Larry Curtis is a Senior Staff member at TheOneRing.net (TORn). TORn is well known to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’. Larry specializes in live events, news and social media. He was part of a set visit to ‘The Hobbit’ movie filming in 2012, gathering material primarily for the second film which has yet to be published. Although swamped with San Diego Comic-Con preparations, Larry has graciously agreed to answer some questions.
What is TORn all about?
TheOneRing.net is and always has been an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization made by fans, for fans, of J.R.R. Tolkien. It is an online community that serves many needs and kind of fan and bridges the gap between the filmmakers who worked on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and now ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy of films. They are a world wide group of staff and fans that does all it can to bring what it can to fans with the resources of fans. They are best known in the mainstream for their Oscar Parties in Hollywood but they have been reporting book and movie news since 1999. They are passionate people collectively serving a passionate community.
What will be TORn’s presence at SDCC?
We have been a presence at San Diego Comic-Con for well over a decade, presenting panels about either ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘The Hobbit’ for most of those years. This year we have a Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. look at ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (the second of three Hobbit films). We aren’t part of the production or the studio so we speculate and discuss leaks and rumors as well as collect the public knowledge in a lively one-hour format. We are also selling shirts at the Weta Workshop booth and the Badali Jewelry booth to help us stay online. Currently our expenses are bigger than our income so a chance like this to sell shirts and make up some financial group is a great for us. We also relish the chance to meet fellow fans face-to-face and bring our online staff (or a small part of it) together in a physical place. It is self-paid vacation for many of us.
Henry: We’ll be at SDCC on July 21, so we will swing by the TORn booth to say hi.
What is it about Tolkien’s children’s book ‘The Hobbit’ that you find so intriguing?
I enjoy the book because of its introduction to Middle-earth, its deft use of an anti-hero and how grand and epic it all gets at the end. A very personable tale of a single Hobbit eventually involves all the key races in Middle-earth and despite the author’s modest and homey beginnings. He manages to leave such an impression of untold grand stories and weaves wonder with mundane world building in a way that leaves me appreciating the book long after I put it down.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from your involvement with TORn?
Simply that contributing to the greater good, as an unselfish team, brings me more pleasure and deeper satisfaction than almost anything I can do.
Henry: I will point out that you have a very Hobbit-like attitude in that regard. 🙂
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been involved with TORn?
There are many, many such experiences. It is almost impossible to overstate how being part of the TORn family has enriched my life with choice experiences. Most important of all are the life long friends I have made with fellow staffers. Those folks are as dear as the friends I have from the other portions of my life. I don’t know for sure what they think of me but I surely love them. The other big answer is my personal exposure to New Zealand, including many people there, has also enriched my life.
Do you have any favorite Tolkien quotes?
The one I think about most often is, “In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit” and the bits that come after. It is a sentence and opening of such promise and I am shocked to think how he met that promise and then did so much more. It is very famous of course but not a quote as you mean exactly but it is what I think of first. I feel some need to read LOTR again so I have a better answer to this question.
Henry: For the handful of people who have yet to read ‘The Lord of the Rings’, some other quotes include:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?
Reading minds would be a useful skill. Flight would be the most fun power I can imagine but in real life it would be hot and cold and dangerous. I think I would take mind reading as a much more subtle but useful ability. Although, it would bring its own problems to be sure.
Henry: I would’ve bet money you would have chosen invisibility. 🙂
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
I would have Tolkien to be sure, although I suspect he would be intimidating with his knowledge and difficult for me to engage. George R.R. Martin would be my next choice because he understands what Tolkien contributed and I think I need a modern man. Finally, sifting through all the classic authors, it is tempting to bring Shakespeare or Mark Twain or Charles Dickens but I choose Edgar Allen Poe. He might not be amazing in person but picking that brain would surely be something.
Henry: It would be interesting indeed to see what Tolkien would think of Martin’s practice of killing off his characters with wild abandon.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
The dragon. It is so universal and so amazing and frightening. I like it best when used lightly, but they seem to be at the very top of the mythical food chain. If not that that Sharktopus.
Henry: LOL. For those of you who haven’t seen the 2010 film Sharktopus (and that would be almost everyone), IMDB tells us, “A half-shark, half-octopus creature created for the military, creates a whole lot of terror in Mexico while a scientist who helped created it tries to capture/kill it.”
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read or experience other stories through film. I like video games too, particularly ones with a story to tell.
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
He drank life to the lees.
Henry: Ah, a little Tennyson. He may be drinking so much because you didn’t invite him to dinner.
Where can people find out more about TORn?
TheOneRing.net but also our Facebook page and on Twitter. The best way is to dive into the community! And of course, at San Diego Comic-Con.
This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner