Elves & Taxes

Overall it's been kind of nice to remember, oh, yeah, I really like The Lord of the Rings.

Elves & Taxes
Photo by Faye Cornish / Unsplash

Hey there. I'm Nat Bennett, and here's your weekly Simpler Machines – a couple of days late.

I keep writing attempts at short newsletters that keep turning into long essays that don't feel quite finished. So I'm holding those back for now. This week needs to be about taxes (and catching up on my life paperwork in general) so I'm following the principle of "do one thing at a time" and avoiding the urge to go all-in on writing.

I'm tracking my to-dos for the week on legal pads, transferring the to-dos bullet journal style from one sheet to another. At the top, I write:

  • Do one thing at a time
  • Alternate work and play
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • No scrolling

I'm doing okay at following those rules. The scrolling one is tough.

We've been calling Amazon packages "Rings of Power advertisements." As in, "hey I think another Rings of Power advertisement got here," or "I brought two Rings of Power advertisements in" or "wow that's a heavy Rings of Power advertisement, oh, it's a water filter."

Against all odds and expectation the show is... good? I'm enjoying it? The acting's consistently strong, the costume design and cinematography are beautiful, the plot feels not too contained, not too sprawling. My least favorite storyline is probably the bit with the hobbits but even that's interesting and watchable – I'm curious about the world building, the culture.

It definitely plays with the lore, and at times feels more like the kind of LotR knock-off that was really popular in the 80s than a real LotR prequel.

It also spends a fair amount of time introducing orcs, which I was surprised by at first but think is really necessary. Post-LotR orcs are... not great. Not scary, especially, kind of tedious. They too easily become "humans, but they're okay to kill." It doesn't help that I strongly associate the accent with Shadow of Mordor, which, while it's a great video game, is also a game about scaring orcs with bees while they shout "oi!" a lot.

The orcs in The Rings of Power are hateful. They hate elves and they hate trees and they hate light. And they're twisted by that hate.

Overall it's been kind of nice to remember, oh, yeah, I really like The Lord of the Rings. It's better – richer, more sensitive, more true – than a lot of its derivatives. It somehow gets away with glowing trees and a place called Mount Doom.