Thursday, December 4, 2014

One Last Time

November was a busy month for me. I completed a NaNoWriMo novel (yay), got up the Christmas Tree, had a night cough from hell, visited my author friends at Bookapalooza, completed a 2-day St. John’s Ambulance First Aid Course among all the usual stuff that moms who celebrate Christmas in December get up to in November. Never mind that there was an event that was supposed to happen on November 17th that whenever I thought about it made me tingle starting at my tiptoes and going to the top of my head.

When we were approaching the end of the month, my friend Erin sent me a message which put me into a state of panic: “Cineplex fucked it up – tickets are on sale RIGHT NOW!!”

I have been trying to recall exactly when I met Erin. I know it was at a Lord of the Rings thing, because, well, that’s how we met. But whether it was at the Two Towers exhibit in June 2002 in Toronto or the Two Towers Oscar Party in Los Angeles in March 2003 or The Gathering of the Fellowship in December 2003, I know it was definitely before the final Return of the King Oscar Party in March 2004.  

It doesn’t matter exactly what day it was; what matters is the circumstances. We both grew up loving these books, we are both huge fans of film. Even though we live in the same city, there was probably no way we would have really met each other had it not been for the power of the Online Community.

I’m writing today because an online friend of mine whom I met through a music fandom community, the ubiquitous Dexter, wanted to know why I tweeted the following when Erin and I purchased our tickets for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies:

She couldn’t understand why I would be upset. After all, movies never die. Books never die. I would still have those and the friends I met. So why is this so devastating to me?

I’m sure my fellow LOTR people understand, but for each of us, it is also a personal journey, along with it being the journey of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

My journey with the fandom began when I was 7 and first read the Hobbit. When I was 10 I read Lord of the Rings. Books I would and have continued to re-read over my whole life.
But the journey of online fandom for me began in 1999. I was newly married, and I had just taken a job at a company where they had actual internet. Not just a one-workstation dial-up job. And some dude named Peter Jackson was directing a film, no, three films, of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And he would post pictures from set of the set, of set drawings, of staging…I had newly moved over to the film production industry from music publishing, and so it was doubly fascinating to me to see what someone in New Zealand of all places was doing to my favourite books of all time.

I watched that set being built. I had no idea there were other people talking about this on a message board. I just knew that other people were seeing what I saw and that made it cool.
Before the film opened in December 2001, there was an exhibit of costumes, stills, props, and such that were used in the Fellowship of the Ring held at Casa Loma in Toronto. At the time, I lived around the corner from Casa Loma. I think I may have even walked there. And all the things I had seen on the internet were there in person. I could almost touch them. I could see them, smell them. On the walls of Casa Loma hung head shots of the actors in full costume.

I remember being utterly disappointed in the head shot for Aragorn. He looked nothing like how I had imagined Aragorn to be. And who was this dude who had taken over from Stuart Townshend?

I still went to see it opening day, and was completely blown away. The set stills had nothing on the finished rendering. We were IN Hobbiton! We were IN the Mines of Moria! And Viggo Mortensen was the perfect Aragorn. What the hell was I thinking?

Thus the film, like the Ring, possessed my life.  

In March 2002, a lady I had only talked to via the newly-crafted message boards at who lived in Brampton said she wanted to go to Canton, New York, to get tickets for a Viggo Mortensen exhibit and asked if anyone would like to go with her. Without hesitation, I said yes.

And I met Jana for the first time when she was pulling up outside of my house.
You have to remember – we didn’t do these kinds of things back then. Meet up with someone you just met on a message board, not even live chat, to drive 5 hours before the break of dawn to get tickets and come back the same afternoon? AND cross the border? After 9/11? That’s just crazy.

But between December 2001 – September 2005, I went on journeys across North America for events related to this film, and Viggo Mortensen.

This is a picture of just a smattering of souvenirs from my travels, including two major events in Toronto, and wo fan Oscar Parties in Los Angeles. The man himself, Peter Jackson, stopped off at's Oscar Party for Return of the King first, on his way to the New Line Party, to thank the fans first and foremost. That was in March 2004.

A year later, I was widowed.

Some of the kindest, strongest support I received during that time was from my Lord of the Rings family of friends. People whom I barely met at a convention. People who I had never met in person because they lived in Europe and couldn’t attend events here just like I had been unable to attend events there.

One of the first major events that I went to after the death of my husband was a performance of the Lord of the Rings symphony piece by the Kitchener Waterloo orchestra.
Even after the film, I went to the musical (don’t ask).

But the best part was the family of friends. When I did finally join Facebook, it was because I was home on maternity leave and I had heard about this thing where you could keep in touch with people a lot easier than via email.

When I got to Facebook, I found that most of my LOTR family of friends were there waiting for me. It made the whole experience less intimidating. Same with Twitter.

But we were united because of the films, and we knew that something was in the works. We all got super excited when we heard the Hobbit was being made into one or two films, and then Peter Jackson took over because his director, Guillermo del Toro, had too many commitments. And that old feeling came back again with the release of An Unexpected Journey.

So why do I feel the way I do about the Battle of Five Armies? Wouldn’t it be the same as Return of the King?

It’s not.

When ROTK was released, I was still married, I was looking forward to moving on to lots of positive things with extra love and support from the wonderful people I had met through these films and its community.

Since then, I’ve lost my husband. I had a child with a new guy, and that relationship has ended. I have my wonderful family of friends, all of us ten years older, wiser, greyer, a little more Radagastly. 

But there won’t be a third set of films to bring us back together again. And even on the off off chance that Peter Jackson does get the rights to the Silmarillion, it will be another decade before we see it, and by then, many of us will have already left for the Grey Havens.

This last installment is closing a chapter on my life. Yes I will still have my incredible and loyal friends from all of this, and I am blessed and grateful for their friendships every day.

But it’s all over. No more tingly toes. No more screaming at the computer to get its shit together when you try to buy AVX tickets, or even regular tickets at the box office while being on Facebook/Twitter/Text/IM with your fellow LOTR fans trying to make sure everyone got in.

We all just want to individually hug Peter Jackson for what he brought to our lives, to our community. It is incredible when a director is honest enough to remember to thank the fans before anyone else. He was like our big brother who got to achieve his dream and brought us all with him.



  1. Oh Buttercup! Your words touched my heart. Hantanyel órenyallo. ��

  2. Exactly that! You couldn't have described my feelings any better!