Lord of the Rings, by Dr. Seuss

“I am Samwise. I am Samwise. Samwise I am-wise.”

“Samwise Gamgee! Samwise Gamgee! I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee!”

“Would you bear the ring with me?”

“I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee. I will not bear the ring with thee.”

“Would you bear the ring to Bree?”

“I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee.”

“Would you bear it to Weathertop, where ringwraiths stab you when we stop?”

“I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee.”

“Would you bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell?”

“Not Rivendell, where elf-lords dwell. Nor Weathertop, stabbed when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee.”

“Would you? Could you? Through the Mine? (Gandalf will die, but he’ll be fine.)”

“I would not, could not, through the Mine.”

“You could bear it now and then. Maybe to Lothlórien!”

“I would not to Lothlórien. Nor through the Mine, no matter when! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee.”

“The Morgul Vale! The Morgul Vale! Would you, to the Morgul Vale?”

“Not to the Vale, Lothlórien, nor through the Mine, no matter when! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee.”

“Say! Past Shelob? Just past Shelob? Would you, could you, past Shelob?”

“I would not, could not, past Shelob.”

“Would you, could you in orc jail?”

“I would not, could not in orc jail, nor past Shelob, nor to the Vale, Lothlórien, or through the Mine. I won’t, and that’s the bottom line. Not Rivendell, nor Weathertop. Not where elves dwell or ringwraiths stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly.”

“You will not bear the ring with me?”

“I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee.”

“Could you, would you, to Mt. Doom?”

“I would not, could not to Mt. Doom!”

“To drop it in a lava flume?”

“I could not drop it in the flume! I will not take it to Mt. Doom. I will not take it to orc jail! Nor past Shelob! Nor through the Mine! Or to the Vale! I must decline! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I cannot bear it, Sam Gamgee.”

“You will not bear it, so you say. Bear it! Bear it! Come what may. Bear it come what may, I say.”

“Samwise! If you let me be, I will bear it. You will see … Say! Gollum, with his nasty cough, just went and bit my finger off! Then fell right in the lava flume, after I bore it to Mt. Doom! And I bore it through the orc jail, and past Shelob, and through the Vale, Lothlórien, and in the Mine where Gandalf died (but then was fine). And I bore it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. And I bore it to Weathertop, though ringwraiths stabbed me at that stop. And yes, I bore the ring to Bree. I bore that ring most willingly. I’m glad I bore that ring with thee! Thank you, thank you, Sam Gamgee!”

Favorite Books – September

September turned out to be a pretty standout month for good books. There were two, however, that ended up being particular favorites:

REDEMPTION IN INDIGO, by Karen Lord

Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones – the djombi – who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world.

I’ve been meaning to read the works of Karen Lord for years, and now that I’ve read one, my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Redemption in Indigo is a charming story, and perfectly told.

IN THE DREAM HOUSE, by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado’s innovative account of a relationship gone bad traces the full arc of a harrowing experience with a charismatic but volatile woman, each chapter viewing the relationship through a different lens.

This is a beautifully written book, and a powerful one. It is also a book that I was, for a while, reluctant to read; I have my own history with being abused in a relationship, and revisiting those memories are always hard. And in fact, there was an episode recounted in this book that made my heart race with remembered panic. There were things she talked about that happened to me as well, or almost happened, or could have happened. But that’s also part of the reason that I’m very glad I read it.

I’ll also note that there were two books that would have made my “best of the month list” if the month hadn’t been quite as strong: THE MERCIES by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and the theatrical play LEOPOLDSTADT by Tom Stoppard.

Other books and stories that I very much enjoyed in September included THE WARRING STATES by Aidan Harte, EMERGENCY SKIN by N. K. Jemisin, OUTLAW by Niamh Murphy, TWENTY WORLDS by Niall Deacon, THIS TELLING by Cheryl Strayed, STRAY by Andrea K. Höst, THE DARK DARK by Samantha Hunt, GRACEFUL BURDENS by Roxane Gay, THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET by Natasha Pulley, THE DOLLMAKER by Nina Allan, THE SILVER WIND by Nina Allan, HALFWAY TO FREE by Emma Donoghue, and WATERSONG by Mary Caraker.

The Chocolate Museum

Since the world’s biggest chocolate museum has just opened in Switzerland, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share my own chocolate museum story.

A few years back, we were in Barcelona and had spent a day hitting the museums. We had just been through the Picasso Museum, the daylight was waning and everything was on the verge of shutting down. We were about to head back to the hotel when we noticed the Chocolate Museum — open for another half hour! How could we resist? We bought our tickets (which came in the form of bars of chocolate) and went in.

First, there was a video presentation about the history of chocolate, which went something like this: “Spanish explorers went to South American and [Scene Missing] LOOK OVER THERE! [Scene Missing] WE DON’T TALK ABOUT THIS PART [Scene Missing] then Europe had chocolate.”

Then, we went into the museum proper, which turned out to be a museum of … chocolate art. Paintings and sculptures done entirely in chocolate. Ancient, horrible-looking, inedible chocolate.

And not only was it museum of unappetizing chocolate art, it was a museum of chocolate art with curator’s notes next to the artwork which had the exact same degree of deadly serious breathless intensity and awe as the notes in the Picasso Museum.

CURATOR’S NOTE: “So-and-so’s innovative use of white chocolate would transform the world of chocolate art forever. His boldness of line and daring choice of subject made him a controversial figure in the chocolate art world. The unveiling of this piece caused riots, and remains a subject of debate to this very day. To look upon his work is to begin to question everything — Art. Society. Ourselves.”

ME, STARING AT CHOCOLATE IMAGE OF A CARTOON BUNNY: “I … don’t see it.”

The chocolate bar tickets were OK.

Favorite Books – August

Two books I read in August were particular standouts for me:

THE BONE HOUSES, by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

This was a YA novel with unexpected depth, vivid descriptions, great characters, and a welcome nod to the same Welsh legends that inspired Lloyd Alexander. It’s honestly hard to find fault with this one. So I won’t.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TIME TRAVEL, by Kate Mascarenhas

Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future …

This one was a delight. A locked-room murder mystery, a love story, and a deep look at how time travel might seriously mess with your mind.

Other books I read in August that I liked very much included LESS by Andrew Sean Greer, CRIER’S WAR by Nina Varela, SUMMERLAND by Hannu Rajaniemi, THE BEATRIX GATES by Rachel Pollack, THE FIRE NEVER GOES OUT by Noelle Stevenson, EXHALATION by Ted Chiang, THE OUTSIDE by Ada Hoffman, and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK by Joan Lindsay.

Housecleaning, Day 7

No matter how inexplicable our findings in the closets, I cannot countenance the rumors spreading among the crew that they indicate the existence of an advanced and “evil” civilization that predates our own in this flat.

Even the most disturbing find, a collection of highly detailed molds of human teeth, is not necessarily a sign of ill intent; it could simply be indicative of a culture which attached some religious significance to dentistry. As to the worked metal objects of unknown purpose, there is as of yet no evidence that they are tools, much less technologically advanced tools. They could be artworks, or primitive weapons, or toys for all we know.

Housecleaning, Day 6

The crew was in poor spirits following the death of Alsop and disappearance of Hodgkins, so I organized a rousing game of rugby. Dr. Spivens is currently treating no fewer than seven injuries that were incurred during the festivities, including one exploded spleen, but morale seems much improved.

We have begun laying plans to begin an archeological study of the closets. Who knows what ancient secrets we shall uncover?

Housecleaning, Day 4

Great strides have been made in the kitchen, and Smithers’ photographic record of the migratory patterns of tupperware lids is sure to prove a great boon to the scientific community. Yet as the day comes to an end, the work remains incomplete, and many great mysteries remain.

Most disturbing was the discovery of a single, unpaired glove, of unknown provenance, hidden beneath the base of a towering pile of cloth bags. Could it belong to the three-legged man? Does he have only one arm? Or could he have a LEG-ARM?

Hodgkins believes we are cursed.

Whatever the answer, we have lost the daylight, and must bed down for the night. We will search for more answers on the morrow.