Cali at Comic Con 2009Welcome to the latest “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 on TORn, 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 one of our Four Founders, Calisuri.

Thanks Chris for agreeing to do this 🙂

Me: What was your favourite cartoon when you were growing up?

Hong Kong PhooeyCalisuri: Oddly enough, the first one that pops into my head is Hong Kong Phooey! Though I know I really enjoyed He-Man, Thundercats and Gummy Bears! hah.

Me: You have been gifted a 30 second phone call with Tolkien, what would you say?

Calisuri: I think I would be a bit embarrassed to talk to him. Weird right? But ultimately, I don’t think Tolkien totally understood hardcore fans, and well, that is what I represent via – even more-so today where fandom has escalated to a religious fervour in modern society.

I am also not a scholar in any capacity…as you can tell by my grammar! So I’d be embarrassed to even open my mouth!

But after all of that, I’d ask him about his experience in the war and how that affected his life. I’d love to know how he lived through the horrors of modern warfare with his own life experience.

Me: How do you avoid going mad under the pressure of running the largest and most-popular Tolkien and Lord of the Rings movies fan site in the world?

CalisuriCalisuri: How do you know I have not gone mad? 😛 heh

But more seriously… I can’t claim to be solely running the site. I do handle most ‘business’ decisions and manage as much as possible, but there are so many other contributors to the site whom go unnoticed and unrecognised for their valuable efforts. TORn is blessed to have such an amazing group of volunteers – they are the ones that truly make TORn ‘run.’

For the business side of the site, I guess I can say I handle the pressure by putting things in perspective. I make an active decision to not sweat the small stuff. I know that seems clichéd and implies that I’m saying is the ‘small stuff,’ but…well, it is! My priorities in life are my family and my relationship with God. If I can handle those two extremely important aspects of my life, the rest just falls into place. So when something ‘bad’ happens on TORn (Server failure, etc) it never really phases me. It is just another day in the life of a thriving fan community. I have confidence in our team of volunteers to resolve whatever issue has come up and know that it ultimately will be resolved…at some point.

The only real time I get ‘stressed’ about TORn is when someone is attempting to abuse the community. In a nutshell, that means someone comes to us to promote their for-profit venture without appropriate reciprocation to our community. Basically looking to use the good will we’ve built up over many years for their own personal gain. That is the quickest way to get on my ‘bad side.’

Return of the One Party - Oscar Party 2004Me: Why do you still do it? Why do you go to all the trouble?

Calisuri: I’ve often described TORn to friends and family as ‘my baby.’ Now that I have a real baby (my daughter was born in March 2011), I’m not sure its exactly the same, but close. In the early 2000’s, I aggressively protected TORn as I would my daughter and possibly burnt a few bridges. I’ve since come to a much more ‘calm’ place in my life and don’t let things get personal. So again, as I mention above, I’m not sweating the small stuff anymore and as a result TORn is simply an overall positive force in my life.

And it is a hell of a lot of fun! Where else can you throw a 220k+ party?! (Yea, that is what The Return of the One Party cost in 2004 – and we expect our next parties to be even more!)

Me: Ever been tempted to change the site so that you can hire staff to do the work?

Calisuri: No. If you check out the first wave of fan sites from the late nineties, many of them are no longer run by their original ‘owners.’ Most folks look to cash in and move on. I’m very proud of our ownership (Tehanu, Xoanon, Corvar and myself) for realising that the TORn community is more than just a website for a lot of folks. It represents years of hard work from our volunteers, but also is an outlet for Tolkien fandom worldwide. To move to a for-profit model would destroy us…you could really compare it to The One Ring itself. Yes, money would be awesome to have from our hard work on TORn, but ultimately it’s corrupting powers would overwhelm and turn us into Gollum? lol When people volunteer their time and talents to something, they are doing so because they have a real passion. You can’t pay for passion.

Me: What has been the BEST moment, the minute or day that has been most rewarding for all the years of effort?

Charwen (or Calisurwen)Calisuri: Oh wow. Well, my memory is horrible – as many of our staff can tell you – so i can’t give you the minute and day. But I can say with certainty it was being invited to the Cannes Films Festival in 2001 before the release of The Fellowship of the Ring and spending time seeing exclusive footage of the film as well as partying with the cast/crew before the whole thing blew up.

Ha – look, the old page still exists explaining the experience:

I know you asked for only one – but I’d have to put up there the ‘Charwen’ experience and the last Oscar Party.

Me: What’s your favourite thing about the TORn community?

Calisuri: Loaded question! I call foul!

My favourite ‘thing’ about TORn is the diversity of our community and the giving, generous and pleasant nature of Tolkien fans. We truly are the best fan base out there – sorry everyone else 😛

Me: What is the meaning of your TORn nick and why did you choose it?  (“I’ve always wondered about it, but when you google “calisuri”, stuff about Chris Pirrotta is what you get.” Alassea Eruvande)

Calisuri: It is rather unique – and I have to give the credit to my brother Steve. You see, his email password was ‘Calusari’ – in reference to the X-Files episode ‘The Calusari.’ I just didn’t know how to spell it…and ultimately it served as a good nickname for use on the Nightmare LPMud I used to play. So there you have it…Calisuri.

Oddly enough…most people think it is a female name. I’m not sure why.

Me: Invent a word that might be heard in M-e and tell us what it means.

Calisuri: Wow – awesome question! How about Eve

Me: Do you have any irrational fears or phobias?

Calisuri: I have quite a few – I’m thinking the worst of which is I’m a hypochondriac. Just ask my poor wife! The slightest sniffle and I much have the flu or something much more horrible than the common cold.

I lived my whole life with another fear that I only recently overcame. Since I’m on a semi-soap box here, I would like to encourage anyone with an issue or fear that affects them daily to get some help. I only wish I would have addressed this particular topic 20 years ago – my life would have been so much different. I feel so liberated every day thanks to just a few sessions of therapy.

All Four Founders wearing their One RingsMe: How did you decide on what design to use for TORn? …in fact, how did you (and the other Founders) decide on the very name? (And do you have any comments regarding, ah, Charwen? )

Calisuri: The original concept for TORn was simply a collage of the great Tolkien artists – taking pieces from Naismith, Lee, Howe and others to compose an interesting backdrop. Nothing really that impressive – and ultimately today it is very out-dated. We should have a ‘reskin’ coming soon!

The name was directly inspired by – a Star Wars site that I often mention was my personal inspiration for We thought by keeping a few parts of our name similar to, we could capture a bit of their success. So that is why we have a ‘the’ in our name and used ‘.net.’

Calisurwen with PippinAh Charwen…that will live with me forever. The one thing I took away from that was I’m a HORRIBLY UGLY woman. My daughter takes after my wife fortunately 😛

Thank you, again, Chris for taking the time to talk to us this month.

And as always thanks to all our message board regulars, Ataahua, DanielLB, Alassea Eruvande, SirDennisC, Xanaseb, grammaboodawg and dernwyn, and a special thank you to Senior Staffers MrCere and Demosthenes for this months’ questions.

If you want to ask any questions yourself, head over to our Message Boards, the sign up process is pretty painless. A lead post for questions is made at the beginning of each month.  Or you can just check the boards for this months interviewee and email me your questions at

Till next time from TORn’s resident Tiger.

Kelvarhin.winking tiger