Gandalf and the Balrog

Things I Like: Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog

Around the end of June, one of my blogger friends began a blog series called Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog, which is a book club type read (or reread) of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, Middle Earth gives me major nerdgasms.

When I was twelve, I told my Aunt Tina of my intentions to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  She was very excited, because my grandmother had read those books to her, my mom, and my Aunt Jill when they were children, and they had all become lifelong Tolkien fans.  Before I left, she handed me her copy of The Silmarillion, explaining that the events in it came chronologically before all the events in the other books.  Thinking it was just a prequel, I dove into it.  Bilbo meets the Dwarves

If you’ve ever read The Silmarillion, you know that it is very dry reading, and the tone is similar to that of the Bible.  Twelve-year-old me was not fazed by this because I began reading mythology when I was eight, and I was good on church attendance, so I was used to reading the Bible as well.  The histories that many find boring in The Silmarillion fascinated me, and gave me an extensive background knowledge when I started reading The Hobbit.  Black Riders at the River

At the time, The Hobbit was the best thing I’d ever read.  I finished it, turned it back in to the school library and got The Fellowship of the Ring.  Before long I was returning for The Two Towers, and when I had turned that in, a stranger noticed I was checking out The Return of the King, which he had read.  We had a long conversation that made us late to class, and we were soon best friends.  Since first reading it, I have reread the series several times.  Gandalf and the Balrog

I was at the midnight show when the Peter Jackson version of Fellowship came out.  The following year, I went to a party with several friends where we watched Fellowship on DVD, and then went to see Two Towers.  We all got some strange stomach bug at the party that had us all puking, and we went to the midnight show anyway, puke buckets in tow, frequently getting up to run to the bathroom, much to the annoyance of the people seated around us.  At Return of the King, my wife was within days of her due date with my daughter, and you can bet that she’d have had the baby at the theater if she’d gone into labor.  Sometimes I will do marathons of the extended edition movies, beginning early in the morning, stocking up on snacks, and sitting on the couch to watch them all day.  Sam vs. Shelob

When I saw that my friend SJ was writing about one of my favorite experiences, I was thrilled.  I tried to get my wife to finally read the books, but she opted not to, even though she really likes the movies.

As I mentioned, SJ runs the Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog series book club style.  There’s a weekly schedule of chapters to read, and in the posts, she gives a summary and then ends with discussion points to comment on.  If you’re into Tolkien or you’re interested to read Tolkien, it’s worth checking out, even though they’re already into it.  If you read fast, you can catch up!

In addition to the reading, she decided to do a weekly livetweet/drinkalong to the movies.  We did the first one over the weekend, watching the first hour of Fellowship and drinking whenever there was a closeup of the ring, gratuitous scenery, or Merry and Pippin did something mischievous.  It was incredibly fun watching the movie with ranty book bloggers who were all disturbed by how much the movies differed from the books.  We had some interesting discussions, and most of us were heavily buzzed by the time we finished.  One of my own friends/followers saw all the Tweets and joined us, and another one said she may join us next week.  One participant put together a list of the tweeple involved in either the reading or the drinkalong. If you’re interested in joining us for the next one, follow SJ on Twitter (@popqueenie), look up the #PtBiB hash tag, and/or check out her blog, so you can get more information on when the next livetweet is.

Drinkalong Rules
These are the rules we used for the drinkalong. Subject to revision, because the scenery pr0n rule should only be for the hardcore.

Leave a comment if you’ve got any questions about Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog participation or if you just want to rave about how much you love J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.  Geek out with us!


10 thoughts on “Things I Like: Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog

  1. Oh, man – Friday was fun, but I’m definitely going to rework the rules/expectations. I’ll have to get on that one day this week, maybe leaving the original rules for the super hardcore and having something else for the lightweights.

    I will never look at the Eye of Sauron the same way again.

      1. Here it is, from Emily (@Bill_the_Pony) “The first time I saw this movie my sister kept on insisting the ring and the eye were vaginal imagery.” That was a running topic. Also, my son’s inquiry as to whether Gandalf or Dumbledore would win in a fight:

  2. Tony, you are probably the first person I’ve ever encountered who read The Silmarillion FIRST, and then read The Hobbit and LOTR. UNcanny! Especially at that age. I doff my hat to you, sir. Have you read Children of Hurin?

    1. I read Unfinished Tales, but I haven’t read Children of Hurin. I did like the story of Turin and Nienor. I have a sick fascination with tragedy and incest, I guess.

    1. I knew it! You are a closet geek! 🙂 We’re doing them every Friday. Check out the hashtag #PtBiB and follow @popqueenie if you want to join on Friday. I think we’re doing disc 1 of The Two Towers.

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