Resurrecting My Inner Artist

The first snow and winter storm of Winter 2019 finally arrive the second Saturday of January. In my experience, that’s a delay of nearly ten days from when we usually have snow or a winter storm or if nothing else bitter cold below zero temperatures and wind chills. The snow we received was wet and heavy, perfect for making a snowman but not so great for my back when I went out to shovel the driveway.

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Recipe Review: Calzones (4 stars)

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Almost two weeks into the new year and we finally saw some snow.  So, I spent the entire weekend doing indoor activities (except for that one time I went out and shoveled the heavy wet perfect-for-snowman-making white stuff off of my driveway).  Oh, and I did have to make a trip to the grocery store Sunday morning to pickup some missing ingredient items for the calzones I planned to make that afternoon.

The recipe I worked from can be found on page 186 of my favorite bread cookbook: The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.  But you can find an online version of it at the King Arthur Flour website here:  Calzone

The dough part of the recipe is actually found on page 176 and is called “Hearth Bread Pizza.”  I use half of that recipe every time I make home-made pizza crust.  This time I did the whole recipe, all six cups of flour, and opted to use my Kitchen-aid mixer with a dough hook until I got beyond the five cup range.  I also did a full rise, not the no-rise option, which I usually do for thin crust pizza dough. Continue reading

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More on Mass Market Paperbacks aka One Book That Ruled Them All

I just checked my email and received an eblast from Tor.Com (one of my favorite publishers) which included the article below, which expands on my less-well-researched post from yesterday.

 

ONE BOOK TO RULE THEM ALL

How The Lord of the Rings Changed Publishing Forever

Last week marked the anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, prompting Alan Brown to take a look back at the 1965 Ballantine paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings, which ushered in a new age for both Middle-earth and the publishing industry—and, of course, helped changed the lives of generations of fans in the process.

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Book Review: Meditations on Middle-Earth (4 stars)

Meditations on Middle-Earth

Edited by Karen Haber ♦ Illustrated by John Howe

Essays by Various Authors (see highlights below)

First Edition Published: 2001

Read in January 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Excerpt from St. Martin’s Press Synopsis:

In Meditations on Middle-earth, sixteen bestselling fantasy authors share details of their personal relationships with Tolkien’s mythos, for it inspired them all. Had there been no Lord of the Rings, there would also have been no Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin; no Song of Ice and Fire saga from George R. R. Martin; no Tales of Discworld from Terry Pratchett; no Legends of Alvin Maker from Orson Scott Card. Each of them was influenced by the master mythmaker, and now each reveals the nature of that influence and their personal relationships with the greatest fantasy novels ever written in the English language.

If you’ve never read the Tolkien books, read these essays and discover the depth and beauty of his work. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, the candid comments of these modern mythmakers will give you new insight into the subtlety, power, and majesty of Tolkien’s tales and how he told them.

Meditations on Middle-Earth is a 2002 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Related Work.

My Favorite Essays

If you read only one or two of these essays, I highly recommend Michael Swanwick’s “A Changeling Returns” and Donald A. Anderson’s “Tolkien After All These Years” – both of which brought tears to my eyes for very different reasons.  The latter also added to my TBR by referencing many non-fiction titles not yet gracing my shelves.

“What he [Sean] heard was the same book I had discovered that sleepless night . . . the single best adventure story every written.  As an adult, however, I found that during my long absence it had transformed itself into something else entirely.  It was now the saddest book in the world.”

Michael Swanwick, “A Changeling Returns” p. 35

“From experience, Tolkien knew that there are only two possible responses to the ending of an age.  You can try to hold on, or you can let go. … Tolkien’s vision of the combined horrors of the twentieth century ended with hope and forgiveness.  This is a book of sad wisdom.”

Michael Swanwick, “A Changeling Returns” p.36-7

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Posted in 4 Star, Books, Musings, Non-Fiction, Ratings, Reading, Reviewing, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Four Decades of Fellowship

The Fellowship of the Ring

Part One of The Lord of the Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Read in late 1976 or early 1977

Rating:  Five Stars

Review originally published at GoodReads

1976 Ballantine Fantasy Mass-Market Paperback Edition (well read condition with some interior handwritten remarks)

This battered well-read edition of The Fellowship of the Ring still stands on my book shelf, amidst it’s younger, better bound, brother editions. While reading essays contained in Meditations on Middle-Earth, it struck me that nearly all of these authors (many of whom I’ve read and enjoyed their own authorial subcreations), enjoyed a similar life-altering reading experience at about the same point in time as myself.

To confirm my theory (and increasingly dim memory of my life four decades ago), I pulled this paperback off the shelf and became immediately distracted by the notes written to me by my friends on the backside of the covers. No one signed their epigraphs, but I can still decipher the handwriting and put faces to scrawlings. But back to my original quest: The actual publication date of this mass market paperback (also confirmed here at GoodReads): 1976

If I acquired this edition that year, and read it then (which I have no doubt I did), I would have been either 11 or 12 years old (depending on the time of year; my birthday occurs in early October). If I received this edition (and their companions) in the following year (1977) the oldest I would have been reading it would have been 13. But I remember reading Lord Foul’s Bane in paperback (published mid-1978) after reading Tolkien’s masterpiece, so I’m reasonably confident I was either twelve or thirteen when I first visited Middle-Earth. Continue reading

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Sunday Epiphanies

On any given Sunday, you’ll find me awake before sunrise.  Old, very old, habits die-hard.  I embrace being a morning person.  Only causes an issue when I want to toast in the new year since I generally turn into a pumpkin around nine o’clock.  Today was no different from any other weekend.

Yesterday was Twelfth Night, the official end to the Christmas season.  When Dickens was a youth, Twelfth Night was ‘THE’ biggest day of the winter holiday in England.  Between his Christmas Carol and Prince Albert’s importation of German Christmas traditions (namely the Christmas tree), Twelfth Night began to fade out of fashion during Dickens and Queen Victoria’s lifetimes.

I did not stay up late celebrating or hosting a Twelfth Night party.  I had servers to upgrade and test bright and early on January 6th, also known as Epiphany.

I woke up before my alarm (I almost always do this; my alarm only woke me up once in the last six months) and got logged in and ready to upgrade a server.  It went much smoother than the last time I tried, right before Christmas, and I was done within 20 minutes (leaving an hour forty minutes of my maintenance window unused).  Server patch testing took another fifteen minutes so I was done ‘working’ before seven o’clock, still before sunrise.

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Let’s Do Lunch at the Library

Most Saturdays you can find me hanging out at my local library over the lunch hour.  While it’s true I do devour books, I curb my appetite so that my favorite hard-working librarians can grab a bite to eat and catch up on their reading.  I’ve been volunteering for four or five years now and I look forward to those two or three hours spent helping patrons find their next great book or movie.

Today, within five minutes of getting started at the circulation desk for the first half of my shift, a mother and a cute girl with a rainbow of flowers in her hair arrived to collect her gift basket.  The girl had won one the baking basket, one of eight gift baskets donated as prizes for the winter reading program.  I overheard one of the librarians mention that collectively adults and children read over two thousand books this winter.  I only contributed twenty-two to that total.

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