Thursday, October 29, 2009

The 2010 Northeast Tolkien Society Calendar

The 2010 Northeast Tolkien Society Calendar

In this, our 3rd edition of the Calendar of The Northeast Tolkien Society, we are again grateful to and humbled by the contributing artists and editors. The focus of this calendar has been, and we hope will continue, to feature work from artists that may not entirely be "household" names in fandom. Yet have been illustrating and inspired by Tolkien for many years. The 2010 NETS Calendar as a portal of creativity inspired by Tolkien widens the the artistic lens with the work of Ruth Lacon,Henning Janssen and Sue Wookey, with sketches and illustrations by reknown Tolkien artist Ted Nasmith. The stunning visual representations of people, places and events from the history of Middle earth by these reknown artists stand as a testament to Tolkien's plan, message and scope for a creative continuity of individual minds and hands to participate in a complex and beautiful world. A world Tolkien himself set the foundation for us all to build upon.
The 2010 NETS Calendar would not be complete without a cover illustration and sketches by Jef Murray. This year, as we all are a part of a modern world with many complex issues, we can all take refuge and healing in what Jef has illustrated. We must remember Galadriel's words to Sam "Let the Light be a guide for you in dark places," which many of us find ourselves in right now.
Thank you Jef, Ted, Ruth, Sue, Henning, Phil and Megan for providing NETS with your work, support and dedication.

How to Order, you may visit or read the following carefully:

All funds are in USD only.

Each Calendar is
$20 USD
plus shipping & handling

US Domestic s/h:$5
International (Europe, Asia, and Pacific) s/h: $11
Shipping to Canada: $9
Please note-- shipping costs are per calendar, not per order. Please add shipping and handling for each calendar ordered.
For those ordering in bulk (more than 4 calendars in one shipment), please contact us with your address and we can give you an exact shipping estimate.
Any order inquiries may be sent to

Forms of Payment

We accept Paypal, Personal Check, and Money order in US funds only. All orders will be held until payment has cleared.

Via Paypal
Please note: while Paypal is the easiest and fastest method to make payment, paypal does deduct a service fee. In order to help defray the cost of these service fees, please add an additional $2.50 per order.

Send money via Paypal to
Include your preferred shipping address & valid email address
Add $2.50 to each paypal order to help defray incurred paypal fees.
Via Personal Check or Money Order

All Checks or Money Orders must be made payable, and mailed to:

Jessica Burke
110 Patten St.
2nd Floor
Staten Island, NY 10307
Include with each snail mail order:
Preferred shipping address
Valid email address

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lord of the Rings at RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL

For Immediate Release



OCTOBER 9 & 10, 2009

Tickets On-Sale NOW for This Two-Night Only Can’t-Miss Event!

New York, NY — Devoted fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings have read the books, they’ve seen Peter Jackson’s Academy® Award-winning films, and now they will have a chance to experience composer Howard Shore’s Academy® and Grammy®-winning score to The Fellowship of the Ring live at Radio City Music Hall on Friday, October 9th and Saturday October 10th. For this extraordinary event, 300 musicians—a 75-piece orchestra and a 225-member choir—have been gathered to perform the complete score to 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring live with the motion picture on a massive screen towering above the stage.

Switzerland’s 21st Century Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Ludwig Wicki and featuring The Collegiate Chorale, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and vocal soloist Kaitlyn Lusk, will perform Shore’s epic score synchronized to picture. Shore will introduce each evening’s performances, which take place at 7:30 p.m., in a pre-concert lecture with Doug Adams, author of The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films, and will be available to greet fans at additional events scheduled throughout the weekend. This once-in-a-lifetime, family-friendly event, held at the most prestigious concert venue in the world, is a milestone affair not to be missed by fans of The Lord of the Rings and classical music lovers everywhere!">

Tickets are on sale now! Don’t miss it! Tickets available online at:


Tickets to The Fellowship of the Ring at Radio City Music Hall are available beginning on the first day of sale through Ticketmaster Charge By Phone and all Ticketmaster Outlets, and beginning on the second day of sale at the Garden and Music Hall Box Office. All tickets purchased for Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall events contain a Facility Charge. TicketMaster purchases are also subject to their service charge. The telephone number for Madison Square Garden Event and Ticket Information is (212) 465-MSG1. The Group Sales number is (212) 465-6080. The telephone number for the Madison Square Garden Disabled Services department is (212) 465-6034; for the Radio City Music Hall Disabled Services department, (212) 465-6115 for tickets and information. The TicketMaster

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Staten Island's Fairyland: The Folklore of Cornelius G. Kolff

The Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) has just published the online version of their Spring 2009 newsletter. This comprehensive arts and culture newsletter for the Staten Island area contains the first of many forthcoming articles, and focus, upon the life and works of Cornelius G. Kolff. The feature article briefly discusses Kolff, his life and work, which ends with an event announcement surrounding his work "Staten Island Fairies," planned for April 26th. I am indebted to the work of COAHSI's Folk Arts Programming Director Frank Williams, and COAHSI's Executive Director Melanie Franklin Cohn, Carlotta Defillo Staten Island Historical Society Librarian, and Maxine Friedman Chief Curator of the Staten Island Historical Society for assisting me in helping this process begin in the research and work for the forthcoming Kolff biography and beyond.
Click here to read the full newsletter and be sure to check out the rest of COAHSI's site

On April 26th 2009 Historic Richmondtown and the Staten Island Historical Society, will host COAHSI's event
Staten Island's Fairland: The Folklore of Cornelius G. Kolff at 3pm. The event will consist of individual talks with regard to Kolff's Staten Island Fairies, celebrating its 70th year, by Anthony Burdge, Dr. Phil Papas, Dr. Lori Wentrob, Frank Williams, and poet Marguerite Maria Rivas. Afterward the presenters will discuss their presentations, Kolff and Staten Island Fairies during a panel Q&A session.

The 30 minute talk to be presented by Anthony will be:

Staten Island’s Lönnrot:
Remembering Cornelius G. Kolff as historian and folklorist.

Cornelius G. Kolff loved to be called by his nickname, “Staten Island’s Most Obedient Servant,” and, as history records, he was dedicated to living up to the title. As the ‘Dean of Realtors’ Kolff was a pioneer in the real estate market, and through the affairs of his civic associations he sought to establish Staten Island as part of the commercial world stage. A descendent of a long line of merchants, traders, politicians, and businessmen, Kolff was educated and apprenticed in Europe, and his commercial successes can be linked to his familial ties as well as his predecessor and mentor, Erastus Wiman.

In Kolff’s limited literary and historical publications, as well as his scores of unpublished material—books, pamphlets, and articles—he would continue to boost the image of Staten Island through his prolific writing ventures. However, Kolff’s private realization of his self-proclaimed dualistic Jekyll and Hyde nature worked to counter the model taught him by his mentor Wiman, a model which attacked nature with an onslaught of industry. One side of Kolff’s person fulfilled the necessities of earning a living, and the other sought to replenish what his trade took or damaged. The only testament to Kolff’s environmental concern and naturalist agenda can be seen with his recognition as the first Parks Association Person of Merit for his ceaseless tree planting and advocacy for the creation of recreational parks on Staten Island.

Despite all this, who is Cornelius Kolff? The aim of this talk is to illustrate how Kolff came to be the figure eulogized as an “Apostle of Good Will,” in contrast to his lesser known efforts to preserve human interest stories. Kolff’s folkloric motivations as a writer is comparable to the compiler of the Finnish Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot, whom he was inspired by. Kolff’s establishment of the Philosopher’s Club and Retreat on Emerson Hill greatly parallels, and precedes, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’ literary circle The Inklings.

This talk, highlighted by a photographic slideshow, will establish Kolff as an international folklorist and historian, which will cite examples of his efforts not previously known. To conclude the talk will discuss Kolff’s two fairy stories Haven of Wooden Shoes and Staten Island Fairies. These two tales are unique unto themselves and resurrect the Staten Island fairy story tradition.


It is hoped that you all are able to make it, if you are unable the talk will be made available via The Journal of the Northeast Tolkien Society.

Friday, February 27, 2009

In Memorium: Cornelius Geertruyus Kolff (September 2nd 1860-February 27th 1950)

A century ago, residents of Staten Island knew the name Cornelius G. Kolff --dean of realtors, apostle of good will, a man who dedicated 60 years of his life to boosting the island’s image. Yet members of my generation, and certainly those younger, do not have the pleasure of knowing Kolff, since he passed before our time, and with his passing, it is unfortunate that his name, by and large, has been forgotten. During his lifetime, he like to be called “Staten Island’s Most Obedient Servant." I hope to enlighten those unfamiliar with Kolff about his life and work, about his importance to those of us in Staten Island, and I endeavor to bring awareness to what is being done to re-introduce him to the public eye.
First I must admit, ashamed as I am, my wife and I were only introduced to Kolff four years ago. As my parents introduced me to my life-long study of J.R.R Tolkien, my mother-in-law would re-introduce us to Mr. Kolff and his Staten Island Fairies. My father recently told me that as a child, he took me to see the fairy dolls fashioned after Kolff's fairies. I unfortunately do not have any recollection of seeing them at Staten Island Historical Society’s Toy exhibit.

Since receiving the Staten Island Advance article on Kolff, from my mother-in-law-I have been on a non-stop journey exploring the vast depths of the multidisciplinary work Kolff has left behind. Many Islanders today may not realize it, but they directly experience, enjoy, work, drive or utilize numerous services Kolff developed on Staten Island. Kolff can also be seen as the initial spark responsible for the real estate boom on Staten Island, which has, more or less, gone unchecked since his passing and has swallowed up the open forested spaces cherished in Kolff’s time. At the same time he brought electricity to SI in 1895, which powered the first electric railcar, now the Staten Island Rapid Transit. As the Island’s most prominent civic leader of his time Kolff either founded, was a trustee, President, Secretary, or leader for many of SI’s institutions, such as: The SI Historical Society, SI Institute of Arts and Sciences, SI Chamber of Commerce, Belles Lettres Society, SI Rotary Club, Parks Association and Tree Planting Association. Alongside the many highways, roads, and residential developments, Kolff was the first to propose the great bridge across the narrows in 1926, connecting SI to Brooklyn; the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was completed in 1964.

Can today’s real estate overdevelopment and commercial excesses on SI be solely blamed on Kolff? Not entirely, yet, Kolff was the first to blame himself. As I review Kolff’s life, it has become apparent that he had a very acute awareness of the opposing natures contained in himself: one for business, and the other for the environment.

It is to be feared that all of us have more or less of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde idiosyncrasies in us. Sometimes I think I have. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I know I have. The reason for this latter assertion is quite clear to my mind if not yours. The stern necessities of life compel me to work. I wish it were otherwise, because I have all the instincts of a man of leisure.

Observing an increase in commercial activity upon the island, Kolff later regretted the impact he feared would result in the future. Kolff’s business put in new roads, homes, facilities and watched as the “cruel plow share cut into a bunch of blue Gentians.” Saying goodbye to trees, flowers, and relocated nesting animals, with a moist eye, Kolff noted, “With the rapid development of SI now going on they will all soon be things of the past.” Today, I believe many Islanders would agree with Kolff’s 1919 prediction. I do not believe many developers today have the heart, nor the desire, to save what plants, trees, or shrubbery when the plow sets to destroying a wooded area. It is evident from Kolff’s letters, that he sought to re-plant at his farm what he was able to save from destruction.
His moral struggle, combined with a show of understanding, a comprehension of the plight both he and his society was in, sometimes runs counter to his love of nature. From my experience, developers of today have neither concern for nor conscience about what they are destroying. The necessity of earning a living has become the key focus for us all, and the unrelenting destruction of our natural landscape has become secondary. Would the reader then venture to ask if Kolff’s work, outside of his civic affairs, from his philosophies and stories, to his histories and geographies, to all his collecting and writing of human interest stories, limited to Staten Island? Absolutely, they were not. Kolff sought to establish the importance of Staten Island as a world centre and to ground the borough firmly in story, and a folk history. Kolff chiefly set about this by collecting stories from almost everyone with whom he met.
“I don’t believe anybody hears as many human interest stories as a real estate broker,” Kolff was known to say. In this role he would ask clients and community members for bits of folklore, myths, and stories in an effort to keep a record of these tales. Perhaps his 1934 letter to William T. Davis can shed some light on his reasoning. He said “[I am] anxious to perpetuate as far as possible… short stories, of which I have written many, the individuals and the institutions the memory of which are gradually fading away and will be lost in obscurity unless some record is kept of them.”

Kolff admitted to being an ardent disciple of Emerson’s philosophy and promoted it by building a log cabin on Emerson Hill, five hundred feet from his own farm, which was in the vicinity of the home of Ralph’s brother, Judge William Emerson. Kolff named the cabin the Philosopher’s Retreat. It was here that statesmen, poets, artists, writers, and friends would come and spend hours within a “natural auditorium,” smoking from corncob pipes and reading their philosophical treatises—in a sense sharing their stories. Some of Kolff’s own tales were born from these meetings—meetings that took place during the years of 1904-1917. The Philosopher’s Retreat held meetings some twenty years prior to another famed literary circle meeting across the pond in Oxford, England. Lord of the Rings author, J.R.R. Tolkien, met with C.S. Lewis (of Narnia fame), Charles Williams, and others, and formed The Inklings, a group like Kolff’s that met to share philosophies and stories. So, in essence, the “Staten Island Inklings,” (as I have dubbed them,) were ahead of their contemporaries’ literary curve a half a world away.

A brief exploration of Kolff’s early life can be found in his publication A Staten Island Boy in Holland, or the unpublished An American Boy in Europe which illustrates his first steps toward common ground between Staten Island and distant countries he visited or had the desire to visit in his lifetime. Kolff’s Dutch ancestors were some of the first settlers upon Staten Island in the early 1600’s alongside the already long established Native American population. In 1866, after an initial childhood on SI, Kolff was taken to Europe for his education by his step-father Frederick Momsen. In the ancestral land of his grandfather Ernest Fiedler, a young Cornelius would be the “juengster lehrling,” youngest apprentice serving most of his apprenticeship at Haltermann and Brattstroem in Lubeck, Germany. The company dealt mostly with the Suomi people, or Finland as commonly known. Immediately to the right of entering the office was a huge map of Finland where Kolff would acquaint himself with all of its geographical features of Finland, which its beauties and features of scenery were described to him by the clients. Much was told to him of the literature of Finland, Runeberg, Canth, Topelius, and Lonnrot’s Kalevala which he read 15 years before the birth of Tolkien, another noted Kalevala enthusiast, but did not fully absorb until Kolff was well into his 40’s. Unfortunately it would not be until 1936; sixty years later that he would visit the land of his desire, the Finland of his dreams. There are two unpublished volumes of interest, Finland of My Dreams,” written prior to his trip, detailing history and sites he would like to visit, which is followed by his post trip report Suomi. Both contain such descriptively wrought narratives as to allow the reader an experience almost equal to setting foot on Finnish soil. Following in the footsteps of his merchant family Kolff would learn the trades of his grandfathers and absorb their equal passion for stories.

Kolff’s work is not biased, nor polarized toward one belief system or another, his intent is abundantly clear, to establish that everyone were brothers and sisters under the skin, and that in the eternal fitness of things the foundation of all religions were the same. It was the brother-and sister-hood of the world community for which he sought. This is why he felt that the preservation of human interest stories would in time improve mankind, and his passion for this is unmatched by none other.

Can we then give in and still say Staten Island is a forgotten borough, as has been proposed? That it still suffer from the myth of isolation? Only now do these questions come to the forefront of debate amongst residents. Perhaps it is Kolff’s legacy of placing Staten Island at the world’s centre and it is the people who have forgotten, or just been away from the tomes of time.
It is my hope, as it has been said, that this is Kolff’s year, as we begin to explore his life and work. As cited earlier, for four years now I have been compiling a database of Kolff’s work, and I have been lucky enough to be dubbed the first researcher, and biographer, into his life and work. For this I am grateful first to, my parents, my wife, my mother-in-law, Maxine Friedman and Carlotta Defillo of the Staten Island Historical Society, and secondly to the Folk Art Programming Director Frank Williams and Jo Anne Kavagh of the Council of Arts and Humanties of Staten Island, and Christa Schepen of Rotterdam. This April COAHSI’s newsletter will feature a Kolff article, and begin what I hope to be a fruitful journey toward giving Kolff the dedication he deserves. We are also planning with Frank and COAHSI a day long program dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Staten Island Fairies, fun time for children and adults, with readings and talks, which is currently aimed to take place April 2009. Stay tune to COAHSI, Staten Island Arts for more information.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

2008/09 Calendars almost gone!!

Greetings Everyone,
We hope this finds you all well. We wanted to notify everyone that
the initial print run inventory of Northeast Tolkien Society
Calendars for 2009 are almost gone! For the 2nd year in a row the
calendar features a cover by Jef Murray,(who also has featured
sketches within), and Colin "Bungo" Williams of Annandale Australia
Catherine Karina Chmiel (Kasiopea) of Warsaw. Numerous people have
commented on the incredible work Phil and Megan Goss have done in
bringing this project to fruition, and for the 2008 calendar as well.
There is a only 9 left of the 2008 Calendar, which featured Ted http://www.herenistarion.orgNasmith, Jef Murray and Catherine Sparsidis.
Each Calendar features a:
This 2009 Calendar features:
Shire Reckoning format with Gregorian offsets
Moon Phases
Important dates in Middle-earth

If you are interested in ordering either the 08, 09 or both please
check for information or read the following:
How to Order...
All funds are in USD only.
Each Calendar is
$20 USD
plus shipping & handling
US Domestic s/h:$5
International (Europe, Asia, and Pacific) s/h: $11
Shipping to Canada: $9

Please note-- shipping costs are per calendar, not per order. Please
add shipping and handling for each calendar ordered.

For those ordering in bulk (more than 4 calendars in one shipment),
please contact us with your address and we can give you an exact
shipping estimate.
Any order inquiries may be sent to

Forms of Payment

We accept Paypal, Personal Check, and Money order in US funds only.
All orders will be held until payment has cleared.

Via Paypal

Please note: while Paypal is the easiest and fastest method to make
payment, paypal does deduct a service fee. In order to help defray
the cost of these service fees, please add an additional $2.50 per

Send money via Paypal to
Include your preferred shipping address & valid email address
Add $2.50 to each paypal order to help defray incurred paypal fees.

Via Personal Check or Money Order

All Checks or Money Orders must be made payable, and mailed to:

Jessica Burke
110 Patten St.
2nd Floor
Staten Island, NY 10307
Include with each snail mail order:

Preferred shipping address
Valid email address

Monday, January 19, 2009

Society Update: Letter from the Editor(NETS Journal)

Letter from the Editor
A Personal Confession of sorts…

by Jessica Burke

I’m writing this to you all and asking Anthony to post this independently of our next issue of Parma Nölé for several reasons. It serves as a bit of clarification on some things that have happened on a personal level, and a bit of news on the societal level. I’m also writing because, fundamentally, I’m so grateful and so lucky that I can write at all. As you all know me, I am an honest, aboveboard person—almost to a fault. So I will be sharing something very personal for me, but most things in my life are personal. I ask your indulgence, by way of explanation –for both where Anthony & I’ve been, why we dropped out of sight toward the end of the year, and why we missed our January 3rd toast for the first time in what seems like forever.

Anthony & I knew 2007 was a tough year, but we didn’t know that in some ways 2008 was tougher. It’s our hope, and the hope of millions, that 2009 will be better, brighter, and full. I can’t say that we necessarily hope for change—because the world changes each and every day; every millisecond is a change, and not all change is for the greater good. War is change and death is change and taking in a new breath is change. But, we do need things –for everyone—to move in a more positive direction. We need to feel empowered, as a people and on the individual level as well.

2008, for me personally was a year of great accomplishment, great sadness, and an even greater appreciation for life. The year began and ended with a focus on employment. I found myself unemployed for the better part of the year, finally earned my Masters degree, and with the luck of the Goddess, the Irish, and the persistence of being a person who doesn’t take “no” to heart; I was hired as an Adjunct Lecturer by the College of Staten Island. With the help of so many, we brought our society back from the brink with the NETS calendar. 2008 also saw the last print copy of the journal and the first PDF version of our beloved Parma Nölé. For the first time in more than 6 years, I wrote a story—still unfinished, but at least I began it. And then something more than unexpected happened—something truly unbelievable, and I am a person who believes a lot. I suffered what can only be called a mini-stroke.

It was little more than a week before Thanksgiving. I was still marveling at our nation’s insurmountable chutzpah and unmitigated brilliance in electing our new President, having the first weekend to myself without papers to grade or student emails to plow through, and folding laundry while watching the Obamas on 60 Minutes. To be honest, I don’t know what happened. One minute I was laughing at the Obamas’ exchange about battered clothes and a car with a hole in the bottom, the next, I was doubled over, in what’s got to be the most pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life, surrounded by toppling mathoms of laundry.

I’ve never been good with doctors. I go, when I feel it’s necessary. I’m much better at ignoring my own ailments and making sure those around me are healthy. I can tell my mother to go get checked-out, or tell my husband, but I don’t take my own advice—partially out of obstinacy, partially out of pauperism and the fear that I’ll wind up like those poor folks in Michael Moore’s Sicko, having my health insurance decide to drop me for being too costly.

After about a half hour of trying to reach my cell phone, which sat maybe an arm’s length from me, trying to remember what it was called and how to make it work, I called Anthony at work and he teased me for drinking without him. My speech was slurred, and he told me later that I wasn’t making much sense. I don’t remember what I told him, or what I did really, except that I found myself unable to walk without dragging my right side—which wouldn’t respond properly. I wouldn’t let him come home early, not that it would have done much good since it was just about time for him to come home anyway and with his commute, he’s already 2 hours away. My brother who lives next door wasn’t home, and I didn’t actually think of going to the hospital myself. The time between when I called Anthony, when he came home, and when I went to the hospital the following morning, are a blur. In fact my memory from that entire week, and indeed my short-term memory in general are what’s been affected.

I was in the hospital for the better part of the week, and fought to get released when my tests came back negative or inconclusive. I found myself having been put in the geriatric ward (I know I’m not a kid anymore, but I didn’t think just out of my tweens categorized me as geriatric), visited by a host of doctors—including one who I thought was about to have a heart attack over me (which would have been really bad because then I would have died from being crushed to death by a very large man—think Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man), and subjected to the caterwauling of a deranged senior who screamed from the moment she woke up (at 8 am) to the moment she succumbed to sedatives (2:45 am). I found myself told that I suffered from everything from MS to Lyme Disease to Kidney Stones to Lupus to Spinal Meningitis to Gastroenteritis. My regular doctor refused to come see me because he felt his practice, on the North side of Staten Island, was too far away from the hospital where I was placed, on the South side of Staten Island—and that from a man who commutes home to Israel every fortnight.

The first two days I had a total loss of sensation on my right side, and a partial loss of mobility. I found myself having more blood-work than I have ever have had, put on a forced starvation diet for 2 days (by the idiot Marshmallow doctor who was sent by my personal doctor when Anthony threatened malpractice), and given the Technicolor experience of having an IV put in, not once, not twice, not thrice—but FOUR times because of a combination of weak veins and partial incompetence (not on my account). I was given some medication by mistake and had what equated a VERY bad drug trip—with no euphoric advantage—and FINALLY, on the day I wanted to check myself out, was seen by a doctor that knew what he was talking about. He explained that my condition was one of two things—a mini-stroke or TIA (Temporary Ischematic Attack) on its own, or a TIA brought on by a migraine. He was leaning toward the latter because my partial paralysis was not permanent, although I am still a great deal weaker in strength on the right side and won’t be wielding a saber or shield any time soon. I was also lucky enough not to have permanent damage show up on my CT scan—hence my ability to type and think and write right now. However, as I write this, I am coming to terms with the fact that all my sensation did not return on my right side and I have a slight dulling on that side.

I do still have inordinate fatigue, and find my concentration is a bit harder to hold onto than before. I find myself texting Anthony while he’s at work to ask him little things that have slipped beyond the realm of my memory. If I think too long and too hard, I find myself spiraling downward, and when I mentioned this to my mother, who may actually be a bit in denial or disbelief that what I suffered, a TIA, was indeed a mini-stroke, she shrugged it off by saying that it’s my age. I know I’m getting older, but come on… I find a little in common with old Barleyman, and can honestly say that there are more times that my mind is like an old lumber-room, thing wanted not found quickly enough. To humor myself, I keep thinking of my beloved Peter Davidson’s 5th Doctor when he shouts, “Quickly now, my concentration’s likely to go at any moment.” It makes me laugh, as opposed to the morbid reality that my brain has been affected in some way by the experience. Rest assured, I can still recall exactly what chapter Sam talks about being part of a story that doesn’t have an end, how to say the Ringscript in the Black Language, what Shakespeare’s last play really was, and can recite the first few lines of Beowulf in the original (although before November, it was the first 14 lines).

The day after I was released, I went right back to work, terrified that I wouldn’t be rehired if anyone found out that I may have suffered a stroke. Luckily no one did, and I was rehired for the Spring term. It was most difficult the fortnight immediately afterwards because my short-term memory was the most affected—it still is, but I’m working at it consciously and aside from the momentary forgetfulness partly expected in someone of professorial attitude, it is much better than it was during those first weeks. I have found, however, that I have to consider and think about things before I write or speak, whereas before I never had to do that. I also find myself committing what my family used to call “popisms”—so called for my father’s occasional word mix-ups. I might have a thought cross my mind, or a word pop into my brain unbidden, and it gets mixed into what I may be saying at the time. I can easily laugh off calling a bag of kitty litter a bag of antibiotics, but there are moments of terror when I feel like a filing drawer that someone’s rifled through carelessly.

My dad’s “popisms” were the result of a massive stroke he had 12 years ago next month. For the first time, I can say I know exactly what it’s like to do that—to get your wires temporarily crossed, although, my comprehension has not been affected at all: thank the Goddess. And, I do have Her to thank, in addition to my family, for helping me through what has been a most difficult time. I have always been a spiritual person, but did find this experience has brought me in closer contact with that side of myself. Being close to the beyond can do that, but it’s also brought back my old 4am malady of mortality.

Because of my dad, I always thought I knew an awful lot about strokes—symptoms of, prevention for, et cetera. When it happened to him, I found myself just about to graduate from Brooklyn College with my Bachelors Degree. I stopped pursuing any career after graduation in order to stay home and care for him. I knew, first-hand, about the recovery process, so I know even more acutely how lucky and blessed I am. I can stand, speak, think, care for myself.

Why have I divulged this to you all? Not for any strange voyeuristic sense or for any desire for compassion, but because I want you all to take care of yourselves. There’s always an undercurrent thought of invincibility, and it’s something much more pervasive in today’s world than perhaps it ever was. I am not a child any more, but still there was this thought that things like this happened to other people. Perhaps, I should have thought differently and taken care of myself more. The weeks following the attack, I don’t really want to refer to it as a stroke, I was basking in the freedom of being alive, not hospital-bound, and able to actually eat foodstuff that didn’t consist of watered-down jell-o, un-salted broth, and Sanka. I feel the need to be honest, and to tell you all not to ignore your health. Take care of yourselves, even when to do so is perhaps the scariest thing in the world.

And, when taking care, make sure you keep your eyes open. Ask questions and do NOT allow any medical “professional” treat you like some lowly peon just because you don’t have a medically inclined alphabet after your name. If I hadn’t asked questions, I might have been kept in the hospital for quite a long time waiting for my health insurance to approve the MRI I’m still waiting for. I also might have had that MRI skewed to give false readings if I had allowed the Marshmallow doctor perform a Spinal Tap on me, just because he thought it would be a good, aggressive first course of action. I would have most likely had to endure an IV in an area other than my arms if I didn’t tearily insist my nurses limit their IV probes. I was concerned that my knuckles and feet would have been considered, if I hadn’t drawn the line somewhere. I would have been treated for gastric diseases I don’t have, and put on some of the heaviest sedation ever just because they could offer it to me since I was placed into the exclusive “In-Patient” club.

I think it’s also a bit easier to explain myself once, rather than continually on an individual basis. Only a very few knew what happened when it happened, not because we wanted to keep the information from our friends, but because we weren’t sure what had happened. The last thing I wanted to do was to alarm anyone with the myriad diagnoses that those morons masquerading themselves as medical professionals so happily ladled out to me during my weakest moments.

Finally, I wanted to offer this as an apology to everyone that I’ve not called back or emailed, to everyone that I’ve lost contact with unwittingly. I can honestly say that for the first time in some time, being busy wasn’t my excuse, but I rather miss using that as an explanation.

Parma Nölé
What does any of this mean for the journal or for the society for that matter? As you might imagine, I am rather glad Anthony & I made the decision to put the journal in a strictly PDF format, and switch the society to a free format. Having Parma Nölé in an online PDF format makes it easier for several reasons, not the least of which is layout. I still aspire to have timely issues, but am content to say that Parma Nölé is a quarterly-ish publication.

Many of you know that in December, our home computer—perhaps feeling a sympathy with me—suffered a stroke of its own, but unlike my own situation, the computer is not recovering. We found it necessary to replace our old clunker, but have a very large amount of information housed in the old carcass. If anyone sent a submission for the journal, I beg you to resend it to us at:

I cannot place any date for publication for the next issue, but can say that unless we have submissions, no new issue will be published any time soon—so the invitation stands, send us your words, your enlightenment, your opinion, your art, your poetry, your fiction (provided no copyright infringement takes place & it’s PG-13 rated).

For those of you new to Heren Istarion and Parma Nölé, take a look through past issues, particularly the last issue, to see what we’re about. I encourage you to send us something. When in doubt, you can always send a “Why Tolkien?” We are open to everyone, whether you came to Tolkien from the recent films, or whether you detest these interpretations; we’re friends to academics and non-academics, geeks and wonks and timey-wimey wordsmiths.

I would ask that you send me a query for pieces longer than your arm, and remind our staff contributors that I am in need of your contributions.

For the visually inclined, having our journal in PDF, makes it much more amenable to vivid color art. Again, any art submitted must not conflict with copyrights. We’re looking for original art, Tolkien &/or fantasy inspired, but art that gives us a mythopoeic feel is what we’re really after. Again, look at past issues to see our preferences.

To anyone seeking submission, please refer to our Submission Guidelines, but be aware, I’m intending to revise those to make them a bit more user friendly. If I’ve learned one thing as I do get older, I tend to be a bit caustic when I’m most passionate about something. So, please don’t get frightened off by my rather heavy-handed tactics. I’m just a hobbit really, but do sometimes identify with poor old Lobelia and her pink umbrella.

Heren on Facebook? Is that Tolkien?
Those who know us, know that Anthony & I have resisted the electronic age staunchly. We chose to run our society singularly when the notion of an exclusive online community and electronic journal was thrust upon us some years before we were ready to consider such things. We must note that despite some current changes, we will not become an exclusively online community. We will continue to hold moots when time and finances allow, although turning to the Net in the way we have recently allows us a certain freedom we haven’t had before.

Necessity had us turn the journal into a strictly electronic format—both financial and environmental. In an age that may see The New York Times move over for Politico, how can such a modest society as ours continue as we have? Having Parma Nölé in an online format also allows us to remove the membership fee and make the society free.

More on Parma Nölé
For those, like me, who will never replace a page with a pixel, we will continue to offer Parma Nölé as a print-on-demand at a cost determined by the size of the issue. Email us directly for information. We will also, with the proceeds from our calendars, begin another print-on-demand venture, or series of ventures, with the bibliophile in mind. After getting our personal lives in order, Anthony & I will begin to compile a “best of” series of Parma Nölé, which may finally bring to fruition our desire to do a collection dedicated “To the Professor” some years ago, the title of which hasn’t been finalized or even temporized as of yet. We’re still tossing around the ideas, and when we have a more distinct game-plan, we will pass on the information to you all.

I can say that if you wish to see your work in one of these bound volumes, submit something for consideration for Parma Nölé to get your foot in the proverbial door.

A final note on the e-Age…
I will never be comfortable with the Internet. Big Brother isn’t just watching, he’s behind many of the conveniences that have become addictions. However, I’ll reiterate something I said on a post to a friend’s Facebook page as part of an on-going dialogue about the pros and cons of putting Tolkien Societies on something like Facebook. Heren Istarion, as many of you know, is a small society who has struggled to keep afloat over the last year or two. Our society was saved monetarily by our calendar, however, Anthony & I have noticed that our modest society was stagnating nonetheless. We’ve never been interested in running something with vast legions, nor running something that becomes the focal point of our existence. We’ve done the big events and small ones; we’ve run large, complicated websites, and more streamlined ones; we’ve seen our membership lists swell from the hundreds to less than 25; and we’ve come to a conclusion that we can’t fight the e-Age if we want our society to survive… at least, not for the moment. I love having a group where I know everyone by name, but Anthony & I also want to run a group that’s overflowing with discourse, communication, and an expanse of ideas. We did have that, but for some reason or a myriad of them, it faltered. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I think we can have an intimate group with an expanse of discourse at the same time. And, at the same time, not be bound by the limitations of what a metro or plane fare can bring us. It would be truly a marvel to have a round of hobbit talk with good plain hobbit fare as we were able to do in the wilds of Berkley or Toronto or New Britain—but not all hobbits were able to make those rare occasions and with the world the way it is now, how many of us can say they can spare to hop on a transcontinental excursion to belabor the Balrog/wing debate?

Some of you may think I’m trying to justify NETS on Facebook, but again, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me. I’m not a Facebook fan, and have a bit of a problem with sending people “Karma” or even playing bizarre games involving elves’ blood that uses mice instead of dice. Anthony & I may even branch out beyond Facebook and take advantage of what They have put in place—for now. And, until the apocalypse or 2012 brings back the use of wax to seal real live letters, then why not use what the tech-geeks have gifted us? Not to would have been to shove fire back at Prometheus and to go back to dragging things in the dust when a perfectly good wheeled cart was available.