. . . There lived a Hobbit. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien never set foot in New Zealand, but -- as Peter Jackson understood -- he might as well have. This country simply shouts "Middle-Earth!" Cindy and I ventured to Matamata, in the Waikato District, North Island, recently, to experience Hobbiton. Since I'm a Tolkien nerd, this had been one of the primary motivations for our journey to New Zealand. We celebrated my birthday in the same place as Frodo and Bilbo, together, celebrated their 33rd and 111th birthdays, shortly before Frodo departed to dispose of a troublesome heirloom . . .