Rumpelstiltskin

(If you can pronounce the title, then I’m impressed!)

You’ve probably heard that crazy story about a dude called Rumpelstiltskin who helps a girl spin straw into gold. Well, as is so often the case, the common retelling is wrong. First of all, the king didn’t want his precious straw turned into useless gold. NO! The king wanted all the gold that was just lying about his castle to be turned into something useful: straw for his horses to eat.

One day, the king heard a man boasting about how his daughter could spin straw into gold.

“Well now,” the king said to himself, “if she can spin straw into gold, then she ought to be able to spin gold into straw!”

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Published in: on July 13, 2007 at 12:28 PM  Comments (4)  
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The True Story of Robin Hood

(This is not what you heard in kindergarten.)

If you were a environmentalist in medieval Nottinghamshire, then you would love the laws of Sherwood Forest. The trees were never cut down, no one ever went hunting or fishing, and few people ever walked under the thick foliage except for the foresters who helped wounded animals and kept the forest clean. Of course, if you voiced your love of the laws anywhere within a hundred miles of Sherwood, well, heh, heh, the peasants would probably tear you limb from limb and dump you in their stew invite you to dinner. The peasants hated the laws that forbade anyone from hunting in Sherwood almost as much as they hated obeying them, and that was quite a bit.

Many is the time some hungry farmer, unable to survive after paying the large amount of taxes demanded by the baron of Nottingham, would sneak into Sherwood and try to shoot a deer. They almost never succeeded (not realizing that the 30-06 hadn’t been invented yet), and would inevitably be found out by one of the foresters who would say: “Hey pal, I wonder if you would mind posing there with your nonexistent rifle while I snap a picture so I can prove you broke the law and get a reward.”

The farmer would graciously strike an elegant pose while the forester (who, by the way, was an early form of the mean type of conservation officer) fumbled with his lens cap. Then, when the forester finally realizes that his camera is digital, the farmer would vanish in a similar fashion as that of a ten-year-old boy who has hit his baseball through the old grouch’s window.

Still, later that day, a tall man in a black cloak and hood would come to the farmer’s door and say politely: “Ah, would you mind coming with me to this evening’s hanging? We’ve arranged for your limo, and your coffin is being carved even now. It won’t cost you a thing!”

The farmer, never one to pass up anything that was free, even if it was his own execution, would hop into the limo and ask the driver to take the shortest route to the gallows (probably suspecting that he would have to pay for the gas).

Finally, as the farmer was led up to the hanging platform, he would lean over to the executioner and ask: “I won’t have to make a speech, will I?” Public speaking was the number one fear even in those days.

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Published in: on July 7, 2007 at 10:05 AM  Comments (8)  
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