Hail friends! As I sit at gate B24 about to depart for Amsterdam, and I am chatting with Founder Mark Ostley on Gmail chat – I can barely contain my halfling excitement. If only all the big folk around me in JFK airport could understand that I am about to embark on a journey of a lifetime to meet some of the finest folk in Tolkien scholarship and art. Undoubtedly some of these airport wanderers would say, “who is Tolkien”, and then I would either have to share the gospel of Middle-earth or raise an eyebrow at them and simply offer them a “harrumph…” This blog entry will have to go in later, possibly in Amsterdam, because as to be expected in New York they haven’t liberated the wireless internet JFK yet, they haven’t made enough money in tolls and taxes to let us post blogs to MyMiddle-earth for free. No, you have to pay boingo or some other silly service to get decent speed and access to other regions of a free cyber-Middle-earth! No matter, OpenOffice is free, and it is here that I scribe my first entry in this journal of high adventure to Return of the Ring 2012!
The only problem with excitement is that it can sometimes hinder sleep, which I hope to indulge in for the next 10 hours in the belly of a giant metal eagle. I haven’t traveled out of the country since 2007, and I was a little paranoid that security might annoy me or even utter “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”, but I passed through with all ease and without surrendering my treasures. After all why shouldn’t I pass through easily, for I bear Thror’s map and shiny cards that tout HobbitDay.com! OK, I took off my shoes and made no eye contact, in hopes that they wouldn’t find a problem with my 2.3 ounces of toothpaste or make be boot-up my laptop. No exaggeration, it happens; in Italy one time the carabinieri made me take out my laptop, boot to desktop and questioned me in heavily accented English what I use my laptop for. Ah, how one longs for the day when a forgotten morning star could fall out of your carry on bag and you could still get on the flight. Yes that too did happen to me in 1996 on my way back from Scotland. If only I had that on film; explaining to British airport security why I had forgotten to mention I had a spiked ball and chain in my carry on bag. Such an innocent and carefree pre-2001 world. I’ll tell that story another time, for now I hear something being announced in Dutch about my gate. Do you think “Mellon” means anything in Dutch? OK, I’ll just say ‘hi friend’ and enter the plane. Fair travels friends!