Welcome to the first “Getting to know…” questions that need answering. It’s based on the old Getting to know you threads that I used to post on the message boards here, so those familiar with them will know that the questions can be a little crazy and the answers even crazier.
This month we’re asking questions of our favourite Ent, and Host of TORn Tuesday, Quickbeam.
Once again, thank you for agreeing to take part in all of this Quickbeam.
Me: Remembering, of course, that your beautiful kitty passed on just before you left for “Where the Stars are Strange“. Do you have any cats or other pets?
Quickbeam: Ah yes, that was a blow. I remember very clearly how I wanted to just “close up shop” when my little feline friend died. The thought of pleasurable vacationing in New Zealand seemed out of bounds, but obviously I went. Perhaps that is a normal response for anyone who has taken guardianship of an animal… those are the bonds of love that are peculiarly the strongest. The idea then came to me of how I might be sharing my unique trip to Middle-earth with the spirit of my lost friend. Somehow it was therapeutic and indulgent at the same time.
That five-part account of my travels to the active set of “The Lord of the Rings” became, I believe, one of the strongest pieces I’ve ever written, and is forever imbued with the memory of a ghost-cat. Coincidentally, TheOneRing.net had the series published in the site’s first book, “The People’s Guide To J.R.R. Tolkien,” which also featured wonderful material from our other staff writers, Tehanu, Anwyn, Turgon, and Ostadan, who collectively helped create our classic GREEN BOOKS online magazine.
Yes, I always have had dogs & cats, tree frogs and tropical fish, and feel like Dr. Doolittle sometimes. My current is a sold black panther tomcat with a Maori name: “Pounamu.”
Me: What kind of car do you drive? Assuming you drive and/or have a car.
Quickbeam: I’ve been very glad to *avoid* owning a car — even in a town like Los Angeles it’s possible! There’s a stunningly useful carsharing service called ZIPCAR, that lets members “share” energy-efficient cars that are parked in their neighborhood for a cheap hourly fee. I don’t pay for the usual debilitating costs of car ownership like parking, lease payments, insurance, maintenance, or GAS! And looking at the insane prices of gas these days really brings the point home. Zipcar saves me about $9,000 a year and I significantly reduce my carbon imprint by only using a car when I need access to it. Win-win situation for everyone. Ha! maybe they should hire me to do their marketing.
Me: Who was your favourite cartoon character when you were a kid? AND is it still your favourite?
Quickbeam: Do I have to pick only ONE? Many people know I’m an animation buff, perhaps in my own mind an “armchair historian” of the art form. I’m always talking about animated works and filmmakers — it’s my other great passion besides Tolkien.
I grew up first watching Felix the Cat and Underdog on TV. Those two were my first favorites! And of course everything from Jim Henson — including Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. My heart leapt with joy watching classic Looney Tunes and marveling at how fluid Mel Blanc was switching his voice between characters like Sylvester and Tweety. I thought June Foray was the ultimate voice! She created Witch Hazel and Smurfette and Rocky the Flying Squirrel!
Then came the Rankin/Bass animated version THE HOBBIT and my little 11 year-old mind exploded! Bilbo Baggins and Smaug were my favorite characters.
Today I’m a Miyazaki/ Studio Ghibli fanatic and just can’t get enough of that style of storytelling. My very favorite character of his considerable oeuvre is probably Prince Ashitaka, from Miyazaki’s most intense Eco-Mythology-War masterpiece, “Princess Mononoke.”
Me: What do you think will be different in The Hobbit films with Peter Jackson directing instead of GDT, given that GDT participated in design and co-wrote the screenplay?
Quickbeam: I’ve been wondering about this for some time now — and it seems likely this production will be only slightly marked by del Toro’s scent. I know they worked together on the first draft of the script for over a year but as with all Peter Jackson films, everything is being re-written everyday. Sometimes rewrites appear for the poor actors ON THE DAY of actual shooting! I’ve heard an unsubstantiated rumor from a studio insider that not very much of what was distinctly Guillermo del Toro remains in the newest drafts; except perhaps the structure and placement of narrative episodes working across the two films.
I also suspect that there may be less visceral violence — perhaps PJ will keep to the (relatively) bloodless mayhem he showed such mastery of in the Trilogy. Remember how even thought Lurtz and other vile orcs were getting chopped up during battle, we were not really seeing R-rated arterial bloodspray. We shall see if GDT’s darker and more insistent love of creatures and creature effects will be evident in how Smaug is portrayed. I’m very excited to see him more than any other character!
Me: What is your regime for fitness and generally your diet and health game-plan?
Quickbeam: Working part-time as a Bounder in the South Farthing keeps me very fit. I’m on my hairy feet all day without a break. I end up chasing a lot of escaped pigs. They seem to always find a way out of their pens — those clever little piggies.
The farmer’s wives keep me well fed on buttered scones and apple tarts, but I find a way to burn those calories off. I must have one of those metabolisms that makes other hobbits (like those fitness-crazed fellows in Buckland) really envious.
Me: When traveling to your home town, what should I absolutely go see and/or do?
Quickbeam: I’m from the eastern coast of Florida where the manatees swim in gentle inland rivers and the sun shines through the rain. New Smyrna Beach is still an adorable beach-town, despite all its growth, with the most pleasant white sandy shoreline. Take your Elven heart to the beach and listen to the waves… You’ll never be the same.
Me: If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Quickbeam: Oh Lordy, here comes the classic late 70’s Barbara Walters question. I knew I’d have to face this. The Anglo-philes out there may never forgive me but I’d love to be a Chinese Elm — or perhaps a Jacaronda. They’re so beautiful but messy! Sadly, neither of those arboreal species are native to Tolkien’s England, or Middle-earth, but my heart is within their sap, bark, wood, and blossoms. Or perhaps the other way around.
Me: Are you as uncharacteristically hasty, as your username suggests?
Quickbeam: Yes, I’m the guy to go to for snap judgments and half-baked mischief. C’mon, you knew that already 🙂
Me: What superhero would you like to be?
Quickbeam: Tough one! I’d love to be classic Marvel character Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, mostly because he gets away with wearing drag and making a lot of funky gang signs with his hands when he casts spells… and he gets a free pass on all that over-the-top theatricality because he’s a bona fide “superhero!”
Me: What’s your favourite way to procrastinate; besides TORn?
Quickbeam: In my home the Christmas Tree stays up till St. Patrick’s Day — I call it my “Grand Temple of Procrastination.”
Me: What books do you like to read (besides Tolkien, of course), when you have the time?
Quickbeam: I’m on a big H.P. Lovecraft kick lately, but actually I’ve been wanting to pick up “Jonathan Strange & Mister Norrell,” which I’ve heard is excellent. And I’m always digesting more comic books, especially those penned by Brian Azzarrello, Neil Gaiman, and Grant Morrison. Even though I love the design of Marvel characters, I’m still a DC guy and love love love the Vertigo imprint. Of course on my next computer tablet, whichever brand I finally choose, I’m gonna get that enhanced E-book of THE HOBBIT! Spectacular!
I hope you’ve all enjoyed this first of the “Getting to know” series and I’d like to thank our Message board regulars, dernwyn, SirDennisC, grammaboodawg, Tar-Atanamir, silneldor, Rosie-with-the-ribbons, Zarabia, DanielLB, Ataahua, HappyHobbitess and Peredhil lover for providing us with this month’s questions.
Remember I’ll be making a lead post over on the Message boards at the start of each month where you can post any questions you’d like answered by that months guest.
If you’d like to talk to Quickbeam in person, and you live in the LA area, he’ll be at WonderCon in Anaheim from Friday March 16 for three days, along with our other staffers Justin, Garfeimao, MrCere, Ostadan, and Saruman. So why not stop by and say hello 😀
TORn’s resident Tiger – Kelvarhin