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The Unofficial Bored of the Rings Discussion: Chapter IX, Minas Troney In the Soup, Part 5: Deus Ex Machina, Anyone?

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 19, 1:34am

Post #1 of 8 (683 views)
The Unofficial Bored of the Rings Discussion: Chapter IX, Minas Troney In the Soup, Part 5: Deus Ex Machina, Anyone? Can't Post

"That was close indeed," said Spam, still shaking from their narrow escape from Schlob a few days before. Frito nodded feebly but still could not really piece together what had happened.

When last we left our heroes: http://newboards.theonering.net/...rum.cgi?post=846713;
March 2015? Great elephants...

Before them the great salt flats of Fordor stretched to the feet of a giant molehill which held Bardahl, the high-rise headquarters of Sorhed. The wide plain was dotted with barracks, parade grounds, and motor pools. Thousands of narcs were swarming frantically, digging holes and filling them up again and polishing the dusty ground with enormous buffers. Far in the distance the Zazu Pits, the Black Hole, spewed the sooty remains of hundreds of years of National Geographics into the air over Fordor. Right before them, at the foot of the cliff, a thick, black pool of tar bubbled noisily, from time to time emitting a heavy belch.

1. It's a slight stretch from Barad-dur to Bardahl, but being a brand of motor oil additives, it makes sense for the headquarters of a land which, in the original, has oily pits, and here, has many motor pools. The kind with vehicles for use, that is, not water holes filled with rusting car heaps. Maybe. Depends how much jeep drag-racing the narcs engaged in.

2. Sorhed was not one to make a mountain out of a molehill, it would seem.

3. Sounds like a modern-day army camp taking advantage of the un-undulating landscape of salt flats, which can be as deadly as Mordor, if one attempts crossing them without the necessary supplies.

4. Thoughts on the fruitless work of constantly digging/filling of holes? This was long before Louis Sachar wrote "Holes", but that was a search for buried treasure. Polishing the ground is another unproductive endeavor; an allusion to the spit-and-shine polishing of boots?

5. Zasu Pitts! Extraordinary actress with the hard-to-forget name. Remember her?

6. Are the authors psychic? Having the black cloud being formed by the sooty remains of National Geographics portends the results from a study in the Journal of Irreproducible Results, which would not be published until 1976: "the effect of national geographic on landmass depression in America.

"The authors estimate that around 7 million copies are printed annually, and the journal has been around for 141 years, with each copy weighing 2lb and not likely to be discarded by the subscriber. Hence some simple maths tells you that :

"Taking the predictions of Kaub (1974) at face value, the height of a column of National Geographic magazines necessary to depress the continental land mass by 100 feet (30.48 m) was calculated. This would be a vertical stack 82.33 m high, equivalent to 11.45 x 103 magazines. This depression of the land mass would produce a rise in sea level due to displaced mantle material. Assuming the effect is confined only to the ocean basins, a net depression of 100 feet (30.48 m) would be due to an actual depression of the land of 29.82 m and a resultant rise in sea level of 66 cm."
(Found at http://bayblab.blogspot.com/2007/07/journal-of-irreproducible-results.html)

Frito stood for a long time, peering out from under his fingers at the distant, smoking volcano.

"It's many a hard kilo to the Black Hole," he said, fingering the Ring.

"No lie, bwana," said Spam.

"This nearer tar pit has a certain holelike flavor," said Frito.

"Round," agreed Spam. "Open. Deep."

"Dark," added Frito.

"Black," said Spam.

Frito took the Ring from round his neck and twirled it absently at the end of its chain.

"Careful, Mr. Frito," said Spam, raining a series of hitsies on his arm.

"Indeed," said Frito, flinging the Ring in the air and deftly catching it behind his back.

"Very risky," Spam said, and picking up a large stone, he threw it into the center of the tar pit, where it sank with a wet glop.

7. Well this certainly shortens the journey! Thoughts on why, here, just any "black hole" is suitable, when back in Chapter One Goodgulf stated that the destination had to be the Zazu Pits?

8. Once again, Frito toys with the Ring. Do you recall where else he did this?

"Pity we have no weight to anchor it safely to the bottom," said Frito, swinging the chain over his head. "Accidents can happen."

"Just in case," said Spam, searching vainly in his pack for some heavy object. "A dead weight, a sinker," he muttered.

"Hello," said a gray lump behind them. "Long time no see."

"Goddam, old shoe," crooned Spam, and dropped a coin at Goddam's feet.

"Small world," said Frito as he palmed the Ring and clapped the surprised creature on the back.

"Look!" cried Frito, pointing to an empty sky. "The Winged Victory of Samothrace." And as Goddam turned to see, Frito looped the chain over his neck.

"Holla," cried Spam, "a 1927 Indian-head nickel!" and dropped on his hands and knees in front of Goddam.

"Whoops!" said Frito.

"Aiyeee," added Goddam.

"Floop," suggested the tar pit.

9. Two con artists at work - but not to relief their mark of something valuable, just the opposite!

10. Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...the Winged Victory of Samothrace!

11. The current market value of a 1927 Indian-head nickel in average condition is $1.90.

12. Notice the text does not indicate that either Frito or Spam pushed Goddam into the tar pit. The action was merely "suggested" by the pit itself.

Frito let out a deep sigh and both boggies bade a final farewell to the Ring and its ballast. As they raced from the pit, a loud bubbling noise grew from the black depths and the earth began to tremble. Rocks split and the ground opened beneath their very feet, causing the boggies much concern. In the distance the dark towers began to crumble and Frito saw Sorhed's offices at Bardahl seam and shatter into a smoking heap of plaster and steel.

"Sure don't build 'em like they used to," observed Spam as he dodged a falling water cooler.

Great rents appeared around the boggies and they found themselves cut off from escape. The whole land seemed to writhe and moan from its very bowels, which after eons of lethargy, had finally begun to move. The earth tipped at a crazy angle and the boggies slid toward a crevass filled with used razor blades and broken wine bottles.

"Ciao!" waved Spam to Frito.

"At a time like this?" sobbed Frito.

13. So the Ring can be destroyed in any of Fordor's pits! That's some violet reaction the entire land is having.

14. The water cooler projectile is a fun effect. You can imagine other typical office furniture and sundries of this time period becoming airborne: wastebaskets, mimeograph machines, IBM Selectric typewriters...

15. The authors get in their own bit of "bathroom humor".

16. Used razor blades and broken wine bottles: the remains of one wild pary!

Then just over their heads they saw a passing flash of color. There in the sky they saw a giant eagle, full-feathered and painted shocking pink. On its side were the words DEUS EX MACHINA AIRLINES in metallic gold.

Frito yelped as the great bird swooped bow and snatched them both from death with its rubberized talons.

"Name's Gwahno," said the Eagle as they climbed sharply away from the disintegrating land. "Find a seat."

"But how--" began Frito.

"Not now, mac," the bird snapped. "Gotta figure a flight plan outta this dump."

The powerful wings bore them to a dizzying height and Frito looked with awe upon the convulsed land below. Fordor's black rivers were twisting like ringworms, huge glaciers figure skated across barren plains, and the mountains were playing leapfrog.

Just before Gwahno began banking a turn, Frito thought he caught a glimpse of a great, dark form the color and shape of a bread pudding retreating over the mountains with a steamer trunk of odd socks.

17. Now, admit it: the first time you read LotR, didn't you feel like Gwaihir's rescue team was a deus ex machina ploy? Beard and Kenney have stated it in black and white: where did those eagles suddenly come from?

18. Notice the safety of rubberized talons. No sense in spearing what you're trying to save.

19. "Gwahno". Perfect. Could this eagle have any other name!

20. Black rivers twisting like...ringworms? Very funny, guys!

21. Glaciers? Tolkien never mentioned those...looks like a nice salt lake will be forming.

22. I'm wondering what kind of bread pudding the authors were served in the Harvard cafeteria. Mine is a custard with clumps of bread sticking up. Of course, if you plop a spoonful onto a plate, it rather loses cohesion and becomes a lumpy blob. (But it still tastes good.)

23. Ever have to run out of a building when an alarm sounds? Your freaked-out brain makes you grab the closest, most illogical thing to "save". Like a streamer trunk full of mismatched socks.

But have we seen the last of Sorhed?

Next: "If he says that one more time..."


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Jul 21, 8:15pm

Post #2 of 8 (523 views)
When National Geographic was Lord of the Magazines [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, that makes me an old Gaffer. So be it. That magazine had the heaviest, highest-quality paper to support the stunning photography that the magazine was famous for. (I loved the photos but often felt the writing to be verbose. But wow, those photos!)

So what greater sacrilege than for Sorhed to incinerate them? Might as well burn Bibles and Korans, the monster! But seriously, no one would have been upset if Popular Mechanics or Reader's Digest had been put to the torch.

The Cowardly End to the Quest: this is one of my favorite parts of BOTR, when our noble heroes take a cheap way out. No slogging through those motor pools or nearly dying in the epic finale as they reach the Black Hole. Naw. This little pile of goo should do the trick. And against all logic, it did! Which I guess makes me rethink all the fuss in LOTR, and if Frodo could have just slipped the Ring under a rock on Mordor's border, and that would have led to all the eruptions and without all the drama. Or for that matter, since the Shire had mail service, why didn't he just mail the Ring to the Crack of Doom, so let's ask that question instead of the one about the Eagles.

Poor Goddam, falling for a cheap trick by "heroes" cutting corners. But at least he got the Ring back, however briefly, and we all knew he was just going to keep complaining anyway, so maybe the Ring was just collateral damage in the more important deed of eliminating the whiny clown?

Frito toying with the Ring? He also does that while wondering at Lavalier's great beauty. And she sees him toy with his Ring while wondering at her great beauty, and she says the same thing out loud in a joke sequence which I've always enjoyed. Let's make the leap here and assume her influence and blessing were at work in taking the quest shortcut here. Maybe next time he visits, she won't tell him to leave at dawn.

Grey Havens

Jul 27, 3:43am

Post #3 of 8 (443 views)
I have quite a collection of The Journal of Irreproducible Results // [In reply to] Can't Post


"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 27, 1:21pm

Post #4 of 8 (418 views)
Is the weight of them causing your house to bend or sink? [In reply to] Can't Post

(There are jokes about not storing the National Geos in the attic, else the ceiling will collapse! Laugh)

I've never seen an actual JIR magazine, only read some articles from them. You rock!

(By the way, the Sunday Breaking Cat News had a great (parody) observation about Connecticans - for years I used my grandmother's Singer treadle sewing machine as an end-table! Got rid of it when we moved, the thing was heavy, and the metal grillwork pedal was a pain to keep clean.)


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 27, 1:34pm

Post #5 of 8 (418 views)
Hey, I like Popular Mechanics! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's one of the magazines we get for the kids in my school library. Along with National Geo Kids and Sports Illustrated Kids. (They can ask their dads about the regular mag's swimsuit issue.)

Mail the Ring to the Crack of Doom? Makes sense, but how do we know Saruman wasn't intercepting the Express Riders as they came through the Gap of Rohan?

But it does make one wonder what would have happened if the Ring had gotten tossed down a pit along with Sam's pans.

Now that's a new way of looking at it: Goddam had to be eliminated, and the Ring just happened to go with him! It seems to me that there was something similar about needing to rid the world of Gollum and the Ring getting involved, but I can't quite put my finger on it. (Or in it?)

Bingo - you remembered the "toying" reference! Wait - are you implying that there was a reason Frito needed to get back to Lornadoon? Blush


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Jul 27, 2:32pm

Post #6 of 8 (419 views)
There's a precedent for bureaucracy defeating evil [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Makes sense, but how do we know Saruman wasn't intercepting the Express Riders as they came through the Gap of Rohan?

I'm thinking of the Nozdrul being defeated at the Elfboro toll bridge because they didn't have the currency to get across and pursue Frito. So I'll lay a bet that the postal service can defeat the likes of Saruman. "You'd like to intercept our riders? Let's see, you'll need to fill out Form 10A-4-X, which takes about 10 days, and then we'll need 2,000 signatures by witnesses verified by an mermaid attorney..."

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 27, 8:19pm

Post #7 of 8 (409 views)
"You insist you are the true recipient of this mail?" [In reply to] Can't Post

"Certainly, sir. Just let me inspect your driver's license, certified birth certificate, and valid Eriadorian passport...hm, it says here your birthdate is...I'm sorry, sir, that's not a valid date, and your Passport expired back in 2759."


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Jul 30, 7:42pm

Post #8 of 8 (336 views)
Bored of Being Brave and Responsible [In reply to] Can't Post

If the theme of LOTR is doing what's right, BOTR is pretty consistent about turning that on its head, and not just Frito & Spam making a shortcut of the quest at the very end.

Orlon at his Council:
"It is only a matter of time before they come here," he said, pulling a shawl over his head and making a gesture of throwing something of a conciliatory nature to a shark, "and as neutrals, we would have no choice..."

While Goodgulf holds the bridge against the ballhog, "Back, vile hoopster," the non-boggies chop away the bridge he's on.

Then in Lornadoon, the noble Elves who elsewhere "fought the long defeat" say:
"Your enemies are powerful and merciless."
"You have much to fear."
"You leave at dawn."

When Frito tells Farahslax of his quest, "Farahslax's face darkened, and looking first at Goddam and Spam, then back to Frito, he tiptoed out of the grove with a little smile and disappeared with his men..."

When Minas Troney was in the soup, Goodgulf demanded white robes "for white flag" of surrender, which was marvelously misinterpreted as the attack signal that saved the day.

I could go on! But for all the wonderful jokes strewn across the pages like a meal of frankincense and myrrh, there is a deliberate move by the writers to undo the heroism of every single heroic act. Even the march on Sorhed was only decided upon while everyone was drunk. So, falling short of the Zazu Pits fits the master game plan. There is cold logic behind all the humor. Now I'm off to play Scrabble. Tongue


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