So I decided to go ahead and riff another chapter of Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 animal-adventure novel about how much he hates his own raccoon protagonist. Not to worry, I posted it to Usenet first, so that I have something new written this year to give rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc.
There is a little change, though, as you saw in the title. The title The Tale of Fatty Coon has bothered me. Yes, I’m aware that anyone reading this would quickly realize this is literally about raccoons. But, you know? This is supposed to be lighthearted Mystery Science Theater 3000-style fun pointed at a harmless target. Why force anyone to have to ask, even briefly, what the intentions of Joseph Nebus are? And ultimately, I remembered: Eric Cartman chose to name his raccoon-themed superhero “The Coon”. Avoiding the choice Eric Cartman would make is a good first approximation to how to live.
And happily, Bailey’s novel is in the public domain (one reason I felt comfortable riffing it to start). It belongs to us all. I can make my own version, even if all that’s changed is the family name. I still have the past chapters up under the old name and the old tag. I’ll change that if and when I have the energy.
For those just joining us: Fatty Raccoon is a really really fat raccoon who’s out to eat the world. Farmer Green’s son Johnnie has tried but failed to catch Fatty as a pet. There is more, mostly the stories of things Fatty Coon has tried to eat, with surprisingly mixed success. But that will get you going. Now, please, enjoy.
CROW: The toll for being in this chapter is the excise tax.
MIKE: D… do …
TOM: Don’t encourage him, Mike.
MIKE: Do I *know* you, Crow?
> JASPER JAY TELLS SOME NEWS
TOM: Then the five-day weather and then Mister Food’s Test Kitchen.
> It was quite late in the fall,
CROW: Not so late as to have hit bottom.
> and the weather had grown very
> cold. Mrs. Raccoon and her family had not left their home for several
MIKE: Join the club.
> but on this day she thought it would be pleasant to go out in
> the sunshine and get a breath of fresh air and a bite to eat.
TOM: Maybe run down to the comics shop, see if her pulls are in.
> Fatty was the only one of her children that was not asleep;
CROW: If these are ‘Sleepy-Time Tales’ why aren’t we following the sleeping kids?
> and he complained of being very hungry. So Mrs. Raccoon decided to take
> him with her.
MIKE: So hard finding a babysitter this time of year.
> The hunting was not very good. There were no birds’ eggs at
> all to be found in the trees.
TOM: [ As Fatty ] “*Technically* eggs would be found in the *nests* in the trees.”
MIKE: Great, he’s becoming a “well, actually” raccoon.
> The river and the brook and the creek
> were all frozen over, so Fatty and his mother could not catch any
CROW: Fish gathering underneath, sticking their tongues out at the raccoons.
> And as for corn
MIKE: It’s that “excise” joke Crow brought.
> —Farmer Green had long ago gathered the last
> ear of it. Fatty wished that it was summertime.
CROW: o/` Summertime’s nice with a place to go, bedtime, overtime, halftime too … o/`
> But it only made him
> hungrier than ever,
> to think of all the good things to eat that summer
> brings. He was feeling very unhappy when his mother said to him
MIKE: [ As Fatty ] “Cheddar! I mean, what?”
> "Run up this tree! Hurry, now! Don’t ask any questions."
CROW: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] “Wait, first put on these clown shoes and don’t let this businessman’s valise out of your grip! But no questions!”
TOM: [ As Fatty ] “Whuh — huh — ”
CROW: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] “And only answer people who speak to you in Ubby-Dubby!”
TOM: Pig Raccoon …
> Now, Fatty did not always mind his mother as quickly as he
> might have.
MIKE: Why, I’ve never minded Mrs Raccoon at all. She’s always been a wonderful companion and magnificent storyteller.
CROW: A real raccoonteur?
MIKE: Yeah, I was leaving that for people to work out on their own.
> But this time he saw that she had stopped and was sniffing
> the air as if there was something about it she did not like.
> That was enough for Fatty. He scrambled up the nearest tree.
TOM: That’s a shrub!
CROW: Thud! … OK, well, the second-nearest tree then!
> For he knew that his mother had discovered danger of some sort.
MIKE: Too late Mrs Raccoon realized the danger was raccoon-eating trees!
> Mrs. Raccoon followed close behind Fatty. And they had no sooner
> hidden in the branches than Fatty saw what it was that his mother had
CROW: Tim Horton’s doughnuts?
> It was Johnnie Green!
TOM: Tell us what they’ve won, Johnnie Green!
> He passed right underneath the tree
> where they were perched. And as Mrs. Raccoon peeped down at him she
TOM: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] ‘If I hear one more peep out of me I’m turning myself around and going home!’
> shuddered and shivered and shook so hard that Fatty couldn’t help
> noticing it.
MIKE: Mrs Raccoon’s powering up!
> "What’s the matter?" he asked, as soon as Johnnie Green was
> out of sight.
CROW: Oh, Johnnie’s an ex. Messy breakup.
> "His cap!" Mrs. Raccoon exclaimed.
CROW: That propeller can’t be fast enough to lift off!
> "He is wearing a raccoon-skin
> cap!" Now do you wonder that she was upset?
MIKE: Yeah, Mom’s being fair there.
> "Don’t ever go near Farmer
> Green’s house," she warned Fatty. "You don’t want to be made into a
> cap, or a pair of gloves, or a coat, or anything like that, do you?"
CROW: No, I want it to be by my free choice!
> "No, indeed, Mother!" Fatty was quite sure that such an
> adventure wouldn’t please him at all.
TOM: Now, being turned into a beer can cozy? Don’t knock *that* until you’ve tried it.
> And he told himself right then
> and there that he would never go anywhere near Farmer Green’s house.
MIKE: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] ‘Now let’s explore this tree you found for us!’
TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘It’s, uh, Farmer Green’s chimney … … … Sorry?’
> We shall see how well Fatty remembered.
CROW: Hey, foreshadowing!
> That very afternoon Fatty Raccoon heard some very pleasant news.
> It was Jasper Jay who told him.
TOM: Oh yeah! The *chapter*!
> Jasper Jay was a very noisy blue jay who lived in the
CROW: [ As Jasper ] ‘You know unlike other blue things I just *look* blue!’
TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Yes, all things that look blue look blue, that’s how looking blue *works*.’
> He did not go south with most of the other birds when
> the cold weather came.
MIKE: He migrated east. It started one year as a mistake he was too stubborn to admit.
> He liked the winter and he was forever tearing
> about the woods, squalling and scolding at everybody. He was a very
> noisy fellow.
TOM: Man, Arthur Scott Bailey really makes nature sound like it’s full of jerks.
> Well! when Fatty and his mother had reached home after their
> hunt, Fatty stayed out of doors.
MIKE: What did they hunt?
TOM: Oh, they went to the thrift scores. Scored this ceramic coaster with the Harvey Wallbanger cartoon guy on it.
> He climbed to the top of a tall pine
> tree nearby and stretched himself along a limb, to enjoy the sunshine,
> which felt very good upon his broad back.
TOM: Boy, remember being young enough you could just spend the evening flopped out on a pine tree?
> It was there that Jasper Jay
> found him and told him the pleasant news.
CROW: “Jules Rivera’s doing an AMA? We can ask her why she hates Mark Trail and wants it destroyed? Let’s go!”
> And Fatty was very glad to
> hear the news, because he was still hungry.
> This is what Jasper Jay told Fatty: he told him that Farmer
> Green had as many as forty fat turkeys,
TOM: Fatty wondering if he’s being insulted here.
> which roosted every night in a
> spreading oak in Farmer Green’s front yard.
CROW: Turkeys … … roost … in trees?
MIKE: I guess?
CROW: I feel weird.
> "If I liked turkeys I would certainly go down there some night
> and get one," said Jasper Jay.
MIKE: Wait, that’s the whole chapter?
TOM: “Jasper Jay Tells Some News, after 800 words about other stuff.”
[ To be continued, sometime ]