MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, Chapter XVI


For this week I bring you chapter 16 of Arthur Scott Bailey’s The Tale of Fatty Raccoon. This and all previous chapters of this into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction are at this link. If that seems like a lot to read to get up to speed here, yeah, and don’t worry. The chapter explains itself pretty well. But it does reference Chapter 13, when Jimmy Rabbit and, he claims, his brother played a prank on Fatty.


> XVI

TOM: Everyone who used to be a Vi, stand up.

>
> FATTY RACCOON PLAYS ROBBER

CROW: Stealing Farmer Green’s cornfield, as a bit.

>
> After Fatty Raccoon played barber-shop with Jimmy Rabbit and his
> brother it was a long time before he met them again.

CROW: So Jimmy Rabbit’s brother is a figment of his imagination, right? That’s why he doesn’t have a name?

> But one day Fatty
> was wandering through the woods when he caught sight of Jimmy. Jimmy
> dodged behind a tree.

TOM: Gee, why?

> And Fatty saw Jimmy’s brother peep from behind
> another.

MIKE: One more peep and we turn this forest around and go home.

> You see, his ears were so long that they stuck far beyond the
> tree,

CROW: Whoops!

MIKE: Be fair, now, why would a rabbit learn how to hide?

> and Fatty couldn’t help seeing them.
>
> "Hello!" Fatty called. "I’m glad to see you."

TOM: Mwuh-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaa!

> And he told the
> truth, too. He had been trying to find those two brothers for weeks,
> because he wanted to get even with them for cutting off his moustache.

CROW: And hiding his fez and penny-farthing bicycle.

> Jimmy and his brother hopped out from behind their trees.
>
> "Hello!" said Jimmy. "We were just looking for you." Probably
> he meant to say, "We were just looking AT you."

TOM: [ As Fatty ] Well, I was looking *through* you.

CROW: [ As Jimmy’s brother ] But you’re not there.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] Like you even exist!

> He was somewhat upset
> by meeting Fatty; for he knew that Fatty was angry with him.
>
> "Oh, ho! You were, were you?" Fatty answered. He began to
> slide down the tree he had been climbing.

MIKE: [ Sings the Batman 66 transition theme, slowly ]

>
> Jimmy Rabbit and his brother edged a little further away.

CROW: [ As Jimmy ] Have to … go … wax a … squirrel?

>
> "Better not come too near us!" he said. "We’ve both got the
> pink-eye, and you don’t want to catch it."

TOM: Why, a pink-eyed raccoon would be adorable!

MIKE: Or haunt your nightmares.

>
> Fatty paused and looked at the brothers.

MIKE: [ Making air quotes ] ‘Brothers’.

> Sure enough! their
> eyes were as pink as anything.
>
> "Does it hurt much?" Fatty asked.

CROW: Only when we look at stuff.

>
> "Well—it does and it doesn’t," Jimmy replied.

MIKE: [ As Jimmy ] Like, my brother? Nothing bothers him, because he’s made of nothing! Neat how that works, right?

> "I just stuck a
> brier into one of my eyes a few minutes ago and it hurt awful, then.
> But you’ll be perfectly safe, so long as you don’t touch us."

TOM: And you don’t jab a brier into your eyes. Sheesh.

>
> "How long does it last?" Fatty inquired.

MIKE: How long do you hold a grudge?

>
> "Probably we’ll never get over it," Jimmy Rabbit said
> cheerfully. And his brother nodded his head, as much as to say,
> "That’s so!"

CROW: Cut that out! You don’t get to support your brother if you don’t exist!

>
> Fatty Raccoon was just the least bit alarmed. He really thought
> that there was something the matter with their eyes.

TOM: Oh, they just need reading glasses. It’s nothing.

> You see, though
> the Rabbit brothers’ eyes were always pink (for they were born that
> way), he had never noticed it before.

MIKE: Also raccoons are maybe colorblind? Who knows?

> So Fatty thought it would be
> safer not to go too near them.

CROW: Fatty is the most bluffable raccoon out there.

TOM: He’s used to just chewing his way through life.

>
> "Well, it’s too bad," he told Jimmy. "I’m sorry. I wanted to
> play with you."

MIKE: [ As Jimmy ] Oh yeah? What game?

TOM: [ As Fatty ] Well, it’s 1915, so the only games are tiddlywinks, whacking each other with rolled-up newspapers, and baseball.

>
> "Oh, that’s all right!" Jimmy said.

CROW: Hey, there’s stuffing ferrets down your trousers, that’s something.

MIKE: Crow! They’re *children*!

> "We can play, just the
> same. I’ll tell you what we’ll play. We’ll play—"

TOM: PLINKO! For a chance to win up to FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!
[ MIKE, CROW cheer ]

>
> "Not barber-shop!" Fatty interrupted. "I won’t play
> barber-shop, I never liked that game."

MIKE: Even though I started playing it with my brother right away.

>
> Jimmy Rabbit started to smile. But he turned his smile into a
> sneeze.

CROW: Awwwww, bunny sneezes, too adorable!

> And he said—

MIKE: Yes yes, go on?

>
> "We’ll play robber.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] Robert?

MIKE: [ As Jimmy ] Robber.

> You’ll like that, I know.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] But how do you play Robert?

MIKE: [ As Jimmy ] It’s Robber. You play a robber.

> And you can be
> the robber. You look like one, anyhow."

TOM: [ As Fatty ] How can I look like a ‘Robert’? Anyone could look like a ‘Robert’, there’s like four kinds of Robert out there.

MIKE: [ As Jimmy ] I … you know what? Yes.

>
> That remark made Fatty Raccoon angry.

TOM: ‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry … heck, our author doesn’t like me at all!’

> And he wished that Jimmy
> hadn’t the pink-eye. He would have liked to make an end of him right
> then and there.

CROW: You know what Fatty could use? A peer group.

>
> "What do you mean?" he shouted. "Robber nothing! I’m just as
> good as you are!"

TOM: Really curious how this scene plays out in _The Tale of Jimmy Rabbit_.

>
> "Of course, of course!" Jimmy said hastily. "It’s your face,
> you know, That black patch covers your eyes just like a robber’s mask.

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] Oh! I thought you were talking about this giant bag with a dollar sign on it.

> That’s why we want you to be the robber."
>
> Fatty had slipped down his tree to the ground; and now he
> looked down into the creek.

CROW: Right next to the mirror department of the forest.

> It was just as Jimmy said. Fatty had never
> thought of it before,

MIKE: But how *do* you tell a cabbage from a lettuce?

> but the black patch of short fur across the
> upper part of his face made him look exactly like a robber.

CROW: Fatty had gone his entire raccoon life without considering human melodrama stage conventions for marking someone a robber.

>
> "Come on!" said Jimmy. "We can’t play the game without you."

TOM: We can’t ditch you without you coming along!

>
> "Well—all right!" said Fatty. He began to feel proud of his
> mask. "What shall I do?"

TOM: Well, first, rob something.

CROW: *Robert* something.

>
> "You wait right here," Jimmy ordered. "Hide behind that tree.

MIKE: … Bob’s your uncle …

> We’ll go into the woods. And when we come back past this spot you jump
> out and say ‘Hands up!’ … You understand?"

CROW: [ As Fatty ] OK, so, the Robert I’m playing, is he motivated by avarice or desperate need?

TOM: [ As Jimmy ] Buh?

>
> "Of course!" said Fatty. "But hurry up! Don’t be gone long."

CROW: [ As Fatty ] It affects how intense the Roberting is! What directions it might go. So I’m imagining my Robert as someone who turned to crime after losing his savings in the collapse of the Knickerbocker Trust Company.

TOM: [ As Jimmy ] Uh … sure?

>
> "Leave that to us," said Jimmy Rabbit. He winked at his
> brother; and they started off together.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] Oh, I know, you pretend to have documents relating to the United Copper Company, that’ll really make this scene crackle!

>
> Fatty Raccoon did not see that wink.

MIKE: And with that, his life changed forever.

> If he had, he wouldn’t have
> waited there all the afternoon for those Rabbit brothers to return.
> They never came back at all.

CROW: Be cunning and full of tricks! Also have the author hate Fatty, that’ll carry you far.

> And they told everybody about the trick
> they had played on Fatty Raccoon.

TOM: ‘We told him we were gonna play with him, and then we didn’t! What a loser!’

> For a long time after that wherever
> Fatty went the forest-people called "Robber!" after him.

MIKE: Well, this has been a merry descent back into middle school.

> And Jasper
> Jay was the most annoying of all, because whenever he shouted
> "Robber!" he always laughed so loudly and so long.

TOM: You suppose Jay is the bird we’re supposed to try to be naked as?

> His hoarse screech
> echoed through the woods. And the worst of it was, everybody knew what
> he was laughing at.

CROW: This chapter’s making me understand why Fatty wants to eat everybody he knows.

>
>

[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, Chapter XV


Hello again and welcome to a bit more of Arthur Scott Bailey’s The Tale of Fatty Raccoon. I have been able to turn the previous 14 chapters of this into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. And now? Chapter 15. If it helps you set your expectations, this chapter is set in February.


> XV
>
> FATTY VISITS THE SMOKE-HOUSE

CROW: It’s so nice of Fatty to visit the smoke-houses stuck at home like that.

>
> The winter was fast going.

MIKE: Until someone grabbed its tail through the hole in the sycamore.

> And one fine day in February Fatty
> Raccoon crept out of his mother’s house to enjoy the warm sunshine—

TOM: February, the Sunshine Month.

> and see what he could find to eat.
>
> Fatty was much thinner than he had been in the fall.

CROW: So be with us for next week when we start _The Tale Of Thinny Raccoon_.

> He had
> spent so much of the time sleeping that he had really eaten very
> little.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Wouldn’t mind eating little if I did it more often.’

> And now he hardly knew himself as he looked at his sides. They
> no longer stuck out as they had once.

MIKE: You know, the ‘sleep-and-pretend-barber-shop’ weight plan is the most successful diet plan.

>
> After nosing about the swamp and the woods all the afternoon
> Fatty decided that there was no use in trying to get a meal there.

CROW: What if I offered to pay someone Tuesday for a hamburger today?

> The
> ground was covered with snow. And except for rabbit tracks—and a few
> squirrels’—

TOM: And a fox.

CROW: Three deer.

MIKE: That band of river otters.

CROW: Those penguins.

TOM: That team of dressage armadillos.

MIKE: Four elephants all wearing berets.

> he could find nothing that even suggested food. And
> looking at those tracks only made him hungrier than ever.

CROW: Man, never go eating on an empty stomach.

>
> For a few minutes Fatty thought deeply. And then he turned
> about and went straight toward Farmer Green’s place.

TOM: Oh, you can’t eat a *place*. Fatty, you want to look for *food*.

> He waited behind
> the fence just beyond Farmer Green’s house; and when it began to grow
> dark he crept across the barnyard.

MIKE: So he got up in the sunlight to wait for nightfall.

>
> As Fatty passed a small, low building he noticed a delicious
> smell. And he stopped right there.

CROW: Tell me it’s a pie cooling on the windowsill.

MIKE: ‘Tramp raccoon’ already snagged that.

> He had gone far enough. The door
> was open a little way.

TOM: Ah, that’s all he needs for probable cause.

> And after one quick look all around—to make
> sure there was nobody to see him—Fatty slipped inside.

CROW: Bonk!

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] OW! … I meant to do that!

>
> It was almost dark inside Farmer Green’s smokehouse—for that
> was what the small, low building was called.

TOM: Or the smoke-house, if you edit the titles of chapters.

> It was almost dark; but
> Fatty could see just as well as you and I can see in the daytime.

MIKE: Course, him bringing the flashlight helped.

> There was a long row of hams hung up in a line. Underneath them were
> white ashes, where Farmer Green had built wood fires, to smoke the
> hams.

CROW: Wait, really? Like, that’s how smoking meat works?

MIKE: [ Shrugs ]

> But the fires were out, now; and Fatty was in no danger of being
> burned.

TOM: The passion was gone from the hams.

>
> The hams were what Fatty Raccoon had smelled. And the hams were
> what Fatty intended to eat.

MIKE: If he can just get them away from the guy who draws ‘Heathcliff’.

> He decided that he would eat them
> all—though of course he could never have done that—at least, not in
> one night; nor in a week, either.

TOM: Nine days, though? That would do it, if he ate through dinner breaks.

> But when it came to eating, Fatty’s
> courage never failed him. He would have tried to eat an elephant, if
> he had had the chance.

MIKE: Imagining him slurping the elephant’s trunk up like a strand of spaghetti.

CROW: Asking the elephant to rub a little alfredo sauce on him .. .

>
> Fatty did not stop to look long at that row of hams.

MIKE: He only wept, for the lack of new worlds to conquer.

> He
> climbed a post that ran up the side of the house and he crept out

TOM: If he ran out he’d be showing post-haste.

> along the pole from which the hams were hung.

CROW: Oh, they’re hamstrung.

>
> He stopped at the very first ham he came to.

MIKE: And asked for directions to town.

> There was no
> sense in going any further.

TOM: Unless you’re being whimsical!

> And Fatty dropped on top of the ham and in
> a twinkling he had torn off a big, delicious mouthful.

MIKE: [ Low-key ] o/` I wanna hold your ham … o/`

>
> Fatty could not eat fast enough. He wished he had two
> mouths

TOM: And six eyes, not all on his face!

> —he was so hungry. But he did very well, with only ONE.

CROW: You know, an expert eater can use only the one mouth and you never notice the difference.

> In no
> time at all he had made a great hole in the ham.

TOM: Oh, ham and Swiss.

> And he had no idea of
> stopping.

MIKE: ‘I will not start stopping’, he said.

> But he did stop.

CROW: ‘Wait, I started stopping anyway!’

> He stopped very suddenly.

TOM: Have you tried stopping stopping?

MIKE: Or starting not-stopping?

> For the first
> thing he knew, something threw him right down upon the floor.

CROW: [ Upbeat ] Hey, hey, hey! It’s the crushing sadness of modern life! Great to see you!

> And the
> ham fell on top of him and nearly knocked him senseless.
>
> He choked and spluttered;

TOM: He never expected to live a ‘death by snu-snu’ meme.

> for the ashes filled his mouth and
> his eyes, and his ears, too. For a moment he lay there on his back;

MIKE: Surprised he isn’t trying to eat his way out of the ham.

> but soon he managed to kick the heavy ham off his stomach and then he
> felt a little better.

CROW: On to seconds!

> But he was terribly frightened. And though his
> eyes smarted so he could hardly see, he sprang up and found the
> doorway.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Lead on, my trusty moustache! … Oh no!’

>
> Fatty swallowed a whole mouthful of ashes as he dashed across
> the barnyard.

CROW: And then he remembered he could’ve eaten the ham off him instead.

> And he never stopped running until he was almost home.
> He was puzzled. Try as he would, he couldn’t decide what it was that
> had flung him upon the floor.

MIKE: But he suspects Jasper Jay.

> And when he told his mother about his
> adventure—as he did a whole month later—she didn’t know exactly
> what had happened, either.

TOM: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] ‘Why didn’t you just eat your way out of the ham?’

CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘I panicked, okay?’

>
> "It was some sort of trap, probably," Mrs. Raccoon said.

TOM: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] ‘I bet they were catching hams and you just got in the way.’

>
> But for once Mrs. Raccoon was mistaken.

MIKE: It was in fact an ordinary reconnaissance mission, not trapping.

>
> It was very simple.

CROW: Allow me to explain until it is complicated and you are tired.

> In his greedy haste Fatty had merely
> bitten through the cord that fastened the ham to the pole.

TOM: In his defense, that was Cajun spiced cord.

> And of
> course it had at once fallen, carrying Fatty with it!
>
> But what do you suppose?

CROW: Oh, that pet mice all just assume they’re really good at foraging because look, there’s always food blocks right when they want.

> Afterward, when Fatty had grown up,
> and had children of his own,

TOM: Wait, Fatty grows up? Spoilers!

> he often told them about the time he had
> escaped from the trap in Farmer Green’s smokehouse.

MIKE: Raccoons don’t have a lot of epics, you understand.

>
> Fatty’s children thought it very exciting. It was their
> favorite story.

TOM: Above even the barber-shop saga.

And they made their father tell it over and over

> again.

CROW: And he never suspected they were putting him on.

>
>

[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, Chapter XIV


I thank you again for joining me in rewriting Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s book about animals, The Tale of Fatty Raccoon. You can read the entire story, so much as I have made into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, at this link. This chapter builds directly on Chapter XIII, when Jimmy Rabbit and Jimmy’s Brother Rabbit set up a pretend barber shop, only to use it to give Fatty a humiliating shave. Enjoy!


> XIV
>
> THE BARBER-SHOP AGAIN

CROW: Barber-Shop *again*?

MIKE: Well, spruce it up with some frozen vegetables and bake it into a casserole and it’s like new.

>
> Although Fatty Raccoon never could get Jimmy Rabbit and his
> brother to play barber-shop with him again,

TOM: But if he asked for a rousing game of ‘patent attorney’? They were up for that.

> Fatty saw no reason why he
> should not play the game without them.

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘If they won’t humiliate me I’ll humiliate myself!’

> So one day he led his brother
> Blackie

TOM: [ Grunts, in pain ]

> over to the old hollow sycamore.

MIKE: If the sycamore is hollow isn’t that a syca-less?

> His sisters, Fluffy and
> Cutey, wanted to go too.

CROW: Wait, I thought Blackie was one of his sisters?

TOM: [ As though tired of explaining ] If Blackie were a girl he’d have long eyelashes and a bow in his hair, Crow.

> But Fatty would not let them. "Girls can’t be
> barbers," he said.

MIKE: Ah, see, sexism, it’s the flaw keeping Fatty from being too good to be true.

> And of course they could find no answer to that.

TOM: Heck, they didn’t want to talk to him ever again.

>
> As soon as Fatty and Blackie reached the old sycamore I am
> sorry to say that a dispute arose.

CROW: [ As Narrator ] ‘I was hoping to get through one chapter where nothing happened but, tch.’

> Each of them wanted to use his own
> tail for the barber’s pole.

MIKE: Well, I mean, *naturally*.

> They couldn’t both stick their tails
> through the hole in the tree at the same time. So they finally agreed
> to take turns.

CROW: [ As Narrator ] ‘The dispute wasn’t exactly the Great Schism of 1054. Sorry if I set your expectations too high.’

>
> Playing barber-shop wasn’t so much fun as they had expected,

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘I don’t get it, last time a couple rabbits shaved my face bald and I was hideous for months! Why isn’t this as good?’

> because nobody would come near to get his hair cut. You see, the
> smaller forest- people were all afraid to go inside that old sycamore
> where Fatty and Blackie were.

TOM: They heard it’s haunted.

MIKE: Fortunately a couple of meddling young goats wandered through town …

> There was no telling when the two
> brothers might get so hungry they would seize and eat a rabbit or a
> squirrel or a chipmunk.

TOM: [ As Blackie ] ‘Hey! I’ve got self-control, *thank* you.’

> And you know it isn’t wise to run any such
> risk as that.

CROW: The marmots, though? They like their chances.

>
> Fatty offered to cut Blackie’s hair.

TOM: With what?

> But Blackie remembered
> what his mother had said when Fatty came home with his moustache gone
> and his head all rough and uneven.

MIKE: [ As Blackie ] ‘I remember it like it was yesterday!’

CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘It *was* yesterday!’

MIKE: [ As Blackie ] ‘I didn’t say it was hard to remember!’

> So Blackie wouldn’t let Fatty touch
> him. But HE offered to cut Fatty’s hair—what there was left of it.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘But we can’t get Jimmy to play with us!’

CROW: [ As Jimmy, from a distance ] ‘I’m a *rabbit* not a *hare*!’

>
> "No, thank you!" said Fatty. "I only get my hair cut once a
> month." Of course, he had never had his hair cut except that once, in
> his whole life.

TOM: The barber-shop plot is *not* helping me understand the level of anthropomorphization here.

>
> Now, since there was so little to do inside the hollow tree,
> Fatty and Blackie kept quarreling.

MIKE: I mean, you know, brothers.

CROW: They’d come home with black eyes but who could tell?

> Blackie would no sooner stick his
> tail through the hole in the side of the tree than Fatty would want
> HIS turn.

TOM: Turns out raccoons are easier to keep occupied than I figured.

> And when Fatty had succeeded in squeezing HIS tail out
> through the opening Blackie would insist that Fatty’s time was up.

CROW: I’m starting to think this isn’t just about the hole.

>
> It was Fatty’s turn, and Blackie was shouting to him to stand
> aside and give him a chance.

MIKE: Man, to think of all the afternoons I spent sticking body parts in tree holes …

>
> "I won’t!" said Fatty. "I’m going to stay here just as long as
> I please."

CROW: [ Sighing ] Remember Winnie the Pooh? Winnie the Pooh was great.

>
> The words were hardly out of his mouth when he gave a sharp
> squeal, as if something hurt him.

TOM: It’s called a brother and that’s what they do, yes. There’s punching, there’s biting, there’s name-calling …

> And he tried to pull his tail out of
> the hole. He wanted to get it out now. But alas! it would not come!

CROW: Alack!

> It
> was caught fast!

MIKE: If he can’t move isn’t it really caught *slow*?

> And the harder Fatty pulled the more it hurt him.
>
> "Go out and see what’s the matter!" he cried to Blackie.

CROW: It’s a rival barber shop run by Grandfather Mole!

>
> But Blackie wouldn’t stir. He was afraid to leave the shelter
> of the hollow tree.

TOM: Really? Why?

>
> "It may be a bear that has hold of your tail," he told Fatty.

MIKE: Now why would a bear want a used tail?

TOM: Better than no tail.

> And somehow, that idea made Fatty tremble all over.

CROW: ‘Somehow’?

>
> "Oh, dear! oh, dear!" he wailed. "What shall I do? Oh!
> whatever shall I do?"

CROW: I mean, whatever the bear wants you to.

> He began to cry. And Blackie cried too.

MIKE: Good survival skill here. Bears are afraid of awkward emotional scenes like this.

> How
> Fatty wished that his mother was there to tell him what to do!

TOM: He regrets using up that genie’s three wishes all on fudge.

>
> But he knew of no way to fetch her. Even if she were at home
> she could never hear him calling from inside the tree.

CROW: Unless she’s next door visiting Master Meadow Mouse playing savings bank.

> So Fatty gave
> up all hope of her helping.

TOM: Dad’s not putting on a good show for his kids here.

MIKE: [ Nerdy voice ] ‘It’s biological *authenticity*.’

>
> "Please, Mr. Bear, let go of my tail!" he cried, when he could
> stand the pain no longer.

CROW: [ As Fatty, choking ] ‘No no don’t grab my neck instead!’

>
> The only answer that came was a low growl, which frightened
> Fatty and Blackie more than ever.

TOM: If Fatty had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

> And then, just as they both began to
> howl at the top of their voices Fatty’s tail was suddenly freed.

MIKE: As Walter Moose frightens off the bear to make his 2:15 mani-pedi.

> He
> was pulling on it so hard that he fell all in a heap on the floor of
> the barber-shop. And that surprised him.

CROW: This lets the bear claim he’s ‘technically’ eating free-range raccoon.

>
> But he was still more surprised when he heard his mother say—

TOM: His mother?

CROW: The heck?

>
> "Stop crying and come out—both of you!" Fatty and Blackie
> scrambled out of the hollow sycamore.

MIKE: Wait, how do you know that’s not a bear pretending to be Mom?

> Fatty looked all around. But
> there was no bear to be seen anywhere—no one but his mother.

TOM: Be bear aware!

CROW: There’s no bear there.

TOM: Be no bear aware!

>
> "Did you frighten the bear away, Mother?" he asked.
>
> "There was no bear," Mrs. Raccoon told him.

CROW: [ Gasp ]

MIKE: Fatty was found alive and of normal size three thousand miles away.

TOM: The heck?

> "And it’s lucky for
> you that there wasn’t. I saw your tail sticking out of this tree and I
> thought I would teach you a lesson.

TOM: Three chapters in a row we’ve been taken by a plot twist!

CROW: Yeah, the author outthinking me is really making me resent this book.

> Now, don’t ever do such a foolish
> thing again. Just think what a fix you would have been in if Johnnie
> Green had come along.

MIKE: But Johnnie Green’s too young to shave!

> He could have caught you just as easily as
> anything."

MIKE: Ohhhhhhhhh.

>
> Fatty Raccoon was so glad to be free once more that he promised
> to be good forever after.

CROW: Well, he can’t promise to be good forever before.

> And he was just as good as any little raccoon
> could be—all the rest of that day.

TOM: I mean, fair.

>
>

[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, Chapter XIII


Thanks all for being with me for another chapter of this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. I’m still looking at Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s novel about animals, The Tale of Fatty Raccoon. You can read earlier installments of the MiSTing here. This chapter doesn’t demand much knowledge of what’s gone before, though. If you want to jump in all you really need to know is that Fatty Raccoon would like to eat you, and Arthur Scott Bailey hates Fatty Raccoon for it. Enjoy!


> XIII

CROW: How x-i-ting!

>
> FATTY MEETS JIMMY RABBIT

MIKE: Jimmy meets Fatty Rabbit.

TOM: Rabbit meets Jimmy Fatty.

>
> For once Fatty Raccoon was not hungry.

CROW: *What?!*

TOM: Hold me, Mike, I’m scared!

> He had eaten so much of
> Farmer Green’s corn that he felt as if he could not swallow another
> mouthful.

MIKE: So he’s taken to just rubbing corn on his belly and hoping for the best.

> He was strolling homewards through the woods when someone
> called to him. It was Jimmy Rabbit.

TOM: Y’know, if Fatty had an ear of corn to introduce to Jimmy, but was indifferent to how the meeting went, Fatty could say, ‘Jimmy, Green’s Corn, and I don’t care.’

MIKE: [ Sighing ] You too?

>
> "Where are you going, Fatty?" Jimmy Rabbit asked.

CROW: The big meeting in Toronto.

>
> "Home!" said Fatty.
>
> "Are you hungry?" Jimmy Rabbit asked anxiously.

MIKE: [ As Jack Benny, putting his hand on his cheek ] ‘Well!’

>
> "I should say not!" Fatty answered.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Um … should I? Did I get my line wrong?’

> "I’ve just had the finest
> meal I ever ate in my life."

MIKE: By ‘finest’ he means ‘most recent’.

CROW: Say this for Fatty, he’s a great person to cook for.

>
> Jimmy Rabbit seemed to be relieved to hear that.

TOM: [ As Jimmy ] ‘Hooray! It wasn’t me!’

>
> "Come on over and play," he said. "My brother and I are
> playing barber- shop over in the old sycamore tree; and we need you."

CROW: Wait … why are rabbits playing barber shop?

MIKE: Why are they not playing hare salon?

CROW: And we’re being the problem.

>
> "All right!" said Fatty. It was not often that any of the
> smaller forest-people were willing to play with him,

TOM: Wonder why that could be.

> because generally
> Fatty couldn’t help getting hungry and then he usually tried to eat
> his playmates.

MIKE: You know, when we make that joke it’s just sick, but when the book makes it it’s …

CROW: Ugh.

> "What do you need me for?" Fatty asked, as he trudged
> along beside Jimmy Rabbit.

TOM: We need somebody to be the guy off in back complaining about the Giants.

>
> "We need you for the barber’s pole," Jimmy explained. "You can
> come inside the hollow tree and stick your tail out through a hole.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] You need me to do a stick’s job?

> It
> will make a fine barber’s pole—though the stripes DO run the wrong
> way, to be sure."

MIKE: Well, you could lean sideways a little?

>
> Fatty Raccoon was greatly pleased. He looked around at his tail
> and felt very proud.

CROW: A fine horsehair tail, one of the most elegant … wait, I’m being handed a bulletin.

>
> "I’ve got a beautiful tail—haven’t I?" he asked.
>
> "Um—yes!" Jimmy Rabbit replied, "though I must say it isn’t
> one that I would care for myself…

TOM: Frish — *Frith* Worshippers have to say that.

MIKE: Hard saying ‘Frish Wor’ — that *is* hard.

> But come along! There may be people
> waiting to get their hair cut."

CROW: I’ve lost all understanding of the level of anthropomorphization here.

>
> Sure enough! When they reached the make-believe barber-shop
> there was a gray squirrel inside,

MIKE: Can touch that up with a little Just For Squirrels.

> and Jimmy Rabbit’s brother was
> busily snipping the fur off Mr. Squirrel’s head.

TOM: Uh-oh …

CROW: What?

>
> "How much do you charge for a hair-cut?" Fatty asked.

TOM: Fatty! Get out of there! IT’S AN IMPROV TROUPE!

>
> "Oh, that depends!" Jimmy Rabbit said. "Mr. Squirrel will pay
> us six cabbage leaves.

CROW: But for you?

MIKE: Yes, yes?

CROW: Six cabbage leaves, who do you think you are?

> But if we were to cut your hair we’d have to
> ask more. We’d want a dozen cabbage leaves, at least."

CROW: Oh, dang.

MIKE: This is about that time I ate your best friend, isn’t it?

>
> "Well, don’t I get anything for the use of my tail?" Fatty
> asked.

CROW: Well, what does your tail need to use?

> He had already stuck it out through the hole; and he had half a
> mind to pull it in again.

TOM: Just picturing the dignity of Fatty here.

>
> Jimmy Rabbit and his brother whispered together for a few
> moments.

CROW: [ As Jimmy ] ‘No, no, no, no. I don’t know your name either.’

>
> "I’ll tell you what we’ll do," Jimmy said. "If you’ll let us
> use your tail for the barber’s pole, we’ll cut your hair free.

TOM: I mean, all hair that’s cut is free. That’s how it can fall off.

> Isn’t
> that fair enough?"

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘Will I have to bring my own hair?’

>
> Fatty Raccoon was satisfied. But he insisted that Jimmy begin to
> cut his hair at once.

TOM: Me, I demand to know if they have, like, rabbit-size scissors or what.

CROW: Oh, man, those stupid bunny scissors that you can’t actually cut anything with.

>
> "I’m doing my part of the work now," he pointed out. "So
> there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do yours."

MIKE: Jimmy counter-offers with Fatty leaving his tail there and comes back for it later.

>
> With that Jimmy Rabbit began. He clipped and snipped at
> Fatty’s head, pausing now and then to see the effect.

CROW: [ As Jimmy ] ‘So, uh, no eating each other right?’

> He smiled once
> in a while, behind Fatty’s back, because Fatty certainly did look
> funny with his fur all ragged and uneven.

TOM: Oh, now, how bad could it OH MY GOD! RUN! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

>
> "Moustache trimmed?" Jimmy Rabbit asked, when he had finished
> with Fatty’s head.

MIKE: Ah yes, the most renowned feature of a raccoon’s markings: the moustache.

>
> "Certainly—of course!" Fatty Raccoon answered.

CROW: You feel like Fatty shows up a lot in Animal Reddit threads about jerk customers.

> And pretty soon
> Fatty’s long white moustache lay on the floor of the barber-shop.

CROW: That’s *lie* on the floor.

TOM: No it’s not.

MIKE: Do I have to separate you two?

TOM: I mean, you do.

> Fatty felt a bit uneasy as he looked down and saw his beautiful
> moustache lying at his feet. "You haven’t cut it too short, I hope,"
> he said.

CROW: Aw, c’mon, you’re not hardly bleeding at all!

>
> "No, indeed!" Jimmy Rabbit assured him. "It’s the very latest
> style."

TOM: This is all the rage in Raccoon Paris.

>
> "What on earth has happened to you?" Mrs. Raccoon cried,—when
> Fatty reached home that night. "Have you been in a fire?"

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘You should … see … the other fire?’

>
> "It’s the latest style, Mother," Fatty told her.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘It’s by Mangee. On the Left Bank.’

> "At least,
> that’s what Jimmy Rabbit says." He felt the least bit uneasy again.

MIKE: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] ‘Did you tell him your Jimmy-Green’s-corn joke? Is that why he did that?’

>
> "Did you let that Jimmy Rabbit do that to you?" Mrs. Raccoon
> asked.

TOM: There was also his brother, what’s-his-name!

>
> Fatty hung his head. He said nothing at all. But his mother
> knew.
>
> "Well! you ARE a sight!" she exclaimed.

CROW: I guess? Since so far all we’ve been told is his fur’s uneven and he lost his moustache?

MIKE: Telling us there’s something funny without showing what it is; very Funky Winkerbean-y.

> "It will be months
> before you look like my child again. I shall be ashamed to go anywhere
> with you."

MIKE: Who’s gonna see? You go everywhere in the middle of the night.

>
> Fatty Raccoon felt very foolish. And there was just one thing
> that kept him from crying. And THAT was THIS:

TOM: For three months, he’ll be the chupacabra!

> he made up his mind that
> when he played barber-shop with Jimmy Rabbit again he would get even
> with him.

CROW: Jimmy and his brother are some those nasty prank-playing children from a 1910 comic strip.

MIKE: The Katzenjam-hare Kids.

>
> But when the next day came, Fatty couldn’t find Jimmy Rabbit
> and his brother anywhere. They kept out of sight.

TOM: They were wearing his eye mask as *their* eye masks!

> But they had told
> all the other forest-people about the trick they had played on Fatty
> Raccoon.

MIKE: Also they could see he was shaved naked-ish … we guess?

> And everywhere Fatty went he heard nothing but hoots and jeers
> and laughs.

TOM: [ As Forest-People ] ‘Hah, hah, doesn’t have a moustache!’

CROW: [ As Forest-People ] ‘Look at the uneven fur on that raccoon!’

MIKE: [ As Forest-People ] ‘We assume there’s something else funny about your appearance!’

> He felt very silly. And he wished that he might meet Jimmy
> Rabbit and his brother.

CROW: Funny thing is by the time he finds them, Fatty’s decided this look really works for him.

MIKE: Life, y’know?

>
>


[ To be continued, someday ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, Chapter XII


Hi, friends, and I hope you’re still enjoying Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 The Tale Of Fatty Raccoon. I still am, and that’s why I got another chapter riffed and published this week. If you’re tired of me giving the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment to a harmless book that’s caused nobody any trouble, well, maybe you’re right. But it’s fun writing, too.

To catch you up: Fatty Raccoon and his family are facing the hard, cold winter. There’s not a lot of food left and what there is, Fatty’s eaten already. But Jasper Jay brought the news that Farmer Green has forty fat turkeys, ready for the eating. Are you ready for how Fatty hopes to turn this to his advantage, and how things maybe go wrong? I’m not sure you are!


> XII
>
> FORTY FAT TURKEYS

CROW: If the Twelve Day of Christmas *never ended*.

>
> When Jasper Jay told Fatty Raccoon about Farmer Green’s forty fat
> turkeys

TOM: Jasper was being a gossip.

> Fatty felt hungrier than ever.
>
> "Oh! I mustn’t go near Farmer Green’s house!" he said.

MIKE: You mustn’t?

CROW: He daren’t.

> "My
> mother told me to keep away from there. . . .

TOM: On the other hand, food. Well, she’ll understand.

> What time did you say
> the turkeys go to roost?"

CROW: It’s after the chickens come home to roost, but before the cows come home.

>
> "Oh! they go to roost every night at sundown," Jasper Jay
> explained. "And there they sit, up in the tree, all night long.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] And … turkeys just go into trees and sleep?

MIKE: [ As Jasper ] Yup! That’s totally normal behavior for turkeys!

CROW: [ As Fatty ] Of course as real wild animal I know this I just … wanted to know I got it right?

> They’re fast asleep. And you would have no trouble at all in catching
> as many as you wanted.

TOM: [ As Japser ] Assuming you want none! None is a many, right?

> . . . But of course, if you’re afraid—why
> there’s no use of MY talking about it.

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] I’ven’t given you cause to question my *courage*.

TOM: Mustn’t doubt it, really.

> There’s a plenty of other Raccoons
> in these woods

CROW: [ As Jasper ] I’ll find love with one of them instead!

> who’d be glad to know about those turkeys. And maybe
> they’d have the manners to say ‘Thank you!’ too."

TOM: Wait, why would the turkeys say thanks for having to meet Fatty?

> And with a hoarse,
> sneering laugh Jasper Jay flew away.

MIKE: [ As the devil from ‘The Undead’ ] ‘You’re stuck here!’

>

TOM: [ Getting it ] Ooooooooh, wait.

> That was enough for Fatty. He made up his mind that he would
> show Jasper Jay that HE was not afraid.

MIKE: He whips a can of spinach out of his tail.

CROW: [ Humming the Popeye fanfare ] Da-dadada-dah-dadah!

> And he wanted a turkey to eat,
> too.

TOM: [ As Citizen Kane ] ‘I think it would be *fun* to eat a turkey?’

> He said nothing to his mother about Jasper’s news.

CROW: Wait, you’re not getting the gang together for one last heist?

> But that very
> night, when the moon came up, and the lights in Farmer Green’s house
> were all out, Fatty Raccoon went stealing across the fields.

MIKE: Sneak sneak sneak sneak sneak trip ow a rock!

CROW: Sneak sneak sneak sneak sneak trip aaah the creek! Splash!

TOM: Sneak sneak sneak sneak sneak trip aaaaaaah the ravine aaaaaaaaaah!

>
> He was not afraid, for

MIKE: For the Angel of the Lord had spoken upon him.

> he knew that Farmer Green and all his
> family were in their beds.

CROW: The Angel said, ‘Behold, I bring you good tidings and raw hot dogs’.

> And it was so cold that Fatty felt sure
> that Farmer Green’s dogs would be inside their kennels.

TOM: Awww, pups in a blanket, so cute!

>
> Fatty did not intend to make any noise.

CROW: Then he stepped on the clown nose.

> The turkeys were
> asleep—so Jasper Jay had told him—

MIKE: They nestle in after having a good game of Five Hundred with the neighbors and a small dish of pistachio ice cream.

> and he expected to grab one of them
> so swiftly and silently that the other turkeys would never know it.

TOM: [ As Narrator ] I mean, they’d know eventually, when they went looking for their friend and found him gone, but … look, I’ll come in again.

>
> When Fatty Raccoon came to Farmer Green’s yard he had no trouble
> at all in finding the spreading oak.

CROW: Bonk!

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘Found it!’

> He could see the turkeys plainly
> where they dozed on the bare branches.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Huh … uh yeah, turkeys. In trees. Wow.’

MIKE: ‘Man, and I thought peacocks in trees were something.’

> And in less time than it takes
> to tell it

CROW: Oh, never mind, it’s done.

> Fatty had climbed the tree. On the very lowest limb there
> was a row of four plump turkeys, all sound asleep.

TOM: [ Snoring in ]

MIKE: [ Snoring out ]

CROW: Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble.

> And Fatty reached
> out and seized the nearest one.

TOM: I seez him! He’s right dere!

> He seized the turkey by the neck,

CROW: Eek?

> so
> that the big bird could not call out.

TOM: Well, this just got less fun.

MIKE: Thanks, Arthur Scott Bailey, we needed a touch of ‘serial killer’ in this story.

> But Fatty was not quite quick
> enough.

CROW: Man, predation is so much less cool when it’s not just lions running at antelopes and stuff.

> Before he could pull her off her perch the turkey began to
> flap her wings,

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘Wait, you’re reacting? You’re not allowed to react!’

> and she struck the turkey next her, so that THAT
> turkey woke up and began to gobble and flap HER wings. Then the next
> turkey on the limb woke up.

TOM: It’s a Rube Goldberg turkey roost!

CROW: It’s a 82-step process to butter a piece of toast.

> And the first thing that Fatty Raccoon knew,
> every one of the thirty-nine turkeys that were left was going
> gobble-gob-gob-gob-gobble!

TOM: He knocked down ten, that’s a strike, knocked down another ten, that’s another strike, knocked down another ten …

CROW: That’s a turkey.

MIKE: Oooh.

> And some of them went sailing off across
> the yard.

MIKE: Henry Cabot Henhouse!

CROW: That’s Super*chicken*!

> One of them lighted on top of the porch just outside Farmer
> Green’s window and it seemed to Fatty that that one made the greatest
> racket of all.

TOM: Ladies and gentlemen Ringing Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus brings you … the greatest racket of all!

MIKE: Eh, I’ve seen greater rackets.

>
> Farmer Green’s window flew up; and Farmer Green’s voice called
> "Spot! Spot!"

CROW: Stop bothering Lady Macbeth and chase that turkey thief!

>
> Fatty Raccoon did not wait to hear anything more. He dropped the
> turkey he had seized and slipped down to the ground.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Uh … no hard feelings, turkey?’

MIKE: [ As Turkey ] ‘Seriously?’

> And then he ran
> toward the woods as fast as he could go.

CROW: Just one more pleasant night wrecked by having Fatty show up in it.

>
> Farmer Green’s dog Spot was barking now. And Fatty wanted to
> climb one of the trees by the roadside. But he remembered, the narrow
> escape he had had when the dog had treed him near the cornfield. So he
> never stopped until he reached the woods.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Yes! That’s what I’m thinking! I totally didn’t miss the Turnpike!’

> Then he went nimbly up into
> the trees.

MIKE: So excited he climbs ten feet past the top of the tree.

> And while Spot was barking at the foot of the first tree he
> climbed, Fatty was travelling through the tree-tops toward home.

CROW: Ah, a good night’s work.

>
> He never said anything to his mother about Farmer Green’s
> turkeys.

MIKE: His mom gets home saying she was going to grab a turkey but some fool went and unsettled them all.

CROW: Unsettlegate.

> But the next time he saw Jasper Jay Fatty told him exactly
> what he thought of him.

TOM: Hey, this heist went wrong because of you, Fatty, don’t go blaming Jasper …

>
> "Ha! ha!" Jasper Jay only laughed.

CROW: Wait …

> And he did not seem at all
> surprised that Fatty had fallen into trouble.

MIKE: Hang on, yeah, did …

> To tell the truth, he
> was only sorry because Fatty had escaped.

TOM: I think … wait …

> Jasper Jay did not like
> Fatty Raccoon.

MIKE: It’s a third-act plot twist!

> And he had told him about the forty fat turkeys because he
> hoped that Fatty would get caught if he tried to steal one of them.

CROW: Jasper played Fatty! He played us all!

>
> "Wait till I catch you!" Fatty said.

TOM: You can’t hold on to a sleeping turkey, you think you’re grabbing a jay, Fatty?

>
> But Jasper Jay only laughed harder than ever when Fatty said
> that. He seemed to think it was a great joke. He was most annoying.

MIKE: I … *dang*.

CROW: Intrigue and subterfuge! I’m stunned.

TOM: Two characters in this chapter and now I don’t know which one to dislike more.

>
>


[ To be continued, someday ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, Chapter XI


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.


> XI

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
> days;

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
> fish.

CROW: Fish gathering underneath, sticking their tongues out at the raccoons.

> And as for corn

MIKE: It’s that “excise” joke Crow brought.

CROW: Hey!

> —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,

TOM: How?

> to think of all the good things to eat that summer
> brings. He was feeling very unhappy when his mother said to him
> sharply—

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
> smelled.

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

MIKE: ‘Peeped’?

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?

TOM: Oh.

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
> neighborhood.

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 ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter X


Ah, thought I might be done with Arthur Scott Bailey’s forgotten 1915 novel, did you? Fair enough. But I did take some time last month to riff the tenth chapter of this little story, and posted it to Usenet for the good old times. And now? Let me share it here. I don’t promise to go riffing the remaining ten chapters of the book, but, we’ll see what I do get to in time.

Some recaps for those who’ve joined late.. Fatty, our nominal hero, is a raccoon. He wants to eat. His author is torn between punishing him for this and letting him get away with it. He tried to eat goshawk eggs, and got attacked by a goshawk. He’s tried to eat turtle eggs, and got away with it. He tried to eat squirrels. He got scared by a “tramp raccoon”. He tried to eat a fishing lure, to the delight of Farmer Green. And he has eaten green corn, successfully. Farmer Green’s son tried to catch him, unsuccessfully. And then tried again, chopping down a tree. But this failed, thanks to the presence of other trees. Who tries to catch Fatty Coon this week? The answer might just surprise you!

> X
>
> FATTY RACCOON AND THE MONSTER

CROW: My favorite bubblegum psychedelic band!

>
> One night Fatty Raccoon was strolling along the road that wound
> through the valley.

MIKE: His evening constitutional is when Fatty has all his best songwriting ideas.

> He was in no hurry, for he had just left Farmer
> Green’s apple orchard, where he had bolted all the apples he could
> possibly eat.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] Oh, narrator, you sweet innocent child.

CROW: He means the farm ran out of apples.

> The night was dark and though it was not very late, all
> the country people seemed to be in bed.

MIKE: [ As country person ] ‘Yup! See me in bed? That’s me!’

CROW: ‘Me too! No need to come check!’

> There were no farmers driving
> along the road.

TOM: They’d already harvested this year’s crop of potholes.

> Fatty had it all to himself. And so he walked slowly
> homewards. It was then that the terrible monster almost caught him.

CROW: Well, that’ll happen.

>
> This is how it all happened.

MIKE: If you believe the *official* account.

> There was a br-br-br-r-r-r in the
> air. Fatty really should have heard it long before he did.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] OK, so it’s a sound, then?

MIKE: [ As Narrator ] Of course it’s a sound! What else could it be?

TOM: [ As Fatty ] I thought it was maybe a chill in the air? Like you were being metaphorical?

MIKE: [ As Narrator ] Why would I start being metaphorical on you?

TOM: [ As Fatty ] You’re the narrator! You can do what you want.

> But he had
> eaten so many apples that he had begun to feel sleepy;

CROW: Oh no, Snow White!

> and his ears
> were not so sharp as they should have been. And when at last Fatty
> heard that br- r-r-r it was quite loud. He was startled.

TOM: But you never expect a pack of feral leaf blowers.

> And he
> stopped right in the middle of the road to listen. Fatty had never
> heard such a sound before.

CROW: The heavenly host calling to give Fatty the good news of oleomargarine.

>
> The strange animal was on him before he knew it. Its glaring
> eyes blinded him.

TOM: [ As a nervous Fatty ] ‘Sc … sc … science?’

> And if it had not screamed at him Fatty would never
> have escaped. It was the terrible screech of the monster which finally
> made Fatty jump It was a frightful cry — like six wildcats all wailing
> together.

MIKE: It’s terrifying but it’s also kinda metal.

> And Fatty leaped to one side of the road just before the
> monster reached him.

CROW: It’s Johnny Appleseed and he’s MAD!

>
> The great creature went past Fatty like the wind and tore on
> up the hill. He seemed to be running so fast that he could not stop.

MIKE: Is this *our* Fatty?

> Fatty could hear him panting as he climbed the sharp rise of the road.

MIKE: Oh.

>
> Fatty Raccoon hurried away. He wanted to get home before the
> monster could stop and come back to look for him.

TOM: Weird feeling like Fatty’s doing the right thing here.

>
> When Fatty told his mother about his narrow escape Mrs. Raccoon
> became much excited. She felt sure that Fatty was not mistaken, for
> had she not heard that strange cry herself?

CROW: Mrs Raccoon thinking back of monsters who ran past her in her youth …

>
> There it was again! Woo-ooo-ooo-oo-o! It began low, rose to a
> shriek, and then died away again.

MIKE: Is it the Creeping Terror?

>
> Mrs. Raccoon and Fatty climbed to the very top of their old
> poplar and gazed down the valley.

TOM: That tree’s only pop’lar in its own clique.

>
> "Look, Mother!" Fatty cried. "He’s stopped at Farmer Green’s!

CROW: I wonder what Farmer Green’s name is in the raccoon tongue.

MIKE: You mean like, does it translate to green as the color or green as in inexperienced?

CROW: Right, that sort of thing.

> You can see his eyes from here!"

MIKE: [ Waving eagerly ] Howdy, eyes!

>
> Mrs. Raccoon looked. Sure enough! It was just as Fatty said. And
> that horrid call echoed across the valley once more.

TOM: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] Looky there! A gen-u-ine 1915 Dort Motor Company Rampaging Monster! Don’t hardly see them anymore.

>
> Farmer Green stuck his head out of his chamber-window, to see
> what the man in the automobile wanted.

CROW: [ As Farmer Green ] A travelling salesman joke? I’m sorry, I don’t know any.

>
> "Where’s the nearest village, please?" the stranger asked.

MIKE: [ As Mrs Green ] This isn’t the village?

> And
> after Farmer Green had told him the man drove his car on again.

MIKE: [ As Mrs Green ] No, take me with you!

>
> From their tree-top Fatty and his mother watched the monster
> dash down the valley.

TOM: On Dasher! On Dancer!

> They knew he had gone, because they could see
> the gleam of those awful eyes.

MIKE: o/“ There ain’t no way to hide those awful eyes … o/“

>
> "Do you suppose he ate up Farmer Green and his family?" Fatty
> asked in a frightened voice.

CROW: Fatty, there are ways to interact with people besides eating them.

MIKE: Deaf ears, Crow.

>
> "I hope so," she said. "Then perhaps there’ll be no more traps
> in the woods."

TOM: But without traps how are we going to keep the woods’s tree population in control?

>
> "But who would plant the corn?" Fatty asked.

CROW: The … the Little Red Hen?

>
> Mrs. Raccoon did not appear to hear his question.

TOM: Serious moment of growing-up as Fatty learns his mother’s fallible.

>
>

[ To be continued, someday, I suppose. ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter IX


And now for the ninth chapter of Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s novel The Tale of Fatty Coon done over as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction. This is as far as I got in the MiSTing I posted to Usenet for 2019 and I hope you enjoy reading it. Next week? … Well, let’s just see what I do.

Let me recap the past. Fatty is a raccoon who eats a lot. Or tires to eat a lot. He has tried to eat goshawk eggs, to get attacked by a goshawk. He’s tried to eat turtle eggs, and got away with it. He’s tried to eat squirrels, and been scared off by a “tramp raccoon”. He’s tried to eat a fishing lure, which Farmer Green laughed at. And he’s eaten green corn, so he could laugh at Farmer Green. Farmer Green’s son tried to catch him, and failed. And then tried again, by chopping down a tree Fatty was in.

For people who don’t need fat jokes in their recreational reading: yeah, you’re right. There are a couple in this and you should skip on to another thing that you’ll enjoy instead.

The first riff is a legitimate joke because I posted chapters six through nine I posted as one long file, so there was no break in the action after last chapter’s cliffhanger.

>

MIKE: Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment of …

>
> IX

MIKE: Oh, we’re just continuing right now, then.

>
> JOHNNIE GREEN LOSES HIS PET

TOM: Oh.

CROW: Short chapter.

>
> Now, Farmer Green and his hired man had not chopped long
> before they stopped to breathe.

TOM: Now, not telling you your business, but if you breathed *while* chopping you’d be done in like half the time.

> They had not chopped long—but oh! what
> great, yawning holes they had made in the big chestnut!

MIKE: Frisky Squirrel pops out to ask why the heck you’re dragging *him* into *your* Drama.

> From the limb
> where he clung Fatty Coon looked down. The tree no longer shook. And
> Fatty felt better at once.

TOM: Well, once the wobbling dies down anyway.

> You see, he thought that the men would go
> away, just as Johnnie had gone away the night before. But they had no
> such idea at all.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘A-HEM! I SAID, you’re GOING AWAY, just as Johnnie had gone away the night before!’

>
> "Which way are you going to fell her?" the hired man asked. He
> said HER, meaning the TREE, of course.

MIKE: The more people use ‘fell’ as a verb the less I believe it is one.

>
> "That way!" said Farmer Green, pointing toward the woods.

TOM: Pointing down.

MIKE: [ As Johnnie ] ‘Oooooooohhhhh.’

> "We’ll have to drop her that way, or she’ll fall right across the
> road, and of course THAT would never do."

CROW: It’d be a fun little surprise for rush hour, though.

>
> "But will she clear the trees on the edge of the woods?" The
> hired man appeared somewhat doubtful.
>
> "Oh, to be sure—to be sure!" answered Farmer Green.

MIKE: [ As the hired hand ] ‘So you’re sure?’

TOM: [ As Farmer Green ] ‘Eh, we give it a try, we see what happens.’

>
> And with that they set to work again. But this time they both
> chopped on the same side of the tree—the side toward the woods.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘You guys do know I’m in the other tree, right?’

TOM, MIKE: D’oh!

>
> Now, if Fatty Coon was frightened before, you will believe
> that he was still more frightened when the big chestnut tree began to
> sag.

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘No, no, trees sagging is pretty normal, thanks.’

> Yes! it began to lean toward the woods. Slowly, slowly it tipped.

TOM: Step by step! Inch by inch!

> And Fatty was scared half out of his mind. He climbed to the very top
> of the tree, because he wanted to get just as far away from those men
> as he could. And there he waited.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘If I wait long enough the tree will grow taller and I’ll be farther away!’

> There was nothing else he could do.
> Yes! he waited until that awful moment should come when the tree would
> go crashing down upon the ground. What was going to happen to him
> then? Fatty wondered.

TOM: What was going to happen to the *ground*?

> And while he was wondering there sounded all at
> once a great snapping and splitting.

MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘No, no, it’s just my pants … wait … I don’t wear pants! AAAAAUGH!’

> And Fatty felt the tree falling,
> falling. He could hear Johnnie Green shouting. And he shut his eyes
> and held fast to his branch. Then came the crash.

TOM: o/` Leader of the pack! o/`

>
> When Fatty Coon opened his eyes he expected to see Johnnie
> Green all ready to seize him. But to his great surprise he was still
> far above the ground. You see, Farmer Green had been mistaken.

CROW: It turns out Fatty was a sparrow all along!

> Either
> the big chestnut tree was taller than he had guessed, or the woods
> were nearer than he had thought.

MIKE: [ Hired hand ] ‘Maybe chopped trees don’t fall, you ever think of that, Mr Green?’

TOM: [ Farmer Green ] ‘Maybe we need to update the BIOS?’

> For instead of dropping upon the
> ground, Fatty’s tree had fallen right against another tree on the edge
> of the woods.

CROW: [ As Other Tree ] ‘Let me bear you in your troubles as you bore me in mine, my brother!’

> And there it lay, half-tipped over, with its branches
> caught fast in the branches of that other tree.

TOM: [ As Fatty’s Tree ] ‘My faithful friend! Let your name be recalled as long as the world-forest thrives!’

>
> It was no wonder that Johnnie Green shouted.

CROW: [ As Johnny ] ‘Hey! There’s no fulcrums in raccoon-catching!’

> And he shouted
> still more loudly when he saw Fatty scramble out of the big chestnut
> and into the other tree,

TOM: [ As Fatty’s Tree, burden relieved ] ‘Aaahhhhh.’

CROW: [ As Other Tree, burdened ] ‘Oooof!’

> and out of that tree and into another,

CROW: [ As Other Tree, burden relieved ] ‘Aaahhhhh.’

MIKE: [ As Another Tree, burdened ] ‘Oooof!’

> and
> then out of THAT tree.

MIKE: [ As Another Tree, burden relieved ] ‘Aaahhhhh.’

CROW: [ As Next Tree, burdened ] ‘Oooof!’

> Fatty was going straight into the woods.

CROW: [ As Next Tree, burden relieved ] ‘Aaahhhhh.’

TOM: [ As Next-after Tree, burdened ] ‘Oooof!’

>
> It was no wonder that Johnnie Green shouted. For he had lost
> his pet coon. He had lost him before he ever had him. And he was sadly
> disappointed.

MIKE: Ferdinand Frog and Dickie Deer Mouse look at this scene and hide out of Johnnie’s sight.

>
> But Fatty Coon was not disappointed, for he had not wanted to
> be a pet at all.

CROW: Until he hears about how pets get fed every day.

MIKE: Um, it’s 1915. They hadn’t discovered taking care of pets back then.

> And he was very glad—you may be sure—to get safely
> home once more.

TOM: I *may* be sure, but I’m not perfectly convinced.

>
>

CROW: That’s enough. You think …

MIKE: Yeah. Let’s blow this popsicle stand, yeah.

[ ALL file out ]


 		 \  |  /	 
		  \ | /	 
		   \|/		 
		 ---O---	 
		   /|\		 
		  / | \	 
		 /  |  \

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and settings and concept are the property of Satellite of Love, LLC. I’m just playing with their toys until any of them notices. _The Tale of Fatty Coon_ was written by Arthur Scott Bailey and published in 1915, so it’s the common property of all humanity to enjoy and develop and use as any and all of us see fit.

Keep Usenet circulating, says the guy who’s posted as recently as August to it.

> "I’d like to," said Fatty, with a sigh. "I’d like to eat all
> the corn in the world."

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter VIII


Here’s the eighth chapter of Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s novel The Tale of Fatty Coon done over as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction. What’s happened so far?

Well, Fatty is a raccoon who eats a lot. Or tires to eat a lot. He has tried to eat goshawk eggs, to get attacked by a goshawk. He’s tried to eat turtle eggs, and got away with it. He’s tried to eat squirrels, and been scared off by a “tramp raccoon”. He’s tried to eat a fishing lure, which got Farmer Green laughing at him. And he’s eaten green corn, and would kind of like to never do anything else again. And then, in a change of pace, he got chased by Farmer Green’s son, who thought he wanted a pet raccoon. Fatty escaped, though.

For people who don’t need fat jokes in their recreational reading: yeah, you’re right. There are a couple in this and you should skip on to another thing that you’ll enjoy instead.


>
>
> VIII

MIKE: Chapter VI, part II.

>
> A TERRIBLE FRIGHT

CROW: o/` Let’s give thanks to the Lord above … o/`

>
> It was the very next night after old dog Spot had treed Fatty
> Coon in the big oak near the cornfield. They had finished their
> evening meal at Farmer Green’s house. The cows were milked, the horses
> had been fed, the chickens had all gone to roost.

CROW: Wh … wait, chickens actually do that? Like, for real?

MIKE: [ Shrugs ]

> And Farmer Green
> looked up at the moon, rising from behind Blue Mountain.
>
> "We’ll go coon-hunting again to-night," he said to Johnnie

MIKE: Uhm.

> and
> the hired man. "The corn has brought the coons up from the swamp.

TOM: Yeah, thanks, this story was feeling real comfortable up to now.

> We’ll start as soon as it grows a little darker."
>
> Well—after a while they set out for the cornfield. And sure
> enough! old Spot soon began to bark.

CROW: [ As Fatty ] Snitch.

>
> "He’s treed!" said Farmer Green, pretty soon. And they all
> hurried over to the edge of the woods,

TOM: [ As Farmer Green ] ‘Where’s that forest?’

> where Spot had chased a coon up
> into a tall chestnut tree. In the moonlight they could see the coon
> quite plainly. "Another little feller!" cried Farmer Green.

CROW: Little?

MIKE: Most improbable thing Fatty’s ever been called.

> "I
> declare, all the coons that come to the cornfield seem to be young
> ones. This one’s no bigger than the one we saw last night."

TOM: [ As Fatty ] I’m still big. It’s the *trees* that got small.

>
> Now, although Farmer Green never guessed it, it was Fatty Coon
> who was up there in the tall chestnut.

CROW: It could’ve been *any* raccoon heavy enough the tree bends over.

TOM: And sinks three feet into the ground.

> He had run almost to the woods
> this time, before he had to take to a tree.

MIKE: He’d have got to the woods if he hadn’t got to the tree?

TOM: I … I was joking before.

> In fact, if Spot hadn’t
> been quite so close to him Fatty could have reached the woods, and
> then he would have just jumped from one tree to another.

MIKE: Jumped, rolled by Oompa-Loompas, whatever.

> But there
> were no trees near enough the big chestnut for that. Fatty had to stay
> right there and wait for those men to pass on. He wasn’t afraid.

CROW: [ Fatty ] ‘I’M NOT?!’

> He
> felt perfectly safe in his big tree. And he only smiled when Johnnie
> Green said to his father—
>
> "I wish I had that young coon. He’d make a fine pet."

MIKE: On what grounds do you make that claim?

>
> "A pet!" exclaimed Farmer Green. "You remember that pet fox
> you had, that stole my chickens?"

CROW: Yeah, just letting you know if we’re reading The Tale of Tommy Fox I’m outta here.

>
> "Oh, I’d be careful," Johnnie promised. "Besides, don’t you
> think we ought to catch him, so he won’t eat any more corn?"

TOM: Pets, famously, eat no food.

>
> Farmer Green smiled. He had been a boy himself, once upon a
> time,

CROW: In the Tale of Ferdinand Farmer.

> and he had not forgotten the pet coon that he had owned when he
> was just about Johnnie’s age.

MIKE: The raccoon says he owned a pet boy when he was about Fatty’s age.

>
> "All right!" he said at last. "I’ll give you one more chance,
> Johnnie.

CROW: Now recant everything bad you ever said about springs!

> But you’ll have to see that this young coon doesn’t kill any
> of my poultry."

TOM: Maybe train Fatty to do some light filing and typing …

>
> Johnnie promised that nothing of the sort should happen. And
> then his father and the hired man picked up their axes;

MIKE: His mom sets up her drum kit …

> and standing
> on opposite sides of the tall chestnut tree, they began to chop.

CROW: [ Farmer ] Ow!

TOM: [ Hired Hand, immediately after CROW finishes ] Ow!

CROW: [ Farmer, immediately after TOM finishes ] Ow!

TOM: [ Hired Hand, immediately after CROW finishes ] Ow!

>
> How the chips did fly! At the very first blow Fatty knew that

CROW: [ Farmer, immediately after TOM finishes ] Ow!

TOM: [ Hired Hand, immediately after CROW finishes ] Ow!

> this was an entirely different sort of chopping from that which

CROW: [ Farmer, immediately after TOM finishes ] Ow!

TOM: [ Hired Hand, immediately after CROW finishes ] Ow!

> Johnnie had attempted the night before. The great tree shook as if it

CROW: [ Farmer, immediately after TOM finishes ] Ow!

TOM: [ Hired Hand, immediately after CROW finishes ] Ow!

> knew that it would soon come crashing down upon the ground.

CROW: [ Farmer, immediately after TOM finishes ] Ow?

>
> And as for Fatty Coon, he could not see but that he must fall
> when the tree did.

TOM: It’s only fair.

> He, too, shivered and shook. And he wrapped himself
> all the way around a limb and hung on as tight as ever he could.

MIKE: Oh no!

TOM: Oh goodness!

CROW: Whatever’s going to happen?

>

MIKE: Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment of …

[ And it’ll pick up next week. Promise. ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter VII


I hope you’re ready for a bit more of my big Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction. Here’s the seventh chapter of Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s novel The Tale of Fatty Coon with jokes added in. And who is Fatty Coon?

Well, Fatty is a raccoon who eats a lot. Or tires to eat a lot. He has tried to eat goshawk eggs, to get attacked by a goshawk. He’s tried to eat turtle eggs, and got away with it. He’s tried to eat squirrels, and been scared off by a “tramp raccoon”. He’s tried to eat a fishing lure, which got Farmer Green laughing at him. And he’s eaten green corn, and would kind of like to never do anything else again. What’s this week’s eating extravaganza?

… Before that, a bit of a content warning. There’s a bunch of jokes here about Fatty’s weight and his over-eating. He hasn’t got a lot of properties otherwise. But, again, if you’re not up for fat jokes in your recreational reading, then, yeah, skip this. We’ll catch up on some better material.


>
>
> VII

TOM: Sequel to the classic miniseries V.

>
> JOHNNIE GREEN IS DISAPPOINTED
>
> It made Fatty Coon feel sad, just to think that there was that
> field full of corn, and that he could never eat all of it.

CROW: Yeah, well, no matter how long you grow your hair you can never have all the hair, ever think of that?

> But Fatty
> made up his mind that he would do the best he could. He would visit
> the cornfield every night and feast on those sweet, tender kernels.

MIKE: You know, this is hard enough without the text making the jokes we want to make about Fatty here.

>
> The very next night Fatty set out toward Farmer Green’s. It
> was hardly dark. But Fatty could not wait any longer.

CROW: So he stood up and eclipsed the sun.

> He could not
> even wait for his mother and his sisters and his brother. He hurried
> away alone. And when he came in sight of the cornfield he felt better.

TOM: He finally reached the downhill part.

> He had been the least bit afraid that the corn might be gone. He
> thought that maybe Farmer Green had picked it, or that some of the
> forest people had eaten it all.

MIKE: ‘The forest people’? The heck?

> But there it was—a forest of corn,

TOM: A jungle of maize.

CROW: A glacial moraine of quinoa.

> waving and rustling in the moonlight as the breeze touched it. Fatty
> felt very happy as he slipped through the rail-fence.

MIKE: [ Snickering ] How?

>
> I wouldn’t dare say how many ears of corn Fatty ate that
> night.

TOM: Numbers don’t run that high.

> And he would have eaten more, too, if it hadn’t been for just
> one thing. A dog barked. And that spoiled Fatty’s fun.

MIKE: Now he had to post something snarky about the dog on Twitter.

> For the dog was
> altogether too near for Fatty to feel safe. He even dropped the ear of
> corn he was gnawing and hurried toward the woods.

CROW:*Dropped* the ear of corn’? Not buying it.

>
> It was lucky for Fatty that he started when he did.

TOM: ‘Hey, look, a raccoon!’

> For that dog was close behind him in no time. There was only one thing to do:
> Fatty knew that he must climb a tree at once. So he made for the
> nearest tree in sight—a big, spreading oak, which stood all alone just
> beyond the fence.

MIKE: [ As the tree ] ‘I’m sure my friends will be back for me any day now.’

> And as Fatty crouched on a limb he felt safe enough,
> though the dog barked and whined, and leaped against the tree, and
> made a great fuss.

TOM: [ The dog, as Margaret Dumont ] ‘Oh, Mister Firefly!’

>
> Fatty looked down at the dog and scolded a little. He was not
> afraid.

CROW: [ Fatty, to narrator ] ‘I’m not?!’

> But it made him cross to be driven out of the cornfield. And
> he wished the dog would go away.

CROW: [ Fatty, as Groucho ] ‘Why can’t I dance with the cows until you come home?’

> But the dog—it was Farmer Green’s
> Spot—the dog had no idea of leaving.

MIKE: [ As Groucho ] ‘Rush to Freedonia! One raccoon is trapped in a tree! Send help at once!’

TOM: ‘If you can’t send help send two more trees.’

> He stayed right there and barked
> so loudly that it was not long before Farmer Green and his hired man
> came in sight. And with them was Johnnie Green and a little, young dog
> that had just been given to him.

MIKE: Ooh, puppers!

CROW: Who’s a good boy? Is it you?

>
> When Farmer Green saw Fatty he seemed disappointed.

TOM: ‘Aw, man, Fatty Coon? Why couldn’t we be in The Tale of Frisky Squirrel instead?’

> "He’s too
> young to bother with," he said. "His skin’s not worth much.

CROW: Well, yeah, but you multiply that by the size and …

> We’ll go
> ‘long and see what we can find."
>
> But Johnnie Green stayed behind. He wanted that young coon.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘You only want me because you don’t know me!’

> And he intended to have him, too. Leaving the young dog to watch Fatty
> Coon,

CROW: [ Dog, as Margaret Dumont ] ‘Mister Firefly! Are you still here?’

MIKE: [ Fatty, as Groucho ] ‘No, no, I just went up this tree to leaf.’

> Johnnie went back to the farmhouse. After a while he appeared
> again with an axe over his shoulder. And when he began to chop away at
> the big oak, Fatty Coon felt very uneasy.

TOM: You can’t cut this down for your Christmas tree! It’s not tagged.

> Whenever Johnnie drove his
> axe into the tree, both the tree and Fatty shivered together.

CROW: Fatty’s going to be wobbling for *days* after this.

> And
> Fatty began to wish he had stayed away from the cornfield. But not for
> long, because Johnnie Green soon gave up the idea of chopping down the
> big oak.

MIKE: But his plan is foolproof, unless raccoons can jump out of trees!

> The wood was so hard to cut, and the tree was so big, that
> Johnnie had not chopped long before he saw that it would take him all
> night to cut through it. He looked up longingly at Fatty Coon.

TOM: o/` Sometimes, when we touch … the honesty’s too much … o/`

> And
> Johnnie started to climb the tree himself. But the higher he climbed,
> the higher Fatty climbed. And Johnnie knew that he could never catch
> that plump young coon in that way.

MIKE: [ As Johnnie ] ‘I don’t get it, I saw the Kratt Brothers try this.’

TOM: Did they catch the raccoon?

MIKE: ‘No, but they did *this*.’

>
> At last Johnnie Green started off, calling his dog after him.
> And then Fatty Coon came down. But he did not go back to the
> cornfield. He decided that he had had adventures enough for one night.

CROW: ‘On to Farmer Green’s workshed!’

> But Fatty had learned something—at least he thought he had. For he
> made up his mind that once he climbed a tree, no man could reach him.
> TREES COULD NOT BE CHOPPED DOWN!

TOM: Fatty’s become a sawing denier?

CROW: ‘But Fatty, what about — ‘

MIKE: ‘STUMPS ARE A NATURAL FLUCTUATION!’

> That was what Fatty believed. Perhaps
> you will know, later, whether Fatty ever found out that he was
> mistaken.

CROW: ‘But about this pile of logs?’

MIKE: ‘IT’S A CONSPIRACY BY BIG TIMBER!’

TOM: That’s … true.

[ Does he ever find out? We’ll see in future weeks or you can just read the book on your own if you have a free hour. ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter VI


And now more of Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s novel The Tale of Fatty Coon. This is the sixth chapter. I’d written this, and through to chapter nine, to post as Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction last year. I didn’t have the time or energy then to surround it with host sketches introducing and resolving the piece. My excuse was that if I ever completed the book I’d put all the chapters together in a big project and have several sketches throughout, the way a real episode might. I’d posted this to Usenet several years after the first five-chapter block which is why there’s some refreshers about the story in text.

Some content to warn about. One is that there’s a riff this chapter that’s rather more risque than you’d think I could make. I had to go by what the text offered. And, as the premise behind Fatty Coon is that he’s really fat and eats a lot, there’s fat jokes. If you don’t need that in your reading for fun, you’re right. We’ll catch up later instead.


Previously, we met Fatty Coon, who combines being fat with being a raccoon. He has tried to eat goshawk eggs, and failed. He’s tried to eat turtle eggs, and succeeded. He’s tried to eat a family of squirrels and failed, instead getting scared by a “tramp raccoon”. And he’s tried to eat a fishing lure, which defies characterization as “success” or “failure”. What will he try to eat this time? Just wait and see.


[ ALL file in to the theatre. ]

> SLEEPY-TIME TALES

TOM: Oh yeah, these guys.

> THE TALE OF FATTY COON

CROW: So what exactly happened the first five chapters of this thing?

> BY ARTHUR SCOTT BAILEY

MIKE: I remember it. Fatty Coon is a raccoon who eats a lot, and his author hates him. … There, you’re caught up.

>
> VI

TOM: MURIEL!

CROW: THELMA!

>
> FATTY AND THE GREEN CORN

MIKE: That’s my favorite psychedelic pop album.

Continue reading “MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter VI”

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter V


This is chapter V of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction, based on Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s novel The Tale of Fatty Coon. And this was the first block of the book that I’d ever written up as a MiSTing. So it has a closing sketch and “credits” and a post-credits stinger.

I don’t intend this to end my MiSTing post. I have several more chapters MiSTed, and never before published on WordPress. So next week I’ll continue with those. I hope to get at least to Chapter 10, of the 20 in the book, before going back to normal writing. We’ll see how far I do get.


Previously, we met Fatty Coon, who’s just what you’d think. He’s been beaten up by a goshawk, but bounced back to eat a turtle’s clutch of eggs, and then attempt to eat a family of squirrels only to be shamed by a “tramp raccoon”. I don’t know what makes a “tramp raccoon” either.


>
>
> V

TOM: It was [ Fatty Coon’s well-punishment ].

CROW: Maybe the real punishment was having to be Fatty Coon all along.

>
> FATTY COON GOES FISHING

MIKE: A very special episode.

>
> One day Fatty Coon was strolling along the brook which flowed
> not far from his home.

CROW: Swift Creek?

TOM: Foster Brook.

MIKE: That’s … actually too new a reference for this.

> He stopped now and then, to crouch close to the
> water’s edge, in the hope of catching a fish.

CROW: ‘What if a fish was a goshawk egg pie?’

> And one time, when he
> lay quite still among the rocks, at the side of a deep pool, with his
> eyes searching the clear water, Fatty Coon suddenly saw something
> bright, all yellow and red, that lighted on the water right before
> him. It was a bug, or a huge fly.

MIKE: Or a tiny flying saucer.

TOM: Fatty eats the aliens’ peaceful expedition before they get started.

> And Fatty was very fond of bugs—to
> eat, you know.

ALL: We *know*.

CROW: As opposed to the ones he trains for pets.

> So he lost no time. The bright thing had scarcely
> settled on the water when Fatty reached out and seized it.

CROW: But he already seezed it! It was right in front of his eyes!

> He put it
> into his mouth, when the strangest thing happened. Fatty felt himself
> pulled right over into the water.

MIKE: Finally he crosses the Chandrasekhar limit and collapses into a black hole.

>
> He was surprised, for he never knew a bug or a fly to be so
> strong as that. Something pricked his cheek and Fatty thought that the
> bright thing had stung him.

CROW: Then this family of nutrias comes up and slaps Fatty silly.

> He tried to take it out of his mouth, and
> he was surprised again. Whatever the thing was, it seemed to be stuck
> fast in his mouth.

TOM: He’s delighted by something wanting him to eat it for a change.

> And all the time Fatty was being dragged along
> through the water. He began to be frightened.

MIKE: Hungry and frightened: the Fatty Coon story.

> And for the first time
> he noticed that there was a slender line which stretched from his
> mouth straight across the pool. As he looked along the line Fatty saw
> a man at the other end of it—a man, standing on the other side of the
> brook!

CROW: ‘I don’t know how but I caught a human!’

TOM: ‘That’ll be eating for *hours*!’

> And he was pulling Fatty toward him as fast as he could.
>
> Do you wonder that Fatty Coon was frightened?

TOM: He didn’t have a license to catch men.

> He jumped
> back—as well as he could, in the water—and tried to swim away.

CROW: ‘Dive! Dive! Dive!’

> His
> mouth hurt; but he plunged and pulled just the same, and jerked his
> head and squirmed and wriggled and twisted.

MIKE: *Extremely* Chubby Checker!

> And just as Fatty had
> almost given up hope of getting free, the gay-colored bug, or fly, or
> whatever it was, flew out of his mouth and took the line with it.

CROW: I wonder if Fatty Coon will go on to learn nothing from this?


> At
> least, that was what Fatty Coon thought. And he swam quickly to the
> bank and scampered into the bushes.

MIKE: And ate his cover.

TOM: ‘Needs peanut butter!’

>
> Now, this was what really happened.

MIKE: Our story begins with the Algeciras Crisis of 1905.

> Farmer Green had come up
> the brook to catch trout. On the end of his fish-line he had tied a
> make-believe fly,

CROW: For the discerning fisher who doesn’t exist.

> with a hook hidden under its red and yellow wings.
> He had stolen along the brook very quietly, so that he wouldn’t
> frighten the fish.

TOM: He brought some presents in case he did, to reassure any scaredy-catfish.

> And he had made so little noise that Fatty Coon
> never heard him at all.

CROW: [ Fatty ] Hey, it’s hard to hear someone over the sound of my deep-fat fryer!

> Farmer Green had not seen Fatty, crouched as
> he was among the stones. And when Fatty reached out and grabbed the
> make-believe fly Farmer Green was even more surprised at what happened
> than Fatty himself.

TOM: Sammy Squirrel falls out of a tree, laughing.

MIKE: Fatty eats him.

> If the fish-hook hadn’t worked loose from Fatty’s
> mouth Farmer Green would have caught the queerest fish anybody ever
> caught, almost.

CROW: Well, there was that mermaid-cerberus this guy down in Belmar caught but that was something else.

>
> Something seemed to amuse Farmer Green, as he watched Fatty
> dive into the bushes; and he laughed loud and long.

TOM: See? Fatty Coon brings joy to the world, at last.

> But Fatty Coon
> didn’t laugh at all. His mouth was too sore;

MIKE: And full.

> and he was too
> frightened.

CROW: And awful.

> But he was very, very glad that the strange bug had flown
> away.

MIKE: And he learns the most important lesson of all, which is …

CROW: I dunno. Preferably food things.

TOM: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

MIKE: Yeah, before Fatty eats it.

[ ALL exit the theater. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. TOM SERVO, MIKE, and CROW at the desk. ]

MIKE: Well.

TOM: So.

CROW: Well *and* so.

MIKE: So in his defense —

[ TOM, CROW groan. ]

MIKE: OK, but name something Fatty did that a real raccoon —

CROW: Don’t care.

TOM: Look, we already know Nature sucks. That’s why we have indoors. And animal stories where we like the animals.

CROW: And that is *all* the reminder of the cruel nature of the world that we ever need. Thank you.

MIKE: I .. well, over to you, Pearl.

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL, OBSERVER, and BOBO cackling. ]

PEARL: They don’t even suspect!

OBSERVER: Why would they?

BOBO: Suspect what?

[ PEARL, OBSERVER glare at BOBO. ]

BOBO: What?

OBSERVER: Chapters Six …

PEARL: Through Twenty.

BOBO: [ Not getting it. ] Oh. [ Getting it. ] Oh!

\  |  /	
 \ | /	
  \|/		
---O---	
  /|\		
 / | \	
/  |  \

BOBO: [ Off screen ] Of this?

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and settings and concept are the property of … you know, I’m not sure. It used to be Best Brains but now I think that’s different? Well, it belongs to the people it really and truly belongs to and this is just me playing with their toys. _The Tale of Fatty Coon_ was written by Arthur Scott Bailey and published in 1915 and accessed via archive.org, which is why I am reasonably confident they’re in the public domain and can be used this way.

Keep Usenet circulating.

> Fatty Coon’s eyes turned green. It was a way they had,
> whenever he was about to eat anything

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter IV


Don’t worry; I’ve still got a fair number of weeks of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction before I get back to stuff I have to work to write. The last several weeks, and the next several, I’m looking in detail at Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s animal-adventure book, The Tale of Fatty Coon.

We met Fatty Coon, a fat raccoon who likes to eat, and then saw him get beaten up by a goshawk whose eggs he tried eating. He then went on to successfully eat a turtle’s clutch of eggs, so you know who it is we’re dealing with. What does he eat, or try to eat, this week? Read on …



>
>
> IV
>
> FATTY COON’S MISTAKE

TOM: Not getting editorial approval on this hit piece.

>
> Fatty Coon was very fond of squirrels.

CROW: Oh, Lord.

> And you may think it
> strange when I tell you that not one of the squirrels anywhere around
> Blue Mountain was the least bit fond of Fatty Coon.

MIKE: Is there anybody here that likes Fatty Coon?

CROW: There’s flocks of locusts that admire his work.

TOM: But even they won’t share a room with him.

> But when I say
> that Fatty Coon was fond of squirrels, I mean that he liked to eat
> them.

CROW: Yeah, yeah, we kinda saw that one coming.

TOM: People reading other stories saw *that* one coming.

> So of course you will understand now why the squirrels did not
> care for Fatty at all.

MIKE: Because the last three chapters didn’t make it clear?

> In fact, they usually kept just as far away
> from him as they could.

TOM: It’s as though they aren’t looking for chances to die.

>
> It was easy, in the daytime, for the squirrels to keep out of
> Fatty’s way, when he wandered through the tree-tops, for the squirrels
> were much sprier than Fatty.

CROW: But then the trees are sprier than Fatty.

> But at night—ah! that was a very
> different matter. For Fatty Coon’s eyes were even sharper in the dark
> than they were in the daylight;

MIKE: And his mouth was twelve hours bigger.

> but the poor squirrels were just as
> blind as you are when you are safely tucked in bed and the light is
> put out.

CROW: Now I want to get squirrels their own night lights.

MIKE: I want to check I’m not going to get eaten by a raccoon in my bedroom.

>
> Yes—when the squirrels were in bed at night, up in their nests
> in the trees, they could see very little. And you couldn’t say they
> were SAFE in bed,

TOM: Are they literally beds or nests or? I’m trying to work out the anthropomorphism level here.

> because they never knew when Fatty Coon, or his
> mother, or his brother, or one of his sisters, or some cousin of his,
> might come along and catch them before they knew it.

MIKE: Oh, good, it’s not just his protagonist he hates, Arthur Scott Bailey has it out for every raccoon.

TOM: The important thing for children’s animal fantasy is make your lead character as much like a serial killer as possible.

>
> Fatty thought it great sport to hunt squirrels at night.

CROW: He loves his reputation as an unstoppable random death-bringer!

> Whenever he tried it he usually managed to get a good meal.

TOM: So frogs stump him but squirrels are easy?

> And after
> he had almost forgotten about the fright the goshawk had given him in
> the tall hemlock he began to roam through the tree-tops every night in
> search of squirrels and sleeping birds.

CROW: It’s like they say, when you fall off a bike you have to get back up and eat it.

>
> But a night came at last when Fatty was well punished for
> hunting squirrels.

MIKE: At this point any punishment is a good start.

> He had climbed half-way to the top of a big
> chestnut tree, when he spied a hole in the trunk. He rather thought
> that some squirrels lived inside that hole.

TOM: ‘I’d leave then in peace but it’s been two hours since I ate the last five hundred passenger pigeons!’

> And as he listened for a
> few seconds he could hear something moving about inside. Yes! Fatty
> was sure that there was a squirrel in there—probably several
> squirrels.

CROW: Maybe one squirrel, two chipmunks, and a groundhog serving in an advisory capacity?

>
> Fatty Coon’s eyes turned green.

MIKE: Whoa!

TOM: Cyborg raccoon!

> It was a way they had,
> whenever he was about to eat anything, or whenever he played with his
> brother Blackie, or Fluffy and Cutey, his sisters; or whenever he was
> frightened.

CROW: Or when his laser batteries are running low.

> And now Fatty was so sure that he was going to have a fine
> lunch that his eyes turned as green as a cat’s.

TOM: Cyborg cats?

MIKE: This is why nature just isn’t a good idea.

> He reached a paw
> inside the hole and felt all around.

CROW: ‘Hey, there’s nothing in here but a paw-remover!’

>
> WOW! Fatty gave a cry; and he pulled his paw out much faster
> than he had put it in. Something had given him a cruel dig.

TOM: A … ?

CROW: Somebody really got at his paw’s emotional weaknesses.

> And in a jiffy Fatty saw what that "something" was. It was a grumpy old tramp
> coon, whom Fatty had never seen before.

MIKE: Buh?

CROW: What makes a *tramp* raccoon?

TOM: Raids the trash bins on a freight train I guess?

>
> "What do you mean, you young rascal, by disturbing me like
> this?" the ragged stranger cried.

CROW: He can call Fatty that because ‘rascal’ is a raccoon word.

TOM: They’ve reclaimed it.

>
> "Please, sir, I never knew it was you," Fatty stammered.
>
> "Never knew it was me! Who did you think it was?"

MIKE: I dunno, but I’m reading this with a W C Fields vibe.

>
> "A—a squirrel!" Fatty said faintly. And he whimpered a little,
> because his paw hurt him.

TOM: He sees what it’s like to get eaten some.

>
> "Ho, ho! That’s a good one! That’s a good joke!"

CROW: [ As the tramp ] ‘Thinking a squirrel might be hiding in a squirrel-hole in a tree! A rich jest, yes. Now let me get back to eating these squirrels.’

> The tramp
> coon laughed heartily. And then he scowled so fiercely that poor Fatty
> nearly tumbled out of the tree. "You go home," he said to Fatty. "And
> don’t you let me catch you around here again. You hear?"

MIKE: Or your paw shall get more digs and a few sharply barbed comments!

>
> "Yes, sir!" Fatty said. And home he went. And you may be sure
> that he let THAT tree alone after that. He never went near it again.

TOM: Wait, was that his well-punishment?

MIKE: Sometimes having to talk to someone is punishment enough.

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter III


I continue trying to make my life a little easier by reprinting chapters of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. It’s riffing on Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s book The Tale of Fatty Coon. These chapters appeared before, way back in 2017, so I feel it’s fine to repeat this for everyone who’s missed.

In the first chapter, we met Fatty Coon, a raccoon who’s … fat. And then in Chapter II, Fatty gets attacked by a goshawk who would rather their eggs not be eaten. Again, Arthur Scott Bailey seems not to have liked his protagonist.

And, before I proceed, the content warning that Fatty Coon’s major personality is that he eats a lot, and so is enormously fat. So there’s original material, and there’s jokes, that are based on that. Everyone who’s had enough fat jokes in their recreational reading, you’re right. Skip this and we’ll catch up sometime later.


>
>
> III
>
> FATTY DISCOVERS MRS. TURTLE’S SECRET

TOM: Oh, tell me this is about lingerie.

>
> After his adventure with the goshawk Fatty Coon did not go
> near the tree-tops for a long time.

MIKE: Not until the trees put some elevators in.

> Whenever he left home he would
> crawl down the old poplar tree in which he lived;

CROW: Achieving speeds of up to 400 miles per hour.

> and he wouldn’t
> climb a single tree until he came home again. Somehow, he felt safer
> on the ground.

TOM: ‘You know, nobody ever drops a pie onto a tree. The ground, though, that’s some prime stuff-being-dropped territory!’

> You see, he hadn’t forgotten the fright he had had, nor
> how the goshawk’s claws had hurt his back.

MIKE: Emotionally.

>
> It was just three days after his scare, to be exact, when
> Fatty Coon found himself on the bank of the creek which flowed slowly
> into Swift River.

TOM: Suppose that’s named for how fast it is, or for its discoverer, Carol the Swift?

> Fatty had been looking for frogs, but he had had no
> luck at all.

MIKE: The frogs’ early warning system was in good shape.

> To tell the truth, Fatty was a little too young to catch
> frogs easily, even when he found one;

TOM: Except for the one he grabbed last chapter.

MIKE: Hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

> and he was a good deal too fat,
> for he was so plump that he was not very spry.

MIKE: Also last week he ate the creek.

CROW: ‘Well, last week we had nacho cheese popcorn seasoning to sprinkle on it!’

>
> Now, Fatty was hiding behind some tall rushes, and his sharp
> little eyes were looking all about him, and his nose was twitching as
> he sniffed the air.

CROW: ‘Wawa has paninis? This changes everything!

> He wished he might find a frog. But not one frog
> appeared. Fatty began to think that some other coon must have visited
> the creek just before him and caught them all.

TOM: The lifeless pond can have only one explanation.

MIKE: Raccoons: nature’s own little neutron bombs.

> And then he forgot all
> about frogs.
>
> Yes! Frogs passed completely out of Fatty Coon’s mind. For
> whom should he spy but Mrs. Turtle!

CROW: What do you suppose her maiden name was?

TOM: Oh, she kept it when she married Dr Lesser Brown Bat.

> He saw her little black head
> first, bobbing along through the water of the creek. She was swimming
> toward the bank where Fatty was hidden.

MIKE: She loves the bank with its little chained pens and deposit slips.

> And pretty soon she pulled
> herself out of the water and waddled a short distance along the sand
> at the edge of the creek.

TOM: ‘Well, at least I don’t have to worry here about getting eaten by a raccoon!’

>
> Mrs. Turtle stopped then; and for a few minutes she was very
> busy about something. First she dug a hole in the sand.

CROW: Um?

TOM: [ Giggles nervously. ]

> And Fatty
> wondered what she was looking for. But he kept very quiet.

MIKE: Should we be watching this?
[ TOM, CROW look conspicuously away. ]

> And after a
> time Mrs. Turtle splashed into the creek again and paddled away. But
> before she left she scooped sand into the hole she had dug.

TOM: Oh dear, she *is*.

> Before she
> left the place she looked all around, as if to make sure that no one
> had seen her.

CROW: What was her plan if someone did see her at this point?

MIKE: Take the eggs back?

> And as she waddled slowly to the water Fatty could see
> that she was smiling as if she was very well pleased about something.
> She seemed to have a secret.

TOM: Quick, call in Garry Moore to help!

>
> Fatty Coon had grown very curious, as he watched Mrs. Turtle.

CROW: ‘I wonder if I can use this to become an even less pleasant person?’

> And just as soon as she was out of sight he came out from his hiding
> place in the tall reeds and trotted down to the edge of the creek. He
> went straight to the spot where Mrs. Turtle had dug the hole and
> filled it up again.

MIKE: Gotta say, Mrs Turtle does not come out looking good here.

TOM: Yeah, her scouting process could really use some scouting.

> And Fatty was so eager to know what she had been
> doing that he began to dig in the very spot where Mrs. Turtle had dug
> before him.

CROW: Mmm, turtle poop.

>
> It took Fatty Coon only about six seconds to discover Mrs.
> Turtle’s secret. For he did not have to paw away much of the sand
> before he came upon—what do you suppose? Eggs! Turtles’ eggs!

MIKE: No, she’s the last Galopagos Island Tortoise, it’s the only hope of avoiding extinction!

> Twenty-seven round, white eggs, which Mrs. Turtle had left there in
> the warm sand to hatch.

CROW: ‘Turtles are goshawks?’

> THAT was why she looked all around to make
> sure that no one saw her. THAT was why she seemed so pleased.

TOM: *That* was why Mrs Turtle wasn’t part of her Species Survival Plan.

> For Mrs.
> Turtle fully expected that after a time twenty-seven little turtles
> would hatch from those eggs—

TOM: Each egg.

> just as chickens do—

MIKE: Did kids in 1915 need eggs explained to them?

> and dig their way out
> of the sand.

CROW: Again, good job checking, Mrs Turtle.

>
> But it never happened that way at all.

MIKE: Fatty Coon cackles delighted at his schemes.

> For as soon as he got
> over his surprise at seeing them, Fatty Coon began at once to eat
> those twenty- seven eggs. They were delicious.

TOM: Do we know whether Arthur Scott Bailey *liked* his protagonist?

> And as he finished the
> last one he couldn’t help thinking how lucky he had been.

MIKE: Now we have nobody to foil the evil Shredder’s attacks!

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter II


Last week I began reposting a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. It’s of a 1915 children’s book, The Tale Of Fatty Coon. There’s very little about our lead character’s name that I like, even granting that he is a fat raccoon. But, I figure to post a chapter a week through at least to chapter ten. In Chapter I, we met Fatty, learned he was a raccoon, and that he likes to eat. This week, we start to learn that Arthur Scott Bailey doesn’t actually like his protagonist.

So, besides Fatty’s name, there’s a lot of fat jokes in here. I want to say that when I wrote this (mostly back in 2016) I was just rolling with what the source material gave me. But that isn’t actually an excuse and you folks who don’t need that stuff in your recreational reading? You are so very right. I apologize for the imposition and hope we can catch up after this is done.

While riffing this I made a joke about how in the (made-up) Tale of Squawky Crow Fatty is a villain. And then I discovered that in Bailey’s The Tale Of Frisky Squirrel, also published 1915, he is. In Chapter XIV, Fatty intrudes on the Squirrel family, eats all the beechnuts they had saved for winter, and gets trapped by his own fatness in their home.

Felix Salten did way better having his delightful animal characters make cameo appearances in others’ books.


>
>
> II
>

TOM: Episode II: Attack Of The Coons.

> FATTY LEARNS SOMETHING ABOUT EGGS

CROW: ‘Hey! These things break open!’

>
> When Fatty Coon started off alone to find something more to
> eat, after finishing the fish that his mother had brought home for
> him, he did not know that he was going to have an adventure.

MIKE: He just hoped adventure came with cheese fries.

> He nosed
> about among the bushes and the tall grasses and caught a few bugs and
> a frog or two. But he didn’t think that THAT was much.

CROW: [As Bug] Oh, thank goodness, that frog was gonna eat me and now … Wait, what are you doing?

> He didn’t seem
> to have much luck, down on the ground. So he climbed a tall hemlock,

TOM: A hemlock?

CROW: I dunno, it’s probably some nature thing.

> to see if he could find a squirrel’s nest, or some bird’s eggs.

MIKE: ‘Maybe I can eat a hemlock?’

>
> Fatty loved to climb trees. Up in the big hemlock he forgot,
> for a time, that he was still hungry. It was delightful to feel the
> branches swaying under him, and the bright sunshine was warm upon his
> back.

CROW: ‘You suppose the sun might be cookie-flavored?’

> He climbed almost to the very tip-top of the tree and wound
> himself around the straight stem. The thick, springy branches held him
> safely, and soon Fatty was fast asleep.

TOM: The tree tipping over, cracking under the weight.

> Next to eating, Fatty loved
> sleeping. And now he had a good nap.

CROW: ‘A nap with bacon cheese!’

>
> Fatty Coon woke up at last, yawned, and slowly unwound himself
> from the stem of the tree. He was terribly hungry now. And he felt
> that he simply MUST find something to eat at once.

TOM: Why is Mitchell a raccoon?

>
> Without going down to the ground, Fatty climbed over into the
> top of another big tree and his little beady, bright eyes began
> searching all the branches carefully.

CROW: ‘Too flimsy, too weak, that one’ll snap, that one broke yesterday, that one snapped when I thought about it too hard, hm. Ground broke under me there.’

> Pretty soon Fatty smiled. He
> smiled because he was pleased.

TOM: It was a quirky habit of his.

> And he was pleased because he saw
> exactly what he had been looking for. Not far below him was a big
> nest, built of sticks and lined with bark and moss.

CROW: ‘Garnished with bark and moss!’

> It was a crow’s
> nest, Fatty decided, and he lost no time in slipping down to the
> crotch of the tree where the nest was perched.

TOM: Thud!

>
> There were four white eggs in the nest—the biggest crow’s eggs
> Fatty had ever seen.

CROW: Ostrich!

MIKE: That’s an ostrich egg, look out!

> And he began to eat them hungrily. His nose
> became smeared with egg, but he didn’t mind that at all.

TOM: Yum, egg-flavored nose!

> He kept
> thinking how good the eggs tasted—and how he wished there were more of
> them.

MIKE: You know in the _Tale of Squawky Crow_, Fatty is one of the villains.

>
> There was a sudden rush through the branches of the tall tree.
> And Fatty Coon caught a hard blow on his head. He felt something sharp
> sink into his back, too.

TOM: There it is!

MIKE: Squawky Crow takes over the narrative! He’s getting to be the hero!

> And he clutched at the edge of the nest to
> keep from falling.
>
> Fatty was surprised, to say the least, for he had never known
> crows to fight like that.

TOM: They normally confined themselves to snarky comments, often on the Internet.

CROW: The cowards! Hey, wait.

> And he was frightened, because his back
> hurt. He couldn’t fight, because he was afraid he would fall if he let
> go of the nest.

MIKE: And there was still that meteoric crater lake from the last time he dropped four feet.

>
> There was nothing to do but run home as fast as he could.

CROW: Fatty’s greatest challenge: running.

> Fatty tried to hurry; but there was that bird, beating and clawing his
> back, and pulling him first one way and then another.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] Ow! Look, if you want me to go *one* way then don’t tug me *another*! Sheesh!

> He began to
> think he would never reach home. But at last he came to the old poplar
> where his mother lived.

CROW: ‘Home! Safety! Security! Oatmeal cookies!’

> And soon, to his great joy, he reached the
> hole in the big branch; and you may well believe that Fatty was glad
> to slip down into the darkness where his mother, and his brother
> Blackie, and Fluffy and Cutey his sisters, were all fast asleep.

MIKE: You my believe this … If you dare!

> He
> was glad, because he knew that no crow could follow him down there.

CROW: To fit Fatty the hole has to be just wide enough to let a Space Shuttle slp through.

>
> Mrs. Coon waked up.

MIKE: Waked?

> She saw that Fatty’s back was sadly torn
> (for coons, you know, can see in the dark just as well as you can see
> in the daylight).

CROW: What if I need glasses?

MIKE: Well, then she wears glasses.

CROW: That … Would be adorable.

>
> "What on earth is the matter?" she exclaimed.
>
> Poor Fatty told her. He cried a little, because his back hurt
> him, and because he was so glad to be safe at home once more.

TOM: ‘Well, come here, son, let me lick that all. Nothing like raccoon spit to clean open wounds.’

>
> "What color were those eggs?" Mrs. Coon inquired.
>
> "White!" said Fatty.
>
> "Ah, ha!" Mrs. Coon said. "Don’t you remember that crows’ eggs
> are a blueish green?

MIKE: Oh no!

TOM: Fatty’s failure to prep for his Raccoon SAT’s haunts him!

CROW: *My* eggs are painted a lovely variety of colors in intricate patterns!

TOM: Ya freak.

CROW: What?

> That must have been a goshawk’s nest. And a
> goshawk is the fiercest of all the hawks there are. It’s no wonder
> your back is clawed.

MIKE: [ Mrs Coon ] ‘Why is this scratch covered in Superman ice cream?’

CROW: [ Fatty ] It was an experiment, okay?

> Come here and let me look at it."
>
> Fatty Coon felt quite proud, as his mother examined the marks
> of the goshawk’s cruel claws.

MIKE: ‘I got attacked and ran away just fast enough! Heck, I ran!’

TOM: I ran so far away.

> And he didn’t feel half as sorry for
> himself as you might think,
> for he remembered how good the eggs had
> tasted. He only wished there had been a dozen of them.

MIKE: So what did Fatty learn about eggs, exactly?

CROW: That … He can eat them?

[ To Continue … ]

MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Coon, Chapter I


Hi. So. I need to make life a little easier on myself right now. To that end, I want to share a bit of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction I’ve been working on for just about forever. It’s riffing based on one of the children’s animal-adventure books written by Arthur Scott Bailey back in the 1910s. In it, Bailey attempts to answer the question, “Can you write a children’s animal-adventure book without liking your protagonist in even the tiniest little bit?” In this case the protagonist is a raccoon, named Fatty, and boy isn’t that great reading? But I’ve gotten about half of the book riffed.

The first five chapters of this I’ve actually shared already. But that was also, like, four years ago. I don’t want to send people plunging deep into the archives for that. So I’m going to use those already-riffed chapters as Thursday pieces for a couple weeks, and then go into about five new chapters, and then? We’ll see. So, now, here, please enjoy what I do have.

A MiSTing, as this is, is a Usenet-bred form of fan fiction. The original material gets to present itself, with > marks to denote the original author. The riffing then gets inserted, play-direction style. The first five chapters even have an opening and a closing sketch. I don’t know if I’ll have a similar framing for the second five chapters.

Take care, please, of yourselves and each other.


[ 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!

>
> 1915

> I
>
> 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
> children.

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.

> It
> 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
> eat.

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!’

> Sometimes
> 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
> wanted.

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 ]

In Which I Evaluate Some Phobias


As this is a time of year to celebrate what scares us, let’s review some phobias.

The Fear that You Will Not Find Any Of These Greeting Cards Has The Right Tone to Send. The most common fear of all, outranking fears of death, falling to death, public speaking while dead, and dentistry while dead (receiving or performing). Take comfort. The last greeting card with the right tone was a Father’s Day card last sold in 1992. Just write something nice and apologize for the card being too flippant or too gushing and, I don’t know. Include some stickers or a ten-dollar bill or whatever. You’re fine.

The Fear that You Will Need To Handle The Toilet Paper While Your Hands Are Still Wet. It happens to us all, we’re in the shower, we need to something unsuitable for the shower, we have to face the consequences. Very good phobia, combining as it does a plausibly common scenario and an inconvenience we somehow take to be embarrassing. I’m not rating these, but seriously? Four out of five, unless you have that extra-soft toilet paper in which case five out of five.

The Fear of A Hole. Not the fear of any hole, mind, or the fear of particular patterns of holes like you see in morels or something. Just the fear of that one Hole. You know the one. But the world is huge, like, almost Earth-size. What are the odds you’ll ever be near that one Hole?

The Fear that You Know Something Almost Everybody Is Wrong About But Can’t Find The Blog Entry That Would Prove It. Endemic to know-it-alls, and terrible because then you feel this thing like shyness or reticence about correcting people. For me, this manifests with where I heard raindrops actually fall with the pointy-end down, round-end top, the opposite of the way we draw them. SEND HELP or at least good citations. Wikipedia doesn’t count.

The Fear that We are Running Out of Halloween Puns. Common and understandable. But we don’t need that many Halloween puns, and since there’s normally a fifty-week gap between times we need to use them, they’re not likely to be overused. If you do need some more, you can listen to some old-time-radio horror show like Inner Sanctum Mysteries and restock. They’ll be as good as new.

The Fear of Clowns. I am told this one is common and if that’s your thing, fine. I’m not feeling it, though. People will argue the point and say, like, isn’t the Pennywise the Clown from It scary? And, like, I guess so. But the scary thing is Pennywise is an immortal unstoppable supernatural monster out to rend the flesh of his victims. Would that be less scary if it were manifest in the form of Bob Newhart? And now that I’ve said that I’d like to see it. I figure it would have to go something like this:

“Hey — hi? Hi, up there? I — no, look down. No, not — over here, in the drain. … Yeah, the sewer. Hi. Uh, you look like a nice kid, what’s your name? … Joey? … Geordie, sorry, I thought you said … oh. Joey. … Not Joey. Could you say it slowly? … Yeah, maybe if you spell — look, Geordie, Joey, whatever … hey, would you — well, I’m in the drain for good reasons. … All right, I’m in the sewer for good reasons. … … What are they? … … Well, uh … they … hey, have you ever tried going in the drain? I don’t mean that kind of going! I mean entering, visiting in the drain. Have it your way, the sewer. Yeah. It’s better than you’d think. … No, I said think, not stink … okay, yes, have … have your little giggle. Yes, it’s very funny … I mean, it’s not that fun … Look, would you like to come down here and I can … give you a toy boat and, uh, rip your arm off and maybe give you a balloon. What? Repeat that? Give you a balloon. See? … Oh, before that … ah, there was a toy boat … Between those? Between the toy boat and the balloon … … … Look, it’s really neat down here, I promise. … Like, we all float down here. Jo … Geor … Sport-o, you’re a kid. Kids like to float, right? … … Well, yeah, it is mostly a lot of water here in the drain. … Yes, in the sewer. … Yeah, pretty much everybody floats in any water. Well, you got one over on ol’ PennyBob there … uh … hey, Georbie(?) … Are there any other kids up there? Could you put one of them on, please? … … … … He — Hello?”

All right, yeah, that is less scary. The clown thing must count for something.

I do not recommend any of these be put on a Phobia Improvement Plan.

Some Kinds Of Jack-O-Lantern, With Such Warnings As Apply


I feel my essay last year, Some Kinds Of Jack-O-Lanterns, With Such Warnings As Apply didn’t get enough attention when I first published it. So here’s the chance to give it some attention anew. Thanks for your attention, or the attention of whoever you got yours from.

Some Astounding Things About The Moon


You maybe heard NASA want to announce something astounding discovery about the Moon. I bet it’s something about water. They’re always astounded by discovering water on the Moon. If you put all the water they’ve found on the moon together you’d have, like, six ounces of water. I know that’s not much, but it’s a lot considering the Moon is made out of rock. Anyway, while we wait for them to announce how they’ve spotted four micrograms more water let’s consider some real astounding facts about the Moon:

Because of the way the Romans set up their calendar, and defined the ides at the middle of the month to lunar phases, it’s impossible to have a full moon on the 16th of a month. If it looks like the 16th is going to be a full moon anyway we insert leap seconds as appropriate. There’s a risk of a full moon on the 16th of September, 2800, despite all these corrective measures. Most experts think we’ll solve the problem by doubling up the 15th of September, the way we did with the More-15th of February, 684. Note, as the experts do, that the 15th is not the ides of September and if you make that mistake they’ll know you’re an impostor.

Ham radio operators are allowed to bounce any signal they like off the Moon. However, the operators are held responsible for any damages or for any settling the messages do while in transit.

The Moon has never actually listened to Pink Floyd. It acknowledges that Pink Floyd’s probably played on the radio at some point and they didn’t turn it off, so far as they know. But the Moon is more of a Strawberry Alarm Clock fan. At least the early days, when they got on stage riding magic carpets their roadies carried. The Moon claims to be a big fan of Walk The Moon, but still hasn’t listened to the copy of What If Nothing that it bought in 2018.

The Moon won $27,500 in the Rhode Island lottery in 2014, but never roused itself to collect its winnings. It’s still getting in arguments about this.

The Moon believes itself to have a great sense of humor. This isn’t so astounding since everybody does. But the Moon is in there trying. Unfortunately all it’s discovered, as a premise, is the antijoke and boy does it hit that button a lot. It’s not even good antijokes, either, just something that denies the premise of the gag as fast as possible. If you stick it out, and make the Moon carry on a bit it eventually digs into interesting or weird antijokes and there’s something there. But it insists that the first, instinctive response is the good one and it’s just, you know, you could do so much more.

The concave surface of the Moon is why it always seems to be looking at you.

The Moon insists on tipping 20%, which is fine, but insists on doing it to the penny. This is all right, but the Moon also has absolutely terrible group-check etiquette, insisting that it’s fine if everybody just tosses in money until it reaches a pile that is the bill plus 20% exactly. The protests of everyone that this is making it take longer, with more stress, and come out less fair, than actually figuring out who got and who split what with whom fall on deaf space-ears.

Monday was not named after the Moon. The day was named first, and then someone happened to notice the Moon on a Monday. Yes, this implies an alternate history in which we call the Moon “the Day”. That timeline must be quite confusing.

The Moon has heard about those Quiznos advertisements back in the 2000s that everybody found weird and confusing, but never saw them and thinks it would be a little creepy to go look them up now.

The Moon claims that when it finds those “disruptive” scooter-rental things abandoned on the sidewalk it picks them up and tosses them in the street. We can all agree that, if we must have dumb tech companies wasting investor money on “disruptor” technologies, they should be punished for leaving their litter in the sidewalk. But pressed on when the Moon last actually did this it turns out it never has, but it’s totally going to start next time it sees one.

The word “Moon” did not rhyme with “June” until the Tin Pan Alley Crisis of 1912. It had the vowel sound of “Mon” in “Monday” before then.

While in mythology there are rabbits living on the Moon, in fact the Moon is living on rabbits, who are still really upset about that lottery ticket thing. I can’t say they’re wrong, either.

Maybe it’s five micrograms more water. That would be astounding. We’ll see on Monday.

The Fast New Sound


So you know about the speed of sound, right? Don’t worry, it’s easy to catch up. Turns out sound travels at some speed. It’s like 750 miles an hour at normal temperature and pressure. Slower at temperatures and pressures that make the speed of sound slower. Faster otherwise. I told you it would be easy to catch up.

But how fast can you make the speed of sound? I don’t mean you particularly. I know you’ve got enough projects, what with looking at the news and then screaming at the wall. I mean you as if you were someone who wasn’t you, and who had to do something about the speed of sound. I admit I don’t know what I’d do about making the speed of sound faster. Maybe drop a loudspeaker from a helicopter and check how fast that sound hits the ground. I know, you’d think, what if we just made the sound louder? But it turns out loud doesn’t convert into fast. Loud just converts into nervous.

So we need better schemes to make fastness. The trick is that sound works by the elasticity of the thing it’s moving through. You know elasticity well, from all the time you spend bouncing. Me, I know it from trying to get the elastic band off this bundle of radishes. I don’t know how but the elastic band winds through every stalk, so there’s no taking it off except by going into higher dimensions of space, from which the radishes are still banded together.

Here’s where I read that a bunch of people at the Queen Mary University of London, the University of Cambridge, and the Institute for High Pressure Physics in Troitsk worked out just how fast you could make sound. It turns out it’s about 36 kilometers per second.

This fastest possible sound happens if you send sound through solid atomic hydrogen. You don’t have any solid atomic hydrogen, I’m know, because that only exists when you have, like, a million atmospheres of pressure. And I checked. The atmospheric pressure on Earth is one atmosphere of pressure. Maybe physics works a little different in Troitsk. Probably it does, or why would they have a whole institute for the high-pressure physics of Troitsk? But I bet none of the people with the institute are reading this. They’re doing things like figuring out the fastest speed of sound. They don’t have time to read me going on like this.

Or do they? We have to consider some of the benefits of making sound really, really fast. Like, at 36 kilometers per second, Yes’s Tales from Topographic Oceans would zip by so fast you could hear it a third time in your life. So there’s time savings involved. I know, you could just hit the thing on your iPod that makes songs play faster. You can. I can’t. My iPod is in the shop, being repaired. I hope it’s an iPod repair shop. I know you wonder why I didn’t check that first. The answer is that I have spent parts of five consecutive months now trying to get a Nintendo repair shop to repair a Nintendo Switch. No part of that process has gone well. You know that deep bone-weariness you experience when, like, you see “Suncoast Video” is Trending under Politics for some undoubtedly awful reason? That’s what I feel when considering consumer-electronics repair. Entering a storefront at random and wordlessly shoving my iPod at a person who turns out to be the hummus manager at The Pita Pit can not be worse.

What other benefits are there on the sound thing? Oh, I bet if you had sound the fastest it could travel, then inhaling helium would actually lower the pitch of your voice. I wrote that as a joke, but I think that would actually work? Except you have to start out encased in solid atomic hydrogen at more than one million atmospheres of pressure. I don’t know what you’d say in that case.

The article said it turns out the fastest possible speed of sound depends on the fine structure constant and the proton-to-electron mass ratio. The mass ratio is what you get from looking at how often protons and electrons are commented on compared to retweeted. The fine structure constant is a general agreement about how nice it would be to have some direction in our lives these days. How this gets back to sound I’ll never know.

A Fluid Dialogue


“You know the convenient thing about the 32-ounce size?”

“It’s not so intimidating as the 40-ounce size?”

“And you aren’t paying one penny more for the freedom from intimidation.”

“It seems to me that it also has the advantage of being twelve ounces more than the 20-ounce size.”

“I wouldn’t go that far. What if we didn’t make a 20-ounce size?”

“Then you wouldn’t have any way of getting the 40-ounce size except buying the 40 ounces.”

“You haven’t anyway: there is no 40-ounce size. If you want 40 ounces you’ll just have to make do.”

“Maybe for now I can avoid wanting 40 ounces.”

“The other grand thing about the 32-ounce size is that it’s over 32 ounces more than the zero-ounce size.”

“That’s a size you can’t really have too much of.”

“And at zero ounces they fly off the shelves. We need to ballast them against even slight breezes. We tried surrounding them with a fine mesh, but that created a fine mesh — that should be fine mess — that even got into the News of the Mildly Interesting Yet Not Excessively Weird. Too many people mistook them for a bee enclosure.”

“Apiary.”

“No, more Reuters-ish.”

“What would I make do if I wanted 40 ounces?”

“Use two 32-ounces and an empty seven-ounce bottle. It’s a traditional puzzle. It dates back to the Mayans, who never figured it out because they didn’t know what an ounce was.”

“You can’t get to 40 ounces from two 32-ounces and taking away seven ounces at a time. You get to 50 ounces instead.”

“How can you get 50 ounces if you don’t have 40 ounces first?”

“You come from the other direction.”

“It’s a six-ounce bottle you need.”

“Just curious but what is it 32 ounces of?”

“Are you wondering what comes out of it or what goes into it?”

“Let’s start with what goes in and see where that get us.”

“It gets us into the 32-ounce size.”

“Only if we’re ingredients. We’re not unless it turns out the bottles are inside-out and we don’t suspect it because it’s only revealed in the last minute.”

“No, if we were ingredients we’d have heard something along the lines of `let us out’ or maybe `we’re not ingredients’.”

“So we’re not ingredients?”

“Now that you’ve said that, it could turn out we were all along. Thanks for messing up a good bit of confusion.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’d hope so.”

“What got the Mayan worried about forty ounces?”

“They liked things in twenties. In retrospect, the 20-ounce size could have been a great seller to Mayans of the seventh century. Have you ever felt better for knowing what the ingredients of something were?”

“There are times I’ve felt growing appreciation for whatever is meant by ‘sorbitol’.”

“And have you ever liked what you knew about what went into something?”

“No, but it’s left me awake all night, steadily unsettled.”

“That sort of feeling you can’t put a price on, unless you count student loans.”

“You can do it with seven ounces. Start with three 32-ounces and take seven ounces out eight times over.”

“You get there faster with eight ounces seven times over.”

“Yes, it’s so much more scenic taking the local roads.”

“It’s mature to restrain yourself from wanting the 40-ounce size.”

“We all have our difficulties to overcome.”

“The 32-ounce size would be a 40-ounce size, if it came with eight ounces free.”

“If the eight ounces were free they wouldn’t come with anything. They’d have to be bottled and rigidly constrained relative to the 32 ounces.”

“They might associate of their own free will.”

“Is the 32-ounce size larger than a breadbox? If not, is it bigger than a bread loaf?”

“No, but I realize I don’t know what a loaf of bread weighs. I just thought of it as weighing one loaf, slightly less for denser loaves.”

“Then we’ve expanded the boundaries of your ignorance?”

“Yes, but marginally.”

“Delighted to be of service. Don’t worry. This is covered your normal monthly charge.”

“Thank you; please come again.”

In Which I Question The Adequacy Of Our Seasons


I don’t mean to suggest we don’t have bigger problems. Also I agree we have smaller problems. The medium-size problem I’m looking at here is: do we have enough seasons? I mean in the year. I mean weather seasons. I know we’ve got all sorts of sports seasons, like baseball and football and preseason baseball and basketball and postseason baseball and hockey playoffs. I mean seasons like spring and summer and stuff. We’ve got four of them, and been trusting that to cover the whole year, and I’m just asking if that’s enough to cover the year as we’ve got it these days.

Take spring, for example. We know it as a time for spring cleaning, which we get around to once we’ve run out of other things to do in spring. And yet for all that cleaning, we never get around to anything else with spring. We never set aside a season for spring curating, for setting our springs out in a thoughtful manner that lets us appreciate them. Or just see their development. Maybe come to understand how new spring technologies have come and changed the way things spring. This paragraph belongs in a different essay written on the same starting point, and doesn’t fit the mood of the one I’m writing at all. But I like it as it is, and so I’m sticking with it. You can go ahead and imagine the essay that goes off in this paragraph’s direction.

The big old blocky names for seasons works fine for some period during them. But when they get a little changing the categories break down. Like, right now we in lower Michigan are in early autumn, or fall, depending on whether you’re east of US 127. That is, we’re in the time of year where it’s autumn, or fall, between 9 pm and 10 am every day, but then it’s summer between 10 am and 2 pm, and again from 5 to 7 pm. Between 7 and 9 pm it’s free pick, the days alternately sunny or ice-monsoon. There is no weather between 3 and 5 pm, as that’s too late in the day to finish anything before rush hour.

The period lasts a while and it’s not fair to call that ‘autumn’ because so much of it is not. All it really has to call it autumn is that we buy more cider than we’ll have time to drink. It’s not like late October, which is some of the most autumn-nest weather you’ll find. That’s when the sun emerging from the clouds somehow makes your skin feel colder. We handle that by around the 24th of October putting the sun behind a cloud, from which it doesn’t emerge until March. Which is another seasonally-elusive time of year, when the cloud-covered sky feels warm on your face, but touching the ground causes a sleeve of ice to run up your boots and cover your legs.

Granting these kinds of periods have enough identity we need to give them names, what names? The early one in the year seems easy enough, since we could go with ‘sprinter’ or ‘wing’, depending on what fits the sentence. The one this time of year is tougher to make the syllables match. ‘Sumtumn’ sounds like the year is a fat baby we’re teasing, and maybe some years are like that but I’m through with teasing 2020 for anything ever.

And I know giving these parts of the year names are going to inspire other problems. Like, there’ll be a part of the year that’s not really summer yet but still not sumtumn. What do we call that, summer-sumtumn? Keep this up and we’re going to end up with seasons given names like summer-sumtumn-summer by half-winter, or something. I didn’t mean ‘something’ as a season name, but maybe that’s where we’ll end up.

You know maybe I should have written that other essay instead, the one where I come up with like four zany seasons of doing mildly quirky behavior. Too late to rewrite it now. All I can do is think back about it during the season of regrets, which is all of them.

What You Could Get Me To Read


I mentioned last week how if you want to buy me something, any nonfiction book will be quite nice, thank you. I want you to understand this is not exaggeration. Before the pandemic shut down the libraries I sought out a book about the building of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Why? Because I felt I didn’t know enough about it. I knew only what anyone growing up in a Mid-Atlantic state might know about postwar bilateral water route management. Surely I should know more.

Gary Croot, whom I hardly need explain is the Associate Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation’s Operational Headquarters in Massena, New York, called to reassure that no, I already did, but he thanked me for my interest. Still, I went on to read the book and learned that, in fact, building the Saint Lawrence Seaway went about like you’d imagine. A whole lot of digging and a lot of people agreeing this would have been swell if they’d done it like eighty years earlier. Well, they can’t all have the drama of the Mars candy company. I still say it was a good choice.

So here’s some books you might pick up for me, if the bookstore employees don’t believe your “find me something more dull than that” request:

J: The Letter That Shifted Pronunciation, Altered Etymologies, Made Electrical Engineers Cringe, and Changed The World. Of course, I have a partisan interest in the letter ‘J’. But who isn’t fascinated by the way a letter can take on vowel and consonant duties and then gradually split between them? Or how it is we get to pick letters? And whether we are going to finally see the alphabet accept double-i and double-j as letters too? Why should u get to be the mother of letters? Perfect for people who want to be angry about things that not in fact unjust. 296 pages.

Hey-Dey: the Forgotten Amusement Park Ride that Saved Amusement Parks, Earned Fortunes, and Changed The World. Who doesn’t love the Hey-Dey? Everybody because who’s heard of the thing? But there we are, some old pictures of what sure looks like a ride what with how it has a platform and advertisements and stuff. How popular was it? What did you actually do on the ride? It seems like spinning was involved. Maybe a lot of spinning. Why doesn’t anybody know about it anymore? And does it have anything to do with the Lindy Loop? Includes a sweeping view of history including the discovery, in 1896, that people would pay reasonable sums of money to do things that are fun. 384 pages including 20 glossy pages reprinting black-and-white pictures of things we can’t make out anymore. Also 40 pages of the author cursing out Google for assuming that they wanted every possible six-letter, two-syllable string other than “Hey-Dey”.

Reproduction of a vintage amusement-park-ride catalogue proclaiming 'The Smack of the WHIP, the Speed of the ROLLER COASTER, the Terrific Skid of an Automobile on a Greasy Road --- All Are Experienced in a Ride on the HEY-DEY', and showing two pictures of the installed ride where it's not clear what the ride actually does. But 'Records show that the HEY-DEY Repeats 10 to 25 per cent of its Riders --- a most unusual record'.
I for one have always enjoyed the experience of automobiles skidding out on greasy roads so I’m sure I’d be in the 10 to 25 percent of people who repeat the ride. (My own photograph from the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda, New York. The Hey-Dey was actually made by Spillman but you would not BELIEVE how tied together Herschell and Spillman were.)

Humpty Dumpty: the Nonsense Rhyme that Delighted Children, Befuddled Scholars, Made Us All Wonder Why We Think He’s An Egg, and Changed The World. There’s a kind of person who really, really wants Humpty Dumpty to have some deep meaning. Like, saying it’s some deep political satire or is some moral fable about buying on credit or maybe it’s just making fun of the Dutch? No idea, but that’s no reason to stop trying. 612 pages. Spoiler: we think Humpty Dumpy is an egg because both his parents were eggs, and they say their only adoption was his littlest brother, Rumpty Dumpty. Rumpty Dumpty is, as anyone can see, a shoe.

Busy Signal: the Story Behind the Tones, Chimes, Rings, Buzzes, and Beeps that Tell us the State of Things — and Changed The World. An examination of how humans use language and turn a complicated message like “that phone number is busy” into a simple buzz instead. That seems a bit thin to the author too. So then we get into other audio cues like how sometimes construction equipment makes that backing-up beeping noise even when it’s not moving. 192 pages.

So, I mean it. If you want to buy me something, look for any nonfiction book explaining a thing. If it seems like a boring thing, great! 568 pages about the evolution of the NTSC television-broadcast standard? Gold! You are not going to out-bore me in a book contest like that. Look, I know things about the Vertical Blanking Interval that I have no business knowing. And that is everything I know about the Vertical Blanking Interval. And yet I want to know more. Find a topic dull enough that it’s putting neighboring books to sleep, and you’ve got me set. Thank you.

In Which I Ask Not To Be Given An Eight-Million-Dollar Dinosaur Skeleton, Please


I know I have a birthday coming up. This isn’t to brag. I mean, we all do. That’s how time works. I know I’m also a difficult person to buy stuff for. This is because people don’t believe me when I say “oh, any nonfiction book will do”. If you need more guidance, “any nonfiction book my Dad would read will do”. I grant this helps only if you know my Dad, but that’s OK. He’s very approachable and would love to meet you. Ask him what he’s reading, that’ll go great.

So if you’re in a bookstore explain that you want a nonfiction book where someone explains, like, lithium or the Jagiellonian University or competitive stamp-licking. If you ask the bookstore staff for nonfiction, they’ll take you to fiction. It turns out most people asking for nonfiction in fact want made-up stories. Yes, I am angry about this. So are the people working at the bookstore.

What I am saying not to buy is a dinosaur. Any dinosaur will do, but I’m thinking specifically of this tyrannosaurus rex that Reuters says is going up for auction at Christie’s. Christie’s plans on selling this dinosaur skeleton in October. And, yes, it’s charming that they’re still trying to plan for things a whole two weeks away. I’ve given up planning anything as far out as “in ten minutes when the noodles should be done boiling”.

Anyway I do know that I absolutely, no question, do not need a dinosaur skeleton. I don’t even have a decorative or symbolic use for one. And there’s no place to store it. I don’t even have places to store all my books about dinosaurs or October. And don’t go thinking I could give it away again if I really have no space for it. First, I can’t give away gifts. The last things I will ever own in life, after I finally become able to de-clutter my life, will be stuff I don’t like from people who didn’t really know me.

But also I couldn’t get rid of it because, hey, what if I needed a tyrannosaurs rex skeleton? No, I can’t imagine what I’d need a tyrannosaurs rex skeleton for either. But you know how hard it would be to get one in an emergency? You can’t pop down to the thrift store district and hope you get lucky, even if you have a truck to take it home in. Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons don’t go up for sale that much.

In fact this one wouldn’t be up for sale at all, if I understand this right, except for an accident. The dinosaur was found in South Dakota in 1987 by an amateur paleontologist, Stan Sacrison. But scientists weren’t much interested in it because they thought it was a triceratops. Also it turns out professional paleontologists think triceratopses aren’t that interesting? Experts do live in a different world from us lay people.

Photograph from below of a miniature golf course's giant T-rex figure. The light is from underneath so it looks taller than the setting sun.
Yeah, this? Do not want. Thank you. [ From Dinosaur Adventure Golf, Niagara Falls, Ontario. Fun course. ]

And yet I bet any one of these scientists who shrugged off Stan Sacrison’s dinosaur would find it very exciting if they found a real live triceratops in their breakfast nook some morning. Even some evening. But also they got a triceratops and a tyrannosaurs rex mixed up? I understand bones are hard to understand but, like, I’ve seen the Sid and Marty Krofft documentary Land of the Lost. I could tell tyrannosaurs rex Grumpy apart from triceratops … uh … whatever his name was. You know, I bet the paleontologists called him “Steve” Sacrison too.

The dinosaur, named STAN (“Luke? I think you look like a Luke”, according to paleontologists), is 40 feet long and 13 feet high. To give some sense of scale, that’s even taller than me. But, again, that’s another reason not to get me this. It’s also longer than my house, you see, my house already being larger than me. We’d have to keep it outside and that’s no place for dinosaurs. All the original dinosaurs were kept outside and look where they are now.

Plus they think STAN will sell for six to eight million dollars. If you’re looking to spend that much on me, first, thank you, but second, I would rather have it in bookstore gift cards. Or ask my Dad about what to buy because, like, I swear, if someone’s written a book about the history of dinosaur skeleton auctioning? I’d like that instead, please. No dinosaurs.

In Which I Remember The 90s For A Change


I don’t know why, but my thoughts have been drifting back to around November and early December 1994. I had tickets to go see a taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien for the first time, over the break between semesters. They were real tickets, but I didn’t take pictures of them because we had film cameras then, so we could only take 22 pictures a year and hope one turned out in focus. Sorry. One of my apartment-mates wanted me to know that they tape the talk show segments all out of airing order. But I was sure that, except when some schedule problem requires, the late night talk shows record live-on-tape. I pointed out trip reports people had made to support my contention. No matter; he was sure that I had to understand it was going to be all different from what got on air.

Over the winter break I did get to the show, though. And it was recorded live-on-tape, everything in airing order. Even the breaks between segments were about the same length as the actual commercial breaks.

I never got to tell the apartment-mate that, though. He didn’t come back for the spring semester and I never knew what happened. If he got a new place to live or didn’t come back to school or what. Whatever it was, it seemed like a lot of effort to go to not to be told he was wrong about the typical production routine of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. And, like, Conan O’Brien in 1994. This was a couple months after that stretch when NBC left the show on the air because they forgot to cancel it. Who could care if your roommate knew you misunderstood its taping routine?

So it’s me remembering that some people will always be unknowable.

That’s not the only unknowable roommate I have from back then. Although the others it’s less that I can’t know them because of deep mysteries and more that I’m not exactly sure of their names. I feel bad about forgetting the names of old roommates but in my defense, it’s been a quarter-century. Since then I have met, without exaggeration, dozens of people. I have forgotten all their names too.

I am sure that year someone one of our other roommates was one of a set of identical twins. I remember because I thought he was telling a joke when he first mentioned being a twin. Fortunately when I finally, so far as I know, met the other twin I had that year’s moment of good social grace. Even though I was a mathematics grad student I knew not to blurt out, “Wow, really? I thought your brother made you up! As a gag!” If my old roommate, or his twin, is reading this, uh, oops? But hey, how about that other roommate, the one who didn’t think Conan O’Brien taped his show in order? Remember that guy?

Still there’s a great chance they don’t remember me, either. I say this because I don’t ever expect to be remembered, in any context, ever. If the dental hygienist steps out of the room for two minutes I expect to have to remind them who I am. And I’m pretty sure they have my name written down. That’s so they know which teeth they’re cleaning and can remark on what a good job I did flossing for the week leading up to my exam.

But I do know that at least one time with that roommate, or his twin, I met another guy. And that guy I remember because I met him again, only online, the next year. And he remembered meeting me, only offline, afterwards. We’re still friends. I mean, not friends close enough to talk about what we’re doing or whether we exactly remember how it is we became friends or where he lives anymore, if he does. I mean friends in that I’ll see him online after a gap of like three months, and he’ll be quite happy there are otters in the world. I bet you’d like to know someone like that. Some of you, the people I’ve been friends with online for a quarter-century, maybe already have. The rest of you, well, I’d like to tell you how to meet someone like that. The secret is to, years ago, have a roommate who’s in the fencing club with him. Or possibly a roommate whose twin is in the fencing club. Maybe both twins were in the fencing club and my friend just hung around them for the sword action. That’s the part I don’t remember.

Everything There Is To Say About Writing A Résumé


The important thing in writing a résumé is that it has to fit to the job you want, which is “the astronaut who draws Popeye”. To get the right fit you have to decide how many of the little accent marks that go up and to the right you put over the word. Whatever they’re called. Ageds or agues or whatever. Including none tells employers you want low-level and uninteresting jobs. Having ague marks suggests you are interesting enough to know how to get at those characters. It is by holding down the key.

The more agues you put over the e’s the higher-level the job you get, though. If you include more than three agues you have a shot at the really good jobs. Those are the ones where you don’t have specific hours or definable duties. In the best of them, yeah, you’re paid money. But somehow some of your money ends up earning money on its own. Nobody can explain how, or why. But if you want that kind of job try tossing agues over maybe the m, and the r. Maybe even several ague marks over the same letter, particularly s. Don’t ever put it above the u. That one makes you look clingy and desperate and causes people to suspect you eat oyster crackers at inappropriate times.

One of the best ways to avoid actually writing the résumé is laboriously deciding whether to format it chronologically skills-based. The chronology résumé should look something like this:

  • Permian Period. Shrinking of Paleo-Tethys sea. 96% extinction of marine species.
  • Ordovacian. Carbonate hardgrounds become very common, but biogeneic aragonite dissolves rapidly on the sea floor.
  • Late Bronze Age. Facilitated coming of the Sea Peoples in compliance with TQM practices.
  • 2018-present. Confirmed cleared mortgages for PNC Bank North Jersey facility.

In contrast the skills-based résumé is targeted instead at readers who want to know that you can write a skills-based résumé. The skills-based résumé is useful for covering up embarrassing gaps in employment. It should look something like:

  • Excel. More than 32 months experience screaming about why you are doing that to me. Certificate, Microsoft online training.
  • Banana bread. Extremely experienced in eating. Have made only twice, once by accident.
  • Equipment management. One time in high school this friend got, like, 30 surplus office phones and we recorded tossing every one of them off the roof of the abandoned Quick Chek on Route 516.
  • Light house-contracting. Pried open a painted-shut window. Successfully hired person to replace the glass that broke when the crowbar somehow flew upwards.

Thinking about this organization and considering imaginary types of résumés lets you put off actually working on them for weeks without feeling guilty. Then the accumulated guilty comes all at once.

The most important section is fibbing about your credentials, particularly if you’re going for a job even faintly supported by public funds. Every couple of years these puffed-up résumés turn into a scandal that’s a lot funnier to the people not fired as a result of it.

For example, in 2017 over eighteen administrators at New Jersey’s Livingston County College had to resign after the state comptroller revealed that New Jersey has no “Livingston County”. The college’s students were given two semesters to wrap up their studies or transfer to other colleges. When the bulk switched to the nearby imaginary Hamilton County College the Department of Higher Education threw up its metaphorical arms and sent them to Connecticut, where they enrolled in Trumbull County College and weren’t New Jersey’s problem anymore.

But résumé-based scandals make the community feel better. Everybody gets to point and snicker at whoever got caught, but nobody has have to feel bad like when it’s an important and hard problem. So give to the community and list something like how you were the very first New Jersey state comptroller. This way years later someone can discover New Jersey has never had a state comptroller, and the whole word “comptroller” looks pretty fishy too.

You can probably give writing that résumé another week or two before you do it. Let the built-up guilt come at you all at once.

Tales From The 80s


So if you’re in my age cohort you grew up seeing the opening credits of Tales From The Darkside. You know, where the camera pans across footage of a forest while the foreboding voice of Perilous McDoomenough intones, “Man lives in the sunlit world of what he BELIEVES to be … reality.” And then the screen fades to a posterized negative image about how there is “unseen by most an underworld”. And then you changed the channel because whatever was coming next would have to be way too frightening to watch.

I got thinking, you know, this has to be like slasher movies were. The hype makes it sound like this intense and barely-comprehensible experience. And it turns out to be about as scary as an SCTV episode. I was too much of a coward to watch horror movies as a kid. I mean, except the one time that they had us do a sleepover for Vacation Bible School and we camped out in some of the classrooms off in the CCD wing. And one of the things they showed was Friday the 13th. I thought it was pretty good. Also I don’t understand how this could have happened. We went to a pretty liberal diocese but still. I think we also watched Heathers. I know Vacation and European Vacation we watched at my friend Eddie Glazier’s bar mitzvah. I’m not sure I should be talking about this 35-plus years on. I might be getting somebody in trouble.

But that’s sort of how terror was for a white middle-class kid growing up in the suburbs in the 80s. And yes, I mean New Jersey-type suburbs, which in other states are what you would call “urbs”. Or “great undifferentiated mass of housing developments and corporate office parks stretching from the Amboy Drive-In to the Freehold Traffic Circle, dotted by some Two Guys department stores”. Still. I grew up a weenie and I would be glad for that if I didn’t think being glad about myself was kind of bragging.

And we knew how to be recreationally scared. We just had to think about the nuclear war. New Jersey enjoyed a weird place for that. I know in most of the country you came up with legends about why the Soviets had a missile aimed right at you. One that would be deployed right after they bombed Washington and New York City. “Of course the Kremlin knows Blorpton Falls, Iowa is the largest producer of sewing machine bobbins outside the New York City area. They’ll have to bomb us so the country can’t clothe itself well after World War III.” It was a way to be proud of your town and not be responsible for surviving the nuclear war.

Central Jersey? We didn’t have to coin legends. We knew, when the war came, we’d be doomed. It wouldn’t be for any reason. It’s just we’re close to New York City, we’re close to Philadelphia. Nothing personal. All we were doing was being near something someone else wanted to destroy. This turned out to be great practice for living in 2020 that I don’t recommend.

Oh, sure, there was the soccer field what they said used to be a Nike missile base that would have protected New York City from the missile attacks. Maybe the Soviets would have an old map, or refuse to believe that they built a soccer field in the United States in the 60s. That former-Nike-base could be a target, if the Nike missiles to intercept the missiles didn’t work, which they wouldn’t.

You might ask: wait, why didn’t they put the base that was supposed to protect New York City in-between New York and the Soviet missile bases instead? The answer is that in-between New York City and the Soviet missile bases is Connecticut. The construction vehicles for the Connecticut site set out on I-95 in 1961 and haven’t made it through traffic yet. Central Jersey was a backup so they could build a site that couldn’t work but could abandon. Anyway I don’t know the soccer field was ever actually a Nike base or if we just said it was. If it really was, I suppose it’s a Superfund clean-up site now. Makes me glad I realized I didn’t want to socc. I wanted to type in word processor programs from a magazine into my computer.

Anyway after thinking about that long enough, it turns out the movie threats we faced were kind of cozy. Yeah, they might turn you into an Alice-in-Wonderland cake and eat you, but at least you’d be singing all the way.

So back to Tales From The Darkside. You know what you find if you go back and watch it now? Tales From The Darkside never even had episodes! They knew everybody was going to be scared off by those credits. Each episode, for all four seasons, is one frozen negative-print posterized image of a tree while someone holds down a key on the synthesizer.

It is way more terrifying than I had ever imagined.

What Your Favorite Polygon Says About You


Triangle. You’re simple, solid, reliable. While you maybe fear being thought unimaginative, you feel a special affinity for triangles: they’re the shape that introduced the young you to the term “obtuse”. Knowing the word gave you many times you could insult a younger sibling without their catching on, and after they did catch on, let you insist that you were just describing the triangle they were making by doing something or other, and then they punched you. Good times.

Rectangle. You were caught off-guard by the question and figured this was the safest answer. Nobody’s ever going to say your judgement is bad, just vanilla. But, you answer, vanilla is only the most popular flavor of anything on the planet, even better-liked than chocolate, pentagons, fresh garlic toast, and the glue on security envelopes.

Pentagon. You actually like five-pointed stars but you’re not sure if they count as polygons.

Hexagon. You read somewhere about how this was the most efficient shape and you’re going to stick with that even though you never learned efficient at what. Alternatively, you play a lot of area-conquest strategy games and just like thinking about all these many paths of hexagons and having at least twelve types of cards to keep track of things. Alternatively, you are a flock of bees.

Heptagon. You don’t know what a heptagon is but you like the old-timey 1920s-slang feel to any word that starts “hep”.

Parallelepiped. You so enjoy the sound of this word you don’t care that it’s a polyhedron, not a polygon. If asked to name an actual proper polygon you will try to distract the questioner. “Is that a flock of bees?” you might say, pointing to the city’s new hexagon district, which is very efficient but has lousy traffic signals.

Circle. You have never, not once, ever completed a task without an argument about what the instructions precisely mean.

Parallelogram. You like how it suggests a rectangle, but by tilting to the side one way or another it looks like it’s moving faster. Or like it’s braking really fast. You can’t get just any shape to look that lively.

Heptadecagon. You are a mathematics major and were crazy impressed by the story of how Carl Friedrich Gauss figured out how to draw a regular 17-sided polygon with straightedge and compass. You’re still so impressed by this that you’re angry they inscribed a 17-pointed star, instead of a 17-sided polygon, on Gauss’s gravestone. You’ve never seen a picture of his gravestone, and you haven’t ever looked up how Gauss did this 17-gon. “It was really easy,” Gauss once explained. “I just drew a 17-pointed star and then connected the points.” You’re nevertheless still offended on his behalf.

Chiliagon. You were paying attention that day in philosophy class where they talked about a regular 1000-sided polygon and how you couldn’t even tell that wasn’t a circle. Very good.

Octagon. But not the stop-sign octagon. The octagon you get by putting, like, one long skinny table off the center of another long skinny table, because it looks like that shouldn’t even be an octagon but it is, and anybody can count edges and see it is, and that’s just great.

Myriagon. You like that chiliagon idea but think it’s getting just a little too much attention so you’re going for a 10,000-sided regular polygon instead. This is the sort of thing people warn new acquaintances you do.

Trapezoid. You have loved this shape ever since you first heard about it, and were able to go home and ask your little sibling if they wanted to see a trapezoid, and they said sure, and you informed them that they were a zoid and you grabbed their arm and wouldn’t let go, and said now that’s a trap-a-zoid and they ended up yelling and punched you with their free arm. That spot on your arm was sore for weeks. Good times.

Megagon. You’re the person who dragged the philosophy class into arguing whether it mattered that the Trolley Problem wouldn’t literally happen exactly like that, instead of letting the class explore the point of the problem about whether it’s more ethical to actively cause or to passively allow harm. Sigh. Fine. You are unimaginably clever. Now go play outside.

Dodecagon. You were trying to express fondness for that 20-sided die shape and then halfway through remembered that’s a polyhedron but you were committed. Had you started out with polygons in mind you would have said “heptagon”. The dice shape is the “icosahedron”. The dodecahedron is the 12-sided die. This is how everything in your life goes.

The Mystery Of The Call To Customer Service


“You did just give us your account number. We ask again so people can’t cut in the phone queue. Just because something’s physically and logically impossible is no reason not to have a policy.”

“Put like that it almost makes sense. Can we say my number is ‘forty’?”

“It doesn’t look that old, but I’m game. For quality-control purposes this call may have been pre-recorded. What is a problem?”

“You know how there’s an Internet? Not for me.”

“The web site could be down.”

“I tried Google, YouTube, archive.org, The New York Times, and Comics Curmudgeon, and the browser kept pointing and laughing that I wasn’t on the Internet.”

“Someday all those sites will be down simultaneously and we’ll cackle smugly at everybody thinking we’re the problem.”

“You do need quality controlled. You wouldn’t want it running wild.”

“That didn’t sound submissive.”

“Thinking about quality control. Am I being pre-recorded?”

“We can’t tell. It’d ruin the control group’s self-esteem. If you’re in the control group it’d spoil a relationship starting so well.”

“That’s considerate, unless I’m in the other group.”

“We thought you’d agree. Could you give us your account number again?”

“This time I’ll say ninety-four.”

“Oh, you are a giddy prankster. What’s your cable modem model number?”

“Hold on, I have to get the cat off it … … hold on, I have to find bandages … … It’s a model 327W.”

“That’s not the model number.”

“It says that’s the model number on top.”

“Yes, and don’t think this hasn’t lead to fisticuffs. The model number is on the bottom where you can’t read it in your light.”

“Could I give my phone number again?”

“I was just fixing to ask. Would you like it to be ‘six’ now?”

“No, I feel like ‘four’. On the bottom the cable modem is a model 327-W.”

“That’s better. … I’ll have to transfer you to a guy named `Jeff’. He’s usually hanging around and probably works for us. We don’t get many fans, though if he is one that explains his applause.”

“I like chances to talk with people named `Jeff’.”

“For Jeff, you’ll have to describe the problem, and give your customer number, and your model number. You’ll still have the problem.”

“Does he give the numbers back after?”

“He should. It’s bad practice to hog numbers. We lost `fourteen’ for months to one sourpuss tired of having people to turn things off and on.”

“Does he control quality too? — Never mind, it’d hurt my feelings if one of us lied. Should we give him an encore?”

“Would you please re-say your account number?”

“It’s forty, in that case. How did he like it?”

“He says he’s `Paul’ and we have him confused for someone else. Security is escorting him out.”

“Are they confused?”

“They know the way. This is about the twelfth Paul this month.”

“Would it help mentioning my customer number is 101?”

“It makes me more secure after this shocking Paul incident. Have you got another computer we might try something on?”

“I don’t.”

“Then we’re can’t do anything without someone actually named ‘Jeff’.”

“In that case, I do. I just didn’t want to confuse this issue.”

“Could you plug it in to your cable modem?”

“Any particular connection?”

“Yes, one into the cable modem. And go to the site 192 dot 168 dot … ”

“Dot 1 dot 1?”

“You act suspiciously like someone named ‘Jeff’.”

“Should I mention my customer number is 327?”

“No, that’s your model number. Do you see under Network Settings anything for DCHP/IP?”

“DCHP?”

“Yeah, let’s act like that matters. Do you see any pull-down menus?”

“I do, but hoped to ignore them.”

“Have you rebooted things?”

“I considered rebooting the refrigerator, so I could eat the ice cream.”

“I recommend trying that and calling back. My customer number is twelve.”

“That’s my number too. I bet it’s why we get along so.”

“Your supposition satisfies me. Were there any other issues?”

“There, the Internet came back. Thank you. There’s nothing else, Jeff.”

“You’re welcome — wait, how did you know?”


What clue told the caller the operator was Jeff? Read tomorrow’s puzzle and check your solution!

Some more things to say about The Story Of Brick


To get back to The Story of Brick, as told by the American Face Brick Association. I don’t want to over-sell the joy I feel in this book. I know these are hard times. Maybe things that bring me a little cheer are intensified. Still, I think there is a lot to enjoy here.

There’s a stretch of book trying to show what the different brick-laying styles are. In the text this is done by pictures. The eBook reader that for some reason gave me this, though, puts some of them as text. So it’s full of weird ASCII art. Like, here:

The Common or American bond, in order to secure transverse strength of wall, can be treated in a way to produce pleasing effects, as may Fig 7.

m
	ZZ3EZ~]C~Z3CZZI]CZrj.
	Fig. 3.
	Common
	ME
	oc
	:es3c
	U^r

The Flemish bond (Fig. 5) is secured by

mi
	nm
	immzznm
	izmmz.
	DCZS3
	IIEE3E
	nnc

Header Diamonds

|/>)(\(//-/>
<<|//-<-\|<|(\-///\\)|)--</>
())((//<-<
(-/(<\|/-(|(
/(>>/()|-->
(\))|(()(/|-->|/)-->)>>-)||</\/\|(|/<((<|/-(\\|)-)/\>-(>|/)\
	

Herring!

               .-_|\
              /     \
      Perth ->*.--._/
                   v  <- Tasmania

And despite that fine presentation of good new LinkedIn passwords for me, it just runs a picture for “Chimney Top”. I know what a chimney top looks like. I have one on my house. At least I did last time I checked. It’s been a while.

OK, I’m back. Yes, my chimney top is still there, along with all the chimney middle. You may mock me for checking that nothing had come along and swiped my chimney top without my knowing, but I remember that this is the year 2020. You know what would be stranger than something stealing the tops of chimneys of otherwise untouched buildings? Every single day since the 14th of January.

I don’t fault the book having a pro-brick agenda. I’m sure there’s a comparable book from the American Wood Shingles and Shakes Association that keeps pointing out how lousy bricks are. This if the shingles and shakes people get along. But the enthusiasm this book brings to bricks sometimes paints weird scenes. For example, remember the Great Baltimore Fire that destroyed over 1,300 buildings in February 1904? Me neither but I’ve only over driven through 1904 on the way to 1908 or 1894. Yes, I’m a Coxey’s Army hipster. But the American Face Brick Association notes “there was something saved, however, for a special committee … reported that between 200,000000 and 300,000,000 usable brick worth $5.00 a thousand were recovered”.

So now this paints a scene of a time when “brick” was the plural of brick? Maybe it was a character-recognition error. No, but they do this all over the book. All right. Let me move on.

So this also paints a scene of Baltimore, smashed by a catastrophic fire. Through the smoldering ruins, though, a civic leader stands up. I’ll assume his name was “Archibald”, since that’s an era when civic leaders had names like Archibald or Edwin or Vernon or all that at once. “It is not all lost, my fellow Baltimoreans,” cried Archibald, holding up two pretty good brick in his right and one fractured brick in his left. “There is merchantable salvage comprising a million and a half of dollars of brick here!” I bet his news was greeted with deep, impressed looks from the survivors picking through ruin. I bet they shared their joy and brick with him. And then Archibald interjected, “Herring!”

So it’s a good thing to know there were a quarter-billion still-usable bricks in Baltimore in 1904. It shows what kind of a craftsman I am that actually using them seems like maybe more effort than they’re worth. Of course, what they’re worth was a million and a half dollars, according to Archibald Edwin Vernon. That is a lot of effort to not go to. It’s just I think of my own uses for used bricks.

There’s one set behind the microwave so we don’t push it up against the wall when we press the door-release lever. There’s a brick I use to get a crowbar in the right place, when I do my annual prying-open-of-a-window-some-cursed-former-resident-painted-shut. There’s one we keep in the basement, next to the stairs, so that we can stub our toes if that hasn’t happened already. I think if we stretched our imaginations we could use as many as two more brick.

So that covers a market for five used brick. This leaves 1904 Baltimore with needing to find applications for only a quarter-billion more brick. They could solve this by building more houses, sure, but that’s still 40 to 60 million houses to use up all that brick. It makes one wonder what they were doing with all those brick in the first place.

Herring!