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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« riding in cars | Main | happy hallowe'en! »

Weta letter

So in response to
my most recent Waiting For Frodo comic, I received the following e-mail from Rebecca at Weta Digital (New Zealand company working on the special effects for Lord of the Rings):

Your strip caused much hilarity in the office today (I sit next to Shane, who mailed you a while ago). I thought that you might like a photo of Shane with the rest of the crew. :-)

Sorry about the image quality. I was in a hurry and couldn't be bothered cleaning the scanner. :-)



-ps- Shane is the one at the right hand side of the photo in the yellow shirt. I'm the girl in the black t-shirt at the front. Otherwise, on top of the renderwall there's Tomek (at the front) and Ben (at the

back). Paul is standing next to me and Nik is sitting behind him. James is looking very cool in his sunglasses and orange shirt, and Cam is standing on a box behind him. Our team is bigger these days, but this is the most recent photo. :-)

Rebecca said it was ok to post her letter and photo, as long as I didn't present it as "official Weta/LOTR publicity".

For those of you who would rather not read about the Casa Loma exhibit, "Journey to Middle Earth", until after you actually see it, feel free to skip the rest of this Blathering for now.

Trick or Treating

Jeff and I went out trick-or-treating with Sara and Annie last night. It was the first time I've ever done so...every year previous, I had been in Ohio at OVFF. Lots of fun, hanging out with the parent-types on the sidewalk, watching our nieces and nephews and children meandering up the various sidewalks and driveways in the quest for sugar.

There seemed to be a lot of animal costumes last night, perhaps in anticipation of the colder weather. The kids looked darned cute, though tended to tip over more often. Saw the usual princesses, some white-clad Ninja warriors, firemen, three Darth Mauls, a very cute bumblebee, Winnie the Pooh. No one seemed to know what Sara's costume was, even when she told them she was Arwen. We encouraged her to add "from Lord of the Rings", but she didn't seem to care about it that much. Clasping her tin foil-wrapped cardboard sword in one hand and the neck of her cardboard tube horse in the other, she galloped gleefully across lawns and sidewalks. Annie trailed along beside her, carefully lifting up the hem of her Ariel dress as they clambered up and down sidewalks. Sometimes a house would be so enthusiastically decorated that Annie would be too scared to go up and ask for candy, so Sara would take her sister's bag and go up for her.

When the girls got tired, we went back to their house to admire their loot and for their parents to check it over for any unsafe items. Everything got approved this year, though some hand-wrapped homemade fudge was an iffy item until Kaarel recognized it as something from a particular neighbour. The girls always get a chance to have a snack just before bedtime, usually fruit or cheese. Tonight, their parents said they could have some of their candy instead. To my surprise, both Sara and Annie opted for slices of cantaloupe first. Jeff and I were both stuffing our faces with some of the leftover chocolate and candy, go figure. :-)

A poll question for all you adults: what was your favourite Hallowe'en costume as a child? Answer in Blatherchat.

Journey to Middle Earth

(Alliance/Atlantis exhibit at the Casa Loma)

Jeff and I went to the Casa Loma exhibit yesterday afternoon. It had more stuff than I expected (the tickets were relatively inexpensive...I had figured one big room), so I was quite pleased. There were about nine rooms of varying size, and a hallway lined with framed b&w photos of the cast. Lots of large stills from the movie everywhere as well as pre-production sketches of characters and scenery, filming location maps of "Middle Earth in New Zealand". Effort was made to maintain a certain atmosphere with careful use of lighting and recorded sound effects. Several rooms had Elvish runes projected on the floor in a circle (a la The Ring) in glowing red or orange, some projections slowly rotating.

Cool stuff included:

BAG END ROOM - hobbit furniture, invitations to the party, books and papers, framed paintings of Bungo and Belladonna Took, Bilbo's party outfit.

ELVEN AND GONDORIAN ARTIFACTS ROOM - orc banners, Elven and Gondorian flags, wraithworld witch king outfit, Elrond's armour, Gigalad's armour, orc costumes.

HOBBITON & BREE ARTIFACTS ROOM - ringwraith saddle, pre-production sketches of the Green Dragon, hobbit house, realistic-looking ledger from the Prancing Pony, complete with registrations and ink smears, hobbit tools, furniture from the Green Dragon, costumes, Tolkien book display.

THE MINES OF MORIA ROOM - dwarven mining tools, wooden buckets, bags, orc sword, chest, Gimli's weapon and clothing, dwarf skeleton, rune letters. I was accosted by a Ryerson journalism student in this room, who interviewed me for her radio project. :-)

THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF BARAD-DUR - "Creepiness" factor enhanced by low lighting, flickering red lights, sound effects. Otherwise, isn't nearly as scary as the room name implies.

THE GATES OF MORIA - When light hits the rock, you can see the silver-traced outline of a door. The room after this one doesn't seem to be on the map, and contains a number of colour sketches and paintings.

THE HOBBIT BEDROOM IN BREE - Creepiest display, as far as I was concerned. The room had four hobbit-sized beds that had obviously been ripped apart, feather stuffing scattered everywhere. The beds were empty. In the middle of the room is a realistic figure of a hodded Black Rider, clearly up to no good. Nearby is a display of the hobbit carrying packs, and Gandalf's cart.

ORTHANC - dark, sound of running water, creepy! Orc theme with tools, banner, furniture, Saruman's outfit and a model of his study, Orc candelabra, incense burner.

LOTHLORIEN - This and Rivendell were my favourite rooms in the whole exhibit. The Lothlorien room, not surprisingly, had all sorts of Elvish things, including Galadriel's vial, ring, brooch, crown, jug, bowl (the Mirror, perhaps?), shoes, a variety of her costumes (exquisite beadwork on the Silverlode dress!) and Celeborn's. Elven pillow, shoes, bed, bows & arrows, glassware, Elven boat.

RIVENDELL - All kinds of very cool costumes worn by characters in the movie, including the hobbits, Boromir, Strider, Arwen and Gandalf. Celeborn's furniture, Gandalf's staff and hat (his hat appears to be made of a textured stiff grey felt), weapons, jewelry, crowns, hobbit swords including Sting (whose blade is engraved), Aragorn's hunting knife (runes on the blade), Gandalf's sword (blue ridged handle with blue scabbard), Elrond's healing herbs, Bilbo's book (calligraphy on first page reads "There and Back Again...A Hobbit's Tale, by Bilbo Baggins"), Elven cutlery (long and elegant, just like its users), Rivendell forgery tools. Centerpiece: Elvish telescope, as well as a large bow hanging from an Elvish-type chandelier from ceiling.

Most of all, I was impressed by the quality of the craftmanship of the items, how realistic they all looked. The sword handles were appropriately worn-looking, for example, the kitchen tools looked as if they were used regularly. When I commented on the workmanship to Rebecca (see Weta Digital letter at top of this page), she agreed that the Weta Workshop people had done a wonderful job, saying that Weta Digital was lucky to have some of the movie props hanging on their office walls.

Anyway, if any of you happen to be in Toronto between now and November 11th and are even moderately interested in the Lord of the Rings movie, I highly recommend this exhibit!


- Interesting article about Weta Digital, from Digital Producer

- Another Casa Loma Report (from

- Casa Loma report from Canoe


- Weta Digital group photo.

- Program book for "A Journey To Middle Earth", a Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Casa Loma.

- My ticket to the Casa Loma "Journey to Middle Earth" exhibit.

Today's Poll: (Send a poll suggestion)

Did you give out Hallowe'en treats last night?

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