Sunday, April 29, 2012

Welly-moot 1.2 (Apr 29, 2012)

This weekend's Welly-moot went off without a hitch. Kris arrived early to set up, and was quickly joined by Barbara, who had flown down from Auckland especially for the moot. By 2:15pm, thirteen people had arrived to discuss Smaug and his dragonous cronies. An ominous number indeed!

From the far left, around the table ccw: Barbara, Jack, Charlene, Kumi, Hawk, Ryan, Brian, Harrison, Suzie, Wayne, Kris, and Martyn. Missing: Alex (taking the picture), and Iain & Partner who arrived shortly after.

Shortly after though, Iain arrived with his partner, bringing us away from the unlucky number, and coincidentally up to The Hobbit's "fellowship" numbers instead.
Kris, and Iain and his wife

After coffee orders and introductions, we got started. To set the mood, Kris had brought with her some prints from Alan Lee and John Howe, which were displayed on one of the tables.

Hawk spotted Nessie - potentially of Dragon-kind! Behind him, left, is Alan Lee's Smaug, and on the right, John Howe's version. Let's see what Peter Jackson's version ends up looking like!
Also on display on my iPad was a presentation created by Welly-moot friend Peter Kenny from Australia, who sent me the link in anticipation of our meeting. The presentation can also be found on his Facebook page. Thanks again for that, Peter!

Martyn opened with a discussion on Welsh Dragons, and where Saint George's story fit into England's mythology - not very well, by the sounds of things! Various versions of the myth were offered, including a Libyan one. It sounds like it was eventually Richard the Lionheart who brought the story to England.

Martyn in full swing, with Kris and Wayne considering the evidence.

Ryan shows Hawk a print of St George's dragon as a Wyvern (two-legged, winged dragon)
Next, Alex demonstrated her skills at the Japanese art of Origami. Origami is an ancient art that's been around since early in Japan's Edo period (early 1600's), and is now practiced widely around the world. The word "Origami" simply means Folding ("Ori") Paper ("Kami"). True Origami involves folding a square sheet of paper, without cuts or glue.

Alex concentrates while I read her notes out to the group. Barbara is mesmerised (as the rest of us were!)

Kumi and Charlene memorise every fold! (Right?)
 Alex's chosen model was, of course, a dragon. She'd prepared a few extras beforehand, for everyone else to take home with them.

A selection of Dragons and Drakes

Japanese dragons are diverse legendary creatures in Japanese mythology and folklore. The style of the Japanese dragon was heavily influenced by the Chinese dragon. Like these other Asian dragons, most Japanese ones are water deities associated with rainfall and bodies of water, and are typically depicted as large, wingless, serpentine creatures with clawed feet. Interestingly, although wingless, they do often fly.

After Alex's Origami demonstration, Wayne spoke about English Dragon sightings in the 1600's. He had located a book with actual eyewitness accounts of Dragons, with some fairly detailed descriptions. I always wonder what that might have been - a crocodile? A Komodo dragon perhaps? Indonesia had been discovered, and trading would have been going well already. It's conceivable that somebody brought a giant Monitor lizard back for their own amusement, which had perhaps escaped somehow.

Or, of course, it could have been an Actual Dragon!

The discussion also touched, without definite results, on whether the fell beasts that the Nazgul ride on in ROTK were some form of Dragons, or at least Cold-Drakes. It seems they came from Angband, which is where (if memory serves me right) Morgoth created the Orcs from tortured Elves. Perhaps he also tortured Cold-Drakes into submission there? Was the great prison of Angband maybe Morgoth's Genetic Manipulation Laboratory?

On a related note, Smaug the Magnificent has recently been in the world news as well - he's made the top spot at the Forbes Rich List! Well, the Forbes Fictional 15, at least. Last year, he only made spot #7, although that appears to have been based on wrong assumptions of his wealth, and miscalculations. I'm impressed that the list has been modified, and he now claims his rightful spot at the top of the list! They don't call him The Magnificent for nothing!

During the course of the afternoon, it was mentioned that both Wayne and Iain had appeared in LOTR. Of course, since I had the Extended Editions on my iPad, that started a quick search for them both - and with success! Wayne is very easy to spot, and most people will probably remember his moment at the start of the Helm's Deep battle - Aragorn tells the archers to "Fire!", and Wayne repeats the call, moments later. Yes, the eye-patch is indeed real, and my guess is that Peter Jackson saw the appeal of Wayne's unusual look to give the battle an edgier, more visceral visual style.

Wayne with his signature moment


 Iain was harder to find, although also a nice important moment in the ROTK - moments after Arwen and Aragorn kiss after the Coronation, Elrond smiles the smile of a proud dad, and on the left side of the screen, behind Elrond's Elven neighbour, you can see Iain quite clearly (click on the picture for a better view)

Iain, after Aragorn's Coronation scene

Iain is on the far left, with the cool hat (click for a better view).

All in all, it was a very successful meeting. We met, shared stories, discussed the theme, and most importantly, generally had a great time of it. Thanks to everyone who attended, and made it all possible! Thanks also to the Embassy Theatre staff and their excellent coffee and cake - it was enjoyed by all! And to those who couldn't make it - there's always a next time -  the next meeting will be on July the 1st.

  - Jack Machiela

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Heads up people - next meeting approaches!

The next Welly-moot meeting is coming up this Sunday, 29th of April, starting at 2:00pm, upstairs at the Embassy Theatre. The theme of the meeting will be Dragons, and it sounds like there's going to be a few different takes on the subject.

So please, spread the word - if you enjoy meeting other Hobbit friends, turn up and join us! And even if you don't make it there, could you help spread the word far and wide? Share this info on your Facebook page, or via Twitter, or via any other method.

  - Jack

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Japanese Dragons at next Moot!

In keeping with the Dragons theme of our next Welly-moot, founding member Alex will demonstrate her skills at the ancient Japanese art of Origami, and will try her hand at making paper dragons.

Red Dragon by Alex

These are not easy creatures to fold out of a single square piece of paper, without cutting or glueing! If you want to see how she does it, be sure to come to the next meeting!

Also, one of our regular attendees, Kumiko is also working on "a Japanese Dragon" of some kind. More details as they come to hand!

Remember, the next meeting is April 29th, upstairs at the Embassy Theatre at 2:00pm.

Spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, or any other method!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dwarves to Dragons - the Tale Continues April 29!

The Professor certainly filled Middle-earth with a collection of weird and wonderful beings. Last moot we had a look at the dwarves of Erebor.  Continuing The Hobbit theme, we thought we might take a look at that Most Magnificent Worm, the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities, the Impenetrable Peril - Smaug the Dragon.

Smaug Destroys Lake Town, © John Howe (*)

Tolkien fans, being the creative and imaginative folk that they are, can surely all visualize what that   mighty drake must have looked, sounded and, if one were particularly unlucky, felt like. For our next moot, please bring something to help develop a picture of the last great dragon of Middle-earth. Draw a nightmare image of flaming breath and riveting eyes. Write an ode to the Master of Beguilement. Compose lyrics to a tune we can sing around the communal fire in memory of the devastation of Smaug.  Play a madrigal on your lute or flute. Bring all to the table: jokes, riddles (particularly enjoyed by dragons), skits, costume, wherever your talents and skills may lie.

If performance is more terrifying for you than tooth, claw and tail, bring a dragon-related artifact to display, something from your collection to make us gasp and lust with the desire of dwarves.  Perhaps you have an image or statue, a historical poem concerning dragons you could share to add to our knowledge of these mysterious beasts. If all inspiration abandons you, do not despair and fall away! Come and marvel at the contributions of your moot mates. Another time for sharing will come. We hope to make Welly-moot an exploration of all things Tolkien with contributions from all members, as each so pleases.

For somewhere to begin, try these links to dragon lore at Tolkien Gateway, a delightful source of information on all things Tolkien. Here you will find articles about Tolkien's Dragons in general, and individual articles for SmaugGlaurungAncalagon, and Scatha. Click on the sound icons for each dragon, all save Smaug, to hear the pronunciation of the name.  The pronunciation of "Smaug" being an object of debate, this might be a topic to address on the day. Anyone feel like doing some research?

See you at the Embassy Theatre's upstairs cafe, 10 Kent Terrace, at the Mt. Victoria end of Courtney Place, Wellington on Sunday, April 29, from 2:00 until about 4:00 p.m. Of course there will also be  the much anticipated coffee drinking, cake eating and general getting-to-know-each-other as usual, but this time THERE (WILL) BE DRAGONS!

Extra question: fell beasts of the Nazgul - dragons or what?


(*) The "Smaug Destroys Lake Town" Illustration is © John Howe, and used with permission from the artist. If you haven't been to his website yet, it's time you did! John Howe was intimately involved in the shaping of Peter Jackson' s Middle-earth, and looking through his Galleries, it's easy to see how much of that was kept intact in the movies. Currently, he is working hard on the next (previous?) installment, so let's see how much we'll recognise when the movie comes out!