So here I am writing the obligatory "day after the Oscars" entry. Truth be told, in the three category's of Oscar people I am not in the one that goes to Oscar themed parties and bets on the outcome. Nor am I someone that shuns the "big event" entirely. No. I am a closet Oscar watcher. I watch pieces of it - an hour here or there. I wake up the next day and I lunge for a TV set to find out what I missed. . .I just don't like to admit it.
This year, although I can count on less than all 10 fingers the number of movies I've seen in the last 20 months, I actually saw four of the films nominated for an award. Of those four - one of them "swept" the show. (Although the sweep concept is tough to wrap my brain around. I mean I know it won each thing it was up for - but to me a 'clean' sweep would be winning every stinkin' Oscar offered up last night. But I digress.) Anyway, yes, one of the movies I saw was Lord of the Rings.
I've never rooted for a movie to win before, but I did want this one to win Best Picture. Not because I thought it was the best movie in the running - I mean I didn't honestly have an opinion on that. No, I wanted it to win because it was a sentimental favorite, at least for me. I should admit before I go any further that I have never read the trilogy. I saw them often sitting on the book shelf amongst the rest of my father's collection - but I never read them. My father, however, loved them.
I was an early reader. I was reading to myself by the age of 3 - full stories out of picture books. My parents would take me to the library and sit me with a stack of books while they browsed for their own. I never budged. I'd get a slew to take home with us and have them read on the way home in the car. It drove my mother nuts.
Even though I read early, my father did not stop reading to me each night. We just expand the level of book we read. For Christmas each year I'd get a novel - something with an age appropriate story although the degree of difficulty in terms of reading to oneself was beyond me. Each night I'd settle into bed, pull up the covers and listen. My father sat next to me reading a chapter a night of classic books like Wind in the Willows. . .and the Hobbit.
Some of you '70s children may recall a cartoon edition of the Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins as a short bright red-headed little Hobbit with big fat hairy feet. Animation pleasing to my child eye. I saw the film - although I can't recall if I saw it in a theatre or not. My copy of the book was actually a very thick picture book. It took frames from this animated movie and incorporated the actual book text below it. With this book my father read me the Hobbit - a prelude to one of his favorite authors.
My attraction to the Lord of Rings movies is not that I loved the Hobbit with an unquenchable passion. I was drawn to those films because it reminded me of that girl I was sitting in her pink frilly room sharing a special moment with her father. My dad loves books. He's passionate about reading and through these nightly rituals he passed on the legacy to me. I learned to see vivid pictures in my mind's eye from nothing more than black print on white paper. I learned the intricacy of the English language. I learned how simple words become complex phrases which become full sentence thoughts which become stories you can't bear to put down.
And from reading I learned to write. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a 'real' writer that didn't love to read. Writers learn at the knee of those that have penned before them and so a good writer must study hard by reading. When you think of it like that, my father gave me not just my love of reading words, but also my calling to write them.
When the Lord of the Rings movies came out I wanted to see them for so many reasons, but I wanted to see them with my father because of the memories I had of the Hobbit. When the Oscar nods came out I wanted it to win because in some way it was almost like a validation that these books were indeed special because they birthed a golden trophy worthy movie. I know, however, that as good as some think these stories are it wasn't the book itself that was so incredibly life changing - it was the way my father read to me.