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SCENE: A small zoo. Zebra, Christmas show director/producer/mentor to the lesser talented, is preparing the zoo denizens to put on their annual Christmas performance
AT RISE: Some of the performers are chatting amongst themselves while others work closely, in some cases too closely, going over lines
ZEBRA (checking list) ...sleigh...bag of toys...jingle bells... What's missing? Hello? Where are the reindeer?
REINDEER RANDY (munching on moss) I'm here, Zee (burps) There - better
ZEBRA Did your mother not teach you it's uncouth to burp out loud, not to mention very impolite and boorish
REINDEER RANDY Maybe she did if I knew what those words meant
ZEBRA Why...why do I agree to do this every year?
(ZEBRA stares at himself in the mirror) 'You do it for the sake of the theatre, you talented, handsome beast...'
(cont'd.) Where, pray tell, are the others, he asks, afraid of what he'll be told
REINDEER RANDY They're back in the barn, playing poker.
ZEBRA (jumps back) Say what? The show is about to begin and they're gambling?
REINDER RANDY They're playing for some green
ZEBRA Stop them immediately! The last thing we need is for the zoo to be raided!
(staring at himself in the mirror)' It just never ends, does it, gorgeous beast!'
REINDEER RANDY Not to worry. There's only moss in the pot. Want me to go get them?
ZEBRA Why must I suffer the humiliation of amatoor performers? Why?
REINDEER RANDY Because nobody else will do it?
ZEBRA (pacing) Tell them to take their places in front of the sleigh, immediately. I'm a professional... I have a reputation to retain... they need me... without my presence there is no show. Go and bring them here posthaste - that means fast for your edification
(ZEBRA stares at himself in full-length mirror. Places a cloth on his forehead)
(cont'd.) I feel a mee-graine coming on...must control myself (cont'd.)'My but those stripes are stunning! I would fall in love with you if I hadn't already!'
(loud squawking can be heard)
(cont'd. ZEBRA) My head...the noise...Is there no peace for moi? (staring at himself in the mirror) 'What did I do to deserve to be put in charge of these...these maladroit soubrettes? Still, the show must go on. I am a professional. Hmmmm - my stripes do give my very well proportioned body a certain je ne said quoi...What are you doing after the show, handsome...
RAT Excuse me Zeb...but there's a problem
ZEBRA ...those dark enquiring eyes...those long lashes... Rat! Why are here? You're in the opening scene
RAT Figured you'd want to know -
ZEBRA - we can't afford any more delays. My mee-grain is definitely getting worse so break it to me in gentle hints
RAT Well...it has to do with Santa....
ZEBRA - are my eyes bloodshot? There's nothing worse than a zebra with red eyes. People will think I've taken to drink, although I wouldn't blame myself. Is it the costume thing, again? I mean, really, the chicken is quite vain. She assured me she could handle the role. Nobody will even realize that the jacket won't close...just tell her to hold her mitts in front...
RAT ...and one of the actors
ZEBRA I sent her to a quiet place to go over her lines with the acting coach, although why the necessity is beyond me. I mean, really, "Ho-ho-ho. I think I hear Santa" Nevertheless - where is she? Thespian chickens tend to be peckish. I'll have to give her a pep talk
RAT Well that's just it...
ZEBRA What's it? Stop speaking in riddles and go get her
RAT Seems somebody offered to give her private coaching in his den
ZEBRA That can't be a bad thing. Wait a minute - did you say 'den'? That Cheetah! I should have known better! Last year it was Mr. Squeeze who got up close and personal with the squirrel and now this. I need some of my special tonic to help assuage my nerves.
RAT Perhaps that's not such a great idea, Zeb. Remember what happened last year
ZEBRA They don't pay me enough greens to direct this Christmas show. Must calm down. Is it...
RAT (holding up feathers) ...too late
ZEBRA No! This can't be happening! There's no time for a replacement so I, myself, will be forced to don the red costume, even though it clashes with my stripes and does absolutely nothing for my skin. The show must go on. But first, a dose of tonic....maybe two doses...down the hatch. "Places everyone! Curtain up!"
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain. 1889. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]
It was in Warwick Castle that I came across the curious stranger whom I am going to talk about. He attracted me by three things: his candid simplicity, his marvelous familiarity with ancient armor, and the restfulness of his company—for he did all the talking.
Did I enjoy reading Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court? Yes!!!! Very, very much!
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a story within a story. The narrator meets a talkative stranger, the stranger begins to relate a strange-but-true story--so we're told--and finally, the stranger hands the narrator an old manuscript to finish the tale. Most of the book except for the beginning and ending frames, IS the manuscript written by the talkative stranger.
Here is how that manuscript begins:
I am an American. I was born and reared in Hartford, in the State of Connecticut--anyway, just over the river, in the country. So I am a Yankee of the Yankees--and practical; yes, and nearly barren of sentiment, I suppose--or poetry, in other words.
Readers learn that this Yankee was mysteriously transported BACK in time to the days of King Arthur's Court. This manuscript is his story of those events: the people he met, the dangers he faced, the near-misses and close-calls of his adventures, the friendships he formed, and the nearly successful, progressive experiments he conducted. For this time-traveler, THE BOSS, as he came to be called, had lofty goals once he realized where he was and the unique opportunity he had to shape or reshape society. These goals, for example, included introducing technology and establishing education for all.
The book is quite entertaining and at times very amusing!!! There is some action to be sure, but, it is a comedy through and through.
Some of my favorite quotes:
The mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when you come to realize your fact, it takes on color.
The only right way to classify the majestic ages of some of those jokes was by geologic periods. But that neat idea hit the boy in a blank place, for geology hadn't been invented yet. However, I made a note of the remark, and calculated to educate the commonwealth up to it if I pulled through. It is no use to throw a good thing away merely because the market isn't ripe yet.
Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and examine. I had mine, the king and his people had theirs. In both cases they flowed in ruts worn deep by time and habit, and the man who should have proposed to divert them by reason and argument would have had a long contract on his hands.
Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it.
There never was such a country for wandering liars; and they were of both sexes. Hardly a month went by without one of these tramps arriving; and generally loaded with a tale about some princess or other wanting help to get her out of some far-away castle where she was held in captivity by a lawless scoundrel, usually a giant. Now you would think that the first thing the king would do after listening to such a novelette from an entire stranger, would be to ask for credentials—yes, and a pointer or two as to locality of castle, best route to it, and so on. But nobody ever thought of so simple and common-sense a thing at that. No, everybody swallowed these people's lies whole, and never asked a question of any sort or about anything. Well, one day when I was not around, one of these people came along—it was a she one, this time—and told a tale of the usual pattern. Her mistress was a captive in a vast and gloomy castle, along with forty-four other young and beautiful girls, pretty much all of them princesses; they had been languishing in that cruel captivity for twenty-six years; the masters of the castle were three stupendous brothers, each with four arms and one eye—the eye in the center of the forehead, and as big as a fruit.
Would you believe it? The king and the whole Round Table were in raptures over this preposterous opportunity for adventure. Every knight of the Table jumped for the chance, and begged for it; but to their vexation and chagrin the king conferred it upon me, who had not asked for it at all.
Indeed, I said I was glad. And in a way it was true; I was as glad as a person is when he is scalped.
There, there, never mind, don't explain, I hate explanations; they fog a thing up so that you can't tell anything about it.
But that is the way we are made: we don't reason, where we feel; we just feel.
Take a jackass, for instance: a jackass has that kind of strength, and puts it to a useful purpose, and is valuable to this world because he is a jackass; but a nobleman is not valuable because he is a jackass. It is a mixture that is always ineffectual, and should never have been attempted in the first place.
You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
They are common defects of my own, and one mustn't criticise other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself.
Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.
Clarence was with me as concerned the revolution, but in a modified way. His idea was a republic, without privileged orders, but with a hereditary royal family at the head of it instead of an elective chief magistrate. He believed that no nation that had ever known the joy of worshiping a royal family could ever be robbed of it and not fade away and die of melancholy. I urged that kings were dangerous. He said, then have cats. He was sure that a royal family of cats would answer every purpose. They would be as useful as any other royal family, they would know as much, they would have the same virtues and the same treacheries, the same disposition to get up shindies with other royal cats, they would be laughably vain and absurd and never know it, they would be wholly inexpensive; finally, they would have as sound a divine right as any other royal house, and "Tom VII, or Tom XI, or Tom XIV by the grace of God King," would sound as well as it would when applied to the ordinary royal tomcat with tights on. "And as a rule," said he, in his neat modern English, "the character of these cats would be considerably above the character of the average king, and this would be an immense moral advantage to the nation, for the reason that a nation always models its morals after its monarch's. The worship of royalty being founded in unreason, these graceful and harmless cats would easily become as sacred as any other royalties, and indeed more so, because it would presently be noticed that they hanged nobody, beheaded nobody, imprisoned nobody, inflicted no cruelties or injustices of any sort, and so must be worthy of a deeper love and reverence than the customary human king, and would certainly get it. The eyes of the whole harried world would soon be fixed upon this humane and gentle system, and royal butchers would presently begin to disappear; their subjects would fill the vacancies with catlings from our own royal house; we should become a factory; we should supply the thrones of the world; within forty years all Europe would be governed by cats, and we should furnish the cats. The reign of universal peace would begin then, to end no more forever.... Me-e-e-yow-ow-ow-ow—fzt!—wow!" Hang him, I supposed he was in earnest, and was beginning to be persuaded by him, until he exploded that cat-howl and startled me almost out of my clothes. But he never could be in earnest. He didn't know what it was. He had pictured a distinct and perfectly rational and feasible improvement upon constitutional monarchy, but he was too feather-headed to know it, or care anything about it, either.
Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends Series: Kid Legends Written by David Stabler Illustrated by Doogie Horner Quirk Books 11/17/2015 978-1-59474-802-8 208 pages Ages 8—12 “Forget the gold medals, the championships, and the undefeated seasons. When all-star athletes were growing up, they had regular-kid problems just like you. …
$50 Gift Certificate Holiday Giveaway Enter here: Mudpuppy Holiday Giveaway . Stay! A Top Dog Story Written & Illustrated by Alex Latimer Peachtree Publishers 9/01/2015 978-1-56145-884-4 32 pages Ages 4—8 “Looking after Ben’s dog, Buster, is no walk in the park—Buster is messy, he is rowdy, he is EXHAUSTING! But Ben loves …
SCENE: A small zoo. Preparing for the holiday performance.
At rise: The residents of the zoo are practicing for the annual holiday performance. It's the last dress rehearsal before the actual production and chaos reigns supreme.
ZEBRA Hello? Everyone? May I have your attention, please? There is far too much cacophony among the performers. I can't hear myself think! Not you my dear...you embody the true thespian soul
CROW 1 (laughing while watching from a tree) Uh-oh...zebra says there's too much caca-phony around here. The elephants have been using the toilets, again
CROW 2 (laughing hysterically) Oh Cyril - you're so witty!
ZEBRA You mean, witless. Now where were we? Oh yes...we were discussing your acting abilities, my dear.
FEMALE ZEBRA You think I have talent? My acting coach has offered to give me private lessons
ZEBRA Would your coach anyone I would know? Perhaps we could work together to maximize your performance
FEMALE ZEBRA That's a very kind offer but 'CH' swore me to secrecy. He doesn't want the whole world calling him and begging for private tutoring> He's a very private person
ZEBRA Totally understandable, my dear. Know exactly where he's coming from. I too separate myself from the lesser...well...talent-challenged among us
(ZEBRA admires his frame from all angles, in a full-length mirror)
(cont'd. ZEBRA) 'Perfection!' (whispering) You can share the name of your acting coach with me. There is a professional code of silence among zebra directors that is adhered to. You said his initials were CH? Hmmmm....not familiar with any coaches with those initials...
FEMALE ZEBRA He calls himself cheetah
(ZEBRA reacts with horror)
ZEBRA Cheetah...you did say cheetah? Does this cheetah...would this coach live, perchance, in a cage in this very zoo?
FEMALE ZEBRA He would! How did you know? He said that his style of coaching requires getting down to the bare bones of acting
ZEBRA (horrified) My dear, naïve, zebra! Forget about - um - coach cheetah. I, myself, shall take you on as a client, gratis, and as a cost to myself (aside to himself) ...wait 'til I get my hands on cheetah...' What am I saying? Let's just say, my dear, that his reputation and taste for zebras is well developed. Why don't you go over there in the corner and study your lines
FEMALE ZEBRA If you say so. "I think I hear Santa!....I think I hear Santa....I think I hear Santa...'
ZEBRA Okay...actors - places please! Mr. Squeeze - please tear yourself away from rat? We don't want a repeat performance of last year's incident
MR. SQUEEZE I was just trying to show him some love
RAT (gasping for breath) Surrre! Remember the squirrel incident? We lost our Santa Claus on account of you
MR. SQUEEZE We're good friends! Right rat? Who ever heard of a squirrel playing Santa Claus, anyway?
ZEBRA (admiring himself in the mirror and fixing his cravat) 'You handsome devil! Your stripes don't do you justice. 'kiss-kiss....' For the record and given our budget, which is half of last year's, which was next to nothing, he was the only one who could fit into the Santa suit. Who will play the old elf this year?
(a chicken jumps down from the branch of a tree)
CHICKEN I would like to volunteer my services for the cause
MR. SQUEEZE (slithering up close to chicken) Great idea! And my contribution will be to offer my help We can go over your lines in my den
ZEBRA Not! Thank you for your...offer but I'm sure chicken can remember "ho-ho-ho..." Now if you will put on the suit, we can start our rehearsal
CHICKEN It's a little tight...jacket won't...fit...over my...breast bone...
CHEETAH Perhaps I can fix that problem ...
MR. SQUEEZE ...my particular qualities can definitely fix that...
(both cheetah and MR. SQUEEZE inch closer to the chicken)
ZEBRA Stop where you are, both of you! We will make do with what we have. Please put on the red hat and black shiny boots and get on the sled. The children are arriving
CHICKEN (smoothing his feathers and pulling the jacket over his breast) I'm very nervous.. This is my first acting job
CHEETAH Don't worry my friend. I'll be watching close by...in case you forget your lines, of course
ZEBRA Places people! Mr. Squeeze - you're not in the first scene
MR. SQUEEZE Just helping chicken get over his nerves. Everyone needs a hug
NEXT TIME: THE SHOW MUST GO ON...MAYBE Open the curtains and let the play begin!
$50 Gift Certificate Holiday Giveaway Enter here: Mudpuppy Holiday Giveaway . Here Comes Santa Cat Series: Here Comes Cat Written by Deborah Underwood Illustrations by Claudia Rueda Dial Books for Young Readers 10/21/2014 978-0-8037-4100-3 88 pages Age 3—5 . “HO, HO . . . WHO? CAT! NOT AGAIN. “The holidays are around …
Hello, and welcome to Tuesday's Question. Today's question is, well, I know you read the title, but I'll ask it again, and answer it: What's In Your Purse, Wallet, Handbag, Computer Bag, Etc, Today?
I carry a purse and sometimes a book bag, but I'm just going to list what's in my purse. So, pardon me while I crawl into my bottomless bag let's see, The first thing I see is a small bag of scramble rubbish, mainly make-up, (Most of which I do not use.) mixed with pens, a little notebook which I bought to write down idea's and notes, receipts, a little purple rock to remind me to be grateful, band-aids, my wallet, a hair brush, three pairs of sunglasses, two pairs of reading glasses, perfume, small coins with a drawing of President Lincoln on them, a variety of mints, Stephen King's new book about time travel, entitled, 11/22/63, and I could go on...it's ridiculous. I clean my purse out at least once a week, but it's an endless chore. Alright, now it's your turn. I will reply to each comment, and remember to answer carefully because sometime in the near future I'm going to post my readers comments to Tuesday's Questions. Because I've read some of the comments in the past that are hilarious, touching, kind, and well just plain good. If you are a blogger, I will link your comments back to your blog, but if you do not have a blog you will still remain a part of Tuesday's Questions. Which reminds me, I've received a few e-mails from readers who aren't sure how to leave a comment. If you do not own a blog and aren't sure how to leave a comment, just hit the comment button at the bottom of the post, and a box will pop up, then just follow the directions. It's easy and fun.
I hope Tuesday's Question's, and this question will encourage everyone to begin conversations by responding to each others comments. Plus, it's a way for all of us to have fun. But, if you are more comfortable just reading comments that's fine too.
That’s Not Mine Written by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant Two Lions 9/01/2015 978-1-4778-2639-3 32 pages Age 4—8 “Two fuzzy creatures both want to sit in the same chair. The trouble is, they can’t agree who it belongs to. “Mine. “Mine. “They get madder and madder, until . . . …
SCENE: COFFEE SHOP. A HALF-DOZEN PEOPLE LINE UP TO ORDER COFFEE. PERSON ENTERS AND LINES UP, ALONE, NEXT TO THE EXISTING LINE.
COFFEE DRINKER 1 Hello? We're all waiting to be served, too
(COFFEE DRINKER 2 IGNORES COFFEE DRINKER 1)
(CONT'D.) COFFEE DRINKER 1
'Scuse me but he line begins and ends here. Feel free to join us - at the back
COFFEE DRINKER 2
I only want to order a coffee! Nothing else
COFFEE DRINKER 1
COFFEE DRINKER 2
You would make me go to the back of the line for just one cup of coffee?
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Why not? That's why we're here but we wait our turn!
(COFFEE DRINKER 2 reluctantly and slowly moves to back of line, talking to people in line as she walks, shaking her head)
COFFEE DRINKER 2
This is so dumb! One lousy coffee that would take less than thirty seconds to order. Ridiculous!
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Not really. A line up is a line up is a lineup. We all gotta abide by the rules. I mean, what would the world be like without structure. Utter chaos. Right people?
COFFEE DRINKER 3
Y'know...I'm not in a rush. You can go before me
(steps aside to allow coffee drinker 2 to move up)
COFFEE DRINKER 4
Me too. Gotta lotta time to kill
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Thank you so very much for backing me up, people! This is a perfect example why the world is in the condition it's in. Nobody cares! Rules are the glue that solidifies civilization!
COFFEE DRINKER 3
Give her a break! You're in front so why do you care?
COFFEE DRINKER 1
That's not the point, my friend. Why do I care you ask? I care because we must retain some semblance of order in society. There are societal rules that are accepted norms and lining up and waiting our turn to be served is one of them. Can you imagine - and I'm sure it would never happen because you people seem civilized - if everyone pushed in and demanded to be served? There would be chaos!
COFFEE DRINKER 2 It's a coffee! That's it! Nothing to go along with it. No danish or pastry or anything that will take more time.
COFFEE DRINKER 1 That's what you say now but how do we know we can believe you?
COFFEE DRINKER 3 AND OTHERS LINING UP "I believe her..."
COFFEE SHOP SERVER
Can I serve anyone over here?
(people rush over to the other line. COFFEE DRINKER 2 waves and smiles at COFFEE DRINKER 1)
COFFEE DRINKER 1
I tried. Can't teach everyone to have manners. 'A large regular coffee - in a china mug, please'
SERVER Only paper cups. Our dishwasher is broken
COFFEE DRINKER 1 Say what? You expect civilized people like me to...to drink coffee out of a paper receptacle? This is absolutely unacceptable. Wash one out by hand, for goodness sake!
SERVER Look over there. See the big pile of dishes in the sink? You expect me to wash out a mug for you? I think not!
COFFEE DRINKER 1 Do I have a choice - but don't expect me to enjoy it!
(COFFEE DRINKER 1 takes paper cup and looks for a table. She sees COFFEE DRINKER 2 seated by herself at the only available table)
COFFEE DRINKER 1 Excuse me...but would you mind if I join you? In my discussion with the coffee server person regarding the non-availability of china coffee mugs, it appears all the chairs and tables are taken. You would think that they would keep extra mugs on hand for people who can't tolerate drinking their beverage out of paper.
COFFEE DRINKER 2 Well...now. How about that. Go figure. There is justice in this world. Why don't you line up and wait for someone to vacate a table.
COFFEE DRINKER 1 But that could take a long time. You on the other hand, are all alone
COFFEE DRINKER 2 I like my space
(COFFEE DRINKER 3 approaches the table)
COFFEE DRINKER 3 Do you mind if I join you?
COFFEE DRINKER 2 Be my guest.
ASIDE TO COFFEE DRINKER 1: Like you said, there are rules and waiting our turn is one of them. I think I just may order another one...or maybe two...
I love the character and attitude that artist David Lafuente puts into his comics pages! This week saw the release of the fifth and final issue of Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. Assassin, which features another deliciously dynamic cover by Lafuente. David Lafuente is from Spain and currently lives in London where he’s working on his next big project, a creator-owned series for Image Comics called The Ludocrats with fellow creators Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol.
Lafuente first cut his teeth in the mainstream comics world on the 2008-09 Hellcat mini-series with writer/artist Kathryn Immonen, then worked with Brian M. Bendis on the Ultimate Spider-Man relaunch. Some of my favorite art by David Lafuente is his interior work on the All-New Doop series in 2014 with Doop’s creator’s Peter Milligan & Mike Allred; check out those beautiful pages above!
Other notable works include Batman Eternal, Batgirl, Neli Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and The Runaways.
You can follow David Lafuente and see his art process on his tumblr page here.
For more comics related art, you can follow me on my websitecomicstavern.com– Andy Yates
Dino-Boarding Written by Lisa Wheeler Illustrated by Barry Gott Carolrhoda Books 9/01/2014 978-1-4677-0213-3 32 pages Age 4—8 A Junior Library Guild Selection “Team Green Machine battles the Shredding Crew for dino-boarding domination! Allo and Diplo thrill the surfing crowd, while Compy comes up short on a short board. …
Note: Join us this Thursday, August 27, at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing for an author event with Christopher Moore. Describe your latest book. Secondhand Souls is the sequel to my bestselling novel A Dirty Job, which was about a single dad in San Francisco who gets the job of being Death and runs [...]
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to receive 6 pairs of these super awesome socks from Chatty Feet to review (I love my job). Naturally I picked the Artists Collection plus a couple of other fun pairs, but in all honesty I would wear every single one of these, or at least give them as a gift.
Not only do I have fun wearing these and mixing and matching them, but they even make the occasional appearance in puppet shows for my kids.
Check out these socks and a lot more options over at Chatty Feet!
When a Dragon Moves In Again Written by Jodi Moore Illustrated by Howard McWilliam Flashlight Press 9/01/2015 978-1-936261-35-2 32 pages Age 4—8 “If you build a perfect castle, a dragon will move in, followed by. . . a baby?! Preparations are in fll swing o welcome a new family …
This week we honor the work of Boston based cartoonist/animator Bob Flynn, who illustrated a variant cover for the latest issue of Kaboom’s Over the Garden Wall. Flynn has been contributing comics and covers to titles like SpongeBob Comics, ARGH!, Nickelodeon Magazine, and Heeby Jeeby Comix, which he co-created. I really like his bubbly, liquid-y, cartoon drawings; they really ooze to life on the page!
In addition to comics, Flynn has worked as a character designer for the animated series Bravest Warriors and he is the Director of Art & Animation at FableVision Studios.
You can read one of his self-published comics Brain #1 for free on his website here, and you can check out more of his art there while you’re at it!
For more comics related art, you can follow me on my websitecomicstavern.com– Andy Yates
Amanda Meadows—just recently named to PW’s Star Watch 2015 list– is the co-publisher of the hilarious comedy magazine The Devastator and the driving force behind the Con Exhibitor Survey which we co-sponsored last year (2015 edition coming!) She is certainly a star to watch, but on the Devastator tumblr yesterday she announced that the magazine […]