9-23-02 Latest News

Sarumann's Report from LA's Birthday Party
Calisuri @ 3:13 pm EST

Sent to us by TORn bigtime helper/organizer/staffer Sarumann:

Does TORn know how to throw a party or what? With only about a month to plan, the final party was full of banners, people, food, music, and LOTS of incredibly cool gifts.

I got there early in the morning, being one of the party planners. Arwen2 was already there and busy putting up decorations. I arrived with my new roommate who still has yet to see LOTR (but, after yesterday, she's more intrigued than ever), and we all went to work setting things up. Calisuri arrived a bit later with a treasure trove of incredible Sideshow Weta and Games Workshop swag...along with his own custom-made "Happy Birthday Bilbo Baggins" banner which was nearly an exact replica of the one from the movie.

Can I just take a minute and give major props to this guy? I don't think he gets nearly enough credit for the work he does. Aside from running the website that we all know, love, revere, worship, and sacrifice small animals to, he also works tirelessly to make signage for TORn parties that are both professional and admirable, gets all that cool Sideshow Weta stuff that we love so very, very much, and, in this case, spent the entire night before wrapping gifts for the masses. And he does it all with a smile and a pleasant demeanor. So, in summation: Calisuri ROCKS!!!!

Anyway, as we're setting up everything, we begin to notice a rather large contingent of yellow jackets. We began setting up traps to lure them away from the food area, and risking the wrath of the swarm in the process.

People began to arrive at about 1:30, and this was where my official function at the finally came in. While the area we had picked was by far the most beautiful and Shire-like place in all of Griffith Park, it was not the most accessible. There was a road that lead up to the picnic area, but it was gated off for the use of brushfire patrol vehicles, and the walk was about a 1/4 mile uphill. Well, I wasn't about to have to subject boatloads of Ringers to the aggravation of making that hike with coolers, food, and other accessories in hand. So, after some begging, pleading, and talking with the ranger station, the allowed me to place my car on that road to serve as a "Hobbit Coach". For 2.5 hours, I did nothing but go up and down the road, loading and unloading people and supplies (my leg and arm muscles are still in pain). I had my car stereo playing David Arkenstone's "Music Inspired by Middle-earth" to help set the mood.

Also, I had volunteered my cell phone as a resource for those who might get lost or turned around on their way to the picnic area. Needless to say, my phone was ringing off the hook for most of the beginning of the picnic, as there were TONS of other picnics going on, and parking soon became an issue.

After that, I finally was able to relax and partake in the par-tay, which was in full swing. The first thing I noticed was the huge swarm of yellow jackets hovering around the food tables. Fat lot of good our traps did. There was still plenty of food, and we all ate like hobbits despite that. There were people in costume, which is always fun. There were hobbits, elves, wizards, and rangers.

And then there were the mathoms. The ever-entertaining Quickbeam gave us a bit of a lesson on what mathoms are: Hobbit birthday gifts that are given to the people in attendance. Usually, they are little things that get passed around from party to party, and you eventually find one that you gave given back to you (I made some wisecrack about how hobbits were fond of fruitcake or some nonsense). But, these mathoms weren't the kind you give away. They were Sideshow Weta Uruk Hai wall medallions and Bilbo Baggins figurines from Games Workshop. And everybody got one.

And then we got into the activities. We started with a trivia contest. The questions ranged from really simple ones for the kids to incredibly difficult for those of us who have read and studied the books. The prizes were Visual Companions for the easier questions, and Bilbo Baggins busts for the more difficult ones. After that, we had the impersonation contest. People came up to impersonate a character or scene from the movie. Quickbeam got the ball rolling by performing his now-legendary Haldir and Celeborn impressions. There were a lot of people who participated in the contest, and I was one of the judges who then had to deliberate on who got what prize. The 1st place winner was this guy named Misha (I hope I'm spelling that right) who did a scene between Aragorn and Arwen entirely in Elvish.

After the contest was done, we were suddenly graced by the prescense of Gandalf the....Blue? Perhaps he was just one of the 2 lost Istari coming for a piece of birthday cake. Regardless, he looked good, and made one smashing entrance.

We were also treated to a nice recitation of Bilbo's birthday speech. It was the one from the book, a bit truncated but entertaining all the same. Of course, we had all sorts of crowd reacations: people screaming "ProudFEET!" and everybody letting out a very loud "HUH?!" when we got to the "I don't half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve" bit.

Then came the birthday cake. Arwen2 had a beautiful birthday cake made for the party, which was very quickly savaged by all those in attendance. I don't think I've ever seen a cake that big disappear that quickly.

At that point, the sun was beginning to set, and not a one of us had any tiki torches to keep the party going long into the night (note that for next year). So, we began cleaning up and taking all of our final group pictures in front of the "Happy Birthday" banner.

I met a whole slew of new people, and they were all just as fun to be around as everybody whom I have come to know and love. I think the highest compliment paid to this community came from my roommate after the party. Even though she didn't know much of what we were going on about, she said she never felt excluded and was just glad to be around such a happy, positive atmosphere. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about: fun, friendship, and good feelings. And this community has it in spades.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the next gathering!

- Josh aka Sarumann