As always, dear readers, welcome.  We begin with a quotation:

“Look out! Look out!
Pink elephants on parade
Here they come!
They’re here and there
Pink elephants everywhere

Look out! Look out!
They’re walking around the bed, on their head
Arrayed in braid
Pink elephants on parade

What’ll I do? What’ll I do?
What an unusual view!
I could stand the sight of worms
And look at microscopic germs
But technicolor pachyderms
Is really too much for me

I am not the type to faint
When things are odd or things are quaint
But seeing things you know that ain’t
Can certainly give you an awful fright!
What a sight!

Chase ’em away!
Chase ’em away!
I’m afraid, need your aid
Pink elephants on parade!

Pink elephants!
Pink elephants!”

All right, patient readers are asking, what in the world is this?  And where will you go with it?

It’s, in fact, from Walt Disney’s 1941 movie, Dumbo.

If you’re not familiar with this film, it’s about a very small elephant with very large ears who discovers that, using his ears, he can fly.  His real name is “Jumbo, Junior”, which is clearly based upon the name of the  first famous elephant in modern history, Jumbo, who lived his adult life beginning in the Jardin des Plantes,

in Paris, then in the Zoological Gardens in London,

and finally in the circus world of the American entrepreneur, P.T. Barnum.

(If you’d like a copy of the autobiography of Jumbo’s keeper at the London zoo and a biography of Jumbo, here’s a LINK: )

In the story, Dumbo’s only friend is a mouse, named Timothy, which is its own joke on the traditional idea that elephants are afraid of mice.

with whom, by accident, he becomes intoxicated

and suddenly, the two have a vision:  Pink Elephants!  which is accompanied by a very strange song, the words of which we’ve quoted above.

Here’s the LINK to a clip of this:

Normally, this is said to be something which long-time alcoholics are traditionally said to see, but it makes for quite a scene in the film, as we’re sure you’ll agree!

In this scene, we were inspired by these lines:

“I am not the type to faint
When things are odd or things are quaint
But seeing things you know that ain’t
Can certainly give you an awful fright!
What a sight!”

to think about another story where people see things they “know that ain’t”.  And, as Tolkien is never far from our minds, or these pages, we were on Weathertop,

When the Wraiths first appear, they are described as

“…three or four tall black figures…standing there on the slope, looking down on them.  So black were they that they seemed like black holes in the deep shade around them…” (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter 11, “A Knife in the Dark”)

And then Frodo slips on the Ring and:

“Immediately, though everything else remained as before, dim and dark, the shapes became terribly clear.  He was able to see beneath their black wrappings.  There were five tall figures:  two standing on the lip of the dell, three advancing.  In their white faces burned keen and merciless eyes; under their mantles were long grey robes; upon their grey hairs were helms of silver; in their haggard hands were swords of steel.”

Frodo sees the Ring Wraiths for what they really are because, by putting on the Ring, he enters its world, and that of the Wraiths, which appears to be a kind of twilight place between Middle-earth and someplace else—in a sense, a “place that ain’t”, as the Wraiths are a kind of ghost, doomed to haunt the world only while the Ring exists (or, in the case of their chief, when a weapon from the past catches him). 

 This made us wonder, what would the Ring allow its rightful owner, Sauron, to see?  When Frodo puts on the Ring again, to escape Boromir, and climbs up Amon Hen, the Ring still on his finger:


“At first he could see little.  He seemed to be in a world of mist in which there were only shadows:  the Ring was upon him.  Then here and there the mist gave way and he saw many visions:  small and clear as if they were under his eyes upon a table, and yet remote.  There was no sound, only bright living images.  The world seemed to have shrunk and fallen silent.”  (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter 10, “The Breaking of the Fellowship”)

Even if silent, this is a teeming world:

“But everywhere he looked he saw the signs of war.  The Misty Mountains were crawling like anthills:  orcs were issuing out of a thousand holes.  Under the boughs of Mirkwood there was deadly stife of Elves and Men and fell beasts.  The land of the Beornings was aflame; a cloud was over Moria; smoke rose on the borders of Lorien.”

But, reading this, we were a little puzzled.  Although some of this we know to be happening—certainly in Moria— much of the rest is yet to come in the story.  If this is Sauron’s view, are he and Frodo actually “seein’ things you know that ain’t” and the Ring shares some power (and danger) with Galadriel’s Mirror?  As she says:

“Remember that the Mirror shows many things, and not all have yet come to pass.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter 7, “The Mirror of Galadriel”)

If so, then should both take note of her warning?

“Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them.  The Mirror is dangerous as a guide to deeds.”

As a possible guide to Sauron’s mind and its imaginings, we want to return to this idea in another posting, but, as we started out with a strange, but still somehow jolly vision, we’d like to conclude with an odd and comic one, the present time being dark enough as it is!

In 1950, there appeared a film, based upon Mary Chase’s 1944 play, Harvey.

The basic story is about Elwood P. Dowd, played by the well-known actor of the period, James Stewart,

a gentle, quiet man, who spends much of the play/film in the company—so he says—of a 6’3”  (190.5cm) tall rabbit named “Harvey”.  Dowd lives with his sister, who is constantly embarrassed by Dowd’s insistence that Harvey is not only real, but extremely wise, and his seeming assumption that everyone can see him.   Unfortunately, at least initially, no one else can see Harvey, including Dowd’s sister, who, eventually attempts to have Dowd committed to an insane asylum.  In a complex turn of events, however, Dowd’s sister is the one who is (temporarily) committed and the doctor who examines Dowd not only can see Harvey, but finds him a very pleasant companion.  The film ends happily—although, until the very end, it’s difficult to know if Harvey is a figment of (several) people’s imagination, or real…

We know that the pink elephants were the result of accidental intoxication.  And Frodo sees the Wraiths and possibly a form of the future because of the Ring.  Harvey simply appears, as Dowd explains, and strikes up a friendly conversation.  Perhaps, considering those weird pachyderms, and the terrors of the Ring’s world, meeting a very tall and perhaps invisible but benevolent rabbit, would be a vision which we would prefer that we did see?  As Dowd says to the doctor:  “Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”

Thanks, as ever, for reading, stay well, and be sure that there’s




Jumbo also inspired a famous classical piano piece.  It comes from Claude Debussy’s (1862-1918) Children’s Corner Suite, first published in 1908, and it is entitled “Jimbo’s Lullabye”.  Here’s a LINK:

(“Jimbo” appears to be a corruption, through the French pronunciation of “u”, of Jumbo.)