Fans, Friends and Fun
Day three of the Con was the biggest yet. I pity any unsuspecting hotel guest who chose this weekend to stay at either of these hotels, unless they happened to be broad-minded and loved science fiction and fantasy. For us, we loved the endless parade of mind-boggling costumes that passed our table. Most of us haven’t had time to visit any exhibits or talks outside of the Tolkien track events, but just watching the other attendees walk past was all the entertainment we needed. Besides, spending all day chatting to Tolkien fans is not a bad way to pass time. We had a laptop set up on the table playing the preview and that would act like a magnet, and there’d always be a laugh of delight when we pointed out the moment where Treebeard blinks. It’s always great to see people watching it for the first time – their jaws drop. We gave away copies of the Fellowship to kids who looked sufficiently excited about the whole thing. Especially ones dressed as Harry Potter or as young Jedi who were ready to take on a new adventure. I envied them having the Fellowship to read for the first time.
We had bookmarks to give away – some of them official art generously provided by Houghton Mifflin, but we also had eight designs given to us by TORN fan artists. People loved them and we watched our stacks of bookmarks get smaller and smaller all day.
We closed the day’s activities at the table with a raffle drawing which drew a huge crowd. We had some Houghton Mifflin books and some of our t-shirts to give away. The remainder of give-aways were decided by asking H-M’strivia questions to the people who were left until they’d won everything.
Better late than never – we can announce the winner of our costume competition on Friday night. First place, Lord of the Nazgul, went to Joseph Kiser, who had a great costume and suitably threatening hiss. Second place went to Andy Myers, an uncanny double for Dominic Monaghan whose costume was carefully made. Third prize went to Kathleen Myers, as Aragorn’s mother Gilraen. Overall (and this was something that I noticed about everyone in costume thoughout the convention) one of the challenges that would make or break the ‘believability’ of the costume was their ability to move and gesture appropriately.
Tom Shippey, author of “Tolkien: Author of the Century” gave a second lecture. This one concentrated less on the link between philology and story-telling and more on what he called the group of ‘one-off’ writers like Tolkien, Orwell, Vonnegut, Lewis and Graves who were traumatised by war and each wrote books that were completely unlike the mainstream in literature – they wrote fantasies that tried to figure out what the authors saw as the evils of the twentieth century. If we’d had more time the talk would have continued on with a group discussion on the nature of evil and morality. Which I would venture to suggest was not something that being discussed in many of the other tracks at the convention.
Shippey was a great speaker who laced his enormously learned discourse with great wit and a store of fascinating stories about his connections with Tolkien, C. S Lewis, and the institution of Oxford University.
TORN Digital did an interview with Tom which will appear on this site at a later date. Quickbeam asked him whether he was a Tolkien apologist and Shippey said he would go further and call himself a Tolkien polemic.
There was a very popular talk on arms and armour presented by Joe Piela of Lonely Mountain Forge. He had an impressive array of extremely realistic (and well-worn) weapons and armour. He talked about the way the re-enactment people have discovered, through building and using the ancient weapons, how people must have fought. The shape of the weapon and the armour determines what is possible for the fighter in question. What was very clever was the way he kept referring it back to Tolkien’s writing about warfare. For instance Tolkien described how the riders of Rohan used their spears to skewer the orcs they attacked – and now people who’ve used a horse and spear in modern re-enactments are able to testify how much power an armed rider has to overwhelm footsoldiers in exactly that way. Joe could refer to a section in Tolkien, pull out the armour or weapon to illustrate it, and describe exactly how it was used.
Later, the ‘Elvish 101″ course was totally full as well – in fact they had to present the talk twice to fit everyone in. Since the movie came out, so many more people are able to appreciate how beautiful Elvish sound, and there is a hunger to learn more.
Saulone from the TORN community site There And Back Again was very popular – like every other Tolkien Track event it was full. Saulone gave a potted history of how TABA came to exist. He talked about vector versus non-vector art – the fluid lines of his site are very much what he would call non-vector. It is not mathematically-based. Saulone wanted to build a site using non-vector art.
SPOILER WARNING FOR THE NEXT PARAGRAPH
Due to high demand (YAY) we were moved into a large ballroom in order to give our “Behind the Scenes at TTT” talk. The fans were more interactive and heckled Calisuri over Saruman’s death on the Wizard Kebab scene, even though as he pointed out, there’s no point shooting the messenger. We checked the approval rating for the first film and the casting in the first film, and got the usual hysteria over Legolas. Hey, I stir it up!
Thanks have to go to Ginger, Stefan and Allen who worked tirelessly to get the Greenbriars room set up for each speaker and to provide them with everything they needed. Next year we have been tipped to get a bigger room.
Thanks also go to Jessica who got us great seats in the Masquerade, the eye-boggling costume contest which crowned the evening.
We’d like to thank all the fans that dropped by and said how much they loved our site – some of them were even wearing our TORN t-shirts.
Sorry we didn’t post any images up with today’s report. The hour was getting late and we ended up using a digital projector in our hotel room and watching FOTR. Look for loads of images tomorrow for the final day of DragonCon.