Friday, June 04, 2010

Great Moments in Technological Innovation

My father was a writer of essays and articles, poetry and prose. He had a great fondness for nonsense rhymes and stories and I learned Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat" from his reciting it.

Working through some of his writings shortly after his death, I came across a tale I had not seen before. So, I am hijacking #fridayflash this one time to present writing that is not mine.

Hey, it's my blog and Dad isn't going to object (*looks around nervously*).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Great Moments in Technological Innovation

The group swigging fermented frog spawn in the corner of the Singing Lizard was aghast. "Trey the Gateman - a heretic?" bellowed Es-Mon the Already.

 "Would you keep your voice down," begged Wa-Wa the Nervous "All I'm saying is I was passing his field yesterday and he had two oxen pulling the plough."

"Maybe his wives were washing their hair," suggested Ho-Chi the Reasonable.

"It's the new technology," explained BoZo the Geek soothingly. BoZo was still trying to interest people in his redesign of the Potter's Wheel as a means of transport, "Oxen are widely used out East."

"This has been tried before but the old ways are best," declared PruneFace the Learned. "Women freed from their traditional duties become notoriously unpredictable and may even threaten the stability of the entire socio-economic consensus." Always the intellectual was PruneFace.

A commotion outside sent the company crowding to the door. Trey the Gateman, his two wives and oxen were being led off by a band of soldiers. Behind them marched BigHead the Brown yelling "Exclusive! Trey the Heretic for trial by the Grand Council!"

At the Great Hall, before the Supreme Council of the People, Sonorous the Cleric conducted the prosecution.  Trey's wives, Tee-Ree the MudWrestler and Raise-a-Row Nell, stood alongside him. The oxen were tethered outside.

"Who speaks for you?" Sonorous asked Trey.

"We speak for ourselves," responded Trey.

"I'll speak for the oxen," volunteered Ay-Mon the Soothsayer.

"He speaks Bull fluently," explained PruneFace to Wa-Wa.

Turning to Trey, Sonorous demanded "By what right, did you presume to regard oxen as interchangeable with women who, many claim, are human beings?"

"Objection!" yelled Ali the Intimidating, Leader of the Women's Coalition (Non-Vegetarian Wing), "Move to strike that!"

"No violence, please, within the precincts of the Great Hall," warned Roo-Ree, Leader of the Council.

"You may answer," said Roo-Ree addressing Trey who responded: "My wives had other tasks and oxen are the way of the future."

"Objection!" protested Ay-mon the Soothsayer, whose forecasts based on studies of the entrails of dismembered geese were famous throughout the Five Kingdoms. "This man is not qualified to predict the future."

"Were you happy? "asked Sonorous. "Oh, yes" the two women chorused.

"Objection!" thundered Ali. "The Women's Coalition (Non-Vegetarian Wing) will say when women are happy."

Sonorous glared at Ali. "Are you," he asked the women "members of the Women's Coalition?"  "Oh no," they replied "We are Handmaidens to the Heroes' Network (Old Spice Wing)."

"Spice Girls!" spat Ali venomously. "Barbecue them!"

Roo-Ree raised his right hand in censure. "Name-calling within the Great Hall is forbidden."

"What" asked Sonorous "were you doing while these beasts were taking your place in the fields?"

"We were building a place within the house to light a fire," they explained. Roo-Ree intervened. "You planned to light a fire inside a house?"

"Yes," the women admitted.

"Sonorous the Cleric," instructed Roo-Ree. "Cite those two women for reckless endangerment of their husband's property."

"It is done," responded Sonorous.

"Then, let us proceed to judgment," said Roo-Ree.

After consultation with the Council, Roo-Ree pronounced the verdict. "Insofar as our traditions have been most shamefully abused, all five defendants must be consigned to the Sacred Bonfire."

"Objection!" protested Ay-Mon. "The oxen were simply following orders."

Roo-Ree looked at Ay-Mon. "When the tide goes out, stop swimming," he advised.

Outside the Great Hall, BigHead could be heard chanting  "Council to Ash Trey in ‘Ox for Frocks’ shock!"

Wa-Wa the Nervous whispered to PruneFace. "BoZo the Geek gave me two of those wheel things as a present. Is it safe to keep them?"

PruneFace shook his head. "You should always beware of Geeks bearing gifts," he suggested wisely.

-- L. Mackey


  1. This was quite delightful! Just adored the names and the humor in the piece.

    "He speaks Bull fluently," explained PruneFace to Wa-Wa." made me laugh aloud!

    And the last paragraph was just perfect. :)

    Enjoyed your father's story very much, Kevin. Thank you for letting us read it.

  2. Your father had a marvelous sense of the absurd. What a super story. And how lucky you are to have his writings. A wonderful memorial to him. Thank you for sharing his gift with me. Peace...

  3. What a fun story, and I agree with Linda. It's wonderful that you have some of his work. My favorite element of this story is the names, they're so funny, original, and creative. Thanks for sharing this. ~ Olivia

  4. Oh, Kevin, this is precious. I am now certain that I would have liked your father. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. And wonderful social commentary through satire.

  5. :D I'm so glad you enjoyed this piece. Yes, "He speaks Bull fluently" strikes my funny bone also, Marisa.

    Yes, agreed, Linda and Olivia. Having some of his writings is wonderful - although I don't fare as well as I might prefer in the comparison. But it is ever thus.

    "Sonorous the Cleric", "Wa-Wa the Nervous", "PruneFace the Learned" are three of the names that I particularly enjoy.

    Jon, there's a long and illustrious line of social commentary through satire. I think Dad had a blast with this.

    Thanks all for stopping by, reading and commenting. I'm glad I was able to share this story with you.

  6. I'm so glad you shared this with us. I love satire and along with the wit and hilarious names this was such a fun read! His love of writing really comes through here.

    "The bulls were just following orders.." LOL


  7. What a whimsical sense of humor and a great storyteller that you had the good fortune to learn from. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. Shannon, Laura, thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

    A sense of humor is a vital part of living.

  9. Women may indeed be claimed to be human beings - though some of us need at least two cups of coffee of a morning to become so...

    Brilliant story - absolutely love it. :D

  10. PS And as for names, it would be hard to bettter Raise-A-Row Nell!

  11. Aislinn, my mother required three :D

    Glad you enjoyed it, and everyone needs a Raise-A-Row in their lives!

  12. This is a pure delight. What a great imagination and sense of humor your dad had. And "he speaks bull fluently" also made me laugh out loud. Great names, great satire. Could be a Monty Python skit. :-D

    Thanks for sharing this.

  13. This is wonderful! Much, much fun
    "Women freed from their traditional duties become notoriously unpredictable and may even threaten the stability of the entire socio-economic consensus." - he's not wrong, old PruneFace ;-)

  14. @Gracie - yes, this would make a great skit, wouldn't it?

    @mazzz - too true, you've got to hand it to PruneFace, he sees clearly to the truth of things (and isn't "PruneFace" just perfect as a name :D )

  15. Great idea to hijack #fridayflash with your father's story, loved it :)

  16. Awesome post! I can't believe I missed it when you originally posted. I see where you got your gift for writing :-).

    I bet you have tons of treasures--much like this one--hidden in your father's personal collection. A priceless glimpse inside the head of a brilliant man, my guess.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, ~2. It is priceless, that's for sure.

      We have a lot of Dad's poetry and very many of his columns. Some letters, also, to our 1st cousin - once removed - here in San Francisco. We are fortunate.