Even more than my beloved Cowboys & Aliens Slurpee cup, this is my prized possession, at least when it comes to LED-enabled drinking devices:

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That, my friends, is the Frodo-themed Lord of the Rings glass goblet—mine was purchased for me, by a long-suffering girlfriend, from a Burger King in the greater Boise area in December of 2001. Even though its batteries have long since died, I still keep it, and bring it out for special occasions; it is classy.

In those halcyon days, Burger King put out four such beautiful collectibles: one goblet with Frodo, one with Aragorn, one with Gandalf, and one with (ugh) Arwen. With four per year, the plan was clear: the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring would soon get their own classy goblets, likely timed with the release of The Two Towers and The Return of the King!

Did that ever happen? Fuck no it didn't. And those dicks at Burger King continue to ignore my queries regarding their utter and complete failure to finish what they started.

Maybe it's best they didn't, because here's the thing: contractual obligation can make for some pretty shitty results. WHICH BRINGS ME TO DENNY'S.

Here's my theory: Burger King didn't sell enough awesome goblets back in 2001, so they said fuck it and didn't bother to forge any more. It was a harsh decision, no doubt—and no doubt Peter Jackson's delicate soul was stung most of all. So when Denny showed up at Peter's house in New Zealand and was like, "Hey, want to let me give you some money so I can rename some crap on my menu with Hobbit names?", Jackson was all, "Sure thing, bro—but don't fuck it up like those dicks at Burger King. I'm going to make 15 motherfucking movies out of The Hobbit, and you have to do Hobbit breakfast every goddamn year." And Denny was like, "Ha! No problem! I mean, the only concern I would have in that case is if, say, the first Hobbit movie is a huge disappointment and totally boring and no one likes it—but you're the guy who made The Lovely Bones, right? What're the chances of that happening, right? Ha ha! Ha!"

There was an awkward, silent, long moment. Then Denny and Peter signed a contract, and now, even though Denny's heart clearly isn't in it anymore—no one's heart is in it anymore, not after they had to sit through The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—there's another Hobbit-themed menu at Denny's. And so, just as we did last year, and just as we will next year, Steve and I—this time accompanied by Blogtown commenter/contest winner "Number Six"—went there this morning and had breakfast. It was gross.

It was just like this!
  • It was just like this! Except gross

First, Number Six? He's a great guy, and he knows his shit about The Hobbit, even though he, wisely, has chosen not to view The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. ("It's been sitting in my Netflix stack forever," he said. "I don't want to watch it. It seems like a waste of my time.") Number Six was nonetheless able to teach Steve several key facts about The Hobbit, which is something I've been trying to do for years and have repeatedly failed at. But thanks to Number Six, Steve—like a bright young child!—can now repeat several TOLKIEN FACTS! Such as:

• Smaug is a dragon, but not a very nice one
• Smaug doesn't even want the Ring! Instead he wants gold! Which he can't even use!
• Hobbits don't wear shoes but dwarves do, due to cultural differences
• Smaug is Benedict Cumberbatch

Steve proudly shared each of these facts in this morning's Mercury editorial meeting.

Smaug and Bilbo in a scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
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  • Bilbo Baggins and Smaug the Dragon in a scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Meanwhile, I spent most of this morning's editorial meeting (A) making jokes at Dirk VanderHart's expense, and (B) feeling queasy, because Denny's... they aren't even half-assing it this year, guys. They are like quarter-assing it. The food at that place is really terrible, and with such small portions: Not only were there crappier menu options than last year (Steve was especially distraught by the absence of his beloved "Gandalf Gobbler"), but the selections that were there were... not good. I still feel about 70 percent nauseated from my "Bilbo's Breakfast Feast," which contained a form of French Toast that I do not think was actually French Toast; Steve delicately removed the "Jalapeno Bottle Caps" from his "Smaug's Fire Burger" with "X-Sauce" before choking it down at 9 am; and Denny, bless his incompetent heart, ran out of "cheddar bun halves" for Number Six's "Hobbit Hole Breakfast," replacing them with plain old hamburger buns. "I wouldn't ever eat that again," Number Six said as we pushed back from the table, and we all nodded, together—having discovered our shared belief, our sacred brotherhood.

No one's saying that Denny knows what the fuck he's doing, but you have to give him points for sticking with it, I guess. True, he's probably contractually obligated, but at least he's not disappointing everybody like those dicks at Burger King.