Day 350: National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

national chocolate on everything day

What a fun day to celebrate, especially during the holiday season! While I’m not a chocoholic, preferring other flavors over chocolate, I don’t turn my nose up at it either. My grandson Dayan and I had already planned an event for the afternoon. This “holiday” provided the perfect excuse to stock up on chocolate covered snacks.

I picked Dayan up after school and we bought an assortment of goodies including chocolate covered donuts, chocolate covered peanut butter rice krispy treats and white chocolate covered Christmas tree shaped pretzels! Dayan went all out and got chocolate covered milk….otherwise known as chocolate milk…as well. With our stash, we settled into my daughter’s living room, to watch….The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, extended edition.

I can hear the groans. The Hobbit again? Didn’t I just do a Hobbit movie marathon yesterday? Haven’t I watched this movie enough? Yes….yes….and no. I never tire of the Middle-Earth films. As often as I watch, I learn something new, see something I haven’t seen before, hear a truth that escaped me before. In ways that are difficult for me to explain to anyone else, movies speak to me. They impart truth and knowledge and guidance. They reveal patterns and fuel my passion and creativity. Much like those who read the same book over and over again, I watch the same movie over and over to keep learning from it, and simply because I enjoy it.

I love watching movies with my grandchildren. Dayan, at 15, has been a long time movie companion. Our whole family took him to see his first movie when he was 8 months old. He sat in rapt attention during Toy Story, occasionally looking at me with his wise brown eyes before continuing to watch the story unfolding on the big screen. We’ve been to countless movies since.

We had a plan, Dayan and I, that we couldn’t execute until this week when the The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies released. We wanted to watch all six Middle Earth films, in chronological order. We began today with the first Hobbit movie, and after we watch the newest Hobbit movie, we will progress through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the extended editions. In this way, we will get to see the whole story, told through film.

Not only did we enjoy our movie, and our chocolate covered treats, we had great discussions about the films, Tolkien and Peter Jackson. I got to share with Dayan about how foreshadowing in this movie hints at what’s to come in the later films. And we tuned in to Howard Shore’s amazing soundtrack which subtly supports and enhances the movie. Dayan has a great ear for music and quickly learned to distinguish the different themes throughout the film. There is the Hobbit theme, Rivendell theme, Dwarves theme and many, many more. Each race and place has a musical theme that accompanies them and signals the arrival of key moments. When Gandalf speaks to Galadriel about the courage of Hobbits, the Hobbit theme plays softly in the background for a few bars. Even the eagles in the movie have a theme. We enjoyed connecting the information together that is woven throughout the films, creating an intricate, beautiful tapestry that tells such an amazing story. I joyfully anticipate watching each Middle-Earth movie again with Dayan and hearing his input.

This afternoon we laughed and talked and watched and wondered and snacked. It was a great celebration of all things Hobbit and of Chocolate Covered Anything Day and of life.

national chocolate covered anything day

Day 349: The Hobbit Movie Marathon

Hobbit Marathon

All year, I’ve been anticipating the release of the final movie in the Hobbit Trilogy, and the conclusion of the Middle-Earth Saga that began more than 13 years ago. The release date is Wednesday, December 17. I had plans to attend! A month or so ago, I started seeing teasers for a Hobbit Movie Marathon, playing in selected theaters. The first two Hobbit movies would be presented back to back and lead to a sneak peek of the final movie, two days ahead of the release date.

I thought it would be so cool to spend a day at the movie theater….one of my favorite places to hang out for a few hours. I didn’t expect that my Joplin theater, Regal, would be one of the selected venues for the marathon…so I hadn’t really checked on it. Last Thursday, while with my granddaughter at one of her favorite places, Chick Fil A, I was casually browsing the Regal Theater’s upcoming releases. I looked at Wednesday and smiled over the many scheduled showings of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (henceforth in this blog post TBOTFA). I backed up a day, and there were Tuesday evening showings. Wow, I thought, I might go a day early. I mistakenly thought the marathon was scheduled for Tuesday and since I didn’t see it listed that day, I didn’t think Joplin was hosting the event. Something made me back up one more day….and there it was, the Hobbit Movie Marathon. I bought my ticket an hour later.

Today, for my first, I attended the marathon, a nine hour event starting at 1:00. I was there by noon, and picked out a great seat. Knowing I’d be sitting for a long time today, I got a seat on the back wall where there is more leg room. My one concern today was that my legs would get restless. Sitting where I did, I could stretch my legs out without bumping the seat in front of me.

This was a very special time for me. No other series of movies has impacted me as much as the Middle-Earth stories have. Many life lessons appeared for me from Lord of the Rings and then the Hobbit, which I expected less from, taught me more. JRR Tolkien was an amazing story teller. And Peter Jackson so brilliantly adapted these rich stories into unforgettable films. I was thrilled to be sharing space today with 40-50 other fans who take the movies as seriously as I do. My cousin’s son, Harry, and his friend drove to Joplin to attend as well and sat next to me.

As many times as I’ve seen the first two Hobbit films, I still enjoyed seeing them both again on the big screen. The first movie is so light-hearted. I had the opportunity to fall in love with the characters when An Unexpected Journey released, and figure out which dwarf was which. Desolation of Smaug is much darker, and the characters flesh out and deepen. Thorin’s fanatical side begins to appear, and Bilbo finds the One Ring….and his courage….in this film.

I have looked forward to and dreaded the third film. I have read The Hobbit book several times, so I am very familiar with the story and how it ends. That ending created my sense of dread. A part of me didn’t want to see this story play out, and I didn’t want to see the saga come to an end. Peter Jackson has already said there can be no other Tolkien films. The family owns the rights to Tolkien’s other works and they aren’t willing at this time to release them.

I will do a full review of TBOTFA later this week, as a bonus blog post. It deserves a full posting. The movie was beautifully done, full of action right from the opening scene, and full of angst. This is Thorin’s story, really, more than Bilbo’s. I watched all of the characters complete their journeys. It was Thorin Oakenshield whose journey was the most difficult as it was primarily an inward one. Just when it appears that this new king under the mountain is destined to share the same fate as his grandfather, he reaches deep within to find his true heart. I love stories about transformation and overcoming, and this last Hobbit movie is a powerful portrayal of lives that are changed.

I watched the conclusion, being unable to stop it! As much as I would have liked a different ending to the story, Peter Jackson was faithful to Tolkien’s depiction and it was very well done. Yes….I cried. I actually teared up early in the film, several times, and felt that didn’t bode well for how I would handle the ending. But, tears are cleansing and as Gandalf himself says, in LOTR: ROTK “I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” In this case, they were honoring as well. One of the characters, weeping, asks King Thranduil, “If this is love, why does it hurt so much?”. “Because it was real,” he answers, from a place within his heart that has known loss. And I know…these characters aren’t real. But the emotions, the joy and the sorrow, are.

As the third movie ended and the credits rolled, Billy Boyd who played Pippen in LOTR, sings a moving song called appropriately “The Last Goodbye”. The audience, who after nine hours together felt like my friends and family, sat silently together, joined by our shared experience. There were soft sighs and a few sniffles and a reluctance to break the bond. At last we slowly stood and quietly left the theater.

I am so glad I got to see these three movies presented as the single story that they are. Before the third movie started, there was a short clip from Peter Jackson. He acknowledged that some of his greatest fans were present for this event, willingly devoting nine hours out of their day to see this marathon. Then he suggested putting all six Middle-Earth movies together for a mega marathon at selected theaters. “That’s for another day,” he promised. I hope that becomes a reality. If so, I’m there!

Hobbit Marathon TBOTFA

Day 320: 5 Week Middle-Earth Movie Marathon Week 4

5 wk mmm TH AUJ week 4

After completing the Lord of the Rings Trilogy last week, today, for the fourth week of the marathon, I began The Hobbit Trilogy. As I popped The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey into my tv/dvd player, I scrolled through my blog posts, sure that I had written about this movie before. I haven’t actually done a review of this film. I’ve mentioned it in several posts, especially as I was working on The Hobbit Fan Contest. This, then, will be my thoughts about the first Hobbit movie. As with the other Peter Jackson films, I chose to watch the extended edition version.

The LOTR movies had such a great impact on my life, that I didn’t see how The Hobbit films could possibly do the same. This prequel to the Lord of the Rings was not my favorite JRR Tolkien story. However, I admired Peter Jackson’s ability to bring to life the complex characters from Tolkien’s books and I looked forward to a return visit to Middle-Earth. Gimli the dwarf was not my favorite character. I didn’t dislike him. I just liked some of the other characters more. And, Bilbo, while important in the Lord of the Rings story, is a minor character in that film. He is nearing the end of his life. After he passes the One Ring on to Frodo, he journeys to Rivendell and we only see him a couple of other times in the trilogy.

There are references to Bilbo’s great adventure during the LOTR, including a look at the stone trolls and peeks at the book he is writing, as he records the tale for Frodo. I knew Sting the sword, and the mithril shirt were acquired during that dragon hunt. So I felt more indulgent than excited about the film as I prepared to view The Hobbit in the theater for the first time. I sat back, ready to enjoy a good story in my beloved Middle-Earth. And enjoy the story I did. To my surprise, I fell in love with another amazing cast of characters. I missed Aragron and Arwen, yet some of my other favorites from LOTR were there: Gandalf, back to being the Grey, Elrond, Galadriel, Legolas, and a cameo by Frodo.

I was impressed with Thorin Oakenshield and his company of dwarves. Fierce, stubborn, proud, warrior-like, my appreciation for this displaced band of journeyers was sincere, and strong. And Bilbo, young and uncertain of his worth, did indeed carry this movie as an unexpected hero, on a very unexpected journey. Tonight, watching the film again, I noted the scenes that stirred my own sense of adventure and took notice of the lines that were worthy quotes. Here are a few of the stand out sections that spoke to me in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Bilbo, though still young by Hobbit reckoning, has settled into a predictable and sedate lifestyle. An adventure is the last thing he wants to experience, when Gandalf comes to visit. The wizard, who is very familiar with Bilbo’s ancestry, sees the cleverness and courage lurking within the Hobbit, and calls him forth. Some of the most powerful lines in this film are spoken to Bilbo, who fainted at the thought of encountering a fire breathing dragon, and wants to sit quietly to recover. Says Gandalf, “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me, when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young Hobbit who was always running off in search of Elves in the woods. He’d stay out late, come home after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies. A young Hobbit who would’ve liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.” Gandalf’s words not only give Bilbo pause, they give me pause too. I noticed for the first time the word beyond in his dialogue. I don’t want to experience the world through books, maps or movies. I am proclaiming, like Bilbo, “I’m going on an adventure!”

When Galadriel asks Gandalf why he included the Halfling on the adventure, Gandalf tells her that having Bilbo along infuses him with courage. “I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay…small acts of kindness and love.” It is the good-hearted Bilbo who inspires Gandalf, and his small acts that have the biggest impact. I too am capable of such everyday deeds and acts of kindness and love to keep the darkness at bay. Bilbo infuses me with courage as well. This conversation takes place in Rivendell, a place of beauty and restorative peace. I have been captivated by Rivendell since LOTR and I am inspired to create Rivendell-like spaces, whether in my garden or somewhere larger. I love the additional Rivendell scenes included on the extended edition version.

Thorin Oakenshield, like Aragorn in LOTR, undergoes the most transformation. For him, though, unlike Aragorn, he must first descend into an obsessive madness. After being driven from his kingdom of Erebor and losing his grandfather, the king, and his father, Thorin becomes a homeless wanderer. “And he never forgave. And he never forgot.” His deep anger fuels his passion for reclaiming his kingdom, and his treasure. And yet, he is a noble warrior, and very protective of his nephews and his company. By the end of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, he has an awakening respect for Bilbo, his burglar who has never stolen a thing. There is a dragon involved too, of course, but more about him after the next Hobbit movie.

I have appreciated the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Middle-Earth stories and to lay aside what I thought I knew and perceive anew with fresh eyes. As a result, I’ve continued to draw life lessons from these films while also enjoying the epic adventures. One more week remains in the marathon, and with it, the chance to watch the extended edition of The Desolation of Smaug, which I have not seen in its entirety yet. And then, the short wait for the last Hobbit movie to release in theaters, mid December. I am ready!

5 wk mmm TH AUJ movie poster

Day 259: Back to Back Hobbit Movies


Tonight I have a quick post about a not-so-quick first! I am working on Challenges 3 and 4 of the Hobbit Fan Contest. Challenge 3 is the making of a 2 minute video sharing my refections about the impact on my life these powerful movies have had. I had planned to create the video for today’s first. A busy day taking care of clients changed my plans.

When one first doesn’t work out, another always appears. I have 6 days left in which to complete the challenges for the contest. I know I will succeed at completing steps 3 and 4. As I headed home in the dark, after getting contracts signed, I mulled over possible firsts. Several options that I considered “shied” away from me, meaning the thoughts didn’t resonate with me. That’s a clear no signal for me. When I tried to open the saved website with unique holidays, the site wouldn’t open. That’s never happened before. Another no.

The thought that kept coming to me, that resonated with me, caused me to shy away. Watch the two Hobbit movies, back to back. It was 8:00 PM. I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. These are lengthy films. I have work tomorrow. I had all kinds of excuses why this wasn’t a good time for this first! And yet, the more I considered watching the movies, the more it seemed the right experience for this evening.

Because, I’ve been thinking a great deal about these movies as I accept and complete the fan challenges. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have had a great impact on my life. I’ll share more about that when I post the video I am creating. I draw amazing life lessons from these films, as I also did from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

And so, after a quick dinner, I brewed a pot of Scottish Heather tea, set up the TV/DVD player in the bedroom and made myself comfy. I am enjoying the first movie. Rather than overthink the plot or scrutinize the characters, I am just watching, open to receive whatever impressions flow to me.

As soon as the first movie is finished, I’ll continue with the second. Not only will I appreciate the movies but I’ll have clarity as I share from my heart before the camera in the next few days. I’ll also build anticipation for the upcoming release of the third and final movie in The Hobbit adventure. Not a bad first!

Someday, after The Hobbit:The Battle of Five Armies releases on DVD, I’ll have a Middle Earth marathon! I’ll watch all three Hobbit movies, followed by The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But that is not this night. I’ll save that event for a long weekend!