Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"The Baron of Torture"

"Baron, may I have a word?"

"Oh, yes, please come in, Duke. I can always spare a moment for the King's top adviser. What would you like to discuss?"

"I am afraid you are not going to like what I'm about to say."

"Oh, please. I have heard it all."

"Your performance lately has, well, left a little to be desired. The King is not pleased."

"Not pleased? But I have been doing my job! I have been here day in and day out, fulfilling my royal duties as the Baron of Torture!"

"There is no question of the frequency of your work. It is the quality which must be examined."

"The quality? What on earth is the problem? Just last week I tortured six of the King's enemies! Six!"

"And how successful was the torture?"

"It went well. I was satisfied with my performance."

"Your methods, sire. Your methods concern the King."

"My methods? While unorthodox, my methods are a time-tested trademark of my tenacity for torture!"

"How did you torture your last subject? Did you strap him to the royal stretching device as requested by the King?"

"No. I prepared a feast for him."

“What sort of a feast?”

“It included pies and fruit. The meal was centered on a turkey.”

“Was it poisoned?”

“No, it was broiled.”

"Was he tortured?"

"The turkey? I suppose, but that depends on your views of animal cruelty and-- Oh, you mean the subject? Of course. Actually, now that I remember, he seemed to rather enjoy it. He licked his lips and even said thank you."

"And your next victim? How did you do him in?"

"Oh yes, his torture was a treat. I took him down deep below the castle, where the air seems locked in a permanent winter. I locked him up in a cell, the dirtiest, dingiest cell we've got."


"Then, right when he wasn't expecting it, I threw money at him! Lots and lots of money! I hurled coins at him until I was all spent, then I ran upstairs, withdrew two handfuls from the royal depository, and returned to throw more money at him! I said, 'Take this, you miscreant! Take all of this valuable coinage! Keep it all! It's all yours!'"

"His reaction?"

"Confusion, mostly."

"And then?"

"Sheer joy, it seemed."


"Well, look. Do not be so quick to discard my methods, Duke. I performed a torture just two days ago on the Count of Noyon that was absolutely devilish. My mind is delighted just entertaining the memory! Would you like to hear the tale?"


"In the dead of night I mounted my steed and rode to the Count's estate. Disguised in my cloak, I abducted him from his bed, bound his extremities, covered his face with a hood, and sat him atop my horse. We rode twelve furlongs deep into Sperry's Woods! Deep enough for his cries to be rendered silent to the townspeople!"

"Excellent. And then you tortured him?"

"Oh, yes! Of course I tortured him! I am the Baron of Torture, after all. My methods that night were particularly extreme. I hope you are not easily shocked."

"Not at all. So now you tortured him?"

"I pulled the Count from my horse and stood him against a fine birch tree. With the moon glowing atop the night sky, the torture began!"

"Oh, superb. And how did you do it?"

"I assaulted him."

"Physical assault? Brutality? Excellent. You really had me worried for a moment. Perhaps the King will rethink his opinion of you."

"Allow me to finish, Duke. I assaulted him with compliments. I stared him right in the face and shouted, 'You have beautiful eyes! Your eyes are gorgeous and I could gaze upon them forever!' He said, 'What is going on?' but once I started that torrent of encouragements nothing could stop me. 'You are a very humorous individual!' I yelled. 'Many of the things you say are witty! I wish I were as clever as you!' I could tell it was hitting him hard. 'I don't understand,' he said. I took a deep breath and, in my most grizzly, horrific voice, screamed until my lungs were drained of air, 'I am jealous of your muscular legs! The reason you are so successful is because you are incredibly intelligent! You have impeccable fashion sense and your bed looks very comfortable!'"

"How did he take it?"

"Well, he asked me back to his estate afterwards and we stayed up for hours drinking ale and telling stories."

"Baron, I must be honest with you. I think the King is right in his decision to remove you from your position. It seems you do not understand the basic nature of torture."

"Duke, Duke, Duke. You are an impressionable man. I did not want to do this, but it seems the circumstances have arisen. The door behind you has been locked; the tables have turned and I am in charge. There is nothing you can do but submit to me, the Baron of Torture. The horrible torture that will occur in this very room will haunt your every waking hour for as long as you live, and your slumber will be plagued by constant, hellish nightmares. It will begin as soon as my positively torturous chocolate chip cookies finish baking."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Big Bill's Barbecue"

Hey, everyone! Come on down to Big Bill’s Barbecue tonight for a great meal! We’ve got the best ribs in town! Get a whole rack of ‘em smothered in our signature sauce, prepared fresh every day by our sauce master Roger! We’ve got great pork sandwiches, homemade cornbread, and shrunken children. What? Did I say shrunken children? I didn’t mean that; I meant beef brisket! Yep, tender beef brisket, not shrunken children! There’s no shrunken children here. Well, actually we might have a few shrunken children in the back. Just two or three, not a dozen. Wait, what? We have six dozen? Okay, we might have some shrunken children. I suppose you could say our kitchen is full of shrunken children. They’re about eight inches tall and will work for pennies an hour. We got ‘em in bulk from a Polynesian witch a few years back. You know, it was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time but it didn't really work out. But, yeah, anyways, come on down to Big Bill’s Barbecue for slow-roasted ribs, signature sauces, and maybe some shrunken children! Bring the kids, they’re free on Tuesdays. Just don't let them in the back!

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Why I Don't Write History Books"

This essay originally appeared as an assignment in my College English class.

“Helen of Troy: The Hoax that Launched a Thousand Ships”

Just like those supposed Bigfoot catchers from Georgia and the moon landing, Helen of Troy was nothing but an elaborate hoax. She did not exist but in the fantasies and imaginations of ancient men. She was a ruse, a lie, a deception, and a con. Men in Greece of the nude-Olympics era would often parade through the streets shouting for her, “Helen! Helen! Come here, Helen, I’ve got some olive oil and cheeses and wine and other Mediterranean foods for you!” But she never responded. Because she didn’t exist.

So here’s how Helen’s story goes. Her dad, the almighty Zeus, took up the form of a swan for a few days. Why? I don’t know. Maybe he wanted elderly women to throw bread at him at a park. An eagle started chasing him and instead of just, you know, killing it easily like he could have because he was Zeus, he ran away until he came upon a woman named Leda. While still in the form of a swan, he impregnated her. Weird? I know. But hey, that’s how it was back then. There were no paparazzi to instantly throw pictures on the Internet captioned “Leda Sings a ‘Swan Song’?!” or “Are Large Birds from the Anatidae Family Now ‘In’?” and it took painters decades to get any work done, so people could do whatever they wanted.

Anyway, Leda gave birth to an egg. (Don’t think about it too much. It’s like the plot of Space Jam: it falls apart as soon as you think, “Wait a minute, cartoons can’t play basketball.) From that egg hatched Helen, who wasn’t “of Troy” quite yet. They didn’t keep very tight records of births back then, so who knows where she was born. I’ll assume it was Decatur, Georgia.

When Helen was about ten years old, two fellas from Athens named Theseus (brother of Opening-Paragraphius and Closing-Sentenceius) and Pirithous set a goal, American Pie-style, to wed daughters of Zeus. Theseus decided he wanted Helen, so he did the smoothest thing he could think of to woo her: he kidnapped her. Pirithous chose to marry Zeus’s other daughter Persephone, who was already married to Hades. Here’s a tip for all the boys out there: when selecting a woman to steal from her husband, don’t choose the one who is married to the King of the Underworld. Theseus and Pirithous headed down to the Underworld to snatch Persephone and, what a surprise, they were captured by Hades, because he’s King of the Underworld. That’s a pretty serious home-field advantage.

Helen was rescued by her brothers Castor and Pollux and taken back to Sparta. Once there, a whole bunch of dudes from all over the world came to ask her hand in marriage. It was like A Shot of Love with Helen of Sparta. She married Menelaus because he could do a handstand for like forty seconds, which was really impressive. Some time passed and Helen sat around doing crossword puzzles and wondering why her mother would let a swan take her out to dinner, much less take one to bed with her. Eventually a Trojan prince named Paris showed up. (Interesting fact: The modern fictional character Paris Hilton is based on this prince!) He and Helen fled Sparta for the sunny shores of Troy. Some scholars believe she went willingly, but others believe she was forced. But then again, some scholars think Lyndon Johnson was really a twelve year-old boy named Petey Marx, so you can’t trust scholars.

Once Menelaus called for a sandwich and, upon not receiving an answer, realized his wife was missing, he got a little angry. Not like “Oh, man, they put mayo on my cheeseburger” angry, but “You know what? I think it’s time to start a big-ol’ war” angry.

Thus began the Trojan War, the main result of which was that Brad Pitt movie. Menelaus pledged to kill his cheating wife when he found her, but once he got a moment alone and held a knife in the air, she dropped her dress and he was all “Oohhh yeah,” so he didn’t kill her.

Helen and Menelaus went back to Sparta and spent their days eating exotic species of birds, kicking it old-school by the pool, and doing cartwheels. They also invented the sport of wakeboarding.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How Not to Write a Research Paper, or A Bunch of Unedited Nonsense Written in Ten Minutes

Are Tomatoes Big, or Are They Small?

By Richie McAdoo!

Since tomatoes were invented in 1921 by German physicists Marco Rogers and Craig Biggio, people have been wondering, are tomatoes big or are they small? Sometimes people put them under microscopes, which indicates that they are small, but other people put them in front of telescopes, which means they're big. It's literally a question that has caused me to sit awake late at night, sweating and reading old issues of Everyday with Rachel Ray. Have you ever read that? It's okay.

So the question is about tomatoes. I think they're small, but I'm just a tire salesman. What do I know? Besides how to sell a tire, not much. So I looked in a magazine and saw that someone once said, "I think tomatoes are big," but in the next issue there was a little thing about that quote and it said it was a mistake, so I don't know what to think anymore (1).

Yesterday, I swear to god, a sausage came out of my computer's USB port.

I figured I'd have to take the research into my own hands. For six bucks I bought two pounds of tomatoes from the grocery store, but on the way to my car I thought I got ripped off, so I returned them. You know what the return policy is on tomatoes? As long as they look okay and you haven't eaten them, you can return them. I thought that was a pretty fair policy.

So, in conclusion, when it comes to the question Are Tomatoes Big, or Are They Small, my answer is, "I don't know."

1. Tomato-Based Chowders Weekly