(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Lord of the Rings

“When wombats do inspire/I strike my disused lyre”*…

 

Wombat

Rossetti mourning his wombat

 

“‘The Wombat,’ Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote in 1869, ‘is a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness!’ Rossetti’s house at 16 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea had a large garden, which, shortly after he was widowed, he began to stock with wild animals. He acquired, among other beasts, wallabies, kangaroos, a raccoon and a zebu. He looked into the possibility of keeping an African elephant but concluded that at £400 it was unreasonably priced. He bought a toucan, which he trained to ride a llama. But, above all, he loved wombats…

It isn’t difficult to understand Rossetti’s devotion. Wombats are deceptive; they are swifter than they look, braver than they look, tougher than they look. Outwardly, they are sweet-faced and rotund. The earliest recorded description of the wombat came from a settler, John Price, in 1798, on a visit to New South Wales. Price wrote that it was ‘an animal about twenty inches high, with short legs and a thick body with a large head, round ears, and very small eyes; is very fat, and has much the appearance of a badger.’ The description implies only limited familiarity with badgers; in fact, a wombat looks somewhere between a capybara, a koala and a bear cub.

Despite the fact that they do not look streamlined, a wombat can run at up to 25 miles an hour, and maintain that speed for 90 seconds. The fastest recorded human footspeed was Usain Bolt’s 100m sprint in 2009, in which he hit a speed of 27.8 mph but maintained it for just 1.61 seconds, suggesting that a wombat could readily outrun him. They can also fell a grown man, and have the capacity to attack backwards, crushing a predator against the walls of their dens with the hard cartilage of their rumps. The shattered skulls of foxes have been found in wombat burrows…

Katherine Rundell urges us to “Consider the Wombat.”

* Christina Rossetti  (Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sister)

###

As we ponder pets, we might wish an elfish Happy Birthday to John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who was born on this date in 1892.  A philologist and professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, Tolkein is better known for the series of books of which he said “my work has escaped from my control, and I have produced a monster: an immensely long, complex, rather bitter, and rather terrifying romance, quite unfit for children (if fit for anybody).”

(Tolkein’s friend and fellow Inkling, C.S. Lewis, when told by Tolkien of a new character with which he was populating The Lord of the Rings, reputedly replied “Not another f—ing dwarf!”)

220px-Oxford_Tolkien

Bust of Tolkien in the chapel of his alma mater, Exeter College, Oxford. He was later a don down the street, at Merton College

source

 

“I went to a general store but they wouldn’t let me buy anything specific”*…

 

mattern-10-hardware-768x605

 

The hardware store… holds (and organizes) the tools, values, and knowledges that bind a community and define a worldview. There’s a material and social sensibility embodied in the store, its stuff, and its service, and reflected in the diverse clientele. That might sound a bit lofty for a commercial establishment that sells sharp objects and toxic chemicals. But the ethos is palpable. (And profitable, too…)

Headlines proclaiming the death of neighborhood retail remind me of all those articles a few years back that wrongly predicted the end of the library. Despite competition from big-box stores and the internet, many local hardware stores are doing all right. In 1972, the United States had about 26,000 hardware stores. Their number dropped to 19,000 by 1990 and 14,000 by 1996, but for the past two decades it has been fairly steady. Hardware Retailing reports a slight annual drop in the number of independent stores, but sales are strong (even increasing) at the ones that remain.

To understand the hardware store, it helps to trace an earlier genealogy: the rise of the general store…

How the hardware store orders things, neighborhoods, and material worlds: “Community Plumbing.”

* Steven Wright

###

As we reach for the hammer, we might recall that  it was on this date in 1937 that George Allen & Unwin published J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.  Widely critically-acclaimed in its time (nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction), it was a success with readers, and spawned a sequel… which became the trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

Cover of the first edition, featuring a drawing by Tolkien

source

 

Written by LW

September 21, 2018 at 1:01 am

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!…

source

Continuing yesterday’s theme of waning summer, one notes that the Summer Blockbuster Season is ending; the last of the “spectacular” movies of 2010 are making they way into theaters now.  Soon, blazing guns and buff heroes give way to the poignancy and angst of Winter’s more grown-up fare.

But before one hangs up one’s 3-D glasses, one might check in at Movie Body Counts for a tally of the “the actual, visible ‘on screen kills/deaths/bodies’ of your favorite action, sci/fi, and war films”…  or actors or directors.

The counts contain some surprises: the highest movie total to date?  LotR: Return of the King (836…  the more likely-seeming 300 only had 600).  As for directors, John Woo is at an unsurprisingly high 1,111; while famed fright-monger [and recent (R) D  honoree] Wes Craven stands at under 10.  (Sadly, Russ Meyer, the auteur behind the epic that gives this missive its title, is not covered… but then, Meyer did specialize in a different kind of body count.)

One can consult the rules and review the process here…  then browse through Movie Body Counts.

As, like squirrels, we save up for a long, deeply-felt winter, we might recall that it was on this date in 1912 that Arthur R. Eldred of Oceanside, New York, achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America (which had been founded only two years before). He was the first person to earn the award. He didn’t receive the actual badge until September 2 (Labor Day), as the badge had not yet been made.

Arthur Eldred (source)

%d bloggers like this: