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THE NEW PALS CLUB WEB-LOG

THE NEW PALS CLUB WEB-LOG
improbable-looking limestone karsts in Guilin

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Toon River Anthology Excavates Comic Books (continued)

DOROTHY “DOT” POLKA

Names are destiny. You have to choose carefully.
Dad and Mom loved to dance. They were the Polkas!
They thought I’d be a dancer too, but I wasn’t like them.
My aunts thought it would be cute to dress me in dots,
Like my name! I was surrounded by dots as a baby.
I couldn’t get over them. They became my life.
Dots here, Dots there. It drove Dad to distraction,
And Mom eventually left us, crying. She still loved us,
But she couldn't cope with it, and she fled the state.
I hardly noticed when she left. She wasn’t a dot!
Partnerless, Dad soldiered on. When I was fifteen, I had an accident,
Fell off my polka-dot bike, hit my head. I was okay. 
But when I realized that I could see spots, beautiful spots, 
Any time, anywhere, just by hitting myself on the head,
My doom was sealed.
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Friday, December 09, 2016

Toon River Returns

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It's been a while, but the epitaphs keep on coming:

RICHARD $ RICH, JR.

I had wealthy friends, but I preferred the poor kids—
Bedraggled ragamuffins with bad hair and no fashion sense. 
How they gaped at my opulence! How they thanked me
For any little crumb of generosity that trickled down.
“Kissing up,” some called it. I learned the term
From our second Cadbury, on his way out: Bitter!
They could have had an easy life if they’d kept to it,
But when their voices changed, so did their tune.
They still thanked me, but there was some edge to it
That I couldn’t abide. They thought they were entitled!
It wasn’t enough that I let them ride my golden wagon
Down a hill of gold coins and jewels any more. No,
They betrayed my trust. Small gems “accidentally” stuck 
In a shoe or a ragged pants cuff. Dishonest!
I might have even let that go unpunished, if it hadn’t been
For their miserable attitudes. Oh, we’re so poor. We’re so cold.
Our mom is so sick. Our dad got laid off at your plant.
Can’t you do something? You were our friend!
What do you mean “were,” you ingrates?
I sent them away. No sense of respect. Sad!
Who needs them? I have this huge mausoleum now:
A solid gold statue of myself by the best artist,
And my personal police force to keep out the riff-raff.
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Oi! Post number 100. Some people get to 100 in a month. It took me about nine years. We'll see how long it takes to get to 100 comments—presently at 59, and half those are me answering back.
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Saturday, August 27, 2016

2X2L CALLING GROVER'S MILLS

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The direct stimulus:

(((Queer Xopher)))@Halftongue 4h4 hours ago 
Today's dream retrieval: "Those feet are covered in intergalactic spit! They can't be allowed to touch Earth!"
Nothing beside remains.
The result (originally parceled out in tweets, and now slightly amended and collected):

THE NEW NEW JERSEY

And shall those feet, in future times
Moisten our planet's precious soil?
And will the spawn of Ab'rop'od
Spit upon our blood & toil?

Bring me my belt of blazing jet!
Bring me my telescope of light!
Bring me my plans—unfurl them here.
Bring me microbes with hungering bite!

I will not shirk the cosmic fight,
Not drop this phaser from my hand
Till we have shed this eldritch blight
And scoured the Martian from our land!

(ttto: Jerusalem, words by Blake, tune by Parry)
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

IT COULDN’T BE DONE

A wasted figure sits at his computer, laboriously entering characters one by one, using his eye movements to guide the cursor. He is used to this time-consuming work. His body doesn’t  move at all, though his lip seems to twitch every now and then. Time passes, and the file he is working on grows to completion.

Jack entered the transport booth with some misgiving. He knew that when he stepped out, in Rio, it would feel a lot like being hit by a bus. This, in spite of the padding and flex support that aimed to minimize the jarring. Damn Niven, thought Jack. This used to be effortless. You step in, you step out, you’re someplace else. Then Mister Smarty Pants has to pop up with his little wheeze about physics. You move that far, he said, and the differential of the Earth’s movement hits you in the ass. And so it did. Thank you all to hell, Mister Niven.

It was like that with a lot of things, thanks to the naysayers. Smarmy little teacher’s pets, with their hands waving in the air to call out the inconvenient facts we would as soon have ignored. It wasn’t fair! We used to have so much. We had faster-than-light travel, until Clarke had to show us all how smart he was. We used to have aliens here, hundreds of races, so different from ours, dropping in and out all the time.

Now, without FTL, all you saw in spaceports was humans, on their way out, sleeping away the centuries before they had any prospect of meeting anyone who didn’t look just like them. He moderated his gloomy monolog for a moment, to give thanks for the enticing prospect of aliens that still dangled before him, some day, maybe. Thanks for that anyway, Carl...

An impatient cough behind him brought Jack back to the present. A small line was waiting for his booth. No more temporizing; he inserted his card, touched his destination, and waited for the jolt. Ugh! He pulled his card from the slot and staggered back into the couch that was placed for the purpose, and waited for his stomach to quiet down.

Rio looked about like Brooklyn had, except for the climate. Jack sat back and looked at the sky, once a giddy riot of anti-grav cars and flitters. Now it held a couple of traffic helicopters, buzzing around for bad news to feed on. He started to curse the genius who had killed anti-grav, but no name came to mind. Well, damn Whoever!

By now his stomach had stopped complaining about the ride, and began to complain about the lack of food. This always made him so damn hungry. Well, there’d be food at the Institute.

At the thought of the Institute, Jack smiled for the first time. At least the bastards hadn’t taken time travel away. And Jack had a plan. He would go back, back to a time when none of these skeptics had ruined things with their miserable, stupid little laws of physics.

Jack hailed a rickshaw cab and gave the address, and spent a few minutes checking his supplies to be sure he’d thought of everything. Remembering the supply of historically correct currency he was bringing along, he thoughtfully gave the surprised cabbie every bill in his wallet, and took a last look around while he walked the dozen steps to the street door of the Institute.

Pausing only to get a couple of things from his desk, Jack swung through the commissary for a sandwich. He ate quickly, impatiently. After about two thirds of it, he scooped up the rest, grabbed his briefcase and headed for his lab, input his security code and entered.

There it was; the gleaming chrome and glass booth. Jack’s ticket out! He seemed to taste freedom through the last bite of corned beef. He keyed in his destination and an amber light glowed next to a button. Jack swallowed and pressed the button. There was an unfamiliar momentary jolt,
lasting
forever...

The painfully thin man aims his eyes at a spot on the screen, sending the file to the printer. He wishes for a second that he was an able bodied typist, so he could zzzzip the paper out. A very satisfying and final gesture, that. But this is reality, and wishful thinking doesn’t work here; so instead he rolls tamely into the kitchen for a snack. Glowing on the screen is the title of his latest paper, “A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME TRAVEL IN SCIENCE FICTION: Why It Wouldn’t Work.”
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To the memory of Bud Webster, who approved of this story.

Monday, February 15, 2016

THE KITTY KATS' BARBECUE

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Little mice, trussed up so nice, 
Are roasting on the grill.
Oh! what fun when they are done, 
For kats to eat their fill!

All the kitty kats are there, 
For it’s their special day.
With vim and pep they prance and step. 
They love to romp and play.

As kittens sport, their mothers set 
A ribbon at each place.
Each momma makes sure that 
Every youngster combs its face.

A baby birdie shivers on 
Each gaily colored plate,
And though the maws say, “Wash your paws!”, 
The wee ones cannot wait!

"Oh, listen to their frightened cries
Whenever we come near!
See them roll their tiny eyes
And see them quake with fear!

“Oh, let us have one, Daddy dear, 
To tease and fill with fright!”
“I am too lenient, I fear,” 
Says Poppa, “But, all right.”

Once Grace is said, the forks come out. 
The feasting shan’t be through
Till every feline’s had his fill 
Of birdie barbecue!

And home they troop, to doze all day, 
In Dreamland to arrive.
How grand to be a kitty kat! 
How great to be alive!



(Originally ca 1981. Started by Ken D., finished by Kip W. Reconstructed from incomplete memories, 2016; found an original, kept some changes)
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

CORPORATE CITIZEN

It was that dream again. Citizen Tromm perched awkwardly in a student-chair a decade too small for him, shivering a little as his hand, seemingly working on its own initiative, urgently rifled the contents of the still-familiar student-desk that pressed uncomfortably into his middle-aged bulk, trying not to be seen. “Cadet Tromm!” called Schoolmarm Hamil. “Is there something you wish to share with the rest of us?”

Citizen Tromm—Cadet Tromm—withdrew the errant hand as smoothly as possible, under the circumstances. The action did not go unseen. Cadet Snye, long since gone to his glory on the war-field of New Troy, brayed, “The bear has caught his paw in the honeycomb!” Of course, Hawknose Hamil had no word of criticism for this outburst. Tromm was a stinking schoolmarm’s pet. Tromm still longed to put some color on that smug face.

Schoolmarm Hamil silenced incipient laughter with a stock gesture. In the silence, Tromm became all too aware that he was now wearing a shapeless smock in place of his uniform, and his feet met cold tile. “Perhaps Cadet Tromm will share some of his knowledge with us?” A snicker rose around him. Awkwardly shifting his middle-aged gut, he stood, holding his textbook in front of his crotch, acutely aware of the flimsy white garment that was all that kept him from being entirely naked. 

The floor felt damply slippery under his bare feet. Following the pointer in Hamil’s clawlike hand, he tried to focus on the board at the front of the room, but could only make out the topic: “Worker Care,” and the first few words, “In the 21st century…” After that, the green scribbles became unruly and uncertain. The letters floated and bobbed in a glaring expanse the color of his blind spot.

“In the 21st century,” he began. 

“In the 21st century,” he began again. Citizen Gurt unkindly observed, “They had to have the 21st century twice, because the first time it didn’t take!” Gurt’s wit stung, as Gurt was his boss in the stylus factory, and had never even attended the same schools as Tromm. She was, however, somewhat attractive, and Tromm’s near-nakedness was even more embarrassing in her presence. Near naked? Tromm was now completely nude, and hoped nobody noticed that he had opened the concealing textbook in a weak bid for a bit more coverage. Over the titters of his classmates, Tromm was aware of dripping sounds from something he couldn’t see.

“In the 21st century, the care and health of workers became of primary concern to their corporations! We owe this insight to the research of the Welch Corporation, whose landmark court victory Welch v Doe et al established that employment carried responsibilities both in and out of the factory!” Laughter dried up momentarily as knowledge that had been poured assiduously into Tromm’s brain years ago spilled out. “As companies became able to, to demand conformance to commonsense precautions, some employees pushed back in Markes v Monsanto, arguing that if they were to act for their companies, even for their own benefit, that they should be paid while doing so! In accordance with fair business practice!” 

Tromm looked around triumphantly, expecting approval from his cadre-mates and was shocked to see instead faces of sorrow. Mouths hung open, as if in unnatural sympathy. Even Snye shook his head ruefully, and Gurt’s emerald eyes gleamed with a hint of a tear. Tromm yearned to go over and comfort her. He started to put the book down—thankfully, the smock was somehow back—and only then noticed that the pages were sodden. He was crying too! Gurt was crying! Snye, Philps, Green, Sten… all of them were weeping copiously, tears streaming down their young faces.

“There will be none of that!” Hamil, unaffected by the grief of inferiors, pulled the lever of the fire alarm by the door, only it was now next to the board. A siren commenced loud beeping outside. “Continue, Cadet Tromm.”

Tromm wiped his eyes with the back of a sleeve, which smeared without drying. “Health care was now automatically regarded as being on company time.” He wept as he spoke. “Physical fitness activities were now billable hours. It was decided in Hamps v Aqua Tec that meals and other aspects of nutrition were regarded as health care and thus a matter of employative interest. At this time, a single standard of personal identification became necessary for administrative and accountiatve simplication.” 

Tromm’s use of imaginary word forms went unnoticed by the class, which was now given over to emotion. His foot slid on the floor, though he didn’t fall, and the ripple in the wet floor extended outward neatly in all directions, bouncing back prettily from the far wall, like an animation he’d seen in a science video. The siren went unheeded. More water seemed to press against the door from the hallway, causing it to bow inwards. It ran in over the sill, adding to the half inch or so realistically lapping at the legs of the student-desks. Gurt’s blouse was doing interesting things, but Tromm’s attention was taken by the siren, insistent and rhythmic, beeping, beeping.

…Tromm opened his eyes. His bed-alarm was not beeping, and would not start for another four minutes. Another alarm had wakened him, one that had served to waken men for untold millennia. Bleary eyes discerned the door’s lighter rectangle in the gloom. His left hand pushed the flimsy sheet aside to join the blankets that had fallen away in the night as his right sought blindly for a small rectangle on the bed-table, sending his glasses and wallet plopping to the floor. He ignored them and sat, his feet finding the thin, cold rug by the bed as he swore and fumbled with renewed desperation. The bladder-alarm increased its signal helpfully. Finally, he felt the familiar plastic token with its raised numbers and rounded corners. Yes!

Citizen Tromm rose unsteadily and, clutching his time card, tottered swiftly to the bathroom.
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Twenty Fingers!

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This is from a seven-inch LP that was sent out to retailers to promote the Titano "Sounds Great" accordion, back in the 60s. It ended up at our house, and I used to play it over and over, at 33, 45, and 78. Not so much at 16, because it took too long and wasn't fast enough. I figured the name, "20 Fingers Bossa Nova," was a hyperbolic exaggeration — yeah! this guy plays so fast, it's like twenty fingers! Turns out it was simply fact. There are two people playing. (Sadly, each one is playing his own accordion. Not two men playing one instrument, a la PDQ Bach.) The players are Bill Palmer and Bill Hughes, I belatedly hasten to add. Credit where due!



Years went by, during which the canister full of 45s and small 78s passed out of my grasp, never to return. Then the internet came along, and I ended up paying a modest sum to buy another copy of the disk from somebody in the Netherlands.



There's also a second side, where the announcer plays little bits and pieces, explaining what each feature is that's being shown off. I don't actually listen to this side much (shocking, I know!), but pass it along now for fans of features.



So now it's forty years after I first listened to this, and I have my own accordion (a Soprano, not a Titano, and maybe 20 years older than the one in the recording).  I like to listen to this from time to time, at normal speed, because that's just the boring kind of guy I turned into.
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Saturday, January 23, 2016

George Grossmith Kills It



I have previously linked to a work of genius from 1915 (I was thinking 1908 before, for some undoubtedly persuasive at the time reason), Murders, by George Grossmith (namesake son of the original Ko-Ko in "The Mikado"). Having just now sat down and transcribed the lyrics from the song, I present them herewith. The number is half spoken. The narrator's voice most closely resembles Hans Conried as Snidely Whiplash, in a quiet, reflective moment:

I have a few confessions that I think I ought to make,
And I'll try to make them tenderly, for everybody's sake.
The first, about my laundress, who has left this world of strife;
If you'll listen I will tell you how she came to lose her life:

murdered her last Tuesday, for I thought it would be best
And never, never more will she tear buttons off my vest
And now I'll get my Sunday shirts and collars in one piece
For I murdered her last Tuesday; 'twas a merciful release.


There used to be an organ man who played along our street,
But now he'll never play again, his heart has ceased to beat.
I sallied forth one evening when the light was getting dim
And I pulled out my revolver and I pointed it at him

murdered him, that organ man, I don't think I was wrong.
He wasn't wanted in this world, he'd been here far too long.
Was it Saturday, or Friday now? I can't remember which,
But at any rate I murdered him without the slightest hitch.
(Poor fellow!)


A terrible misfortune has befallen our family:
My wife's poor mother has gone off into eternity.
She used to give me lectures, but she won't do that again.
She said my conduct pained her, so I put her out of pain.

'Twas on a summer's morning that the dreadful deed was done.
No fuss or talk about it, just a bullet from a gun.
She never seemed contented, and I thought it time she went,
So I murdered her one morning; it was very kindly meant.


Another notoriety has left this world full speed,
And once again, I take the blame. Was I who did the deed.
It's my caddy I'm referring to, a most obnoxious lad;
If I'd let him live much longer, I'd have soon gone raving mad

So I slew him in a bunker; it was Wednesday of last week.
I approached him with my mashie, and I finished with the cleek
And nevermore my slicing nor my pulling will he guy
For I murdered him in bogey, and he had a lovely lie.


Take me away, Constable. I am quite ready.

[reprinted from my LiveJournal and transplanted here so I can find it more easily when needed]