There have been no posts of late because I have been desperately trying to finish three projects as well as starting a fourth.
A. Proofing the J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, all 800 pages, double columns of it. Everything is now done except for V, W, Y (which combined are only about 40 pages) and the massive L (which is something like 75). Oh, and then proofing the whole thing again, probably.
B. Writing and recording a new college course on CD, working title "The Art of Rhetoric" (though I am hopeful that they'll change the title to "How To Do Things With Words" -- because you can't copyright titles). This is a weird hybrid of a writing course and an analytical course on rhetoric. I have two entire lectures on grammar (!), as well as two on figures of speech, one on logic, one of fallacies, and one analyzing rhetorical train wrecks and triumphs. The Recorded Books people said this was my best course yet because it was funny (really. They said that. About grammar!). Recording finished Friday in NYC, at the Association for the Blind (I got to touch Helen Keller's desk!). Will be writing and recording a History of the English Language course in October.
C. Revising the lecture I gave in Udine, Italy in April into a book chapter entitled "Possible Instructional Uses of the Exeter Book Wisdom Poems." This is due Friday, which is a big problem because
D. On Friday I am heading off to speak at The Gathering of the Fellowship in Toronto. That means I have to finish my preparations for the "Tolkien's Art: Tolkien's Scholarship" talk.
But what may come across as more fun is what else I did while with Recorded Books in NY.
I have now recorded the entirely of Beowulf in Old English and, after my friend the sound engineer has finished editing the four hours of digital media down into a clean recording, I will be figuring out how to distribute the material, perhaps as podcasts, perhaps as a CD -- I just don't know yet. It was surprisingly hard to do the Beowulf recording -- I hadn't realized how exhausting it would be, even compared to speaking ex tempore for fourteen hours over two days doing the rhetoric course. But it was really fun. I did it as a dramatic reading, and (yes, this is scary), I sung Finnsburg. Certainly I am no Benjamin Bagby (and I don't have my harp yet, anyway), but at least the recording engineer didn't fall asleep or start laughing out loud, except at one moment, where immediately after finishing a very dramatic Grendel passage, I sneezed uncontrollably.
So watch this space for more info about the Beowulf recording. Other upcoming topics: What's wrong with Jerry A. Coyne's review of the 30th anniversary edition of Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene; How a certain Canadian press is the utmost in sleaze and how I am going to respond to their behavior by giving away my King Alfred's Grammar for free (in pdf form this time) so as to ruin the market for one of their books; Info about the other Tolkien convention where I'm speaking this summer (and if I get to meet Elijah Wood or not).