III Happy Impossible Astronaut Day! IIII

For as long as I can remember, my family has had an affinity for nerdy holidays. Impossible Astronaut Day is the newest to be added to our repertoire.

About two years ago, my mom first introduced my husband and me to Dr. Who? After accepting the cheesiness of living plastic in the first episode after its long hiatus, we became quite fond of it and have been watching ever since. One day, I feel like I should visit the original Dr. Who? episodes, but that’s for another time.

Anyways, today is Impossible Astronaut Day, so named for a Matt Smith episode of the same title. Without spoiling anything here (because it’s a great opening for season 6), tally marks play an important role in the episode. The problem? No one can remember why they’re there. Which makes for some serious fun for anyone who decides to observe today. Even if you don’t know the episode, you can easily play along. It’s all a big mystery that no one can remember.

So, as you go along your day, don’t be surprised if you come across plenty of TARDIS blue, bow ties, and tally marks. Or if tally marks start showing up on your arms.

It's a great day for TARDIS blue, red bowties, and tally marks. :)

It’s a great day for TARDIS blue, red bowties, and tally marks. :)

What are these for again?

What are these for again?

Now, what was I talking about again?

The Silmarillion Recap: Welcome to Valinor

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Eärendil and Elwing (seemingly) lost everything but each other. This week, they arrive at their destination: Valinor.

Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 24 part 3

As previously mentioned, Eärendil was born with a special love for the sea. And after his parents (Tuor and Idril) sailed off into the sunset (literally), he aspired towards one goal: to reach Valinor. He wanted to do it for two reasons: first to find his parents, but secondly to ask for help for Middle-earth. Over the years, he has seen his share of tragedy, and he knows that the Valar doesn’t have much to do with the happenings in Middle-earth (aside from Ulmo). He wants that to change.

With the light of Elwing’s Silmaril, he arrives on the shores of Valinor — a place where few from Middle-earth have come besides the Elves who came at the beginning of the “Quenta Silmarillion.” More than that, though, none of them have ever been mortal, like Eärendil. He might have an Elvish mother, but his father is a mortal Man.

What Eärendil hopes to do seems to border on insanity. To plead with the Valar, the creators of this world, for the sake of Elves and Men? Who does that? It’s bold, especially coming from a mortal like him. But it’s too late to turn back, so he decides that it’s time to carry out his plan.

Leaving his ship, small crew (Falathar, Erellont, and Aerandir), and wife (Elwing) behind, he steps foot on the sacred shores of Valinor. When the others want to come, he insists that they must stay. If anyone is going to feel the Valar’s anger for such an intrusion, it’s going to be him and him alone. After all, he is here to do this “for the sake of the Two Kindreds [Elves and Men]” (298).

Next week, Eärendil follows in Morgoth’s footsteps (though probably not the ones you’re expecting).

Happy Haiku Day!

Every April, I wish I were more of a poet. I have a few in my repertoire that I’m rather pleased with, but most attempts at rhyme turn into sing-song and free verse melts into prose.

However, I felt inspired when I found out that today is haiku day. For quite a while now, I’ve been reading incredible ones at C.B. Wentworth’s blog. She’s the queen of haikus, and April has been filled with beautiful ones (as well as other amazing poems). So between reading hers and finding out it was Haiku Day, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at some, even though they’re rudimentary.

In this case, I’m sticking to the traditional 5-7-5 syllables, just because I need some boundaries in my life.

Without further ado, my day in haikus

Steaming Darjeeling,
arm around me, purring cat,
perfect morning start

Students write haikus
funny, serious, poignant
awed by each other

Torrential downpour
drowns the car in endless waves
washes down pollen

Cold coffee, light cream
rejuvenation from hours
in the loud classroom

J’aime, tu aimes, il aime,
nous aimons, et vous aimez,
ils aiment. Repeat.

Cat waits by the door
garage grinds open, he’s back
together again

The Silmarillion Recap: Fëanor’s Sons Strike Back (or Onward to Valinor)

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since my last post. Last week was filled with accreditation at school, so there was little time for anything aside from staying current with grading and helping prepare. Now that that’s over, though, I’m back! Hopefully, last week was my last hiatus for quite a while. :)

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Eärendil set off by ship to search for his parents, Tuor and Idril. Leaving his wife and sons behind, he had no idea that they would soon find themselves in trouble. After all, Fëanor’s remaining sons are relentless in their quest to regain the Silmaril, and they won’t take Elwing’s “no” for an answer.

Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 24 part 2

Since the early chapters of the “Quenta Silmarillion,” Fëanor and his sons have been relentless in their obsession over the Silmarils. When the Jewels were stolen from Fëanor, he was willing to go to unthinkable lengths in an effort to retrieve them — he abandoned relatives and even slaughtered a whole group of Elves (the Teleri) for their ships. (Interesting note: Elwing is closely related to the Teleri. Her great-grandfather, Thingol, used to be their leader.) Since Fëanor’s death, his sons have continued his trail of destruction in pursuit of their precious inheritance. (Sometimes, they make Captain Ahab seem tame in his obsession for Moby Dick.)

Over the years, all but four of Fëanor’s sons have met the same fate as their father: death while seeking the Silmarils. These four survivors are Maedhros, Maglor, Amrod, and Amras. Now, they are ready to make yet another push to win back the one that is free from Morgoth’s control, and they’ll do it at any cost.

This time, they attack the remnant of Doriath and Gondolin who have settled peacefully with Elwing and her family. While there aren’t many details, it’s clearly another massacre. The survivors of the attacks on Doriath and Gondolin are slaughtered, Elrond and Elros (Elwing and Eärendil’s sons) are captured, and Elwing dives into the sea with the Silmaril. Fëanor’s sons have their own losses (Amrod and Amras are both killed), but no one pities them. By the time that Cirdan and Gil-galad arrive to help, it’s much too late. It seems like the story is over.

But it’s not. Ulmo has helped Eärendil’s father (Tuor) and Eärendil, and now he helps Elwing. Instead of drowning, he makes her like a bird with the Silmaril shining on her chest, and she flies off to find Eärendil, who is hurrying homeward because he had a bad dream that Elwing was in trouble. When she does find him, she collapses onto the deck of the ship, and Eärendil picks up her bird-like form. However, he soon realizes that it’s his dear wife, who now looks like herself again.

When she comes to, she explains what has happened, including the capture of their sons, Elrond and Elros. As far as they are concerned, the boys have been killed, just as Elwing’s brothers were killed the last time Maedhros attacked her family.

(Little do they know, Elrond and Elros have been taken in by Maglor, Fëanor’s son, and that he actually comes to care about them.)

With sons and fellow survivors gone, Eärendil sees no more hope in Middle-earth. There’s only one thing left to do. It’s time to find Valinor and ask for help.

They sail Westward. With the glowing Silmaril bound to his brow, Eärendil stands at the top of the ship and keeps an eye out for land. The further West they travel, the brighter the Silmaril becomes.

And then, one day, they actually reach the shores of Valinor.

Next week, Eärendil becomes the first mortal to make landfall on Valinor. One small step for Man…?

The Silmarillion Recap: The Beginning of Earendil’s Adventures and the Trouble with Silmarils

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Doriath and Gondolin’s survivors create a new society together. With ships, the Sea, and (perhaps unbeknownst to them) Ulmo’s protection, they have what they need to rebuild after two terrible tragedies. However, things won’t stay perfect forever.

Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 24 part 1

After all of the trouble that they’ve faced, the survivors of Doriath and Gondolin seem to be getting along well beside the Sea. Eärendil has married Elwing, uniting the two Half-elven lines mentioned so far in the Silmarillion. (Eärendil’s parents are Tuor — a Man — and Idril — an Elvish princess; Elwing’s grandparents are Beren — a Man — and Luthien — an Elvish princess who kicks Orc butt.) And, to bring this Half-elven line to more familiar territory, Eärendil and Elwing have two sons: Elros and Elrond (the one and only).

While Eärendil seemingly has a great family at home, his parents’ disappearance has never sat well with him. Tuor and Idril built a ship and sailed off to the West, never to return. So Eärendil decides to build his own ship to find them and Valinor. Finding his parents isn’t his only reason for finding Valinor, though. More than anything, he wants to plea for Men and Elves. Life under Morgoth is hard, and he wants to ask the Valar to have pity on them. (Yes, Ulmo asked for the same thing last time, but Eärendil doesn’t know that.)

With these hopes in mind, he and his buddy, Cirdan the Shipwright, build a ship named Vingilot (the Foam-flower). It’s certainly an impressive sight with its golden oars and white timbers. In fact, it’s perhaps the fairest ship to ever grace the Sea.

Once it’s finished, Eärendil takes it on an adventure to find his parents and Valinor, leaving his wife Elwing and sons Elrond and Elros behind. Eärendil searches far and wide but finds no signs of the things he’s searching for. Instead, one night, he has a foreboding dream and decides that he needs to return home quickly. And it’s a good thing because something is afoot.

Back when Elwing was just a child, Doriath fell. Fëanor’s sons had attacked in an attempt to take back the Silmaril that Beren and Luthien had won from Morgoth. The result? Her parents, Dior and Nimloth, are killed, and her brothers, Elured and Elurin, are never found. All that’s left of Doriath are the Elves who now live here by the Sea.

One of Fëanor’s sons, Maedhros, was heavily involved in the attack. And after he saw the terrible slaughter, he feels bad. In fact, he even tries to find Elwing’s brothers, but it’s too late. Now, years later, he discovers that Elwing is still alive. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise to him since they never could find her. But he now knows where she is and that she still has that Silmaril that caused the fighting in the first place.

Because he still feels awful about what he did to her parents and brothers, he chooses not to just attack. Instead, he tries to put it out of his mind. Relax. Not obsess. The trouble though, is that this seems to be impossible for any of Fëanor’s sons. Their lives since Valinor have been dedicated to retaking the Silmarils. Knowing that Morgoth has two in his crown is frustrating enough. But knowing that Elwing still has the other one? It’s more than he can bear. After a while, he tells his surviving three brothers about it and demands that the Silmaril be returned.

When Elwing receives this message, she obviously refuses. Yes, Maedhros’ father made the Silmarils and died because of them. But her grandparents endured just as much — arguably, perhaps even more — to win it so that they could be together. Besides, it’s believed that the Silmaril has some sort of blessing on it. One that benefits their homes and ships. There’s no way that she would turn it over. Not to her parents’ killers.

Next week, the sons of Fëanor make their move.

The Silmarillion Recap: Farewell to Gondolin Part 3 (and Tolkien Reading Day!)

First off, today is Tolkien Reading Day! How appropriate to have a Silmarillion Recap fall on this momentous occasion, a celebration Tolkien’s works and the anniversary of the Fall of Sauron. Here’s more about it from my Tolkien Reading Day post last year.

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last time, Morgoth finally destroyed Gondolin and sent a small remnant of survivors (led by Tuor and Idril) scrambling. Now, the aftermath… and it’s not what Morgoth was expecting.

Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 23 part 6

After being rescued by the Eagles, Gondolin’s survivors don’t have much left. The secret kingdom, which has been their home for so long, has been completely destroyed, and their king is gone. And while they do rest along rivers that are filled with Ulmo’s power, it’s not enough power to heal their wounds. They’ve lost too much.

As a memorial to Gondolin, they have a special feast and compose songs about their home and those that they lost, including Glorfindel, who tried to save them in the mountains.

Among these songs, Tuor creates one for his son, Earendil. It’s all about how Ulmo spoke to Tuor in the first place and told him to warn the people of Gondolin. Even though Eärendil is still (seemingly) young at the time, it awakes the “sealonging” (292) in him. It’s not uncommon for Elves and Men to occasionally have this sealonging, but in this case, it’s a set up for what’s to come.

S.B. Roberts 2015

S.B. Roberts 2015

Because of Eärendil’s interest in the Sea, his parents Tuor and Idril decide to move down that way. Other Elves happen to be there, too. Remember Doriath? (See the set-up of the story here and the rest of the story here.) Well, those survivors happened to come to this part of Middle-earth as well. Among them is Elwing, Dior’s daughter (which means she’s Beren and Luthien’s granddaughter, and King Thingol’s great-granddaughter). Together, these survivors of two great downfalls decide to band together and create a new society. One that involves ships, the Sea, and (perhaps unbeknownst to them) Ulmo’s protection.

But we’ll come back to Ulmo in a moment.

At this point, Morgoth is quite pleased with himself because of everything that’s happened. Doriath is destroyed and so is Gondolin. Yes, he lost one of his precious Silmarils, but that price is well worth watching the Elves crumble, seemingly never to rise again. Seemingly.

Now, regarding Ulmo, he’s the only member of the Valar who’s constantly been alert to the happenings in Middle-earth. While he’s not mentioned constantly throughout the chapters, he does do things directly on occasion (like speaking to Tuor) and more subtly, like adding that refreshing nature to rivers, lakes, and the sea.

After seeing everything that’s happened, he decides that he needs to intervene. So he returns to Valinor to ask the Valar to help the Elves. Yes, the Noldor were kicked out and had a doom pronounced on them, but haven’t they endured enough under Morgoth? Isn’t it time to do something?

Manwë (the head of the Valar) listens to Ulmo’s argument but decides not to act. No exact reason is given. Maybe it’s because it’s not the right time. Maybe Fëanor’s sons need to give up the lust for the Silmarils that caused them to be doomed in the first place. Maybe the plea needs to be on behalf of Elves and Men. No one knows. All that is for sure is that the Elves won’t receive any intervention now.

But that doesn’t stop some of them from finding happiness. When Tuor becomes an older man, he builds a great ship called the Eärrámë (which means Sea-Wing). Then he and Idril literally sail off into the sunset, never to be seen again. It’s said that Tuor becomes part of the “elder race” (294), which seems to mean that he makes the reverse choice of Luthien (or, perhaps more well-known, Arwen). Instead of an immortal choosing mortality, a mortal is given immortality, allowing him to become like his wife and the Noldor of Gondolin whom he has always loved.

Next week, Eärendil takes his sealonging on the road, and the sons of Fëanor prove that they’re still trouble yet.

My Childhood Lives on: Hello, Fraggles!

I grew up during a great time for children’s television. Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood had already been around for years so there was always a mix of new episodes and reruns. Obscure things like David the Gnome were on cable (in English, since apparently it was originally from Spain). When I was a little older, Wishbone made his first appearance, bringing great literature to life with an adorable Jack Russell Terrier (and now that I look back, the clothes and hair are so 90’s that it hurts a little). The shows were smart, fun, and (gasp) educational. And that’s part of the reason that I love them so much.

But one of my absolute favorites was Fraggle Rock. The mix of quirky, fun Muppets living beyond a hole in an inventor’s workshop was right up my alley. Growing up on thing like this and movies like Willow and Disney movies, is it any wonder that fairy tales and fantasy seem to run in my blood?

And while I’ve had mixed feelings about the way that Hollywood seem to keep rehashing things from my childhood during the past few years, I’m actually a bit excited about this possibility (which apparently has been in the works for several years now). If they do it well — and I hope they do — it’ll introduce the beloved Fraggles to another generation.

What are some of your favorite childhood tv shows/movies? What do you think about the upcoming Fraggle movie?


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