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By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast

Ned, Oriana, and Jared @

All things J. R. R. Tolkien: his work, his inspirations and impact, creative interpretations in other media, languages, lore, ripoffs, parodies, anything we think is interesting!


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31. There Was So Much Math!

By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast


10/04/21 • 66 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Ned’s choice of topic: The Nature of Middle-earth. The newest official Tolkien book is anything but a cohesive volume, instead being a collection of remaining unpublished writings from the overall Tolkien archive about Middle-earth, written mostly in the late 1950s and late 1960s, with a heavy focus on more philosophical and generally foundational concepts and aspects of Tolkien’s creation. Edited by Carl Hostetter with the full approval of Christopher Tolkien before the latter’s passing, it’s at once detailed scholarship and the source of a variety of new wrinkles and outright surprises concerning Middle-earth. What can be made of the deep discussions of Elvish culture and life, and the literal differences as a species from Men? How did Tolkien address the concept of Elvish reincarnation in particular, and what exactly did that imply in terms of what the Valar could do? What does it mean that Tolkien constantly chose to frame everything from the point of view of referring to ‘scholars’ and authorities rather than simply leaning into his own creative process? And how delightful is it to learn that Númenor was the home of a legendary annual bear dance?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. Besides bears, we learn that Númenor has a lot of cliffs.

The California redwood parks are among the best.’s summary of the Howard Shore semi-news/demi-rumor/whatever it might be.

Star Wars: Visions is a treat.

Red X by David Demchuk is the book Jared’s illustrated. Check it out!

The Nature of Middle-earth -- order away!

Vinyar Tengwar and the E.L.F. info is there for you.

Kristine Larsen’s extensive bibliography on her work on Tolkien and astronomy is very well worth the investigation.

The Isaac Newton story Ned mentioned is a little more involved than that—here’s a 2014 interview with an author who wrote about Newton’s papers in more detail.

Now if you’ve not seen Spirited Away, we do highly recommend it.

The Notion Club Papers is too underdiscussed, really. It’s a very interesting, strange effort.

Flat-earth Catholics, well...we’ll just link this. (It’s not ‘pro-flat earth,’ rest assured.)

Neoplatonism! We understand if you’re already asleep.

If you want a little more about the phenomenal world...

The Magisterium is VERY much a thing.

So let’s talk the Gnostics!

Enjoy some more about bear dances in our world. As for Finnish bear cults...

You can support By-The-Bywater and all of Megaphonic on Patreon, and thank you if you do!


10/04/21 • 66 min

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09/07/21 • 58 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Jared’s choice of topic: The Fall of Gondolin. One of the three ‘Great Tales’ that formed the key heart of Tolkien’s earliest work on Middle-earth with the Book of Lost Tales, the story of the hidden Elf refuge that was destroyed in an evening of primal violence after a betrayal remained one of the most powerfully resonant for the rest of Tolkien’s creative life. Referred to in other works and in various mentions over his lifetime, it only surfaced in redacted form with the original 1977 publication of The Silmarillion. Christopher Tolkien’s last published work on his father’s fiction drew together the various forms of the story, including the extensively revised and expanded but frustratingly incomplete revision from the 1950s, into one volume. What might be the weight of this story in particular in terms of how to view the rest of Tolkien’s Middle-earth work that followed? How might Gondolin’s story serve as a way for Tolkien to work through his own feelings of experiencing wanton destruction via his war service? What does the experience of Tuor’s encounter with Ulmo on the shores of the sea in the revised version tell us about not only the perspective of Men viewing the Valar but also what strange undercurrents about Middle-earth’s theology might exist? And how did we end up comparing Idril Celebrindal to Avril Lavigne? (Jared’s still indignant about that one.)

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. It’s a long way to fall in cool waters...

Indeed, we all three recommend The Green Knight. We all appreciated this lengthy discussion.

Amazon’s tweet announcing when the show would begin, along with THAT image. Which, yes, has been...discussed. (And if you’re wondering why we’re going on about September 22...)

Separately, news about the shift from New Zealand to the UK for season two.

The Fall of Gondolin as a text is really the place to start, just to compare all the various versions and get a sense of how the story changed and evolved.

As always: Tuor is just a guy. (But as Oriana says, rereading the story for this episode provided more insight.)

The History of the Hobbit is very much recommended, almost like a distaff entry in the History of Middle-earth series.

Perhaps you’ve heard of The Clone Wars.

The USS Scamp was the submarine that Ned’s dad and Jared’s grandfather served on together, unknowingly. Small world!

The Alan Lee painting showing Turgon’s fall. That’s really good and unsettling all at once.

The ‘From each according to his ability’ line is rather well known.

Voronwë is a legit interesting character we don’t have enough of

The Seven Gates of Gondolin. At least we have the full detail of those!

Alan Lee’s take on Tuor and Ulmo. (For contrast, here’s John Howe’s.)

Ulmo really does have an intriguing role in the mythology.

Watch out for the Actually Guys.

Idril is even more of a legit interesting character etc.

Were you a Sk8er Boi? Or did you love one? How obvious WAS it?

Support By-The-Bywater on Patreon.


09/07/21 • 58 min

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29. Always Around to Do the Bare Minimum.

By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast


07/30/21 • 48 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Oriana’s choice of topic: the Eagles. Most familiar to Tolkien readers via the lordly and imposing figure of Gwaihir, identified as the Lord of the Eagles in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the Eagles have a recurring role in many of the stories of Middle-earth, acting as emissaries, guardians, intercessors and figures of warning or doom. They serve the Valar, their leader Manwë in particular, but often seem to be following their own particular code of living. However, a recent tweet based off a Polygon article about them in their Lord of the Rings series this year revived an old—and rather tiresome—controversy about whether the Eagles act as a deus ex machina in the plots of the stories—or even more tiresomely, are somehow supposed to be a plot hole. What are the roots of eagles in mythology in general, and how has that impact on the human imagination played out in Tolkien’s legendarium? Do the Eagles even particularly care about what is happening in realms beyond their own, and regard nearly everyone and everything as being of a piece? What do the sudden appearances of Gwaihir’s ancestor Thorondor at various points in the published Silmarillion say about how they function in terms of both being Manwë’s servants and in noting the working out of the Doom of Mandos? And how is it that such lofty, indeed arrogant figures like the Eagles have incredibly sharp senses of humor?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. Would you like to fly, on my beautiful ea-gle...

Uh yeah get your shots, the end.

That spy report. Questions, questions, we have them!

Our episode about Orcs.

Blue Harvest! Horror beyond imagination!

Blue Origin! Also horror beyond imagination!

The HarperCollins UK tweet about Andy Serkis’s further audiobook work, with further links.

That Foreign Policy piece “Comrades of the Ring” — worth a read!

The Eagles! They fly around.

That misleading Polygon tweet. They could do better.

The Tolkien Gateway summary of Letter 210, Tolkien’s response to the screenwriting treatment created in the late 1950s.

“Someone is WRONG on the Internet.”

CinemaSins? We hate it.

Edmund Wilson’s “Oo, Those Awful Orcs” does not appear to contain any Eagles complaints.

Bored of the Rings. It’s very, very of its time.

Deus ex machina! It’s a thing.

The Peter Jackson Beorn bear bomb. Well, yes, there we go.

Eagles in world mythology? You’re darn right it’s a thing.

We only know so much about the Sky Father.

Superstore! Probably a defining US comedy of the second half of the 2010s.

Metro Micro, should you so desire.

Ted Naismith’s painting of the cloud eagle in the West as Númenor approaches its doom.

Support By-The-Bywater (and Megaphonic FM) on Patreon. Thanks!


07/30/21 • 48 min

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28. Is He Hot Or Is He Tall?

By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast


07/02/21 • 76 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Ned’s choice of topic: The Children of Húrin. The final posthumously published form of one of Tolkien’s original creations from the Book of Lost Tales, the 2007 book, edited and retouched slightly by Christopher Tolkien, The Children of Húrin primarily tells the story of the oldest child, Túrin. One of Tolkien’s most compelling figures, Túrin not merely verges on the antiheroic but at points nonheroic, simultaneously a figure driven by vengeance and justice for his losses and those of his family but ultimately causing the death and destruction of most of what he holds dear—he slays one of Morgoth’s chief lieutenants, the dragon Glaurung, but Glaurung exacts a terrible cost even in death. Is Túrin’s course in life truly the working out of a curse by Morgoth or is it the result of rash actions taken in the face of wiser counsel almost every step of the way? What does it say that it is one of Tolkien’s most vividly physical stories, including various humiliating fates, at one point the threat of rape, and in the end, drawing on one of humanity’s deepest taboos, unwitting incest? For all that various flawed or doomed heterosexual relationships define much of Túrin’s life, what does it say that the deepest connection he feels is to the Elf Beleg, and what does his own tragic death signify? And maybe to end on a lighter note, are those potatoes that the Petty-dwarves are digging up or what?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. Tol Morwen, one of Middle-earth’s loveliest and saddest places.

Yes, Ned is a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race in all its forms. He could go on.

The announcement of Warner Bros’s planned anime film, The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim.

Kenji Kamiyama has quite the rep, trust us.

And yes, as we talked about in episode 25, plenty of history already with Japanese animators and Tolkien!

That Fellowship of Fans Twitter thread with the Amazon contract details. Cross yer fingers...’s piece with its best speculation about the whole issue of rights divisions going on about now.

The Children of Húrin—and there’s a lot going on.

That Tumblr post with Túrin describing himself as the ultimate goth. He would.

Kullervo, the Finnish anti-hero that was the general source for Túrin but not the sole one. Tolkien’s translation, created before he created the Book of Lost Tales but only published formally in 2015, is one of his earliest works.

It’s a little obvious to mention—and Kullervo’s story overall is closer—but yes, Oedipus Rex is also a key template for the dramatic end of the story.

Ned’s old 2007 blog entry on reading The Children of Hurin.

Episode 2—and Tuor is still just a guy.

Glaurung, Tolkien’s other main dragon creation in a piece of work.

Is there Turin and Beleg fan art? C’mon, you know the answer.

Alan Lee’s illustration from the book of Glaurung approaching Brethil.

The Petty-dwarves have their own tangled tale, mostly unknown.

Support By-The-Bywater and all the other Megaphonic shows on Patreon. Thanks!


07/02/21 • 76 min

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27. The Brita of Middle-earth.

By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast


06/01/21 • 63 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Jared’s choice of topic: Lothlórien. Following the necessary but still disastrous journey through Moria, the Fellowship of the Ring is able to evade pursuing Orcs to journey to this forested Elf realm, itself thousands of years old as an organized society but ruled in recent years by Galadriel and Celeborn. Their experiences there are among the most personal and mysterious of their journey, at once a chance for recuperation but also a stay in a place that is seemingly out of time’s general flow—and, per various comments by Galadriel, increasingly out of time in general. Aragorn firmly rebukes Boromir’s unease at their journey by saying those who visit the land return ‘not unscathed but....unchanged,’ yet the nature of such an experience and the land itself are among the most elusive moments in Tolkien’s work. What does it mean that Tolkien himself, through the narrative personae of the hobbits’ eyes (and, in one memorable sequence, their other senses), seems to reach the limits of descriptive language when outlining Lothlórien? How do the borders function in demarcating Lothlórien from the outside world, and what do those elements suggest about the society that has evolved there? What can be made of the suggestions of ecological and political colonialism at play in the origins of Lothlórien, which Tolkien only explored in more detail after completing The Lord of the Rings? And besides his other seemingly amorphous at best qualities, why is Celeborn terrible at place names?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. But you’ll have to imagine Nimrodel’s voice yourself.

Sergio Agüero does indeed have tengwar on his arm. But Fernando Torres is the real nerd.

Lothlorien Apartments! Flets not an option.

Charlotte Brändström joins the directing squad for Amazon. This show is never coming out, is it.

Ludi Lin isn’t wrong, really.

Specifically, the pilot was called Babylon 5: The Gathering, and it was indeed a lot earlier than the full show.

Lothlórien indeed. A place, a state of mind, somewhere neither here nor there?

Our episode on Galadriel (and Celeboring).

The Tolkien zine Ned was talking about is the still-going Beyond Bree. (The one he forgot to discuss further is Vinyar Tengwar.)

Peter Jackson and team really did a great job with Caras Galadhon, no lie. And again, all hail Liz Fraser.

The earlier Lórien (and yes, the Vala’s name is Irmo).

Kievan Rus is an intriguing society for sure, but yes, that origin story seems...convenient.

The various Elf kindreds are their own involved tangle, and Silvan Elves and the Sindar and the Noldor did all take different paths...

Ned got the forest in Beleriand wrong—that’s Taur-im-Duinath.

Maedhros, Amrod and Amras fan art showing off the red hair? Oh it’s there.

Eurovision is great, Italy’s winning entry this year was great, but yeah, Ukraine. (And totally separately, Iceland.)

Someone is WRONG on the I...


06/01/21 • 63 min

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26. The Work of Repair After the Storm.

By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast


05/04/21 • 58 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Oriana’s choice of topic: the Scouring of the Shire. Both the title of the penultimate chapter of The Lord of the Rings and the event it refers to, the Scouring depicts what happens when Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin return home after all their adventures, only to discover familiar places changed beyond recognition, not to mention the spirit of the Shire in general. Ranging from family reunions and stirring moments of bravery to guerrilla warfare and final scenes of at times surprising horror, it’s a remarkable elaboration on the idea that—unlike in some fairy tales or their descendants—you can’t entirely go home again. How do the individual hobbits both collectively and individually react to their situations, and in doing so, what does that mean for what is the ‘right’ way to respond? What implicit comments could Tolkien be making not only about his own experiences in war but his wider thoughts on imperialism and destruction in general? What does it mean in terms of how the Scouring seems to be ultimately less vengeful than similar situations in our own world, and could it be a form of wish fulfillment? How do adaptations of the story handle the Scouring—or do they do so at all? And why did Jared’s mom need to plant more peonies anyway?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. For spring has sprung, you see.

As was said in the insert segment, check out our fellow Megaphonic podcast The Spouter-Inn on The Fellowship of the Ring! (And the bonus episode with Oriana is out!)

So yeah, looks like Amazon is kicking down a LOT of money there for their TV show. Rob Bricken has a point.

Meantime, so much for Amazon’s separate Tolkien MMORPG. For now at least.

John Waters has been wanting to film Fruitcake for over a decade now.

Don’t Call It a Cult by Sarah Berman on NXIVM is a good read indeed.

Morfydd Clark is still dropping breadcrumbs...

Yeah, Scott Rudin. Piece of work, this guy.

The Glomar Explorer deal is classic 1970s shenanigans.

The Scouring has been represented in Tolkien artwork various ways. Alan Lee’s is one of the most famous and melancholy representations, Inger Edelfeldt’s among the most dramatic.

There’s no exact equivalent in Peter Jackson’s version, of course—the brief visions in the Mirror of Galadriel aside—but the scene itself has some striking elements: the older hobbit woman wondering what’s up, and especially the wordless toast at the Green Dragon.

Restorative justice is gaining in popularity and interest.

In re Indiana Jones—never choose poorly.

Letter 100 from the published Tolkien letters is a very interesting state-of-mind read at the end of World War II.

Here’s our episode on imperialism.

More on umbrellas in Seattle. And if you’re wondering about ACAB...

Support By-The-Bywater and all the Megaphonic shows on Patreon!


05/04/21 • 58 min

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04/05/21 • 96 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Ned’s choice of topic: the 1977 Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit. Produced by the Rankin-Bass team and animated by Japanese animation studio Topcraft, 1977’s The Hobbit was a widely promoted effort for mainstream American network TV. As a result, it gave Tolkien’s work its highest profile in the US to that point, winning awards and eventually prompting a further Rankin-Bass sequel drawing on The Return of the King. However, it swiftly became more of a cult classic curio, more known of than known, deemed a product of its time and the attendant limitations the creative team had to work with by default. However it retained fans and, especially in the wake of Peter Jackson’s own three-film adaptation of the book, it gained a new wave of reappreciation in contrast to both that and the source text. What were some of the decisions made in the course of simplifying and adapting the story, and how did they change the overall impact of the effort as a result? Are the songs and musical performances handy complements to the whole or are they too perhaps just a little too much even in context? Are there any notable vocal acting performances among the ensemble and do they stand up to more familiar actors in other versions? And is there any final way to determine exactly why and how Rankin-Bass were actually able to create the film in the first place given that they didn’t have any formal license from the current rights-holders at the time?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. Burn baby burn, Lake-town inferno.

It really has been two years since we started! If you’ve been along with us for the whole ride, we thank you again.

Deadline’s report on Wayne Che Yip joining the Amazon production.

The production’s photo from the unknown New Zealand beach.

Tom Budge’s Instagram post about leaving the production and the subsequent IndieWire story.

RuPaul’s Drag Race is definitely a thing. No Tolkien connection...yet.

News on the new Tolkien-illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings via

Yup, this trailer is twenty years old. Pre-YouTube downloads were where it was at.

Rick Goldschmidt’s history of Rankin-Bass is very much available.

Russell A. Potter’s key article about the making of The Hobbit can be found in Hogan’s Alley #20. There’s some extra illustrations included at this link.

The Rankin-Bass Hobbit can be viewed online various ways via streaming services/rentals. If you’d like to do what Ned did and replicate his youthful listening experience after that first broadcast, enjoy!

Luke Shelton’s 2020 piece about the shadowy 1960s Hobbit animation gives what info you need about that cryptic effort.

Here’s Middle-earth Enterprises’ own timeline for the general rights—worth remembering again that Rankin-Bass’s production was not licensed from them.

The major ‘in the moment’ preview feature for the Rankin-Bass Hobbit appears to have been John Culhane’s New York Times piece that ran just a day or two before the broadcast. Not only are Arthur Rankin and Orson Bean interviewed with a variety of anecdotes but also, regarding his own separate production, Ralph Bakshi.

Rick Goldschmidt’s interview with Arthur Rankin Jr. from 2003—The Hobbit is discussed starting around 12 minutes in.

Arthur Rackham’s influence continues in various ways, but ...


04/05/21 • 96 min

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24. Radagast is Scrappy-Doo!

By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast


03/15/21 • 66 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Jared’s choice of topic: the Istari. Also known as the Five Wizards, the cohort of Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and the two mysterious Blue Wizards, these beings are superficially some of the most easily understandable characters in Tolkien’s mythology: old men who know magic and can cast spells, very much in a long standing mythological and folktale tradition. But while Gandalf may have made his debut in The Hobbit as just such a character, over time, as with so many other elements in his work, Tolkien deepened his background and that of his wizardly brethren in ways that still weren’t fully developed by his passing, ultimately leaving as many questions as answers. What’s suggestive about the two alternate possibilities of the fates of the Istari in Middle-earth—that they mostly failed, or that they mostly succeeded? What elements of Catholic theology are touched on in the conception of the Istari as incarnated spirits from Valinor in Middle-earth? How did Tolkien address what this was meant to represent in terms of what the Valar and Maiar had learned over time? Is it possible that Tolkien contrasted the methods of lore and knowledge Gandalf and Saruman favored in a way that had a personal relevance to his own work and life experience? And just how wonderfully human—if that’s the best comparison—is Gandalf in particular in his deeply down-to-earth ways throughout the major works?

Show notes.

Jared’s doodle. Who knows what, in the end, the Blue Wizards were up to elsewhere in Middle-earth?

Yup, it’s been a year. Stay well everyone.

No Amazon series news but you can read Oriana’s argument about what it should include.

Tolkien Gateway’s summary entry on the wizards of Middle-earth.

Our earlier episode on magic.

There’s plenty of discussion of how the Istari are essentially angels on Middle-earth - this article addresses it from a specifically Catholic perspective, and that’s just one of many.

Letter 156 from The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien features a discussion in more detail on what Gandalf was, specifically.

Of Aulë and Yavanna” is a whole chapter of The Silmarillion for a reason.

To say there’s a lot of writing on ‘classic’ wizards in world literature and mythology is an understatement. Here’s one example.

And indeed, modern wizards in other media: Harry Potter! The Sorcerer’s Apprentice! The Sword in the Stone! Star Wars! Dragonslayer! (That does count.)

Gandalf’s letter to Frodo is such a fun-yet-important element.

Linked it before but Lindsay Ellis really did call it.

The figure on the edge of Fangorn remains a subject of debate...

Have a laugh with our Silver Call Duology episode!

Support By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast on Patreon along with all the other fine Megaphonic shows. (And thank you if you do!)


03/15/21 • 66 min

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23. Hella Problematic in So Many Ways.

By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast


02/08/21 • -1 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Oriana’s choice of topic: Orcs. While not the only ‘bad guys’ in The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s wider mythology by a long shot, they’re generally the most common, appearing in everything from the earliest versions of the Book of Lost Tales to the final years of his reconsiderations and potential revisions. But ultimately the Orcs themselves may also be the most mysterious, their exact origins and place in Tolkien’s wider cosmology unclear, their own culpability potentially up for question in the face of manipulation and lies at the hands of Morgoth, Sauron and their lieutenants, even as they cut literal swathes through green growing grasses and commit horrific acts of violence among other species as much as themselves. What actually does life itself mean in Middle-earth when Tolkien himself couldn’t square away who or what the Orcs were exactly? How does Tolkien’s own unsureness of the Orcs’ origins reflect upon demonizations of the ‘other’ in wider human history, especially given the unsettling implications that Orc genocide can be a solution? How best to address the unavoidably racist elements in the descriptions of the Orcs that Tolkien himself admits to within the scope of his wider themes, and how can they be envisioned in art and film? In what ways did Tolkien’s military experiences shape how the Orcs are often portrayed, and how does that signal ways in which he felt that being an Orc might be less intrinsic and more something created by circumstances? And why do Orcs sound a little like Cockneys, sort of?

Show notes.

Jared’s doodle. We love the little hat.

The Amazon synopsis! And it tells us...almost nothing that we didn’t already know!

Tolkien Gateway’s Orcs entry gives you the basics...but the basics themselves can and do shift.

Our episode on death, in contrast to this wider meditation here on life.

Morgoth’s Ring does have a lot of Tolkien’s later thoughts on Orcs and more. Relatedly, hröa and fëa are important topics here.

You can guess what we think about QAnon. We hope for the best for the misled.

The scene with the dead Haradrim soldier is justly famed, in whatever version.

Aphantasia, as Oriana mentions having.

Tolkien’s letter #210 from the published collection is his response to the proposed Morton Zimmerman script.

Porcs! They’re apparently coming back?

The concept of the Yellow Peril is one of the most pernicious things in human history—and that’s saying something. Fu Manchu is just one small outgrowth.

Totalitarianism in Middle-earth is a rich vein of study—and Tolkien clearly hated it in our world.

Sing along with the Orcs!

Tolkien’s Father Christmas goblins—presumably not like Orcs, but you never know.

You might be familiar with the 1984 film Gremlins. (Ned still remembers the ads.)

Oriana’s conlang piece in Vox (updated from when we last referred to it!). David J. Peterson was who Oriana was referring to.
Pompeii’s graffiti! Ah the glory that was Rome et al.

Support By-The-Bywater on Patreon (thanks!).


02/08/21 • -1 min

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11/01/21 • 75 min

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Oriana’s choice of topic: Sam Gamgee. For all that Frodo Baggins is the Ringbearer and makes something close to the ultimate sacrifice for the fate of the world—at least right until the very last moment—it’s Sam, son of Bag-End’s gardener who seems to only join Frodo at first to help take care of a new house in Buckland, who ends up being the key figure in The Lord of the Rings that helps Frodo on the quest and who remains most grounded in the whirlwind of fates surrounding his steps, down to having the book’s last words. Thanks to a variety of notable performance interpretations over the years, especially and most indelibly Sean Astin’s marvelous turn in the Peter Jackson films, he might just be the most warmly regarded character as well even beyond the book readers. What is the full meaning and understanding behind Tolkien’s well-known comment about Sam being a tribute to his batmen during World War I, and who were the batmen and private soldiers in general in that conflict? Does the understandable characterization of Sam as ‘just’ a simple hobbit belie a notable depth evident even from the start of the book, and how did Tolkien conceive of Sam as distinct from hobbits in general? What fully went into Astin’s portrayal of Sam in particular for the films, and how much of it was also something provided by other key creative forces? And what was the American radio production team from 1979 exactly thinking when they cast Lucille Bliss as Sam?


Jared’s doodle. What can you see on the horizon, indeed.

Wanna be like Oriana? Here’s how to apply to the Warner Bros.’ Writers Workshop.

A summary of the Lenny Henry radio interview with some key quotes.

Willow does have its fanbase, and this planned new series could be good.

The Wheel of Time is coming and we await with interest...

Dune, yes. We quite like it. (Tolkien himself did not.)

Letter 246 to Eileen Elgar, which has a lot of background information on Sam and other characters and their motivations and personalities.

You can find plenty of Sean Astin clips of him portraying Sam out there. As for the others? Some samples: Roddy McDowall for Rankin-Bass, Bill Nighy for the BBC, Michael Scholes for Ralph Bakshi and Lucille Bliss for NPR/The Mind’s Eye (skip ahead to 7:15 in that one).

The famed Tolkien/Sam Gamgee correspondence. Who knew, indeed?

Shakespeare’s rustic characters were something stock, and indeed were often termed ‘clowns’ rather than fools or jesters. Here’s a little more about that.

The Marx quote was from the Communist Manifesto, and indeed, ‘the idiocy of rural life.’

Our episode on friendship.

More on that hand-holding moment.

John Garth’s Tolkien and the Great War is well worth a read.

Batmen are a thing, and nothing to do with DC.

Sean Astin’s autobiography There And Back Again is a very key read for anyone interested in the Jackson ...


11/01/21 • 75 min

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By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast currently has 57 episodes available.

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The podcast is about Podcasts, Books, Arts, Tv & Film and Film Reviews.

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The episode title '31. There Was So Much Math!' is the most popular.

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The average episode length on By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast is 64 minutes.

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Episodes of By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast are typically released every 29 days, 2 hours.

When was the first episode of By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast?

The first episode of By-The-Bywater: A Tolkien Podcast was released on Feb 20, 2019.

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