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This ring, no other, is made by the Elves Who'd pawn their own mother to get it themselves. Ruler of creeper, mortal and scallop, This is a sleeper that packs quite a wallop. If broken or busted it cannot be remade. If found, send to Sorhed. (The postage is prepaid.) —Inscription on The Great Ring
An, and possibly the, outrageous parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings written and published in 1969 by the staff of the Harvard University humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon. (The members of which, not coincidentally, would go on several years later to found The National Lampoon magazine.)Produced during the first wave of Tolkien's popularity, when LOTR fandom was a hallmark of the counterculture, Bored draws a deliberate parallel to the contrast between LOTR's epic, almost academic, style and the bohemians and hippies who typified its fans at the time. In part BOTR accomplishes this by slavishly mimicking the form of the book, both in content and in physical layout — the original◊ paperback edition copied the design of the first authorized Tolkien paperbacks published in the United States, right down to the back-cover note warning of the unauthorized editions which had been previously published. However, draped over this superficially Tolkienian framework is an over-the-top and frequently hallucinogenic tale that twists every element of The Lord of the Rings into something ridiculous yet still recognizable.The book manages to find and skewer all the high points of Tolkien's magnum opus with considerable alacrity. In the first few chapters we meet a bevy of under-impressive characters, including
Dildo Bugger, finder of the Great Ring
Goodgulf Greyteeth, a self-proclaimed "wizard" whose only mastery of magic is legerdemain
Frito Bugger, nephew of Dildo
Spam Gangree, his half-witted manservant
Moxie and Pepsi Dingleberry, twin morons
Arrowroot, the weak-chinned and bucktoothed ranger who is the heir to the throne of Twodor
But he goes by many names.
Bromosel, son of Benelux, Steward of Twodor
Gimlet, son of Groin, a deformed dwarf
Legolam, an acerbic elf
Together they make up a fellowship intended to see to the destruction of the Great Ring (of elvish design but manufactured by Sorhed under license), a fellowship which sets forth across the nations of Lower Middle Earth with the dark land of Fordor as its goal, bickering and sniping at each other all the way. Although no one in this story is anywhere close to competent, the fate of the world (or something) depends on their quest being successful.In a sense, it is one continuous novel-length example of Sophisticated as Hell.
This book provides examples of:
Action Girl: Eorache of the Roi-Tanners sits firmly on the line dividing an example and an aversion of this trope.
Amazonian Beauty: Eorache. Arrowroot takes one look at her beefy charms and falls hopelessly in love with her. She finds him annoying, but eventually they get hitched, mostly because Arrowroot becomes king of Twodor.
Beheaded Himself Shaving: The death of the last king of Twodor — in which he allegedly threw himself backwards onto several dozen knives and forks — and the series of "suicides" in "imitation" of his method amongst the other nobles of Minas Troney.
Also, the death of Benelux, the steward, who leapt into a burning pyre after "ingeniously tying himself up".
Half-Human Hybrid: Some creatures are implied to be such, and the prologue mentions a "halfling", which is defined as "half Boggie, half opossum".
Moxie and Pepsi also somehow manage to get two of the Vee-Ates — who are plants — pregnant.
Hand Signals: Stomper uses them to ask Frito to meet him in the inn's bathroom. This results in half of the patrons watching him and trying to figure out the signals.
Have a Gay Old Time: Played with when the party are attacked by a group of narcs, the leader of which is wielding a large faggot. You'd think it'd mean a bundle of wood, until the "faggot" cries out "You dieth, G.I!"
"This is indeed a queer river," said Bromosel, as the water lapped at his thighs.
Healing Hands: Subverted by Arrowroot, who during the siege of Minas Troney shows up in blood-spattered surgical garb, and who appears to have killed Faraslax while "treating" him in order to get him out of the way.
Hobbits: Viciously satirized by the lazy, slovenly and generally disgusting Boggies.
Hollywood Tactics: Subtly lampshaded when Arrowroot stupidly suggests marching on Sorhed's overwhelmingly larger army after the siege of Twodor is over. Goodgulf can't believe anyone could be so cataclysmically stupid and tries to throttle him.
Of the ballhog and Schlob, little was heard either, but local gossips reported that wedding bells were only centuries away.
Hurricane of Puns: The endless plant/vegetable puns that lace every sentence uttered by Birdseye, Lord of the Vee-Ates.
I Have Many Names: Stomper — AKA "Arrowroot son of Arrowshirt, True Son of Arrowhead of Araplane" — actually uses this phrase word-for-word; other characters also have many names, few of them complimentary.
Line in the Sand: As the Army of the West approaches the Gates of Fordor, many start to desert. Finally Arrowroot decides to shame them into being courageous.
Arrowroot: "Peoples of the West! The battle before the Black Gate of Sorhed will be one of few against many; but the few are of pure heart and the many are of the filthy. Nevertheless, those of you who wish to cringe and run from the fight may do so to quicken our pace. Those who still ride with the King of Twodor will live forever in song and legend! The rest may go."
It is said that the dustcloud did not settle for many days after.
Mushroom Samba: During the boggies' visit with Tim Benzedrine and Hashberry.
Narration Echo: Does this, then lampshades it, near the beginning of the book.
Narrative Poem: Numerous, often very witty, parodies of the original songs and poems.
No Fourth Wall: Not only are the characters aware they're in a book, they wish the reader would just hurry up and finish so they can get on with something — anything — else. Even dying.
No More for Me: The party is camped at a crossroads and manages to avoid a bunch of dangerous encounters by sheer fools' luck, resulting in this:
Circling far overhead, unseen by the company, the leader of a band of black spy-crows peered through a pair of binoculars, cursed in the harsh tongue of his kind, and swore off grapes for the rest of his life.
Nonverbal Miscommunication: When the "tall, dark Ranger" tries to use Hand Signals to tell Frito to meet him in the men's room in five minutes, several onlookers think he's trying to play a game of Charades and start calling out "Famous saying?" and "Sounds like!"
The Obi-Wan: Subverted by Goodgulf, who bullies, cons and lies to everyone, and never explains anything he doesn't absolutely have to.
Oh, and X Dies: Bromosel arrives at the Council of Orlon with a prophecy that states "You cash in your chips around page eighty-eight." It's off by a few pages.
Legolam and Gimlet's spats, which also mimic Legolas and Gimli's own rivalry.
An extremely localized one is found on a page which lists other volumes in the Harvard Lampoon's Classic and Not-So-Classic Book series — part of every title in the lists is replaced by "Matzoh".
Sdrawkcab Name: Numerous examples, although some — like "Serutan" — were simply lifted from other sources. In this case, a laxative.
Second-Hand Storytelling: Subverted by Goodgulf, who deliberately skips the stuff his listeners really want to hear — like how he survived plunging into a chasm with a Ballhog.
Sibling Team: Both subverted and strangely embodied by Moxie and Pepsi who do not so much kick asses as act like them.
Sickbed Slaying: Strongly implied when a blood-spattered Stomper appears and explains that Farahslax died of his wounds despite his best efforts — and despite being almost unwounded. Stomper says that it was "water-on-the-Brain" and that he "was forced to amputate".
Taxonomic Term Confusion: There is an appearance by "six different phyla of giant insects". Insects, whatever their size, are a single class of phylum Arthropoda — and you would think Harvard students would know that.
This Is Gonna Suck: The general reaction of everybody in the book to most everything they encounter.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Spoofed in the prologue where, after the answer to "What have I got in my pocket?" is demonstrated to be a .38 pistol, the thought behind "pity stayed his hand" is explained as "It's a pity I've run out of bullets."
The Time of Myths: All but explicitly called that in the prologue, but judging from the pop culture references, not so much.
Trailers Always Lie: On the flyleaf of the paperback is a passage allegedly from later in the book in which a beautiful, lusty elf maiden is about to seduce Frito. Naturally, it appears nowhere else.
True Companions: Subverted; nobody actually wanted to join, but were volunteered by other people who hated them.
Truth Serum: Goodgulf's method for learning how Dildo got the Ring.
...a stranger to the boggies of the Bag Eye, a stranger they had understandably overlooked because of his rather ordinary black cape, black chain mail, black mace, black dirk, and perfectly ordinary glowing red fires where his eyes should have been.
Vagueness Is Coming: Goodgulf tries to warn Dildo with a series of portentous statements, going from "Evil Ones are afoot in the lands" to "There is a dog in the manger." It takes several rounds of these, until Goodgulf is practically screaming "Doom is here!", before Dildo catches on.
We Are Not Going Through That Again: Frito, having returned to his digs at the end of the story, is visited a mysterious stranger who thinks he's the kind of person that takes quests. He slams the door, locks it and swallows the key.
What Happened to the Mouse?: A number of plot threads are deliberately left hanging for comedic effect, such as Spam and Frito's escape from the lair of Schlob.
When Trees Attack: Subverted by Lord Birdseye and the Vee-Ates, who are not trees but giant vegetables.
Who Writes This Crap?!: "Observing this near impossible escape from certain death, Frito wondered how much longer the authors were going to get away with such tripe. He wasn't the only one."