The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Early Screenings

The final installment of The Hobbit, The Battle of the Five Armies, is coming up. The last (most likely) Peter Jackson Middle Earth film will be landing in theaters throughout next week, and there’s several opportunities to see the movie early.

On Monday, December 15th, two theaters will be holding Hobbit Marathons, and you’ll have the opportunity to see the third film as part of that at the following theaters:

  • Essex Cinemas, Essex. 8:00pm (Marathon)
  • Springfield Cinemas 3, Springfield. 8:00pm.

Across the state, the film will open at a number of theaters early on Tuesday, December 16th:

  • Welden Theatre, St. Albans. 7:00pm
  • Merrill Roxy Theatre, Burlington. 6:00pm
  • Majestic 10, Williston. 7:00pm (HFR/3D), 9:00pm
  • Palace 9, South Burlington. 7:00pm (HFR/3D)
  • Stowe Cinema 3plex, Stowe, 7:00pm
  • Big Picture Theater, Waitsfield. 7:00pm
  • Paramount Theatre, Barre. 7:00pm
  • Star Theater, St. Johnsbury. 7:00pm (3D)
  • Bennington Cinemas, Bennington. 7:00pm (3D), 8:00pm (2D), 9:45pm (3D)
  • Bijou Cineplex 4, Morrisville. 7:00pm.

Finally, the movie will be opening regularly on Wednesday, December 17th at the following theaters:

  • Playhouse Theater, Randolph. 7:00pm
  • Village Picture Shows, Manchester Center.
  • Middlebury Marquis, Middlebury.

Bombadil and Other Middle-earth Mysteries: 11th Annual Tolkien in Vermont Conference Schedule

Later this week, UVM will host their annual conference on J.R.R. Tolkien, with a variety of papers on the British author, generally around the theme of ‘Bombadil and Other Middle-earth Mysteries’. It looks like it’ll be a fantastic event, with an interesting schedule of papers and presenters. I’ll be presenting at some point (I don’t know if this list is the presentation order), talking about how Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories helped to supercharge the door-stop Fantasy novel genre.

Here’s the full schedule for this weekend:

Friday, April 11th, 2014, Memorial Lounge: 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

  • Friday evening open-mic fireside readings 2014
  • Organized and hosted by The Tolkien Club of UVM
  • Come read, recite, or sing your favorite verse or prose passages!

Saturday, April 12th, 2014, Ira Allen lecture hall, Billings Student Center: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.; 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

  • Building Fantastic Worlds: How Tolkien Created the Modern Fantasy Genre
    Andrew Liptak • independent scholar
  • Authorship and the Vita Contemplativa in Tolkien
    Nicholas Birns • Associate Professor • Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts
  • What Then Are These Wood-Woses?
    Gerry Blair • independent scholar
  • Beorn & Radagast: Exploring the Relationship between the Skin-changer and the Wizard
    Andrew Peterson • Harvard ’14
  • Numenor and the ‘Devouring Wave’: Literary, Historical, and Psychological Sources for Tolkien’s Self-described ‘Atlantis Complex’
    Dr. Kristine Larsen • Professor of Physics and Astronomy • Central Connecticut State University
  • Dragonomics: Smaug and Pollution in Middle-Earth
    Richard Fahey • UVM ’08
  • Following Saruman
    Dr. Chris Vaccaro • Senior Lecturer • University of Vermont
  • Undergraduate Voices in Tolkien Studies, members of Chris Vaccaro’s Tolkien-related classes • University of Vermont
  •    Anders Albertson
  •    Casey Brinkman-Traverse
  •    Aaron Brunet
  •    Angus Yates
  •    Conner Klopfer

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

  • Cook Green
  • Sunday Springle-ring 2014, Organized and hosted by the Tolkien Club of UVM

Visit the conference website here.

An Unexpected Party: A Birthday Party for Bilbo Baggins

The Phoenix Bookstore branch in Essex will be holding an Unexpected Party for Bilbo Baggins to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit on Saturday, September 22nd at 7pm. Houghton Mifflin and Warner Brothers have teamed with the store to put on the event, and there will be a movie preview and a reading from a section of The Hobbit.

This in from their website:

In honor of the upcoming movie release and the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, Phoenix Books is proud to host a birthday party for Bilbo Baggins on September 22, 2012. Join us for food, games, prizes, readings from The Hobbit, and special appearances by some of your favorite characters! Costumes are welcomed and encouraged.

Tolkien’s Bestiary: From Ponies to Balrogs

On Saturday I attended the morning session of the 9th Annual Tolkien at UVM Conference as a part of my Tolkien & Medievalism class at Saint Michael’s College. Taught by Dr. Kerry Shea, the class has involved a semester of reading Tolkien’s major works accompanied by medieval classics such as Beowulf in order to discuss and explore the roots of his created world and how it has fathered today’s concepts of fantasy. University of Vermont has a similar class and offered this conference to professionals and undergraduates alike to share ideas.

The theme of this year’s conference was Tolkien’s Bestiary, thus focusing mainly on the creatures of Middle-Earth and beyond. The day started with the reading of several undergraduate papers: an analysis of language and the complex etymology Tolkien created; a look at the premise of light vs. dark in the fantasy world; and a modern-day comparison of Gandalf and Dr. Who.

The next session included three scholars: Martha Monsson, Andrew C. Peterson of Harvard University, and Matt Dickerson of Middlebury College.

Monsson’s piece, titled “Forth Eorlingas: Horses and Ponies in The Lord of the Rings” traced the various differences between horses and ponies in LOTR, and what each shows about the peoples who use them. For example, the hobbits only use ponies because of their size, but they also value their endurance and labor use, showing their simple and humble natures. The horses of Rohan, on the other hand, are bred for heroic warfare, representing freedom and the status of the owner. Monsson looked at Shadowfax and Gandalf, as well as Gandalf’s treatment in general of horses. There are many origins in Anglo-Saxon history involving horse tactics in battle; the idea of the beast vs. a machine is also an interesting idea she explored. From the language Tolkien used to shape his horses to the meanings behind the colors of certain specified horses, Monsson’s paper was very thorough.

Peterson wrote “The Many Faces of Trolls in Middle-Earth” to investigate the uncertainties surrounding trolls in many of Tolkien’s works: their very nature shifts between stories. Tolkien’s trolls seem to be derived from Old Norse, and could be a combination of dwarfs and giants because of the many shared characteristics. Grendel also may be an inspiration for these characters. Tolkien seemed to have preferred folklore versions instead of the tamer English fairy-tale creatures, despite the trolls in The Hobbit that provide comedic relief with an apparently Cockney accent. The trolls in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion seem much more threatening: they are servants of Sauron and accomplices with the Balrgos of Moria; they are described as Ents that were twisted and mutilated. In The Lord of the Rings, Sam’s troll-song connects the story to the larger picture of Middle-Earth that we find in Silmarillion. This was a very interesting study for those of us who have recently read Silmarillion, and certainly caused me to think about Tolkien’s process.

The final paper of this session was “From Goblins to the Valarukar: Scourges of Fire and Demons of Terror” by Dickerson. He looked at some very interesting connections both in plot and language between the Balrogs and the Orcs, or the Valarukar and the Goblins. The idea of the Balrogs may have come from a poem in Old English that told of creatures of shadows and flames. The Balrogs remain creatures of mystery, however, since few of them are ever named. One commenter posited that Balrogs are a supernatural version of the more earthly trolls, since they do work together at times. We know that the Balrogs are a dark version of the Maiar, placing them on Gandalf’s level, which explains the repeating motif throughout Tolkien’s created history of wizards and Balrogs slaying one another. Gandalf’s resolute speech to the Balrog in Moria ties both of their stories back to what (little) we learned in Silmarillion about Iluvatar’s imperishable flame. Dickerson also considered Tolkien’s creation of Orcs, possibly taken from George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin. The name in Old English means demon-spirit or demon-corpse—which may have been where Tolkien got the idea for the Ring-Wraiths—but the concept is a darker version of a goblin. This was another fascinating paper for the creative, Silmarillon-educated mind.

The conference continued with a table discussion on “What to do with Tolkien’s Orcs.” I was unable to stay for the afternoon, but heard that some of the speakers and discussions that followed were very interesting. University of Georgia presented the conference’s keynote speaker, Jonathan Evans, who spoke on “Tolkien’s Non-Allegorical Bestiary.” I was sorry to have missed Marc Zender of Tulane University presenting “Mammoths, Mumakil, and ‘The Old Fireside Rhyme of Oliphaunt’: Tolkien’s Contributions to the Medieval Bestiary Tradition.”

All in all, it was a great experience which allowed us to cultivate new thoughts on Tolkien’s process with creatures, language, creation, and story. I know I have some great ideas for our final term paper, and am looking forward to reading and re-reading these classics in even more depth.

Geek Things for July 14th

  • Book Sale, 12–7PM, Stowe Free Library, Stowe. Free. (Books)
  • Basic Bike Maintenance, 5:30–6:30PM, Skirack, Burlington. Free. (Bikes)
  • Sunsets at Shelburne Museum – “Magic at the Museum: A Harry Potter Evening.” 5–7:30PM, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne. Regular admission, $5-20; preregister. (Harry Potter)
  • ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’, 10AM, Catamount Arts Center, St. Johnsbury. Free. (Harry Potter)
  • Chess Club, 7PM, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $2-3. (Chess)
  • Bats in the Barn, 7–9PM, Shelburne Farms, Shelburne. $10-12 per parent-child pair; $5-7 per additional child. (Kids)
  • Teen Club, 4:30–5:30PM, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, Williston. Free. (Teens)
  • ‘The Hobbit’, 7PM, Vermont Children’s Theater, Lyndonville. $5-10. (Theater)
  • Owl Prowl & Night Ghost Hike, 7–9PM, Little River State Park, Waterbury. $2-3; call to confirm; flashlight required. (Outdoors)
  • ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, 7PM, Montpelier City Hall Auditorium, Montpelier. $10-30. (Theater)
  • Book Talk, 11AM–12PM, Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne. Free. (Books)
  • Warmachine / Hordes, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games Gamespace, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Fleming Museum Panel Discussion – “What Makes a Cartoon Work?”, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Fleming Museum 101, UVM, Burlington. (Comics)
  • Batteries, 11:00 a.m., Monshire Museum, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Mirror Mirror, 3:00 p.m., Monshire Museum, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Readercon 22, Jul 14 – 17, 2011, Burlington, MA. (Conventions)
  • Planetarium presentation 11:00 a.m., Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury. $5/person (Astronomy)

8th Annual Tolkien Conference

UVM will hold their 8th Annual conference on UK author J.R.R. Tolkien today and tomorrow, titled Nature and Environment in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The conference, which features four sessions and numerous speakers tomorrow, begins tonight at the John Dewey Lounge at UVM’s Old Mill at 7:30 with an Open Mike Tolkien Reading and performance.

The bulk of the conference will be held tomorrow from 8:00am to 5:00 p.m. at UVM’s Waterman Memorial Lounge, Room 338. The breakdown for the schedule is as follows:

Session I: Science and Tolkien Studies, 8:30-10:00am

Kristine Larsen (Central Connecticut State University)
“‘And the Stars Were Hidden’: Middle-earth as a Canary in the Light Pollution Mine”
Andrew Hallam (University of Denver)
“‘Sheep get like shepherds, and shepherds get like sheep, it is said’: Environment, Rhizomes, and the Map in The Lord of the Rings”

Session II The Aesthetic and the Divine, 10:00-11:00am


Jeff MacLeod and Anna Smol (Mount Saint Vincent University)
“Tolkien’s Painterly Style: Descriptions of Nature in The Lord of the Rings”

Gerry Blair (Independent Scholar)
Divine Intervention and Its Influences on Nature and the Shaping of Middle-earth”

Lunch Break 11:00-1:00pm

Keynote Speaker, 1:00-2:00pm

Matt Dickerson (Middlebury College)
“Waterboards and Dark Satanic Mills: Social and Environmental Justice in the Wars of Middle-earth”

Session III Making and Remaking, 2:00-3:30pm

Martha Monsson
“Craftswomen and Imitation Men”

Evan Bassler (Baylor University)
“The Resurrection of Glorfindel, the Stella Maris, and the Cross-roads”

Afternoon Break, Coffee, Tea, Brownies, 3:30-3:45pm

Session IV Conservation and Agrarianism, 3:45-5:00pm


Jonathan Evans (University of Georgia)
“The New Agrarianism and the Economics of the Shire”

Theresa Marie Russ (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Ithilien’s Environmental History: Garden, Battlefield, Nature Reserve”

The conference is funded by the University of Vermont’s English Department and The James and Mary Brigham Buckham Scholarship Fund.

This looks like it could be quite the interesting experience – one that I’m sadly unable to attend, but should people stop by, we’d love to hear what you think of the conference. Tolkien holds a special place in my heart, and on my bookshelf, and between the recent films and the upcoming film adaptation of The Hobbit, it’s great to see a renewed interest in the author and his works!

Spotted: Books

From my desk (Plugs for Bear Pond Books, Raven Bookshop and the Northfield Bookstore). Currently reading: Kraken by China Mievelle, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, Widdershins by Charles de Lint, Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and At Queen’s Command by former VT resident Michael A. Stackpole.