now with stories about royalty!  

April 8th, 2010

Perched on the loftiest throne in the world, we are still sitting on our own behind.

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne


For sale: photograph of a yeti I took during my trek through the Himalayas. The yeti is wearing a Blue Jays hat. $4 OBO. Box 34.
For rent: luxurious sense of entitlement. Complete with smug air of contempt and leather-padded wet bar. $560/month. Box 335.
Single celled organism seeks other single celled organisms interested in forming a club with which to strike multi-celled organisms. The big stupids. Box 1.

The Mystery of the Lost Lenore

Listen to Part Fify-one

Click on the picture. (3:18)

Or start from the beginning.



The King Who Played the Violin
and How It (The Violin) Saved His Life

Once upon a time there was a king named Rudolf who loved to play the violin. Rudolf loved playing the violin so much that he had a tendency to overlook some of his kingly duties like taxing the poor and building moats and stockpiling gems and goblets and things.

King Rudolf's neglect of his regal chores in favour of his sawing away at a nice bit of Vivaldi or Telemann, he really went for baroque, resulted in the kingdom's coffers being seriously depleted. In fact, in no time at all, they were completely empty.

There was no money to pay the footmen or the candle-snuffers or the tapestry folders or any of those folks that make a kingdom really hum along. There was no money for trumpeters or heralds or knights or squires or pages or any of those people. There was no money for ermine robes or sceptres or even crowns. In short, there was no money.

One day all the king's counselors got together while Rudolf was bothering a bit of a Bach gavotte up in one of the towers of his castle. None of them had been paid in some time and they were fairly cheesed. They were so cheesed that they decided to kill the king.

Now regicide is a terrible thing and none of the counselors was very eager to commit the actual act themselves so they decided to draw straws and whoever did the worst drawing of a straw would be the one who would have to kill the king.

The problem with this idea was that someone would have to decide who had done the worst drawing. Clearly none of the counselors could do the choosing as they would be disinclined to point out the failings in their own work. Not only because they didn't want to do the actual killing but also because of their pride in their skill as draughtsmen.

Some bright spark in the group came up with the idea of having Rudolf himself judge which was the worst drawing. Obviously they would not reveal to him the true purpose of the competition but they would present it to him as just a regular run of the mill art show.

The King... continued

It would not be unusual for the king to be solicited as a judge for such an exhibition as he himself was no slouch in the artsy realm having taken two or three ceramics classes during the period in which he was attempting to find himself. he had been hiding behind a kiln.

And so the counselors went to the king and asked him to be the sole judge of their art competition. Rudolf readily agreed in order to get the assembled palace wisemen out of his practice space so he could return to his attempt to pin the pesky partita to the mat but, to be honest, he wasn't really clear on what they had asked him to do.

Consequently when they all got together with their drawings in the Great Hall Rudolf was nowhere to be found. A couple of the counselors went to look for him and sure enough there he was back in the tower torturing his Telemann (not an euphemism). They had to almost bodily drag him down to look at the drawings.

The king, who was a great hurray to return to his bow, quickly picked the very first drawing that he looked at and said as he jogged out of the room. "That's the worst." In fact the word worst was uttered when he was already out in the hall.

Luckily for King Rudolf the drawing was done by Humboldt the smallest and weakest of the counselors and one with no real appetite for violence. So when he was shoved up the tower stairs by the others, dagger trembling in hand, there was little chance of his succeeding.

When Humboldt burst into the room and ran at the king yelling out as you may have guessed, SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS, Rudolf was easily able to overpower him and that was the end of the counselors plot.

As a sort of postscript I should add that the counselors realised then that the king was playing so little attention to affairs of state that there really was no need to kill him. So after that they just made decisions without even consulting him and everything ran perfectly smoothly.