Yes, you. Snap out of it.
Today begins a new feature for those, like you, who have neither an eighth-grade reading level nor the lip-moving speed required for eye-glazing biographies or autobiographies of the great men and women of history.
And let’s be honest, if you had the strength it takes to pick up one of those forest leveling doorstops, would you waste it reading about Frederick the Great, Mata “Don’t call me Harry” Hari or Henrys I through VIII?
(Yes, Henry IV came before Henry VI, just as Super Bowl XL came in XL only, and people who wanted Super Bowl XXL or Super Bowl M or Super Bowl S were left out in the cold. The basic rule is I before V except after C and when sounded like XLVIII as in axlevee and San Luis Obispo.)
This feature, called “Page 241,” reproduces a single, very liftable page — the exact same numbered page from each subject’s life story. It’s just enough to keep your eyes from rolling up inside your head and, at the same time, make you glad you didn’t waste any more time on reading than you already have.
Why page 241 and not page 240, or even 242? Oh come on. Everybody knows that if you throw a big honking book up in the air, it will always come down open to page 241.
Why? Look, it’s a physics thing and if I tried to explain it, I’d have to use words like coefficient and wave function and quantum tunneling. Do you really want to go there? If you don’t believe me, go upstairs and throw your Funk and Wagnall’s out the window.
And please don’t ask me what Funk and Wagnall’s is. If you really don’t know, here’s a hint: look it up in your Funk and Wagnall’s. It’s up in the attic next to your grandfather’s ear trumpet.
Without further ado, then, here is the first Page 241 from “Big Boomb,” the autobiography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb and doting uncle of the whoopee cushion.
…called me a stupid cretin, as if there were any other kind.
Anyway, the whole issue of what name to give the bomb blew up, so to speak, when Ptolemy suggested “Steve.”
I gave him a stink eye which he added to his growing collection.
Then Bonomo raised his hand and said “As long as we’re deciding on a name, can we talk about the color of the explosion’s cloud?”
Kwipke chimed in “Hode the fweeping phone. Fuhget the cower. What about the wook of the cwowd?”
I sighed loudly. “I’ll say this one last time. The cloud will be Pepto Bismol pink and it will wook, uh, look like cotton candy on a stick. And the bomb shall be called KA-BLAM. ”
Nietzsche immediately shouted “Boo!” and Freud (not the shrink, the plumber who happened to be in the adjacent powder room fixing the plugged toilet) gasped “Geezy weezy.”
“Come on, Oppie,”whined Schrodinger. “You can’t have a pink bomb. No one will take us seriously.”
“They will if they’re dead,” I shot back with a small derringer that I kept for just such occasions.
“What about a mushroom cloud?” said Smelter ridiculously.
“KA-BWAM is a weedicawis name fowa bomb,” Kwipke interjected. “By the way, shouldn’t that be one wood? You don’t need the dash.”
“It’s not a dash, you dope,” said Bacon, the Canadian. “It’s a hyphen.”
Things were getting out of hand, so I defused the issue with humor. “What are we supposed to call it then? An atomic bomb?” This was met with peals of laughter, with Barney giggling “Sounds like the name of a gumball.”
“Wait, wait wait,” said Sheldor. “I thought we all agreed. It was going to be named Mickey and shaped like a crown of broccoli. And it was going to have a green cloud.”
“A bwoccowi-shaped cwowd?” Kwipke again.
“We’ve already ordered the green dye,” added Brown. “It came with a truck load of green beer.”
“This is all news to me,” I said cooly. “I never heard anything about broccoli.”
“Youwa in the baffwoom,” said Kwipke. “Youwa gone a wong time.”
At that moment, Fwoid stumbled gasping from the powdah woom, dwagging a shwedded pwumjuh. Kwipke spwed his hands.
“Speaking of a gween cwowd…”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.
… such inspired lunacy…
We all have to embrace the inner lunatic (which is surprisingly easy to do if you’re wearing a straight jacket.)
I’ve embraced mine so hard, it’s got a restraining order out on me…
LikeLiked by 1 person
An incisive, fascinating look at the inner workings of the men who developed the atomic bomb–I don’t think it’s well-known that the shape and color of the cwowd, er, cloud was given so much thought 🙂
No, it’s not well known. But that’s what I do, wherever and whenever I can for the sake of humanity. I’m looking forward to the Novel Peace Prize next week.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Um, Nobel.Hope spelling doesn’t count.