Editors: Perian, Xara.
Primary Reporter: Ivy Brandybuck.
Chief Corespondent: Prongs.
Local Commentator: Rob Stames.
Contributor(s): Pungolo, Sam, Shelly.
In this issue:
An Interview with Shawn Dunn by Pungolo.
Hero Resumes - Finding the Right Person for Battle by Xara.
A Happy Anniversary to All Things Lord of the Rings by Prongsie.
The Seat of the Steward by Perian.
Aragorn's Ancestors by Xara.
In every issue:
Fanfiction: This Fortnight:
Ivy's Newsletter Trivia.
Xara's Random Fandom.
Comings and Goings at i Nili o i Ardanole by Rob Stames.
Tolkienish, provided by Perian.
On 26.04.2004 Alias Wavefront, presenting its new software Maya 6.0, organized an event in Milan with Shawn Dunn from Weta Digital. He showed the making of The Return of The King, being involved in it for almost a year. I was there, and I was lucky enough to interview him! He is really friendly and forthcoming, even if he couldn’t say anything about RotK extended or King Kong! However, before passing to the interview and the report, let me thank Oronzo Cilli of the Italian Tolkien Society who indicated to me the event, and to Alias which provided to me the entrance.
A brief interview with Shawn Dunn, Weta Digital Animation Technical Director.
Andrea: When did you join Weta digital crew? How was the atmosphere
Shawn: I joined Weta Digital in March of 2003, it was during the post-production of Return of the King
A:Are you involved in the next Weta Digital projects, as KK?
S: Yes, I’m still working with Weta, and I’ll be there for another couple of years, so I’ll work on King Kong and the other projects.
A: When you were working on Return of the King, did you feel as you were working on a eleven-Oscars movie? Weta Digital must be proud of its Oscars in three years!
S: I think it. Working on RotK was an incredible experience. And I’m really proud to be involved into the project. When I got there and started to see the scenes that people were producing, I began to have the sense that I was doing something really, really amazing and huge. And you can look at it: look some of the shots, later during the conference. I was involved into that, I followed the making of that scenes step by step, but every time I see that movie on the screen, it makes me goose bumps! It’s pretty amazing being part of that team.
A: What about your two-thousand processors? Is it true they are actually on leasing? Who is renting them currently?
S: I don’t exactly know who is currently renting them, we have this huge rendering-wall, which is divided in two parts, and I know that we are currently leasing one of them. The other part we’ll use for our current projects, like I, Robot or RotK EE. But be sure that for King Kong that render-wall will be really busy…
A: What an average day involved during last year of post-production?
S: Well, for RotK I was the Animation Technical Director. My role was primarily to support the Animation Team, so I was building tools for them, I was helping them to solve the problems, making work flow… We worked a lot, many times we thought it was impossible. Some days we finished a scene and had to begin with two, and my work was to keep them working well.
A: A very important question. The leader of the Mumakil that’s killed by Eomer. Was he totally real? Or totally animated? I guess he was real only in really close ups. Anyway, it’s totally photorealistic.
S: That’s real during the really close-ups. When he plays the horn, he’s real (p.s. in fact, during the conference, we saw a live action plate with an actor in a bluescreen studio playing the horn). But in wide scenes, and when he’s shot by the spear, that’s completely cg. That scene, when he falls down from the mumakil, and the mumakil itself hurts another oliphaunt, is one of my favorites scenes.
A: Did you animate the oliphaunts totally by keyframing?
S: Yes. It’s not something we can do motion capturing for, it’s hard to get an elephant to stand into a studio and so on…!
A: Speaking of the Extended Edition of RotK, we know that the new scenes have just been finished. How many new visual effects scenes have been added?
S: I can’t talk about that, sorry. How many more S.E. scenes? I can only say that they are a lot. When I left them they said to me: you can talk only about some things…these aren’t into that things. Just because isn’t released yet, you know...
A: What about King Kong and Evangelion?
S: All I can say is that we are working on King Kong…sorry.
A: No matter. Thank you very much and…good job!
S: See you!
The conference was pretty amazing. He projected many parts of
the movie, and explained how they did them. Many scenes were ‘dissected’,
so we could see how was the clean plate, and then, layer after layer, the
finished plate compositing itself. It’s really amazing to realize how much
work is behind this trilogy, especially the third movie. I’m serious: It’s
really impressive the huge amount of work they had, and the passion and
the devotion they invested during this years.
It began with a reel of clips from RotK, before that he spoke. The clips were the most important visual effects scenes of RotK, and obviously involved Minas Morgul, the trolls, Shelob, the mumakils, the monsters pulling Grond, the Nazgul and the Fell Beasts, Legolas on the Mumakil and…Gollum.
After that he explained the difference between Weta Workshop, which makes physical effects, and Weta Digital, which makes visual effects. He said that they are quite different, and even if now they work separately (W. Workshop’s working on Narnia and other movies, W. Digital made some scenes of Van Helsing and is working on I, Robot and the extended edition of RotK), they’ll reunite for King Kong, which is currently on pre-production (Weta Digital is currently developing the technology for Kong).
For RotK Weta Digital had a huge amount of work, and it was a run against time. They finished the last scene only one week before their last deadline. It had more than 1,527 visual effects shots. Whereas FotR had accumulated 7.5 terabytes of online data, and TTT 30 terabytes, RotK amassed 72. They had 600 workstations and increased the amount of processors of 1200. He said that if they would processed the movie with only one of their 2,100 processors, it would take 11 millions years to render all the three movies.
He showed, projecting the display of his personal computer, Weta Digital’s pipeline: a diagram that organizes all the steps of the post-production of a movie. This is linked to a sharing of data that has to be really functional and quick, and to an organization of the data really tidy.
Most of the creatures were modeled and animated using Alias’ Maya, that software was involved almost in every step of the pipeline (modeling, creatures, cameras, animation, environment…).
To make a creature they would do many sketches as first step, then sculpted many models in clay. Than Peter approved one, than they scanned it with ad high-resolution scanner by hand (unto 60 millions of polygons). After that they generated a low-resolution model and compared it with the hi-rez model. Between them they did many displacement map. The ending was a low resolution model easy to animate, but working in high-resolution (with a lot of details) when rendered.
Gollum was animated in many different ways. They usually motion captured Andy Serkis: as we know, he acted on location with the other actors, and then re-acted all in a motion capture studio.
Other times it was “rotoscoped” on Andy Serkis, and other times was totally animated by key-frames. The face, for instance, was inspired by Serkis’ acting, but was totally key-framed, using a library of facial expressions, too.
For RotK Gollum was really improved. He showed us that amazing scene that’s when he speaks with himself sleeping. He said that they improved the lips, as you can see in that scene they are stickier on themselves, wet, and more realistic in the dynamics. They improved the eyelids, the way they move and flow closing themselves; and the way the muscles swell: he said that they use a plug-in they wrote for Maya to make the muscle system of LotR models. For RotK they also worked on Gollum Model making that thinner and haggard, as the character evolves in the book. So it began even more difficult to transfer Serkis’ movements on Gollum Model, because of the difference between the proportions.
Gollum was also the only creature that had close-ups needing an interpretation and some kind of ‘presence’. For RotK, they improved their library to more than 600 different facial expressions.
He opened the Facial Animation System, and showed us some of the facial shapes. They used to combine and melt different expressions to make a facial animation, using keyframe.
But also every part of the face was animable separately: the eyes, the tongue, the lips, the eyebrows…
The wireframe model of the head wasn’t a low-rez model, but a medium-rez, because of the complexity of it. Obviously the hi-rez details came from the displacement maps during rendering.
He showed us many interfaces Weta Digital uses to organize the pipeline and the data.
First of all there was the Weta Digital Manager, a database of models or scenes divided by movie. On the left there was the LotR section, the Van Helsing section, the I, Robot one and…the King Kong one. Obviously he opened only the LotR one, and I began to drool thinking that there was kept some of the early Kong CG models!
Then into the Setup he showed us many models they made for LotR: Ents, Gondorian soldiers or Riders, digital doubles of the actors, the King of the Dead’s body…and the King of the Dead’s head!
Thanks to that ‘organizer’ and that interfaces, every animator was able to search and obtain every kind of data or model he looked for. Every time someone finished to work on a shot, ‘published’ it on the Weta Digital Animation Publisher, so the shot could go to an higher step of processing.
The Fell Beast Model was really complicated to animate, because of the neck and the tail which were long and supple. Every time they moved them, they had to pay attention the dynamics wouldn’t make the model hurt something in the scene: a soldier, a building…
Shelob was really complex. They decided to change the position of the eyes (that in a normal spider are located in another part of the ‘head’) because they wanted her to interact with Sam during the fighting. In that way she could see him during the fight. He said that when she rolls up Frodo in her web, that is totally CG. He showed the clean plate, which was shot in studio with only stones and a painted background, and then they added the CG Shelob and Frodo. He said the web was really complex to animate. And the fight scene is almost totally CG, unless in close-ups. When Sam hit Shelob with his feet, he is real, Shelob is digital, and Sam’s feet are digital, too!
The strange triceratops-beasts that draw Grond were something they go really proud [about]. They appear only for few shots, but for that they produced sketches and models and worked a lot! All is digital there, Grond is a real miniature only in some close-ups.
The Trolls were six, and were different each other. They were [highly-detailed], thanks to the displacement maps. The problem with them was that because of their size, they had to control everything worked ok, every movement they did. He showed us many scenes in which the Trolls destroyed everything, squashing people and launching soldiers, and said that some animators liked that – really sadic!
Then he showed the destruction of Barad-Dur: that was a model, too, and they literally destroyed it. The pieces of the tower were animated using Particles Dinamics in Maya. He showed us their Eye of Sauron Model: it was made of 60 melted layers that formed a 3D texture, so that it was transparent and three-dimensional.
We saw how they made the enormous ‘hole’ in the ground, as the tower explodes, and he said that it was all animation, not a miniature. He added that on the Black Gate we can see the Trolls of The Two Towers fall and die: they animated them, but almost nobody sees them!
Showing us the enormous, magnificent miniature of Minas Tirith, he explained how they realized a digital model of it, but used only for pre-visualization and 3D environment to track Gandalf digital double during the raising to the citadel. He said that almost all the scenes with Minas Tirith were made with the miniature, because is more realistic: their motto was to do the most possible with real effects, because are cheaper and more real than digital one!
He showed how they carried out that amazing scene that’s the descent of the Nazguls on Minas Tirith: we saw the clean plate, that was made with motion control (that’s a technique indispensable for this visual effects shots) with the miniature and nothing else, then came the 3D environment, so they could work on the shot adding the ground and the mountains and other elements, then came the backgrounds (amazing 3D matte paintings and mountains totally generated, not with photos), then the animation of the Fell Beasts and the Massive Agents on the citadel terrace, then the clouds… Really a fascinating process.
He said that the catapults are all completely CG, unless in some close-ups where they used miniatures. The Siege Towers were digital, too: full of Massive Agents. He showed us some of the common problems they had with the animation: in a wide shot of the Siege Towers, after rendering it all the night, they came in the morning and saw the Siege Towers literally spinning around, with the Agents flying miles away!
He also showed a joke the animators did: they animated a scene with some orcs shouting and bringing on a catapult one drunk orc (he took an X bottle in a hand!), throwing him and exulting! He-hee, quite mad..
For the Horse Massive Agents they had an enormous database with data of the motion captured horses (we saw one of them: it was quite strange to see it full of sensors, but it wasn’t sad, I guess!). They did some Models and then Massive randomized them and produced thousand of horses.
The sequence with the eagles fighting the nazguls was made by two really skilled animators: they made it in only two weeks.
Thanks to the pre-visualization, Peter Jackson could strictly control all the postproduction process. He knew very well what he wanted, and using the 3D pre-viz (which were largely used in RotK) he could visualize perfectly all the complex scenes. Saying “I want the final shot completely identical to the pre-viz” he could obtain exactly what he wanted, because after all he compared them…
In the end, he showed us the Mumakil Models and said that they were different each others, with different sizes, tusks, colors and textures. The towers they brought were 3D Models, but they didn’t animate them: they followed the Mumakil dynamics. They filled them of Massive Agents, but also of Live Action actors, as he said to me during the interview.
Middle Earth is a dangerous place. Sauron's minions wander freely
in lands that were once the realm of Gondor, there is no King, you don't
know who or what could be a spy and with the evil presence of the Ring
around, you can't even trust your friends! And on top of that, out of all
these shifty characters, warriors must be picked to be taken into battle,
Ring-bearers must be found, fellowship members selected, lore-masters consulted,
guides chosen. The alliances of Middle Earth are a booming employment industry,
but how do they know they're picking the right people for the job?
The answer is, they don't. That's why the peoples of Middle Earth need resume's. Something that can be carried around in the pocket and whipped out a moment's notice. Do you think if Boromir had presented his resume to the Council of Elrond he would have been selected? Certainly not! They would have looked at it and said, "Good warrior, noble lineage, but completely seduced by the power of the Ring. Next!" Perhaps then the disaster of Amon Hen may have been prevented! The truth is, the War of the Ring would have been so much more efficient if people had had resumes. Gandalf would have seen 'aspiring Dark Lord' listed as Saruman's interests and realised he was walking into a trap, Theoden would have taken one look at 'Saruman minion' and given Wormtongue the sack, and after reading 'Occupation: Mushroom Thief' Gandalf would not have left Pippin to prod and poke anything he liked in the Mines of Moria.
Consider the scene in which Aragorn aka Strider is trying to convince Frodo to take him on as a guide at the Prancing Pony. In the book, without a resume Strider takes an entire chapter and many long speeches to persuade the frightened hobbit, and even then he does not get all four of them to trust him, Sam in particular. Consider how much easier it would have been if Strider had produced a resume:
"Here is my offer: I will tell you what I know, and in return you shall take me with you, as your guide, until I choose to leave you," said Strider, handing his resume to Frodo. The hobbits turn away from Strider for a hobbit-conference.
"I don't know about this Mr. Frodo, he might by a spy of Sauron!" said Sam.
"Hmmm...but look at this! He's served for Gondor and Rohan, been trained and educated in Rivendell and he is of the line of Luthien as well as Elros of the Kings of Numenor and Gondor."
"But how do we know he hasn't just made all these things up? It seems rather fishy to me."
"Let's check his references." Frodo reached for the phone and dialed one of the numbers. "Hello? Yes, Denethor is it? I'm calling from an employment interview, just checking a reference you know, is it true that a man naming himself 'Thorongil' served the White City of Minas Tirith under your father Ecthelion? Right, thank you, and good luck with defeating Mordor, yes, Bye!" Frodo hung up the phone and turned back to Strider, extending his hand, "You're hired!"
You see how much simpler things would have been? Quick, clean employment consultations, that is the key to success in quest and battle, choosing the right heroes for the job, and with this method, perhaps the peoples of Middle Earth will be more successful in the future!
The King has returned. A new Age has come unto Gondor. Everything
is as it should be. Well, almost everything. There is the matter of that
grand piece of stonework standing alone and empty in the King's audience
chamber. Yes, the seat of the steward.
Now that Denethor is dead (good ridda- I mean, Eru rest his soul,) and Aragorn has reclaimed the throne, who shall be steward? Now, I know what you're thinking; Who needs a steward now that the King has returned? But the function of a good steward is more than acting as a placeholder, standing guard to an empty throne. A steward serves as councillor to the King, steps in to rule the kingdom should the royal family desire an extended vacation to relieve job stress, and would probably prove very useful in reining in unruly princelings as they played hide-and-seek around the megalithic statues while negotiations were commencing.
Now that I have proven the necessity of the position, let's get back to who should fill it.
Faramir, being a man of wisdom and a descendant of the line of stewards would be the first and most obvious choice. In fact, he technically has the title. He has, however, been named Prince of Ithilien. It is unlikely that he will forsake that title and the duties which come with it for a less prestigious and less needed one. Farewell, Faramir. Gondor shall miss you ere the end.
How about Eomer? He is known for his valour, familiar with the land, and is very honourable. Certainly a good choice. Wait! He, too, has recently been given a kingdom to caretake.
Pippin, then. Stop laughing. I'm serious. Peregrin Took more than proved his worth during the siege of Minas Tirith. Beyond that, he would be great entertainment at mealtimes. Oh... he's the ruler of a land, too. Damn. Stop becoming kings, you infernal heroes! Gondor needs you!
Also eliminated due to other responsibilities are Merry, Sam... ARGH!
All right, who isn't likely to come into kinghood anytime soon? Maybe... Legolas! His father is immortal, no worries there. So long as his mirrors and arrows are confiscated, the second-oldest member of the Fellowship has nothing better to do than to sit at Aragorn's feet and look pretty. He is even remarkably candid with Aragorn, which is a fine virtue for a councillor. The only trouble is that Aragorn and family would never be certain whether or not he would shirk his duties in favour of a cruise.
Please don't accuse me of being sexist when I dismiss the possibility of a stewardess. All the females of the tale are otherwise occupied. Beyond that, well, we know Aragorn...
That leaves but one candidate. The stewardship of Gondor goes to... Gimli. He has no other obligations. He spoke almost gleefully of rebuilding Minas Tirith. He never shirks duty. He would delight in spending his days in a hall of stone. Yes, he even looked like he belonged there when he commandeered the seat of the steward during the last debate (in the movies). Overall, however, we might finally get to see a dwarf-woman in the Lord of the Rings sequel.
Warning: Those who have not read the Silmarillion will probably not have much of a clue of what I'm talking about.
Aragorn son of Arathorn was a man of very noble ancestry. Everyone
knows that. He's Elendil's heir, the King of Gondor. He's sprung from the
line of Elros of the King's of Numenor, whose brother was Elrond and father
was Earendil. He is of the noble and most ancient line of Luthien herself,
one of the most beautiful and powerful of all the elves to walk Middle
Earth. But few realise what these connections entail. Few realise just
how far spread is the list of Aragorn's relations through blood and marriage
reaches. From gods to traitors, kings of elves and lords of men, Aragorn
probably has the most fascinating family history of all time, and it's
called The Silmarillion. In fact, Aragorn is related by blood to almost
every character in the Silmarillion.
We will begin with the house of Finwe. One of the three fathers of the elves, Finwe was the lord of the Noldorin elves. He first married Miriel to which he had Feanor, but when she died shortly after childbirth he remarried to Indis to which he had two sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin. Finarfin was the father of five children, one of which was Galadriel, the most talented of all the Noldor save Feanor only. Fingolfin fathered three children, one of which was Turgon, King of Gondolin. Turgon also had a child, a daughter, Idril who married a mortal, Tuor. Their son was Earendil who in turn had two sons, Elrond and Elros, the father of all the Kings of Numenor and Gondor in whose line was Elendil, Isildur and Aragorn himself. This direct father son connection to Finwe himself makes Aragorn related to every single member of that family including Galadriel and Feanor, creator of the Silmarils. Great ancestors indeed, but wait! There's so much more!
Aragorn, being of the line of Luthien, is also related to another of the three elven fathers, Elwe, more commonly known as Thingol, Luthien's father, and Luthien's mother Melian of the maiar. This makes Aragorn related to the third of the elven fathers Olwe, Thingol's brother as well as all the Maiar and Valar (as, if my sources are correct all of the lords of the west were akin) including Gandalf, Saruman, Sauron, Radaghast, Yavanna and Manwe himself. This connection also makes Aragorn related to Galadriel on both sides of her parentage as her mother was Earwen the daughter of Olwe. Confused yet?
As we know Aragorn is directly related to Earendil, which makes him related to Tuor, Earendil's father, Turin, Tuor's cousin, and all the house of Beor the Old. And those are just his blood relations. There are more by marriage but I simply will not go into that for fear of confusing you even further. Of all the characters of Lord of the Rings, Aragorn by far exceeds any as far as lineage, nobility and family history are concerned. Let the matter now be closed! For further reference see the family trees at the back of The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien.
A list of Aragorn's ancestors of note:
-Finwe - First lord of the Noldorin elves, father of Feanor, Fingolfin
-Feanor - Creator of the three Silmarils, instigator of the rebellion of the Noldor, the Kinslaying at Alqualonde and the burning of the ships at Losgar.
-Fingolfin - First son of Indis, the second wife of Finwe.
-Finarfin - Second son of Indis.
-Fingon - Father of Gil-galad, son of Fingolfin.
-Turgon - King of Gondolin, the Hidden Realm of the Noldor.
-Idril - Daughter of Turgon, wife of Tuor, mother of Earendil.
-Elros - Father of the Kings of Numenor and Gondor.
-Aredhel - Daughter of Fingolfin.
-Maeglin - Son of Aredhel, betrayer of Gondolin.
-Olwe - one of the three fathers of the elves
-Earwen - daughter of Olwe
-Celebrain - Daughter of Galadriel, wife of Elrond, mother of Arwen Evenstar.
-Thingol - Lord of Doriath, one of the three fathers of the elves.
-Melian the Maia
-Luthien - Daughter of Thingol and Melian, lover of Beren, a mortal man.
-Beren - lover of Luthien, retriever of one of the Silmarils of Feanor from the fortress of Morgoth.
-Dior - son of Beren and Luthien, heir of Thingol.
-Turin Turumbar - The accursed.
Roverandom found its beginnings in 1925 as a tale crafted for
J.R.R. Tolkien's three small sons. It opens to a very familiar setting:
An old man with a pipe, ragged cloak, and an old had upon his head comes
wandering down a sunlit lane, disturbing a local inhabitant. Rather than
wool-toed hobbits starting this story, however, our protagonist is a small
Roverandom, or Rover as he began, leads the reader on a lighthearted, frolicking tale through places and situations both known and unknown to readers of Tolkien.
While certainly not suited for the casual adult reader, it is a delightful romp for both children and Tolkien-lore devotees. Several scenes will leave you wondering where you might have read them before, such as Rover's flight over the moon-path, while others leave you once again awed by the creativity and rich descriptions which have become Tolkien's trademark.
Surprising character appearances are made by Tolkien's sons John and Michael, for whom it was written, and possibly even by Gandalf and Tom Bombadil under different names.
On the whole, highly recommended. A lovely addition to any Tolkien collection.
"Merry, this is crazy," Pippin sputtered. The two were once again
in the Great River, and the moon was high in the sky, casting an eerie
glow on everything else. "Aragorn has better have a good reason for this..."
"Just stop talking! This thing is heavy! I can't hold it up on my own!" Pippin quieted and put in his weight. The ships were banked in front of the hobbits, on the river, silently waiting for dawn, afraid of no attack Minas Tirith might muster.
"How are we going to get this onboard? And how are we going to light it? And what is it?!"
"SHUSH!" They slowly made their way to the ship that was leading the fleet. It towered over them, and it was frighteningly quiet onboard. Merry looked up at it for a moment and considered.
"Good questions, weren't they?" Pippin gloated.
"Yes, brilliant, now let's get up that rope and get this thing up there, and then get out of here!" Merry replied. His cousin looked at the net of ropes that were lashed together to form a king of intricate net. He groaned, but swam toward it anyway.
"'S hard to swim with no hands..." Pippin whispered. "You never taught me that."
Before Merry could retort, Pippin let go of the large device the two of them were carrying. He used one hand to hoist himself up, and the other in a half-hearted attempt at supporting the mass Merry was left to hold on his own. As soon as he got high enough, he flipped himself to face outward and wrapped his legs around the ropes to support himself. He took the 'thing' from Merry and struggled to keep a hold on it as Merry climbed up the net after him until he was above his head, and he too wrapped his legs securely in the rope, taking the device. They did the same about three times, one climbing above the other, passing the mass off so as to get it onboard quietly, and without dropping it. Pippin was the first to drop onto the deck of the ship, and he crouched into the shadows, searching for any sign of movement. When he didn't see anything, and he didn't think Merry could hold on much longer, he leaned over the side of the ship and took the weight from his arms and set it gently on deck, waiting for his cousin to bring himself over.
"Right... Where do we put this thing?" Pippin asked, not waiting for his companion to catch his breath.
"Somewhere that the pirates won't find it?" Merry panted. Pippin looked around, then, without waiting, rolled the large mass over to a chest and opened it. He grimaced when the hinges, encrusted in rust, creaked, but he heard not another sound onboard. He motioned Merry over, and together they hoisted the large device into the chest. Merry scrambled to a nearby door and took one of the torches that stood on each side, glimmering like silent watchdogs, their flames causing shadows to lick across the entire ship. He returned to the chest and looked over at Pippin, who nodded. Merry carelessly threw the torch into the chest with the 'thing', and closed the lid. The two hobbits looked at each other again, and they needed to speak no words before the ran to the side of the ship and jumped off, yelling and screaming. They hit the water with two loud splashes, and frantically made their way to the shore, scrambling as far away as possible from the ship. They were not but a few paces from the bank when they heard a loud explosion, and the both dropped to the ground, covering their heads, fearing for their very lives. When he got enough courage, Merry looked around at the ship they had just left, and all that was there was a skeleton of the thing that was there, and it was burning like a bonfire during the winter. Pippin stared with wide eyes.
"So that's what it does!"
Q: What were Prongsie and Paddy armed with when they left to rescue
Andwuen from the Uruk-Hai?
Q: What does Xara suggest Merry and Pippin should go into as a career?
Last issue's answers:
A: With his own mattress and a lovely feather pillow. Issue 21.
A: Bite back. Issue 23.
Xara: You wake up one morning to discover the entire world has been
taken over by the evil Dark Lord Morgoth. Damn that vala and his surprise
tactics!! What do you do next?
Huan: I would do what we call a situation analysis:
Who did it?
What did he do?
Why did he do it?
Where did he do it?
When did he do it?
How did he do it?
Stage 2 of this analysis would be to determine the best possible counter
Who/how many people do I have to work with?
What do we need to do?
Why do we need to do it?
Where do we need to do it?
When do we need to do it?
How are we going to do it?
The above measures usually result in containment of the enemy. When
and if stage 2 is reasonably succesfull, stage 3 will be launched which
is ussually an all out counter attack or a series of (guerilla tactics)
hit and run attacks. After many years of labour I will defeat the Dark
Xara: Aragorn's son has just inherited the throne of Gondor and, being
of a particularly artistic disposition, has ordered that no stranger may
enter Minas Tirith without presenting a self-composed poem on entry. You
have important news for the new King but your poem got destroyed in a freak
lightning storm the night before. What now?!
Huan: I would simply say as follows:
I have tidings for the King, Alas
Hinder me not, allow me to pass
I dont have time for your children's games
Let me through, dont be an ass...
Xara: You meet a hobbit on your way to work and emerge from the encounter
with your leg broken in three places, two black eyes, a broken rib, internal
bleeding and a nasty bump on the head. What happened?
Huan: I was giving the Hobbit and his friend swordfighting lessons and one thing led to another and two minute little 3feet tall next-to-nothing-sized, minature little Hobbits overpowered me. Their bite was greater than their bark!!!
Samwise had a family emergency (young Pippin Gamgee is stuck in a keg)... Perian is filling in.
What can I do to stop my sister from constantly watching 'Crossroads' (a Britney Spears movie) over and over again when the option of hiding or burning it is, well, not an option?
Tell your sister that every time she watches "Crossroads", well, you'll just go about enjoying what you like as well. Put on a thoroughly inappropriate soundtrack on over it... Something by Howard Shore, perhaps?
My Frodo lies over the ocean, my Frodo lies over the sea, my Frodo lies over the ocean, oh bring back my Frodo to me!
Would you mind if I joined in the chorus? Oh! I mean... Erm, have you tried writing him to tell him that the Shire is under the the looming threat of industry, and that you'll help him clear it out if he contacts you straight away?
One of my co-workers in the lab is about 27 or 28 years old and is very shy and quiet. I want to get to know him a little bit since I like to be friendly with everyone but he hardly speaks. How do I get this guy to talk to me?
Hmm... Start off with a compliment. "You look like a hobbit," would work nicely if he knew what you were talking about, but as he doesn't, something more commonplace might be better. He'll blush and murmur a "thank you" but chances are he will start to open up after that. Keep at it! Persistance (aka stubbornness) pays off.
I've upset a large number of Tolkien fans and I'm afraid that they will be out for my blood soon. What do I do?! Should I lock myself into a basement and live in there for the next few months?
No... that will give them time to alow talk and plots against you to fester. Probably the best thing to do would be to show your devotion to the story (even if you have a hard time reading Tolkien, and even if you aren't particularly devoted.) Brush up on your LotR (by watching the movies, if needed,) chitchat with fans about it (without bringing up the fact that you didn't enjoy the books,) host a Silmarillion costume party (well? It's very textbookish. Much more so than LotR.)
Wow - I know that I haven't been visiting the site much, but
this is ridiculous! You folks really to talk a lot! Good to see that the
boards are alive with the sound of chatter. (OK, OK so I'm trying to be
clever - apparently, it is not working). Moving on then, eh?
As usual, we being with a welcoming message to the new members. Welcome Meriodoc, Marriadoc and UnsteppedPrance2DanceChigiwlotr to i Nili o i Ardanole. We hope you have a pleasant, long stay.
Angel, our heavenly member who had disappeared off the face of the Earth, has now returned. Good to see you back, Angel. We hope your exams went well.
Still in the "Returning Members" category, Viggo's Girl is also back ... although "back" may be a misleading word. She broke her left knee and was in the hospital for 2 weeks getting surgery and treatment. Fortunately, she is recovering at home with the aid of a knee brace. We wish her all the best.
While on the subject of knees, Fool of a Took is recovering nicely from her knee surgery and should be hopping around in no time.
Fan and Quickbeam are still in the process of moving house and have not been heard from in some time. Padfoot is leaving us for a few weeks to go on a trip to Idaho where she will hopefully meet up with fellow i Nili o i Ardanole member Ivy. Keep us updated you two.
Xara is still on her screen capturing binge and more pictures of Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin have been added on the site. Girls, again I say that you will not be disappointed. Xara, where are the pictures of Eowyn? There are male members on this site too! Eh, Huan?
Two of our very own members from the Land Down Under, Xara and Huan, went to a Howard Shore concert at the Sydney Opera House. Apparently, it was much fun. I will not say a word more as I am extremely jealous. All I will say is that I'm glad you'll had a good time.
Since I am Greek (and in charge of this article), I must inform you that Greece made it through to the quarter finals of the Euro 2004 Cup. Yes! Go Greece Go! Ole! Ole! Ole!
Moving onto the "Congratulatory Notes" (and there are quite a few to mention):
Xara's brainchild, All Things Lord of the Rings, celebrated its second year anniversary last week. I know that there are a lot of site members who are thrilled for you Xara so well done.
Prongsie made it to the finals of the Undergraduate Pre-Med Ping-Pong tournament last week, but unfortunately lost to a second year genetics student. Condolences to you Prongsie, but well done in making it that far.
The monthly I Nili O I Ardanole Awards were handed out a few days ago. Congratulations to Huan, who was named the "Member of the Month". Angel was awarded the poetry prize for her piece "Legacy of Undomiel", Lady Morrigan Shadow won the art prize for her "Swamp-Style water Colour" painting and the Site of the Month award went to Perian for her art website. Congratulations to you all! You can view all the nominees works here.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If any members are upset about being included in this article or are hurt that they were missed out, I am to blame. Please address nasty notes to Robert Stames at the following email address: email@example.com. Feedback at the same email address would also be appreciated. This was my idea entirely and is not the fault of Perian, Xara, Prongs or Ivy. Thank you.
WANTED: My runaway muse; I've been looking for her for days. She's about three inches tall (for safe keeping), has hairy feet... couldn't resist, and is rather feisty. If anyone has seen this missing creature please contact Shelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOUND: Large sword of uruk-hai design discovered on doorstep two days ago. Could the owner of the sword please claim it, don't make me come down there!
NOTICE OF THANKS: to Xara for her Father's Day gift suggestions. I will get the Monty Python collection for his bitrthday when I've saved up more money. For now, he was pleased with what he did get, thank God!
LOST: My common sense. Why did I say that Tolkien was boring to a bunch
of Tolkien fans?! Help me find my sense!
Of Places and Geological Features, Part XI:
nan(d): (noun) valley. Nan Dungortheb, Nan Elmoth, Nan Tathren.
nen: (noun) water. Nen Girith, Nenning, Nenuial, Nenya, Cuivienen, Uinen, Nen Hithoel, Bruinen, Emyn Arnen, Nurnen.
orod, plural ered: (noun) mountain. Orodruin, Thanorodrim, Orocarni, Oronet, Ered Engrin, Ered Gorgoroth, Ered Lindon, Ered Lomin, Ered Luin, Ered Nimrais, Ered Wethrin.
os(t): (noun) fortress. Angrenost, Belegost, Formenos, Fornost, Mandos, Nargothrond, Osgiliath, Ost-in-Edhil.
As most of our comments this issue were addressed to or directly referenced our primary reporter, I have more or less handed replying over to her for the fortnight:
My gosh! We do have a lot of columns these days huh? I think we have enough to be getting on with now hehe! Ivy, brilliantly said! I get so annoyed with people who say fantasy isn't believable, I mean, that's the whole point of it! These narrow minded people...anyway, that was an interesting point about trust, but I think there aren't too many trustworthy people around these days. And that must have been so fun Prongseroo! I'm so jealous!!!
Thank you! I agree. These people aren't open-minded or accepting to new ideas. Tsk. Someday...
I haven't died! I miss you all and I promise to be back soon.
I apologize for having to leave, but my summer has gotten horribly busy
so I won't be able to return until September, roughly. For further updates,
ask Ivy (but not after July 9.) Hope you all are well!
Yes, Sam has taken a short leave of absence. She's currently
working on a national award, and that takes up a lot of her time, but she
should be back as soon as school starts up again. The craziness hasn't
left just yet!
Since this is a G rated newsletter, I really cannot say what was on my mind after I read Ivy's article. I think it's fine to have an opinion about the books and the movies, but I think to totally trash them because of some nit-picky things that you find stupid is shameful! Someone should knock some sense into that girl. Enough said.
Yes, well, that's what all of my friends think, anyway. Hehehe. I've converted them all, but this one insists upon what she stated. Some people will never learn... Glad you felt so strongly about it!
I wish to apologise to all Lord of the Rings fans reading this letter. I imagine that it was not only you and Xara who wanted to smack me, but the other fans also. Nothing against Tolkien and his works, but I am not a very big reader. What can I say? When I read, I just get bored very easily. It's not only Tolkien but any author except for text book authors. Sorry.
On behalf of most of all Lord of the Rings fans, don't worry about it. The majority of us have faced the daily "How on earth can you read that endless detail?" and "I had no idea what was going on until I read the movie," and "You read LotR in a MONTH? It's been two years, and I'm still trying to get through that council chapter!" comments. Truth be known, there are many of us (you know who you are) who used to be among those who dreaded reading Tolkien.
We'll help you overcome your fear of novels someday.