Go back to Special Reports Archives

September 03, 2003 - September 10, 2003

9-10-03 Latest News

Autograph Scams: Be Aware! -UPDATE-
Xoanon @ 8:45 pm EST

Every week for almost 3 years I link to interesting eBay items that people may want to check out. Recently I've been adding this warning.

Don't be a fool of a Took! DO NOT BID FOR 'AUTOGRAPHED' items! They can easily be fake!

Since then I've received plenty of angry letters from fans as well as eBay sellers alike asking me why I've placed that warning online. Well here is one story that can answer that question for you.

William writes: Thanks for listening to my story.

I agreed to purchase a lot size of dvd's from an L. Palmer a couple months back. I sent him a check and I thought all was good. Waited and waited--nothing.

I tried the email bit--nothing. I figured the USPS just shreded the envelope and that was the end of that. WRONG My check was cashed. Now I start investigating.

This L. Pamer is also fanfestautographs.com! More research on that subject yields a whole lot of scam autographs which is how our ended up at your site. I think Viggo Mortensen had a problem with this guy. Which then gave me a name of Mike Johnson. This guy is all over the place. I also found addresses in Reno, LA, this also looks tied to a new company called photorazzi.com.

I Can't get those people on the phone. Anyway 200+ quid (USD$320+) down the hole. Thanks for your time and reply.


A ton of folks have written in with comments from both sides of the fence about this topic. Here are a few:


Regarding the report you just did about "Mike Johnson":

I was ripped off by the same person. I "bought" 2 LotR posters from him and they were never sent after I'd paid him. This was on ebay. He's a monster. I am fortunate to be part of a group that is trying to find this guy (via the Police) and get him arrested, but this has been a 2 year battle. He operates out of Los Angeles, and the police there have been less than helpful.

Just thought you might like the information. Maybe warn the readers to be extra cautious when purchasing *any* LotR related merchandise on eBay.


Great link, sorry story of William. Sellers on ebay abound, I personally will not buy one that I hasn't been given in front of my own eyes (only exception is the Topps movie cards which you can't get unless you purchase randomly or buy a whole box of). That is why Viggo personalizes what he signs, which is JUST fine by me!!! I would NEVER consider selling the two books he autographed for me!


I can only back that story about fan-scamming.

I ordered and paid for the original big cinema teaser posters of FotR and TTT last year July from www.tolkienshop.com. Needless to say that I never received them. The owner of that side, one Rene van Rossenberg, always answered my emails with "I will send them soon" or "I didn't get them yet". Early July this year he promised to send a refund. He hasn't done it yet.

His website is still claiming today, that the posters will be available soon! I didn't loose as much money as William (thank God!), but still ...


I was reading with interest your comments on buying autographed items on E-Bay and thought I would add my observations from the perspective of someone involved in the trade.

My experience is that autograph dealers tend to divide into two camps. On the one hand you have the charlatans and fraudsters. E-Bay has given this group innumerable opportunities to sell fake, forged and pirated goods, to run up prices through shill bidding or simply to take your money and disappear. I have every sympathy with anyone who has been caught out by these crooks.

On the other hand there are a good number of genuine and honest autograph dealers, who are always reliable and trustworthy and who operate by a strict code of ethics. The difficulty, of course, is in differentiating between the good and bad.

One sign of an honest dealer is that he is a member of a professional association such as the Universal Autograph Collector's Club (UACC). The UACC home page (http://www.uacc.org/) offers useful advice on buying autographs over the internet. It lists the UACC registered dealers selling through E-Bay (http://www.uacc.org/rdebay.htm); and for those who do not abide by the code of ethics or pretend to be a registered dealer when they are not, there is a "Hall of Shame"(http://www.uacc.org/hallofshame.htm)

Another useful site is Autographs 101(http://www.autographs101.com/). This site also offers a list of E-Bay dealers which it considers honest and trustworthy (http://www.autographs101.com/ebaydealers/index.cfm?CFID=3886207&CFTOKEN=59188887). It also offers a lengthy guide to buying autographs on E-bay with tips on avoiding the tricksters (http://www.autographs101.com/tips/index.cfm?CFID=3886207&CFTOKEN=59188887).

To sum up, it is quite possible to buy genuine autographs at reasonable prices on E-Bay, but it is important to do your homework beforehand to avoid being duped.

Queen Cate
Xoanon @ 2:00 pm EST

Media Watch: Aussie Courier Mail Talks Blanchett
Cate BLanchett

By Paul Hegeman

Cate Blanchett completed six movies in the past two years and gave birth to her first son. So what's driving her? She tells Paul Hegeman

IT IS difficult to find any actress more enchanting, complex and original in cinema these days than Australian Cate Blanchett. In the five years since she rose to world fame as the leading lady of the costume drama Elizabeth, she has come to guarantee quality and variety.

Whether playing the Queen of England (Elizabeth), a vapid girl (The Man Who Cried), a bank robber (Bandits), a clairvoyant (The Gift) or a Scottish war heroine (Charlotte Gray), she is always well cast.
But as much as her appeal is subtle and mysterious, her work ethic is down to earth -- she goes at her career hammer and tongs. In between shooting six movies in the past two years, including two brief appearances in The Lord of the Rings and Shipping News, she managed to find the time to give birth to her first son Dashiell. She politely rejects any wonderment about such a wide radius of activity. ``I just love flying on planes,'' she says, ``and for each of these movies I had to pack myself off to a new continent.

``In the plane I not only can leave everything behind me, but also concentrate really well. I read my scripts and catch up on correspondence.

``Also, I don't experience a real division between work and private life. They blend into one another and feed off each other. If things go well you do not choose your vocation. Your talent develops naturally into a daily pastime.

``I, for example, fell in love with acting and, thank God, the love is mutual. In any case, I find it hard to say `no' when I am drawn to a project. The past 18 months have been a bountiful time for me, getting to choose all these magnificent parts.

``The problem for a lot of people is that they cling to the illusion that they can control it all. The terrible obsession for total happiness at all times really wreaks havoc with many people.

``I don't mind that my life is often a terrific mess. I just ended up taking my son along with me to the set of my new movie Veronica Guerin.''

Besides her preference for variety, Blanchett relies on what she calls her ``tingles in her belly'' when choosing parts.

``You mustn't think too much,'' she says. ``To me it is a game, and the trick is to not get too fearful or panicky, no matter what. There is only one real criterion: I want to work with people I admire.

``I agreed to do Galadriel, the elf in Lord of the Rings, solely because I wanted to meet the director, Peter Jackson. Until the shoot I had been unaware of the impact the saga was having worldwide and the attendant pressure on us actors.

``My collaboration with Billy Bob Thornton was for the same reason. Billy Bob and I are like brother and sister. It was fantastic to act with him in Bandits, and through him (Thornton also wrote the script) I also got the part in The Gift.''

Blanchett's hair, which undergoes a transformation in each movie -- the latest surprise was a bald head for her most recent movie Heaven -- is now platinum blonde.

``Believe me, it is not really this blonde. Joel Schumacher asked me to dye it for my part as Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin,'' Blanchett says.

She laughs her contagious laugh, showing her gums, something that was seen as an obstacle to leading-lady status when her career began.

``And that told me right then,'' she says, ``how small-minded the movie world can be.''

She does agree that the choice of the right haircut can help her develop a character.

``Yes, a physical detail can be of immense value that way, like in The Man Who Cried, where I, as superficial as it may sound, used the lipstick as my starting point.

``A specific outward appearance can help, but the essence of a part comes from here,'' she says, gesturing from her forehead to her stomach. ``One shouldn't emphasise the outward appearance too much in acting. I like it when things are not overstated, but touched upon lightly.

``That goes for content, too. I hate it when a movie really milks some father complex or an incestuous relationship. The characters should give up their mysteries bit by bit, not all at once, leaving them exposed throughout the rest of the movie.''

A large part of Blanchett's mystery can be attributed to her chameleonlike qualities. It is impossible to predict what she will look like next.

According to the books, she has reddish blonde hair, a pale complexion, a large expressive mouth and prominent cheekbones. But she manages to look completely different in each movie.

As Anthony Minghella, who directed her in The Talented Mr Ripley and was executive producer for Heaven, says: ``In Ripley, she looks like she has a weak, timid face, with no cheekbones.

``And then you see her in Heaven and wonder where that woman went. Her face suddenly shows an intensity and rigidity, as if every bone has a steel pin in it; like she has a new face -- very impressive.'' And Minghella has not even mentioned her voice. Blanchett is renowned for the ease with which she adopts various new accents, be it Oxford English, Russian or a Southern lilt.

``Through lots of practice and no smoking,'' she says, ``I am able to use my voice like an instrument. It not only matters from which country or region your character comes, the tone or sub-register is also important.

``Some actors use a personal trainer to keep up their physical condition; I do vocal stretches.''

All these linguistic gymnastics have made it impossible to guess where the actress is originally from.

``A lot of people think I am British. I don't mind, because I love England and enjoy working there, but that doesn't make me any less proud of the fact that I am Australian.''

CATHERINA Blanchett was born in 1969 in Melbourne, the daughter of an American father and Australian mother. Although her childhood was marred by the early death of her father, she has fond memories of all the girlish fantasies she enjoyed as a child.

``Once I read Shogun, I spent years fantasising that I was in Japan and I played detective games with a friend in the street,'' Blanchett says.

``We were constantly solving mysteries. We would inspect peoples' driveways, make notes and check if the dumped mattress was really taken away.''

Acting was not her greatest ambition, despite the fact her mother put her in acting classes and everyone told her she was a born actress.

``I was too introverted and not exactly brimming with self-confidence. And being rebellious as I was, I decided to study economics,'' she says.

However she ended up enrolling at Sydney's National Institute of Dramatic Art after a false start at university. She quickly made a name for herself in theatre and then ventured into movies.

The world discovered her in Paradise Road (1997) and director Shekhar Kapur decided, after seeing her in the reel of Oscar and Lucinda, directed by fellow Australian Gillian Armstrong, to entrust her with the title role in his movie Elizabeth.

Elizabeth highlighted her ability to ignite a fire in a character that keeps smouldering long after the movie has ended. She received a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for it.

After that, the road to Hollywood lay wide open to her. The young Australian decided differently though, in the same way as she does everything, to avoid the glitter and glamour of her profession, except for showing up in extravagant outfits at prestigious award ceremonies.

In The Gift she wears baggy woollen cardigans and faded grey leggings.

``In Charlotte Gray I also look terrible at times,'' she says. ``I am an actress, not a movie star.

``Nor is it intentional to show what a good actor I am. That would be even more narcissistic. I am just doing my job. But I am vain enough,'' she smiles prettily, ``after all the movies the critics loved, but nearly no one saw, I am now being recognised everywhere thanks to my 15 minutes as Galadriel in Lord of the Rings, and I quite enjoy it.

``I have nothing against entertainment, as long as it asks a pertinent question or two in passing.

``Pure popcorn cinema is not for me. I think I can put it this way: My ideal movie asks more questions that it answers.''

JRD as Galileo in Oz
Xoanon @ 1:30 pm EST

Susan Lendroth from The Planetary Society writes: John Rhys-Davies, Gimli the dwarf, will make a one-time only appearance on stage in Pasadena, California on September 22 as the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei in "An Evening with Galileo and His Daughter."

A benefit for the non-profit organization, The Planetary Society, the reading is based on Dava Sobel's best-selling book, "Galileo's Daughter," and pays tribute to the Galileo spacecraft that will crash into the planet Jupiter on September 21, ending a 14-year mission to that planet and its moons.

Who: John Rhys-Davies - Galileo, Linda Purl - Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel - Narrator
What: An Evening with Galileo and His Daughter
When: September 22, 2003
Where: Pasadena Playhouse. 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, California
Time: 7:30 PM
Tickets: $60-75
Information: 626.793.5100 or planetary.org

Event Description:

On September 21, 2003 the Galileo spacecraft will plunge into Jupiter on a targeted trajectory of self-destruction, ending a 14-year mission that has been a remarkable voyage of discovery. The following day, The Planetary Society will pay tribute to the mission, the team that made it possible, and the astronomer for which it is named, with a special theatrical event.

"An Evening with Galileo and His Daughter" explores the dynamic relationships between science and religion, reason and faith, and father and child. Dava Sobel bases her story of Galileo's scientific discoveries and subsequent battle with the Inquisition on letters written to him by his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun since the age of 13.

John Rhys-Davies will portray the brilliant astronomer, telling about his momentous discoveries in Galileo's own words.

LA: Bilbo Birthday Party Celebration!
Calisuri @ 1:30 pm EST

Were you wondering if TORn was going to have their 2nd annual Baggings Birthday picnic, and were you beginning to despair? Well, we haven't been hasty in announcing it, but the answer is "yes"! The picnic will take place from noon to 6pm on Sunday September 21st at the Hollywood Camrose park (where Bowlmoot was hosted last year as some of you may remember), one block south of the Hollywood Bowl.
As always, costuming is highly encouraged, and there will be contests and games and great prizes. Sadly, this event will also be a "Sarumann Going Away Party". Yes, our very own Sarumann (Josh) has elected to sail into the East and return home to his own Shirefolk. So please come in great numbers to wish him a very fond farewell.

As this is a potluck event, please contact Arwen at arwen@theonering.net to let her know what items you will be contributing - and check the news page in the next few days for more details about the picnic (directions, hours, festivities). We hope to see you there!

9-09-03 Latest News

The McKellen Experience in Toronto
Xoanon @ 7:44 pm EST

McKellen at the Toronto Internation Film Fest
Ian McKellen at the Toronto Internation Film Fest

Soloman Lam writes: I should have written this a few days ago, but I've been busy with starting a new year of university. But here goes:

I met Ian McKellen! Here's my story...

I go to school and live at Victoria College at the University of Toronto, and we own the beautiful Isabel Bader Theatre which is used during the Toronto International Film Festival. The theatre is practically on my front yard, and many of my friends have ushering jobs during the school year, and they also work during the festival. Last Saturday, I dropped by outside the lobby to say hi to a friend of mine who was working, and I asked him what movies were screening that night. He showed me his worksheet, and it said, "Emile."

Now, I knew from TORn that this was Ian McKellen's new movie, the one he did with a Canadian indie filmmaker in Vancouver right after "X2." I also knew it was going to have its world premiere during the Toronto film festival....but I never would have through it would premiere at my front doorstep!

A sidenote here: Ian McKellen has always been my favourite actor. I absolutely love his work in Shakespeare (he is the greatest Macbeth, ever), and his powerhouse performances in films like "Gods and Monsters" and "Richard III" have blown me away. Actually, it was Ian McKellen who introduced me to Lord of the Rings; when I first heard he was cast as Gandalf, I got curious and read the books. Needless to say, I fell in love with the books and the movies and Peter Jackson....but it all began with my interest in Ian McKellen's career.

Anyway, I lined up for rush tickets, got in, and Carl Bessai (the director), Ian McKellen (right before my eyes and ears!), and the rest of the cast introduced the movie. Then "Emile" made its world premiere. It was a very poignant film - it's about a man who abandons his home in Saskatchewan to be a professor in England, only to come home 40 years later and face the guilt of leaving his family behind. It has that slow pace that distinguishes Canadian films, but the interesting and unconventional narrative style (Sir Ian plays his younger self in psychological flashbacks) builds to a graceful and poetic ending.

After the Q & A with the audience, I ran out to the stage door (since I've performed at the theatre before, I knew where the stage door was -- other autograph seekers did not), and waited with two others for Sir Ian. Of course, I brought my 'Fellowship' EE DVD. He came out, signed some stuff for them, then came to me and signed my "Fellowship of the Ring" Extended Edition DVD! I thanked him for a beautiful performance (I should have said "beautiful performanceS," from Gandalf and James Whale to Richard III and Edward II), and told him how proud I was that he was playing a Canadian! He laughed at my joke, smiled with those twinkling eyes, and boarded his limo. And that was that!

Of course, I've been on a constant high since! I just met Gandalf! And he signed my Fellowship Extended Edition DVD! On my front lawn! How exciting is that? =-)

Mortensen: The King of Men
Xoanon @ 6:49 pm EST

Media Watch: Mortensen The King of Men

He’s American. But after living 11 years in Argentina in his childhood, the actor who plays Aragorn in “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy can’t – nor wants to – get rid of the customs acquired on these lands. Poet, musician and painter, this incredible man will come to Buenos Aires in November with the third installment of the trilogy in his pocket.

His spanish seems of a porteño(1) who doesn’t want to lose his accent.

“I do everything in my power to avoid that”, he says like this is one of the biggest challenges he decided to pursue. Viggo Mortensen, the heroic Aragorn from “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy, lived for 11 years in our country, scattered between Chaco and Buenos Aires.

“I’ve got very good memories of my stay there. In fact, when I came back there after 22 years, the first thing I did was to look for the house where I lived, in Palermo”, he confesses.

No doubt, this is one of the reasons this 44 years old actor emphasizes – in every interview – the points in common between the “Martin Fierro”(2) and the monumental work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and shows proudly his shirt of the local soccer team ‘San Lorenzo’ (signed by all the players) in every photo inauguration. Enigmatic, like Aragorn himself, Mortensen is not just an actor “and a pretty face”, like he likes to say to mock those who sell him as a sex symbol. He’s a painter (some of his works appear in the film “Dial M for Murder”), a musician (he’s edited several CDs of audio landscapes) and a poet, facet with which he let fly the smells of the fogón(3) and the taste of chimichurri(4) in the ineffable verses of his poem Parrillada.(5)

Among sugarless mates(6) and spoonfuls of dulce de leche(7) which he makes and with which he delights his shooting partners, Mortensen gets excited with the announcement that he is coming to Argentina in November, in the middle of the promotion of “The Return Of The King”. “I don’t want to miss anything”, says eagerly this porteño by adoption.

(1) Nickname given to the natives of Buenos Aires. Similar to New Yorkers for the citizens of New York.
(2) An Argentinian classic poem, from the XIX century.
(3) A local custom: people sit around a fire and sing or tell stories. Like in summer camp.
(4) A kind of seasoning for roast meat.
(5) Barbecue.
(6) A typical Argentinian hot drink.
(7) Toffee: a sugary, milky substance you can spread on toast or just eat from the jar with a spoon, YUMMY!!!!

Collectormania: The Good & Bad News
Xoanon @ 1:12 pm EST

Irascian writes: Collectormania have apparently announced a “good news and bad news” update.

The good news … there will be a special extra “Hobbit Day” tacked on the end of the convention on Monday, October 6th which Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and Dominic Monaghan will be attending and performing signings at. They will also be there on the already announced date of Sunday, October 5th.

The bad news is that they won’t be there at all for Friday, October 3rd or Saturday, October 4th other than to attend the screening panel (tickets already sold out) on the Saturday evening. Autographs etc will only be available on the Sunday and the newly-announced Monday!

Other cast members (eg Sala Baker) should be there for the whole event. [collectormania.com]

Media Watch: Italy's 'Ciak' Magazine Talks ROTK
Xoanon @ 1:02 pm EST

Italy's Ciak Magazine Talks ROTK - Cover

A HUGE thank you to Eleonora for doing a rough translation for us!

In the article, Jackson talks about ROTK and states he knows from now on his career will always be divided into "before" and "after" LOTR.

He explains he preferred to release a ROTK trailer after the summer because "summer was filled with big SFX films, X-men 2, Matrix 2, Terminator 3, Hulk, and it would have been a bit confusing. Plus, ROTK is so spectacular, it has so many special effects that many of the main sequences could not be used in a trailer yet."

He also speaks of how making the LOTR was both a blessing and a curse: "At first the obsessive love of the fans made them more suspicious than cooperative, we had to earn their trust. Had we made a good film, we would have had their forgiveness and those changes we had to do would have been considered betrayals of no big consequence. Had we sat at a table to write an original fantasy story, we would have never have come close to the majesty of LOTR."

Of course, the article says, there are two big changes that were made in this last part of the trilogy: the final part of the book concerning the return to the shire was drastically cut, thus Saruman makes the same end, by the same hand, but in different circumstances.

The article explains what we have to expect in the third movie: Merry and Pippin become warriors of Rohan and Gondor, Aragorn has to give evidence of his heritage by defeating the Army of the Dead and the Pirates, Faramir tries to gain the trust of his father Denethor, steward of Gondor, who has no will to leave his throne to a "ranger". At a certain point, the whole story becomes a chess game, meaning to distract Sauron from Frodo and the Ring. But there seem to be a few rogue pawns: Gollum, of course, but also Denethor. Betrayals, ambushes, and unexpected heroism, suicides, funerals, resurrections... Three of the main characters get married, and four die.

There's Shelob, a giant spider, which was made as realistic as possible. Jackson says, "It had to scare me first."

The reshoots were 5 weeks long (just like for the other two movies), but with a conceptual difference: "since story and characters are now familiar, I used them to give more drama and pathos to the story." For the first time, Jackson dedicated two weeks to horses: 250 in battle are real, but many more were digitally created with motion capture. Every week one of the actors leaves with souvenirs from the set, usually a sword and a tape with his bloopers, chosen and edited by Jackson himself.

What remains unknown is the length of the film: "For the first two, New Line gave me a maximum length of 2 hours and a half, that I pretended to forget, and I reached three hours. This time, they asked me three, so..."

There's also a page, entitled "From a King to a Kong", which explains how Jackson wanted to make a film about King Kong since he was 12, how he used to dress as a gorilla to scare the villagers when he was 21, and how, while making the movie, he wants to completely forget the remake of 1976. There's a nice picture of the model of Kong that Taylor made in 1996, when Jackson wanted to film this movie, but could not do it because of the recent disasters of ‘Mighty Joe Young’ and ‘Godzilla’.

9-08-03 Latest News

GB4A Cryptic Crossword WINNERS
Quickbeam @ 11:27 pm EST

Greetings, Quickbeam here.

To celebrate Green Books' 4th Anniversary with suitable bookish pomp and circumstance, I wanted to do something unique. I promised you a hellish test of your wit. Esteemed Tolkien scholar Bill Welden provided us with a remarkable, brain-mushing, utterly nasty Tolkien-themed Cryptic Crossword. Our friends at Houghton Mifflin and Sideshow/WETA donated lovely prizes for the contestants.

The final outcome?

Blood, sweat, and tears from all those brave souls who entered -- several rough nights in front of the java Crossword grid, wondering how Fate could be so cruel -- and ultimately many loud complaints when I failed to announce the contest winners this past Friday! Oops, my bad.

We are happy that MANY Tolkien brainiacs entered our contest with a fully-completed grid; but only a very few of them were 100% correct! Of the eligible entries in the "winner's pool" we have picked 3 final winners. Their names and prizes are as follows:

** 1st prize **
Marilynn Mae Miller from Minneapolis, MN
Winning: Hardcover LOTR 3-volume edition illustrated by Alan Lee from Houghton Mifflin Publishers

** 2nd prize **
Jeanine Renne and Chuck Williamson from Salem, OR
Winning: Frodo statue from Sideshow/WETA Collectibles

** 3rd prize **
Peter Dodson from Sydney, Australia
Winning: Special T-shirt collection from TheOneRing.net including the now famous "Don't Make Me Get My Ring!" design (completely sold out at all TORN convention appearances)

All those still puzzle-weary and faint of heart, take note! We have now posted the COMPLETE SOLUTION to the Cryptic Crossword. The link can be found on the regular crossword page, which will permanently stay in Green Books even though the contest is now over. But no cheating for those of you who haven't even tried solving it!

Many thanks to the nefarious Bill Welden for providing us with such a splendid headache! ;-)

And also thanks to you folks out there, our wonderful readership, for a whopping 4 years of exploring the WORDS and WORLDS of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Much too hasty,

More Star Wars Galaxies Woes
Flinch @ 6:16 pm EST

I have gotten many great e-mails from folks both supporting and knocking Star Wars Galaxies, while it is a fun game, the bug issues really makes a grown man cry. Today I had this experience that I thought I would share, it is a great testimat to how Sony's Customer Service has been handling these issues.

CSR-TerryH: Greetings this is CSR-TerryH. Do you have a moment to discuss your ticket?

Flinch: Yes I do.

CSR-TerryH: I understand you lost many deeds [houses, mining factories, etc], I have gathered the list from your comment. Is there anything else you would like to discuss with me today?

Flinch: Well, you guys don't support pet recovory and are unable to verify that the item Enhancement had what I said it had... so... this makes me really come of feeling like only a portion of the game is actually supported.

CSR-TerryH: I can understand your frustration.

Flinch: I can't concievably see how a game can have so many features yet not actually support them.

This was met by a long pause.

CSR-TerryH: I am sorry you feel this way.

Flinch: Additionally, I reported that I found users running a strip club here on Naboo, and was mocked and insulted for expecting this game to be clean when i reported the issue on the Official Forums.

CSR-TerryH: At this time we are doing our best to address the issues that affect the greatest number of players.

Flinch: I can understand that.

CSR-TerryH: We will be addressing the inappropriate behaviors.

Flinch: My only response to that is will it be in time? How would mothers of these players feel if they knew that their children were being invited to watch Digital Avatars take off their clothing in exchange for in-game currency. How would Sony expect mothers to react to this?

This was met with no response whatsoever.

CSR-TerryH: I can either place your items in your home, or in your personal inventory.

Flinch: Inventory would work best.

CSR-TerryH: Please remember to delete your ticket when you are through with it.

Flinch: Could I possibly ask you about another issue while I have you? A good friend of mine has lost his entire in-game lifes work as his house containing a museum which we all put a great amount of time into just randomly went missing.

CSR-TerryH: I am sorry to tell you that we are not able to reimburse for lost pets. We are not authorized to address another players issues.

Flinch: Well it is my issue as well, though us only being able to open one customer service ticket at a time means I could not create an issue for this as well.

CSR-TerryH: Have you looked in your inventory to verify the deeds I placed?

Flinch: My original issue is solved yes, could you please speak with my friend about his problem if you will not speak to me?

CSR-TerryH: Thank you for your time. I would like to take this opportunity to once again apologize for the inconvenience.

CSR-TerryH: I hope you are able to enjoy the game as it was meant to be, a fun experience.

CSR-TerryH would not respond to any of my messages after this. My friend's very expensive home is just missing, with several hundred thousand in-game credits worth in Bio Engineered Pets and Rare items. My friends issues and my own were only partially addressed and we cannot help but feel that our time in this game is wasted as even Sony who has every power to fix the issues that befall us, won't even follow through and support their product.

Many of you have e-mailed me telling me that as you played Asheron's Call you feel the service I am mentioning from Sony will be emulated by Vivendi. I can only say that I trust Chris Taylor, and respect him, and if it is possible to release an MMORPG smoothly into this gaming industry then he will find a way.

Again, only time will tell.

If you've had adverse experiences in a game, or on the off chance that you actually are ENJOYING Star Wars Galaxies, please e-mail me directly at Flinch@TheOneRing.net.

An Hour with Brad Dourif
Demosthenes @ 5:41 am EST

Brad Dourif gave an hour-long talk at Dragon*Con 2003. Shadow and Marea transcribed the question and answer session.

I'm Brad Dourif, I play Grima Wormtongue. (minimal audience reaction)

This IS Lord of the Rings… Right? (laughter)

Okay… so, I guess I'm supposed to say something up front. How many of you were here two years ago? (show of hands)

So you've heard this story… so bear with me… there'll be more later.

I had only read "The Hobbit" when all of this was mentioned as a possibility. So I went and auditioned. And I was told I had to do an English accent, and I went, hired a coach, worked on an English accent and went in and did it, and then I got a call back and I did it for Peter and Fran and then I got another call back. And then kind of did it for them again, with additional notes. And then I was told that it looked good. And then… I didn't get it. I did not get the part. They gave the part to somebody else who somewhere during the summer completely backed out. I think they weren't getting paid enough. And… um… what a fool! (audience applause and laughter)

And so they called me up, and I went from Very Sad to Very Happy. And I got it and then was told that I could come a couple of weeks early, because the accent needed a little work. And I was really glad that I did, because Sir Ian's were thicker than flies on the set and I was just Brad from West Virginia, ya know? So I really felt… and there was Christopher Lee… who scared the hell out of me my entire childhood. (laughter). I was so scared to death of him , and so I went to New Zealand and we altered the accent, my girlfriend, her daughter and myself. I worked very hard. And then finally on the day day I showed up and put on my stuff and away we went.

The really cool thing that I think they did that was really nice was that all of us had a writer's meeting… anybody who spoke one word had a writers meeting, and they would rewrite and I think they were really trying to rewrite the characters or to fine tune the characters to the actor. Rather than having an idea of what Wormtongue should be they wanted MY Wormtongue. This was really true of everybody. And I think that's one of the things that really brings the film to life is that they really cared so much about what we as actors could bring to it.

The other thing that I should say is that when you went on the set you were given a tour. And the thing that was extraordinary about the tour was how finely detailed every little thing was. I mean, it didn't matter if there was any possibility that it would appear in the film, it was really, really done well… someone put their heart in it. I mean, the guy who did the armor was putting little rings together, first groups of five, and then more and more… and he had been doing that for years. Literally. I mean I thought he might be Enlightened. (laughter!). It's an extraordinary job… but all the chain mail armor was made of a brand new material that could really take a sword full swing but was super light.

My dagger… um…I've killed quite a few people [in my movie career], but never with such a fine dagger! (laughter) Really, really a work of art. And of course my costume was pretty remarkable.

One more story. They called me back at one point to do Edoras. An actors' life is not all it's cracked up to be.. my call was 3:00 a.m. So I'm standing out there thinking… I wish I could remember what food was like… waiting for the van to arrive…and we go and it's paved roads for a while.. and then it's dirt roads... about an hour and a half of dirt roads. And I'm really starting to wish it was over… and we're going up, and it's just starting to get light. And we're going up this hill, and down below is this valley, and it's maybe 35 - 50 square miles, huge valley surrounded by snow peaked mountains. Flat… marsh over here, grasslands all around. But in the center is this weird…Middle Earth. That's the only way I can describe it.

Gnarly…you know.. like it's not quite straight.. kind of turns over this way, kind of goes up… and you can see there's something really teeny tiny built on the top. It's Edoras. And I go down this windy road that we built.. and which we had to completely destroy when we left.
And there's nothing else there and I go up and there on the top of this mountain… and I'm in costume and everything… and there on the top of this mountain there's this town… and its thatched roofs, and everywhere you turn it's totally medieval, and with its stone, solid stone staircase… that was real stone… and all around these marshes, grasslands, people walking with robes, with swords and … I thought I was in heaven. The human eye when it looks at something it looks at a lot of things… I mean you only really focus this much and everything else is given to you by the brain.

There is no way you can experience … that it is possible for you who have seen the movie to experience how beautiful it was… and it's gone. No one else will ever have that experience again. That was a piece of magic in my life that I will never forget. (loud clapping).

Do you all have any questions?

Question: Whose idea was the "eyebrow"? (i.e. that Wormtongue should have shaved eyebrows).

The eyebrows? That idea was Peter's. My girlfriend REALLY loves him! Cause you see these used to be kind of bushy over here… well and they didn't grow back. I remember that I would go, I would work, I would come home, I would look terrible and my eyebrows would grow back… and then she'd kind of remember that I was Brad. And then I'd go away again and come back….no eyebrows. And this happened three times. And then they called us back a year later… and she'd forgotten about that. So… I suddenly remembered "Uh oh… eyebrows… I better prepare her". And I had to do the call.. darling… I kinda forgot about something. Eyebrows. Huge silence….Aaargh … I HATE them!" It was a really good idea… it was odd and nobody noticed them.. And I kinda knew they wouldn't.

Questioner: You looked so creepy.

You don't notice what it is that's doing it… but it subliminally really, really works on you. But my girlfriend noticed it.

A question was asked which had no relationship to LOTR… a member in the audience had a small role in the movie "Sunny Boy" 16 years ago and reminded Brad Dourif of the fact.

More questions about other movies…

Question: There's been a lot a speculation among fans about the significance of "the tear". Would you care to explain?

Well, Fran's a genius, ya know? I think it was something that really came organically out the direction that we were going. I kind of hooked into that probably when he was young he was picked on, and that he really was perfect bait for Saruman the White. And was someone who could really never have the things he needed the most.

So I think the idea was that this was somebody who fell into a dark hole and kind of wakes up in the middle looking at the "Triumph of the Will". Which is really what he goes out and really looks at what Hitler saw when they did "Triumph of the Will". This incredibly awesome horde that was about to be unleashed. Have you ever seen "Triumph of the Will"?

For those of you who didn't.. you guys should see this… this is a movie of Adolph Hitler's Nazi Party, that did this festival every year in Nuremburg. This movie is a documentary, but it really gives you the power of this whole nation being consumed by this weird strength in each other's numbers that was to unleash in this horrible war, and you can feel it in this movie. And the arrangement of the troops in "The Two Towers" was a purposeful rip off of this... because it was a defining moment just before WWII. And the documentary is called "Triumph of the Will" because it is the triumph of Adolph Hitler's will.

Question: Could you tell us your favorite line or scene from TTT and could you say it in Wormtongue's voice?

In Wormtongue? (laughter) My favorite scene was with Eowyn, just because it was so poetic and because she's a brilliant actress. When I first saw her coming in… when they introduced me and this was before I did anything, I took one look at the fire in that girl's eyes and I knew that she was going to show up for work. And she sure did. First of all, when we shot that scene we were in a corrugated metal shed that had been converted into a studio and the wind was howling through there… and it lifts that corrugated metal up and shakes it, you know, like the metal that they use when you're playing King Lear (laughter). Really.. it's like thunder… it's really, really loud. I can't underplay that.

And I was talking about that to her like a year later and she looked at me and said. "What are you talking about? I don't remember that!" I said, "I had to stop the scene three times because I couldn't even hear you!" That's the level of cognitive… and at one point I was talking to her, and she just burst into tears. And then she was okay. And I felt really like maybe I said the wrong thing! (laughter). And I was really feeling pretty bad and I kind of waited for five minutes for her to let me have it really or something and I said to her, "I don't know what I said, but I hope I didn't make you cry there!" And she said, "What are you talking about?" (laughter).

But that's the level of concentration… it was pretty strong. You don't often get to work with people that into it. It was like she was this river, and I danced on it.

Question: Can you give us any hint on the demise of Saruman?

Oh I wouldn't do that… that would be MEAN!

Questioner: But you are mean!

Oh… she asked me if I could give a hint on the demise of Saruman. (big laughter). You might not make it out of here alive!

Question: I just wanted to ask you… you are such a well respected character actor, and you melt so much into every character that you play, but I think that everybody noticed that you seem to be in so many sci fi, horror, fantasy… you're in a lot of this genre. Are you actively looking for those roles, or are you trying out for other types of parts… and what would be your dream role?

Well… I'm a whore. (laughter). A cheque and a script and I'm there, babe! You know… I've just been lucky. I've been really lucky. Right now I'm doing a series for HBO… I'm doing it with David Milch who did "NYPD Blue". He's a genius, and all that I can tell you is that I am lucky. The series is going to be called "Deadwood" and it's a western…. about that town of Deadwood, and that's where Wild Bill Hickok drew aces and eights. It's a full out, for real western.

But to answer your questions about the sci fi… that's just something that kind of happened. But I was like any other kid though… I loved Halloween when I was growing up probably more than anything. And I like the idea of scary things.

Question: Will there be a fight between Saruman and Grima?

I'm really not going to answer. It would RUIN it! Really….really (applause) Because I could be totally wrong with what I'm going to tell you… who knows what they could really come up with.
Some questions related to an incident at a con Dourif attended in New York where someone pulled a fire alarm at the hotel… and Dourif did NOT run out… instead he watched the cops pull up, looking bored, and felt that he was not in trouble.

Question: What was it like working with Christopher Lee?

Okay… let's DO Christopher Lee, shall we? (applause).

When you meet Christopher Lee, he's NOT shy, at all! (affecting a "veddy British" accent). And he's a very 'proper Englishman' you know. He is talking about how he was in "the War" and how he is the best swordsman", and he really tells a lot of stories and after a while you're going "Can all of this be true?" (laughter)

And the best story of that actually didn't happen to me, it happened to a friend of mine, David Carradine actually. And David you know is a martial artist and a stunt guy and Christopher was following him around talking about stuff like how he was the pre-eminent swordsman and , you know, that he was secret service and all this stuff. And David ... he had to throw a knife, so he was practicing throwing the knife, and Christopher walks up to him and says "You know, I can hit anything with a sharp object." (laughter).

And David's had it, you know.. and says, "okay, fine… show me." [And Christopher Lee says] "Yes… of course." He walks back.. and he's got a rusty ten-penny nail he's found on the ground. There's this dartboard, okay. He goes up to the dartboard, turns around and walks like twenty paces. Now, nobody can hit the bullseye of the dartboard, right? Pffftt….. bullseye! (laughter and applause). And David goes… "Oh! He DID win World War II!" (laughter)

So… that's Christopher. You know, I spent one day with him. We were doing foreign press. And you know he's read Tolkien and knew Tolkien and read the books once every year of his life. And he has a PhD in comparative religion and mythology. And languages… and that every single person who comes into the room, no matter what language they speak, he speaks that language! Um, excuse me, …. I have an opinion on this too!

Well… that's what it's like working with Christopher Lee. (laughter and applause)

Question: I'd like to know your best memory of filming Lord of the Rings and a memory you'd just as soon forget.

Well I already did the best memory… the best memory is the set at Edoras. And then I guess the other would be the scene with Eowyn.

I don't know… the worst memory? Getting my eyebrows shaved!

Question: Okay… may I just ask you then. You've described your favorite scene in the movie. Could you just bring it down to one line. Something that particularly resonates with you?

You know I can't really… and I'll tell you why. When you're doing it… you don't pay attention to yourself. I pay attention to her. And the better she got the better I got. And I guess there was some stuff that was particularly good that she did around the transition. [the scene described was the one at Theodred's bedside]

She allowed me to kind of suck her in, and she got very soft and very vulnerable and then she turned around on me, and that was pretty much a cool thing for me to watch her do that. It really got to me. I felt like we really… you know…you connect in a way sometimes when you act and that felt really right on and good.

Dourif then asked what a particular noise in the room was… and was answered by shouts of "Rain!" Amid laughter he explained… "We don't have that in LA!"

Question: I think you're incredible, and you're my favorite character in LOTR. My first question: who are your influences? That's one question, and this is a weird question, when they threw you down those stone steps, and that wasn't you, wasn't that the hardest thing to watch a stuntman do?

Naa… I went to sleep man! I mean…. I was exhausted. I was up since 3 o'clock and I was in there saying 'I'm sure he's going to be GREAT! You know… I'll watch it when you show it to me on the monitor." And he was spectacular.

Question: So who were your influences?

I think for relationships it was the two killers in "In Cold Blood", they had a very, very powerful effect on me. The kid in "400 Blows" by Truffaut had a powerful effect on me, and Gena Rowlands in, what's that where she goes crazy? [Woman Under the Influence]

Well, that performance, ok. It was incredibly raw, and it's just somebody going really crazy. I think that were the things that really…and my mom. I saw her do a rehearsal of Anastasia when I was young and Anastasia has this scene where she is talking about how she's this actress, she's not really Anastasia and she can make anybody believe anything that she does and she starts talking about this butterfly, and I don't even remember what she said, but I saw the butterfly. Her imagination was that vivid and it was that real, and I went, "Ooo, I wanna do that". I never DID, but…

Paraphrase: How do you approach your craft?

There's always something in the center of everyone that says who they are. In most evil people it's generally fear. That's really what runs us, and if I can figure out what I'm supposed to be afraid of, now I have something real to fall back on, and then it's just trying to stay as honest as I can, but I guess I sometimes creep over the top.

Paraphrase: What would your fear be?

That I could never have what I needed, and wanted…that I could never have it.

Question: Have you ever done any stage work? And what is the difference between stage and film for an actor?

The answer is yes I did a tremendous amount of theater when I was young. I worked with really incredible people. A director by the name of Marshall Mason and a playwright by the name of Lanford Wilson who were the big influences in my life. I had a great acting coach as well. The differences are that when you're doing a play, you have what happened before feeding you into the next thing, and you understand rhythm really well.

You understand that this is thrown away, and this you hit. This you go fast, this you slow down, here you can stop. When you're doing film, you're only doing something there that day. Your tendency is to want to perform it all, but you can't. You've got to throw it away, a lot of it. The film has to have rhythm and your performance has to have rhythm, and you better hope that the director understand that and you're right about that as well. And beyond that they really are pretty identical.

Question: What was it like as a young actor to have so much attention early on in your career from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"?

Pretty overwhelming. I actually had a little bit of difficulty handling that.

Paraphrase: What's it like to move from B movies to A movies?

I have been moving in and out of A and B movies, and C and D (laughter)…a lot of F's…(more laughter) pretty much my whole life and like I said I'm a whore, I'm just not gonna be snot about it. David Lynch, who I think is a genius, would hire me, but he would only hire me in these little roles, and I finally-basically I want to do it, I want to get up and I want to act and that's really…

I have a lot of fun and I finally told him, I said, "Look man, if you want to hire me, you better give me a bigger part because I'm just not gonna sit around and watch other people act." I won't do that for anybody, you know? Maybe once or twice, sure, but I'm not going to do a career of that. I try not to think of that and somehow it's worked. I know good directors every once in a while will still hire me, even though the studios hate it.

Paraphrase: How long did it take you to get your first big break in acting?

I started when I was 16 professionally, and I was 24, so it was 8 years.

Question: What souvenir did you take away from LOTR?

Teeth I didn't use. I had these horrible teeth that they put in but I couldn't…I was having enough trouble (imitates talking with teeth). So they gave those to me and I kept them.

Also I have a collection of mockups of the toys, which incidentally…I mean I could have 6 Oscars sitting up on my thing and they wouldn't get anywhere near the amount of attention people coming into my house give to the action figures. (laughter) That is the pinnacle of my career, actually…having an action figure.

Paraphrase: What roles are you proudest of that you've portrayed?

You know one of them has to be Billy Bibbit. (applause) That just became larger than life and it's just too hard for me to back away from. I did this thing in the desert where I told stories with James Earl Jones and it was called "Grim Prairie Tales" and I don't know why but I just loved that. Just because I guess I was sort of normal in it. I didn't think that was possible. Brad shared a story from Cuckoo's nest.

Paraphrase: Is ROTK gonna be the one? Is it going to win an Oscar? What's the feeling? That's what we all want to see. What's your feeling? What's the word?

What's my feeling about it? First of all, I do not understand the Oscars at all. (applause) If you're asking me if I have any kind of insight, they never nominate the people I vote for and the people who win I don't even understand. Like everybody else I get really furious.

I had a junkie wife and I know what's it's like to be, to watch somebody really, really go crazy and I know what it feels like to be in that situation with children and so forth. But, " A Beautiful Mind"…there's nothing wrong with the actress' performance but it infuriated me that she was nominated because that had nothing to do with anything of what it's like to go through that kind of situation.

You don't look pretty and you don't feel pretty and that was just crap. (applause) How that happened…what this was about…what they were thinking…I just don't get it.

Dustin Hoffman said this, and it's always held true for me, no one really remembers who won the Oscar. It's a shame we care. What you remember is the film. I think we're gonna remember the extended versions of these, to tell you the truth. I think Viggo called that. (applause) Those are the real works of art. This one's gonna come out, and maybe in a couple of years there'll be theaters where you go and see the whole thing in all the extended versions on a big screen. Then we'll get to see the Lord of the Rings. (applause)

And you know what, that's what I care about. Forgive my French, but @#$# the Oscars! (cheers)

Question: Are you content?

Am I content? Never.
Several non-LOTR questions skipped.

Inside The Dragon
Demosthenes @ 5:11 am EST

Shadow had a booth at Dragon*Con 2003. Her report takes an inside look at the trials and tribulations of being an exhibitor, as well as revealing just how huge Dragon*Con is.

Hi! I'm Shadow, webmaster for West of the Moon, a Tolkien fanfiction archive, and I recently attended Dragon Con. My site, along with frodoandsam.net, teamed up as sponsors for The Gathering of the Fellowship and ran a fan table at Dragon Con to raise money for our sponsorship. My friend, Marea, was also running a fan table for The Gathering, and we both had responsibilities as reporters to our respective websites. The following is my tale of the weekend exploring just how much fun Dragon Con can be!

How do I even begin to describe Dragon Con? I was warned ahead of time by friends that had gone in past years that I would be overwhelmed, and that it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I listened, shook my head in agreement, and figured "yeah, yeah, a bunch of people in costumes, how amazing can that possibly be?" Let me be the first to admit that I was completely WRONG. Dragon Con is truly something that must be experienced in person. I will do my best in the following report to try to convey to you its vastness, its beauty, and the incredible experience that it is, but I know that I will not be able to do it justice-it's just something that you must go and experience for yourself!


After spending most of last week getting ready to go--t-shirt and art shipments, table paraphernalia, squeeing like a fangirl because I was going to a con-it was finally Thursday. I did the 6-hour drive from Chapel Hill to Atlanta by myself, and arrived at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis around 4 PM. I have stayed in many hotels in my time, but I've never seen anything like the Marriott Marquis. After spending a short eternity getting my car unloaded and parked, I was finally able to walk into the hotel. As you enter the Marriott on the lobby level, you are greeted by the vast expanse of its atrium. The hotel has 50 floors, and the atrium rises floor to ceiling in the center of the building; banks of elevators travel up through the center and interior hallways on every floor overlook the atrium. Mauve-colored banners drape gracefully through the atrium space from above, creating a flowing pattern that accents the architecture of this amazing centerpiece to the hotel. There are 4 business levels to the Marriott: a garden level with restaurants and lounges, the lobby level, the convention level where the fan tables, art show, and a dealers room were located, and the International Hall, which housed a second large dealers room, the Walk of Fame where autographing took place, and the comic artist room. Needless to say I was a little overwhelmed by the building, before the Con even began! But this was not the entire space for the Con, oh no. The main hotel for convention programming was the Hyatt Regency, which is across the street from the Marriott. The Hyatt also has four levels: the lobby level, which housed restaurants, bars, and lounge space; the ballroom level where all main programming for the Con and the band tables were located; the exhibit level which was dedicated to gaming, and the conference center level, where much of the track programming and the press room were located.

I met my online friend and fellow reporter, Marea, and we spent Thursday evening learning the layout of both the Marriott Marquis and the Hyatt Regency, and getting our press passes and registration squared away. Our main goal for the weekend was to land interviews with both John Rhys-Davies and Brad Dourif, so we did some inquiring as to the best way to accomplish this and were met with "well, you just have to run into them at their presentations or while autographing, and set it up yourselves". Great, how do you run a fan table, get to see some programming, and run around chasing after convention guests who pay people to keep the likes of you at bay? Well, we determined that we would give it our best shot the next day to try and land an interview with JRD. Both hotels were relatively quiet that evening, seemingly in anticipation of the event to come, so we had a quiet dinner at Champions restaurant and spent the rest of the evening catching up with each other and doing last minute preparation for interviews and fan tables.


Friday morning, we awoke to a hotel transformed into a sci fi convention of epic proportions. I have never seen anything like it in all my life! There were more people in costume than not! Stormtroopers everywhere! Starfleet officers, Jedi nights, comic book heroes, Renaissance characters, belly dancers, and quite a few things I couldn't even recognize all roamed the main floors of the Con as we made our way over to the Peachtree Center Mall to grab some breakfast. Everywhere I looked as we walked, I was gasping at the intricacy of costume work and the amazing variety of characters, and grinning from ear to ear at the level of energy and excitement that filled the hotels that morning as everyone geared up for the start of programming. We had breakfast in the mall sitting next to a group of amazingly realistic orcs. Let me just tell you, it's quite a sight to watch four orcs order breakfast from the Orange Julius! (Later on I got a picture with said Orcs holding a bald to my throat!)

Our first mission was to secure our fan tables. Both my table for West of the Moon and frodoandsam.net and Marea's table for The Gathering of the Fellowship had been waitlisted, so we were quite nervous about whether we would actually get a table, especially after the countless hours of work we put in preparing our tables for the Con. We were not supposed to check in for tables until Friday afternoon, but we went at 10 in the morning and found that we had already been assigned spaces! YAY!! We scurried back up to our room so Marea could gather her things to set up her table, and I made a sign to place on West of the Moon's table to hold its place. I could not set up yet, as I had no staff yet and was missing quite a few things I needed that were coming with my partner Celeste, the webmaster for frodoandsam.net. I was worried about not setting up the table on Friday, as I didn't want the fan table staff to give it away to anyone else while I had no one to staff it, but my fears were put to rest when I returned to the table and met Adrian, who was working the Sci Fi Summer Con table next to mine. Adrian is in charge of security for SFSC, and after talking to me for a few minutes he assured me that anyone who came near my table and was not with me would be promptly tossed into the fountain. Heh. Thank you Adrian, you're such a sweetie!

Now that my table was safe, I was free to peruse the fan table level a bit before I had to make it over to the Hyatt for the opening of the Tolkien track. At this point in the day, the table that was drawing the busiest was TORN's. They had begun setting up in the morning, and were now showing the final portion of the ROTK trailer from the DVD on a continuous loop, and were drawing a large crowd of onlookers every time the trailer began again. They were also giving out their "button of the day", which for Friday was "TheOneRing.net is Hobbit forming", and selling their legendary t-shirts from Comic Con, "Don't make me get my Ring" and "I was…chased from my house, stabbed by a wraith, assaulted by a mutant octopus, speared by a troll, stalked by a creepy little man, drawn into a corpse-filled swamp, poisoned by a giant spider, rendered unconscious…I even lost my Ring, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". Must have t-shirts…preciousss…so I bought myself the latter, and met Bill (Corvar), Larry (MrCere), and Chris (Calisuri) from TORN in the process. All three were warm and friendly, and I talked to Bill for quite some time about obtaining a press pass for the TORN Oscar Party and the other events taking place at Dragon Con that TORN was running. By then it was almost 1 PM, so I ran off to catch "Welcome to Middle Earth" over at the Hyatt.

The room that the Tolkien track was assigned for the Con was located on the Conference Level of the Hyatt, 3 floors down from the lobby level and otherwise referred to by myself and company as the "seventh level of hell" or "the dungeon" for the rest of the Con. Both the room and the level were nice, mind you, but when you're far enough below ground that you lose your cell phone signal, you know you're in the bowels of the earth. The room was designed to seat 80 people, and TORN's opening presentation was standing room only. The staffers went over details of the Tolkien track, and at the end of the presentation raffled off copies of Tom Shippey's latest as well as several of the LOTR art books. Everyone who filled out a survey for Houghton Mifflin got a free copy of FOTR with the Frodo cover. *grin* At the end of the presentation as I'm going up to claim my book, someone to my left says "Wow, West of the Moon" reading the logo off the back of my WOTM t-shirt. So I go over to her and ask if she reads the site. She responds, "yes, and I also have stories posted there", at which point I respond, "who are you?" and find myself face to face with Bill the Pony. Bill introduced me to her online friend that she had come to meet, Beguiled, and the 3 of us chatted merrily about fanfiction for quite some time. Bill is a lovely woman, and was sweet enough to save me a seat for the upcoming John Rhys-Davies hour at 4 PM, while I ran off to fetch Marea and some lunch.

I learned that there are 3 things you don't get to do at Dragon Con: eat, sleep, or visit the restroom. Lunch consisted of a Chick-Fil-a sandwich that I inhaled while walking back to the Hyatt with Marea to try and catch the end of the 2:30 Games Workshop presentation that preceded JRD. We caught the very end of the presentation, in enough time to get tickets for the raffle and not win anything, and so began our wait for JRD at 3 PM. I was seated between Bill and Beguiled in the first row center, and anticipation in the room was high as we were entertained for about an hour by Cliff (Quickbeam) and Jessica (Starlady) from TORN. You have not lived until you've heard Cliff's rendition of "Where there's a whip, there's a way" from Bakshi. I have a feeling that he created himself a reputation with it, and it will be his new party gig. Marea and I were also lucky enough to be able to get up and tell the crowd about both of our fan tables. What a great advertising opportunity for both of us!

So, the clock ticked, and ticked, and we sang and chatted, and it got to be 4:15 and nothing was happening. The natives were growing restless as Jincey, director of the Tolkien track, made her way to the mic. She informed us rather grimly that JRD had cancelled his appearance for the weekend, they did not know why, and they had just gotten this information 5 minutes ago. #$%@! We were quite put out. There went not only our hour here with him, but also our chance to interview him for our websites. But, what can you do? The thing about con guests is, you never are sure they're coming until they walk through the door, and we experienced this firsthand.
Disheartened but not defeated, we left the venue and ran into another WOTM author, Lullenny, in the hallway outside. Another nice fanfiction conversation ensued, and we exchanged contact info in hopes of seeing her again later in the weekend. We then went to meet our friend Trasmerg (Traz), who had just arrived, and helped her get settled at the Con. By then it was 6:30, and we had a choice to make: dinner before going to the Evening in Bree, or attending Walter Koenig's hour on the Trek Trak. Decisions, decisions. Our stomachs won out, and we ate pizza in the room while we got our costumes ready for the evening. Marea wore this lovely female innkeeper's outfit and went as "Barlimom Butterbeer" and I wore my blue velvet elven gown. Celeste, webmaster for frodoandsam.net, also came by with her friend Laura while we were getting ready for the Evening, and we got organized for the next day's big fan table premiere.

The Evening at Bree was held in one of the Centennial ballrooms over in the Hyatt, which was a nice large room, and by the time we arrived was fairly filled with fans clapping and dancing to Emerald Rose, who were in the middle their first set up on stage. As soon as we made our entrance, Bill from TORN approached us and asked if one of us would judge the costume contest. Marea was planning to enter, so she couldn't very well judge, so I said, "of course!", and the next thing I knew I was meeting the other judges and Emerald Rose was finished with their set and the contest was ready to begin! The other judges for the contest were Julia, who was presenting the costume segment for the Tolkien track the next morning; Ginger (Elbren), a fellow TORCer and programming coordinator for the Gathering of the Fellowship; and Chris from TORN, who I had met earlier that day.

The judges were introduced, and the contest began with the Elf category. There were approximately 20 contestants, which included 2 male elves and a host of Arwens, Galadriels, and miscellaneous female elves, and it was quite difficult for us to choose three winners. In the end we chose a very authentic-looking Arwen (Kell Yarwood from Memphis) for first place, an elven archer (John "John-of-the-Night" Day from Orlando) for second honors, and another Arwen (Beth "Ladystar" Robinson from Michigan) for third.
While Emerald Rose played another set, Marea, Traz, and I mingled through the crowd admiring costumes, and watching the folk-style dancing of the many female elves on the floor. After the set it was time for the second costume contest, for everyone but the elves. This was a much more interesting event, for the sheer variety of the costumes was amazing. There were Valar, Frodos, Aragorns, men of Gondor, Rosie Cottons, Ringwraiths (including a twilight wraith), Gandalfs, Uruk-hai, and even a Balrog, complete with extending wings! It took us forever to judge this one. The crowd waited rather impatiently while we talked amongst ourselves and with Jincey, and finally agreed that there would be 3 winners and an honorable mention. For first place we chose an Aragorn and Frodo pair (Dion Rupa from New York and Heather Dunningham from Santa Cruz) dressed authentically in every detail, right down to exquisite hairy hobbit feet on Frodo. Second place went to the fighting Uruk-hai, complete with a series of nose rings (Beth "LOTR42" McCullers from Memphis). The amazing balrog (Gayle Klar from Savannah) took third, and the honorable mention went to a Rosie Cotton in a lovely blue dress who danced for the judges (Tracey "IridescentGrrly" Cook from Huntsville).

Emerald Rose started up again following the contest, and we sat and watched the performance and wandered about taking pictures of costumes until 11 PM. We were still quite ready to party at this point, and the Con was still hopping everywhere else, so I approached Bill (Corvar) and asked him what there was to do. The next thing I knew, we were on our way up to Champions with the TORN staff to do karaoke. Our friend Rosie-the-hobbit had a late flight in, and she joined us at karaoke when she arrived. Most of the staff was out that night, and we did a lovely rendition of "I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow" from "O Brother, Where Art Thou" as well as solo performances by Cliff (Quickbeam) and Michael Martinez. The TORN staff are an absolutely wonderful group to party with, and beer, Long Island Iced Teas, etc., and a good time was had by all. The post-party consisted of a rather heartfelt version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the hotel lobby at 2 AM that got us busted by the hotel staff, so we decided to call it a night. So ended my first full day at Dragon Con!


Saturday began at 7 AM, as we hustled around to get everything ready to open our table by 10 AM. Celeste and Laura arrived to help, and we hauled everything down from the room and managed to be set up in time. Celeste brought a lovely 3-part black screen that we sat behind the table, and we hung Laura's beautiful logo painting in the middle and displayed a t-shirt on either side. Willow-wode's "Fellowship" illo sat on a large easel for display, and we laid Sting on the table along with two more t-shirts, our "Bring the Ringbearer to the Gathering" flyers, and my West of the Moon business cards. I worked the table for most of the early part of the day, selling t-shirts and chances for the raffle, and conversing with fans about LOTR. I was also treated to a performance of "If I had a million ducats" by the Brobdingnagian Bards, which was hysterical! Afterwards they came over and introduced themselves by kissing my hand in a most attentive manner, chatted with me, and gave me a copy of their new CD "Memories of Middle Earth". What charming guys! Rosie showed up at 3 PM to man the table through Brad Dourif's hour, and Marea, Traz and I ventured off to secure good seats for the presentation.

We stood in line until at least 3:30 as the previous presentation cleared out and they cleaned up the ballroom, but the wait was actually rather pleasant as the Bards were playing on the concourse to our right and we were surrounded by fellow Tolkien fans. While waiting in line, I met several women who go to WOTM regularly, and I was thrilled to hear how much they liked the site. (Thank you, ladies!) Finally, we got in. We were lucky enough to secure front row center seats again, so that when Brad finally took the stage and sat down we were about 10 feet away from him. I'm not going to summarize his hour here, as I will be posting the entire transcript on the site, but I want to impress on all of you how warm and friendly Brad was. He related a few memories and stories from LOTR, and then took questions from the crowd for the rest of the hour. He seemed to enjoy the hour as much as we did, and when it was over he posed for some pictures and talked with the fans. Marea approached him about setting up an interview, and he informed her that he would be signing autographs on the Walk of Fame on Sunday, and that we should approach him there. This discouraged us a bit, since he didn't say what time he'd be there, and we couldn't set up an appointment. But, we vowed to do the best we could on Sunday, and put our reporter hats away for the day and went in search of dinner.

We were in the middle of dinner at the Hyatt's buffet when Cliff called me to invite us to go out for Chinese with the TORN staffers. We declined, of course, since we were already eating, but Cliff told me that we had a date for karaoke again that evening, so we met them at Champions around 10 PM. Saturday night's karaoke was much longer, and included group renditions of "A Man of Constant Sorrow" (again), "Bohemian Rhapsody" (this time we got to finish it), and "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats. Again it was beer and delightful conversation with Bill, Chris, Cliff, Carlene, Jincey, Lisa, Josh, Susan, Larry, and Jessica (apologies to whoever I missed) til 2 AM. Ah, convention life!


Since the fan tables had been organized on Saturday, we actually slept til 8 AM on Sunday (YAY!) and then went down and set up the tables for 10 AM. Celeste and Laura had the early shift on Sunday, so I finally got some time to go look around the dealers rooms! The dealers room on the fan table level had mainly gaming booths in it, including a large LOTR display at Decipher. I browsed through and didn't find much to my liking, so I headed down to the lower level to check out the larger room. The lower level was a mass of humanity, and any movement through the crowd took a lot of time. My first mission was to go back to the Walk of Fame and see if I could find out anything about when Brad Dourif would be signing. I talked to a nice security man who assured me there was no way for me to find out when he would be showing up, and that I should just check back throughout the day to look for him. Well, that's certainly convenient! So I called Marea and we decided that we would both check back as often as we could, and I went back to shopping. The dealers room on the lower floor consisted of booths selling weaponry, t-shirts, publicity photos of stars (signed and otherwise), jewelry, action figures and toys, costumes, comic books, and I'm sure 50 other things I can't remember at the moment. I picked up an embroidered "Frodo Lives" t-shirt, and a Celtic knot pendant and earrings to wear with my elven gown. By the time I accomplished all this, it was time to run to the Hyatt for the 11:30 presentation of Ringers: Lord of the Fans.

Like Saturday, the presentation was packed, but Rosie and Marea had saved me a seat near the front, anticipating my late arrival. The presentation was given by Cliff, Carlene and Josh, who make up the crew that is producing Ringers: Lord of the Fans, a documentary about Tolkien fans and the history of Tolkien fandom. The finished film is due to come out around the release of the extended ROTK DVD next year. They discussed the inception of their idea to do a documentary, and then gave an enlightening history of early Tolkien fandom. This included details of the dealings between Tolkien and his publisher, Allen and Unwin, as well as chronicling the birth of Tolkien fandom in the US, complete with a full showing of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" by Leonard Nimoy and a display of those awful psychedelic book covers from Ballantine in the 60's. The documentary looks like it's going to be a wonderful look at the fandom, so keep your eyes peeled for more information about it!

Now it was time for me to work the table a while before the ROTK preview at 4 PM, so I headed off to the Marriott, grabbing lunch on the way to eat at the table when I got there. While there, the Bards came by again on their way to a performance at the art show, and decided to serenade me. They played a gorgeous sorrowful ballad for me on autoharp and recorder, standing right in front of the table, that just about brought me to tears. I must admit that that's the most successful flirting technique I've ever seen. If these guys aren't married, they won't be on the market for long if they keep doing that to women! At 3:30, Traz came to relieve me from the table, and Marea and I decided to take a run down to the Walk of Fame to see if Brad was there. Let me just tell you, if you haven't figured it out from the rest of this report, that Marea and I were having amazing luck this weekend. When we got down there, we found Brad seated at an autograph table, and not terribly busy. We approached, introduced ourselves, and inquired about an interview. He replied, "sure, would you like to do it right now?" and we began looking for a place to do the interview. The Walk of Fame was crowded and noisy, but in the back corner there was a hallway leading to the restricted portions of the building, and we were granted access to this area because we had a guest with us for the purposes of an interview. So, we ducked around the corner and found two chairs in the hallway, and Brad and I sat there while Marea sat Indian style on the floor, and we began the interview. Again, I will not cover the entire interview here, as I am posting the whole transcript separately on the site. I will just highlight what struck me most from our conversation.

Brad was dressed in jeans and a denim shirt, his brown hair, streaked a bit with silver, laying in curls to his shoulders. He has a moustache flowing down into a bit of a goatee, which he later told us is his look in his latest project, and his eyes are a steel grey-blue that is quite intense when he meets your gaze. His voice is gentle but sure, his hand firm and steady in a handshake. Brad is warm and personable, and puts you at ease with a wink and a smile as he answers your questions. He is a down-to-earth guy. We talked with Brad for about a half hour, alternating questions between Marea and I, and we discussed things like his definition of evil, who he thinks the hero of LOTR is, and his feelings about the comaraderie among the members of the cast during the filming of Lord of the Rings. His answers were sincere and heartfelt, and I had to resist the urge to break interview format and just start talking to him many times throughout our meeting. He has a deep respect for Peter, the cast, and all the crew that worked on the film, and it's clearly readable in his voice and on his face as he discusses his experiences. We had a delightful interview with Brad, and afterward he posed with both of us for pictures, and we returned with him to the table to get a few autographs for ourselves and absent friends.

Afterward, we hurried off to catch the end of the ROTK preview, and managed to arrive in time to see the ROTK footage pulled from the upcoming ROTK game from EA games, which did contain a few new images. I had made it through the interview with Brad completely calmly and in a professional manner, but at this point it was beginning to dawn on me that I had in fact just interviewed a member of the LOTR cast. Now it was time to be a squeeing fangirl for a little while. So, I wandered the Con like Alice in Wonderland, wondering exactly whose life I was living that I was able to report on these events, and be in this place, surrounded by fandom friends and sci fi and fantasy at its finest. Still high on life, we met up with the TORN crowd again for dinner at Steak and Ale, and then it was off to the Dragon Con masquerade at the Atlanta Civic Center.

The masquerade was lovely, and extremely long…or so it seemed after watching 20 child contestants and 70-some adult entries, each complete with a 3-minute voiceover and in some cases, intro music. The evening was hosted by Walter Koenig and George Takei from Star Trek, who provided quite a bit of entertainment all by themselves by butchering the names of the majority of the contestants and playing one-liners off one another. For the children's contest, most of the entries were miniature princesses or action heroes, but the one that stood out most was a young Princess Amidala, about age 8, complete with 2 dolls as young Luke and Leia. Her voiceover stated that she had difficulty caring for the twins, so she decided to leave Luke with Owen, at which point the young princess tosses the Luke doll across the stage. Then on the cue that she leaves Leia with other family, she pushes her stroller across the stage, where it proceeds to hit a large speaker and dump the Leia doll to the floor. Oops, she didn't quite mean for it to do that! Then the voiceover states that all is not lost and she went on to get a job at the Coruscant lounge (or some such), and in response she drops the shoulders on her costume and does a little shoulder dance which sends the crowd rolling, as if they didn't laugh hard enough with the departure of her children! Needless to say, she won, likely on the basis of her inventive skit.

The adult entries were widely varied, from anime characters to Lara Croft to Pacman. A few words about the memorable ones:

Sully and Boo from Monsters Inc.: Sully is a large furry monster, blue with purple spots, large and quite well done. He comes out with Boo, who follows him around, picks up his tail and drops it, and says "Kitty". Sully then covers his eyes and counts for hide and seek, Boo trips off her little girl's dress to reveal black leather underneath, and says "Rowr…kitty" in a quite seductive voice as Sully scoops her off and carries her offstage. I hope this reads near as funny as it was to watch!

Pacman: Pacman was an ensemble cast consisting of a large cardboard yellow pacman, a girl wearing the pacman cherries, and 4 ghosts, pink, red, blue, and orange. Pacman was chased by ghosts until he "ate" the large dot (ball) on the stage, then the ghosts turned around to reveal their blue side as Pacman chased them. As the ghosts were "eaten", each dropped their cardboard sides and held up sets of black and white eyes as they ran from the stage. Quite an inventive and well thought out performance!

Frankenstein and his bride did a rendition of Summer Nights from Grease, complete with ghoulie backup singers.

The most impressive thing by far was Max and company from "Where the Wild Things Are". Those costumes were the most amazing things I've ever seen that weren't produced professionally. Max announced " Let the wild rumpus begin!" and his entourage of 4 wild things began to dance to the music, and then did a great unison dance. It was incredible, and everyone knew instantly that they had won!

There were several LOTR entries, including Nessa the Valar, and an ensemble with the twilight wraith from Friday night. Any entries that took too long with their performances were escorted from the stage by a pair of stormtroopers, as unfortunately happened to a few groups, but overall the contest was a great experience-and as predicted, the Wild Things won!

After the costume contest it was off for another evening of fun with the TORN staff, which concluded around 5 AM. Ahem.


A few scant hours of sleep later it was back to set the table up for 10 AM, to sell just a few more t-shirts and raffle tickets in the morning hours before the conclusion of the Con. After we dismantled the booth I grabbed lunch with Larry and Chris, and hung out at the TORN table for a while chatting until it was time to take one last look around the dealers room before heading home. Goodbyes with my newfound friends were joyful but bittersweet, and I vowed to see them all at the Oscar Party in February. Rosie and I did one final round of the downstairs, and each bought a Two Towers Frodo magnet, and debated over action figures and publicity stills. And then, it was over, and I was on my way home.

And here I sit, the day after the Con, writing this report and still living the fandom high of the weekend I surely must have borrowed from someone else's life. I worked with my longtime friends Marea, Rosie, and Traz (who I met in person for the first time), finally met Celeste who I've been collaborating with for several months now on the Bring the Ringbearer to the Gathering project, made new friends, landed a major interview, was wooed, was flattered by the notoriety of my website, met several prominent authors in the world of fanfiction, and partied like a rock star every night of the Con. It doesn't get any better than this!

I must include a special note here to the members of the TORN staff, especially Chris, Bill, Larry, Lisa, Cliff, Carlene, and Jincey: Thank you guys so much for a wonderful time! It was a Con I'll never ever forget, and the most amazing weekend of my life!

As for the rest of you, I can't say enough nice things about the TORN staff both personally and professionally, so go, support them!

Rosie and Traz, thank you so much for all your hard work this weekend, it would not have been possible without you!

Celeste, we met at last, and pulled off a miracle! Here's to more success! And Laura, thank you for your work and your gorgeous sign!

And lastly, Marea, my staffer, fellow reporter, and partner in crime. Just look at what we did this time! I can't wait to see what February will bring!

You can visit me at West of the Moon and Celeste at www.frodoandsam.net, and this link will take you to Bring the Ringbearer to the Gathering of the Fellowship were you can purchase raffle tickets for Sting or the illustration, Fellowship. You can buy "Happiness is a Warm Hobbit" or "Your gardner…don't leave home without him!" t-shirts here.

Star Wars Galaxies: Glimpse into our future, or just an isolated failure?
Flinch @ 3:30 am EST

With War of the Ring on the Horizon, and Middle-earth Online following in late 2004, fans of online games will have all of Middle-earth at their fingertips. Is Star Wars Galaxies paving the way for another new generation of Online Titles, or is it a grim look into our own disgruntled futures? I, for one, am somewhat concerned.

A good friend of mine got me into Star Wars Galaxies. Naturally many fans of Tolkien's mystical world also have a soft spot for that galaxy far far away. Even rings star Sean Astin has confessed that he has love for both universes and couldn't lean towards one or the other. So Star Wars Galaxies was supposed to hold me over until Chris Taylor and his magicians over at Vivendi Universal would give us all a piece of Middle-earth to call our own. Unfortunately, what I found upon logging in is a depressed and deprived world filled with obvious bugs and Customer Service Reps who just don't seem to give a damn.

My experiences started off on the planet of Corellia. My good friend Jaero who talked me into making the leap to Star Wars Galaxies is part of a Guild of Players who exist on Naboo [Avian Technology and Trade], and already the game was frustrating as it wouldn't let me choose Naboo as my starting location. Something about overcrowding. So I piddled along doing delivery missions in a foreign world quite oblivious to the hours of tedium that stood before me. Well, needless to say I worked to get my Shuttle Ticket to Naboo and was soon running around with my pals in this lush beautiful environment.

Since that day one month ago I've seen many things, many disturbing things, and Customer Service Representatives and Developers alike carrying on as if it was the best game ever made. I guess the best example of this is a Tech Support Forum post in which a player had stated that he was having difficulty with his Imperial Trooper, well after he explained his problem a CSRRobyn comes on with a long response about Creature Handling and how it had recently been changed. That's great, if he had asked anything about Creature Handling. I posted a response on the thread questioning why she answered his question with non-applicable information and they simply deleted the thread including the gentleman's original complaint!

Is this the level of customer service we can expect when Vivendi makes their jump to MMORPGs? Some would say we could be walking into the same kind of chaos. Even after my experiences with Galaxies, I'm still optomistic that with the skilled guidance of Chris Taylor, an avid MMORPG player himself, Middle-earth Online will truly be the place to go to find out own little corner of Middle-earth. No one really knows, and no one will know until that fateful day rolls around towards the end of 2004.


...is it the end of 2004 yet?

...no huh?...

...how bout now?

9-07-03 Latest News

Supanova Convention Offers Promise For Oz Ringers
Demosthenes @ 11:26 pm EST

Australian Ringers will be excited to learn that a giant SF/Anime convention that's kicking off at the RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane next weekend will have a distinct LoTR theme to it.

Pop-culture convention Supanova is making its first venture into Queensland, and LoTR fans will enjoy the chance to meet Bruce Hopkins (Gamling) and Gino Acevedo, (award-winning senior prosthetics expert from WETA who helped give Lord of the Rings’ characters their super-real look). Both Gino and Bruce will be giving presentations on each day.

Additionally, Brisbanites will get Australia's very first look at EA's forthcoming Return of the King game. Since EA have been known to slip film teasers into their cutscene sequences, we may even see some new film footage. Here's hoping, anyway.

There'll also be heaps of Trading Card Game stuff, as well as piles of collectibles from Sideshow and Hasbro to ogle and paw. And that doesn't even begin to touch on the non-LoTR guests and attractions.

TORn will be there to report on the event, and maybe we'll even score an interview or two. Stay tuned. In the meantime, check out the full list of guests and attractions here.

The Supanova Pop Culture Expo 2003 Brisbane

RNA Showgrounds, (Commerce Building) Gregory Terrace, Brisbane.
Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 September 10.00am – 6.00pm

Two-day Pass (only available from Ticketek)
Adult: $25.00
Child*: $15.00 (under 5 free)

Single-day Pass (through Ticketek or at the door)
Adult: $15.00
Child*: $10.00

Family Pass (2 Adults, 2 Children aged 5-12)
At the door: $40.00

Live In Montreal? Want To Watch ALL THREE FILMS?
Xoanon @ 1:53 pm EST

Xoanon here with some rather cool news for folks living in and around Montreal. Folks from Sithclan and I are working on getting special screenings of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING: EXTENDED EDITION, THE TWO TOWERS: EXTENDED EDITION & THE RETURN OF THE KING on the silver screen!

Plans are being worked out at the moment, we have yet to work out a venue or even showtimes. This is where YOU come in. IF you plan on attending or are seriously interested we need you to answer this important question on a poll website we've created.

The question we want you to answer is this; how would you like to view these screenings? Currently the options we have are

A ton of people have asked for more information on the Montreal Triple-Screening that I am working on in conjunction with some local fan clubs and other groups. We have yet to determine the format, dates, or locations just yet. But if you want to be kept in the loop sign up for the Line Party page I made for the event. More details to come soon!

Whatever you choose, the event will likely culminate in a large party for the RETURN OF THE KING premiere on December 17th. There will be the usual give-aways, free food and pool, and of course...many other surprises!

So get off your duff and vote now!

9-05-03 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 11:39 am EST

Feanor, the mightiest of the children of Illuvatar. Blessed with unequalled talent, but also marred by a spirit that burned too hotly. Feanor created
the greatest works of elven craftsmanship, but he also caused the greatest tragedies of the elves.

Feanor was the eldest son of Finwe, and half-brother to Fingolfin and Finarfin. In the blessed realm he captured the light of the Two Trees of Valinor to make the Silmarils, those greatest of jewels. When Melkor stole these and murdered his father, Feanor swore a terrible oath with his seven sons that he would pursue anyone that came between him and the Great Jewels. The first evil seed of that oath was the kinslaying at Alqualonde, and the ensuing doom of the Noldor.

Feanor and his followers pursued Morgoth to Middle-earth and drove towards Angband at once. In a fey charge Feanor was slain by Gothmog the Lord of the balrogs, his like never to be seen again in Middle-earth.

It is hard, if not impossible, to find a character that makes a greater impact in Tolkiens mythology. The oath of Feanor shapes the destinies of elves and men from the First Age to the end of the Third Age. Who is he really this spirit of fire? What shaped him and drove him? How important were his mothers premature death and his following estrangement of his fathers new family? What good came of his deeds and what evils?

Join us in #thehalloffire as we debate this enigmatic and fascinating Noldo.

Upcoming Topics:
September 13-14: RoTK Book 6, Ch 3: Mount Doom
September 20-21: The relevancy of Tolkien to the 21st century.
September 27-28: RoTK Book 6, Ch 4: The Field of Cormallen
October 4-5: Leaf by Niggle

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 7:30am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 3:00am (03:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at halloffire@theonering.net.

9-04-03 Latest News

ABC News in Billings Loves LOTR!
Xoanon @ 10:21 pm EST

ABC News in Billings Loves LOTR!

Evan Onstot writes: I am co-anchor for the weekday 6&10pm news for NewsChannel 6 in Billings, Montana. (The ABC affiliate) I've been an avid fan of the LOTR books and movies for a long time, and your site has just been terrific. It's so great, that everybody that I work with in the newsroom knows about TORN, and many check the site regularly.

I saw that you were asking people to send in their pictures of themselves with their new DVD. Well...I figured we could do better than that. So we turned our studio set into a picturesque Rivendell and took a couple photos. I just wanted all of you to know that the media in Big Sky Country is crazy about Lord of the Rings, and very appreciative of your site.

The people with me in one of the pictures are my friends Dan (our graphic artist who transformed our set) and Marc (our web producer).

Thanks again for your fantastic site!

Evan Onstot
KSVI NewsChannel 6
Billings, Montana

Brad Dourif at DragonCon2003 Report!
Xoanon @ 9:55 pm EST

This is White Lady Eowyn, from the TORN message boards.

I wanted to let everyone know what a wonderfully nice man that Brad Dourif is!

I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing Mr. Dourif at two panels; not just his Lord of the Rings panel, but also the one from the XFiles guest stars. For those unfamiliar with his appeaance on that show, he played condemned serial killer Luther Lee Boggs, a man who channeled the thoughts of another killer. He also channeled the spirit of Scully's recently deceased father.

The XFiles room, by far, was the better one to see him at, due to the smaller size of the room. It held only about 50-75 people, whereas the Centennial Ballroom holds upwards of 1500, I'm sure. It was closer and more intimate, and this allowed for more observation of the man, closeup.

For lack of a better word, the man actually looked like a normal human being, not the strange and unusual characters he has played not only in Lord of the Rings and the XFiles, but a myriad of other television shows, over the years. The long, Wyatt-Earp looking mustache that he is sporting is due to the fact that he is filming a Western series for HBO entitled "Deadwood", in which he plays a doctor.

During the Lord of the Rings panel, someone asked him if he remembered the last "normal" person that he played in the movies or onscreen. And he honestly could not remember. Mr. Dourif was personable and humorous during the whole panel.

Someone ( Goldilocks Took I believe, from TORN's message boards) asked him what he thought the motivation was behind Wormtongue's tear, during the sequence at Isengard from "The Two Towers". While he was answering about Grima's possible traumatic childhood, a loud rumble of thunder from an approaching storm shook the room. Without missing a beat, he looked up to the ceiling and stated something like, "Or maybe there were -other-motivations." Everyone in the room laughed. The loud sound of the rain a few minutes later also caused him to pause and ask what the sound was, reminding all of us after we answered that he had been living in LA, and they didn't get rain like that there!

One point that stirred the Tolkien fans that were present in the XFiles panel was Fellowship of the Ring, and its lack of major Oscars. A fellow attendee asked him what he thought of this. While trying to be diplomatic, and reminding us that he really does enjoy the films so far, he stated that he believed that the version that went into the theaters did not deserve an Oscar. Mr. Dourif said he enjoyed the Extended Edition much better, and he felt the longer version of The Two Towers would be a much better film, as well.

When asked sort of the same question in the Lord of the Rings panel, he (wisely, I believe) did not directly answer the question, but basically said, "Forget the Oscars", much to the crowd's delight.

After the panel, he very graciously allowed people to take pictures and speak to him, and he even complimented my Eowyn replica dress that I wore to the Con for the whole weekend. Sunday night, while most of the Lord of the Rings fans were in the lobby of the Hyatt in their costumes for picture opportunities, he stopped by and chatted with the fans and others, allowing anyone and everyone to get their pictures made with him. Unfortunately, I missed this, due to entering the Masquerade.

Overall, I was very impressed with him, both as an actor and as a person (despite his jetlag, that left him fumbling for words at times somewhat).

[Click here to view all our images from Dragon*Con 2003!]

The Two Towers: Extended Edition Details!
Xoanon @ 3:46 pm EST

Pre-Order the TTT:EE DVD Right Here!

The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Platinum Series Special Extended DVD Edition

Discs 1-2: The Feature

FEATURE (208 mins)- A new version of the second installment in the epic trilogy! The film includes over 40 minutes of never-before-seen footage incorporated into the film, made especially for this video release:

Discs 3-4: The Appendices

Two discs with hours of original content including multiple documentaries and design/photo galleries with thousands of images to give viewers an in depth behind-the-scenes look at The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Disc 3

Disc 4

The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Collector’s DVD Gift Set

The following contents will be presented in packaging illustrated by famed artist, Alan Lee:

The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Special Extended VHS Edition

2 Cassettes

FEATURE (208 mins)- A new version of the second installment in the epic trilogy! The film includes over 40 minutes of never-before-seen footage incorporated into the film, made especially for this video release:

Pre-Order the TTT:EE DVD Right Here!

Another Ringing Auction
Xoanon @ 1:35 pm EST

Gold & Slilversmith Halfdan Hansen writes: You may remember back in April posting a news item about the auction by Sotheby’s of one of the unique prototype rings that my father Jens Hansen had created during the One Ring design process. That ring actually sold for $5750USD - and my brother & I have been persuaded to release one more of prototypes to auction.

Jens Hansen, designer and creator of the 'One Ring', worked closely with Dan Hennah, Academy Award nominated Supervising Art Director, in the quest to design the perfect ring. This prototype was handmade by Jens Hansen and is only one of seven known remaining silver prototypes. Each prototype has a different shape and represented the evolution of the design process as the movie makers and my father searched for the perfect design to be used for filming. This ring is especially significant as it was the first prototype ever made and thus represents the first physical expression in metal of the creative process.

This auction finishes September 13th and you can view online here. The ring is Lot #433 in Auction #11539 at autographs.com/auctions/

Sideshow/Weta's Adventure Card Offer
Celeborn @ 2:53 am EST

With the release of The Two Towers on DVD, many US residents might have noticed an 'Adventure Card' offer in their DVD cases. This card gives fans special access to a discounts, promotions and other neat stuff at the LOTRAdventure.com website.

One of those offers is for a free Cave Troll Hammer from Sideshow/Weta Collectibles. Sideshow/Weta was kind enough to send along a few images to showcase this unique item.

Cave Troll Hammer BoxScale Comparison

So how do you get this hammer? First, Adventure Card members need to log into LOTRAdventure.com and obtain the Sideshow/Weta promotional Code. No, it is not the same PIN number used to access the LOTRAdventure website, but instead is a unique seven digit word. Go to the following URL and enter in that code. [Enter Code Here]

Then, once you have added $100 in Sideshow/Weta Lord of the Rings items to your shopping cart, the Cave Troll Hammer will automatically be added. You will be responsible for shipping costs for the hammer.

There are a few weird quirks to note about this promotion.

If you purchased your DVD at Walmart or Costco, don't expect to see the Sideshow/Weta offer. Many fans are reporting to us that the Sideshow/Weta, Nextel and Air New Zealand offers do not display in the Walmart and Costco versions of Adventure Card. Why? You've stumped us, we have no idea. We've talked to representatives at Sideshow/Weta and they are willing to offer the promotion to Walmart and Costco customers if you contact them through their customer service help center. (located in the help center of their website)

We also get the distinct impression that while this offer is stated to be only available to US residents, Sideshow/Weta does not actively block International orders from fulfilling the requirements to receive the hammer. So International LOTR fans, if you have friends in the US, ask them for the promo code! We are willing to bet, however, that your shipping costs might be a little more than regular domestic costs.

Cave Troll Hammer Offer

9-03-03 Latest News

NYTimes: A First Take on 'Ring,' Part 2
Xoanon @ 8:40 pm EST


In content and promotional impact, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is a multifaceted machine. Last August "The Fellowship of the Ring," the first of Peter Jackson's three films, was released on DVD with a fair-size list of extras. In November a much-extended special edition appeared with 30 more minutes woven into a movie that already ran 178 minutes, and with many more extras to examine every aspect.

Increased length is usually a mistake. In this case it was a triumph: "Fellowship" was the consensus DVD of the year. That success, of course, did no harm to "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," the second part of the trilogy, which opened in theaters in December and eventually earned $339 million at the box office.

This week New Line began the routine all over again with a "Two Towers" DVD (and in deference to the 50 percent of households without a DVD player, videocassette). An enlarged special edition, with more than 40 minutes added into the movie, is scheduled for November release. On Dec. 17, the third film, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," is to open in theaters.

"One of the key differences this year is the amount of awareness," said Matt LaSorsa, senior vice president for marketing at New Line Home Entertainment. That attests to the growing influence of DVD, in this case Mr. Jackson's all-enveloping use of it as a part of the movie-making and promotional process.

But why buy a "Towers" DVD now when a bigger one is coming along in less than 90 days (albeit at a $39.99 suggested retail price versus $29.95 for the first version)? The answer depends on how much DVD you're looking for; the two releases are intended for two audiences, and features don't repeat themselves.

The current DVD has the 179-minute movie that played in theaters. "It's for people who don't like to sit through an even longer film," Mr. Lasorsa said. Behind-the-scenes documentaries probably tell moderate fans all they want to know about the making of "The Two Towers." For those interested, these features also describe the making of the much more elaborate November DVD edition and offer a preliminary look at the making of "The Return of the King."

For rabid fans the November disc will have the 215-minute extended version and added material describing it and the trilogy as a whole.

The three movies were shot in New Zealand during an 18-month period beginning in 2000. From then on "Rings" movie-making and DVD production have proceeded at the same time on an integrated production line.

On the discs, actors taken back to New Zealand reshoot scenes for "The Return" and do interviews and commentary for both "Towers" DVD's. Mr. Jackson moves from editing the third movie to working on the DVD's of the second and back again.

Much of the reshooting for "Return" and the expanded "Towers" is to heighten the personalrelationships in films heavy on battle. Like many other directors, Mr. Jackson says one of the pleasures of DVD is being able to reassure actors that scenes cut to shorten theater running times can be put back on disc.

Go back to Special Reports Archives