} O Oracle bold and beautiful,
} here is my humble account of the events which occurred in my
} search for the answer of the question you asked me. Your question was :
} "To what degree was Wal-mart responsible for Cleopatra's overtaking
} of the Tibetan margarine industry prior to the Seven Years War, and
} how did this affect canary breeding habits on the Galapagos Islands?
} Please make reference to the stain of raspberry pie on Napoleon's
} tunic during the battle of Waterloo."
} Well, this being a factual question, instead of one requiring
} abstract thought, my first response was none at all, there could be no
} possible way that Wal-Mart had a part to play in Cleopatra's
} non-existent takeover of the Tibetan margarine industry, and therefore
} had no effect on Galapagos canaries, so which raspberry on Napoleon's
} tunic was a mere circumstance. But, being the inquisitive soul I am, I
} decided to travel back in time to ask Cleopatra whether she had been
} involved in margarine at all in her life. Luckily, a physics lecturer
} at my university, Doctor Doom, had just constructed a time machine, and
} he needed someone to test it for him. I was only too willing to oblige,
} thinking that if I were to perish in the course of the experiment, or
} be turned into a gibbering idiot, it would all be in the name of
} science, which was a consoling thought. After checking my life
} insurance to ensure that it included disappearance due to time travel
} in its coverage, I toyed with myself of making myself the beneficiary,
} disappearing and returning some fifty years in the future to claim my
} life insurance plus interest. But servants of the Oracle must not be
} swayed by petty financial gain. Besides, I could get last week's
} lottery numbers...
} Arriving in Ancient Egypt, my relatively strange appearance and
} general foreign-ness meant that I was given an audience with Queen
} Cleopatra, particularly when I said that I was an emissary for King
} Boff of the far-off land of Yertleburbia, and I had many precious gifts
} for her. Of course, the fact that I materialised in the throne room,
} before the High Priests could stop me, was another factor to be taken
} into account. Nevertheless, the Queen was intrigued by my question.
} 'What is margarine? I have never heard of such a beast.'
} 'No, your Majesty. Margarine is not a wild animal to be tamed.
} Rather it is something that you spread on bread to make it taste less
} like bread.' I said, taking a tub of margarine I had bought from the
} nearest Wal-Mart (12,000 miles away from where I live) from my pocket
} and proferring it to her.
} 'Oh!' said the Queen, dipping her finger in the tub. 'It is
} some kind of ointment! It will keep my skin clear and young.'
} 'No, no, your Majesty,' I patronised. 'it is merely a butter
} substitute, but since you have not heard of it before...' The Queen
} licked her finger and mmmmed in surprise.
} 'This...this is much better than butter. It's so much easier to
} spread as well. I must have some...an inexhaustible supply. At once!'
} 'Well...' I said. The High Priests, who seemed to have been
} chosen for their broadness of shoulders, rather than for any
} characteristics of devoutness, circled me with curved knives.
} 'Oh...oh dear...from what little I know, the only margarine in
} the world today is in the far-off land of Tibet. They have no butter
} there, for the only creature hardy enough to live in the mountain nation
} is the yak, and as the milk of the yak is pink, not one Tibetan has been
} brave enough to taste its butter. Even only the strongest stomached of
} kings have been able to drink down a full pint of yak's milk, it is how
} they show qualities of leadership.'
} 'Well, you must go to this land of Tibet, with ten thousand
} soldiers, and my best generals, and you must bring the secret of
} margarine back with you!' declared Cleopatra.
} 'Oh...' was all I could manage to say.
} Unable to escape my captors, I discovered to my dismay that the
} time machine took several weeks to recharge itself from the sun's rays,
} even in as hot a place as Egypt, and by the time several weeks were up,
} I was bound hand and foot and gagged and leading an army towards Tibet,
} with the device confiscated. After many months, we arrived at out
} destination, and the Egyptian soldiers began to lay waste to the
} peaceful monasteries and set villages afire in their endless quest for
} the secret of margarine. Eventually I hatched a cunning plan to escape
} my captors, but that involved reaching my time machine, strapped to the
} belt of General George, the commander of the Egyptian forces. Luckily,
} while travelling through some perilous mountain pass, I heard a great
} roaring sound, and General George's horse fled in panic. Unfortunately,
} I was tied to it at the time, but the swift trip downhill meant that I
} was soon free of my bonds, most of my skin and my consciousness. Even
} worse than that, when I awoke, there was snoring across from me was a
} great white shaggy beast, a full ten feet tall and shoulders which
} would have needed ironing boards to make them look any bigger. Could
} this be the legendary Abominable Snowman of Tibet? He couldn't be very
} hungry, not after eating General George, whose cuirass lay snapped. But
} still, I was stranded here in the Himalayan mountains, and could either
} choose to be devoured by this beast, or to rejoin my captors. But ahead
} lay a third alternative - I could be crushed into the ground the the
} approching rumbling of yak-mounted Tibetan Auxiliary Corps, yelling
} great war whoops and shaking pointy sticks at the hapless Egyptians. I
} looked around for a fourth, more pleasing alternative. The time
} machine. It lay, slightly broken, in the paws of the Abominable
} Snowman. If I could just reach it, I could...damn...
} 'Hhhrruuugh?' said the Abominable Snowman, waking from his
} slumber. Sun and sea and sand were all new to it, I could tell. So were
} canaries, they twittered around him apprehensively. Perhaps he would
} eat me to take his mind off things. Unless it's a she..., then she
} would eat me...oh dear. From the dials on the time machine, it appeared
} that the Abominable Snowman and I had landed about three million years
} in the past, on what would become the Galapagos islands. I tries to
} look as menacing as I could, holding the time machine and threatening
} the Abominable Snowman with it's use again. The Abominable Snowman
} looked puzzled, more canaries flocked overhead, circling it. Then one
} landed. And another. And another, until the Abominable Snowman had
} become a canary coated piece of fur. It looked very puzzled indeed, but
} it didn't seem to mind too much. I couldn't see what attracted the
} canaries to the Snowman, but it couldn't have been the pungent aroma it
} was giving off. Unless birds liked that sort of thing...oh well...it
} seemed to be helping with their mating rituals, that was for certain.
} Having satisfied the second of my tasks, I set about trying to find a
} way of making passing reference to Napoleon and a certain raspbery-pie
} stained tunic. Awarding myself extra chocolate rations to aid my
} constructive thought capabilities, I decided to return to 1994 to get
} Whoops. Evidently the time machine wasn't functioning correctly
} yet. I decided to fix it with some gum later, and looked at my
} surroundings. I seemed to be in a battle or sorts. I strode over to a
} man in a strange hat so he could tell me more. It wasn't really cold,
} but he kept his hand well inside his coat for some reason. His other
} hand was busy feeding raspberry pie to his face. Then it struck me, the
} man over there was in fact Napoleon! It also looked like his side were
} winning - this was impossible, the French couldn't win the Battle of
} Waterloo, it didn't happen!
} 'Hey!' I cried. 'Napoleon! Just what do you think you're doing?
} You're supposed to lose this battle and get captured by the English!'
} Napoleon was completely taken aback by this outburst, so
} surprised in fact that he dropped his piece of raspberry pie, which
} smeared his tunic. Looking down, he realised that he had damaged his
} lucky tunic, the one he always wore into battle, and promptly fainted.
} The English, seeing Napoleon fall down, with a red patch on his tunic,
} took heart that the Frenchman was dead, and decided to kill a few more.
} In the panic, I managed to fix the time machine and return to the
} So, that is how Wal-Mart helped Cleopatra take over the Tibetan
} margarine industry, which in turn allowed a mobile canary singles bar
} in the Galapagos island, and how those circumstances led to Napoleon
} smearing raspberry pie down his tunic and losing Waterloo, and how I
} lived happily ever after.
} Yours anonymously,