Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile, and Happy Martin Luther King Day. Is that an appropriate thing to say? Do you know what happens today? President Barack Obama becomes President Barack Obama for the second time. It's the inauguration. President Obama’s inaugural parade will feature eight floats, including a Hawaii float to honor his birthplace, an Illinois float to honor the first lady’s home state, and a Kenyan float just to mess with Republicans. The president will push for a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Obama says it’s all part of his plan to give every man, woman, and child the chance to pay more taxes. So, who watched the interview with Lance Armstrong on Oprah? Armstrong confessed during his interview with Oprah that he did use performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France seven times. This came as a complete shock to as many as a dozen people. Although he denied it for years, it was starting to become obvious. Like that one year he won the race on the stationary bike. Remember that? Lance said that he felt like a great weight had been lifted... a huge, oversized weight that he never could have lifted naturally. I think Oprah might have been confused or perhaps poorly informed because Lance kept saying, "Yes, I used performance-enhancing drugs. Yes, I did." And Oprah kept saying, "That's great, but tell us about walking on the moon." So, anybody have the flu? Do you know what the difference is between a cold and the flu? About $80. Lindsay Lohan went back in court. This was her 20th appearance in court. She's been in court so often she's got her own locker. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a press conference to announce that if you post one more picture of your cat sleeping, they're going to delete your account. Zuckerberg introduced a new feature called Graph Search. It delivers search results from your network of Facebook friends, so you can ask questions like, "Who are my friends that live in San Francisco?" By the way, if you have to ask that, you don't have any friends in San Francisco. It's an interesting new feature. Soon you'll be able to find anything you want on Facebook, except for the thousands of hours of your life you lost going on Facebook. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that he will stay at the White House for President Obama’s second term. He said his mission is to make the U.S. number one in education, and won’t stop until our students are doing gooder. MGM is coming out with a remake of the classic 1959 film Ben-Hur. You can tell it’s a remake because instead of being about a Jewish prince who is betrayed by his Roman friend, sent into slavery, and then seeks revenge... it’s just about sexy vampires. Notre Dame’s superstar linebacker Manti Te’o apparently had an online girlfriend who didn’t really exist. They're calling it the biggest hoax involving Notre Dame since they were ranked number one in the nation. But in his defense, Brent Musberger said she was really hot.
I feel bad for the Notre Dame kid because when I was in school things like that would happen to me. I would meet a lot of real women and they would give me imaginary phone numbers. One time it was really sad because a beautiful woman actually faked her death to get out of going on a date with me.The only other athlete I can think of with an imaginary girlfriend was Chris Humphries. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the top two most unhealthy restaurant dishes were from The Cheesecake Factory. The Cheesecake Factory? It's always the last place you'd expect. The most unhealthy dish at The Cheesecake Factory was something called the bistro shrimp pasta, with 3,120 calories. And that's before the cheesecake. Russia announced plans to send a probe to the moon by the year 2015. Russian scientists say they're excited to see what they could discover on the moon's surface. I'll tell you what they're going to discover... an American flag! In a recent attack ad, the NRA claims that President Obama cares about his own children more than he cares about other children. In response, President Obama was like, “Yeah, that's how families work.” Cirque du Soleil just announced that it is cutting 400 jobs. So on the downside, hundreds of clowns will lose their jobs. But on the bright side, it’ll free up, like, two spaces in the parking lot. Alright, so, today is Martin Luther King Day, and in Washington DC they are selling something I thought was kinda weird. Check it out
So, any of you "Doctor Who" fans? I know Lynnette Porter is, and I am. There's gonna be a new Doctor for the 50th anniversary of the show this year and here on the Phile I have the exclusive who it's gonna be.
Ta-da. That'll be cool... if only it were true. This year at the Super Bowl it'll be the Baltimore Ravens versus the San Francisco 49ers. That means I think my picks were wrong. Anyway, the NFL released a brand new poster this morning.
One thing I like to do when I'm bored is to go on Twitter and do a search for certain words to see what people are Twittering about. One of the words I type in is Foghat of course. So, here's a new Tweet about Foghat...
And of course I have to mention this, I am running a campaign to get Kelly Clarkson on the Phile. Here is the campaign poster to print out and spread about.
And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this weeks...
Top Phive Disturbing Similarities And Differences Between Lance Armstrong And Wayne LaPierre
5. Loves shooting things up.
4. Has won the Tour de France
3. Bravely accepts full responsibility for the ugly consequences of his actions.
2. Has brought Sheryl Crow to the dizzying heights of sexual gratification.
And the number one thing similar and different between Armstrong and LaPierre is...
1. Oblivious to bloodshed.
Alright, so last year we received tons of advice from a Mayan named Marvin on the Phile. This year I thought we'd get advice from someone different, and who best to get advice from but Morgan Freeman. Well, he was available so I decided to settle on second best. So, please welcome to the Phile...
Me: Hey, there, Morgan, so, do you have any advice or tips for us today?
Morgan: Tips... tip jars are just asking the question, "Do you feel like carrying that change around in your pocket all day?"?
Me: Hmmm. That's it? Anything else you have to say?
Morgan: I like to imagine Parisians sitting back, eating cheese and wondering "what are all these black people doing in our city all of a sudden?"
Me: Morgan, today is MLK Day, do you have anything to say about today?
Morgan: Dr. King would be so sad seeing the black community, finally free AND equal, voting for handouts & government enslavement. Good-bye.
Me: Morgan Phreeman, everybody.
Today's guest is a Phile Alum whose latest book "The Hobbits: The Many Lives of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin" is the 22nd book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Lynnette Porter.
Me: Hello, Lynnette, welcome back to the Phile. You are the first author I had back here, so that's an honor, right? How are you?
Lynnette: I’m very glad to be asked back. I’ve had a very busy 2012; I’m on academic sabbatical, but I’ve been traveling and writing a lot.
Me: Last time we spoke you were a professor at Embry-Riddle in Daytona. Do you still teach there?
Lynnette: Yes, I’m a professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department.
Me: What do you teach exactly, Lynnette?
Lynnette: I teach a variety of courses: technical writing, research methods for a senior thesis course, film, and introductory humanities courses that allow me to present literature, film, and television series for critical evaluation and, I hope, enjoyment.
Me: So, are you married? If so, what does your husband think of your books? My wife is not into any of the shame shows I am... or movies.
Lynnette: I’m not married, and my friends and family vary greatly in their interests. My brother, niece, and I share a love of popular culture, and several of my close friends like to discuss what we’ve been watching on television or at the cinema. But then there are those who wonder why I’m so excited to interview a "Doctor Who" actor or dress like a hobbit on a tour to New Zealand.
Me: Okay, so, you have a new book put that's in the Peverett Phile Book Club... "The Hobbits: The Many Lives of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin". Man, last time I interviewed you was about a "Torchwood" book where you commented on you are not good at naming books. Did you come up with this long title?
Lynnette: I had help, but yes, this long title is pretty much mine.
Me: This is not the first book you wrote about Tolkien's characters and stuff, is it?
Lynnette: This is my second book about Tolkien’s characters. My first, "Unsung Heroes of The Lord of the Rings", was published in 2005. I like them both, but I’m extremely proud of "The Hobbits". I conducted research at Marquette University at the Tolkien archives; talked with critics and fans; saw the Lord of the Rings play in Toronto and Dean Burry’s children’s opera of The Hobbit; and watched as many adaptations of The Hobbit or LotR as possible, but, even so, I know I’ve missed several. It was quite a project, and I enjoyed it a great deal.
Me: What made you decide to write this book?
Lynnette: I’m fascinated by adaptations and the ways that texts change over time. What makes one modern adaptation of a “classic” text popular at one time may differ greatly from what is modernized or deleted in a popular adaptation a decade or two later. "The Hobbit" and "LotR" have been adapted from books many times, with each adaptation having a different focus... sometimes because of a change in medium, from book to film or book to animated television special, for example... but also because of a change in the audience. Adaptations make characters meaningful (or what the writers/directors/producers interpret as meaningful) to their audience. As a result, Tolkien’s characters may retain their book names in a Rankin-Bass television program, an artist’s painting, a comic’s parody, or a Peter Jackson film, but these characters usually have been modified a great deal. The number and types of changes that have been made to a text over time may help keep it alive for generations to come, but adaptations also change the way audiences or readers come to understand the original characters or texts.
Me: Some people probably think it's a novel based on these characters, but it isn't, right?
Lynnette: No! It’s a look at about fifty years of adaptations of hobbits, from the creative and editorial changes Tolkien made to different interpretations of his books in a variety of media... film, television, theatre, music, art. I look at the way hobbits are portrayed in these media, but I also take a look at the changes brought about by fandom... through fan fiction, as one example. I discuss the types of changes made to the hobbits in each adaptation, why that change is important, and how such changes may help or hurt Tolkien’s literary legacy.
Me: I was surprised there was a "Lord of the Rings" musical. Where was this and did you see it?
Lynnette: It debuted in Toronto in 2006, and that’s where I saw it (three times). Several cast members stayed with the show from Toronto, and I’m glad to have seen their performances. I learned about the revisions made before the London premiere in 2007. A good friend was living in London at the time, so even though I couldn’t make it to the West End in time to see the show, he provided me with the programme, soundtrack, and lots of media promotional materials.
Me: I remember when I was a kid I saw a "Hobbit" cartoon. Did you like it? I don't remember too much about it.
Lynnette: I vaguely remember watching it when it was first broadcast, but in the past few years I watched it several times... and have shown it in conjunction with my class’ study of "The Hobbit". It’s cute, I like Glenn Yarbrough’s music, and it’s a good example of Rankin-Bass animation, but it’s not my favorite adaptation of Tolkien’s work.
Me: So, did you like the new movie? It was one of my favorite movies of 2012 and I am not a big Tolkien fan.
Lynnette: I liked it very much. I enjoyed Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo, and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the next two films. I especially like the “riddles in the dark” scene... both Freeman and Andy Serkis are excellent. I was caught up in the Hobbit premiere activities in Wellington. I saw The Hobbit twice while I was in New Zealand... once at the Embassy, once at the Roxy in Miramar, close to the studios where the film was made. I’ve seen it in “regular” format and in the 3D, 48 fps format... which, although it has some technical issues, especially with lighting, I enjoyed and found to be, as Jackson promised, immersive technology that made me feel a part of the story. Wellington during premiere week was chaotic fun. I went to the artisan market showcasing artists who had worked on the films, and I watched all the preparations for the red carpet. A huge statue of Gandalf arriving at Bag End adorned the facade of the Embassy theatre, and banners featuring the film’s characters were on every light post. A multi-story banner of the Bilbo stamp covered the side of the post office and could be seen across the bay. It was a uniquely exciting time to be in Wellington. It helped, too, that the Wellington premiere took place halfway through a “hobbit tour” I was taking. I spent several hours at Hobbiton, which now looks like it does in The Hobbit, but the best part is that this look will be maintained so that visitors can see what this huge movie “set” looked like.
Me: I have no idea how they are going to stretch one book out to three movies, do you?
Lynnette: An Unexpected Journey included scenes with Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman, and Gandalf; the Necromancer; and Radagast the Brown, plus introduced more battles... differences from the first six chapters of Tolkien’s "The Hobbit". By creating new scenes and plotlines based on materials from other Tolkien works, as well as integrating plot elements created solely by the Hobbit’s team of writers (Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo Del Toro), Jackson can expand the story to encompass far more than The Hobbit.
Me: You are not only a big Tolkien fan... I guess you have to be as you wrote books about them... but you belong to a Tolkien fan club, right?
Lynnette: I’m a member of the Tolkien Society, and I am a big fan of TheOneRing.Net, although I’m not on their staff. I’ve been a guest of several “smials,” or local groups hosting gatherings, but I’m not part of such a group in Florida. I like to go to fan-created events like A Long-Expected Party, which will have its third event in September 2014 at Shaker Village (Kentucky), and I had a fantastic time at the co-sponsored TORN-Red Carpet Tours premiere party in Wellington. I’ve been part of conferences in Britain sponsored by the Tolkien Society. Honolulu’s Tol Andune has graciously included me in several of their events, ranging from a book signing/presentation to a toast to the Professor (made each January 3 in honor of Tolkien’s birthday). There are many ways to become involved in Tolkien fandom.
Me: How do you get into this club, not like I want to?
Lynnette: The Tolkien Society has a website (tolkiensociety.org/) that provides a great deal of information about Tolkien and his works. The site also lists Tolkien-related news, including events held around the world. That’s a good place to start and gives an idea of who is holding events closer to where you live.
Me: Have you met any of Tolkien's family members?
Lynnette: In 2005, at the Birmingham Tolkien conference, I heard a presentation by Priscilla Tolkien, J.R.R.’s daughter, but I only said hello to her following the session.
Me: So, who is your favorite hobbit and why?
Lynnette: I like the way Tolkien wrote Meriadoc Brandybuck, although he doesn’t always fare well in adaptations. Merry is smart and resourceful. He’s a planner and becomes a leader. He writes books. His family, as well as the Tooks (which includes half-Took Bilbo Baggins), are considered a bit odd. Perhaps I’m egotistical in comparing myself with Merry, but I’ve always felt he’s the hobbit closest to my personality. I also like the way older Bilbo is portrayed as a writer and an eccentric... again, perhaps a bit close to home. I tend to like hobbits who travel beyond the Shire, although they always love their homeland.
Me: You got to go to New Zealand and go to the set... how was that?
Lynnette: When I travel through North and South Islands, I often get the feeling that much of the country has been a “set” for either The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Hobbiton is the only true “set” that still exists as it appears on screen, but several former filming locations across the country have natural landmarks that make it easy to see where scenes were filmed. I got to take the “behind-the-scenes” tour at Weta, which was interesting because it showed me how props and prosthetics, for example, are made. I was very fortunate to go to a book signing by four of Weta’s artists and designers who worked on The Hobbit. I’d interviewed Daniel Falconer about a year ago for my PopMatters film column, so it was nice to see him again, and I also was able to talk with Richard Taylor, Weta’s founder. Jackson wasn’t filming in Hobbiton... or filming at all... when I was in New Zealand, but after a month of touring New Zealand and talking with lots of people who worked on the films, I had a pretty good idea of how and where the films were shot.
Me: I have a picture of you at the hobbit house, Lynnette.
Me: Did you meet Peter Jackson?
Lynnette: Yes, during a party held in Wellington for The Hobbit premiere... the party co-hosted by TORN and Red Carpet Tours. Several of the film’s actors mingled with us fans, and the bands of two “dwarves” played for the party. William Kircher (Bifur) and Jed Brophy (Nori) are surprisingly musical! Later in the evening, Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood surprised us by taking the stage, but then they stayed around to talk with fans. That’s how I met Peter Jackson and was able to talk with Elijah Wood again.
Me: Did you go inside that Hobbit house?
Lynnette: Not the one at Jackson’s house that was assembled from the set of Bag End as seen in LotR. (I wish I could be a guest there!) The hobbit homes at Hobbiton are all “fronts” without interior furnishings. All of Bag End’s amazingly detailed interiors are a studio set. Sadly, when you look through Bilbo’s front door at Hobbiton (a farm outside Matamata), there’s not much inside. The exteriors, however, are marvellously detailed, just like they look on screen. I felt like I was truly in a community. I could walk across the stone bridge, past the mill, and toward the Green Dragon.
Me: You didn't meet Sir Ian McKellen, did you?
Lynnette: No, I’ve never had the pleasure. He didn’t attend the Wellington premiere this time.
Me: Are the three movies done? Ian has cancer, so I am worried about Gandalf. \
Lynnette: There’s always the concern with a prolonged production that an actor won’t be able to complete a role, but everyone in Wellington seemed upbeat not only about the current film but the next two. Filming is reported to resume midyear. In addition to pickups, new scenes will be required to finish the trilogy.
Me: You are into a bunch of TV shows, Lynnette. You wrote a book about "Torchwood" as I mentioned... what did you think about "Miracle Day"? Do you think "Torchwood" is coming back?
Lynnette: I enjoyed certain episodes in "Miracle Day", and I always will love Captain Jack, but I thought the miniseries as a whole was uneven. I’d love to see "Torchwood" come back for a final miniseries that combines the higher production values we’ve now come to expect with a story that places Captain Jack front and center again... I felt he often was sidelined in "Miracle Day". Right now it doesn’t look like that may happen... Russell T Davies is busy with another series, and nothing seems to have happened as a result of the Starz-BBC collaboration. So I’ve been consoling myself with non-television "Torchwood" stories, such as John and Carole Barrowman’s book, "Torchwood: Exodus Code". That’s an interesting story made especially fascinating because it illustrates how John Barrowman writes Captain Jack.
Me: Readers of the Phile know I am a huge "Doctor Who" fan. I first saw "Doctor Who" with Jon Pertwee in 1974, and growing up I only met one person who was into the show as much as I was. Now it seems everybody is into it, and girls! Where were they twenty years ago?! Anyway, when was the first time you saw "Doctor Who"?
Lynnette: Tom Baker is my Doctor, and I was part of the PBS audience. Over the years I drifted away. In 2005, I watched “Rose” three times during a flight to London, and by then I was committed to the new series. I’ve become such a fangirl about meeting Doctors. Last summer I waited outside the stage door to meet Christopher Eccleston after a performance of "Antigone". The summer before I saw David Tennant and Catherine Tate (twice!) in "Much Ado about Nothing". In October I was a guest at Orlando’s Hurricane Who convention, and I met Peter Davison. I’m looking forward to this year’s many celebrations of the series’ 50th anniversary. There’s no telling who I might meet!
Me: Have you written a "Who" themed book yet?
Lynnette: Yes. "The Doctor Who Franchise: American Influence, Fan Culture, and the Spinoffs" looks at the series in the US, especially since 2005, and explores fans’ perception of American influence on the series. I discuss not only "Doctor Who", but "The Sarah Jane Adventures" and "Torchwood". McFarland published the book a few months back, and it’s available on Amazon in paper or on Kindle. A couple of years ago I also wrote "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood" sections in my McFarland-published "Tarnished Heroes, Charming Villains, and Modern Monsters".
Me: Are there any other shows you are into right now?
Lynnette: I adore "Sherlock", and this autumn McFarland also published a collection of Sherlock Holmes-themed essays that I edited and for which I wrote four chapters and the introduction. "Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century" is available in paper or as a Kindle book.
Me: I love "Person of Interest", Lynnette. Are you watching that show? That would be a good show to write about.
Lynnette: My agent and I are looking at possible series for a new TV book, but I haven’t followed as many series lately, partly because I’ve been traveling so much and partly because I’ve been finishing other projects. It soon will be time to tackle a new series!
Me: So, what book are you working on next, Lynnette?
Lynnette: I’m writing a performance biography of actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who not only is "Sherlock" but has roles in the Hobbit trilogy and this May’s Star Trek, among many, many other projects. MX Publishing in London will be the publisher.
Me: You have a blog on Blogspot as well, right? How is that going?
Lynnette: I need to update it with news of my New Zealand adventures! Like Bilbo, I’ve been There and Back Again, but I’m a bit slow in describing all the marvelous places I’ve been. Lately I’ve been posting updates more frequently to Facebook (such as my profile pic from Hobbiton), but I do plan to spend more time with my blog this year. I can be followed on Facebook (facebook.com/lynnette.porter.7) or my blog (lynnetteporter.blogspot.com/). I also write reviews, features, and a monthly column for PopMatters (popmatters.com/pm/archive/column/section/deep-focus). If you look through the archive, you’ll find columns about The Hobbit and a recent interview with "Doctor Who" actor Caitlin Blackwood (young Amy Pond).
Me: Thanks so much for being back on the Phile, Lynnette.
Lynnette: Thank you for inviting me!
Me: Lynnette, I have one more quick question, did you know your book about "Lost" is on a book shelf in the movie This Is 40?
Lynnette: I haven't seen the movie, but Nikki Stafford told me via Facebook yesterday. I thought it was cool. I've never had a book in a movie before!
Me: Thanks again, Lynnette. Come back again soon.
That's about it for this entry. Thanks to Lynnette Porter for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with singer Kaz Simmons and on Monday with British blues legend Maggie Bell. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!