Also on this day, according to the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, 99-year-old Samwise Gamgee rode out from Bag End for the final time. He was last seen in Middle-Earth by his daughter Elanor, to whom he presented the Red Book. According to tradition, he then went to the Grey Havens and passed over the Sea, last of the Ringbearers. Cheers for the Hobbits!
In other news:
* Unfortunately, this weekend's much-anticipated Night of the Living Dead screening with legendary director George A. Romero, about which I'd been most excited, was postponed to fit the schedule of Romero's new film project. On the bright side, however, I was able to attend another fun event, "Monkee Memories" with Davy Jones.
I haven't seen Davy Jones live since the Monkees played their 20th Anniversary Tour, which I caught in Oklahoma City in 1986. I remember that as a fantastic concert (despite the fact it was short Mike Nesmith; I don't think anyone really noticed, to be honest). I was impressed by the now 62-years-young Jones this past weekend. He performed for a solid two hours and fifteen minutes, and he only declined a second encore so that he could meet and greet the fans and sign autographs instead. The evening was a multimedia event, punctuated by long musical sets. He showed brief clips of his first television appearances as a wee lad on British (Coronation Street) and American (The Ed Sullivan Show) television, and sang songs from the musical Oliver! (in which he originally portrayed the Artful Dodger on the West End and Broadway, and for which was nominated for a Tony Award) and that his mother loved ("Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?"). He also showed short clips from his horse racing career - apparently he was in North Carolina while escorting four new horses he'd purchased from Florida to his home in Pennsylvania - and played several songs he'd written, as well as his solo single "Girl."
The heart of the night, of course, was about The Monkees. He showed a few quick clips from his screen test and the series, and shared anecdotes and quite a few jokes, mostly intentionally bad ones, but the majority of the evening, and the best part of it, was spent performing music, including his signatures ("Daydream Believer," "Valleri," "Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow," "She Hangs Out," "It's Nice to Be With You," "A Little Bit Me," "I Wanna Be Free") and some originally sung by his bandmates ("I'm A Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Last Train to Clarkesville," "What Am I Doing Hanging 'Round?," and a truly exceptional version of "No Time," which I wasn't expecting and thoroughly enjoyed). He appeared formal in a three-piece black suit sans tie and was high energy throughout the night. His voice still sounds wonderful; he may have lost a couple of his highest notes (to be fair, I only noticed this in "I Wanna Be Free"), but he's gained an even deeper range, and he can belt out and hold notes just as he always could. His "Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow," for example, sounded vintage-album perfect.
I was particularly impressed by his self-deprecating humor - he invited audience members to take pictures and film the performance, if they wished, saying that at his age he never knew when a show would be his last - and his generosity to his fans. For my part, I'd say he's aging very gracefully. He's a performer who loves being on stage, and it shows.
* TheHogsHead.org is remembering the 10th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S. by celebrating "Sorcerer's Stone Week": you can check it out here.
And now, in honor of the Baggins Birthdays, the departure of Samwise, and Hobbits in general, a quote about the Ring's temptation of - and failure with - one of J.R.R. Tolkien's (and, for that matter, world literature's) greatest heroes, Samwise Gamgee:
"Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be. In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King