Joy in Middle Earth

In making a couple of observations about the inauguration, I realize I’m way late to the party, in much the same way an old piranha gets to a cow carcass a little too slowly, finding only a couple of dangling tendons upon which to munch. That said, it seemed almost as if there were some kind of Tolkienist aura surrounding D.C. on Jan. 20. As if the people of Middle Earth had all come out of their holes and hovels to cheer Frodo Obama and Sam Biden, the unlikely pair who had finally extinguished the Evil Eye of Sauron, heralding a new era of goodness and light throughout the countryside. Once I had that whimsical little notion pop into my head, I couldn’t get rid of it, and it made for some amusing images throughout the various speeches and ceremonies. For example, when Frodo and Sam escorted the evil Saruman to his helicopter, personally making sure the trouble-making wizard would indeed be whisked away to his eternal exile. As the chopper carrying Saruman and his woman flew away, one could imagine the cheers from the throng below as the commoners thumped their drums, munched their turkey legs, and danced their celebratory jigs in the street.

And now, all Frodo and Sam have to do is clean up one of the biggest messes in the history of Middle Earth. That Saruman was such a slob! If only all those toxic loans could be put in a sack and fed to Shelob, the giant debt-eating spider.

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On a recent episode of The Daily Show, various clips from the Bush years were being shown. One was the classic featuring Don Rumsfeld back in March 2003 talking about the invasion of Iraq and estimating how long the operation might last. You remember Rummy’s reply, as he prognosticated that the job might be done in six days, six weeks, or six months. Well, this March 19, the operation will have lasted six years. Hopes are high in Middle Earth, however, that an occupation of six decades can be avoided. (But when one considers Korea …)

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The other day at the gym, I saw two men, two white men, greet each other with a very current gesture, the fist bump. That led me to wonder. Will we ever see the day that ethnic groups usurp the hand greetings of us caucasoids? The answer, of course, is no. For one thing, whites never make up their own hand jive. Why? Because we’re way too busy ripping off the various moves of African-Americans, who for years have supplied American culture with ever-creative and always cool ways to use the hands. By comparison, the last time whites came up with any sort of memorable hand gesture was probably the Germans of the ’30s and their “Seig Heil” move. Probably be awhile before that one gets recycled.