Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

The Web's Original Shaggy Dog Story Archive


A Tall Ship Tale #60: Monk Key Business

Category: alt.callahans, Puns, Rated G

Paul’s epic continues.


To honor the Kmer Empire’s King Suryavarman II, the Brahmin temple invited everyone to a concert. “But aren’t the Brahmin monks our rivals?” Sir Hillary, disguised as a Buddhist monk, asked the priest in charge of his party.

“Oh, they are! But we are all friends,” he explained. “We aren’t Christians, you know! And, as it happens, a very famous Vedic chanter has come to visit from Tamil Nadu. Darth the Dravidian is a master of the discipline which kept the oral text of the Vedas pure for 3,000 years until they could be written down. You see, the Brahmins believe that the correct recitation of the Vedas is ‘the pivot of the universe’ and that the slightest mistake would have disastrous cosmic consequence unless expiated by sacrifice and prayer. So this performance is really a rather daring test of skill.”

“Of memory, you mean?” Sir Hillary asked.

“Why, that too, but mostly it is a test of pitch. Many words in the original Vedic language were identical except for the positions of their accents. When the Vedas were transformed into Sanskrit, whose accent is always on the third syllable, their true meaning might have been lost. This was avoided by preserving the positions of the original accents as musical tones. When you hear a Darth Veda, you will understand.”

So Sir Hillary went to the concert. But the mask of the tall black-robed figure on the stage was evidently fitted too tightly; he kept stopping and breathing noisily. The audience grew restless. “I’ll be back with some friends to lend a hand!” Sir Hillary cried.

He marched to the frigate at Angkor on the waterfront. He snatched his violin from his cabin, and at his urging the other members of the H.M.S. Legume’s string quartet followed him back to the temple with their instruments. They sat in a circle around Darth the Dravidian. Captain Quid tucked his violin under his beard, Owen Anatu tuned his viola, and the alluring Emma Talligeist effortlessly deployed her massive cello. Then Sir Hillary assayed the opening notes of the Sonata in G Major. Soon they were filling the temple with alien chords of music from the other side of the world. Darth was able to catch his breath while they played, and at the end of the movement he sonorously chanted another verse. And so they carried on. The alternating Baroque and Vedic modes of the performance were startling but not displeasing, and the audience leaned forward attentively. Suddenly, soldiers burst into the chamber and leaped onto the stage. The air rang with the harsh sound of swords being drawn.

“What is the meaning of this?” Captain Quid demanded.

“Such music is forbidden throughout the Empire by a proclamation of King Suryavarman II,” an officer snarled. “You are all under arrest!”

“But, we didn’t know we were breaking the law. We are just visitors here.”

“That is no excuse; it is in all the papers. Look!” And he snatched a newspaper from a bystander and held the headline up for them to see:

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACH!

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