Monday, January 7, 2013

Sound & Spirit & Tolkien Too


I found out too late to post it here but last Thursday, January 3rd, was J. R. R. Tolkien's birthday.  According to a young tradition invented by the Tolkien Society, on that day you should, at 9 p.m. local time, stand, raise a glass, and toast the man in the British fashion by saying, "The Professor."

It's a good tradition.  I took part in it for the first time last week and I expect to honor it every year henceforth.

And closely related . . .

The thing I remember most about Ellen Kushner's wonderful and now-extinct radio show Sound & Spirit (which she once characterized to me as "Joseph Campbell meets Ellen's record collection") is how the local PRI station kept changing when they aired it so that I was always frustratedly trying to find where they'd hidden it now.

The thing I remember second-most about it was the hot summer day when my then-teenage son Sean and I were cleaning out the garage.  He excused himself to go to the bathroom and a good ten or fifteen minutes later I chanced to glance at a handful of kibble I'd picked up and found myself staring at the grinning skull of an opossum.  After gently depositing the thing on the garage floor, I went in to see why it hadn't been Sean who'd picked it up and found him talking intently on the phone.  "Who are you talking to?" I asked him (politely, thank God!) and, covering the mouthpiece with his hand, he replied, "I'm being interviewed for public radio."

[That was for a show Ellen did on nostalgia, and Sean was being interviewed because he'd just named his generation.  Maybe I'll tell you that story someday.]

The third most memorable thing is that I ... What's the word?  Not "appeared."  I was heard on the show's Tolkien episode, talking about reading The Lord of the Rings to my son Sean when he was nine years old and discovering that we were experiencing two entirely different books.

That's the show up above.  There's a lot of good stuff in it.  Enjoy.



HANNAH'S DAD said...

Not entirely off topic:

I stumbled across a 1985 Soviet film of The Hobbit the other day. I speak no Russian, but can report that it has low production values and some charm.

(Complete film)

I haven't seen the new version yet, so can't compare - but I fear it may be exactly the opposite.

Michael Swanwick said...

It's like the parson's egg -- parts of it are excellent. But, oh God, when they all get on Mr. troll's Wild Ride --!

I'll take a look at the Soviet version. I wonder if they paid for the copyright.

HANNAH'S DAD said...

> I'll take a look at the Soviet version. I wonder if they paid for the copyright.

Perhaps not - there's a tradition of superpowers which have their own human to space launch capacity playing fast and loose with Tolkien copyrights, as exemplified by the unauthorised 1960s DAW edition of Lord of the Rings.

As this is the internet, I shall extend that single data point to a general rule.

Bruce said...

I would make a toast to Tolkien by saying "To Professor Tolkien".

Because when I hear "The Professor", I think of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. I clearly spent too much of my youth wallowing in the muddier pits of popular culture.