Monday, December 10, 2007

Consiel's Tale

One cold eve at the Abeldown Penguin Preserve, the gathered male penguins shiver in the dark while guarding their young charges, patiently awaiting the return of the hunting females. Tedium and the cold winds grip them, and one, The pengi Conseil, offers a diversion- to relate the tale of the conclusion of the Phillip expedition. This meets with acquiescent , if not enthusiastic, barks, so he sets about his task...

As darkness falls, the pengi sets up his Polyopticon and readies the plates of his travelogue

Conseil tells a tale of hardship, having discovered a vast inland sea below-ground his master and companions had set out on a make -shift raft to reach the far side. the journey proceeded several days, during which he witnessed battling Sea-Bunnehs, dangerous torrents and duels of double-entendre much beyond his understanding.

Yet when the rations ran short, he faced a greater danger, as glistening utensils were wielded by a peckish Baron, indifferent to endangered species laws under such circumstances.

A hasty retreat was in order, and with a splash, he parted from this company.

After some hours of swimming, climbing, and exploring, a vast cavern opened before for the lost pengi, and within, he found a large hard rock of human make. Cold, hard, and glittery, he drew near.

This was an object of human make, to be sure! He would mark it well for his companions to show his safety-

The cold human boulder burst in a fountain of flame and sparks!

The pengi felt the ground shake beneath him! Distant explosions reported throughout the caverns! Debris fell around him as he waddled quickly, finding a new rift in the wall as the rocks spilled away before him, he jumps into the sea and swims, swims!

Bursts of steam rise from the heating water as he swims to sea, minute upon minute drawing away from the loud crashes, hisses, and explosions behind him. Finally, some miles distant, and no longer feeling the sting of steam upon him, nor the fall of debris, he turns and watches, as the island bursts and boils from within, masses of rock falling into the sea.

Within minutes the explosions subside as the island slowly sinks beneath the water, the boiling Sea foam washing over as it descends.
Conseil worries for his companions, but turns home to Caledon, the threat of Phillip now gone.

Conseil relates how all who journeyed to the island came back safely, to heroe's welcomes, and he was most happy to see his master safe and sound again. A bin of Tuna was delivered to him soon after, as reward for his actions; and how, in further reward, safe unburdened residence was granted by the new Duke on his duchy for all pengikind.
Conseil puffs up and chokes back a tear of pride.

Suddenly a request is heard from the crowd of pengis:

Conseil shrugs assent and opens another pack of slides......

( Also, apparently I've been "Tagged " several times by the following-
**now the rules**The rules of tagging are simple, and as follows.(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog
So, here are the facts about the writer:
1. I am the son of Beatniks. One a poet/painter, and the other a folk-singer. They knew and disliked Bobby Zimmerman. My Mother would sing me to sleep as a child with songs about houses made of "ticky-tacky" and spanish revolution songs.
2. I 'm not very religious, though have read a number of rare mystical tomes for enjoyment and cultural insight.
3. My favorite autographs are: bloody palm stains from Penn and Teller on an early Skeptical Enquirer article written by them, and a bar napkin signed by Robyn Hitchcock from a bar long since burned down.
4. I did Medieval recreation for a long time, but do it less now as I work weekends and eves. My focus was 14th Century France. In one organization I attained noble rank, and gained skill with medieval weapons.
5. I ventured to Panama for business for 6 weeks once, and found a heaven on earth at El Valle de Anton. Lush gardens in a former volcanic basin, a zoo, hotsprings, etc. Given a choice, it is where I would someday retire to.
6. I'm a film fan, loving classic 40's through modern; love all types of music, having a large collection.
7. I read mostly non-fiction, formerly medieval, now more victorian. Lately, I am re-reading an account of the war of 1812. (eyes Canajians out there warily.)
8. I have a stuffed plush leopard named Leppo I rescued from a stand at Disney's Animal Kingdom. He sits next to me as I type, inspiring much mayhem as Gnarli-Kitty.
Let the tags end here:)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From the Bowels

Miss Connolly, My warmest regards.

Again my apologies for the delay in contacting you. We remain safe, and have travelled many leagues, through the winding tunnels and tubes that descend and twist in the depths of the Isle of Phillip. Such sights have we seen! Your receipt of this notes shows the pigeon has found some adit through which to pass, as it hoped it would.

Let me preface by recalling our discovery of these caverns- You will have known by now of our encounter with the native tribe here, how most of our party was captured and rescued by the daring Kiralette. My role in the plan of rescue was to circle the encampment, approach and contain from the flanking pathway.

I must admit I became uncertain of my route, and struggled through the heavy bush, but soon found myself at forested vale out of earshot of my fellows; and continued my trudging through this brush, ever wary of Bunneh-sign. Suddenly, in the depths of this forest, a figure of a brawny man dropped from the vines above me, clad only in tiger skin loincloth, muscles ripping, and let loose a loud frightening yodel of doom.

Backward I faltered, tripping, splayed as he towered madly over me. He paused, looking over me, examining my clothing- his anger turned to confusion, he spoke in broken English "You. No Icky!... No Spork!?"

Struggling to my feet, I reached for my revolver, but hesitated to draw, as he slowly moved forward, curious , but no longer threatening. He drew a handkerchief from my jacket pocket as I stood very still (as I usually do with madmen). This was obviously some non-native outcast, I surmised. Perhaps, examining the rickety tree house and garden I now saw beyond, I had stumbled on some sort of native asylum, and it's sole resident.

The savage sniffed at the cologned kerchief. "You. Like Jane?"

"Austen? Hrmm yes, excellent reading:)" I said, thoroughly confused. "Have you tried Cleland? It's like Jane, but Norty" I added.

He reached out and thumped my chest with his palm. " Jane." He said with a note of disappointment. "Tarzan..need...Jane" he said, rolling his eyes. "Tarzan...Have...Cheetah," he elaborated. "Tarzan...fear...Ebola."

With this, the savage turned and walked toward his jungle shanty, turning once to bid me to follow. Seeing a potential ally here, I followed, to ask direction a back to the encampment, as the rescue effort was soon to commence.

A strange mixture of jungle furniture and modern relics were strewn about the place. A 5-man poker table, worn and disused, deserted by some long closed and forgotten casino, took up the center of the hut. He immediately sat here, and pointed to the other mossy stump"You sit!'"

Examining my watch and glancing at the door, I asked "Can you show me the way to the Itchysporkchowchow camp, old boy? It would be dashed kind of you."

"Sit..first! Tarzan...go...Long...walk...Tarzan...swim...many day! No Holdem, nowhere! We Play!"

I Said "Erm, is that even legal, now?"

"I Sit!"

"Well," I said, sitting, "perhaps one hand.."

After sacrificing my kerchief to my host as ante, he offered coconuts, sex benches, and various freebie boxes which I each in turn denied as worthwhile stake. Finally he produced a crudely drawn island map on fine parchment- this I gratefully accepted, and play proceeded. Having won quickly on a lucky draw to three queens I got up to leave. "" he sighed. "Cheetah...right." Feeling the press of charity, I left my kerchief in consolation.

I trotted off with a bow and examined the map, finding my way to the path quickly. As I folded the map I noticed it was drawn on the back of a document of some sort, well drawn up. I tucked it away and hurried on to help my compatriots; who, by the time I arrived, had been rescued, of course.

As the Duchesses, Baronesses, etc dried, Dr. Sputnik and I examined the map, noting some nearby markings designated with arrows. One we found nearby- an cavernous opening that led to murky depths. The footprints at the entrance showed evidence of heavy use. Baron Bardhaven , examining certain other markings on the map, which I insisted stay in my possession, had secretive conferences with Darkling, and insisted we immediately proceed below.

Lighting torches and loading the remaining Pengis with what loads of provision they would bear, we set out below. Two more had joined our company, well known to the others, a pixie and Strongman- they seemed no-nonsense and just as concerned for the fate of Caledon, and I was welcome for their company. Downward we plodded, through tunnel after tunnel, The Baron oft muttering at each turning, and Darkling lost in concentration. yet skillfully leading. Or being led, it seemed. Soon the heat was noticeably growing, as I think we neared the active flows of the living cone.

This was proved correct as we passed through a large cavern, open below at a side, and the red fiery glow of a lava flow shone reflected against the walls and roof. Onward we travelled. In another chamber this light grew stronger, and the heat caused us to shed all but essential garments, increasing the burdens of the poor pengi. As we reached another passage we halted- before us great rumblings. I stole a peek around our leaders and saw a narrow rock bridge ahead, straddling a river of lava, burning in it's flow beneath. Beyond this- the unlikely sight of sand leading downward, a glimmer of silver water, and a great roaring familiar to me as the ocean side- yet quite out of place so many leagues underground. As the leaders watched, a great ball of fire, a huge lava orb leaped up and sputtered from the flow. And, exploding, molten rock sputtered and sizzled over the narrow bridge between us and the sand. Quite dangerous, I opined, and returned to the back of the group to rest. Taking a moment to examine the back of the map, I read carefully. It was some sort of deed...Lands in Caledon...Patents for a transferable Duchy! oh my! I must investigate this! yet, I knew that there may not be a Caledon should we not complete this quest...perhaps on the voyage back I shall eat a little better.

So I close here, and fasten this note to trusty pigeon, who, with the help of providence and natural gift of guidance will find way to you. Fear not, for all is not yet lost!

Your Servant

G. Abel (Duke?)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gnarli Remains Chased

Running! A Protohare hot on my heels, I run forward, through forest and clearing it bounds behind, ever nearing!
I urge myself on:

"Oh jeez, oh jeez, oh jeez!...great oogiley-boogily! It's still there! Puff, puff..."

"Maybe be...friends? Huff...huff.."

"RaWWWWrRRRRRR!!!" it intoned.

"No, ...bad idea...!..pant, pant..."

"Climb...climb..climb...Cough! Bunnies can't climb!...*sputter*."

"It's jumping!!! Duck!!!"
The great beast drew back and jumped- it long furry body barely grazed mine as it sailed over my bent form.. Overshooting, it fell in a slow spiral down the other side...

Plummeting with a flare and hiss into the lava flows far below.

Slowly, I caught my breath and descended again to the forest. Another hare passed in the distance, heading towards the beach. I hesitated as it passed, then set forth again into the dense foliage.

As I drew nearer the beach, who should come bounding out but my dear Kiralette! We took a happy shelter in a safe glen as she told me of the appearance of a group of savages at the beach, and the plight of our fellow adventurers. We considered how we might effect their rescue, and what our next move might be. Long minutes we spent thankful for each other's safety and pondering..

Suddenly, I felt a familiar warm wetness on my calf as my trusty Pengi Conseil made his presence known, in a most agitated and animated way...

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Fossil-Hare

Dispatch by Carrier-Bird

Dear Miss Connolly

I'm sure you will be grateful to hear we have achieved landfall, if in a rather sudden way, and have succeeded in erecting a base camp on this beach before venturing into the interior. As a rather surprising turn of events, we have discovered a stowaway- Miss Kiralette could not restrain from attending such an adventure, and made her presence known at landfall.
While I am fearful for her safety, I am gladdened she is near, in this, the final days of Caledon should we fail to discover the secrets of this island's appearance, and how to address the damage a vast volcanic explosion is likely to cause.

Several huts have been erected to stow our equipment and provide needed shelter once the boat departs to a safe distance, which it seems is the intention of it's captain, come the favorable tides and repair of the inadvertent damage it's sudden landfall wrought on the hull.

That the craft was being piloted by a Pengi, I will admit, for often I let the birds mimic my steering on the Steamboat at home- note that boat though, is land-locked, lacking an engine of yet, so I'm sure the bird in mimicking my actions at home had no expectation of a crash, or even control of movement of the craft, but only intent to help the captain by holding and turning the big wheel in his absence. Be that as it may, a the crash did occur, luckily no-one was hurt.

The Pengis have been uneasy of late, and one seems to have utterly disappeared the first night- I assume the burden I had given it sapped it of the will to journey, and over side it went to swim home. This is unusual for the character of these birds, who are usually steadfast and hardy, but I see no other explanation. This second night, they did not wish to be bedded down, clucking nervously as I left. One even ventured out of the hay-bed, and ended up seeking the company of Duchess Eva, who was startled in her sleep by the unexpected hronking.

The remaining birds have been brought ashore, and, after regurgitating on my leg in their peculiar method of thanks, seem much more content in these surrounding, as dangerous as they may seem.

I must not omit a discovery made by the professor at our land-fall, that of enormous depressions in the earth which he ascribes to rodents of extraordinary size. None have been spotted and However large, I trust our fire will keep them at bay for the night.

Evening- a fitful sleep due to gaseous rumblings and noxious gasses present here. No names.

Dawn- I awake to find another Pengi missing, the others in a fright- they screech as Bardhaven approaches, but I find nothing unusual in this. I move into the forest, where it has likely fled, penetrating the ferny brush, There on the ground I see a vegetable, a carrot of extraordinary size! Clearly as large as small-bore cannon. Half nibbled, and discarded, as I move to touch it it gives off an uncommon heat, so I leave it for the professor to examine in situ. I continue into the verdant rain forest, and reach an escarpment- Looking down i am amazed by the sight in front of me.

It is a rabbit in form, but an elephant in size, It sits amidst a field of ferns- wait, not ferns, these are carrot-tops of the size seen earlier, springing haphazardly from the soil, which is also strewn with overturned canisters, barrels of metal, with strange glyph-markings on the sides. This Beast does not see me as it sits in its field, waiting, perhaps tending. It sits 12 foot tall at the shoulder, its plush fur interrupted by enormous fangs protruding form it's whiskered head.
This, then, is the lepus Giganticus, the Proto-bunny, who has not walked the earth these 10,000 years, patiently minding it's garden!

I find charcoal and my journal and quickly begin to sketch in my seclusion, noting it's features, eager to return this back to the Professor for study. As I draw I am thankful that this monster is a herbivore, content with the giant carrots in abundance. I sketch on, when I see a wild boar slowly near the field, grazing at the carrot-tops, ignorant of the stone-still Paleobunneh in it's path. With a swoop, faster than my speed of sight, and but a horrible blur, the Protohare swoops up this boar in it's great clawed paw, picks the boar up and pops it in his mouth, where it is munched quietly.

I can but gasp!

Later- Running and Hiding

It has seen me! and is close behind, I must make for camp, even should it follow... I hope you receive this missive safely, pray for my safety, too! I must hurry!

G. Abel


Summer Pilots

Scene: A Corporate Boardroom at SLTV

Chairman: Gentleman, I've called you here because, as you know, numbers are slumping for the "Journey to 20,00 Leagues Beneath the Center of The Mysterious Island" Miniseries- we're at risk of losing sponsors, boys, let's salvage this thing! We've got plenty of footage, I want Ideas!
Ok, Johnny, what have you got?

Executive Johnny Bravo: Ok, in a nutshell- Rebrand and Retool! I've been tinkering with the formats and, boy, have I got winner in there somewhere!

Chairman: Let's see 'em.

Bravo: Ok, -now we're stuck on this Vernian steampunk kick; here's an alternative-- Tikipunk!!

Chairman: Tikipunk?

Bravo: Keep your eyes on the screen...ok, we open with a catchy sea shanty-type jingle..

Oh, sit right back and you'll hear the tale of of this Gnarlihotep dip..
He started from old Cal-e-don upon this Pirate's ship..
A Three hour tooooourrr...

Really catchy tune, explaining all the characters so no-one has to read the profiles, its all there..

With Gnarligannnn..a Duchess or twoooo
The Darkling muse..and her Kniiife
Mr Bardhaven (Woo-oooo)
The Professor and Terry and
Amber and Kira are


Bravo: Episode 1
Gnarligan finds some radioactive carrots after foll0wing giant rabbit tracks- He takes them to the gorgeous Amber who is busy summoning a spirit (likely an expensive Vodka) and she suggests he advise the professor. Gnarligan is hypnotised by her heaving breasts, but tears himself away and stumbles on, the laugh-track following..

The Professor is hard at work on an arcane bit of scientific invention, when Gnarligan interrupts, The Prof. asks him to wait patiently, and moving backward Gnarligan sits on the etheral travel cabinet which collapses with a crunch. Big laughs! The professor grimaces and shouts Gnarligan off..

Gnarligan takes his news to Mr Bowelhaven instead, who guffaws at him derisively, and demands more Penguin-cream pie, before smacking him on the head with his lead-weighted smacking-cap, the laugh track goes crazy!!

Chairman: Stop! No, this won't work. We've got 3 Mary-Annes and 3 Gingers! How are we gonna work the screen time? No go. Next idea!

Bravo: Ok, scratch that. Let's talk value, bang for your buck! Screw the unions, we can do a reality show- edited nastiness and sex throughout, interviews, starvation, injury, and shivering misery on a sunny island, it's what the people want! It'll be great! Gentlemen, Behold...SURVEYOR : Mysterious Island!!!

Duchess Gabrielle: I was surprised that on our first day here we faced a team challenge, it really got started fast. The challenge was to eat the most repulsive mess you ever saw, we tried hard to choke it down for the team, but I must tell you, it was most insistent on returning, and did so very quickly in my case.

Baron Bardhaven : I have suffered, and caused suffering in my time, but never in quite so perverse a way as the foul feast we were challenged to consume. This shall be a difficult month if this is the level of the challenges, truly!

Kiralette Kelly: I...I..Don't want to talk about it....Don't make me....or I'll kick your shin.

Terry Lightfoot: I don't appreciate being dragged here and disgusted in that way, my goddess! I've lived for hundreds of your earth years and It's been a long time since something that disgusting passed my lips! (Don't you say a damned word, Bardhaven, I'm warning you..!)

Gnarlihotep Abel: Well..I tried to make dinner for everyone the first night, but I don't think it went well...

Giant Killer Bunneh: I just want to get to the killin', myself.

Chairman: Too Cerebral!

Bravo: ?!

Bravo: Ok, here we go, last one-- The castaways wake up stranded on the, time to explore and survive...

Gnarli: Wow, I feel weird- I coulda swore I saw that brush moving...Maybe I should go find Kiralette..

Duchess Eva: I've got a bad feeling about this Island. First the Penguin dream, then the giant killer Rabbits, The Lavaflows, and likely fierce lurking natives...Let's face it, this expedition is.....

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Into the Jaws of Adventure

With fair winds behind us, the Arronax sped quickly to her destination, The Isle of Phillip. The hearty adventures aboard settled in, securing stateroom or cabin as class dictated. I noted that I was the only traveller who had thought to bring a pack-animal (save Baroness Amber, who had brought Millie) and thought this boded ill for my feathered friends, who may now be expected to bear all means of trunks, instruments, and minibars for the more negligent journeyers. But this I consented to, with care for the expedition. Just after my Tribune dispatch was completed, and was safely sent off by pigeon, I heard the short bells calling us to mess.

The Captain, a Frenchman, of most swarthy and unkempt appearance, had invited the nobility to dine; and there, in the captain's mess, gathered the noble gentles for a fine repast, (so I am told.)

The "Salt of the Earth" were relegated to another mess room. Although I had paid the sum requested by Bardhaven (the Commoner's Fare, he called it) the food was unsavory and disappointing. I made conversation with Dr. Sputnik, Miss Lightfoot being away from table, examining the mealy hardtack that we had been apportioned.

The species of weevil represented here amazed me, had I not undertaken this journey, I would likely never have encountered such a variety of parasitic life! There was a fiery Red Flour beetle. These beetles are about 1/8 inch long and reddish-brown in color. Females may live a year or more, dropping up to 500 eggs on infested foods. Small, white worms (larvae) hatch from these eggs and they feed until they're about 1/6 inch long. Under ideal conditions, development from egg to adult takes about two months. This gigantic specimen wriggled with great agility, half buried in the tack.

I looked on with delight as Dr Oolon identified several other fellow travellers in this infestation, noting a Sawtoothed Grain Beetle, Indian Meal Moth larvae, and several variety of Dermestid worms which cavorted amongst the fungus of the hardtack like large legless deer in green swards. The learned Doctor gave classification for each loitering beast as he described their metamorphic habits and unique deviances, and this passed the time well.

Seeming to tire of this taxonomy, I noticed Dr. Oolon staring at my grey shocks of hair and I thought to alieve him of what might be a difficult question to ask, by stating: "I see you are curious about my grey? It is unnatural for one so young, yes, I shall tell you the story of how I came to have it?"

I ignored his "Truthfully, I was staring at a zit.." and I continued. "These shocks were received one terrible night while serving as a sailor on the good ship Boondocks."

"You were on the Boondocks?" He said, interest perking slightly.

"Yes, steaming out of Galveston with a fine load of fish oil destined for Florida, and on a warm July morn, in the Gulf, the boilers blew. 700 men went into the water... the vessel went down in 12 minutes, the ocean slicked by the fishy oil, coating our skin as the clothing was shred from our bodies. Didn't see first Dolphin for about half an hour. Bottlenose, 6-footer. You know how you know that, Dr.? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn't know. 'Course our Fish-oil mission had been so lucrative, no-one had been told we were out there."

I took a drink of water and continued..

"They didn't even list us overdue for a week. The very first light, Dr, the Dolphins come a-cruisin' -this was their mating ground, and the fish oil slick only made them randier..we tried forming into tight groups, kinda like old squares in the calendars, like at the battle of Waterloo? Where the idea was, Dolphin rubs against the nearest man, and the man managed to pound and hollar and scream...and sometimes the Dolphin'd go away...and sometimes he wouldn't go away, sometimes the dolphin'd look right in your eyes...

You know the dolphin's got purty blue eyes? Like a lamb in softness and sweetness? Those eyes look right into you, well, until they start their rubbing...Savaging... when those eyes narrow and squint with dastardly delight...the men commence a' yelling, and with the beating of the flippers and arms, the ocean turns foamy, and what with all the pounding and the hollering the bottlenoses all come in...and their bottlenoses go where bottlenoses should not venture...

On Thursday morning I bumped into a friend of mine, Harry Roberts, out of Altoona.. Slingo player, Bosun's mate..I thought we was asleep..reached over to wake him up, he just nodded and bobbed up and down, smiling...well...he'd been nuzzled, below the waist. At noon the fifth day a tugboat passed along, a young pilot, much younger than Baron Zealot, happened along and collected us- we had to restrain him from getting in the water too...he was a odd chap, that. Maybe it was the Baron? No...Well, that was the time I was most frightened, seeing that pilot stripping to jump in the water...waiting for my, to get out. Since then I've borne these grey shocks!"

"You were savaged by dolphins?" asked the doctor.
"Nearly, yes...and I have often considered directing my vengeance against the critter that that nearly had me..but I ask myself..

To what Porpoise?"

The doctor paused a moment, then replied "Mr Abel, I must say, conversation with you reminds me of a particular chum."

"Oh? Which chum is that?

"Examine the bucket behind you."