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He’s A Nasty Man, Charlie Brown

25 Oct

October 25, 2019

This Halloween, just one post, but it’s my favorite Halloween post. Enjoy my take on a true Halloween classic.

From October 22, 2016

It’s the fiftieth anniversary of the classic It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. For decades, poor Charlie Brown has been getting rocks instead of candy. But did you ever wonder why the adults on his street would give a little boy rocks on Halloween? Read on for one man’s story.

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The Time: Halloween 1966
The Place: The home of Burt and Luann Smith, just down the block from Charlie Brown’s house

BURT: (Looking out window) Hey Luann, it’s getting dark. Those trick-or-treaters are coming down the block.

LUANN: (Calling out from the kitchen) I’ve got a bowl of candy near the door, Honey. Don’t give them too much, just a couple of pieces each.

BURT: (Muttering) I’m keeping the Kit Kats for myself.

From outside, the distant sounds of children trick-or-treating can be heard.

BURT: (Still at the window) Aw Jeez Luann, that kid with the messed up head and the blanket is squatting in the Jackson’s pumpkin patch. What’s wrong with him? (Burt squints, looks closely) I think he’s got that little Sally Brown with him. (Muttering again) I bet the coyotes get her first.

LUANN: (Still in kitchen) What did you say dear?

BURT: Nothing, dear, nothing dear (bell rings) Uh, got to get the door.

Burt opens the front door. A group of kids in homemade costumes yells “trick or treat!” Burt gives them some candy, pocketing the Kit Kats for himself. They leave but before he closes the door, he looks down the block.
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BURT: Luann, I’ll be back in a second. I just have to run out back for a minute. (Burt runs out the back door.)

LUANN: (Enters the living room) What? Where are you?

BURT: (Comes back) OK Hon, I’m back.

Burt puts a pile of rocks on the table near the bowl of candy.

LUANN: What are you doing with those rocks?

BURT: That Brown kid is coming down the street. He’s such a blockhead, his costume has about 50 extra holes in it. Match the ones in his head.

LUANN: Burt! He’s such a sweet little boy!

BURT: Yeah, such a sweet little boy. When’s the last time he cleaned up after his dog? That damn beagle keeps leaving piles in the front yard. And how did a dog get those goggles and that scarf anyway?

Burt opens the door a crack and peeks out.

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BURT: Yeah, yeah, here he comes. You want a trick or treat? I got a trick for ya. (Quickly shuts the door.)

LUANN: Burt, really!

BURT: Shhh shhh here they come! (Bell rings)

Burt opens the door and a group of kids, including Charlie Brown, yell trick or treat.

BURT: Here you are, you cute little goblins! (He gives each in turn a piece of candy, except for Charlie Brown, who gets a rock.)

Burt closes the door, smiling a nasty grin.

LUANN: Burt! That was horrible! He’s just a little boy!

BURT: He’s lucky I gave him a rock and not one of his dog’s turds. I’ve got a dozen of them on the lawn.

Burt goes to the window, sees the kids comparing their candy and opens it a crack, just in time to hear Charlie Brown say “I got a rock.”

BURT: Serves you right, you little bald blockhead.

THE END

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My Review of The Whispering Gorilla, by Wilcox and Reed

8 Dec

December 8, 2018

The Whispering Gorilla by Don Wilcox & Return of the Whispering Gorilla by David Reed.

Wow, where to begin?

First, if you have not checked them out, look at the other titles published by Armchair Fiction. They publish a huge number of stories from the pulp era.

As for this book, it may be the best story of a gorilla with the transplanted brain of a man fighting Nazis that I have ever read. On the other hand it is also the worst. (I’ve only read one, of course.)

And that really does sum up this book. The first story is short, about 79 pages, but it is a fast read and deceptive. It reaches 79 pages only because it is printed in a larger font than the longer second story. However, it is the better of the two. It is written in a simple and straightforward style but it is surprisingly realistic. Although the Whispering Gorilla talks like a man and dresses and acts like a man, he is still in the body of a gorilla. A sillier story (and yes, I know how silly this already sounds) would have him simply accepted as a talking gorilla. But that never happens in this book. Everyone suspects he is a very eccentric man in a gorilla suit to hide his identity. Not for a second does anyone think he is a real gorilla. As for the plot, the gorilla continues his previous human life as a crusading journalist (whom everyone thinks is a man in a gorilla suit, for some reason) and brings down a ring of war profiteers, before apparently dying at the hands of the police. Ridiculous as it sounds, it is a fun tale.

The second, longer story, is written by another, arguably better, author. I say “arguably” because while the writing is more complex and sophisticated than in the first, the plot is ridiculously laughable. The Whispering Gorilla did not die at the end of the first book but was secretly transported back to Africa to recover at the home of the scientist who created him. The problem is that he is slowly losing his humanity, while also becoming leader of all the jungle apes. Well, if it stopped there, this could be a somewhat interesting variation on Tarzan. Problem is the author didn’t stop there. The Whispering Gorilla is not the main character in this story. Neither is the scientist, who had a large part in the first book. Here, the scientist is bed-ridden and does little at all. The main plot is about a group of Nazis who plan to train gorillas to command submarines to sink allied destroyers. In the jungle!

I’ll let that sink in. A group of Nazis who plan to train the gorillas to command submarines to sink allied destroyers.

To that end, they build silly gorilla-sized ships and submarines on wheels and ride them around the jungle like oversized tricycles to teach the gorillas maneuvers that will destroy the enemy ships. This takes only a couple of days, believe it or not,  and the head Nazi is ready to put his plan into action. To say it doesn’t work is really not necessary, is it? The rest of the plot is about resistance fighters and a beautiful girl, with whom the gorilla -of course- falls in love.

This was certainly one of the stranger books I’ve read. I really enjoyed the first story. It was a great example of 40’s pulp fiction. The second story had delusions of grandeur and never lived up to the fun of the first. I’m glad I read it and I’ll probably reread the first story again, but not the second.


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