I’m enjoying a vacation from work (sometimes I really love the academic calendar) and like any good Tolkienite, I’m marathoning the films once more before I go back to work on Monday. This time, as I work my way back through Middle-earth in the books and on screen, I am noticing things I never noticed before. Perhaps I should blame my graduate-level education for being unable to enjoy a book for its own sake any more, but the intricacies enrich the world and make the story so much richer for me.

Throughout my re-reading of The Lord of the Rings, it is repeatedly seen that Frodo, and other Fellowship members, have thoughts in their heads that are not their own–a narrative tactic that I wish I could duplicate in my own work. Oftentimes these characters will make exclamations in languages in which they are not fluent, usually Elvish, and have visions of things that may or may not have already happened. These foreign thoughts can be good or evil, and are influential in the actions of the main characters (particularly the hobbits), especially Frodo in his dealings with the One Ring. I mention Frodo specifically, because of the burden of his Quest. Any influences on the hobbit could make or break Middle-earth.  Could Frodo be hallucinating and delirious under the effects of the Ring, or is there a Higher Power playing in the turn of events in Middle-earth?

source: councilofelrond.com
source: councilofelrond.com

Sometimes, I like to answer my own questions, and so I took a look at the origins of Middle-earth (my obsession has led me to have my own Tolkien library). If you’ve never read The Silmarillion (and I think that everyone should), Middle-earth was created by Eru, or Ilúvatar with the help of the song of the Ainur, but after the creation of Eä, or the world, the Creator is conspicuously silent and absent from the cycle of events that unfold in his creation. He places select Ainur in the role of the Valar (think of them as deific beings who watch over Middle-earth, like the Norse gods and goddesses); they are the protectors of Eru’s creation. In The Silmarillion,  the reader repeatedly sees the intervention of the Valar in the course of the history of Tolkien’s secondary world, particularly in the battles against Melkor, AKA Morgoth (the first Dark Lord, and Sauron’s master). The Valar actively go to battle with Melkor, restrain him for three ages, and then later cast him out into the Void.

Martin Freeman as John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock Series Two Finale The Reichenbach Fall

Hello shippers, and happy New Year! As another holiday gift from me to you, and to celebrate the fact that Sherlock is FINALLY returning, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Johnlock fics.

So if man love between a consulting detective and an army doctor isn’t for you, you may want to look elsewhere.

Click on the title for a link to the fic. I’ve also included fics that I’ve recced in the past, because, well, why not.

Alone on the Water by MadLori

Author’s Summary: Sherlock is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Warning: angst like whoa.

My Thoughts: The best fanfiction I’ve ever read. Period. Read my full review here.

A Cure for Boredom by emmagrant01

Author’s Summary: They’d never talked about sex in the year they’d known each other. Well, that wasn’t quite correct: Sherlock had never said a word about sex; John had bemoaned his personal dearth of it on many occasions.

My Thoughts: The most infamous fic in the Johnlock fandom, and I only read it because of the recommendation by the Collectiva Diva, Queen of Smut. The chemistry between John and Sherlock is practically tangible, but I really only have one thing to say about this one: Cinnamon. 

I am a bit of a music snob.

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Meaning, I regularly turn my nose up at popular music, preferring instead to listen to the tunes that inspire rather than the blather played on the radio or on the charts. The thing is, in 2013, those lines were blurred, and not in a rape-y, Robin Thicke sort of way.

I not only gorged on my usual obscure, artsy music, but I happened to fall in love with some of the hottest albums released on 2013. Here are the 10 albums I listened to obsessively in 2013 and will continue to bump in 2014. If you haven’t heard of the band or the album, click the links, check out the videos and give ’em a listen.

I hope you will find something on this eclectic list that catches your fancy.

xoxo

The Collectiva Diva

The Music

1) Born to Die the Paradise Edition by Lana Del Rey

Released in November 2012, The Paradise Edition of Born to Die is a double album with 8 extra songs in addition to the original Born to Die discography. Lana’s voice is ethereal and her lyrics are hardcore. She is a perfect mixture of a Lolita seductress and a ride or die chick. The singer reminds me of that bad ass party girl I know from the streets of Hollywood; as comfortable piss drunk at a house party in burbs of West Covina as she is lounging by the roof top pool at The Standard. Interested in watching a 27 minute short film set to the tune of Paradise? Check out Tropico, starring Lana Del Rey as Eve, a stripper and other archetypal roles she’s bloody good at playing.

“Yayo”

The Time of the Doctor

Written by Steven Moffat

The Collective gals have been dreading this episode ever since the BBC’s announcement that Matt Smith was leaving Doctor Who back in June. For those of us who fell in love with Eleven fairly soon after he and his bumbling TARDIS crashed into Amelia Pond’s garden shed back in April 2010, the Timelord’s regeneration proved to be as emotional and as satisfying as we knew it would be. While I have enjoyed watching many different faces play the time traveling alien, Matt Smith was my Doctor. The Doctor with whom I began the journey through the time vortex and the one who sparked my interest in the wide Who-niverse of this brilliant television show. Matt Smith played Eleven as an ancient god; fierce and fun, sad and sweet, knowledgeable and knowingly forgetful all at the same time. He protected the innocent, never forgot a face and believed that everyone mattered. This is what led him to Trenzalore. (Spoilers ahead, sweetie!)

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S07xE15 (the 2013 Christmas special)

AKA Raggedy Man, Goodnight

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A few months ago, I asked my nephew what he wanted for Christmas. “I want the sonic screwdriver,” he said.

“Which one?” I replied. (At five years old, Jacob is one of the most prolific Whovians I know.)

“The Tenth Doctor’s. Cuz he’s the best.”

I ordered him a sonic screwdriver off Amazon the next day. Bam. Christmas shopping done. But then, I did a silly thing and left the screwdriver in a place where any five-year-old could find it: right next to the Wii. From my silly mistake spawned a wonderful idea that encompassed the gift giving for both Jacob and his mother: a Whovian Christmas.

Phase One: The Idea

The Collected Canadian had the idea, I must say. We were brainstorming gift ideas for Jacob’s mom, and the Collected Canadian said, “You know, I bet she’d love a Doctor Who-themed photoshoot. She’s always saying she needs pictures of all of us together.” Bam. There it was. We’d all dress up like Whovian characters and do a photoshoot. We all know how much I love my cosplay, right?

So, the casting:

  • Jacob as the Doctor
  • The Collected Canadian as the TARDIS
  • Moi (The Collectress) as Bad Wolf Girl (From “The Day of the Doctor”)
  • Jacob’s mom as Amelia Pond
  • Jacob’s mom’s boyfriend as Rory Williams

Phase Two: Putting the Pieces Together

Now came the hard part: putting it all together without my sister (and housemate!) knowing. We started small, by first implanting the idea of buying Jacob a Doctor outfit to go with his sonic screwdriver. We decided on the Eleventh Doctor, because Jacob really likes his fez. (Fezzes are cool, don’t ya know…)