Nerdish Musings

Fictional Couples Are the Best

It’s Valentine’s Day. Siiiiiiggghhhhh….

This is the most annoying, divisive holiday on the planet. People who are in love (and aren’t too cynical) like it because it gives them an excuse to be romantic with their significant other. Florists, candy makers, and greeting card companies LOVE it because it gives them an excuse to market their products more aggressively than at any other time of year.

Everyone else hates it. I’m part of “everyone else,” so today tends to bring out my misanthropic side. However, I am trying very hard not to be cynical. Love is, after all, a thing worth celebrating, and, to a certain extent, so are chocolate hearts.

So, in an effort to bring a little bit of positivity to this day, here are a few happy couples that don’t nauseate me–largely because they’re not real, but still. Happy Valentine’s Day from:

1. Eowyn and Faramir

They’re both awesome characters separately, but together? Perfection.

 

2. Ten and Rose

“Don’t tell Amy and Rory or Eleven and River, but WE’RE the best couple on this show.”

 

3. Han and Leia

Princess + scruffy-looking nerf herder = the truest of true love.

 

4. Wash and Zoe

They were the most happily-married couple ever seen on telly. RIP, Wash.

 

5. Remus and Tonks

Lupin > Jacob. Tonks >>>> Bella. They weren’t in the movies enough.

 

6. Dean and Baby

Just kidding…kind of. She IS the most important woman in his life, though.

 

Here’s hoping all you readers find a valentine as wonderful as these characters did.

Namarie,
Aldy

Standard
monthly fandom

Eowyn & Faramir

I would just like to take a moment to talk about my favourite fictional couple.

I’m not usually a huge fan of romance in fantasy literature (or in real life, for that matter…). But I always make an exception for Eowyn and Faramir.

First of all, I love, love, love both of them individually. Faramir is the captain of Gondor’s armies who brought us this quote: “I do not love the sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” He also resists the call of the Ring better than any other Man in the book (except possibly Aragorn). And Eowyn is a wonderfully complicated character who manages to rule Rohan for a while and eventually kill the Witch King, despite the enormous tragedy that is her entire life.

And they’re perfect for each other. They’re both warriors by necessity, but not by nature; they’re both overlooked and often unloved younger siblings; and despite all their problems, they both chose to fight for Middle Earth rather than wallowing in self-pity. And by the end of The Return of the King, they’ve both lost just about everything. So it’s fitting that they meet and fall in love in a chapter called “The Houses of Healing.” I’ve hardly ever read a romance where the two players needed each other so badly.

Eowyn and Faramir are, in a way, the reason I got into The Lord of the Rings in the first place. When I was little, I listened to a dramatized radio production of the story. I had no idea what was going on most of the time (it was abridged), but there were two images that stuck with me: the Black Riders, which terrified me to no end; and the image of a man and a woman standing together on a castle wall, with their blonde and black hair flowing in the wind. Those two images made me want to read the book for real (though the release of the movies also helped). When I finally did read the book, a year or two later, I found that the latter image was a description of Eowyn and Faramir.

And it’s from this passage, which is one of the most beautiful in the entire book:

“And Eowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: ‘Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Eowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And I love you. Once I pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you. Eowyn, do you not love me?’

Then the heart of Eowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. And suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her.

‘I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun,’ she said; ‘and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.’ And again she looked at Faramir. ‘No longer do I desire to be a queen,’ she said.

Then Faramir laughed merrily. ‘That is well,’ he said; ‘for I am not a king. Yet I will wed with the White Lady of Rohan, if it be her will. And if she will, then let us cross the River and in happier days let us dwell in fair Ithilien and there make a garden. All things will grow with joy there, if the White Lady comes.’

‘Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?’ she said. ‘And would you have you proud folk say to you: “There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Numenor to choose?” ‘

‘I would,’ said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many. And many indeed saw them and the light that shone about them as they came down from the walls and went hand in hand to the Houses of Healing.

And to the Warden of the Houses Faramir said: ‘Here is the Lady Eowyn of Rohan, and now she is healed.'”

In fangirl terms: I just CAN’T with this scene! It’s too gorgeous! Augh! *dies*

I can’t believe people still read Twilight.

Namarie,
Aldy

Standard
monthly fandom

Happy Hobbit Day!

It’s September 22! One of the best days of the year!

Not only is today the first official day of autumn, it’s also the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! As such, it is known as “Hobbit Day” among LOTR fans, and is generally considered the perfect occasion to listen to the Lord of the Rings movie soundtracks, drink a pint or two, and eat multiple hobbit-friendly meals (for ideas on how to do this, see my previous post).

In honour of the day, here is an excellent poem by Bilbo Baggins himself:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
 
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

Have a splendid Hobbit Day, and don’t forget to read some Tolkien!

Namarie!
-Aldy

 
 
 
Standard
Uncategorized

I Love Dressing Up

Here’s another thing I love about the LOTR movies: the costumes. TELL me you’ve never wished you had a dress like Eowyn’s white one in The Two Towers, or an awesome Ranger outfit like the one Aragorn wears. Everything that everyone wears in The Lord of the Rings is beautiful, whether it’s in a grim way or a soft, flowing way.

(Except for this guy. He’s just disgusting.)

This makes it really fun to cosplay LOTR characters. You can’t not feel ten times cooler than you normally do  while wearing the red-and-blue Arwen dress (as I know from experience), or even while dressed up as a hobbit. Unfortunately, these costumes are hard to pull off unless you have mad sewing skills (or mad money). So you have to admire the few people who really nail it. Here are some of them:

 

I totally thought this was a picture of Arwen at first. Though her eyes are clearly photoshopped, I’m willing to bet her dress is not. Points for the Evenstar pendant and the pointy ears.

Ditto for this guy. HOW do you get your hair to exactly replicate the movie posters like that?? He clearly has a genetic advantage…

This King of the Dead is scary good. Very, very scary.

I approve of this Galadriel.

And this Eowyn. Dat hair…

Check out this Frodo! (By the way, I’ve noticed that Frodo cosplayers tend to be female. Should this tell Elijah Wood something about himself?)

The one above may be great, but I think this Frodo is cuter.

Anyone getting ideas for Halloween yet? Namarie!

Standard
monthly fandom

Adaptation Awfulness: The Hobbit

The Hobbit was my first introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien, as I think it was for many fans. A friend gave the book to me for my ninth birthday, and I have since worn that copy to tatters by reading it I-don’t-know-how-many times. It’s a funny, exciting, beautiful book, and a great entry point into the awesomeness of Middle Earth.

So ever since The Return of the King came out on DVD, I’ve longed for a Hobbit movie (the cheesy cartoon didn’t count). I was thrilled when I learned that Peter Jackson was finally making one. I wasn’t even too worried when I found out he was making it into a trilogy (despite the fact that The Hobbit is, at most, only a third of The Lord of the Rings‘s length). He did such a great job with the original trilogy, this one would surely be amazing too! Right?

Wrong.

Two Hobbit movies have now been released, with another one approaching all too soon, and I officially do not trust Peter Jackson anymore. I won’t list all the reasons why, since that would make this post too lengthy, but I will list the three things that made me cringe the most during those movies.

Disclaimer:

Let me be fair here. I don’t hate everything about the Hobbit movies. The first one didn’t even make me feel betrayed, until the ridiculously long slow-motion White Orc battle at the end. Martin Freeman is stupendous as Bilbo. He was born for the role. I love him to bits. And Benedict Cumberbatch voicing Smaug? Perfection. The Riddles in the Dark scene in the first movie was worth the price of admission all by itself, which is good, since I paid extra to go to the midnight showing. So, there. Those are the things I liked.

Back to the things that made me cringe:

1. I feel like I’m watching a video game. One of the many great things about The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the gritty realism of its cinematography. With the exception of a few obvious CGI moments, everything looked like it could be happening on a live news feed, even the huge battles, whose epicness has never been surpassed. The people and the monsters and the setting all look so real, it’s as close as any of us will ever get to visiting Middle Earth ourselves. But both Hobbit movies, thanks partly to old Pete’s decision to film them in 3D at 48 frames per second, look like video-game quality cartoons. EVERYTHING is CGI, and even the live actors are so heavily made-up that they almost look animated. And it doesn’t help that most of the uber-long, uber-unnecessary action scenes look like they came straight out of Mario Kart (falling wooden bridges, physics-defying barrels, etc.). This is NOT how Middle Earth was meant to look!

She should have stuck with him. At least they have equally fabulous hair.

2. I feel like I’m watching a bad fanfic. This applies only to the second movie. I was trying really hard to like The Desolation of Smaug…until the elf-dwarf romance happened. After that, I spent the rest of the movie trying to decide whether to laugh or cry. I understand Pete’s desire to add a female character, I do. It’s rough to have a whole movie trilogy completely devoid of ladies. I could even forgive him for wanting Legolas to have a love interest (which is what I assumed Tauriel was at first). But to make her Kili‘s love interest?? And then create a weird, super-awkward love triangle between him and Legolas??? I’m sorry, that’s the kind of absurdity I would expect a 13-year-0ld girl to post on her Tumblr page. I don’t care how hot the movie version of Kili is–dwarves do not carry on with elves. They are VERY different species–way more different from each other than elves and men. I’m pretty sure it’s a biological impossibility. *shudders at every implication*

Healing your interspecies love interest with athelas and glowing light. What does THIS remind you of?

3. I feel like I’m watching a bad Lord of the Rings remake. I think it’s pretty clear by now that The Hobbit does not contain enough material to fill three three-hour movies. So, to fill up space, the first two movies borrowed material from the original trilogy. They said it was from The Silmarillion, but it’s really all just a rehash of certain scenes in the old movies. For example: the Evil White Orc is to the first movie what the Black Riders were to The Fellowship of the Ring. He even gets the exact same theme music in his fight with Thorin at the end. Sure, he’s named after the goblin Azog from The Silmarillion, but that guy died centuries before the time of The Hobbit, and the movie version is totally different. He’s just a stand-in for the creeping menace of the Ringwraiths (until he starts randomly showing up all over the place in the second movie, which is when he just becomes ridiculous). There are multiple examples in TDOS: the gratuitous opening scene at the Prancing Pony (wouldn’t Butterbeer’s grandfather have at least rearranged the furniture between then and TFOTR?), Esgaroth (basically Rohan on a lake–complete with short, black-clad evil adviser), and Gandalf’s captivity by the Necromancer (I’ll bet anyone fifty bucks he talks to a moth in the next movie). Need I go on? I mean, where the heck did all Pete’s originality go?

I will probably end up watching the final Hobbit movie, but I’m going to try and wait until it’s available at RedBox. I just can’t pay thirteen bucks to get my Tolkien fangirl’s heart ripped out again. Fortunately, I still have my worn-out copy of the book to read!

Okay, rant over. Namarie!

Standard
Uncategorized

Eat Like a Hobbit

One of my favourite things about hobbits is their deep and abiding passion for food. It is one that I share wholeheartedly. And man, some scenes in The Lord of the Rings can make my mouth water like nothing else. Those mushrooms at Farmer Maggot’s house…all the feasts at Rivendell…Herbs and Stewed Rabbit…etc., etc. Every culture and region in Middle Earth has its own cuisine, and J.R.R. Tolkien described them all in detail. The movies do a pretty good job reproducing them, too.

But lembas bread is the Middle Earth food I crave the most. Haven’t you always wanted to try lembas bread? It’s the ultimate traveling food, since it fills a grown man’s stomach in one bite and all that, but it sounds pretty tasty even for us stay-at-homes. Although Tolkien (alas!) didn’t leave us an “official” recipe, there are as many lembas bread recipes online as there are Tom Bombadil theories. Here’s a link to my personal favourite.

Always wrap your lembas bread in a mallorn leaf if you can find one. If not, saran wrap will do.

I like this one because it’s simple, doesn’t take terribly long to make, and tastes like a yummy scone when it’s done (very good with jam, though I always leave the raisins out to achieve a more Elvish look). It comes from a site with tons of recipes related to LOTR – some very loosely, and some right out of the book or movies. I can vouch for the “Po-Tay-To Onion Soup” and the “Seedcake for Gimli” as well. Seedcake is a bit of an acquired taste, I’ve found, but I acquired it quickly.

Also, if you love cooking, have a lot of LOTR fanatics in your acquaintance, and can take a day or two off from all your obligations, the blog portion of this site has a suggested menu for an epic Lord of the Rings eat-along marathon. Haven’t tried that yet, but it’s on my bucket list. Let me know if any of you successfully pull one off.

Namarie!

Standard
monthly fandom

Old Tom

“Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.”

– from “In the House of Tom Bombadil”

Oh, Tom Bombadil. By far the weirdest, least-understood character in The Lord of the Rings, which is why you’ve never heard of him if you only watch the movies. He appears, more or less out of nowhere, to rescue Frodo and company in the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs, and then he disappears from the story again, never to reappear except in brief references by other characters. He constantly spouts nonsense rhymes and wears funny clothes, yet he controls of one of the scariest regions in all Middle Earth (which, ironically, is really close to the Shire). And no one seems to know who or what he is, not even Gandalf or Elrond.

Here’s what we know about Tom from his short appearance in The Fellowship of the Ring:

He’s older than the Shire, older than Sauron, and probably even older than Morgoth and the Exiles from Valinor.
“Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn.”

The Ring has no power over him; in fact, it seems to be the other way round.
“Tom laughed again, and then he spun the Ring in the air–and it vanished with a flash. Frodo gave a cry–and Tom leaned forward and handed it back to him with a smile.”

He’s immensely powerful (see above), yet he only uses his power within the boundaries of his own land.
Tom’s country ends here: he will not pass the borders. Tom has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting!”

Of course, just living in his country takes plenty of power. The Old Forest area is chock-full of malicious trees and evil ghosts; the chapter “The Barrow-Downs” was the only one that really unsettled me when I read LOTR at age 10. But it’s no problem for Tom–or Iarwain Ben-Adar, as the elves call him. All the trees and ghosts obey him, and him alone (though he doesn’t control them all the time). He seems tied to the land, somehow, and is even married to the personification of the Withywindle River. He’s completely uninterested in everything beyond Deadman’s Dike and the Buckland Gate, which is why, despite his immunity to the Ring, Gandalf says it’s not safe to leave it with him. He would probably just forget about it!

When the hobbits ask Tom who he is, he replies only with his name, saying, “That’s the only answer!”

Of course, that has never been enough to satisfy LOTR fans. There are dozens of theories about Tom’s true identity – is he a Maia, like Gandalf? Is he an incarnation of one of the Valar? Some have even suggested he might be Iluvatar himself – the Creator God of Middle Earth (though that one doesn’t seem to hold water, given Tom’s identification with one small, specific piece of Middle Earth). Click this link to see a much more sinister theory.

Personally, I don’t think J.R.R. Tolkien had a story in his head about who Tom Bombadil is or where he came from. Some things in Middle Earth are meant to be mysterious and unexplained–look at the Paths of the Dead and the Pukel-Men, for instance–and I think Tom is one of them. If anything, he might be a representation of the Green Man.

All I know is, I love him. I love him to bits, from his yellow boots to his goofy hat. And I’m soooo glad he wasn’t in the movies, because Hollywood would have ruined him. Probably by trying to explain him. I like a little unsolved mystery in my stories.

Namarie!

Standard