DragonCon begins today – and of course TORn will be there! You’ll find staffers deej and greendragon at TORn’s ‘fan table’, in our usual location: in the Hyatt opposite the entrance to the Art Show. We’ll be there from Friday on, until the very end of the con! This year we have three new shirt designs and a new button, as well as some former designs, and other fun goodies at the table. Drop by and see us!
There are some exciting celebrity guests for Middle-earth lovers this weekend; read on for highlights of events of interest to Tolkien fans during DragonCon this year:
Friday 1st 10am The Wit and Wisdom of Samwise Gamgee
Gardener; friend; husband; potato enthusiast. We all need more Sam in our lives! Marriott room L401-403
Friday 2nd 8.30pm An Evening at Bree
As ever, TORn will be joining the High Fantasy track to host this long standing DragonCon tradition. Party like a Hobbit! Once again, our live acts will be fan favourites The Brobdingnagian Bards, Beth Patterson, and Landloch’d. We’ll also have the Elf Choir, and the costume contest – with a fabulous panel of expert cosplay judges. We’re thrilled that Charles Conley, Joshua Duart and Lacey Santos will be lending us their skill and judgement for the evening! If you’d like to enter the contest, please remember to sign up in advance of the evening, at the TORn fan table or the High Fantasy track room (Marriott room L401-403).
Find us at the inn of the Prancing Pony (aka Hilton Grand West)
Saturday 2nd 1pm The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Retrospective
It’s been 20 years (gasp!) since the final part of Peter Jackson’s trilogy was released. Join TORn staffers to look back and get nostalgic together! Marriott room A601-602
Saturday 2nd 4pm Rings of Power discussion
A look back at Season 1, and speculation as to what may be coming in Season 2 of Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings show. Marriott room A601-602
Saturday 2nd 5.30pm Elijah Wood and Sean Astin in conversation
Marriott Atrium Ballroom
Saturday 2nd 10pm The Tolkien Renaissance
What makes Middle-earth such an enduring favourite with fans? With more shows, movies (and maybe even a theme park) in the works, we’ll explore why Tolkien’s works are evergreen. Marriott room L401-403
Sunday 3rd 10am Hobbits, Harfoots, and More!
Exploring the origins, characteristics, and significance of our favourite hairy-footed folks. Marriott room L401-403
Sunday 3rd 1pm Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood in conversation
Marriott Atrium Ballroom
(There are also photo sessions with Astin, Serkis, and Wood throughout the weekend. Their appearances are fully in line with SAG-AFTRA guidelines, enabling actors to attend conventions but not to promote work.)
Sunday 5pm Hobbit Drinking Songs!
Join The Brobdingnagian Bards and party like a Hobbit! Hilton Grand West
Sunday 10pm Dance Magic Dance
TORn’s own deej shows us how she got her name, as she djs this 1980s themed dance party. Put on your best 80s/fantasy cosplay and come and dance the night away!
There are many more High Fantasy Track events which are Middle-earth related, and other events across the con which will appeal to Tolkien fans. Check out DragonCon’s app for all the details. Hope to see you here for all the fun – come and say hi!
The awesome folks at Asmus Toys sent us the very cool Gollum and Smeagol Luxury Edition 2-figure set to check out.
This set gives you multiple arms, legs, hands, and goodies so that you can create the way you want your two figures to look when displaying them. That to me is just the cherry on top of things when it comes to this set because the Gollum and Smeagol figures are so well done. You can get this set from Asmus Toys directly or from our Friends at Sideshow Collectibles.
Now, The Towers Collection (for The Two Towers) is available – and we have some promo codes for TORn’s followers! Read on below to find out more…
The Long-expected Soundscape is designed to be listened to whilst reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (and is timed specifically to sync up with the Andy Serkis audiobook recording). It is created with Dolby Atmos for full 3D immersion in headphones, and includes an original score, ambient nature and environment sounds, and designed and recorded sound effects. The soundtrack is downloadable at https://jordanrannells.com/ – and can also be accessed very easily through all usual podcast apps.
Ways to listen
Rannells suggests various ways to enjoy his creation:
1. Simply experience the atmosphere alone, without the books
2. While reading Tolkien’s works (yes you might read a bit faster, but all you have to do is wait and enjoy the music and sound effects for a bit until you hear the next significant sound or cue, and then keep reading)
3. Synced up (perfectly!) with Andy Serkis’ audiobook so you can enjoy them together (step by step process on how to do that on Discord)
4. Just as background for DnD, Lotro and so on…
Exclusive promo codes
If you’d like to get your hands on this wonderful soundscape, you can use the code TORN25 (for a discount on the whole collection), or TORN10 (for a discount on an individual book). These promo codes are good only until June 10th, so don’t delay!
Once you’ve experienced this beautiful aural world, you’re definitely going to want more! So you’ll be glad to know that Rannells has plans for The Hobbit and The Silmarillion soundscapes! He’ll be launching a Kickstarter for these, this coming December; if you’re interested in getting involved, and perhaps even having a small voice or performance role on one of those projects, join the Long-expected Discord. Happy listening!
Have you ever wanted to listen to the sounds of Mirkwood? Hear the flow of the Brandywine River? Or perhaps stand in the midst of whistling winds on Caradhras? Soon, you will be able to – thanks to the extraordinary concept and creativity of Jordan Rannells.
Jordan is a composer and sound engineer, with many years experience in the business. His work will be familiar to some Middle-earth fans: he’s an editor for the Prancing Pony podcast. He also has his own podcast – Music of Middle-earth – and, as if that wasn’t enough, he worked with renowned Tolkien artist John Howe on his audiobook Ultimate Fantasy Art Academy.
But Jordan has a dream and a vision – or perhaps one should say, a ‘hearing’! He has long felt that audio books are lacking something. In computer gaming, the artificial realm is brought to life with music, sound effects and ambient sound; the same has long been true of radio plays. And yet, when we listen to books record by brilliant readers such as Stephen Fry and – most recently in Middle-earth – Andy Serkis, we generally only hear their voices delivering the text.
Jordan has a plan to change that. He’s creating (to quote his own words) ‘an audio soundscape to accompany your journey through Middle-earth while you read J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings’. He tells us:
This is something that has never been done before. It is on a scale far above any of our wildest Tolkien fan dreams. I will have CHAPTER SPECIFIC audio.
I will be writing an entire score. Each piece will run alongside the length of an entire chapter of the book.
I will be using advanced 3D immersive audio equipment to record the natural world. These recordings will be inserted into the Soundscape to make you feel like you are walking alongside the Fellowship.
I will be designing and mixing sound FX for creatures like the Balrog, Ringwraiths, and many more to appear along your journey through the story.
All of these layers will be presented separately and together to have a multitude of listening experiences for your adventures in this world. They will be composed and mixed for the purpose of listening while you read, but these files will also be excellent for relaxing, D&D nights, immersing into other fantasy worlds, and more!
Jordan recently shared with TORn some insight into HOW exactly he will create this incredible soundscape. Thanks to the latest technology (such as 3D microphones), he can capture locational sound, which will surround the listener. He intends to record specific, different sound environments for all the realms of Middle-earth (no two forests will be the same!); and to have continuous, through-composed audio, with no looping. He also plans to create different speed versions of the soundscape – with one timed perfectly to be played as background whilst you listen along to Andy Serkis’ recording of The Lord of the Rings!
All of this is a huge undertaking, of course! We’re looking forward to hearing how Jordan’s journey to create this audio feast progresses; we hope to connect with him in the coming months, as he conjures and explores his soundscape for Tolkien’s world. Meanwhile, if you’re as excited by this project as we are, you’ll definitely want to know more – and see how you can get involved, and perhaps even lend your voice to the work! Click here to read all the details about this amazing undertaking. We wish Jordan the best of luck – can’t wait to hear the finished product!
The awesome folks at Asmus Toys are up to some more fun with their 1:6 figure line from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. They’re very excited to announce that the next figure – or figures – is Gollum and Smeagol. Fans can get either of these very well done and seamless figures; or if you want both, you can get the luxury version. Either way you go, this is an absolute win for fans, as you’re getting what is the best version of Gollum we’ve seen done in a 1:6th scale figure. Fans ordering a single Gollum or Smeagol can expect to pay $130; or you can get the luxury version for $270. (This version also comes with a rock base.) This very well done figure will be shipping between April-June of next year; so you have time to save, or use Sideshow’s payment system to break down the price a little more.
We’ve been digging through the Green Book archives a bit to find relevant articles discussing the ‘purity’ of Tolkien and his works. We came across this classic from Green Book author, Anwyn, where she addresses the questions that came out of watching the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. If you aren’t familiar with it…read on!
I admit it. I’m at a loss for a stunning literary topic, one that will provoke your emotions, stimulate your mind, and offer some insight into Tolkien’s life or works. I sat down this evening with my brain half fried, knowing that I had a deadline to meet, and started flipping channels. Lo and behold, what did I pass but the MTV Movie Awards, and hark, who should be sitting behind Kirsten Dunst but the intrepid trio of Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, and Billy Boyd? Moreover, what award should they be announcing at that very moment but the award for “Best Movie?” I stayed to watch, having not bothered the first time they ran it.
I admit it. My finger is not on the pulse, as they say, of the pop-culture acclaim the Lord of the Rings movie phenomenon has generated and continues to stoke. I have not followed marketing trends; I couldn’t tell my father what TTT had grossed at the box office when he asked. I know, in a general way, that these films are wildly popular beyond the book’s fan base, that the movies have started their own fire that, due to the modern climate, burns higher than the literary one created when Tolkien was still living. What I don’t know is whether or not that’s a good thing.
The intro was cute. Keanu Reeves was charming. And the winner is … The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Elijah, Billy and Sean, looking MTV cool in untucked, unbuttoned shirts, bounded up on stage, where Sean apologized for Gollum’s previous tirade. “That dude is out of control!”
I admit it. I didn’t watch TORn’s clip of Gollum’s “acceptance speech.” I read a transcript and was horrified enough that I had no desire to watch it. Why? you ask. It was funny! you say. Perhaps. But the issue, in my mind, was not whether or not it was funny, but the fact that Tolkien is barrel-rolling in his grave at having one of his characters co-opted into speaking such filth. Puritan, you remark. Perhaps. “Purist” would be closer to the mark, I think. The hallmark of Tolkien’s work is the very purity of his language, and to find the most vile of modern insults coming out of the mouth of a digitally created Gollum disgusted me and, I think, would have appalled and disgusted Tolkien.
The boyishly handsome trio accepted the award on behalf of the production and left the stage. I came to my computer wondering. This new popularity: good or bad?
There is no need to speculate about what Tolkien himself would have thought. Though the popularity of his books, in his day, was smaller in scope and lesser in frantic, frenzied intensity than that we are observing now in response to the movies, he still had to fend off a wave of targeted questioning and obsession with minutiae, causing him to make remarks about his “deplorable cultus” and the dangers of becoming involved in the stories “in a way I’m not.” That tendency is more alive and well than ever today, thanks partly to the very wonderful establishment with which I am connected and others like it on the internet. “Fan fiction,” which I assume to have existed before the web but which certainly has suffered an unbelievable popularity explosion since, with access to an immediate and free forum, proves this in and of itself, as do the myriad questions we get at Green Books every day.
My colleague Quickbeam and many others have come down to the baseline opinion that if it encourages people to read Tolkien, then the indignities that come with the Hollywood marketing machine are well endured. But arepeople reading Tolkien as a result of all this hype? The evidence that I see is mixed.
We get many letters at GB that include notes like “I am now reading the books to my [sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren], and they LOVE them. They would never have been interested in them before the movie.” That’s wonderful, and of course I couldn’t be anything but pleased. But we get a greater number of notes, questions for the Q&A, that clearly show that their authors have not read and have no desire to read—only to know more about the world that their current idols [insert Elijah, Orlando, Billy, Dominic, Sean, Sean, or Viggo here] inhabit in these films. “Who is Aragorn and where did he come from?” “Who are Legolas’s parents? Does he ever fall in love? Is it true that he dies in the third movie?” and my personal favorite, “Can you give me a complete history of Elrond? Who is he, where did he come from, who are his parents, what is his significance?” Don’t tell me that these folks have any intention of reading—this stuff could be readily found if they’d ever even cracked a book.
So if people are not reading, what’s the fuss about? Special effects, swordplay, hot guys, and hot chicks, apparently. Again I hear that scraping, swishing sound … Tolkien is rolling.
I am not intending any commentary here on Jackson’s films themselves. My opinions on that score are well documented elsewhere. My concern is with the ultramodern hype that has followed.
I admit it. There’s not much reason to care whether or not the marketing machine runs at full efficiency and creates these millions of screaming Orli drones. After all, what does it hurt Tolkien’s books or my enjoyment of them? From one perspective, it doesn’t hurt one iota. From another perspective, it hurts to see characters that I regarded as the highest of the high, the pinnacle of heroic epic, degenerated into pop-culture icons. And it is not so with some of my other favorites. Anne of Green Gables, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility, and others have all been brought with sensitivity and grace to the big screen. And sensitivity and grace are not lacking in the majority of Jackson’s characterizations, either. So the difference must lie in the public reaction to them and to the supposedly clever accolades, like Gollum’s fling at the MTV awards, that follow.
Forgive me, dear readers, if I am indulging in a ramble without a point. This musing is simply part of a bigger question—how healthy is all this fandom, anyway? “Frenzy and intensity,” I said above to describe the modern fanboy and fangirl machines, and it’s true. The nearness of people to one another through the media and internet allows them to mass-embrace one concept in a way they never could have done a century ago. Is this healthy for our individual and collective minds and spirits? The screaming, the shoving for a picture or an autograph … I digress. Those are issues connected with all popular Hollywooders, not with Lord of the Rings alone, of course. And I guess that’s the crux of the matter—something formerly so exalted in the realm of literature alone has been brought to a level equal to that of the Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears. I guess that’s where the real rub lies. Like the rub of a tweed jacket upon the inside of a coffin. Tolkien is rolling.
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