While Tolkien was a British writer, his readership and influence extend far beyond the English language. Middle-earth transcends both time and culture as we have seen again and again when having the pleasure to meet fellow fans from around the globe through both TheOneRing and Happy Hobbit. That said, sometimes it takes a little longer for Tolkien events and/or specials in other languages and countries to reach our ears. Fortunately for you, dear reader, famed Tolkien artist and scholar John Howe sent a message our way via thrush to let us know about a delightful Franco-English documentary he narrated in 2015 about the source material for Tolkien’s The Hobbit titled A la Recherche du Hobbit (Looking for the Hobbit).
You can watch the first episode of five in English below:
If you’re confident enough to navigate the French website (all you have to do is click on the shopping cart icon!) you can purchase a region-free English version here, and the series is available in French on DVD and streaming here (along with a preview). You can also peruse several delightful behind the scenes photos on their Facebook page.
John Howe at Hobbiton in Matamata, NZ.
What’s more, John Howe has taken the time to provide us with his thoughts on why, even after all this time, he was excited to contribute to yet another exploration of Tolkien.
Learn how to make a treat that is fit for a king in this latest delicious episode!
THORIN’S TOFFEE BARS
¾ cup butter, room temperature (or melted per Happy Hobbit style!)
¾ cup light brown sugar
1½ cups flour
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups milk or semi sweet chocolate chips
1½ cups Toffee Bits (store bought or homemade — scroll all the way down for the homemade recipe we used!)
1.Preheat oven to 350°
2. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
3. To make the Shortbread Crust, beat butter and sugar together until it is combined.
4. Mix in flour, it will be a bit dry.
5. Press into prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes (or start at 10 just to be safe) or until lightly golden.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
7. To make the filling; in a small saucepan heat sweetened condensed milk and butter together until the mixture is smooth.
8. Pour over shortbread crust. Bake 12-15 minutes until filling is bubbly and browned. (It will start to look browned and slightly caramelized)
9. To make the topping, immediately sprinkle milk chips on top of filling when it comes out of the oven. Place back in oven for around 2ish minutes or until the chips have begun to melt.
10. Carefully spread the chips over the filling.
11. Sprinkle with toffee bits and press them evenly into the chocolate.
12. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Let them rest up to overnight, or cool in the fridge…that way you can eat them sooner!
13…EAT THEM ALL!
Homemade Toffee Bits Recipe:
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
pinch of salt
1. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil (around 5 minutes)
2. Continue cooking until the mixture is 300 degrees and starts to turn brown.This could be up to 8 minutes of cooking, but in my experience, it is much shorter then that (depending on your stove!) So just be sure to keep an eye on it, or two eyes as Gandalf would do!
3. When it reaches 300 or starts to really thicken and brown, pour it out onto a pan lined with baking parchment.
4. Let it cool completely.
5. Put it into a zip-lock bag and bash it up into bits!
Have you ever wondered what the honey from Beorn’s hives gifted to Gandalf and Thorin’s Company on their Quest tasted like? Now you can find out! For the first time ever, Beorn’s treat is available worldwide from Middle-earth Honey, a New Zealand based company striving both to bring the tastes of Arda to the world and to also save the precious bees that produce it.
Their first product is called Anduin Vale Honey and its inspiration was taken directly from the text of The Hobbit: “This is what he promised to do for them. He would provide ponies for each of them, and a horse for Gandalf, for their journey to the forest, and he would lade them with food to last them for weeks with care, and packed so as to be as easy as possible to carry—nuts, flour, sealed jars of dried fruits, and red earthenware pots of honey, and twice-baked cakes that would keep good a long time, and on a little of which they could march far. The making of these was one of his secrets; but honey was in them, as in most of his foods, and they were good to eat, though they made one thirsty.” – The Hobbit, “Queer Lodgings”
You can meander through the Vale at the Middle-earth Honey website here, and likewise may keep up to date with new products and recipes by following their Facebook page here.
Like Beorn, the nature-loving guardian of the Vale, Middle-earth Honey holds its bees in high regard and gives them the best possible treatment. Their honey is 100% natural and is based just ten minutes from Hobbiton in Matamata, NZ.
Anduin Vale Honey is but the first of many Middle-earth products, including candies, chocolates, and even some meads (honey wine) to be released later this year.
Even better, Middle-earth Honey is helping to support the endangered honey bee by maintaining healthy hives on the Pacific Island nation of Niue where the bee population has been untouched by disease or decline.
You can find out more about these special island bees in the video below:
Autumn had finally arrived in northern California when I boarded a plane to head into spring on the other side of the planet in New Zealand. To say I wasn’t frightened would be a lie. I felt very much like Frodo heading out into the wide world, for I was about to be away from my family and my continent for longer than I ever had. The weather in Wellington had been pleasant until I arrived, or so I’m told, and as more and more cold rainstorms blew into the bay off the Pacific, my co-workers at Weta Workshop teased that I had brought winter with me to their beautiful island nation.
The flight from Auckland to Wellington, NZ
Like most fans of the TheLord of the Rings films, I had long dreamed of visiting New Zealand and seeing as much of its Middle-earth landscape as I could. However, also like most fans, the cost of such an adventure always held me back. As such, if someone had told me that I would have gone to Aotearoa twice in 2015, I would’ve thought they were as full of tall tales as old mad Baggins! But step out my front door I did, each time with a little nudge.
We had a fantastic time at last weekend’s Wizard World San Jose. Thanks so much to everyone who made the effort to come out and join us!
Our panel, Happy Hobbit: The World Ahead, was a delight on Friday afternoon. In keeping with our theme, there was lots of laughter and learning. It’s always very rewarding to meet people who watch our show and fellow Tolkien-fans in general. In addition to geeky fun, several creatives also turned out, curious to hear about my experience with writing as K.M. Rice and to see Fili’s love of capturing the moment with Alexandra Rice Photography. We can only hope that Tolkien would’ve been proud to see just how much creativity and inspiration people have found in his Middle-earth, leading them to their own unique forms of self-expression. Like Bilbo, many of us artists just need a little nudge out the door onto our own roads! You can watch our panel in it’s entirety here:
The short film that we debuted, Wildling, which we made together as a sister team over the summer, can be watched here(in a bit better quality than what you can see in this panel footage!).
Following the panel, we had time to sweep through the showroom floor before heading over to the Hilton’s Affinity restaurant for some hobbity and dwarven hijinks that made our panel look like a calm and composed event. TORn staffter Garfeimao and her sister, Carynn Hobbit, were in attendance, along with several friends, some old and some we’d only met that day! The following afternoon was none other than Billy Boyd’s (Pippin in LOTR and lead vocals in the band beecake) hilarious Q & A panel.
As always with our show, our goal is to make episodes that help you feel like you were at these events, even if you were only present in spirit, so feel free to prop up your feet and enjoy Wizard World San Jose by watching the video below!
Not going to Dragon*Con? Live on the west coast? Need something Middle-earthy to do this weekend that includes two dwarves and a hobbit? Then look no further than the San Jose Wizard World!
The Tolkien festivities will kick off Friday with a Happy Hobbit panel, followed by a “moot,” or Entish get-together, across the street from the convention center at the Affinity Restaurant at the Hilton. Even if you’re not attending the con on Friday, be sure to join us at the moot for some Middle-earth madness, which is prone to happen whenever Fili and Kili are around.
Saturday is your opportunity to meet Billy Boyd (Pippin) and ask him anything at his panel, which will undoubtedly be comic gold and of course, very informative.
150 West San Carlos St., San Jose, California 95113
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH, 2015
6:00 – 6:45PMHAPPY HOBBIT: THE WORLD AHEAD (ROOM 211AB)
“Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many paths to tread…” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Join sisters Kellie and Alex Rice (Kili and Fili of the webseries Happy Hobbit) as they go beyond the shire to explore how their geeky roots have blossomed into creative careers. Kellie is also known as K.M. Rice, an author and screenwriter who has worked for both Weta Workshop and Magic Leap, while Alex produces shows and shorts and has her own photography business. Both are excited to share tips on self-publishing, low-budget films, and engaging an online audience.
MOOT 7:30 PM
Affinity Restaurant at the San Jose Hilton.
Hilton San Jose, 300 S Almaden Blvd, San Jose, CA 95113
No reservation, we’ll just take over Dwarf-style!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5TH, 2015
12:30 – 1:15PM ADVENTURES IN MIDDLE EARTH WITH BILLY BOYD (ROOM 210)
“Lord of the Rings” fans rejoice! Billy Boyd (Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took) has traveled far and wide to join us for this very special Wizard World Q&A! This is your opportunity to ask Billy about his life, career, and where his adventures will be taking him next! You don’t want to miss this awesome panel!
Billy is also a member of the band beecake, and anyone who has heard either Pippin singing in the LOTR films or “The Last Goodbye” as the credits rolled on Middle-earth with BoTFA this winter knows that he’s more than worth listening to.
Here’s to hoping we’ll see more than less than half of you as we’d expect, and that you all have more than half the fun that you deserve!
It’s no secret that the artists of Weta Workshop who brought both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to life are an insanely talented bunch, but have you ever wondered what they’ve been up to post Middle-earth? Aside from contributing to multiple other films and their own projects, several have been collaborating on a wonderful series of books showcasing their Fantasy and Science Fiction art: White Cloud Worlds. New Zealand’s Maori name is Aotearoa, which means “the land of the long white cloud,” and given that the art is all Kiwi-made, well, you get the picture! Several of the art pieces included were also inspired by Middle-earth.
The covers of Volumes 1 & 2
Books one and two have already been released, and book three is due out in November. This new volume is said to contain over 200 images, showcasing the work of 60 New Zealand artists, several of whom include such Middle-earth artists as:
Gus Hunter, Weta Workshop Designer, LOTR & The Hobbit
Ben Wootten, Weta Workshop Designer, LOTR
Paul Tobin, Weta Workshop Designer, The Hobbit
Jamie Beswarick, Weta Workshop Designer, LOTR & The Hobbit
Andrew Baker, Weta Workshop Designer, The Hobbit
Lindsey Crummett, Weta Workshop Designer, The Hobbit
Available for pre-order now is allegedly one of Tolkien’s darkest stories, which (if any of you are familiar with my books) has me all kinds of excited.
Here’s the official press release we have received:
THE STORY OF KULLERVO
The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who swears revenge on the magician who killed his father.
• The Story of Kullervo is the first piece of prose fiction that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote
• This is its first appearance in book form
• 2015 is the centenary of its creation
• Illustrated on the cover by one of Tolkien’s own paintings
Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.
Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates.
Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major matter in the legends of the First Age’. Tolkien’s Kullervo is the clear ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to it being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo – published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, The Kalevala – is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world.
The book will be released in the UK on the 27th of August 2015 and is scheduled for release in April 2016 in the US.
While I doubt the rights will be released any time soon, this sounds like an edge-of your seat read that would make a fantastic film. With stories like this kicking around in his desk drawers (or wherever the Professor kept them!), one has to wonder what would be his chosen medium if alive and publishing today. Would he be like J.K. Rowling and write not only novels, but for the stage, and the screen as he expanded his magical world? Or do you think he would’ve just stuck to books? Before you go into a lecture about Jackson’s films “ruining everything,” remember that Tolkien willingly sold the rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, knowing full well their stories would be told on the big screen with all kinds of changes to match the cinematic storytelling medium.
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