How Much David Lee Beowulf is Enough?
Nineteen Reasons Why… Enough is Enough!
Dedicated to Al Jaffee
David Lee Beowülf
Reason No. 19: Enough is enough concerning The Lord of the Rings.
My introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnum opus came in sixth grade (1975) as two of my fellow students wrote book reports on The Hobbit. One of them, the fifth of five children, having the benefit of an older brother who “turned on,” was later presented with the 1973-era three-book Lord of the Rings set, known from then on simply as “The Trilogy.” I have a textbook titled “The Calculus“, though everyone I’ve ever known, including myself, calls it what it is: a calculus textbook. Anyway, succumbing to peer pressure, I too procured my paperback set of “The Trilogy,” and two years later, I think I might have finished it. Frankly, I had a hard time with the books back then, though the Ralph Bakshi movie kind of spurred me on to finish them; the book report I did on The Two Towers caused me supreme embarrassment (though my Bored of the Rings presentation got me lots o’ laughs and the cocked eyebrow of my English teacher, Mrs. Gross), so much so that I lost interest altogether.
Many years later, probably 1984, one of my college mentors (a 60-year-old professional scientist) told me that the right way to read The Lord of the Rings was to start with The Silmarillion, then The Hobbit, then read “The Trilogy.” He assured me I’d get more out of it and — here’s why the dude was a mentor — that I would really enjoy the story. A real mentor will say things like that, as opposed to tying it in with the Reagan Administration or something like that. So finally, almost a year after Peter Jackson’s first film came out, I did just that.
As an adult who is a few months away from forty and who has, over the years, mastered polluting his mind with fantasy stories of all walks, polishing off the LOTR hex-ology (that would be The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, LOTR, and The Book of Lost Tales, Volume I) was relatively effortless. The Silmarillion is a difficult read — if you try to read it quickly. I read it (I own the first edition hardcover, given to me in 1983, cool, eh? I didn’t just jump on the Tolkien bandwagon, see? I jumped off!) over two months of morning bathroom visits, and while I may or may not be the richer for that, I certainly know what’s what and why’s why pertaining to LOTR.
Reading The Hobbit (I have the gift-box hard cover edition my mom bought in 1966 — I am so cool!) took a week and was a lot of fun. My original paperbacks of LOTR somehow were missing from my paperback collection, so I picked ’em up from the local used book store for three dollars apiece (why buy new ones at eight dollars each? $24 for paperbacks that haven’t been out of print for what, fifty years?). “The Trilogy” took a month and a half. The Book of Lost Tales (hardback, gift from mom back in the 1980s — ditto!) … OK, I didn’t read that all the way through. The introductory pages were enough, where Christopher Tolkien responds to readers’ complaints that The Silmarillion reads like the King James Bible meets Beowulf. It does, too, I said to myself, and put it down.
So now that I’ve finished the books, it’s time to see the movies and get on with my life. Maybe. I prepared myself for filmed versions by first reviewing earlier filmed versions. Namely, the Rankin-Bass productions of The Hobbit and Return of the King and, naturally, the Ralph Bakshi production of The Lord of the Rings. I’d seen these before, but not in the context of a) being a well-read adult and b) not right after reading the whole shebang. The Rankin-Bass animated productions are pretty true to the stories and their characterizations are very good. Voice-casting was excellent; John Huston as Gandalf, ’nuff said. The Bakshi film, while visually insane (a plus), sucks on voice-casting (John Hurt as Strider/Aragorn?) and makes the Elves too gay, and is so bad it’s definitely in the top twenty worst animated films ever made. (I will concede that Galadriel is a biscuit, though, and is worthy of Disney-chick comparisons.)
To their credit, both The Lord of the Rings and The Return of the King keep the latent (it’s not so latent at all in the Bakshi film) homosexuality that’s clear in the books: Frodo and Sam are more than friends. And the various armies were mostly modeled on the Theban Bands, I am sure. (Stomp Tokyo says “…that the [Bakshi movie] essentially depicts a bunch of men fighting over some jewelry, it’s easy to see why The Lord of the Rings held the coveted title of “gayest animated film ever” from 1978 to 2000, when The Road to El Dorado finally dethroned it.”)
Also to their credit, both films were obviously (to me at least) targeted at audiences that knew the stories and knew them well. Otherwise explaining things would’ve taken about two month’s worth of toilet reading.
So now I’m ready for the Jackson films — wait, there’s a serialized BBC radio production available on CD! Eh, screw that. Spa fon! Is there no end to this madness?! My review will be short! Mainly because the build-up is the meat of this article… You know what, I’m not better off for spending all that time reading the LOTR and its appurtenances. I wasted a lot of time on BS. The history of the Middle Earth is a post-doctoral historiographical linguistics monograph rather than a story. While it wasn’t “pointless” to read them, it is pointless to worship these books and their stories. Does knowing the history of the Middle Earth — something that did not exist until 1917, and a subject with zero pertinence to anything practical except maybe making movies and the subsequent millions of dollars — add value to my life? To anyone’s life? We’re talking about a world that’s had a continuous government and language for several thousand years and yet hasn’t gotten its act together and invented science — the elves seem to be partially competent architects, while the dwarves get to be the engineers — no one else seems to be truly proficient at making weapons other than rings, swords, bows and the occasional catapult. Maybe someone would’ve done something with electricity? Burning torches are downright stupid in cramped libraries, people. Judging from the architecture, safety was never a concern; amazing balance them Middle-Earthers have… This kind of thing nags at me, never mind the fact that nobody has sex urges in Middle Earth nor do they have bodily functions other than bleeding, hunger and death — maybe. Only in The Hobbit is it uncovered that some serious commercial activity takes place in Middle Earth. Everyone else is this or that degree of hunter-gatherer, dirt farmer, professional outlaw mercenary, or magician. Who really has the brains in these stories? Aragorn? Gandalf? Saruman? None of them; the only characters (on paper) with any sense are the Ents who, as we learn in The Two Towers, are quite knowledgeable in water resource engineering.
Now the movies. “The Trilogy [Filmed]” is the greatest cinematic achievement of the 21st Century. I say this not because it’s the greatest picture ever (of the 21st century, it is, but it isn’t as good as _____), but because those involved in its production, especially the players, cared about the original works (dude, watch the interviews on the extended DVD). So, on a scale of one to four it gets a ten; however, I deduct one because computer animation, no matter how “good,” looks ridiculously fake to me; cartoons are more realistic. I deduct another point because I wasn’t attracted to Galadriel; I guess you need to be a gay hobbit or dwarf or elf to see it. And I take away two because someone seems to have ignored that heavy metal should’ve been used for the score, most notably, the works of: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush, Dio, Blind Guardian, Morgoth, and Amon Amarth, et al, I am sure. (How can Gimli not be a fan of Manowar, even?). Thusly, “The Trilogy [Filmed]” gets six stars out of a possible four.
So that’s it, enough with LOTR, I don’t give a rat’s ass if I see or hear anything about hobbits or elves for the rest of my life. (But I am going to see The Return of the King about a year from now — and again on the subsequent extended DVD, as with The Two Towers, nyah!)
Reason No. 18: Enough is enough with “the holiday season.”
I’m writing this on the 22nd of December 2002 (but finishing it on 1 January 2003), knowing it’s for January publication, so “merry new year”… Christmas is the most offensive “holiday” around. I used to think otherwise, but my eyes have been opened. In the last several years, “the holiday season” has become even more of an orgy of spending and gluttonous consumption than ever before. I looked long and hard at Christmas and like I said, my eyes were opened. The Christmas spirit is a false spirit. If it’s a spirit, it’s a powerful drink, like grain alcohol. And like bad alcohol, it blinds people.
First of all, it’s a co-opted pagan feast. Secondly, it’s not mentioned in the Bible anywhere. Well, OK, in Jeremiah it’s mentioned and in the negative. Hmmm, Jeremiah’s an Old Testament text, strange.
Secondly, isn’t it “National Be Nice to People Day” or something like that? Yeah, right, try Christmas, er, “holiday” shopping with other humans. Amazing how people can be TOTAL DICKS to each other this time of year, isn’t it? And then what’s it all about: lying to kids about “Santa” — man, what to scar a kid for life: make fun of them for still believing in Santa Claus. What? Mommy and Daddy lied to me? And what if you really haven’t been that good, how come you still get stuff? Odd. And what if you don’t get what you want? This whole holiday is a lie! It’s about lying and spending money on lies, lies, lies. Tthe stupid panic about last-minute gift shopping is about as close to mass hysteria, or mass retardation, pick whichever, that American society (and Canadian and British and others, though I think “the holiday season” as we know it is largely a modern Anglo-related phenomenon) gets. Oh, boy, gotta get something for 25 December, gotta get it fast! Let me get this straight: in a culture that worships “doing your own thing,” isn’t it odd that the pressure to be part of this is so great? So I just say “no” to “the holiday season.” I turn my back on this lie! Call me the Grinch, but I’ll tell you this: Christmas, er, “the holiday season” is a miserable invention of dishonest people. Kwanzaa may be a recent invention, but it’s not a lie tied into the feast of Saturn. And Chanukkah may have been elevated above a REAL Jewish holiday like Yom Kippur just to make the Jewish kids at school not feel left out, but at least it has a positive basis in the Bible, albeit the Apocrypha.
I just heard the Kinks’ “Father Christmas.” There’s a line that says: “[Father Christmas, i.e., Santa Claus, after giving the protagonist a lot of money]…But give my daddy a job ’cause he needs one/ He’s got lots of mouths to feed/ And if you’ve got one, I’ll have a machine gun/ So I can scare all the kids on the street…” I can relate and like the second part (a machine gun in a Christmas stocking would be great!), but the first part… OK, in this world, at this current time in history, there are so many tremendously wealthy human beings that there’s no need for this kind of talk. Since the U.S. Government can’t legally redistribute the wealth on as large a scale as a “Santa Claus” would, how come rich damn celebrities and CEOs (there are a lot of CEOs who vote for Democrats, too) and trust-fund Nembutal-suppository-users don’t just give thousand dollar bills to everyone on a monthly basis? Shoot, have you seen the houses owned by these people? Unless they’re keeping good secrets, none of these folks have thirty children. I mean, come on, people, enough with rich people chastising not-rich-but-working-people (like myself) about being charitable during “the holidays.” And about jobs, just ask Dick Taylor how wise a decision it was to quit his first band so he could get a “real job.” The Davies brothers ought to be singing that Santa should be giving all the kids’ dads guitars so they can get in bands and not have to worry about work! Money is freedom! Freedom from work!!! Bah humbug!
Reason No. 17: Enough about the environment
First of all, I don’t litter. I grew up with people who were conditioned not to litter. I went to public schools all my life and, well, we were taught not to litter. So last week I called this dumb bitch with her brat in a stroller a “litterbug” after she tossed a snot rag on the street. What? Did I mortally offend her? She should’ve been executed right then and there and her kid sterilized so litterers could be taken out of the gene pool! And you know what else: I don’t own a car! I walk or use public transportation. And you know what else: I’m paranoid about my trash being searched for recyclable so I’m anally retentive about throwing out the trash. Is that good? Yeah, fine! But when I put my fist through the face of someone who doesn’t follow these rules, I am not the asshole, do you hear me?! The asshole is the litterbug. The asshole drives the SUV, the asshole throws things away! The asshole might be YOU! Yeah, and the next hippie, liberal jackoff I see putting up a poster for his band or handing out flyers for next week’s “punk” show is going to get his ass kicked: those flyers mean dead trees, and they mean litter and even worse, the tape you’re putting them up with is made from oil, dickhead.
Reason No. 16: Enough with the spam, people.
Enough with bestiality spam. At present, 99% of my daily e-mail at home is spam. Half of it seems to be for bestiality web sites. Let me get this straight: someone wants me to pay money to watch a girl have sex with a dog. Like the dog that idiot bitch brought into the store from No. 13 below! Who is that sick? And you want to know something else: these chicks, the ones who get it on with horses, right? Well they would rather accept a meager fee for having themselves filmed engaging in sex with a mule — and to have that film spread around the entire planet — than have sex in private with YOU! So basically, if the choice is between a night out with YOU or being filmed getting banged by an Irish Wolfhound, guess what? Yeah, you’re even more of a loser than you thought. Life is good. Death to Bestiality Pornograspammers! Frankly, I hope congress passes a Federal law against spam. It’s not about free speech, it’s about annoying me.
Reason No. 15: Enough is enough about cops being heroes.
First of all, cops get paid more than teachers. And the educational requirements for being a cop — that is, the person who is given a uniform, a car and a loaded gun and the authority to point it at your head, doesn’t include completion of high school. I’m so glad the streets are protected by people who probably can’t read. No wonder the schools are so dangerous… They breed cops! Cops are a menace, albeit a necessary one, but come on, people: until society reaches a point where criminals are executed swiftly, we are going to put up with near-retarded people patrolling our streets, keeping the world safe for coffee and donut shops. And if you’re a cop or you have a family member who is a cop and I’ve offended you, I don’t care. You deserve it: take a good look at that cop. What do you see? That’s the bully who “shaped up,” that’s the guy who couldn’t hack college and “fell back” on the Police Academy; that’s the guy who isn’t able to catch the dude who robbed your house, but, man, can he give out tickets or what? And let me say this: who’s smarter, your local public elementary school teacher or the cop on the beat?
Reason No. 14: Enough is enough about “the children.”
What the heck is wrong with parents these days? Most parents of children under fifteen are younger than I. That means you were exposed, as a kid, to things on TV that I would’ve only seen in the movies. You’d better remember that because “what’s wrong with the kids these days” is your own damn fault. You’re up in arms because twelve-year-old girls are wearing them low-cut midriff jeans? What nerve! How did you dress during the 1980’s? And remember: your kids go to your schools, they go to your churches, they go to your institutional learning facilities… So how can you say they’re crazy? The enemy is YOU, you ritalin-pushing USELESS IDIOT SOCIETAL BURDENS.
Reason No. 13: Enough is enough about pets.
Pets are a pain in the ass. And another thing, when did it become acceptable to bring dogs into business establishments? Dogs are, by their very nature, a pain in the ass. They need to be walked and take dumps anywhere.! So now it’s OK to bring your noise making poop factory into the drugstore? No! This is not OK behavior! You’re not supposed to bring a dog into a store! Frikkin’ people. You ought to be slapped silly and have the dog taken away.
Reason No. 12: Enough with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and fast food.
Smoking, drinking and doing drugs make someone feel good. What’s the harm in that? Smokers LIKE to smoke, so let ’em. There are well-known risks and if you’re willing to take them, smoking is totally legal. So is drinking. Drugs are another matter, but only in the legal sense. Morally, it is a question of individual choice. Morally, the question is also if I should pay for someone else’s weakness. I say I shouldn’t and frankly if all the junkies, alcoholics and smokers were to die horribly in their own excrement it’s their own damn fault! I didn’t put that needle in their arm! I didn’t put that cigarette in their mouth! All my life I’ve been bombarded by anti-smoking and anti-drug messages up the wazoo and I listened! Those who didn’t heed the myriad warnings deserve the hell of filth they will get!
And on that note, anyone who thinks there is the tiniest iota of credence in the suits against McDonalds related to obesity ought to tie a rock around their necks and jump in the deepest lake you can find. You are pathetic. First of all, I have eaten at McDonalds a lot of my life and my waistline measurement hasn’t changed since 1981 (when I went from a 34 to a 36). Hey, I don’t know what to say, dude. Maybe these losers should sue God for giving you the wrong parents. Or try walking. Or swimming. Or doing push-ups. Or not eating as much. But, squa tron, man, it’s not the fault of McDonalds! For the sake of future generations who will look back at our pathetic lot and laugh, give it up.
Whew. Now would be a good time to go to the bathroom, perform some carpal tunnel exercises, maybe even say hello to the wife and kids, before proceeding to Part II.