Bookshelf: The Quadriga of Artbooks

While I was enjoying Tony DiTerlizzi’s recently released Realms (amazon.com, amazon.de), I became aware that one of the things I really spend a lot of time (and money, and shelf space) on – collecting artbooks – might be worth blogging about. I have no idea whether this is going to become a regular feature, whether I start going through my entire collection, or just give the occasional shout-out to books you must buy. Let’s see.

Anyway, artbooks: Not only do I really like leafing through them, comparing, studying, learning, etcetera, but my fiscal judgement is, let’s call it, very loosely calibrated when it comes to them. I don’t feel bad about it, though. Art enriches life, and there’s always something good to learn from pretty much every book. While there are many good books worth a blog post, the first post about artbooks needs to be about four very specific ones. I keep an ever-changing selection of books on my nightstand, so that I have them on hand. When I notice I haven’t looked at one of them in a while, and what drove me to study it more in-depth isn’t very pronounced right now, it goes back to the shelf. Vice versa, I regularly get bitten by the need to study a certain artist, or studio, or movement, so I take the respective books from the shelf and put them on my nightstand.

This collection changes with mood, interest, whim… except for four books. This quadriga remains on my nightstand, not as a matter of principle but because I go back to them so regularly that there is no point in putting them on the shelf. Believe me, I’ve tried. Here they are, in alphabetical order by artist. (I also have to apologise in advance for the lousy photos. I decided to write/post this on a whim, and it was too dark for good pictures with my camera already.)

Amano Yoshitaka – The Sky

Amano – The Sky

Okay, okay, technically, this is a three book box-set. It took me ages to finally get my hands on this. It was first published 2002 in Japan and I would have had to import it. While I do have imported books from Japan, sending something this size would have been prohibitively expensive, even by my splurging habits. In 2012 (Ten! Years!), Dark Horse released it in North America, and as soon as it turned up on amazon, I preordered it. And then I waited, and waited, and waited, without success. First, it went through delays, then got cancelled, then came out again, and finally, Dark Horse produced it only as a limited edition. They sold out in no time, and I was grumpy because amazon treated it as a normal book release, yet didn’t receive enough shipments to fulfill their preorders. Early 2013 saw a more mass-market release from Dark Horse, without all the extras they carried over from the japanese edition for their limited release, but it was the books I had my eye on for over ten years at that point.

The Sky collects Amano’s concept art and illustration for the Final Fantasy series of role playing games. The books are chock-full of Amano-san’s phenomenal art, featuring a plethora of images for the first ten Final Fantasy games. I dearly love his artwork, and need regular doses for tempering my drive to make everything plausible, every bit of anatomy and perspective correct, instead of focussing on expression, decorativeness, storytelling, and design. In case you don’t know Amano’s art, I scanned one page to give you a glimpse. (Really though, you should go look him up! he’s amazing!)

artbooks_amano-art

(At the time of writing, you can still get the box on amazon!)

Iain McCaig – Shadowline

artbooks_mccaig

There is a good chance you have seen Iain McCaig’s art, even though you might not have heard his name. He worked on pretty much everything: Film work for Interview with the Vampire, Terminator 2, Hook, the Harry Potter films, prominent design on the Star Wars prequels (he practically invented Darth Maul and Padmé Amidala), the cover for Jethro Tull’s The Broadsword and the Beast, Tolkien art, Marvel art, Magic cards, tons of projects that didn’t see the light of day, and on top of it all, he is a compulsive storyteller who is always wrapped up in personal projects. And the guy can draw! Really, i’d hate him for the seeming effortlessness of his work if he wasn’t such a deeply loveable and sympathetic person. If you can get your hands on the art tutorial videos he did for Gnomon, go watch them! There is also plenty of stuff on youtube for your perusal. :)

The book contains artwork from many stages of his career, for all kinds of clients famous or barely known, as well as personal drawings. It is all embedded in a story about storytelling he wrote for the book, and in which he himself stars. As with the Amano book, here is one sample page (cropped because the book is too large for my scanner):

artbooks_mccaig-art

(At the time of writing, the book is still available on amazon!)

Mike Mignola – The Art of Hellboy

artbooks_mignola

If you remotely like comics, you have probably heard the name Mike Mignola before. And even if you didn’t, you are probably aware of Guillermo del Toro’s film adaptation of his most beloved character, Hellboy. And if you have once seen any one piece of Mignola’s artwork, you will remember his distinctive style: flat blacks and thin outlines, rough-hewn shapes, sparse detail, and an appeal somewhere between cave drawings, kirby comics, and dark expressionism. I came late to Mignola, I am ashamed to say, but there is a distinct danger of getting turned away when you only give his stuff a cursory glance. Mignola doesn’t prettify. Where appeal is one of the classic Disney tenets, assuring that every figure is instantly attractive and tuned to come to your visual palate as smoothly as possible, Mignola relentlessly throws everything out his drawings don’t absolutely need: Details? Who needs a detail unless it specifically tells something essential? Exact anatomy? Enough to tell you what is going on is sufficient. Shapes and gestures pushed to their narrative extreme, though, he doesn’t compromise one iota. Gradations between light and dark? Contrast always is dark in front of light or light in front of dark anyway, so black and not-black is enough. Mignola is more extreme than many in this regard, pushing for the bare necessities of character, shape and atmosphere. If the rough, apparently primitive surface displeases you, give it another, deeper look and try to find an important element that is missing, or anything superfluous.

The book is exclusively artwork from the Hellboy universe, as the name suggests, but features compositional thumbnails, sketches, designs and even the occasional animal study. Here is one sample page:

artbooks_mignola-art

(At the time of writing, the book is still available on amazon!)

Claire Wendling – Drawers 2.0

artbooks_wendling

Claire Wendling with a pencil is a force of nature. She’s a french comic artist whose work seems to remain largely un- or sporadically translated (AAARGH! At least there is a german translation of her comic Les Lumières de l’Amalou, which I fear will be borderline unbearably clumsy, as german translations usually are, but it’s better than nothing), and whose artbooks seem to easily sell out and then immediately go north of three figure prices. If I get ahold of one of these three-wishes-fairies or Jinn or whatever, I solemnly swear that one wish will be spent on making all her output stay in print and translation for all eternity.

Her artwork, similar to McCaig and Mignola, is pushed to a high degree of character and expressiveness, yet with a unique touch. She does stark stylisation as well as Mignola, the slightly caricaturesque as well as McCaig, and a ton of other things on top. Also, her animal drawings are unbefreakinglievable. Her great cats are a serious challenge to Frank Frazetta, fantasy art’s most well-known master of the feline form. And if you don’t take care, you will get lost in the complexity and nuance of her many drawings of centaurs hunting horses. I highly cherish her sense of expressing physicality – especially in her women.

Drawers 2.0 is the biggest Wendling book I own, and the most versatile: From sketches to illustrations, decorative to grotesque, innocent to erotic, it’s got everything. I had to spend a good bit of money, though, as I could only find it new from Stuart Ng. Yay for buying a french book from a US seller and paying a shipping premium just to have it sent home to Europe again. If you can’t find it at a good price, do get one of her sketchbooks (Daisies and Desk, both of them get a thumbs-up) first. Again, a sample page featuring a little bit of everything.

artbooks_wendling-art

So, these are the four books that never leave my nightstand. There are countless other artists that snuck into my DNA, such as Frank Frazetta, Jeffrey/Katherine Jones, several Capcom concept artists, Milt Kahl, J.C. Leyendecker, Egon Schiele, Yoji Shinkawa, and Kawase Hasui, among many others. But these four books I need to keep at hand at all times.

Do you have any favourite artbooks, or other things you need to keep close just in case you need to look at them? Drop me a comment!

From the Bowyer’s Bench: Maple Longbow

Hey there!

As I mentioned earlier, making and shooting bows is a big hobby of mine. So it kinda makes sense to have it represented here on the blog. The occasion for this first bowmaking post is that I just made photos of the newest addition to my arsenal: a 65 lbs. maple longbow (the exact species should be acer pseudoplatanus unless my judgement was way off).

I built it kind of in a rush because I expected a visit from relatives who wanted to try shooting with bow and arrow. Almost immediately before they told me so, the bow I was shooting at that time (a ~70 lbs. longbow made from rowan [sorbus aucuparia]) unexpectedly broke. All the bows I had left were two rather low weight bows (both ~40-ish lbs.), and having only those just wouldn’t do. It’s a matter of honour. Besides, I didn’t really want to go back shooting the light bows, so I needed a replacement anyway.

The Plan

Because I rather liked the broken rowan bow, and was pressed for time, I decided to build a replica of it: Its design roughly based on the English Longbow (I won’t bore you with the details of the alterations and their reasons), and about 70 lbs. draw-weight. Replicating it would also give me the chance at fixing some things about the bending profile I could have done better in the earlier bow.

An English Longbow can mean surprisingly many things, but they usually have in common: A narrow, man-tall-or-more bow, made of yew wood, and bending throughout its entire length – even the handle part bends, making the whole bow one elegant crescent shape without any frills.

Draw-weight is the force you have to pull to bring the bow to a full draw. It’s traditionally measured in imperial pounds, just as one’s draw-length is measured in inches. My metric heart is bleeding, but what can I do?

The Process

Cutting and drying wood isn’t particularly exciting, so I’ll keep it short: I found a reasonably good piece, cut it, and put it behind the sofa in my living room to dry. Once dry, I got to work making it shaped like a bow. One thing I immediately noticed is that maple is surprisingly lightweight – more on the consequences later. Meanwhile, have a photo of my bowmaking bench with tools, the bow in its very early stages, and a lot of shavings:

The workbench

Once it’s shaped like a bow, it more or less starts bending like a bow. In the beginning, you bend one limb at a time, trying to make it take a nice, even curve. When both limbs can be bent far enough, you can start bending them at the same time with a bow string and work them to an equal bending strength – it’s no good having one limb super strong and the other bendy like a toy bow. Here is the bow at one such so-called ‘low brace’:

The bow at low brace

After the limbs both bend well, and are about equally strong, the next task is working them down so they can be bent as far as they need to accomodate how far you want to draw the bow, and have just the right stiffness to them that you get the draw-weight you want. It involves a lot of pulling the bow ever farther with a spring scale and tiny adjustments.

It was at this time that i became worried about how lightweight maple wood is. Lightweight means less wood mass per volume. Less wood mass means that the solid elements that make up wood are much more loosely packed than in heavier species. As a result, there is less material to take up the energy all the stretching and compressing inflicts upon a given bow design. After consulting the literature and crunching some numbers, it looked like my target draw-weight of 70 lbs. was more than a piece of maple this size could take. So I adjusted my goals and eventually reached 65 lbs. at my draw-length of 30″ – not too much lower. I took it out for a few test arrows, liked what it did, sanded it very smooth, gave it a coat of pure beeswax and there it is:

The Finished Bow

Final specs: 190cm nock-to-nock length (193cm overall), 34×28mm width×thickness at the centre, 11×11mm at the tips, 65 lbs. at 30″

The bow, braced
This is the bow, braced. (What Tolkien usually describes as ‘XY bent his bow’ before they start shooting. Which is a very mindful kind of thing to write)

A close-up of the beautiful maple wood
A close-up to show you how nice and white the maple wood looks, even after the beeswax coating.

The string nock of the upper limb
This is the nock that holds the bow string on the upper limb…

The bottom limb string nock
…and this is its companion on the lower limb. On the lower limb, the string is held by an adjustable knot while the loose end of the string has a braided loop that slips into the top limb nock.

The bow at (almost) full draw
And of course, the bow in action. It was horribly hot that day, and both me and my sister gave up on shooting after barely half an hour, being completely exhausted. My form definitely shows my fatigue.
Many thanks to my dear sister for taking the photo!

Conclusion

After having shot a few hundred arrows with it, my verdict of the bow is:

  • The tiller (the way it bends) is better than on the rowan bow, but still not perfect.
  • The lower draw-weight is still nice to shoot, and the lower mass and better tiller make up for it in increased efficiency. It certainly puts the arrows quite deeply into the target at our archery range.
  • Maple is not only a pleasure to work, but also very beautiful, with its almost white colour and uniform grain. (But I still mourn the beauty of that rowan bow. Rowan is crazy gorgeous!)
  • Maple is so lightweight that I’ll have to take its effect into account in the future.

Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to leave questions, general feedback or just plain old comments. :)

Musings on Absurd Game Names

Yesterday, Kotaku journalist Kirk Hamilton and I shared a short Twitter chuckle over a hilarious e-mail subject line he received. It read ‘Ninja Theory to explore psychosis in new game – Hellblade’ and it expressed painfully much about Today’s Video Games in its scant few words, most of all the tendency to produce hilariously stupid-sounding names by mashing together two sufficiently badass words, german compound noun style. (German compound nouns are the force behind ‘There’s a german word for that!’ – we can just mash two or more nouns together and they make a new one.) Our shared chuckle revolved around being instantly reminded of Warface, the apex predator of ridiculous video game names.

Post-chuckle, my thoughts kept going back to the process of making video game names from two parts, and how there is an upper limit of possible combinations when the dictionary of sufficiently macho words – the canon – stays constant. One day, these names might all be taken, presumably after a bloody struggle for the last of the less good combinations, long after the good combinations were taken away by developers completely unaware of such a scarcely good combination’s value and the utter finiteness of the resource they were exploiting. Would people fight for the inclusion of new names in the canon? Would other people regard that as heresy? Given the many attempts at gatekeeping true gaming and true nerddom, I’d be surprised if they wouldn’t.

This began sounding more and more postapocalyptic.

Imagine the landscape bereft of the former riches of Good Names. Combinations as varied as wild flowers abounding on the market, but plucked away by people unaware of the riches at their hands. Now, the supply of combinations is running dry. Dreamers search for the hidden gem, the leftover Name everyone overlooked, or didn’t give the second look it needed. Working people are fighting over posession of the few leftover Names like vultures over the last dry strands of flesh on the only rotten carcass between here and far away.

There will be an eschatological movement looking forward to the incoming depletion of names, the fulfilling of The Prophecy and the End of Games. (Yes, gamers will be truly and metaphysically over when rapture comes.) They will fight the heretics proclaiming an Open Canon who actively quest for New Words, undertaking grave adventures and all hoping to – just once in their life – find a New Word. Some will be in it for fame, for money, the furthering of the Cause, or all of the above. The theologians of the Open Canon will have discourse on the meaning of ‘badass’, the defining metric of a Word’s worthiness of introduction in the Canon. Especially modern and daring ones will even proclaim revolutionary concepts like the mutability of ‘badass’ itself. To the Literalist, no question could be more wrong, more misguided and more worthy of eradication. Canon Words are Badass because they are in the Canon. The Canon is the Canon because its Words are Badass. To deny the untouchability of this holy dictionary is to defy the notion of scripture itself. To them, Open Canon Cultists are the agents of anti-creation, wrongly believing in the prolonging of development, preventing the deliverance the Canon promises. To the Cultists, the Church of the End of Games is adherent to old and long obsolete notions of culture, blind believers in a purported ‘salvation’ someone somewhere read into how Games were Named. There is war. Flocks of questing Cultists and armies of devout Church Gatekeepers to root them out.

Underneath the big war between these two, a more or less fraudulent black market for Names will flourish, sometimes selling Names to eager developers, only to have them turn out taken by an obscure title long ago that didn’t turn up on the first three pages of google results. Small sects will form around ideas of combining Words with themselves, or even combining more than two Words to a Name. Some strongly independent developer monks spend much of their time in meditative coding chants of endlessly linked-to-themselves Words.

And before I noticed, I found that this would actually make an open world RPG I’d love to play. Am I weird?

Myla’s Tolkien Themed Questionnaire

I liked this questionnaire by Myla enough to answer it myself and save it to a .txt file. I save a lot of typed up things to .txt files on my computer. It’s the digital analogue of my habit of thinking in pen and pencil on paper. Then, more and more people started answering it, and reading all the different posts made me wish I could participate a little more actively than having the answered questionnaire saved on my HD.

Thus, blog.

Therefore, Tolkien questions:

The Lord of the Rings Themed Questionnaire

1) Books or films?
Books. No question. The films are cool and very proficient spectacles, but the book is where it’s at.
2) Which character do you connect with the most?
An instant sympathy for dwarves aside, I do like Galadriel a lot and old Bilbo, because he strikes a good balance between the hobbit-y good life and being interested in stuff.
and Treebeard, of course.
3) What are your top 5 favorite tracks from the soundtracks?
Oof… I’m not much for remembering score pieces. I like fangorn (scary tree music!) and gollum’s song (björkish!).
4) Which scene always makes you cry?
Books: The Grey Havens is probably closest, because you get plunged into it right alongside poor Sam.
Films: The rally of Rohan before the battle of the Pelennor Fields, because I like the grim warrior fatalism of Bernard Hill’s Théoden.
5) Where would you live in Middle-earth?
In Mount Gundabad, after a dwarven reconquista! It’s a proper dwarven place, it’s not too far from the Shire and it’s out of the way up in the north, where it isn’t too warm.
6) Which race would you be?
Loner, spectrum person, stubborn: probably a dwarf.
7) Orcs or Uruk-hai?
I have a bit of a weak spot for the large, long-armed orcs with the 1950s english working class accent.
8) Favourite character?
Galadriel! she’s a freaking powerhouse and a tough-as-nails badass and wise.
And all the dwarves.
9) Which character do you look the most like?
If I hide my ears, I might be able to pass as some sort of sindar/nandor-mongrel. I’m tall and pale.
10) Who is your favourite pairing? (canon or non-canon)
Éowyn & Faramir because they just fit so well.
And, albeit not a romantic pairing, I like the moments between Galadriel & Gimli a lot, too.
11) Who is your least favourite pairing? (canon or non-canon)
Galadriel & Celeborn because Celeborn is such a boring wuss.
12) What unpopular opinion do you have for the movies?
The archery sucks, which is a bloody shame, given that the books are one of the very few cases in fantasy literature that mentions things like bracing bows before shooting them, spending all one’s arrows etc.

It’s pretty normal film archery fare, though. But the Hobbit films had abysmally sucky archery. I want to punch the people responsible for these in the face.

13) If you could change anything about the movies, what would it be?
I’d probably make them not the more commercially viable ‘novel-like’ re-tellings of the story, but have them keep their strong literary perspective: The book is the end result of a long line of copies of a partaking person’s account of something. This permeates everything of it. It’s what sets it apart from pretty much all the fantasy novels with Tolkien-inspired furnishings.

That also means the Scouring of the Shire is going back in.

14) How do you think Tolkien would have felt about Peter Jackson’s adaptations?
Hmm, I suspect he’d see why they did what they did, but I am also pretty sure he’d think it’s not his story.
15) Whose wardrobe would you like to have?
Not strictly LotR, but I’ll take the dwarven armoury Thorin & co. dug out in Erebor, thank you very much.
16) Rivendell or Lothlórien?
Lórien because trees.
17) Least favourite character?
Boromir, because everyone knows the combination of little insight bolstered with pompous ego.

Ugh, I’m trying to remember that other character I really can’t stand, but for the life of me…

18) Have you ever cosplayed as one of the characters? If not, who would you choose?
Nope, but either a dwarf in full armour (that’s the elaborate, ignoring my height, version) or a Nandor archer (easy version).
19) What scene makes you laugh the most?
‘NOT THE BEARD!’
and
‘…don’t tell the elf’
and
‘that’s not an elf maid’
and
‘these are rhosgobel rabbits!’
and pretty much every insult Gandalf lobs at hobbits or poor Barliman.

(Scene means film, to me. Books have sections)

20) If you could meet 3 of the actors, who would you choose?
Hmmm, Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, and John Rhys-Davies.
Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Richard Armitage from The Hobbit.
21) What are your top five favourite lines from the films?
Until I get time to take notes which lines actually gain a certain something in the films, please refer to the scenes/lines I mentioned earlier.
22) What are your top five favourite lines from the books?
This always changes!
23) Who do you think is the most underrated character?
Probably Galadriel. The books at least hint at her potential, the film makes her a lame token elf etherialwomanqueensomething, but the Silmarillion shows she is a fierce fucking badass.
And, of course, the Druedain! Everybody forgets Ghan-Buri-Ghan and his folks!
24) Have you watched any of the animated films? If so, what are your opinions?
Yes! I actually quite like the gutsiness of the 1978 Bakshi film when they mix looks like classical animation and rotoscoping, abstract backgrounds etc. That is a dedication to pure visual impact we don’t see these days because ‘it’s not realistic!’ and that is apparently supposed to be somehow important.
25) How has LOTR affected your life?
It’s probably the first big literary universe I really got into heads over heels, and also one of the deepest. It’s been 20 years at least, and it hasn’t stopped giving.

It also certainly played a big part in my preferring fantasy over sci-fi. And it gave my nerd score an early boost, just in case my social interaction penalties in high school weren’t severe enough.

26) Which characters would you want in your Fellowship?
A small skirmish band of dwarves, because when the shit hits the fan, you need dwarves.
Aragorn because he’s level-headed and skilled as fuck in all the things.
Gandalf because Gandalf.
Galadriel because Galadriel.
And a few hobbits for good measure.

Treebeard if he wants to tag along, but I feel that wouldn’t really be his thing. Who knows, though? You gotta ask, and it would be such a hoot.

27) Weapon of choice?
Belthronding and a good dwarven axe.
28) Would you have volunteered to destroy the Ring?
That’s one of the things I did think a lot about, actually. It’s easy to say ‘yes, of course!’ but I guess it’s very much like everyone proclaiming from 60+ years postfactum that they’d been in the resistance in Nazi Germany. It’s easy to fantasise about these decisions from the safe distance of a few decades of time or the pages of a book, but it’s far removed from actually making them, when your horizon is clouded by the situation you ended up in, and your life and well-being on the line.

While I kinda trust myself to see the necessity of destroying it over using it against Sauron, I am very much not sure if I would have dared to take on actually destroying it.

29) Who do you think is the most attractive character?
Galadriel, Nienor, and Éowyn
30) Do you own any LOTR merchandise? If so, what is your favorite item?
I’m afraid I really only have the art book for Fellowship. That’s probably because I am much more enamored with making my own designs than tacking on to the films’ merchandise wagon.
31) Have you read the book?
Very much so, yes. Even way before the films came out. Thanks, dad.
32) Have you ever had a LOTR marathon? Describe your perfect marathon.
Yes I have.
My perfect marathon would obviously involve a good screen, BluRay extended editions, tea, good food, cake, and a small band of equally enthusiastic folks to share it with.
33) When did you first watch the films and/or read the book?
The books when I was quite young – if I recall correctly, I read The Hobbit while in elementary school and The Lord of the Rings shortly after, probably in 5th or 6th grade.
I didn’t watch the Fellowship until a good while after it was out and already discounted on DVD. I was one of those people pissy about all the hype and suddenly everyone being an expert on lotr while only regurgitating the roughest of ideas of the story. But then, I was 19. When I picked it up on DVD, I was actually quite surprised by the quality.

I’m still way more partial to the books, but I do like so much production quality being spent on fantasy and that it roped so many people in to Tolkien enthusiasm.

34) What is your favorite film/book?
Oof, that’s difficult. I like each of them for something unique, so I can’t really make a pick. Which I prefer over others is mostly a matter of mood.

Lord of the Rings proper: It’s the mother text. It’s not only that it’s a richly constructed world (that’s something people did before Tolkien, and that he invented languages is just the kind of detail he happened to obsess over) or that it’s set in an imaginary past (that’s also something done before Tolkien), but that he wrote it as if it was an old piece of myth, with the kind of ‘abrasion’ and ‘smoothing over’ that happens during a long history of copying texts, slowly turning a personal account into myth. He didn’t write a novel in the strict sense, he created a linguistic mock-artefact.

Hobbit: It comes with an extra serving of dwarves! The middle-earth canon being written from such an elven-centric point of view, dwarves just got the really short end of the stick.

Silmarillion: Backstoryyyyyyyy!

Children of Húrin: So wonderfully dark and tragic, and all without grimdark!

Unfinished Tales: Even more backstoryyyyyyyy!

35) Get drunk with/marry/fight to the death. (Pick three characters)
Drinking: Tea with Bilbo
Marry: Galadriel? Éowyn? Nienor? How would I know without actually knowing them?
Fight to the death: If I don’t have to kill Celeborn to marry Galadriel, Boromir, because I can kinda make my peace with some chaos and evil in the world, but have a very hard time with pompous, decadent idiocy. Boromir today would be a loudmouthed american, war crime apologist, proud republican, born-again christian, and NRA member. How’s that for unpopular opinion?
36) Which scene scares you the most?
Hmmm, I’mm not really scared by any scene, but am quite impressed by Frodo’s and Sam’s increasing hardship through the ring in Mordor. If only to piss off a friend who dismissed it as ‘half a book of “frodo suffers”.’ But he thinks Game of Thrones is better writing, so what does he know anyway?
37) Gondor or Rohan?
Horse people or city-dwellers? What kind of choice is that?
38) Which character(s) would you want as your parent(s)?
Someone cool and kind like (film) Balin.
39) Which characters would you want as your best friends?
Good people, like the hobbits, Gandalf, Gimli, Faramir…
40) When was the last time you watched the films/read the book?
I have the films running every once in a while, and just completed a read-through for SUPER SEKRIT PROJECT.
41) Favourite horse?
WAT? (I’d not say no to one of those armoured war goats from BOTFA, though.)
42) If you could spend a day in Middle-earth, what would you want to do?
24h introduction to blacksmithing with the dwarves!
43) Is there anything you would change about the books?
Nope.
44) What do you think is the greatest lesson LOTR has to offer?
That having big, ambitious dreams make one corruptible on a much larger, more dangerous scale.
That a simple, good life is a good thing.
45) What would your dream home in Middle-earth be like?
A cozy house with a lot of books, with a dwarven smithy and how I’d imagine an elven woodworking shop, somewhere in the forest, 1–2 days travel from the Shire.
46) How would you describe what LOTR means to you in one word?
Epos
47) Which death makes you the most sad?
Again, not strictly LotR, but: Nienor
48) Favourite behind-the-scenes moments from the films?
Fun: Orlando Bloom actually singing ‘they’re taking the hobbits to Isengard!’
Serious: Whenever you see the level of craft and dedication of all the propmakers.
49) If you could own any item from the films, what would it be?
The smaller one of Gimli’s axes is pretty neat.
50) If you had the opportunity to meet the Professor, what do you think you would say?
First of all, many thanks. Other than that, I’d love to discuss with him his ideas on myth in general, possibly with a focus on the Ainulindale and the dwarves.

Inaugural Post

Why hello there!

So I decided to open this blog to have a place to write things down. As much as I like Twitter, some things just don’t lend themselves well to its format and impermanence. (or semi-permanence, rather) Anyway, let’s see how this goes. I can’t promise any kind of regular schedule or topics I will write about. My safe guess is there won’t be anything like regular updates, and a more or less diverse selection of nerdy stuff that catches my fancy. Probably quite a bit of nerding off about archery and making bows. Probably a bit about my general adventures in making things and stories/universes I tend to obsess about: Tolkien, Star Wars, Doctor Who etc. Since I really love filling out random internet questionnaires, it’s not unlikely there will be a lot of those. In fact, it has been a Tolkien-themed questionnaire that got me off my ass for long enough to configure this blog and type this here post. :)

It’s all guesswork, though.

Anyway, so … err, this is the blog, it’s called my C-Beam Cannon because Blade Runner is the best film ever, chairs are over there, tea is in the pot right here, and many thanks in advance to everyone who finds their way to this little corner.

g.