The Parodies of Whistler

Green Eggs and Lembas
The Filmarillion
The Filmarillion, Concluded
My Interview with PJ
Tolkien the Country Music Fan
Gilbert and Sullivan do Tolkein
My Interview with The One
My Interview with Tiger Woods

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GREEN EGGS AND LEMBAS – by WHISTLER
Excerpt from a screenplay for THE LORD OF THE RINGS by Dr. Seuss

(Scene: Bag End, after Bilbo’s party)

GANDALF: “That Samwise-Sam! That Samwise-Sam!

I do not like that Samwise-Sam!

FRODO: Would you like some bread and jam?

GANDALF: I do not want your bread and jam.

I’m busy being mad at Sam.

He likes to sneak. He likes to spy.

I’ll grind him up for hobbit pie!

FRODO: Oh, do not grind him up for pie!

He is a pretty handy guy.

He mows my grass. He paints my gate.

He is my friend. We both are straight.

GANDALF: Well, then, I will not grind up Sam!

Bring me bread, and bring me jam!

We’ll talk about another thing.

Tell me, do you have the ring?

FRODO: I have the ring. I have it here.

But, mercy me! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!

I fear the ring is very bad,

The golden ring that Bilbo had!

Tell me, will you take the ring?

GANDALF: I will not take that evil thing!

FRODO: Would you, could you, by the fire?

Would you, could you, in the Shire?

GANDALF: I would not, could not, by the fire.

I would not, could not, in the Shire.

FRODO: Would you, could you, in a tree?

Would you, on the road to Bree?

Would you, with an orc or troll?

Would you, in a hobbit-hole?

GANDALF: I would not, could not, in a tree.

I would not, on the road to Bree.

I would not, with an orc or troll.

I would not, in a hobbit-hole.

I will not take it here or there,

I will not take it anywhere!

For it is bad. It’s as you say.

You’ll have to take that ring away

And throw it in the Cracks of Doom!

FRODO: I’ll need a friend. But who, or whom?

(Gandalf produces Sam, who has been spying)

SAM: Oh, Master! Master! Sam is here!

He’ll wash me down with beer, I fear!

I do not wish to be a pie!

GANDALF: I will not eat you, little spy!

But I will send you far away.

You both will go away today.

You’ll go to Bree. A man is there.

The man looks foul. The man feels fair.

He’ll lead you both, if all goes well,

To meet the elves in Rivendell.

SAM: Oh, Master! We will meet the elves!

We’ll get to meet the elves ourselves

And hear them sing their elven songs!

We’ll hear them bong their elven-gongs

And strum their elven loola-lutes!

They’ll hoot their elven hooty-toots!

GANDALF: I hope you’ll hear those loola-lutes

And hear the hoots of hooty-toots!

But go with care. To be a pie

Is better than to meet the Eye!

The Eye is mean. The Eye is red.

He rules nine Riders. They are dead.

They’ll try to make you dead, as well.

But will they catch you? Time will tell!

FRODO : Oh, dear! Oh, dear! This is a mess!

We’ll have to fix this mess, I guess!

So we will go, just Sam and me.

And what will happen? We will see!”

(Fade)
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‘THE FILMARILLION’ by WHISTLER

Regarding the Making Of the Megabucks

“Great were the wonders of the Golden Age! For the people, in those days, purchased for themselves Seeing-Boxes, filled with light; and from within that light the Wise Ones spake unto them, and gave them counsel. And Uncle Miltie spake; and Lucy, who is called the Red-Haired, and also Amos and Andy, who are called the Politically Incorrect and are named now only in the whispers of the Ancient Ones.

And that age passed; and the people settled for a while in the Land of Mayberry, and they said unto themselves, ‘Shall not another Wise One come? For wherewith now shall we be entertained?’ And some of them departed unto Beverly Hills, and joined themselves to the tribe that is called the Hillbillies; and some came unto the House of Samantha, who is called the Nose-Twitcher, and there waited.

And in that time, as if in answer to the cry of the people, came Roddenberry, son of Roddenberry. And from the mind and will of Roddenberry sprang forth the Federation, and the Federation of Roddenberry begat the Trekkies, who are called among themselves the Trekkers, and among others the Geeks. And the people were glad of the Federation, and of its heroes. And among these were Spock, the Almost-Elven, and Kirk the Overdone, from whom sprang Picard of the Shining Head, and likewise the valiant ones of sundry spinoffs.

Yet in time the Federation spake no more from the Seeing-Boxes, for the people grew restless and looked instead to the greater lights that shone within the multiplexes. And the Federation was made manifest, after a time, in the multiplexes; and the people were glad. After a time Roddenberry traveled, as is the fate of Men, the Road of No Returning; but, lo! The Federation died not, but continued for a time beyond his passing, though many of its sons grew vast in girth and purchased, in the time of their fading, toupees of great worth.

And in these days came Lucas, who is called the Almost-Spielberg. And Lucas said unto himself, ‘Truly hath Roddenberry gone where no man hath gone before; yet a greater thing shall I bring forth than that which was wrought by Roddenberry; and with it shall I make the Megabucks; and all shall tremble when the Megabucks are made.’

And Lucas brought forth the Force, and truly made the Megabucks; and Lucas brought the Megabucks unto the Film Executives, and they worshipped them and said, ‘Truly art thou king, for the Megabucks art brought forth by thee.’ And Lucas brought forth Happy Meals, and plastic action figures, and other wondrous treasures, and offered them unto the Children of the Force, and all were content, and the Megabucks grew greater.

Then did the Trekkies make war upon the Children of the Force; but after a time they said among themselves, ‘Why war we thus? Truly, some are of the Federation, and others of the Force; yet are we not all Geeks?’ And so they ceased to war, and the numbers of the Geeks were doubled, and they filled all the land.

Others then said unto themselves, ‘Are the Megabucks for Lucas alone?’ and they sought for themselves the Megabucks. Among these was Lynch, who is called Creepy, Even By Hollywood Standards. And Lynch brought forth Dune, and perished in the making of it; and the Megabucks came not unto him, and Dune was left to wither and decay upon the shelves of the Temple of Blockbuster. Likewise fell many other heroes.

And Lucas brought forth the Force again, and yet again, and yet again; and still the Megabucks came unto him. And Lucas said, ‘Forever shall the Megabucks be mine; and if the people like not Jar Jar Binks, then shall I weep all the way to the bank.’

But some of the people said, ‘Is there not a greater than the Force?’ and in answer came Jackson, who is called the Townsend-Sacker. And Jackson said:

‘A greater song have I than that of Roddenberry, or of Lucas. And if the Megabucks are brought unto me, then shall I bring forth that song from which the Force was partly sprung, and all shall marvel. And Lucas shall bow before me, and likewise Spielberg, who is called The One.’

Then were the Megabucks brought unto Jackson, and Jackson called unto himself many of renown to serve him. Among these were Liv of the Pouty Lips, and Viggo, who is called Should Have Been a Marx Brother; and also came Ian Of the Alternative Lifestyle, and John, who is called the Big Fat Guy.

And the people said, ‘Truly Jackson maketh a good thing, or so it seemeth. And if he doeth well, then shall the Megabucks come unto him, and all shall praise him. But if he doeth ill, or bringeth forth the like of Dune, then shall we rend him asunder, and his house shall fall, and great will be the stench of its burning.’

So began the tale of which the ending is not known to the Sons of Men.”

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The Filmarillion, Concluded

Lo! It came to pass that Jackson, after much travail, brought forth the Three Great Pillars that comprised the Great Work, and he placed the Three Great Pillars at the feet of the Film Executives. And the Film Executives were glad thereof, for straightway they perceived that therefrom the Megabucks did flow most bounteously.

And the Film Executives rejoiced in the Megabucks, wherewith they purchased for themselves condos in Aspen and chariots with four-wheel drive. And also they purchased for themselves costly hookers and snowy white powder from Columbia, whereof their nostrils were glad.

And they said unto Jackson, Truly art thou greater than Lucas, for never hath any such like as an Ewok besoiled what thou hast fashioned. And get us not started on those dudes who wrought the Pillars of the Matrix, wherefrom we derived much vexation and naught else. Come therefore now and let us bring sushi unto thee, and also Perrier and Brie, and other such trendy victuals as are common to our tribe. And let us do deals, that always we may have an abundance of jet skis and Jaguars and Mexican divorces. Now we trust thee fully, for the buttocks which we risked for thee art saved by thee. And there was much gladness among them at the saving of their buttocks.

Then the critics came unto the Pillars, and praised them with great praise. But Ebert the Anointed One, upon whom was placed the curse of the director of The Brown Bunny, praised them with fainter praise and somewhat kindled the wrath of the Geeks. Yet the Geeks said, more wrathful still do we grow at Rex Reed, who is called Myra Of Breckinridge, because he hath deigned not even to cast his eye upon any of the Pillars. Yet why care we aught for his judgment, seeing as he hath praised Michael Jackson in The Wiz and panned Marlon Brando in The Godfather? Verily, he is a dipstick who careth for little, unless it hath show tunes.

All the kingdoms hailed the Three Pillars, and those having Minibucks added these unto the pot wherein the Megabucks were gathered. And those with the Minibucks purchased for themselves all manner of doodads pertaining unto the Three Great Pillars. And they purchased for themselves life-sized Orlando Bloom cutouts, and rare Caradhras snow globes, and action figures fashioned of that substance which above all is prized among the Sons of Men, which in the common tongue is called plastic. And the people were glad to be parted from their Minibucks, for most were of the tribe called the Suckers.

And the spouses and the parents and the brethren of the Suckers said, what is the deal with thee? For firstly thou purchaseth the Pillars’ Theatrical Editions, then straightway thou purchaseth in their stead the fancy-schmancy Extended Editions with forty-two hours of bonus material. And when the Extended Editions art thine, thou useth thine Theatrical Editions as coasters. Why rather waitest thou not until the Extended Editions art come? But the Suckers answered not, and neither did they mend their ways, for folly is ever the way of the Suckers.

In those days the Cyber-Geeks, among whom were Suckers in very great numbers, spake to one another from their seeing-boxes. Many tribes numbered themselves among the Cyber-Geeks, the greatest of which were the Nitpickers. And the Nitpickers said such like as, The bluescreen in the coronation scene looketh cheesy. And those of the other tribes spake unto the Nitpickers and said, Why saith thou so? For it looketh okay to us. And the Nitpickers spake again and said, We have taken a course in film, and know much of this art. And the other tribes answered again and said, Is it so? For if it be so, then why dost thou live on Hot Pockets and sleep in thy parents’ basement? And why do the Film Executives bring not the Megabucks unto thee, that thou mayest bring forth a greater work than Jackson hath wrought? Then were the Nitpickers silent, for they knew not so much as they had boasted.

Now, among the Cyber-Geeks were two great tribes, which were called among themselves the Oldbies and the Newbies. And the Oldbies were wise with much lore, having seen many ages pass; and oftentimes they warred with the Newbies. For the Newbies spake oft with little wisdom regarding Tom Bombadil and Balrog wings and Arwen at the ford, and the Oldbies waxed wroth at such words and bade the Newbies be silent, else they be smitten with sore Terms Of Service violations. And oft the Oldbies did besmite the Newbies with sore Terms Of Service violations, whereunder the Newbies were crushed and torn asunder. Yet some among them spake against the Oldbies, saying, Who hath died and made you guys the Valar? And at times of such strife would come The Locking Of the Threads, whereafter would all and sundry weep with great weeping.

And the Great Age of Fandom passed over time; and many who numbered themselves among the Oldbies sought solace in the West, and sailed thereunto. And lo! With much sorrow did they learn that in their long absence their daughters and sons had sworn fealty unto strange religious cults, and that their spouses had divorced them and married themselves unto Coppertoned lifeguards with buns of steel.

And the Oldbies said unto themselves, Truly are we screwed, for too long have we blindly dwelt among the Cyber-Geeks, paying little heed to aught save Jackson. Now Jackson’s Great Work hath been our bane, for naught have we now save the pink slips delivered unto us by our former lords and masters. Verily the cake by this is taken! And the Oldbies rent their garments, and grew mad, and straightway starved and perished, and so was come an end to them.

And so is come an ending to this tale, lest a Newbie in his folly take it up again.

••••••••••••••••••••


MY INTERVIEW WITH PJ – by WHISTLER

“ME: Well, Mr. Jackson, I must say that it’s a real treat to be able to chat with you. When I answered the knock on my door this morning, you’re the last person I expected to see! And thanks for the fruitcake.

PJ: Call me PJ. Maybe we just met, but I consider us friends. I consider myself a friend to everyone who loves Middle earth. And I have more fruitcake, if you want it.

ME: No, that’s okay. Hey, where are my leaves? Did you rake my leaves?

PJ: Yes. Can I wash your car now? Really, I’d love to wash your car. I’d love to wash ALL the cars of ALL the people who love Middle-earth. As a way of showing my respect, I mean. You people are my heroes. I’m honored by the chance to please you, all of you.

ME: Well, the leaves did need raking.

PJ: I’m having your names tattooed on my back. The names of the message board people, I mean. But I don’t have yours yet, because I’m having them done alphabetically. I’m up to…Hama, I think. I can come back when yours is done, if you like. So you can see it and tell me if it looks okay. If it doesn’t look okay, I can have it surgically removed and try again. It’s your call.

ME: Well, that’s very nice. But I’d like to discuss the movie now.

PJ: Fire away! Wait…do you want more ice? Your drink doesn’t have enough ice.

ME: It’s okay, really! Tell me about the story changes. Orc pods and such.

PJ: Are there any orc pods in the book?

ME: No.

PJ: Well, then! Of course there are none in the movie. What kind of arrogant, text-raping director would I be, if I thought I could improve on Tolkien? Any director who altered the story would be, in my opinion, guilty of crimes against humanity. It makes me sick to think of it. Please…do you have any medicine for nausea?

ME: Um…I’ll check.

PJ: No, no…I’m okay now. It’s just that I can’t bear the thought of defiling the work of the master. Please continue.

ME: I’m guessing, then, that there won’t be a Saruman-kabob?

PJ: Oh! Medicine! Get it, quick!

(brief pause while I find and administer a large dose of nausea medicine to PJ
)
ME: There, that should do it. But please don’t lay down on the floor like that. I have a nice couch.

PJ: Oh! How kind! And what a lovely couch it is! Did I mention that you have exquisite taste? Because you do.

ME: Let’s just talk about the movie, shall we? What about all the reports of story changes? If they’re only rumors, how do you explain them?

(takes another dose of medicine)

PJ: All right. Here goes. It was all a publicity scheme. A horrible, vulgar, shameful, wicked scheme! New Line has no decency. Hollywood has no decency. How I despise the amoral, boorish monsters who populate the boardrooms of the entertainment industry! They made me play along…they said that a little controversy would be good for the movies. They said…they said…

(pause; sobs uncontrollably)

…they said they’d break my legs if I didn’t pretend to be trashing the story. They wanted a scandal. Hollywood always wants a scandal. There is no bad publicity, they said. But at last I couldn’t take it any more, and I told them I wouldn’t play along. So they broke my legs. And I laughed in their faces while they broke ’em! I laughed, I tell you!

ME: Good heavens! You’re wearing leg braces! They really broke your legs! Holy smoke, PJ! You’re a hero, that’s what you are!

PJ: Pooh! Who among us wouldn’t endure a little excruciating pain for the sake of artistic integrity?

ME: Well, I can think of a few of us who wouldn’t. Darn, this is impressive!

PJ: Anyway, New Line said ‘uncle!’ when they saw they couldn’t beat me. So now the truth is out. The movie will be perfect. Perfect!

ME: Wow! But seriously, even the most ardent purist understands that SOME changes are necessary, if only to keep the story at a manageable length. It can’t run for twelve hours, so how can it be perfect?

PJ: Easy. Surely you know that Tolkien was dissatisfied with those early, unproduced film treatments of the story…?

ME: Yes, all of us know about that. The Zimmerman script and all.

PJ: Well, here’s something you DON’T know. Tolkien knew they’d make a movie someday, so he wrote a compressed synopsis of the storyline for use by dramatists. We’re following that synopsis to the letter. So even the “changes” aren’t changes at all, since all of them originated with Tolkien himself. Want some fruitcake now?

ME: No! Do you realize how incredible this is? Did Bakshi make use of this synopsis?

PJ: Oh, no! Bakshi felt that Tolkien didn’t understand the story, so he made his own changes. Or that’s what I’m told…I haven’t seen his version.

ME: You haven’t? He thinks you’ve been screening it every day!

PJ: Why would I do that? Fruitcake?

ME: He certainly is! Oh…no, thanks!

PJ: Anyway, JRR’s compressed storyline approach is only for the theatrical release. For the DVD release, we go strictly by the book.

ME: Really? Then perhaps it’ll run for twelve hours, after all?

PJ: Actually, it’ll run roughly eighteen hours. Or maybe thirty. Who knows? And who cares, as long as the book is properly served? Sometimes I…ouch! Excuse me, time for my aspirin. The pain in my legs, you know!

(gulps a handful of pills)

Any more questions?
ME: Yes, a few thousand! Did you write the script for the DVD release?

PJ: Well, we don’t actually have a script. We have the book. We open the book, and we do what it says. Instead of filming scenes, we film pages. And if we need advice or additional material, Christopher is always close at hand.

ME: Christopher Tolkien? He’s actually on the set?

PJ: Of course! We’re almost joined at the hip, Christopher and me. And he has such a lovely family! When I can, I like to wash their cars. They have lovely cars.

ME: The whole Tolkien family is there? Doing what?

PJ: Whatever they please, of course! They have complete control over everything. If anyone named Tolkien says that Frodo doesn’t have enough butter on his bread, then Frodo spreads more butter. If anyone named Tolkien doesn’t like somebody’s nose, then the person must submit to plastic surgery. They are infallible, as far as I’m concerned. Like the pope. Did I tell you that I wash their cars, whenever they let me?

ME: Yes, you did. Could I have nine or ten of those aspirins?

PJ: Certainly! But I hope I haven’t said anything to disturb you…?

ME: No! It’s entirely the opposite. I’m suffering from enthusiasm overload. A fellow can handle only so much good news!

PJ: But surely you still have SOME concerns I can address? My purpose in coming here, you know, has been to bring comfort and pleasure to the online Tolkien community.

ME: Well, I think you’re achieving that. But, let’s see…well, people are still a bit concerned about Liv.

PJ: Oh! Do they think she’s a vacuous Valley Girl who speaks in monosyllables and belongs in Middle-earth like JRR belongs at an Aerosmith concert?

ME: Well, yes. The popular impression is that serious thespians are not, as a rule, people who photocopy their butts.

PJ: Well, that’s not true at all! Ms. Blanchett did the same. See?

(hands over a photocopy)

ME: Oh! Oh! Can I keep this?

PJ: Sure, I have hundreds of copies.

ME: Wait…is that a Tolkien tattoo on her left cheek? What’s this thing you have with tattoos?

PJ: Ah, you noticed! Yes, each of the actors was required to have Tolkien’s face tattooed on his or her butt, as a gesture of love and devotion. Robert DeNiro refused, and so did Bruce Willis. Lots of others, too. So I knew they weren’t true-blue fans, and I refused to hire them. What jerks! Can you imagine people being so unreasonable?

ME: I can’t imagine anything I’ve heard yet!

PJ: Here’s an odd fact: Madonna already HAD a Tolkien tattoo! But of course I wouldn’t hire a trashy creature like Madonna, even if she IS a Tolkien fan. I agreed to wash her car, but that was it.

ME: Liv and Madonna. What’s the difference, trash-wise?

PJ: Night and day! Sadly, Ms. Tyler has had to cultivate a foul mouthed, bimbo persona in order to appeal to the youth market. But now she’s a star, and a grownup. And now she has shed that image and intends to embark upon a career in legitimate theater. True, the stage doesn’t pay as well as film. But she is a true artist who cares only for her craft. McKellen has recommended her to the Royal Shakespeare Company.

ME: Wait…is that WILLIAM Shakespeare?

PJ: Of course. Her Lady Macbeth has been called the definitive interpretation of the role. The only bad news is that she’ll only be onscreen for fifteen minutes. But of course that’s how Tolkien would have wanted it. Tolkien didn’t think a woman had to wave a sword to prove her mettle, and neither do I. Political correctness be damned! Damned, I say!

ME: Fifteen minutes. Only fifteen minutes? I’m hyperventilating now.

PJ: Ah, but there are no small parts! Fifteen minutes is all she’ll need. Trust me, Liv’s next boyfriend will be named…Oscar!

ME: Okay, I think it’s time for fruitcake. Tell me about Tom Bombadil. I assume he’s in the DVD release?

PJ: Yes, five of him.

ME: Five?

PJ: Well, he’s a difficult character, filled with nuance and contradiction. So we’ve cast five actors in the role, and viewers will be able to select whichever actor they prefer. Or they can skip past Bombadil entirely. Same thing with Sauron. You want a Red Eye? We’ve got him. You want a shapeless shadow? We’ve got him. Or you can select No Sauron At All, which is my personal preference. Less is more, I think.

ME: Well, this is very accommodating, to say the least!

PJ: It’s the only way of approaching CFS.

ME: CFS?

PJ: ‘Complete Fan Satisfaction.’ That’s our goal. But of course people do see things differently, and the only way of pleasing them all is to give them a variety of choices in certain controversial areas. Balrog wings, for example.

ME: So the Balrog has wings AND no wings?

PJ: Of course. We aim to please. Look, where is your car? Could I just look at it? I wouldn’t have to wash it right away.

ME: Later. Gee, my head is spinning.

PJ: Too much rum in the fruitcake?

ME: No, it’s just that you’ve wiped away virtually EVERY concern that’s been expressed on the boards. Is there anything we OUGHT to be worried about? Is there anything that may NOT be satisfactory?

PJ: Hm….no. Oh, wait! Yes. Yes, there’s one button too many on Pippin’s coat. But we’ll fix it in post production, or die in the attempt.

ME: In light of everything else, I think I can speak for everyone in saying that you should NOT die for the sake of Pippin’s buttons. We will forgive you. Even Kelannar will forgive you.

PJ: That’s very kind. But as much as I wish to please the fans, I have a higher calling. That calling is to please the good professor. I believe that he is watching us from Heaven. And I will NOT disappoint him! No, not even in the matter of Pippin’s buttons, or the color of Beren’s hair.

ME: Beren’s hair? Beren isn’t in this story!

PJ: Oops! Forget I mentioned Beren.

ME: How can I forget a thing like that? Either you’ve made a significant change, after all, or…or you’re planning to film The Silmarillion! Is that what you’re planning to do? Tell me!

PJ: No! I’m not! Not yet. I mean, not until we finish The Hobbit.

ME: The Hobbit! Hooray!

PJ: Yes, and Farmer Giles. And Niggle. And everything else by Tolkien. But next, it’s The Travels of Sam and Rosie!

ME: The Travels of Sam and Rosie? What’s that? I haven’t read that story!

PJ: Nobody has. And it isn’t exactly a story. It’s an original screenplay.

ME: Well, I don’t think the fans will accept original Middle-earth stories by anyone but JRR himself.

PJ: Ugh! What an awful thought! No, this is an original screenplay by JRR Tolkien, recently discovered and still unpublished. They found it under his desk, I think.

ME: Incredible! I can’t wait to see it!

PJ: See it? You’ll do more than that!

ME: Pardon me?

PJ: Well, I’m not supposed to reveal this yet, but…what the heck? I have arranged for everyone from the message boards to be flown to New Zealand to appear in the entire series of Tolkien films. Won’t that be fun? First-class flight, deluxe rooms, plenty of food and drink at New Line’s expense! Party, party, party. Limousines. Maybe some surfing. I’m guessing an eight-month shoot for Sam and Rosie. The rest of the series will take…oh, eight to ten years. All of you will have to quit your jobs and reside, full time, in Middle-earth. Are you prepared to make this sacrifice?

ME: Yes, I am certain that the entire online Tolkien community is up to that challenge!

PJ: You’ll need tattoos, of course.

ME: No problem.

PJ: Wonderful! Oh, and listen! Each of you will be supplied, if you like, with a very attractive member of the opposite sex…to serve as your interpreter, you see!

ME: Interpreter? Don’t you speak English in New Zealand?

PJ: Why, yes! I believe we do! Well, so much the better!

(significant pause)

ME: Okay. My car is the cream-colored SUV. I think it needs vacuuming, too.

PJ: Yippee! I just LOVE you guys!

(end of interview)
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‘TOLKIEN: COUNTRY MUSIC FAN’ – by WHISTLER

“Lewis popped in yesterday, seeking–not for the first time!–to convert me to the camp of Madonna devotees, but of course I would have none of it. I have always been, and shall ever be, devoted exclusively to American country music, the influence of which has greatly coloured all my work. Indeed I may say that, had it not been for Dolly Parton and the endless inspiration which I have derived from her art, I should never have taken my protagonists much beyond Rivendell…” —J.R.R. Tolkien, 1953

“In light of this famous quote, I have written this country ditty which I hope will be brought to the attention of the filmmakers. The song is sung by Frodo. The chorus is provided by the Fellowship, which accompanies itself on washboards, moonshine jugs, etc.: ”

“Frodo: There’s rings around the bathtub,

And around my cryin’ eyes;

There’s rings on fancy napkins,

And there’s onion rings and fries;

There’s rings that says you’ve gotten hitched,

Or won the Super Bowl;

But here’s the Ring that whups ’em all,

A-whuppin’ on my soul!

Chorus: It’s whuppin’, whuppin’, whuppin’

On this hobbit’s hobbit-soul!

It’s whuppin’ him from Rivendell to Mordor!

His furry feet are achin’,

And it’s takin’ quite a toll!

Too bad he hasn’t got a Chevy 4-door!

Frodo: I got it (on my birthday)

From a crazy, rich relation

Who stuck me with the Rulin’ Ring

That saves or sinks Creation;

I’ll tote ‘er to the Cracks o’ Doom

And see if I can ditch ‘er;

I wish I was Tom Bombadil,

‘Cause he ain’t in this pitcher!

Chorus: He stuck him with the Rulin’ Ring

That made a wreck o’ Gollum!

It’s purty, but it’s meaner than Lobelia!

And if it gets ya roped and tied,

The doctors (if they call ’em)

Will say there ain’t an HMO can heal ya!

Frodo:
I ain’t no hero (‘cept compared

With prancin’ Elven sissies)

And yet I’m on a mission fit

For Jason or Ulysses;

So do some thinkin’, buckaroos,

Before ya call it simple:

Adventures ain’t for pudgy guys

The size o’ Shirley Temple!

Chorus: He’s sized like Shirley Temple,

But his guts are like Godzilla’s!

He spits his chaw on anybody’s turf!

Who cares about his pointy ears

And tootsies like chinchillas?

He’ll deck ya if ya treat him like a Smurf!

Frodo: To learn what happens, read the books,

‘Cause they has got the answer:

We’ll shuck this evil joolery,

We’ll whup the Necromancer;

The king’ll take his fancy throne;

The folks’ll wave his banner;

But as for me, I’ve learnt I won’t

Be playin’ no pianer!

Chorus: He’ll never play pianer!

No, he’ll have a finger swallered!

But him and us’ll make us each a million!

We’ll buy up half o’ Valinor,

‘Cause now they got us collared

To star in New Line’s Nashville Silmarillion!”

*********************************************************


“ORC FEATHERS” by WHISTLER

“A screen adaptation of ‘The Lord Of the Rings’ Starring the Marx Brothers

Scene: The forest of Lorien. GALADRIEL is seated on a throne. To her right is GROUCHO, dressed as Gandalf. To her left are HARPO and CHICO. HARPO is dressed as a hobbit and wears a fake beard which was obviously meant for Gandalf. CHICO is dressed partly as a dwarf, and partly as an elf, with a horned Viking helmet thrown in for good measure.”

“GALADRIEL: Gentlemen, I hope you have enjoyed your stay in Lorien.

GROUCHO: I’ll say! And we took some great pictures of the elven-girls, but they weren’t developed. So we’ll have to come back later.

GALADRIEL: (hiding embarrassment) Well, the Fellowship is always welcome.

GROUCHO: You know, if we added some frills we could open up a dandy bed and breakfast here. Why, we could offer a fifty-cent supper that’d really knock their eyes out. And once we knocked their eyes out, we could charge ’em anything we liked.

GALADRIEL: Oh, please be serious! Gentlemen, this is Middle-earth’s darkest hour. Danger lurks everywhere!

GROUCHO: It sure does! Why, just the other day I fought a Balrog in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.

GALADRIEL: Um…each of you must go and do his duty. But you shall go with the blessing of Galadriel. I shall give you…a phial!
(HARPO produces a file)

CHICO: Look, he’sa got one already. Atsa good, atsa nice.

GROUCHO: Yes, it came in handy when they sentenced him to twelve years in Leavenworth. Or maybe it was ‘leven years in Twelveworth.

CHICO: Maybe it was five and ten in Woolworth. Hey, lady! You got any tootsie fruitsie ice cream?

GALADRIEL: Why, no! But have you tried lembas?

CHICO: Only lembas I know is Christopher Colembas, and he’sa no born till 1492.

GALADRIEL: No, no! It’s eleven bread. And I made it myself.

GROUCHO: Yes, I can see you bending over a hot stove. But I can’t see the stove. (suddenly passionate) Oh, darling! Can’t you see that I love you? Will you marry me, my dear? Is it true that you’ve tucked away a Silmaril? Answer the second question first.

GALADRIEL: Sir! This is bigamy!

GROUCHO: Yes, and it’s big o’ me, too. But let’s be big, shall we? Why, I can almost see our apple-cheeked children tripping over their long white beards on their way to reform school.

GALADRIEL: Sir! I am speechless.

GROUCHO: Stay that way, and we’ll get along fine. I’m picturing a small ceremony, just you and me and several thousand Riders of Rohan. No, just the horses. No, just the horseflies.
(HARPO extracts the Ring from his mouth and offers it to Galadriel on bended knee)

CHICO: Hey, look! He’sa wanna get married, too!

GROUCHO: (addressing the audience) Folks, I’m stuck in the middle of a quest, but there’s no reason the rest of you can’t sneak out to the lobby for a minute. And maybe you could bring me back a box of Raisinettes.

CHICO: And tootsie-fruitsie ice cream, if they got it.
(
HARPO honks a horn)

GROUCHO: And a duck egg.

(HARPO honks again)

GROUCHO:
That’s two duck eggs. (To HARPO) Hey, I know a guy who looks like a lot like you. His name is Frodo Baggins.

CHICO: He’sa Frodo Baggins.

GROUCHO: Okay, but I still see a resemblance.

CHICO (to HARPO): He thinks you look alike. Ha, ha!

GALADRIEL: (regaining composure after a brief internal struggle) No, I shall never take the Ring! I pass my test! I shall go into the West, and remain Galadriel!

GROUCHO: Well, I’m riel-galad to hear you say that. Say, have we been introduced? The name is Olorin, but you can call me Mithrandir. No, you can call me Gandalf. On second thought, you can call me a taxi. Taxi, taxi!

GALADRIEL: Heavens, there are no taxis in the forest!

CHICO: Then we’ll hail a lembas-ine! Ha, ha! Atsa good one. (The three begin to exit)

GALADRIEL: Where will you go, my heroes?

GROUCHO: Mount Doom. If you’re ever in the neighborhood…

GROUCHO and CHICO: Drop in!”

(HARPO honks. Exit the Fellowship)”

***************************************************


“GILBERT & SULLIVAN DO TOLKIEN” – by WHISTLER

“Excerpts from ‘The Elven Maiden’

“It is not commonly known that the first dramatic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was attempted (and abandoned) in the year 1897. The dramatist behind this remarkable undertaking was none other than Sir William Gilbert, whose long partnership with Sir Arthur Sullivan had produced Victorian England’s most popular works of musical theatre. Sadly, the last collaboration of the two, The Grand Duke, had won neither public nor critical acclaim. What to do next? Sullivan turned to grand opera; Gilbert resolved to try his hand at adapting a literary classic for the musical stage. Many great books were considered, then rejected. Among these were Catch-22, The Shining and Valley of the Dolls. None seemed right for Gilbert’s distinctive ‘topsy-turvy’ humor.

Tolkien’s masterpiece, at last, provided Gilbert with the spark of inspiration he needed. True, there would be difficulties in adapting The Lord of the Rings for a two-act comic operetta, but Gilbert was determined to tackle the Herculean task. He contacted Sullivan at once, hoping to persuade the composer to provide original music for the new piece, which he would entitle ‘The Elven Maiden.’

Sullivan described the idea as ‘rather silly’ and refused to cooperate. Gilbert pressed on anyway, managing at last to persuade his musical colleague to allow him the use of previously-published scores. These he used freely, certain that the brilliance of the libretto would ultimately draw Sir Arthur back for one more try at renewing the glory days of H. M. S. Pinafore and The Mikado.

Those days, however, were never to return. Gilbert wrote furiously, producing in one month enough material to fill eighteen hours of stage time, even without Tom Bombadil. But how could he trim the piece to a mere two hours? He couldn’t.

There were other problems. As can be guessed from the title, ‘The Elven Maiden,’ Gilbert had chosen to expand the character of Lady Arwen. He discovered (too late) that in so doing he had upset the story’s delicate balance. These and other ‘minor’ changes had reduced the epic tale to a shadow of itself. Disgusted and beaten, Gilbert tossed his unfinished libretto into a fireplace, his great career finally over.

Half-burned scraps of that libretto recently surfaced at auction and were purchased by The Whistler Institute. We have so far recovered the lyrics for three complete songs among the delicate, crumbling pages. The first among these is an introductory chorus, sung by the Fellowship, which we believe to have been written to the music of the Japanese chorus which opens The Mikado:”

“If you wonder about this crew,

We’re the Fellowship of the Ring:

We’re impossibly brave and true,

And we’ve plenty of time to sing!

With arrows and ancient swords,

We’re ready for hellish hordes:

We meet ’em on message boards, oh!

If you’re thinking of Rankin/Bass

Or imagining Willow II,

Then you’re ignorant of the class

Of this marvelous mythic stew:

It isn’t a children’s frolic;

It’s grimmer (at times) than colic;

It is (and it ain’t) symbolic, oh!

The next song, sung by Gollum, also appears to have its origins in The Mikado. We believe it to be based on the song ‘Titwillow,’ from Act Two:

“In the deeps of a river, we saw a bright thing:

My precious! My precious, my precious!

And we choked little brother, and seized the One Ring:

(Oh, precious! My precious, my precious!)

And we grew rather nassssty in body and soul

And adopted a dialect eerily droll

While we feasted (at teatime) on rats, gobbled whole:

(Oh, precious! My precious, my precious!)

We hid in the shadows, and from the Red Eye:

(My precious! My precious, my precious!)

And we managed, we did, till the Baggins came by:

(Oh, precious! My precious, my precious!)

And the Baggins told riddles, and started to cheat,

And we tried to spread jam on its broad, furry feet

When it poofed (like a candle) and burgled our sweet:

My precious! My precious, my precious!

Now, we hates all the Bagginses, elder and young:

(My precious! My precious, my precious!)

And we longs for their blood on our little black tongue:

(Oh, precious! My precious, my precious!)

But we can’t never crunch ’em, however we try:

They’ve reduced us to polygons (precious knows why)

And we’re now an illusion that’s pure CGI:

We hates it! We hates it, my precioussssssss!

Of course, the crowning glory of any Gilbert and Sullivan operetta is the famous (or infamous) patter song. Sung very quickly, the patter song (if completed without mistakes) seems almost like a magic trick. It is therefore appropriate that this one is given to the wizard Gandalf, even if its original version appears in Act One of The Pirates of Penzance:

I am a wand’ring Istar, which in Middle-earth vernacular

Defines me as a wizard, with a flair for speech oracular:

I’m Olorin and Mithrandir (the titles are euphonious)

Though Hobbits call me Gandalf, which is plain but ain’t erroneous;

I’m splendid in my whiskers, which I’ve tended for millennia;

My grey chapeau is conical, and sports a little zinnia;

I’m chummy with Iluvatar, but here’s an incongruity:

I entertain at parties for a beer and a gratuity!

Chorus:
He entertains at parties for a beer and a gratuity!

My brain’s encyclopedic, and perennially glad o’ facts:

I share ’em (plus an apple) with my jolly colleague, Shadowfax;

My luxuries are limited to lembas and the lottery;

I’m similar to Merlin, but I’m never Harry Potter-y!

I’m something of a transient, eschewing fluff and frilleries;

I seldom utter ‘Derry dol!’ or other Bombadil-eries,

But may (at a bar mitzvah, or an elven testimonial)

Delight the crowd with phrases like, A Elbereth! Gilthoniel!

I’ve striven with the Evil One who sank the Numenorians

Without the aid of Lucas and his little midichlorians;

I’ve sent his minions packing, though their visages are terrible:

The Balrog is a bully, but the Bakshi is unbear-ible!
Chorus:
The Balrog is a bully, but the Bakshi is unbear-ible!

I’m gentle as a hobbit, though my temper is Vesuvial;

I shared a box of toffee, once, with Luthien Tinuviel;

I tutored Lady Arwen in the skills of heroes mythical:

Her fighting’s fair-to-middling, but her mind is Aerosmith-ical!

I do a little juggling, and a little troll ventriloquy;

I’m handy with a ballad, incantation or soliloquy;

I suffer Tooks and Brandybucks, ignoring their buffoonery,

And thank the One they aren’t mass-produced in a cocoonery;

I trot to spots a yuppie couldn’t drive his new Suburban to

And visit elven princes, whom I introduced the turban to:

And that’s the fashion statement which (though all are fond of finery)

Distinguishes the Gucci ones from those in Calvin Klein-ery!

Chorus:

Distinguishes the Gucci ones from those in Calvin Klein-ery!

To dramatize my present quest would leave a feller panicky
Unless he’s lost his marbles, and his budget is Titanic-y:

But if he undertakes the tale, and proves himself a friend of it,

My blessing (and the Megabucks) will greet him at the end of it!”

**********************

My Interview With the One

(It’s late. I have been working in my studio for most of the evening, lost in the pale blue light of my Macintosh monitor. Time to take a break, I think. Time to check those wonderful, infuriating message boards. What’s the harm in lurking for a moment?)

Me (to nobody): Same old stuff here. How many times will they make the same arguments?

(Quite a few times, it seems. I make myself a double espresso. Plenty of work remaining, late as it is.)

Me (enjoying a hit of caffeine): Better check my e-mail.

(Good idea. Maybe I’ve won a million dollars. Maybe hot women are waiting to fulfill my wildest fantasies, VISA and MasterCard accepted. Whatever. )

Me (reviewing the inbox): What on earth?

 

(There’s a single letter from balrog@moria.com. Well, there’s a dandy handle! Message board poster, no doubt. Pretty odd. No text. There is only a mysterious attachment, entitled…)

Me: Khazad-Dûm?

(Sounds pretty ominous. Well, I know better than to open an attachment in an unsolicited e-mail.)

Me: Yep. Gonna open it.

(Foolishly, I do. EXPLOSION! A ball of flame knocks me into darkness. I fall forever into an inky void, landing at last in a pool of icy water. Icy water?)

Me: Bad idea. Thank you, mister balrog!

(Stunned and incoherent, I await my certain doom: having survived the explosion, I shall drown. In my confusion, all I can think is that I haven’t returned Dr. Strangelove to Blockbuster.)

(But I don’t drown. I am washed against a large, flat rock. Terra firma. This is good. The more firma, the less terra.)

Me: Well, that’s it for my fashionable Kmart sweatsuit.

(It certainly is. The Khazad-Dûm explosion has burned it away, leaving me in nothing but shreds of my Betty Boop underwear. Wonderful day to be dressed like an idiot. Well, there’s a bright side: I’m lost in hellish darkness, and probably will never be seen again.)

Me (in a brief coherent moment): A stairway. Yes. In the book, there’s a stairway. So maybe there’s a stairway leading out of here…?

(There is. Once I am able to stand, I begin to feel my way about the cavern into which I have fallen. I find the stone stairway and begin my ascent.)

Me (groggily, hoping to lift my spirits): Stairs go ever on and on. On, till Whistler breaks his neck! Attercop! Heigh diddle-diddle! I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like you, balrog@moria.com! Fifteen birds in five fir trees don’t like you, either. Tra, la!

(On and on. How many steps? And then what?)

Me (deteriorating rapidly): …call within the next ten minutes, and we’ll send you Hits Of the Seventies absolutely free. Yes, Virginia, there is a Balrog. I would like to thank the members of the Academy.

(Hours pass. Or is it days?)

Me: …three cups of sugar, the Professor and Mary Ann. You shall not pass, flame of Onion! I am a servant of the Secret Flies.

(At last I see a light. A crescent moon! I climb, and the moon grows larger. No, it’s not the moon. It’s a sliver of sunlight, shining through a half closed manhole cover.)

Me: Yes. There’s a manhole cover in the book. I remember it extinctly. It’s made of…mithril and strawberries. Lovely spoons, Lobelia!

(Finally I reach the last step. There’s a ladder! I climb it. Arriving at the final rung, I slide away the manhole cover and crawl, with my last remaining strength, to the surface.)

Me: The Eagle has landed. I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

(I collapse.)

(I am next aware of…a couch? Yes, I appear to be reclining on a couch. I have been wrapped in a cloth which smells of mothballs. Someone has found me and brought me here, wherever here is. Soon I will open my eyes. Not yet.)

Voice: An australopithicus? Do you suppose it is an australopithicus?

Voice 2: It is an enigma. Look! It has the face of an enigma.

Voice 3: A very handsome face. He resembles…Mr. Niggle, prior to the Norman invasion. The orcs cut his ears off, you know. Served ’em with horseradish.

(Right. Okay. I’m surrounded by lunatics. Hey, this is just like the message boards.)

Me (with eyes still shut): Hello, everybody. I hear you. I am now about to open my eyes. If any of you are…oh, monsters or anything, please inform me in advance.

Voice 4: Sir, you are clearly unaware of the honor which has graced you. We are not monsters. We are (if I may say so) the most sublime entities in all of Creation. Behold us, and despair!

(I behold. I despair. They’re a ragged bunch of creaky old ladies and gentlemen. The youngest appears to be eighty, at least. All of them are dressed in shabby, out-of-style European outfits.)

Me: Hi. Nice threads. Very…sublime.

Old Man: Do you not know, sir, whom you address?

Me: Well, let me see. I’m guessing you’re the Twilight Zone Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

Old Man (after thinking for a moment): No. That is entirely incorrect!

Me: Okay, I’m stumped.

(The man exchanges glances with his elderly companions. His eyes ask, what could be wrong with this fellow? Is he blind?)

Old Man: It is clear that you are not entirely recovered. Otherwise you should immediately recognize us, sir, as the Powers of Arda. In other words, the Valar!

Old Lady (tapping his arm): And…?

Old Man: Oh! And the Valet.

Old Lady: Valier! The Valar and Valier! Get it right, you silly ass!

Old Man: The Valar and Valier. At your service.

(Yikes! This is seriously scary. I need to get out of here.)

Me (sitting up): The Valar and Valier. Of course. Obviously! So, I don’t suppose you have a telephone?

Old Man: We are incommunicado, sir, with all except the One. And who are you?

Me: Whistler. Call me Whistler.

Old Man: Nay! For now you are Whistler the White. Behold! We have clothed you in a snowy garment, trimmed with rings of mithril. Seldom were the valiant kings of Noodlenor attired in such finery!

(It’s a wrinkled bedsheet. Noodlenor? Everybody claps.)

Old Lady: Very pretty speech, love. Introduce us, now, to Mr. Niggle!

Me: Whistler.

Old Man: I am Manwë. This is Varda, Lady of the Stars! Here is Ulmo, Lord of Waters. Also Mandos, also Nessa, also Aulë. Here’s Nienna, here is Tulkas, here’s Yavanna, Giver of Fruits…

(This takes a while.)

Varda: Dear, we have forgotten our manners. It is time to put a kettle on, I think?

Manwë: So it is. Ulmo! Teatime, there’s a good fellow!

 

(Ulmo winks and heads for the kitchen.)

Varda: You haven’t tasted tea, Mr. Niggle, until you have tasted it brewed by a demi-god.

Ulmo (from the kitchen): Angel, if you please! That is the term I prefer. It is more Judeo-Christian. But a rose by any other name…what? I forget.

Yavanna: Gathers no moss, I believe. I’d have noticed, if it did.

Nienna: Spoils the broth. It spoils the broth. Alas! The broth is always spoiled. Always, always!

(Nienna sobs uncontrollably.)

Manwë (to me): Pardon Nienna. She has been preoccupied with broth since Aulë took her teeth.

Aulë: Cripes, I didn’t take ’em all. Only the gold ones. Anyways, they’re mine, you know! Substances of Arda are mine. So mind your own business, Mr. King of the Winds! Or should I say, Mr. Windbag?

Manwë: Aulë, please! She needs her teeth. You ought to let her borrow them at dinnertime, at least.

Mandos: Oh, Manwë! Let me thrash him! Give me the word, and I shall reign a dreadful judgement upon him. Why, I shall knock him to the rank of Maia!

Aulë: Bah! You’re worse than Manwë. Who made YOU a judge?

Mandos: Eru! It’s my job, you bloody twit!

Ulmo (still busy in the kitchen): What is your pleasure, Mr. Whistler? Earl Grey, or Darjeeling? Or possibly a nice Formosan Oolong?

Me: Please! I don’t want any tea. I have to go. Thanks for everything.

(I’m leaving. The bedsheet drags behind me.)

Manwë: Sir! We have offended you. Please, there is something you should see. I entreat you to remain for just a moment. Will you wait?

(Hey, he’s a nice old guy. It’s the least I can do.)

Me: All right. I didn’t mean to be abrupt. It has been a hard day. Or a hard week, maybe. I’m very confused.

Manwë: The Valar are never confused. So heed our counsel, sir, and you will prosper.

Me: Your counsel? Sure. I’m pretty desperate for advice.

Manwë: In time. First, you must behold the Great Work which the Valar undertake! Since the foundation of the World That Is, naught of such splendor hath been wrought. Ne’er, sir! Ne’er! And I daresay that Fëanor himself would have straightway forsaken the Silmarils to gain a prize so fair. I daresay further that…

Aulë: Oh, bother! Shut yer yap, Mr. Windbag, and let him have a flippin’ look, for Eru’s sake!

(Manwë scowls at Aulë and turns to lead me into a tiny room. In the center of the room, there’s a table. On the table, I see the Great Work.)

Me: A jigsaw puzzle. You’re working a jigsaw puzzle?

Manwë: Not just any jigsaw puzzle, sir, but the World’s Hardest Jigsaw Puzzle! Look, Mr. Whistler! It says so on the box.

(That’s what it says. World’s Hardest Jigsaw Puzzle, Ages 12 and Up.)

Manwë: The puzzle is entitled “Hundreds of Puppies.” And let me assure you that the title is accurate! Have you ever seen so many puppies, Mr. Whistler?

Me: That’s a lot of puppies, all right.

Manwë: Oh, it is maddeningly difficult. How can one be certain (for example) that the tail of a beagle is not, in fact, the tail of a retriever?

Me: Must be tough.

Manwë: Indeed. I should hate to imagine what would happen, if a work of this nature were entrusted to anybody lacking substantial supernatural credentials!

(They are waiting for a compliment. What can I say? I suppose it won’t hurt to be nice. Could they really be the Valar? If so, they deserve a little honor, a little respect. For old times’ sake.)

Me: Okay. I am certainly impressed, and you’ve convinced me. Even the wisest of the Firstborn, I’m certain, couldn’t handle such a puzzle. You are clearly the Valar…and Valier!

(Everybody cheers. Even Nienna and Aulë are smiling.)

Manwë: Very good, Mr. Whistler the White! And now, I will offer you the counsel of the Valar. You must seek the One!

(The One? Let me guess. He lives in the trailer park, next to the drive-in movie.)

Me: The One? Eru? Ilúvatar?

Manwë: The same. You do not (of course) belong here. And even the Valar are powerless to help you, awesome and majestic though we are. You are quite a special case.

Me: All right, then. Where do I find the One?

Manwë: He is due at Bag End within the hour.

(Bag End! Finally, a place I’d like to see.)

Me: Within the hour? How far is it? Which direction?

Manwë: The questions are irrelevant. You will surely find it, Mr. Whistler. But we must have our tea, and resume the Great Work. Goodbye!

(There’s a flash of light. I am standing in a desert, alone. This isn’t Bag End, by a long shot.)

Me: Well, they don’t make Valar like they used to. What now?

(I walk, having no idea which direction will lead me to the One. After a while, I see a hazy shape in the distance. A tree? Yes, but it’s nearly transparent. It grows more opaque as I approach.)

Me: Curiouser and curiouser!

(By the time I reach it, it is real. A tree. And a hill. And a garden. And a round green door with a handle in the middle.)

Me: It’s perfect. It’s real, and it’s perfect!

(Perfect? Well, not quite. The garden is overgrown with weeds. The paint is peeling off the green door, and there’s an overall look of disrepair.)

Me: Odd. It wouldn’t be like Sam to let things get so shabby. But otherwise it looks all right. Very hobbit-ish.

(I knock. No answer, but the door swings open on rusty, creaking hinges. I enter. It’s dusty and dark. But I like it. It’s a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.)

Voice (from outside): Hallo, hallo! Is anybody in there?

Me: Yes! The door was open, so…

(A human-shaped form passes slowly through the circular doorway. Well, he’s plainly taller than a hobbit! Short for Ilúvatar, though. And on the stocky side.)

Voice: Splendid! They told me you were here! Very peculiar, what has happened to you. Quite unprecedented.

Me: Are you…the One, sir?

Voice: Yes, but only to the Valar and Valier. As their author and creator, it is entirely understandable that they regard me as their deity. Dear, how dusty this place has become! But of course we give little thought to housekeeping.

(Suddenly a beam of golden sunlight streaks into the center of the room, and the speaker’s craggy face is clearly visible.)

Me: Professor Tolkien?

Tolkien: Indeed. And you are Whistler the White, he of the wrinkled bedsheet! Most amusing.

Me: Oh! Professor! This is a very great honor!

Tolkien: I cannot think why. I should think it a considerable disappointment to one who expected an encounter with Eru himself. But I thank you for your courtesy, however misguided. Have you your pipe with you, sir?

Me: I don’t smoke.

Tolkien: Today you shall, and you shall borrow one of these excellent hobbit-pipes. This one was Bilbo’s, I think. No! It was left here by Merry. How dreadfully careless he was, to leave it behind! Here, we shall chat until your pipe is extinguished.

(He fills the pipe with aromatic pipe-weed, lights it, and passes it to me. Then he lights his own pipe and somehow fits himself into a hobbit-chair. I am on the floor, looking up in wonder at the great man himself.)

Tolkien: Well, it has been a long time since I visited Bag End. It is so quiet now! So very quiet.

Me: Where is everybody? Where are Bilbo, Frodo, Sam and all the rest? Will I meet them? Are they here?

Tolkien: They are gone, all gone. They left some time ago. They came to me, in a body, and asked to be excused. It was time for that, of course. I embraced them and thanked them for their service. Then I released them and sent them away. Certainly there were tears! But not all tears are evil.

Me: Sent them away? To where?

Tolkien: I cannot say. To oblivion, perhaps. Or perhaps to another West of which we do not know. It is an intriguing but unanswerable question.

(There is a long silence. I still do not know where I am, or what is happening, or what it all means.)

Tolkien: Now, then! Tell me your impression, Mr. Whistler the White, of the illustrious Valar and Valier!

Me: I’m…afraid to say.

Tolkien: Nonsense! There is no cause for fear in this place. We are past all fear, and past all care.

Me: Then I will tell you frankly, professor, that I was extremely disappointed. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. They were old and silly and…

Tolkien: Utterly pathetic.

Me: Yes.

Tolkien: Did they show you that ridiculous puzzle? The one with the overabundance of yapping little canines?

Me: They did! And it made me ill, to see them obsessed with such an idiotic project. It was just sad, that’s all. Sad and depressing as…heck!

(Tolkien laughs heartily, his bright eyes twinkling. Pipe smoke rings around his snowy hair as though it were a halo.)

Tolkien: “Depressing as heck!” Well, it is good to hear that somebody (and an American, no less) still makes an effort to keep his language rather less salty than he might. I despise vulgarity, but slang can be charming when skillfully utilized.

Me: Please! What has happened to the Valar?

Tolkien: One might observe that they have “hit bottom,” I believe! There, now! Another Americanism. Ha, ha!

Me: Why are you laughing? Is there a joke here somewhere?

Tolkien: A joke? No, not a joke. But your concern is misguided, sir. You see, but through a clouded glass, as the apostle writes. When you see clearly, you will think differently.

Me: Can you explain, then, why it isn’t tragic that the once-great Valar, the fashioners of Arda itself, have degenerated into doddering, helpless old loonies?

Tolkien: Sir, I remind you that the Valar are fictional. They live (though barely) only in my mind, and in yours, and in the minds of other readers. You have seen only my personal Valar, and indeed they are less than a shadow of what they have been. They ought to have gone away when Bilbo and the others did, of course. It would have been more dignified. But they are very proud, and are reluctant to surrender to the inevitable.

Me: Inevitable? Why must your characters fade, and go away? Why do you allow it?

Tolkien: I do not allow it. I encourage it. It is a matter of evolution, though not (of course) Mr. Darwin’s variety.

Me: I’m sorry. I mean no disrespect, but…

Tolkien: …but I disappoint you, as the Valar did!

(There is a very long pause as the professor puffs his pipe, eyes closed tightly in thought.)

Tolkien: Mr. Whistler, do you know why we dream? That is, why we make stories and poetry and such?

Me: I don’t know anything. Not today.

Tolkien: I will explain, if I can. Are you aware that, when a man loses an arm or a leg, he sometimes feels (in his mind and heart) the sensations which the absent limb would experience, if it were still attached?

Me: I guess I’ve heard of that.

Tolkien: Well, sir! Of course you know that I am a Christian and a Catholic, and as such it is my belief that every man and woman is a flawed and incomplete work. Each of us is conscious of realities for which he has no words, and of needs for which he has no name. We feel each day the agony of our incompleteness. We know that we are missing a portion of ourselves. Hence we fashion shadows to fill our empty spaces, to create (as it were) new limbs for those which Melkor has hewn from us. And with those limbs we tread, however unsteadily, on paths which are otherwise denied us.

Me: Paths to where?

Tolkien: To Eru, Ilúvatar, Jahweh, Jehovah! At least, that is how it was (and is) for your humble philologist. But now I do not tread those paths unsteadily! And now I do not need the dreams and shadows.

Me: I see. I think.

Tolkien: Here is an imperfect analogy: the World That Is began as Eru’s song. The Valar sang this song, but not forever. No, they gained Arda! And Arda was afterward all that delighted them. Born of the song, Arda was nonetheless distinct from the song. It was something more. It was something they could never have anticipated. Yes, and they beheld it with wonder! So it is with me, and with my own poor efforts.

(He blows a magnificent smoke ring.)

Me: Your efforts aren’t poor. I love your…dreams and shadows, as you call them.

Tolkien: I am pleased that so many agree. But of course they are only that, dreams and shadows! I have now progressed beyond them, and that is what I mean by evolution. Middle earth is fading for me now because the yearnings which inspired it are yearnings no longer, but splendid (if greatly altered) realities. My good friend Clive, whom you also admire, has often made the same observation regarding his fantastic worlds and planets.

Me: Clive? Do you mean C. S. Lewis? I always thought he hated that name.

Tolkien: I believe he did, long ago! But of course one sees things differently here. One is not so easily annoyed. Death, as you call it, is liberating in many ways.

Me: Death, as I call it? Do you call it something else?

Tolkien: Well, Death is perceived very differently to one who has attained it. It hardly factors into one’s thinking. Can you say as much, in the place which Mr. Lewis has rightly termed the Shadowlands? I have not thought about Death, sir, for ages.

Me: You seem to have adjusted pretty well.

Tolkien: The Elves always coveted the gift of Ilúvatar to Men. And they were wise.

(I am ready to ask the Big Question.)

Me: Sir, am I…dead?

Tolkien: You are somewhat dead, but not enough to do you any good. No, it won’t stick. Not at all. But you shall have a crack at it again, I shouldn’t doubt.

(Sigh of relief from your humble reporter, who is in no hurry)

Me: Tell me about Mr. Lewis. Is he in Narnia?

Tolkien: He goes there at times. I join him on occasion, and I’ll tell you that I much prefer its faded state! Once, one could hardly set foot in the place without stumbling, face-first, into an allegory! They popped up like mushrooms. Not at all my sort of environment! But there are no allegories now. No, not even the great talking Lion.

Me: Even Aslan is gone? I think that’s sad, whatever you say.

Tolkien: Sir! You must try to understand. Shadows are for you, not for us! You think we abandon our dreams when in fact we embrace them. Mr. Lewis never loved his Aslan more, I think, than when he took his leave of him.

Me: This is too much. My head is aching.

Tolkien: The pipe-weed, perhaps? One must get used to it. That’s fine Longbottom Leaf, you know. Or the shadow of it, rather. Perhaps you would care for a bowl of ent-draught? There is only a little left, but you are welcome to it.

Me: Oh! Yes, by all means!

(Seemingly unbidden, a figure emerges from the shadows, carrying a bowl.)

Tolkien: This little fellow is my only remaining Middle-earth companion. I do not know his name. And he will be leaving soon, I think. Then I shall shut the green door of Bag End…and I shall not return.

(Is Tolkien’s companion a hobbit? I take a closer look.)

Me: Jiminy Cricket! Gilthoniel O Elbereth! An orc! He’s an orc!

Tolkien: A little one, yes. Do drink heartily, now, and you’ll feel better.

Me: But…an orc! How can there be an evil creature in this, of all places?

Tolkien: Evil? Only evil minds fashion shadows that are genuinely evil. Evil is defined by the heart’s intentions. And mine were never evil, I hope.

Me: Then everything in Middle-earth is actually good?

Tolkien: Not within the context of the narrative, of course! Within that context, the concepts of evil and good are mutually exclusive and clearly defined. I am happy to have made no contribution to the amoral and nihilistic mentality which permeates your wretched popular culture!

Me: No one accuses you of that, I’m sure.

Tolkien: Kindly recall that I depicted evil only for the purpose of illustrating, and indeed celebrating, goodness. Never did I shamefully dangle the forbidden fruit of Eden (so sweet, and so desirable!) before my readers’ eyes. I allowed it first to rot, and afterward invited my readers to inhale its putridity.

Me: Mordor stinks, all right.

Tolkien: Ah, but I have wandered off-topic. We were discussing the orc! I call him good because he served the story, which served its creator, which served (I hope) its creator’s Creator. And he is now, at any rate, retired from the service of the Lidless Eye. So drink, and be renewed!

(I accept the bowl, forcing myself to smile politely at the orc. He bows and quickly exits. I sample the ent-draught, which is delicious but impossible to describe.)

Me: Oh! That’s good! That’s really good!

Tolkien: There is nothing better. And now you are refreshed, and must ask whatever questions will complete this remarkable interview. There is a gathering of Inklings today, and my time here is short.

Me: I don’t know what to ask. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

Tolkien: You could start anywhere. I have learned the mysteries of time and space, and seen the face of God. But you are not ready for such revelations, I think! So perhaps you should ask about something more mundane. Ask (if you like) about Mr. Peter Jackson’s cinematic magnum opus.

Me: The movie? You know about the movie? How about a brief review of the work so far? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

Tolkien: No thumbs at all, if you please! No, the cinemaniacs (to coin a term) will do what they will do, and it will mean precisely nothing in eternity. However, I will endeavour to make such observations as I might have offered, once, as a flesh-and-blood creature of the Shadowlands.

Me: Please.

Tolkien: I will say first that I should have been shocked, and indeed appalled, by the expenditure of such an inconceivable sum upon a mere entertainment. Of course, I should have spoken as a humble academic for whom even moderate sums were at times inconceivable. So let us look beyond that.

Me: Fine with me.

Tolkien: Let me see. I daresay I should have approved of the hobbit-holes, and of the styling of the splendid Gondorian helmets. Also I should have rejoiced to find no evidence of Disneyfication.

Me: Yes, you had a “heartfelt loathing” for Disney.

Tolkien: Indeed. Though nowadays I find him a pleasant fellow, aside from his appalling taste in Dwarves. I have called him a Philistine, but dear Mr. Lewis (as you may recall) said as much of me.

Me: He did? Seriously?

Tolkien: Ages ago, he described as uncivilized anyone who loathed to read the same book twice. This was a reference to me! I was a philologist, a papist and (to him) the cultural equivalent of an orangutan. Three unpardonable flaws. Splendid man, wrong about practically everything and utterly charming.

(He loathed to read the same book twice? What about ten or twenty times, like most of his fans?)

Me: Let’s discuss specifics, now, regarding the movie. How do you react to the Arwen expansion? Could Boromir have handled the Ring? There are literally hundreds of questions! Oh! And Bombadil is out, of course. We figure that’s all right, but we’re concerned about the Saruman-kabob. The question is this…

(Tolkien turns his face toward the shadows. He is silent for a while.)

Tolkien: No, I’m afraid it is useless. I cannot discuss trivialities, however much I try.

Me: Trivialities? You regard the changes as trivial?

Tolkien: That is not my meaning. Rather, I mean that I regard this discussion as trivial. The film itself is trivial. Even the books (to me) are ultimately trivial, save for the virtues they celebrate. But that is because they are only a part of my life’s first draft. I have undergone substantial editing. You are addressing my Second Edition, sir! And now I am greatly improved.

(I cannot even formulate a comment. I am just a foolish man, still in his First Edition.)

Tolkien: The Inklings await. It is time for us to end our conversation. But first, I have a question for YOU.

Me: For me? Are you serious?

Tolkien: Entirely. But you may take your time about it. You make take a lifetime, if you wish.

Me: I may. What’s the question?

Tolkien: Does a Balrog have wings?

Me: Ah, you’re playing with me now. That’s the oldest question in the book. And you’re the only one who knows the answer!

Tolkien: I am not playing at all. And I do not know the answer. If I did, I have forgotten it.

Me: But it’s your story!

Tolkien: Mine? Have you really missed the point of this discussion? It is NOT my story. Not any more. I have passed on to better things, and have bequeathed it to the world. In all but the legal sense, my work belongs (regrettably, in many cases) to all who will embrace it.

Me: Even Peter Jackson?

Tolkien: Even the rather unpopular Mr. Bakshi.

Me: Ouch!

Tolkien: Ouch, indeed! Many who love my work do not understand it. Many will prove themselves vulgarians. Many will grind it into fodder for the feeding-troughs of bestial consumerism. Doubtless it will suffer appalling abuses in the years and generations to come. I hear already the beeps and bells and buzzers of Middle-earth computer games. Plastic toys will follow. All dreadful, of course! But quite unavoidable, given the perversity of Man.

Me: I’m afraid you’re right. As the saying goes, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the public.

Tolkien: Never. But ultimately nothing can destroy a good story that is meant to be read, not even the moneychangers who (now as ever) are indifferent to the Temple they defile.

(He empties his pipe, and I realize that we are nearing the end of our discussion.)

Tolkien: Now, sir! Will you return, do you think, to the message boards?

Me: Maybe. I haven’t decided.

Tolkien: Please convey this message, if you do: tell them, sir, that it will be all right. Tell them that the story will survive in spite of anything, if indeed it merits survival.

Me: I will.

Tolkien: Tell them that their dreams are theirs forever, and cannot be tarnished or taken by anyone.

Me: I will.

Tolkien: Tell them that I am content to entrust to my readers my literary children. I doubt that any bear, in defending her cub, has done so with greater enthusiasm than they have displayed in defending Middle-earth against detractors, real and imagined.

Me: Some of them are bears, all right.

Tolkien: Berserkers, I should call them! And I do admire their passion. I am however disturbed by the near-worshipful attitude which a minority display. Never did I wish to be deified. Had I sought worship, I should be like Melkor. And I should be spending my eternity elsewhere.

Me: All of us overstate our arguments at times. In the heat of the debate, a ‘good versus evil’ mentality develops. You become God, with PJ as Lucifer. Nobody really thinks that way, of course.

Tolkien: Let us hope not. Civilized debate is a glorious thing, possible only when accompanied by reason and reasonable courtesy. I strongly disagreed with Mr. Lewis in matters both frivolous and grave. But always we were careful to argue respectfully. I think I should have grieved, in my life, to see my readers (imagining that I would take delight in their fury) carelessly accuse one another of villainy, cowardice, heresy and similarly hateful crimes. I have witnessed all of those crimes. I witnessed them, sir, when the Little Tramp sought to devour my whole continent. The use of such terms, in reference to an infernal motion picture, is offensive in the extreme.

Me: The Little…oh! I get it. But didn’t you use the term ‘murder’ in reference to the Zimmerman script?

Tolkien: Ha! So I did! I was (in life) what is called a curmudgeon. Always cross at something! Even so, I despised incivility and intolerance. If either sin is present in my work, I should like to hear the passage cited.

Me: Well, I’m staying out of this. I have used more than a few harsh words, myself. But I’m trying to reform.

Tolkien: Do so. Refrain from provocation, sir! And if you are provoked by another, tell him that you have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words until the lightning falls.

Me: Oh! I will certainly say that!

(He smiles. I can tell he’s still proud of that line.)

Tolkien: Now, then! Your pipe is extinguished. It is time.

(I give him my pipe, and he places in my hand a tiny object.)

Me: What is this?

Tolkien: It is a piece of that idiotic jigsaw puzzle. Half of a schnauzer, it appears.

Me: You stole it from the Valar?

Tolkien: I freely confess. It occurred to me that soon they will finish the puzzle. What will happen then? Deprived of their sole intellectual pursuit, they will grow unimaginably weak and complacent. And I retain enough of my former self to wish them, in their proper and inevitable passing, at least a shred of dignity.

Me: “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

Tolkien: Ah, the drunken Welchman! Yes. My thinking is this: when they discover that a piece of their puzzle is missing, it will stir in them a long extinguished fire. Not (of course) the Imperishable Flame! No, it will be a little fire. But it will be better than no fire at all, I should think.

Me: They could use a heckuva spark, all right.

Tolkien: The Valar will set themselves to find the missing piece. They will focus all their energies upon it, and so regain (perhaps) the slightest fraction of their glory. They will view the undertaking as a Quest, I should imagine.

Me: And you could write a book about the Quest: “The Schnauzerillion!”

Tolkien: Oh! I shall escape that horrid pun by translating it to Sindarin.

Me: So…shall I take this half-a-schnauzer with me?

Tolkien: If you please. As a very little favor to a very old man who has gone beyond the uttermost West, and still has not ended his journeys.

(He turns and exits quietly through the round doorway, shutting it behind him. The light dims dramatically.)

Me: Professor, wait! How do I get home again?

(The orc reappears, this time laden with a rustic backpack. He wears a little cap with a Microsoft logo. Yes, how appropriate! Being a Macintosh man, I have always regarded that symbol as the new Red Eye.)

Orc: Khazad-Dûm! You get it? Ha, ha! Baked Apple! Khazad-Dûm!

(He does a little orc-dance.)

Me: You! It was you! You’re balrog@moria.com!

(He laughs again, then points into the darkness and beckons me to follow. I’ll follow, all right! We rush into the emptiness together. In time his footsteps fade, and I am suddenly aware that he has left me. Somehow I know that he has gone wherever Gandalf and Bilbo and Frodo have gone. And though he is an orc, and the cause of my predicament, I cannot help but wish him well.)

Me: I wonder how an orc gets internet access?

(Time to move onward. Onward and…ouch! What’s this? Whatever it is, it’s hard and smooth. A wall, perhaps? I push against the surface, and…)

(…a door swings open, revealing my studio! Nothing is damaged. My Macintosh is waiting. I’m home, Auntie Em!)

Me (turning back to examine the mysterious door): A wardrobe? I’ve been in a wardrobe?

(Yes. A wardrobe, plain as day! A calling card, no doubt, from Mr. Lewis. Pretty clever! I wish I had met him.)

(I am still wrapped in the sheet, and I still clasp the puzzle piece tightly in my palm. What to do now? I am weary of the message boards. And yet…)

Me: Hey! Where did I get that Tolkien screensaver?

(Where? I can guess. I sit at my desk. I place the half-a-schnauzer near the keyboard, where I can see it as I type this account of my adventures. I sip my espresso, which is still hot and steaming. And finally I thank the One for sending us, from time to time, a noble dreamspinner whose heart is in the uttermost West.)

Me: Well, I’m back.

••••••••••••••••••••
My Interview With Tiger Woods

Me:
Well, Mr. Woods, this is certainly a pleasure.

Tiger:
Call me Tiger. When does this interview run?

Me:
Run?

Tiger:
Yes, in Sports Illustrated. You said you were from Sports Illustrated. But you made that up, didn’t you?

Me:
Yes.

Tiger:
You aren’t even a sports fan, are you?

Me:
No. How’d you guess?

Tiger:
Easy. I heard you refer to a tee as a “ball-holding thingy.” That, plus the fact that you’re…well, not the sporty type. No, I have you pegged as a dork.

Me:
A dork? We prefer the term “geek,” if you please.

Tiger:
We? Who is we?

Me:
The people from the website. The Tolkien website messageboard. That’s where I’ll be posting this interview.

Tiger:
Fine, whatever.

Me:
I don’t suppose you’ve ever read anything by J.R.R. Tolkien, Oxford philologist, member of the Inklings and writer of fantastic literature?

Tiger:
Never.

Me:
Okay. So I guess it would be the height of foolishness to ask if you have an opinion on the new Tolkien movies?

Tiger:
Well, I don’t have much time for movies. Or for books.

Me:
Just golf?

Tiger:
Just golf. So what is the point of this interview? I don’t know beans about this Tolkien guy, and you don’t know beans about golf. I suggest we call it a draw and go home.

Me:
Give me a chance, and I’ll explain. You see, now and then I have to take a vacation from the board. It makes me crazy sometimes.

Tiger:
That explains a lot.

Me:
Now, this time I’d planned to stay away until maybe November. I mean, I’ve got better things to do than listen to crackpots.

Tiger:
I was gonna say that, too.

Me:
But just the other day I looked in, and…well, it wasn’t pretty. They were desperate for news and new topics. You know what it’s like when people have nothing to talk about, but keep talking anyway?

Tiger:
Yes, I’m learning about that now.

Me:
Well, I decided that I had to drop in and give ’em something new to chew on. And when I return from these vacations I like to post something unusual and thought provoking. Most of the time, it’s an interview.

Tiger:
With a professional golfer?

Me:
No, never! But I interviewed Peter Jackson, who’s directing the movies. He offered to wash my car, can you believe it?

Tiger:
I’m sure directors do that all the time. Look, I have to go now. Really.

Me:
And then I had a strange out-of-body experience and interviewed J.R.R. Tolkien in Heaven. And we smoked pipes together, which is something I wouldn’t think they’d let you do in Heaven. And I got to meet the Valar. They’re the demi-gods of Middle earth, and they were working a jigsaw puzzle. You’re not following me, are you?

Tiger:
No, but I’m wondering if somebody ought to be. Somebody armed with a butterfly net. And maybe a stun gun.

Me:
Anyway, I noticed you here in the clubhouse, relaxing with a drink, and I knew that you had to be next. I’m truly ashamed to have made up that story, but I had to do something. Think of this as charity. The messageboard people are starving for topics! Please, five minutes?

Tiger:
Five. Not six.

Me:
Great! Let’s talk about golf. Is it hard to play golf?

Tiger:
Not for me.

Me:
Stupid question. Let’s try again. Those are…um…nice clubs you have there. Care to tell the folks about those clubs?

Tiger:
Yeah. They’re nice.

Me:
Lots of ’em, too. You probably use one club for one kind of shot, and another for another kind of shot.

Tiger:
Whoa! Did you figure that out on your own?

Me:
What’s that big clunky club there? You could do some damage with that one!

Tiger:
Yeah, that’s a Titleist Titanium 975D. It’s a real serious driver. If another Golfimbul shows up, I’m ready for him. Look, I think you have enough material now. Time to put this interview out of its misery.

Me:
Wait a minute! What was that unusual name you just mentioned? Started with a G.

Tiger:
Slip of the tongue. Forget it.

Me:
No, no! I’ve heard that name before. Was it Golfimbul? It was Golfimbul, wasn’t it?

Tiger:
No!

Me:
Where have I heard that name? Wait a minute! (I produce my copy of The Hobbit and begin thumbing quickly through the pages.)

Tiger:
What’s that book?

Me:
Aha! I knew it! Here it is: “…Old Took’s great-grand-uncle Bullroarer, who…charged the ranks of the goblins in Mount Gram…and knocked their king Golfimbul’s head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”

Tiger:
Give me that! (Tiger grabs the book and starts to read in a state of extreme agitation.) Man, I can’t believe this! I can NOT believe this! This can NOT be happening!

Me:
Tiger, even a hardcore fan couldn’t place such a name without thinking. You’re well-versed in Tolkien, despite your denial. My question is, why would you lie? I hope you’re not one of those people who’s ashamed of the fantasy genre?

Tiger:
No, no! Honestly, I’ve never seen this book before. Have lots of people read this?

Me:
Millions and millions, yes. And there’s a huge sequel devoted a war and a Ring.

Tiger:
Well, this beats everything! This is not for public consumption! This is the History of Our Beginnings, one of the Ancient Mysteries! This is from the Lore of Wise Ones, a Pillar of the Secret Knowledge of the Brotherhood! This is for the eyes of the Humble and Exalted Ones, the Keepers of the Flame!

(Tiger wanders off for a minute. He appears to be engaged in a great internal struggle. Finally he returns, stern-faced but seemingly at peace.)

So be it, then! Long have I scorned the inky veil of mystery! Bah! Are we cowards, that we hide our deeds in shadow? Is it not vain to imagine that, in darkness, we nourish the One White Tree?

Me:
Gee, your questions are much more colorful than mine.

Tiger:
None save Eru alone could have wrought this marvel, and Eru erreth not. All shall now be told! For if one of the Secrets be revealed, shall not another follow of a surety?

Me:
Seems pretty likely, I guess.

Tiger:
Now shall the Brotherhood cast aside its shadowy cloak! Now shall the Brothers be revealed unto the world! The words of the prophet now art truly come to pass!

Me:
Prophet? What prophet?

Tiger:
Oh…Lee Trevino, I think. But that’s beside the point. The cram has hit the fan, so to speak. The lid is off. The game is up. The die is cast. The fat is in the fire.

Me:
The Rubicon is crossed?

Tiger:
Exactly. Here’s your story: Again the men of Gondor do arise in might and valor!

Me:
Cool. Where?

Tiger:
Why, here! It is such a man who stands before you. So also are my Brothers of the PGA Tour. For we are the Keepers of the Secret Knowledge that was passed from the Golfers of Gondor, whose valiant deeds are doubtless described in the work of this…this J.R.R. Tolkien.

Me:
Well, not really. There’s nothing in the book about golfing Gondorians.

Tiger:
Is there, then, a scene in which orcs assail the city with the catapulted heads of fallen warriors?

Me:
Oh, yes! It’s pretty nasty.

Tiger:
And do you not see the similarities between that scene and the fate of the goblin Golfimbul? This was their answer for his death. For it was his death which inspired the creation of a new form of battle against which (Eru be praised!) the orcs were powerless, and which they despised above all others.

Me:
That would be golf?

Tiger:
Of course. You see, the art of golf was far too subtle for the clumsy, vulgar orcs. They were incapable of nuance and precision, being hardly more than beasts. They chipped like mad; they sliced into the rough!

Me:
And never replaced a divot, I’ll bet.

Tiger:
Needless to say, they were always defeated. Always!

Me:
Which meant that they were stuck with the tab for martinis at the clubhouse?

Tiger:
Bah! This is a serious matter! It wasn’t a game in those days. Surely you know that many of our popular sports began in warfare? Archery, for one. And the javelin throw.

Me:
And golf?

Tiger:
And golf! Of course, it wasn’t always played with heads. The Golfimbul business was a fluke, but it provided Middle-earth’s other races with a vital bit of knowledge. This was the knowledge that the heads of orcs were poorly formed and very, very loosely attached.

Me:
Well, that’s what happens when you go and corrupt a perfectly good race. You always end up with manufacturing defects. Oh, but just try telling that to a Lord of Darkness bent on world dominion! Goes in one ear and out the other.

Tiger:
Dog! Cease your levity! We are a proud and sober race, and do not suffer readily the prattling of fools!

Me:
Hey, I wasn’t prattling! Do continue.

Tiger:
News of the orcs’ fatal weakness quickly spread, and almost immediately orc-killing clubs of all varieties were fashioned by Middle-earth’s various races and cultures. The Dwarves were the makers of irons; the Elves were the makers of woods; the Men were the makers of putters.

Me:
What about the Hobbits?

Tiger:
The Hobbits were the makers of miniature golf, for which we have almost forgiven them. But that is an ignoble matter of which we will not speak.

Me:
Hey, I like miniature golf. Especially the windmill. If you make a hole-in one on the windmill, you win a free chili dog.

Tiger:
Listen and be silent, I prithee! I am trying to reveal the Ancient Mysteries, doggone it!

Me:
You know, you have a very schizophrenic vocabulary.

Tiger:
Many foul orcs were dispatched with the terrible weapons these races had devised, and many heads rolled! Of course, there wasn’t always a rabbit hole handy. So usually they’d try to find one afterward, and stuff the heads into it.

Me:
Sounds like a very bad time to be a rabbit.

Tiger:
It was Gondor, in those ancient days, which boasted the finest of the golfers. It was the Golfers of Gondor who were first to strike a ball (as opposed to a head) with the orc-killing clubs. These they propelled with such force and precision as to cause the thin-skulled heads of orcs to crack (and often to explode) upon impact, splattering the battlefields with brains and blood and bone!

Me:
Hey, that’s more than disgusting. That’s impossible, and just plain silly!

Tiger:
Not at all. For the balls they used were not the common balls we use today. No, these were touched with Middle-earth magic. These were…Balls of Power!

Me:
Is that like Buns of Steel? I’m smelling a product endorsement.

Tiger:
Hardly! For no manufacturer today has the skills to make such balls as were employed in the War of the Ring. Nor did any Man of that time possess the necessary craftsmanship. These, sir, were Elven-made! In Lórien itself they were created, and from Lórien transported by the tens of thousands to the cities of the Men. Thereby the Elves, who were otherwise preoccupied with fading, so mightily assisted in the war against the Shadow that unto this day, in their honor, the regulation golf tee is shaped in a manner suggestive of the pedestal upon which Galadriel placed her mirror.

(He wipes away a tear, then continues.)

The story of the War of the Ring you know already, I think, from the work of this Tolkien fellow. But if he did not speak of the Golfers of Gondor, I will tell you of them now. Know that these warriors stood atop the walls of Minas Tirith, unprotected, and upon the Shadow’s minions they rained such a number of balls as are yet to be struck on any PGA course. Know that the Enemy suffered great loss at their hands.

Me:
Okay, I’m knowing that.

Tiger:
Weep to know also that eighteen worthy golfers of their number were slain. Eighteen vertical graves were dug, and into these others of the Brotherhood putted balls in tribute. Then the eighteen fallen were placed into the holes upright, with clubs in hand, that they might remain vigilant in death. Afterward each of the eighteen graves was filled with earth, topped with a circle of fine green turf, and marked forever after with a numbered, triangular flag.

Me:
Eighteen graves, eighteen holes of golf. I’m seeing a pattern here.

Tiger:
The golfers who remained alive pledged among themselves that until the end of Arda there should be no end of golf, and to honor this pledge they devised a sporting form of their art, that in peace it should not be forgotten. They likewise established the Brotherhood, which in our country is publicly known as the Professional Golfers Association. And to this day is the Brotherhood prepared to do battle with Darkness!

Me:
Okay, let’s review. You’re telling me, first, that the story of the War of the Ring is actual history rather than fiction.

Tiger:
That’s right.

Me:
Next, you’re saying that a lethal form of golf was employed in the defense of Minas Tirith.

Tiger:
Right again.

Me:
Finally you’re saying that professional golf is actually a cover for a secret, millennia-old society of pseudo-Gondorians who are devoted to preserving secret knowledge from a long-lost culture, and to the continual sharpening of skills which, disguised as sport, are in reality intended as defense against a future re-emergence of the Shadow?

Tiger:
On the nosie, Rosie! Your website friends, I think, will be more than satisfied.

Me:
Satisfied? With what? With the ramblings of a certified Looney Tune? You are one sick puppy, mister!

Tiger:
Yes, I expected that reaction. Therefore look, and be amazed!

(He shows me a golf ball)

Me:
So?

Tiger:
It is a Ball of Power, one of the golf balls of Lórien! See, it bears the image of a swan. Only the Silmarils themselves had greater beauty! These have the Brotherhood preserved in great numbers.

Me:
I’ll take your word for it. Anything else?

Tiger:
Look in my bag, and you’ll see a shiny iron with runes on the shaft.

(I remove the iron and examine it.)

Me:
Yes, very pretty. Let me guess…once it was Andúril, Flame of the West?

Tiger:
Close, but no cigar. Andúril was made into a putter. This is the Nine-Iron of Aragorn, fashioned in tribute by the Dwarves, and inscribed as such in five ancient languages.

Me:
Mithril, no doubt.

Tiger:
Mithril, yes! It’s the most revered of the Treasures of the Brotherhood. The pyramids are nothing next to this!

Me:
Like I said, it’s pretty. But it doesn’t prove that..hey! What’s it doing?

(The club begins to glow.)

Tiger:
By the Powers! The prophesy of Palmer the Wise is fulfilled! No sooner is the Brotherhood revealed than the long-awaited summons is issued in our midst! It is war! It is war, war, war!

(Tiger quickly slips into a short black tunic bearing the embroidered image of the One White Tree with crossed putters. He also dons a winged metal helmet which bears the same emblem, plus the Nike logo.)

I go to death or victory! I go, and prithee straightway follow if thou be something more than a buffoon.

Me:
What, follow as a warrior of Gondor?

Tiger:
A warrior of Gondor? Don’t make me laugh.

Me:
As a shield-bearer, maybe? Or a squire?

Tiger:
Actually, what I need now is a caddy. What would you say to five bucks, eight if you keep your mouth shut?

Me:
Count me in. Okay if I grab a Diet Coke and a few of these cocktail weenies? Hey, wait up!

(Exit the warrior and caddy. End of interview.)

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