Wednesday, October 30, 2013

IMPORTANT: All Welly-moot members - please read and respond ASAP!

It looks very much like the Welly-moot members will be given a limited number of tickets to Peter Jackson's Live Fan Event on Tuesday November the 5th.

I will be in charge of distributing them to our members, so, please check the following list AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and get back to me! This will definitely be a "First In, First Served" occasion.

  • You are a fan of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth movies
  • You are a member of the NZ Tolkien group Welly-moot
  • You are in Wellington on November 5th
  • You are able to attend this event starting at 11:00am
If ALL of these conditions are true, please email me ASAP.

Please let me know if you need any extra tickets - we may be able to accomodate those as well, but Welly-moot members who attend our meetings will be given priority.

My email address is still

  - Jack

Saturday, October 26, 2013

IMPORTANT! Fan Event Announcement at Welly-moot 2.5!!!

Hopefully everybody's heard about Peter Jackson's announcement about the Live Fan Event.

I guess everybody is trying to get some of the free tickets that is giving away. It looks like Welly-mooters won't need to worry about those...

If you're a member of Wellington's Tolkien group, please make sure you come to the meeting this Sunday the 27th, since I have a special announcement to make there, which will affect all Welly-moot members in the Wellington region during the event.

If you're not already a member, this would be an EXCELLENT meeting to attend and become a member. Membership is STILL free, but you do have to attend a meeting.

I'm not able to make any promises at this stage, but things are looking very good right now. Come to the meeting to find out more.

Sunday 27th of October, 2013, at 2:00pm.
Embassy Cinema, Upstairs at the Cafe.

Come one, come all!

And please feel free to email/retweet/facebook-post this link to anyone else who needs to see this in the next 17 hours.

  - Jack

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Next Welly-moot theme: Thranduil, father of Legolas (moot 2.5)

The next Welly-moot isn't far away, it's time we had a theme for it! With the second Hobbit movie not far away, we're focussing on one of the characters from it - Legolas' father King Thranduil of the Woodlands Domain. Who is he, how did he get to Mirkwood (or Greenwood the Great, as it was called in the olden days), and why haven't we met Mrs Thranduil?

Reading material (if you feel enthusiastic) will be from The Hobbit; the last part of the chapter "Flies and Spiders", and the first half of "Barrels out of Bond". If you have any other material relating to him, please bring it.

The meeting is at the usual place and time - Sunday the 27th of October, at 2:00pm, upstairs at the Embassy Cinema. Bring coffee money.

See you all there, and bring a friend!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Report - Welly-moot 2.4: Rivendell

(Apologies for the late report - if anyone wants to volunteer to write these after every meeting, please let me know).

Welly-moot met on August the 25th, and we discussed Rivendell. The homework was to read the Rivendell chapters in The Hobbit, plus the sections in LOTR, and for the super-keen among us, watch the movie versions of Rivendell one more time as well. Attendance was good - all in all, 13 people enjoyed the coffee at the Embassy. Kris, Alex and myself were met by Wayne and Hillary, and Miranda. Annabel had brought Lucy and Sophy, and Hawk was there with mum & dad Jenifer and Ryan. Sadly, it is likely their last meeting as they will be leaving our shores to return back to the USA in a month or so. Also we had a new member, Caitlyn. Welcome to our little group, Caitlyn!

Pic: (from the back of Ryan's head in fron, cw to the left): Jenifer, Annabel, Hillary, Wayne, and Miranda

Since our last meeting, Welly-moot has had a small identity crisis - the group was fast on its way to becoming a Peter Jackson fan club instead of the chartered Tolkien fan group. The problem of course is that we're pretty much all  big fans of both, and a large percentage of the group was on the set of The Hobbit movies as extras, so a lot of the discussion has been about the movie versions in the past.

Today's discussion brought us back to the roots. There was a good sized stack of books present; to the point of some not getting discussed. [Wayne, I did notice that you had a copy of "Defending Middle-earth" with you. Please bring it again next meeting - we WILL get to it!]

Kris had brought a beautiful postcard from her travels to Switzerland's Lauterbrunnental, which was one of JRR Tolkien's inspirations for Rivendell. She also brought her print of Alan Lee's Rivendell for comparison, and indeed, there was more than a passing resemblance. This has been noticed by others as well. Kris also had her copy of "The Art of Tolkien" with her, which was enjoyed by all.

Hillary had recently been to a reading by the Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum from the London School of Jewish Studies, on the topic of "The Torah of the Lord Of The Rings". We discussed this briefly (thanks for the copies of the notes you passed out, btw!), and the topic of translated Tolkien works came up. Alex had brought her Japanese copy of The Hobbit with her (and her English one as well)

Soon we were back to Rivendell. In chapter 3 of The Hobbit, Bilbo thinks to himself "Hmmm! it smells like elves!". After discarding and possibility of B.O. from the elves, we decided it must be like spring or summer, a refreshing smell.

There is also a lot of talk of singing in all the books - not just from the elves but also from the dwarves, the hobbits, the men, some of the animals, and yes, even the orcs sing. Singing is a very powerful thing in Middle-earth. In the Silmarillion it is said that the world of Arda is sung into existence, and all things were created by their own song from the Valar (the deities). Singing is a magical thing. These days the mass-media has changed all that, probably beginning with the onset of radio. When once everyone could sing (apparently), nowadays you have to be better, or at least as good as, anyone on radio, and therefore few attempt it in public anymore. Although the sound of singing is still commonplace through our myriad devices, it's rarely live singing anymore. Is it a loss? The quality is better usually, but there's plenty to be said for live impromptu performances.

There the discussion turned to the atmospheric difference in the Rivendell from The Hobbit to that in the Lord Of The Rings. In The Hobbit, the elves at Rivendell are playing musical instruments, singing, dancing, eating, even hunting. In LOTR, there wasn't so much happening, and a lot less elves to be seen at all. This has to do with the symbolic autumn of the elves throughout the sagas (in fact, the season in LOTR was autumn when the fellowship arrives at Rivendell). The elves are leaving at that time, to return to the Lands in the West - Valinor. During The Hobbit, that autumn has not yet started.

Peter Jackson's movies certainly reflect this change as well, which shows his attention to such details. There are stories that his set-builders stapled 400,000 fake autumn leaves to the trees in Rivendell's LOTR filming locations - a necessity since it was filmed in an evergreen rainforest area.

What we can see in Peter Jackson’s movies is not necessary the same from own images from books however the movie's Rivendell is beautiful and comfortable. Our own images are mostly ‘Homey place’; there is fire place, plenty of food and drink on the table - all in all comfortable and safe.

Alan Lee’s drawings are closer to the book. Rivendell is built in a hidden place and elves must have had plenty of time to create arts, songs, and stories.Rivendell was a place to relax.

From there, the discussion veered briefly off Rivendell. Was the movie accurate in its portrayal of the characters from the books? Was the casting done well? We all had images from the characters after reading the books. For example, Orlando Bloom matched most people's vision of Legolas from the books, however neither Aragron nor Boromir were as well cast. Not to say they were badly played though. I've recently finished the books again, and although I saw Legolas very much like Orlando's portrayal, Boromir and Aragorn were different in the books for me. Different, but not better or worse.

Pic: (left to right) - Hillary & Wayne, Miranda, and Jack in full swing.

Too soon, the afternoon was at and end, the coffee had run out, and people started to leave. We'll have an other meeting at the end of October - watch this space!

One final thing - Kris picked up a pair of glasses left behind by someone - if it was yours, please get in touch with either myself or with Kris.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Many Meetings Moot

Many Meetings Moot - August 25 

We've talked dwarves and dragons. Now let's talk elves. Rivendell has always been my favourite spot in Middle-earth. Elrond's Last Homely House would have suited me just fine.
"His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or storytelling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all."

For this moot, before the meeting we're reading The Hobbit, chapter 3: A Short Rest. 
For those who want to take it a bit further, please also read The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, chapter 1: Many Meetings, and chapter 2, and the first pages of chapter 3 if you have time. 

"Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea....Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness."

That sounds pretty perfect, doesn't it? Find your favorite passages about elves and Rivendell, and we'll go through the chapters and talk about what we think Tolkien was trying to establish about elves and their importance in Middle-earth. We  can also discuss how well the films matched our vision of Rivendell. 
Bring any illustrations you have to share, yours or other artists. Have you written any poems or songs worthy of the Hall of Fire? We'd love to hear them - and we promise not to fall asleep. ;D

As usual, the moot will be held upstairs at the Embassy Cinema, at 2:00pm. See you there!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Welly-moot Member Meeting 2.3 - Hermes and Smaug

Although the weather was atrocious, and a few regulars didn't make it to the moot this time, we still had a friendly and enthusiastic meeting today. The ones that did make it - Jack, Alex, Wayne, Annabel, and Barbara, plus two Australian Tolkien fans Kathryn and Judy (Judy's been before) - had a chance to meet our very special guest, Hermes the Blue Tongue Skink. Hermes arrived with his two carers, Shirley and David.

[JACK: For the record - Hermes is probably a girl. Apparently it's not so easy to check with lizards. I noticed that the moot's guys referred to Hermes as "him", while the ladies used "her" - talk about projecting! The rest of this blog entry was written by Alex, so I guess we're going back to "her"].

Before the opening, we had a great opportunity to meet Hermes up close. She was lovely to hold on our arms and shoulders - very gentle and unique. We all had a turn by the end of the meeting, and enjoyed holding her.

Welly-mooter Wayne with Hermes. Click the photo for a closeup.

As revealed in an earlier post here, Hermes was indeed a reference animal for Weta Digital. Guillermo del Toro had a specific design in mind for Smaug, and his ideas sounded similar to what Hermes looks like, in some ways. She was photographed and filmed for her movements, especially her specific movements, to visualise actual dragon movements. Hermes is currently around 11 years old. These skinks usually live to around 20 years old in the wild, and older in captivity.

Once the meeting opened, there were some news items, reports, and updates. First a report from Annabel and Jack about Armageddon on 1 June 2013. Annabel had her Whovian Jewellery stand (Doctor Who themed jewellery) at the Armageddon show, and Jack helped out on day 1, with the Welly-moot banner flying behind him. Annabel described how they were visited by Sylvester McCoy, who of course played Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit, as well as the 7th reincarnation of Doctor Who (from 1987 to 1989). Pretty thrilling - and he was lovely to talk to. Unfortunately, Annabel totally forgot to get him to sign her Hobbit book!

From the front, clockwise around the table: Jack, Annabel, Wayne, and David.

The next report was from Jack and Alex on the Weta Cave's 5th anniversary on 1 June. The full report has already been posted here earlier.

The special report from Jack and Alex was the visiting Tolkien Society Japan in Osaka. We had a great time with them; friendly people who are big fans of Tolkien. We were welcomed at the Gandalf Cafe with Ent drink, Lembas, Bilbo’s scones, and Beorn's Honey Cakes, as well as Japanese snacks and drinks. It was an incredibly fun day, and we hope to welcome some of their members at our meetings in the future. I'm still writing a separate blog entry on the day, and I'll post some photos on that too.

Then we had a big discussion about the new Hobbit 2 trailer. In principle, we all liked it, and the most interesting was of course Smaug's brief appearance. We had a lengthy discussion about him though. Some people were disappointed by the dragon’s appearance in the trailer. "He was not as handsome as expected", "his head was too big", "the colour of his eyes was different than the end of the first movie", "he looked too cartoonish" were all raised as concerns. Annabel pointed out that it actually looked like John Howard’s dragon, and Jack mentioned that Peter Jackson is usually very careful what he shows before the movie so it might be the possibility that the Smaug would look different in the Hobbit 2. One theory, put forward by Kathryn, was that perhaps this wasn't the actual Smaug at all, but a possible Smaug in a dream from Bilbo, or perhaps from one of the dwarves. That's an interesting theory - I guess we'll have to wait until December to find out.

Next we discussed what the story would be in Hobbit 2, and where it will be finished; at the Smaug’s death? We all had same thoughts that the Necromancer in the movie is the key. How Peter Jackson tells the story about the Necromancer will affect how the story goes in The Hobbit 2. This is another exciting mystery, for now.

The Final topic was what we want to do in November and December; The Hobbit 1 (Extended Edition) will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD in November, and The Hobbit 2 will be released at movie theaters on December. There apparently won’t be the World Premier in Wellington this year, however we predict that there will be some other activities in Wellington, and wider NZ. Apparently Red Carpet Tours will hold a Costume Party in December.

One idea that we are particularly interested in is watching The Hobbit 1 at either the Embassy Theatre or at the Roxy before Hobbit 2 and partying with invited artists related with the movie Hobbit. We will talk about more details at the next meeting - email me with more ideas.

Shirley (with Hermes), Barbara, Judy, Kathryn, and Jack.
Alex managed to avoid being photographed once again.

Until next meeting, stay warm!

  - Alex and Jack

Next meeting - Sunday 25 August 14:00pm

Monday, June 10, 2013

Update on "Hermes as Smaug model" comment in previous post

UPDATE from the previous post:

I've just heard a comment directly from Hermes himself (via his handler) about the details leaked of his Smauginess...

Totally Smaug's eye...?

can I please make a small correction to the above piece.
My handler said that del Toro had mentioned a description of Smaug once and it sounded similar to me, (but so do many dragons…) we know nothing more than the rest of the public do.
I’m simply a reference animal at digi, nothing more.

thanks for all the love and awesome pictures!

And here’s the link to the [del Toro] comment on
Happy to come to the moot and meet though.


 So what have we learned?
  1. Hermes was indeed a reference animal for Weta Digital
  2. Guillermo del Toro had a specific design in mind for Smaug
  3. His ideas sounded similar to what Hermes looks like, in some ways
  4. Hermes can type, and has access to the internet
What does that all mean? Not all that much, I'm guessing. 
  1. Hermes may have been one of many reference animals, physical or otherwise, for Smaug.
  2. Guillermo del Toro is no longer involved with the design process, and I'm guessing the art direction has completely changed since he was at the helm.
  3. Hermes reads our blog, and would like to visit the Welly-moot
Welly-moot's newest member, Hermes?
Hermes, we'd love to host you. Please bring your handler, Shirley! By the time our next meeting rolls around on July the 14th, the new Hobbit trailer will have been released (the day after tomorrow, in fact), so perhaps we'll have seen a glimpse of Smaug by then. We'd love to have Smaug as the main discussion!

What else have we learnt?
  1. We have a theme for the next Welly-moot! :)

Thanks Hermes!

   - Jack