We lost our minds earlier this month when Russia’s 5TV uploaded a two-part Soviet television adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. This performance, once believed lost to time by scholars who knew of its existence, comes from 1991, at the tail-end of the Soviet Union. Now, both parts are up on YouTube for the world to watch. It’s time to pack a thermos of borscht and set forth on an adventure toward Mount Doom on a mission of perestroika!
Doc and Nina discuss the performance as both a scholar of Soviet/post-Soviet History and a defender of the performing arts (respectively). They’ll start off by giving the low production value a context, work their way through the mournful Russian folk music, puzzle about the frigid weather in the Shire, and, of course, discuss Tom Bombadil. Nina is on a quest for Soviet propaganda and Doc will also answer the question: is The Lord of the Rings an allegory for WWII? Warning: bad Russian accents and worse Soviet jokes lie within.
SPRANG BREAK FOREVER (or at least for this week)! Fresh episodes are coming up in a couple of weeks, so we’ll leave you with a Minisode. Today, Nina talks about a dumb memory from her days as Doc’s Medieval office minion.
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Doc and Nina head to the continent of Africa in this episode to discus the Medieval Malian king, Mansa Musa, known as the richest man who ever existed! Mansa Musa (or Musa I), caused quite a stir during his hajj with his generosity. In his efforts to show off and show out, he wound up inflating the economy of Cairo on his way to Mecca. But don’t worry — all worked out in the end!
Doc and Nina discuss the musical genre known as bardcore – wherein popular songs undergo the “medieval” treatment. Doc will also explain the difference between bardcore and filking and what both have to do with geek culture. Then, they’ll discuss the importance of Hildegard von Bingen, one of the most important figures in the Roman Catholic church, and Sacred Monophony. Plus, Nina will give her unfiltered opinion on improv.
Inspired by the new Netflix original, “The Dig,” Doc and Nina discuss the Sutton Hoo archeological dig, the largest medieval find in England and, arguably, the most important! Then, Doc will give a mini history lesson on the Tomb of Childric I and the case of the stolen bees.
Doc and Nina answer some listener mail in this episode! Today, they are discussing William Shakespeare’s mad Danish Prince, Hamlet. In particular, they look at the repercussions of his hackneyed plot to avenge his father’s death on Ophelia, his betrothed.
Doc reveals the 12th century source for Hamlet – Saxo Grammaticus’s “Gesta Danorum”(simply, “Deeds of the Danes”) in which Amleth tells his lady love his plot to avenge his father’s death without the need to gaslight her into insanity.
Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587)
Saxo Grammaticus’s Gesta Danorum (Deeds of the Danes)
In an episode that surely not going to get them into trouble, Doc and Nina discuss the Netflix show “History of Swear Words” and what it missed. Doc talks taboos and euphemisms plus the pejoration and amelioration of words over the centuries. In between educational lessons, Nina will reveal her favorite swear word, school Doc on the Wu-Tang Clan, and drop some wise (but foul) parting knowledge on the audience.
Warning: because it is impossible to talk about the subject matter without both saying the words and driving Engineer Mike crazy bleeping out the swears, Doc and Nina will be doing a LOT of cursing in this episode. Therefore, we will mark this episode as explicit. If very strong language offends you, Pop Medievalists, you should probably sit this one out!
We’re bringing it back, folks! It’s time to play Seven Medieval Words and this time, it’s pandemic themed! That’s right, Doc has seven Old English words and Nina has to guess their modern English translation. Last time they played, her score was a humiliating 1/7. Think she can do better this time?
As always, Pop Medievalists are invited to play along too! Can you can get the full seven?
The words are: laecehus, adl, onflyge, grima, lacnung, angbreost, hraecca
Pandemic! the board game (https://www.amazon.com/Z-Man-Games-ZM7101-Pandemic/dp/B00A2HD40E/)
Doc and Nina are taking a holiday break! So for this Minisode, they’re releasing unheard content from episode 23 “Thar Be Dragons” about everyone’s favorite stuffy, ridiculous, and historically inaccurate bastion of knightly chivalry, Sir Orrin and his uncomfortable fascination with an underage Melisande.
If you need some context, go back and listen to their episode on “The Flight of Dragons”
In their Christmas episode, Doc explains the bizarre Medieval history of the carol, “Good King Wenceslas,” beginning with the pronunciation (which Nina bungles several times during this episode). They’ll discuss the confusing difference between the two Wenceslases (Wenceslii?), the real-life martyrdom of the correct Wenceslas, some fratricide, and the legend of Blanik Mountain. Plus, Nina successfully makes a connection between King Wenceslas and “The Lord of the Rings.”