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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
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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.

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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.

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In a sense, it is one continuous novel-length example of Sophisticated as Hell.


This book provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: During the siege of Minas Troney, the enemy uses "flaming matzoh balls, high velocity dog yummies, and the collected works of Rod McKuen." Horrible indeed.
  • Action Girl: Eorache of the Roi-Tanners sits firmly on the line dividing an example and an aversion of this trope. They're easily the most competent of the good guys, and mop up Serutan's armies, but at the same time, they're ridiclous German stereotypes who wield battle-mops.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: The natives of the Plains of Roi-Tan are all German stereotypes ranging from Wagnerian opera to Nazis, sometimes mixing and matching elements.
  • 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.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Tim Benzedrine's note to the boggies. He enters a drug flashback while writing it, and it devolves to gibberish as a result.
    Mmust sine off as rush isscomcomcoming ohgodohgodohgodohgod$5~%*@ + =!
  • Arboreal Abode: The elves of Lornadoon live inside hollowed out dead trees.
  • The Cavalry: Subverted by the Riders of Roi-Tan, who ride bad-tempered sheep.
  • Composite Character: Eorache is most obviously a spoof of Eowyn, but she also fills the roles of Eomer by leading the Riders of Roi-Tan, and of Arwen by being Stomper's love interest.
  • Contemptible Cover: The original paperback edition parodied the infamous "Hippie Edition" of The Lord of the Rings
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much:
    • 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.
    • Benelux, the steward, leapt into a burning pyre after "ingeniously tying himself up".
  • Crystal Ball: The mallomar, which turns out to be nothing more than a Magic 8-Ball with a holographic display
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Arrowroot looked with darkened face at these ruins of a once fair land. "Look at those ruins of a once fair land," he cried.
  • Deus ex Machina: Lampshaded. Gwahno the eagle, who arrives just in time to save Frito and Sham after the Ring is destroyed, is actually labeled "Deus Ex Machina Airlines".
  • Dirty Coward: Everyone, except maybe Eorache. Arrowroot and Goodgulf even hide during the massive battle of Minas Troney.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Frito tries to do this to get rid of his Orca-Cola in the inn. The spy hiding in the pot plant takes it from him.
  • The Ditz: Moxie and Pepsi Dingleberry ("whom no one would trust with a burned-out match") are a pair of twin ditzes with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • Doorstopper Averted; for a book that manages to parody the whole of LOTR, it's surprisingly slim.
  • The Eeyore: Goddam is a weepy war veteran prone to long, boring stories. Spam nearly kills him for it.
  • Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: Subverted:
    In his hand he carried an ancient and trustworthy weapon, called by the elves a Browning semi-automatic.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: And how. Gimlet and Legolam absolutely hate eachother.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Eisentower and Chikken Noodul, being parodies of Isengard and Minas Morgul, respectively.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Boggies will eat just about anything if they are hungry, such as fake fruit, curtains, lampshades or dirt.
  • Fantastic Racism: Starts where Tolkien left off and runs with it — everybody seems to hate everybody else in Lower Middle Earth, especially the Elves and Dwarves.
  • Fictionary: The samples seen of the various languages of Lower Middle Earth are generally assembled from the names of commercial products, public figures, pop-culture references and nonsense sounds.
  • Final Battle: Subverted; the Forces of Good are hungover and reduced to a handful by deserters, and the Forces of Evil flee and turn into pillars of garlic when the Ring is destroyed.
  • Forbidden Zone: Fordor, being a parody of Mordor, is this.
  • Foreign Remake: It was published in German as Der Herr der Augenringe (literally, "The Lord of the Rings Under Your Eyes," which may've been the funniest thing about it). The translation wasn't always idiomatic—for example, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our Dicky Dragon" should've come back as "Ein Feste Burg..." not "Ein Machtige Schloss..." (since the original hymn in German started the former way). The Finnish translation is Loru Sorbusten herrasta (Jingle of Lord of Sorbuses): Finnish sormus = ring; Sorbus is a brand of cheap bum wine. The translation is considered good, and Finnish Tolkien fans have adopted the parody as their own. One of the most clever translations is Saruman into Sivamat (a washing machine brand: an allusion of washing multi-coloured into white).
  • Functional Magic: Thoroughly and enthusiastically averted. Anything presented as magic is usually just a lame trick or worse.
    Goodgulf: Insult not the White Wizard, for I have many powers. Here, pick a card. Any card.
  • Giant Flyer: Gwahno the Giant Eagle, the Gwaihir parody. He talks like a New York cabbie to the people he ferries around.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Twodor called for aid, but no one wanted to give it.
  • Got Volunteered: No-one actually wanted to be in the Fellowship. Everyone attending the Council of Orlon tries to get out of the quest by nominating someone else, and usually gets named in turn as revenge: Legolam picks Gimlet, who then drags the elf in.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • The prologue mentions a "halfling", which is defined as "half Boggie, half opossum".
    • Moxie and Pepsi 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!"
    • Similarly:
      "This is indeed a queer river," said Bromosel, as the water lapped at his thighs.
    • At one point, Arrowroot was wielding a flaming faggot. ("Aaaaah!" said the faggot.)
  • 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 (and drunkenly) 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bromosel dies when he trips and impales himself on his absurdly pointed shoes.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards:
    Of the ballhog and Schlob, little was heard either, but local gossips reported that wedding bells were only centuries away.
  • Horse of a Different Colour:
    • The Nozdrul ride first pigs, then giant pelicans.
    • The Toi-tanners ride sheep.
  • Hot Potato: Starting with Frito, everyone at the Council of Orlon tries to pass the Ring to a more suitable owner: Frito to Arrowroot, rightful king of Twodor and heir of Barbisol; then Goodgulf the wizard as one familiar with magic; Orlon the elf whose people were the original ring makers; Dildo as the Ring Finder; and back to Frito again.
  • 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.
  • Insult to Rocks:
    Heavily ridged over the eyes and prone to rather poor posture, [the men of Whee] were often mistaken for Neanderthals, a common confusion that the latter deeply resented.
  • Jerkass: Pretty much everyone. They all volunteer eachother for the dangerous mission, fight in the most cowardly ways possible, and Goodgulf and Arrowroot even murder Benelux and Farahslax, respectively. It's all Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game From the teaser blurb on the cover: “Do you like what you doth see . . . ?” said the voluptuous elf-maiden as she provocatively parted the folds of her robe to reveal the rounded, shadowy glories within. Frito’s throat was dry, though his head reeled with desire and ale... Nothing like this happens in the book.
  • Lady of War: Eorache. In fact, she's the only remotely competent fighter in the cast.
  • 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: A surprising number for so short a book.
  • Look Behind You: When Frito wants to distract Goddam, he points at the sky and says: "Look! The Winged Victory of Samothrace!"
  • Magic 8-Ball: The Mallomar, a featureless black ball with a window in it. Goodgulf claimed the Old Ones used them to probe the secrets of the future and look deep into the minds of men. When he asks about the outcome of the conflict with Sorhed, its answer is written in the air with fiery letters: "Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later."
  • Magic from Technology: Three Rings of Power had to be recalled because they "tended to short out in the rain and fry one's fingers off".
  • Mooks: The Narcs, which are parodies of Sauron's orcs.
  • Mr. Alt Disney: Serutan, with his Dicky Dragon amusement park and merchandise. At one point in the past, Goodgulf was his business partner, but their relationship soured due to Serutan becoming more greedy (at least, according to Goodgulf).
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Arrowroot murders Farahslax so as to have Eorache to himself.
  • Mushroom Samba: During the boggies' visit with Tim Benzedrine and Hashberry. They eat a few shrooms and have a ridiculous hallucination.
  • Narration Echo:
    • Lampshaded near the beginning of the book:
      They were among the most dubious-looking mushrooms Spam had ever seen, and, rather rudely, he said so.
      "These are among the most dubious-lookin' mushrooms I'm ever a-seeing," he stated.
    • Another early example:
    Goodgulf fell silent, and a shadow seemed to pass over his face. "I would say more, but a shadow seems to have passed over my face."
  • 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!"
  • 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." Depending on the print, it is sometimes off by a few pages.
  • Only Sane Man: Frito. Not that that's saying much, but he at least wants to destroy the ring and is generally kind to everyone.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Parodied — wood elves are tacky low-lives who run tourist traps, and high elves are effectively white trash with delusions of grandeur.
  • Parody: Utterly lampoons LOTR and everything about it, right down to the songs.
  • Parody Magic Spell: As evidenced by the page quote, there's quite a few of these.
    "Hocus pocus, in loco parentis, Jackie Onassis, Dino Di Laurentis..."
  • Parody Names: Pick a character, nation or city from Tolkien's work, and one will find a parodic counterpart, such as Minas Troney for Minas Tirith.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Parodied by the lengths Goodgulf goes to while trying to open the gates to Doria, before noticing the doorknob.
  • Performer Guise: After Sorhed was defeated at the Battle of Brylopad, he and the Nine Nozdrul slipped out of the mopping-up cleverly disguised as a troupe of gypsy acrobatic dancers.
  • Plant Person: Lord Birdseye and the Vee-Ates, being parodies of the Ents, are this. Lord Birdseye naturally makes several annoying vegetable puns, and is described as looking like the Jolly Green Giant.
  • Population: X, and Counting: The village of Whee has a welcoming sign announcing its population as 96 and still growing!" with 1004 and 328 each crossed out before it.
  • Pungeon Master: Lord Birdseye makes several annoying vegetable puns that drive Moxie and Pepsi insane.
  • Put on a Bus: Birdseye and the Vee-Ates are conveniently disposed of off-screen.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Black Riders have "perfectly normal red glowing fires" where their eyes should be.
  • Redundant Parody: The Gimli parody here is "Gimlet, son of Groin", but Tolkien-original Gimli's actual grandfather is named Gróin.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Both embodied and averted by Goodgulf, who frequently changes into radically different outfits — like a Nehru jacket and bellbottoms.
  • Rousing Speech: Subverted. When Arrowroot is marching against Sorhed and sees that his army is losing its nerve, he gives a speech and ends it with: "Those who still ride with the King of Twodor will live forever in song and legend! The rest may go." The entire army instantly deserts.
  • Running Gag: Surprisingly, there are very few.
    • 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".
  • Said Bookism: Played for Laughs, like pretty much everything else.
    Spam gagged, and his arm went limp. "Die," he suggested.//
    "Floop," suggested the tar pit.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Simultaneous Arcs: Much like in the original, Frito and Spam seperate from the Fellowship and have their own simultaneous quest.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Numerous examples, most notably the overarching contrast between mimicking Tolkien's form while writing deliberately outrageous material.
  • Spanner in the Works: Subverted by Goddam, who turns out to be precisely what Spam and Frito are looking for at the end.
  • Speak Friend and Enter: Parodies the Trope Namer by having Goodgulf only consider using the doorknob on the gates to Doria after hours of futile guessing and spellcraft.
  • Supporting Leader: Parodied by Arrowroot. He obviously thinks he's a great hero, but he's actually a cowardly buffoon.
  • 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. On the other hand, these are Harvard writing students.
  • Theme Naming: Some of the Parody Names run along brief themes, such as Twodor and Fordor, and Moxie and Pepsi.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The general reaction of everybody in the book to most everything they encounter. The Thesaurus, the Ballhog, and the varous battles leave the characters groaning and whimpering, if not outright running away.
    • The Battle of the Black Gate, in particular, is this. Goodgulf is left shrieking in disbelief when Arrowroot suggests they challenge Sorhed directly, and when the heroes arrive at the Black Gate, their entire army flees, leaving only Eorache and the Fellowship to face Sorhed's armies.
  • 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 revealed as "It's a pity I've run out of bullets."
  • 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 resorted to "one of his secret potions (probably sodium pentothal)"[note]A well-known turth serum[/note] to get Dildo Bugger to reveal how he acquired the Ring.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: One of the Nozdrul in the first chapter is described thus:
    ...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.
  • Urban Segregation: Minas Troney has nine city levels, each with better life quality than the previous ones. The people of the higher levels keep throwing their garbage to the lower ones, and on the lowest level people are so poor they have to eat it to survive.
  • 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.
  • Volleying Insults: Gimlet and Legolam frequently trade lame epithets.
    "Elf-dog," hissed Gimlet, retrieving his beard.
    "Pig of a dwarf," suggested Legolam.
    "Toymaker."
    "Gold-digger."
    "Poop."
    "Creep."
    "Flit."
    "Wart."
  • 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.
  • With Friends Like These...: Pretty much everyone. They all attempt to weasel out of the quest, Gimlet and Legolam hate eachother, and Goodgulf
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Subverted by a world where pretty much everybody is some variety of scum and most of the animals are rabid. The Shire, for example, becomes "The Stye", which is described as full of lazy ne'er-do-wells and morons.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Parodied; Goodgulf tries to hold a rope bridge, but the Fellowship, knowing he's completely incompetent, chops it down while he's on it.

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