- A Few Tolkien-rific Facts About the Book Version of The Hobbit
- What the Maya Day of Doom and Stars Wars Have in Common
- Jack Skellington Plush Slippers
- The Disneyland Haunted Mansion Gingerbread House
- A Rainbow of Affirmation
- The Science Behind Productivity
- Soviet Snow Vehicles
- For Sale on eBay: Play <i>Dungeons & Dragons</i> with 8 Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors
- The Dark Side of Saturn
- Merry Christmas, And I Hope You Choke on It
- The 50 Greatest Internet Memes of 2012
- Greatest, Fanciest Ever Free Kick Goal
- Bed In Breakfast
- Star Wars Folded Flyers
- Roquefort Cheese: It's the Fondue of Youth!
- DIY Death Star Tree Topper
- The Bacon Weave Breakfast Burrito
- Obama Plays with Spider-kid
- Can You Speak Venusian?
- Small Enhancements to Reality
- A Short Course on the Mayan Calendar and the Apocalypse
- Walking Dead Christmas Special
- My Little Care Bears
- Military Experiments on Fruitcake
- App-ocalypse: Essential End of The World Apps
- 12 Proposed Disney Attractions That Were Never Completed
- The Scientific Reason Why Reindeer Have Red Noses
- Let the Force Be With Your Golf Clubs
- Start Your Morning Off Right With Ice Cream
- Abandoned Ohio Poorhouse
Posted: 20 Dec 2012 05:00 AM PST
As you might be aware, if you’ve been online or watched any television over the last month, the long-awaited Hobbit movie is finally in theaters and while plenty of people are talking about the movie, we’re here to talk about its inspiration, the classic Tolkien novel, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. So grab your second breakfast and sit back and relax because there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to this classic children’s book.
Tolkien Started to Create Middle Earth Long Before He Thought Up The Story
While plenty of fantasy authors create mythologies to work with their characters and their plot lines, Tolkien, who had an academic background in Germanic and Norse language and religions, instead started creating a mythology and elven languages in 1917 -long before he ever thought about the characters that would later star in his stories.
He didn’t even start to think about hobbits until the early 1930’s, when a sentence popped into his head as he was grading some tests. He immediately scribbled down the words, “In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit” and within a few years, he finished the story.
He Didn’t Even Send the Manuscript to a Publisher
After finishing The Hobbit, Tolkien sent it to few friends and colleagues to review, including a student named Elaine Griffiths. In 1936, Elaine was talking to Susan Dagnall, who worked for a publishing company, when she recommended that Susan take a look at the manuscript. Susan was impressed with the work and gave it to Stanley Unwin, the head of publishing house George Allen and Unwin. Stanley gave the book to his 10 year-old to review, as he was the target age for the title, and the boy’s positive review led to the publishers deciding to print the book.
The Book Was an Immediate Success
Released on September 21, 1937 with a print run of 1,500 copies, the book was already sold out by December. While the first printing was in black and white, the popularity of the title made the publisher feel comfortable releasing future copies with color illustrations.
At its release, the book was nominated for a Carnegie Medal and awarded a New York Herald Tribune prize for best juvenile fiction. Since then, the book has been translated in over forty languages and Books for Keeps recognized it as the "Most Important 20th-Century Novel (for Older Readers)" in their “Children’s Books of the Century” poll. Since Nielsen started tracking books with their BookScan service in 1995, The Hobbit has not once fallen off of their list of the top 5,000 books –not bad for something that was already over 60 years old. In fact, the book has earned 3rd place on their “Evergreen” book list.
Lord of the Rings Changed The Hobbit
Image Via Han Shot First [Flickr]
Because the book did so well, publishers requested a sequel in December of 1937. Originally, Tolkien presented them with drafts for The Silmarillion, but they were rejected on the grounds that the public wanted “more about hobbits.” Soon enough, the author completed The Lord of the Rings, which greatly impacted Gollum and the ring, which were both included in The Hobbit.
In the first version of the story, Gollum bets his ring on the outcome of the riddle game he plays with Bilbo, but after Lord of the Rings shows how corrupting the ring is and how it took over Gollum’s mind, this made no sense. That’s why after the second edition, released in 1951, Tolkien had Bilbo discover the ring in the dark tunnels before he encounters Gollum. He then has Bilbo use the ring to escape Gollum, who planned to use the ring to kill the hobbit. Gollum’s personality is also drastically different as he is more aggressive towards Bilbo and at the end of the scene, he becomes furious when he learns the hobbit has his ring, cursing him, "Thief! Thief, Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!"
In 1960, Tolkien started rewriting the story to better match the tone of Lord of the Rings, which was written for an adult audience that grew up after reading the original version of The Hobbit. Fortunately, publishers told him to can the revisions because the new version lost the original quick pace and light-hearted tone that everyone loved about the original.
When publishers requested a revised version in 1965, in order to renew the US copyright, Tolkien took the opportunity to further revise the story so that it better aligned with both Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion, which he hoped to release as an additional part of the tale. While these changes weren’t as major as the previous ones, they did change the name of the elves from the West from “Gnomes” to “High Elves.” While he originally thought that gnome, originating from the Greek word for knowledge, was a fitting term for these creatures, the popular use of garden gnomes changed his opinion about the word.
He May, Or May Not Have, Created Hobbits
Image Via Cyber Bird [Flickr]
While most people credit Tolkien with creating the word “hobbit,” researchers did discover the word in 1895’s Denham Tracts by Michael Aislabie Denham, which lists the creature along with a number of sprites and bogies based on a 1584 text titled, Discovery of Witchcraft. Oddly, Denham’s title is the only known source of the word before Tolkien’s usage. Because Tolkien was well-read in ancient folklore, it is possible that he ran across the text and later brought up the word in his own mind, forgetting that it came from a specific source. On the other hand, he very well may have invented the word and it could just be coincidence that they are so similar. Either way, there’s no denying that the author gave definition to the word and is responsible for its popularity in modern times.
He Undoubtedly Invented Dwarves
Yes, the mythological concept of dwarves has been around since at least the thirteenth century and Tolkien’s dwarves are pretty similar to many traditional dwarves. What he did invent was the word “dwarves.” Before that, the creatures were pluralized as “dwarfs” (this is the version used with Snow White) or, in olden times, “dwarrows” or “dwerrows.” Tolkien thought that the word “dwarves” paired better with “elves” though and referred to his pluralization as “a piece of private bad grammar.” In fact, his early editors actually changed his uses of “dwarves” back to “dwarfs,” but in time, they relented.
While most people use Tolkiens pluralized form these days when discussing more than one dwarf, the author later wrote that he wished he actually used the proper historical “dwarrows” in his books instead.
So now, when you go see The Hobbit films, you can go in with a little more knowledge about the source material –and you can even start to imagine the characters saying “dwarrows” every time they say “dwarves.” Happy Hobbitdays everyone.
Posted: 20 Dec 2012 04:00 AM PST
Posted: 20 Dec 2012 03:00 AM PST
Attention the Nightmare Before Christmas fans! Are you looking for the perfect pair of slippers to wear on a dark cold night, under the full moonlight? You need the splendid Jack Skellington Plush Slippers from the NeatoShop. This fantastic pair of slippers features your favorite Pumpkin King.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great The Nightmare Before Christmas items.
Posted: 20 Dec 2012 03:00 AM PST
Posted: 20 Dec 2012 02:00 AM PST
For his project "Everything I Wish I Could Be," Kent Rogowski arranged old self-help books into collages. He writes:
You can see more images from the series at the link.
Posted: 20 Dec 2012 01:00 AM PST
Last-minute shopping and ordering. Holiday cooking. Working overtime. This is a time of year when we all benefit from being as productive as possible. This video made by AsapSCIENCE and Gregory Ciotti gives tips on maximizing achievement based on scientific data.
Visit Gregory Ciotti's article on the topic at Sparring Mind. Link
Posted: 20 Dec 2012 12:00 AM PST
Russia has a lot of miles that are covered in snow for a large part of the year. Find a way to travel through it more efficiently, and you'll be a hero! English Russia has collected many photographs of different contraptions built specifically for snow travel over the course of the past century. Some are silly-looking; others are tough tank-type vehicles. Shown here is the first snowmobile Igor Sikorsky designed. Link -via TYWKIWDBI
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 11:00 PM PST
Here's a clever apporach to charity fundraising. A convention in Detroit next January is offering the chance to play Dungeons & Dragons with eight accomplished authors:
Proceeds from the event will go to Worldbuilders, which will then in turn donate funds to Heifer International.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST
The Cassini spacecraft took this picture of Saturn from the planet's backside in October. NASA has only now released its awesomeness on the public.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 09:00 PM PST
Redditor starsspinningdizzy explains:
Christmas dinner is best served with a sprinkling of spite.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 08:00 PM PST
Ranker pulled in extra help to sift through the memes of 2012 and put them in order for the convenience of anyone who wants to relive them. It wasn't easy!
Bonus: it starts with #1, so you can read as far as you are interested. Link
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 07:00 PM PST
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 06:00 PM PST
There are appropriate places for me to nap, then there are places I would let a puppy nap. The two lists, believe it or not, are comprised of completely different things. For a human, a bed and maybe a couch or comfy arm chair. For a puppy? Pretty much any gosh-darn place it pleases.
In my imagination he saw the food and starting eating, half way through he decided to take a nap and save the rest for later. So overcome with eating-exhaustion he snoozed on the spot, curling up on the delectable kibble.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 05:48 PM PST
Are ordinary paper airplanes not sophisticated enough for your young jedi? You need the Star Wars Folded Flyers from the NeatoShop. This great book includes 30 paper starfighters in 6 different styles. The force is strong with these folded flyers.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 05:00 PM PST
At 85.3 years, French women enjoy the longest life expectancy in Europe. Why? Perhaps it's because of Roquefort cheese, which apparently has anti-inflammatory properties:
Researchers at a biotechnology company in Cambridge, UK, are now trying to extract those properties and recreate them in pharmaceuticals.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 04:00 PM PST
Are you a DIY nut, a Star Wars lover, and of the Christmas persuasion? Then you will love this DIY Death Star Holiday Tree Topper. Honestly after reading the instructions, it's not all that hard. You just need some black acrylic paint, painter's tape, glue, glitter, and a plastic round ornament thing.
Check out full instructions at Offbeat Home.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 03:00 PM PST
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 02:00 PM PST
Finally, something involving Spider-man that is actually amazing. Thanks to the White House Flickr page we get this gem. The picture was takin in the Outer Oval office on Oct. 26th. If the leader of the free world can have a little fun every once in a while, then I think it is high time for people around here to start enjoying my practical jokes. Taping the bottom of some unsuspecting coworkers mouse, rendering it unusable for the time being- now that's just good old fashion funny.
Remember the dad that trolled his little girl with the year book photo? If I was a parent of this kid, I would make sure he uses this picture in his yearbook for at least the next 4 years.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 01:30 PM PST
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 01:00 PM PST
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 12:30 PM PST
Dr. Phil Plait wrote a book called Death From The Skies, in which he details the many ways the Earth could be destroyed by astronomical events. But even he isn't worried about the world ending anytime soon, because he knows the odds -they're "astronomical." So why are people still talking about the December 21st apocalypse? Because they misunderstand what the Mayan calendar actually says.
At Bad Astronomy, Plait goes on to explain how other doomsday theories came about and were debunked in the past -and present. And, of course, we'll see more in the future. But as Douglas Adams once said, "Don't Panic." Link
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 12:00 PM PST
Jason Inman wrote and directed this fan-made Walking Dead Christmas special because he didn't feel like waiting until 2013 for more of his favorite shambling zombie show.
It's a slick looking production for a fan made film, it's pretty darn funny in places and should get all you zombie lovers out there in the holiday spirit.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 11:30 AM PST
Mad scientist Samantha Claridge combined two major forces of the 1980s, My Little Pony and the Care Bears, into these monstrously cute custom toys. They need just a touch of Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 11:00 AM PST
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
(Image credit: Flickr user Mark Giles)
During the 1970s and 1980s the US military conducted a series of tests on fruitcake, the long-lasting holiday comestible. They issued at least two reports. Here’s a look at the first report:
The report features these lyrical passages:
The following charts illustrate the “mean consumer acceptance ratings of fortified and unfortified fruitcake”:
This is part 2 of our look at the US military’s tests, conducted at their laboratories in Natick, Massachusetts, during the 1970s and 1980s, on fruitcake, the time-honored holiday comestible. They issued at least two reports. Here’s a look at their second report:
The authors explain:
(Thanks to investigator Brenton R. Stone and the excellent librarians of his acquaintance for bringing this to our attention.)
BONUS SONG: “Fruitcake” by The Superions:
This article is republished with permission from the January-February 2012 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can purchase back issues of the magazine or subscribe to receive future issues, in printed or in ebook form. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift! Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 10:30 AM PST
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 10:00 AM PST
Did you know the original Tower of Terror was supposed to involve Mel Brooks? Or that Disneyland almost had an Edison Square? Throughout the years, imagineers had plenty of ideas that never transpired and Mental Floss has a great list of some of the most interesting projects that never happened.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 09:30 AM PST
We've all heard the story of Rudolph, the reindeer that saved Christmas because of his bright red nose. But while a nose that shines like a beacon through the fog may be the stuff of fantasy, Rudolph is far from the only reindeer with a red nose.
How did they determine this? The study involved infrared imaging, comparing reindeer and human noses, and putting reindeer on a treadmill! Who says science isn't fun? Read all about the study at Surprising Science. Link
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 09:00 AM PST
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 08:30 AM PST
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if you just aren't content with the calories and cholesterol in bacon and eggs, then perhaps you should try adding some cream and sugar to turn the mixture into ice cream. It certainly would be an easy way to get the kids to eat breakfast.
Posted: 19 Dec 2012 08:00 AM PST
The public poorhouses that you read about in Dickens novels are gone, having been replaced with welfare hotels, housing projects, and homeless shelters. The Knox County Poorhouse in Ohio was once such an institution.
Reused as a Bible college since then, the structure has been empty for decades. The delapidated building is rumored to be haunted by the tortured souls who lived and died there. And thanks to urban explorers, you can take a look inside in a series of photographs at Urban Ghosts. Link
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