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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #444
Orono Madcap Pies
David Gunn

For many centuries, the ancient settlement of Bengazegath was ruled by three warlords, Winkenus, Blinkenus and Nodditor. Each claimed a portion of the city as his own: Winkenus governed the northern sector, Blinkenus presided over the southern, and Nodditor called the eastern sector his own. This was long before the western sector--or indeed the concept of westness--was discovered. The three rulers governed completely differently from each other. The only trait they shared was a dire need for gingko. Winkenus ruled with a heavy hand. A consequence of congenital hyperthyroidism, it once weighed, by some estimates, over 800 pounds. But by swaddling the hand in a bandage made from weight-absorbent gingko bark, Winkenus was able to reduce its heftiness by nearly one-third. Blinkenus was considered the most tyrannical of the three, not because he governed harshly or cruelly, but because his small forelimbs and large head instantly reminded one of a tyrannosaur, a large, carnivorous dinosaur of the Upper Cretaceous Period. Blinkenus distilled the gingko tree's sap into a pomade and massaged the mixture into his scales, which helped to suppress his most voracious tendencies. And Nodditor had established a monarchy in his slice of Bengazegath. He had created an elaborate costume that featured four broad, colorful wings made out of the gingko's fan-shaped leaves and a knobbed antennae headpiece fashioned from the seeds of the tree. When he donned the attire and strode through the streets of City East, he was hailed by all of the lepidopterists, who knew a monarch butterfly when they saw one, no matter the fetid nature of the seeds promptly drove all of the real butterflies out of the country.

For most of that time, those many centuries--which in fact numbered fourteen, though in those days, a century rarely exceeded a furlong in length--gingko was thought to prolong longevity, and each warlord employed an alchemist from the Elilily Guild to concoct his own unique life-extending nostrum. Because the elixirs were such vital components of their daily diets, the Bengazegathean bosses showered the alchemizers with fabulous prizes, such as herring. Notwithstanding Elilily's claims to the contrary, alchemy was an inexact science, and successful transmutations were the exception rather than the rule. For reasons unknown to the comminglers, ginkgo proved to be a graciously effective component of many of their concoctions. So when Nodditor's personal alchemist, who was called Hasner, was inspired to blend a biloba extract from the tree with the herring, he was anticipating a successful outcome.

Instead, he got a guitar.

While the guitar would ultimately be celebrated as a desirable musical instrument essential to compositions such as "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida," in those days, no one knew what to make of it. Except for a vaguely unpleasant odor emanating from the soundboard, it didn't seem to share any traits with its ginkgo and piscine progenitors. It didn't prolong life. It couldn't be pan-fried and eaten with chips. And it didn't make for a particularly effective weapon on the battlefield. (The last two allegations were, of course, later refuted.) Hasner's reputation suffered greatly. Elilily management rescinded his recent cost-of-living raise, and his personal assistant, Concubina, moved out of his house, taking the remainder of the herring with her. Hasner was taken off of elixirs and relegated to the odious task of trying to develop a cure for yodeling. He was distraught, nearly at his wit's end, and then ...

A stranger entered the city from what would in time be called "the west." He was clad in fuzzy raiment unfamiliar to Bengazegath, and he pushed a small cart from which hung pie tins that tintinnabulated amicably when they banged together. Captivated by the tinkly sound, a mob of ragamuffins followed him as he wended his way through the city. Coming upon the entrance to Casa Blinkenus, the stranger stopped and withdrew from the interior of the cart plates and cutlery, which he arranged on top of the cart. Then he uncovered a sign that read "Orono Madcap Pies" and placed a specimen on the counter. He sliced the pie into small wedges and passed them out to the youngsters. Oh, how the tatterdemalion's eyes lit up as they eagerly bit into the delectable pastry! They then commenced to race around, gesticulating wildly, behaving ... well, madcap. Suddenly, Blinkenus' Administrator of Urchins appeared at the doorway with a pizzle, scowling and cracking the whip threateningly. But the children, incited by the pie, swarmed over and subdued her. They filched her purse, which they obsequiously offered to the stranger. In like fashion, he next journeyed to and set up shop in front of the Palace of Winkenus. Again the clanking of the tins roused the inquisitiveness of the local children. Again they were provoked to frenzy by the pie, which precipitated a materialization by the Sector's Governess of Gamins, which straightaway led to her mugging and an augmenting of the stranger's disposable income. Then he traveled to City East, to the front door of the House of Nodditor. But news of the stranger's endeavors traveled faster, and Hasner was already there awaiting him. Before the stranger could unleash the magic of his pies, the alchemist swatted him with the guitar. The resultant stranger-stymieing twang was heard all over Bengazegath. The sound resonated with the citizens, who responded with twangs of their own. And although the sound quickly became an important part of the city's culture, it curiously never led to the acceptance or even tolerance of Hasner's guitar.

If you're wondering what on earth all that has to do with today's 444th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, look no further than today's featured entrée, a guitar aficionado of many reputes whose name coincidentally is an anagram of Orono Madcap Pies, not to mention Opposed Macaroni or Pomona Picadores. Who, you ask? Ahh, for that and other equally obscure answers, we naturally turn to the resource who is here known as Kalvos.