Spider named Cetenus monaghani after Dominic Monaghan.
Dr. Peter Jäger, expert consultant to the nature television show “Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan,” discovered a new spider and named it after “Lord of the Rings” actor Monaghan. As most readers of TORn will already know, Monaghan was Merry in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel and also stars on the TV show Jäger is a consultant for (Monaghan was also narrator for our very own documentary feature RINGERS: Lord of the Fans). In a story reported by Science 2.0, the scientist explains his naming choice:
“He places nature in the foreground in a very special manner,” says Jäger, when explaining the dedication of the new spider species. The spider expert also appeared in front of the camera with the actor in a river cave when Monaghan got to meet his eight-legged namesake in its natural habitat.
As the scientist who discovered the creature, he is given the honor of naming it and he gave Monaghan the honor of lending his last name to its official scientific denotation (you’ll remember this ‘binomial nomenclature’ from your High School Science class), Ctenus monaghani, with Ctenus as the species genus with monaghani denoting Monaghan’s passion for species that may be less popular among humans. Thanks to spy Fritzi-M for bringing this to our attention.
The official citation provided by the story:
Citation: JÄGER, P. (2013) Ctenus monaghani spec. nov., a nocturnal hunter from the forest floor in Laos (Araneae: Ctenidae) — Zootaxa 3670 (1): 091–093 dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3670.1
They have been holding casting sessions all over the country, including Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Long Beach, and most recently in Phoenix at their Comicon, where this reporter caught up with them. There are two remaining events to earn a chance to be on “The Quest”. The first will be in New York on Wednesday, May 29 at 7pm at Times Scare NYC, located at 669 8th Ave., New York, NY. 10036. For more details and for a chance to attend, look at the flyer image posted with this article. The final casting session will be held at the Philadelphia Wizard Con taking place this coming weekend. For tickets and information about the con, please visit their website at: http://www.wizardworld.com/philadelphia.html
Not much else was mentioned at the Phoenix Comicon event that wasn’t already in the article, except to mention the time commitment. If chosen, you would be given a 5 week block of time to clear, but you would only need to be gone for 3 weeks. The filming will occur sometime during the summer, but not on where it would be, just that you would need a passport. The show will most likely air sometime in the early New Year. The interview process is pretty quick and painless, and the possible rewards endless, so if you live in either NYC or the Philly area, please do try to make it to one or the other.
What’s with all these new Reality Shows based on geeks, geekdom, and the passion of uber-geek fans? We just heard about THE AMAZING RACE producers launching a new series soon called “THE QUEST” all on the heels of FANBOYS screenwriter getting his new show “GEEK OUT” on AMC. Come with us and explore the next wave of television programming tailored to and inspired by our Sci-Fi / Fantasy audience! Welcome aboard our weekly live webcast (every Tuesday at 5:00pm Pacific Time) filled with all things Hobbity and a good deal more. TORn TUESDAY will begin in less than half an hour, hosted by Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway and Justin Sewell, bringing you up-to-date info and all the rumors we can fit into an hour. We have Barliman’s Chatroom ready to go and lots of fun planned on our Live Event Page here. See you at 5pm!
There once was a little hashtag looking for a cause. Over the past eleven days, #VoteBilbo became a lightning rod of attention and excitement among Ringer fans the world over. In the words of another reporter: “it went beyond viral.” A resounding victory was pulled off by the unlikeliest fandom — an unorthodox lovefest — for an unexpected little hero. Here’s the story of how TheOneRing.net galvanized a remarkable fan audience to achieve a sweet victory!
It started when this year’s MTV Movie Awards announced their vote-in contest for the category “Best Hero” — allowing Instagram and Twitter users to employ hashtags like #VoteIronMan or #VoteHulk — and especially of interest to this phenomenon #VoteBilbo. A few days actually went by without us even noticing there was a contest. Over Easter weekend the staff of TheOneRing.net was working to deliver a great presentation before packed crowds (many hundreds in the standing-room-only hall) at WonderCon, happening right on the tail of a very successful April Fool’s Day prank — so no wonder we were looking elsewhere.
TheOneRing.net first brought attention to the contest on April 3rd with this tweet:
We saw that Kristen Stewart’s character Snow White (from that hunky HUNTSMAN movie) had a stunning 13,556 votes, far more than the other nominees… while poor Mr. Baggins was in very last place with only 226 votes. A pathetic showing that would have me old Gaffer shaking his head in shame.
By using Twitter to muster our troops, within a mere 24 hours we saw a mighty surge of thousands of votes — yes THOUSANDS — and it kept going strong from there. We hit the Twitterverse so hard that #VoteBilbo started trending, everyone outside of our community actually picked up on it, K.Stew quickly lost her lead (causing her fanbase to respond), and thus “The Great Battle of the Fandoms” was in full swing.
We realized that TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN fans were supporting their chosen actress, *not* the character she portrayed, a bit of irony not lost on us. The category “Best Hero” did not really mean “Best Actress You’re A Fan Of From Another Franchise Because You Didn’t Really Watch This Movie.” Their rigorous support for the actress rather than the character made the whole contest a bit of a sham, in that context. Rather unfair, in this Ent’s personal opinion, that a true statement of how we regard our heroes was being skewed so badly. Undoubtedly Twi-hards have been a huge segment of MTV’s target audience, and plenty of naysayers told us that we didn’t have a chance to tip the scales. We were glad to have a challenge: a task to show what genuine fan-love of a heroic character really looks like, with numbers not seen since the Muster of Rohan!
The meteoric trending of #VoteBilbo caught everyone’s attention. Warner Bros. Pictures officially supported the effort with this missive from their Twitter account ‘TheHobbitMovie’ on April 5th, which spurred tens of thousands of new votes:
Our burglar, Bilbo Baggins, is nominated for Best Hero atthe 2013 MTV Movie
The other nominees were floundering: Batman and Catwoman were left in the dust of a deserted Gotham City as Bilbo VS. Snow White became a runaway viral showdown. But the numbers were not quite right. Certain fake Twitter accounts (spam-style “bots”) were discovered processing blank-except-for-the-hashtag #VoteSnowWhite tweets, but they were reported and shut down. Our support for Mr. Baggins was quite organic, and the funny thing was that votes were not coming from some hardcore group of Martin Freeman supporters, though they exist, but rather from Tolkien-lovers who really wanted to make a true statement about Bilbo Baggins.
April 6th proved to be a huge day! The media-watch group WHO TRENDED IT? posted this tweet on April 6th, giving TORn proper credit:
Guess what ! #votebilbo trending in the US ? @theoneringnet did it ! Now, that’s badass. Even as a cold hearted robot, I’m impressed.
Within his wonderful vote-tracker page we could see exactly what was going on, relative to the timing of our announcements on TheOneRing.net (and our Facebook timeline and Twitter, of course). When there was doubt our votes were less than stellar, we rallied again!
Stars from the LOTR Film Trilogy and even newer actors from THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY jumped on board! Their timing was perfect — and because these actors are actually paying attention to what fans are saying on Twitter, it felt like a genuine grassroots effort was brewing. We had tweets from Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck) and Dean O’Gorman (the dwarf Fili) on the same day Evangeline Lilly (upcoming new character Tauriel) retweeted our comments — pleased as we were to ultimately learn that retweets counted as full votes!):
More ambitious creative folks within our Ringer ranks started posting videos designed to bring a smile to your face as well as playfully jab at Bella Swan — and MTV reported on it, realizing that the race was getting quite aggressive between the two camps. ‘If you liked it then you shoulda put a Ring on it’ had a whole new meaning with Speigel Ei’s Vimeo clip:
“HOBBIT fans went straight for the gut of Team #VoteSnowWhite,
who have to watch as several of the characters from Middle-earth court
Kristen Stewart to their side over Edward Cullen,” declared the MTV blog, and we realized this was indeed a chance to show our resplendent fandom in a unique way. The fact that we have been in love with Tolkien’s HOBBIT characters for 75 years since the book was first published supported the sky-high numbers of votes.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VOTES POURED IN DAILY. When the final weekend of the Awards telecast began on April 13th, we broke 1 million votes. K.Stew voters were trying to keep up; sometimes we crossed above or below their high-end total. Fans started to create one-click Twitter vote buttons, and we supplied a host of #VOTEBILBO avatars and funny images to become viral memes. Fans started creating their own images (with familiar LOLcat fonts) and sharing them.
Our lovely lady friends Kili and Fili from our HAPPY HOBBIT video channel did a fun little P.S.A. style announcement asking Ringers to bring their votes to bear! We were really building momentum as a community. There was more spirited fun to be had with this contest than we first suspected!
Did we have crossover from other fantasy fans? You betcha! *wink* GAME OF THRONES featured our very own Sean Bean (Boromir) in the first season and of course it was appropriate for him to support his halfling friend.
We were not just sending empty or meaningless tweets with a hashtag in place — we wanted to make this relevant. In an effort to really bring our feelings and honest passion to the center stage, TORn decided to host a concentrated “Tweet Quest” on Sunday April 14th, the day of the MTV Movie Awards. During a tightly-concentrated 1-hour block, and then another encore 1-hour, we asked Ringers to declare why Bilbo should be named ‘Best Hero.’ So we put forward the call to arms.
Boy oh boy, did they respond with a flood of hobbity lovin’!
Fans declared things that mattered to us, that mattered to readers, and as lovers of Tolkien we could certainly relate: “#VoteBilbo because he was the one person who willingly let the Ring go, when no one else could,” was my personal favorite sentiment. We have an audience that included older-generation folks who had never used Twitter, so we gave quick and easy instructions to help guide our friends toward their goal. We provided everything we could — and most importantly we gave this effort true SPIRIT.
It was a phenomenal success. In the end the final tally was:
Giving our furry-footed reluctant adventurer a lead of well over 100,000 to claim the win! Although MTV broadcast the announcement of the winner as a throw-away commercial bumper for Axe body spray (indeed it was shown offstage, not really part of the “actual ceremony”), and although no cast member from THE HOBBIT film was present to receive the award, we here at TheOneRing.net were entirely thrilled to have succeeded with a kind of social networking wizardry that was fueled by you, dear readers.
Such a long way to go from only 226 votes! Such an outpouring of love!
One of our volunteer staffers, Magpie, had this to say: “It was like a flash mob. We did it for us (Wedefined as the greater Tolkien fan community with TORn functioning a major player in focusing that fan community). It was a community campaign that was an event in itself.”
Staffer Justin who produces our Live webcasts and our weekly show TORn TUESDAY had this to say: “Over 27,000 Bilbo pictures on
Instagram in one week! Take a look at all the comments and tweets we got, there is something for everyone to run with. Thank you all for making #votebilbo happen. I received several messages at the beginning saying I was ‘crazy’ and it was ‘Folly against Twi-hards,’ ‘Who cares about MTV,’ and ‘What’s the point of a stupid teenage online popularity contest?’ But this is why fans love being fans. Achieving something together. To Prove Their Quality.”
And that, my friends, is indeed the feeling I have at the end of the day. That we have stood up with a flag of unity once again. That we have proven our quality of thinking creatively and acting with great energy! It feels like it was months in the making but it happened over such a very short length of time (making it the more surprising).
The love that brings us together is our love of J.R.R. Tolkien and his works are evergreen. No separation of older to younger generations or access to technology can slant that. The truth will out!
Hulk sad. Too bad.
Batman gave up the ghost. Because we are the most.
Iron Man clad in shame. Shoulda played his own game.
Catwoman felt an itchy pox. Put kitty back in her smelly box.
Snow White drifted. Twi-hards were sifted (out).
But #BilbotheHero wins the day! We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Much too hasty,
Follow Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway on Twitter: @quickbeam2000
The MTV Movie Awards just announced that Bilbo beat out all the other contenders, including Iron Man, The Hulk, Catwoman, Batman, and Snow White, for the coveted “Best Hero” award. A massive fan effort that spanned continents lead to Bilbo’s victory by a margin of more than 100,000 votes. Using the hashtag #votebilbo, fans cast their votes on Twitter and Instagram and forged a dedicated fellowship committed to showing the world that even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
With more than 1.63 million votes, Bilbo was the clear winner, much to the chagrin of legions of Kristen Stewart and Twilight fans who gave our little hobbit a run for the money. In addition to tweeting, fans created thousands of images that they uploaded to Instagram to share their love for our favorite hero. We’ll have a gallery of some of our favorites online soon.
It’s been a true adventure riding the wild voting rollercoaster, and it’s brought many Ringers together and strengthened our community. From #votebilbo, we’re now united under #BilboTheHero. Click to read about how TORn’s MrCere went from thinking this campaign was “harmless but pretty useless,” to wholeheartedly jumping on board the #votebilbo train as, “A funny thing happened during the process: It became really fun on Twitter to #VoteBilbo!”
With sincere apologies to our local and international online audience: there will not be a TORn TUESDAY live webcast today, as you’ve probably surmised by now. We return to the digital airwaves next week, Tuesday April 16th, at 5:00pm PDT. We are working on several surprising guest interviews and some other mischief you will all enjoy! This particular missed episode today was our chance to talk about the current fan-voting for the MTV Movie Awards BEST HERO category — an online showdown between K. Stewart’s Snow White and M. Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins, as two separate camps of fandom massively point and click to the tune of TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VOTES! This heated contest continues right now with every Tweet and Instagram post, right up until next Sunday’s broadcast of the Awards. Keep tweeting dear Ringer friends! Bilbo is currently ahead — but the armies of prepubescent Twi-hards are loathe to give up this public crowning of their dear Miss Homewrecker Stewart as “best hero” (which seems quite absurd since we know the real hero of that movie was actually the Huntsman, played with Asgardian might by Chris Hemsworth. But I digress… Until next Sunday keep up the Tweets with hashtag #VoteBilbo and we will surely win the day! See you next week Ringer faithful!
You may have never heard of it, but Hobitit (literally The Hobbits) is a 1993 Finnish mini-series that’s one of the few live-action adaptations of Middle-earth. Produced by Olof Qvickström, it is based on both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The series, which runs to nine-parts, reveals how Bilbo acquired the One Ring from Gollum in the first episode, then follows the journey of Frodo and Sam to Mount Doom. It is narrated by an older Sam to a group of young Hobbits.
I have to say that the look of Boromir’s outfit is mad — he’s like a sort of samurai with a topknot of many braids and a tattoo etched into his scalp. If you want to check out what this particular adaptation envisioned for the look of each of the members of the Fellowship, skip forward to the events of Episode 5. (more…)
Last night in North America marked the launch of the remarkable new nature series Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan; and he kindly agreed to give TheOneRing.net an exclusive sit-down Q&A. The British actor, best known to Ringer fans as Meriadoc Brandybuck, is already receiving rave reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and other press. His show premiered in this country on BBC America and will have a full season of eight episodes at 10:00pm Eastern, 9:00 Central.
With the very funny TORn TUESDAY webcast freshly completed, and Billy Boyd having left the Meltdown Comics studio, Dom took a more reflective moment to sit with host Cliff ‘Quickbeam’ Broadway and discuss his passion for, and desire to get closer to, those creatures least likely to inspire a kiss, yet all the more fascinating for his enthusiasm!
Quickbeam: Dominic, congratulations on the launch of your new show!
Dominic Monaghan: Well thanks. Yeah – I’m nervous about the launch, because it’s just me. You know, it’s not me being incredibly well protected and insulated by a huge trilogy of movies and a big ensemble cast. And also, it’s something that I feel very protective and precious about – you know, it’s like my little ‘precious’ One Ring. The natural world is something that I’m passionate about, and something that I want people to be compassionate about, because of the way that I feel about it … so, it’s the first time I’ve really hosted something – especially something that’s a significant portion of my life – and there’s a vulnerability attached to that. As an actor, you can always say, “Well, they didn’t like my character in Wolverine but maybe they just didn’t like Wolverine, or they didn’t like that character I played; or they didn’t like my character in The Lord of the Rings, but maybe they just didn’t like that character or they don’t like fantasy films … but with Wild Things, if someone doesn’t like it, there’s a pretty high chance that they don’t like ME. And that is something that you have to come to terms with. And you know, I’ve been an actor for twenty years now, so I’m okay with people saying anything they want about me, but it does put you in a much more vulnerable position.
Q: Well, you created this show, and the heart and the concept comes from your love of the great outdoors, and your affinity for the creatures in the natural world, with whom we share this planet. How do you feel about the state of conservation efforts, and protection of wildlife efforts?
DM: I did create the show; it’s something that I’m passionate about. I think the thing that irks me the most about where we’re at right now in our society, is … there’s an automatic rejection of anything that’s put forward as a notion in our society. So, if someone says, ‘Justin Bieber is great,’ someone will automatically say, ‘Justin Bieber is rubbish.’ And that’s just because you can’t please anyone all of the time. My issue with the conservation situation is, people say, ‘We need to change the way that we’re behaving because we’re creating global warming and we’re changing our climate.’ And then other people come out and say, ‘Climate change isn’t real, that isn’t what’s happening – we’re going through a natural change in the planet.’ My argument is, let’s say for the sake of argument, global warming ISN’T real – which I don’t necessarily believe – but let’s say it isn’t real; why wouldn’t we make positive changes to deal with our carbon footprint and how much of an impact we make on our planet? We know for a fact that we create poisons and toxins by working in our industries and by driving our cars and moving our vehicles around. If those poisons are toxic, they have to go somewhere; and even if they go somewhere that doesn’t affect us, it affects the general balance of our galaxy. We create a poison, and we go, ‘Here you go planet – or galaxy – deal with it!’ That’s a negative stance to take. So my whole idea is, you can call us liberal and you can call us mong bean salad eaters, and you can call us hippies – and we wear hemp and all that kind of thing … but what we’re trying to do is the right thing, I think. It’s the correct way to behave. Make less waste, be responsible, be positive. Treat everything living correctly.
Q: And appreciate the synergistic connections you have with other creatures on this planet.
DM: Right. We have a very ‘overfaluted’ idea of what humans are, and our place on the planet. And outside of creating technology and art, we don’t really do anything special, I don’t think. And the most damaging animal on the planet, I would say, is categorically a human. And the most valuable animal on the planet is probably something like a worm, or an ant, or a small beetle. Or a parasitic fly, or something like that – because of what they do. They create fresh air, they till our soil, they pollinate our fruits and vegetables. Humans don’t even feature in the top fifty. But we walk around like we’re the bosses and like we know what’s going on … meanwhile ants, millions of them living in very confined quarters … there’s no murder, there’s no rape, everyone gets fed, they look after their kids, they don’t cause a carbon footprint, they take care of their trash. And we shun them, we throw them off our picnic table! These are important animals!
Q: Indeed. What are some of the most appealing animals you’ve encountered, during the first season of Wild Things?
DM: I really like hymenoptera. Hymenoptera’s a class in the insect species which is bees, wasps and ants; they all come from the same place. Essentially, an ant is a wingless wasp from an evolutionary point of view, and bees fit in there as well; highly social, sophisticated societies … they behave in a way that we understand, because we live in highly social, sophisticated societies. I admire the way that they organize their communities, where they don’t cause as much of a mess as we do!
I wanted to tell those stories, but also I needed to tell – and I wanted to tell – dynamic stories in the invertebrate world, and that led me to things like the world’s largest spider, the world’s most dangerous aquatic insect, the world’s most dangerous scorpion. Nowadays, you have to stick yourself on the firing line a little bit – which I was more than happy to do, because I love these animals and I wanted to tell their stories. There’s an element of shocking the audience; but what I talk about with the world’s largest spider is that, for me at least, that has the same cache as something like a great white shark or a bengal tiger. When you say to someone, ‘I went to find the world’s largest spider,’ they recoil; they go, ‘How big was it, what does it look like?!’ It’s the same feeling as a great white shark. So I wanted to show that you can go to these places. It might not be really easy to access those places; but you can go there, you can have an amazing experience with these animals; and they’re not out to get you! They don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Where’s a human? I need a human to eat!’ Spiders don’t act like that. If you hurt them or damage them, or come into their territory, they might protect themselves; but they’re not out to get us.
Q: There’s an interesting approach to telling these animals’ stories; we anthropomorphize them. We attach certain human qualities to some of these creatures; have you noticed that, while you were making the show?
DM: Yeah, we talk about ‘nasty spiders’ or we talk about ‘vicious snakes’ or ‘man killing sharks’. These are animals that have unfortunately got themselves into a situation that they don’t want to be in, which is coming into contact with a human. Sharks do not want to go around us; they’re not interested in going around us. Not only are we not good eating, but we’re going to cause a lot of trouble for that shark; we’re probably either going to – they think – kill it, or the fishermen will come back and kill it later. And with these animals like bees and wasps, and scorpions and spiders – all these things that have venom that can hurt us – that venom is very, very important to that animal. It’s a very sophisticated amount of proteins that they create, and it takes a lot of energy for them to create that venom; so they don’t give it away cheaply. You’d have to really annoy a spider for it to envenomate you, because they use it when they really need it. So my feeling with people when they talk about, ‘Urgh, bees, they’re so scary!’ – I’m just like, look, if you get away from the hysterical four year old that’s living inside you, that was at one point stung by a bee – and generally, you know, it hurts when you’re a little kid – nowadays if you get stung by a bee, it’s annoying, it’s not your favourite part of your day, but it’s not going to ruin your day.
Q: What is the coolest, most exotic place you went to visit?
DM: Gosh … hmmm – the geographical place that sticks in my head from the first season was Laos, southeast Asia. I’ve been to Thailand a few times, loved it; I got told that Thailand was like Laos, fifty years ago. You know, not very built up; great street food; great people – they’re all Buddhist, very very chilled out, very keen to help; amazing natural flora and fauna everywhere – mountains and greenery. The main thing that really struck me about Laos was the food; when we were in Vientiane, which is the capital city, we’d wake up and go for breakfast – and you’d have really fresh, spicy fish soup for breakfast. I love spicy food! I was like, ‘Ah, this is heaven!’ The people were so friendly, they went out of their way to help you – lovely nature; they all love Manchester United, which works for me [laughs] … and you know, it’s very exotic. You’re eating stuff that you’ve never seen before – it’s all so fresh…
Q: You can’t pronounce what you’re eating!
DM: Yeah, you just go [points], ‘Can I have that please?’ Yeah, great country.
I really liked Cameroon as well. Very different, Cameroon. Lots of red and brown clay everywhere, in terms of the colour scheme of the country. The people that we went to see didn’t have a lot; they lived in houses where the electricity was turned off at 9pm … they didn’t have an abundance of food or water, or even clothing – stuff like that … [but] so happy, so sweet. All the little kids just wanted to get picked up, and play, and hang out with you … I was doing silly little magic tricks that they liked … and you know, stray dogs running around everywhere… The food wasn’t fantastic in Cameroon but the spirit of the people was amazing, you know? They’re all very entrepreneurial – they genuinely are. They really have nothing, and you see them making kids’ toys out of little bits of broken wood and rubbish, you know, trash that you would throw out – and these little kids have got these little remote control cars made out of elastic bands and plastic bottles and stuff. Very, very innovative – I loved Cameroon.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you had, in creating and pitching this show?
DM: I think the biggest challenge pitching the show was convincing the people who were giving me the money that I could do the job; because I think all they’d been exposed to, as a general rule, was me in Lord of the Rings, and me in Lost, and maybe a couple of other things that they might have seen … so they’re probably sat there, being very polite, thinking, ‘OKAY, what does this English actor know about tropical species? And why are we giving him an inordinate amount of money to fly a six man crew to Vietnam or Malaysia … and he gets there and goes, “I’m not doing that, and I’m not doing that – and I’m not eating that, and it’s too hot, and where’s my hotel?” ‘ I think there was a feeling of, ‘What is this even going to be?’
So I would sit in these meetings and just talk at length about my passion about animals, and I think that opened people up a little bit; and then I went to the Malibu mountains with a friend of mine, and we shot footage of me catching lizards and catching velvet ants – this type of wingless wasp – and catching snakes, and checking out animal tracks and stuff – just to show that …
Q: You’re an outdoorsman!
DM: Yeah. I mean, I like being outside and I go to Joshua Tree a lot; spend some time out there … whenever I’m countries I tend to go into the wilderness and see what’s available. I know what to look for, where the animals are going to be – and I think people needed to be educated on that. Hopefully, now that the show is going to be available for an audience, the audience will feel the same way.
I also didn’t want to come across as a professor, because I’m not – or a learned guy, when I’m not. I’m a very, very enthusiastic animal lover – and if you put me in a biology class in university, I’ll embarrass myself! But if you put me with a group of people on the street, and they say, ‘Pick a holiday’ – you know, some people might say, ‘Go to Cabo San Lucas,’ or some people might say, ‘Go to Vegas for the weekend.’ But I would say, ‘Where’s the furthest you’ll fly me, that’s the most remote?’ I want to escape – travel for me is all about escape. I want to go somewhere where I don’t know the currency, where I don’t know the language, where I don’t know the food – and just try new stuff. I mean, any time I’m trying new stuff, I’m not bored – and I’m very susceptible to getting bored!
Q: Perhaps you’re a kindred spirit with Viggo, who is also a master outdoorsman!
DM: Yeah, he really is a very, very gifted outdoorsman, and unintimidated by being out there. A true artist. You know, I think my abiding memory – although obviously he’s still around! – but my abiding thought about Viggo is the artistry of the man. He’s obviously a very talented actor, but you know, Viggo’s an accomplished poet, a fantastic painter, a brilliant photographer; he acts in different aspects, in theatre, in film; he’s a singer, he’s a writer … I was inspired by his … almost need to get out his art. And he continues to be like that. I saw him in London, in this hotel room – and he just had stuff everywhere! Letters and posters and paint and scarves and DVDs and books – and he’s passing me this – ‘Read that! Watch that! Do this! Here’s that!’ Every time you see Viggo, you walk out with stuff; you’re like [mimes arms loaded with stuff], ‘Yeah, alright – I’ll see you in a week – I’ll check this stuff out!’ He’s an inspirational guy.
Q: One of the animals that you encountered in the preview [for Wild Things] was the monocle cobra. It was surprising that you were looking for some other creatures, and accidentally stumbled across this deadly snake! Unexpected… and you had a six-man crew with you. Did anybody encounter any bites; what danger was your crew in?
DM: We were lucky enough to not get tagged by the monocle cobra! I think what happened was, we were in the paddy field looking for this giant water bug, and I noticed when we were in the paddy field that we were rustling mice and rats out of the paddy field … because they sleep there in the daytime. They’re nocturnal species, obviously. And I noticed a little [makes rustling noise] moving in the paddy grass, the paddy rice – and I thought, ‘What’s going on there? Oh, that’s probably a mouse – and that’s probably a rat…’ And it happened two or three times … and we were flushing – we were walking, and we were flushing these mice out of this field as we were spreading apart … and what happened was, when we got to part of the end of the field, this snake was coming into the field, thinking, ‘What is going on here?’ There’s three or four mice running around in the middle of the day – and that’s unusual. You’ll hear me, at the start of that scene – I say to the cameraman, ‘Go that way, go that way, go that way!’ And that’s me saying to my entire crew – who were all behind the cameraman – ‘Spread out! Go FAR that way!’ – because it was a venomous snake, and I knew it was a cobra. And as soon as the crew is safe, and my only concern now is protecting me, then I can attempt to control the situation – but I can’t control five other grown men, you know! So you’ll hear me in the show going, ‘Move back move back move back!’ – and that’s me talking to the crew all the time!
No-one got hit by the snake, but my medic, who’s an ex-military guy and has been in a few combat situations, was stung by a bullet ant when we were in Ecuador, and they’re aptly named, because it’s supposed to feel like you’ve been shot by a bullet – and he spent two days in bed! He got stung about 11am, left that day – he was like, ‘I feel awful, I’m going to have to go and take care of this’ – and we didn’t see him until a day later; so all that day he slept, the next day he was in bed sleeping, and then we saw him the day after that! We were like, ‘Are you ok?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I spent two days essentially feeling like my thumb was being constantly hit by a hammer, just pounding, pounding…’ And he took a fair amount of anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines, and it didn’t do any good to him!
Q: I’ve never heard of this creature!
DM: The bullet ant! It is a formidable looking ant! It’s big, it’s scary looking – they’ll come at you! I have one on a stick in the Ecuador episode, and they’ll jump as well – so I’m constantly looking at the camera, looking at the ant, looking at the camera, looking at the ant… [laughs]
Q: Here in America, I grew up watching a show called Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. And Wild Kingdom was THE thing to watch, when you were a kid in the Seventies; we didn’t have any other nature documentaries. There were no other shows covering the natural world. It was fascinating! Even though they covered the basics – you know, the great mammals of the Serengeti – things that we’ve seen over and over again since then; but it created in me a lifelong fascination and affinity for the beasts and the birds and the natural world. And I think that’s why a lot of us Ringer fans feel so much towards Radagast; as we feel connected to those descriptions of the natural world in the books.
DM: Yeah, you and I have had almost the same journey with our natural history. When I was younger, I was brought up on David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau – it was the same. There was a very small amount of nature shows being made, and the ones that were being made were high quality – but it was maybe once every couple of months you’d see something. There’s much more around nowadays. The interesting thing about the ‘good guys’ in The Lord of the Rings – certainly the Fellowship, everyone associated with the Fellowship, everyone associated with the alliance against Sauron and Saruman – they’re all connected to the earth. Hobbits are very connected to the earth; men are; wizards are; elves are; dwarves are. Dwarves are probably the least so, but even dwarves have a connection with the rock and the stone and the mountain; elves love forests; humans spend a lot of time … I mean, Aragorn obviously lives in the forest, he’s an outcast. Arwen controls water; the hobbits know where to find stuff in the forest, and how to eat off the land. And obviously, the relationship with Treebeard is significant. So, I think Tolkien saw that there is a real positive, good element to being connected to your world, to knowing about your local environment – you know, the trees and the plants and the animals and the birds, and how it all works.
Q: Fantastic! I wish you huge success with the North American launch of your show.
DM: Oh thank you. Me too!
Q: I’m really excited to see some of the places that are way off the beaten path – as you described – because of the discovery of something new, that you don’t have every day in your life. Many people go through life in the drudgery of the same routine, without ever discovering new things; it is so uplifting, it will raise your consciousness of the world you’re in – and I applaud you on that.
DM: I appreciate that alot. And thanks for giving me your time. I think that, nowadays, it’s very hard to – not necessarily shock people – but to wake people up out of that feeling that they’re in; nothing is that interesting anymore, and nothing is that shocking, because they’ve seen everything on google, and they can access everything so quickly. And I think we’re losing that almost childlike enthusiasm about things that genuinely awesome. You know, we bandy around the word ‘awesome’ a lot – a hotdog is awesome, or my trousers are awesome or my shoes are awesome – but the natural world, the way that our planet works, the way that our universe slots into place so beautifully — that is genuinely awesome. And I’m hoping that if people watch the show, and they explore around, they’ll find things like a spider’s eye awesome; or that fact that a bumblebee can fly. Awesome.
Q: Thank you Dominic. We’ll see you on the show – BBC America, 10pm Eastern, 9pm Central, Tuesday – Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan.
DM: One episode a week for eight weeks – and then we’re in talks right now to do the second season… and I’ll bring Billy Boyd with me for the second season! [laughs] I don’t think we’d get much work done to be honest…
What are all the young kids reading today? TOLKIEN! Legions of fans who followed the hit Disney Channel series “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” may be surprised to learn star Dylan Sprouse has embraced his inner-geek, avidly loves Tolkien, and has already seen THE HOBBIT: AUJ four times. Join us on today’s *live* webcast as congenial host Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway is joined by this special young talent: a Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award-winner and T.V. star who’s here to show how generational love of J.R.R. Tolkien is handed down to kids and inspires them to great things! If you’ve got a youngling in the house who’s a fan, they’ll definitely want to join the show *live* and bring their comments to the chat! TORn TUESDAY begins at 5:00PM Pacific Time right here on our Live Event Page, or you can turn on your camera and join in our Stickam hosted page here. You can even watch live from your smartphone using the Stickam App.
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, Warner Bros. made TV spot #12 available on their facebook page today. This spot is mostly a re-shuffling of previously seen footage, but we do catch a glimpse of wargs being ridden and Gandalf striking the ground with his glowing staff. The length of this TV spot is similar to most of the others, weighing in at 34 seconds. This is just the thing to get you through to the movie openings which start in less than 48 hours! Have a look.
For those of you who couldn’t catch The Colbert Report’s Hobbit Week, TheOneRing.net has assembled links to clips from the shows. Steven Colbert, a self-professed Tolkien uber-geek, dedicated this past week to interviewing cast members from the upcoming Hobbit movie. Interviews included Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Sir Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, and director Peter Jackson himself. Follow the links below to see all five spots, but beware that it’s been reported there may be a spoiler or two!
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