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August 25, 2002 - September 06, 2002

Friday, September 06, 2002
MST3K Does FOTR! Well Kinda... - Xoanon @ 13:11 PST
Hi, guys. Chris "Sampo" Cornell from Satellite News here. I ran into Calisuri on the airport shuttle heading out from Dragon*Con and we got to talking and swapping stories about fan web sites and stuff. I mentioned to him that Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy of TV's "Mystery Science Theater 3000," who were acting as Masters of Ceremonies at Dragon*Con, lavished praise on LOTR:FOTR during their panel on Monday. He asked me to send him the exact quotes. Here's what they said:

The question was: "Within the last year, have you seen any of the major blockbusters, Lord of the Rings or Spiderman or the Star Wars movies, etc., and if so did you enjoy them?"

Mike: To answer your question, I saw "Lord of the Rings" like, a hundred times.

Kevin: Yeah. Me, too.

Mike: I really loved it.

Kevin: I hate waiting in lines for movies, but this is one I'd almost think about waiting in line for because I want to see the whole thing come to completion and I really applaud Peter Jackson and everybody who worked with him for doing this.

Mike (adopting the tones of a teenage girl): I had a huge crush on Viggo Mortensen, then Legolas showed up...

Kevin (in the same tone): "Leggy" Legolas...

Mike: ...and from there on my attention was split between the two...

I also wanted mention that in Kevin's new book, "A Year at the Movies: One Man's Filmgoing Odyssey," he devotes an entire chapter to his experience of going to see LOTR:FOTR.

Chris Cornell
Satellite News

Thursday, September 05, 2002
Carnival to celebrate Rings II - Xoanon @ 19:13 PST
Nessimë sends this in from The Dominion:

A night carnival is planned in Wellington in mid-December for the New Zealand and Australian premiere of the second The Lord of the Rings movie, The Two Towers.

There are also plans for a big push for Wellington to host the world premiere of the final part of the trilogy in 2003.

Former Wellington mayor Mark Blumsky is again coordinating arrangements, with Wellington City Council and the Regional Economic Development Agency.

Wellington director Peter Jackson was hailed as a hero by thousands of cheering onlookers as he strolled down a red carpet to the Embassy Theatre for last year's premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring.

For The Two Towers the focus will be on a street carnival after the screening.

"The razzamatazz will be at the end of the movie rather than the start, and that's because we wanted to do something different to the last time," Mr Blumsky said.

"We will make a decision after this one as to which worked better ... Because we have a very good shot, if we do this right, of getting the world one."

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Viggo Booksigning Event Report - Xoanon @ 13:16 PST

As of all his fans know, any public appearance by Viggo Mortensen is a special treat. His latest poetry reading and booksigning on Sept 1st at the Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica was no exception. Viggo's fans have been spoiled lately, with no less than 8 events in the past six months, on both U.S. coasts, not to mention New Zealand. In a way, the September 1st event was the culmination, a wonderful last "high note", a great gift to his fans before taking off to Morocco for the 4-month shoot of his next picture "Hidalgo".

The event was perfectly manned by the friendly and humorous staff of the Midnight Special bookstore (a landmark in Santa Monica, the store will unfortunately have to vacate its 3rd Street Promenade location and move to another space early next year). People started arriving as early as noon for the 8pm reading. Thankfully, everyone was given a number in the order of their arrival, therefore being spared the bittersweet ordeal of an 8-hour long wait in line. Ground rules were also firmly established: there would be no audio or video taping, and no photographs allowed during the poetry reading. However, pictures would be allowed during the booksigning section of the evening.

A line began to form around 5pm, and two hours later when the bookstore' staff started letting people in, a crowd of over 100 people was spreading along 3rd Street Promenade. Space is limited in the store, and only 76 seats were available; after that it was standing room only. The numerous fans who did not make it to the poetry reading for lack of space did not lose everything in the gamble as they ended up first in line for the booksigning.

At 8pm, after yet another reminder of the ground rules by the bookstore' staff (with an emphasis on "Viggo will only sign his books"), Viggo stepped up to the microphone under a huge round of applause and in typical Viggo fashion, immediately dismissed all ground rules by saying "I'll sign ANYTHING" - a statement which generated much cheer from the crowd.

Dressed casually in black jeans and a matching t-shirt with the emblem of the American Indian Movement, barefoot, carrying a big stack of books and holding a bottle of Argentinean beer (a much appreciated gift from fans J), Viggo started saying that he knew people were there very early, and he was flattered and really appreciated it, and he thanked us all for our patience. For the next thirty minutes, he read poems and quotes, not just from his own work but also from a variety of other writers and historic figures, including Noam Chomsky, various New Zealand poets, Native American chiefs, and Thomas Jefferson... Quite an eclectic range.

From his two books "Recent Forgeries" and "Coincidence of Memory", he read the following pieces (not in that order): Chaco, Clear, Hillside, Home, Apart, Matinee, Fossils, Hallowe'en, Communion, Frist Light, and Oceans. Ringers familiar with Viggo's work as a poet will not be surprised to learn that he delivered his poems in his trademark soft-spoken, modest and occasionally self-deprecating fashion, either introducing them with a small story or a joke, or dedicating them to individuals or groups of people.

Upon reading "Chaco", one of his Spanish language poems, he thanked the fans who had sent him the beer, and punctuated the end of the poem by raising his bottle to the crowd and saying "Salud!". He dedicated "Fossils" to the people of Afghanistan "all of them", and after he was done reading the piece, he joked "George Bush Jr. has this one on his bedside table"... "Matinee" was dedicated to Joseph Campbell "one of the greatest filmmakers" (people familiar with J. Campbell's work on myth and the hero's journey will catch this reference).

For several of his poems (most specifically "Home") he commented laughingly that none of his work was at all personal "this has absolutely got nothing to do with me..." Viggo also "premiered" a couple of new pieces, still works in progress at this stage. One of them is entitled "Privacy"; a topic that re-emerged when he read a poem by one of the NZ artists, upon which he added after a brief pause "here's that word again". Maybe a silent reminder that privacy is something he highly values and is rightfully entitled to.

Towards the end, he read two of my favorite poems, both from "Coincidence Of Memory". The first one is entitled "First Light" and is a hauntingly beautiful and moving piece about his son Henry. The second one has no real title and can be referred to as "Oceans" - a true gem. Throughout the evening Viggo appeared relaxed and seemed to be having a good time. The crowd in attendance reacted accordingly, smiling or laughing with him, always listening intently, spellbound. Upon the end of the reading the audience erupted in cheers and applause, and the words "thank you" echoed through the overpacked room. Viggo was then led to the front of the bookstore, where the booksigning was to take place.

So started another session of line waiting for the fans; everywhere people discussed the reading, exchanging thoughts and impressions about the poems, the work, the artist. Eventually our group got back inside the store. Viggo was seated at a low table between ranges of book displays and could barely be seen. We had been warned that picture taking with Viggo would not be possible. But the word "no" is probably not part of Viggo's vocabulary J -at least towards his fans- : throughout the signing he gracefully posed for pictures with every single person who asked. By the time we got our books signed and pictures taken, we were stunned to realize that it was almost 11pm! Time flies when you are in Viggo's presence, and in the company of such excellent and admirable fellow fans J

Every single one of Viggo's public appearances that I have had the privilege to attend has always been an immensely pleasurable and rewarding experience. I think we all come out of this in a state of bliss, with the sense of having been part of something very special. When we stopped by the bookstore at 1am on our way back to our cars, we were stunned to discover that Viggo was still there, signing for the last group of people. By then he had been signing for five hours! Such generosity and dedication is a rare gift, and we should all feel blessed that Viggo has crossed our paths (or maybe we've crossed his?).

One of Xoanon's posts about Viggo had the tag line "the utter coolness of cool". Yes, Viggo is all that and so much more. A true artist in the purest sense of the word. A being of light, a beautiful soul. Viggo, the barefoot prince.

For any Ringers who are only familiar with Viggo's filmwork, and who may be curious to discover the other facets of his multiple talents, his books are available through Perceval Press at http://www.percevalpress.com/. If you're located in the LA area, the Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica is the only store to carry the books.

Saturday, August 31, 2002
Scandinavian Lord of the Rings Fair - Xoanon @ 11:46 PST
On Saturday 30th November & Sunday 1st December 2002 we launch a gigantic Lord of the Rings event in Copenhagen Denmark: The Scandinavian Lord of the Rings Fair.

Among the many attractions at the Fair, fans from all over Scandinavia can meet the special guest star Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop. Richard is head of Weta Workshop, the special effects company behind the Lord of the Rings films.

The event mix a traditional trade fair, with a host of booths packed with all sorts of Lord of the Rings merchandise and games, with a grand show for all Lord of the Rings fans.

Something for all fans…

Here’s a rundown of some of the events at the Scandinavian Lord of the Rings Fair:

· Guest Star. We are proud to announce that our guest of honour is the Oscar© winning special effects magician Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop. Giving all fans a unique opportunity to meet the guys who brought Tolkien’s Middle Earth to the screen.

· Live size Weathertop ruin. The first thing the visitors see is part of the Amon Sûl ruin build in live size scale.

· New trailers from New Line Cinema. See the newest clips from The Two Towers on a big screen.

· Behind the scenes clip from the Lord of the Rings movies.

· Mega Displays. We’ve build a huge landscape with hundreds of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings miniatures, taking the spectators through the adventures of Middle Earth.

· Live Role-play Swordfight. Do you fancy to be dressed up as a Mordor Orc or a valiant Man of Gondor and try your skills as a warrior in our arena? Skilled instructors guide the visitors through a battle with latex role-playing weapons.

· …and much more. Quizzes, price draws, seminars and workshops, Bilbo’s Hobbit hole (for the youngest children), make up artist (do you want to be painted like an Orc?).

Trade Stands

We’ll give the visitors a unique chance to feast their eyes on a wide range of Lord of the Rings merchandise and other products. Here’s a short list of some of the Lord of the Rings product you should expect to find at the Fair:

· Games Workshop brings along their new tabletop strategy game The Two Towers.

· Electronic Arts new PS2 game Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers.

· Sideshowweta show up with an impressive selection of their finest Lord of the Rings Collectibles.

· Toys. Action men, swords, key rings, etc.

· Merchandise. Posters, t-shirts, post cards, book marks, caps, banners …you name it!

· Books. The whole range of Tolkien’s work, movie books, etc.

· Video/DVD. Special edition, collectors edition and the normal editions.

· …and much more. Costumes, masks, make up effects – indeed something for all and any tastes!

More information about what is most likely turning out to be Europe’s biggest Lord of the Rings event, please go to our Danish website: www.ringenesherremesse.dk (includes a brief English Version).

Thank you – hope to see you in Copenhagen!

Thursday, August 29, 2002
Live In Or Near Smithfield, RI? Wanna Do something Cool? - Xoanon @ 14:22 PST
LoTrFrEaKgIrL writes: This is taken from the Barnes & Noble Bookstore's Events Calender in Smithfield, RI. USA.

31st Saturday at 1:00pm

The Quest to Middle Earth

So you read the series and you think you know all about J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Join us for a contest of wit and knowledge as we challenge our guests to answer questions about the books and it's characters. All are welcome to participate and prizes will be awarded. Hobbits remember shoes must be worn in the store.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002
What Happens When FIGWIT Comes Over? - Xoanon @ 18:54 PST
Ringer Spy Ahriell sends along this report with pics and a newspaper clipping covering all things Figwit.

Seems she managed to get good old Figgy to attend her DVD party! Take a look!

I enclose a copy of the article about Bret McKenzie coming to my lotr dvd party on the 17th of August, which appeared in the Dunfermline Press, a local paper in Fife, Scotland, where I live, just north of Edinburgh.

I am the founder of the Scottish fellowship, and organised a few dvd weekends for the release of lotr/fotr on dvd.

I was told a few months ago, by Skybly, that Bret mcKenzie, aka Figwit, would be in a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2002, in a comedy-folk duo called "Flight of the Conchords", so I did some research and found out where he was.

On friday the 2nd of august I went to see the show called "Folk the World". He was performing with Jemaine Clement at the Gilded balloon cave 1 in Edinburgh. The show was excellent, extremely funny!

At one point I shouted "Go Figwit"...... The guys found that quite amusing ;-)

At the end of the show I went to see them backstage and invited Bret to my dvd party on the 17th of August, he accepted, which was a huge and very pleasant surprise for me!

The dvd party went very well; we had a TV crew from New Zealand Channel 3 at my house filming Bret, me and other guests. Stan Alley was also there filming for his doco on the Figwit "phenomenon".

The article attached tells about that day!

I also enclose a few other pics from the party and my other meetings with Bret in Edinburgh:

The "4435" doc is a montage of 2 pics taken on Monday night (26 August), when taika cohen drew a portrait of Figwit for my book; in the picture are also TheRiverMaiden (Gemma) and Stan Alley.

The "4433" and "4434" pics were taken in my living room on the 17th of August during the dvd party.

"4436" is a pic from Bret and jemaine's show in Edinburgh.

Spanish FOTR DVD Review - Xoanon @ 11:01 PST
dani writes:

Today is the release of the Spanish DVD and VHS edition of The fellowship of the ring and I've just bought it (it's 8 AM in here right now).

I just wanted to notify you about that and also remark the IMPRESSIVE job that's been made in this Spanish edition.

All the initial titles (Name of the movie, The fellowship of the ring title...) appears in Spanish or English depending of how you choose the language, which is not very common. I only remember Spanish titles in the DVD edition of Star Wars, due to the importance of the main titles.

All the DVD Extras have been translated too, though it is also possible to see the original version. I guess this is the first time I see something like this... we always get English subtitles.

Sunday, August 25, 2002
Comic-Con 2002 Report - Xoanon @ 20:12 PST
From: Laurelinda

Check out all of Laurelinda's pictures here!

Yet another memorable trip to Southern Cal, this time to attend Comic-Con, plus more hobnobbing with fellow Lord of the Rings fans & makers of the LotR movies...including 3 of the hobbits, one who sat next to me briefly at breakfast! But it was the "Bad Guys" from the movie that hung out with my group of friends....

A happy reunion with Eridana, the gal who shared her hotel room for the Oscars party in March & who shared her house with me this time! In fact, there were many familiar faces from that party, plus from Barliman's Bash, a fan gathering in Bellevue, WA(!), I'd attended the weekend before. Add to the mix several people whose screen-names were familiar from the message boards, and whose faces are now attached to their names in my head. There were 7 of us, another Fellowship of 7, who hung out with each other a lot, all sharing a meaningful bond, (i.e. quoting lines from the movie at an appropriate moment & receiving raucous laughter in response, instead of the usual blank look from "normal" people).

One more familiar face was Richard Taylor, founder of Weta Workshop, who did most of the effects for the LotR movies. He actually remembered my face from the Oscar party, but I also reminded him that I'd emailed the great photos of him with his 2 Oscars. His face registered delighted recognition, & he told me those photos were hanging on the bulletin board at Weta, then he gave me a peck on the cheek & a red pin of the "eye of Sauron", the official symbol used to identify his workers to the cast & crew during the movie shooting... a VERY rare piece (he only brought a pocketful)!

Richard & his Weta crew had set up a display of weapons from the movie & were available to answer questions & sign things. Also there: Lawrence Makoare, who played Lurtz, and Sala Baker, who was the evil Sauron, ("He's the one who started all this," said Lawrence, pointing to Sala). These are 2 BIG guys, who are native New Zealanders (Maoris), & are great teasers with darling personalities! In Sala's words, "We're the guys you love to hate." Since we 7 met them on the first night & several times throughout the weekend, they felt comfortable with us & would hang & chat with our group before going on to other fans. Our extra attention to them worked in their favor, because other people then wondered who they were, & that brought MORE attention than they normally get due to relatively small parts & being hidden behind the makeup, etc. I now have several things with their signatures on them, books, cards, etc. Due to this "special" bond, we 7 came up with a brilliant idea/gift that *made* their weekend.... more later.

The whole center of the convention hall was taken up by LotR stuff: Weta display (weapons & Lurtz/Ringwraith lifesize statues), Sideshow Toy (replica statues display), TheOneRing.net, Houghton-Mifflin (books display), New Line Cinema, & Decipher (Trading Card Game). Decipher & LotRFanClub were the sponsors of the autograph sessions. Lawrence & Sala were first on Thursday, then Dominic Monaghan was scheduled for Fri/Sat. He is also a lovely person, thoughtfully spending a little one-on-one time with each fan. When I wasn't in line getting something signed, I was videotaping his interactions with other people. He hammed for my camera several times. Cute!! ;-)

Sat. a.m., about 75 FanClub members had an opportunity to attend a breakfast with Dominic. He admitted to not being much of a morning person, so he told us to be sure to get our $30 worth of food, chairs, tablecloths.... ;-) After everyone had eaten, he took the podium & regaled us with humorous tales about filming. For example, the injuries sustained by everyone. Dominic's was his foot getting stabbed by Boromir's sword on the crumbling stairway. Sean Bean thought he was putting the sword in its scabbard, but missed & hit Dom's foot, but they didn't call "cut"!

He told us about almost getting stuck in the snow, with flakes so big they went "boof" when they hit the ground. The scene, trudging thru the marshes, didn't make it into the theatrical version of the movie but will be in the extended version. The cast & crew barely made it to the hotel 40 minutes away, but there was no place to take off the hobbit feet, etc., so they went to the laundry room & sat on the washers (also helped warm them up!). Elijah Wood was telling a dumb joke & fell off the machine as he told the punchline! All they could see were his feet sticking up in the air! :-D

Someone asked Dominic what it was like when he found out he'd gotten the part of Merry. He said he was in a van-full of actors when he got the call from his agent. The other actors asked him what he was smiling about, but when he told them, they just said, "oh...that's great..." ;-) Dominic closed with telling us his favorite scene: when Merry & Pippin meet up again in the 3rd movie, but Merry is so shell-shocked from fighting in the war that Pippin has to help "bring him back". He said it is both sad and beautiful.

Then Dominic went from table to table, chatting with each group briefly. Bill (Sauron's Truss), another self-appointed videographer, got the wide shots on his tripod, while I followed Dom to get the handheld close-ups of the people at the table & of him answering their questions (never realized how pretty his eyes were until I zoomed in on them! ;-} ). When he came to sit at our table, I put the camera on its tripod & asked my question, "How long did you guys have to sit around waiting for the lighting crews & set designers to get everything set up?" He wilted as he said, "Oh God! There were 4 days in a row where Billy & I had to get all dressed up in our feet & everything, but they never used us in any of the shots! We read a lot of newspapers..." That was the scene where the fellowship was stuck in the snow on the pass of Caradhras.

Later that day, New Line was supposed to do a presentation in the BIG meeting room & show the 10-minute preview of "The Two Towers", but didn't. Instead, it was another presentation by Richard & his Weta crew, but THIS time it was cut short when the emcee said he had 3 guys backstage who wanted to say hello...!! We'd heard rumors, & they proved true. Out came not only Dominic, but also Billy & Elijah. The crowd went nuts & my great videotaping position up front was suddenly interrupted by several rude & crazed fans who rushed up to take pictures. Sigh. Though much of my footage here contains jostling the camera to get a good view & sternly telling people to get down, I did get some very cute moments with all 3 of the guys. Thank goodness for zoom!! I got some good close-ups & some great teasing between the hobbits & the "bad guys". Unfortunately, though Billy & Elijah were signing a few things from stage, none of us *calmer* fans were able to make it up there. I didn't even try, since I was burdened with all my equipment. There will be other times. Dom said he thought they'd definitely try to make the next Oscar party. Yeah right.... I'll believe it when I see it. ;-)

That night, we 7 gals got a great idea. Due to the extra "attention" paid to us by Lawrence & Sala, & vice ersa, we named ourselves the BGG (Bad Guys Groupies). 7 women were suddenly on a mission that kept us from attending the "masquerade" of costume-wearers at the convention. We bought t-shirts & iron-on transfers, downloaded a digital photo we'd taken of them to print onto the transfers with "Bad Guys Groupie" underneath. We also created t-shirts for THEM that said "Bad Guys Rock.... Love Your Groupies", & then we all signed their shirts. At their last autograph session on Sunday, with most of us in period costumes, we presented our groupie shirts for them to sign. They were all smiles & we could tell it really meant a lot to them.... but then we gave them THEIR shirts! They left their seats, came down off the platform & gave each one of us a big bear hug! We also gave a "groupie" shirt to Richard, who was delighted as well. (Speaking of which, every time I asked Richard or one of the Weta guys to sign something, I made sure to tell them that they should get as much, if not more, recognition as the "big" stars did for all the hard work & many hours/days/weeks/years they put into the movies. Heck, they were just flattered to be asked for their autograph! Their humility is astounding & refreshing.)

I videotaped throughout the convention, using all the new knowledge I've gained from my classes. We (the 7) reviewed most of the footage while prepping the t-shirts at Eridana's house, & I'm looking forward to throwing together a fun video to preserve the highlights! The gal who was tending the Houghton-Mifflin booth had seen me walking around acting like I knew what I was doing, & asked if I'd be willing to provide some footage for her to use in sales/mktg promos. TheOneRing.net also requested video to post on their website!

Now, the DVD is finally in our hands, & it's awesome to see these people we just met in person talking about their craft on the Special Features disc. "There's Warren!" we'd exclaim, as they showed the Weta Workshop guy demonstrating the shotgun action crossbow. And seeing Dominic & Richard in interviews is like seeing one of my friends talking about their everyday job. I really feel like an insider now. Mostly due to the unprecedented amount of graciousness & appreciation demonstrated by the LotR cast & crew toward their fan-base. I'd always scoffed at "fans" of any particular movie or movie star, because they all seemed so... well... fanatical. But almost everyone I've met at these fan gatherings are "quietly passionate". Many of them have related stories about how one aspect or other of this movie has changed their life. It is an amazing group of people, and we are united on a deep level that cannot be described.

Briefly, the next weekend included a Howard Shore concert at the Hollywood Bowl, an outdoor concert stage. Prior to that was a lovely potluck picnic in a neighboring park that was almost as beautiful as Rivendell, including a 6-member musical group that played "elvish" music. The concert was amazing, even though we sat 3/4 of the way up (about 200 feet away?). The delay between the conductor's movements & the musical response was unnerving, so we tried closing our eyes. Excellent way to experience the music!! There wasn't a dry eye in our section, especially when the adult choir & boys choir chimed in.

Now I'm home, I've begun downloading the (9 hours of) video footage to the server, so I can throw something meaningful together. I got some GOOD stuff, & it's going to be hard to whittle it down to something shorter than an hour! Meanwhile, I will continue to look for a "real" job, but if I can get a video hosted on TheOneRing.net, that can act as my "demo reel" & possibly open new doors.

"...all you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you." I know what I have to do...

Remember what Bilbo used to say.... "It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

P.S. to Colleen Doran fans: Another person I met was Colleen Doran, who is the animator/illustrator for "A Distant Soil", an offshoot from the Elfquest graphic novel by WarpGraphics. I was/am a big fan of Elfquest & still had the first issue of "A Distant Soil" that was sent to subscribers. Fortunately, I'd seen a couple of Colleen's emails before leaving, put two & two together & brought my copy of the intro issue. Her eyes bugged out when she saw it!! As she signed it for me (& drew a self-portrait inside!), she told me she'd drawn that when she was 16. Wendy & Richard Pini were paying her $50/page, but she got the raw end of the deal, especially one page that took 5 days! I've included a picture of her with the drawing she put in Billy Boyd's birthday card we all signed. It's hilarious!!!

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