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

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