I don't really get the whole Lord of The Rings thing, personally - what little affection I have it for it springs from childhood memories of listening to The Hobbit on cassette (although I never got through it), and the animated film from 1978, which scared me senseless when I was young. The Peter Jackson remakes were OK; involving and exciting in parts but desperately over-long and ever so reverential.
But! I am enjoying Natalie Podrazik's Hobbited Blog more than I can say. Natalie is, unbelievably, just about the last person on Earth who knows nothing about Lord of The Rings, and is thus blogging her first encounter with Bilbo Baggins et al from a position of complete innocence. Her bewilderment and good humour make this an essential winter read. I hope she sticks with it longer than I did those blasted audiotapes.
Here she is getting frustrated with Gandalf.
By the way, just remembered that I had two goldfish called Bilbo and Baggins when I was a kid. Over the years, however, their names evolved into, er, Fish 1 and Fish 2. There's another example of me not giving Tolkein due reverence. Fish 1 lived longest but then developed some kind of weird growth and got all listless. Those were dark days.
First of all, Gandalf leads his trusted peers to the woods and proclaims that he's not going in there with "you people". He YP'd them! His own crew!
"It is no use arguing. I have, as I told you, some pressing business away south; and I am already late through bothering with you people. We may meet again before all is over, and then again of course we may not."
Who called this mission to order? Gandalf. And he's ditching the crew. Sup with that? What about wolves? What about trolls or goblins? He took the wicked swords AND the horse from bear-man and made everyone else return their ponies, and now he wants them all to march into a deep dark forest and maybe he'll see them on the other side. Can they walk around? Yeah, but its hundreds of miles, Gandalf says. Hmmm, how does that phrase go, again? "F*** you. No smiley." I think that's it.