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    >My new video "A HARD DAY'S KNIGHT," in which I don chain mail to find glory, donuts and spare change for my quest. BIGGER SCREEN ON YOU TUBE

    CLASSIC BOOK trailer! [bigger screen on YouTube]

    more videos here

    Entries in lord of the rings (12)


    See the Sketches J.R.R. Tolkien Used to Build Middle-Earth

    Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings but he also drew it:

    The many maps and sketches he made while drafting The Lord of the Rings informed his storytelling, allowing him to test narrative ideas and illustrate scenes he needed to capture in words. For Tolkien, the art of writing and the art of drawing were inextricably intertwined.

    In the book The Art of The Lord of the Rings, we see how, and why.

    My sneak peek of his sketches for



    How about some edgier Muppet movies?

    A post about possible alternative Muppet movies, from “The Muppets’ Rings of the Lord” and  “The Muppets’ End of the World” to “The Muppets Go Psycho” and  “The Muppets Greatest Story Ever Told.” You might have better ideas.

    Click to read more ...


    Lost Bakshi Lord of the Rings footage found

    Over at BoingBoing, I posted a short piece about new, previously unseen footage from the love-it-or-hate-it 1978 Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings adaptation. Turns out, Bakshi (actually, his son Eddie) has unearthed some unfilmed cel animation art that was never previosuly used. Those drawings have recently been filmed...

    Click to read more ...


    What's down that rabbit hole or in that wardrobe? ‘Epic’ follows tradition of children’s fictions bridging earthly, fantasy realms 

    Movies about worlds disconnected from our own are commonplace. Think of the many science fiction and fantasy narratives that lie along the “Star Wars” to “The Lord of the Rings” continuum. These separate realities are filled with orcs and wizards, siths and spaceships. Humans may live there, but we Earthlings can’t visit them. No magic door leads from Boston to Tatooine, no trip down a rabbit hole or along the Red Line arrives in Middle-earth. “Epic” belongs to a different but equally longstanding tradition of fiction that bridges our world to other realms. Via some gateway, a journey is made to a kind of Neverland or Narnia. The trope is as old and dark as the burrow in “Alice in Wonderland” and Dorothy’s twister in “The Wizard of Oz.” You can follow these tunnels from “Labyrinth” to “Pan’s Labyrinth,” through “Harry Potter” and “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” and beyond to every story that maps that liminal space between us and some parallel place.

    Click to read more ...


    Got Heroes? Viggo Mortensen Lists His Top 230

    [this originally appeared in the Boston Globe]

    by Ethan Gilsdorf

    Who are Viggo Mortensen’s heroes? Ask him, and he doesn’t hold back. That’s what we learned when, after a recent interview, we sent the actor some follow-up questions via e-mail. Here are his responses.

    Click to read more ...


    Viggo sees through the eyes of an outsider

    [this originally appeared in the Boston Globe]

    He’s best known for inhabiting a haunted and reluctant hero-king. But he’s also been a trailblazing thinker, a vigilante family man with a dark past, a Russian mobster, a swoon-worthy traveling salesman, and one of the last men alive on earth, determined to make sure he and a boy survive.

    Click to read more ...


    Hobbit talk

    NOT in The Hobbit? Artist John Howe's vision of Dol Guldur, Sauron's fortified hangout and HQ tucked away in the forests of Mirkwood.As I recently wrote about in my posting at Geek Dad on, there's some interesting talk in the Tolkien fan world about The Hobbit movie adaptation.

    First, it was confirmed that Orlando Bloom would reprise his role as Legolas in The Hobbit production now being filmed by Peter Jackson and company down in New Zealand. As many of you know, while Legolas features prominently in The Lord of the Rings, the blond elf does not appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s earlier book, The Hobbit.

    Then, a few days ago, the news was made official that The Hobbit would in fact be two films. (The rumor mill knew this for eons.) “The first film, titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released on December 14, 2012. The second film, titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is slated for release the following year, on December 13, 2013,” it was declared on the production’s Hobbit Blog.

    The simple choice to make two more complex films out of one simple, 300-odd-page kid’s book has pricked up the ears of some fans—i.e., me, for one—and has made other fans prickly.

    Upping the ante was what Peter Jackson revealed on his Facebook page earlier this week about the plot of The Hobbit movie:

    “I’m not going to say just what and when, but I will confirm that both the White Council and Dol Guldur will feature in the movies. And not just in one scene either. Just how to visualise it has been a challenge, but fortunately Alan Lee and John Howe went crazy with ideas, and it should look pretty cool.”

    For the unwashed, Dol Guldur is Sauron’s fortified hangout and HQ in the forest of Mirkwood for more than a millennia of the Third Age (back when he goes by the handle of the Necromancer). The White Council is sort of like the Council of Elrond, an All-Star assembly of Middle-earth heroes, formed in response to the rise of Dol Guldur. The members include the Wizards Saruman the White and Gandalf the Grey, Lady Galadriel of Lothlórien, Master Elrond of Rivendell and a few others. These goings-on are only alluded to in The Hobbit.

    The latest announcement explains the reason why Cate Blanchett will be back to reprise her role as Galadriel. It also makes sense that Christopher Lee will be back to play Saruman (although, as of yet, this has not been confirmed). Less clear is how Legolas/Bloom will be integrated into the movie.

    To work in these elements, Jackson and the other screenwriters have made it clear they’ll be adding material not actually in The Hobbit, but drawn from other sources in the Tolkien lengendarium. But as reported in The Guardian and elsewhere, some question the wisdom of this move. Is turning what is essentially a kid’s book into high epic fantasy more along the lines of The Lord of the Rings such a great idea? Remember, both in tone and in treatment, The Hobbit was written for and targeted mainly to children, with very little of the heady, wearying Sturm und Drang of LOTR.

    Of course, PJ and the gang at Wingnut and Weta have not only oodles of fans to please, but oodles of money to make. And most of those LOTR fans are movie fans first and foremost, not readers of the trilogy. So fashioning a plot and movie look-and-feel that’s as seamless with the Middle-earth millions already know from the LOTR movies makes money sense.

    Tolkien purists put their trust in Jackson the first time around and, squabbling aside, most were generally pleased with the elements he added and subtracted to LOTR. The appearance of Legolas, the White Council and Dol Guldur is plausible; these logically would have happened concurrent with the events of The Hobbit.

    Still, I can imagine the most fevrent fans of The Hobbit (the book) might want to revoke Jackson’s creative license.

    But I can also imagine the cheers in the audience when Legolas appears wherever he’s going to appear. We’ll have to wait till Christmas of next year out find out.



    Tolkien hippie stickers  resurface

    [NOTE: you can also read about this on's Geek Dad]

    I attended the recent 3rd Conference on Middle-earth (in Westford, Massachusetts) where I listened to talks on blond elf imagery and debates on how to adapt The Hobbit into one movie or two movies (and the wisdom of that latter endeavor).


    I also wandered over to a vendor table manned by an older gentleman named Ed Meskys, who has been involved in science fiction and fantasy fandom since the early days. In addition to selling and giving away old copies of “The Tolkien Journal” and “Niekas,” the magazine he used to publish, he had stacks of old book jackets and other mysterious items. Meskys had been cleaning out his garage, he told me, and wanted his old treasures to see the light of day again. “I want to get them into the hands of people who will read and appreciate them,” he wrote in a recent issue of his e-fanzine “The View From Entropy Hall.” Most of the stuff was a buck or two each, or free.

    Among the ephemera were these yellowed, dusty, wonderful, terrible, Lord of the Rings stickers. It was the end of the day, and Meskys gave me his last sheets of stickers for free.

    I later asked him where they came from.

    “When I was president of the Tolkien Society of America 1967-1972,” Meskys wrote in an email, “I received promotional materials from a number of places. All I remember was that the stickers came from Australia. I was sighted at the time and was not impressed with them. They were a little too unrealistic for my taste.” Though Meskys is now blind, clearly the image of them still made an impression in his memory.

    So the Nine (yes, there are nine stickers in all) have come to light again. I’ve done my best to clean them up without destroying them. As you’ll see here (BELOW), the artist has taken some liberties with Tolkien’s vision. Legolas looks more like a crime-fighting Robin than elf, Aragorn wields an ax, Tom Bombadil is sporting some groovy bellbottoms, and Frodo resembles a pig on crack. My favorite might be Gandalf “Keep on Truckin’” the Gray.

    Turn on, tune in, and drop out. Or, drop the ring, or these stickers, back into the fiery chasm whence they came. Dig? 


    [Any further information on the artist or the origin of these stickers is welcome. To subscribe to “The View From Entropy Hall,” which Meskys ends by email only, contact him at “edmeskys” at “roadrunner” dot “com”]

    Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of the award-winning book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, his travel memoir investigation into fantasy and gaming subcultures the Huffington Post called “part personal odyssey, part medieval mid-life crisis, and part wide-ranging survey of all things freaky and geeky," National Public Radio described as "Lord of the Rings meets Jack Kerouac’s On the Road" and proclaimed, “For anyone who has ever spent time within imaginary realms, the book will speak volumes.” Follow Ethan's adventures at


    YouTube playlist of Tolkien-themed videos!

    Hey! There's a new dedicated playlist of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks videos on TheOneRing.Net's YouTube channel.

    These are Tolkien-themed videos I shot in New Zealand: looking for hobbits in Hobbiton (Matamata); elves in Rivendell (Kaitoke Regional Park); Weta Workshop (Wellington); and a mash-up of footage from the "If you want him, come and claim him!" scene (Arrowtown). 

    More to come. Hope you'll take a look.



    Geek Out!

    Like when the planets align, there are a few times each year when geeks can fly their freak flags high and proud, in vast numbers, and at the same time in different parts of the universe.

    This coming Labor Day is one of those weekends.

    On the west coast, we have Pax, in Seattle, a three-day game festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers and a general celebration of gamer-geek culture. (And in the other corner, Atlanta, we have Dragon*Con. But more on that another time.)

    In fact, Pax calls itself a festival and not a convention because in addition to dedicated tournaments and freeplay areas (The east coast version in Boston this spring had a very cool classic arcade game room, which was amazing! All your fave games like FroggerGalaga and my fave, Robotron 2084), they’ve got nerdcore concerts from awesome performers like MC Frontalot and Paul & Storm, panel discussions like “The Myth of the Gamer Girl,” the Omegathon event (A three-day elimination tournament in games from every category, from Pong toHalo to skeeball), and an exhibitor hall filled with booths displaying the latest from top game publishers and developers.

    But I was thinking that probably the best part of PAX (and similar events like Dragon*Con, the other big fantasy/science fiction fandom event of the year) is this: You get to hang out with kindred folk who love their games and books and movies and costumes. They will argue and defend their fandom universes to the death. They will argue why Tom Bombadil should not have been cut from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. They will battle over Kirk vs. Picard. They will annoy and astound you with their detailed, persnickety knowledge.

    In other words, a geek is less what someone loves as it is HOW they love that object of affection. Geeks are passionate about their thang before it became fashionable and long after it’s passed from the public eye. Perhaps that’s the best definition of a geek.

    If you’re headed to Atlanta or Seattle this weekend, check here for how to win a free copy of my book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, now out in paperback.

    Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of the award-winning travel memoir-pop culture investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, now out in paperback. You can reach him and get more information at his website