Happy Turkey Day! I was thinking of things to share here and bring you an all-new, just-written Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction! For this I turn back a century or so and into the public domain for another book by Arthur Scott Bailey. Please settle down with me and enjoy a bit of The Tale of Grumpy Weasel.
I don’t promise, at this point, that I’m going to do the whole of the book. Arthur Scott Bailey doesn’t hate Grumpy Weasel in the way he loathed Fatty Raccoon, so the story hasn’t got that same immediate draw. On the other hand, I felt really good working on this first chapter. Tom’s riff about who wants to be of use in life bodes well to be one of my all-time favorites.
In any event everything that I do with The Tale of Grumpy Weasel should be at this link and if it’s not, don’t make a weasel even more grumpy. You won’t like how that turns out.
The riff with Lum Edwards and Abner Peabody refers to long-running old-time-radio show Lum and Abner. A recurring gag was Abner not understanding one of Lum’s idioms and explaining why the metaphor would not actually work. I promise, the way they performed it the bit was funny. The bit about an animal checking its manual was lifted from one of Richard Thompson’s Cul-de-Sac comic strip. Mr Danders, the class guinea pig, had to look up whether he was nocturnal or diurnal. The “weird Picard laugh” is that throaty huh-huh-huh-huh-huh thing he did in the episode where everyone gets Space Drunk by accident. Picard wasn’t even space-drunk when he laughed like that.
> SLEEPY-TIME TALES
> (Trademark Registered)
TOM: Copyright trademark do not steal I already mailed it to myself.
> THE TALE OF
CROW: Or mild crankiness!
TOM: We’s al what?
> ARTHUR SCOTT BAILEY
JOEL: Weasels are by Arthur Scott Bailey?
TOM: That’s not as good as the time Beatrix Potter created kangaroos.
> Author of
> "TUCK-ME-IN TALES"
CROW: The official tales of Forrest Tucker!
> (Trademark Registered)
TOM: Copyright trademark do not steal.
> ILLUSTRATED BY
JOEL: Pictures! Your leading image source!
> HARRY L. SMITH
CROW: CBS News.
> NEW YORK
JOEL: Illustrated by Harry L Smith *and* New York?
> GROSSET & DUNLAP
TOM: Wallace and Grosset?
> Made in the United States of America
CROW: o/` Made! In the USA! o/`
> Copyright, 1920, BY
> GROSSET & DUNLAP
JOEL: The tire people?
> CHAPTER PAGE
> I A Slim Rascal 1
> II At the Old Stone Wall 5
> III Master Robin’s Lesson 9
CROW: A haiku!
> IV Hunting a Hole 13
JOEL: Where the rain gets in …
> V Solomon Owl Interrupts 18
> VI Mr. Meadow Mouse Escapes 23
CROW: A crossover with the _Tale of Mister Meadow Mouse_? Dare we hope?
> VII Paddy Muskrat’s Blunder 28
> VIII The Dare 33
TOM: The Double Dare!
CROW: We do dare!
> IX Saving His Feet 38
JOEL: For marriage!
> X Ha! and Ha, Ha! 42
CROW: They say it’s hard to understand old-time humor but I don’t know, this makes sense to me.
> XI A Long Race 46
> XII Winning by a Trick 51
> XIII Silly Mrs. Hen 56
TOM: Silly Mrs Hen sleeps in the park, shaves in the dark, trying to save paper.
> XIV Grumpy Vanishes 60
> XV The Great Mystery 64
> XVI Guarding the Corncrib 69
> XVII Grumpy’s Mistake 73
> XVIII Pop! Goes the Weasel 78
TOM: I bet Arthur Scott Bailey wrote this whole book just for that chapter title.
> XIX Hiding from Henry Hawk 83
JOEL: ‘Enery the ‘Awk, ‘e is.
> XX A Free Ride 88
> XXI A New Suit 93
> XXII Grumpy’s Threat 98
CROW: Wait, we only spend five pages on the new suit?
> XXIII A Bold Stranger 103
> XXIV Fur and Feathers 107
TOM: Sounds like a New Wave band’s big song.
> XXV Peter Mink’s Promise 112
JOEL: I knew a Peter Mink back in high school.
> XXVI How Grumpy Helped 116
TOM: Did he slug someone? I bet he slugged someone.
> FACING PAGE
JOEL: Oh, that’ll make them easier to see.
> Grumpy Weasel and Jimmy Rabbit Run a Race. Frontispiece
CROW: ‘Tis piece, ’tis.
> Master Robin Escapes From Grumpy Weasel. 10
> Grumpy Nearly Catches Paddy Muskrat. 34
> Grumpy Calls on Mrs. Hen. 50
TOM: [ Yelling ] Yo! Mrs Hen!
> Grumpy Weasel Visits the Corncrib. 74
> Sandy Chipmunk Runs from Grumpy Weasel. 98
TOM: Sounds like this book is all people avoiding Grumpy Weasel.
> THE TALE OF GRUMPY WEASEL
CROW: What kind of animal do you suppose Grumpy is?
JOEL: Oh, he’s a pronghorn antelope.
TOM: Named ‘Weasel’?
JOEL: That’s why he’s grumpy.
TOM: I, Weasel.
JOEL: I M Weasel.
> A SLIM RASCAL
CROW: But a cute little dickens!
> Old Mr. Crow
JOEL: [ Nudges CROW ]
> often remarked that if Grumpy Weasel
> really wanted to be of some use in the world he would spend
> his time at the sawmill filling knot holes in boards.
JOEL: It’s a weird hill to die on, but Old Mr Crow’s chosen it.
TOM: Who wants to be of use in the world? I want to play Animal Crossing and eat cheese.
> "He’s so slender," Mr. Crow would say,
ALL: How slender is he?
> "that he can
> push himself into a knot hole no bigger round than Farmer
> Green’s thumb."
CROW: Welp, guess that *is* slender.
TOM: Not going to match *any* celebrities on that one. Even Richard Dawson is like, really? You’re leaving me with *that*?
> Naturally it did not please old Mr. Crow
CROW: I don’t know, I feel pretty indifferent about hearing this myself.
> when Solomon
> Owl went out of his way one day to tell him that he was sadly
TOM: Classic Solomon Owl, though.
> For after hearing some gossip repeat Mr. Crow’s
> opinion Solomon Owl—the wise old bird—
CROW: [ As Solomon ] Bird? Oh, no, no, I’m a dikdik, my family married into the Owls is all.
> had given several
> long hoots and hurried off,
JOEL: Well, you want me to hoot I’ll hoot but that’s your business.
> though it was broad daylight, to
> set Mr. Crow right.
CROW: I tell you, I have no emotional investment in whether Grumpy Weasel should be filling knotholes down at the sawmill.
> "The trouble—" Solomon explained when he had found
> Mr. Crow on the edge of the woods—
TOM: Trouble? In River City?
> "the trouble with your
> plan to have Grumpy Weasel work in the sawmill is that he
> wouldn’t keep a knot hole filled longer than a jiffy.
JOEL: [ As Lum Edwards ] OK, Abner, I was sayin’ Grumpy Weasel *could*, not …
TOM: [ As Abner Peabody ] And another thing, Lum …
> true that he can fit a very small hole.
CROW: Or one medium-size divot.
JOEL: A decent-sized pock mark.
TOM: Heck near any rilles.
> But if you’d ever
> watched him closely you’d know that he’s in a hole and out
> the other side so fast you can scarcely see what happens.
CROW: So the whole watching thing is pointless, right?
TOM: The *hole* watching thing.
> He’s entirely too active to fill the bill."
JOEL: No bill-filling. Try a Kyle or a Tom first.
> Old Mr. Crow made a queer noise in his throat, which
> showed that Solomon Owl had made him angry.
CROW: All I can imagine is doing that weird Picard laugh?
> "I never said anything about Grumpy Weasel’s filling
> any bills," Mr. Crow spluttered.
TOM: Good, cause if you fill a bird’s bill how can they talk?
> "Knot holes were what I had
> in mind.
JOEL: If they’re not holes how can you fill them?
> I’ve no doubt, though, that you’d like Grumpy Weasel
> to fill your own bill."
TOM: [ As Solomon ] Wait, are you telling me to eat Grumpy Weasel? Dikdiks don’t eat weasels! I’m pretty sure? Let me check my manual.
> Now, if Solomon Owl had not tried more than once to
> catch Grumpy Weasel perhaps Mr. Crow’s retort wouldn’t have
> made him feel so uncomfortable.
JOEL: Oh, they got *history*.
CROW: Yeah, this is like Will Smith’s slap only about weasels filling holes.
> And muttering that he wished
> when people spoke of his beak they wouldn’t call it a bill,
JOEL: Maybe call it a william, show some respect?
> and that Mr. Crow was too stupid to talk to,
TOM: OooooOOOh! Hey, Crow?
CROW: Shut up.
> blundered away into the woods.
CROW: Ow ow owie ow ow who put a tree —
CROW: My bills!
> It was true, of course, that Grumpy Weasel was about
> the quickest of all the furred folk in Pleasant Valley.
CROW: Also we’re in Pleasant Valley.
TOM: Also the birds count as ‘furred folk’.
> you might be looking at him as he stopped for a moment on a
> stone wall;
JOEL: It’s your business, not mine.
> and while you looked he would vanish before your
TOM: *Your* eyes, maybe.
> It was just as if he had melted away in an instant, so
> quickly could he dart into a crevice between the stones.
JOEL: Weasels melt in your mouth, not in your stones.
> It was surprising, too, that he could whisk himself
> out of sight so fast,
CROW: Is this some introvert-pride brag?
> for his body was absurdly long. But if
> he was long in one way he was short in another.
JOEL: Y’know if you have too much of one spatial dimension the others will shrink to balance out.
> Yes! Grumpy
> Weasel had the shortest temper of all the field- and
> forest-folk throughout Pleasant Valley.
TOM: Short but deep. Dimensions again.
> Even peppery Peter
> Mink was not so short-tempered as he.
TOM: Boy, everybody’s talking about Peter Mink these days.
> So terrible tempered was Grumpy Weasel that whenever
> the news flashed through the woods that he was out hunting,
> all the small people kept quite still,
CROW: Well wait, if they were so small, then they’d compensate by being the widest beasts in town!
> because they were
> afraid. And even some of the bigger ones—a good deal bigger
> than Grumpy Weasel himself—felt uneasy.
TOM: Not from his temper but from his tiresome political lectures.
> So you can see whether or not Grumpy Weasel was
JOEL: Uh … yes?
TOM: I’m going to say ‘no’?
CROW: I’m writing in ‘The Beatles’.
[ To continue … ? ]