Revenge of the Lake Smelts! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Lady Margo Cargo’s upholstered wooden leg seems to have a life of its own! (How’s that for a lead sentence? Nobody does it like Violet Crepuscular.)

In Chapter CDXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Ms. Crepuscular returns to the apocalyptic roller derby match pitting the visiting Ulan Bator Lake Smelts vs. the team from neighboring Plaguesby. Just as the game was getting to the point where none of the spectators would admit to ever having been in Plaguesby, or having any family there, or even knowing where it is, Lady Margo Cargo’s upholstered wooden legs goes flying out into the middle of the rink, instantly become a serious and even deadly hazard.

The Lake Smelts’ star jammer, Minnie Chukutai, is injured; well, rather badly injured, actually; in fact, killed outright. This inspires the Plaguesby squad to score a point while Ulan Bator reels in shocked disbelief.

“Please, dear reader,” inserts Ms. Crepuscular, totally destroying the flow of the narrative, “don’t take this to mean the city of Ulan Bator itself, halfway around the world and oblivious to events in Scurveyshire, has reeled in shocked disbelief. It’s only the surviving Lake Smelts. I almost forgot to mention that their Number Two veeble, Penny Subhoshmakov, has also come to an untimely end, having tripped over Lady Margo’s upholstered wooden leg while skating at some 60 mph.”

Meanwhile, to the horror of her crusty old butler, Crusty, Lady Margo has begun to crawl out onto the rink in an attempt to recover her upholstered wooden leg. This is just as the captain of the Lake Smelts, Miss Cindy Spatzinagatai, raises her several brawny arms and vows vengeance on all of Scurveyshire.

With a chill cry reminiscent of the days of Genghis Khan, the enraged Lake Smelts swarm over the rail…

“‘Tis maith yon abblemart fusstick, m’lord,” observes Constable Chumley. One cannot but agree.

Roller Derby Comes to Scurveyshire! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Victorian roller derby

As every reader with nothing better to do will surely remember, Violet Crepuscular has left her readers wondering whether there are Picts hiding out in Scurveyshire and planning to use the ancient Pictish sport of roller derby to expel all the English out of England.

Introducing Chapter CDXI of her immortal epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Ms. Crepuscular addresses her readers thus: “Dear readers, I hope you don’t mind if I address you thus. It has become necessary for me to introduce a new character into the story: the plot cannot be carried forward without it. Without further ado, meet… Tom the Pict!”

Yes, alas, there is a Pict lurking among the gibbering masses of Scurveyshire. “You may wonder,” adds Violet, “what one measly Pict–” not a figure of speech: he really does have measles–“can do to evict the English from England. Please continue reading!”

Tom’s idea is to strike while everyone is attending the roller derby match between Plaguesby and Ulan Bator. Please don’t bother to write to Ms. Crepuscular to point out to her that Ulan Bator was certainly not called “Ulan Bator” during the Victorian Era. Her neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, flies into a rage whenever this topic is brought up.

Tom the Pict, the story continues, has successfully disguised himself as a normal person, and the measles deter anyone from getting too close. He only speaks Pictish when he talks to himself or to his pet snail, Rupert.

And everyone, but everyone, is going to be at that roller derby rink!

A Completely Unnecessary Flashback (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Oy Rodney – Lee Duigon

Introducing Chapter CDX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Dear reader, in order to fully understand Chapter CDX of my epic romance, Oy, Rodney, it is necessary for us to go back in time some fifteen hundred years. This is what we writers call a flashback. Because we’re flashing back.”

What she’s leading up to is a discourse on the Picts, “the original inhabitants of Britain, who came to this happy isle, this seat of kings, from the Solomon Islands. To this day,” she babbles, “the trained ear can detect no difference between Pictish and Solomon Islandese. They also play several of the same board games.”

What does this have to do with anything? Oh, come now–you don’t think Ms. Crepuscular would ever leave us stranded in a non sequitur, do you?

She does point out that the Picts were responsible for people in ancient Britain getting rid of their trousers and wearing kilts instead. “It is because the Picts were invertebrate thieves,” she writes. I am not sure about that word “invertebrate.” Something’s wrong with it. “Many a Roman, reaching into his pocket for a denarius, to his dismay found all his pockets empty. This happened to so many people that they started referring to their empty pockets as ‘Pict Pockets.’ Later this referred to picked pockets of Pictish populations isolated in northern Britain and West Virginia.”

You learn something new every day.

“Getting to my point,” Violet promises, “as every schoolgirl knows, roller derby was the national pastime of the Picts and their gift to the world at large. And roller derby is coming to Scurveyshire! And what, dear reader, would happen if there were picked Picts secretly hiding out on Scurveyshire, waiting for the opportunity to cast all the foreigners out of Britain? And using roller derby to do it!”

But we will have to wait for another chapter to learn the answer to that question.

The Lovers’ Quarrel, and the Art of Dowsing

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Introducing Chapter CDIV (what happened to CDIII?) of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular cites a fan letter she has received from Geoffrey the Dowser, of Ginseng Corners, Australia.

“Dear Mrs. Cripustuler,” he writes, “I have been reading your epic romance novel Oy Rodney for sevrul years and I could not help notcing youve got nothing in it about the ancient and Romantic art of dowsing. Please correct this, or i will stop reading!!”

In a confidential aside to the reader, Ms. Crepuscular rises to the challenge. “It’s as if Geoffrey has read my mind!” she ululates. “I can think of no better way to resolve a lovers’ quarrel than for the offending lover to appease the injured party by presenting her with an Acme Official Dowsing Kit! I had a lovers’ quarrel once, some 30 years ago, and when my boyfriend gave me a dowsing kit, I was off to the races!”

She has quite forgotten that today is Valentine’s Day. Oh, well.

With his author’s example to inspire him, Lord Jeremy has bought Lady Margo Cargo a fully-equipped dowsing kit, complete with Y-shaped willow dowsing rod and an instruction pamphlet.

“Oh, Jeremy!” she gushes. “I’m going to go out right away and find underground water, oil, treasure, and gold!”

Neither of them has thought of what perils might accrue to anyone dowsing in the vicinity of the vicar’s backyard wading pool: follow the flexing dowsing rod to an indescribably horrible doom.

Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, has to accompany her with pick and shovel to dig wherever the dowsing rod points to. It has put him in a bad mood. Neither of them notices that the rod’s gyrations are leading them closer and closer to the fateful wading pool–which, when last heard of, sucked down a locomotive and several cars full of passengers.

“And here,” writes Violet, “in the interests of suspense, I must break the chapter. Think of it, dear reader! Will Margo and Crusty be sucked down under the wading pool? Or will they first uncover buried treasure–perhaps a hoard of gold coins deposited by a prehistoric king?” What this really means is that she doesn’t know what happens next.

We’ve Invented a New Word Game for You!

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G’day again! Not to hog the blog, and after all, Quokka University isn’t open yet–but this can’t wait!

In partnership with Violet Crepuscular, author of the epic romance, Oy, Rodney, our Quokka U. Dept. of Recreation Science has invented a new word game that anyone can play. All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper–or a jolly good memory.

The game is called Letter Rip. You start out with a word, or a two-word phrase, and one bonus letter that isn’t used in the target word or phrase. You then try to see how many four or five-letter words you can make from the letters in the target phrase–words that must begin with the bonus letter.

Example:

Target Phrase: Broken Vaporizer    Bonus Letter: C

And some of the 5-letter words we’ve made: crone, craze, caper, cobra, cover, carob, coven, crane… and so on.

There! Wasn’t that fun? Who says college isn’t good for anything!

Violet Crepuscular’s Fan Mail (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular takes a break from the plot and inserts extractions from some of her fan mail. She is hampered in this exercise by an inability to read. Otherwise she would never have let some of these letters see the light of day.

“It’s not that I can’t read at all,” she hastens to explain. “It’s just that I can’t read stuff that people write.” We are glad she’s cleared that up. “Fan mail,” she adds, “proves that you’ve got readers.”

From Cindy Indy, Rawalpindi: “Dear Ms. Crepuscular, your novel proves to be an effective decay-preventive dentifrice when used in a program of conscientious oral hygiene and regular professional care.”

Ozzie Spore, New York: “Your book is the only thing that keeps me living.”

Ms. June Spumoni, Bad Axe, Michigan: “My pet emu bit and kicked me after I lined his cage with pages from your wretched novel.”

Tom Popocatepetl, Jurassic Park, Hawaii: “How do you spell your name?”

“I have taken some flak for the elegant way in which I got rid of the monsters that had overrun Scurveyshire,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers. She has run out of fan mail and needs to fill the rest of the chapter somehow. Harking back to her days in grade school, she writes in longhand, 100 times, “I must not waste paper.”

‘Oy, Rodney’ Triumphs, Wins Pulitzer

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I have to admit this headline is something less than honest. I’m afraid I got carried away by the readership’s enthusiastic support for Violet Crepuscular’s literary endeavors. The only reader who struck a sour note was some literary critic from The Philadelphia Carp who said all copies of her book should be gathered up and burned, and the ashes scattered in outer space. But who listens to literary critics?

So we are free to return to Ms. Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Chapter CCCLXXXXIX.

Scurveyshire is overrun with monsters, the result of Constable Chumley inadvertently reciting a very difficult incantation, and people are blaming Lord Jeremy Coldsore for it. Actually it’s Violet’s fault, but they are in no mood to listen to reason. Despairing of help from any other quarter, Jeremy consults with the Wise Woman of the Gaol. He is accompanied by the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who has spent all his adult life thinking he’s Sargon of Akkad but lately has begun to feel some faint twinges of doubt.

In an intimate aside to the reader, Ms. Crepuscular writes, “I do not mean to imply that Mr. Twombley isn’t Sargon of Akkad, nor have I ever stated that he really is. I ask you, dear reader, to keep an open mind.”

Meanwhile, Lord Jeremy receives an oracle from the Wise Woman of the Gaol:

“Beware of a man with a deformed coccyx, carrying a single sandal.”

“How’s he gonna carry a sandal with his coccyx?” demands Twombley.

“When you see him,” intones the Wise Woman, “you must immediately go up to him and ask him a certain question. And when he answers, the monsters will be whisked back to where they came from.”

“And what is the question?” cries Lord Jeremy.

Looking very wise indeed, the Wise Woman lowers her voice and says, “I don’t know!”

We will have to wait for the next chapter to find out whether Willis Twombley shoots her.

[Editor’s note: We can’t find the traditional Oy, Rodney cover. For the time being, we have made do with a picture of a katydid.]

The Future of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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I don’t know about you, but I need a break from the nooze. That last post had me talking to myself. And besides, there’s another very important matter that needs seeing to.

For the past 16 years (well, it feels like 16 years, I haven’t got the energy to go back and check) I have been presenting chapters of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. I have ignored critics who say Ms. Crepuscular should be confined at the Chateau D’If and her manuscripts burned. Besides, I’d feel kind of silly if she won the Pulitzer Prize just days after I discontinued her.

Anyhow, there’s a very sharp division of opinion and people are gearing up as Roman soldiers and fighting over it. Just like in the picture. Somebody’s gonna get hurt if this continues.

So far Ms. Crepuscular has written 399 chapters and has yet to get to the point. It seems, well, heartless to cut her off after all that. And I would not like to encounter her number one fan, Mr. Pitfall, on a dark night. Not with my knee as dodgy as it is.

One consideration here, at least to me, is to celebrate a novelist who has established herself as a master of saying nothing. I think I would like to do a crossword puzzle now.

 

The Incantation That Messes Up Everything (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCXCVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I am not sure whether to thank a reader named Phoebe for suggesting that Constable Chumley inadvertently speaks the correct incantation for activating the awesome magical powers of this lantern that I paid good money for. It was supposed to ensure my winning of the Pulitzer Prize! But because Chumley spoke it in the context of the novel, and I wrote it down, it has taken effect in the context of the novel (!) instead of in my living room. Which means I’m now writing things I never had any intention to write!”

We find this difficult to understand.

Thanks to the constable, Scurveyshire has now been overrun by indescribable monstrous creatures emerging from under the vicar’s backyard wading pool. They wander the streets by night, piercing the silence with hideous whistling, insane piping, and thunderous roars.Those who’ve actually seen them have all gone raving mad. Ordinary life has come to a standstill.

“I could have warned you this would happen,” intones Ronno the Not At All Merry Minstrel, currently confined in gaol along with the Wise Woman of the Scurveyshire gaol. Ronno was arrested by the constable for getting off the train from Siberia. It seems there was a local ordinance against it, enacted in 1675.

“Well, then what do we do to make it stop?” cries Lord Jeremy Coldsore, who is being blamed for the whole thing.

“We need to establish a profitable cod fishery,” says Ronno.

“Pshaw!” snorts Lord Jeremy. “We’re 150 miles inland–how are we supposed to fish for cod?”

Ronno admits he doesn’t know. As the morale officer of a Siberian prison, the matter of a cod fishery never came up.

Meanwhile, readers have complained that Ms. Crepuscular has not kept her promise to provide nonstop action and well-nigh unbearable suspense in this particular chapter. I am not in a position to help her: my cats are misbehaving.

And the magical lantern’s batteries have conked out, on top of all that.

 

Serfdom Lives! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“Scurveyshire,” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CCCXCVI (Chapter CCCXCV was nixed by the censors) of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “is one of the few places in England where serfdom survives to the present day. What with all the excitement of the plague, Wars of the Roses, Civil War, Spanish Armada, Napoleon, etc., etc., no one ever got around to abolishing serfdom in Scurveyshire.”

Things in Scurveyshire are trying to get back to normal, now that the reddle craze has passed and Olaf Skraeling has been sucked under the vicar’s backyard wading pool.

But it seems the serfs are getting restless.

Back in Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s father’s time–this lord’s name has escaped posterity, and was last seen slumming in Perth Amboy, NJ–the shire addressed the grievances of the serfs by setting up a Serf Board. It even has its own theme song: “Let’s Go Serfing Now!” Today tourists come from California to experience Scurveyshire’s inland serfing. But in Chapter CCCXCVI’s time, the Serf Board has bigger fish to fry.

For the serfs have organized under the charismatic leadership of Bennett Serf; and according to Johnno the Merry Minstrel, they are plotting a full-scale insurrection.

“Do you know that for a fact?” demands Lord Jeremy. “Must we muster the Mustards to put down the rebellion?” The Mustards are Scurveyshire’s aging and somnolent mounted militia, currently out of mounts but still a force to be reckoned with, if reckoning is your thing.

“They’re always plotting,” explains Johnno. “Ever since the Serf Board ruled you have to give them one holiday a year whether they need it or not, they’ve been plotting to take over the shire.”

“Couldn’t we just promote them to peons?” cries Lord Jeremy. “Or even peasants? They’d like being peasants.”

Johnno checks to make sure no one is near enough to overhear them, or read lips, lowers his voice, and declares, “My Lord, I think we are about to confront another scheme by that pernicious medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney!”

Here the chapter breaks off without a word of explanation. It is almost as if Ms. Crepuscular has heard the Good Humor man’s bells come jangling down her street and burst outside to buy a creamsicle.