Tolkien Reading for Tolkien Reading Day

Saturday of this week, March 25th, is Tolkien Reading Day, and what better way to celebrate than with Tolkien himself reading one of his favorite passages from The Lord of the Rings?

Before The Lord of the Rings had a publisher, Tolkien was visiting a friend who had a tape recorder and encouraged him to record himself reading a selection from his work. Tolkien chose to read one of the most powerful moments from the novel, the charge of the Rohirrim against the Orcs of Mordor at Minas Tirith. Here that recording plays over the same scene from Peter Jackson’s movie version of The Return of the King, for extra powerful effect.

Tolkien narrates the Ride of the Rohirrim by Sîdh Aníron on YouTube

This moment is one of my favorite pieces from both the novel and the film. What a rare treat to hear it in Tolkien’s own voice!

Story Time is all about story-telling and how stories work, and what makes us love our favorites.


Discovering Genderbent Ori Cosplays from The Hobbit

The other day I fell into the rabbit hole of cosplay from Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. I was sure there’d be a lot, but I was surprised of how much there actually is. And so much of it exquisite! The cutest ones by far are female versions of Ori, the youngest Dwarf in Jackson’s movies. I found three. Lizard Leigh both made and modeled this detailed outfit:

Tumblr frauleinninja Ori Cosplay1
Tumblr frauleinninja Ori Cosplay2

AmeZaRain’s version of Ori was a group effort:

DeviantArt AmeZaRain Ori Cosplay

This unknown cosplayer…

Alexander Turchanin Unknown Ori Cosplay

… even looks a little like Adam Brown from the movies!

Pinterest Chen Ori Portrait

I do love how she included Ori’s notebook and quill; a very nice detail that’s also beautifully included in the photo.

Here’s Ori’s base costume on display for comparison:

Pinterest Sofia Ferreira Oris Costume on Display

They all did a great job invoking the essence of the character, didn’t they?

Images: Lizard Leigh’s Ori by Karina as Lazy Cat via Leigh’s Tumblr (frauleinninja). AmeZaRain’s Ori by Elemental Sight via AmeZaRain’s DeviantArt account. Unknown Ori cosplay by Alexander Turchanin on 500px. Ori portrait found via Chen on Pinterest. Ori’s costume on display found via Sofia Ferreira on Pinterest.

In Making Stuff we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Quotes: By Her Efforts She Learned Writing

The lives of women in history are so often invisible to us that we become accustomed to not seeing them. Sometimes even when we do see them, we don’t always realize what we’re seeing. The ancient Greek antiquarian Plutarch certainly didn’t know what he was seeing when he quoted this poem (probably composed to be inscribed on the base of a statue) by the Macedonian queen Eurydice.

Eurydice, daughter of Sirra, dedicated this to the local

Muses when she had seized her soul’s desire.

For as a mother of young men, by her efforts

she learned writing, the record of knowledge.

– Eurydice, quoted in Plutarch Moralia 1.20 (=14a-b)

(My own translation)

Plutarch praises Eurydice for learning to read in order to help educate her sons (all of whom went on to become kings of Macedon, one of them the father of Alexander the Great). But although Eurydice does mention her sons, there is much more to this poem.

Eurydice identifies herself in relation to her mother, Sirra, not her father or husband, as would have been typical in ancient Macedon. She directs her praise to the Muses, nine female divine figures, not to Hermes, Apollo, or another male deity equally connected with learning and writing. She does mention her sons, but as an attribute of herself: she does not say (as Plutarch assumed) that she learned in order to teach them, but rather positions her achievement of learning as noteworthy for someone who has undergone the rigors of childbirth and is old enough to have sons on the cusp of adulthood. Eurydice describes her learning in a context that is defined by women and women’s experiences, not men.

While Eurydice makes her accomplishment a feminine one, she uses typically masculine language to describe it. Her language in the original Greek is active, even aggressive. When she says that she accomplished her goal, she uses the same word that other writers used to describe an army capturing a city; when she speaks of her efforts to learn, her words echo those used to describe men training for battle. She positions her learning as the work of a woman surrounded by women, both human and divine, but equal to the work of the male warrior kings in her family.

Eurydice was proud of her learning, as she had every right to be. Literacy was a rare skill in antiquity, and to have learned by her own efforts as an adult shows intelligence and determination. She was doing far more than setting a good example for her sons.

Like Plutarch, traditional history is accustomed to seeing women only in the background of men’s lives, but the records of women’s lives are still there, some of them speaking directly to us if we are just prepared to listen. Many more women like Eurydice have left a “record of knowledge” for us to learn from.

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Dark Academia: A Moody Celebration of Higher Ed and Cultivation

Have you heard of the style dubbed dark academia? According to Wikipedia, dark academia is “a literary and social media aesthetic and subculture concerned with higher education, writing/poetry, the arts, and classic Greek and Gothic architecture.”

Sounds very geeky and nerdy, doesn’t it? (Apparently, again according to Wikipedia, a number of genre novels are, indeed, cited either as inspiration for or popular among the subculture.)

Well, it seems dark academia is now sufficiently popular that mainstream sites have started catering to its fans. While digging into it, I’ve seen clothing, books (of course), movies (ditto), and PC wallpapers for sale. There are also beginner’s guides, playlists for studying, recommended emoji combos, mood guides, critiques, and opinion pieces. (You know a thing has made it when opinion pieces appear!)

I found dark academia when a DIY / thrifting / home decorating blogger I follow and admire, Sarah Ramberg, published her own take on it for the October 2022 challenge in their Thrift the Look series. Here’s one view of her vignette:

Sadie Seasongoods Dark Academia Challenge

Ramberg used mostly thrift store items to outstanding effect. The crystal skull is in fact a thrifted vodka bottle, and it looks stunning. (It’s my favorite element in her recreation, in fact.)

While dark academia (like its kissing cousin steampunk) is not quite my cup of tea, I found it an interesting version of literary appreciation.

Image by Sarah Ramberg at Sadie Seasongoods

In Here highlights interesting spaces created by our fellow geeks all over the world.

Dragonflight: Our Thoughts So Far

Dragonflight, the newest World of Warcraft expansion, has been out three months now. Here are some initial opinions.

WoW Dragonflight Valdrakkar

Eppu’s thoughts

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first:

  • The world quest cycle seems too slow. Way too slow!
  • The climbing-related world quests seem to have inordinately many glitches. (I stopped doing them for quite a while, in fact.)


  • Playing Horde and Alliance together outside of dungeons as well seems to have been enabled (at least for world quests) even before Dragonflight launched properly. Yay!
  • It’s so nice that the Horde don’t continue to embody only awful-looking designs. In the earlier expansions—speaking very roughly, of course—Alliance areas and characters looked normal and nice, whereas Horde ones were full of spikes and angst. In the past Blizzard has introduced nods in the direction of changing it (Blood Elves, Pandaren, Vulpera), but then they eventually slide back to the dark/awful-pretty/shiny divide (e.g. Maldraxxus and Revendreth vs. Bastion and Ardenweald in Shadowlands).
  • Dragonriding (which I’ve started to call gliding as opposed to flying with regular flying mounts) is fun!
  • The druid pink paw buff is back—hooray! I’ve so missed having Mark of the Wild.
  • Among the background sounds, there are chickadees! While they’re nothing I grew up with, they’re nevertheless similar enough to some childhood favorite birds that I appreciate having them. (As a rule, I also appreciate including actual northern biomes into any story. There’s little enough of the real north in mainstream media that isn’t ridiculously exaggerated—seriously, it sounds like people think we live on the planet Hoth from the Star Wars universe.)
  • I’d like to retain player choice with regard to dungeons: that, like Torghast, you can choose to faceroll or challenge yourself. However, I’d also like to get actual loot reliably, like a normal dungeon. (Haven’t been in one yet due to life getting in the way.)
  • Taking into account the story, environment and sound design, talents and professions plus the mechanics thereof, and the personal gaming experience (as nebulous as that can be), I’d say Dragonflight is the best WoW expansion so far.

Erik’s thoughts

I really only have one negative, so I’ll get it out of the way up front.

  • I didn’t like dragonriding at first. I really didn’t like dragonriding. I was physically cringing every time I had to do it. Figuring out how to turn off the screen-distorting effects at high speed made a big difference, though, and now I can use it just fine. I still don’t enjoy it, though. It’s useful if you’re starting somewhere high up and want to go somewhere far away and lower down (and you don’t care very much about where exactly you land) but otherwise I miss the reliability, pausability, and accuracy of regular flying. If we get regular flying later in the expansion, which I hope we do, I’m just going back to my old flying mounts and won’t touch dragonriding again.

Now, on to the positives.

  • What beautiful environments! I have a hard time picking out a favorite zone, but Azure Span delights me every time I go there. Unlike Maldraxxus and Revendreth in Shadowlands or Drustvar in Battle for Azeroth, there’s nowhere in Dragonflight that I don’t enjoy spending time in.
  • I’m really enjoying the new talent system. It probably still needs some tweaking, but I like being able to make choices that really affect how I play my characters.
  • I hope that Blizzard continues on the path laid out in Dragonflight for Alliance-Horde relations. It is a relief to finally have an expansion where it just doesn’t feel like it matters what faction you play. Now if they would continue this to let Horde and Alliance characters communicate, group up, and play every part of the game together, that would be great.
  • This one is a little harder to define, but quests feels more meaningful this expansion. It feels as though we are addressing real problems, not cleaning up after someone else’s emotional tantrum, which describes too much of Shadowlands. I rarely get to the end of a questline in Dragonflight and think to myself: “This could all have been avoided if some people had just gotten around a table and talked to each other.”
  • I still don’t quite feel like I have a handle on the new crafting systems, and there are aspects that I don’t like (like having to be near a designated crafting table to make a lot of recipes), but I enjoy the fact that crafting is now more complicated, and I can specialize different characters in different aspects of the same profession.

Anything else come to mind that we didn’t think of? Please share in the comments!

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A Writing Rabbit

There’s an interesting character in this scene from a Classic Maya vase. In the main scene, an aged underworld god is enjoying the company of a bevy of young women, but below him a rabbit scribe is keeping its eyes out and its ears perked while taking notes.

Scene from the “Princeton Vase” via Princeton University Art Museum (found Nakbe, Guatemala, currently Princeton Art Museum; 670-705 CE; ceramic with painted stucco)

None of the rabbits I’ve ever known in my life have been so practical!

Out There highlights intriguing art, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Trailers for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Tomorrow is the release day for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Here are the official trailers.

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania | New Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Whoa—looks dire and a bit horrible. Messing with quantum stuff can have potential for all sorts of catastrophes, yes, but I didn’t quite expect a timeline-rewriting plot of an Ant-Man movie.

Grown-up Cassie seems a great character, though, and if we find out more about Janet Van Dyne that’s wonderful, too. Come to think of it, I don’t think Hank Pym said a single word in either trailer, which is surprising.

I gather that Kang the Conquerer is going to be a round for quite a while. I hope actor Jonathan Majors does a better job with the character than the hammy clips we were served so far seem so imply (and given that trailers always lie, it’s likely).

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A Little Martial for Those Sick of the Dating Game

If this Valentine’s Day has you feeling bitter about romance, take some heart in knowing that love has always been a rough ride. Here are a few deliciously nasty little snarks from the Roman poet Martial to laugh at over your dinner for one.

Truth Comes Out

He used to be your lover, Paula, but you said there was nothing between you.

Now you’ve married him. Can you still claim there’s nothing between you?

Martial, Epigrams 1.74

Left on Read

I wrote to Naevia. She didn’t write back. So she won’t have me.

But I think she read what I wrote. So she’ll have me.

Martial, Epigrams 2.9

Too High a Pedastal

You want to be revered, Sextus; I wanted to love you.

You’ll get what you demand, Sextus, and be revered,

but if I revere you, I won’t love you.

Martial, Epigrams 2.55

In Vino Veritas

Lyris wants to know what she does when she’s drunk? The same thing she does sober: she sucks cock.

Martial, Epigrams 2.73

Slut Era

You don’t say no to anyone, Thais, and you’re not ashamed of it.

You should at least be ashamed that you don’t say no to anything.

Martial, Epigrams 4.12

Hard to Get

Say “No,” Galla. Love gets cloying if its pleasures come too easily.

But don’t say “No” for too long.

Martial, Epigrams 4.38

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

Visual Inspiration: Bohemian Waxwing in White

Leucism or pigmentation loss results in partial coloring in individuals, like this amazing Bohemian waxwing:

Tumblr Make Rantala Leucistic Bohemian Waxwing

Very striking, isn’t it! A white waxwing would catch your eye anyway, but the red and yellow wing and tail tips are the truly arresting parts. Wow.

I just can’t but wonder how well one would do in nature. In northern Fennoscandia it would be okay in the winter, because even with the climate change the northern Nordic areas get snow, but summer might be tough.

Image by Make Rantala on Instagram, found via Beauty in All Things on Tumblr.

Out There highlights intriguing art, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Second Trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

A brand-new trailer is out for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves!

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | NEW Trailer (2023 Movie) by Paramount Pictures on YouTube

We’re not seeing much new plotwise, just some beefed-up scenes from the first trailer. Glimpses of the Red Wizards and the orifice are on par with the typical medieval-inspired D&D worlds, but WHAT ON EARTH is going on with that broomhead wall?!?

Dungeons and Dragons Honor Among Thieves Screencap House

The roof looks properly thatched, but I have serious doubts of the durability of the facade. There’s obviously plenty of timber available in this area of the world for framing the house with, so the little detail above the door must be decorative. Perhaps there wasn’t quite enough to do the whole outer wall? Or the straw is there for easy repairs?? The original builders blew all of their money on framing and had to make do for cladding???

Anyway, if a trailer commentary can be so easily stolen by funky set design, the question arises whether the trailer in question really did fulfil its function or not… I hope we’ll get another, better one before the release day.

According to IMDB, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is now expected on April 07, 2023, but the trailer still says “this March”, so go figure.

Image: screencap from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

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