Tom Bombadil, The Prancing Pony and Why I Hate Hippies
(Happy Post Turkey Day everyone! Since I have to get my drivers license renewed and as a result will be looking up appointments at the DMV, here is a classic column from February 2009)
Okay, I’m going to be literary today and talk about the Lord of the Rings books. First, I am going to be shocking. I’ve never read them all. Thank the GODS for the movies or I never would have tackled them at all.
Allow me to explain. When I was in Senior Elementary, I tried to read these books since they were so popular with the now pseudo waning hippie population. I could read The Hobbit. No problem. Bilbo Baggins, Gollum, his precious, got it. It wasn’t the best thing ever in my opinion but I could read it. Next I tried Dune. I couldn’t get through it and gave up. Then I tried reading the Fellowship of the Rings and gave up. It was a difficult read and I read everything I could. Steinbeck, Shakespeare, I use to get reprimanded non-stop by teachers for “reading too much”. They will say I was reading under my desk instead of working on the assignment but (a) the assignment was stupid and boring and (b) I finished it ½ hour ago and (c) if I have to listen to Bobby Bob read aloud soooooooooooooo slooooooooowwwww for another minute I am going to kill myself.
So the years go on. I am older now and the Dune movie comes out, I see it and give Dune another shot. I am hooked. I think “You know, this would make a great movie.” Dune is the most amazing thing I have ever read. It is my bible. I have three copies of the original that are lined, highlighted and dog eared. I use bits in rituals. I use quotes in secular and religious writing. I could go on but that’s not what this blog is about. I use this as an example of a more difficult writing style that I grew into so after the Peter Jackson movies, I figured I would give the trilogy another go.
I bought a huge compilation volume of LOTR with everything in it and started on the Hobbit again. As before, no problem. I get to Fellowship and everything was fine until…. Tom Bombadil. Was Tolkien stoned? What is with the happy dancing hippies and the pages and pages of inane poetry and the boring, soul sucking drag on the story?! I want the action! I want to know what the Fellowship is doing and are the Riders going to catch them or how gay exactly ARE the Hobbits and he is dragging the story down with this?! I decide the solution is just to “skim” so when this comes up, I just skip over it until the story gets going again. I guess Tolkien didn’t have an editor or the editor was on mushrooms or something. However I did get through Fellowship. Then it was on to the Two Towers and I just died. Died in a bored pool of ennui just having my soul sucked out by flash backs and forwards and disconnected plot lines and slogging pages of exposition as vast as the Plains of Desolation. It almost made me wish I was back in the Prancing Pony with Tom Bombadil and his hippie song and dance show. Almost. I gave up, threw in the towel, tossed it in the Goodwill bin and picked up a good Steve Berry novel (who is amazing BTW) and tried to get the taste out of my mouth.
Now die hard Tolkien fans will tell me that Two Towers is flawed but just to suck it up and Return of the King is sooooo much better. You know, I think with an editor that was unimpaired by natural Hobbit hallucinogens, those three books have enough material for two. Yup, two books and those would be great books. I know, I know – Tolkien is a God, these books are classics, I’m a commie, I know but even Gods need a good editor once in awhile. As a God you may think you are infallible until your sun goes supernova while your back was turned and all you get an opportunity to say is “O Sh…”