Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

An Update on My Walk to Mordor

Do you remember a few months ago when I blogged about my plans to walk to Mordor?

That is, I signed up for an app that lets you track how many miles or kilometres you walk every day and gives you updates about what Frodo and Sam were up to when they’d walked a similar distance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Someone I know also signed up for this app when I blogged about it back in May, so I’ve had a buddy to compare journeys with every time I log in to update my account. That was a nice surprise, and I’m always open to connecting with other people on this journey if anyone else wants to start it.

The cool thing about this challenge is that it almost feels like I’m walking alongside Frodo and the other characters from Lord of the Rings as I log my kilometres walked every day and read about the people they met and the places they visited during their question.

Now that I’m a third of the way through this experience, I thought it was time for an update. 

A Long Journey

Screenshot of the Walk to Mordor App. It shows a green bar filled one third. It also says that there are 38 km to go before I reach the next milestone in Sam and Frodo's journey. What I’m enjoying the most about this walk to Mordor so far is fully realizing just how much walking it required. On average, I log between 9 and 10 kilometres a day. Those numbers are nothing compared to what Frodo and Sam must have done on most days in order to make it to Mordor on time.

It’s one thing to read about characters walking a long distance.

It’s quite another to walk that same distance yourself. Every time I read a new update on their adventures, I wonder how these characters kept going day after day. What I’m doing for the sheer fun of it they did because they really had no other choice. Either Frodo needed to destroy the One Ring at Mordor or see his entire world be destroyed.

To be fair, I have a warm, soft bed to sleep in every night, a sturdy pair of sneakers, plenty of food to keep me going, and no Nazgul hunting me down. So my experiences with this fitness challenge are obviously going to be much easier than the real journey was.

Although I will always be a little jealous of the fact that Frodo and Sam got too eat lembas.

Non-Competitive Exercise

The non-competitive nature of this challenge is something I’m also really liking about it. Other players might make it through all 3109 kilometres (1932 miles) faster or slower than I do. Honestly, this isn’t something I’ve taken the time to google or spend energy thinking about.

There’s nothing wrong with other people competing with each other on distance walked or how long it takes to finish the game, but I’m completely content to keep chugging along at my usual pace. The storyline provides so much fodder for the imagination that I honestly don’t want to rush this experience.

I’m currently estimating that I’ll complete this challenge in March of 2020 if I keep up the same pace. In my first post in this series, my best guess was that I’d be finished by late winter or early spring. It will be interesting to see if that same prediction holds in a few months when I share another update on my progress!

This post is going to be shorter than usual, but I really don’t have much else to report for now. The walk to Mordor is going well and I’m feeling good so far.

Respond

Have you ever taken up a fitness or other challenge based on a book? If so, what was it? This experiment has been well worth my time so far, and I’m definitely interested in trying similar games in the future if anyone has recommendations.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books I Love That Became Films or TV Shows

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I recently did a Top Ten Tuesday post on a similar topic, so it’s going to be interesting to see how many other shows I can come up with. My best guess is that the first two items on my list will be on everyone else’s lists, too!

Lord of the Rings

With all of the 1980s and 1990s remakes coming out these days, I hope that this trend ends before anyone decides to remake the early 2000s Lord of the Rings films. They’ve aged wonderfully in my opinion. I’d rather see studios take a chance on something new than remake these films even though I do love this story.

Harry Potter 

There are certain things that work beautifully in a novel but won’t feel the same in a film (and vice versa). Overall, I was quite pleased with how the Harry Potter films depicted the Potterverse. The first few movies in particular will always feel magical to me.

The Martian

This film did an excellent job of explaining how the main character used science creatively to get himself out of all sorts of life-threatening predicaments when he was accidentally stranded on Mars. My first experience with Andy Weir’s style of storytelling came from this movie, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since.

Room 

Emma Donoghue’s original version of this drama about a young boy who had lived his entire life in the same room because his mother had been kidnapped by a violent stranger a few years before the boy’s birth made me stay up very late at night to see how it would turn out.

The film version of it was just as intense. Even though I already knew how it ended, I still found myself holding my breathe at certain key scenes.

Still Alice

Lisa Genova’s book by the same name was about a woman named Alice who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I was so excited when it was turned into a film.Both versions followed Alice from shortly before she was diagnosed until well into the progression of this disease. They were tearjerkers and I’d reread/rewatch either of them in a heartbeat.

My great-grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, so it was especially meaningful to see what this illness might be like for the person experiencing it. The gif above is from a scene where Alice forgets how to get home again early on in the course of her disease. It was the moment when I realized just how amazing this story is.

Hidden Figures

Where there were a few fictional tweaks to the film version of Hidden Figures that I wasn’t a big fan of, the true story that Margot Lee Shetterly wrote of how these women made the calculations that sent humankind to the moon is still something well worth checking out.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Why I’ve Decided to Start Walking to Mordor

When I was a preteen, one of my uncles gave me copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I read and enjoyed The Hobbit immediately.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy took longer to get into. The vocabulary in it kept making me pause to look up words I’d never heard of before, and the pacing was slower than I was used to in the other stories I discovered at that age.

Still, reading about the roughly 3109 kilometres (1932 miles) that Frodo and Sam walked during the course of this adventure did grab my attention. I was the sort of kid who liked the outdoors in small doses before I ventured inside again to cool off and have a snack.

The thought of walking – and occasionally running –  as far as they did while being hunted down by all sorts of malevolent creatures and skipping second breakfast made me shudder.

As an adult, I wonder what it would be like to walk that distance for the sheer fun of it. There have been various points in the past when I’ve run across accounts of people who made spreadsheets that tally how far the characters walked to get to each each milestone in the plot  and when they as a fan can pretend like they’ve reached the next one based on how far they’ve walked in real life.

It was only recently that I discovered a site that keeps track of this information for you. Walk to Mordor offers free cellphone apps and also has a space on their website for people who prefer to log their miles that way instead.

The best part about this game is that it gives you notifications about what is happening in the story as the distance you’ve travelled reach specific plot points. It starts in Bag End, Frodo’s home and the opening scene for this tale, and it goes all the way through what happened in the Grey Wood after the battles had all ended. I like the thought of that.

The man who created it developed it out of his love of these books, and I’m talking about it today simply because I think it’s an incredibly cool idea that I thought some of my bookish followers who also enjoy exercising might want to check out.

As always, this blog does not feature sponsored content and I am not being compensated for this post in any way.

Why Mordor, Though?

Because it’s a challenge.

Over the past five years, I’ve been keeping track of some of my fitness-related statistics. I’ve walked an average of 9.7 kilometres (6 miles) a day since I first began recording this stuff. This includes days when I didn’t move much due to illness or injury, so that number is higher when I’m feeling well.

Weight training is my other main source of exercise. I still find it challenging, and there’s nothing I’d change about my lifting routine at the moment.

As much as I enjoy walking, it doesn’t give me that same sense of accomplishment that moving up to a heavier set of weights or noticing how my body changes when I lift weights and eat a good diet.

By no means am I bored with walking…but I do like the idea of seeing all of the distance I put in on the average day add up to something tangible.

There’s also the fact that Walking to Mordor has a definite end date. If I continue at my current pace, it will wrap up at the end of winter or beginning of spring in 2020. I like the idea of starting something new while knowing that it won’t and can’t last forever.

(Relatively) Calm Entertainment

Photo Credit: Dawn Endico

This style of storytelling appealed to me, too. I’ve been looking for a fitness app that was somehow tied to science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction for a while now, but I was selective about what sort of adventure I was going to be signing up for.

First of all, It needed to be something that wasn’t going to track my location in the real world or sell my personal information to other companies. There is far enough of that happening in the world as is!

I also wasn’t interested in an app that tried to get me to move faster or for longer distances because of a storyline that involved anyone being chased by zombies or other dangerous creatures.

While I can see how that would be very motivating for some players, it’s not the sort of thing that I personally find appealing. Tell me a good story, but do let me move at my own pace while everything is unfolding.

Knowing how it ends for Frodo and his many companions was yet another reason why I decided to sign up for this game. I was definitely not feeling calm the first time I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there is something to be said for returning to a world you’ve visited many times before even if it’s plot isn’t exactly what most people think of as a soothing one at first glance.

I was willing to pay for what I was looking for, by the way. The fact that I found a free app that fit my criteria was icing on the cake.

Join Me

If anyone reading this wishes to friend me on Walk to Mordor, do a search for Lydia Schoch. I kept my username there simple on purpose, and I’m happy to share my journey there if we’ve talked before and you’d like to link up.

Either way, I may be blogging about this game and others like it again in the future as I move through the various scenes. The thought of turning exercise into a non-competitive game appeals to me very much!

Adventures in Making Lembas Bread

Have you ever read a book that described fictional foods you desperately wished you could try? I blogged about this topic in detail a few months ago. Recently, I decided to finally try the closest thing to real Lembas bread that exists on our planet since the elves left Middle-earth at the end of The Lord of the Rings.

Not only is this recipe simple, it uses ingredients that are very common. You might have all of them in your kitchen already!  Not having to shop for obscure ingredients that I probably won’t use in any other dishes was one of the main reasons why I chose this particular recipe to try. I bake pretty infrequently (as you’ll hear about below), so I generally only buy seasonings, spices, and other things that I can use in multiple ways in the kitchen.

I’m copying over the ingredients and instructions into this post so that they’ll still exist somewhere if the site I linked to above ever goes down. Do click on over for the nutrition information and for a gorgeous picture of the final product, though.

If you want to know my detailed thoughts on making this recipe and how I’d change it in the future, keep reading.

Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups of flour
    • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
    • 8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) of cold butter
    • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
    • 2/3 cup of milk or heavy cream (or more, if necessary)
    • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

 

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celcius (425 degrees Fahrenheit).
2) Mix the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
3) Add the butter and mix with a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine granules.
4) Add the sugar and cinnamon, and mix them thoroughly into the mixture.
5) Add the milk/cream and vanilla and stir them in with a fork until a nice, thick dough forms.
6) Roll the dough out about 1/2 in thickness.
7) Cut out 3-inch squares and transfer the dough to a cookie sheet.
8) Criss-cross (DO NOT cut all the way) each square from corner-to-corner with a knife.
9) Bake for about 12 minutes or more (depending on the thickness of the bread) until it is set and lightly golden.(the recipe makes about 10-12 pieces of lembas)

The first time I try any recipe, the only substitutions I make are to replace any milk and milk products in it with foods that won’t cause any allergic reactions for me. It’s important to know what something is supposed to taste like before you fiddle around with the ingredients too much.

I used vegan butter instead of traditional butter and almond milk as a replacement for the milk/heavy cream. If you consume dairy products, I’d love to know how this turns out with them.

The dough did feel slightly dry when I was rolling it out. That made it a little challenging to keep the dough together when I was cutting it into pieces. When I make this recipe again, I’d like to see how it turns out with a full cup of almond milk. I suspect that will be just enough additional liquid to solve the minor issues I had with getting the dough ready to be baked.

As I mentioned above, I don’t regularly bake stuff like bread or sweets. My supply of brown sugar had dried out, and I didn’t know that was the case until I’d reached that section of the directions. It was slightly challenging to mix that ingredient into the dough thoroughly. The little brown speck you see in the final product was a result of that.

Next time I’ll use fresh brown sugar and won’t have that problem. Raisins might be a nice addition to it as well. Despite my minor problems with the dough, the final product tasted delicious. It is definitely something I’ll be making again.

I know that my tastebuds have changed since I started eating a low sugar diet, but the combination of cinnamon, maple syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar made me think of it as a dessert.

Keep in mind that this isn’t as sweet as a typical dessert, but it does have a sweetness and chewiness to it that made it an appealing snack.

The Lembas bread I made two days ago has been keeping well so far. It honestly tastes even better after it’s had a day or two to rest. I love non-fussy recipes like that.

As for whether or not it will sustain you on a long journey or vex the Smeagols in your life, only time will tell. 😉

5 Scifi Themes I Wish We Had More Stories About

I know there are fans and writers of the science fiction and fantasy genres who read this blog. Today, I wanted to talk about themes that I wish would be explored more often in these genres and pick your brains. If you know of any books that include these themes, come on over to Twitter and tell me about them.

If you don’t know of any stories that fit these descriptions, maybe it’s time for us to start writing them!

Sentient Plants

By far my favourite characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy were the Ents. I was enthralled by the idea of a tree-like creature being as intelligent as any person, elf, or hobbit. The more I learned about their physiology, the more curious I became about what it would be like to exist in-between the world of plants and the world of mammals.

I’m struggling to think of any other examples of this kind of storytelling in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Occasionally I’ll read something about an alien or magical plant that’s surprisingly dangerous, but they’re almost never able to carry on a conversation.

It’s hard to imagine what a plant would think about the world around us. How would staying in the same place for your entire life – more or less – while hoping that nothing eats you change the way you thought about everything from family to how dangerous this planet it? Would a plant be surprised by the human concept of war or understanding of it? How would they compare the seeds they dropped every year to how people raise their young?

If I knew more about biology, I’d have written a story about this already. The more I think about it, the more I feel the urge to research it enough to make educated guesses about what such a creature might be like. There is so much scope for the imagination here, as Anne Shirley would say.

A Replacement for Religion

Organized religion is in a rapid decline in western countries. Fewer people are attending religious meetings or labelling themselves as members of a particular faith with every passing generation.

What will western society be like when the majority of people label themselves as Atheist, Agnostic, None, or vaguely spiritual but without loyalty to any particular religion? Western Europe is a few decades ahead of North America in this process, so there are glimpses of what that kind of society will be like.

My question is, what, if anything, is going to replace religion as a widespread cultural understanding that binds a society together? Will it be sports? Pop culture? A rising interest in science? Nationalism? Has the idea itself of having one thing that most of a population grew up experiencing outlived itself?

How would a post-religious society interact with other countries on Earth that tend to be much more devout?

Yes, Star Trek has given us one vision of what this kind of future might look like, but I’d like to see other people’s extrapolations, too. Science fiction in general seems hesitant to explore religious themes in depth unless it was written specifically to proselytize or as part of the Inspirational genre.

I wish this wasn’t so. There are ways to explore people’s relationship to their faith (or lack thereof) without assuming the audience agrees with the character or trying to (de)convert anyone.

 

Life After Fossil Fuels

Eventually, we’re not going to be able to get enough oil, natural gas, and coal out of the Earth in order to sustain all of the systems that rely on those fuels to keep going. This moment could arrive far sooner than we realize, too.

I’ve read many post-apocalyptic books about people returning to agrarian societies as a direct result of some kind of war or other conflict, but I haven’t read too many that explore what would happen if there wasn’t a single disaster that broke modern society down.

How would you keep communities going after the last drop of gasoline has been used up? What parts of our medical  educational, correctional,and municipal systems could adapt to a world that must rely on renewable resources? What parts of them would become luxuries for the wealthy or fade away entirely as resources grew scarce?

I wouldn’t be surprised if most people began working from home in this sort of future. While I think of that as a positive step for society due to the elimination of commutes, the reduction in the spread of communicable diseases, and the increased freedom that comes with having total control over your work environment, only time will tell what negative side effects from that arrangement could be.

Photo credit: Terminator007007007.

Aliens Who Aren’t as Technologically Advanced as Humans

Imagine meeting an alien species that was a few hundred thousand to a few million years behind us.

How would we treat their planet?

How would humans treat them?

If they could talk, would they be better off or worse off than a species that had no idea what was happening to it?

There are hundreds of stories out there about aliens coming to Earth and trying to steal our resources. I wonder why we so often assume they’d be violent, cruel, and greedy. Is that the way we’d treat them? Is it a quietly lingering cultural guilt over how certain groups of people have been terribly mistreated in the past?

Given how difficult it seems to be for life to take hold in the universe in the first place, I wouldn’t be surprised if any alien species we do find out there is closer to the self-awareness of a houseplant or a lizard than to a fellow humanoid.

 

Crop Circles

I remember hearing all kinds of bizarre stories about crop circles when I was a kid.

Some people were convinced that they were messages from alien races. It was never clear to me what kinds of messages they were or if anyone ever thought they’d decoded them.

Other folks set out to prove that many different types of crop circles could be recreated by humans using simple tools. There have been a few other cases where crop circles were shown to be a natural reaction to archeological remains. When this happens, the same design appears in the field every year because of how those ruins have affected the soil.

For a topic as old and well-known as this one, I’m a little surprised by the fact that I don’t remember reading any sci-fi stories about it at all. This sure seems like it would a topic that could be explored from many different angles, from the extraterrestrial to the paranormal to the bizarre but still completely logical.

How about you? What science fiction and fantasy themes do you wish were more commonplace?

Tailored Book Recommendations Are the Best

The Chronicles of Narnia was one of the first series I remember being recommended to me. My generous uncle gave me all seven books in that series at once when I was in elementary school. As soon as I read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, I began quietly touching the back of every… Read More