Posts filed under “Young Readers”
ANNOUNCER. And now Malt-O-Cod, the only malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, proudly presents…
ANNOUNCER. The Adventures of Sir Montague Blastoff, Interplanetary Space Dragoon!
(Music: Theme, in and under for…)
ANNOUNCER. Tonight we find Sir Montague busy at his desk with some paperwork, when suddenly a very flustered Colonel Wilhelmina Darling rushes into the room.
COL. DARLING. Monty! Oh, Monty! I’m really freaked out.
SIR MONTAGUE. Language, colonel! Now, what seems to be the trouble?
COL. DARLING. Well, I found this big book—more of a binder actually—with the funniest title. It’s called “Show Bible.” And I thought, “Is that a Bible you show to people for some reason?” But I took a look in it, and it’s not like I remember the Bible, although there are some, um, begats. No, it’s about us, Monty!
SIR MONTAGUE. You mean, you and—and me?
COL. DARLING. Everyone in the station! Like right here, on this page, there’s a whole section about the station master. And it says he’s a career bureaucrat, and he likes Swiss cheese but hates rye bread, and the “season finale,” whatever that is, will reveal that he’s been in the pay of the Wombat People since he arrived. Is a “season finale” some sort of truth serum?
SIR MONTAGUE. In a way, my dear. You might say so.
COL. DARLING. And here it says that the janitor has been sweeping muffin wrappers under the rug for seventeen years. Is that why the carpet is so…squishy? And it says old Mrs. Feeble who runs the commissary always thickens the sausage gravy with sawdust on biscuit mornings. Wouldn’t that disqualify her if it got out?
SIR MONTAGUE. I’m sure it’s against regulations somehow.
COL. DARLING. And it says…
SIR MONTAGUE. But, I say, old girl, you don’t really believe any of that, do you?
COL. DARLING. Well, I don’t know.
SIR MONTAGUE. Why, we’ve known these people for years. This book you’ve found must be full of the most egregious bally nonsense.
COL. DARLING. Do you think so?
SIR MONTAGUE. Well, for example, let’s see what it says about you.
COL. DARLING. Um… You don’t have to…
SIR MONTAGUE. Let’s see… Wilhelmina Darling… Colonel, 58th Interplanetary Space Dragoons… Nineteen and ravishingly beautiful… Well, look here, it says that before you were captured by the Ant-Lion People, you were working as a ten-cents-a-dance girl in a tawdry ballroom in one of the less desirable neighborhoods on Triton. Now, we know that can’t be true, can it?
COL. DARLING. Um, no. Of course not.
SIR MONTAGUE. Of course not. You’re a highly trained military professional. So, you see, clearly this is someone’s rather sad attempt at a practical joke, or perhaps a plot by one of our many enemies to undermine our confidence. But we shan’t fall for it, shall we?
COL. DARLING. No. No, we, um, shan’t.
SIR MONTAGUE. So if, hypothetically, there were a section on me, and if there were—hypothetically—some absolute rubbish in it about my growing up in Hoboken and learning my accent from reruns of Are You Being Served, why, you wouldn’t believe it at all, would you?
COL. DARLING. No. Not a word of it. I mean, just like you don’t believe the thing about the Dance-a-Topia Ballroom. Or, I mean, whatever the name of it was.
SIR MONTAGUE. Splendid! Glad we cleared that up, old girl. Now give us a hand with this paperwork. Was it before or after 5 p.m. when we fell into the clutches of the Marmoset Men?
(Music: Theme, in and under for…)
ANNOUNCER. And so, once again, Sir Montague and Colonel Darling are victorious over the forces of angst. Don’t miss next week’s exciting episode: Sir Montague Blastoff Requisitions a Requisition Form! Till then, kids, don’t listen to anything you hear about shipments of Malt-O-Cod being seized by the FDA. There are still plenty of shipments they didn’t get, and there will be no shortage at your local grocery store. Always remember to beg your parents for the rich, satisfying flavor of Malt-O-Cod every morning. It’s the malt food drink that’s brain food—Malt-O-Cod!
(Music: In full, then out.)
“Oh, please don’t make me wear the hood, Grandmother!” she cried piteously.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who was terribly embarrassed by her family. Her late father had been the leader of a motorcycle gang called the Riding Hoods; and because his little girl always blushed when the subject was mentioned, which amused the other gang members greatly, she was always called Little Red Riding Hood, which of course embarrassed her all the more. To make her embarrassment complete, her grandmother, who fenced all the loot the gang members had stolen, made her a red hood, which she was forced to wear in public, solely because the cheap visual pun amused her cruel grandmother and her crueler associates.
One day her grandmother told her to go to Krzrnski’s Cafe, where the gang liked to gather, and pick up a basket of stolen muffins. “And don’t forget to put on your hood before you go,” the cruel old woman added.
Little Red Riding Hood fell on her knees. “Oh, please don’t make me wear the hood, Grandmother!” she cried piteously.
“What nonsense,” her grandmother responded. “Of course you must wear the hood. Otherwise the gang will have nothing to laugh at, and then they might burn down McKeesport again.”
So Little Red Riding Hood went off on her miserable way. How the gang laughed at her in her hideous red hood! But there was nothing she could do. She took the basket and turned around without a word.
On her way back, she met a wolf.
“Good morning, dear young lady,“ said the very polite wolf. “Where are you going so early, and do you need help removing that hideous excrescence that seems to have landed on your head?”
“Alas,” said the little girl, “and also alack, if I may be so bold; for it is a hood that my cruel and wicked grandmother forces me to wear, solely to humiliate me.”
“Where are you going so early, and do you need help removing that hideous excrescence that seems to have landed on your head?”
“You have a cruel and wicked grandmother?” the wolf asked.
“Yes, a cruel and wicked grandmother who lives at Number 1301 Long Way, right at the intersection with Short Cut. She makes my life miserable every day, and every day I wish that I could somehow be free from her clutches!”
“How very sad for you,” the wolf said sympathetically, writing something down in a pocket memorandum book. “But tell me: you wouldn’t happen to have any old beef bones or pork fat in that basket, would you? Because if you have been wondering how to get rid of any food scraps, I run a very efficient service.”
“You’re not going to eat me, are you?” Little Red Riding Hood asked nervously.
“Oh, certainly not! That is a common misconception. In fact a domestic dog, statistically speaking, is much more likely to attack you than a wolf. Wolves have attacked very few humans, and in almost every case they have mistaken the human for a garbage can. You are more likely to be savaged by a chipmunk. I have a wealth of facts and figures that I might share with you if you so desired, especially if you happened to have any old scraps of pork fat to be disposed of.”
“Alas,” said the poor little girl, “I have nothing but a few stolen muffins, which I must take to Grandmother’s house to be fenced.”
“But muffins are the perfect food for wolves!” cried the wolf with obvious glee. “Muffins provide vital nutrition for the active wolf lifestyle. Oh, if I could only have a muffin right now!”
“Well, here,” said Little Red Riding Hood, producing a cranberry muffin from the basket. “You’re the only one who’s been nice to me all week, so I don’t see why you shouldn’t have a muffin.”
“Oh, thank you!” the wolf said, and he devoured the muffin in two chomps, paper and all. “I won’t forget this, sweet little girl. You have made a wolf very happy.”
So Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf parted, and the little girl ambled along Long Way, dreading the moment she would reach No. 1301 and have to face her cruel and wicked grandmother again. And what if the gang members had told her grandmother how many muffins they had stolen? Would she count them? Would she notice the one missing? Oh, how horrible the punishment would be if she did! The last time something had been missing from the basket, her grandmother had made her wear pink bunny slippers for a month.
At last, Little Red Riding Hood reached her grandmother’s cottage. Timidly, she knocked on the door.
“Come in,” said an unusually hoarse voice.
Slowly the little girl opened the door and peered into the dim cottage. “I brought the muffins,” she said, trying to control the nervous quaver in her voice.
Timidly, she knocked on the door.
“Oh, thank you,” said a hoarse falsetto voice from the bedroom. “Please bring them in here, as I have a slight chill.”
Little Red Riding Hood stopped in her tracks. “But my grandmother never says ‘thank you,’” she said to herself. “And she certainly never says ‘please.’”
Cautiously and suspiciously she walked into the little bedroom, where a lump in the bed, bundled in blankets and wearing her grandmother’s bonnet, was barely visible in the dim light.
“Grandmother?” Little Red Riding Hood asked uncertainly.
“Grandmother?” Little Red Riding Hood asked uncertainly.
“Surprise!” said the wolf, sitting up and flinging off the old lady’s bonnet with a happy smile.
“My friend the wolf!” Little Red Riding Hood cried with delight. “But what happened to my cruel grandmother?”
“She took a—um—an early retirement package,” the wolf said.
“You mean my wicked grandmother is gone at last?”
“Yes, I have made sure she was, um, well taken care of, at the cost of a certain blip in the statistics. May I have a muffin?”
“Hooray!” cried Little Red Riding Hood, and she immediately tore the ugly red hood from her head and flushed it down the toilet.
Thus Little Red Riding Hood and her wolf lived happily ever after; and one by one, as they came to the house to see what had become of Grandmother, the members of the Riding Hoods took early retirement packages.
ANNIVERSARY WEEK.—In honor of the eighth anniversary of his Celebrated Magazine on the World-Wide Web, Dr. Boli is reprinting some of the most notable articles, stories, poems, and advertisements of the past eight years.
In olden times, our forefathers huddled around the fire and told the story of Why the Osprey Has No Xylophone. Now our forefathers are all dead, and serve them right. And this is the story they told:—
Many moons ago—Io, and Europa, and Charon, and Titan, and Ganymede, and Phobos, and Triton, and Callisto, and Oberon, and Tethys ago—the osprey was king of all the birds. At that remote time the avian world was governed as a constitutional monarchy, and the osprey’s duties were confined to opening shopping centers, signing letters of commendation, and posing for portraits on currency, which, in the days before printing, naturally took up most of a reigning monarch’s schedule.
One day the osprey told his prime minister, an ambitious young herring gull, “I should like to have a tulip.”
“Get it yourself,” replied the prime minister, who was positively mad with power.
So the osprey set out on an epic quest for a tulip. He traveled to the ends of the earth, slew monsters, ate at dreadful fast-food joints, and endured such hardships as no king before or since has ever endured. At length he came to a plateau in Anatolia that was carpeted from end to end with tulips, but he decided that tulips weren’t all they were cracked up to be and flew home disappointed.
On his return, he discovered that his throne had been declared vacant, and the former prime minister was now ruling as General Secretary of the People’s Revolutionary Council. “We don’t need kings anymore,” he explained. “But we do have an opening for a new registrar of deeds.”
Having tried out that position for a month, however, the osprey decided that if he never registered another deed it would be just peachy. He therefore went into business for himself selling collectible porcelain figurines to pigeons, who have an insatiable appetite for that sort of thing. Eventually he retired to a trailer park outside Sarasota, where as far as anyone knows he still resides today. And that, dear children, is why the osprey has no xylophone, but has a marimba instead.
ANNIVERSARY WEEK.—In honor of the forthcoming eighth anniversary of his Celebrated Magazine on the World-Wide Web, Dr. Boli is reprinting some of the most notable articles, stories, poems, and advertisements of the past eight years.
No. 317.—A Brigantine.
Not so long ago by radiocarbon dating, my friend Ned and I spent a summer by Lake Erie. The constantly shifting aspects of water and shore stimulated our imaginations, and the knowledge that the very scenes before us had formed the setting against which the magnificent deeds of Commodore Perry were enacted, filled our youthful fancies with a desire to emulate his great feats of naval prowess. Indeed, so filled were we with youthful bravado that we imagined ourselves surpassing the great commander, and carving out a great northern empire around the great northern waters. For this purpose we required a brig similar to Commodore Perry’s Niagara.
It was clear to us that, unlike our simple dog-cart (No. 18) and our simple time-machine (No. 241), this was a project that would require a great deal of preparation and dedicated work. But that did not dampen our enthusiasm, for we reflected that we had the whole summer to accomplish our task, and we had never yet encountered an obstacle which we could not overcome by hard work and imagination.
First we needed a great quantity of wood. My uncle, with whom we were staying, had no such materials handy; but luckily his neighbors were away for the summer, and thus would not be needing their house.
For three weeks, Ned and I were up at sunrise every morning with our hammers and saws. We used the roof trusses to form the skeleton of our ship. Having no design or plans other than our memories of the Niagara and other ships we had seen, we naturally made many mistakes and had to do some of the work twice; but by the middle of July we had finished the construction. We had decided to rig our ship as a brigantine rather than a brig, mostly because we found the polysyllabic name more impressive. All that was left, then, was to add sails, for which we made use of our neighbors’ best linens, and to seal the hull against the intrusion of water. We recalled that Noah had sealed the Ark with bitumen, but the local hardware store had run out of bitumen, and was not expecting any more until October. We had come too far, however, to be inconvenienced by a minor setback; and it was Ned who hit on the idea of substituting chewing gum for bitumen. How our jaws ached when we had finished! But our efforts were not in vain: our ship was water-tight and ready to launch. In honor of our hero, we christened our brigantine the Commodore Perry.
Now all we needed was a crew. For this we decided to resort to the old English custom of impressment, which seemed to us the most effective method of assembling a large crew in a short time. We visited a number of disreputable saloons in the east end of town, and, bribing a few of the rowdiest characters there with strong liquor, soon assembled an efficient press gang which did the rest of our work for us. By the next morning we had a large though somewhat baffled crew, and were ready to set sail.
We armed our ship with cannons made from pickle barrels we had found in my uncle’s storeroom and set out on our first adventure, which we had determined should be the conquest of Canada. This we accomplished in short order, as it transpired that the Canadian Great Lakes fleet was disorganized and ill-prepared for an attack from the south. We set up a puppet government in Welland, which was close enough that we could sail home for dinner at my uncle’s house every night, and for a few weeks ruled as absolute dictators. All too soon, however, the autumn was upon us, and we had to go back to our homes and school, filled with the memories of a summer brimming with adventure.
Why must the “word problems” we give our children to solve be boring? Let the problems capture the imagination, and then math homework will be a joy. Here are a few problems, all of which Dr. Boli cheerfully donates to the public, with explicit permission to copy and use them in any form for any purpose.
1. Aralia Sneep planted 84 kangaroo seeds, but 13 of them grew into wallabies instead. What percentage of the seeds were actually wallaby seeds?
2. Because the waiter served your pie in your face, you have decided that he deserves only a 13% tip. The bill was $18.75. How much do you give the waiter?
3. In the town of Mysterious Glowing Rock, Wyoming, 27% of the people have three feet instead of two. If the population is 134, how many feet are there in town? (Round to the nearest foot.)
4. It is a known fact that 8% of male Plaid-Headed Warblers have wing markings in the shape of Carmen Miranda. Some guy at the Uni-Mart says that there are 27 male Plaid-Headed Warblers with wing markings in the shape of Carmen Miranda in Ohiopyle State Park. If that is true, how many male Plaid-Headed Warblers are there in the park? (Round to the nearest bird.)
5. This week only, the Pennsylvania General Assembly is offering a 30% discount on legislators from smaller urban areas. If it usually costs $79.95 to buy a state representative from Altoona, how much will it cost this week?
6. Brenneman’s Frosted Honey Crunch cereal is made of 92% sugar and 8% crunch by weight. If the manufacturer has 631 pounds of crunch on hand, how much sugar will be needed to make all the crunch into a batch of Frosted Honey Crunch cereal?
7. It is well known that 12 members of the royal house of Cowvetch-Hastings-Mulligan-Gasket von Toaster are mad, but no one knows which members. If there are 54 members of the family altogether, what is the percentage chance that Rupert Adolphus Griswold Cowvetch-Hastings-Mulligan-Gasket von Toaster is mad?
8. On average, 39% of everything the novelist Osmorhiza Yi writes is absolute rubbish. Assuming that this rate is consistent in all of her novels, how many pages of rubbish will you have to wade through in her 1,523-page opus Damp Petals of a Wild Geranium?
9. Mr. Zim’s Instant Gourmet shop was hit by a flood, in which 73% of his stock of freeze-dried eels were accidentally rehydrated and swam away. If Mr. Zim has 87 packages of freeze-dried eels now, how many packages did he have before the flood? (Round to the nearest package.)
10. A sloth spends 80% of its time asleep. There are 60 seconds in a minute. How many seconds in the next minute will Calvin Coolidge, the sloth at the Wilmerding Zoo, spend asleep?
(N.B.—Any answer to question 10 should be accepted if it is supported by a coherent argument.)