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Once More to Middle Earth

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So it may or may not surprise you that I have the makings of a hobbit costume right at hand. It all came together two years ago, when I sort of got myself committed to a hipster hobbit cosplay for the first film’s premier:

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(and yes, those photos were eventually sent to Corporate)

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It was also around that time that, in a whim of random Google Maps searching (as you do), I discovered that Austin has a neighborhood with several Tolkien-inspired street names:

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And thus a 30 by 30 was born.

The plan was simple: don the hobbit costume once more, drive over to the neighborhood, and try not to cause too much of a spectacle while stopping to take pictures in front of it. Though in this case, the worst case scenario would likely be someone shaking their head and muttering, “Austin.”

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It turned out to be much simpler than that: the day was gorgeous, the neighborhood quiet, and there was no audience save ourselves and the trees.

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And one incredibly rad street sign.

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I hadn’t intended to leave this one for the weekend right before the movie premiere, but scheduling (and my persistent self-consciousness about public costuming) made it so that this ended up being one of the last 30 by 30‘s of the year.

The year is going out on a bang, is what I’m saying.

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Well, maybe more like a bang…followed by a fizzle.

I had very glowy feelings about the first movie, slightly-less-glowy feelings about the second, and a sort of deeply settled dread about the tears that the third film might cause me. I still cry reading the end of the book – as much as I looove the story, one must admit it ends on kind of a bleak note for a children’s adventure-tale. I knew what to expect going into the movie, but I also knew (having seen the five previous Peter Jackson adaptations) that the film would likely change up some of that narrative and I was really okay with that. While the movies will never win out over the book(s), in my mind they also occupy separate spaces. I love the Lord of the Rings films and I super-duper love the books on which they’re based. I just love Tolkien a lot, in pretty much all forms.

(I’ve even read Middle Earth fan-fiction, so I won’t claim to be a Tolkien purist.)

But I did not love this third Hobbit film.

I won’t delve into all the particulars of why – in fact, I’ve specifically avoided talking about it on social media because I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a bad film and I don’t want others to feel like they can’t (or shouldn’t) enjoy it. My sister-in-law? Loved it.

Meanwhile, this was me at around the 2 hour mark…

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Fanfic did it better is not something you ever want to be thinking in the middle of a film’s climax, especially not a film based on a Tolkien story.

There are moments in the movie that I will cherish because they brought the story to life in a beautifully visual way, and parts that I can’t wait to erase from my brain by re-reading the book as soon as possible. At the end of the day: the film exists now. That is both the best and the worst thing that I can say about it.

Because I will still watch them all, and own them all, just like I read and own the books. I love Tolkien and I love experiencing his world and – WTF moments aside (I had plenty) – I will always be grateful to Peter Jackson for allowing us to live there for hours and hours.

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The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.