Kris an’ Murphy: Tary Fails

Kris: “Spring break’s coming up, Murphy. Got any plans?”

Murphy: “Yeah. Ten-hour days on grant proposals instead of on grant proposals plus teaching plus administration duties.”

Kris: “This sounds like retirement how?”

Murphy: “I can’t afford it and they can’t make me. So in order for my office not to turn into a closet, I write the grant proposals. As if you weren’t doing the same. Oh – and I get to go to my granddaughter’s school play this weekend.”

Kris: “You got her a part in Oedipus Tyrannus?”

Murphy: “Ha ha. Trust me, Greek drama would be Greek to these kids. No, she’s Rapunzel in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. That’s already as much ancient history as they can handle.”

Kris: “European fairy tales?”

Murphy: “Sondheim.”

Kris: “Seriously, Murphy, you should see if you can arrange to speak with the kids. Y’know – outreach?”

Murphy: “They won’t let me anywhere near them. Except as a parent – appropriately muzzled.”

Kris: “But, your expertise!”

Murphy: “It’s precisely because of that expertise that I’m not welcome. Because I can’t help thinking things all the way through, and all that causes is trouble.”

Kris: “You can’t be …”

Murphy: “Rapunzel sounds like this magical mystical name, right? Until you tell the kids that it really means ‘corn salad‘. As if any of them have heard of it. ‘Huh?’

Kris: “Who knows, Murphy? Maybe their mothers shop at Whole Foods.”

Murphy: “Don’t distract me. So you take Ms Corn Salad and lock her up in a tower with one room, one window, no door, no plumbing, no outhouse and no way to get to one …”

Kris: “Ew.”

Murphy: “And after puberty!”

Kris: Ewwww!!!”

Murphy: “Maybe what the prince fell into that blinded him when he jumped off the tower to escape the witch, wasn’t thorns …”


Murphy: “But let’s ask how the prince got that far, since he’s being asked to climb up a hank of hair that hasn’t been washed in forever, to get into a closed room that has to smell like a pigsty even from the outside (and you probably didn’t have to get all that close to it either). Not to mention that this hair has been used as a staircase for who knows how long, and without ripping the girl’s scalp off. There’s only one remotely plausible explanation for all this.”

Kris: “That this story happened when nobody bathed, and so nobody had noses?”

Murphy: “Nice try, Kris, but Shakespeare speaks against you. No, the answer is that Rapunzel is a robot. The entire story is steampunk sci-fi and needs to be staged as such.”

Kris: “I’m beginning to see how come …”

Murphy: “And let’s talk about this Cinderella nonsense. Bad enough that a Prince of the pre-greenhouse-gas-belching era marries a commoner, no matter how attractive and resourceful. She might get a position in the serving staff and the privilege of getting raped by the nobility at their convenience.

“But OK, let’s allow this, the story does. Where does milady get away with telling His Nibs to kiss off, because he knocked up a baker’s wife and the little birdies told on him? These marriages were contracts, and breaches of contract on the part of the women involved got people killed. Sometimes, whole armies of them! Philandering by male nobles was expected, even encouraged, and the best that the spouse could pray for is that her lord did not bring a social disease into home and hearth back from his escapades.

Kris: “Maybe Cinderella was hoping her prince was an android?”

Murphy: “A musician.”

Kris: “With symbols clashing?”

Murphy: “Speaking of which, this ‘hair as yellow as corn’ schtick. Sondheim let himself in for one with that.”

Kris: “How so?”

Murphy: “These are European fairy tales, are they not? Collected in the 19th century from stories told for centuries before they were written down?”

Kris: “Yeah …”

Murphy: “Europeans for whom ‘corn’ was wheat! Not maize! And wheat does not have corn silk that can be confused with hair and fed to cows to generate magic potions!”

Kris: “And so this is how come you’ve been banned from talking with the kids about their play. You’re taking away their magic.”

Murphy: “Gotta teach the kids to believe in magic instead of logic. Just like their parents do.”

Kris: “You’re too pessimistic. Give the coronavirus and the stock market another couple of weeks and see what kind of belief in magic people have then.”

Murphy: “You mean, like how people embraced sense and logic in 2009?”

Kris: “[…]”

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