The Baloney Code

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code receives a cold cut

What fascinated me about the hugely popular novel The Da Vinci Code was not whether Dan Brown’s gargantuan best-seller had a shred of truth in it but rather that so many people found it to be plausible. Brown cleverly took some alleged rumors and wove them together to try to create a tale that people would find spellbinding and maybe even a bit controversial. My own thought after reading the book was:

“Could people really be this stupid?”

If the New York Times best seller list is any indication, they are. Fortunately, Davis Sweet’s parody, entitled , is proof positive that intelligent life still exists. His skillful Da Vinci Code satire is a demented funhouse that takes you on an adventure that parallels the original book’s blow by blow account of the search for the Holy Grail.

The basic premise of Brown’s epic is that the Priory of Sion, a small, secretive occult organization, has been guarding the location of the Holy Grail for centuries. The story opens with the murder of the Louvre museum’s curator by a mysterious albino monk, named Silas, who has a penchant for corporal mortification and has ties to the conservative and secretive Catholic organization Opus Dei. Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology, attempts to solve the murder along with help from Sophie Neveu, an attractive police cryptographer who is also the murdered curator’s granddaughter. Together they solve puzzle after puzzle in the murder investigation and gradually end up searching for the secret behind the Holy Grail’s location. Brown’s book may have many of the elements of an enjoyable page-turner, but unfortunately it also has a bit of a “Scooby Doo” mystery quality as well.

Sweet (pictured right), who edits the satirical Bean magazine, hysterically turns Brown’s story and characters upside down. Instead of wearing a cilice, or spiked chain, around the thigh to cultivate spiritual discipline as Silas does in the original, the preferred form of spiritual self mortification for The Baloney Code‘s albino Opus Dei monk, Minus, involves a pit-bull clamped to his groin. The dog remains steadfastly “attached,” as it were, to his subject for the entire book leaving Minus to alternately smile or euphorically moan throughout.

Dr. Herbert Longwind and Trophie Adieu–Baloney‘s stand-ins for Langdon and Neveu–search for clues to the elusive Holy Grail, which leads them to solve The De Vito Code, (based on the works of Danny DeVito of “Taxi” fame), The Coochie-Coochie Code, (referring to the Z-list celebrity Charo, oft-seen on the “Love Boat” and “Hollywood Squares”) and finally the Bon Jovi Code, where clues to the grail can be found in the words to their hit-single “Living on a Prayer.”

Considering the enormous impact that the psuedo factualism of Brown’s yarn has had on millions of credulous readers, Sweet’s hilarious parody serves as a much-needed corrective to The Da Vinci Code ‘s over-inflated significance. While nearly every line of The Baloney Code
elicits at least a chuckle, the pace of the satire can leave the reader a bit overwhelmed at times, making it difficult to fully appreciate the cleverness of the author’s wit. Nonetheless, Sweet is a gifted satirist who frequently made my sides ache with laughter as I devoured his Baloney. If Opus Dei is ever in need of new forms of self mortification to replace the cilice (or gland-chomping canines for that matter) The Baloney Code would be a wonderful place to start.