Curing the Vicar’s Conniptions (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Ms. Crepuscular's Estonian Folk Tale ('Oy, Rodney') – Lee Duigon

At last! Chapter CDXLVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, in which she reveals the funniest book ever written–here it is, calloo, callay, o frabjous day!

Ms. Crepuscular suspends the action so she can tell the reader, “This took an extraordinary among of research! At length it narrowed down to a choice between two books, both published in 1858: A Brief Narrative of My Captivity Among Dubious Presbyterians, or A Lady’s Bad Time and the much more famous work by the man known only as “Pumpkinhead,” Mopey Dick, or The Depressed White Whale. One of these, if read to the vicar, will cure his conniptions. The other will make them worse–much worse! Which one is right? Which one is the funniest book in the world?”

Her solution to the problem is simplicity itself. Resorting to the nearby Home For Persons With Conniptions, Ms. Crepuscular reads to the patients. Before anyone gets better or worse, the authorities drag her back outside by the ankles.

With even more simplicity, she flips a coin. Mopey Dick, all 962 pages of it, is to be read to the vicar. If it doesn’t work, he’s liable to scream, leap out of his bed and through the open window, and run around in his nightshirt until he’s sucked under the wading pool.

“It’s going to take a while to read this,” Violet crepusculates to her readers, “so tune in next week to see what happens! Heh-heh, they don’t call me The Mistress of Suspense for nothing!”

[Editor’s Note: I have read several chapters of Mopey Dick and I don’t think it’s funny at all. And Dubious Presbyterians is equally devoid of humor. A six-year-old telling Irish jokes would be more chuckle-inducing than these brainless tomes.]

Byron’s TV Listings, Oct. 16

CTVA - US TV Listings - 1970

G’day, mates! Byron the Quokka here. Welcome to another weekend of fantastic TV viewing brought to you by Quokka University. We seem to have missed our deadline for offering courses, but never mind–TV’s more fun. Here’s a brief sample of what we’ve got lined up for you.

9:00 P.M.   Ch. 08   SCHMOE FOR A DAY–Game Show

Patterned after the classic “Queen for a Day,” the contestant who tells the most horrible sob story gets to be Schmoe For A Day, complete with propeller hat. Last week’s schmoe, the guy with all the leeches in his swimming pool, tonight defends his title against a pitiful old lady who has a monster living in her kitchen sink. Host: A former Turkish politician concealing his identity.

Ch. 12   MY FRIEND FRANCO–Sitcom

The ghost of the former Spanish dictator (Bill Dana) haunts Debbi DuBuque (Capucine)–but he’s awfully good at solving her boyfriend problems! This week: Can the Generalissimo engineer a fatal accident for Chester (Dennis Weaver) without the police getting involved? Officer Mike: Ed McMahon.


Instructor Fong Hsueh-ting can teach you virtually incomprehensible language dialects, puzzling even to persons who regularly speak them. Are you tired of people understanding what you say? Dr. Fong can fix that! Featuring the June Taylor Dancers. Song: “Du Gwangst Mihr Hsiao Gebleben.”

9:30 P.M.  Ch. 16  GNUSMOKE–African Western

Imagine James Arness’ confusion when he showed up for work in his U.S. Marshal’s costume only to find himself cast as a game warden in East Africa! Gotta read those contracts more carefully, Jimbo! This show was briefly famous for the friction between Arness and his co-star, Liberace–and cancelled after Liberace pushed Arness into the crocodile tank! With Gorilla Monsoon and his orchestra.

Ch. 48   EL BORRACHO!–Western/Romance

Who’s that tireless fighter for justice who keeps walking into the wall instead of out the door? It’s “El Borracho” (Frank Botox), feared by bad guys from Paraguay to Oman, or wherever else he winds up. Nancy Kwolvczek plays “Dona Pupitre,” El Borracho’s lady love. This week: Sgt. Fernandez (Jackie Chan) thinks he has evidence that will send El Borracho to the gallows. If they can find the gallows.

Well, there you go! Is that great TV, or what? Grab a eucalyptus leave and settle down! We are gonna see magic!

954 Quokka Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock



So What Is the Funniest Book in the World? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Pin by Ross Johnston on totally judging books by their covers | Book humor, Book parody, Romance novels

I can hardly describe the fever pitch of anticipation  which gripted me all week, as I waited for Violet Crepuscular to unveil “the funniest book in the world.” They have to read it aloud to the vicar to cure his conniptions–but what could it be? Is it Baby Talk Made Simple? The suspense was killing me! Well, they don’t call Violet the Mistress of Suspense for nothing…

Imagine my disappointment, therefor, when I opened the email yesterday to read the latest from Ms. Crepuscular… and found…. this.

“I have hit upon a very nice dessert made with toothpaste and croutons,” she writes. “It’s a kind of pudding that cleans your teeth while you’re chewing the croutons that are in it. It does use up an awful lot of toothpaste, but what’s life without some luxury?”

So what’s the confounded funniest book in the world? (I’m warning you, Violet! Don’t you dare skip over it–“Now that they’ve read the funniest book in the world and cured the vicar’s conniptions…” We’re onto that trick–don’t even think of trying it again!)

In an aside to the reader, who is still waiting for Chapter CDXLVIII to begin, Ms. Crepuscular folasticizes, “Doubtless some of you are still waiting for Chapter CDXLVIII to begin, and eager to know just what is the funniest book in the world! Anyone can think of dozens of books it might be. I always thought Moby Dick was a scream. My neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, thinks it’s The Hand-Made’s Tail.

“So I will set aside the narrative–not on the back burner, that’s got my toothpaste pudding on it–for a week, to give you, the reader, the opportunity to say what you think is the funniest book in the world! Don’t bother to mention anything by Dean R. Koontz–he always cracks me up.”


Byron’s TV Listings, Oct. 9

CTVA - US TV Listings - 1967

G’day, ‘allo, and welcome to this weekend’s Quokka University TV listings! I’m your host, Byron the Quokka–you know: the poor parsnip who gets stuck doing all the work. But if we can bring you but one small hour of joy, it doesn’t matter how I suffer, does it?

Here’s a sample of our menu!

6:17 P.M.   Ch. 41   MOVIE–Science Fiction/Philosophy

Grace Kelly and Werner von Braun star in “Island of Super Prudish Women” (Italian-Scottish, 1969), the film that launched the “prudish women” craze of 1970. On a planet in another galaxy, a scientific expedition finds an island full of really prudish women. Queen Xaxamar: Urula Andress. Scotty: James Doohan.

6:30 P.M.  Ch. 09   ASK DR. KRINKLE!–Psychology/Phrenology

This show features the real Dr. Heinrich Krinkle and his real celebrity patients, who’ve given up on all the so-called “real” psychologists and whose only hope now is for Dr. Krinkle, the last practicing, accredited phrenologist in the Western world, to read the bumps on their heads to find out what’s wrong with them. Tonight’s patients: a man who thinks he’s Chuck Schumer, and astronomer Ernest Gamow, who can’t stop peering through the wrong end of his telescope. Featured: The June Taylor Dancers.


Why try to buy the Sistine Chapel when Ollie can teach you how to paint it yourself on the ceiling of your living room? With commentary by a balloon with a face on it.

7 P.M.   Ch. 08   MUMMY ON HORSEBACK–Western

The ancient Egyptian mummy, Ra-Ho-Khepere (Slim Pickens), continues his search of the Old West for the cowboy who robbed his tomb. This week: Two of Ra’s fingers fall off while he’s eating dinner with the Zuckerberg family. He’ll need some fast talking to get out of this! Ma and Pa Zuckerberg: John Cleese. Little Nell: A Hamster. Little Elroy: Sen. Lou Bok Choi, Wisconsin.


You’d better bring a parachute if you want to play this game! Entrepreneur Mervyn Puncho took demo derby off the tires and put it on wings. Obsolete fighter planes and refurbished small aircraft knock each other out of the sky–last one flying wins. Celebrity host: Bernadette Peters. With Spiro Agnew and his orchestra.

Well! That should get you started! I’ve already seen all these shows, and I’d be hard-put to say which I liked best. But anything with a mummy in it always goes down well. Happy viewing!

376 BEST Happy Quokka IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock

The Funniest Book in the World (‘Oy, Rodney’)

a gripping page-turner headed for the top of the NY Times bestseller list |  Book parody, Book humor, Romance novels

Introducing Chapter CDXLVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, or, A Gentlewoman’s Malady, Violet Crespuscular–

Wait! What’s this “or” business? Since when is there an “or”?

“The subtitle,” Ms. Crepuscular explains in  a series of smoke signals, “is a staple of Victorian literature. I don’t know why I haven’t been using one!”

Be that as it may, in this chapter, none of Lady Margo Cargo’s folk remedies has sufficed to halt the vicar’s conniptions. “I have never seen more disgusting conniptions in my life,” says Lady Margo.

In desperation, Lord Jeremy Coldsore consults the Wise Woman of the Gaol, formerly the Wise Woman of the Woods; but she prefers the gaol.

“Ah, yes, conniptions!” she festiculates. “Constable Chumley has kept me well-informed of the vicar’s conniptions. They are of a special kind–Smythe-Peddington Conniptions, named for the first doctor who was unable to cure them. Fortunately, I know exactly how to cure them! And the method is simplicity itself. So simple, the patient will practically cure himself.”

“So what is this method?” cries Jeremy.

The Wise Woman lowers her voice and, almost whispering, replies, “You must read him, aloud, the funniest book in the world! That’ll stop the conniptions.”

“Excellent!” Jeremy exclaims. “And what is the funniest book in the world?”

She shrugs broadly. “So what am I–the London Times Review of Books? I haven’t read a book in 30 years. And that one wasn’t funny.”

MUCH LATER THAT DAY… A search of Lady Margo’s copious library turns up only one book that might be amusing, in a way: Baby-Talk Made Simple, by Benjamin Franklin.

“It’s our only hope!” says Margo… TO BE CONTINUED!

(“There! How’s that for heightening suspense?” crows Violet. We sigh in unison.)


Byron’s TV Listings, Oct. 2

CTVA - US TV Listings - 1962

Look at this–October already! Time flies when you’re posting TV listings!

Byron the Quokka here, with another weekend’s worth of intersectional TV–I thought I’d say that and see if it got a rise out of anybody. There’s a wallaby who jumps four feet into the air if he thinks something’s intersectional.

Here’s a little piece of this weekend’s menu.

8:15 P.M.  Ch. 08   BOBBING FOR APPLES–Game Show

It’s looks easy–but in every tub of floating apples, there’s an angry crab! Sooner or later, some contestant’s going to get bitten. Host: Basil III, Byzantine Emperor. Celebrity contestants: Angela Merkel, Bette Davis, Chiang Kai-shek, and a rugose cone from Antarctica.

8:30 P.M.  Ch. 18   MOVIE–Horror

“The Scary Lady Who Chops Off Heads and Eats Them” (Mexican, 1967) features the June Taylor Dancers as sirens who lure unsuspecting randy gentlemen into the clutches of a ravenous space alien (Zsa Zsa Gabor) who looks like Zsa Zsa Gabor. Featured Song: “I Got Plenty of Letter Openers”


Are you ready to enhance your sock experience? Join your host, a sea cucumber in a tank, as various celebrity guests (celebrities from Burkina Faso: you won’t have heard of them) rhapsodize about what a nice pair of socks really feels like! With John Kerry and his orchestra.

9 P.M.  Ch. 02   I LIVE FACE-DOWN–Crime Drama (Noir)

Cynical, burnt-out private eye Marvin Blah (James Fenimore Cooper) can’t even drag himself out of bed in the morning–so how’s he supposed to solve “The Disappearing Gorgeous Dame Caper”? Superhero Shapeless Blob Man (Richard Crenna) has to use poisonous snakes to get him motivated! Guest star: Venus de Milo (with arms)


Trick questions like “Who are you?” are bound to trip up stupid famous people when host Monte Hall asks them! Watch career politicians get hopelessly tangled up by posers like “What are you doing?” and “How old are you?” Remember the Congresswoman whose head exploded when asked what time it is!

There! That ought to get you in a TV frame of mind! Aunt Squeezy is visiting us this weekend, so we know we’re going to be watching a lot of TV–in between games of Clue! This quokka really has it in for Col. Mustard–always trying to pin the crime on him. But I digress…

946 Quokka Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Gee, I can still see the TV screen from 50 feet away!

Comment Contest: Win a Term as President!

Palace of Versailles to host huge rave this summer and it's easy to go for  cheap - Mirror Online

How would you like to be president of the Untied States–with absolute power to do any flamin’ thing you want?

Well, now the exalted rank of POTUS can be yours… if you’re the lucky reader who enters Comment No. 80,000 on this blog!

Yes, we have it on unimpeachable authority (heh-heh!) that the Constitution is soon to be retired, with the country governed from now on by whatever Mandate pops into a president’s or governor’s head. Imagine the fabulousness of handing down your first Mandate! And everybody has to obey it–or else! “From now on all doorknobs must have smiley faces on them!” “All persons whose names begin with R, report to The Camp!” “Odd-numbered days are now Barack Obama Day!” I mean, you could go just complete crazy…

Best of all, you won’t even have to be elected! Just win the comment contest. And the next thing you know, you’ll be moving into a Presidential Palace (just like the one in the picture!) and getting set to Change The World!

A Thoroughly Shameful Literary Cheap Trick! (Oy, Rodney)

a gripping page-turner headed for the top of the NY Times bestseller list |  Book parody, Romance novels, Book humor

Introducing Chapter CDXLVI of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Now that the vicar’s conniptions are permanently cured, and Margo and Lord Jeremy safely married and gone off on their honeymoon to Keasby, New Jersey, and the invasion of Sicilian caecilians turned back, and the mystery of the vicar’s backyard wading pool solved to everyone’s complete satisfaction–”

Just a cotton-pickin’ minute there! Whoa, Nellie! Cease and desist!

I know what she’s trying to do. Note the absence of Chapter CDXLV. Presumably all these things happened in that chapter–and yet she’s skipped right over it! Readers will have her hide for this. “When in doubt, just skip it!” When did that become a literary maxim?

What if Homer had skipped Achilles’ showdown with Hector? What if Shakespeare had just passed over Julius Caesar’s last visit to the forum? Is this any way to write a novel? For shame!

Violet, the world expected better things from you. Personally, I had long since given up hope of seeing you blossom into a second Jacqueline Susann. But to show yourself a literary mountebank, a novelistic ninnie, a mere dental assistant disguised as Art personified–!

[Interrupted by emergency communication from Violet Crepuscular]

“Dear reader, I disclaim all knowledge of and responsibility for that chapter introduction purportedly written by me! I am not a literary mountebank! Believe me, I didn’t get where I am today by skating over major problems in my plot.

“I just thought a little streamlining might be in order…”

And so we are left with no current report on events in Scurveyshire because Somebody never wrote Chapter CDXLV. We simply do not know what happened after they tied that paper bag over the vicar’s head. The suspense is well-nigh unbearable.

Byron’s TV Listings, Sept. 25

What Columbus Indiana Watched On Television in Shades of Black and White

Blimey! The next time I do this, it’ll be October!

G’day, this is Byron the Quokka with another weekend’s worth of glorious TV brought to you by the sages at Quokka University. If there’s not a game of Clue going in your neighborhood, these shows are the next best thing.

5:45 P.M.  Ch. 41   TALK LIKE ELMER FUDD!–Educational

John Gielgud’s family and friends seriously considered having him put away while he was doing this series for Josip P. Broz’s People’s Public Television. Once he got started talking like Elmer Fudd, he couldn’t stop! For a good while there, it endangered his career. Featured guests: Anthony Quinn, Irene Ryan.


Caspar Hoojah does himself an injury as he overreacts to this week’s news in sports! Last week he jumped out his studio’s second-floor window because the Yankees got yanked. This week, who knows? The walls of his studio have since been padded: we’ll see if that keeps him out of the hospital. With R.D. Laing and his orchestra.

Ch. 16  MOVIE–Steamy Jungle Romance

In “Steaming Jungle Passion” (1996), Prof. Gargle (Leonard Bernstein) leads an expedition into the Amazon rain forest in search of Batboy (Frank Buttocks)–only to discover a long-lost city of maniacs ruled by fantastically beautiful women, all of whom want the professor and will do anything to get him! Boobah: Ellen Burstyn. Crowd of lunatics: the June Taylor Dancers. Song: “Itchy Jungle Disease”

6:30 P.M.   Ch. 12  CTHULHU & CO.–Cartoons

Inspired by the horror tales of H. P. Lovecraft, these cartoons are guaranteed to freak you out! Many viewers require long-term psychiatric therapy after just one or two exposures. Others, we regret to say, join disreputable cults. Host: Uncle Jack Torrance. Puppets: Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren.

Ch. 52  “YOUR MOVE, STUPID!”–Game Show

Can you play Monopoly, poker, checkers, and Candy Land at the same time? Our celebrity contestants will try to do just that, rushing from table to table as the overhead Monster Clock ticks away… Raul Castro this week puts his title on the line against The Dixie Chicks, Dan Rather, and Barney Rubble. Host: a disembodied head floating in a jar, we don’t know whose.

Well, mates, there you go! Maybe you should record some of these, in case Q.U. ever has to open its doors and start teaching courses. But for the time being, it’s party time!

World's happiest animal', the quokka, becomes the most popular tourist  attraction at Australia's Rottnest Island

Curing the Vicar’s Conniptions (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Lady Margo Cargo – Lee Duigon

Introducing Chapter CDXLIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular tackles the problem of the Vicar of Scurveyshire’s recurring conniptions.

“I am frequently asked to describe the vicar’s conniptions,” she writes, “but I have always held back from doing so because they’re such tacky conniptions! Dr. Fanabla has thrown up his hands in despair–and now he can’t bring them down again. People who see him on the street assume a robbery is in progress and throw up their hands, too. And now he finds it virtually impossible to put on his socks and tie his shoes.”

Constable Chumley interrupts his door-to-door search for legless amphibians to answer repeated summonses to stop a robbery on the High Street. The fact that there is no robbery never daunts him. “Fray nobbin to nobbin,” he explains, “sithen yon manny grue brach!” Many find his words reassuring. Some don’t.”

Meanwhile, the vicar’s new conniptions take on a form which will forever haunt all those who witness them. In desperation, Lady Margo Cargo suggests a folk remedy: tie a burlap bag over his head and sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” “It sometimes worked when our head house parlor maid had her conniptions,” she reverberates.

“We’ll have to wait for the next chapter to find out whether it works,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “That’s how I heighten the suspense!”

I fear that means she doesn’t know.

P.S.: Reader Doris Magnoon of Inchworm Township, Kuwait, objects to the use of Roman numbers as chapter heads. “We have been cheated out of the magical numeral, 444, which has massive therapeutic properties!” she complains. It is Ms. Crepuscular’s plan to ignore her.