An Embittered Gandalf Fills In As A University Commencement Speaker

By: David Beitzel

Greetings, Class of 2011!

Yes, you are at the right commencement. I know you were expecting Daniel Tosh, but he had a prior engagement telling ethnic jokes at the Kennedy Center, so I trust you will indulge this simple old wizard.

For those of you who do not know me, I am Gandalf the White, Greybeard, Steward of Middle-earth and Leader of the Fellowship.

Surely, your class…Hey, no cell phones, please. Surely, your class will accomplish great things, as well. As an alumnus myself, I know some of the trials you face. Wizardry wasn’t my first choice of study — actually, it was architecture — but I’ve been doing pretty well for myself.

Maybe I didn’t get to design the Tower of Orthanc — no, they chose Morton’s Construction for that — but I did hold Narya, the Ring of Fire, one of the most powerful rings in Middle-earth. If anyone would like replicas for their class rings, I’ll have them available after the ceremonies. Just don’t get all fuzzy-eyed on Longbottom Leaf and give them to some Grey Havens nymph. What was I thinking?

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, right. The road I traveled took me to places I never dreamed of. When I was held captive by Saruman, days passed like weeks. His treachery was unthinkable and I didn’t know if I’d survive…Excuse me. Hey, Tri-Delts, can you stop texting for a second? I know you’re excited about the kegger, but this is kind of emotional for me.

Anyway, with the fate of our world hanging perilously on the whims of Fate, I thought back to my old consort Cirdan the Shipwright. He warned me of Sauron’s foul minions. He warned me of avarice that corrupted friendships. He warned me of dark powers that destroyed good men. He never warned me about the slash fiction, though. Come on, guys. “Two Beards, One Staff?” It’s time to grow up.

Believe it or not, you are this world’s future. I’m sure it was hard to imagine all those times you got a bad grade and thought you shall not pass. Heh. But here you are. And let me tell you, I didn’t think I’d make it when I faced the monstrous Balrog, flame of Udun…Seriously? A beach ball? I’m trying to tell a story here.

You know what? I’m done. I don’t need this. I pushed back a phalanx of orcs at the siege of Helm’s Deep, you little twerps.

You think I didn’t want to study drawing? I took a job that would pay the bills and, oh, I don’t know, help save the freaking world. Your generation thinks math is hard. You know what was hard? Dying and then navigating back to the mortal world.

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatu! That’s the Black Speech, nerds. Mordor’s tengwar. But, yeah, that gen-ed requirement for a semester of French was such a bummer, wasn’t it? You ignorant little jerks, wasting your days downloading and rutting.

Well, you’re all Bachelors of the Arts now. I’m sure that will go swell.

Good luck with gas prices, suckers! You don’t need to fill up too often when you’re riding Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles.



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