Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 273: The Turtles Visit Middle Earth

In my last post I mentioned, briefly, my love of Middle-earth and everything it encompasses. Today I'd like to expand a bit on that.

The reason it's been on my mind lately is that my wife, after reading The Hobbit several times in the past made up her mind to finally finish The Lord of the Rings. She's tried before, but never got past The Fellowship of the Ring, and as much of a fan as I am I can totally understand. Tolkien's writing is not everyone's cup of tea; he's very descriptive and his love of lengthy discussions far outweighs the amount of action in the story. But we both love Peter Jackson's film adaptations and the recent trailers for part one of The Hobbit have us very excited to see Martin Freeman as a young Bilbo. So in anticipation of re-entering the epic film version of Middle-earth she decided to finally finish the series, and she did complain about some parts being boring and Tolkien's uncanny ability to kill momentum but overall she really enjoyed it.

As for me? I love it all. The councils, the walking, the endless discussions of old legends, the songs (especially the songs!); all those things that make the books difficult or boring for most people are the things I love. I wasn't always this way, though. My love of Middle-earth is one that has been growing since I first read The Hobbit sometime around 4th Grade. Tolkien's writing is sometimes a bit weighty, especially for a child, but The Hobbit is much more accessible and I've always read things at a higher level than my age. I enjoyed it even if I didn't understand it all and then I moved on to The Lord of the Rings since I had them all in a convenient box set my aunt had given me.

At first I was really only interested in the story. There was so much needless trudging through forests and across plains and talking and singing (those fucking songs!). I remember distinctly giving up on the songs early on and just skipping over them when I first read the books. Or how about Tom Bombadil? What about that guy?

If you've read the books or were a big fan of the movies you likely know Tom Bombadil. Purists crucified Peter Jackson for his omission of the character, while other people were so happy to not have to listen to one of his stupid songs. Personally when I first read the books I hated Tom Bombadil, but now I love that guy! He's such a great character, but if you look at the story objectively he isn't really necessary and I think Peter Jackson did the right thing in leaving him out. I think I'll include a bit of him, though, as this is my blog.

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! Fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master:
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.
Over time I continued to revisit the books and I began to get drawn more into the world rather than just the events of the story. I started to wonder about the Elves and where Sauron came from and all those things fantasy nerds wonder about. I started reading the songs and paying more attention to the smaller, seemingly insignificant details. Eventually I read The Silmarillion which was the most amazing thing that ever happened to someone wanting to know more about Middle-earth and its origins.

The Silmarillion is the Middle-earth bible, and not in the sense that it's a great reference book. It's the Middle-earth bible in the sense that it starts out with the creation and shaping of the world, and moves on through the tales of the ages from there. This is not something I would recommend to a casual fan of the series unless you're really really interested in Elvin genealogy.

So here I am, now (sort-of) an adult with a deep love of all things Middle-earth. I don't really have strong feelings about that world becoming "cool." I know a lot of people hate seeing things they love get popular and bastardized by the mainstream, but that's really never mattered much to me. I'm happy that more people have been exposed to what was my introduction to the fantasy genre, but I realize most people won't take it as far as I have. That's fine. Everyone else can move on and forget about the Hobbits and Ents; I'll continue to love Tolkien's world for my own reasons.

About the picture, it kind of looks like the Fellowship, except there were nine member of the Fellowship and only four Turtles. I just tried to represent the major races matching the personalities of the Turtles as much as possible. Leonardo is men, but in his case specifically a ranger. They're from an old blood-line of the first kings and much more noble than your average Joe. Donatello is an elf (even though that kinda looks like a Gondorian pattern on his vest). I don't really have a good reason for this except that I've always liked the elves. In hindsight he should have been a wizard. Magic is as close as you can get to technology in Middle-earth without being evil. Raph is a dwarf, of course. Red beard mixed with a love of fighting and quick temper? done. Michelangelo, I feel, best represents the Hobbits. Why fight when you can eat, drink, smoke and generally enjoy life to the fullest?

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