MOON LETTERS : TOOKISH TICKLERS
20 Questions: An Interview With Gandalf - Mergo Webfoot
I caught up with the reclusive Istari rather unexpectedly while dropping in at a local Pub, The Merry Took. It seems that they had recently received a shipment of a particular brand of pipe tobacco, Old Toby I believe it was, and had earned a new regular for their effort. After an awkward beginning in which I had mistaken the poor fellow for a Shakespearean actor of some repute, I was able to convince the eldritch fellow to speak on the record for modern day fans of his elder day antics...
MW: So, Mr. Gandalf... Actually, which name do you prefer, sir? There are so many to choose from. Gandalf, Mithrandir, Olorin, Tharkun, Incanus, Stormcr...
G: Let us not use that last one, shall we? Gandalf will do fine.
MW: It has been a long time since the Third Age of Middle Earth. How have you been occupying yourself these past few thousand years?
G: Much as before, my dear fellow, much as before. Wandering and learning, but at least this time without the pressure of that nasty ring business. (he puffs an enormous smoke-ring) These past few years I have occupied my time with the fascinating art of "day trading."
MW: I see. So aside from the stock market, what are your hobbies?
G: Oh, horseback riding, spelunking, fireworks manufacturing - I have a few plants in Indonesia now, thanks to a tip to short Enron a few months ago... But my favorite of all must be surfing the net. Did you know they have the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe available if you know where to look? Now theres a library to rival the best Elf or Man could offer in the old days.
MW: Have you found a favorite hangout? I mean, with Rivendell gone, where do you go to relax and unwind?
G: Ah, let me see, that would have to be the Adirondacks. And just for the record, Rivendell was not all it has been made out to be. I mean, sure, Bilbo loved it what with all the food and the gazebos, and that damned book of his goes on and on about it, but it just doesnt compare to the comforts of some more - shall we say, modern - accommodations. Two words, my boy. Ski Bunnies. Remember them well.
MW: Speaking of the fairer sex, who was more beautiful, Arwen or Galadriel?
G: Oh, now youre trying to get me into trouble. Lets see. Id have to say Arwen. I mean, Galadriel would still make a supermodel look like your "Rikki Lake" did in Hairspray, but she had the gaudiest taste in jewelry. Big, giant stones, if you get my drift. No, no... Arwen had that exotic, half human, half elf thing going for her. That "I gave up my immortality for the sake of love" kind of look.
MW: On that same subject, is there a Mrs. Gandalf?
G: No, no. Afraid not.
MW: Any old flames?
G: Well, there was that business with the Balrog you know...
MW: No, I mean, any romantic interests?
G: Not in ages. You see, I once met that perfect woman for me - she was beautiful, wise, and she LOVED the outdoors. Yes, we enjoyed quite a few good times together.
G: And then she went and ran off with that old fop Bombadil. I mean, I can understand loosing a love, but to him? He cant even carry on a conversation for 2 minutes without breaking into some song about himself... Self-centered jerk.
MW: I see. Sorry to bring up bitter memories. Hey, heres a question Ive been
wondering. Do you have the secret of making lembas? I mean with world hunger and all...
G: My dear boy, that secret has been passed along for generations, and the secret of lembas Ill have you know is alive and well... and in the hands of the Hostess Corporation.
G: Think about it... Waybread is wholesome, contains enough carbs to keep you going for days, its baked and stays fresh forever as long as it is wrapped in the leaves it comes in. I believe it is called in modern parlance a "Twinkie".
MW: Youre joking...
G: Wizards never joke.
MW: I see. Well, lets see... Ah, heres a question I know a lot of fans have been asking themselves. Why did it take you so long to figure out Saruman was a traitor? I mean, the man had goblins and orcs in his castle, didnt he?
G: Ah yes. Well, Saruman was very crafty, you see. He covered up the evidence you so surely refer to with perfectly reasonable explanations at the time. The stench? "A back up in the septic system," he said. Perfectly believable given the state of the art of indoor plumbing at the time. The fact that Glamdring would glow when I visited? "Some kind of interference from the rock in the tower," he said. Hell, he even had to have cable installed for the Palantir, reception was so bad.
MW: Was Saruman really so much more powerful than you? I mean, to trap you in his tower?
G: Well, I suppose the true facts can be told now. He sucker punched me. There I am, looking at the Palantir, watching the Maia get the crap beat out of them in football, and BAM, blackness. I asked Bilbo to kind of hush up that part in the Red Book - wouldnt do to be known as such a gullible sort. Quite Tookish of me, really.
MW: Ah. So, tell us, what was it like standing at the Gates of Mordor, and fighting a war of words with the Mouth of Sauron?
G: Oddly enough, not that exciting. I mean, again, Bilbo took a part of the story that would otherwise been quite mundane and made it into a good read, but Sauron was always letting this lieutenant be called the "Foot of Sauron" or the "Right Arm of Sauron" or the "Naughty Bits of Sauron" - none of them were particularly impressive except the wraiths, actually. Sauron reminds me a lot of this Vince McMahon you have today - just because he allows someone to call themselves "Aldo Montoya - Portuguese Man o War" doesnt make people take the bugger seriously, does it?
MW: Youre shattering a lot of myths today, Gandalf, so Ill ask you straight - why didnt you take the ring? Were you really concerned about turning to evil?
G: Oh, Ive certainly considered that many times since. I mean, everytime I see a Microsoft logo I think to myself, "I could have been so much bigger than that!" But, no. You see, the real problem with being a totalitarian despot with fantastic cosmic power is that you loose all your privacy. People recognize you everywhere, and want to bow down and grovel to you... They beg for mercy for the slightest offenses. "Ill have the chef flogged right away, my lord" - for Erus sake, man, I just said my potatoes were a bit overdone, get off it! Ah. And the paparazzi... Its just not worth it.
MW: OK. A current events question. What are your feelings on the Middle East conflict?
G: All has come before and all shall come again. I see in this something of the Dwarven-Elven conflicts of ages past... All it takes is some prankster of an Elf to carve the words "Black Pit" onto the doorway of Khazad-Dum, and WHAM, years of unremitting distrust. They will work it out, or else they will be eventually forgotten in the sands of time as some new pair of races overshadow them and learn to hate one another... Alas, one of the perils of immortality is you grow so disenchanted with folks making the same mistakes over and over and over. Its a wizards lot, I suppose.
MW: Speaking of wizards, what do you think of this whole Harry Potter business?
G: I say to Miss Rowling... (editors note: the room grew darker, and I could swear Gandalf grew a foot or two) Do not mock the affairs of Wizards, for we are subtle and have excellent legal representation.
MW: Are you saying hers is not an accurate portrayal of modern wizardry?
G: Im saying that much like Bilbos recollection of Rivendell, her portrayal of Hogwarts is not so accurate as she makes it out to be - in fact it is merely a school for parlor tricks and minor dweomers. And let me be unequivocal - REAL WIZARDS DONT PLAY QUIDDITCH! Skip the school. Youll learn more from some wandering hobo, mountain top guru, or telephone psychic.
MW: Ah. Any other tips for would be wizards?
G: Learn a fly spell. As quickly as you can. You never know when you might just need it.