I will now confess it to the whole world: I wasnt there when Peter Jackson showed up. By the time Sir Ian McKellen came to the party, I was gone. When Howard Shore and Richard Taylor were lining up their Oscars on the pool table of the Hollywood Athletic Club, I had taken a cab driven by a very nice Armenian man back to my cousins apartment in Glendale. What can I say. Among my friends I am a notorious isolationist, and I had already been hanging out for over seven hours. And I wanted to get home before my cousins went to sleepI succeeded at that, by the way, and was able to chat for an hour with my family before going to bed. And I had a 6am train out to Orange County the next morning. But the fact remainsI wasnt there when Peter Jackson showed up. So note to Mr. Jacksonnext year, sir. Bring the Oscar, I will be among the cheering crowd.
The party was lovely. It was terrific to finally meet in person all of the people who make TheOneRing.net so
TORN. Stuffing gift bags was a hoot. A bunch of you party-goers should thank Asfaloth who noticed that Xoanon and I had stuffed over a hundred bags WITHOUT the card game starter packs. Drawing raffles was a ballsome of you can thank me for that as well. Enjoy your busts and your CDs. Getting dressed up and seeing everybody else all glammed was cooland watching Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring walk away with four Oscars was exhilarating.
More about LotR and its Oscars in a moment. (This is still a Tolkien column, aye?) But first just a couple more personal anecdotesthe aforementioned train ride to Orange County nearly ended in disaster. I thought Id save a little money by taking a bus from the train station to the airport. Wrong move. I ended up at the airport a scant thirty minutes before my flight, praying to GodIts a small airport, right? Not a lot of traffic? Security wont be bad? Oh, my stars. Ive flown in and out of Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Chicago recently. Security isnt that bad. Itll be okay. Oh, my word. Folks, when I got to the Orange County Santa Ana John Wayne Airport, I was confronted with a throng of people in a queue the likes of which I have never seen outside Disneyland. It was Californias Spring Break, and it was Monday morningbusiness travel. The security line was a bare minimum of two hours long. I literally stood in the airport and almost cried. "Anwyn, just take a later plane, for the love of pete." Not so simple. Does anybody remember Chris Thile, the mandolin prodigy from last month? Well, I had an appointment for my sister and me to see him play in South Carolina that very night, and a later flight wouldnt cut it. I told the socialist security guard as much, when I asked him for help making my flight. Dude, I realize youve got a job to do, but you didnt have to be rude. Same to the surly man who wouldnt take pity on me and let me cut the line. I understand if you want to say no, but there was no reason to be so @#$*#&@ curt when you could see that I was distraught.
On to the happier part of the tale. Did I make the flight? Did I see Chris Thile and Nickel Creek work their magic on the other coast? I did indeed, thanks entirely to the enormous and unparalleled kindness of strangers. A woman and a man, not of the same party, were compassionate in my distress and allowed me to slip into line with them, although the woman sympathetically observed that it was still at least an hour from where they were and I likely wouldnt make it. The man, however, had connections in higher places. The rest of his business-traveling group were at least an hour up in the line, and since it snaked around (I told you it was Disneyland. I think that line really originated across town at Space Mountain.), we came parallel with them before too long. He said to them, "Hey, youve been saving my place, right? Shes with me," and TOOK ME WITH HIM. In one step I went from desolated to hopeful, thanks to his protection and the unbelievable understanding of the two sweet ladies from Iowa who, though they had waited through the whole tortuous line, did not object to letting two more in front of them. It gets even more amazing than that. In my hurry and flurry and anger at the Mickey Mouse security procedures, when I stuffed all my things through the belt, gathered them up again and took off running as hard as I could go for the other end of the concourse and my gate, where it was already time for my flight to depart, I took everything with me
except my nifty little bag of goodies from the party. Thats right, the coolest thing I was taking out of California, as my colleague Quickbeam so unfortunately refers to it, the "Goody Baggins," was left behind at the security station. And I never would have known it. So focused was I on reaching my plane before it left, I never would have missed it until it was too late. I stood at the counter, heaving to catch my breath after sprinting carrying my luggage, when there came a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see one of my previous saviors, one of the wonderful women from Iowa, holding my bag full of Sideshow/Weta tricks in her hand. And that is the point of this storythough the likelihood they will ever read it is slim, my heart is still full of gratitude to that lady, her friend from Iowa, and the two extraordinarily helpful Californians, all of whom conspired to help me make my flight. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Thanks to those excellent human beings, I was able to ascertain that Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins are every bit as impressive live as they are on CD, and they played both "In the House of Tom Bombadil" and "The Fox," which is the song Tolkien used to parody the words to "The Stone Troll." So my night was complete. Chris and his fiancé Jesse are absolutely charming and I hope to see them again soon.
So, the Oscars. From what I hear, the production camp folks were incredibly gracious. My new friend Frank sent me a picture of himself holding one of the effects Oscars, taken by one of the guys who won it. ! I think he sent it just to taunt me. But in any case, seems like everybody had a blast.
So what about those Oscars? The highlight of the telecast, for me, was seeing TheOneRing.nets pin on Peter Jacksons lapel. I mean
So lets talk about THOSE OSCARS! I have a serious Tolkien thought on this. (Its about time, Anwyn.) On the train the next morning, a guy walked on with the one-volume movie-covered LotR in his hand and read it while the train rolled along. I peeked over his shoulder as I left the train, I think he was near the end of Return of the King. Hope you enjoyed that, mister. On the platform at L.A. Grand Central, there was a guy in a floor-length cloak. I couldnt help but wonder. You should have been in the viewing room every time LotR:FotR was up for an Oscar. The cheers and screams when it won. The groans when it was defeated. The TV cameras from Access Hollywood and elsewhere turning on their bright lights and panning to capture our disappointment or elation. It all made me think: What specifically made us care so much?
Heres what I mean. I have a lot of quarrels with the way the movie did a lot of things, I wont deny it. But I was pulling as hard as anybody in the room when it was up for an award. Do we care so much because of the movie? Or do we care so much because its Tolkien, and hes getting so much popular recognition nowadays? No matter how we personally felt about the movie, did we want it to win Oscars because it was a form of recognition for Tolkien?
Undoubtedly its a little of both. As Tehanu said yesterday after approving a pile of Ringer Reviews, shes discovered that as a fan, she pales in comparison to lots of people who wrote in being, frankly, more than rabid about this film. Lots of folks who have been stout book devotees for years, and lots of folks who saw the movie first and are now devouring the books as fast as they can. So Im sure the split falls a little along those linesif youre really rabid about the movie, you wanted it to win Oscars, and if you were always really rabid about Tolkien, youd still want the movie to win Oscars.
Or do you? Maybe there are still some die-hards out there who are shaking your heads vehemently. I havent heard from any lately, but I know there are those out there who consider Jacksons work a desecration of JRRTs. How did you feel about the Oscars? If you were a Tolkien non-reader before the movie, how do you feel now? If you were a Tolkien fan and thought the movie was okay, what did you think?
Send me your perspectives. Anwyn@theonering.net. I really want to know. Im going to recap the best-made points next month. Im curious about it just because Ive been so divided on this issue ever since the beginningwhat is really driving me to care about this movie and how it fares? Do I really think that how Jacksons work is perceived will affect how Tolkien is perceived? Unfortunately, it can hardly be otherwise at this point, so for that reason, its important that the movie does well. Will Tolkiens work continue to stand, no matter if Jacksons had bombed? Of course. But the perceptions and associations are still there, and will be at least until several years after Return of the King is out of theaters. At any rateI really want to know what you folks are thinking. What do you think about John Ronald Reuel, Peter Jackson, and