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Shake the Pillars

The Onion is a satirical newspaper that on occasion offers brilliant prose. An archetypal example, my favorite Onion article of all time, appeared in the 2004-03-17 [1] issue. It begins:

Rumsfeld Hosts No-Holds-Barred Martial Arts Tournament At Remote Island Fortress

FANG ISLAND—U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has opened his fortified island headquarters to participants in his second no-holds-barred martial arts tournament, the enigmatic mastermind announced Monday.

"Warriors of the world, hear me," said Rumsfeld, seated on the onyx throne overlooking the fighting arena at the island's central volcano, surrounded by a phalanx of exotic but murderous beauties and his seven-foot-tall guard Omarra. "I declare the Eagle Fist all-styles, hand-to-hand combat world championship open once more. For the next 10 days, the world's mightiest fighters will come together here at Fang Island to compete for a prize of $1 million and the post of Associate Secretary Of Full-Contact Defense!"

Rumsfeld then declared the tournament open by symbolically shattering a block of obsidian with his prosthetic dragon's claw—the powerful weapon grafted onto his right wrist after 2003 champion Li severed his hand with manji butterfly swords.

"Who can deny that conflict is a purifying flame which sears away cowardice, hesitation, sentiment—all that which is unworthy in Man?" Rumsfeld said, stroking his albino cheetah. "And my fighting arena is the crucible which concentrates that fire into the refined white heat of invincibility. The victor of my Eagle Fist Tournament shall be, by nature and definition, unsurpassed in the ways of the warrior. Such a fighter is fit to be the instrument of Rumsfeld."

The essay concludes:

"See here," Rumsfeld said, indicating a gold-encrusted Minoan iron maiden. "It is difficult to associate horrors with the proud civilizations that created them: Sparta, Rome, the knights of Europe, the Samurai. They worshipped strength, because strength is the fundament for all other values. I shall find the strongest of all, and together, we shall shake the world to its very foundations."

Somehow I just love that mock-heroic style; I wish I knew who the anonymous author was.

(The final words of the Onion piece remind me of a great line in a family-favorite movie, Big Trouble in Little China, where near the end the protagonist Jack Burton says to his comrade, "We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn't we, Wang?" ... cf. Dialogue Density (2002-05-21), ...) - ^z - 2008-09-02


(correlates: Unknown Knowns, MirrorImage, LeverAge, ...)