The Straight Dope Message Board has had an outbreak of sheer brilliance. The thread started when someone idly asked how Lord of the Rings would have turned out if it had been written by Ernest Hemingway:
It was very late and everyone had left the hall except an old man who sat in the shadows the leaves of the old Mallorn made against the moonlight. The two elves inside the hall knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he usually was quiet and kept to himself they knew that if he became too drunk he would start setting things on fire, so they kept watch on him.From there they took off running, seven pages’ worth at last count; and some of them are beauts. For instance:
“He’s drunk,” one elf said.
“What do you care?”
“He’s muttering about the secret fire.”
“Leave him alone. He used to carry a ring.”
“He’ll stay all night. He should never have been rebodied.”
Persons attempting to resolve the question of Balrog wings by means of this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to define the nature of Tom Bombadil will be banished; persons attempting to find allegory in it will be shot.
BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR,
Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance.
In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Quenya Elvish dialect; the extremest form of the Rhovanion dialect; the ordinary Sindarin dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.
I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.
“QX, Sam!” Cried Frodo. “That zwilnik Gollum had just enough jets to cut me free from that blasted ring!”and:
Meanwhile Sam’s steely gaze followed the form of Gollum into the cracks of doom. The kinetic energy of its wretched body’s translation into one with the magma became heat. Heat added to heat. It piled up ragingly, frantically, equilibrating, then turning hotter. Hotter! HOTTER! “By Ulmo’s carballoy bowels, ringman Frodo! We gotta get to clear ether!”
“Udun’s jingling bells, Sam! It’s covered. I phialed a message to Galadriel to alert our boys in Aeries we’d be needing them! They’ll be here in 3.3 minutes, Eriador standard time.”
Of the great War of the Ring, and the tastand:
Of that Forbidden power, the long and
Arduous trek, thru’ fiery, blasted plains
With faithful Hobbits and treacherous beasts
To Chaos’ edge, and there to cast the One
To endless fire and eternal death:
Sing, Heav’nly Muse…
“The Halflings, cap’n, they will na take the strain”and:
“Strider, we’ve got to get out of this snow. Legolas, did you get a reading on that creature?”
“Fascinating, Captain. It appears to be an unknown creature that lurks in the pool waiting for passing strangers. Ecologically implausible, captain.”
“Do you know what it is?”
“I believe I said it was unknown, Dr Gimli. Logically, if I knew what it was, then it wouldn’t be unknown.”
“Cap’n, we’re in some sort of temporal warp, stretching and deforming the plot. The snow should take place a day before our encounter with this beastie.”
“Captain, what are we going to do?”
“Boromir, put on that red armour.”
Frodo jacked in.and:
He felt huge, invincible, unstoppable. Some small part of him knew that was the hits of pipe-weed talking, skewing his sense of self, making his nerves scream like they were being raked over rusted chrome. Knew, and didn’t care.
Over his shoulder he could feel Sam hovering, a hollow nonentity. It was eerie knowing he was back there, like having an itch in a limb long amputated. All around him the middle-matrix arced off into an impossible blue infinity, gridlines benchmarking the empty nonspace.
“There it is,” came Sam’s voice. “That’s the ice. Good luck breakin’ in there, man, that was made by a military AI. Name of ephelduath. You ain’t seen nuthin’ like it. They say it’s two-way ice. Not only will it fry your brainpan tryin’ to get in, nuthin’ inside can work its way out. Leastaways, not without sarumancer’s say-so.”
Sam: Come on, let’s leave this place.and:
Merry: We can’t.
Sam: Why not?
Merry: We’re waiting for Frodo.
Sam: Ah! (Pause) You’re sure it was here?
Sam: That we were to wait.
Merry: He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Are there any others?
Sam: No, they were all torn down by Saruman. What is it?
Merry: I don’t know. An Ent.
Sam: I don’t see any leaves.
Merry: It must be dead.
Captain “Lucky Jack” Aragorn paced anxiously on the foredeck of the Ungainly. He paused to put the glass to his eye, and surveyed his modest fleet. All indicated from their pennants a readiness to make way: the trim little bark Unlikely, and abaft of her, the xebec Unfathomable, formerly the Lugburz before it was taken from the orcs in the Bay of Belfalas. A nice bit of prize taken that day, he thought enviously. Still, he counted himself fortunate to have cadged this command from the admiralty, given the low regard in which Adm. Celeborn held him.and:
“If we thought alike of the Dark Lord,” replied Frodo, “your representation of all this might make me quite eary. But I know the foundation is unjust. Sauron is incapable of willfully destroying the world; and all I can hope in this case is that he has been misrepresented.”and:
“That is right. You could not have started a more happy idea, since you will not take comfort in mine. Believe him to be misreprented, that is is all an error and will soon be able to be hushed up, by all means. You have now done your duty to him, and must fret no longer,” replied Gandalf. “And doing your duty by your friend, will you not throw the ring into Mount Doom and best suit your own happiness? If, upon mature deliberation, you find the misery of disobliging the Dark Lord is more than equivelent to the happiness of saving the world, I advise you by all means to stay home and await the Ring Wraiths.”
“But, my dear Gandalph, how can you talk so?” said Frodo, faintly smiling. “You must know that though I should be exceedingly grieved at his disapprobation, I could not hesitate to throw in the ring.”
“I did not think you would; and that being the case, I cannot consider your situation with much compassion,” said Gandalf.
ELROND: The ring can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor.and:
BOROMIR: We can’t use it ourselves?
GANDALF: No, the power of the ring corrupts all.
BOROMIR: Yes, but I thought maybe we could use it ourselves… you know, to defeat Sauron.
GANDALF: We can’t use the ring ourselves.
BOROMIR: So you’re saying we can’t use it ourselves.
GANDALF: No, we can’t use it ourselves.
BOROMIR: Because it would be really cool if we could use it ourselves.
BOROMIR: I know, we can’t use it ourselves, but if we COULD….
GANDALF: Which we can’t….
BOROMIR: But if we COULD… it would be neat.
GANDALF: But we can’t.
BOROMIR: I’m just saying that I think we should use it ourselves… if you say we can’t, fine.
GANDALF: We can’t.
Is this the real life?
Is this High Fantasy?
Caught in a land war.
No escaping my destiny.
Open your eyes, look up to the sky and see…
I’m just a Hobbit, I need no sympathy.
These Rings are easy come, easy go, Little high, little low.
Anywhere these Rings go doesn’t really matter to me, to me…
Stately, plump Sam Gamgee descended from the rock lookout over Mordor to eat a morsel of stewrabbit and Guinness whilst the Gollumsmeagolstinker twisted and wept and said twelve Hail Marys. “Jaysus, Mary and Saint Christopher,” intoned Frodo from-the-end-of-a-bag, “and will you look at the size of my ringsteel, ringstone, steelstone but it’s dragging my conscience down into the seventh circle like old Dante and the bejaysus sinners, shitting and pissing into old Sam’s pots and pans. And, yes, I remember Gandalf and I said would he take the bloody thing away, and he said he’d be dammed to Hell before he could, yes and him drinking a cup of tea, yes, and he asked would I, my dear hobbit, would I, yes, in my own little bog-hole in the ground, would I for the love of God, yes, take the fecking thing, all the way, away from the Shire, away from the Guinness, yes, and me looking up at into his eyes, all the way to Mordor, yes, to throw it in the fire, and I said yes, I said yes, I will yes.and, though the spelling’s far too orthodox:
The foot steps ambled through the trackless and uninhabited barin desert parched beneath the draconian sun over shadowed by a wafted clouds. The boot-imprimatured marks of passage, pressed deep by the encumbrance of their thus-shod wearers, and smothered under the rain washed dust, radianced dully against the smatter-dusted earth. Rays of luminous incandescence pounced headlong from the phlogistic orb coursing upward in the arcade of the heavens on the obliterated foots path wending through this sector of the great desert of the Trombunist Empire.and:
A compassing sword of coruscated steel rammed sparks from the grim mammoth barbarous warrior’s metal ribbed shield he wielded.
“I’ll conduct you to reunion with your forebears in the Hadean haunts of hell,” whooped the second Orc.
“Not if I see you first,” gritted the man called Stridr, the Crumhornian.
Gandalf: Is all our Fellowship here?and:
Bottomir: You were best to call them generally, man by man, according Elrond’s orders.
Gandalf: Here is the scroll of every man’s name which is thought fit, through all Middle Earth, to go on our quest to destroy the One Ring in Mordor.
Bottomir: First, Good Gandalf, say what the quest treats on, then read the names of the travelers, and so grow to a point.
Gandalf: Marry, our quest is The Most Lamentable Wanderings and Cruel Quest of Frodomus and Gamgee. Now, answer as I call you. Bottomir of Gondor!
Bottomir: Ready! Name what part I am for and proceed.
Gandalf: You, Bottomir, are set down as yourself, a warrior who goes a little loopy over the one ring and dies most gallant for honor.
Bottomir: That will ask some tears97
Gandalf: Samwise, the gardener?
Sam: Here, Mr. Gandalf.
Gandalf: Sam, you must take Gamgee on you.
Sam: What is Gamgee, a wandering knight?
Gandalf: It is the hobbit that Frodomus must love in a strictly non-homosexual way.
Sam: Nay, faith! Let me not play a hobbit! I just shaved my feet!
Bottomir: Let me be Gamgee too! I’ll take a Rogaine footbath and speak in a monstrous little and strictly non-homosexual voice. “Gamgee Gamgee!” “Ah, Frodomus, my master dear! Thy Gamgee dear and gardener dear!”
Gandalf: No97you must be Bottomir85 And Pippin, the hobbit, you the Moron’s part.
“Choose life. Choose a side. Choose a quest. Choose a fellowship. Choose a fucking big sword. Choose elven cloaks, horses, mallorns, and rings of power…choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are and why you’ve got to destroy the fucking thing. Choose sitting by a fire listening to mind-numbing, spirit-crushing ballads, stuffing fucking lembas into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable volcano, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats who left home with you. Choose a future. Choose life…But why would I want to do a thing like that?”and:
Madame Galadriel, famous Elf Queen,and:
Had a forbidding realm, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Middle-Earth,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Wizard,
(Those are the grey robes that were his garb. Look!)
Here is Eowyn, the Lady of the Horses,
The lady of battle.
Here is the man with many colors, and here the Staff,
And here is the one-eyed Sauron, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he searches for in your pack,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Uruk-Hai. Fear death by Nazgul.
Any insinuation that Menard dedicated his life to the writing of a contemporary Lord of the Rings is a calumny of his illustrious memory. He did not want to compose another Lord of the Rings - which is easy - but the Lord of the Rings itself. Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide-word for word and line for line-with those of J.R.R. Tolkien.and, best of all, “The Khazad-Dum Bridge Disaster”:
Beautiful Stony Bridge of the Dwarven mines!This post is fondly dedicated to Scraps DeSelby, because he’ll know them all without peeking.
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That two lives have been taken away
On the last (Third Age) day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.