Down the Hobbit Hole

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

It’s incredible how much ten short words can do, isn’t it? These were the first ten words I ever read by J.R.R. Tolkien, and they changed my life in several ways: by introducing me to my favorite author, by rekindling a dormant love for linguistics, and by starting me on a road that would eventually lead me (many years down the road) to a makeshift recording booth in my closet, where I have the pleasure of co-hosting a podcast that has brought me in touch with similarly minded Tolkien lovers all over the world.

I suspect many of you reading this had your first entry into Tolkien’s world through these ten words as well.  Continue reading

051 – Why Does It Hurt So Much?: The Hobbit Film Trilogy

It’s there and back again at the movies with the Prancing Pony Podcast! After talking about The Lord of the Rings films in our last episode, Alan and Shawn dive into Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy. Once again, we watch clips of the changes we liked (and just a few of the ones we didn’t) and discuss them, returning to Tolkien’s own observations about film adaptation to assess the films fairly. Luck lost, love found, dragon-sickness… and how will we ever know if four-legs got some? Video version available on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

For streaming audio and a transcript of the Tom Shippey lecture “Tolkien Book to Jackson Script: The Medium and the Message”, see the Swarthmore College website at http://www.swarthmore.edu/news-events/tolkien-book-to-jackson-script-medium-and-message. (Audio highly recommended!)

The essay “Another Road to Middle-earth: Jackson’s Movie Trilogy”, is published as Appendix C in the 2005 edition of Shippey’s The Road to Middle-earth, and is also available in other collections.

We’d love it if you would spend 30 seconds filling out this survey for our podcast host, Libsyn. No one will get your personalized data; only Alan and Shawn will get your email addresses, and if we get 250 responses, we will enter all email addresses into a drawing. Click here to complete the survey, and thank you!

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Recommended Reading:

The Hobbit Trilogy (Extended Editions) [Blu-ray]

Shippey, Tom. The Road to Middle-Earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology (Mariner Books, paperback)

Shippey, Tom. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (Mariner Books, paperback)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

The State of the Podcast

Shawn says it’s my turn to write a Prancing Pony Pondering this week, but instead of giving you 20 pages of my ramblings, I’m actually going to take this opportunity to update all of you on what’s been happening here at The Prancing Pony Podcast and — more exciting, I’m sure — what will be happening over the coming months. Please be sure to comment, or ask questions that you may have, in the comments below.

Where We’ve Been

Just a bit over six months ago, I wrote our ‘birthday’ post, celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Prancing Pony Podcast. At that time, we talked about a few of the plans we had for the PPP in its second year. Specifically, we had five exciting things to share, so it’s time for a report card!

Continue reading

050 – You Have Kept Your Honor: The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy

Put aside the books and join us at the movies! In this episode, Alan and Shawn discuss Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. We watch clips of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) changes and go back to Tolkien’s own words about film adaptation to understand why some worked and others didn’t. Blazing beacons, tragic deaths, Elves where Elves have no business being… they’re all here in this action-packed, star-studded, Oscar-winner-watching episode of the Prancing Pony Podcast! Video version available on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

For streaming audio and a transcript of the Tom Shippey lecture “Tolkien Book to Jackson Script: The Medium and the Message”, see the Swarthmore College website at http://www.swarthmore.edu/news-events/tolkien-book-to-jackson-script-medium-and-message. (Audio highly recommended!)

The essay “Another Road to Middle-earth: Jackson’s Movie Trilogy”, is published as Appendix C in the 2005 edition of Shippey’s The Road to Middle-earth, and is also available in other collections.

We’d love it if you would spend 30 seconds filling out this survey for our podcast host, Libsyn. No one will get your personalized data; only Alan and Shawn will get your email addresses, and if we get 250 responses, we will enter all email addresses into a drawing. Click here to complete the survey, and thank you!

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Recommended Reading:

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring / The Two Towers / The Return of the King Extended Editions) [Blu-ray]

Shippey, Tom. The Road to Middle-Earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology (Mariner Books, paperback)

Shippey, Tom. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (Mariner Books, paperback)

New Outtake for August!

While you wait for our first-ever full-length video episode 050 to come out next Sunday (August 27), we have a new outtake for you from one of our final episodes on The Silmarillion!

If you missed any of our recent outtakes, see page 4 of the Outtakes section. Or view all of them starting here, and check back regularly for more silly mistakes and self-mockery from your hosts!

049 – The First Age Strikes Back: The Silmarillion Retrospective

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, Alan and Shawn started discussing The Silmarillion. Now, witness the power of this fully armed and operational retrospective episode! First, we open Barliman’s Bag and stay on target to answer as many questions about the First and Second Ages as we can. Then we search our feelings for our favorite recurring themes in The Silmarillion and discuss Morgoth’s playbook for evil, the greatness of Finrod, the enduring importance of hope in Tolkien’s works, and more. And we make use of our Star Wars referencing skills for the first time in a long time… a long time.

We’d love it if you would spend 30 seconds filling out this survey for our podcast host, Libsyn. No one will get your personalized data; only Alan and Shawn will get your email addresses, and if we get 250 responses, we will enter all email addresses into a drawing. Click here to complete the survey, and thank you!

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Morgoth’s Ring (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 10) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

The Heir of Eärendil

As observed by Verlyn Flieger in the first chapter of her book Splintered Light,1 the contrast between opposites is a key feature of Tolkien’s work that defines his fantasy world. Many characters and concepts in the legendarium can be better understood by reference to their opposites. The darkness of Ungoliant, for example, is described as an “Unlight” with a physical presence as palpable as the light of the Trees that she consumed. (The Silmarillion, p. 76) The mortality of Men is best understood as not the immortality of Elves: their release from the Circles of the World spares them from the sorrow the Quendi experience with the slow fading of “serial longevity”. On the topic of how good and evil define one another, Olga Polomoshnova has done an excellent study of this recently on her blog Middle-earth Reflections in the essay “Melkor and Manwë: like night and day”, and my co-host Alan touched on the subject in his most recent Prancing Pony Pondering on “The Sins of Melkor… and that one guy” by pointing out how Tolkien’s heroes embody the reverse of Melkor’s worst attributes.

The point of all this is clear: if we want to understand a concept or character in Tolkien’s work, a better understanding of its opposite is critical. Continue reading

Guest spot on DSRA Podcast!

After welcoming a few guests to the Prancing Pony Podcast over the past 18 months, we’re pleased to announce that for the first time ever, we’ve had the chance to guest on somebody else’s great podcast!

A few days ago, we sat down with the team from the DSRA Podcast (Dragons, Sexy Robots, & Adventures) to talk about Beren and Lúthien. They’re big fans of Tolkien’s work, and we had a great time talking to them about the new publication. They even let us read some of our favorite passages!

Go check out the episode here, and then visit their website and feed for further explorations of all things nerd at Dragons, Sexy Robots, & Adventures Podcast

048 – People Are People

In the second half of “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age,” Isildur refuses to destroy the One Ring when he has the chance, keeping it as his prize from the vanquished Sauron. But he is stripped of the Ring, and his life, when he’s ambushed by Orcs on his way home. It’s only a question of time before the Ring is found centuries later by one of the fisher-folk living near the river, and eventually comes to the hand of some creature called a Hobbit from some place called the Shire. Think you’ve heard this one before? Not so fast! We go back to Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales to learn more about Isildur’s death at the Gladden Fields and the origin of the Istari or Wizards. We also dig up some blasphemous rumours about the origins of Orcs to answer a listener question.

We’d love it if you would spend 30 seconds filling out this survey for our podcast host, Libsyn. No one will get your personalized data; only Alan and Shawn will get your email addresses, and if we get 250 responses, we will enter all email addresses into a drawing. Click here to complete the survey, and thank you!

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 285-294, “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Morgoth’s Ring (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 10) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. Tree and Leaf: Including “Mythopoeia” (HarperCollins, paperback)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

 

The Sins of Melkor… and that one guy

When Shawn and I recorded our fifth episode of the podcast on the Ainulindalë, we couldn’t have predicted that we’d still be around over a year later — let alone that we’d have so many listeners enjoying our efforts.1 But there was something else we couldn’t predict then, either — that “The Sins of Melkor” that I talked about in that episode would end up being so universally applicable to other characters in the legendarium. It was only as we were preparing to put The Silmarillion on a boat in the Grey Havens and wave goodbye to it for our upcoming retrospective episode that I realized just how pervasive those errors are — not only for the genuinely evil characters, but also for the mostly-evil, the sometimes-a-jerk, and even the occasionally-foolish. Continue reading