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October 08, 2004 - October 15, 2004

10-15-04 Latest News

Astin Book Signing Reports
Xoanon @ 10:12 am EST

Ashby writes: Here's a little tidbit from Sean's book signing that took place tonight in Huntington, NY. It wasn't quite the affair of the Barnes and Noble signing yesterday, but he did enter the book store to great fanfare. He jumped up onto the stage where he would be signing and then shouted: "So THIS is LONG ISLAND!"

When I finally reached the table where Sean was tirelessly signing, I shared a quick hello, adding how much we as fans at TORn appreciate his efforts, artistry and good natured personality. He looked up, with a bit of surprised recognition at first, upon hearing the TORn name. He then smiled broadly and said "I can't thank you guys enough for all you've done at The One Ring. It's so very much appreciated." So I thought I would send Sean's little 'shout out' to you.

Additionally, I got the impression that Sean may indeed be interviewing for the Ringers feature. He said he was supposed to meet some of the Ringers crew tomorrow for an interview of sorts. Perhaps we will soon see his name on the web page over at lordofthefans.net!


PippinSkywalker writes: I know I have not told you all a good tale in a long time. I can only tell you Bag End and all the Shire has been very busy lately. But I am happy once again ad your Jedi Hobbit reporter to tell you another happy fireside story as in the old days.

Yesterday, October 14, I had immeasurable joy of attending the Sean Astin booksigning in Huntington with my whole family. Those who have read my previous storybook entries know that we have a long history of having gotten to know various cast members. Now a year after all the films have passed out of theaters the magic is still alive.

Yours truly got to the Book Revue in Huntington with the hobbit crew at about 8:30 pm. We stepped inside the very nice family owned bookstore which was just brimming over with excitement. I could feel myself beginning to float inside already and we hadn't even gotten in line to see the kindly Samwise!

We immediately picked up Sean Astin's book and meandered off to find a way up stairs. This was a bit of a concern for a bit since my mom is in a wheelchair and we weren't sure if they had an elevator. As it turns out there was a very kind employee named Daniel behind the register who was kind enough not only to lead us to an elevator but usher right to the front of the line to see our dear hobbit friend! This was such a blessing since we otherwise would have waited for at least an hour to see Sean and that would have been hard on my mom.

We got up there got the booked signed and that was only the beginning! We had all had a nice, fairly long chat with Sean (thanks to the kindness of his assistant). My mom, beaming as she does so well, got to shakes Sean's hand and tell him the story of how we had all met him at the London Premiere of Fellowship of the Ring. Sean was very sweet to my mom and actually thought she was my sister! When I gently corrected him saying she was my mom, Sean merrily replied "Well, I still like to think of her as your sister thats nicer." My mom also went on to share that she and Sean actually shared a birthday (both born on February 25). Next this hobbit got to shake his hand and talk to him a bit. I said how we had met in New Zealand at the Premiere of Return of the King. He said "Oh you were there?!" and after I replied in the affirmative he said "Did I see you there?" This hobbit once again replied in the affirmative. Sean then said "Did you see my daughter there? Wasn't she beautiful?" Yes his daughter was very lovely that day in NZ, with a lovely, happy little face always side by side her hobbit father. It had been a wonderful sight to see. :) Sean told us of how he had explained to his daughter something to the effect that this was all not real (in NZ, describing the movie)and that it was all going to go away/end soon. Alexandra (his daughter) then replied "I know daddy, I want to enjoy it while it lasts" or something to that effect. :)

After talking about his daughter for a bit, I went on to say to Sean that his work in the films meant so much to so many people. I told him that I understood how many hardships he had gone through on set, and that he may have had hard times but that he meant so much to so many. I really meant what I said. Back in 2001 my family and I were going through hardships and trials. We were in England getting treatments for my mother who has had MS. It was the best of times and the worst of times. Then late in the year of 2001 my dad won tickets to the World Premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring. In such a time of sorrow and trials it meant so much not just to me but to all of as a family. When we won those tickets the only way I can describe the joy is this--I felt like my world was ending and beginning at the same time. I felt so alive with bliss and yet was almost passing out from the extreme joy and unspeakable elation I felt. It was like seeing a bright star in the middle of a dark winter.

All this I summed up in just those few words to Sean. He, and the rest of the LOTR cast and crew have meant so much to me and my family. They were so kind to us in those tough times and we will never forget them.

After telling him this, Sean said that what he had written in the book of his hard times on set was like an old snake skin--a thing of the past that he had gotten over by the time he began writing the book. But I also saw in his eyes that he was genuinely moved by what I said, because there was a quiet, thoughtful gratitude in his hobbit face. At last it came time for all us hobbits to part ways. Sean met my whole family and had nice things to say to everyone. He was very kind to my little sister. As we were leaving I had been shaking his hand and he held it firmly and in a kindly and very thoughtful manner said to me "You takecare of yourself".

It was a truly magical evening which I will always remember. Not only did we get the kindly Samwise, but we also ran into Thorongil (who I'm sure is preparing a marvelous report of his own). We had a nice little chat and the all us hobbits headed for the door. For the rest of the world it was dark, mild, October evening. For me the stars were bright, the world alight with the joy of glad things. I had just had a wonderful evening with my family and I got to see two good friends again. I floated home on a cloud.

And that is all for this fireside story children. I'm sure there will be more to tell in the days and years to come, but for now I remain, and ever will be your faithful Jedi Hobbit Reporter.

10-14-04 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Demosthenes @ 7:03 pm EST

"The treasure is likely to be your death, though the dragon is no more!" With these words Roc, the old raven, predicts grim times for Thorin and Company. Although Dain and the dwarves of the Iron Hills will soon arrive to aid their kin, they can hardly outnumber the host of men and elves now besieging the Lonely Mountain. With winter is coming on all begins to seem hopeless.

Bilbo Baggins decides to take matters into his own hands. What he does may be considered ingenious or just plain sneaky, but there is no longer any doubt this descendant of Bullroarer Took is a real, true burglar. Was Bilbo justified in what he did? What is the power that the Arkenstone seems to have over all who see it? What is the background of Dain and his folk? What might have occurred had Bilbo not acted and where did Gandalf suddenly appear from?

Information, insight and speculation galore await you if you join us this week in #thehalloffire as we look at "The Hobbit: Chapter 16: A Thief in the Night"

Upcoming topics:

10/23/04, 10/24/04: "Political Systems in Middle Earth"
10/30/04, 10/31/04: "The Nazgul/Ringwraiths"


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Astin Book Tour Report
Xoanon @ 12:44 pm EST

Smeagirl/Girllum writes: Hi, just got home from the Sean Astin signing at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. Wow, it was really amazing! He gave a fairly long speech before the signing, and I wasn't recording or taking notes or anything so what I write here is only a tiny paraphrased percentage of what he said. But I was reading the book on the way home and luckily it looks like most of what he said regarding his philosophies on life and acting and book writing and so forth, are in the book anyway, so you'll still get that info. if you read the book but missed the speech.

I guess I should start with when I got to the store (if you want to skip straight to Sean, scroll down to the "***********" I put below for your convenience). When I walked in there was a woman with a British accent asking if anyone was there for the Sean Astin signing, and handing out a flyer if you said you were. Here's the flyer, with my own comments in brackets:


Event Guidelines for Wednesday, October 13th at 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble Union Square Welcomes
Sean Astin - There and Back Again

Due to the anticipated large attendance at this event, we ask that you be aware of the following guidelines:

*Books for this event will be available at the first floor cash desk. [But they let me pay by credit card.] Please purchase books before going up to the fourth floor for the event. [Weird -- I've been in this store dozens of times, and somehow I never knew they had a fourth floor!] Mr. Astin will only sign copies of There and Back Again. No other items or memorabilia of any kind will be signed.

*The seating area will be cleared at 5:00pm, and customers will then be able to fill the seats on a first-come, first-served basis. [The seating area was very large, maybe 300 seats? Sorry, I didn't think to make a note of it. I got there a few minutes after 6:00 and at first it looked like there were no seats left, but I walked around the room and finally found a single seat available in the fourth row! It looked like everyone else had come in couples or groups, so a few single seats were left here and there. Luckily Smeagirl has no friends.] Seats cannot be saved for people not present. [People were saving seats anyway, but the staff started cracking down on this around 6:30.] Once the seating area is full, customers will be directed to a roped-off standing area. [This eventually filled up too, but I couldn't see how far back it went from where I was.]

*Sean Astin will talk about his book and take a few questions from the audience if time permits before signing books.

*Due to the large number of people at this event, no cameras or cellphones will be permitted on the stage. Photographs may be taken from the floor during the booksigning. The author will be unable to pose for photographs.

*Members of the press/TV camera crews are requested to notify the names and accreditations of journalists and photographers who intend to be present at this event before 10:00 a.m. on Weds., October 13th. Please call 212-253-0819, or email crm2675@bn.com [This is a Barnes & Noble e-mail address.]

These guidelines are subject to change. Thank you for your cooperation.


So, everyone was sitting around between 6:00 and 7:00 waiting for him to come out. People were chatting and I got a couple comments on my TORn shirt (a red "lousy" shirt I just got in the mail a couple days ago -- thanks to whoever sends these out for being so quick!), but it was hardly all LOTR fans by any means. Actually most people seemed to be bigger fans of his other movies, which I've never seen (I will, I promise!). People were shouting "Goonies!" and "Rudy!"

When Sean came out, the audience was cheering and hollering with unbelievable enthusiasm. These were definitely big fans! As he walked past the rows of people he shook hands with those people who were within reach. At first he sat down at a table and I was worried I wouldn't be able to see him because there were about a half-dozen photographers standing between us, but after they took lots of photos of him holding the book, he got up and stood at a podium so everyone had a nice clear view of him.

Now I have to pause here to say that from a purely shallow fangirlish perspective, as far as looks go, Sean was about one of my least favorite LOTR actors (being more partial to Viggo and Elijah, personally). And I figured I'd find him even less attractive without his Hobbit wig and costume. But WOW -- I've done a total turnaround on this. He looked so handsome, I was flabbergasted. Of course he looked a little older than in LOTR, but this hasn't diminished his attractiveness in the least, in fact I'd say quite the opposite. Words like "dashing" and "sophisticated" were coming to mind, but mostly "handsome." REALLY handsome, and this is coming from someone who was *not* a big Sean fan in any way, shape or form. Shouldn't he be getting some serious leading man roles? (Maybe he is, I haven't been following -- if he isn't he certainly should be.) He was also wonderfully well-spoken, very polished overall. For some reason I'm drawing a complete blank on what he was wearing, I guess I was just mesmerized by his face.

He started by saying that this is his very first book signing (which brought a huge cheer). Then he thanked Barnes & Noble, and he said that when he first got a call about the LOTR movies he went and bought his copy of the trilogy at a Barnes & Noble in CA. He also thanked St. Martin's Press and his co-writer Joe Layden. He also read aloud his dedication in the book, thanking PJ, Fran Walsh, the entire cast & crew of LOTR, his wife and daughters, and this reading from the book brought another big cheer.

He also said that he wanted to clear up a couple of things that had been floating around the internet. He said some writers had referred to passages in the book describing "fights" with other people, and he said the book doesn't describe "fights." He said he describes some conflicts with other people, but taken in the context of the whole situation he describes, they shouldn't be called fights. He also said he's read some negative reviews of the book, but he learns more about himself from them and that's a good thing. And he supports the right of anyone to have their own opinion about the book and buy it or not buy it as they wish. He said he had the idea for writing the book after seeing people pay $20, $30 or more just for an autograph or a meeting (it wasn't really clear here if he was talking about himself or other actors) and he thought people should get more than that for their money, but he doesn't have time to answer everyone's questions individually so it makes sense to put it in a book. He said this shouldn't be considered the "definitive" or "final" version of anything he relates, just a supplement to other information from other people.

At one point he gave a very heartfelt and moving request for people to vote (very sorry I can't remember his exact words, it was really stirring though). He said he was hoping the event wouldn't go too long as he wanted to watch the debate, and he said the issues being discussed in the debate are vital to the fate of the entire world. He didn't endorse a particular candidate though.

As I said, I think most of what he discussed is in the book, but if I remember more specifics I'll post it. (Sorry, getting late, mind getting foggy.) At one point he was describing something about the script, and he said (with his Sam accent sort of half on) "Don't go where I can't follow" and just about the whole audience collectively sighed and swooned, which was a really neat sound I don't remember ever hearing before.

Then they went to questions but only had time for three or four. One person's question wasn't even a question, he just said "Can you do the speech from the locker room in Rudy?" And Sean jumped up on a chair and shouted something incoherent for a while. (Sorry, I haven't seen the movie.) Of course this brought another big cheer. Another question was (paraphrased) "When you first read the LOTR books, did you most identify with Sam?" And he said that he had already been told the part he was trying out for was Sam, so he was reading the books with that in mind and focusing on Sam because of that, but that he did identify with Sam in terms of the love of nature. And I couldn't hear the final question but it was apparently something along the lines of "What advise would you give an aspiring actor?" And he spoke for quite a while but most of it was things that would sound trite and stupid if I wrote them down, like "Believe in yourself" and "Be patient," but they were obviously heartfelt and sounded quite moving when he said them. He also said that it's a difficult field, because even though he's from an acting family he still had difficulty for many years.

I'm leaving out lots of whooping, cheering and clapping from the audience. People were *really* enthusiastic.

After his speech he went and sat at the table again and the B&N staff was very organized in getting people lined up to get their books signed. They went row by row (which was nice, as I was in the fourth row) but it was still quite a long wait on line. Even though Sean wasn't personalizing the books, he wasn't rushing people either, but speaking a sentence or two with each person. Some people gave him letters and things which he was putting into a stack next to him. I got to speak to him longer than I expected and he was very gracious. Not friendly in a bubbly sort of way -- it was kind of hard to read his mood -- but certainly very nice. He signature includes a little smiley face.

10-13-04 Latest News

TV Watch: Astin on Fox News
Xoanon @ 9:25 pm EST

Colleen writes: Sean Astin was on the Fox News Channel today. He laughed when his family was refered to as "hollywood royalty" and thought that only applied to people Princess Grace and her ilk.

He spoke of his spat with Andy Serkis, resulting from an accident on the set. He says the "fight" was really just rumor blown out of proportion. In one scene, Serkis was supposed to grab his hood and ripped off Sean's wig instead. Sean said he was in a bad mood that day and walked off in a huff, but realized it was just an accident and all was smoothed over.

He also explained to one viewer how the hobbits were made to look small on screen adn how they used actor doubles as well as blue screens and other tricks.

He gave a solid, technical explanation to another viewer who was having trouble getting good quality sound on his dvd. Sean mentioned that different video systems have different abilities, and if the man in the audience was having trouble hearing the voices over the soundtrack, it wasn't the film, it was his dvd player.

He also spoke of how he would like to run for public office someday and told a story about how, when he was a little boy, he would run down the hall shouting, "I'm running for mayor!" He believes in the ancient Greek Polis, the idea that the citizen must return service to the state.

Tolkien Lecture at U of T
Xoanon @ 9:13 am EST

canadanthony writes: The University of Toronto is hosting a FREE one hour lecture on "The Christian Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien" on Saturday, October 16, at 10 AM. You have to register to attend the lecture, and you may have to be an alumnus of U of T. It will be presented by the Reverend Guy Trudel at St. Michael's College and the description is as follows:

The Academy Awards generously rewarded Peter Jackson for his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. This success has made many more people aware of the very popular novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Many fans of both the novels and their movie representations do not know of Tolkien's deeply held Christian beliefs and how they made their way into his fictional works. While many might argue about the influence of Christianity upon The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien's frequent letters in response to theological questions raised by his epic work reveal that he thought of The Lord of the Rings as Catholic and Christian. Tolkien disliked allegory as a means of storytelling because it seemed to subjugate the story to some larger theological, philosophical or ideological point; so he crafted a tale which would engage readers first as a story, but a story which, through its creation of a fictive world, would lead readers to reconsider the elements which paralleled the primary world. [More]

10-11-04 Latest News

Trilogy Screening in Cleveland, OH
Xoanon @ 3:20 pm EST

Folks from The EDGE Art Gallery write: We're very excited to let you know about our current plans for the upcoming "Lord Of The Rings" Movie Marathon Celebration of all three extended DVD versions of "THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING," "THE TWO TOWERS," and "THE RETURN OF THE KING" on Saturday, December 18, 2004 from 12 Noon - Midnight in the MC (Main Classroom) Auditorium at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio. This event is sponsored by The EDGE: Lutheran Campus Ministry & Art Gallery. All events are FREE and open to the public.

Anything you could do to publicize the event on your site, to encourage people to attend, would be greatly appreciated.

We would love to have viewers of your website who could make it to Cleveland, Ohio, come and experience all three extended DVD movies on Saturday, Dec 18 from 12 NOON - Midnight. We also will have several drawings in which we give away over $2,000 worth of books and related "Lord of the Rings" merchandise (donated graciously from Houghton Mifflin and New Line Cinema). We also will have a Walden Books booktable during the Marathon with all sorts of interesting books and related Tolkien merchandise available for sale.

If you have any questions or comments about this event, please don't hesitate to email us at: edge@csuohio.edu

Saturday, Dec 18, 2004

"The Lord Of The Rings" Movie Marathon Celebration (DVD Extended Versions)

3:30 - 3:45 pm: Break/Drawings for Prizes
3:45 - 7:45 pm: "THE TWO TOWERS"
7:45 - 8 pm: Break/Drawings for Prizes
Midnight: Final Drawing for Prizes

LOTR Symphony in Dallas Report
Xoanon @ 3:10 pm EST


Well, it was great meeting up with Momdalf and Kathleen. It's nice to know that there are other LOTR freaks out there like me that are really 'normal' everyday folks with this one exception! We all got along famously, and I must compliment Momdalf on her wonderful kids (met 2 sons and pregnant daughter) who came with us to the Symphony.

Well, this being only my 2nd formal symphony in my life and 2nd LOTR Symphony, I now have a comparison. Not all Symphonies are created equal! The (July) Houston Symphony was flawless in my opinion. Sissel was the soprano soloist and I thought she was wonderful. She nailed all the high notes and I didn't notice if they weren't EXACTLY like the movie - they felt like they were to me. The children's chorus was great in Houston. Not sure who was the soloist (Ben Del Maestro was a new name to me from Serenity's post), but it didn't seem to matter that it was NOT Howard Shore, Renee Fleming (not even sure who she is - a bit 'ignant' here), or Annie Lenox. (see my review on or about July 5th).

There were at least 2 (I think Momdalf said she heard 3) FEEDBACK points on the sound system!!! How bad is that?!! And a jerk behind me had his cell phone on!! Not only that, rather than rush to get it turned off ASAP when it started ringing, he answered it after about 4 rings and was talking as he left his seat for the lobby!! Death!! Death!! Death to cell phone Orcs!!

The expected orchestra themes were great and moving, but the female soloist was a disappointment (Sorry, don't have her name handy - and I believe she arrived late and was not in the 1st movement or 2). I didn't hear the 'Taking Leave' part I love so much in TTT when Arwen leaves for Grey Havens, and felt a few things missing, but maybe that was when the feedback problems happened which turned my mind numb the the few seconds they overpowered the music. The great 'Celtic' viola or violin or whatever it is in the Rohan/Eowyn themes was not loud enough. I kept reaching for the non-existent volume control - Don't know if it was cuz we were in nose-bleed or not, but some points were too soft or key instruments did not stand out.

I imagine I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't listened to a better performance in Houston, but it sure made me appreciate the fact that it made my July experience even more precious! Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and found the trip from Houston, 2 nights in a Marriott giving me a much needed break from my stressful job, meeting Momdalf & Kathleen, and the concert well worth the time and money. Since I consider the Houston LOTR experience a 10, I would give Dallas perhaps an 8. I know if I heard the live Symphony a 3rd time, my opinion would change about the 1st 2.

It took an hour to get out of Dallas area when I left for Houston!! Not used to all that traffic, but there was huge UT/OU game going on when I left Saturday morning so perhaps not typical? After the rain stopped as I got on I-45, I plugged in the CDs (didn't want the sound of rain on the car to marr the music!) and the 3 hour trip from that point just sailed by! Now that I listened to the CDs again from beginning to end, I appreciate them more than when I bought them right after the July concert and the disappointments I had in Dallas quickly faded away. Now I am looking forward to that super-duper music CD almost as much as the EE ROTK DVD!!! Christmas this year will be wonderful!

10-10-04 Latest News

LOTR Symphony in Chicago Reports
Xoanon @ 8:59 pm EST

LOTR Symphony in Chicago


Just like any other LOTR event for me it is always best remembered and talked about after a few days. Since Friday, 10/08, the emotions have set in and I can write about the experience now.

We arrived at the Auditorium, my two TORN sibs and I, at around 7:40 for the 8:00 performance, having elected not to attend the Q&A because, well, we were behind getting ready. There was quite a few people milling about in the foyer and we met a young man who had already seen the performance, and of course he was raving about it. This made expectations, and excitement, even higher than it had been before and we headed into the theater.

Entering the auditorium we were bowled over to find that our seats were in fact - 11th row, dead center! The orchestra had already taken the stage and they were warming up, and we settled down to talks with some fellow fans from Minnesota and to observing the crowd. There was more than a fair amount of excitement in the air and I was happy to see that most of the seats had been filled. And we waited..... and everyone knows with LOTR waiting seems an eternity. At around 8:00 the lights dimmed and the conductor took the stage. We were ready to begin the journey.

From the very beginning it was breathtaking... the marriage of live music and beautifully displayed hand done sketches brought you back into Middle Earth and soon you forget where you were. The first and second movement, before the intermission, is dedicated to the "Fellowship" and the emotional roller coaster begins with "The Prophecy", continuing through such personal favorites as "Concerning Hobbits", "Many Meetings", "The Bridge at Khazad-dum" and ending with "The Breaking of the Fellowship". The 250 member Chicago Children's Choir was amazing..... singing in Elvish. They took you through the range of smiling to crying, reliving each moment not only from the films but the books also, memories always present of the first time Peter Jackson and Howard Shore opened the door to Middle Earth and we were allowed in to eavesdrop.

After the intermission, the Third and Fourth Movement was dedicated to "The Two Towers" while the Fifth and Sixth were to "The Return of the King"- and the orchestra was joined on stage by Sissel. It was a thrill to be able to experience that voice first hand and you could have heard a pin drop during "Evenstar" and "Gollum's Song". But my favorite would had to have been - "Into the West". Hearing that angelic voice singing those profoundly moving words will be an experience I will keep with me forever. And then it was done. The lights came up to a standing ovation and, finally, an appearance on stage by Howard Shore himself.

This was very exciting for the three of us, who have been so moved in a personal way by his music, because it meant that he would be able to attend the reception afterward, an event we had tickets for. We were given "Lord of the Rings Symphony" posters at the entrance,Erika and I were armed with our gifts, nervous over what to expect from such a busy man, and found him to be not only VERY gracious, but humble. I do believe that Howard Shore may be the most unassuming person in music today! He came into the reception room and, to the crowd's credit, was not mobbed but mingled until he reached the greeting area at the back of the room. My friend Judi and I were very lucky to be one of the first people to thank him and shake his hand. He was gracious in the extreme and seemed genuinely touched by the reactions. I won't go through the step-by-step of what happened but let me tell you that, no matter how much time they wanted to talk, he took special care to let all the people express themselves to him. It was electric. He signed everyone's poster, personalizing it.

And it didn't end there, Sissel also was gracious and friendly (in fact we had a talked about my beaded dress). Being the only one of the three with a digital camera I kinda screwed up on one of the pictures - I have a great shot of Erika walking away. We asked to have another and she said, of course! Another signature, and a very direct compliment on mine and Judi's dress.

After this, we thought the evening had ended when, on the way out, we ran into Markus Hubor - the conductor. We told him how moving the experience had been for us and he shared the fact of how difficult a piece it was to conduct. Compliments went all around - to the Choir and the orchestra - expressing especial appreciation to the former for all their hard work learning Elvish. He seemed really relieved and happy that the work was received so well - and we added another signature to our posters. And then it really was over.

But is it? I will NEVER watch those films the same way, nor will I ever listen to that beautiful music without seeing these new images come into my head. They are a part of my soul now.

If any of you have a chance to see this amazing performance, even if you have to travel to get to it, I CAN'T RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH! Thank you Howard Shore.... and all involved for a profound evening.



Saturday evening Chicago was gifted with the most beautiful, energizing symphany it has ever had the privlage to host. I was at first disappointed because I thought that Mr. Shore was conducting, but the gifted German conductor, Makus Huber, did an outstanding job. As to the music, I was totally into it and so was my husband who isn't quite the enthusiast about the music as I am. But he really enjoyed it as much as I. ( He came at the last minute as a replacement for my son who couldn"t make it. We did get to go to Alanta together and actually see Mr. Shore conduct there.)

The drawings really are quite helpful for ones who aren't really familiar with the music, and the lighting ,for example on "The Bridge of Khazad-dum" was a brillant red lighting all around the stage with firey shadows on the side was outstanding. The Chicago Concert Choir and Children Choir did and excellent job, I had goose bumps when the young girl sang the part when Gandalf had fallen into the abyss and the others escaped out of Moria. Sissel, the Guest Vocalist once again did not disappoint me, (did I mention that I heard her in Alanta also) she has such a pure and clear voice that when she sang " Gollum's Song" her facial expressions along with her fabulous voice really told the sad story of this pitiful creature. We all started clapping after she finished and the symphany was still finishing the rest of the song.

What can I say, there was so many favorite and moving songs from the "Concerning Hobbits" to "the lighting of the beacons" and then my personal favorites "The Grey Havens" and "Into the West". My tears were falling as Sissell sang so beautifully I had to controll myself because I didn't want to ruin my make-up because after the concert we had the privilege to attend a Post-Show Dessert Reception with HOWARD SHORE! Yes, he didn't conduct the symphany, but he did attend the reception. He was so kind and signed the great poster that they gave the 100 who had purchased tickets to this limited occasion and anything we handed him. He took pictures with us and had champagne and cheese cake with us. Sissel and Markus the conductor like wise gifted us with their presence. I felt like Cinderella because at mid-night we finally said good night to our fellow ringers and disappeared into the cool and dark Chicago night. What a fairytale I lived this past Saturday evening!



the "lord of the rings" symphony was amazing.

i adore the auditorium theater. it's beautiful and warm and i've heard mixed things about the acoustics but i think they're fine. i arrived at 6:30 for the question and answer with howard shore. doug adams, who is writing a book about the making and details of the score, was there as well. the book sounds droolworthy, for geeks of my sort. traces the different themes/motifs throughout the story, details influences and decisions and such. it's going to come out next year with the complete box set of all the music used in the movies.

the questions themselves were on the inane side, as i'd expected. some of them were excellent and elicited great answers, but most of them were either things i'd heard before, things there was no reason to ask howard shore, and shameless self-plugs and mic hogging. but it was funny and at times enlightening. it was so great to just be in the room with howard shore and listen to him talk... after seeing all of the documentaries and such it really made me feel like i was a small part of something, brought me closer to all of it. i totally get the appeal of fan conventions for this reason.

the concert itself started shortly after. i had a fantastic seat in the first row of the first balcony. the crowd was very mixed in age, dress, level of geekitude. not as many costumes as i expected. most women who seemed drawn to that route opted for the vaguely elfin flowy gown thing. there were several young kids, two of whom were sitting behind me and behaving amazingly well for a long concert. there was one adorable little girl in line in front of me for the bathroom during intermission and she was bouncing up and down and singing the tune of the hobbit theme and it was the *cutest thing ever.*

the orchestra was huge and there was a choir and a children's choir. soloists played on the hardanger fiddle (the rohan theme), the pan flute (faramir's charge on osgilliath, before billy's solo, etc), the ... i can't find the name of the instrument. it's like a hammered dulcimer and it's used for gollum's theme in "the taming of smeagol" and other pieces. i always had a difficult time hearing it on the score but it was clear and haunting during the concert. a very cool sound. there were other great solo instruments, and soloists.

a screen was set up behind the musicians. it displayed drawings, paintings and storyboards by alan lee and john howe. i'd known about this beforehand but i didn't know it was going to work as well as it did. the images shifted slowly and subtly let the audience know (if they hadn't reached whatever geek level necessary to be able to perfectly connect the music with the movie) what was going on. but it was never overly blatant or distracting. it was utterly gorgeous and added so much to the experience. i had a hard time deciding what to watch - general orchestra, soloists, the conductor or the screen. but it was never a problem. the conductor was someone other than howard shore, but he did an amazing job.

they brought out a soloist, a scandinavian pop singer named sissel, for the second half. the music before intermission was soley from "the fellowship of the ring." probably because fellowship introduces several of the main themes and has the largest number (i would guess) of fully fleshed side themes that move along the story more than the music in the other two films. "two towers" and "return of the king" came after intermission and i felt like the editing for "two towers" was too abrupt. it made sense but i would have liked to see more time spent on the rohan theme and rivendell. "return of the king" flowed much better, and some of the things from "two towers" recurred during it, so that was nice. but anyway, sissel sang rene fleming's parts, and "gollum's song" and "into the west." she has a gorgeous voice and it fit very well.

highlights for me... well, i was utterly entranced throughout the entire thing. sometimes i have a difficult time keeping in the moment during concerts. but the images on the screen in particular helped me to stay focused. i think my absolute favorite piece was "the breaking of the fellowship." it's probably my favorite song on all of the scores. i love the minor fellowship theme and the bodhran (at least, i think it's a bodhran) and the boy's choir singing "in dreams." it's not using during the actual film but it plays after enya's song in the credits. i adore it and it was used to close out the "fellowship" section, probably because enya owns the rights to "may it be." but yeah, the music is what plays after boromir dies and frodo and sam go off to mordor alone. so good. i also loved the second half of "the bridge of khazad dum," after gandalf has fallen and the fellowship comes out of the mountain. i can't remember if they had a boy soprano or a woman singing the solo there but it was awesome. the entire moria sequence was incredibly powerful. loud and dark and booming. i was disappointed in my favorite theme, the one from the last march of the ents and the charge/preparation of the rohirrim, with ben del maestro's solo in the films. the pacing was rushed during the ent charge moment in "two towers" and it didn't recur strongly enough in "return of the king." but whatever. the rohirrim charge was still pretty awesome. i also liked the first movement of "return of the king," the different permutations of the gondor theme, sissel's solos during "the end of all things" and the complexity of "the return of the king" leading into "the grey havens." i wasn't too fond of the soloist they had doing aragorn's coronation song. it was a bit too low. but now i'm nitpicking.

in all, it was a marvelous night, one of the best nights of music i've been lucky enough to experience. i wouldn't have missed it for the world, it was such a special thing. my breath caught so many times, and of course i cried like a small child (but very quietly) at parts. there was a standing ovation when it was over, one of the longest standing ovations i've seen outside of a rock concert. all of the soloists and sections were recognized and then howard shore came out and the place thundered. it was beyond cool and i wish i could see it again some day.

10-09-04 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Demosthenes @ 7:34 am EST

"Fair lady!" said Frodo again after a while. "Tell me, if my asking does not seem foolish, who is Tom Bombadil?"

"He is, as you have seen him, she said in answer to his look. He is the Master of wood, water, and hill."

When Tom Bombadil first appeared in The Fellowship of the Ring, -- stumping along with great yellow boots on his thick legs -- he stirred an almost endless round of debates and discussions. Tolkien fans of all ages and walks of life have wondered about this strange person with his blue coat and a long brown beard, bright blue eyes and face as red as a ripe apple. Controversy seems to swirl around him like smoke rings.

Many love him, others dislike or disdain him, Peter Jackson ignored him almost completely, but few seem to have this enigmatic character all figured out. Who is Tom Bombadil? What are his abilities and powers? Where did he come from? Why is Tom unaffected by the One Ring? Why did Tolkien decide to include this fanciful character in his epic work? Who or what might he symbolize? These and many other questions will be discussed, debated and delighted in if you join us this week in #thehalloffire as we look at Tom Bombadil.

Suggested reading -

FOTR chapters 6, 7 and 8
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
Stueard Jensen's essay on Tom http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html


Upcoming topics:

10/16/04, 10/17/04: "The Hobbit: Chapter 16: A Thief in the Night "
10/23/04, 10/24/04: "Political Systems in Middle Earth"
10/30/04, 10/31/04: "The Nazgul/Ringwraiths"


#thehalloffire on theonering.net IRC server. Need instructions? Go here:

Chat Times:

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm EST (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 7:30am Sunday morning AEST]

Sunday Chat:
8:00 pm (20:00) CET
[also 2:00pm (14:00) EST and 4:00am Monday morning AEST]

EST = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AEST = Australian East Coast

10-08-04 Latest News

Mortensen's Miyelo Exhibit Review in DC
Xoanon @ 1:38 pm EST

Charmed Sister writes: I was in Washington the past 2 weeks, and imagine my surprise when I happened to be staying at the same hotel as Viggo Mortensen. This was a stroke of luck. I bumped into him at the lobby of the hotel, and he was very gracious and polite. Knowing how he is about stardom, etc., I refrained from asking for a photo (although I had my camera on me) or an autograph. I merely approached him and told him that it was an honor to meet him and that I loved his work. He smiled, said thank you and wished me a great day. He looked great, as usual.

Since my stay in Washington coincided with his Miyelo exhibit at the Addison/Ripley Gallery in Georgetown, DC, I made it a point to see his photos in person. The gallery is a little out of the way, but it is definitely worth the trip. The pictures are visually stunning. The colors jump out at you, and the stories and poems that accompany them are thought-provoking and fascinating. The exhibit is a wonderful way to see another side of Viggo, along with getting to know a little more about this wonderful culture of native Americans. For those of you who will actually get to see the exhibit, my personal favorite was Miyelo 12 (going for 3,200$). The prices of the photos range from 585$-5,820$ and they are definitely worth that much (if someone has that kind of money to spend). They also sell a book of all the Miyelo photos. The hardcover is about 60$, and the softcover is 32$.

The exhibit runs through to October 23, 2004. If you can, make the trip ... you won't regret it.

Visit the Addison/Ripley Gallery website.

Dallas LOTR Concert Review
Xoanon @ 12:18 pm EST

wmchichiri: Last Night at the Meyerson Center, the Dallas Orchestra performed the Lord of the Rings Symphony, and I had a very precious seat for the performance. Words will never be able to fully convey or express my immense enjoyment in the performance. The vocalists who had solo performances were truly a great treat to listen too... and to hear the music performed live, with the clarity that a live performance can give you was truly astounding. When the evening came to an end, the place was rocked by a standing ovation that lasted well beyond 5 minutes. I know I kept clapping hoping against hope for an encore, but no such luck.

I actually had tears glimmering in my eyes during the soaring call to arms for Gondor (when Pippin lights the fire signal, and it sets off a chain reaction to all of Gondor's men and allies). This reaction took me utterly back, for I had never gotten so emotionally invested when watching the films or listening to this music before... but there was something about the sound of it, beyond the meaning of it in the film, that was truly awe-inspiring that left me dumbfounded to attempt to even minutely understand my reaction to it. And that my dear hobbits and elves, is the mark of not just a moving piece of music, but something ethereally transcendent and infinitely precious beyond any material value... a truly rare occurrence that is the earmark of musical masterpieces.

The performance was accentuated by color gel lighting that helped set the major themes of the music in a more visual way. For instance, music reflecting the shire had the orchestra bathed in a deep bright emerald green color, the lights went to a yellow, and darkened to a yellow orange, and then an orange red color when dealing with the main themes of the "enemy" forces, be they Balrog, Nazgul, Orc, Goblin, Uruk-Hai, or man. In addition to the lighting, there were screens showing storyboard art and illustrations that advanced the story with the music. It was meant to be a visual roadmap through the journey of the story as the music followed the story.

Unfortunately for us within five minutes of the onset of the performance the screens went black, and this was not fixed until we returned from intermission to here the selections from The Two Towers and Return of the King. As a compensation, every purchased ticket will be receiving a voucher which will allow free admission to one of the Dallas Orchestra's classical series performances later this year. So my ticket has, like Frodo, gone on an unexpected journey. Though in my case, I fear the only Balrog I will have to face, is the poor signs in downtown Dallas that never direct you properly to any of the major highways. (For those unfamiliar with Dallas, there will be a sign that has an arrow pointing straight ahead for I-30, you follow it, never see another sign, and eventually end up dead-ending in a parking lot. I spent 20 minutes trying to find a sign correctly followed by other signs to navigate me to the proper road. )

My only disappointment in the evening, came not from the performance itself, but rather from the lack of certain musical pieces I had been anticipating: May It Be, Eowyn singing at Theodred's funeral, the arrival of the elves at Helm's Deep (I so adore the instrumentation of the Lothlorien theme there!), Pippin singing as Faramir goes on a kamikaze mission to Osgiliath. But if my only disappointment, is something not included, and not something that was included. well I'm quite content. Except I want to kill the people who sat in a section near me who arrived decked out in jingling homecoming mum's, I kept hearing them throughout the performance.

So for those who have yet to experience the fun. you should try to catch a performance yourself! This evening has only increased my appetite for the anticipated release of Howard Shore's multi-volume box set of the Lord of the Rings score next year.

Go back to Special Reports Archives