Rare J.R.R. Tolkien Sketches Reveal Another Side of the Fantasy Author

The Gardens of the Merking’s Palace, from the story Roverandom
The Gardens of the Merking’s Palace, from the story Roverandom
Tolkien Trust 1992

In addition to inventing languages and writing a trilogy of fantasy novels that spawned a multi-billion-dollar movie franchise, J.R.R. Tolkien was also a talented illustrator. His drawings of Middle-earth and other imagined lands often found their way into his books, including a cover and accompanying imagery he created for The Hobbit.

Now, over 300 illustrations, handwritten letters, and personal photographs that have never appeared in print before are featured in a new book published by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries. Titled Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, the book’s release coincides with an ongoing exhibition of the same name that's running at Bodleian Libraries until October 28.

The book's cover
The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937, Bodleian Libraries

The watercolor illustration featured on the book's cover, titled Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves, was Tolkien’s personal favorite, and he was disappointed when it wasn’t included in the first American edition of The Hobbit, published in 1937. In vibrant hues of blue and green, it depicts Bilbo floating down a river atop a wooden wine barrel after saving the dwarves from the dungeons of the Elvenking.

Another Hobbit illustration, also made in 1937, depicts an invisible Bilbo outwitting Smaug the dragon. Other images in the book are a little more obscure, like The Shores of Faery, a watercolor illustration of Kôr, the city of the Elves, that had been painted for The Silmarillion. Despite being Tolkien's earliest work, the book wasn’t published until after his death. Similarly, a story called Roverandom that Tolkien wrote as a bedtime story for his children in 1925 wasn’t published until 1998. An accompanying illustration depicts lush underwater gardens.

An illustration of Smaug and Bilbo
The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937

An illustration depicting the legend of the elves
The Tolkien Trust 1995

To see more illustrations like these, check out Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, which can be purchased on Amazon for about $48.

Swear Off Toilet Paper With This Bidet Toilet Seat That's Easy to Install and Costs Less Than $100


The recent coronavirus-related toilet paper shortage has put the spotlight on the TP-less alternative that Americans have yet to truly embrace: the bidet.

It's not exactly a secret that toilet paper is wasteful—it's estimated to cost 437 billion gallons of water and 15 million trees to produce our yearly supply of the stuff. But while the numbers are plain to see, bidets still aren't common in the United States.

Well, if price was ever the biggest barrier standing in the way of swearing off toilet paper for good, there's now a cost-effective way to make the switch. Right now, you can get the space-saving Tushy bidet for less than $100. And you'll be able to install it yourself in just 10 minutes.

What is a Bidet?

Before we go any further, let’s just go ahead and get the awkward technical details out of the way. Instead of using toilet paper after going to the bathroom, bidets get you clean by using a stream of concentrated water that comes out of a faucet or nozzle. Traditional bidets look like weird toilets without tanks or lids, and while they’re pretty uncommon in the United States, you’ve definitely seen one if you’ve ever been to Europe or Asia.

That said, bidets aren’t just good for your butt. When you reduce toilet paper usage, you also reduce the amount of chemicals and emissions required to produce it, which is good for the environment. At the same time, you’re also saving money. So this is a huge win-win.

Unfortunately, traditional bidets are not an option for most Americans because they take up a lot of bathroom space and require extra plumbing. That’s where Tushy comes in.

The Tushy Classic Bidet Toilet Seat.

Unlike traditional bidets, the Tushy bidet doesn’t take up any extra space in your bathroom. It’s an attachment for your existing toilet that places an adjustable self-cleaning nozzle at the back of the bowl, just underneath the seat. But it doesn’t require any additional plumbing or electricity. All you have to do is remove the seat from your toilet, connect the Tushy to the clean water supply behind the toilet, and replace the seat on top of the Tushy attachment.

The Tushy has a control panel that lets you adjust the angle and pressure of the water stream for a perfect custom clean. The nozzle lowers when the Tushy is activated and retracts into its housing when not in use, keeping it clean and sanitary.

Like all bidets, the Tushy system takes a little getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to use toilet paper again. In fact, Tushy is so sure you’ll love their product, they offer customers a 60-day risk-free guarantee. If you don’t love your Tushy, you can send it back for a full refund, minus shipping and handling.

Normally, the Tushy Classic retails for $109, but right now you can get the Tushy Classic for just $89. So if you’ve been thinking about going TP-free, now is definitely the time to do it.

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Watch: This Crashing Wave Art Installation in South Korea Brings Seaside Tranquility to a Busy City

These waves won't unexpectedly soak your beach towel when the tide comes in.
These waves won't unexpectedly soak your beach towel when the tide comes in.
d'strict, YouTube

Since residents of Seoul, South Korea, can’t exactly enjoy the sight of ocean waves breaking on the shore during their lunch hour, a design house is bringing them the next best thing: An enormous screen that plays realistic waves on a loop in the middle of the city.

Travel + Leisure reports that the installation, titled WAVE, is an anamorphic illusion, a distorted image that the viewer must observe from a specific angle for it to appear multi-dimensional. It’s on display in K-Pop Square at the Coex Convention and Exhibition Center in the district of Gangnam, but you don’t have to book an international flight to check it out—the creator, a design company called d’strict, shared a mesmerizing video of the work on YouTube.

Over about two months, developers molded two LED displays together to create a screen approximately 262 feet by 65 feet, with a resolution of 7840 pixels by 1952 pixels—almost twice the resolution of ultra-high-definition. In other words, the waves on this screen look more convincing than footage of the actual ocean would on your state-of-the-art living room TV.

For 18 hours a day, locals can watch icy blue swells slosh against the sides of the virtual tank, complete with the tranquil sounds of crashing waves (though they’ll have to rely on their imaginations to catch a whiff of salty sea spray).

Looking for other immersive displays? Dive into 15 awe-inspiring virtual tours here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]