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January 30, 2003 - February 21, 2003

Friday, February 21, 2003
Sean Astin Autograph - Xoanon @ 10:04 PST
From: SeanAstin.com

An exciting new service has been made available by Sean to all of his fans and friends. With his current family and career demands, Mr. Astin regretfully doesn't have the time to respond individually to all of his fan mail; however, this hasn't stopped him from going an extra mile to satisfy all incoming requests for autographed pictures. As of now, if you want an autographed picture of Sean Astin, all you need do is visit autographedtoyou.com and select your photo (choosing among 6)and personalized inscription (choosing among 10)!

The photo and autograph you receive will be an authentic, signed by Sean, and the proceeds go to two of Sean's favorite charities! Sean sincerely requests that you keep your letters coming to his fan mail address at P.O. Box 57858, Sherman Oaks, California 91413. He enjoys hearing from you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Why No Eowyn Action Figure? - Tehanu @ 17:11 PST
Email from Snix:
I was reading my Entertainment Weekly this week and I ran across something that made me seethe with anger (and that I thought you folks at TORn might be interested in):

"We chose our characters based on traditional play patterns for boys," explains JoAnn McLaughlin, a senior VP at Toy Biz. "And they want the male role-model heroes."

That quote is from an article on upcoming action figures. It's Toy Biz's explanation for the lack of some notable female characters in The Hulk and X2 figure lines. It probably also helps explain why there's been no Galadriel or Éowyn action figures in their Lord of the Rings line. (There is an Arwen figure, but she bizarrely doesn't come with the sword that the character wields so prominently in the film.)

I'm a girl. And I buy action figures. And when I was a kid I bought action figures and I played with them. And if anyone had bothered marketing action figures to girls I would have bought a lot more of them. You'd think a company like Toy Biz might recognize the enormous opportunity presented by the overwhelming popularity of the Lord of the Rings films with both boys and girls and see it as an excellent opportunity to expand their market. But no. Instead, JoAnn McLaughlin (who I'll bet played with her share of action figures when she was a kid) chooses to spout stereotypes instead of challenging them.

I can almost understand the omission of Éowyn for The Two Towers line, if only because she's not in any action sequences in the film, much like Galadriel in Fellowship. I assume Toy Biz thinks there's no point in an "action" figure for a character who does nothing more in the movie than stand around and talk. But a lot of kids play (even with "action" figures) is not solely action oriented. I used my Barbies both to execute commando raids on my Donnie and Marie dolls, and to act out complex interpersonal relationships. And I watched all the boys I played with do the same thing with our Star Wars action figures.

I'm sure Toy Biz thinks the line of 12" dolls with the fancy hair and clothes are appropriate, Barbie-esque versions of the characters for girls (hence the Arwen, Legolas, Frodo and Éowyn dolls in that line), but I think I speak for girls other than just myself when I say they're just not as appealing as the smaller (and cheaper!) action figures with cool swords and horses and arrows. If you're a girl who likes Lord of the Rings, you don't just want to brush Éowyn's hair, you want to make her hack at Aragorn with her sword.

Anyway, I'm going to spend part of my day writing to a few folks, letting them know what I think of Ms. JoAnn McLaughlin and the role her company is playing in reinforcing gender stereotypes. If anyone else is interested in doing the same, here are the relevant addresses (and if anyone wants to pass this info on to others, please feel free to copy this and post it to any relevant forums):

Toy Biz, Inc.

Customer Service

P.O. Box 90113

Allentown, PA 18109

Tel: (800) 634-7539

E-mail: Toybiz@casupport.com

Entertainment Weekly Letters

E-mail: ew_letters@ew.com or FAX (212) 467-1223

(All correspondence must include your name, address, and daytime telephone number)

Hamilton LOTR Event Pics - Xoanon @ 09:38 PST
The BBC Website has a few pics from the Hamilton LOTR exhibit we reported about yesterday (See Middle Earth comes alive in Scottish exhibition).

Thursday, February 13, 2003
TTT Premiere: Singapore - Xoanon @ 13:45 PST
Jo_Took writes: The Singpore Gala Premiere of TTT, sponsored by Mastercard, was held at the Victoria Concert Hall on December 17th and entrance was by 'invitation only' for the media, local Singapore Celebrities and 50 selected customers of Mastercard who were crazy enought to spend S$500 and also lucky enough to win the invites. Thankfully my fellow LOTR Sister Tarien(in white) and I(in brown and blue) were crazy and lucky enough....

Eventhough we didnt have any of the actual LOTR cast or crew turn up, it was still alot of fun. out of the invited guests, we were the only two to turn up there in "costume" much to the surprise of everyone else. The only other people in costumes were the hired actors and actresses... Anyways, enough of my chatter. Enjoy the pics!

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Staying in Wellington for ROTK premiere. - Tehanu @ 23:54 PST
TORN Correspondent Phillip has come up with a brilliant and generous idea:

"As a Wellington resident TORN person I am willing to try and organise a clearing house for homestays for global TORN people to stay with local TORN people when visiting Wellington for the ROTK premiere. The first step will be to ask for any other local TORN subscribers to contact me so that we can set up a group to work on this. So will any Wellingtonian able to help please ring me at 499 8140 (work) or 972 1052 (home) and ask for Phillip. Note, however, that I will be working in The Netherlands from March 18 to April 16, so contact me via email through TORN during that period.

"For those of you already asking about accommodation - you can wait to see if my idea works. If it does I'll aim to start putting people in contact around June. But if you want to make a booking ahead of that (which is probably a good idea - see my note at the end of this) - the answer to the most FAQ is - there is a Youth Hostel of backpacker standard 100 metres from the Embassy. It can be contacted at yhawgtn@yha.org.nz.

"Other Backpackers within easy walking distance of the Embassy are Taranaki217 (reservations@taranaki217.co.nz), and [Trekkers].

"Slightly above backpackers price, but within spitting distance of the Embassy Theatre is the [Cambridge Hotel ]

"Smarter still, but still very close, are the Museum Hotel [Museum Hotel) and the [Bay Plaza ] .

"There are plenty of other hotels in Wellington, but I think the 5 star ones are already sold out, or near to it. Wellington comes under considable accommodation pressure in December at the best of times, but for ROTK you will need to move very fast once you know the date. That is why I am suggesting a homestay network for TORNers.

"I think that Wellington TORNers are likely to get together to organise some TORN activities around the premiere, but I'll be discussing this with the TORN moderators themselves."

Live In NZ? Wanna Meet Alan Lee? - Xoanon @ 09:32 PST
Belinda writes: Just thought visitors to your site might be interested to know the following Te Papa will be hosting an illustrated talk by Alan Lee on Wednesday 26th February. The details are below We also have swords, more books and jewellery available on the our site. Wednesday 26 February, 6.30pm - 7.30pm

From novel to screen, bringing Tolkien's imagination to life. Alan Lee (conceptual Artist/Set Decorator) will give an illustrated talk.

Alan is responsible for the fifty watercolour illustrations in the centenary editions of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien's Ring and The Hobbit and has been providing conceptual sketches for the design of The Lord of the Rings filmic trilogy. Alan has had a long preoccupation with the Celtic and Norse myths which influenced Tolkien. Examples of Alan Lee's conceptual sketches, designs and digital artwork are currently on display in The Lord of the Rings exhibition (www.tepapa.govt.nz) at Te Papa.

Cost: Friends of Te Papa $8.00, Guests $12.00

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Heavy Metal PJ - Xoanon @ 16:09 PST
Jody from NZ writes: I was looking through some of my old photos the other day and came across this picture. It was taken by a press photographer on location filming PJ's movie, The Frighteners. PJ was decked out in "death metal" gear for his cameo appearance. I thought it was pretty humourous so I thought I would share it with you all at theonering.net. Perhaps you might like to post it on the site. [More]

Sunday, February 09, 2003
Howard Shore Concert Report - Xoanon @ 21:33 PST

Eledhwen writes: A group of mainly British TORNadoes met up today for the concert at the Royal Festival Hall featuring Howard Shore and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the UK premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring concert suite. It was a truly memorable afternoon.

Following pizza and laughs for lunch, we made our way to the Festival Hall and took our seats (dispersed around the auditorium) for the first part of the concert, ‘The Lost Music of the Gaels’. This was a selection of pieces for string quartet, piano, and traditional Celtic instruments such as concertina, bodhran drum, and uileann pipes. The music was accompanied by a silent video film showing images of wild mountains and moorlands – very atmospheric! We all enjoyed this part of the concert, although the many children around us took some time to settle down.

The second part was Stravinsky’s ‘A Soldier’s Tale’. Here a small chamber group performed Stravinsky’s music to an animated version of the text which goes with it. The piece tells the story of a soldier who makes a bargain with the Devil, to get rich in exchange for his violin. Of course everything goes horribly wrong. The animation was well done, and the idea interesting, but none of us were particularly entranced. Perhaps we just wanted to get to Tolkien.

Following the Stravinsky came the Tannoura Troupe, musicians and dancers originating from Egypt. This was simply astounding. The musicians entered first and launched into loud, entrancing Arabic music, and were followed by three dancers carrying drums. These men began to dance around whilst playing their drums. Thirdly the first of the two Whirling Dervishes appeared, and that was when things got really interesting. Wearing layered, brightly coloured skirts over bright undergarments, and carrying four bright discs, the Dervish spun round and round and round, and round and round, without seeming to get dizzy. His skirts made beautiful patterns and round about, the original three dancers weaved with their drums. And he kept going! Towards the end he detached the topmost skirt and used it almost as a spinning top, or maybe one of those hoops children play with; passed it deftly to one of the others and proceeded to do the same with his second skirt. It was amazing. After a brief interlude with the three dancers with drums, a second Dervish came on and performed another dance, with three skirts this time. The audience loved the whole show and gave the troupe a much deserved round of applause.

After the third and final interval, the hall filled up again and on the concert floor the orchestra set up – many percussion instruments, two harps, as well as the usual variety of symphonic instruments. The atmosphere built. The choruses came on – the London Voices and the boys from the London Oratory School. And finally the man himself, Howard Shore, given a rousing welcome. Then we were taken to Middle-earth.

Listening to the score on CD, or as the soundtrack to the film, does not really give a true impression of the layers and depth to the piece. Shore has rewritten bits of the film soundtrack and linked the separate parts together to create one seamless whole, and it works beautifully. In our minds we saw again Hobbiton, Rivendell, Moria, Lórien, and Amon Hen. Everyone found it interesting to see the odd percussion instruments used – one in particular, at the start of ‘A Journey in the Dark’, sent shivers down spines with its high-pitched squeak. The choirs add depth even in places you do not realise they are singing. There was true grief in the stunning voice of the female soloist who sang ‘Gandalf’s Lament’. Throughout, Shore managed to conduct his enormous orchestra and the three separate parts of the chorus with panache and passion. At the end, following the moving rendition of ‘In Dreams’, and the final swell of the Fellowship Theme, the audience rose to its feet. I was really proud to be a part of it, and to be there to see Shore and the musicians get the adulation and acclaim from their home crowd, and to clap as hard as I could.

The performance was without mishap – however some of us couldn’t help laughing a little at one point. They were showing some stills from the film as a backdrop to the orchestra, and the last one was one of Frodo holding out his hand to catch the Ring. With the relative silence at the beginning of ‘The Breaking of the Fellowship’, a little voice near us piped up, “That’s Frodo!” Lovely!

Afterwards some of our group went to get Howard Shore’s autograph, and came back later reporting that he signed something for every person, shook hands, and was generally a very nice man. We also had unconfirmed reports of a certain Christopher Lee hiding near the women’s chorus during the concert, but nobody saw him afterwards, so we cannot be sure!

It was a lovely afternoon, and a fantastic concert. We are all hoping there will be a repeat performance with the Two Towers music next year! Many thanks to my fellow TORNadoes for making it such fun, and of course to Howard Shore, the London Philharmonic, the London Voices, the London Oratory School, and the rest of the performers for entertaining us so well.

Steve S just got back from a truly fantastic day at the Royal Festival Hall in London, the day climaxing with Howard Shore conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra with full chorus.

I arrived at the Festival Hall a bit early, so decided to have a ride on the London Eye, a huge 150 meter high big wheel with panaramic views over the Thames and city.

Entering the Festival hall 40 minutes later, the place was buzzing, the crowd made up of a cross section and of all ages from 5 years old through to couples in their 70's.

The day was made up of four performances on stage, starting at 3 pm. First up was a celtic style septet, and very good they were, playing old gaelic music for about 40 mins. After another 15 minute interval, we returned to our seats to watch an 8 piece play music over the top of a 1984 animated cartoon called A Soldiers Tale, which was narrated by Max Von Sydow. Timing was important and they got it spot on.

Another short break and on our return this time the stage had been completely cleared. On came some Egyptian Muslims in long white robes with their unusual signing and followed by male dancers with cymbells on their fingers. I had to force myself not to laugh, as it looked very funny with these men in their 50's prancing and spinning around the stage. But, after 5 minutes they were joined by another dancer who took center stage, then decided to spin around on the spot for 25 minutes!!!!!!. I tried it afterwards and felt sick in seconds. How the guy didn't puke up from giddiness is beyond me. While he was spinning he had this "petticoat" on that span out, and he untied it and span it above his head. Very strange but clever also. At the end of the act they got enthusiastically applauded.

We were now running 15 minutes behind schedule. The stage was quicky set up and the audience filed back in to pack the place out. The orchestra came on stage to applause, and began warming up their instruments. The choir then came through, 50 women on one side above the orchestra, and 50 men the other side. In front of the men sat the boy choir.

Five minutes later Howard Shore walked on stage to rapturous applause. This is what we had come to see! The lady next me (a regular on T.O.R.N from Liverpool, and with her daughter, were very excited. Howard didn't speak to the audience at all, but just waved.

Everything was ready. You could have heard a pin drop. Here we go!

First off came The Prophecy, which is my favourite track on the CD. No, it's not in the film, but it has all the feeling of Tolkien's world and I love it. This time it played slightly different, as halfway though the ring theme was brought in, and the musice from the intro of the film was used.

There was no clapping or cheering between tracks. Just absolute silence as the music from the Fellowship Of The Ring segued from one track to the next.

It was just perfect. I closed my eyes and listened for a minute and it sounded exactly like the cd I play in my car. But this was no suprise, as it was the same orchestra, same singers, same conductor and same boy signing all the high notes. His voice is yet to break!

Of course there was no Enya, and those tracks were missing, but really it didn't matter.

Sixty minutes later and it was all over. We knew it was coming as the last track came to a shattering climax. the crowd all stood together in a roar of appreciation, and by the look on Shores face he was completely taken aback. The standing ovation lasted 10 minutes and he had to come back three times. ( But again no microphone to speak to us with anyway)

Obviously there was not going to be an encore and at last the orchetra left the stage, to leave us all heading out into the cold dark London night and our long trips home.

There were a few empty seats about, but the place was sold out. These seats were booked last July and people either forgot or couldn't make it. Shame the tickets were not returned beacuse some fans might have missed out. So I say to you, if the opportunity ever comes about to see Howard Shore perform LOTR in your country, don't walk, but run to the box office and get those tickets as soon as they go onsale.

Thursday, January 30, 2003
Middle-earth Vacation Photos - Xoanon @ 20:32 PST
Arod writes:

Ever since we saw the Fellowship Of The Ring, myself and my 2 mates had always wanted to go to New Zealand to visit the film sites. And in June we decided to do that in December of last year. So we planned and plotted, and unfortunately the booking didn't turn out the way we'd hoped. We had hoped to be in Wellington on the 18th/19th for the TTT premiere, and to go to the Te Papa Exhibit. Sadly, we couldn't get flights around these times (it was really really really busy) so we had to rearrange our times and we just missed the premiere by 3 days. We flew out of Brisbane (QLD, Australia) on the 1st of December and made for Middle Earth!

On the plane, we even asked if the flight attendant would say "Welcome to Middle Earth" when we landed, but unfortunately she had no clue what we were talking about. We flew into Christchurch arriving there at about midnight, and after two nights (and plenty of LOTR posters everywhere!) we headed for Queenstown, with one night's stopover in Dunedin for a visit to The Cadbury Factory (being chocaholics it was too hard to resist - I strongly recommend it for anyone like us!). Our first LOTR filmsite was on The Kawarau River - The Great River Anduin and The Argonath. We didn't have time to do a jet boat or rafting tour past it, so instead we did our best to get a view from land. Unfortunately we couldn't get a photo of the actual spot (it was on private property) but we came pretty close. Then it was Queenstown for a night, which was beautiful.

On the 5th of December we headed for Glenorchy, where we were destined for Dart Stables' "Overnighter" which would take us through Amon Hen and Lothlorien. It was fantastic! One of the most exciting things was that myself, being not a very experienced horse rider, was a bit nervous about which horse they put me on. But eventually I met my horse, Sam (!), who was not only beautiful and very easy going, but he had been in The Two Towers! We think he was one of the horses involved in the scene where Eomer, Gandalf and the Rohirrim charge down the hill to Helm's Deep! The horse ride was wonderful, the scenery spectacular, and the company was great. In fact, one of our instructors is in ROTK! She is dressed as a Rider of Rohan! The film location was absolutely stunning! Very recognisable. I highly recommend that any LOTR fan who gets the chance do this trek, however, be prepared for a fair amount of pain unless you are an experienced rider!

After the Overnighter, we went back to Queenstown for another two nights. We did a small plane flight to Milford Sound and back, in which we saw some of the Mountains used for filming (I believe the ones at the start of TTT). Then we took a trip to the Mavora Lakes, the location of Nen Hithoel, the edge of Fangorn Forest, and the tree stump where Merry and Pippin hid from orcs at Amon Hen. All of these were great. The edge of Fangorn Forest was really cool, even though we only had a picture in the Location Guidebook to go by and didn't really know what we were looking at. The tree stump was hard to find, as there are several of these in a 150m stretch of forest, but it was still very exciting. And Nen Hithoel was beautiful. The water was absolutely freezing though - and our hearts went out to Sean Astin imagining him having to endure first the freezing water, then getting the glass in his foot! Then it was back to Queenstown for one last night.

Early next morning, we headed off for the North Island, driving up the West Coast. I admit we were very sad to leave Queenstown, but some of the scenery we encountered along the way to Picton (where we would catch the Ferry across) was spectacular. We had 2 overnight stops on the way, at Fox Glacier and Murchison. Then finally on the 10th of December we caught the Ferry to Wellywood! We arrived there at about 3pm, and after a quick check in at our accomodation, we were off on the trail of film sites once more. First we visited Rivendell and the Fords of Isen (Kaitoke Regional Park) which were beautiful. There were several signs pointing the way to Rivendell, and a board up explaining what the location was all about. Next we visited the gardens of Isengard (where the orcs where chopping down all the trees in FOTR) which were nice, and then finally another part of the Great River Anduin (Hutt River) which was very cool. Then we collapsed exhausted, and watched TV all night to see the occasional TTT ad!

The next day we were up bright and early to go to Mt Victoria ("Get off the road!") which was awesome. We did a lovely little re-enactment of the scene which was great fun. Next we visited Lyall Bay (where the cast supposedly surfed - although there wasn't much surf around when we were there) and I'm pretty sure we drove past Orlando Bloom's house for the 18 months. Then it was second breakfast at the Chocolate Fish Cafe, which was great! We talked to staff who told us all about the cast's visits. One of them even lived 2 doors down from Liv Tyler, and saw her cleaning her toilet! After very nice pancakes we were off into the heart of Wellington - to the Embassy! And to our dismay we realised that we were there exactly a week before the premiere! It nearly brought us to tears when we saw all the LOTR posters and standees and what not. They even had banners all through the streets advertising TTT! We took a visit to Dymocks (supposedly housing the largest range of Tolkien books in NZ) and picked up a few things, and by that time the day was just about over. So we headed back to our accomodation and read LOTR for the remainder of the night (where we could see the TV in case of TTT ads).

On the 12th we headed for Ohakune, with one stopover at the Waitarere Forest (Trollshaw and Osgiliath woods). Only when we saw TTT did we pick up that Waitarere was where Frodo, Sam and Gollum are walking through at the end of the film. Very exciting. Once in Ohakune we found Ithilien (half way up Mt Ruapehu near some waterfalls that I can't remember the name of!) which was beautiful. And again when we saw TTT we picked up that the scene where Gollum is trying to catch a fish, and Sam calls him Stinker, etc etc. was filmed at the top of this waterfall!

We stayed the night in Ohakune, then headed off to Rotorua the next day. First stop was a drive up Mt Ruapehu to Mordor! It was freezing up there! It even snowed! The site was easily recognisable, and most exciting was the place where Frodo and Sam are lost in Emyn Muil! Then we drove on to Rotorua, with one stop at the Rangitikei River (The Great River Anduin). That night we did the Luge and went to a Maori concert, which was great. And then it was a sad day on the 14th, our last day in Middle Earth, and we certainly did make the most of it. We packed up and headed out of Rotorua, with one stop just outside Rotorua to do a "Swoop" (involving getting hoisted up 40m in the air and then "flying" - a lot of fun!) then we went on and on... Until we came to the most anticipated thing on the holiday - HOBBITON! We did the tour which was absolutely brilliant! I highly recommend it to everyone! We saw everything from the technical carpark, to the party tree, to Bag End. It was great, a highlight of the trip. Then we said sad goodbyes to Hobbiton, and drove up to Hamilton, which was where we would fly home to Brisbane at 5am the next morning. We tried to stay awake all night, but fell asleep after watching some of Sean Bean in Goldeneye, and singing the Hobbit Drinking Song about a thousand times! Then we got up at 5am to catch our plane at 7am, and said our teary farewell to Middle Earth. We got on the plane and it was decided that we were definately gonna come back for the premiere of ROTK! Then we talked about how good TTT was gonna be for the rest of the flight. It was awesome.

Of course, when we eventually did see TTT on the 26th, it just added to the excitement when we saw all the places we had been up on the big screen. Cheers.


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