Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tolkien Party - Imladris (A Fanfiction) by Me

I'm including this for the Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence (hosted by Hamlette)

Fourteen years ago, I was so avidly in love with all things Tolkien that I delved into fanfiction. This week, I've done something I almost swore to myself I would never do. I looked back at some of my writings, grimaced at the emotionalism of it all, and decided to give this story, one of which I'm particularly fond, a rewrite. I nearly posted it here without editing it, but couldn't, in all good conscience, do it. The core of what you see is the story I imagined all those years ago, but any skill you might find in these lines is a result of many years of practice and deliberate schooling. Thank goodness I didn't just throw Imladris up here without taking the time to hone it, if you will. May you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it all those years ago, and as much as I enjoyed editing it yesterday and today.

Synopsis: While Frodo lies wounded in Elrond's house, the hobbits deal with the pain of nearly losing their cousin and friend along with the guilt that they could not protect him.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence 2015 (hosted by Hamlette)

It is again time for Hamlette's A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence! And I'm so proud of myself for actually participating this year because I reallllllly love Tolkien and have reallllllly wanted to participate in this blog party before, but never made the time!

Please come and join in the fun if you like, post answers to Hamlette's questionnaire on your own blog, leave a comment on her post letting her know you've done so, participate and revel in all things Tolkien!

Now, on to this lovely questionnaire Hamlette developed!

1. What draws you to Tolkien's stories?  (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.)

A. So, I love fantasy. Hopefully everyone knows that by now. I can pretty much attribute that love first and foremost to Narnia, and because of Narnia, I tried Tolkien's world. Never looked back. You know how they say some stories are epic? An epic love story, an epic adventure, an epic this or that? Tolkien's stories are all of those things and more. The world feels real, the characters feel real, and these are life and death struggles of good against evil, at the very basic level of our being. These stories are alive, and that's why I love them.

2. What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw?  What did you think of it?

A. I saw The Hobbit animated film when I was around 10 or so and then read The Hobbit for the first time when I was 14-years-old and we'd just moved to a new state and I needed some familiarity. Really loved the animated film as a kid until I realized that Gandalf's name was horribly mispronounced. The book? It's still one of my favorite books of all time. A kid's adventure story like The Princess and the Goblin, nothing more or less, and that's what I love about it. Tolkien's world hadn't been fully developed yet and so I love the simplicity of The Hobbit.

3. Name three of your favorite characters and tell us why you like them.

In a world as dark as the one Tolkien penned, the characters need a father figure to guide them. Gandalf is that figure. It doesn't mean he's always right in his judgement calls. Let's be honest, he makes some mistakes. But I always felt that Gandalf was always dependable. I especially love him in The Two Towers film when he says "Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East." And when that fifth day comes, at dawn, guess who's there, riding to save the day?

Gandalf, who is so powerful and mighty, is a lover of small things and small people. He doesn't discount someone simply because they could not be counted among the very wise or the very great. He's a lover of hobbits, a people that don't always love him back, but who he goes out of his way to befriend and defend with his life. What's not to love about a character like Gandalf?

I gave serious consideration to my options for this second choice. I've never actually chosen Aragorn as a favorite character, not when it comes to one of these types of tags or memes. But I do love him know, far more than I ever did when I was young and watching The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time.

When you love Aragorn, you're loving three versions of him. You love Strider, the mysterious Ranger who you're not entirely sure can be trusted. You love Aragorn from the films, the reluctant king. And you love Aragorn the noble-hearted, self-assured king in Tolkien's stories. Three different versions of the same man, and it has taken me 14 years to reach the point of loving all three versions.

Strider, I think, will always be my favorite version simply because he is so enigmatic. I'm rarely drawn to kings, so it makes sense I would love the kingless version of Aragorn the best, but I must deeply respect the Aragorn of Tolkien's original work and empathize with the tortured soul version of Aragorn that Peter Jackson invented. All three have merit.

This should surprise no one and if it does, well, that just means I haven't talked about him enough.

Bilbo was the very first character of Tolkien's that I ever encountered, both in film and in book form and he is steadfastly adhered to my heart. Bilbo is now, and always will be, one of my top 5 favorite characters.

He's the one who you would never, ever suspect of wanting to go on an adventure. He's peaceful and calm at home, and yet, he steps outside himself and into one of the greatest literary stories of all time. He took the literal step of faith and it transformed him. He is like my own personal hero. I'm content and complacent in my life, but if Bilbo can take such an enormous step of faith, then why can't I?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Sizzle in Key Largo

Part of the Lauren Bacall Blogathan hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

My first movie with Humphrey Bogart was The African Queen and I distinctly remember disliking him. Of course, I was only about 13 at the time, and he seemed like a rough and tumble bully. Fortunately for me, I decided to rewatch The African Queen several years later and liked it so much better the 2nd time around. If I hadn't tried it again, there's a good chance I would never have given Bogart another look, which means I would have never watched Key Largo, and never met Lauren Bacall.

Ahh, Key Largo. The name alone is synonymous with all the best that film noir had to offer its audience. Intense plot, dramatic lighting and shadows, and stunning characters of every description, from the hero Frank McCloud (Bogart) to the villain of Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson). And of course, Nora Temple, played by the estimable Lauren Bacall. A war widow, her character watches over her father-in-law, James Temple, handicapped and the owner of the Largo Hotel in the Florida Keys. When Frank McCloud pays them a mercy visit to tell them stories about the bravery and heroics of Nora's deceased husband, he never imagined for one single moment that he would be walking into one of the most hellish nights of his life, and that's saying a lot considering he's a soldier.

I'm confessing right now that my knowledge of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart as people is nill. I go out of my way to avoid knowing about the personal lives of actors that I like, mostly because I don't want to let any negative behaviors on their part influence my opinion of them. I've never looked at Errol Flynn the same way since I discovered what a louse and a cad he was in Hollywood, and so I don't want the same thing to happen with Bacall and Bogart. So I can only say what I observe, and that is how much I love in Key Largo.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Clever Girl: Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire

Written for the Lauren Bacall Blogathan hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

My experience with Lauren Bacall films only began once I developed an interest in Humphrey Bogart. Once I made Bogie's acquaintance, and watched Key Largo (which I'll post about tomorrow), I loved Bacall at least as much as Bogart.

One thing I realized in watching this movie is that she was lucky in her films with Bogart. She was never overlooked or overshadowed, certainly never second fiddle, not even to him. But here, in How to Marry a Millionaire, she is almost an afterthought for the modern viewer. Why? Because Marilyn Monroe is the "it girl" and if a movie has her in the cast, then of course, the movie is about her.


Everything that happens in How to Marry a Millionaire is because of the cleverness of Bacall's character, Schatze Page. Schatze is the leading role, she is the heroine, and she is the one came up with the idea for this crazy scheme in the first place!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Fall Themed Evening Tea with Maple and Pecan Scones

There are just some days when you need to have an Afternoon Tea. We just turned ours into dinner, which we've done before, and this was just a time when we needed it. Enjoy! I'm sorry you couldn't join us.

These are lovely sausage rolls (or bangers) from Willy's Emporium in Old Colorado City. They're the most delightful people ever, such a sweet couple, and the shop is named after their little dog, Willy. And yes, they're British.

These are pecan and maple scones, our own recipe altered from a couple of different recipes. They were absolutely yummy!

Another look-see at our delicious pecan scones. Ooh, and we topped them with turbinado sugar, which added just a lovely bit of shine to the top. And we toasted the pecans. Yum!

One of our favorite teapots, plus it's large enough for three of us. And yes, we always use a drip catcher on the spout of our teapots. It helps so much in containing any messes.

King Soopers made the tart shells, and we bought the lemon filling from Bernideen's, also down in Old Colorado City, which is sadly no more. The owners retired and are very much missed!

Here we have raspberry jam and homemade clotted cream, flavored with just a tinge of caramel. It was a perfect pairing with the scone.

Delicious sausage, flaky pastry, and HP sauce, an authentic sauce from England that really pairs nicely with this particular sausage. So good.

One of my favorite teacups, hand-painted from Japan, part of 6 teacup set that I absolutely adore and spent waaaaaay too much money on. The tea we chose for the evening was Celestial Seasoning's Roastaroma, a delicious caffeine free herbal tea with a rich, full-body flavor, almost like a black tea. And you can use cream!

Getting ready to dive in!

And now almost done. And the scone was as delicious as we were hoping. Wish you could have joined us!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Remembering Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien
January 3rd, 1892 - September 2nd, 1973

My relationship with Tolkien began with a hobbit, one Bilbo Baggins by name. I was fourteen, browsing the shelves of my local library, and plucked an Alan Lee illustrated copy of The Hobbit from its space. My life is forever changed. Such a wide range of possibilities opened up, an entire new world of wonders. This lead to a glorious span of 4 years as The Lord of the Rings films were released where I eat, slept, and breathed everything Tolkien. Those years are long gone now, but my affection for this man and his stories will never fade.
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