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"Bored of the Rings" brings brilliance to boredom

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BOOK REVIEW: Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings: A Parody (Touchstone) 2012/1969

This book is predominantly concerned with making money, and from its pages a reader may learn much about the character and the literary integrity of the authors.”

This is the opening line for the prologue for Harvard Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings.

If you’re staring at the name “Lampoon”, there’s a good chance it’s a name that sticks out from classic movies such as National Lampoon’s Vacation, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Animal House.

Written in 1969, the Lampoon men were still working under the publication of Signet and Harvard Lampoon. It wouldn’t be until the following year that Harvard would change its name to National.

By 1955, J.R.R Tolkien had finished the three volumes which made up the Lord of the Rings saga. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King were hits until they faded to the back corners of the bookstore.

When the 1970’s came into full swing, a renaissance of the fantasy and science fiction genres spread throughout the United States. As for the men of Harvard Lampoon, they decided to take it in a different direction.

There’s a popular saying that says, “You’re nobody until somebody parodies your work.”

Bored of the Rings is by far one of the funniest parodies I’ve ever read. There have been many parodies that I’ve found to be either too off-putting or they coddled the material they wanted to make fun of. Satire is a fine art to be honed and crafted to the given scenario.

Simply put, it’s not for everyone to make and not for everyone to enjoy.

As a resident LOTR diehard fan and expert, this short novel not only paid respect to Tolkien but it also allowed for dedicated readers to enjoy a new take on a larger story. It felt like either a beginner’s guide or a lover of LOTR venting their problems with the series with a smirk.

A difference between a parody and ridicule is having the knowledge of where the line lies and knowing how to tow it. For the sake of the Harvard Lampoon, they provided the definition of how parody should be done.

Tolkien’s classic characters were not changed by their character definitions; however, their names were changed enough to notice.

For example, Bilbo Baggins has now become Dildo Bugger, Frodo is Frito, Gandalf the Grey is called Goodgulf Greyteeth and Samwise Gamgee is called Spam Gangree.

I could spend the next few paragraphs telling you about the character names because that in and of itself is hilarious. The two favorites of the book have to be Tom Bombadil as Tim Benzedrine and Gollum as Goddam.

Those familiar with the story of LOTR knows the plot of the story is about a group of misfits traveling through the evils of Middle Earth to destroy the one ring made by Sauron, the dark ruler of Mordor.

In this retelling, the one ring was forged by Sorhed (Sauron) in the realms of Fordor in Lower Middle Earth. Its powers to turn your finger green and corrupt those who wear it has become too much for the land of incompetent travelers to bear.

Fans of the series have always had specific arguments to point out the plot holes of the story.

Any geek or nerd in love with any fandom has to take a second to acknowledge that no franchise is without fault.

This is where Harvard Lampoon shines.

Arguably some of the funniest comedies will break the fourth wall and talk with the audience.

Throughout Bored of the Rings, the characters will make references to knowing they’re in a story.

Before Frito goes on his adventure, he looks at Goodgulf and says, “It’s going to be a long epic,” as well as whenever he climbs out of a gorge in chapter four it concludes, “set out with Frito along the rising gorge that led to the next chapter.”

One of the primary things that creators Beard and Kenney were able to do is add a gag or two per page to make the audience laugh the most throughout the course of the novel. And, by God, it works every time.

A prime example is Goodgulf recalling Dildo’s first run-in with the creature known as Goddam in the cave where he recovered the one ring.

“He would have finished Goddam off then and there, but pity stayed his hand. It’s a pity I’ve run out of bullets, he thought.”

Oh, don’t think they’ve forgotten about the glaring fault of the LOTR series: the eagles. Fan boys and girls across generations have debated the usage of the eagles in order to get those in danger out of harm’s way.

Here’s what Lampoon thought of this scenario. This scene depicts Frito and Spam after they destroyed the ring and the volcano is erupting.

“Then just over their heads they saw a passing flash of color,” it reads. “There in the sky they saw a giant eagle, full-feathered and painted shocking pink. On its side were the words DEUS EX MACHINA AIRLINES in metallic gold.”

For a fan of parodies and LOTR, this book will go in my library as one of my favorite comedies I’ve ever read. Readers and non-readers, fans and bystanders, I hope you’ll take a chance on the funnier side of the street and pick up this book.

This world is crazy enough without another set of eyes on it. Why not read something to make you smile and laugh for once?

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About the Author

Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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