Adventures in Mad Science

November 26, 2010

Over ten years ago, when I was in my undergraduate program at Miami University, I didn’t know enough to listen to my head or my heart when it came to my studies. I was a science major, and I cannot remember quite why that was.

Now, I have to confess, I cannot access a lot of memories from my college years. The reason for that is drugs. To be clearer, it was badly prescribed prescription drugs that were supposed to be preventing the seizures that began a month into my junior year, when I was already deep into the botany program.

I am not sure how I passed my classes, other than my professors were well aware of my sudden health issues, and were amazing in helping me through those two extremely blurry years. I guess when a nearly straight A student suddenly can barely pull C’s, they take pity on her. The things I can remember the most is writing, always writing, usually poetry while I was in my science classes. It was sort of all I cared about, like a best friend that never left my side, until I couldn’t really get at the words anymore. But that happened later, once I’d switched medications and my brain started to sort of re-organize itself. My entire world was busy re-inventing itself, and I was having a hell of a time writing much of anything.

It’s very odd to go from having a photographic memory to no longer being able to get at your pictures. Once able to read my chicken-scratched notes for a class, and ace a test without breaking a sweat, I somehow struggled through the evils of O-chem, bio-chem, and other memory-crucial courses. I graduated and had no idea what to do with my degree I’d barely managed to obtain.

A few years went by, struggling through crappy job after crappy job, and I discovered NaNoWriMo in 2003, and every November since then, I’ve written a crappy 50k word novel, but so much more than that, I’ve learned what it takes to churn out that many words a day, how better to manage my time, and to start calling myself a writer. It was a very long uphill battle.

Last year, I decided to do a poetry project, and while it started off fun, it slowly deteriorated into forcing myself to write. I wasn’t enjoying it, which is always a sign something needs to change, that I’m somehow doing things the wrong way. I feel like it’s proof that I have trouble finishing things I have started, and that somehow I psychologically warp that work worth doing somehow needs to be a struggle.

Late in the spring of 2010, I started writing Scurvytown. I am not sure what brought on the idea or the characters. In fact, one of the main characters I had created in the waiting room at the dentist in late 2008. It was like all the sudden, I was ready to write about him, and share his story. And I think the story has come a long way.

I am not sure why I am sharing all this, other than I am an over-sharing kind of gal. I had intended to write about what I mean when I call a project an “Adventure in Mad Science.” I think this brain dump about my deeply-rooted (see what I did there, with the botany reference, c’mon, roll your eyes with me!) science background sort of casts a bit of light on how I create, some kind of scientific process in a way, that when the results seem unclear, instead of altering my methodology, I give up.

Not this time. I feel like I tapped into something special when I created Scurvytown, and though it has been on hiatus while I have been struggling with yet another horrible job and the infinitely more positive learning to love graduate studies, I think I am ready to return to weekly story-telling, and I am excited to share the continuing adventures of Scurvytown with whomever cares to read them.

The New Buffy Movie

November 23, 2010

Yesterday, my mother emailed me three times to tell me that they’re making a new Buffy movie. Without Joss.

To be fair, she actually only emailed me once, but was having technical issues that resulted in triplicate messages.

I figured it was either that, or she was that pissed off about it. Me, I am more apathetic about it. I like the story, I like the characters. Not sure why anyone thinks that Buffy needs a reboot, but obviously someone thinks there is money to be had from it, otherwise, why bother?

I’d be interested in seeing it, and rain down my nerd judgment upon it then. Until then, it really doesn’t matter to me why stupid movie execs decide to do the stupid crap that gets churned out every single year. Show me something awesome (consistently) and maybe I will start to pay attention.

What is Scurvytown?

November 22, 2010

Scurvytown is a fictional town on an island of the same name, which is one of the 83 states in Lost America.

It is filled with a bunch of crazy characters.

I hope to have some real content here in the coming weeks, especially since I’ve just written a 2400 word multimedia piece for one of my grad school classes.

Episode Twenty

September 26, 2010

Welcome to the second installment of Magby Aarhus’s podcast series.

Witness more flubs, a barking dog, and some very unprofessional and snide comments about some of the new citizens of Scurvytown. What could possibly be agitating young Magby to act in such a manner?

Scurvitan Sandbox With Magby Aarhus: Overheard at The Boneyard

Stay tuned next week to discover if we hear anything at all from Scurvytown, who will be in their first days of you-know-what season.

Episode Nineteen

September 19, 2010

Be gentle: this is my first attempt at a podcast. It sounds, um, not great. I rather enjoy the stupid tongue clicks I apparently annoyingly do, and the random meows from my cats.

I only had time to do one take, and it was a lot of fun to write the script for it, actually. Hope you like it!

Scurvytown Sandbox with Magby Aarhus, September 19, 2010

Stay tuned next week for another podcast.

Episode Eighteen

September 19, 2010

Haitus: wherein my workload at school and my crappy day job begin to take their toll:

So sorry, Mercury was in Retrograde.

This means nothing, unless you buy into this kind of thing, which I sometimes read about because I enjoy wasting my time.

Cheers, and hope to be back with some content in a few weeks. Or better yet, enjoy my first attempt at a podcast.

Episode Seventeen

September 6, 2010

This was technically Skip Week 3.

Schedule for Defensive and Educational Studies for Blorgbat Season

Blorgbat Season: October 1– October 31

Notice: Certification is mandatory, as designated by the state. All citizens are required to attend at least 3 sessions to be certified, and must pass the online examination. Failure to comply in a timely fashion will result in deportation to the Marshall-Sandstorm shipping loop until Blorgbat season is officially designated over, and the waste removal teams declare the island once again safe for inhabitants.

Class Schedule:

Sept 6, 7pm, Welcome Center: A Call to Arms: Batten the hatches, sharpen your arrows, learn how to re-charge your counter-measures and laser deterrents. Also renew your certification, or fill out your first-time certification application.

Sept 8, 7pm, Welcome Center: Bizarre Anatomy: an overview of the species, their 8-year mating cycle, and their natural habitat in the bottomless caves. For the kids (ages 5 and up): Blorgbats and You: A Documentary.

Sept 8: 8pm, The Boneyard: Delicious Delicacies: join Catty Broadsides at her bar, for recipe ideas, and instructions on how best to prepare this untamed culinary treasure.

Sept 10, 11pm, The Welcome Center: Midnight Tunnel Tours: highly recommended for all citizens, get your map of the underground tunnels that are opened every eight years, and a guided tour.

Sept 13, 6pm, Scurvytown High School Auditorium: Blorgbat History and Rhetoric: Learn how the blorgbat got its name, and about the fateful first encounter with the species during their prime mating season.

Sept 15, 11am, The Welcome Center: Examination Station: The first tier of examinations will be administered for new citizens, and re-certification badges will be distributed starting today.

Sept 18, 6pm, Scurvytown Town Hall: Citizens Reunited Against Blorgbats: The first meeting of CRAB for the season. On the agenda: carcass retrieval, meat processing, and the finer points of slaying the vicious blorgbat.

Sept 19, 6pm, Scurvytown Town Hall: Scurvitans Against Violent Ends: The first meeting of SAVE for the season. On the agenda: safe havens, defensive maneuvers, and the finer points of keeping off the radar of the oft-misunderstood blorgbat.

Sept 21, 6pm, Scurvytown High School Auditorium: First Aid: What to do if you are attacked by a blorgbat and infected with their venom, how to use a hacksaw to cut off a limb, and learning to recognize signs of mutation in the infected. (Course designed with health care workers and law enforcement in mind.)

Sept 23, 6pm, Welcome Center: Pass or Fail: Final outcomes for new citizens, all paperwork must be completed by midnight in order to take the final exam on Sept 29th and avoid deportation to the Marshall-Sandstorm shipping loop.

Sept 25, 6pm, Welcome Center: Catch and Release: Learn how to track, capture, and release a Blorgbat back into their natural habitat. It may be the last thing you ever do.

Sept 29, 3pm, The Docks: The Marshall-Sandstorm Work Program: the decision is in your hands, unless you failed certification, either board the work-ship or re-take your certification exams

Sept 30, 9am, Town Square: Pep Rally and Nailing Party: a final rounding up of stragglers, parade to the Docks, and nailing up unboarded windows.

Any questions, please contact Janet Tor at the Welcome Center.

****

Next week’s blathering.

Episode Sixteen

August 29, 2010

The Worst Toilet in Scurvytown

On the final day of the asparagus festival, Francis “Smoke” Hornbuckle was busying himself as part of the cleanup crew for the incident that had left the town’s Squatter Fountain in ruins.

The first idea that the foreman of the cleanup crew had was that they could simply use a leaf-blower to blow all of the tiny pieces of styrofoam debris into the ocean, which would carry off the unwanted particles far across the sea. Unfortunately, he didn’t factor in the fickle nature of the ocean and the wash-back factor.

Smoke and the rest of the lesser cleanup crew-members found themselves literally combing the beach for styrofoam chunks. It was by order of the town council that the cleanup must be complete before the height of tourist season, which was to begin within a fortnight. Much debate waged on as they searched for every scrap of the formerly majestic and partially nibbled on squid that they could find, as to exactly how long a fortnight was, and if they’d get paid overtime for working nights. After all, these chunks of debris were tough enough to find in broad daylight.

Smoke couldn’t really complain about the work, though, as he’d had much worse jobs throughout his career as a jack-of-all-trades. He’d been at his current gig at the Squatter Foundation longer than he’d been at any job in his life. He was half proud of that fact, but mostly bored with it, and not good at all at fractions.

The worst job he’d ever had was right after he moved to town. He’d checked out the odd jobs board at the Welcome Center, and taken twelve separate slips of phone numbers, figuring if he put them in a sock and picked one out, fate would be his guide on this exciting new adventure as a new citizen of Scurvytown.

(Insert wavy lines/flashback noises here)

Fate, however, had decided to take the opportunity to mess with him on an epic scale. After all, he’d ditched his path in life for Scurvytown, and Fate was a grudge-holder who didn’t much care to cater to folks who snubbed her, even if it was only the one time.

Smoke sat on the rim of the Squatter Fountain in the town square, and peeled off his greenish-gray (once bright white) lucky sock off his left foot and dumped the slips of paper inside. He shook it around a bit, and a few birds in the tree overhead passed out and fell to the ground with a thud when the stench hit them. Smoke didn’t even notice, he was so focused on his future.

He dipped his hand into the grimy, crunchy sock and picked out a slip of paper. Without hesitating, he dialed the number into his cell phone, his heart thumping loudly as it rang.

“Good morning, Event Catering,” answered an overly-eager woman’s voice.

“Hi, my name is Frank and I’m inquiring about the job posting.”

“Oh great! Do you own your own jumpsuit?”

Smoke wasn’t really sure what kind of question that was, or what he was getting into. It would have really helped out a lot of the slip of paper he tore off said where he was calling and why, but what did that matter, when Fate was on his side?

“As a matter of fact, I do,” he answered proudly, and he was true to his word.

As a matter of fact, at the time, Smoke’s jumpsuit was in a state not all that dissimilar to his lucky sock. And as it turns out, that wasn’t even a fraction as disgusting as what he was about to get himself into.

The perky woman on the other side of the phone perked up even more, if that was possible.

“Well, that’s super! If you can find our office on Broad Street, you’re pretty much as good as hired. You can’t miss us at ‘Event Catering.’”

As luck had it, Smoke was already wearing the jumpsuit, so he made his way downtown. As he neared the intersection of Broad Street and Ho Avenue, he paused. He wasn’t sure which way to turn onto Broad Street. But then another thought hit him: he didn’t know anything about the catering business. What if they saw right through him and decided not to hire him? Well, he guessed that wouldn’t matter, there were still those eleven other slips of paper which he had incidentally forgotten to take out of his sock when he put it back on his foot.

He turned to the right and whistled as he walked down the street. All the way down at the end of Broad Street was a half-boarded up building that looked like it had recently seen the more vicious side of a hurricane. Parked outside was a beat up powder blue pick-up truck with “Events Catering” crudely spray-painted on the side. Behind it was a trailer that had 7 battered Port-o-Lets sitting on it.

“Huh,” Smoke said as he crossed the street to the building.

He guessed they were just that full service a caterer, from dinner to, um, what happens when some folks have to disappear for a bit right after dinner. He certainly had heard of stranger things.

As he walked in, he was greeted immediately by the perky phone lady, who was not at all like he had pictured her. Smoke had imagined a young co-ed, working the phones for extra drinking money, like the kind of girls he had chased so hard back on the mainland, but who never seemed to fall for any of his lines.

Miss-Perks-a-Lot looked like she was eighty years old, and as she reached out to shake his hand, she sipped at her coffee mug with the other. That is to say, she didn’t use her other hand to drink the coffee, she used the hand to raise the cup to her mouth to drink it the normal way, but with more slurping than necessary. (Making sense is so hard!)

In fact, the suggestiveness of the slurping was rather off-putting to Smoke, who wiped his hand on his disgusting jumpsuit after she released it.

“Well, you’ve found us!” Grandma Perky said, beaming.

“Yup, sure did,” he said, nodding.

“Take a seat, and we’ll get the paperwork completed and get you to work!”

It took about thirty minutes, but Smoke completed all the appropriate forms and as he finished signing his name on the final document, Grandma Perky, whose real name was Beatrice, though she liked to go by Trixi for short, had twelve grandchildren, all of whom lived on the mainland and she never got to see, and had a wicked case of heartburn that seemed to mystify the local doctor, as well as an arrhythmia, an ingrown toenail, shortness of breath, and a toothache that she’d had for eighteen years (never been to the dentist!), finally stopped talking about all her medical ailments and handed Smoke his official name-badge.

“Smoke Hornbuckle,” he read aloud, smiling.

“So, here are the keys to the truck outside. You’re responsible for getting the Port-o-Thingies to the fairgrounds before each festival, and for making sure they are sparkly clean each morning.”

It didn’t sound like that tough of a job, but then Smoke didn’t really put that much thought into the function of the Port-o-Lets, that is, until the first night of the festival. As soon as the fairgrounds were closed, it was time for him to get to work. The first festival he worked was the Moonshine Festival, and there was a lot of bright pink vomit coating the walls of the Port-o-Lets at the end of the first night.

Luckily, there was a power washer in the truck. It was small and weak, but better than scrubbing by hand. By dawn, he had all the filthy Port-o-Lets sparkling clean and was fairly proud of his work. He was also incredibly exhausted and missed the entire second day of the Moonshine Festival while sleeping off all his hard work.

When he woke up, it was already dark outside. Cursing wildly, he quickly put his now filthier jumpsuit on and ran to the fairgrounds just in time for them to announce last call. That night’s work was even more disgusting than the previous night’s, and in the early morning hours, he came up with a scheme to cut his workload in half for the final day of the festival.

All he had to do was to put “out of order” signs on half of the Port-O-Lets and rig them so they were locked from the outside. It was a brilliant plan, as long as no one from the office caught wind of it. He started off by spacing the toilet pods fairly far from each other, but still within the bounds of the fairgrounds. Then, he tested out his plan by putting signs on the furthest two.

It worked like a charm. The next weekend was the start of the Asparagus Festival, and he figured that given the noxious nature of asparagus pee, he’d better step up his game. By the third night of that festival, he had had his fill of cleaning, and decided to put out of order signs on three of the pods, and make it seem like the other three were perpetually occupied, so as not to arouse suspicion. That left one pod in working order.

Everything seemed to be going perfectly until someone at the office discovered his lazy plan. The perky office lady called him up and chewed him out, using swear words so vulgar, he’d never even imagined their existence. He was so impressed with the level of cussing, that before he said the magic words, “I quit,” he couldn’t help but commend the old bird for her swearing.

There was only one catch: he wasn’t allowed to quit. Rather, because of the contract he had signed on that first day in the office, he was obligated to clean out what would forever be known as “The Worst Toilet in Scurvytown.” To go into further details about it would be unconscionable.

Suffice it to say that Smoke would have nightmares about his last day on that job for the rest of his life, and was completely put off of asparagus for life as well. Folks might wonder what exactly lead Smoke to not just tell his employer to go suck on it, and quit anyway, and that answer is fairly simple. Basically, if he didn’t complete his contract or get fired, which they refused to do until he cleaned the disgraced Port-o-Let, and if he simply quit, he would be deported back to the mainland.

Now, here was the rub: he had already been deported to Scurvytown for a period of no less than three years, so getting deported from there and back to the mainland would stick him in what folks referred to as “The Loop.” Rumors had it that some folks had been stuck in The Loop for as long as ten years, being shipped back and forth from Mainland port to Scurvytown, or to other ports, and being denied access every time, were simply shipped onto the next port.

It would have been Fate’s greatest wish to see him get stuck in The Loop, but Smoke was made of stronger stuff than Fate had anticipated, and he cleaned up the mess, scarred himself for life, and got to remain in Scurvytown to do even more menial work, like comb the beach for stray bits of styrofoam. And if Fate really thought about it, working dead end job after dead end job was probably an even crueler loop to be stuck in.

*****
This episode went live on Sunday, August 29, 2010.

Stay tuned for next week’s thrilling crapfest, assuming there is one. After all, I think we’ve heard enough about crap in Scurvytown to last at least four more episodes. After consulting a calendar, it appears that Blorgbat season is nigh!

Episode Fifteen

August 22, 2010

Meet the Mayor

A bright purple police tape was rolled around the scene of the incident that demolished Scurvytown’s beloved Squatter Fountain. Investigations into the derailment of the tanker were well under way. The driver was inconveniently in a coma, so all the authorities could do was wait for the toxicology reports to come back from the mainland.

Scurvytown’s police force was far too underdeveloped to perform their own testing, so all vital evidence was outsourced and took ages to come back. After all, they’d had to make their own crime scene tape out of party streamers with “Police Line: Do Not Cross” written every so often in black Sharpie. It was a menial task, but the number one deputy did so enjoy his arts and crafts that he adamantly refused to have his favorite part of the job outsourced to the handful of prisoners who roamed the rather large white-collar prison on the outskirts of town.

Such were the resources of the local Scurvytown authorities lacking that a lot of the time, in order to fulfill the right to a speedy trial, suspects were exonerated before the guilt-proving evidence made its way back to the island. Even when those findings proved the now free suspects guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they were free to roam the streets of Scurvytown. And as a final piece of irony, justice was swift and intolerant to anyone found attacking these free-wheeling criminals. After all, proven criminals had rights, too.

It created quite the untrusting vibe throughout the town. But it was also interesting to note that most of the free and guilty were using their second chance to better their lives. It was either play the system and hope the technicalities fell in their favor again, or make amends for their past injustices. Most of them at least kept up the appearance that they had chosen the latter path.

Maybe it was saying something about his pessimistic nature, but the Captain was among those who were not falling for the turnabout. It seemed to him, once you crossed a line like that, you were in for a life of crime. It’s the way he would have rolled if the D-20’s had fallen that way, and lucked him into a life of crime.

Captain Tullis happened to be walking around the fairgrounds when the incident happened. He was fairly impressed that the spiky-haired fat kid didn’t wet his pants as the tanker barreled down on him. Maybe some people had better bladder control, he guessed. Maybe he’d ask the Doc about that on his next visit.

Hopewell bristled from his perch on the Captain’s shoulder as the scene had played out. The Captain shuddered, as he often did when he felt that he and the stuffed monkey were sharing the same thought: this was no accident.

It seemed to the Captain that the entire thing was staged. The driver looked like he was asleep at the wheel, as most of the bystanders had attested, but to the Captain, he looked like he was already in the coma at the time the tanker started to veer off the parade path. It was only a theory, though, and he was smart enough to keep tight-lipped about it, considering it had anything at all to do with the mafia-esque business dealings of the Squatter Foundation.

It didn’t really matter, after all; they’d certainly build an even more magnificent fountain next time around, the giant squid this time not manufactured out of styrofoam that held the bite marks of scores of local children, among other Scurvitans. The Captain chuckled when he remembered the outrage from the community when the Squatter Foundation had demanded the dental records of the entire population of Scurvytown so that they could fine people for biting their precious squid. It was probably less funny if you were actually one of the people who had been fined, which amazingly did not include Captain Tullis.

Throughout the course of the Asparagus Festival, the Captain kept a low profile, tossing back fewer ‘Gus and Tonics than usual, and keeping himself carbo-loaded with Asparacrust Pizza and Catty Broadside’s famous “Asparagusto Pesto Pasta.” Most years, he’d drink himself silly on Beersparagus and by the end of each night, would be chasing anything that moved in hopes it would follow him home. What made this year so different was that there was a crime to be solved.

Captain Tullis’s writing campaigns had all turned kind of stale, as he was waiting for return correspondence on each and every one of them. Waiting was always the hardest and most boring part of his favorite past -time. Other hobbies had gotten old as well. He’d already taken his weekly snapshots of the various tourist attractions for the Welcome Center’s website: Penis Henge, The Witch’s Tit, and the Bottomless Caves were all the same as they were last week and the week before that. No one had even bothered to draw phalluses on The Witch’s Tit, or boobies on Penis Henge, or even a giant butt on the entrance to the bottomless caves. The Captain always took such delight in showing the photos to Janet Tor, who of course was tasked with the thankless job of keeping the town graffiti free.

The Captain had no choice but to turn back to his original favorite past-time, which was crime scene investigations. Back on the mainland, he had even earned sort of a reputation for himself when his infamous novel, “Crime Scene Whisperer,” exalted him to pop culture status. They had even made a TV show based on the novel, for which he was a consultant. Now that he was more or less retired, he didn’t care to be reminded of his past fame, and certainly didn’t care to tap back into that mindset.

But now, with the town pretty much blowing up right in front of him, he couldn’t help himself. All those old urges to gather information, organize it, and create a solid explanation came rushing back. As if the crash wasn’t enough of a catalyst, the arrival of the Mayor of Scurvytown to the scene moments after the incident certainly was.

The first thing that struck The Captain’s asparagin-soaked noggin as odd was when the horn sounded to announce the arrival of the Mayor. The Mayor was well-known as an agoraphobic, as well as suffering from ovinophobia, but that was really more of a rumor, and a non-issue on an island where sheep were completely outlawed.

Furthermore, the Mayor posted a very strict schedule on the Welcome Center’s website, which the Captain review frequently in order to avoid the festering lunatic. He was definitely not slated to make an appearance at the Asparagus Festival until day two, when he was scheduled to crown Miss Asparagus. Even the tiniest Scurvitan knew he had a three-day process in order to gain the courage to make an appearance, so his showing up a day early didn’t compute.

A squeaky male voice on a bullhorn rang out over the din of the horns as they continued to play the same tune repetitively: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding for the Mayor of Scurvytown!”

When the Mayor was around, the citizenry did as they were told. It was as though he were royalty instead of appointed by the town council year after year. Folks who were sitting on nearby park benches and lounging in lawn chairs, tailgating the festival grounds, stood up and kept as still as statues. In order for the Mayor to get through a bit of public speaking, he required everyone stand completely still, or else they’d pay a hefty fine. One time, during ragweed season, the Captain had gotten stuck in the middle of one of the Mayor’s speeches and had been hit with a sneezing fit. Getting fined $80 for each sneeze was only part of the reason the Captain now did his best to avoid him. Mostly, it was because he thought he was an arrogant turdface.

The Mayor walked carefully and evenly paced down his red carpet toward the podium near the crumpled Squatter Fountain. He was a short man, under five feet tall, and round, so that when he walked so specifically, he very much looked like a penguin. He stepped onto his little step ladder so he could see the crowd of human statues over the top of the podium. He waved away a few pieces of styrofoam from the fountain as they wafted through the air in front of his face.

He flicked the mic button to “on” and spoke in his tinny but booming nasal voice, “Scurvitans, I come here today in the face of tragedy.”

Hopewell seemed to twitch on the Captain’s shoulder, and he felt as though the stuffed monkey wanted to leap off his shoulder, jump onto the podium, steal the Mayor’s top hat, and dance on his toupee, but figured it was probably just that projection thing that Doc Popov had explained to him during their last session. Hopewell was much more apt to want to throw crap at folks than dance on their craniums, anyway.

The Captain shook his head to break out of his reverie and refocused on the Mayor’s speech.

“This is not the time to panic in the face of adversary. This is the time to rebuild our great town, and to really put ourselves on the map. Because, who am I, really? I mean, I may be the Mayor of Scurvytown, but I care deeply for each and every one its citizens.”

He looked straight at the Captain then, and a chill went down the retired sailor’s spine.

“Now is not the time for justice. It’s a time for community. It’s a time for rebirth. It’s time for bigger and better things. It’s time for festivals and celebrations. Anyone found participating in acts against what I had just listed it is time for will be fined, and possibly even blacklisted. There is a zero tolerance policy for vigilantism, as you all are aware.”

The Captain churned over these words in his mind. It was a much longer speech than the Mayor usually gave. He wasn’t even reading it off notecards. It was as if he was actually saying it off the top of his head. But then the Mayor turned his head, and the glint of the sun revealed the truth: the Mayor was wearing an earpiece and being fed these words, but from whom? The whole thing was getting stranger by the moment.

“This is the minorest of minor setbacks in the minorest of keys,” continued the Mayor, slamming his chubby fist on the podium.

“And without further note of it, let us not mourn our town’s loss today, but rejoice in things to come, and enjoy the thirteenth annual Asparagus Festival!”

With that, he turned off the mic, hopped off the step ladder, and practically ran back down the red carpet. When the Mayor was safely back in his limousine, one of the pages held up a sign for applause. Everyone applauded as if their life depended on it, just in case there was a fine for not complying.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please resume your business.” The squeaky voice rang out over the bullhorn.

Folks did go about their business, but not immediately. They waited until the limousine was out of sight before whispering amongst themselves. In the end, they didn’t really give a crap about anything other than that the festival would go on as planned, and they could continue to drink into oblivion.

The Captain stood still for a bit longer, and then continued his snooping around the ruins of the fountain. The Mayor could go jump into the bottomless caves for all he cared. Now that his prying was considered verboten, there was even more reason to poke further into the situation.

*****
This episode went live on Sunday, August 22, 2010.

Stay tuned for next week’s exciting installment of Scurvytown, assuming my first week of grad school doesn’t interfere.

Episode Fourteen

August 15, 2010

Skip Week Two

The Ballad of Squid Vicious

He was poached from the waters of the turbulent sea
And once caged, dead intent on being set free
They unanimously suspected him to be quite delicious,
But the sailers didn’t expect they had caught Squid Vicious.
With no intentions of being made dinner
He squeezed out of his cage and appeared much thinner
As the sailors all slept, Squid started a fire
And walked straight off the plank as the flames grew higher
As he squidded away, he chortled with glee
But his happiness was not yet to be
An earthquake nearby started a tsunami
And while some cried and called out for Mommy
The mighty Squid Vicious dove deep into the dark depths
While lesser sea creatures panicked and wept.
Not content to be surrounded by wussies,
He abandoned the sea with a “See ya later, pussies!”
Once upon dry land, he needed a job
So he answered an ad put out by the mob
At first the desk job on which he was placed
Seemed the perfect way to enter the rat race
But soon Squid was bored being stuck indoors
And got himself promoted to pimping out the whores
The night life treated him very well
Until that fateful night in which he fell
For one of the girls he was watching after
Something infectious about the sound of her laughter
And since she was the big boss’s daughter
They had to flee back into the water
After a year, they decided to get married
By a sea captain whose crippled ship he had once carried
Upon his back across the ocean
In trade for a very powerful potion
That would allow a human being to breathe
Under the deep dark depths of the vast sea
And so together they swam, in love and so sappy
In their underwater castle, ostensibly happy
A few years later, they had thousands of baby squids
But the missus soon fell to the madness of raising so many kids
So Squid Vicious sent the kids off to boarding school
And languished away the years like a drunken fool.
One day he returned to the place where she drowned
He growled, keeled over, and made no more sound.
They say he haunts that place to this very day
And no ship shall pass safely if Squid Vicious has his way.

*****
posted as Skip Week filler for Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stay tuned for next week’s exciting installment. Rumor is the Mayor himself might make an appearance!