Monday, May 5, 2014

Report: Welly-moot #3.2 a success.

The 22nd meeting of the Wellington Tolkien group Welly-moot #3.2 was held this weekend, in a new venue, the Roxy Cinema in Miramar. It was a very lovely place to meet.

The meeting was attended by a few more Miramar residents than usual; Annabel and her two hobbits were there, as were Sinead and Luke. The whole committee was present as well; myself and Alex, as well as Kris. Franziska was able to attend as well, although sadly her next meeting is likely to be her last one, as she will return to Germany later this year.

We also welcomed some new members into the group. From Australia, Trevor and Christine joined us from the Brisbane Tolkien group (which also includes Peter Kenny). Trevor and Christine had hoped to come on a tour with me the next day but I was called up for Jury Duty, of all things, and couldn't host the tour.

Jack & Alex, Luke & Sinead

Also joining us for the first time were Wellingtonians Andrew and Tessa. Andrew works with Alex, and is apparently quite the LOTR collector! (We'd love for you to bring some cool stuff with you next time, Andrew!)

Annabel, Franziska, Andrew & Tessa

Due to the auspicious date, Jack started the meeting with a "May the 4th be with you", and discussed the latest rumours and announcements regarding the new Star Wars VII casting, which of course now includes "our" very own Andy Serkis.

We went around the table to see if anyone else had any updates. We'd met Welly-mooters Kim & Warren in the morning at the "Wellington Better Home & Living Show 2014". They have successfully managed to set up their business creating and selling their new sculptable concrete "Pal Tiya". You can take one day workshop to learn how to use the materials and create your original sculpture. Their website is A basic bag costs only $16(nz). Sign up for a class if you're keen, it's a lot of fun to use, and very addictive!

From the Brisbane group, Trevor announced a Medieval Festival

in Brisbane in October 2014. This will be a costumed event, if you are interested in attending. Check their website for more details

Then it was time for the main theme for the day - "When does Saruman go to the dark side?". A few had done some research - kudos goes to Kris, Franziska, and Sinead. 

Jack started the conversation by dividing the "dark side" into a beginning and a finality. Even at the final stages, Saruman could have returned to the good guys. Saruman didn’t kill Gandalf, or use his army of Orcs and Uruk Hai. Although he chose not to, he could still have put down the Palantir of Orthanc. It's not until he cuts the tree of Orthanc and Fangorn that he reaches rock-bottom, and irretrievably turns bad. The final chapter of Saruman (in the books, at least) of his ultimate doom in the Shire is an inevitable end, and in some ways represents an almost pitiful end to a great wizard, defeated by the smallest of the speaking peoples, hobbits.

In the Middle-earth mythos, his cutting down of the trees is a necessary step into darkness. In Tolkien’s worlds, trees are very important. In all of his stories, not just limited to the Middle-earth sagas, all of the Good Guys either live in trees, live under trees, in trees, with trees, tend to trees, are compared to trees, named after trees (eg, Legolas Greenleaf), symbolically represented by trees (eg, Aragorn, who is the White Tree), or, as in the case of the ents, ARE trees.

It can not be an accident of Tolkien that the most heroic person in LOTR (surely Samwise!) just "happens to be" a Gardener back in the Shire.

After Saruman destroys nature, it is nature that comes after him.

Kris brought up the characteristic differences between Saruman and Gandalf. Saruman counts arrogance as one of his character flaws. He knows Gandalf’s greatness, however he wants to be in charge of the world, and perhaps fears Gandalf's superiority. Gandalf knows something is wrong with Saruman, however he keeps showing his respect to Saruman or he is pretending not know Saruman’s power-seeking (but ultimately) self-destructive behaviours.

Franziska suggested that Saruman uses technology (eg, his Palantir) and machines, and although he has been connected with evil, he "merely" desires to have knowledge of the world and primarily his desire is to make the world better, however he uses wrong tools. Whereas true evil (like Melkor/Morgoth) seems more interested in destroying everything created by Eru, Saruman appears more interested in ruling it all. Perhaps a more optimistic viewpoint?

Sinead pointed that Saruman wasn’t given any rings and so he is jealous when he suspects that Gandalf has been given a ring of power. This especially since Saruman adores having power over other (including his fellow Istari).

Our discussion expanded to the characters of Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, and the nature of Mirkwood, Ents, and trees in general.

And then it was almost time to pack up again. A last roundup of plans for the end-of-year release of The Hobbit 3 (now subtitled "The Battle Of The Five Armies"). We are keen to have a movie marathon; Hobbit 1 and 2 before the Hobbit 3 is shown in December at Roxy Cinema. We will keep informed any other possibilities in this website.Jack will find further information about any upcoming functions.

Regarding the new venue - despite noisy conditions due to the high ceilings, we have decided to have next meeting at Roxy Cinema again. Next meeting is on 29 June at Roxy Cinema, 14:00pm, a theme to be decided and announced later.

Hope to see you all there!

  - Alex and Jack

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Heads up - welly-moot tomorrow!

Just a quick reminder - the next Wellington Tolkien Society meeting, Welly-moot #3.2, will be held tomorrow, Sunday the 4th of May, at the ROXY CINEMA, not at the Embassy Cinema.

The theme will be "when does Saruman go to the dark side?".

The meeting will start at 2:00pm. Bring money for coffee from the roxy's cafe. Hope to see you all there!

  - Jack