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Problems, Problems! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCXXII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular cautions her readers, “Please exercise caution in reading this chapter, as it contains graphic descriptions of a no-longer approved medical procedure.” In actuality, she seems to have forgotten to write those graphic descriptions, so there’s really no need for any kind of caution here.

Johnno the Merry Minstrel is not so merry lately, as he suffers complications from the gizzardectomy performed on him by Dr. Fanabla. The doctor suspects the gizzard is trying to grow back. This can be a problem when you remove a chap’s gizzard. “The only solution is a transfusion!” declares the doctor. He then proceeds to transfuse blood from Johnno’s left arm into Johnno’s right arm. This seems to do the trick. “They’re going to wind up having to name the Royal Society of Surgeons after me!” the doctor exults.

Meanwhile no charges against the Wise Woman of the Woods can be made to stick, as there is no law in this part of England against buying up all the axolotls in a curiosity shop. As Scurveyshire’s justice of the peace, Lord Jeremy Coldsore has no alternative but to release her.

There is, however, a hitch. “She don’t wanna leave the hoosegow, ol’ hoss,” reports Willis Twombley, the American adventurer. Lord Jeremy has to rush over to the jailhouse to evict her.

“You can’t sell me on leaving this cell,” she replies, with a feeble attempt at a crepuscularity. (Really, Violet, it’s not up to your standard.) “I’d forgotten what a bonny thing it is to have a roof over one’s head and three meals a day prepared by someone else. From now on, you may address me as the Wise Woman of the Gaol.” “Gaol,” Ms. Crepuscular informs us, is how people in Britain misspell the word “jail.” “Even Oscar Wilde never learned how to spell it right,” she adds.

Here the chapter breaks for want of anything more to say.


A Triumph for Medical Science (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCCXXI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Dr. Fanabla is elected to the Royal Society for his successful surgical removal of Johnno the Merry Minstrel’s gizzard. “Most human bodies do not even have a gizzard,” says the society’s president, Sir Gilbert Fumble, Ph. D., M.D., F.R.S. Unfortunately Johnno’s harmonica was not lodged in his gizzard, after all. In fact, it was found shortly afterward lodged in Johnno’s trousers. He declines Dr. Fanabla’s offer to put the gizzard back. It has since been donated to the Royal Museum of Weird Body Parts. “I’ll just have to learn to get along without it,” Johnno says.

Meanwhile, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, accompanied by Constable Chumley, visits the Wise Women of the Woods to demand the half-dozen axolotls she bought from Ye Olde Shoppe of Curious Curios. They will be needed to nullify the curse placed on the vicar’s backyard wading pool by the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney.

“I don’t have them anymore,” says the Wise Woman of the Woods. “I used them in a pudding.” The constable knowingly nods his head. “‘Tis farthy more ye grassome hoicks,” he says, quoting a quaint rural adage of great antiquity. It is not helpful.

“Arrest this woman, constable!” cries Jeremy. “As justice of the peace, I charge you with impeding a necessary public purchase. You’ll pay dearly for this–whatever your name is! What is it, anyway?” But it has been so long since she’s used her name that she’s forgotten it. “I think it might have been Elizabeth Tudor,” she says. Lord Jeremy is sure he’s heard that name before, but can’t think of where.

Here Ms. Crepuscular finds it necessary to discuss her recipe for axolotl pudding. “I have never actually had any axolotls to put in it,” she confides in her readers, “but those rubber worms you can buy at Walmart work just as well.”

 

 

 

 


The Author Seems Confused (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular makes an impassioned statement to her readers.

“I deplore, I execrate, I denounce that critic who has called my work ‘Tristram Shandy for Dummies’!” she writes. “Well, I call his work Dumb and Stupid Stuff for Real Dummies! Hah!”

With this out of her system, she launches into Chapter CCCXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney–which, she hastens to add, is not for dummies at all.

“We have reached that point in the story wherein all of Scurveyshire is about to be sucked down into the nameless abyss under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard–”

Oops. “Dear reader, excuse me!” she writes. “I’m so upset and confused, I hardly know what I’m doing. We have not reached that point in the story! Far from it. Oh, those critics! Let me see if a few glasses of whiskey can help me get my thoughts in order.”

Eventually she gets around to telling us that Johnno the Merry Minstrel, who has swallowed his harmonica, is being examined by Dr. Fanabla. The examination is difficult because anything Johnno tries to say just comes out as random musical notes.

“I’m afraid there’s nothing for it but radical exploratory surgery,” says the doctor. “Somewhere inside him there’s a harmonica that has to be removed. I fear it’s lodged in his gizzard.” Johnno rolls his eyes and tries to protest, but all that comes out sounds vaguely like “Yankee Doodle.” Lord Jeremy chides him for being unpatriotic. The doctor shakes his head. “Tricky business, taking out the gizzard,” he says. Johnno has to be restrained.

Meanwhile Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad, suspects the Wise Woman of the Woods of being in league with the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney. “Why else would she have bought up all the axolotls that they had in stock?” he said. “Germy, ol’ hoss, you better let me shoot her.”

“That won’t get us any axolotls,” Lord Jeremy replies. “Have to be more subtle than that, old boy! Someone summon Constable Chumley! I want him to arrest her.”

But a note from the constable says “Frithee more, yair manitoes be sacklin’.”

The rest of the chapter is illegible.

 


Johnno’s Injury (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Before we look into Chapter CCCXVIII of Violet Crespuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, we have a note from the author.

“Dear Reader,” she writes, “as you know, I have acquired a pet clam named Farfel. I plan to build a new aquarium specially tailored to his needs. I wanted to show you the plan, but someone at the temple ate my template.” She pauses slyly. “Voila!” she exults. “Another crepuscularity!” Just what we needed.

Moving on, Johnno the Merry Minstrel is doing his best to become an oracle, but thanks to a careless remark by Lord Jeremy Coldsore, he insists on doing it while standing on his head. “I think it’ll work better, my lord, if I can play my harmonica while I’m doing it,” he confides in Lord Jeremy.

“By all means, my man, by all means,” replies Jeremy.

Surmounting several acute difficulties, Johnno succeeds in executing a head-stand and begins to recite an oracular pronouncement while playing his harmonica. This is not as easy as it looks.

“The vicar’s gol-darned wading pool–” he begins.

“Gol-darned?” wonders Jeremy. “What kind of word is that for an oracle?”

Distracted by the interruption, Johnno accidentally swallows his harmonica and tumbles down the stairs. Jeremy chases after him.

“Johnno! Johnno! Are you all right?”

Johnno tries to answer, but all that will come out is some rather feeble musical notes.

Meanwhile, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer, repairs to Ye Olde Shoppe of Curious Curios to buy axolotls. “I’ll take half a dozen of ’em,” he tells the proprietor, Mr. Twittle. He waves his six-shooter for emphasis. The other shoppers dive for cover.

“I’m very sorry, sir,” says Mr. Twittle, cringing, “but we’re fresh out of axolotls. Someone came in yesterday and bought them all.”

Twombley is abashed. “Who was the varmint that did that?” he demands.

“The Wise Woman of the Woods, sir! Said she wanted ’em for axolotl pudding.”

Twombley senses some dark purpose at work…

Here Ms. Crepuscular breaks for a new chapter, not yet written. “I do this to heighten the suspense,” she explains. “Toothpaste sandwich cookies, anyone? I’ve made a new batch!”


A Poetic Interlude (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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There’s more to Ms. Violet Crepuscular than just Oy, Rodney and bas-cuisine. Earlier this week she acquired a new pet, a freshwater clam named Farfel. She was kind enough to send us a video of him in action.

We are not told what the clam is eating. Maybe a few crumbs of Violet’s toothpaste sandwich cookies.

And now, on to Chapter CCCXVII of Violet’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

Terribly disappointed in the advice he’s been getting from the Wise Woman of the Woods, Lord Jeremy Coldsore turns to Johnno the Merry Minstrel. “With a little practice, old man, you, too, could be an oracle. We need someone much more reliable than that silly old trout in the woods. You could do it standing on your head!”

This is precisely what Johnno tries to do. It requires several attempts before he is able to remain standing on his head long enough to act as an oracle. The position achieved, he then makes his first oracular utterance.

“If you would lift Black Rodney’s curse,

And hopefully not make it worse,

Forget those foolish morris dancers:

They’re not the ones who have the answers!

“Instead, resort to axolotls

Confined in one-quart whiskey bottles–”

This is as far as he can get without falling down. But Lord Jeremy is impressed. “Keep it up, man, keep it up!” he cries. “What do we do with the axolotls after we confine them in the bottles?”

“My lord,” gasps Johnno, “I don’t know! And my head hurts something dreadful! Why don’t we get the axolotls first, and then I’ll try again?”

“Oh, very well!” grumbles Lord Jeremy. “It can’t be all that hard to obtain a few axolotls–provided they’re in season, this time of the year.”

Here the chapter ends. “This is how I heighten the suspense and keep the reader reading,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers. “Besides which, I think Farfel might be ready to learn a trick or two.”


Lawsuit-Happy Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Nothing much happens for several chapters, so let us move on to Chapter CCCXVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. This chapter is notable in that it is not able to provide us with any new crepuscularities. Oops…

The Marquess of Groan is suing Lord Jeremy Coldsore because he fell ill when the roof was blown off Coldsore Hall, Johnno the Merry Minstrel is suing the Wise Woman of the Woods for being wrong all the time, and the proprietor of The Lying Tart is suing the vicar for not getting rid of his backyard wading pool, under which quite a few of the pub’s most reliable customers have disappeared. It’s bad for business.

“Maybe I just ought to shoot all these dummies who want to sue everybody,” suggests the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “We had a whole slew of lawsuits in Babylon once, so we put all the plaintiffs to death and that made the lawsuits go away.” Twombley believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad.

“You can’t shoot the Marquess because the Queen wouldn’t like it,” replies Lord Jeremy, “and you certainly can’t shoot Johnno because we need him to sniff out Black Rodney’s cuss-bags. He found another one just this morning–right under my bed, by Jove! Besides, we still don’t know what the Wise Woman of the Woods meant by warning us of ‘the clam before the storm.'”

“My six-gun’s gettin’ rusty, ol’ hoss,” Twombley complains. He suspects Lord Jeremy, his bosom friend, still harbors some resentment against him for accidentally shooting him in the foot, which is why he now has two left feet. He remains unable to dance properly.

Ms. Crepuscular suddenly shifts gears, subjecting the reader to her recipe for toothpaste icing for chocolate grass cake. “Mr. Pitfall will soon be released from the hospital,” she adds, “and I want to surprise him with it.”


Confronting the Wise Woman of the Woods (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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As we take up Chapter CCCXIV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, we find Lord Jeremy Coldsore very angry that the Wise Woman of the Woods’ prescription for lifting Black Rodney’s curse on the vicar’s backyard wading pool proved completely ineffective, resulting in the loss of three seventh sons of seventh sons who were also expert morris dancers.

“She’ll pay a grim price for that!” he vows, and orders Constable Chumley to arrest her.

The constable demurs. “Naith o’ flurrin’ with yar blymin’ och, m’lord,” he says in his quaint rural dialect. Unmoved, Lord Jeremy orders him to accompany him to the Wise Woman of the Woods’ quaint little cottage in the woods. Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who think he’s Sargon of Akkad, brings up the rear.

At first the Wise Woman of the Woods can’t believe the ritual didn’t work. But upon being told the details of the shameful episode, she shakes her head sadly and remarks, “It’s all your fault, my lord. I never told you to use three seventh sons of seventh sons. That was all wrong! And I fear that this is just the clam before the storm.” No one knows quite what she means by that.

“Enough of this superstitious twaddle!” declares Lord Jeremy. “Constable, arrest that woman!”

“No, my lord–you don’t have time for that!” she cries. “What you need now is a wombat’s womb. It’s the only way to save the shire.”

Lord Jeremy stares at her. “And how am I supposed to lay my hands on one of those? Where is a wombat womb at?”

Ms. Crepuscular writes triumphantly, “Aha! Yet another crepuscularity! Dear reader, we are making literary history!”

[Editor’s Note: If you think I’m kidding, visit http://www.chessgames.com, click on “Chessforums,” then click on my “Playground Player” forum (the one with the little green dinosaur), and scroll down to yesterday’s posts. You will find a host of new crepuscularities devised by some of my enthusiastic chess colleagues. This could become the 21st-century equivalent of the Droodle.]

We are not told how Lord Jeremy is to obtain the womb of a wombat. Ms. Crepuscular is saving that for a subsequent chapter.


The Exorcism of the Wading Pool (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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At last–Chapter CCCXIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. I have skipped Chapter CCCXII because I couldn’t find it anywhere.

As instructed by the Wise Woman of the Woods, Lady Margo Cargo has hired three men who are each the seventh son of a seventh son, all expert morris dancers, and all named Squeeb MacTavish, to remove Black Rodney’s curse on the vicar’s backyard wading pool. If you don’t understand that sentence, welcome to the club.

All three are now in position to perform the magical ritual, each equipped with an orange beach ball. Looking on are Lady Margo and her fiancees, Lord Jeremy Coldsore and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, whom she thinks are the same person.

“Ready?” cries Lord Jeremy.

“We are ready, my lord,” answers Squeeb MacTavish–well, answers one of them. Which one doesn’t really matter.

“Then do yer stuff!” shouts Twombley.

With their backs to the pool, all three toss their beach balls into the air, hopefully to land in the middle of the pool. They do, all three of them.

Out from under the pool, with blinding speed, shoot three slimy tentacles, instantaneously wrapping around the three morris dancers and snapping back under with the three men. Gone, all three of them.

“That wasn’t supposed to happen!” Lord Jeremy cries. Twombley laughs, earning a frown from Lady Margo.

“I deplore this man’s laughter at this manslaughter!” she declares.

“And I, dear reader,” exults Mr. Crepuscular, “have executed another crepuscularity!” She is sure this will catch on as a literary technique.

(“Toldja that so-called Wise Women of the Woods is full of it!” grumbles Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty. “She’s never been right about anything.”)

Here the chapter dissolves into an orgy of self-congratulation by Ms. Crepuscular, too shameful to repeat here.


The Arrival of a Rival (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCXI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular exults:

“I have introduced a new stylistic flourish to English prose, dear readers! I shall call it the Crepuscularity. ‘The Arrival of a Rival’ is a shining example of the technique! Allow me to provide two more. ‘A Man’s Laughter at Manslaughter,’ and ‘Where Is a Wombat’s Womb At?'” Here she inserts several kissing emojis, which I am unable to reproduce here. For that matter, I am also unable to define “crepuscularity.” What the dickens is she getting at?

We were all waiting to see what would happen when the three seventh sons of seventh sons, expert morris dancers and all named Squeeb MacTavish, attempted to lift the curse on the vicar’s backyard wading pool, following the instructions of the Wise Woman of the Woods. But do we get that?

“Bear with me, dear readers,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “as I heighten the suspense by introducing a necessary complication into the plot.”

The complication takes the form of a well-dressed but also very rugged-looking man who shows up at the door of Lady Margo Cargo’s luxurious country house.

“Who the devil are you?” demands her crusty butler, Crusty.

“I was Lady Margo’s girlhood boyfriend, pledged to become her husband after I made good in the world. I then went off to seek my fortune. Now I have returned.” The man pauses to scratch at a livid scar in the shape of an exclamation point. “Please tell her that Mr. Agamemnon Frizzle is here to claim his bride.”

Crusty, whose own marital ambitions have been thwarted by Lord Jeremy Coldsore, is in no mood for the arrival of a rival. (“There! I did it again!”)

“I don’t see no fortune,” he drools. (I cannot explain why Ms. Crepuscular chose this verb.)

Mr. Frizzle grins, a horrifying sight. “And no one saw the lost city of Shopworth, either,” he declares–“until I found it!”

Crusty is perplexed. The city of Shopworth, Saskatchewan, has never been lost, to his knowledge.

Here the chapter breaks–again “to heighten the suspense,” explains Ms. Crepuscular. Or maybe she just doesn’t know what to write next.


The Expert Morris Dancers (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Chapter CCCX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, is almost too exciting to read. Almost, but not quite.

To exorcise the curse placed by Black Rodney on the vicar’s backyard wading pool, the Wise Woman of the Woods has declared that it is necessary for the seventh son of a seventh son, who is also an expert morris dancer, to stand with his back to the pool and throw an orange beach ball over it while reciting something or other, it doesn’t really matter what. The detective hired by Lady Margo Cargo has found three men in Scotland, who are all each other’s uncles, who meet those qualifications. They have just arrived by train.

The Scurveyshire Brass Band welcomes them with a lusty rendition of “Great Balls O’ Fire.” Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad, chases the band away by shooting up their tuba. “I hate the smell of classical music,” he explains.

As the three seventh sons of seventh sons step off the train, Lord Jeremy Coldsore greets them and introduces himself and Lady Margo. The tallest of the trio introduces himself: “Squeeb MacTavish, y’r honor, and pleased to meet yer.” The other two are also named Squeeb MacTavish.

Meanwhile, Lady Margo’s crusty butler, Crusty, frantically warns Constable Chumley to stop the ritual before it can begin. “Our so-called Wise Woman of the Woods is an idiot!” he cries. “Thanks to her advice, I invested my life savings in Fli-Bi-Nite Hair Growth Creme For Men–and look at me!” Only disaster can ensue, he says, if the ritual is allowed to proceed. The constable races to the railway station in time to deliver an urgent warning to Lord Jeremy.

“Thar be shinnims all bymie, M’Lord, whiff dastle cremakins–avant weer doggles!”

“He seems upset,” says Twombley.

“It’s all right, constable,” Lord Jeremy replies soothingly. “We’ll get started as soon as we can get these gentlemen to the vicar’s pool.”

The chapter breaks off with a malediction against archaeologists. Ms. Crepuscular has very strong feelings against their profession.


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