I always struggled with word problems in math classes until I realized I’ll never have to worry about when two trains will meet at a certain point because they’re never on schedule anyway. Besides, I married a mathematician, so now I just ask him. He he! Anyway, for those of you who struggled as much as I did, or for those of you who are still in school, here are some word problems you can relate to:

Question 1:

If the dragon rocket Merry and Pippin set off at Bilbo’s farewell party swooped down on the crowd at a velocity of 111 mph (since Bilbo was 111), what is the probability that 33% (since Frodo was 33) of the hobbits were too drunk to notice?

Answer to Question 1:

The probability is 9:9, which any statistician knows is 1. That means there is a 100% certainty that 33% of the hobbits at Bilbo’s party woke up September 23 wondering why they had clumps of sod in their curly brown hair. Why 9:9 you ask? Because the nine Walkers of the Fellowship were set against the nine Black Riders, silly. See how easy this is?

Question 2:

If movie Merry consumed apples at the same rate at which apples appeared as props in the first hour of the movie, how many apples would Merry have eaten during the journey from Farmer Maggot’s field to the Prancing Pony in Bree?

Answer to Question 2:

The answer is 9—the 2 Frodo packed in his backpack plus the 8 Sam had in his. But that’s 10, not nine, you say, and how do I know Sam had 8 apples in his pack anyway? Simple. Since Sam always carried 4 times as much stuff as Frodo, we can assume he had packed 4 times as many apples as Frodo:

2 Frodo Apples X 4 = 8 Sam Apples

But that’s still 10, you say. Certainly, there were 10 apples total, but we need to account for the Pippin Factor. Merry would’ve had Pippin do the actual apple snatching, so Merry, good-hearted hobbit that he is, would’ve naturally given Pippin 1 as a share of the booty. Thus, 2 Frodo apples from Frodo’s pack plus 8 apples from Sam’s pack minus the Pippin Factor leaves 9 apples for Merry. But how do we know Frodo and Sam didn’t eat any of the apples, you say? Did you ever see them eat any apples in the movie version? ‘nuf said. This is the secret to solving mathematical word problems—worry only about the factors that are mostly likely to apply to the situation. They throw in other stuff just to mess you up. In this case, Frodo and Sam can be considered non-apple-eating variables that do not have to be considered in the solution. See?

Question 3:

If the Three Stooges, oops, I mean Merry, Pippin and Sam had not drawn the 5 Ringwraiths to them at Weathertop with their 18-inch diameter cooking fire and the aroma of tomatoes, sausages and nice, crispy bacon, how long would it have taken Strider to return in a) the movie version, and b) the book.

Answer to Question 3:

a) The answer is 9 minutes in the movie version—enough time for an expanded scene with Arwen “in the Wild.” (Where do you think he was all that time anyway? To “take a look around?” Yeah, right.)

b) The answer is 9 days in the book: “For long he searched, east, north, south and west. When he was satisfied the way held no rumour of the Nine, he returned to Weathertop, only to find a hastily written note from Merry saying the hobbits had left that very morning:

“…waited as long as we could. Sam bashed Frodo over the head with a frying pan this morning after Frodo said for the hundredth time, “He’ll come, Sam. I know he’ll come.” Luckily Frodo’s thick, curly hair prevented serious injury. Frodo got the point when Pippin and I started cheering Sam, and he quickly forgave Sam and agreed we should move on. But Sam won’t forgive himself for whacking his dear Mr. Frodo and has been weeping uncontrollably ever since. We don’t think Sam will ever fully recover from wounding Frodo, even with Elvish medicine, so we’re headed back to the PP for a couple of pints.”

-Warmest regards

Meriadoc B.

Question 4:

If Gimli hadn’t broken his axe trying to destroy the Ring at the Council of Elrond, how far would Legolas have to leap back to avoid getting his head lopped off when Gimli accompanied his “Never trust an Elf!” with a blow from his axe.

Answer to Question 4:

The answer is 9 feet. Allow 2 feet for the length of the axe, plus 2.5 feet for the length of Gimli’s extended arm in full axe swing, plus the 4.5 feet covered by Gimli’s leap from chair to foe: 2 + 2.5 + 4.5 = 9. Get’s easier all the time, doesn’t it?

Question 5:

If the snow on Caradhras fell at a rate of one mountain per hour, and the shortest person in the Fellowship (our dear Frodo) was already up to his eyebrows in the white stuff, how long would it take them to turn around so they could come back down in the same order?

Answer to Question 5:

The answer is 9 hours: 5 minutes to rearrange the Fellowship and 8 hours and 55 minutes to dig out Bill the Pony.

Question 6:

How many times did the Fellowship want to bash Pippin over the head with Gandalf’s staff after Pippin dropped the skeleton down the well in Moria?

Answer to Question 6:

The answer is 9 to the 5th power. This one is a little more complicated as it involves exponentials. It is derived this way: The Fellowship wanted to bash Pippin over the head with Gandalf’s staff once for each orc and goblin that poured out of the Walls, Floors and Ceilings of Moria, which happen to number 58,959. The Fellowship also wanted to bash Pippin over the head with Gandalf’s staff 9 more time for the cave troll, and 81 more times for the Balrog. So, we have 58,959 + 9 + 81 = 59,049 which happens to be 9 to the 5th power (9 X 9 X 9 X 9 X 9).

Question 7:

If Gimli only breathed half as loud as he usually does, how much light would the Elves of Lorien have needed to shoot him from 100 yards out?

Answer to Question 7:

The answer is 9 miniature birthday candle-feet. Remember what I told you in the answer to Question 2? The secret to solving these problems is to ignore unnecessary information. In this problem, Gimli’s breathing has little effect on the solution as the Elves of Lorien could no doubt smell him coming a mile away (and the rest of the Fellowship). Indeed, they wouldn’t even need the candles, but they like to keep them on hand for impromtu parties. Depending on the direction of the wind, they could have easily nailed Gimli at 1000 yards, in the dark.

Question 8:

If Bill the Pony had made it through the Mines of Moria and stayed with the Fellowship, how many canoes would they have needed to travel down the Anduin?

Answer to Question 8:

The answer is 9. After wasting 4 weeks in Lorien trying to teach the pony how to paddle an Elf canoe, even the Elves would’ve given up. That meant someone would have to paddle the canoe for the pony. But not even the Ringbearer would sit behind Bill in the same canoe. That would mean putting Bill in his own canoe and towing him behind. Sam, torn between his love for Frodo and his affection for poor old Bill, would then paddle his own canoe between Frodo’s and Bill’s so as to keep an eye on ‘em both, so to speak, even though he was afeared of boats and the like. Gimli, would complain loudly that first he was shot at in the dark for no reason, and now he has to suffer further humiliation by huddling like a cargo of coal in the bottom of Leoglas’ canoe when they were giving a pony his own boat! Legolas would retort that if the shoe fit, Gimli should wear it and that a Dwarf wouldn’t know how to paddle a canoe if Durin’s life depended on it. Gimli, not to be outdone, would demand to be given his own boat, and Merry and Pippin would chime in, “Hey, we want one, too!” Frodo, in his quiet wisdom, would roll his eyes, shake his head and humbly ask the Lady of the Wood for one more parting gift. “I beg you for separate boats for us all,” he would say so only she could hear, “or I fear they will throttle each other before we reach the Great River.” The Lady would see the wisdom in this, for it would also be in her mind. She would graciously grant Frodo’s last request and set boats ready for all—8 for the remaining members of the Fellowship, and one for Bill the Pony. Nine boats in all. And they would then be known as the Flotilla of the Ring.

Question 9:

Worldwide gross on FOTR is currently at approximately $730 million. This film has 13 Oscar nominations. A Best Picture win can raise worldwide gross by $100 million. A sneak peek at the next film in the series, TTT, has been promised to be added to the current release around and after the Academy Awards are held. The average viewer has seen this film three times. Some viewers have seen the film over 30 times. Many fans are planning to go again when the TTT preview comes out. The film is just beginning its wide release in Japan where Harry Potter grossed around $150 million during its run. How many hundreds of millions of dollars will FOTR likely see in total worldwide gross by the end of its run?

Answer to Question 9:

The answer is 9. No explanation needed. :)!!!!