Re: [mythsoc] wonderful and draggy?
- In a message dated 3/9/2005 7:41:13 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
I was six the first time I read it, so I won't even go into
some of the somewhat bizzare things I thought at the first reading that
were gradually corrected through years of repeated reading.
Does anyone have any good stories about the things in Tolkien (or any of the
other authors we regularly discuss) that they didn't understand until much
later? Here's my story: When I first read _The Lord of the Rings_ when I was
17, I didn't understand what was meant by the musical crackers mentioned in
the birthday party chapter in _The Fellowship of the Ring_. I presumed that
these were some kind of crisp cookies (maybe like fortune cookies) shaped
like flutes or some such so that one could play a tune by blowing into them.
It wasn't till I was 35 and spending my first Christmas in England that I
finally realized that they were something like Christmas crackers. These are
cylinders of cardboard, covered with colorful foil, from which a toy, a paper
crown, and a slip of paper with a joke on it come flying out when it's pulled
apart with a loud snap. These are traditionally opened by everyone at
Christmas dinner in the U.K. Everyone reads the stupid jokes (and they are
stupid, in general), plays a little bit with the cheap plastic toy, and wears the
crown for the rest of the meal. So I realized then that Tolkien meant musical
crackers to be crackers with small musical instruments in them.
So another 17 years go by and as I was writing this post, I suddenly
wondered if there actually were musical crackers. I just did some Googling and I
find that there are indeed musical crackers. It appears that all they have in
them are whistles though. In each of a set of eight crackers there will be
whistles for eight different tones so tunes can be played only by eight people
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