Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bored of the Rings

I’m going to annoy a lot of people by saying this, but I can’t see why Lord of the Rings is held in such high esteem. I bought the book for the rainy season and took comfort from fact that no gorillas had to endure life in Middle Earth. The whole place seemed to be full of intensely solemn characters, living in the shadow of unspecified doom, and speaking in the portentous tones of one of those old biblical films by Cecil B DeMille. I should imagine that Professor Tolkien was fulfilling an ambition to write a tale of mythic grandeur, like the Illiad or the Odyssey. What he forgot is that those fables are so old that no one can be certain they didn’t actually happen. You can’t just pluck a legend out of thin air – it has to do the rounds in countless campfires before someone puts it on the page.

The moment of high farce occurs when the surly dwarf falls in love with the elf queen and starts boasting about her beauty to some other nitwit. Bow-legged ass! If you’re going to compliment a lady, either say it to her face or send her a love note. Praising females is a waste of breath if they never get to hear it. Mind you, it doesn’t always produce results if they are within earshot. If you’re ever in a position to chat up a lady gorilla, telling her what beautiful eyes she has won’t get you to first base. Commenting on the firmness of her rump is the sort of remark that might earn you a nibble on the neck. “You’ve got the kind of butt cheeks I could crack nuts between” is one that normally goes down well.

It is wrong to judge an author by one book, so I had a look at The Hobbit and was far more impressed – an altogether snappier tale, I feel. What holds the narrative together is the ever-present danger of someone getting eaten. Will the trolls eat the dwarves? Will Gollum eat Bilbo? Will Gandalf eat his wand? This is very true to life. As any wild animal knows, there’s nothing like the fear of a ravenous predator to sharpen your wits and perfect your comic timing. You choose your next wisecrack carefully when it might be your last.

Inspired by this work, I moved onto a slender volume called Farmer Giles of Ham – a novella that can be read from start to finish in a single sitting. The secret of this utterly charming story is its fine cast of characters: a shrewd rustic; a stupid giant; a cheeky dog; a dry dragon; a cynical blacksmith; a pompous king. Any Tolkien fan who hasn’t read it is like a wine-buff who’s never tasted champagne.

Why would a writer capable of something as wonderful as Farmer Giles pen a grim and tedious tome like Lord of the Rings? And why do so many people think that yawnsome yarn is one of the greatest stories ever told? It’s all very mysterious to a gorilla. I suspect that humans have some kind of faux nostalgia for a mythical age of chivalry, when valiant warriors defeated the bad guys without fluffing their lines or causing collateral damage. It’s all complete bunk of course. If anything like Middle Earth ever existed, most modern humans would have found the smell of shit unbearable.

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As usual, I have nothing intelligent to add. I'd just say that the most fun I got out of any of those movies was imitating Gollum's voice. It actually is kind of funny to follow people around and say, "Pre-shhh-us" over and over again, depending, of course, on your taste in humo(u)r.
In very happy agreement with you.

I find Bored of the Rings can be summarised thusly: ...then they went here, ate lembas, then over there, ate lembas, then walked over to that spot and ate some more sodding lembas. Jewelry was involved. The end. It's like the begats in Genesis (the bible, not Phil Collins with a nasty turn of Tourette's).
I have a guilty secret - I have neither read nor see the fillums of The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, so cannot comment. Whoops, I just did.
I must admit to having thrown myself upon Middle Earth twice, perhaps in the vain hope of making some sense of the need for lembats, or second breakfast for that matter...
Alas, I fear I suffer some kind of faux nostalgia for a mythical age of chivalry, when valiant warriors defeated the bad guys without fluffing their lines or causing collateral damage...
When it comes to dwarf's, its all good!
This dolt Tolkien meddled with forces of Nature that he could not comprehend. Thanks to him we have Dungeons & Dragons, Oxford undergrads poncing around in pointy hats, Harry Potter and, above all, elf porn.
That surly dwarf was just repressing his latent homosexuality, he was really in love with the elf lad Legolas.
Hi, Good Blog :)
Look from Quebec Canada

WWG :)
Liv says she has nothing intelligent to add. That never stops me. LOTR and H Potter pass right over my head. Love the title. BTW you have inspired me and I can do it too although maybe not in a comment box. Isn't it fun? Thanks loads!
I'm talking you tubes of course.
I never read the books, but Meeester adores them and goes all misty eyed if you even mention them.

I was dragged to see all three films and I felt that the most frightening thing about them was the fact that as Gollum hopped from rock to rock I feared his little loincloth might reveal his shriveled little bits. But I suppose that's testament to the animators that I was drawn into by the realism they created.
Liv: Gollum was more frightening in The Hobbit. Is it my imagination or does he look like ET?

Amoir: It's part Bible, part Illiad. You always have to travel a long way to fight the good fight. It never comes to you.

Kitty: Try Farmer Giles of Ham instead. A great one to read to children if you can do funny voices. And short.

Domestic Minx: You would have spiced up Middle Earth with your saucy ways, dear Minx.

Oswaldo: Tossing them is more fun than fighting them.

Mr Boyo: Elf Shagging is an inspiring hobby for some. A lot of those Middle Earth characters look very Welsh to me.

Colonel A B: Legolas is a funny name, isn't it? A cross between Legoland and Legless.

WWG: Thank you, my good fellow. What brought you here?

Pi: I never realised such music would be on YouTube until you suggested it, so thanks back.

Misssy: Wasn't Gollum nude in the book? Evil thoughts gave him an erection. I suggest you get Meeester Farmer Giles of Ham for Christmas.
Mr Bananas , it is said that the LOTR is unusual in that it polarises opinion into iether love or hate of work with not much opinion floating about in the middle.

I didnt get on with them at all and found both the books and films as boring as hell. Frank Herberts Dune series being much more to the Beasts tastes.
I think that Gollum rather looks like a wet domestic feline. My erstwhile husband subjected me to a documentary about the filming process of LOTR, and they stated that they based each character's face off of the people who were hired to do the voice overs. The guy who spoke and did green screen for Gollum looked scarily like his Preshus self.
GB I am with you 100%. The hobbit is a fair dinkum snappy little tale. For years I thought Lord of the Rings was about a conservative Peer. That was of course before I read Jeremy Thorpe,s classic - Scot of the Arse Antics.

In all seriousness thought LOTR makes a very handy doorstop and at a push a formidable offensive weapon.
Many years before LOTR came out on film, we were given animated versions of The Hobbit and LOTR. Believe me, if the books and movie bored you, the animations are to be avoided at all costs. My children loved these; soon they had the books and were demanding to be read to from them every single night. I got bored of the rings years before all the hoopla. Thanks to you, now whenever someone brings up LOTR, I will mention Farmer Giles of Ham and nip any further discussions in the bud.
Good man, Bananas, exposing Tolkien for the bloated fraud that he is. I had the same inclination with Mordechai Richler once. There he was, all venerated and Canadian, so I thought he deserved a read. I made the mistake of starting with St. Urbain's Horseman. The bilious aftertaste lingers still.
Dear gorilla bananas. It was a boys' book. It's the godfather of the printed world. The only reason the movie BOTR was so popular, is because they made a couple of the characters quite dishy. In both the eating, and the looking sense.
I agree. The Lord of the Rings, book and film (although I only watched 10 mins of film before falling asleep so cannot really judge it) are boring as buggery. Why Tolkien wrote this turgid tome? my belief is he was ingesting huge amounts of home made acid at the time and was consequently not aware that what he was writing was tedious crap. Just a theory.
Beast: I've only read the first Dune novel but admit to a mild fascination. Deserts, giant worms and saving your piss were the key concepts, as I recall.

Liv: He was so much better in The Hobbit. Funnier, nastier and yet more pitiable.

Uncle Norman: Thorpe was a pitcher rather than a catcher. No hobbit would have been safe in his company.

Mary: Tell them Farmer Giles was Tolkien's masterpiece. That should dumbfound them.

Cooper: Tolkien had a gift for comedy, but squandered it by trying to be another Homer.

Ms Moi: The dwarf was dishy? To a hungry dragon perhaps. Are you sure no girls like LOTR?

Emma: Is that you, EmmaK? How about writing a sex story called 'Bawd of the Rings'?
It isn't perfect. I can't get Litolff's Piano Concerto for instance.
I suspect it's popular because it's got a map in it. Books with journeys and maps in sell well. I did write to Ian McEwan to suggest he do one with a map but he wrote back saying he "don't need no stinking map to become a best-selling effing writer", in a letter with the most appalling spelling and, quite frankly, some pretty flabby sentence structures.

I liked The Hobbit but never finished TLOTR. I don't remember why. I didn't watch the films either.
I read The Hobbit several years ago. Never got through any of the others. And it's not so much that I don't read. It's more like...I don't read fantasy. That shit's for nerds.
I shall take your advice in this matter as usual Mr Bananas - I prefer not to comment any further if you don't mind?
I am the real-life Lord of the Rings, don't you know?

I have lorded it over many a ring in my time.
Enjoyed your post GB. And what a wonderful beard you have on. Where did you buy it? :-)
Sam: Was there really a map? I'll have to look at the book again and revise my opinions.

Kara: Good point. Smart girls don't read fantasy because they already have wild fantasies of their own. Share them with us if you want to...

Lord Likely: And given the dimensions of Lord Palmerstone, ruptured a few, no doubt.

Mutley: Do so at your own peril. Don't blame me if you get attacked by a hobbit-lover.

Suzy: I don't need a brillo pad on my chin, Suzy. My beard grows all over my body.
I preferred Shrek.
Issuings of the night time pen are the quested result of stepping. I expect the small grain to be typed not so though a terracotta garden design
I've been trying to get through The Lord of The Rings for years, but it's not exactly an easy read, and far from my favourite book.

Dare I say it, but I prefer the films.

~raises shield in anticipation of a volley of literary arrows~
Yes, it's me darling! Blogger was down but I simply had to comment. Bawd of the Rings? A story? What kind of one? you mean a madam who is a little goblin with pointy ears? I need a basic plot and then I'll be ready to roll with this.
Lord of the Rings....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Is it over yet? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
'Bored of the rings' by the harvard lampoon is a funny book if you get the chance.
Legolamb and Tom Benzodrine, you get the picture, it is very sixties. I agree about Farmer Giles of Ham and the Hobbit they ARE fun, especially if you've got the house to yourself and you've just smoked a fatty boom batty.
I have not read the book yet...did attempt reading it several times but the language is just comatose-inducing so i gave up

But i am totally totally addicted to the movie....watched the extended eds at least 5 times over. Just love the battle scenes and the handsome lads with their long, hard, gleaming swords ;P
Lady Daphne: Because of his Scotch accent?

Mu Tai: The night time pen is a loose nib. You are wise to alert us to its danger.

Mosha: There's no shame in preferring the film. There are some good-looking elves in it.

Emma: Yes, a gollum-like madam who can make ugly men invisible to get them a discount with her girls. But then she gets greedy, and starts advertising mysterious invisible gigolos to middle-aged ladies...

Jahooni: You can get to the end if you're on vacation and it rains continuously for a week or two. All things must pass.

Dr Maroon: Farmer Giles wouldn't approve of people reading him on drugs - a few pints of beer and Tailbiter were enough for him.

Sabrina: The Elves are pin-ups alright, but would you go on a date with Frodo? A lot of girls think he's cute.
The hobbit kicks ass on lord of the rings, but Charlie Pride rules all.

Factual my dear man.
I think JRR aimed very high and actually pulled it off. It's not so easy to assemble an entire world, complete with a vivid and detailed history, complex religious systems, and intricate social and racial dynamics... and have all of that unfold via a poetic telling of a classic story of Good vs Evil.

Although I do appreciate a woman who can crack a walnut with her butt cheeks. On that, we are in agreement.
Much of LOTR was written in the dark days of WW2 and you can see a number of similarities between Mordor, a totalitarian state ruled by a loony despot, and Hitler's Germany (or Stalin's Russia, come to that).

Tolkien's Shire was also an idealised view of rural england, untouched by progress and innocent of the evils of war.

This is reinforced by the fact that the magical 'ring' represents science and technology - and the story climaxes with the ring being destroyed so the world can go back to its rural life.

If Tolkien were around today he'd probably be driving a 2cv and wearing a flat cap.
*writes in very small letters* I liked the book and the films, particularly Aragorn.
btw, if you dig back a couple of posts, I gave you a little award, oh, reflective gorilla.
I imitated Gollum's saying, "the precious," too. Sorry.
But it couldn't be helped.
And why do so many people think that yawnsome yarn is one of the greatest stories ever told?

Because it's the only work of fiction published in the last two centuries that successfully recaptured the scope and feel of the ancient epic sagas: the Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, The Iliad and The Odyssey, the legends of Arthur King of the Britons.

Some people appreciate & admire that. Some people don't. De gustibus non est disputandum.

(By the by, if you read and liked "Farmer Giles of Ham," you might also like another novella Tolkien wrote called "Smith of Wootton Major.")
My theory has always been that Tolkien made the text difficult to get through as a metaphor for the journey itself. This is possibly overthunk, however. I'll have to try some Ham.
Ian: Is he related to Gay Pride?

Captain Smack: It surely took him took a lot of work. He should have given the elf queen the ability to crack nuts with her butt cheeks.

Asym42: That's another reason why epic good v evil stories don't work anymore. The World at War showed a real fight against evil and there was very little poetry in it.

Mrs Cake: Don't be embarrassed! These elvish kings have a way with the ladies!

Liv: Really? I'll strive to be worthy of it.

Trish: No need to apologise, I bet you sounded cute!

Wolfwalker: Well I explained why comparisons with the Illiad and the Odyssey don't work for me. A myth of antiquity cannot be manufactured. But thanks for recommending Smith of Wootton Major.

Ari: You could be right. A reviewer of The Silmarillion said it was unreadable.
Hello GB,
so sorry but I seem to be one of the few who cannot get into my blogger site & this for 2 days. Because I didn't want to go off blogging again, I returned to Behind the Curtain. Sorry for the runaround. I mean, just in case you felt like a read. Rather presumptious of me, I must admit. :-)
The Silmarillion is definitely only for the dedicated Tolkien-fan. I usually describe it as "the Bible of Middle-earth." Great battles, great heroes, great villains, great tragedies, all written in a very antique style that isn't very coherent and doesn't flow especially well. It's not a book you read for fun; it's a book you read for information.

On second thought, given your reaction to LOTR, maybe you wouldn't like "Smith of Wootton Major." "Farmer Giles" is Tolkien's form of a 'low' fairy-tale, all fun and games and light buffoonery. "Smith of Wootton Major" is a 'higher' sort of fairy-tale, a bit more serious and sobering.

[shrug] The only way to find out is to try it, I suppose. I liked them both, though for different reasons.
Mr Bananas , re the Dune series of novels , Well the Beasts over inflated concept of this body of work has certainly been punctured , and is currently making farty noises as it deflates!.
Altho Giant worms , desserts and savings ones piss did indeed take up large amounts of the story.
I thought the larger concepts were religion and politics as a means of manipulating the masses coming into direct conflict with the species drive to evolve and survive.
Was I reading too much into it do you think ????
good lord, i couldn't agree more about this.
I have never seen the joy in Lord of the Rings myself - except that David Wenham is in it. And what could be better than that?
I have nothing stellar to add but just wanted to say that I'm glad you said this. I have never understood the fuss around Lord of the Rings, tried to read it when I was a teen and then decided to use it to stand on and reach the top cupboard.
It's supposed to be boring. He was trying to write a mythology. Mythologies contain endless boring bits. I read Gilgamesh, it's full of lists of funeral gifts for his best friend, and it hasn't even all been found yet.

P.S. Will people please stop blowing things up in Iraq. Several of the sections of Gilgamesh have been found on clay tablets subsequently used as housebricks. One carelessly placed bomb and we'll never find out which visiting dignitary gave the gilded cat statue.
Suzan: Thanks for letting me know, Suzy.

Wolfwalker: It seems that J.R.R. wrote in a variety of different styles.

Beast: Weren't the religion and politics all a bit medieval and dynastic? The sand-worms and the piss-saving were the most profound ideas, if you ask me.

Jen: Really? Feel free to quote it!

Rosanna: A young Julie Andrews would have made a good elf princess.

Ms Robinson: I'm glad you're glad! Pressing flowers is another popular application.

Aunty: I'll do my best to get your message to Iraq, but I think they might have other things on their mind at the moment.
Were it not for Liv Tyler, I might not have thought too much of the movies either!

It would tricky working out the rules of engagement if we went to war in the Middle Earth these days. Mind you I guess it would be a much shorter book if we dropped a JDAM on Mordor so maybe there is mileage in the concept.
Hello... I'm on my 25th reading of it, have studied it at GSCE, A-Level, Step paper, BA and MA. I speak anglo-saxon badly and Old Norse also badly, but better than most. LOTR is AMAZING! Rock on!

I can quote most of the Hobbit too, have LOTR Risk and all the figurines...

oh my gosh. I am in fact a 14-year old computer geek. HELP!
Gorilla mun, you've a point about us Welsh getting jiggy with elves. Many people in Ceredigion regard The Silmarillion as their own Karma Sutra, and to the Owen family of Bontddu it's not far off a family tree. It's the objectifying of elves and elvish types for the cheap gratification of others than I, er, object to.
I dunno, I quite like pointy ears. I'd objectify Legolas any day of the week, except tuesdays.
Mermaid, honey. I only wrote this post because I noticed LOTR was your favourite book on your profile. I love you that much. I'm confused about these elves. If they're cute and pointy-eared, why are they so f**king tall? Doesn't seem right.
Frodo?!! No no no! His sword was way too short...heh heh
You didn't like Lord of the Rings? Well, Roverandom is another book of his, as charming as the Hobbit, and heaps better than Farmer Giles.
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