The only fan fiction I’ve written and shared on the Internet has been Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic. It’s a fun genre. It grew from the MST3K newsgroups on Usenet, which I knew as rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc and its affiliates. Mostly it grew in response to the famous “Marissa Picard” stories Stephen Ratliff wrote as Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic. But it’s always included other stuff.
A couple years ago I ran across a series of children’s books from the 1910s. They were written by Arthur Scott Bailey, which exhausts what I know about him. And they’re little tales for kids about life as animals see it. And they’re just … off, in that way that I think makes for great MST3K material. I had wanted to do a whole book, and I just don’t have the time for that. So this week I hope to feature the first five chapters, at least, and I’ve put that together into a little MiSTing experience I hope you enjoy.
Before that, though, I did some more mathematics comics in my other blog. No pictures, sorry.
[ SEASON TEN opening. ]
[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. TOM is reading a newspaper and chuckling as MIKE and CROW enter. ]
TOM: Hee heee!
MIKE: What’s up there, Thomas?
CROW: He finally noticed they print the ‘Jumble’ answers upside-down.
TOM: I’m now a happy subscriber to the Ironic Comics page.
[ MIKE takes the paper from TOM’s hands. CROW peeks at a corner, letting the paper flap over his beak. ]
TOM: ‘Beetle Bailey’ as Wagnerian opera! Fred Basset portrayed by a very long duck! ‘The Lockhorns’ with neither lock nor horn!
MIKE: Hey, I like this Clip-Art ‘Cathy’. She married Irving Berlin.
CROW: Wait, this is just ‘Henry’. What’s ironic about that?
TOM: What’s *not* ironic about ‘Henry’?
[ MADS sign flashes. ]
MIKE: Ahp. Agatha Crumm is calling.
[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL, PROFESSOR BOBO, and the OBSERVER are at a table. ]
OBSERVER: I love ‘For Better Or For Worse, And It Turns Out, Worse.’ [ To PEARL’s withering indifference. ] It puts at the end of every strip Anthony whining how ‘I have no home!’
PEARL: OK, Mark Trail. We’ve tried everything to break your spirits. We’ve tried bad movies.
BOBO: We’ve tried telephones!
PEARL: We’ve tried fan fiction.
OBSERVER: We’ve tried advertisements!
PEARL: We’ve tried the most Ruby-Spearsish Hanna-Barbera Christmas specials!
BOBO: I love that one with Goober and Gumdrop!
OBSERVER: Now let’s try … young-reader animal fantasy!
PEARL: Your experiment for today is the first five chapters of Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 piece of ouvre _The Tale of Fatty Coon_.
BOBO: See if you learn something special from all this adorable animal fantasy!
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. MOVIE SIGN and general chaos. ]
MIKE: Oh, no! Animal fantasy!
TOM, CROW: AAAAGH!
[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.. ]
[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]
> SLEEPY-TIME TALES
TOM: So … uh … good night?
> THE TALE OF FATTY COON
CROW: From Buster Keaton through learning there *is* such a thing as bad publicity.
> BY ARTHUR SCOTT BAILEY
TOM: o/` Arthur was born just a plain simple man o/`
> ILLUSTRATED BY HARRY L. SMITH
> NEW YORK
MIKE: Illustrated by Harry L Smith and the New York dancers!
> FATTY COON AT HOME
TOM: Just sitting around the home …
> Fatty Coon was so fat and round
CROW: Oh come *on*.
MIKE: Man, 1915 and they’re ahead of our lead joke.
> that he looked like a ball of
> fur, with a plumelike tail for a handle. But if you looked at him
> closely you would have seen a pair of very bright eyes watching you.
CROW: From the tail?
TOM: Raccoons can see very well through their handles.
> Fatty loved to eat.
CROW: And that’s all the personality he’ll need!
MIKE: Pretty much all the personality I have.
> Yes—he loved eating better than anything
> else in the world. That was what made him so fat.
TOM: ‘I’m getting ready to hibernate for winter!’
CROW: ‘It’s May.’
TOM: ‘I don’t want to get caught by surprise.’
> And that, too, was
> what led him into many adventures.
CROW: Like the adventure of Waffle House At 3 am.
MIKE: Taking his life and his maple syrup into his own paws.
> Close by a swamp, which lay down in the valley, between Blue
> Mountain and Swift River,
TOM: Burger King on the right and if you come to the old middle school you’ve gone too far.
> Fatty Coon lived with his mother and his
> brother and his two sisters.
CROW: And his mayonnaise.
> Among them all there was what grown
> people call "a strong family resemblance," which is the same thing as
> saying that they all looked very much alike.
TOM: What, because all raccoons look the same to you?
> The tail of each one of
> them—mother and children too—had six black rings around it. Each of
> them had a dark brown patch of fur across the face, like a mask.
MIKE: _Clonus: The Ranger Rick Project_.
> And—what do you think?—each of them, even Fatty and his brother and
> his sisters, had a stiff, white moustache!
CROW: This is getting near body shaming, Mister Arthur Scott Bailey.
> Of course, though they all looked so much alike, you would
> have known which was Mrs. Coon, for she was so much bigger than her
TOM: And she had that ISO 9000 consulting job for Lockheed.
> And you would have known which was Fatty—he was so much
> rounder than his brother and his sisters.
CROW: And he had a bear claw in his mouth.
MIKE: The pastry?
CROW: We’ll see.
> Mrs. Coon’s home was in the hollow branch of an old tree.
TOM: They were the first wave of gentrification moving in.
MIKE: Classic cycle. Starving artists, hipsters, raccoons, rents go up.
> was a giant of a tree—a poplar close by a brook which ran into the
> swamp—and the branch which was Mrs. Coon’s home was as big as most
> tree-trunks are.
MIKE: Look, it’s a tree, all right? I’m Arthur Scott Bailey, I got bigger fish to fry than specifying poplar trees.
> Blackie was Fatty’s brother—for the mask on his face was just
> a little darker than the others’.
TOM: *Blackie* Coon?
MIKE: Oh dear Lord.
> Fluffy was one of Fatty’s sisters,
> because her fur was just a little fluffier than the other children’s.
TOM: *Fluffy* Coon?
CROW: When Andrew WK visits Anthrocon?
> And Cutey was the other sister’s name, because she was so quaint.
TOM: I feel like I need to apologize and I don’t even know who to.
> Now, Fatty Coon was forever looking around for something to
MIKE: ‘Here’s a thing!’ (Gulp)
TOM: ‘That’s a vase!’
MIKE: Needs honey mustard.’
> He was never satisfied with what his mother brought home for him.
CROW: ‘Crawdads and berries *again*?’
MIKE: ‘No, this is berries and Crawdads.’
> No matter how big a dinner Mrs. Coon set before her family, as soon as
> he had finished eating his share Fatty would wipe his white moustache
> carefully—for all the world like some old gentleman—and hurry off in
> search of something more.
MIKE: ‘Fatty, that’s a rock.’
CROW: ‘That’s a rock with ranch dressing.’
> Sometimes he went to the edge of the brook and tried to catch
> fish by hooking them out of the water with his sharp claws.
TOM: ‘Best case scenario, I catch a snack. Worst case, I touch a goldfish. Either way, a win!’
> he went over to the swamp and hunted for duck among the tall reeds.
CROW: ‘Hey, a little deep frying and these reeds would be good.’
> And though he did not yet know how to catch a duck, he could always
> capture a frog or two; and Fatty ate them as if he hadn’t had a
> mouthful of food for days.
MIKE: ‘If I eat enough frog maybe a duck will crawl into my mouth and see what’s going on!’
> To tell the truth, Fatty would eat almost anything he could
> get—nuts, cherries, wild grapes,
TOM: Boring, straight-laced actuary grapes.
> blackberries, bugs, small snakes,
CROW: Large but depressed snakes.
> fish, chickens,
MIKE: Buckets of fried dough.
> honey—there was no end to the different kinds of food
> he liked.
TOM: I believe you, sugar.
> He ate everything. And he always wanted more.
MIKE: Thing is it’s fun cooking for someone who likes eating so much.
> "Is this all there is?" Fatty Coon asked his mother one day.
TOM: Well, you could merge with Ilia and Captain Decker maybe?
> He had gobbled up every bit of the nice fish that Mrs. Coon had
> brought home for him. It was gone in no time at all.
CROW: ‘Well, you could try the less-nice or the morally ambiguous fish.’
> Mrs. Coon sighed. She had heard that question so many times;
> and she wished that for once Fatty might have all the dinner he
MIKE: ‘Fatty, you’re a sphere.’
CROW: ‘And I could be a hypersphere, Mom!!’
> "Yes—that’s all," she said, "and I should think that it was
> enough for a young coon like you."
> Fatty said nothing more. He wiped his moustache on the back of
> his hand (I hope you’ll never do that!)
TOM: You eating raw frogs, though, Arthur Scott Bailey’s cool with.
> and without another word
MIKE: Really, what else was there to say?
> he started off to see what he could find to eat.
CROW: ‘This is delicious!’
MIKE: ‘This is an ironing board!’
CROW: ‘With marshmallows!’
[ To Continue ]