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August 18, 2005 - August 25, 2005

8-25-05 Latest News

Elfstone to bring LARP to Dragon*Con's Tolkien Track
Jincey @ 10:07 pm EST

Over the years, we've had several sessions on miniature and PC gaming, but this year we're sharing a new (to the track) genre of gaming. We're very excited to welcome Mike Yow of Elfstone come to speak with us about the tremendously popular world of Live Action Role-Playing (LARP).

Elfstone is a live-action roleplaying experience set in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. Now into their second year of play, the Atlanta-based troupe is growing in their quest to bring to life the mythic tales and high adventure of Tolkien's sagas. Elfstone features real-time combat using foam latex weapons, although its greatest emphasis is on dramatic roleplay, character development, and exploring the timeless themes of the Professor.

As part of the Tolkien track at this year's Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Elfstone will host a panel discusssing its unique rules system, how it simulates Tolkienian concepts (such as grace and corruption), Middle-earth costuming, and tackling challenging roles and storylines. If you plan on attending Dragon*Con, please join the Elfstone panelists Monday at 1:00 PM in the Copenhagen room for more information on the exciting world of live-action roleplaying in Tolkien's Middle-earth! Also, please feel free to visit their [website] and [yahoo group].

Hall Of Fire This Weekend -- What Were They Thinking?
Demosthenes @ 8:06 pm EST

Why on (Middle-)earth was Isildur allowed to keep the One Ring?

Long ago, Sauron wreaked havoc upon Middle-earth. After Celebrimbor first created the rings of power, Sauron forged his own - intent on domination. He took Celebrimbor's rings and used them to seduce nine kings of men to his side and to attempt to corrupt seven dwarven lords. Laying waste to Eregion, he pursued Elrond, who established Rivendell as a stronghold and shelter.

His war of domination was only thwarted by the power of Numenor.

Isildur And The One RingUnable to defeat Numenor, he seduced it, stirring up war between the Dunedain of Numenor and the Valar. The breaking of the world and the downfall of Numenor was the result. Only Elendil and some of his people survived, establishing Arnor and Gondor.

Enraged by the survival of Elendil and his sons, Sauron assaulted Gondor, destroying Minas Ithil and setting off the war of the Last Alliance. It was a battle he proved unable to win. Elendil and Gil-galad formed the Last Alliance of elves and men. They lay siege for seven long years outside Barad-dur's black gates. Both Elendil and Gil-galad perished in the final battle; Isildur cut the ring from Sauron's black hand. Victory was nigh.

But what happened? Having defeated Sauron, and being right at the Ring of Doom, why did they ultimately fail and not destroy the One Ring?

Elrond At The Ring Of DoomWhy did Isildur choose to keep the ring? Was weregild simply an excuse? A rationalisation? Was a more insidious influence already at work?

History shows that the elves were less susceptible to Sauron's influence. Was it an accident that the ring went to a man rather than an elf?

And why did the elves give in so easily to Isildur's desire to keep the ring? Does this validate or provide the cause of the division between men and elves? What would have happened if Elrond and Cirdan had tried to force the ring from Isildur? And would they have been justified in doing so?

Join us in the Hall of Fire on Saturday August 27 at 5:30pm EDT as we discuss the decisions made by Elrond and Cirdan at the end of the Last Alliance of men and elves, and the beginning of the Third Age.

Time and date:
Saturday August 27

5.30pm EDT
4.30pm CDT
3.30pm MDT
2.30pm PDT

10.30pm UK
11.30pm Central Europe

7.30am (Sunday) Brisbane
7.30am (Sunday) Sydney
9.30am (Sunday) Wellington

Chats usually last 45 mins to an hour, and are very newbie friendly. Simply drop in and join the conversation!


Chat happens on #thehalloffire on irc.theonering.net - the TORn IRC server. You can connect instantly via our java chat client that works inside your web browser (find it here! ) or choose to install a dedicated chat program such as mIRC on your computer.

To find out more about using mIRC to connect to TORn IRC server, check out these instructions.

Upcoming topics:

Sat August 27 - Elrond, Cirdan and Isildur at the Ring of Doom
Sun September 4 - Elrond, Cirdan and Isildur at the Ring of Doom
Sat September 10 - Silmarillion Ch 12
Sun September 18 - Silmarillion Ch 12

Got a topic? Let us know your idea!

If you have a burning desire to discuss something in Hall of Fire, drop us a line with your topic at halloffire@theonering.net. If we like it, we'll probably give it a run in the coming weeks - you might even get to guest moderate the session!

Join HoF Announce!

Did you know that Hall of Fire has a mailing list? Join today and get topic announcements and news delivered regularly to your inbox!


RINGERS Special Appearances at ELF and Dragon*Con!
Xoanon @ 12:24 pm EST

Now with the November release date quickly approaching, the creators of RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS are trekking across the U.S. to promote the film -- one exciting show after the next -- across the Southeastern states! If you are headed to Orlando for ELF you can see an exclusive panel event with the writers and director, where they will show for the first time anywhere the “Behind the Scenes” story to be featured on the upcoming DVD (wait till you see the awesome new footage with star Dominic Monaghan!) and other panels too. One weekend later, the team heads to Dragon*Con in Atlanta for the biggest genre geek party of them all where even more will be revealed. See the new RINGERS trailer and special clips shown exclusively at these events!

Enjoy extended audience discussion along with revealing stories in the filmmakers' own words of how Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost) came on board as narrator, while they traveled the world documenting all things LOTR.

Here are the details:

ELF Event in Orlando, Florida, held at the Whyndam Orlando Resort Hotel at 8001 International Drive [CLICK HERE FOR FULL SCHEDULE]

RINGERS will have its main stage presentation on Friday, August 26, 2005, at 2:40 PM. Enjoy extended audience discussion with writer/producer/director Carlene Cordova and writer/producer Cliff Broadway. Thrill to the new footage and comedic hijinx of “The Ring Comes Full Circle” to be shown first at ELF!

They will also appear on panels “Did Jackson Make LOTR Cool Again?” on Saturday at 5:00PM in the Jasmine Room -- and “Which Characters in PJ’s Movies Came Closest to Tolkien?” on Sunday at 3:00PM (same room).

DRAGON*CON Weekend, held at the Marriott Marquis and Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. [CLICK HERE FOR FULL SCHEDULE]

The RINGERS team expands to include Carlene, Cliff and also debonair producer Jeff Marchelletta who will present never-before-seen clips from the film, the New Trailer, and behind-the-scenes surprises! Find us in the “International South” room on Friday, Sept. 2, 2005, at 7:00PM showing “Rock & Roll & Ringers” and a lively chat about how the classic rock scene was transformed by Tolkien. On Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005, at 5:30PM in the Copenhagen Room Carlene, Cliff, & Jeff will stir the kettle of debate with “Themes of LOTR” showing more from their award-winning film!

The big event is on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005, at 5:30PM (tentatively in the “International South” room) with the RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS where we preview the outstanding “The Ring Comes Full Circle” feature from the upcoming DVD, revealing production secrets never before told and filled with new exclusive interview footage with star narrator Dominic Monaghan!

A sensation at film festivals around the world, Ringers is an award-winning, soon-to-be released feature documentary exploring how The Lord of the Rings has influenced Western pop culture for over 50 years.

8-24-05 Latest News

LOTR Alumn At Toronto FF
Xoanon @ 10:17 pm EST

Craig writes: At least 7 cast members of the LOTR movies are scheduled to attend the 30th annual Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from September 8 to 17th this year:

Sean Bean will support Niki Caro's NORTH COUNTRY, screening at 6:50 PM on Monday Sept 12 at Roy Thomson Hall.

Cate Blanchett will support Rowan Woods' LITTLE FISH, screening at 3 PM on Sunday Sept 11 at the Elgin Theatre.

Orlando Bloom will support Cameron Crowe's ELIZABETHTOWN, screening at 9:30 PM on Saturday Sept 10 at Roy Thomson Hall (right after A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE).

Sir Ian McKellen will support Joshua Michael Stern's NEVERWAS, screening details TBA Tuesday Aug 30.

Viggo Mortenson will support David Cronenberg's A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, screening at 6:30 PM on Saturday Sept 10 at Roy Thomson Hall (followed by ELIZABETHTOWN).

Hugo Weaving will support Rowan Woods' LITTLE FISH, screening at 3 PM on Sunday Sept 11 at the Elgin Theatre.

Elijah Wood will support Liev Schreiber's EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED, screening details TBA Tuesday Aug 30.

As the festival runs 10 days, not all of the stars will necessarily be in town at the same time, but who knows, there may be some LOTR reunions taking place. Of note, Roy Thomson Hall screenings are across the street from the Princess of Wales Theatre where the Lord of the Rings musical will debut in February 2006.

8-23-05 Latest News

Emerald Rose will premiere new music at ELF and Dragon*Con
Jincey @ 10:06 pm EST

New CD to be released at Evening at Bree party!

Emerald Rose has announced the completion of their newest cd, "Archives of Ages to Come", and they plan to release the cd at TORn's Evening at Bree party at Dragon*Con. The band will be premiering selections of the new material this weekend for audiences at the ELF gathering in Orlando. Emerald Rose has performed for TORn fans at many LOTR events, including post-Oscar parties in Hollywood. This is the band's fifth cd, and their most musically diverse, ranging from traditional Celtic ballads and instrumentals to driving rock songs inspired by world mythology.

ELF audiences will be some of the first to hear the new music when the band performs this Friday night in Orlando. The concert will include "Come to the Dance", which was used in the film "Ringers: Lord of the Fans".

The Evening at Bree party, the first of several celebrations the band is performing at DragonCon, will be held in the Hyatt's Centennial 1 from 8 - 10:30 pm on Friday, Sept 2. After Bree, the band will move across to the Regency ballroom for a late-night concert party from midnight until 2 am. They will perform on the Hyatt concourse throughout the weekend.

The band has a web page all about the new cd, which can be found at [EmeraldRose.com].

Costuming Panel Leaders
Jincey @ 8:40 pm EST

There’s always great interest in Lord of the Rings related costuming, and we have the best of the best costumers here with us once again this year. I’d like to thank Laura Bradway for stepping in to lead this year’s panels when Quimbie had to unexpectedly drop out of Dragon*Con this year.

The schedule is not showing the actual panelists for costuming (just not enough room), so here’s who’s going to be doing what:

Beginning Sewing Friday 9/2 @5:30
Laura Bradway (Moderator) - AOME
Suzanne "Dolfinna" Daley
Mindy Dupler-Singer - AOME

Creating & Realizing Your Own LOTR Costume Saturday 9/3 @ 1PM
Laura Bradway (Moderator) - AOME
Jessica Duncan
Jules Kelly - Staff Editor at ACS
Judy Mitchell - From ACS

In-Depth Look at LOTR Costume Reproduction Part 1 Sunday 9/4 @11:30
Mindy Dupler-Singer (Moderator) - AOME
Suzanne "Dolfinna" Daley
Judy Mitchell - From ACS
Bonnie Humphrey - AOME
Laura Bradway - AOME

In-Depth Look at LOTR Costume Reproduction Part 2 Sunday 9/4 @1PM
Mindy Dupler-Singer (Moderator) - AOME
Judy Mitchell - From ACS
Bonnie Humphrey - AOME
Laura Bradway - AOME
Jules Kelly - Staff Editor at ACS

If you’d like to get a taste of costuming before the con, please visit [AlleyCatScratch.com] and [ArmsofMiddleearth.com]

Baggins Birthday Picnic Party in LA!!
Xoanon @ 7:43 pm EST

Arwen writes: We are pleased to announce that TORn will hold their annual Los Angeles Baggins Birthday Picnic on Sunday September 25th, from noon to 6pm, in Griffith Park next to the Merry-Go-Round (see below for directions).

In what has now become a tradition, we will have three main contests:

As you know, this is a potluck event, so we need all Middle-earth picnic attendees to bring as much food, drinks, plates, utensils and napkins as possible. For any information regarding the picnic and for food contributions please contact Arwen@theonering.net.

We hope to see many LA Ringers on Sept 25th in Griffith Park, for what we hope will be a party of special magnificence!


From south: Take the 5 North to the Griffith Park exit. At the first stop sign you reach, turn right onto Crystal Springs Drive. When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the "Merry Go Round." Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don't worry, there's plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round. We will be at the bottom of the hill in front of it by the tennis courts.

From north: Take the 5 south to Los Feliz Blvd West. At the intersection with Riverside Drive, turn right. Riverside Drive will turn into Crystal Springs Drive.When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the "Merry Go Round." Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don't worry, there's plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round. We will be at the bottom of the hill in front of it by the tennis courts.

From Hollywood/LA: Take Western Ave north. It will turn into Los Feliz Blvd. When you reach the intersection with Riverside Drive, turn left. Riverside Drive will turn into Crystal Springs Drive. When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the "Merry Go Round." Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don't worry, there's plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round. We will be at the bottom of the hill in front of it by the tennis courts.

8-22-05 Latest News

'When A Fan Hits the Sh**' Booksigning Event in Orlando
Xoanon @ 10:32 pm EST

On Sunday, August 28, Jeanine Renne will be signing her book, When A Fan Hits the Sh**, at the Plaza Venezia Barnes and Noble in Orlando, Florida, from 5-7 PM.

Sean Astin, who is part of the story, has autographed 110 copies of WAF in advance for this event. These autographed books will be sold to the first 110 people who make an additional donation to charity on the spot.

WAF is a true-crime/comedy about a pair of con artists that swindled LOTR fans and celebrities worldwide in 2003, with their phony charity, "Bit of Earth." BoE raised thousands of dollars in the name of the nonprofit organization, "Reading is Fundamental," but never gave RIF the donations.

"No one even suspected that Bit of Earth wasn't legitimate, because they used RIF's name so blatantly," said Renne. "Everyone knows you don't raise funds like that without permission!"

An online donation setup will be available at the booksigning event. "I want everyone to feel 100% confident that this time, their money really is going to charity!" said Renne.

LOTR Feast in San Francisco
Xoanon @ 10:11 pm EST

Kendra writes: The Greater (San Francisco) Bay Area Costumers Guild (GBACG) is pleased to invite you to spend an evening in Elrond's hall at:

Saturday, 8 October 2005
7pm - Midnight
Sequoia Lodge, Oakland Hills

Elves, hobbits, dwarves, men, ents, wizards -- and yes, even orcs -- are invited to join us for an evening of feasting, music, dancing, and the magical words of Tolkien. Our location is a beautiful redwood hall surrounded by trees in the hills of Oakland (Rivendell for our purposes).

Costumes inspired by the books, the films or the Medieval era are appropriate for this event.

Detailed information about the event, including the menu, schedule of activities, and costume suggestions, is available on our website:


Advance tickets are required:
GBACG members $39.50
Non-members $44.50

You must be 13 years or older to attend The Lord of the Rings Feast.

From Aug. 13-31 only GBACG members may purchase tickets (up to four). Space is limited. We expect to sell out this event. You may join GBACG now and buy your tickets to The Lord of the Rings Feast during the members-only presale.

On Sept. 1, tickets go on sale to the general public. After Sept. 1, you may purchase as many tickets as you wish.

LOTR Concert at Carnegie Hall in NY, NY!
Xoanon @ 3:39 pm EST

Howli writes: I wanted to inform you about the New York Premiere of Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony, Movements I and II. On Sunday, November 13th at 2p.m. at Carnegie Hall The Collegiate Chorale, led by music director Robert Bass, will perform excerpts from Richard Wagner’s operas The Flying Dutchman, Die Walkϋre, and Götterdämmerung; and the New York Premiere of Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony, Movements I and II in a program entitled The Rings: Myth and Music. The program will

The operas of Wagner illustrate the profound influence of myth and legend among history’s greatest opera composers. His “Ring” cycle and Flying Dutchman are mainstays of opera houses around the world and are notable in part for their ghosts, phantoms, supernatural creatures, giants and gnomes. Few composers unfold supernatural forces as effectively as Wagner, matching music to story. For this performance, soprano Christine Goerke will perform Senta’s Ballad from The Flying Dutchman and the thrilling Ride of the Valkyries.

By any standard Howard Shore is among today’s most successful composers with numerous industry awards to his credit including multiple Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Grammys. His Lord of the Rings Symphony like the works of Wagner and others is derived from mythological sources, in this instance the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, dramatically unfolding the fable of the lowly Hobbits as they struggle against the forces of evil.

By contrasting Wagner and Shore, The Rings: Myth and Music will explore how two composers – divergent in time and medium – were inspired by mythology and legend.

8-21-05 Latest News

San Francisco Trilogy Thursday Report
Xoanon @ 11:02 am EST

San Francisco Trilogy Thursday Report

Ringer Celebriel sends this report on the San Francisco Trilogy Thursday screening for Cure Autism Now. The screening at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco raised more than $2200 for Cure Autism Now. More than 150 fans, many in costume, attended the charity event, including some from as far away as Texas and South Carolina.

Volunteers dressed as Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin were on hand to welcome guests and sell raffle tickets for a range of donated Lord of the Rings items and entertained the audience with a hobbit drinking song at intermission. Artist Alan Lee created a design especially for the event, which was featured on the Trilogy Thursday t-shirts.

Matthew Jacobsmeyer won a Sideshow/WETA statue of Shelob, personally signed for this event by Richard Taylor and Tania Rogers. He was thrilled to add the autographed item to his already large Sideshow/WETA Lord of the Rings collection. “I already have about twenty of these, plus five more coming in, including Sauron and Peter Jackson as a Corsair,” said Matthew.

Judges for the costume contest were Kathe and Philip Guste, award winning costumers and members of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, and radio station KOIT personality Sean Brown. Philip wore his King Theoden costume and Kathe was clad as Eowyn, Lady of Rohan.

The costume contest drew many first time entrants, including Jay Skidmore, who exhibited his ranger character Andering Reddson. “Andy was a soldier once, now he’s not,” said Jay.

Abbey Smith, 16, won the youth category for her presentation of hobbit Marietta Proudfoot. She received a signed WETA Elrond bust. Abbey purchased the elements of her costume from thrift shops and added hobbit feet purchased online. She says her character “was proud indeed.” Although she was the eldest, she was the last of her family to get married, and even her father was getting worried, until Mr. Grubb came courting. “They married and had five children who all lived very happy lives together,” says Abbey.

Ivy Henry, 19, another first time contest entrant, won the workmanship prize for her elf costume, made by Suzanne Evans. Ivy, a student at University of California – Santa Cruz, has seen each of the Lord of the Rings films over a hundred times.

Teague Hansberry, 30, won the creativity prize, a signed print from artist Alan Lee, for his Ringwraith presentation. Teague said his character was unemployed, now that the Fourth Age has begun, and was seeking “full time employment with wraithing benefits.” Teague showed the crowd his stuff by running up and down the theatre aisles screaming whenever the film wraiths were on screen.

Donations for Cure Autism Now will continue to be accepted at www.sftrilogy.org, starting August 24. All who donate $50 will receive the Alan Lee designed event t-shirt.

Thanks again to all the donors, including Weta Workshop, Sideshow/Weta, Master Replicas, Creation Entertainment, John Rhys-Davies, Sean Astin, Alan Lee, and to our hobbit greeters and volunteers, judges, master of ceremonies and all who made the event possible.

8-20-05 Latest News

Lord of the Rings Symphony: Oslo
Xoanon @ 12:20 pm EST

Marius writes: The Lord of the Rings Symphony is to be performed in Frognerparken in Oslo on the 27th of August, for the very first time in Scandinavia. This is a part of the Norwegian company Hydro’s 100 years anniversary celebration, and thus it is free entry! Before the symphony itself, there will be a 45 min long parade through the park, featuring about 100 costume dressed fans, jugglers and musicians playing medieval instruments. The costume-clad fans have been organised by the great Norwegian Tolkien-website Natse Tolkieno (www.tolkiens.net). Also attending (and supposedly even in costume!) the Norwegian Minister of Justice, Odd Einar Dørum, whom is an expert of Tolkien and a great fan! He has cited Tolkien in several of his political speeches.

The symphony itself is to be performed by Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Bach-choir, Ensemble 96 and Sølvguttene. Sissel Kyrkjebø is soprano, Paddy Maloney plays the solo flute and Annbjørg Lien the solo violin and the ancient Norwegian instrument hardingfele, giving a most special and distinctive sound to the most beloved Rohan theme. The entire arrangement is to be conducted by Christian Eggen. Sissel has recently performed the symphony at Akropolis in Athen, for which she has harvested wonderful critics. [More]

8-18-05 Latest News

Oxbridge 2005 Reports
Xoanon @ 9:39 pm EST

Tolkien 2005 Images
Click for more images

Isilnáriën writes: From August 12th to the 16th Aston University in Birmingham, England, was the venue for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publishing of The Lord of the Rings. People from all over the world gathered to listen to and/or present talks, workshops, videos, and to purchase vast quantities of Tolkien and LOTR merchandise.

The weather was mild, and other than an occasional lost person (myself included) wandering about the maze of halls trying to locate the lift, the University was the perfect location. Several large, graceful willow trees stood on the lawn in front of the cafeteria, which provided both breakfast and dinner to over six hundred hungry fans. The food, by the way, was wonderful, and with the typically British addition of mushrooms and tomatoes on the breakfast buffet, very hobbit-like.

The opening ceremony, held in the student Guild building, could hardly hold all of the people, and more were to arrive in the next few days. We were warmly greeted by Chris Crawshaw, the Tolkien 2005 Chairman, and with our programme booklets describing each day’s activities in hand, we were well on our way to a wonderful five days.

There were many talks, workshops, and events each day, and one had to pick and choose which ones to attend. The evening of the opening night there was a delightful play put on by some of the members of the Tolkien Society of The Farmer Giles of Ham. Some of the guest speakers over the next few days included such notables at Colin Duriez, John Garth, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith, Tom Shippey, and Priscilla Tolkien. Unfortunately both John Howe and Brian Sibley could not attend due to other commitments.

Presentations were divided into streams, grouped by themes, some of which included: Art & Illustration; Faith & Religion; Language; Poetry; Tolkien’s Life; Literature; and Myth. Just a few of the many topics included: Teaching Tolkien; The Influence of Nordic Myths; Peter Jackson and Tolkien’s Catholicism; Nature in Tolkien; and William Morris’ Influence on J.R.R. Tolkien. Some of the “standing-room-only” talks were: Tolkien and the War and Wisdom and Wise Sayings in The Lord of the Rings both by Tom Shippey; From Sketch to Screen, a slide presentation by Alan Lee; and Silmarillustrations That Got Away and Other Oddities by Ted Nasmith. We were also treated to a question and answer session with Priscilla Tolkien.

On Saturday night there was a Costume Extravaganza in which participants had the opportunity to show their costume on stage, most bringing their own music to set the mood for their two minute presentation. There were wizards, elves, hobbits, corsairs, and even several Tom Bombadils and Goldberrys. It was a grand evening for both participants and spectators alike!

There was also a video room wherein various films were shown over the five days, including all three extended versions of the LOTR movies, and people could wander in and out as they had time. The only dark cloud in this entire conference happened on the


evening they were showing The Two Towers. One woman, who obviously had seen it before and who had issues with Peter Jackson’s film, kept making loud, sarcastic remarks throughout the screening. I was astounded that someone who found the film so objectionable would want to attend yet another showing! I can only presume that she
came solely for the purpose of publicly belittling Jackson and the movie. She left before the end, however, and none too soon, I thought!

All things considered, it was a marvelous conference, with something for everyone who was a fan of Tolkien’s works. The monumental task of organizing and coordinating this event was, I’m sure, a daunting one and the members of the Tolkien Society and other related organizations should be commended on a job well done indeed! Bravo!

Freya writes: Concerning the Places of J.R.R. Tolkien — A Choral Student’s Encounters at Oxbridge 2005.

I had never heard of the Oxbridge conference or the C.S. Lewis Foundation prior to the release of the Return of the King Extended DVD. Yet it was during this time that I learned from my poetry professor about the conference. When I found out that the C.S. Lewis Foundation was auditioning voice students and professionals for their inaugural “Institute Choir,” I jumped at the chance, knowing that the conference would be held in Oxford—the former home of J.R.R. Tolkien.

By nothing less than God’s grace, I did earn a scholarship and was able to attend the conference for both weeks while singing with this new choir.

For the interest of Tolkien and Lord of the Rings fans alike, I won’t go into what I did the entire time concerning the Choir and other places I visited. This is more of a “short” report on the Tolkien-related places I visited or Tolkien related things I accomplished. If you’re interested in the full report, feel free to visit my livejournal.

Friday-The First Day

Before my first rehearsal with the Institute choir, I had some time to explore Oxford. I was very surprised that not a block away from the rehearsal space was Pembroke College! This was where Professor Tolkien was elected Professor of Anglo-Saxon and where he taught for several years. The building wasn't as architecturally impressive, but the decorative Gargoyle-heads hanging off the ledges near the windows were somewhat pleasing to the eye. I couldn't visit inside Pembroke since it was closed to visitors. Even despite its appearance, it was still cool to be near the site where Tolkien once gave lectures and classes on Anglo-Saxon.


After another day of choir rehearsal, one of the choir members went with me to the Eagle and Child Pub for dinner. The moment I saw the sign with the eagle carrying the baby child, I almost jumped up and down with excitement. I had been waiting for this moment ever since I heard about the Inklings. I wanted to have an "Inkling" moment to experience for myself, even though knowing the Inklings meetings stopped long ago (As I learned later during the conference, C.S. Lewis was really the solid glue that held the fellowship of literary/fantasy aficionados together).

The pub was definitely something of a touristy location. Two rooms off to the entrance were so small that it’s a wonder any amount of people could fit there at all. Since the smell of smoking pervaded like a thick cloud of Longbottom Leaf, my friend and I didn’t sit there. However there was plenty of room to sit in the main area of the pub and there was still plenty to take a gander at. There was a plaque stating the Inklings did convene at the pub; and there were plenty enough pictures of Professor Tolkien and C.S. Lewis scattered about the place. A sign from the old “Rabbit Room” remains, but the actual parlor room has long been closed to the public. There was also a sign explaining a bit of history about the pub, including the tidbits about the Inklings. Just a small fact, but the Eagle and Child derives its name from the Arms of the Earl of Derby. “The family legend is that an early ancestor rescued and adopted an abandoned child, which had been fostered by an eagle.”

During my time at the pub I feasted on “Fish & Chips” which really, except for the lackluster name, was really good! I fell in love with English pub food instantly!

After our dinner we felt like exploring a bit up on Woodstock Road. We arrived at St. Aloysius in time for evening Saturday mass and decided to attend. Even if you're not religious, there's something to be said about the beauty of Oxford churches. This church was awe inspiring and it was a lovely service. Apparently even Tolkien himself went to this church regularly (he was quite the devoted Roman Catholic).

The freakiest thing about the service was that I saw someone that looked EXACTLY like Professor Tolkien, down to his hairline and the tweedy jacket he always wore. I thought that was quite cool, even though more than likely they aren't related in any way.

When the service ended, my friend and I parted and I was on my way to St. Catherine’s college to check e-mail. On the way, I just happened to pass down Holywell Street and house 99. That was one of Tolkien's former homes. He had once made a comment about this house being in the “Slums of Mordor,” and now having been there, I can see why. After passing his home, I came upon 3 Manor Road which is not too far from St. Catherine’s college. This was another home of Tolkien and Edith from 1947-1950. It was slightly more interesting than the one on Holywell only because it was in a nicer area: lots of trees, a river flowing to the far left of the building, and just a quieter neighborhood. I have to keep wondering why Tolkien moved so darned often. I also had to act normal as to not disturb the current residents of the homes.


Wednesday is a day I will never forget: it was my first REAL free day from rehearsals, plenary sessions, and evening events of the conference. Mind you, this was not what made it memorable, but what made it memorable, was the places I traveled…

My day started at 6:30 am: I woke up, brushed my teeth, got into my “Hobbit gear” (I.e., my old Frodo vest and jacket; yes I’m a Frodo cosplayer), and grabbed a piece of wheat bread from the breakfast table before running out the door and heading to the bus stop to take towards Kidlingston. My first stop was at Bardwell Road, which according to the map I had checked out at Wolverstone's Bookstore; directly linked to Northmoor Road, the site of where J.R.R. Tolkien lived for over 20 yrs. Needless to say when I reached Northmoor Road, my eyes were on the lookout for #20. Odd thing about this street was that the houses went from 19 to 21 or 18 to 22. Perplexed I kept on walking and realized there was more to it. But as soon as I reached the sign on the opposite side of the road that said Northmoor Rd, it also said Northmoor Place. Now this might seem odd but I was confused as to whether Northmoor Road had ended and became a new street. This isn't odd for Oxford as roads will, right in the middle, become a whole new road.

At this point I was alarmed. I started walking onward just incase I’d find it, but I didn't see a number 20 at all. My worst fears was that the house was demolished; but that would be absurd as the house was declared historic...or at least given historic status; meaning, that the house shall not be changed from the way it originally was at the time Tolkien lived in it.

I kindly asked a passerby about the lay of the land and wondered if she knew anything about the home’s whereabouts. She didn't even know that Tolkien’s house was on the road! Somewhat perplexed I figured to not end the search and continue going straight, even if it was Northmoor Place.

Little did I know how wrongly I misunderstood the sign; for the sign was right, and I was going in the right direction; as soon as I saw a grey rooftop looming in the distance, I knew that I was close. Sure enough I found it, with a self-engraved plaque at the top of the home stating when Tolkien had lived in the home. It's a lovely home, and is exactly something I'd picture the old Oxford don living in. It's just too bad the home isn't open to the public by way of becoming a museum (I figure the Tolkien estate would never allow it). Needless to say I was extraordinarily happy and must've freaked out one of the construction workers nearby when I asked if they'd take a picture of me in front of the house.

It already looks as if someone now owns the home again. A shame really...Lord knows what I'd do with the place if I owned it. ^_~

Feeling a bit geeky, I went to catch the bus towards Wolvercote Cemetery. I thought I knew where the stop was but somehow I missed the sign while looking at the map, so I had to wait till the bus turned around before getting off close to Wolvercote.

It's interesting to note that the cemetery itself has won several awards for "Best cemetery of the year" and I find that funny. Not to be morbid, but it does seem a tad odd.

But it's also a bit odd that the map of the cemetery lists where J.R.R. Tolkien's gravesite lies. There were also signs in the ditches on the road that pointed in the way of Tolkien’s grave. In a way the gravesite has become a tour spot. Whether that's good or bad I cannot say, but I'm glad irregardless because I was able to pay my respects to the late professor.

Being at his grave gave me a shudder but also joy to see some of the things people have left behind; I myself left a personal card. I couldn't help but think how his grave is never lonely. I'm also under the impression that he was a very short man...indeed, quite the Hobbit.

After Wolvercote I took the bus back into the heart of Oxford and got off close to Magdelen College. While the college was not yet open, I did visit the Botanical gardens. The Botanical Gardens is famous for Tolkien's favorite tree, the "Pinus Nigra".

It wasn't the kind of tree I initially expected Tolkien to have liked (I guessed there could've been others I came across), but this was the tallest tree in the park. I was thankful to get a picture of me with the tree.

Much too excited after seeing a tree, I jaunted over to Christ Church/College. On the way to the college, I passed by Merton Street and the home where Tolkien lived during his days without Edith (the end of his life). Across the way were the Examination schools where Tolkien gave frequent lectures.

Now I won’t talk of my Christ Church/College experience (It was great, don’t get me wrong) but I’d like to now talk of something equally important to J.R.R. Tolkien—C.S. Lewis.

After my self-guided tour of Christ Church I met up with members of the conference to board a bus for the “Kilns” tour. The Kilns for those that don’t know is C.S. Lewis’ beloved home.

The Kilns tour was absolutely fantastic! Our tour guide was very informative and even surprised me to show another home that Tolkien abode. This home was the same home where his phone number accidentally got into the phone registry, causing crazy Americans to call him at 2:00 am in the morning, not realizing the time difference and inevitably causing him distress. I wanted to get a picture of the home but the bus flashed by too fast for my reflexes. Oh well...maybe next time I suppose.

The tour of the home was neat as we saw the newly renovated house, learned the history of the house up to its decay and restoration, and now I can say I stood in the same room where C.S. Lewis slept. It truly was an honor and humbling experience. Granted most of the books and original furniture were thrown out in wake of the owners who bought the home after Jack's (C.S. Lewis) death. So not everything in the home is original, but the people who worked to restore the home took care in matching the details of the home by looking at old photographs, talking with some of Jack's surviving friends who had visited the home, and other various sources. To me...it's probably an even better home than Jack could imagine.

An even cooler thing about the home is that it has its own "reserve" for plant life and animals. A pond with a bridge is the central piece to this lovely reserve. Entering it almost made me believe for a moment I had found a place in Narnia.

When the tour ended, I headed back to Magdelen College. Upon entering I remembered the tour guide at the Kilns mentioning that there used to be a back way from Magdelen that you could walk all the way to Jack's home. Of course that way is restricted now due to other colleges and homes. He also mentioned that this was the same college C.S. Lewis worked as a tutor for. There were two other famous people (Literary famous) he mentioned that also worked at Magdelen and they are honored by having red flowers over their former rooms. The rooms were used in the filming of that old film Shadowlands; however they're now closed off to the public.

Pleased with the shots I was taking of the college, I then proceeded towards Addison's walk. To describe the experience of Addison's walk for me would take more than this report can permit me. However I will say that for those that love a good hike, then this nature walk is just for you! It truly was a wonderful experience, and not one worth missing if you come to Oxford!

My Tolkien pilgrimage was coming to an end: I literally had seen and done almost everything imaginably Tolkien (and somewhat C.S. Lewis, granted I think I'm becoming even more a fan of him now than I ever was before).

This is the end of my report for now. In my next I’ll talk of my visit to Exeter College and my conference outbreak with Joseph Pearce, author of Tolkien: Man and Myth.



Arriving on Thursday afternoon to find events already in progress before the Opening Ceremony that evening, I hardly stopped until collapsing into bed shortly before midnight. Then I couldn’t sleep for all the data processing going on in my brain.

As well as 150 or so scholarly papers presented over the five days, there were drama workshops, excursions to Oxford and areas of Birmingham associated with Tolkien. There was near continuous showing of Tolkien related videos during the day and, for insomniacs or those with more stamina than me, showings of the three extended versions of the films on successive nights, starting at 11.30pm. Also a number of dramatic productions.

To give a flavour of the programme I give a short description of the events I attended in the form of notes I made as an aide-memoire. Notes in parentheses are my own thoughts


The War Within ; Frodo as Sacrificial Hero

Hobbit trinity. As Frodo disintegrates, Gollum absorbs his aggression and Sam his hope and humanity. Well argued and presented but no evidence quoted form text to support this.

She noted that in the film Sam carrying F appears as one entity.
With referenece to the fight with Gollum on Mt Doom, the film shows external realisation of the fight within Frodo.

Tom Shippey and John Garth panel

Disappointingly shallow with a certain tension between TS and JG. TS playing to the gallery. Members of the audience had a more in depth knowledge of the Great War than TS.

Opening ceremony

Priscilla Tolkien as VP of Toklien Society spoke on how she saw the appreciation of her fathers work grow from a tiny seed to a great tree with many branches. Ditto the Tolkien Society

Farmer Giles of Ham

Very enjoyable, amateur production. Dragons especially impressive costuming. The actor playing Garm picked up on dog behaviour and mannerisms very nicely.

“On Fairy Stories”: The Hinge between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
Verlyn Flieger

V good. Showed how JRRT’s style changed during the time he wrote On Fairy Stories to encompass the points he made about successful fairy stories – internal consistency, taking Faerie totally seriously.

Audience member suggested faults in Hobbit due to initially having been told to his children, not written down. Cf Father Christmas Letters.


Crossing the Threshold: Doors and Other Passageways in Tolkien’s Words and Images
C Riley Auge

Stand on the threshold – contemplation before action
Doorway leads to change/growth in a character Can be of four types

·Barrier – need to pass the barrier before we can see that which surrounds and pervades us. E.g. Tolkiens analogy of fish which has no idea/inkling of the water which constitutes its environment until it is out of it
·Demarcation line between reality and alternate reality such as dreams.
·Framing of the view a character has of the landscape/future before him
·Tunnels/woods/forests. Anthropologically, initiation, rebirth

Window shows a limited, not full view. There is often a reference to the level of light seen leading to a feeling of well-being or otherwise. Position of window reflects status character sees himself as having.

Look at Tolkien’s drawings and paintings as well as writing

Tolkien’s Birmingham- The Roots of Middle Earth
Bob Blackham

Postcards dating from early 1900s of Cole Brook, Wake Green Road, Moseley Village, Kings Heath plus recent photographs of the houses in which Tolkien lived and the surroundings of his early life in Moseley and Kings Heath.

Left after an hour to go to

Circles and Lines: Containment and Progression in Tolkien’s World
Marjorie Burns

Stereotypically, circles are Celtic, representing stability, comfort, home and also stagnation. Closed, for ever turning inward. Gondolin. Matthew Arnold –“the Celts are always defeated”.

Lines represent adventure, attack. Norse, Teutonic, Saxon
Circles are typical of hobbits and to lesser extent, elves in Lothlorien. (fighting the long defeat cf the Celts)

Culture of Men: Preponderence of straight lines, particularly in Tolkien’s drawings.

Someone in audience pointed out that elves are reborn if they die (circle), men take the straight road.

Verlyn Flieger, scheduled to give a talk on Tolkien the Modernist, instead read a hitherto unpublished essay of Tolkien’s on Smith of Wootton Major in the form of a story from the point of view of some of the other characters. This will be included, along with other drafts, notes and essays, in a new edition of Smith of Wootton Major to be published in September by Harper Collins.

Influence of Climate on Myth: Tolkien’s Theory and Practice.
Rhona Beare

Delivered with verve and emphasis, Rhona argued that climate affects the “feel” and atmosphere of myths from different parts of Europe, in particular contrasting the Nordic myths with the Greek and Roman. The Nordic from lands of vast forests and icy winters; the Greek from a rocky landscape and strong sun. She then turned to the Celtic myths of Wales, Scotland and Ireland with their tamer landscapes and less extreme but more misty climate to find the Fairies of Celtic myth such as the Mab****** less dangerous but more nebulous.

She also drew our attention to the gender of the sun in the different language groups. In the romance languages of Southern Europe derived from Greek and Latin, the word for sun is masculine, implying strength, hardness. In the Germanic Northern European languages it is feminine, comforting, gentle and warm. A Russian member of the audience informed us that in Russian and other Slav languages sun is neuter and what did she make of that? To which there was no satisfactory reply.

Male Friendship in The Lord of the Rings: Medievalism, the First World War and Contemporary Rewritings
Anna Smol

Looked at physical demonstrations of affection between men in medieval art and photos and writing of the First World War. Is our modern Western European culture the one out of step in regarding hand-holding, kissing and hugging as having gay connotations (unless of very short duration on a football field)? For Eastern Europeans and Asians it is perfectly acceptable for young men to go around with their arms around each other.

(Note: I might add that our LOTR actors, especially the hobbits, seem to be doing their best to remedy this.)

Alan Lee kindly returned for a second, unscheduled signing session to accommodate those who had been turned away this morning for lack of time. A gentle, unassuming man who courteously obliged those who wished to have a photograph taken with him

The Reduced Silmarillion Company – Matthew Woodcraft, Matthew Reid, Matthew Vernon and Mark Waller

Very silly, very funny. Do see if you have the opportunity.

Dramatisation: Oedipus and Turin, Doom and Fate
The Greek Tolkien Society

Dramatisation of first the story of Turin, then Oedipus. Both heroes try to “twist” their fate and avoid the predicted path but by doing this, they actually fulfil the predictions.

(Note: Galadriel (on her mirror): Some (visions) never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path, to prevent them.

From somewhere in the Silmarillion: He who runs from his fears may find he has but taken a short cut to meet them)


Eyeing Sauron: Tolkien Translated into the Language of the Cinema
Gwydion M. Williams

Poor presentation in both content and style. Did not consider how else it might have been done apart from saying that he, personally, would not have changed/omitted certain bits. Far better analyses have been done on TORn, with more understanding and in greater depth.

Transfigured Sadness: The Sadness of Fulfilment in The Lord of the Rings
David Weber

Excellent. Delivered with wit and humour, David questioned why, when LOTR has a pervading air of sadness, is it liked so much and repeatedly reread. He argued that a our view of the world will inevitably be sad as a result of continuous disappointment in ourselves and our achievments or lack of them. This can lead either to disfigurement, as in the case of Denethor, or transfigurement in which sadness leads to beauty, exemplified by Frodo. (My note: the image of film Frodo at the Grey Havens immediately springs to mind)
Quoting St Augustine and T S Eliot, he put forward the analogy of music. Sounds only become music when the notes give way to new notes and the longer the notes last, the sadder the music sounds. Gondor is a city where the old are unwilling to give way to youth, the steward is unwilling to give way to a potential king and “there are too few children”. (My note: The applicability to current Western popular values is there; although the pendulum may now have swung too much the other way with the cult of youth, it is recognisable in the reluctance to accept ageing and low birth rate.)

The Lord of the Rings international audience project
Martin Barker

This was a progress report on the study of the audience for Jackson’s film. It made no claim to be representative since the 25,000 responses to the questionnaire were self-selected. Preliminary results seem to show that repeat readers of the book enjoyed the film more than one-time or non-readers and (I think I am right in this) of those who enjoyed the film the majority regarded the theme of the book as myth or legend, allegory, a spiritual journey or threatened homeland. Apparently it is unusual in audience research to find that book-lovers also enjoy the film adaptation.

The results of the study are expected to be published as a book next year.

To Bear This Burden: Frodo’s Resistance to the Ring
Judith Klinger

Sadly, I have mislaid Judith’s handout on which she had drawn up a table analysing the stages of Frodo’s conflict with the Ring on which I also made notes. I do however remember that it was an excellent and thoughtful presentation.

Wagner, Tolkien and the Ring
Michael Scott Rohan

Michael began with a provocative quote from A N Wilson : “Tolkien copied Wagner, gutted of religious significance or sexual interest”, What sexual interest? What religious significance? But the charge of plagiarism is harder to refute.

He then listed the similarities between Wagner’s Ring Cycle and The Lord of the Rings, of which there are many, too many for Tolkien’s comment “Both rings were round and there the resemblance ceases” to be credible. However, there are also significant differences, most notably that Wagner’s subtext is anti-religious whereas most people agree that there is a religious undertone to Lord of the Rings. (Note: one also might argue that Wagner’s great hero, Siegfried, is physically strong and brave but morally and intellectually weak, whereas Frodo does not have the physique of a traditional hero but is morally superior.)

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