Psst, buddy, wanna buy a blog?

I found this link today that’s neat. I put it on the side of the blog down bit … a bit more … there, you found it! But you can’t really see my words anymore. Still, I know you see it.

I thought my blog was worth about the same as the 12th of Never but I was wrong. It’s actually worth about $500. “Cool,” says I. What does it mean though? Is there really $500 worth of junk here? And since it’s most meant for my writing, is there at least $200 worth in that? Wow, dude, that’s like, big. (Hehe, the value of this blog just plummeted and it’s now worth 23 cents.)

How does a blog even get a value? What’s it based on? Is this a market value? Can I bump it up? Does it matter?

I think I’ll wait until the price is just high enough and then I’ll unload this sucker and retire to the goo-oo-ood life. In other words, I’ll be writing on this here pup from beyond the grave. Well, at least it’s fun to look at.

New Tolkien work to be published next spring

Christopher Tolkien has been a busy fellow after all. He’s been putting together The Children of Húrin which will be available in the spring of 2007. Here are links to CNN and The Book Standard with the article.

Big news if you love the story of Túrin. I’m really looking forward to it. Now, it doesn’t say if this is a poem or prose version. And I’m guessing it will be more involved than what we currently have in the History of Middle-earth. (Uh oh, my inner geek is in danger of overexposure here.) BTW, I found this cool link at Everything2.com about the mythology of M-e.

Looking forward to this book will get me through the winter. 🙂

Quotables from the mom

Upon watching a news segment about a forest fire:

“Fire is a dangerous thing. Especially when they come to your house.”

(Now, who is this “they” she speaks of? Maybe fire brings along some friends to your house. In any case, remember that the next time fire knocks on your door, do NOT open the door, kids. As you can see, fire is a dangerous thing. And it might have friends.)

Lest we forget

My head aches. Each September 11th since 2001 starts the same way. I can’t sleep the night before. Not out of any particular dread but just because I can’t sleep.

I can feel the gates unlocking. It happens in the dark. I can’t hide from the dark, can I? I lie awake feeling my control slip away and the hurt squeezes me. I can’t get away from it today. Other days, when it slips out, I can put it back in the room marked “Do not enter.” The days that lead up to September 11th are mostly normal until about the 8th. That’s when I start to remember. Snippets of conversations. Last laughs. Email jokes. Things that are so mundane, so everyday that I know I’ll always remember them. Friends I hadn’t actually seen in months or years, carrying on knowing we’ll see each other eventually. Knowing …

In the early morning hours of September 11th, each memory unlocks the gate a little more until there is nothing between me and the flood. I haven’t really begun to deal with what happened 5 years ago. Who has? How can you? If you lost someone that day, there is so much to wade through. Last emails. Last phone calls. Little things you never knew. Wondering what they went through. Hoping they were killed quickly. Knowing that’s probably not true. Trying not to be so macabre with it.

But the reality is that it is macabre. And that’s why we shouldn’t forget it. Innocent lives were lost in the screeching of metal into metal, in the titanic roar of collapsing concrete, steel and glass. The reality is that people … my god, the people … trapped above the flames knew they were going to die. They knew in the moments before the buildings fell that it was falling. And that’s the reality you have to fight if you loved someone who died that day. In New York, in Washington, in the sky above Shanksville.

This is humanity at its worst. The rain of death since 2001 doesn’t help me either. I guess there are some who feel vindicated but I only feel more death. And it hurts. It hurts to the point where I can’t function today. Five years on and my heart is breaking. Five years on and I still can’t sift through everything. As a human race, we began a new century with death, writing our history in smoke and tears and blood.

But truly, those thoughts are too big for me right now. Right now, at this moment I can only re-live every moment of that horriffic morning. It wasn’t until the first tower fell that I realized what I was watching. I was watching the deaths of people I knew, the destruction of a city I love. This is a day of loss. Not just for America. For the world. I remembered that line in Star Wars when Obi-Wan Kenobi says “I felt as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” That’s how it was – thousands of voices crying out, suddenly silenced. A hole ripped open in our world by our own capacity for atrocity.

A headache only starts a day full of tears and endless memories. I was hoping I’d be able to go to New York this year but I just can’t do it. Yet. Maybe next year.

Anyway, blessings to you all. I hope one day we transform this day into an international day of peace. And I pray that we all, everyone on this planet, find peace. In our hearts and minds. In our actions.

Parting with the LOTR musical

“Sing me a story of Frodo and the ring …”

Yes, this is it. Today was the final performance of the world premiere of the LOTR Musical here in Toronto. There was a feeling of sad acceptance at this parting of ways. It’s a shame the theatre-goers in this area let the critics make up their mind for them instead of actually using their own judgment. We had a glorious opportunity to premiere this musical with the glow it deserved but instead, we did what Canadians always seem to do. Shun their own wonders until they’ve been lauded by the world. Then we turn around ever so proudly and admire them. There, I’ve said it.

The only other thing to say is don’t let people who go to shows with their minds already made up, make yours up for you (that would be the esteemed critics *shudder*). They set themselves up to hate this production because anything that is hyped – I dare say anything right now that has the audacity to be associated with LOTR – and has a chance of mainstream acceptance is fodder for their fury. This production frightened me from the word “go” because of all the fuss being made about it. I had two thoughts. Thought one was that that no one could capture the essence of the book in a 3-, 4- or 6-hour musical. Thought two was that the hype before would create hatred after.

Do you think “hatred” is too strong a word? I don’t know. When I read the reviews, they were quite stinging.

I had the same feeling about the musical that I had about the movie. It will never work. I tried to keep my mind open when I went to a preview show. I wanted to at least try to accept whatever Warchus and Wallace threw at me. They had three things that warmed me up, A.R. Rahman, Finnish music and Brent Carver. I thought I might end up liking it but that I’d still be underwhelmed. That’s not what happened at all.

It was a marvel. A little bumpy, without doubt but still, technically, musically and story-wise, it was beautiful. I wanted with all my heart for the musical to succeed because it captured the essence of the story more truly for me than the movies.

I went to the last performance today unsure what to expect. I went yesterday with the smial and we loved it. I have to say that I was really disappointed with the crowd though. They seemed so stiff and serious. No one really clapped and the theatre did not give the cast a standing ovation. I felt badly about that because when I’ve attended other closing plays, there would be ovations during the last few performances. So, I was afraid that the cast would not get the good-bye they deserve. Again, happily, I was wrong.

The audience was very responsive to the characters and the musical and the cast. The movies no longer make me emotional. True, watching something 6000 times will probably make you insensitive but there are a lot of people who have done the same and still get emotional. However, at each show I’ve attended, I’ve been emotional. I certainly was today.

The one thing that stands out so brilliantly is Brent Carver. Today he approached magnificence. Where was this all the time my friend? His Gandalf has been the one constantly annoying thing in each play. Too rushed, too flighty, too nervous, as if Gandalf is high-strung and can’t take the pressure. But today, his lines were slowed to an almost normal pace and delivered with emotion and strength. What a difference between yesterday and today! I wish he had started with this Gandalf and improved on him – it would have been a play of special magnificence. 😉

Galadriel was incredible, singing her heart out. I felt her loss and her sorrow that the dream, the “child of her heart,” Lothlórien, would be lost. I cried a bit there. I also cried because I love that part of the musical most and I felt like I was losing its beauty forever.

The Witch-king lost his voice yesterday, by which I mean he had no microphone and sound effect. It is a true testament of the actor’s ability that we were able to hear him and the power in his voice, albeit diminished. Today, that was resolved and you got the echo and amped voice sneering most pleasingly at Gandalf.

I’ve seen this production four times and each time has been different. I rather like that. One thing I miss is that Paths of the Dead scene; I wish they would put it back in. I loved that scene. It was so weirdly effective with its purple and green lighting, with strobes and that shimmery stuff on stage. I know it probably didn’t work well in the story, but it’s such a great scene. And, ok I’ll admit it, it’s mostly the music that I love there. I can hear Rahman in that scene. There was a male voice over the music and it had such an Indian/Arabian feel to it.

Gollum was wonderful – as he always is. A crowd favourite. And Saruman was magnificent. He is one of my favourites in the musical. After the destruction of the Ring, the scene with Gandalf, Frodo and Sam was much more emotional today. Gandalf was so gentle – it was lovely. And something about the Council scene was better today. I can’t put my finger on it, but it was much more engaging than yesterday.

I maintain that the production is a technical marvel. That includes the actors because many of them have to have acrobatic skills to deal with their costumes and the stage itself. For me, it’s one of those musicals that raises the bar in the theatre experience. It’s doing something different, something not done before. One critic’s problem was that you couldn’t sing the songs like in Lion King. This musical makes the music part of the climate of the story, it’s thematic. And, hey, I’ve been singing a couple of the songs. They aren’t Hakuna Matata (which to me is one of the most annoying songs on earth); they are nicer to sing and feel much less plastic than Disney fare.

I’ve been going to the theatre since I was a child. Heck, we’ve seen more plays and musicals this year than a lot of people see in a decade. I’m not just a Tolkien fan or geek; I love theatre. Good theatre. And this, my friends, is it. You know what? It’s not perfect, I’ll grant that. It’s not perfectly polished up, like Phantom or Les Mis or another play of that ilk. Yet, it is still a musical that compares musically, thematically and visually and holds its own. It stumbles a little on the emotional factor and I think that, in time, it will find its bearing. I noticed something today, which they will hopefully notice soon. They have sacrificed some emotional moments for a dramatic effect. One example is that they end the first Act with the Balrog but never really deal with the emotional loss of Gandalf. Indeed you never really feel attached to Gandalf because he doesn’t seem attached to the Hobbits.

There is also the abandoning of Merry and Pippin to their fate – that doesn’t seem like the action of friends. Aragorn says earlier that they are a fellowship and their strength is their solidarity but then he chooses to leave them and go to Rohan and Gondor. So, Merry and Pippin actually feel a bit cut off from everything else in the story and you don’t feel too much emotion for them.

Aragorn’s character is a little problematic for me because it’s too close to movie-Aragorn. I think he should be a bit more kingly, recognized as such at the Council, and that should be the tension between he and Boromir. Then Boromir’s death scene should have a more emotional impact.

Gandalf needs to be a more emotional character because it’s his great love that is his strength. That is one of the things missing from the Rohan scene. Aragorn “wakes up” Theoden but no one knows why he’s been asleep in the first place. Wormtongue is really needed to create a little tension there. And Gandalf. Here again. Dramatic effect over emotion. It’s more dramatic to have him reappear at Helm’s Deep than be present with Theoden. Okaaay. I still think they should have Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli look for the Hobbits and meet Gandalf. Maybe he can charge them with “waking up” Theoden and then he doesn’t have to be there. But he should also meet the two Hobbits in Fangorn and converse with the Ents about going to Helms Deep after Isengard. That draws that part back into the flow of the story and establishes some more emotional links. Then he can still do the dramatic appearance at Helms Deep, which is a great moment.

I’m not trying to re-write the play here; I’m just trying to show that they still have room to work on it. Especially if they cut that Bree scene short. It doesn’t establish or move anything along. It’s just too much of the bench-dancing stuff. Cut it in half and use the time elsewhere.

Oy, I have too much to say about this. Let me cut it short and say that I drank it all in. We may see it return but it will not be this musical we saw today, this cast and crew. They gave us their hearts in this production. Was it too much to ask that we accept their offering? I’m so disappointed. We could have accepted the musical with its flaws and allowed it to get better and better, right here.

I know they will never hear me, but thank you to everyone who brought this to us. We can all acknowledge that it wasn’t perfect, but I don’t feel it had to be. I was happy to watch it change. Each time I went to see it, it was better. I hope you all tear it up in London. This is a production that deserves to succeed.

Hehe, if you’re still here, have a cup of tea on me. Thanks for sticking around. I’ll have more to say later but please leave your thoughts and talking points!

Quotables from the mom

I introduce a new segment tonight, folks. My mother says many, many quotable things and they should be captured. Preserved – somehow. Shared. I don’t want to make fun of her. I love her dearly and yet … Well, ok fine. We HAVE to laugh. Feel free to share your own quotables …

Tonight’s feature is an oldie-but-a-goodie from some time in 2002 while watching Fellowship of the Ring. (Keep in mind, I’d only watched this movie 859 times by then. 🙂 )

“Is that Gondorf? Run, Gondorf, run! Blow your horn, Gondorf! Don’t get killed. What an idiot.”

(Boromir has now been officially renamed “Gondorf” in our house. Poor fool. Why didn’t he listen to the sage advice of “Don’t get killed?” Why, Gondorf? Why?)