Christmas Morning

It is 6:36 AM on Christmas morning. I’m sitting on our floor chairs with Kai in front of the Christmas tree, presents and fire. I’ve got my tea and he is playing Roblox on his iPad. The lights are on in the fish tank and the turtles are swimming back and forth wondering where their breakfast is. There is never any chance of snow,or even biting cold here in Pacifica but it looks like we can expect rain later on today. I’ll take rain over 60 degrees and sunny as it is a little closer to snow than a sun filled sky.

As I sit here with my son I’m reminded of one of the most magical moments in my life which was also on Christmas morning. I must have been five or six years old and as is normal for children on Christmas I woke up very early to go see if Santa came. It must have been around 3 AM or so, it was completely dark except for the Christmas tree glowing with different colored bulbs. To me it seemed as there was a million presents under that tree all twinkling as the light from the colorful Christmas tree lights reflected off their shiny wrapping paper.

Outside it was a frigid winter morning with the moon shining on fresh bright snow enabling me to see that not a soul was yet awake out there in the big wide world. It was just me, along with my Christmas tree and presents taking in the magic of the moment that everyone else was sleeping through. And speaking of being cold, it was a bit chilly in the house so I sat on the heater vent next to the tree and presents.

It was when the heater kicked on that brought the apex of that magical moment. There I was all toasty and warm among presents for me and my sister that were recently placed by Santa Claus. How did he sneak in so quickly, and place so many gifts without so much as a sound?

And so here I am in the year 2020 in much the same way as I was back in 1983. Only now I am not six years old but am 43 and I have a family, one of which who is awake and starting to wonder if there really is a Santa Claus. He even asked for the video from our security camera which I haven’t shown him yet. I’ve already downloaded it and spliced together the video from the tree before the presents and then after making it look like the presents suddenly appeared. I’m sitting here trying to regain the magic of 1983 but for me there is only a flicker or two. The best I can do is try to recreate the magic for my own boys and in that I am satisfied. My son however, although OK with playing Roblox in front of the tree has asked to go play Fortnite, a request which I had to deny at this moment.

I should also mention that in trying to recapture the magic of Christmas I’ve usually had wine or beer on Christmas eve. Alcohol has the effect of helping loosen those wonderful childhood memories and engaging with them longer. However, drinking results in a bit of a headache on Christmas morning so I decided that instead of drinking alcohol I’d just continue with my big workout streak as of recent. At 43 alcohol has also lost much of its allure. It is good fun for two hours or so but makes my head foggy and my mood lethargic for the next day.

The time is now 6:58 AM. Pretty soon I think we’ll have to “assist” Mom and Ren in waking up as left to their own we would have to wait another hour or so. I also need to complete my usual morning duties of making the coffee, putting away the dishes and getting the fish and turtles fed. Those turtles seem to be becoming quite impatient with me as they swim back and forth along the top of the tank.

And so, once again my magical, early Christmas morning is coming to an end. Mom and Ren will wake up, the boys will tear through the presents and we’ll have a nice breakfast. After that and aside from new items and wrapping paper I imagine it will look like a normal morning with the boys hopping on the computer and iPad to play the usual games as the presents they just unwrapped sit all alone in the living room not being played with.

Yes, the year is no longer 1983. Back then new toys were played with for a solid three months, sometimes even longer before losing their allure. We’re now living in the future where developers have created digital addictions masquerading as innocent games while not requesting money to play, require it in order to really advance.

Christmas 2020.

The Silmarillion – The Children of Hurin

I first attempted to read The Silmarillion when I was in high school and just after I had read The Lord of the Rings. I wasn’t ready for The Silmarillion at that time. I had expected it to be much like LOTR and it was not. The book was nothing like The Hobbit or LOTR and I was quickly lost in something I did not understand.

Now I am 43; I’m older, wiser and know quite a bit more than I did when I was 15. The Silmarillion is simply Genesis, the story of creation for Middle Earth. It was published after JRR Tolkien’s death by his son Christopher who put together all of those writings that were never quite finished.

At this stage in my life I have a profound curiosity about our own creation, the beginning of the universe and of reality itself. Most people cling to religion and old stories that were created millennia ago as a way for man to explain all that is. I’ve advanced well beyond those stories and in doing so the mystery has continued to grow and I become evermore in awe.

And so in reading this book (and knowing my creation stories) I enjoyed comparing this one to the other story known as Genesis in the Bible. Both created in the minds of men and both fiction but one of which has changed the world for the last 2000 years and the other only holding sway over a much smaller tribe comprised of those that like wizards, elves and dragons.

God in this book is known as Eru Illuvatar and his angels are called the Valar. Like the Bible and the fallen angel Satan, there is Melkor who through his evil deeds is known as Morgoth. He desires Middle Earth for himself and is the master of Sauron as well as the creator of the Orcs, Trolls, Balrags etcetra. The Elves are the “First-born.” They are not angels but have a special connection to the divine that men do not. They exist in both the physical as well as spiritual worlds simultaneously. I do not intend to explain the book here but wanted to give a bit of a backdrop to help explain why I enjoy this book at 43 but not in high school.

Before I get into my favorite quotes I wanted to mention The Children of Huron. I intended to stop reading JRR Tolkien after The Silmarillion but realized my sister had bought me The Children of Huron many years ago where it sat on my shelf. Since I had read The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion in succession I might as well continue so I could understand everything more clearly. Now these “other books” were never completed by JRR Tolkien so Christopher Tolkien has done his best to organize the writings and put them into their own books. What I learned is The Silmarillion devotes quite a bit of time to The Children of Huron so I already knew the story and reading the book just filled in everything with more details. I didn’t make any notes in The Children of Huron as nothing really stood out to me. I also want to mention I learned of another book called “Beren and Luthien.” This story was also addressed in The Silmarillion and so I don’t feel the need for another novel just to fill in details which I won’t retain anyway.

The Silmarillion – My favorite quotes

The Children of God are thus primevally related and akin, and primevally different. Since also they are something wholly ‘other’ to the gods, in the making of which the gods played no part, they are the object of the special desire and love of the gods. These are the First-born, the Elves; and the Followers Men. The doom of the Elves is to be immortal, to love the beauty of the world, to bring it to full flower with their gifts of delicacy and perfection, to last while it lasts, never leaving it even when ‘slain’, but returning – and yet, when the Followers come, to teach them, and make way for them, to ‘fade’ as the Followers grow and absorb the life from which both proceed. The Doom (or the Gift) of Men is mortality, freedom from the circles of the world. Since the point of view of the whole cycle is the Elvish, mortality is not explained mythically: it is a mystery of God of which no more is known than that ‘what God has purposed for Men is hidden’: a grief and an envy to the immortal Elves.

This quote finally gives a great explanation to what the Elves actually are. In the Hobbit and LOTR they are just somewhat magical beings. Reading The Silmarillion we now understand why.

Their reward is their undoing – or the means of their temptation. Their long life aids their achievements in art and wisdom, but breeds a possessive attitude to these things, and desire awakes for more time for their enjoyment.

The Elves started out truly divine but over the ages lost a lot of that connection. The only ones that really retain much of that power in The Hobbit and LOTR are Galadriel and Celeborn of Lorien. Celeborn wasn’t in the movie unfortunately and I had forgotten about him. These two have lived through the ages and came over the sea from the lands of the Gods themselves. The next most powerful in LOTR would be Elrond but he has both elf and men ancestors so that “divinity” is much diminished.

In the second stage, the days of Pride and Glory and grudging of the Ban, they begin to seek wealth rather than bliss. The desire to escape death produced a cult of the dead, and they lavished wealth and art on tombs and memorials. They now made settlements on the west-shores, but these became rather strongholds and ‘factories’ of lords seeking wealth, and the Númenóreans became tax-gatherers carrying off over the sea ever more and more goods in their great ships. The Númenóreans began the forging of arms and engines.

Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else; and of their operation everything should be, in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest.

And it came to pass after the days of Eärendur, the seventh king that followed Valandil, that the Men of Westernesse, the Dúnedain of the North, became divided into petty realms and lordships, and their foes devoured them one by one. Ever they dwindled with the years, until their glory passed, leaving only green mounds in the grass. At length naught was left of them but a strange people wandering secretly in the wild, and other men knew not their homes nor the purpose of their journeys, and save in Imladris, in the house of Elrond, their ancestry was forgotten.

For coming out of the wastes of the East he took up his abode in the south of the forest, and slowly he grew and took shape there again; in a dark hill he made his dwelling and wrought there his sorcery, and all folk feared the Sorcerer of Dol Guldur, and yet they knew not at first how great was their peril. Even as the first shadows were felt in Mirkwood there appeared in the west of Middle-earth the Istari, whom Men called the Wizards. None knew at that time whence they were, save Círdan of the Havens, and only to Elrond and to Galadriel did he reveal that they came over the Sea. But afterwards it was said among the Elves that they were messengers sent by the Lords of the West to contest the power of Sauron, if he should arise again, and to move Elves and Men and all living things of good will to valiant deeds. In the likeness of Men they appeared, old but vigorous, and they changed little with the years, and aged but slowly, though great cares lay on them; great wisdom they had, and many powers of mind and hand. Long they journeyed far and wide among Elves and Men, and held converse also with beasts and with birds; and the peoples of Middle-earth gave to them many names, for their true names they did not reveal. Chief among them were those whom the Elves called Mithrandir and Curunír, but Men in the North named Gandalf and Saruman. Of these Curunír was the eldest and came first, and after him came Mithrandir and Radagast, and others of the Istari who went into the east of Middle-earth, and do not come into these tales. Radagast was the friend of all beasts and birds; but Curunír went most among Men, and he was subtle in speech and skilled in all the devices of smithcraft. Mithrandir was closest in counsel with Elrond and the Elves. He wandered far in the North and West and made never in any land any lasting abode; but Curunír journeyed into the East, and when he returned he dwelt at Orthanc in the Ring of Isengard, which the Númenóreans made in the days of their power.

The explanation of the origin of wizards! Like Elves, we only know they are magical beings in The Hobbit and LOTR. This paragraph gives us a clue as to where they have come from and why.

Final Notes (currently only one)

The Men of Numenor are all TALL. JRR Tolkien when describing them refers to them being tall around 15 times. I wonder if Tolkien was short and had somewhat of a short man complex or if he were tall and very proud of his height? In any case, being tall remains an advantage in our present day. Height plays a big part in deciding who gets promoted, in dating profiles many women prefer those over 6ft, and there is the general feeling in the West that tall people are just more desirable.

Links to my posts about The Hobbit and LOTR

The Hobbit – Lord of the Rings: Click Here
Lord of the Rings and Europe (written in 2010) – Click Here

Categorized as Books

The Hobbit – Lord of the Rings

I read these books in high school and they left such an impression on me that just like Bilbo, I decided to walk out my front door, leave my Midwestern town and go on an adventure.

Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick

The Hobbit – Page 15.

I ended up studying in Spain, France and Mexico then after graduation living in Japan, Vietnam and for the past 15 years, the Bay Area. Without any clear aim I just wanted to learn languages, have experiences and become a sort of Renaissance Man. I did see great mountains, hear pine-trees and even bought a Tizona sword in Toledo Spain although I never had the need nor opportunity to use it. Needless to say an adventure my life has been.

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The most exciting part of the story began in 1997 with Spain and then with all the world travels afterwards. I never ended up going back to live in Ohio and so in a sense, the adventure continues. Yet, just like Bilbo after he has settled back in the Shire or Rivendell, I too continue to write my story. Although the adventures are no longer as grand and are muted by domesticated life, they still continue and I still enjoy writing about my experiences.

At 43 years old and in the midst of a pandemic that keeps us home most of the time I decided it was time read my favorite books again. For the past 15 years I had forgotten the original story and remembered The Hobbit and LOTR as portrayed in the movies. I can still remember my Dad sending me that article back in 2000, right before I had left for Japan that there would be movies made. Well, I have now seen them many times but wanted to remember the original tales.

I read them all in the span of a month, a blinding speed compared to the two years it took me to get through The Tale of Genji. To re-read the long forgotten parts – such as Tom Bombadil who was left out of the movie – was my favorite. They also served to rekindle that quest for adventure that has dimmed as I became middle-aged with a family. I’m in the middle of a pandemic yes, but I am not in front of the gates of Mordor about to fight a hopeless battle with the hordes of Sauron! Courage and might spring from the most unlikely places and for me it comes from a fantasy tale regarding Elves, Hobbits, Wizards against an evil malice. I can use this story to fortify my own mind against real world trials such as the ones we are currently experiencing.

I’ve often believed that life just isn’t very interesting unless we pay attention to all the mystery and wonder that is all around us but rarely contemplated. The tale of the Hobbit and LOTR were created by a fantastic mind and isn’t it so that all of our reality may spring from the mind of something we cannot understand nor really perceive? Thus create our own tales to put in books we call the Bible and other religious texts? I learned that the tale of Middle Earth goes on to involve the First Age with the Silmarillon which is also a story of creation. However, it involves Middle Earth as well as Gods and further explains Elves as a type of angel. The Silmarillon shows that The Hobbit and LOTR are just stories within wider stories beginning with creation. Entire kingdoms rise and fall, vast ages come and go all with all of it simply being chapters within a novel within a volume and so on. And so it is with all of us who are always so fixated on the present moment and trends of the times. We are all insignificant pieces in an infinite story that nobody understands.

In any case, I didn’t mean to get so deep so quickly. This post is simply to write down my favorite quotes and thoughts. I only highlighted one quote from The Hobbit which I’ve already included above. I’ve also commented with my thoughts on many of these quotes while others are just ones I’d like to remember and need to comment.

The Lord of the Rings Quotes

I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

When I read this I think of the current pandemic. Then I think this is nothing compared to the Vietnam (American) War, the World Wars and all the times when young men were sent to die for some reason or another. They were born into a time when the course of humanity went very much astray and had no choice in their own fate. We’re given a short time upon this Earth and yes, we can choose what to do with this time but within the limited parameters already set by the times, the country we are born into and whatever geopolitical events are happening at the time.

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

All life is miraculous. It has taken a lot of meditation for my mind to realize just how sacred all life is. Who are we to judge if another being should live or die? I am one that never wants to kill anything, not even spiders. I felt very bad even catching fish and seeing them bleed. Yet I also eat fish, hamburgers and many other meat. How damaging it must be to kill another human. It is unnatural and something that should never occur. It is no surprise that so many come back from war with mental problems. It isn’t something that one human should ever have to do to another. This is also easy to say as I sit peacefully in my chair. Maybe it would be quite another if someone had just killed my whole family. I’m sure my stance would suddenly change. Forgiveness is the right path, but also the hardest thing to do in certain circumstances.

The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.’

The world moves and nothing remains the same. We are all getting a very big reminder of that right now. We’re in a period of rapid change due to the virus and nobody is really sure how this will all end up. Many of us set plans, safety nets and so on but along comes a thing unforeseen and easily upends all of those carefully laid plans. I can hide under the covers but major national and world events will always find me.

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. The choice is yours: to go or wait.’ ‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo: ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.’

‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.

Cold be hand and heart and bone, and cold be sleep under stone: never more to wake on stony bed, never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead. In the black wind the stars shall die, and still on gold here let them lie, till the dark lord lifts his hand over dead sea and withered land.

Tom went up to the mound, and looked through the treasures. Most of these he made into a pile that glistered and sparkled on the grass. He bade them lie there ‘free to all finders, birds, beasts, Elves or Men, and all kindly creatures’; for so the spell of the mound should be broken and scattered and no Wight ever come back to it. He chose for himself from the pile a brooch set with blue stones, many-shaded like flax-flowers or the wings of blue butterflies. He looked long at it, as if stirred by some memory, shaking his head, and saying at last: ‘Here is a pretty toy for Tom and for his lady! Fair was she who long ago wore this on her shoulder. Goldberry shall wear it now, and we will not forget her!’

Tom said that it had once been the boundary of a kingdom, but a very long time ago. He seemed to remember something sad about it, and would not say much.

I love the top three quotes which come from the Barrow Downs. Unfortunately these were not mentioned in the movie and I was very disappointed. They are the tombs of long forgotten kings that are now inhabited by Barrow-wights.

The image of these things in my mind were terrifying indeed and thanks to the internet I can see how these appeared to others. The Barrows and Dead Marshes are my favorites as they are remnants of places and events of long ago. I’ve always been fascinated with the past especially ancient history.

All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;

In these times, it seems like there is too much glitter when underneath is just cheap plastic. True gold such as kindness and loving fellow humans is in very short supply.

And here in Rivendell there live still some of his chief foes: the Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas. They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power.’

I found this interesting that Elves live in two worlds at once and thus could see the Nazgul in both realms at the same time. This has made more sense to me as I read the Silmarillion.

Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.

Every life is one big story. Some are more interesting than others. I find that children tend to stick with the same level of excitement and intensity set by their parents. There are exceptions.

At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them little, held him in a spell, as soon as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that an endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him. Swiftly he sank under its shining weight into a deep realm of sleep.

The elves are Middle Earth’s version of angels. They are the “First Born.” The Silmarillion helps in the understanding of the Elves especially.

Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. “Strider” I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.

Isn’t it so with most empires and countries in our own times? It seems to be an easy task to rile citizens of a country to go fight and kill for whatever reason a leader thinks of so long as he has the right mouthpiece to deliver the message. I would like to think that leaders and armies are only there to protect regular people from harm and went no further. But anyone less naive than a fifth year student knows that once your army becomes powerful enough it is no longer about just “defending the people,” but time to go a marauding and pillaging, or as it is known in the USA, “delivering freedom.”

It was Radagast the Brown, who at one time dwelt at Rhosgobel, near the borders of Mirkwood. He is one of my order, but I had not seen him for many a year.

had reached the old home of Radagast at Rhosgobel. Radagast was not there; and they had returned over the high pass that was called the Redhorn Gate.

Including a big role for Radagast was something the movies got right! Wizards are what we fans want to see! This was a disappointment in the book: they went to go speak with Radagast and he wasn’t home. HE WASN’T HOME? END?? Booooooooo. Well go find him and bring him into the story! In my mind I had also thought there was a blue wizard, also not home, but I guess that was just my mind making up another wizard due to my desire for more wizards.

Treebeard repeated the words thoughtfully. ‘Hill. Yes, that was it. But it is a hasty word for a thing that has stood here ever since this part of the world was shaped.

I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me: nobody cares for the woods as I care for them, not even Elves nowadays.

Maybe you have heard of Trolls? They are mighty strong. But Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves. We are stronger than Trolls.

This is better understood by reading The Silmarillion.

‘Gandalf,’ the old man repeated, as if recalling from old memory a long disused word. ‘Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.’

Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he.

Also better understood by reading The Silmarillion. He is referring to perhaps many of Morgoth’s creations but especially Balrogs. Balrogs were a staple of his army and all of these creations made their homes in the endless pits and chambers of Morgoth’s fortress Angband. When Morgoth was finally defeated they stayed underground never to return to the surface, became legend and were eventually forgotten.

Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.

‘Look!’ said Gandalf. ‘How fair are the bright eyes in the grass! Evermind they are called, simbelmynë in this land of Men, for they blossom in all the seasons of the year, and grow where dead men rest. Behold! we are come to the great barrows where the sires of Théoden sleep.’ ‘Seven mounds upon the left, and nine upon the right,’ said Aragorn. ‘Many long lives of men it is since the golden hall was built.’ ‘Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then,’ said Legolas, ‘and but a little while does that seem to us.’ ‘But to the Riders of the Mark it seems so long ago,’ said Aragorn, ‘that the raising of this house is but a memory of song, and the years before are lost in the mist of time.

I love references to the passage of time, especially when it relates to ancient times. I also like this quote because there is a real life Native American mound where I grew up. It is called Shrum Mound and is located in Columbus Ohio. It contains the remains and artifacts of an ancient people who occupied the area 2000 years ago. To think that the mound has stood since the time of Jesus, through the Middle Ages, the arrival of the white man to the Americas etcetera is profound. What must the spirits of those Natives think about white man, his ideas of ownership and the name placed on the mound? “Our remains have rested here for over 2000 years and this land belongs to us. You kill our descendants, take the land and name our place of rest after yourself? May you be cursed and die an early death.”

‘You rascals, you woolly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death, to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling – and smoking! Smoking! Where did you come by the weed, you villains? Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!’

This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Gimli the dwarf says many funny things and this is one of them. The other is when Legolas brings down and Oliphant and Gimili shouts “That still only counts as one!”

‘Here you find us sitting on a field of victory, amid the plunder of armies, and you wonder how we came by a few well-earned comforts!’

A great response by Pippin.

Did he say: “Hullo, Pippin! This is a pleasant surprise!”? No, indeed! He said: “Get up, you tom-fool of a Took! Where, in the name of wonder, in all this ruin is Treebeard? I want him. Quick!”

Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

Perhaps the most profound quote in the entire story.

When lights appeared Sam rubbed his eyes: he thought his head was going queer. He first saw one with the corner of his left eye, a wisp of pale sheen that faded away; but others appeared soon after: some like dimly shining smoke, some like misty flames flickering slowly above unseen candles; here and there they twisted like ghostly sheets unfurled by hidden hands. But neither of his companions spoke a word.

They are in the Dead Marshes. Just like the Barrow Downs, places where ancient kings and warriors lie capture my imagination. The first couple of times I read the novel the battle that took place here remained just another in a long line of ancient battles for me to wonder about. Now that I’ve read more deeply into the lore I’ve learned this is where the Battle of Dagorlad took place. All the mysteries of ‘ancient’ this and that are revealed for me now.

There was a faint hiss, a noisome smell went up, the lights flickered and danced and swirled. For a moment the water below him looked like some window, glazed with grimy glass, through which he was peering. Wrenching his hands out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. ‘There are dead things, dead faces in the water,’ he said with horror. ‘Dead faces!’

In the pools when the candles were lit. They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them.’ Frodo hid his eyes in his hands. ‘I know not who they are; but I thought I saw there Men and Elves, and Orcs beside them.’ ‘Yes, yes,’ said Gollum. ‘All dead, all rotten. Elves and Men and Orcs. The Dead Marshes. There was a great battle long ago, yes, so they told him when Sméagol was young, when I was young before the Precious came. It was a great battle. Tall Men with long swords, and terrible Elves, and Orcses shrieking. They fought on the plain for days and months at the Black Gates. But the Marshes have grown since then, swallowed up the graves; always creeping, creeping.’ ‘But that is an age and more ago,’ said Sam. ‘The Dead can’t be really there! Is it some devilry hatched in the Dark Land?’ ‘Who knows? Sméagol doesn’t know,’ answered Gollum. ‘You cannot reach them, you cannot touch them. We tried once, yes, precious. I tried once; but you cannot reach them. Only shapes to see, perhaps, not to touch. No precious! All dead.’

Again Smeagol is referring to the Battle of Dagorlad. In some ways I think it is more magical and mysterious to not learn the answer.

‘Po – ta – toes,’ said Sam. ‘The Gaffer’s delight, and rare good ballast for an empty belly. But you won’t find any, so you needn’t look. But be good Sméagol and fetch me the herbs, and I’ll think better of you. What’s more, if you turn over a new leaf, and keep it turned, I’ll cook you some taters one of these days. I will: fried fish and chips served by S. Gamgee. You couldn’t say no to that.’ ‘Yes, yes we could. Spoiling nice fish, scorching it. Give me fish now, and keep nassty chips!’ ‘Oh you’re hopeless,’ said Sam. ‘Go to sleep!’

I highlighted this quote because I’ve always liked how Sam says “Po-tay-Toes” in the movie. It even became a meme.

It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace – all in a flash of thought which was quickly driven from his mind.

An Easterling was killed. They come from the East of Mordor. Tolkien’s inspiration for his characters must have come from somewhere: The English remind me of hobbits with their quaint tea and eating habits; the Dwarves are hard working Germans, the Elves those of Celtic ancestry and the Easterlings are Moors. The Moors are Muslims especially with dark skin and have been in conflict with Europe for almost 2000 years. Tolkien always refers to “Men of the West” which is obviously Europe. The Easterlings along with other darkish people come from the East and South, the same direction as the Islamic countries. The invasion of the Moors into Spain is the most amount of land Muslims have ever captured from Europe and I imagine Tolkien used that history in inventing men who were “servants of Mordor.” I wrote a post about this back in 2010 that is here.



‘I sat at night by the waters of Anduin, in the grey dark under the young pale moon, watching the ever-moving stream; and the sad reeds were rustling. So do we ever watch the shores nigh Osgiliath, which our enemies now partly hold, and issue from it to harry our lands. But that night all the world slept at the midnight hour. Then I saw, or it seemed that I saw, a boat floating on the water, glimmering grey, a small boat of a strange fashion with a high prow, and there was none to row or steer it. ‘An awe fell on me, for a pale light was round it. But I rose and went to the bank, and began to walk out into the stream, for I was drawn towards it. Then the boat turned towards me, and stayed its pace, and floated slowly by within my hand’s reach, yet I durst not handle it. It waded deep, as if it were heavily burdened, and it seemed to me as it passed under my gaze that it was almost filled with clear water, from which came the light; and lapped in the water a warrior lay asleep. ‘A broken sword was on his knee. I saw many wounds on him. It was Boromir, my brother, dead. I knew his gear, his sword, his beloved face. One thing only I missed: his horn. One thing only I knew not: a fair belt, as it were of linked golden leaves, about his waist. Boromir! I cried. Where is thy horn? Whither goest thou? O Boromir! But he was gone. The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering on into the night. Dreamlike it was, and yet no dream, for there was no waking. And I do not doubt that he is dead and has passed down the River to the Sea.’

‘The Men of Númenor were settled far and wide on the shores and seaward regions of the Great Lands, but for the most part they fell into evils and follies. Many became enamoured of the Darkness and the black arts; some were given over wholly to idleness and ease, and some fought among themselves, until they were conquered in their weakness by the wild men.

‘Death was ever present, because the Númenóreans still, as they had in their old kingdom, and so lost it, hungered after endless life unchanging. Kings made tombs more splendid than houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry; in secret chambers withered men compounded strong elixirs, or in high cold towers asked questions of the stars. And the last king of the line of Anárion had no heir.

But tonight you have come where it is death to come. The fish of this pool are dearly bought.’ Gollum dropped the fish from his hand. ‘Don’t want fish,’ he said. ‘The price is not set on the fish,’ said Faramir. ‘Only to come here and look on the pool bears the penalty of death.

Another quote that made me laugh, this time from Gollum.

Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo’s knee – but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.

Lord Denethor is unlike other men: he sees far. Some say that as he sits alone in his high chamber in the Tower at night, and bends his thought this way and that, he can read somewhat of the future; and that he will at times search even the mind of the Enemy, wrestling with him. And so it is that he is old, worn before his time.

In the book Denethor is much more formidable than the old, partly crazy man of the movie. He is able to “wrestle in thought” with the enemy, “read the future” etcetera. This character did not have these qualities in the movie.

‘Master Meriadoc,’ said Aragorn, ‘if you think that I have passed through the mountains and the realm of Gondor with fire and sword to bring herbs to a careless soldier who throws away his gear, you are mistaken. If your pack has not been found, then you must send for the herb-master of this House. And he will tell you that he did not know that the herb you desire had any virtues, but that it is called westmansweed by the vulgar, and galenas by the noble, and other names in other tongues more learned, and after adding a few half-forgotten rhymes that he does not understand, he will regretfully inform you that there is none in the House, and he will leave you to reflect on the history of tongues. And so now must I. For I have not slept in such a bed as this, since I rode from Dunharrow, nor eaten since the dark before dawn.’

The Road goes ever on and on Out from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, Let others follow it who can! Let them a journey new begin, But I at last with weary feet Will turn towards the lighted inn, My evening-rest and sleep to meet.’

The song that Gandalf is singing while riding on his wagon on the way to The Shire. One of my favorites.

The Gaffer, he says: “Make it short, and then you won’t have to cut it short before you can use it.”

Still round the corner there may wait A new road or a secret gate; And though I oft have passed them by, A day will come at last when I Shall take the hidden paths that run West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

My other posts about these books.

Lord of the Rings and Europe – Click Here
The Silmarillion – Children of Hurin – Click Here

Categorized as Books Tagged

Internet Crisis!

Over two and a half decades being a computer and internet enthusiast there have been times when a major problem has suddenly happened. Sometimes it was forgotten passwords, others it was losing decades of data etc. Yesterday I had one of those issues and although it may seem minor to non computer/internet geeks it was a major crisis for my son and I.

*Legal Disclaimer: My boys are over 13 years old and always have been.

Here is a bit of background. Everyone in my house has their own Google account and have for years. The main reason my boys do is I encourage them to take pictures and videos on their phones and like to have those pictures/videos upload automatically to Google Photos. I’m thinking in terms of decades and I think it would be awesome for them to be able to look back at not only pictures the adults have taken but their own pictures and videos as well. That media represents the world through their eyes and to me is absolute treasure.

Another reason I like them to have their own accounts is for the e-mail. That wasn’t important before the pandemic but it is now. I want my eldest to be able to read messages from his teacher and respond on his own. This is part of him learning his way around a computer. At a young age he should be able to work on the computer/internet better than even his own teachers and he has learned!

Finally, I want him to have access to Youtube under his own personal account. If he wants to learn something, whether it is gaming related or school related I want him to be able to go to Youtube, make lists, subscribe to channels etc. This is all part of learning his way around the internet and the internet is not only the future, it is here.

Side note: The schools set up accounts to be used for Google Classrooms etc but like most things school related come with a TON of restrictions that while they do protect they also inhibit learning. Schools form their policies and regulations with the lowest common denominator in mind. By this I mean troublesome kids and parents who like to sue and cause other issues. So accounts given by the school are completely locked down and allow for nothing outside of school or anything that could even remotely cause a problem or give parents something to complain about.

So here is what happened.

I thought about installing Google Fit on my son’s iPad and connecting Fitbit, Renpho, and maybe even our exercises on the Nintendo Switch if that were possible? I downloaded Google Fit onto my son’s iPad and in setting it up it asked for his age. I put in *an age* and all of a sudden it asked me to confirm said *age.* I did and it immediately switched to a child account and there was a message a parent would have to link to it our it would be deleted in 14 days.


There are years of my son’s own pictures/videos in that account, 60 YouTube videos, an endless list of subscriptions, his main e-mail, location tracking showing the adventures we went on in Google Maps (great for teaching him geography!). So deleting the account and making a new was not an option.

I tried changing his birth date to over 13 but it asked for validation like a credit card. I didn’t want to do that in case there was a name check because if there was I’d just be digging myself further into a hole.

OK I thought, I’ll just connect my account and give him access to everything. Maybe it would be a benefit since I’d have more control over his account? Wrong! A child account only gets access to YouTube kids and cannot have their own YouTube channel! Wow, I had just stumbled into a way to make my child not like me very much and right before Christmas too!

Once our accounts were connected I installed the Google Family App on my phone and tried to change his birth date from there. Nope. All birth dates have to be younger than 13.

That gave me an idea. What if I put his birthday as tomorrow would that work? I was a bit nervous because Google says if they suspect a child is using an adult account it will be locked and deleted. I went ahead and set the birth date for the next day (today). This bothered me so much I woke up at 1:00 AM, couldn’t fall back asleep and went to see if it had auto updated. I turned on my son’s computer and was sad to see nothing had changed. So it was back into the forums and I learned that we should receive an e-mail from Google with instructions on how to remove the child restrictions if the child wished. Well, no e-mail and I wondered if we would ever get one especially since the birth date was changed the day before.

I was in a panic and even thought about going into chat with Google to see if they could help. I’m a Google One subscriber so get special attention. I had the page open but then thought better of it. The person in the chat wouldn’t be able to give any special favors and I again I might dig myself into an even deeper hole that I really couldn’t get out of.

So after another 20 minutes of absolute panic and reading the forums I found what I needed. It was the link that is in the e-mail Google sends to the parent and child a few days before turning 13. I clicked on the link and they system worked as intended. His age was now officially 13 in their systems and so he could take control of his own account.


I think in this age of pandemic access without a bunch of restrictions is absolutely necessary. The reason those restrictions are in place is because of laws that say Google cannot track those younger than 13. Well, you need to have your data tracked to some extent to use the personalized services! For an internet nerd like me, I like to have my son take full advantage of Google services (our smart home even responds to him individually in his preferred Google voice) and not be so restricted. Furthermore, 12 is much too old for only access to Google Kids. And if your kid is a big gamer than Youtube is absolutely necessary! I think protecting the kid is a secondary thought to Google as the app isn’t very robust and like kid monitoring software everywhere causes a lot of headaches.

Now I do understand the benefits of monitoring software to restrict access and think I’m a huge outsider here. The masses aren’t very good with technology and the internet can be a dangerous place. Furthermore kids can easily get into trouble and especially on the internet. For me however, I can restrict on the router side which is much more simple and causes less headache. You install child monitoring software it can be very hard to get yourself out of it. It is like jail for both adult and kid! Do it on the server side and you’re able to open and close the gate completely. Not leave it open and try to protect each individual device, account and so on with headache causing crap.

Categorized as Internet