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**The unofficial Bored of the Rings discussion** Ch. VIII, pt. 1. - A gray, scaly creature crept slowly up to them on all fours, sniffing the ground noisily.

squire
Valinor


Feb 17 2014, 4:57pm

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**The unofficial Bored of the Rings discussion** Ch. VIII, pt. 1. - A gray, scaly creature crept slowly up to them on all fours, sniffing the ground noisily. Can't Post

Welcome to another installment of what the darker souls around here call “the discussion that wouldn’t flush”, but which a chipper few of us like to think of as the only real reason the Reading Room still gets checked in on regularly by most TORn fans. Yes, it’s the Bored of the Rings discussion. Again.

We have, over time (eight years), reached Chapter 8, “Schlob’s Lair and Other Mountain Resorts”. This chapter of the parody takes on the entirety of Book IV of The Lord of the Rings. It covers Frodo and Sam’s journey, with Gollum, from the Emyn Muil to the Pass of Cirith Ungol.







Well, I know when I’m not wanted. So let’s just read this together, before you see me on my way:

Frito and Spam clambered out of breath to the top of a small rise and gazed out at the landscape that stretched before them, unbroken save for sudden depressions and swiftly rising gorges, to the slag mines, dress factories, and lint mills of Fordor. Frito sat down heavily on a cow's skull, and Spam produced a box lunch of cheese and crackers from their bags.

The early chapters in Book IV of LotR feature a seemingly endless series of vistas of somber and deadened terrain. This is reduced here to “the landscape that stretched before them, unbroken save for sudden depressions and swiftly rising gorges”.
A. How does this brief description compare to the original?

“Slag mines”? “Dress factories”? “Lint mills”? A “cow’s skull”?
B. What are these terms? What do they say about Fordor? More to the point, what do they say about Mordor?


At that moment there came the sound of falling pebbles, stepped-on twigs, and a nose being violently blown. The two boggies leaped to their feet, and a gray, scaly creature crept slowly up to them on all fours, sniffing the ground noisily.

It’s Gollum, of course.
C. But how do we know this? Why none of the drama (or a spoof of it, of course) of the original scene?

As far as I can tell, “falling pebbles”, “stepped-on twigs”, and “a nose being violently blown” all carry parodic significance.
D. What are the references?

“Frodo and Sam sprang to their feet” occurs later in Book IV, when Faramir catches them in the fern-brake.
E. Why use it here?


"Mother of pearl," cried Frito, recoiling from the sinister figure. Spam drew his elvish pinking knife and stepped back, his heart in his mouth with the gooey glob of crackers.

More references: “Mother of pearl”, “elvish pinking knife”, and “heart in his mouth with the gooey glob of crackers.”
F. What do they mean?

It seems to me that, so far, this chapter’s humor consists of buzzword spoofs rather than more fully-developed parodies of actions or characters.
G. If you agree, is there any reason that Book IV would be treated differently from the previous sections? If not, what is the parodic theme so far?

The creature looked at them with ominously crossed eyes, and with a little smile, rose tiredly to its feet, and clasping its hands behind his back, began to whistle mournfully.
Suddenly Frito remembered Dildo's tale of the finding of the Ring.
"You must be Goddam!" he squeaked. "What are you doing here?"

“Ominously crossed eyes”, “rose tiredly”, “clasping its hands behind his back”, “whistle mournfully”. There is a distinct tone and imagery to these phrases. It seems like something is happening here – or rather, is about to happen.
H. What are the differences from Tolkien’s original characterization of Gollum first meeting Frodo and Sam, that suggest the direction the authors are about to take?

"Oh, well," said the creature, speaking very slowly. "Not much. I was just looking for a few old pop bottles to help pay for my sister-in-law's iron lung. Of course, ever since my operation I don't get around like I used to. Guess I'm just unlucky. Funny how life is, up and down, never can tell. Gosh, it sure is cold. I had to pawn my coat to buy plasma for my pet geese."
Spam tried desperately to keep his leaden eyelids open, but with a great yawn, he slumped heavily to the ground. "You fiend," he muttered, and fell asleep.
"There I go again," said Goddam, shaking his head. "Well, I know when I'm not wanted," he said, and sat down and helped himself to the boggies' elvish melba toast.
Frito slapped himself in the face several times and did a few deep breathing exercises.
"Look here, Goddam," he said.
"Oh, you don't have to say it. Not wanted. I know. I never was. My mother left me in a twenty-four-hour locker in an enchanted forest when I was two. I was raised by kindly rats. But I guess every cloud has its silver lining. Why, I knew a troll once, name of Wyzinski . . ."
Frito swayed, drooped, and was snoring before he hit the ground.

HAW HAW HAW! Sorry, I can’t help still being staggered at the originality of BotR’s treatment of Gollum!
I. Hasn’t every Tolkien fan harbored, secretly in their hearts, the slightly resentful feeling that Gollum in Book IV, with his endless creeping and whining and lisping and baby-talk and (yes) sneaking, is … [looks around, whispers] boring?

J. Does this twist add any acid to the title of the book itself: Bored of the Rings? For instance, would the passage above work, if “Goddam” was replaced by “Tolkien”?


Only boring readers are bored by Tolkien? Or only Tolkien fans are boring?

I’d welcome any commentary that identifies or explains each of the multitude of references to bores in mid-century American pop culture in the preceding passage. (I think I know most of them, but this discussion has never failed to contribute yet more to our collective Borelore.)
K. Takers?

I will offer, on my own, a portfolio of Gluyas Williams cartoons from the 1930s and 40s. He titled the series ‘Raconteurs’, and each in its own way suggests to me that Goddam has some roots in a sophisticated and humorous magazine that BotR’s authors unashamedly and repeatedly lifted their “heigh style” from: The New Yorker.
L. Heh, heh. What has Williams isolated in all his Raconteurs as the essence of being a bore? How does this relate to Gollum?


Great moments in boredom:
Ben Stein as the boring economics teacher in
Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.
(YouTube video link, 0:01:15)




Finally, I hate to say this because I should quit while I’m ahead, but much of the humor of Bored of the Rings comes from the authors’ riding the coattails of American pop culture and literature to give Tolkien’s language a taste of its own medicine. It’s a whole new can of worms, but I had to give it the old college try and put my money where my mouth is, with this list of American cliches.

M. Isn’t Goddam’s rhetoric, on closer inspection, really just a hyped-up stew from the family of tired or overused phrases that are deftly strewn throughout the book? Is comic irony a sufficient explanation, or are we supposed to be, on some level, Bored of Bored of the Rings?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd & 4th TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion and NOW the 1st BotR Discussion too! and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


demnation
Rohan

Feb 18 2014, 4:50am

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I'm afraid I just don't find this book very funny anymore [In reply to] Can't Post

So yes, Bored of Bored of the Rings.

I know I'm not saying anything of real substance, but then neither is this book.

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Feb 18 2014, 6:20pm

Post #3 of 20 (277 views)
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spot on. [In reply to] Can't Post

Could not have said it better myself.

Not all those who wander are lost


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Feb 19 2014, 5:49pm

Post #4 of 20 (258 views)
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The implication being, of course, [In reply to] Can't Post

that you once upon a time DID find it funny!

Good point, and it's one squire and I have come across in the course of leading these discussions: what is it that once made this book so funny, and what has caused it (or parts of it) to become "unfunny" over the years?

Other than the obvious: much of the humor is specific to a particular time period. But even that begs examination: what causes this humor to "loose its flavor"?

(I'll be back later with my responses to the main post.)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






Darkstone
Immortal


Feb 19 2014, 6:12pm

Post #5 of 20 (282 views)
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"Kind of a Drag" [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I know when I’m not wanted. So let’s just read this together, before you see me on my way:

Frito and Spam clambered out of breath to the top of a small rise and gazed out at the landscape that stretched before them, unbroken save for sudden depressions and swiftly rising gorges, to the slag mines, dress factories, and lint mills of Fordor. Frito sat down heavily on a cow's skull, and Spam produced a box lunch of cheese and crackers from their bags.


“Cheese and crackers” is Cockney rhyming slang for testicles. One of its first uses in American media was in London-born Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” (1940). It’s also used to comedic effect by Paul Newman in “The Secret War of Harry Frigg” (1968).


The early chapters in Book IV of LotR feature a seemingly endless series of vistas of somber and deadened terrain. This is reduced here to “the landscape that stretched before them, unbroken save for sudden depressions…”

They had gone only a mile or so from the cliff when the land sloped down into a wide shallow depression, where the ground was soft and wet. (Though that is in fact M&P.)

”…and swiftly rising gorges”.

The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about.


A. How does this brief description compare to the original?

Tolkien similarly uses words commonly applied to people to personify Mordor:

But always they found its outward faces sheer, high and impassable, frowning over the plain below; beyond its tumbled skirts lay livid festering marshes where nothing moved and not even a bird was to be seen.
The hobbits stood now on the brink of a tall cliff, bare and bleak, its feet wrapped in mist; and behind them rose the broken highlands crowned with drifting cloud. A chill wind blew from the East. Night was gathering over the shapeless lands before them; the sickly green of them was fading to a sullen brown. Far away to the right the Anduin, that had gleamed fitfully in sun-breaks during the day, was now hidden in shadow.



“Slag mines”?

Just like in Tolkien:

High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.

The Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic collapse of a spoil tip, sometimes referred to as a slag heap, in the Welsh village of Aberfan on October 21, 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults. According to liner notes the disaster inspired The BeeGees 1967 hit “New York Mining Disaster of 1941”.


“Dress factories”? “Lint mills”? A “cow’s skull”?
B. What are these terms? What do they say about Fordor?


Slag and lint are typically incidental wastes produced by industry rather than intended products. (Though there are such things as lint mills.) Further, they are dangerous wastes. Acidic runoff from slag can destroy rivers. Built up lint in textile mills is a fire hazard and airborne lint can cause lung disease. Working conditions in 1960 dress factories were dangerous. In the 1950s probably the one area with all these problems was the Appalachian region in the US, especially West Virginia.

These were issues in the 1960 Democratic Presidential primary in West Virginia. It was a hard race between Senators Hubert Humphrey and John Kennedy. Kennedy’s victory there was a major step in securing the Democratic nomination for president.

Senator Kennedy at a West Virginia Dress Factory:



BTW, John Kennedy was a Harvard alumnus.

Re “a cow’s skull”, the mid 1960s is when a spate of cattle mutilation cases began in West Virginia. This culminated in the first appearances in 1966 and 1967 of The Moth Man, a creature with big glowing eyes.


More to the point, what do they say about Mordor?

Mordor is West Virginia:

At last, on the fifth morning since they took the road with Gollum, they halted once more. Before them dark in the dawn the great mountains reached up to roofs of smoke and cloud. Out from their feet were flung huge buttresses and broken hills that were now at the nearest scarce a dozen miles away. Frodo looked round in horror. Dreadful as the Dead Marshes had been, and the arid moors of the Noman-lands, more loathsome far was the country that the crawling day now slowly unveiled to his shrinking eyes. Even to the Mere of Dead Faces some haggard phantom of green spring would come; but here neither spring nor summer would ever come again. Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.

They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting monument to the dark labour of its slaves that should endure when all their purposes were made void; a land defiled, diseased beyond all healing - unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with oblivion. 'I feel sick,' said Sam. Frodo did not speak.



At that moment there came the sound of falling pebbles, stepped-on twigs, and a nose being violently blown. The two boggies leaped to their feet, and a gray, scaly creature crept slowly up to them on all fours, sniffing the ground noisily.

It’s Gollum, of course.

C. But how do we know this? Why none of the drama (or a spoof of it, of course) of the original scene?


The other side of the surprise in Looney Tunes when a sniffing but oblivious bloodhound’s nose suddenly comes into contact with his prey’s toes.


As far as I can tell, “falling pebbles”, “stepped-on twigs”, and “a nose being violently blown” all carry parodic significance.
D. What are the references?


“Falling Pebbles” is an instrumental on The Buckinghams’ first album, “Kind of a Drag”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-lVIVKjPEs


“stepped- on twigs” seems to be yet another Havardian jab at the prose of James Fenimore Cooper:

It is a restful chapter in any book ... when somebody doesn't step on a dry twig and alarm [everyone] for two hundred yards around. Every time a person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred other handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one.
-Mark Twain, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”


“a nose being violently blown” seems to be a reference to Mark Twain’s own literary offense in" The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” when the sneaking Sheriff inadvertently alerts his prey Injun Joe.


“Frodo and Sam sprang to their feet” occurs later in Book IV, when Faramir catches them in the fern-brake.
E. Why use it here?


Three people thrown into the fiery furnace:

Then Nebuchadnezzar was startled. He sprang to his feet. He asked his advisers, "Didn't we throw three men into the fire?" "That's true, Your Majesty," they answered.
-Daniel 3:24


"Mother of pearl," cried Frito, recoiling from the sinister figure. Spam drew his elvish pinking knife and stepped back, his heart in his mouth with the gooey glob of crackers.

More references: “Mother of pearl”, “elvish pinking knife”, and “heart in his mouth with the gooey glob of crackers.”
F. What do they mean?


“Mother of pearl” can refer to Mary, mother of Christ, whose image is often carved out of the supposedly pure mother of pearl. Of course there is ”the pearl of great price” in Matthew 13:45-46.


A pinking knife produces scalloped edges. (Scalloped potatoes?)


“his heart in his mouth” may be a Homeric reference, in honor of the Odyessy of Frodo and Sam:

Hecabe wept, but Andromache, Hector’s wife, as yet knew nothing, no one had even told her that her husband had stayed outside the walls. She was at work in an inner room of the lofty palace, weaving a double-width purple tapestry, with a multicoloured pattern of flowers. In all ignorance she had asked her ladies-in-waiting to set a great cauldron on the fire so that Hector would have hot water for a bath, when he returned, never dreaming that far from all thought of baths, he had been brought low by Achilles and bright-eyed Athene. But now the cries and groans from the wall reached her, she trembled and the shuttle fell from her hand. She called to her ladies-in-waiting: ‘Two of you come with me. I must know what is happening. That was my husband’s noble mother I heard, my heart is in my mouth...
-The Illiad, Book XXII.


It seems to me that, so far, this chapter’s humor consists of buzzword spoofs rather than more fully-developed parodies of actions or characters.
G. If you agree, is there any reason that Book IV would be treated differently from the previous sections? If not, what is the parodic theme so far?


I’m finding a few darker parodies: Frodo as doomed President Kennedy, the trio entering the fiery furnace, Mordor as an environmental wasteland.


The creature looked at them with ominously crossed eyes, and with a little smile, rose tiredly to its feet, and clasping its hands behind his back, began to whistle mournfully.
Suddenly Frito remembered Dildo's tale of the finding of the Ring.
"You must be Goddam!" he squeaked. "What are you doing here?"

“Ominously crossed eyes”, “rose tiredly”, “clasping its hands behind his back”, “whistle mournfully”. There is a distinct tone and imagery to these phrases. It seems like something is happening here – or rather, is about to happen.
H. What are the differences from Tolkien’s original characterization of Gollum first meeting Frodo and Sam, that suggest the direction the authors are about to take?


The black crawling shape was now three-quarters of the way down, and perhaps fifty feet or less above the cliff's foot. Crouching stone-still in the shadow of a large boulder the hobbits watched him. He seemed to have come to a difficult passage or to be troubled about something. They could hear him snuffling, and now and again there was a harsh hiss of breath that sounded like a curse. He lifted his head, and they thought they heard him spit. Then he moved on again. Now they could hear his voice creaking and whistling.


Then there is Sam's posture during his troll (named Wyzinski?) poem:

'Come on, Sam!' said Merry. 'There's more stored in your head than you let on about.'
'I don't know about that,' said Sam. 'But how would this suit? It ain't what I call proper poetry, if you understand me: just a bit of nonsense. But these old images here brought it to my mind.' Standing up, with his hands behind his back, as if he was at school, he began to sing to an old tune.
Troll sat alone on his seat of stone,
And munched and mumbled a bare old bone;
For many a year he had gnawed it near,
For meat was hard to come by.
Done by! Gum by!



"Oh, well," said the creature, speaking very slowly. "Not much. I was just looking for a few old pop bottles to help pay for my sister-in-law's iron lung. Of course, ever since my operation I don't get around like I used to. Guess I'm just unlucky. Funny how life is, up and down, never can tell. Gosh, it sure is cold. I had to pawn my coat to buy plasma for my pet geese."
Spam tried desperately to keep his leaden eyelids open, but with a great yawn, he slumped heavily to the ground. "You fiend," he muttered, and fell asleep.
"There I go again," said Goddam, shaking his head. "Well, I know when I'm not wanted," he said, and sat down and helped himself to the boggies' elvish melba toast.
Frito slapped himself in the face several times and did a few deep breathing exercises.
"Look here, Goddam," he said.
"Oh, you don't have to say it. Not wanted. I know. I never was. My mother left me in a twenty-four-hour locker in an enchanted forest when I was two. I was raised by kindly rats. But I guess every cloud has its silver lining. Why, I knew a troll once, name of Wyzinski . . ."
Frito swayed, drooped, and was snoring before he hit the ground.


Wyzinski may be a reference to the University of Waterloo, a squash rival of Harvard's whose matches tended to be boring blow-outs.

BTW, UoW uses dogs as "geese police" because of the problem of Canadian geese on campus. (The geese tend to be very territorial when nesting.)


HAW HAW HAW! Sorry, I can’t help still being staggered at the originality of BotR’s treatment of Gollum!
I. Hasn’t every Tolkien fan harbored, secretly in their hearts, the slightly resentful feeling that Gollum in Book IV, with his endless creeping and whining and lisping and baby-talk and (yes) sneaking, is … [looks around, whispers] boring?


I can almost hear comic Jackie Vernon . He’s probably best known as the voice of Rankin-Bass’ Frosty the Snowman, but in the 1960s he was known as “King of the Deadpans”.

His famous Slideshow routine is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENXx4pATYn4


J. Does this twist add any acid to the title of the book itself: Bored of the Rings? For instance, would the passage above work, if “Goddam” was replaced by “Tolkien”?

By some reports Tolkien was a rather boring teacher, who mumbled into the blackboard while lecturing.


I’d welcome any commentary that identifies or explains each of the multitude of references to bores in mid-century American pop culture in the preceding passage. (I think I know most of them, but this discussion has never failed to contribute yet more to our collective Borelore.)
K. Takers?


Well, there is the reference to La Boheme where Colline sings an aria just before leaving to pawn his coat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySmhXU3o8EI


I will offer, on my own, a portfolio of Gluyas Williams cartoons from the 1930s and 40s. He titled the series ‘Raconteurs’, and each in its own way suggests to me that Goddam has some roots in a sophisticated and humorous magazine that BotR’s authors unashamedly and repeatedly lifted their “heigh style” from: The New Yorker.
L. Heh, heh. What has Williams isolated in all his Raconteurs as the essence of being a bore?


Obliviousness, but Goddam seems well aware of his stunning ability, much like Al Capp’s Stupefyin’ Jones and Evil-Eye Fleegle.


How does this relate to Gollum?

Apparently Goddam still has some respectable hobbit qualities: ... you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. That is, he's boring.


Finally, I hate to say this because I should quit while I’m ahead, but much of the humor of Bored of the Rings comes from the authors’ riding the coattails of American pop culture and literature to give Tolkien’s language a taste of its own medicine. It’s a whole new can of worms, but I had to give it the old college try and put my money where my mouth is, with this list of American cliches.

M. Isn’t Goddam’s rhetoric, on closer inspection, really just a hyped-up stew from the family of tired or overused phrases that are deftly strewn throughout the book? Is comic irony a sufficient explanation, or are we supposed to be, on some level, Bored of Bored of the Rings?


Well, it’s much better than the 1980 BBC parody, “Hordes of the Things”.

******************************************


May 1910: The Nine Kings assembled at Buckingham Palace for the funeral of Edward VII.
(From left to right, back row: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece, and Albert I of Belgium. Front row: Alphonso XIII of Spain, George V of England, and Frederick VIII of Denmark.)


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Feb 19 2014, 6:18pm)


sevilodorf
Gondor


Feb 20 2014, 4:29am

Post #6 of 20 (232 views)
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As a once upon a time WV mountaineer [In reply to] Can't Post

I can second the thought that WV is at times Mordor.

Literally -- the slag heaps left from the strip mines

Emotionally -- no hope of jobs, narrow minded thinking

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com





sador
Half-elven


Feb 20 2014, 7:09pm

Post #7 of 20 (217 views)
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Take me home, country roads... [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, but Darkstone's post made me go "hmmm"


A. How does this brief description compare to the original?
It's a mix-up of Ithilien and Mordor, definitely not the Emyn Muil.

But I think that unbroken save for sudden depressions and swiftly rising gorges describes pretty well the reaction of some readers to BotR, doesn't it? We've already had two of those just now!
(Yes, I know this joke is based on one by a.s. But I am fully entitled to my own bit of nostalgia, am I not?)


B. What are these terms? What do they say about Fordor? More to the point, what do they say about Mordor?
I bow down to Darkstone's superior knowledge. Although I wonder what it says of him.


C. But how do we know this? Why none of the drama (or a spoof of it, of course) of the original scene?
We've had it already:


Quote

unseen in the shadow of the dam, a small gray figure on a green-and-yellow-spotted sea horse paddled warily along


And the drama would send us to sleep too early...


D. What are the references?
It shows another affinity between Gollum and Bilbo - the pocket-handkerchief!


G. If you agree, is there any reason that Book IV would be treated differently from the previous sections? If not, what is the parodic theme so far?
They probably ran out of ideas. Or dough.


H. What are the differences from Tolkien’s original characterization of Gollum first meeting Frodo and Sam, that suggest the direction the authors are about to take?
It foreshadows Goodgulf's intruction to Pepsi and Moxie to whistle a happy tune.


I. Hasn’t every Tolkien fan harbored, secretly in their hearts, the slightly resentful feeling that Gollum in Book IV, with his endless creeping and whining and lisping and baby-talk and (yes) sneaking, is … [looks around, whispers] boring?
Not quite. For once you have a major character which is not through-and-through good, and you find him boring?
But you have a point; and it is an interesting twist that most readers find two of the more complex characters, Bombadil and Treebeard, boring. Note that BotR makes them indeed glorious.


J. Does this twist add any acid to the title of the book itself: Bored of the Rings?
The contrast with Tim Benzedrine does, if you get my drift...


For instance, would the passage above work, if “Goddam” was replaced by “Tolkien”?
There are many trolls around who claim to know Tolkien. Shadows of Wyzinski!






sevilodorf
Gondor


Feb 21 2014, 4:35am

Post #8 of 20 (202 views)
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Thanks... now the song is stuck in my head// [In reply to] Can't Post

Crazy

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Feb 23 2014, 9:41pm

Post #9 of 20 (178 views)
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*pauses in midst of taking a bite of brie and Triscuit* [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, that's certainly put me off my snack! Laugh I never knew that about "cheese and crackers", but I imagine those Harvard guys were snickering as they wrote that line.

Those lines from TTT are exactly what was brought to my mind with the "depressions" and "gorges". Tolkien did not mince words, and frankly it always gives me a bit of a surprise that he would write the description of those lands near the Black Gate using such stark language. "Rising gorge" is indeed the physical reaction to reading that.

Good call on the comparison with West Virginia. I was only vaguely aware of the problems in that state at the time, like hearing stories of horrific things happening far away. But it did hit home when I went to college in Maine, and could smell the Androscoggin River from my dorm room a mile away. The 60's and 70'd were the wake-up call for the environment and human rights (and the battle continues still).

A "pinking knife" is not much use without an opposing side! Pinking shears, of course, are a staple of sewing. The edges produced aren't exactly scalloped (having curves between points), instead they're a line of equilateral triangles.

"Hordes of the Things"? Never heard of it...well, no wonder! Tongue


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Feb 25 2014, 4:23am

Post #10 of 20 (192 views)
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Eight years? [In reply to] Can't Post

We've been trudging through this for that long - such resiliency rivals that of hobbits! Cool These discussions have certainly had some highlights!

But it's obvious that the Harvard duo started running out of steam as they neared the end of their opus. This chapter for example, although still showing good parodic qualities, does seem somewhat lacking in the creativity of the earlier chapters.

Although the first paragraph does, as Darkstone pointed out, succinctly define the vista near Mordor! "...sudden depressions and swiftly rising gorges" is a masterpiece of a phrase, conveying multiple meanings. And I do thank him for the comparison with West Virginia, that put everything in perspective.

C., D., and E.: nothing quiet about this Gollum, er, Goddam! Those three noises are the standard "giveaway" fare of schlock TV and B-movies, with leaping to one's feet being the typical reaction. Love the "sniffing the ground noisily", this is the "snuffling" of Gollum's in LotR.

F.-G.: Here is where the imagination flags, with the "mother of pearl" etc. phrases. Even the heart-in-mouth joke becomes a stale chestnut.

H.-I. Call Sheriff Taylor, a suspicious character has just wandered into Mayberry. And he's as whiny as Gollum - but he speaks far better, like one used to being a second-rate con man. So that's his game: bore his marks to sleep, then take advantage of them! The bit about the elvish melba toast is particularly intriguing, considering how Gollum choked on the lembas. Is Goddam not yet bored of this Ring?

J. Hm, inserting "Tolkien" in there, nope, just doesn't do it for me...

K. You'd have to have gone through the '50s and '60's for these references to make your eyes cross.
Pop bottles: the advent of recycling.
Iron lung: what a lot of kids ended up in, after getting polio. Not nice.
Ever since my operation I don't get around like I used to: right up there with "I gave at the office".
I had to pawn my coat to buy plasma..: yet more sob stories.
Not wanted. I know. I never was. My mother left me in a twenty-four-hour locker in an enchanted forest when I was two. I was raised by kindly rats.: yeah, this is starting to sound like Rodney Dangerfield.

L. Love the Williams cartoons, I remember those! Everybody knows someone who absolutely needs to show you their vacation pics or who has to gush over their brilliant child's toilet training. Diarrhea of the mouth brought on by existence of a nearby warm body.

M. What a list of cliches! What a boring list of cliches! Which, of couse, suits itself perfectly.
Yes, the cliches have become quite over-used at this point, as I noted above the guys are, like their narcs, running short on fiber, and we do indeed find ourselves starting to become a bit bored of this "Rings".

(p.s. thank you for getting this going again, in between the brilliant essays and discussions this current crowd has been churning out!)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






squire
Valinor


Feb 26 2014, 7:41am

Post #11 of 20 (150 views)
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“Frito as doomed President Kennedy” [In reply to] Can't Post

Now you’re making me nervous.

It occurs to me, under your gentle tutelage, that there are no Kennedy references in a Cantabrigian parody whose use of 60s jargon has made it both legendary and increasingly unreadable. On the other hand, or dark side, we do find quite a few to the Kennedy Nemesis, Tricky Dick himself. There is the parody of the Ring’s inscription in the Black Speech at the Council of Elrond:
Nixon dirksen nasahist
Rebozo boogaloo."

Goodgulf's voice had become harsh and distant. An ominous black cloud filled the room.
(BotR IV 73)

Note that after Nixon is piled on Dirksen (Republican leader of the Senate) and Rebozo (Nixon’s slightly shady-seeming personal best friend).

Then when Lavalier sings her elegy to the fading of the mortal world,
("Oh, the leaves are falling, the flowers are wilting, and the rivers are all going Republican. O Ramar, Ramar, ride quickly on your golden unicycle and warn the nymphs and drag queens!”…) (BotR V 94)

she seems to be evoking the late 1960s rise of what Nixon’s strategist Kevin Phillips called, in his 1969 book, “The Emerging Republican Majority”. Those same Republicans re-emerge in Minas Troney, as an exotic and fantastic race:
Curiously the boggies stared back at the dwellers: men, elves, dwarves, banshees, and not a few Republicans were among them. (BotR V 137)

Finally, there is the ominously profiled Bay of Milhous in the Map, approximately where the evil Havens of Umbar are on the original:

What can we make of it? If, as you suggest, any Kennedy imagery is sublimated in second-hand references to the industrial wastelands of West Virginia during the 1960 primaries – and I’m not saying you’re wrong, now, but I am suggesting you’re deliberately ignoring the Monroe connection in the infamous elf-maid teaser – the impression we take away is nevertheless that Kennedy stands for Good and True and must either be left out of this vulgar parody altogether or, at most, associated with the only really innocent character in the book, Frito.

On the other hand, as much as politics does appear in this book written during one of the most politically overwrought eras in the 20th century, it appears in the guise of Richard Nixon as a symbol of the resurgent and repressive Republican Party, which had retaken the White House in the same fatal year that this book was written: 1969, the Year the Sixties Died. So is Nixon Sorhed?

No, really. Is he?



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Darkstone
Immortal


Feb 26 2014, 2:46pm

Post #12 of 20 (146 views)
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Addendum: Melba = Lemba(s) [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, the anagram was staring me in the face...

******************************************
Brothers, sisters,
I was Elf once.
We danced together
Under the Two Trees.
We sang as the soft gold of Laurelin
And the bright silver of Telperion,
Brought forth the dawn of the world.
Then I was taken.

Brothers, sisters,
In my torment I kept faith,
And I waited.
But you never came.
And when I returned you drew sword,
And when I called your names you drew bow.
Was my Eldar beauty all,
And my soul nothing?

So be it.
I will return your hatred,
And I am hungry.




squire
Valinor


Feb 26 2014, 6:35pm

Post #13 of 20 (138 views)
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Bravo! [In reply to] Can't Post

‘No more, no more!’ I cried, laughing.

I am always amazed how a good discussion around here can squeeze every last bit of juice out of a text, until it's round and dry and toasty.



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FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 28 2014, 10:31am

Post #14 of 20 (145 views)
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Cheese and crackers? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Spam produced a box lunch of cheese and crackers from their bags

This whole sentence is a picnic of off-colour references isn't it? It's not just the cheese and crackers, there's also the "lunchbox" itself (as defined here), not to mention bags = trousers. "Spam" seems to crop up in slang dictionaries in similar contexts too, but I don't think I'll go there...

Blush


They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



squire
Valinor


Feb 28 2014, 1:17pm

Post #15 of 20 (123 views)
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I don't know [In reply to] Can't Post

I hate to be one who shies away from plumbing the comic depth of this book, but I hesitate to put so many off-color or sexual interpretations into this passage's vocabulary. I might say, especially when the suggested dirty slang references are British not American; one of the Lampoon's themes here is to take Tolkien's tony British orientation and mock it by substituting low-class and common American terms and references.

Cheese and crackers: a paired compound snack term or meal term occurs repeatedly throughout the book (loaves and fishes, etc.); this one seems to refer to the popular snack or hors d'oeuvre served at casual get-togethers.

The term used is "box lunch", not "lunchbox". The latter is, along with a carryall for a workman's or student's lunch, British slang for the genitals; but the former is, in America anyway, a tired traditional provision for outings and excursions by outfits like church groups and the Boy Scouts.

Spam may have more vulgar connotations than the cheap and greasy canned luncheon-meat that is its primary referent, but the stuff is vulgar enough as it is. The meat [sic] is certainly what the authors intended, given that the other boggies' names are also trademarked names for snack foods.

Keep bringing 'em on, though! Everything is worth considering, at least.



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Darkstone
Immortal


Feb 28 2014, 5:38pm

Post #16 of 20 (123 views)
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I often used the expression when I was a kid. [In reply to] Can't Post

Mainly for an exclamation. Still do sometimes. A German accent seems to greatly increase its hilarity: "Cheeze und crackerz!"

I believe I picked it up from old war years Warner Brothers cartoons, where it was said to comedic effect by caricatures of German leaders like Goering and others. I can see where British audiences might get a kick out of Germans exclaiming "Balls!"

I'm trying to think if it was used in the old Katzenjammer Kids comics.

Of course these days the wildly politically incorrect and often extremely racist war era cartoons are now in effect banned from TV, but they were constant staples played over and over and over again for us kids in the 50s and 60s.

******************************************
Brothers, sisters,
I was Elf once.
We danced together
Under the Two Trees.
We sang as the soft gold of Laurelin
And the bright silver of Telperion,
Brought forth the dawn of the world.
Then I was taken.

Brothers, sisters,
In my torment I kept faith,
And I waited.
But you never came.
And when I returned you drew sword,
And when I called your names you drew bow.
Was my Eldar beauty all,
And my soul nothing?

So be it.
I will return your hatred,
And I am hungry.




squire
Valinor


Feb 28 2014, 8:34pm

Post #17 of 20 (164 views)
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Taking "Cheese and crackers" in vain [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't doubt it is code for private parts in England, but in the US it has a different, slightly less naughty, meaning as slang. Every indication I can find in a quick and careless web search is that "Cheese and crackers!" on this side of the Atlantic is an old-fashioned way of genteelly swearing in the name of the Lord - i.e., "Jesus Christ!"

See, for instance, The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, where the phrase is listed twice, once for the UK version and once for the US version.

The old '40s era cartoons are certainly wonderful repositories of how an earlier society self-censored its profanities, even as it gloried in the comedy of racial bigotry. It seems the positions have switched: profanity is OK now, but ethnic slurs are not! Even Bored of the Rings plays the game from that earlier era, which is one of the things that really dates it: it's distinctly free of any real curse words, merely skirting the edges of vulgarity, but its treatment of minority groups is really over the top by today's standards. (And in a way doesn't this faithfully if parodically echo Tolkien, with his prudish sense of sexuality in his fiction combined with his obsession with "race" and "blood heritage", etc.?)

This article on "minced oaths" includes "Cheese and crackers" for "Jesus Christ", along with a lot of others of fond memory.

As I said before, though, I really think the phrase in this particular instance (BotR) is an honest-to-gosh reference to the actual snack. The silly phrase pays off twice in quick succession: The gooey glob of crackers in Spam's mouth, and the revelation that the crackers are actually Melba toast.



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FarFromHome
Valinor


Mar 1 2014, 11:02am

Post #18 of 20 (126 views)
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Fair enough. [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have any first-hand experience of any of these words - in those long-lost days, this was boys' own territory, not suitable for the pretty little ears of young ladies.

Tongue

But perhaps this made us all the more aware of undercurrents of "naughty" meanings behind the language boys used in our presence, and that's what I keep picking up in the bits of BotR I've seen (basically just what you've posted over the years). All the hobbits except Sam have "naughty" last names (or names that those in the know will recognise as naughty), and let's face it, Bilbo's new first name is a bit hard to miss.

In that sentence I picked up on, why mention "box lunch" at all except because it sounds funny? And why does it sound funny except that it has undertones of a "naughty" word? I don't know if it's British slang or not, but I had the impression that it's originally American, maybe from the black subculture. Trying to research these things online teaches you more than you really want to know, though...

So I'll take your word for it that it's all just good clean fun.

Cool

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



squire
Valinor


Mar 1 2014, 1:27pm

Post #19 of 20 (119 views)
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Those mysterious subcultures with their naughty words [In reply to] Can't Post

You asked, "...why mention "box lunch" at all except because it sounds funny? And why does it sound funny except that it has undertones of a "naughty" word? I don't know if it's British slang or not, but I had the impression that it's originally American, maybe from the black subculture."

Wow. It's really fun to see BotR through British eyes at times like this!

From a fun website on the American school lunch culture: '19th century school lunches were generally packed in cardboard boxes (hence the term "box lunch") or lightweight tin containers.' Of course, the idea of the student bringing a lunch from home, in a box, only replicates what Dad was doing as he went to work; he too brought a box lunch, or as I've heard it called, a lunch pail.

The story of the site is how the custom of students bringing their own box lunches from home was gradually replaced by the institutionalized kitchen-prepared meal in the school building.

Here's another site, from the Smithsonian, about how the box lunch generated the colorful commercial "lunch box" to replace the bag or box that Mom provided.

So why is "box lunch" funny, even though it's not a "naughty" word? For the same reason 99% of the jokes in BotR are funny (to the degree that they're funny at all): they contrast the bathos of American low and popular culture to the "heigh style" of Tolkien's original work. The idea of Sam and Frodo carrying a prepacked 'box lunch' - the staple of every American childhood at the time, with its whitebread peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and thermos with milk (or soup) and, yes, cheese and crackers, or cookies - in lieu of the mysterious and magical mallorn-wrapped lembas which somehow lasts forever without going stale, and always tastes good despite never changing from day to day, is, for lack of a better word ... funny.



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FarFromHome
Valinor


Mar 1 2014, 4:43pm

Post #20 of 20 (169 views)
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I can't claim to have "British eyes" for stuff like this [In reply to] Can't Post

I left Britain in 1970, spent the following two years in Pennsylvania, and the next 30 in Canada. I haven't lived any of my adult life in the UK, although I visited almost every year.

Of course I know exactly what an American (or Canadian) "box lunch" is - my kids took those plastic, superhero-adorned lunchboxes, with their pb&j sandwiches, to school every day, like all the other Canadian kids.

My impression about the "black subculture" came from the odd way the expression turned up in British tabloids, relating to a fashion among black athletes for wearing figure-hugging lycra in the 90s. Could be completely wrong about the provenance, and frankly I don't really need to know...

I have read some amusing articles though about how "subcultures", in those restrictive days, had their own language that those in the know recognised, while it passed over the heads of the innocent bourgeoisie. I recall reading that there are lyrics in some 60s black rock and soul songs that mean something more than what the mainstream audience understood (I can't recall any examples unfortunately). Meanwhile in the UK, the double entendre was a mainstay of comedy - sexual innuendo, straight and gay, was highly popular during those decades (Carry On was just the tip of the iceberg!), even though homosexuality was still illegal at the time, and so many of the gay references were disguised. That's where I was coming from, anyway. I have to admit that from my (admittedly non-American) perspective, the language of BotR seems too naive to be on the level at times. But maybe it's all in my imagination. Just forget I mentioned it, and carry on!

Tongue

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings


 
 

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