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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #166
The Dungsmith's Dilemma
David Gunn

Once upon a time in a far-off land near an orange-shaped harbor there lived two water rats. They got along admirably together, and pretty soon there were ten more ratlings. Unlike your typical water rats, these members of Neofiber alleni were cute and cuddly. One townsperson, a dungsmith by trade, was so taken by them that he took them into his house, tamed them, and named them. There was Douglas and Alexis, Mick and Matilda, Aldous and Carl, Serge and Peter, and Ben. The tenth rat scion had neither name nor desire to be domesticated by a quasi-sentient bipedal offal administrator, and soon left for other adventures, which will be addressed in due time. The dungsmith, whose name contained the same number of consonants as a popular loaf of bread of the day but which was otherwise unpronounceable, went so far as to build them a miniature mosque for them to live in. They were all well behaved, as water rats go, and they lived happy and carefree lives. The dungsmith even taught them how to dance a rodentine rendition of the fandango.

One day, a terrible storm blew millions of desert locusts onto local croplands. The pesky critters had a devastating effect on the community, devouring entire cork orchards and plankton ranches and sometimes even sampling the skin flavor of small children. Combined with a ten year-long potato blight, the agrarian lifestyle of the townspeople was suddenly in dire straits. A call was sent out far and wide for someone to come and make the locusts disappear and cure the blight, but weeks passed and no one came and the locusts continued to propagate and the blight remained ever baneful.

About this time, the dungsmith noticed a distinct change in his water rats. They weren't happy any more. They lolled around, bored to tears, occasionally nipped at one another, defecated in the mosque, held secretive meetings with the locusts to plot viral infestations, and generally gave him cold rodentine shoulders. The dungsmith tried to cheer them up with vitamin supplements, charades, and an occasional bedtime treat of human flesh, but all to no avail.

He was nearly at his wits' end one night when there came a rapping, a gentle tapping at the door. 'No one comes here any more,' thought the dungster, 'it must be the wind!' But the rapping came again, and when the dungman peered out the window, he noticed a hand clutching a briar meerschaum on which basso-relievo nymphs with timpani danced the fandango tapping on the door. It was Beano Bengaze, Musical Shaman, the last remaining member of the Tandemerol Clan! He had somehow heard of the terrible blight and locust infestation and unhappy water rats. And while he was at the moment unable to fix the first two problems, he did have an idea for the third. "A tappy rat is a happy rat," explained Beano simply. And he proceeded to teach them how to tap dance. With their strong background in fandango fundamentals, it didn't take long. Soon the rats were kicking up their heels with gay abandon, shuffling off to Buffalo with Ginger Rogers, and generally acting as happy as could be! And with that, Beano Bengaze vanished as abruptly as he had appeared, leaving behind only a few scented wisps of cedar and rust from his pipe to hint that he had ever been there.

Meanwhile, the locusts continued to plague the countryside, and their rapidly acquired taste for human skin caused the population to dwindle like gangbusters. In a moment of madness, the dungsmith got up to tap dance with his water rats. Tap tap tap, rappa tap tap -- he kept at it for hours until at last he collapsed from exhaustion and malnutrition. Instantly, the water rats pounced on him and gobbled him up, happily.

Happily, today is another day and we're in another time zone here at Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this 166th episode of which features flambeau music from the orange and blue roofed vats of Howard Johnson, Musical Restaurateur to the Stars, from whom we hope to hear noises later in the program, but not before we hear an assortment of sprags, treffles, whurns and permabots from Friendly Kalvos.