- It should have a city enclosed in a transparent dome, whether glass, plastic, a force field, or some exotic form of matter of energy.
- That’s about it.
- Really, yeah, give me a domed city and you can have just about whatever else you want in the story.
- Thank you.
I just want someone to reassure me that I’m exactly right in what I’m doing and what I figure to do and anyone saying anything to the contrary is so wrong I don’t have to even answer. Is that too much? Clumsy mention of my mathematics blog reviewing comic strips here.
I’m sorry, bunch of fun pinball friends with whom we got together after league at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant to figure out what vegetarians could eat there. (We could have the Diet Coke, or we could lick the clean silverware.) But the TV was showing the World’s Strongest Man competition and I couldn’t help it. If I understood things right they flew six pyramid-shaped men to Nairobi so they could lift a wooden Viking boat. I don’t know why. Maybe Nairobi over-invested in Viking boat making and the Nairobi Viking Boat Industrial Board thought having some large men lifting them was just what they needed to get through the downturn. But you can see how watching that would be more fascinating than hearing even the latest gossip about the state’s competitive pinball community. And if you don’t, then consider that the next event was pairs of men going out and lifting giant stone balls to put atop cylinders. And that’s not even counting the harness set up to lift and set down Toyota Borings. In short, I may have a new favorite pastime, and it’s watching very big men picking things up. Send help.
|Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania||Shorter Winter|
|Staten Island Zoo, New York City||Longer Winter|
|Howell, Michigan||Longer Winter|
|Sandusky, Ohio||Wider Winter|
|Salem, New Hampshire||Mintier Winter|
|Santa Claus, Indiana||Winter With Chocolate Sprinkles And Whipped Cream|
|Elysburg, Pennsylvania||Three-Minute Spring With Biscuit and Gravy|
|Myrtle Beach, South Carolina||Mid-Spring|
|Pigeon Forge, Tennessee||Longer Winter But With Fashionable Fringes|
|Clementon, New Jersey||Remarkably Average Winter|
- Floriemel, Carmela, and Margarita Coati. Cohanzick Zoo, Bridgeton, NJ. February 1. The animals come out and eat fruit to predict how many human-interest features will explain what the heck coatis are. They’re what Belize has instead of raccoons.
- Punxsutawney Phil, Punxsutawney, Totally Oughta Be Philadelphia. February 2. Groundhog famous for predicting whether we’ll get the place spelled right.
- Woody the Woodchuck, Howell, Michigan. February 2. Predicts whether spring will come to the lower peninsula in six weeks or whether spring will be like normal and arrive sometime late May. No forecast for the upper peninsula as spring has never come to the upper peninsula.
- Shrieking Sam the Shreveport Clam, Louisiana. February 4. Will holler up a storm about whether a storm is coming in. Does not count own hollering storm as a storm.
- Jormungandr, Low Earth Orbit. February 5. Rises early in the morning to determine whether this will be the year he eats Scandinavia. Spoiler: hasn’t for the last 876 years, starting to think he never will. Dress warmly anyway.
- Chris Squirrel, London. February 7. Adorable fluffy-tailed character in a computer-animated funny-animal movie about the Yes bassist. Forecasts whether the coming year will feature lasers.
- Kenny Kangaroo, Pittsburgh, February 8. Forecasts whether the Kennywood amusement park would close for the day at 8:00 or 9:00, if it were open in the middle of winter like this. Mostly a public-relations thing, unlike the other weather-forecasting animals.
- Carl, Des Moines, Washington, February 10. Oversleeping groundhog that makes us wonder why we need a Des Moines in Washington when the one in Iowa would seem to sate all our Des Moines needs, really. Forecasts whether eastern Washington state will have a quarter-inch of rain this year or whether it’ll stay dry.
OK, first, more comic strips over on my mathematics blog, because darned it I am not going to let a 1959 installment of Hi and Lois toss in a bit of calculus without explaining just what is meant by it. I hope you enjoy because there’s not going to be another of those comic strip explanation posts until Saturday.
Otherwise, I was reading the Comics Curmudgeon blog. The advertising server suggested a couple books. They came out as:
- A book of Slylock Fox mystery puzzles.
- A book of Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comics.
- A book of Slylock Fox “brain bogglers” which are different from mystery puzzles in six ways and can you find them all?
- A book titled A Do-It-Yourself Submachine Gun.
I have some snarky views about Tom Batiuk and, separately, the comic strip Luann. But I think a submachine gun is the wrong way to handle them. They should be handled in the traditional way of making YouTube videos in which the dialogue from the comics is read aloud by people who inflect the lines in the most uncharitable ways.
Still, I guess at least they made an advertising impression, which is a triumph in this day and age.
It was your typical sort of dream, by which I mean typical for me. One of those long, rambling, confusing dreams shuffling back and forth between offices as cramped and overstuffed as a used book store’s aisles are. I was doing the best I could to help a friend interview for a job he wasn’t actually qualified for but could probably get up to speed on fast enough that people wouldn’t catch on. The way all of us do.
But dragging me down was one of the people with an actual job there, who kept demanding I explain how it was Ogden Nash wrote such a fantastic book explaining nuclear fusion. And to be fair it did look like a great book. Even in the ancient, falling-apart copy they had, all the illustrations were still animating very well. Had to agree the publisher had a lot of confidence to publish a book quite that lavish. She wanted to know when Ogden Nash was going to publish another science book and I had to say, I was pretty sure he had died. Even found in the preface that the book hadn’t been quite finished as Nash died just after turning in the first draft in December 1956. I felt like a bit of a heel dashing her hopes for a follow-up book on brane theory. In the non-dream worlds, Nash died in May 1971, so my powers to accurately pluck dates out of nowhere seem not to extend to writers of amusing verse.
I have no evidence that Ogden Nash wrote any science popularizations of note.
So given that the International House of Pancakes we went to over the weekend saw these phenomena:
- They were “out” of crepes, a thing made on-demand from eggs, milk, and butter.
- They could not split a check between three people at the table because, the server told us, that old policy made it too easy for dine-and-dashers.
- According to the sign at the register they no longer sold gift cards by credit or debit card but by cash only.
- The server asked us for advice on where in the area to buy a new SD card for his phone because apparently he took it in for servicing and they swiped his old bigger card for a smaller one.
- The server also talked to us a bit about how his phone’s news app normally required him to log in to stream any programs but for the inauguration it didn’t.
- Another sign at the register asked for comments to be sent to an address at Yahoo that had number in the user name.
So check me on this: there’s, like, at most a four percent chance we were at a legitimate IHOP and we were really at some weirdly elaborate counterfeit, right?
In short: always go to pancake places late nights on the weekends. You’re missing something otherwise.
Let me preface this by pointing out my mathematics blog, where yesterday I did another of those comic strip reviews. Last week saw more jokes about anthropomorphized numerals than usual, although in fairness, the usual is probably “one, at most”. So it doesn’t take all that many to be more than usual. Two is all you need. I hope you aren’t disappointed by this. It’s just how the numerals worked out.
Anyway. The recent Mark Trail story has finally ended. Mark escaped Explosion Island with his friends intact. All the invasive-species ants that made it to Explosion Island were burned alive by lava, except for the three pregnant queens Mark that snuck into Mark’s pants cuff and that have now set up in the Lost Forest. So it’s a good ending for everybody except for Explosion Island’s now-extinct varieties of hog, brightly-colored birds, and Polynesian Tortoise Or Whatever. Mark’s editor couldn’t believe that he managed to blow up Explosion Island, but that’s all right, because exploding islands make for interesting stories too. And then Saturday we got this:
I don’t want to understate the danger here, gang. Mark Trail is being all self-aware. The world is in serious danger of ending right here and now, in an explosion of lava and invasive ants. Please take whatever actions are appropriate to this sort of thing, whatever those are.
I picked up a biography of P T Barnum because, I don’t know, I had some strange desire to read about a renowned showman and humbug artist who chose to go into public service and did his best, despite hardships, to stand for the working class without compromising his Universalist faith. I don’t know. Anyway, in chapter seven of A H Saxon’s P T Barnum: The Legend And The Man came this, from his first tour of Europe, which just delights me so:
While they were in Brussels, Barnum decided to visit the site of the Battle of Waterloo, to which he and a friend set out one morning at the early hour of 4 am. He could not help being impressed by the brisk traffic he saw there in reputed “relics” of the battle and by the whopping lies told by the guides who swarmed about them. After one of these had pointed out with great authority the place where Wellington had his station, the spot where Sir William Ponsonby fell, etc, Barnum asked if he could show them where Captain Tippitimichet of the Connecticut Fusileers was killed. This the guide promptly did. The precise spots where some twenty other fictitious officers from such exotic locales as Coney Island, Hoboken, and Saratoga Springs had fallen were also obligingly pointed out, following which the showman could not resist asking where “Brigadier General James Gordon Bennett [ editor of the New York Herald and an unshakeable Barnum-hater ] had given up the ghost”. This time the guide, who claimed to have been present when Bennett died, excelled himself and recalled the famous general’s last words: “Portez-moi de l’eau!”
… Or so Barnum told the newspapers back home.
Also, hey, mathematics comics, there were some more of them. Maybe the last Jumble I’ll be able to run. Don’t know yet.
So suppose some alien agency does find the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes and finds the golden record on them. That’s fine enough. And I imagine that they’d be able to work out what the disc was for, since aliens skilled enough to catch a space probe like that probably understand sound waves well enough and can work out what engraved wiggles probably are. And going from a long spiral wiggle to, you know, playing the sound is probably straightforward enough. But what happens if they take that recording of the sounds of Earth and play it backwards? Huh? What then?
Again I’m not saying we have to do something about this right this minute. We can wait until we have some idea what to do about it. I’d just like to know that somebody’s got the problem under control.
What if the sign in fact asked “What If Corn Knew Its Density” instead? Somebody or something has to know the density of corn. I don’t suppose most corn knows, what with it generally not being at all sapient and being involved in matters of density really only when it’s tossed into water. And at that point it probably has more urgent considerations than density qua density. I’m thinking, anyway. At least you could have a movie about some corn hero rising up to change its density and have that be a meaningful concept.
Well, I wrote down the day of the week and it came out “Thursday”. I wrote down the day of the month and it came out “22nd”. I wrote down the month and it came out “September”. And the year? That turned out to be “2016” because remember that? Yeah. So in that big flaming pile of fantastic wrongness I just have to ask: wait, was the 22nd of September a Thursday last year? … It was. How the heck did I get that right?
I did not get stuff wrong on my mathematics blog where I talked about comic strips, which is a different thing from when I talk about comic strips here on my humor blog, somehow. I think.
And how is your late-September working out?
I wanted to finally give in to the inevitable and officially switch my e-mail model from “things I will someday answer” to “a pile of text composting”. I’ve got some fine little queries dating back to 2014 that will surely make a rich, natural creative soil someday. But to get my inbox properly designated a compost e-mail bin I had to send the state office for this sort of thing you guessed it, an e-mail. And I see from their FAQ that even if they do ever answer it I’m going to have to answer some follow-up questions and e-mail them back. I bet it’s one of those psyche-out tests where you have to declare the correct thing to do is not follow the rules. I hate those. Expect stern letter to follow as soon as I’ve looked up that question about McDonald’s stock valuation my dad was wondering about back then.
I’m starting to suspect WordPress isn’t going to send me that “look how your 2016 was!” report with the animated picture of fireworks going off for every post and talking about how many people from what countries read my blogs. I hope it isn’t because of something I did, like keep on using the old-fashioned way of entering new posts. I tried, I really tried, using the new system but it’s designed the way web sites are done anymore, where everything is a bunch of floating loose islands and they’re all colored borderless rectangles and there’s no guessing what’s a button and what’s a label and what’s done automatically and what you have to find and press a button to do. I don’t want to sound prematurely old. It’s just that when I look at a web site and wonder if they’re trying to gamify my user experience I feel like I have to wash my hands. And I already do that like 260 times a day which should be enough except it never is and maybe I should go do it again. Anyway I liked the fireworks thing.
And now the conclusion of my MST3K treatment of The Tale of Fatty Coon.
TOM: It was.
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
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!’
> 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?
> 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
CROW: And awful.
> But he was very, very glad that the strange bug had flown
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. ]
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. ]
OBSERVER: Chapters Six …
PEARL: Through Twenty.
BOBO: [ Not getting it. ] Oh. [ Getting it. ] Oh!
\ | /
\ | /
/ | \
/ | \
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
And now the next part of my MST3K treatment of The Tale of Fatty Coon.
> 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
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
CROW: Maybe one squirrel, two chipmunks, and a groundhog serving in an advisory capacity?
> Fatty Coon’s eyes turned green.
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
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.
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.
[ To Conclude ]
And now the next part of my MST3K treatment of The Tale of Fatty Coon.
> 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.
> 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.
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!
[ To Continue ]
And now the next part of my MST3K treatment of The Tale of Fatty Coon.
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
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.
> There were four white eggs in the nest—the biggest crow’s eggs
> Fatty had ever seen.
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
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!
> 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.
> 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.
> 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 ]
The only fan fiction I’ve written and shared on the Internet has been Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic. It’s a fun genre. It grew from the MST3K newsgroups on Usenet, which I knew as rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc and its affiliates. Mostly it grew in response to the famous “Marissa Picard” stories Stephen Ratliff wrote as Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic. But it’s always included other stuff.
A couple years ago I ran across a series of children’s books from the 1910s. They were written by Arthur Scott Bailey, which exhausts what I know about him. And they’re little tales for kids about life as animals see it. And they’re just … off, in that way that I think makes for great MST3K material. I had wanted to do a whole book, and I just don’t have the time for that. So this week I hope to feature the first five chapters, at least, and I’ve put that together into a little MiSTing experience I hope you enjoy.
Before that, though, I did some more mathematics comics in my other blog. No pictures, sorry.
[ SEASON TEN opening. ]
[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. TOM is reading a newspaper and chuckling as MIKE and CROW enter. ]
TOM: Hee heee!
MIKE: What’s up there, Thomas?
CROW: He finally noticed they print the ‘Jumble’ answers upside-down.
TOM: I’m now a happy subscriber to the Ironic Comics page.
[ MIKE takes the paper from TOM’s hands. CROW peeks at a corner, letting the paper flap over his beak. ]
TOM: ‘Beetle Bailey’ as Wagnerian opera! Fred Basset portrayed by a very long duck! ‘The Lockhorns’ with neither lock nor horn!
MIKE: Hey, I like this Clip-Art ‘Cathy’. She married Irving Berlin.
CROW: Wait, this is just ‘Henry’. What’s ironic about that?
TOM: What’s *not* ironic about ‘Henry’?
[ MADS sign flashes. ]
MIKE: Ahp. Agatha Crumm is calling.
[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL, PROFESSOR BOBO, and the OBSERVER are at a table. ]
OBSERVER: I love ‘For Better Or For Worse, And It Turns Out, Worse.’ [ To PEARL’s withering indifference. ] It puts at the end of every strip Anthony whining how ‘I have no home!’
PEARL: OK, Mark Trail. We’ve tried everything to break your spirits. We’ve tried bad movies.
BOBO: We’ve tried telephones!
PEARL: We’ve tried fan fiction.
OBSERVER: We’ve tried advertisements!
PEARL: We’ve tried the most Ruby-Spearsish Hanna-Barbera Christmas specials!
BOBO: I love that one with Goober and Gumdrop!
OBSERVER: Now let’s try … young-reader animal fantasy!
PEARL: Your experiment for today is the first five chapters of Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 piece of ouvre _The Tale of Fatty Coon_.
BOBO: See if you learn something special from all this adorable animal fantasy!
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. MOVIE SIGN and general chaos. ]
MIKE: Oh, no! Animal fantasy!
TOM, CROW: AAAAGH!
[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.. ]
[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]
> SLEEPY-TIME TALES
TOM: So … uh … good night?
> THE TALE OF FATTY COON
CROW: From Buster Keaton through learning there *is* such a thing as bad publicity.
> BY ARTHUR SCOTT BAILEY
TOM: o/` Arthur was born just a plain simple man o/`
> ILLUSTRATED BY HARRY L. SMITH
> NEW YORK
MIKE: Illustrated by Harry L Smith and the New York dancers!
> FATTY COON AT HOME
TOM: Just sitting around the home …
> Fatty Coon was so fat and round
CROW: Oh come *on*.
MIKE: Man, 1915 and they’re ahead of our lead joke.
> that he looked like a ball of
> fur, with a plumelike tail for a handle. But if you looked at him
> closely you would have seen a pair of very bright eyes watching you.
CROW: From the tail?
TOM: Raccoons can see very well through their handles.
> Fatty loved to eat.
CROW: And that’s all the personality he’ll need!
MIKE: Pretty much all the personality I have.
> Yes—he loved eating better than anything
> else in the world. That was what made him so fat.
TOM: ‘I’m getting ready to hibernate for winter!’
CROW: ‘It’s May.’
TOM: ‘I don’t want to get caught by surprise.’
> And that, too, was
> what led him into many adventures.
CROW: Like the adventure of Waffle House At 3 am.
MIKE: Taking his life and his maple syrup into his own paws.
> Close by a swamp, which lay down in the valley, between Blue
> Mountain and Swift River,
TOM: Burger King on the right and if you come to the old middle school you’ve gone too far.
> Fatty Coon lived with his mother and his
> brother and his two sisters.
CROW: And his mayonnaise.
> Among them all there was what grown
> people call "a strong family resemblance," which is the same thing as
> saying that they all looked very much alike.
TOM: What, because all raccoons look the same to you?
> The tail of each one of
> them—mother and children too—had six black rings around it. Each of
> them had a dark brown patch of fur across the face, like a mask.
MIKE: _Clonus: The Ranger Rick Project_.
> And—what do you think?—each of them, even Fatty and his brother and
> his sisters, had a stiff, white moustache!
CROW: This is getting near body shaming, Mister Arthur Scott Bailey.
> Of course, though they all looked so much alike, you would
> have known which was Mrs. Coon, for she was so much bigger than her
TOM: And she had that ISO 9000 consulting job for Lockheed.
> And you would have known which was Fatty—he was so much
> rounder than his brother and his sisters.
CROW: And he had a bear claw in his mouth.
MIKE: The pastry?
CROW: We’ll see.
> Mrs. Coon’s home was in the hollow branch of an old tree.
TOM: They were the first wave of gentrification moving in.
MIKE: Classic cycle. Starving artists, hipsters, raccoons, rents go up.
> was a giant of a tree—a poplar close by a brook which ran into the
> swamp—and the branch which was Mrs. Coon’s home was as big as most
> tree-trunks are.
MIKE: Look, it’s a tree, all right? I’m Arthur Scott Bailey, I got bigger fish to fry than specifying poplar trees.
> Blackie was Fatty’s brother—for the mask on his face was just
> a little darker than the others’.
TOM: *Blackie* Coon?
MIKE: Oh dear Lord.
> Fluffy was one of Fatty’s sisters,
> because her fur was just a little fluffier than the other children’s.
TOM: *Fluffy* Coon?
CROW: When Andrew WK visits Anthrocon?
> And Cutey was the other sister’s name, because she was so quaint.
TOM: I feel like I need to apologize and I don’t even know who to.
> Now, Fatty Coon was forever looking around for something to
MIKE: ‘Here’s a thing!’ (Gulp)
TOM: ‘That’s a vase!’
MIKE: Needs honey mustard.’
> He was never satisfied with what his mother brought home for him.
CROW: ‘Crawdads and berries *again*?’
MIKE: ‘No, this is berries and Crawdads.’
> No matter how big a dinner Mrs. Coon set before her family, as soon as
> he had finished eating his share Fatty would wipe his white moustache
> carefully—for all the world like some old gentleman—and hurry off in
> search of something more.
MIKE: ‘Fatty, that’s a rock.’
CROW: ‘That’s a rock with ranch dressing.’
> Sometimes he went to the edge of the brook and tried to catch
> fish by hooking them out of the water with his sharp claws.
TOM: ‘Best case scenario, I catch a snack. Worst case, I touch a goldfish. Either way, a win!’
> he went over to the swamp and hunted for duck among the tall reeds.
CROW: ‘Hey, a little deep frying and these reeds would be good.’
> And though he did not yet know how to catch a duck, he could always
> capture a frog or two; and Fatty ate them as if he hadn’t had a
> mouthful of food for days.
MIKE: ‘If I eat enough frog maybe a duck will crawl into my mouth and see what’s going on!’
> To tell the truth, Fatty would eat almost anything he could
> get—nuts, cherries, wild grapes,
TOM: Boring, straight-laced actuary grapes.
> blackberries, bugs, small snakes,
CROW: Large but depressed snakes.
> fish, chickens,
MIKE: Buckets of fried dough.
> honey—there was no end to the different kinds of food
> he liked.
TOM: I believe you, sugar.
> He ate everything. And he always wanted more.
MIKE: Thing is it’s fun cooking for someone who likes eating so much.
> "Is this all there is?" Fatty Coon asked his mother one day.
TOM: Well, you could merge with Ilia and Captain Decker maybe?
> He had gobbled up every bit of the nice fish that Mrs. Coon had
> brought home for him. It was gone in no time at all.
CROW: ‘Well, you could try the less-nice or the morally ambiguous fish.’
> Mrs. Coon sighed. She had heard that question so many times;
> and she wished that for once Fatty might have all the dinner he
MIKE: ‘Fatty, you’re a sphere.’
CROW: ‘And I could be a hypersphere, Mom!!’
> "Yes—that’s all," she said, "and I should think that it was
> enough for a young coon like you."
> Fatty said nothing more. He wiped his moustache on the back of
> his hand (I hope you’ll never do that!)
TOM: You eating raw frogs, though, Arthur Scott Bailey’s cool with.
> and without another word
MIKE: Really, what else was there to say?
> he started off to see what he could find to eat.
CROW: ‘This is delicious!’
MIKE: ‘This is an ironing board!’
CROW: ‘With marshmallows!’
[ To Continue ]