Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Ian McKellen In Seattle Report - Xoanon @ 13:20 PST
Laurelinda writes:

Screen names have been used to protect the "innocent". ;-)


With friendships newly-forged at Barliman's Bash, we Seattle Ringers (now known as the NorthWesternesse), decided to hold a little party in celebration of our dear Bagginses' Sept. 22nd birthdays. Due to work schedules & other commitments, we had to hold the party a day early. Half the Shire received beautiful invitations, & we had the whole place in an uproar.


A week before the party, TORn announced that Ian McKellen would be in Seattle for the AIDS Walk & Fun Run. I nearly flipped! LotR celebrities rarely find their way to the lovely NW. Film crews in general rarely find their way here, either, as it is much cheaper & easier to work north of our borders in Canada... which is why I'm still unemployed, but don't get me started on THAT, eh?!

Yes, Sir Ian was already in British Columbia working on the X-Men sequel, so we lucked out. "Hmmm," thought I, and immediately pulled up www.mckellen.com. I composed a personal invitation to our celebration & sent it with great hopes but no expectations. That was on Monday. On Friday, I received an email from Sir Ian asking for the address but making "no promises". I nearly fell out of my chair, but replied with the information, plus the scanned copy of the paper invitation, telling him I would TRY not to get my hopes up, & would be just as astonished & overjoyed at his arrival as everyone else at the party.

From Friday to Saturday, I died a thousand deaths. I SO wanted to deliver this surprise for my friends. Not wanting to get false hopes up for my fellow party-goers but not wanting them to miss out, I sent an email to them proposing that, since I would be seeing Ian McKellen at the AIDS Walk the next day, they should bring things to the party for him to sign, & I would take them to the event with me, get them signed, & return them all to the appropriate people at a later date. I did tell 2 of my good friends who were "on the fence" about attending. After finishing my pre-"AIDS Walk" volunteer work on Saturday morning, I rushed to Borders Bookstore to find some kind of gift for Sir Ian to show him our appreciation. Then I rushed home to make "Sam's Stuffed Mushrooms", then zoomed off to the party.


Upon arriving, I realized it would be awfully cruel to surprise our hostess, Queenie, so I made her sit down in a private corner & told her the news, stressing the "no guarantee" part. Then, with anxious eyes darting to the door every 60 seconds or so, we proceeded to enjoy the party. Queenie has a LOVELY house/yard that we have now dubbed "Rivendell Annex", though she prefers "Shire Annex". There is a pond in the back fed by a spring, with Old Man Willow bending over the shore & a little bridge on the far end above a little waterfall that burbles quietly, perfect for romantic moments.

Other guests were already enjoying food, drink, and good conversation while our musically talented Talagawen played her harp for us. As usual, I had the camera stuck to my face, wanting to catch those wonderful "fellowship" moments. People snacked on to-mah-toes fresh from the garden, other veggies, cheese & lembas, while sipping on the wine from the bottling of 1296 and some assorted ales.

By 6:00 everyone had arrived, so the DVD was ceremoniously plugged into the player & played. The TV room is situated half a floor down from the entryway, so there was "balcony seating" in the back. Queenie & I planted ourselves there to continue watching the door. Then my cellphone rang, & I ran outside so as not to disturb the movie-watchers. It was none other than someone working for Ian McKellen wanting further information on the address & contact info!! Still no guarantees, of course, but my hopes rose a little higher. Door-watching continued. A friend in-the-know warned me I was going to get whiplash! We were now plotting how fun it would be to respond to the knock with "No ThankYou! We don't want any more visitors, well-wishers or distant relations!" Pretty corny, I know, but we hoped he'd play along & not turn & walk away! ;-)

Another hour went by, & my phone rang again! This time it was Quickbeam from TORn saying that they'd heard about Ian's possible attendance to our party & asking if someone could be sure to take pictures to post on TORn. Uh... hello? Of course I would do that!! Silly Quickbeam. I reminded him that I was the person with the camera stuck to my face throughout Comic-Con & the BowlMoot. He remembered me, then, & knew everything was in hand, but also informed me that Ian was supposed to be attending a bookreading for a friend of his, & probably wouldn't show up until after that, if he did.


Then it was time to eat supper (dinner was served earlier). That was around 9pm. When everyone was thru eating, we informed the whole group of the goings-on, had everyone sign Sir Ian's gift, a poster containing the whole play of "Macbeth" on it, then decided it was time to cut the cake while we waited some more. And what a *magnificent* cake it was that Queenie had baked!! Decorated with flowers from her yard & fresh fruit & the yummiest frosting I've ever tasted in my life. I brought sparklers to give to everyone, & someone suggested using those as candles on the cake. Looked great, but the cake was a little gray & dusty afterward!! ;-)

After the cake was eaten, we had a lovely bonfire in the backyard & sat around discussing Tolkien, LotR trivia, differences between the books & the movies, our anticipation of The Two Towers & plans for a Line Party, our favorite characters, etc., etc.


By 10:30, we stopped waiting & accepted the fact that Sir Ian "was delayed". One of the couples had heard a rumor that he would be at a certain bar in Seattle, though, so they left with the promise of calling us if he showed up. He did! Two of us decided to drive over there immediately, to hopefully get some autographs & give him the gifts we had for him. But we were also delayed & missed him by 10 minutes. Sigh.

Not to worry, there was always a chance to see him on Sunday at the AIDS Walk. I was volunteering as a photographer, anyway, since one of my friends was also walking for the cause. I was the only digital photographer in the group, so they asked me to "float". No problem! As I was snapping shots of the people milling around at the booths, getting coffee, donuts, water & balloons, I saw 4 kids who were unmistakably dressed as hobbits! Wearing my "Frodo Lives" hat & Elven Leaf Brooch, I walked over to them & said hello. They just LIT UP! An "older" person (me) had recognized why they were dressed that way & shared their excitement. One of the men in charge also noticed their excitement (maybe when they wrote "We Love You, Gandalf" in chalk on the pavement?) & made a point of keeping them informed of Sir Ian's arrival & where they might catch up with him to get his autograph. That opportunity presented itself after Sir Ian had spoken for a couple minutes about supporting the cause & then came down off the front of the stage straight to the kids. A crowd swarmed around. Not wanting to be greedy, I only handed him one item to be signed... the base to my Gandalf statue!

Soon, it was time for the walking to begin. Ian helped our local news anchor, Jean Enerson, to cut the ribbon with a huge pair of scissors & then we walked! I stayed in the general vicinity of Ian throughout, looking for photo opportunities. It was easy to find him, as he was dressed all in white, with a white fedora on his head. Once we were beyond the 4K mark, the crowd thinned, as some of the walkers had taken the short course. Ian was very adamant about going the *whole* distance. Thus, so was I. With the thinner crowds, it was easier to get close for a little chat, so I went over & introduced myself, telling him that I was the one who invited him to the party. He immediately assured me he would have come if it hadn't been so far from downtown Seattle, & I assured him that we understood & had figured that was the case...not to worry. We chatted for awhile, & he asked me what I thought about the 2 different DVD releases. I said I had no problem with it, but that it would have been nice to see the Extended Version in the theater. He proposed that a 3.5 hour movie might have turned more people away from seeing it the first time & it wouldn't have been as successful. I completely agreed on that score & that it was a sensible decision made by New Line. We also discussed "Gods & Monsters" briefly, & the fact that Brendan Fraser is actually *from* Seattle. Then, the conversation paused, & I couldn't think of anything brilliant to say, so I thanked him again for the graciousness that he & all his fellow cast members have shown to the fans & walked ahead a little.

Another fan had been tagging along around that time, so he & I walked the rest of the way together, keeping each other company discussing the movie & various websites. We reached the Finish Line first, ran into Talagawen, who had just shown up, then cheered on Sir Ian as he jogged the last few yards. Talagawen walked right up to him & asked if she could give him a hug. But of course! She was smiling a lot after that! He was then available for signing a few things, & I got 3 more items signed for my fellow party-goers. Then he was escorted to a private VIP section. I was let in briefly, so I could present him with our gifts. He thanked me but needed to sit down & eat. Talagawen & I didn't want to be annoying, but we DID still have a couple more things to get signed for other people, so we waited until he was leaving, then asked for a picture & to get the last items signed. We tried to make it quick because he obviously wanted to get out of there. But as usual for these guys, he complied with a smile for us! Thanks to his graciousness, I was able to get everything signed for the other party-goers. I still had a poster & a book of my own that would be more precioussss to me with his signature on them, but they will have to wait.


That is my (looong) account of the weekend's events. I was able to snap some fabulous photos, & here is a link to them! [More]