Posts Tagged ‘Lord of the Rings’

The Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

January 9, 2013

Finally, a chance to give my feedback on Peter Jackson’s efforts to turn one little book into three big movies.  I saw this at a theater in 3D but on the standard 24 frames per second format.  So I cannot speak to how the ultra-clear 48fps looked.  You can check out the book review in my Read It Then See It post.

Hobbit PosterThe Movie
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Warner Brothers, New Line.

Based on a  Book?
Yes: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by JRR Tolkien, originally published in 1937

Genre
Children’s Fantasy

Age Appropriate
Eight years old and up.  While the book is appropriate for younger children, I felt the film mirrored the tone and violence of Jackson’s LOTR films.  I personally would not have been comfortable taking my child to see it until I felt he was ready for at least The Two Towers, which was for me this past year, when he turned eight.  My sister took her son, who is six, and they both loved it and had no issues.

Good for Grown Ups?
Yes.  While I’ll get to what I see as flaws in this film later, this is really designed for a more mature audience despite coming from a children’s book.

Spoilers for Younger Kids
I often feel that it is the specter that is more frightening than the monster.  In that way, perhaps the most frightening scene in the film is when Gandalf tells the story of another wizard only mentioned in the book, Radagast the Brown.  While in his home attempting to revive an injured animal, he comes under attack from unknown creatures scuttling around the outside.  As it turns out, these are giant spiders we will see in future installments, but Radagast is able to send them away with only their hind quarters being seen as they retreat.  So especially for any of you who have read the book but don’t know it’s coming in the movie, this may be a good time to let your child know that not only will the wizard prevail, but you don’t even really see the spiders (at least not yet).  Also, Azog the one-armed Orc warlord is a pretty freaky and frightening piece of CGI.

Quickie Plot Synopsis
We begin with the fall of the great dwarf city of Erebor by the dastardly Dragon Smaug, and the rise of its heir, Thorin Oakenshield.  With the assistance of wizard Gandalf the Grey, here begins a quest to retake what has become the Lonely Mountain.  Much to the surprise and skepticism of dwarf, elf, and wizard alike, Gandalf has chosen a little hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, to serve as the party’s thief. At Gandalf’s urging, Bilbo reluctantly leaves the comfort of Bag End to join the dwarves on this adventure.

Magneto and Dr. Who together in a Hobbit movie?  Nerdgasm!

Magneto and Dr. Who together in a Hobbit movie? Nerdgasm!

The group is almost immediately beset by danger, from hungry trolls to vicious goblins.  After being lost in a Goblin’s cavern, Bilbo stumbles on a creature called Gollum, and a simple but attractive gold ring.  He tricks Gollum into helping him escape with the added aid of that magical invisibility ring.  Bilbo uses the ring to great effect, saving Thorin and with Gandalf’s help escaping to within sight of the Lonely Mountain.  But something wicked has just awakened in the mountain, and will be awaiting them with fire and desolation…

My Review
So let me start out by saying that I enjoyed this movie.  The acting was superb and I, for one, really did not find the many additions from the books, from Radagast to the White Council to the significant expansion of the story of the Necromancer, to have taken away from the story.  Indeed the significant expansion of Gandalf’s character from a clearly supporting role in the book to a very central figure throughout was, I believe, an excellent choice.

No one tosses a dwarf!

No one tosses a dwarf!

The issue with this movie for me is that it felt very much a “square peg/round hole” effort.  Jackson is essentially attempting to use The Hobbit as the glue that holds a larger story together that connects this tale directly to his fantastic LOTR films.  In doing so, he replicates the same brooding, serious tone of his other films.  Indeed, An Unexpected Journey in many ways feels even more serious than Fellowship of the Ring, as the frivolity feels more sporadic, less organic and, frankly, more annoying with the band of dwarves than it did with Merry and Pippin as well as Gimley providing some needed relief to the dire circumstances.

Frankly, this story, even with Jackson’s embellishments (which, credit where credit is due, is all derived from source materials) is simply not epic enough, feeling more like a thin version of his epic trilogy.  The Hobbit is a children’s fairy tale, even after Tolkien edited the book after writing the trilogy to make it more consistent.  In Jackson’s desire to make these films feel absolutely contiguous with his first trilogy, I believe he has robbed that sense of mirth and fun and replaced it with a grandiosity that is simply not supported by the plot.

What we end up with is an enjoyable, but very bloated piece of filmmaking.  I also found that, unlike LOTR, the CGI effects became distracting, especially in the goblin cavern where the combat looked like a medieval version of Attack of the Clones.  And there came a point when Gandalf said “RUN!” for the 6th time that I felt like I wasn’t watching a plot develop, but a video game on a loop. I found Fellowship of the Ring the strongest of the three LOTR films, and then while they were still wonderful, each became more flawed as the series progressed.  I’m just hoping I’ll be able to say the reverse of The Hobbit trilogy.

Overall Score: 3 out of 5 stars

See It Then Read It
All said, I think there is a LOT to be said for seeing this first and then reading the book.  My sister has been doing this with my nephew, and both of them have been having a great time finding the references in the book that Jackson used as cues to expand upon.  Indeed, in the end there may be something to be said for those that are hot Rings nerds to hold off on the book until you’ve seen all the films.

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Read It Then See It: The Hobbit

September 21, 2012

Okay, when hit with the preview for the upcoming movie in front of the IMAX of Raiders of the Lost Ark (still the greatest action adventure film of all time, for my money), I will finally bow and write up my long-promised take on the iconic story.

The Movie
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Jouney, New Line, Release Date December 12. Part 1 of a three film series based on the book and various appendices.

The Book
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by JRR Tolkien, originally published in 1937.

Genre
Children’s Fantasy

Age Appropriate
Six and up. Unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit truly is a piece of children’s literature, told very much like a bedtime story.  Some of the language may be complex for younger children, and there are battles a-plenty, but the levity, song, and general general silliness remove any real feeling of danger or dread from the book.

Book Availability
I actually read this book as my own bedtime story, mostly on my iPhone.  I bought the enhanced version for $11.99 which has links to audio files of Tolkien himself singing some of the songs, and alternative photos.  Frankly, I just wanted to read it, so unless you are a huge Rings-o-phile, save the two bucks and get the regular version that’s available for around $10 on both iBooks and Google Books.  Hardcopy available pretty much everywhere.

Quickie Plot Synopsis
Between the Dawn of Faeries and the Dominion of Men lived a group of peaceful, earthy little folk called Hobbits.  But despite their general antipathy toward the complicated and dangerous world of the big folk, a Wizard named Galdalf the Gray chooses a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

Silly Dragon, Rings are for Hobbits!

After reluctantly hosting a band of 13 Dwarves (take that Snow White!), Bilbo discovers that he has been chosen as the “thief” to help them recoup the treasure stolen from head Dwarf Thorin Oakenshield from the dastardly dragon, Smaug.

At Gandalf’s urging, Bilbo reluctantly leaves the comfort of Bag End to join the dwarves on this adventure.  The group is almost immediately beset by danger, from hungry trolls to vicious goblins.  After being lost in a Goblin’s cavern, Bilbo stumbles on a creature called Gollum, and a simple but attractive gold ring.  He tricks Gollum into helping him escape with the added aid of that magical invisibility ring.

Bilbo puts that ring to good use in order to outwit hungry giant spiders, greedy and mistrustful elves, and Smaug himself.  But pride and avarice bring men, elves, and dwarves to the brink of war with one and other.  Only the common enemy of a massive attack from the forces of evil are able to bring them together to defend the treasures of the Lonely Mountain.  Redemption is found, for some, found in death, and Bilbo finds himself back at Bag End, but forever changed by the experience.

Quickie Review
It’s funny, for my own grown-up pleasure I’m currently reading A Dance With Dragons, the latest in the Song of Fire and Ice series (better known as the HBO series Game of Thrones).  You can so easily see Tolkien’s influence on George RR Martin’s writing, everything from the grand descriptions to the breaking out in song.  For when it comes to the fantasy genre, you are hard pressed to find an author who isn’t a Tolkien prodigy in some way, shape or form.

But while Martin’s series is extremely adult, and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series is an epic work that is also quite adult, The Hobbit is a bedtime story, and is written in that exact way.  He in his style will set up side plots, but dismiss them as “a story for another day.”  He will come out of the narration and made editorial statements about the characters, and he uses poems and song to add the kind of improvisational levity to the story that you would absolutely expect with milk and cookies.

I will admit that I am not a huge Tolkien fan.  I believe that is because he spends a tremendous amount of time giving me the lore of his huge and imaginative world, but I believe it is at the expense of the story (indeed, I find the same fault with Martin’s work).  This is definitely a personal taste, as I know many fans who absolutely adore the rich and insanely imaginative world Tolkien created with Middle Earth.  But I find if you’re not interested in geeking out on the histories of elves and goblins, many of the details can be ponderous and clash with the child-like narrative.

I also have to say that the 13 Dwarves killed me.  I simply could not keep up with which character was which.  Given their names weren’t Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, etc., they became mix-and-match to me and made me simply not care about any of them.  I also found his use of song, which is even more pronounced here than in the LOTR books, to be extremely heavy-handed and took away from the drama.

Great rendering by illustrator Alan Lee

The one part I did LOVE was Bilbo’s interaction with Gollum.  Extremely well paced and you really feel the sinister, pained character from beginning to end.  The riddle contest which ends up being Bilbo’s salvation is a lot of fun (some of those riddles actually made their way into Gus’s LOTR party).

So if you’re looking for tightly written and gripping fantasy tale, I don’t think this is it.  But as prologue to an epic adventure, helping to establish the iconic world of Tolkien, I believe this is a book worth reading.  Okay, Tolkien fans, flame away…

Overall Read Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Opportunities for Discussion
Doctoral theses have been written on the meaning(s) contained within The Hobbit.  So I’m going to keep it a bit more simple and invite others to add to the conversation.

Everything Changes: At its essence, Bilbo’s story is about a man who fears change learning to embrace it.  Kids have these feelings all the time, mine most recently when going to a new school.  Bilbo’s story can help you to parallel times when your kids faced a new experience.  This can either add empathy for your kids to the story, or by using Bilbo as a guide help them to see change as a positive.

Fun With Riddles: As I mentioned, I think the most cleverly written part of the book is Bilbo’s interaction with Gollum.  If your kids feel the same, what a wonderful way to get them hooked on riddles.  Brain-stretching riddles are excellent cognitive, social, and linguistic development tools.  From problem-solving, to understanding the art of word play, to the development of that all-important funny bone, Gollum will do your kid a big favor if these get her/him jazzed to riddle me this.  Especially if you are reading to your children, you can take the opportunity to stop at the riddle and work with them to figure out the answer to the riddle before you move on with the book.

Greed Ain’t Good: Perhaps this won’t sit well with the Ayn Rand set, but from Trolls to Dwarves to Dragons to, yes, even the sainted elves, Tolkien tells the tales of comeuppance for those who only want more.  What is good in this is that greed is not the exclusive providence of the wicked.  Thorin Oakenshield himself succumbs to it much to his own downfall, and, yes, even the woodland elves’ leader Thranduil was known for his greed.  It’s a good basis for discussion about how avarice can blind you to more important things in your life.

Big Things… One of the most obvious things, yet still perhaps the best lesson of the Hobbit and the whole LOTR saga is that even the smallest of creatures can have a major impact on the world.  Bilbo’s journey goes from him feeling very small and useless to finding the full extent of his courage and usefulness.  This story is a great gateway for discussion on how everyone can have a voice and an impact on the world, and no one should be underestimated or discounted in that regard.

Overall Family Discussion Score: 4 out of 5 stars.

What to Expect from the Movie
Well, you probably know at this point that director Peter Jackson has decided to turn this tale into not one, not two, but three movies.  From the trailers, I think you can see that he is very much attempting to keep with the darker, more adult tone of his LOTR trilogy, though he does say that he has attempted to keep some of the whimsy of this children’s story intact as well.

It seems that the first film, An Unexpected Journey, will be Bilbo’s journey to the Lonely Mountain.  The second, The Desolation of Smaug, will focus on the rise and fall of the dragon, and the third, There and Back Again, will climax in the Battle of the Five Armies.  Seems like a reasonable way to split them up.

I actually preferred the LOTR films to the books, as I felt Jackson kept to the spirit of the books but cut a lot of expositional fat that I did not enjoy in Tolkien’s writing style (though I’m still fuming at the removal of the man and the myth, Tom Bombadil).  It will be interesting to see what happens here, as this trilogy seems to be less The Hobbit and more a piecing together of Tolkien’s appendices with The Hobbit’s story meshed in to try and paint a fuller picture and more direct bridge between these films and LOTR.  In many ways, this will likely get compared to Star Wars with a prequel trilogy.  I’m hopeful that Jackson will succeed where Lucas failed, but he is definitely more out on a limb this time from a storytelling perspective than he was with the Rings trilogy.

After all the back and forth about New Line itself, and potential changes in directors, I’m very glad it ended up being Jackson himself that took this on.  It will be fun to see his whole vision played out on screen.  I think Martin Freeman, who is amazing as Dr. Watson in the new Sherlock! series on BBC was an inspired choice, and, especially with the added layers to the story not seen in the book (most notably, the story of the Necromancer) we should see a lot more of Ian McKellen’s Gandalf the Gray (rather than the more stick-in-the-mud Galdalf the White).  That in itself will be worth the price of admission.

So hit the book, then get that Fandango App warmed up, as I have no doubt this is going to be a great ride, and a lot of fun to compare to the book because there will be a lot of changes.  Happy reading!

Backyard Birthdays for Tweens, Episode III: Imagine if you will…

July 12, 2012

One of the great challenges for me as the kids grow older is how to get them involved in a fiction now that suspension of disbelief is no longer axiomatic.  My effort, I think partly successful last year, was to make the party more realistic by having the story line based on things the kids knew, and having them as themselves as characters.

Not likely to be seen in a theater near you, but a great party favor!

But while this year’s Lord of the Rings(ish) party still kept the kids as themselves, the swords and sorcery were hardly realistic.  Foam swords, a moon bounce, and a giant Halloween spider on top of a shed don’t exactly scream “You’re battling for the survival of our planet!”  So how do you get them to cut the snark and really immerse themselves in the story?

Ah, that was it…the story.  We were going to tell a story together, like sitting down and reading a great book, only instead we would be acting it out.  And in order to set the scene, what I needed to do was not to find a way around their reality, or to cleverly insert their reality into the story.  Instead, it was to simply ask them to tuck that in a corner for the next few hours and join me in a different place.

And so after each partygoer picked out their weapon of choice and took a few minutes “training” by bouncing around the castle and competing to make the loudest slapping sound on the others with their styrofoam swords, I gathered them together in shade of our tree and began our story with these magic words:

Imagine if you will…

And I retold the story put on the invitation.  Of a world not so unlike our own, but where our warming planet had unleashed an ancient and evil magic upon us.  Of an Evil Eye of Blood and its dark forces that had brushed aside the modern weaponry, laid waste to our way of life, and had even brought all adults under its power.  My boyish heart and the powers of Gustav the Gray, child wizard, had kept me so far from falling under the Eye’s spell, and I had found in the historic archives the only possible weapon that we could use to stop the world from falling under the Eye’s nefarious gaze.

And then I asked them to join me inside.  There were some giggles and slapping of swords, but most were quiet, curious as to what I had in mind.  “Are we going to watch Lord of the Rings now?” one asked as I warmed up the DVR.  “Ooh, Mad Men, I want to watch that!” said John as I scrolled through the offerings.  Then I had arrived at my destination—Game of Thrones.

Are you a moron?  Letting 11-year-olds watch Game of Thrones?

Legitimate question, but I had carefully vetted the penultimate episode of the season, the big attack on King’s Landing to find an acceptable scene, one where Tyrion Lannister (amazingly played by Peter Dinklage) sets the enemy fleet ablaze spectacularly using an alchemal substance known as Wildfire.  This fictional fire is actually based on a cool historical substance known as Greek Fire, used by the Byzantine Empire in actual ancient warfare.  The scene itself, spectacularly rendered as a single ship filled with the green, glowing substance envelops dozens of ships in a massive emerald blaze had the kids absolutely riveted.

If you don’t have the budget, steal special effects from others

“Wildfire,” I said.  “This lost substance of the ancient pyromancers, is our only hope.  And we think we have traced the location of the sorcerer known as the Spider Mage back to this location—the Shed of Spiders.”

I point outside and suddenly the oversized Halloween spider sitting atop our shed took on new meaning.  They gathered round as I keyed the lock.  I threw the door open and…AAAAAAH!  (actually more like “oh…eeek…”) a skeleton ghost covered in spiders blocked their way.  When I entered first, I screamed in agony and, when I turned around, I had morphed into the golem-like form of the Spider Mage (courtesy of a recycled Voldemort mask).

A few brain teasers before the bedlam

Yes, the sorcerer gargled, he did indeed have the magical weapons they sought, but he was a “tricksy” wizard and would only give his wares to clever children.  And so he riddled them with brain teasers like:

It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
Even the deepest holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.
Answer: Dark

I am used to bat with, yet I never get a hit.
I am near a ball, yet it is never thrown. (this one really stumped them)
Answer: Eyelashes

The builder doesn’t need me,
the buyer doesn’t use me,
the user doesn’t want me.
Answer: Coffin

If you’re buying by the gallon, you KNOW you’ve got a party!

Once solved, they were given access to a treasure trove of magical items.  Hundreds of balloons filled with blue, green, and red wildfire (my thanks to Crayola and their washable paints).  A bowl filled with the venomous blood of the giant spider Shelob, poison which would burn through steel, but, ironically, could be wielded with foam.  A bowl filled with magical tar missiles that stayed cool (and chocolaty!) until thrown at the enemy, its contents bursting forth with pudding-fueled destruction.  And the magical Blade of the Knights of Aragorn, longer and stronger and capable of allowing knights to increase the range of their attack.

Yet, even with their new weapons, how could this small band have any chance against the Eye of Blood’s massive Army of Darkness?  By appealing to his one weakness—his arrogance.  If they could entice the Eye to play on their terms, they might stand a chance.  And their terms would be to play the battle out as a giant game of Castle Panic (which just so happens to be a cooperative game.  Can’t take the Conflict Partnership out of the Dad!).

And so, with the Castle Moon bounce bracketed by Blue, Green, and Red sectors just like the Castle Panic Game board, the young wizards, and warriors paired up, divided into “good” and “evil” teams, and practiced the game in preparation for the grand battle with evil.  After several rounds by the rules, we took a “melee break” and the kids just bloodied up their swords, used the remaining “practice wildfire” and went at it.

“Hey, that was a pretty fun party!” Rowan said to me when we went inside to reconstitute their strength with the ancient recipe of rounded flatbread topped with the sauce of tomatoes and shredded cow’s cheese.  “I’m glad you are enjoying it,” I replied as I escaped upstairs.

Highly recommended for witches and wizards 21 and older

As the young partygoers completed their meals and sped back to the castle for more quality bouncing time, I gathered the forces of evil clandestinely in the front of the house.  Powered by (or at least inhibitions lowered by) my Witches’ Brew, the adult Army of Darkness made their way to the battlefront as their heretofore sagely adult guide had been turned into the blood-soaked, 3rd eye-adorned vessel of the Evil Eye itself.

As I barked my evil taunts, I saw the looks that I had so hoped to see.  Wide-eyed, smiling and gasping as they saw their parents, coaches, and teachers aligned against them.

But if anyone was whining for me to stop blabbing and get to the action, it was the grown ups.  And the carping didn’t stop when we lined up and began to play, Castle Panic-style.  “When do we  get to attack?” Mary groaned, her finger itching atop a can of silly string.  “I still don’t get the rules!” J.P. groused as he twirled his saber.

I realized then that adults really do make the worst children.  While the kids patiently played, my blood thirsty army couldn’t wait.  So, I simply passed out the weapons, sprayed all swords with blood, and bowed to anarchy.

Now THAT’S a workout

Unfortunately, when it comes to pictures, all I have is this one great after-shot of Coach Craig, as our staff photographer bowed out soon as the pudding began to fly.  But, let me tell you, the Id had its day to play as both children and their child-like parents unleashed mayhem on each other like nobody’s business.  The wildfire went in about 3 minutes, but luckily there was plenty of blood to go ‘round.  Mentos were added to Sprite to create torrential ice storms, and poor Ms. Waterbury, who had the triple threat of being Mother, Wife of Coach, and Teacher to most of these kids won both the good sport award, and “Most Likely to be Mistaken as Carrie.”

All resources spent, the combatants panted as the Evil Eye and Gus the Gray squared off for one final contest.  And with one final nerf sword slap, the prosthetic was loosed from my forehead, and the spell was broken.  Earth was saved, cake was eaten, and the vanquished drowned their sorrows.

And I got a great reminder that whether it be teacher, coach, parent, or party planner, sometimes the best thing about rules is understanding when to throw them away.

Backyard Birthdays for Tweens, Episode II: Know Thine Enemy

June 18, 2012

So as I mentioned back in part one of the epic journey toward my soon-to-be 11-year-old’s Lord of the Rings party, I had an idea in my head on how to make this post-modern fantasy pay off.  My only concern was that I needed to find willing victims for my particular brand of insanity.

But, Mr. Carr, I’m your BIGGEST fan!

You might remember that for Gus’s 10th birthday party, the noir adventure of the Decade Thief, the kids were guessing from about half-way through that it was Ms. Nathanson who dunnit.  I had actually predicted that might be the case, and had asked the elementary school music teacher and rock star in residence Mr. Carr if he’d be willing to take 10 minutes to come over and hide in an unlit shed holding a birthday cake with a mask on.  His declining of my invitation was polite, professional, and smacked of his very justified fear that I wanted to lock him in our basement and force him to teach Gus piano… forever.

But while I now see how absolutely odd my request might have seemed, I still loved the idea of having the children’s local celebrities—their teachers, coaches, and parents—make a surprise appearance to really throw the kids for a loop.

And so I set up the invitation noting that the Great Eye of Blood had corrupted the adult world, and only the children had remained innocent enough to battle its evil.  And what greater “Eye-rony” would there be than the Evil Eye using the people these children loved and respected more than anything in the world as the instruments of their destruction?

And so, learning my lesson in both the alarmingly high level of my own idiosyncrasy, and the need to cast a wide net in order to catch enough grown-ups willing to pick back up their childish things, I sent out the following email to the parents of all kids invited to the party, as well as a number of their teachers and coaches:

Subject: A slightly odd (but fun!) invitation

Hello everyone, Scott (Gus’s Dad) here.  Let me come right to the point.  I need your help the evening of Saturday ,June 16, and I’m willing to make it worth your while. 

As you likely know, Gus’s birthday comes right at the end of the school year.  As I thought of what to do for this year’s requested theme, Lord of the Rings, an idea came up that I think would be really special for the kids, and fun for us grownups, too.

What’s a castle without a slide?

I’ve set up the plot noting that grown ups have fallen under the spell of the Evil Eye (see my invite attached).  Given how much kids love to take on the grownups, I’d say that your unexpected presence will be far more fun than even the foulest of creatures of their imagination could create.
After you’re done being defeated by the forces of good, we’ll send the kids inside for cake and a LOTR film fest, and I’ll bring out some of my own “Witches’ Brew” and some food for you to help celebrate a job horribly done, and to wish farewell to the golden age of Elementary School for these kids, as they’ll probably be “too cool” for this kind of stuff once they’re hardened middle schoolers.

So, if you’re still reading this, here is what I’m thinking:

  • Kids start the party around 4.  I will lead them through an adventure until about 6.  
  • Kids have dinner to rest up for battle at 6.  Grown ups come at that time to “get into character.”
  • Between 6:30 and 7, the Evil Eye will announce its horrible presence.  The forces of good will be ushered out to the back yard for the final battle.
  • This will NOT be a crazed melee.  We will be playing this more like a strategy game where attacks will be in turns.
  • I have not worked out all the combat details yet, but, yes, there is a chance you could get a little wet or dirty.  All weapons will be soft so injury to anything but pride will be highly unlikely.
  • We’ll send the kids in around 8 and bring the grownup stuff out.
  • Yes, significant others are welcome to come even if they are not willing to participate in the Evil Eye’s efforts to throw the world into eternal darkness.
  • Ask around–I make VERY good cocktails.

So, there you go.  In order to get things together, I’ll need to know by June 9 if you might be able to make it.  No problem if you can’t or just are not interested.  I know it’s a bit of an odd request, but those who know me understand that odd is pretty much standard issue.

Thanks all,

Scott (aka the Evil Eye of Blood)

I call Ash!

So, what do you think.  Would you have said yes?  Or would you have said, “You’re nuts.”  Perhaps both?  Well, I was thrilled that I could coax over a dozen grownups, inclusive of THREE elementary school rock stars to join my Army of Darkness.  So who looks crazy now, eh?  Okay, it’s still me, but at least I’m not alone!

Next, I will conclude this trilogy (can’t do a LOTR party justice without a trilogy!) and tell you how the battle for Modern Middle Earth “played” out.