Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mushrooms (by Fortinbras Proudfoot)

At the December 22 (2011) Welly-moot, we were visited by Peter Kenny from the Fortinbras Proudfoot Esq. Foundation. Peter (aka Fortinbras Proudfoot) recited one of his poems for our group (reprinted here with his permission):

By Fortinbras Proudfoot
Four hobbit lads set out.
The air it made them shiver,
The moon was just a sliver.

There was no one about.
They crept along the hedgerow,
Staying quiet and keeping low.

A strange noise in the night.
An old owl in a tree top,
Had startled them to a stop.

Lights shining through the trees.
The farmer's house was alight,
But their goal was now in sight.

So little time to pick.
There were mushrooms all around.
The youngsters grabbed all they found.

Bark!... Bark!
The farm dogs were awake.
Four Hobbit lads took to flight,
Running quickly through the night.

Run!... Run!
This wasn't so much fun.
Racing frightened down the lane,
Safely home they hoped to gain.

Hip!... Hooray!
"We whistled all the way.
Found the mushrooms in the park,
And bravely walked in the dark.
Nothing frightened us at all!"
Well, that's the story they told to all.

Welly-moot 0.6 (Dec 22, 2011)

(originally published on the NZ Noldor Blog)

It's almost 11:00pm, and I just got back from the Embassy Cinema in Wellington, where the 6th Welly-moot just took place. It was the second meeting in the last month - the previous meeting wasn't quite as well attended as I'd hoped, but this one made up for it. All in all I think there were 14 people there, and a lot of business was discussed.

Clockwise from me in the green shirt - Peter Kenny, Todd Rippon, Astrid, Erica, Kris, Viviane, Sven, Kim, Mervi, and Paul. The others joined later.

Apart from myself and my beautiful wife, we met up with Mervi from Finland, and Kris who is living here in the Wellington region. Mervi represented the two Finnish Tolkien Societies, while Kris and I are halfway through setting up the Wellington one (but more on that later). New Zealander Erica from joined soon afterwards, and then Peter Kenny (Australian's Brisbane Tolkien Appreciate Society) and Astrid (Austria's Tyrol Tolkien Smial) came in as well. Peter and Astrid joined me on a LOTR tour yesterday, in fact they are both interviewed on the TVNZ News segment about our reaction to the new Hobbit Trailer. Peter has also written about our meeting on his own blog.

Also in attendance were Paul from the UK, Brendon and his partner from Australia, and three lost backpackers I found on the side of the hill during yesterday's tour, Viviane, Sven and Kim.

If that lineup wasn't special enough yet, we had a ANOTHER special guest for the evening - Todd Rippon also joined us, and he spoke about his time as an Oliphaunt rider, and his ultimate demise at the hands of that cruel elf, Legolas (but "that still only counts as one!").

Todd had some exclusive photos from his time on the set, which unfortunately I can't reproduce here but were enjoyed by all present (so attend next time!).

During the evening, Peter Kenny also recited some of his Hobbit poetry, which went down a treat, as did the cake and the ice coffees.

Other business of course included a discussion about the new Hobbit Trailer released yesterday. I "happened" to have it with me - it's downloadable from after all, and my iPad 2 does the job very nicely, thank you! In fact I think we played the trailer 3 or 4 times, in all. Also on hand was our newsclip from yesterday, of course (that's definitely bragging rights), and a small clip from The Hunt For Gollum as well, once the discussion mentioned it. It's a solid piece of Middle-earth film, and if you haven't seen it yet you definitely should!

One final point that was discussed was that Kris and I are definitely setting up the official Tolkien Sciety in some form here in Wellington, and that will be announced properly as things happen in the near future. I'm hoping that by the next meeting we will have the official approval from the UK as well. Exciting times!

  - Jack

Friday, December 9, 2011

Welly-moot 0.5 (Dec 09, 2011)

The smallest meeting - but very significant. Originally, tonight was supposed to be a meeting with two representatives from but it ended up not eventuating.

Instead, I met up with Kris, who has attended earlier Welly-moots, and we discussed setting up as an official Tolkien Society spinoff - a "Smial". The official plans are now underway, so watch this space!

  - Jack

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Welly-moot 0.4 (Sep 04, 2011)

(originally published on the NZ Noldor Blog)

No excuses - I'm late with my report! It's already been five days since the fourth Welly-moot took place at Wellington's Embassy Theatre, and it was a great success!

The only bit of confusion happened at the start of the meeting - our meeting's start time coincided with the Embassy's start time of the Grease movie nostalgia session, and they'd arranged for a live Rock'n'Roll band to be entertaining that audience before their movie began. Unfortunately they were still playing in "our" spot when we got to the cafe.

Luckily though, they were fun to watch, and the singing (and dancing!) stopped just as I started getting worried, so that all worked ok.

All in all, the Welly-moot attracted a good size "crowd" of hobbit lovers, including some familiar faces, as well as some new ones.

Welly-moot #4 - the biggest one yet!

It was really nice to catch up with Emily again (second from the left in the photo), she attended the first Welly-moot as well. Rachel (far left) was here at the Embassy for the previous meeting, while Ryan, Jenifer and little Hawk (front and centre) have been to all four Welly-moots so far - well done and well met!

A few days before the meeting, I got an email from Ayako, a lovely Japanese woman from Palmerston North, and she came to the meeting with her husband Randall and daughter Rio, as well as a friend Maki with her daughter. The day before the meeting I had Kumiko on my tour - another Japanese woman currently living in Wellington with and her son, and they also both came today. Add to that my wife Aiko, and it quickly became the Japanese contingent of the Welly-moot. (Aiko managed to avoid the camera's eye by volunteering to take the photo - everyone else is at the back on the right). Tolkien is still very popular in Japan as well, it seems!

Some very special guests also joined us - two of Weta Workshop's best designers/inventors/wizards, Warren and Kim Beaton. I met Kim a few years ago, and have had the pleasure of taking them both on a tour around the Wellington region last year. Since then, they've (a) invented some animal-leg stilts, (b) designed a complete cinema for Peter Jackson, (c) are working on a certain Middle-earth movie that starts with "H", and (d) got married, so you could so their year has been reasonably active.

All in all, a rowdy and fun afternoon. The discussions I was part of included the inevitable Rugby World Cup, and the recent snowfalls in Wellington. Also, for some reason, Legolas's presence in Wellington seemed to be a hot topic. Everybody seemed to want to know where to find him (don't worry, Orlando and Miranda, your secret is safe - I certainly don't know it)!

The other rumours currently floating about are the sheer number of "absolutely confirmed" (read: totally not confirmed) filming locations for The Hobbit around the end of the year. Queenstown, Dunedin, Nelson, Te Anau, and Wellington are all contenders, apparently. The studio isn't giving out actual confirmations, so we'll just have to wait and see. Personally, I'm obviously waiting for Wellington locations to add to our tours in the future.

In order for me to entice Ayako to drive all the way from Palmerston North with her family for our meeting, I had promised to take them to the Mount Victoria LOTR location, which we did at the end of the day. The Embassy Theatre is actually on Mt Vic anyway, so that wasn't far to drive. Ryan and Jenifer joined us as well, and we ended up re-enacting the hobbits' famous "Get Off The Road" scene, before parting ways until the next meeting.

I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did - and if you didn't/couldn't come this time, we'd love to see you next time!

  - Jack M.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Welly-moot 0.3 (Jun 26, 2011)

(originally published on the NZ Noldor Blog)

We got together today for the third Welly-moot, at the Embassy Theatre. It was a lot of fun, and some good discussions were held.

Around the table (clockwise from the left): Paul, Ryan, me, Moritz, Kristi, and Rachel. Aiko took the photo.

The group wasn't as big as I'd hoped, but there were some good reasons for it - the cold southerly probably deterred a few people from coming out (at least, it felt pretty cold to me but then I've just had a week in Darwin, Australia, so I'm possibly not the best judge at the moment). Also, it seems that the Wellington City Council had chosen today to make about 30 events (almost) free today - the zoo was free, the Wildlife Sanctuary was free, the council-sponsored city tourbus was free, etc. Hard to compete with that!

Various subjects came up, mostly Hobbit related, but also other movies - Avatar vs Fern Gully; Matrix vs Inception; Harry Potter vs Star Wars to name a few of the more heated discussions.

Kristi had details of a local Victoria University (hosted) course on Tolkien's elven language Quenya, and I may have more details about that in a few days. Also, of course, the Blu-Ray releases of the Extended Editions came up, and the sessions at both the Embassy as well as the Roxy theatres in town. Unfortunately due to my ill-timed vacation and the four day notice we got from the NZ suppliers I've missed both FOTR as well as TTT, but I should be able to make it to the ROTK, I hope.

One plan that was discussed was to have a local Marathon Session at one of our homes, with a projector and microwave popcorn. Maybe it's time to put a weekend aside soon, and invite as many as will fit into our lounge?

All in all, I think the Welly-moot was fun, and I look forward to our next one! The Embassy looks like a permanent venue for them. It's bigger, reasonably convenient to park close to, and of course very relevant - the LOTR parade photos still grace its walls!

Looking forward to seeing more people there next time though!

  - Jack

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welly-moot 0.2 (Mar 13, 2011)

(originally published in longer form on the NZ Noldor Blog)

I've just come back from the second Welly-moot meeting, a coming-together of Hobbit fans here in Wellington, although at least one of the attendees had come from Auckland just to attend (well done, Haldirriel)! The first meeting was attended by 12 people - this time it had gone up to about 17. I think next time we'll have to find a "proper" venue! If anyone has suggestions for the next meeting, mail me!

A variety of subjects were discussed at the coffee meeting - Barbara had recently been to Hobbiton, and had printed her photos, so we all got a look at the almost finished sets there (I understand they are now completed but the photos were taken just before that). I didn't get copies - and I'd be prevented from showing them here in any case...

I'm currently trying to source a group-photo from Brian, who took a few snaps at the meeting (I'll post it here as soon as I have it). Brian is a huge Hobbit fan, and likes to collect news clippings. Brian had brought with him a large folder labelled "The Hobbit - Book 4"; yes, he has already filled three books just on The Hobbit! At home he has 22(!) large volumes filled with LOTR newsclippings!! Brian's partner Suzie was also there, as was their son Harrison.

Nicolás has recently moved from the Milford Sound in the South Island, and is currently looking for a house here in Wellington - he's hoping to get a job on the set in some way.

Also attending today were four US students from Wellington's Victoria university, three of whom I'd "rescued" off Mount Victoria a few days ago while they were taking photos of the wrong tree. The three are currently studying Film Studies here in NZ, while the fourth is a Psychology student. A bunch of Hobbit geeks together is probably a good homework assignment for a Psych student! (Unfortunately I didn't get names, so if you're reading this - drop me a line?)

Heike was there as well - I met her some time ago through the blog, she's left quite a few comments on the blog over the years. Today Heike brought me some home-made jam made from local wild blackberries - I've been eating the berries all over the region (Rivendell, the River Anduin, the Hobbiton Woods, and Brego's River all have blackberry bushes!) so the jam will go down nicely - thanks Heike! It will be enjoyed...

Jenifer and Ryan, and little Hawk, were there as well, although they were at the far side of the table (from me), so I'm afraid I didn't spend as much time talking to them as I wanted to this time - the same unfortunately went for Brendon and his partner Keryn. Brendon did bring his amazing copy of The Hobbit book, with at least twenty autographs in it!

I turned up with my lovely wife Aiko, who unfortunately had some other business to attend to for the rest of the afternoon, so she left me to it. I brought along my brand new map, recently created by Daniel Reeve (LOTR's Cartographer) for Wellington Rover Tours. I wanted to use the meeting to "officially" introduce the map to the world, so now that that has been done, I can start talking about them properly.

I'll write up another blog entry about that a bit later, but at the Welly-moot I had arranged with my boss that Wgtn Rover would donate a map to all attendees. So thanks to Wellington Rover Tours there were a few lucky people there today! The other way to get yourself a map is to come on a LOTR tour, and we'll give you one!

I also tested interest for a possible Wellington Tolkien Society that I've been thinking about starting due to a total lack of a NZ chapter. There seems to be enough interest in it for me to pursue that further, so I'll be talking to the UK Tolkien Society in the next few months to see what I'd need to do.

All in all, it was a fun afternoon - it was very noisy and chaotic, there wasn't really an agenda other than "let's meet, drink coffee, and talk", and everyone had a great time! On to the next one!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Welly-moot 0.1 (Jan 16, 2011)

(originally published in longer form on the NZ Noldor Blog)

I just came back from the first "official" Noldor event - an informal get-together of Hobbit fans, at local cafe Floriditas, where the slices of cake were even better than I remembered them, although they'd run out of chocolate cake by the time I got to them. I had to settle for the Apple Crumble, which was great as well.

There were twelve of us, and I reckon I may have to make this a semi-regular event.

Clockwise around the table, starting at the far left: Laura; Ryan & Jenifer with Hawk; Emily; Erica; Annaëlle & Corrado; Brendan, me, Grant & Monica.

Laura is a huge fan of LOTR who has come to Wellington to try and get some work on The Hobbit, and might just get the chance soon. Ryan is a scriptwriter who came with Jenifer on my tour some years ago, and have since moved from the USA to Wellington. Emily is a LOTR fan and a fan-fiction author who is quite an authority on all things Middle-earth, while Erica is famous for being a founding member of About a month ago, I met Annaëlle and Corrado wandering around Mount Victoria looking for LOTR scenes one day while I was touring with a group there - Annaëlle is Belgium while Corrado is from Italy, and they both came to NZ on a working holiday, and will be in Wellington for another month or so before they move on again, probably to the South Island for a bit. Brendan worked in the film industry in Australia and moved to New Zealand about a year ago, he's also hoping to get a Hobbit related job at some stage. I met Grant through this blog a few years ago - he's a big LOTR fan - but I hadn't met his partner Monica yet.

We talked about assorted Hobbit related subjects. Ryan and Jennifer mentioned they ran into John Howe on their way into the cafe today, so Mr Howe is back from his holiday, and apparently production is now in full swing at the studios. Obviously he couldn't divulge any details but by all accounts he and Alan Lee will be working in the South Island with the location scouts first of all, finding and designing new sets and locations for The Hobbit. Very exciting, but also totally vague - New Zealand's South Island is so big that it's generally referred to as The Mainland by its occupant!

Another interesting item though - apparently Martin Freeman (the new Bilbo) and Stephen Hunter (the dwarf Bombur) were spotted in Wellington on Friday night! No photos yet - if anyone spots them again, or any of the others, drop me a line!

On a final note - I mentioned that I have some Hobbiton photos that I might post. I've been persuaded not to post them by various people, for very good reasons, not the least being that if we see too much of Middle-earth before the movie begins, it will take some of the shine of the movie itself - something I certainly don't want to be a part of. However, I did want to post one photo taken at Hobbiton - I feel confident that it won't spoil the movie for anyone, and I don't think the lawyers will call me about it. So, here goes:

Yes, even the toilet roll holders are in the shape of Hobbit Holes. Awesome! :)

  - Jack