A Shortcut to Mushrooms discussion: Outline of topics

1. Breakfast and Banter

  1. Impressions of the characters at beginning of chapter

  2. Effects of the encounter with Elves



2. The Road Goes Ever On and Off

Map of the short cut

  1. How important are the maps in Tolkien

  2. Why do the Hobbits meet no one on the road?

  3. Why is Pippin so assertive?

  4. Does Sam really have a vote in the decision?

  5. What is the meaning of The Road in Tolkien?


3. The Crooked Short Cut

  1. Is Pippin's "first check" a nasty remark?

  2. The stream-across-the-path obstacle in Tolkien

  3. Does Sam Gamgee have "sharp ears"?

  4. Revisiting N.E. Brigand's post about Nature aiding the Hobbits

  5. Where was the Black Rider while the Hobbits visited the Elves?


4. Like the cry of some evil and lonely creature

  1. What is the meaning of the rain, if any?

  2. The "belt of trees" - what is its point?

  3. The Elves' wonderfully refreshing drink

  4. The Hobbits' drinking song

  5. A long-drawn wail came down the wind

  6. Why we never hear the Riders again... Oops! we do.

  7. How Tolkien returns the Hobbits to normalcy through writing

5. He beat me and set his dogs on me

  1. How could Hobbits run full-size farms?

  2. Frodo, at 50, is still scared of the farmer

  3. The earlier version: dogs and mad hobbits and the Ring as a joke

  4. The Marish and its farmhouses

  5. Remember the Prologue, and the Stoors of the Marish?

  6. The "savior" character in (practically) every chapter

  7. How old is Maggot?

  8. Frodo's fear of dogs as comic relief

  9. Why is Maggot so vague about his recent mysterious visitor?


6. "Have you seen Baggins?" he asked in a queer voice
  1. Sam's mistrust of Maggot
  2. Pippin takes charge of the situation
  3. Maggot faces down a Black Rider and lives to tell about it
  4. Are the Black Riders so scary after all?
  5. What does Maggot know about Bilbo's treasure?
  6. What has Frodo learned today
  7. Maggot treats Sam as a servant
  8. Would a wagon help against the Black Riders anyway?
  9. What was for dinner at Maggot's that night

7. 'I want Mr. Baggins. Have you seen him?' said a muffled voice.

  1. Why so few females in this story?

  2. Does Mrs. Maggot sound just like some one else?

  3. Tolkien's pathetic fog machine

  4. Hoofbeats approach in the dark... not for the last time!

  5. Tolkien's lack of blood lust

  6. The climax: was it good for you?

  7. Where had Merry just been?

  8. Maggot finally shows fear

8. Notes from "The Hunt for the Ring"
  1. The Black Riders: Who ARE these guys?
  2. Summary of the Unfinished Tale: The Hunt for the Ring
  3. We Black Riders are not logical, Captain
  4. More questions
  5. The secret emails to Mordor: the files are opened at last

9. “Old Tom and Muddy-feet”: The Maggot-Bombadil connection 

  1. The complete poem "Bombadil Goes Boating"

  2. The stanzas about Tom meeting Maggot

  3. When might this journey have taken place?

  4. References to Lord of the Rings

  5. Differences from Lord of the Rings

  6. Comments on the meter and rhyme

  7. Tolkien's notes on the poem and its geography

10. Final Exam
  1. You mean that's it?
  2. A million excuses not to take the Final
  3. The Final Exam: we few, we happy few
  4. So long, and thanks for all the beer