the past he said the movies (yes, plural, there will be two of them) would be based on material written by Tolkien. Other than The Hobbit, I wonder if he's referring the "The Book of Years" in Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings (LotR). Other than the events in LotR, there's not much mention of these characters in that Appendix, certainly not enough for a movie, so I can't help but wonder how inventive Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens will be. Goodness knows, they took quite a few liberties with LotR! At least we only have to wait 23 more months to find out...

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Official Hobbit Movie Blog

The same friend who sent me the story about the Hobbit hole sent this link:

The Hobbit: The Official Movie Blog.

Build a Hobbit Hole

It took three years, but this guy built a hobbit hole in his backyard. How cool is that?! I love the flowers and the dog door (watch the videos to see it).

Watch the 2006 news story.

See it built.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cleveland Public Library Exhibit

The Cleveland Public Library has an exhibit on created languages, including Quenya. Here's a link to the story in The Plain Dealer and, in case it disappears, I've pasted the story below.

Inventing own language, Don Boozer opened up another world

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Don Boozer sits at a table on the second floor of the Cleveland Public Library, recalling how he liked to track the Anglo-Saxon roots of words when he was in junior high.

He grins, then shakes his blond head and says almost sheepishly, "I was a weird kid."

Boozer, 43, is the library's coordinator for a statewide online reference service called That's his vocation. His passion is conlang, the study and development of constructed languages.

Don't despair if your Klingon is rusty or you never quite got into the groove of Lapine, the language Richard Adams gave his rabbits in "Watership Down." Conlang is a complex world, but Boozer's a fair tour guide.

In the corridor just outside the literature department, he has filled eight display cases with material celebrating conlang. "Esperanto and Klingon and Quenya . . . Oh My!" is on view through August, acquainting viewers with the history of languages invented by a person or small group.

Some constructed languages are created as art, as with the Elvish that is integral to J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."

Some arise from an interest in establishing an international tongue, as with the 19th-century development of Esperanto - which now counts billionaire financier and activist George Soros among its speakers.

And some conlangs arise as a testing ground for problems of logic or philosophy. Laadan, for instance, was created in 1982 by science-fiction writer Suzette Haden Elgin as an experiment in feminism.

The library exhibit relays facts about Klingon, the alien language woven into the "Star Trek" stories. One case is dedicated to Tolkien, "the Shakespeare of conlang." The international conlang flag hangs from a beam.

This plethora of information represents just a bit of Boozer's knowledge of the history and practice. Those raw, weird-kid tendencies cured into something like art. The genial librarian and father of two now possesses a type of microgenius with which he can transport himself and impress other people.

Some of them, anyway. Ask Boozer how much time he spends on language study, and he answers, "Not as much as I would like and more than my wife thinks I should. She doesn't get it."

To what end does a man fluent only in English study languages used by so few people? For that matter, why would he bother creating one of his own?

Boozer could tell you, but he might be inclined to explain it in Elasin, one of three conlangs of his own creation.

In a way, it started in New Bethlehem, Pa., where as a young boy Boozer laid eyes on a lesser-known Dr. Seuss title, "On Beyond Zebra." The book introduces newly invented letters of the alphabet that correspond with typically Seussian creatures.

He was captivated by the back of the book, where the letters were reprinted as if in a glossary. "I remember vividly sitting down with a piece of tracing paper and tracing those letters," he says.

Later came flirtations with an Old English dictionary, and then the first influential encounter with Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." Boozer liked the stories of elves, dwarves and Hobbits, but he absolutely devoured the notes about the languages. To this day, he admits to being frustrated by the lack of information on Tolkien's Dwarvish tongues.

In any case, those fictional encounters established the watershed. "Tolkien really jump-started the idea that you could make your own language," Boozer says.

In high school, he began imagining his own alphabet and phonetics, and, as he says, "figuring out where all the stops and fricatives were." (These are technical terms for components of speech.) He wrote linguistic notes in the margins of his notebooks.

Later, as a fine arts student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he incorporated his language and a corresponding world into an illustrated book for a class project.

Thus was born Kryslan, a world he invented and dabbled with for a while until he got on with establishing a career and a family. Occupied with those concerns, Boozer didn't think much about the language play again until a few years ago, when he pulled his old notebooks out of a closet and remembered how cool it all seemed.

He also has started a Kryslan wiki - an online site that allows users and visitors to help develop content. (You can check it out at

So far, the world of Kryslan has three distinct (though incomplete) languages, the strangest of which Boozer calls Dritok.

Dritok developed from an idea about certain mystic creatures of Krysland. His thought process went something like this, he says: Let's say they don't have vocal cords. What would they sound like? Well, they'd probably sound like chipmunks.

Dritok emerged as a language with odd sounds and hand gestures but no vowels. Point out the fact that there are vowels in the very name of the language, and Boozer explains that "Dritok" is "the way neighboring cultures would say it."

When he then says "Dritok" in Dritok, the sounds - a quick trill followed by vocal knocking - go by so fast, it takes a minute to understand that something has been said.

From outside the conlang world, it can be difficult to discern the point to it all. Poets might wish for a published collection. Distance runners frame their goals in terms of finishing longer races or bettering their times.

In a vague way, Boozer sees the expansion of the online world of Kryslan as a worthy goal, but truthfully, there is no finish line for the conlanger. Like other sorts of art, inventing a language - and, in Boozer's case, the culture to support it - is an ever-evolving enterprise shared and appreciated most by those who also toil in the trenches.

"The pleasure comes in the creative act of bringing a language to a point where it can be presented as a language and not just a collection of notes," Boozer says.

Or, as he might say in Dritok:

h:qs:.p". D5Q5=Q1=D3Q3 Q1=ql.px:n.k". D5Q5=tr'.z"w. Q1=D2& B5=tr'.z"w. Q5-Q5=o.s'. o.hs.p't. D5Q5=s'.s'.t".k'.

- Karen Sandstrom

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The History of the Hobbit

For Christmas my husband gave me John Rateliff's The History of the Hobbit (a box set which includes Vol. 1 Mr. Baggins, Vol. 2 Return to Bag End, and The Hobbit with a forward by Christopher Tolkien). I hope to read part of it during the holiday break but have been pretty busy lately due to my uncle's health problems. (You can read more on my Citadel of Stars blog if you are interested.) It looks like Rateliff's books are similar to Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-earth, so I know they will have lots of interesting information -- and Jason Fisher gave them a great review in Mythlore.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Middle-earth meets Marquette

The article below is The Marquette Tribune, Oct. 9, 2007. They get bonus points for using the word "alumnus's" correctly but demerits for spelling Tolkien two different ways in the first sentence. I love the quote from the student who wanted to hear John speak in Elvish. LOL!

Middle Earth meets Marquette: Tolkien historian lectures on campus
By Jaena Wenninghoff

Middle Earth came to Raynor Library Thursday with a lecture on J.R.R. Tolkien by Tolkein historian John D. Rateliff.

The Marquette alumnus's two-volume book, "The History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins and the Return to Bag End," was published last month. He said his work was aided by many of the original Tolkien manuscripts housed in the library.

"We are living in the golden age of Tolkien studies," Rateliff said, citing the vast number of books and magazines dedicated to the author's work.

Tolkien's popularity, Rateliff said, comes from his ability to engage readers.

"The style in which he chose to write … is deliberately done to spark reader participation," he said.

According to Rateliff, this participation is the result of Tolkien's ability to incorporate detail. The amount of detail he included was enough to set the foundation of the story but left much to the imagination of the reader. Rateliff said "too much detail limits applicability" and that Tolkien used the right amount.

Another thing that impacted the popularity of Tolkien's works was his ability to write as a memory as opposed to a series of events as they took place, Rateliff said. He said Tolkien wrote about "several sharp vivid scenes" just like memories to which the reader can relate.

While Tolkien's first published book, "The Hobbit," was created for his own enjoyment, according to Rateliff, Tolkien wrote "The Lord of the Rings" at his publisher's request.

"When 'The Hobbit' was published, they immediately asked him what else he had," Rateliff said.

"The Hobbit" was written 17 years prior to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Rateliff said Tolkien originally wrote "The Hobbit" as a stand-alone story but said it was later revised to better accommodate the sequels.

Rateliff concluded his lecture saying, "What we carry away from a book Tolkien wrote is the delight in the world he created."

Attendees of the lecture said they were intrigued by the in-depth look into Tolkien literature.

"I thought the lecture was interesting," said Logan Berens, a sophomore in the College of Engineering. "He had a lot of solid details he was able to explain thoroughly."

Sarah McElroy, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences agreed.

"He discussed several things I never knew about Tolkien," she said. "I just wish he would have said something in Elvish."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Of Sorcerers and Men

Michael Drout's lecture series Rings, Swords, and Monsters is now available at Barnes and Noble. Don't be confused by the name; it's now called Of Sorcerers and Men: Tolkien and the Roots of Modern Fantasy Literature and sells for $39.95 (much less than the $98.75 Recorded Books sells it for)!