Monthly Archives: November 2016

Beren and Lúthien: New Tolkien book in 2017! — Tattered Remains

Originally posted on A Tolkienist’s Perspective: Great news to all Tolkien fans! As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, the second of the Tolkien’s “Great Tales” will find itself on shelves as a standalone publication in May 2017, HarperCollins announced. The book, which will compile together all known versions of the story, will be…

via Beren and Lúthien: New Tolkien book in 2017! — Tattered Remains


Holiday Traditions Go Tech-Savvy

While traveling through my neighborhood this past weekend I noticed a number of my neighbors were beginning to decorate for the approaching holidays.  I saw at least three already had lights adorning the exterior of their houses, and one had a Christmas tree lit in their front window.  (Not to mention the one neighbor who still had a Halloween flag flying in front of their house.)  I can’t help but have mixed feelings over the exuberant displays, both because of the acknowledgement of the upcoming festivities, and how much technology has impacted the observance of those holidays:

Christmas cards.  Every year, we receive, and send, fewer and fewer greeting cards.  While it is easier, and probably more environmentally conscious to do so, I can’t help but think ecards, and Facebook updates hardly replace the effort and thought required to select or make and send an old-fashioned greeting.


Photo credit: Mara ~earth light~ via / CC BY-NC-ND

Shopping.  Black Friday shopping has changed our lives forever.  Instead of spending the day after Thanksgiving recovering from the “turkey coma,” many have made a tradition of rushing out early in the morning or sometimes even the evening of Thanksgiving itself to catch the best deals of the season.  Luckily, the Internet has made this much easier in recent years.  Instead of rushing out the door, it is much easier to find the perfect gift online, with a much larger selection and the best price.  Also, I definitely don’t miss is the long lines at the store.

Gift-giving.  I know the trend for many is to forego the ardors of finding the perfect gift for a hard-to-shop-for person, something many of those may actually prefer; to instead of a gift to purchase a gift card, available readily at any store or online.  This trend is easier for the giver, but requires a lot less time and thought that makes gift-giving special meaning.  It is especially convenient when you can send gift cards or gift certificates electronically to recipients to use online or print out at home, no stamp required.  Still, I personally prefer to see the look on someone’s face when I can deliver the gift in person.

Christmas Cat

Photo credit: Ed Suominen via / CC BY-NC

Decorating.  Decorations are one facet of the holidays that some people take to the extreme.  Whether you choose to go all natural with garlands and beribboned wreaths, or have multi-colored icicles hanging all year long, there are high tech gadgets that make things easier to do.  Many of us have traded the scent of real pine for the convenience of pre-lit trees, which are definitely safer and less messy, and can be recycled year after year.  I have my eye on a laser projector system this year that will allow us to light up the house with the appearance of falling snow or spinning circles, without having to pull out a ladder.

Christmas Lights

Photo credit: JMS2 via / CC BY-NC

Food.  We have more options available to us than ever before for our holiday feasts, from the most basic ingredients for time-honored recipes, to pre-prepared and convenient ready-to-eat meals, to food choices from cultures around the globe.  Some of us truly lack the time or fortitude to prepare a complete holiday meal from scratch, and that makes convenience options a double blessing for entertaining, especially when you can order them online and simply pick them up or in some cases have them shipped.  Whatever you choose to serve for your holiday, the value of the food should be secondary to those you are sharing it with.

Family.  This year we will be doing something we don’t manage every year, and indeed haven’t done for quite some time on my side of the family-we will be going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.  So few of us are blessed to live close to extended family these days, as jobs, economic situations, and educational needs pull us farther and farther apart.  Not to mention, travel costs and fears about safety of highways and airways keep many of us from venturing out to share the holidays with loved ones.  Of course, thanks to modern tech like Skype, we still can “visit” with loved ones who are very far away.

No matter how we choose to celebrate the holidays, be it with old-fashioned traditions or new “high-tech” means, the most important part of any holiday is to celebrate in the spirit of the event the ones you call family, and the home of your hearts.  I hope your holidays are bright and blessed wherever you are, or how you choose to observe them.


Video Games for Non-Gamers — A Geek Girl’s Guide

I have pretty recently actually started playing games regularly, and before this I would play a video game once in like a four-five year period. I didn’t grow up a gamer, but have grown an appreciation for different games. However, I still don’t have the hand-eye coordination for gaming, so these gateway games are certainly […]

via Video Games for Non-Gamers — A Geek Girl’s Guide

As a non-gamer who lives in a house with a gamer and raised two gamers, I understand in general terms what drives my loved ones to spend so much time gaming.  However, it’s always nice to see a guide written by someone who is not “bitten by the bug” and can put games in terms an outsider can understand.  Thanks, Michelle.

Clash of the “New” Titans

This past weekend as my husband and I prepared to see the latest Marvel addition to their popular franchise (i.e. Dr. Strange); I took a moment to consider why we love action heroes so much.  I wondered if, when our ancestors told stories about legendary heroes, they experienced the same kind of excitement about them as we do ours today.  Did the heroes of myth generate the same type of devotion, of awe and admiration as do the stars of screen, sports, and comics in us?

The ancients developed heroes to explain natural phenomena, to recount legends based on true events handed down by word of mouth, and to personify the traits they valued the most.  Some of these heroes took the guise of “gods,” and some were mere mortals who challenged a variety of deities and monsters.

Gladiator Human Statues

Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographervia / CC BY-SA

Today we understand a lot more about the natural world, but we still wonder about things beyond our understanding.  We imagine bold explorers who venture beyond the realm of the known, and the pioneers that will meet the challenges of tomorrow.   Equally we find heroes in our present and past, as stories about Western heroes, soldiers, and triumphant athletes are just as popular as those that come from comic book pages.

After all, who doesn’t need a hero?  It is in our nature to seek someone we can emulate, who makes us feel safe and protected, and who inspires us to live up to our own best character attributes.  It is hardly a new trend to look for our heroes in a fictional setting either, because the heroes of fantasy can be far more perfect, powerful, and idealistic than we can reasonably expect in everyday life.

One thing we’ve carried much further than our ancestors ever could, though, related to our “heroes”- that is capitalization on their deeds and fame.   The ancients would have honored a hero with songs and a feast, perhaps a shrine or temple to commemorate their deeds.   Today we wear the hero’s face or emblem on a tee shirt.  We have action figures and trading cards, bedsheets and  MattelTM toys, books written for every age and literacy level, and hundreds or thousands of hours’ worth of digital video and sound showing and breaking down their every action.

Does all of this merchandise demonstrate reverence for our heroes, or is it just a way to spend more money?  I guess that’s for the individual to decide.

This week, I challenge you to examine your heroes, and the attributes that you admire in them.  What thoughts, or actions, does your hero inspire in you?  How will attempt to show that in your own life?

Just a thought,



Drawn into Magic-A Family Adventure

My son had only been reading chapter books for about a year when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1999) was first released.  I didn’t know anything about the book at the time, except that it was a fantasy story that was quickly gaining in popularity and notoriety.  I was a big fan of fantasy and science fiction books as a child myself, so I wasn’t alarmed when he took an interest in what I soon learned was an entire series detailing the adventures of a young hero.  In fact, I was simply proud that my then eight year old was that interested in reading.  How soon my family discovered that a book series written for children would grow to become so much more…

It didn’t take long for the stories themselves to become a family activity.  I purchased the next two books for my son to encourage his enthusiasm, taking time to explore them myself.  After I discovered the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, on tape, the saga of the young wizard quickly became a family affair.  My daughter, who is several years younger than my son, and my husband, eagerly listened to the recordings as the tales enchanted us all.

Task Management Wizards

Photo credit: pauly via / CC BY-NC-SA

After that, we were all thoroughly hooked on the whole “Harry Potter” world.  We found ourselves buying a family copy of the books, or two in some cases, and arguing who would read them first.  My husband and I were unbelievably proud that our children gobbled up five or six hundred page books like they were candy and went back for more.  We made family events out of going to the premieres for movies and my husband even took the kids to a midnight release of one of the books (not on a school night of course).

We enjoyed the books and the movies, but more important was the time we spent together as a family.  It drew us together; both types of media proved interesting enough and filled with enough subtext and complex plots to appeal to adults as well as kids.  As a family of growing kids and busy adults, it was a blessing to find something we all enjoyed and could share together.  Unfortunately, after seven books and eight movies, it appeared to be over.  By the time the last movie came out in 2011, the kids were all but grown.  We thought the era was over.

But then, J. K. Rowling decided she had more of this world to share.  This summer came new releases-a play, several books, and a new movie due out on the 17th of this month.  The kids are grown, yes, but their interest, and ours, still hasn’t waned.  My daughter already put in her request for a Christmas gift, not surprisingly, a certain book.   We have plans to see the new movie, and hopefully, we’ll all be able to do so together.

Thank goodness for holidays from college, and work.  It’s time to feed our imaginations, and enjoy the fantasy again.  It’s time to reconnect with the heroes of one generation’s childhoods, while now four adults relive their own.

Thanks for reading,