Pub Crawl: The Loogy Gnasher Riot

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Crow
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Pub Crawl: The Loogy Gnasher Riot

Postby Crow » 01 Jul 2004, 16:21

The waxing moon shown brightly, and, flying high as he was, Crow could pick out details of the English countryside far below.

As a reporter for The Pagan Press, he was expected to generate his own stories from time to time, and he was searching for one now. He actually preferred finding his own news to being given an assignment by his editors; many of their ideas were a waste of time.

To say that it had been a slow news week was an understatement. Soaring in the cool night air, Crow thought of yesterday’s main headline and snorted.

Pagans Debate Marian Urinals
While some laugh, others micturated

On a newsier day, that story might have been at the bottom of page 47, Crow thought to himself. Well, that was the news business wasn’t it? Every day the pages showed up, and every day they had to be filled with something.

Crow soared on, his mind wandering. Last week had been his birthday. Another year closer to retirement, he thought, wondering what he’d do with all that extra time. Thinking about his advancing age, Crow dipped his right wing and entered a slow spiral.

Spirals, he thought. Someone had told him something about spirals once. Life was like a spiral, he’d been told, and all life goes round and round. Tightening his turn, Crow’s speed increased, and he thought that the spiral theory was a good one, and most likely true. The only real trouble with it, he thought, was that as you age, the spiral gets to spinning you around pretty fast, like soap scum at the bottom of a drain. The old reporter chuckled at the imagery, and that’s when he saw it: moonlight reflecting off something silvery, away to the north.

Rolling out of his turn on the correct heading, Crow continued his descent, gliding toward the mysterious reflection. Fluttering his wings, Crow slowed himself and landed on the thing he had seen: the rearview mirror of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, the horns of a longhorn steer still wired firmly between its handlebars. And on the ground, with his 10-gallon hat covering his face to block out the moonlight, was the salty Texan who owned Merlyn's old ride, one Billy Joe Bob.

At the sound of the fluttering wings, Billy Joe Bob stirred and sat up. “Crow, ye old buzzard, was ye tryin’ to sneak up on me? Well ye gotsta be quieter than that, you black-hearted gizzard-eater. I got the ears of an Indian and the trail sense of a Texas Ranger. In fact my grandpappy was a Texas Ranger. Why did I ever tell you about the time …”

“Hey Billy Joe Bob,” interrupted Crow, knowing that he’d better steer the conversation to something useful, or he could well be here for hours listening to the Texan’s boasting. “What are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”

“Well I was just gettin’ to that, if ye’d just shet up and listen,” replied Billy Joe Bob. “I seen an ad in that Pagan Press rag o’ yorn, and it’s about this Loogy Gnasher Rhymin’ Contest, and about how they was gonna set up a stage out here someplace, and they was gonna have people talkin’ fancy and swappin’ yarns and sich, and they was to be a pole-sittin’ redhead, and knights and dragons and all that truck. Well, I reckon I’ll enter the thing and probably win it, too, on account of it’s in my blood. Why my old Uncle Otis, he was one rhymin’ son-of-a-gun, and of course I was his favorite nephew and he plum taught me most everthin’ he knowed. Well hell, we’d be out pickin’ peas and he’d rattle off some poetry just purdy as ye please. Listen here, I done got this one o’ his memorized:

There once was an old man from Dallas
His house, it sure weren’t no palace
He drove an old Ford
Its seat was a board
And his ass was just one big callous


Well that’s just one of ‘em,” the Texan said, laughing and wiping his streaming eyes with his sleeve. “He musta had over a hunert poems just like that one that he could recollect anytime he wanted. Uncle Otis went to school right up through the ninth grade, and like I said, he learnt me most everthin’ I know.”

Crow, stunned, just stared at Billy Joe Bob, the Texan’s gaunt features shadowy in the moonlight. Finally he managed, “Where’s the contest then Billy Joe Bob, and why are you here?”

“Well don’t ye read yer own danged newspaper?” answered the Texan. “It’s gonna be right over in that next field, first thing in the mornin’ and since I got here late and didn’t want to wake all them folks that are campin out yonder, I just figgered I’d get me a little shut-eye right here, and then mosey on over there at day break. But I see that it’s gettin’ light now and them fellers oughta be gettin’ up and gettin’ on with it, so let’s get a move on.”

Billy Joe Bob started the Harley with a roar, and with Crow still sitting on the handlebars, drove half a mile down the road, turned left and with a shower of dirt and rocks, sped among the multitude of sleeping bags and tents that were just becoming visible as the first hint of dawn colored the eastern sky.

Crow wasn't accustomed to writing the soft stuff; he left that for the folks in the features department. But from the looks of the people tumbling out of the tents and picking up sticks and rocks, this could turn into a real news story. These poets were ready to rumble.

Crow pulled out his reporter's notebook and a pencil stub, and prepared to write whatever happened next ...

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Postby EarthWard » 03 Jul 2004, 17:02

"On top of the moon's halloo
I sit and be mellow'

No No No. That does not sound right
'On top of the Moon's halloo
I sit and dream of marring J-Lo'

No No Terrible stuff. Damn it I have to get the poem ready. "

The tension was fully in the air as the sun crept up over the horizon. Some idiot with a motorcycle had speed through the camp and woke up everyone. Most just took it as a sign to get on up and practice their poetry.
Sir Dingleberry from South Wales was in full swing wearing his tights and bloomers with a long feathered cap. Proudly he stood canting his crafty poem.
"Oh beloved you beloved
My beloved is loved by love
Love my beloved loved bug
Come on baby let me get a hug
."
"Spledid master! Just splendid!" Kody Pussyfoot, Sir Dingleberry's servant and sometimes henchman, said in his annoyingly shrill voice. "You will win this event for sure!"
"For sure?" Said Sir Dingleberry
"Oh yes for sure." assured Kody Pussyfoot
"How do you know for sure?"
"Because you are the best, Sir."
"Of course I'm the best! But sometimes the best even get beat by the rest. I want to know I will win FOR SURE! So, Kody Pussyfoot, how do you KNOW I will win?"
"OH! I see! You want to know for sure for sure. Well, let me think here. I know! Hanging chads!" Kody Pussyfoot rubbed his hands together at the thought of such a plot.
"Hanging chads? What in the hell is that?"
"It is how Bush won the presidency over in America. Hanging chads. We will replace the voting cards with cards that will only push out with your name. That way all other votes will be void."
" I see!"
"And since your cousin, Sir Cheat-a-lot, works at the poling booths we will have no problem swapping the ballets. Then you will win for sure for sure!!!"
"I like it Pussyfoot. See to it at once."
Kody Pussyfoot ran off while Sir Dingleberry stayed behind to brush up on some more of his poetry.
"I will win and be the best poet in all the land and then she will have to look at my favorably"
Ah yes She. For you know any good plot has to involve a way to 'win' a ladies heart and the cunning Sir Dingleberry had his mind on the Lady Chaser of the Moon. His thoughts drifted back to his time in collage at the University of Oxford.
Memory Flash back please hold on
Located on the college campus, Walt Dingleberry(this was before he was a Sir) sat by a rather large group of hippies. They were passing around some kind of breathing contraption that made bubbly sounds and emanated some kind of sage smelling smoke. Walter started feeling a little light headed but continued writing his thesis on different color dog waste when he saw her. She was riding up on a horse. Her long hair floating in the breeze and in Dingleberry's head the melody of "So happy together" started to play. She rode her horse right up to the group and sat by her friends. Dingleberry was in a trance and had tunnel vision where he could only see her. He began to walk across the field to where she sat. Through a cloud of smoke he passed making him feel even more light headed but still his eyes only saw her. When he got to about five feet of her he saw other gentlemen reciting their poetry in honey voices and when they were finished she would smile and say "Groovy man groovy". Dingleberry stepped up. "I have a poem for you, My Lady!" He soon realized that he said that a little too loud by the reactions of the group for he found he could no longer control the tempo of his voice.
"Okay dude let's hear it" she said
Dingleberry cleared his voice and tried to hold back the perspiration that was soaking his cloths. He opened his mouth to begin but nothing came out. Not a word. His world began to spin and spin. The last thing he remebered was falling onto his back and looking up at the sky. Lady Chaser of the Moon and a few of the other hippies looked over him and said something but every word sounded like it was spoken under water. He passed out. When he woke up it was night time and everybody was gone. Walter Dingleberry got up and looked at the moon shining brightly in the sky and to the moon he swore that he would become the best poet in all the land and win the Lady's heart.
Okay back to the present.
Sir Dingleberry shouted " I will win this no matter what it takes. Even if it is with hanging chads!" He quickly looked around to make sure nobody heard him. The only thing he saw was a crow wearing some kind of reporters hat and scribbling in a note pad. Sir Dingleberry was not concerned with just a little crow so confident that nobody heard him he walked on to ease drop on some of his competitors.
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Postby Crow » 03 Jul 2004, 21:19

Crow, unaware as yet of Sir Dingleberry’s treacherous plan, flew to a convenient bush and prepared to write the first paragraphs of his story. The riot that had looked imminent when Billy Joe Bob drove through the sleeping crowd had not occurred, as cooler heads had prevailed.

Examining his surroundings, Crow saw that a large stage had been erected in the field. There were fluttering flags, stands for food and drink, smelly portable toilets, a tall pole erected near the stage for no apparent reason, and vendors selling scrolls and quills for the writing of poetry.

The buzz of conversation lessened, and Crow looked up to see that there was activity on the stage. Piper Oak, wearing a mid-thigh kilt with black stockings, was making his way to the microphone. “Can I have everyone’s attention, please!” he called, and the crowd quieted and looked up expectantly, some blushing and hiding their eyes upon seeing the shortness of the kilt.

“Druids, Ovates, and lowly Bards,” said Piper Oak, “thank you for coming. This is the 2004 OBOD Lughnasad Poetry Competition. If reciting or listening to poetry is not in your plans today, then you’ve come to the wrong place!” As if on cue, the crowd tittered at the small joke and then quieted as Piper Oak continued. “The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids is truly an international organization, and some of the world’s finest poets are among our ranks.” Calls of “Hear, hear” were heard among the crowd. Piper Oak waited for the crowd to get quiet again, and then continued. “There are poets here from Britain, Ireland, Spain, The United States, Canada, The Netherlands and Switzerland. If I haven’t said your country aloud, there is no slight intended. There are simply too many nations represented here to mention them all!” The crowd cheered lustily; Piper Oak waited for the demonstration to subside, then continued. “Ordinarily at such a gathering, the national anthem of the hosting nation would now be played, but since we are such an international group, that would perhaps be inappropriate. Therefore, to open the competition, I would like to introduce to you now Night Hawk, who will lead us in a drumming circle of 10-minutes’ duration!”

The crowd gave its loudest cheer now as Night Hawk fluttered excitedly to the microphone, perching on a stool, which Piper Oak had set up for her. “Hello everybody,” twittered Night Hawk, and the crowd responded en masse, “Hello, Night Hawk!” Night Hawk blushed and then continued. “Oooh, I’m so excited. Just imagine all the energy we are about to generate. Is everybody ready? Does everyone have a percussion instrument? Okay, a-one, and a-two and a-three …”

Crow looked around incredulously as the crowd began to drum rhythmically on whatever they had at hand. He saw druids drumming on drums; ovates drumming on olive oil tins; bards thumping away on empty cans of Pringles potato chips. The noise was deafening and hypnotic, and Crow found himself writing in his notebook with fits and starts, in rhythm with the beat.

After 10 minutes that seemed much longer, Night Hawk signaled an end to the drumming. The crowd cheered, and Night Hawk fluttered away, stage left. Piper Oak came back to the microphone, and the crowd again hushed.

“We are almost ready to begin the competition,” he said, and the crowd cheered. “But first I want to go over the rules.” The crowd booed and Piper Oak smiled good naturedly and held up his hands until they quieted again. “Competition will proceed in rounds and will continue until there is a winner. Voting cards have been distributed among you. After each round, you will punch the card by the name of the poet who you think had the best poem. The cards will be collected, the votes tabulated, and the poet with the fewest votes will be eliminated from further competition. We will then proceed to Round 2, and so forth.” The crowd nodded with understanding of the rules. Piper Oak continued. “We have the names of everyone who has entered the competition, and their names will be drawn from a hat at random. We are ready to begin. Lady Moon Chaser, will you please come out here with the hat!”

There were cheers and whistles as Lady Moon Chaser, wearing her usual Carmen Miranda outfit, complete with fruit-filled turban, sashayed onto the stage with a large black hat in her hands. Piper Oak made a big show of closing his eyes while fishing around inside the hat to choose a name. He finally drew out a small piece of paper and looked at it gravely. An expectant hush fell over the crowd. “The first contestant is someone we all know and love,” said Piper Oak. “Please give a hearty OBOD welcome to … BEITH!”

The crowd erupted in cheers and applause, but Beith was nowhere to be found. Finally a voice was heard as if calling from the heavens, and everyone looked up to find the fiery Irish redhead sitting on top of the pole. People were pointing and laughing, but a hush fell as she started to recite:

A stilly sunset sank below
Cormac’s house and mounds;
beyond old walls of Tara’s halls
all quiet, void of sound.

A southern wind blew summer breath
through grasses tall, and trees;
floating pollen in the air
and whispers on the breeze. …


The poem continued for several more stanzas and when it finally concluded, you could hear a pin drop. Then as one, the crowd went wild. The Irish contingent was going completely crazy. They were waving flags and building human pyramids. There were chants of “BEITH, BEITH, BEITH, BEITH ….” One druid wearing a white robe and carrying an Irish flag had jumped up onto the stage and was now moonwalking across it while his countrymen wept and cheered.

Crow was writing it all down in his reporter’s notebook.

The crowd finally quieted as Piper Oak strode back to the microphone. Lady Moon Chaser again had the name-filled hat, and the master of ceremonies was drawing out the next name. …

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Postby Beith » 05 Jul 2004, 19:19

"...and the next contestant is...." said Oak, drawing a deep breath - "Oh! - Did anybody drop a pin?" he ventured, peering forth to the ground and stooping to pick something small and shiny up.

"Kaaaaaaaaaaw" screeched a raven and swooped low to snatch the pin from his fingers.

"No problem Susa" smiled Oak, but secretly wondered at nest building techniques these days. Back when he was a lad, birds held their nests together with mud and woven twigs.

"err right...where was I? Oh yes...and the next contestant is .......MOONCLOUD! ugh! Damn! "
Oak grimmaced as cold water trickled down the back of his neck.

Mooncloud floating above, blushed and tittered. She always had 'little accidents' when she was excited.

Alighting softly on the stage, she readied herself for her debut, fluffed up her low pressure zones and caused a small spreading wet patch on the carpet.

Tinne and Merlyn looked on bemused:
"just be thankful she's not hysterical" said Tinne, "caused a right hailstorm when she won last years Synchronized Stratosphere Swimming competition".

Mooncloud's delightful poem "Baby Blessing" drifted out across the crowd and resulted in manifold "aaahhhs" and "awww s" from the audience.

"Didn't know she liked kids" said Badger Bob
"'Course she does" replied Craig "sure she has a few little showers of her own"

The sound of sobs made them turn around. A large biker was wiping away tears of sentiment.

"Are you alright Merlyn?" asked Craig, intrigued.
"...m...makes me feel sort of ...m..maternal" snivelled Merlyn as he wrung out his hankerchief.

They stepped away. Broody bikers were best avoided.

Applause clapped like thunder across the arena. Mooncloud blushed again but soon realized it wasn't her. The sound was coming from the audience. "MOONCLOUD! MOONCLOUD! MOONCLOUD!" yelled a gang of eager supporters, who quickly launched their umbrellas as Mooncloud floated overhead in a lap of honour.

"Thank you Mooncloud!" enthused Oakwyse and made a complicated gesturing manoeuvre. Mooncloud vanished with a 'pop!'
Oakwyse's weather magic was fast acting, known to clear the skies in seconds.

"Now ladeeeeeeees and gentlemen" crooned Oak into the Mike. "The next poem for appraisal belongs to.....". He reached deeply into the hat and rummaged around. Raising one card aloft he repeated "...belongs to........."

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Postby Crow » 06 Jul 2004, 07:05

Crow had just finished writing a description of Moon Cloud’s wet and celebratory lap around the field and was awaiting Piper Oak’s announcement of the next contestant. This really wasn’t his brand of journalism, but since Posie Petals, the features reporter at The Pagan Press, was nowhere to be seen, he felt he owed it to his employer to cover the story, even if the sticky sweetness of this event was making him feel more than a little nauseous. He lit a cigar, better to look the part of a crusty old reporter, even if he didn’t feel like one at the moment.

Piper Oak had just finished making a joke about something, the polite laughter was fading, and now the mini-kilted master of ceremonies was holding up a card bearing the name of the next contestant.

“And the next poem for appraisal belongs to, well, er, this is a bit of a surprise, but, well, okay, please give a nice OBOD welcome, for the next poem for appraisal belongs to Crow!”

Crow had just taken a puff on his cigar when he heard his name called, and now he exploded in a fit of coughing. The cigar went flying out of his beak and landed, still smoldering, on the grass.

Stunned though he was, Crow was aware enough to notice that the announcement of his name had been greeted by a stony silence, except for his own coughing and the slow clapping of one set of hands. Looking behind him now, Crow saw the grinning and applauding Texan, Billy Joe Bob. “Well get on up there, you old squirrel-eater,” said Billy Joe Bob. Yep, it was me that put yer name in the hat. I figgered ye still owed me for bustin’ ye out of jail that time, and now it’s time to pay up. Now get on up there on that stage, you varmint.”

Crow wanted to flee, but his legs and wings had turned to butter. He felt like a lamb being led to slaughter, and in fact Lady Moon Chaser, a wicked grin on her face, now had him by the wing and was leading him up the stairs, across the stage and up to the microphone. Suddenly, she too was gone, and Crow looked out on a sea of faces, all staring at him. He opened his beak to speak, but nothing came out. He looked up to the heavens for inspiration, but saw only another face – Beith’s – staring down at him from her poetry pole. “Oh God,” he thought, “I’m going to be sick.”

“Okay,” he thought to himself, “Just say something, anything. Listen to some boos and heckling, and then you can go hide. Just get this over with.” His eyes fell on the smoke from his cigar, rising like a fog bank, and a memory came to him. Summoning his last scrap of courage, Crow, painfully aware of his harsh, croaking voice, began:

I came upon a certain place
and slowing then, my measured pace
I stopped and sat among the stones
and listened to the hushing tones …


Crow croaked out the final stanza of the poem he’d written in a weak moment and, with his eyes still closed, waited for the boos that must surely come. But all he heard was the banging door of a portable toilet, and then the cry of a vendor: “Popcorn, peanuts, get your cold mead here.”

Crow opened one eye. A scattering of applause had started, and then more people picked it up, and then more, until finally a fair number of people were clapping politely. The sound suddenly gave Crow command of his feet again, and he hopped quickly off the stage, picked up his cigar, and flew back to his bush. He ruffled his feathers, grabbed his reporter’s notebook and stared at the blank page.

Piper Oak was speaking again. “The first round of this competition is winding down. You’ll get to vote out one of the contestants soon, so hang onto those ballots. But first, for your entertainment, our next contestant is a fine Druid and a worthy scholar, Sir Dingleberry!”

Thinking cynically of what always preceded a dingleberry, Crow saw a tall Druid in white robes striding purposefully toward the stage. He waited for his presentation to begin …
Last edited by Crow on 06 Jul 2004, 16:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby EarthWard » 06 Jul 2004, 16:25

On stage Sir Dingleberry took command. Rising his hands as if to stop the applause that was not there he began with his introduction.
"Yes, thank you I know it is all your greatest pleasure that I am here for truely I am the only real druid that there is. I come from a long line of Druids and poets and I am the best that there is. None of you will ever be like me but I have tried to help you all on your spiritual quest by making some special products that you can find at http://www.so_you_want_to_be_a_druid_like_me.com " Once again he raised his hands as if stoping the applause that was not there. "I have traveled all this way to bestow upon your little minds the words that can change your world!" Clearing his throat he started a poemish spew of words that in retrospect made no sence at all but he said them with such confidence that it was hard to not think what he was say was not intelligent. After he was done there was a polite applause and he walked off of the stage. While he was shuffling through the audience his nose caught that hint of smokey sage. He turned around and there she was. Lady Chaser of the Moon. "Hello!" she said to him " Didn't we go to collage togather?"
"I....I....I....I"
"I see you have improved your poetry skills since then."
"I...I....I..I"
"Okay. Well, I'll see you around. Bye."
"I..I...I"
She turned and left while Sir Dingleberry caught his breath. He straighted his shoulders and lifted his chin back to its upright position. "I think I handled that very well!"
Next he found his crony, Pussyfoot.
"Is everything taken care of like you said, Pussyfoot?"
"Aye master it has all been dealt with." Pussyfoot gave an aproving node "You will be winner now for sure for sure."
"Good to hear. Now all we have to do is wait."
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Postby Ruthie » 06 Jul 2004, 23:39

Piper Oak took stage again, dispelling the quiet confusion and generating yet another round of applause. He chimed a little bell, to signal that the first round of competitions were over. As though on cue, Lady Moon Chaser walked slowly across the stage carrying a placard which displayed simply a large numeral "1". After applause, which must certainly have been for the lady's prowess with numbers, as well as her impeccable handwriting on the placard, Piper Oak invited everyone to use the inspiration of the various physical arts also on display for the competition to aod in their decision-making. "Also," he announced very sternly to the crowd, "be sure you carefully consider every work presented before you punch your card."
The crowd dispersed, milled about, as crowds are wont to do, and eventually formed numerous small clusters. Watching from the air, Crow noticed how well-orchestrated the movements of the crowd seemed to be, as though timed to some aetherial music. Making another turn around the stage, he saw Piper Oak and Night Hawk seated quietly together, the one with his bagpipes, and the other on her drum. It was their music to which the crowd unknowingly swayed, and thus mesmerized, Crow flapped to the tune. Until he accidentally flew right into Carragh. As a contestant at the Eistedfod, Crow thought surely this had sealed his fate. But instead he was gently retrieved from the ground, bits of mud and straw carefully picked from his feathers, and he was wrapped in what must have been an apron. In this state he was rocked and his feathers smoothed and he was soon feeling contentment he hadn't felt since he was a nestling. Carragh, seeing that he was recovered, called over to Susa who offered him a repast of the finest berries and insects known to birdkind. "Surely these OBOD poets are as compassionate as they are competitive," thought Crow to himself, and was anxious to conduct some in-depth interviews at once in the crowd.
Suddenly he was gripped with fear once again, so intense was his fear, he began talking to himself:
"I need to get a handle on these people. This could be my big lead!"
"You can't do that, you're a contestant, remember?"
"I hadn't planned on being a contestent."
"That doesn't matter. People are going to thing you're trying to influence the vote."
"But I'm not."
"I know you're not."
"So why can't I get my interview?"
"Because you just can't."
Thus disturbed by such profound internal controversy, Crow walked, rather shuffled, back to Billy Joe Bob, sulking and hoping for some peace and quiet. The sounds of thunder filled the air, as Billy Joe Bob and Merlyn staged their own competition with their motorcycle engines.
"So much for peace and quiet," thought Crow to himself. He decided to venture closer to the Port-o-lets. Not many people over there, he saw. He perched atop one and overheard something noone was ever meant to hear. Two voices coming from the same fiberglass stall. He tried not to listen, attempting to give the couple some privacy which they had obviously gone to great length to aquire. But the reporter ear in him couldn't help perking when the words "competition" and "win for sure, for sure" drifted up though the vent. Barely recovered from his surprise entry, and his accident with Carragh, it took all his resolve to remain motionless and quiet until the occupants emerged from the enclosure and walked out of sight.

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Postby Crow » 07 Jul 2004, 08:05

Well this was a conundrum. A big story was happening right before his eyes and Crow knew that professional ethics forbade him from writing it. He was, after, all, a reluctant contestant in the poetry contest, and it would be impossible for readers to believe that his story in tomorrow’s edition of The Pagan Press could be unbiased.

But here he was, with first-hand information about a plot to steal the contest through the use of trick ballot cards. Crow had heard the whispered conversation coming from the Port-o-let vent, and he had seen Sir Dingleberry and Pussyfoot emerge.

His thoughts were interrupted by a shout from nearby.

“Coca-Cola here, get your ice-cold Coca-Cola right here. Step right up, Druids, Ovates and Bards. Ice cold Coca-Cola.” The vendor was Selene, wearing a red apron over her blue robe.

“That’s it!” thought Crow.

Selene had always wanted to be in the newspaper business, he knew. The two had had long, drunken conversations back at the Foggy Duck, and the old reporter knew her to be a good writer with an eye for accuracy and detail. Crow had always done his best to talk her out of a career change, pointing out that she’d be working nights, weekends and holidays for the rest of her life. She hadn’t made the move yet, but Crow knew it was a matter of when, not if. He knew that Selene was stubborn, and saw only the glamorous aspects of a journalistic career. Selene wanted a byline. She hadn’t discovered yet how it feels to see your story in the bottom of somebody else’s bird cage.

But now Crow saw a solution to his dilemma. He quickly explained the situation to Selene, including details of the overheard conversation about the trick voting cards, and by the time he had finished, the Bard was jumping up and down with excitement. She tore off her Coca-Cola apron, whipped out her laptop and started to type.

Just then some feedback from the microphone shrilled over the loudspeakers and Crow looked up to see that Piper Oak had again taken the stage, and he looked troubled.

“Druids, Ovates, and lowly Bards,” the master of ceremonies intoned. The results of the first round voting are in, and if I could have your attention please.”

The crowd quieted, and Piper Oak rubbed his hand through his hair, hesitant to continue. “Druids, Ovates and lowly Bards,” he repeated. “As I said, the results are in. The rules of the competition state that one contestant must be eliminated at the conclusion of each round. And now I must say to you, that the contestant receiving the fewest votes, the contestant who must now be eliminated from further competition, is Beith.”

Total silence greeted the announcement.

Crow looked around the field and noticed that everyone was just staring up at the stage, jaws hanging slack. Finally a loud wail was heard, and it was Beith herself, still sitting atop her poetry pole, and she clearly was about to swoon and fall from her perch. The sight triggered the Irish contingent into action, and they raced as one to the foot of the pole, arriving there just as the redhead toppled and fell. She was caught by a massive Irishman with a bristling red beard, who set her tenderly on the turf.

And then it began, a perfect storm of shouts and screams, threats and curses: “CHEATS! FOUL! LIARS!” the crowd shouted. Thousands rushed the stage shouting that Beith’s first-round poem had been the best, and that it was impossible that she could now be eliminated.

Grave injury or even death might have been the result of such a demonstration, and only the commanding presence of Piper Oak – not an easy trick for a man wearing a mini-kilt – prevented such a disaster.

“Friends, please, I beg you,” the Druid now called over the microphone, and with repeated calming gestures and requests, the crowd eventually quieted, though the level of tension remained high.

Crow saw that one of the Irishmen had put a rubber nipple onto a bottle of Guinness and was gently nursing Beith back to consciousness. “There, there, lass,” he said. “Sip it slow; you’ll be all right child. We’re here for you girl, we’ll take care of you now, and never doubt that we’ll get to the bottom of this.”

Beith, now with tears running down her cheeks, just whimpered.

The sound of tapping caused Crow to tear his eyes away from this tender scene, and he saw that Selene was writing furiously on her laptop. She then stopped typing, stored the file and grabbed the reporter’s notebook out of his hand. “Gotta get some interviews,” she said, and Crow was gratified that he’d made a good choice. Selene was charging away toward the table behind the stage where the election workers were cowering, still fearful for their safety.

That was it, Crow thought to himself. He was out of it; on the sidelines; no longer in the game. He was a poet now, not a reporter. No, the biggest story of the year and it was in the hands of a cub reporter. Selene had always wanted a byline, he thought, well, now she’d get one.

He was a little afraid for her, because he knew one thing that Selene didn’t – yet. Sooner or later and no matter what the facts, in the public’s mind, every big story ended the same way: It was always the media’s fault.

Crow watched as Selene disappeared into the throng. He wished her luck …

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Postby EarthWard » 07 Jul 2004, 16:33

"We did it Master! We have defeated the best poet here! I made sure that all the ballots would not punch out her name." Pussyfoot was trying hard to control his evil laughter.
"Very good! Now nobody can stand in my way of winning the grand prize." Sir Dingleberry was very happy with himself.
"The only one that I did not tamper with was the ballot for that Crow fellow. You don't think he will be a bother do you?"
"Ha! Me be beat by a bird! I would rather eat crow myself. No. No worries there, Pussyfoot. I am sure to be the champion today and when Lady Chaser of the Moon sees that I'm the best she will have no choice but to fall in love with me."
"Very good Master!"
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Postby LadyMoonChaser » 08 Jul 2004, 05:33


As Lady MoonChaser managed to walk off stage holding the placard and balancing her turban filled fruit basket, she thought sadly about poor Beith, it really was hard to imagine that she was voted off with the beautiful poetry she wrote...

But then, suddenly, her mind was filled with thoughts of that man she had passed earlier, that she remembered from her college days. It was quite a coincidence to bump into him at an Eistedfodd. If she remembered correctly, he wasn't the poetry type, more like the, 'I'm so dashing I don't need to study', type of fellow. He never really talked to her about anything because he was constantly tongue tied, or so it seemed to her. She did vaguely remember some of her college chums telling her that he had a crush on her, but she really wasn't interested.

But still, for some reason it seemed a little too odd for him to just appear out of nowhere, and it gave her a slight chill up her back. She couldn't pinpoint her feelings but something just did not seem right.

While she was standing there contemplating all this, she heard a sweet song coming from behind her, and realized it was Night Hawk as she landed on the Lady's shoulder and started picking at the grapes in the turban. Night Hawk was a welcome sight since she was always so uplifting and fun to be around, and Lady MoonChaser was always ready for some fun!

She knew she had to be back on stage with the Piper to hold the hat, but she had a few more minutes and promptly decided to look for the nearest bottle of gin and hopefully some tonic and a fresh slice of lime.

"Come on Night Hawk, let's go have a bit of fun and games before I have to be back on stage" Night Hawk became very excited and started jumping up and down and nearly knocked all the fruit and Lady MC on the ground!

Fortunately, Lady MC had her trusty new cherry wood, garnet studded, silver sequenced, with the rose quartz crystal, horse head handled, hiking stick to hold her steady. She loved showing it off, especially since it matched the new gown she wore under her heavy woolen blue robe, which she planned on losing, right after the competition was over and the dancing and feasting started. She would never be able to jump on the tables to dance the Flamenco with the heavy robe!

The Druids were terrific at throwing feasts and festivities, it just came naturally to them, just like the drinking and dancing and merriment! And they loved any kind of dancing, so she knew they would just love her new Flamenco routine, especially where she added the part where she used the hiking stick as a baton, and lit both ends on fire to twirl around her head!

She was pulled out of her dreamy thoughts with a shrill cry from Night Hawk! "What! what is it? You nearly scared the bejeezus out of me!"

"Look! Over there!" Night Hawk pointed her lovely feathers to a fully stocked portable Pub that had been set up by the ever money hungry, Gladys!

"Oh what a beautiful sight, just like an oasis!" squealed Lady MC, and was not at all surprised to see Merlyn, EarthWard, Kernos, Carragh, Piper and Tinne already sloshing back a few drinks. Well, at least she knew if Piper was still here she must not be late, yet.

She shimmied and elbowed her way in between Merlyn and EarthWard, and then realized she wasn't acting very ladylike, so she politely backed away and bowed to the two handsome Druids,.. then, ever so daintily, she let out a wee, teenee sneeze, as she pulled a lacey kerchief out of her sleeve, then coyly let it flutter to the ground.

Just as she had figured, the two galant men jumped quickly to pick up her kerchief and she saw her chance and jumped onto the only barstool left!

The two men slowly stood up and looked at each other in disgust for letting themselves fall for the old kerchief trick!!!

Especially because they should have known better when they saw it was Lady MC, for they knew fully well that she was fast, a trickster and a very thirsty lady!!

Lady MC was already stirring her lime in her gin and tonic and giving Night Hawk sips of a Shirley Temple, and toasting to all the fine bards and ovates and druids and to anyone else she could think of.

After about her 4th drink(or possibly 5th or 6th), she was really getting into full swing, when the Piper announced the intermission was just about over and everyone needed to get back to their proper places.

She could barely keep her eyes off of his manly legs, what with his mini kilt, even though by now it looked more like 4 legs instead of 2 to her. She really was a lightweight when it came to alcohol, and her limit was really one. She really did much better with a good peace pipe, but she had been so very thirsty and the gin and tonics were so refreshing.....

Everyone bolted to attention as soon as the Piper gave the order that this party was over for now, and they all fell into line behind him as they dutifully followed him back, everyone except Lady MC, who had, by now, a very silly smile on her face as she was bouncing her melons(from her turban) on the port-a-pub bar, while Night Hawk excitedly fluttered around trying to get the Lady to follow the others.

Finally, Gladys stepped in with a roaring belch, that actually blew poor Night Hawk right onto the Piper's shoulder and he gave her a gentle stroke and told her what a good Hawk she was for keeping up with the program. She had no choice but to sing a sweet twitter and continue on with the group, leaving the Lady behind to fend for herself against Gladys!

"Well now, me lady, aren't ya just a fine example of a proper bard! An' stop bouncin' dem melons fore they burst! I'm not ere to clean up aft some dizzy wenches dat kent 'old der likker more den a sieve! Git yerself off dat stool n go on wid yer group of fruitcakes, I don't want no trouble round my port-a-pub!" said Gladys patiently, in her nicest barkeepers voice, afterall, she didn't want to scare off any potential customers.

"Ooooooo, I think my eyes are crossed.. everyshing looks so fuzzywuzzy....and my legs are not rezzponding to my witches....., or is it my witches are not rezzponding to my legs....or my witches legs have not rezzpomded....ooooooops, now who moved the ground up so close to my face? never...mind...yish is jus fin an dindy, i vewy mush wanshed to 'ave a widdow nappypoooo......z z z z z z z z z " blathered Lady MC, as she merrily slid into an, oblivious stupor, yet somehow still thinking of that Sir Dingleberry.

"OH!!! NOW AIN'T DAT JUST SO BLOODY SWEET!! DRUNK AS A SKUNK AN DEN SHE WENT CLUNK!!
HAW HAW HAW, I STILL GOT IT! BARDS! SCHMARDS! MY ARSE!, I CAN RHYME WID DA BEST O' DEM!!!"

While all this was taking place, from a secluded vantage point, Selene typed furiously on her laptop, she was getting more than she ever imagined and this was her first assignment! She was sure to win a Pullitzer for this, in fact, she was already thinking of a title for her book, forget that cheezy newsrag! She was going for the really BIG TIME; book, movie, international fame, sequels, being on Jay Leno and Letterman, the Today Show, Good Morning America, Katie Couric, she could barely keep her excitement from making her jump up and yell.....HEY OPRAH! HERE I COME!!

Meanwhile, back at the main stage.....

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Postby Crow » 09 Jul 2004, 08:58

Despite the controversy, the Druids in charge of the poetry competition decided the show must go on, and now the silvery tone of a bell was heard, signaling the beginning of Round 2.

But just as the sound of the bell was fading away and Piper Oak had sauntered back to the microphone, the roar of an airplane was heard overhead, and the crowd, looking up as one, spied several parachutes floating down onto the field. Excitement was high and speculation rampant about the airdrop, but soon all questions were answered, as the first parachute, with its cargo, thumped onto the ground. It was bundled copies of The Pagan Press, and they were being grabbed and passed around. The front page banner headline screamed:

Perfidious Poets
Controversy mars Lughnasad contest

Crow, a reporter for the Pagan Press who had been forced to withdraw from covering the contest due to his unexpected entry into the competition, was almost knocked over by Lady Moon Chaser as he tried to get a copy of the paper, but he finally succeeded. He flew back to his bush near the stage and started to read.
Perfidious Poets
Controversy mars Lughnasad contest

BY SELENE
FOR THE PAGAN PRESS

EMPTY FIELD, England – Druids were investigating possible voting irregularities yesterday after a popular Irish poet was ousted from first round competition, sparking a near riot.

Seamus McTavish, a druid and lead judge, said the unexpected loss by Beith, who has won many awards for both her poetry and for her shoe collection, was suspicious. “We use a punch-card system here,” said McTavish. “The audience is told after each round to punch out the hole by the name of the poet they liked best. Beith did not get a single vote, though clearly her poem was much better than some of the others we heard. Not everyone likes every poem, but to not get a single vote is suspicious.”

The crowd’s violent reaction to the news of Beith’s loss indicated that the results were surprising, to say the least. And perhaps the person most surprised was Beith herself. The redheaded poet, seated for no apparent reason atop a 60-foot poetry pole, fainted upon hearing of her defeat and plunged nearly to her death before being caught by one of her kinsmen. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced in fair condition, suffering from bruises, shock and a hangover.

Piper Oak, master of ceremonies, said the competition would continue despite the allegations of impropriety. “We owe it to the other poets to continue,” Oak said. “It could be that the crowd didn’t understand the voting instructions. People were told to punch out the name of the poet whose poem they liked best. Maybe people were confused and instead punched out the name of the poet they wanted to see lose. But rules are rules, and they were clearly outlined.”

But a ballot examiner, who wished to remain anonymous, said that explanation didn’t seem to hold water. “I’ve looked at every ballot with a magnifying glass,” the examiner said. “The punch hole on 80 percent of the ballots was dimpled next to Beith’s name, but not punched all the way out of the card. That indicates that people tried to punch that hole, but for reasons we’re not sure of, the voting machines didn’t work right. It’s the old ‘hanging chad’ story all over again.”

“Hanging chads” or not, it seems the competition will continue. But tensions here are running high. Said one Ovate in attendance: “I’ve never seen anything like this. This crowd is like dry grass just waiting for a spark. Just one more little incident like what we’ve seen already, and things could get dangerous. We in OBOD love our poetry and we take it very seriously."

Oak, the master of ceremonies, said that extra security would be on hand for today’s second round. “We’ve asked for assistance from the OBOD, and they’ve sent in some Druids in plain clothes, and they’ll be circulating through the crowd and will be ready to step in if things get out of hand. These guys have wands, and they know how to use them.”
Crow finished reading, folded the newspaper and placed it in a recycling bin. Selene had done a good job, he thought. Her first story,had been fair and balanced, and well attributed throughout. He was proud of her. But suddenly he heard shouts.

“Damned media! Oh my God, did you read this? The public will think we’re a bunch of fools and crooks, and can’t even run our own poetry contest." It was Seamus McTavish, the lead judge, and he had Selene cornered near the stage. “I didn’t say any of this! Where did you get these quotes?” screamed McTavish at the cowering Bard. "You said I said that Beith’s poem was much better than some of the others. That makes me look biased, and I’m a judge! Now people will think that OBOD hires crooked judges!"

The cry “Damned media” was spreading through the crowd like wildfire. Crow heard screams and cries from all parts of the field.

“Excuse me, sir, but you did say that,” said Selene. “I have it all right on my tape recorder.” Whipping out her laptop, which contained a recording device, Selene pushed ‘PLAY,’ and McTavish’s voice could soon be heard coming from the computer’s small speaker. “We use a punch-card system here. The audience is told after each round to punch out the hole by the name of the poet they liked best. Beith did not get a single vote, though clearly her poem was much better than some of the others we heard. Not everyone likes every poem, but to not get a single vote is suspicious.”

But Seamus McTavish was not to be swayed: “Well yeah, I said that, but that’s not what I meant and you know it! You’ve twisted my words!”

Now it was Piper Oak’s turn, screaming at Selene: “You wrote all that about the armed druids and extra security? People will think we're running a police state here! Why’d you write that?"

Selene replied, “It’s what you said, Oak!”

But Piper Oak seethed, “Maybe, but it’s not exactly what I meant, and besides, why do you have to write down everything I say?”

Selene, looking like she was ready to explode, stamped her foot and said, “That’s it! I quit! I don't even care about Oprah anymore!”

Crow just shook his head and thought to himself: “Well hell, there goes another idealistic journalist; another career shot down in flames. Man, she sure didn’t last long. Who’s going to cover this story now?”

Fortunately, Crow then saw Posie Petals, the Pagan Press’ veteran features reporter, striding through the field. And she was just in time, because someone was again ringing the bell, determined to restart the competition despite the fresh furor.

Piper Oak, back on stage, had taken a card from Lady Moon Chaser’s hat, and now said, “The first poet in Round 2 is Billy Joe Bob.” The Texan’s first-round reading had been largely overlooked, and most people thought he would never reach Round 2, but here he was, striding confidently to the microphone.

“This here is one of them little poems that people call a hiker,” he said. The crowd looked puzzled, but with no further delay, Billy Joe Bob began to recite:

Damn, in that tube-top
You make me almost fergit
That you're my cousin *


Billy Joe Bob raised his arms in triumph, but his haiku was greeted only by puzzled looks and a smattering of boos. Billy Joe Bob, oblivious to the reaction he’d received, walked smiling off the stage. Piper Oak was back at the microphone, and he had already pulled out another card. “The next contestant is Crow,” said the mini-kilted master of ceremonies.

Crow gulped. Things were moving so quickly that he now realized that he didn’t have a second round poem. Once again he was being dragged to the stage by Lady Moon Chaser, and once again he was looking out at the sea of faces, all staring at him.

“Haiku,” thought Crow. He’d written one once, ages ago while working around the house. If only he could recall it. It was even druidic, something about leaves. Suddenly the memory clicked, and Crow recited:

Red, yellow brown, gold
Autumn leaves clog my gutters
Falls from roofs can kill


The crowd’s reaction was much the same as that received by Billy Joe Bob, and Crow after some initial embarrassment, felt a spark of relief. “Well,” he thought, at least after that I’ll be out. But the way this voting’s going, who the hell knows?” He fluttered back to his bush, passing Posie Petals, who just looked at him and shook her head.

“Next poet in Round 2,” said Piper Oak, now back at the microphone, “is Sir Dingleberry.”

Crow relaxed, wondering what would happen next. ..



* author unknown

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Postby Jeb » 11 Jul 2004, 05:45

Earlier that day...

It was morning. The golden hue on the horizon gave way to a crystal azure sky and smoke rose up from country homes in unbroken columns, catching the glow of the rising sun. Birds chirped and gathered food. Small animals chattered and did the same. A beautiful clear and quiet day had just awoken and was lazily going about its business, ignorant of the most marvelous events that it would host before the coming of night. It was a wonderful, magickal, fairytale scene. Rolling hills, alfalfa fields, groves of oak and poplar dotting the landscape. It was quaint, picturesque.

But not for long. The sleepy wind was just beginning to stir, when the quiet of the country morning was split open . The sound was like ice-water on an unsuspecting sun-tanner. It sent partridge drumming out from their morning foraging grounds, sent small game wildly running for cover and made the very grass wince and sway. It was an evil, high pitched whining. The sound was coming from a very old, rickety cart that was advancing along the rutted and dusty track. Pulled by an old sway-back, its antique look was not totally out of place drawn up against the backdrop of the rolling fields and split-rail fences. But that creaking! Oh, for a bit of oil! Just a drop would do to subdue the wicked grinding of its ancient wheels. The reader must be thankful for the deafness inherent in reading, for to experience it in the flesh would weaken one's very constitution! Well, it would weaken any normal person. For some reason the pilot of the cart and his accomplice seemed to be unaffected by the noise.

"Hey, Ceese! Looks like our lucky day! How about that? Roll into town just in time for a fair. The guys up there must like us! What say?" the driver called out over the grinding sound of the wheels. He had just noticed the congregation of tents looming up over crest of the track and caught the smell of barbeque and beer wafting on the wind.

"Oh, ho, ho! Splendid! Splendid!" chortled the passenger, clapping his meaty hands together. He was a large, burly fellow draped in a dark green cloak, with a warm face and eyes that betrayed a deep kindness. "Shall we go introduce ourselves, then, Dee? There's bound to be work for us here."

Dee Cist, a perpetually smiling, skeleton of a man, dressed in a thin, dirty-gray traveling cloak, flicked the reins of the old sway-back causing the cart to jump ahead at little. It had been a long time since they'd had a job. The fair, rising up out of the road ahead, was the first spot of luck they'd had in two weeks. "It would be a shame to deprive these wonderful folk of our... uh, services." His smile widened into a toothy grin.

By trade, they were key-cutters. They rattled from town to town and fair to fair in their screeching cart, setting shop anywhere that looked promising. Usually the key-cutting business wasn't all that busy. But that never really bothered them, for the bulk of their income came from another source....

***

Ceese had just finished dropping down the sides of their cart and setting up the grinding wheel. After leaning their hand-painted sign against one of the wheels, they were ready for business.

"A poetry contest!? You don't say!" Dee was talking to a beautiful woman sporting a basket of fruit on her head. "Hey, Ceese! Get a load of this!"

Ceese called out from under the cart, "With ya in a sec. Just tending to something down here."

"You under there again!? Forget about that stupid mark! I swear, man! It's just graffiti! Get up here and listen to this! Might be work in it."

Some three and a half years ago Ceese had been doing repairs on the cart. He had left it leaning upside-down against an old barn over-night and on waking the next day, had found a most unusual mark carved in one of the cross-beams. No one had had any idea what it meant. While Dee had long since stopped bothering to worry about it, it was still a most curious obsession with his robust friend.

"All right, all right," Ceese rolled out awkwardly from under the cart. "Whatchya got?"

"This here lady says this fair's actually a poetry contest." he conveyed to his friend.

"Ya? Hmmm. Is that really all that different from a fair?" Ceese asked.

"Of course it is! It means that most of the people here are cultured, well-born, educated and well-to-do types! Everyone knows that the average human being doesn't waste time with poetry these days. Most of the people here are... special... if you catch my meaning," Dee winked at Ceese and once again his perpetual smile broadened into a toothy grin. "Here, look at this." He handed a heavily wrinkled newspaper over to his friend. "Seems there's been a little bit of a snafu with the judging. Maybe right up our alley."

Ceese took the newspaper and read the front page. "Hmmm. Indeed! Right up our alley."

"Ahem," the woman with the beautiful fruit basket cleared her throat. "I'm the Lady MoonChaser, by the way. And you are?" She offered her hand, fingers curving slightly downward, wrist arcing ever so gracefully.

"Ceese and Dee Cist, ma'am. At your service. Master Key-Cutters and Free-Lance Trouble-Shooters." the big man took her fingertips in his and after kissing them gently, bowed more elegantly than his large frame would suggest possible.

There was an awkward pause and then Dee stepped casually between them. "Yes, well, pleasure to meet you, milady. Might I enquire as to who is in charge of the contest?"

"That would be Piper Oak. Actually, if you look way over there," she pointed an elegant finger towards the stage, "you can just make out the tartan of his kilt. That's the man you want."

"Smashing! Ceese, let's go." The two bid the Lady MoonChaser farewell and made their way through the crowd towards the stage.

"Do you think he'll hire us, Dee?" the big man asked his friend as they pushed through the crowd.

"It's elementary, my dear Ceese. Elementary! It's obvious this glitch in the judging system has got everyone riled up. It's a blemish on their beautiful event. We're sure to be able to clear it up. And they're sure to pay us handsomely for the service."

They reached the stage just as the second round was beginning.

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Postby EarthWard » 19 Jul 2004, 21:40

Sir Dingleberry took the stage for the second round and although he had made it he looked a little red in the face like he had eaten too much pork. Again he rambled his way through a boring and complex yet numbing poem about the growth of a flower in comparison to his life. When his tale was completed he rushed off stage before anybody had time to clap, so nobody did. And the round went on.
On the ground level Pussyfoot appalled his master and crested his ego with a few eloquent words but Sir Dingleberry would have none of it. Giving Pussyfoot a scolding eye he paced back to his tent and awaited his servant there.
Pussyfoot knew he was in trouble. How did that reporter report so fast about the ballots. It was unimaginable. With his head lower he began to walk to receive the ear full of complaints that he knew he would get from his master, but on the way he bumped into somebody that stopped him in his path.
"Pussyfoot! What a strange meeting this may be! I thought you had lost your head in Paris with that fixed dice game?" the voice was that of Dee.
"I made it well enough and have done good enough for myself without any need of your service, Dee." Pussyfoot was non to fond of Dee but maybe that was because Dee had always been craftier than he was.
"Well, that is good because I did not offer them to you. I may just sell me service to help solve these ballots they seem to be having a problem with here. You would not know anything about that would you, Pussy?"
"You just mind your business if you know what is good for you!" his eyes bulging out of his head Pussyfoot could not control the pitch of his voice and attracted a few stares one of those being the Crow with a cigar.
"Now Pussyfoot you know I have no business of my own. That is why I have to meddle with others. You know that."
Pussyfoot went on while Dee watched him go.
"Oh yes. This may just work to our financial benefit after all." Dee said with a long smile.
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Postby Crow » 20 Jul 2004, 16:14

Crow watched the meeting between Pussyfoot and the grimy key-cutter, whose name he’d heard was Dee. After overhearing some details of a plot to skew the voting in the poetry contest, the old reporter had been keeping an eye on Pussyfoot, and now it seemed there was another suspicious person that needed watching.

Crow sighed heavily. What could he do anyway? As a participant in the contest, he could no longer cover the story as a journalist, and Posie Petals, the features reporter at the Pagan Press, had dismissed his warnings about a possible voting scandal. She was hard at work now writing a sidebar about the latest in druidic fashion statements, and wasn’t interested in hearing about scandals. “Oh go on, Crow,” she’d said. “You’re just upset because you know you’re going to lose. You shouldn’t have become involved in the first place, it was unprofessional.” Crow knew she was right about that, but he also knew that he couldn’t allow fraud to proceed right under his nose without doing something about it. “Damn Selene,” he thought. The bard he’d hand-picked to write about the scandal had quit in a huff at the first sign of hostility from her readership.

Just then Crow saw Night Hawk sitting behind the stage and munching on a bagel. He decided to ask her for help.

“Night Hawk, how would you like to do a little job for me?” Crow asked.

“Mmmfff mmmff mmff mmmff mfff?” replied Night Hawk, her tiny beak full of chewy bagel. She swallowed and repeated, “What kind of help?”

“Well,” said Crow, “There are a couple of suspicious people, and I can’t follow both of them. What I’d like you to do is follow that Pussyfoot character while I keep an eye on that guy over there,” he said, pointing at Dee. “I can’t go into the details, but just watch and listen, and if you hear or see anything interesting, fly back and tell me.”

Night Hawk, who had just taken another big bite of bagel, spit it out in her excitement. “Suspicious characters? Here? At the poetry contest? Dishonest Druids? NOOOOO!”

Clearly the little bird was very upset, and before Crow could stop her, she’d fluttered onto the stage where Moon Cloud was just drifting away after reciting her poem about a giant zucchini squash. Now Night Hawk was whispering into the ear of Piper Oak, the mini-kilted master of ceremonies.

“May I have your attention please,” said Piper Oak. “This is a bit unusual, but at this time we’re going to interrupt the Round 2 competition.” The crowd groaned, but Piper Oak continued, “Night Hawk here is very insistent that she has felt some bad vibes, and she wants another drumming circle to clear the air.”

Lady Moon Chaser, everyone’s favorite buff bard, now strutted across the stage holding a card that read “INTERMISSION.” In the audience, people were again scrambling for their percussion instruments, as Night Hawk took center stage.

“Okay everybody,” called Night Hawk. “Everyone drum like you mean it! All together now, a-one and a-two and a-three …” The drumming started, and Crow thought that it was even louder this time. The drums rolled like thunder, and it seemed that the whole world was vibrating with the sound. On and on it went, until Crow thought the very stage would crumble and fall.

Just then there was a screech from behind the stage and the drumming stopped. It was Saki, who was on the ballot committee, and now she was flying onto the stage. “Everybody, listen to this!” The crowd hushed in anticipation. Even Piper Oak seemed at a loss to know what was coming next.

“There’s something funny going on,” Saki said. “The ballots from the first round were stacked on tables behind the stage, and the vibrations from the drums have loosened the chads. Thousands of loose chads have fallen out. There will have to be a recount!”

It was pandemonium.

The crowd again erupted and the stage looked like a rock being battered by a storm-driven sea. Plain-clothes security druids now had their wands out and were trying to restore calm. Crow saw Sir Dingleberry and Pussyfoot running away from the stage, and then the crowd parted, and he saw a wan Beith being pushed in a wheelchair by an armed contingent of burly Irishmen. They pushed her straight to the base of her poetry pole, and now, rising from her chair with a regal air, the redhead, wearing an Irish flag for a cape, was using her stiletto-heeled slippers like a telephone repair man to climb again to the top of the pole, clearly confident that a recount would restore her to the competition.

Crow saw Ceese and Dee Cist standing over by their cart, clearly intrigued by this turn of events. And now the crowd quieted again, and Crow saw that Jeb, another member of the ballot committee, was coming to the microphone. Piper Oak and Lady Moon Chaser moved aside and, like everyone else, waited to hear what would happen next …

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Ruthie
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Postby Ruthie » 20 Jul 2004, 21:21

Jeb's shaking hand gripped the microphone, and his shaking voice was barely audible over the last few persistent drummers.
"We've, ummm, detected a few, ahhh, irregularities, uh, in the voting equipment." At this point, Jeb stood white as snow, positively terrified that thousands of angry Bards would rush the stage and kill him with their staffs. He shook violently, and before he fell to the floor, his figure was completely obscured in a shower of tiny paper chads.
Piper Oak's attempts to control the crowd this time proved futile. The mob pressing the stage threatened to topple the entire structure. Underneath it all was a slow growing thunder. The deep rumbling sound grew louder and ever louder till it overpowered the mob. Billy Joe Bob and Merlyn drove their newly-painted motorcycles right up onto the stage! The impressive sight of so much power and beauty stilled the crowd at once. Billy Joe Bob grabbed the microphone from the still faint Jeb's hand, "Y'all jest stop there one durn minute," he shouted, and held up his free hand, "Now, you-all know I ain't spectin' t' win nothin' here, an' I's gettin' the same one vote as all you, but I think," it was at this point that Billy Joe Bob realised the crowd was completely focused on him. He turned almost snow-white, and joined Jeb on the stage floor. Several little chads fluttered around, and settled back down.
Merlyn took up the microphone. "If there has been any irregularity in the voting, we WILL get to the bottom of it. Listen to Piper Oak's instructions. The Ballot Committee is at this very moment reviewing the voting equipment, and recounting the votes. We will have a decision on Round One shortly. In the meantime, I'd like everyone to join Susa in our physical meditation."
With his staff, he gestured toward the Raven who was methodically collecting the chads which had fallen from Jeb's hair and clothing. Secretly, he also depressed the "follow" rune on his staff, and as the blue orb glowed, the crowd also began collecting any piece of debris that could be found on the ground.
Lady Moon Chaser and Merlyn revived Jeb, and the three disappeared behind the stage to help with the recount. Piper Oak, himself a bit shaken, patted Billy Joe Bob's ahsen face until he, too, revived. Overhead flew Crow and Night Hawk, at enormous speed, their talons gleaming and ready.

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Postby EarthWard » 21 Jul 2004, 17:37

Dingleberry listened to the commotion. It would be only a matter of time before Pussyfoot's plan was to be uncovered and ofcourse that would point the blame right back on Dingleberry. But not one to give up easily, Dingleberry thought of ways that he could excape the noose that was tightening around his neck.
"Fire. Fire makes all things disappear. Pussyfoot!!!!!"
"Yes, Sire? I am here."
"The judges are recounting the votes as we speak am I right?"
"Yes Sire."
"And when they find out that Beith should have won and I did not who then are they going to blame?"
"Us Sire. I am most sorry. Maybe we should just leave now."
"And let my name be ruined for years to come? Never!!!"
"What would you have be do your Grace? I am at your service."
"Go now and start a fire under the stage. That will spread to the voting booths behind the stage and all evidence of this will turn to ash."
"You are most wise Sire. I will do this at once."
Pussyfoot ran off with his masters orders. Nimbly he ducked under the stage and placed paper paplets and sticks in a pile to start the blaze. Then from the other side he hear load snoring. He went over and saw that it was Lady Moon Chaser passed out with a Tequila bottle beside her. He could not chance moving her and being noticed.
"All wars have their casualties. A bardic war should be the same."
With a strike of the match he callously lit the pile of debrie and took off.
A good five minutes went by before the smoke began to appear but by that time the fire had already engulfed the stage and the ballot boxes and everyone ran for their lives.
But through the flames a voice could be heard. "Help! Help!"
"It is Lady Moon Chaser! She is stuck on stage!"
Sir Dingleberry heard this and without hesitation ran for the stage. Using his robe to shield himself form the flames he garbed LMC and brought her to safety.
"Oh you saved me! Thank you!" and with that LMC gave Dingleberry a big kiss which was all the reward he could have ever of asked for.
The stage, ballot boxes, and the huge wicker abstract design of a poet went up in flames.
Now that everybody was safe they could enjoy the beauty of the fire.
Some mental heads turned on their stereo that was playing Ozzy's' Iron man.

"Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all,
Or if he moves will he fall?
Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We'll just pass him there
why should we even care?

He was turned to steel
in the great magnetic field
Where he traveled time
for the future of mankind

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
that he will soon unfold

Now the time is here
for Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved

Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge

Heavy boots of lead
fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron Man lives again!"
Ozzy Osbourne - Iron Man Lyrics

"It is a bardic burning man. Yahhhh!"
Everybody started to yell and dance. Fire dancers performed around the huge blaze.
A celebration began that was bigger than the desert had ever seen.
People started singing their poetry not for competition but just for the pure joy of it.
And what happen between Sir Dingleberry and his Lady Chaser of the Moon that night? Well, let's just say there might be a little Dingleberry on its way. :-)
Last edited by EarthWard on 21 Jul 2004, 17:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby EarthWard » 21 Jul 2004, 17:43

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The stage the stage the stage is on fire! we don't need no water let the Mother Clucker burn!

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Merlyn brings out his dragons

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We party party party! Yeah baby!
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Postby LadyMoonChaser » 23 Jul 2004, 19:47

Opening her eyes ever so slowly, trying to focus on her surroundings, Lady MoonChaser was feeling a bit on the queezy side.

She was coming out of her drunken, sleepy stupor, trying to lift her head, which seemed to weigh a ton, off the hard ground, then she remembered the huge fruit basket on her head, and removed it, but her head still seemed too heavy to lift, so she decided to lay there a few more moments as she heard a beautiful haunting melody floating across the moors, realizing it was the Piper Oak giving his Eistedfodd performance, she knew she still had time to get in a few more winks.......,

When suddenly she sat straight up, eyes opened wide, and gasped at the sudden flashback of her drunken dream!!!

Oh my lord!!! she thought, and started trembling from the very thought of that horrifying dream, or from the one too many gin and tonics, or a combination of the two, whatever, she was shaking!!

She, automatically, since it wasn't the first time she had had one too many, felt herself all over to be sure she was not violated in any way, but fortunately she was still intact except for a bit of wet spot on her shoulder which she attributed to either MoonCloud, StormCloud or possibly that Crow or any of the hawks, ravens, and other birds, that were always flying about, thanking the gods/godesses/spirits that the terrifying nightmare was only a dream!!

How could she have possibly dreamt of that disgusting man with the even more disgusting name, Sir Dingleberry!!
AS IF, a lady of her stature and refinement, ahem, would even allow him to get that close to her!! She would rather perish in the flames....the flames!! OH!.. oh.. oh, right,... phew!.....that was all part of her hellish, crazy nightmare too!

Feeling very quite much relieved, that none of that had REALLY happened,... oddly enough just like in those ridiculous soap operas, or how the politicians were always denying that anything REALLY happened,.. She immediately started feeling much better and decided to straighten herself up a bit before rejoining the Eistedfodd.

She just wished she could get a pickmeup before heading back, but, unfortunately, for Lady MoonChaser, Gladys had moved the Port-a-Pub to a different location, closer to the crowd, AND the Port-a-Potty, cause Gladys would not put up with anybody wetting her newly refurbished barstools.

She knew Gladys would be thinking, " Dem wild eyed Druids an deir strange animal friends will be more den ready for my service, for dey would be gettin' mightily thirsty after all dat catterwallin an' screechy bagpipin'. and drummin',,.an' god knows what all else dem druids are doin wid dem magical herbs an' very handsomely carved wands." Gladys had a sneakin suspicion "dat not all dem wands were just sticks wid fancy carvin,....she seen a few o dem usin' dem as pipes to puff on doze magical herbs, he he, afterall, she warn't born no fool!"

Just then, Carragh came sweeping elegantly over to Lady MoonChaser, nearly tripping on her beautiful long white robe, but managing to hang on to her sword and the serpent wrapped around her neck,

"What in the hell are you doing lying about, you lazy girl! You know you are a perfect example of 'taking the girl out of the country, but can't take the country out of the girl'! Oaky has finished his Pipe piece and EarthWard is ready for the peace pipe!! You need to get over there and put up the Intermission Card so everyone can get to the Pub to whet their whistles and get back to the voting!"

"Oh my! I'm so sorry! I had this awful dream and...."

but Carragh gave her a look, and seemed to start shapeshifting into a WOLF and then a LION and then a HUGE HEAD looking down onto Stonehenge, which LMC knew meant Carragh was not in the mood for excuses, for she had a very, very tiring long journey to prepare for.

"Alright alright! I'm going, let me just fix my hair and put on some lip gloss! You know Beith, Selene, Hawthorn, Loosh, and the rest of those hussy, floozies are always looking so ravishing, I have to at least try to keep up at my age!" as she was quickly tieing her hair into a long braid.

She knew she didn't have time to pick up all her fruit and get it back on her head, especially with Carragh shapeshifting all over the place, snarling and glaring at her for being so vain and stupid for getting drunk and passing out in the first place!

"Okey, dokey, smokey!" said LMC trying hard to get Carragh to *smile* or at least *grin*, but seeing that it wasn't producing a *hug*, she just shut up and headed straight for the stage to put up the Intermission Placard, which had been beautifully painted by CopperLion.

On her way there, she managed to compose herself, made a very much needed quick stop at the Port-a-Potty, and then continued on and smiled her sweetest smile at all the handsome men, fluttering her lacey handkerchief daintily at Jeb, EarthWard, Merlyn, and pretty much ANY of the men that caught her eye, while fanning herself seductively with her most favorite black lace Spanish fan, which, of course, matched her bloomers.

Jeb flashed a handsome smile at her and bowed in his handsome silk Kimono, while EarthWard and Merlyn just grimaced thinking of how she had duped them with her 'kerchief' trick, looking at each other and mumbling curses under their breath.

Ahh, but she was so very pleased to see all of her fellow Bards, Ovates and Druids, pleased that the horrible nightmare was just that, and all was peaceful and tranquil, as Susa led a 'before intermission' meditation.

She was also happy to see that the Chief Druid of OBOD, the comely, kindly Philip, was able to join them and she looked forward to chatting with him at the Port-a-Pub, already thinking of how she would use her 'kerchief' trick on anyone who tried to keep her away! .


Just thinking of all the festivities to follow the long competition gave her spirit a lift, as she seemed to float across the stage holding the 'Intermission' placard.

However, she started hearing some chuckling coming from the crowd, and then it seemed all at once the whole crowd was roaring with laughter, but she didn't have a clue as to what they were laughing at!!

She stopped and just then Crow flew down and landed gently on her shoulder, being the sweet one that not too many knew, he whispered in her ear....."You have toilet paper streaming behind you from your sandals"!
:oops: :lol:

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Postby Crow » 01 Aug 2004, 11:44

Once the crowd had stopped laughing at the toilet paper stuck to her sandal, Lady Moon Chaser hurried over to where Piper Oak, the mini-kilted master of ceremonies, was beckoning her.

Crow, watching from a bush that had escaped the flames, watched their meeting.

Now Lady Moon Chaser was hurrying toward the Port-o-lets, but with less urgency in her step than a few minutes before. With no stage left after the mysterious fire, which miraculously had caused no serious injuries, the buff bard needed a high place from which to make an announcement. Using EarthWard's shoulders, she now climbed to the top of the portable toilet, where she was greeted by wolf whistles from the crowd.

Gesturing for silence, Lady Moon Chaser waited until her voice could be heard. “Druids, Ovates and beautiful Bards,” she called. “May I have your attention, please?” The noise level dropped further, and Lady Moon Chaser continued. “Piper Oak has asked that I make this announcement because he’s lost his voice from smoke inhalation.”

More whistles and a cry of “Yeah baby!” met this announcement, but Lady Moon Chaser continued. “All the ballots were destroyed by the fire, and it has been decided that in lieu of a revote, we will decide the competition by your applause alone. At this time I’d like to ask Night Hawk to come up here and assist me.

The little bird flew excitedly to Lady Moon Chaser and landed on her head. Around her neck was a small instrument, dangling from a chord. “What I have here,” said Night Hawk to the crowd, is a decibel meter that we often use in our drum circles back in Canada. Piper Oak and some of the other officials have asked that I use it now to record your applause for our poets and other competitors. When Lady Moon Chaser calls their names, please show your appreciation with your applause, and the loudest responses will be recorded, and we’ll know the winners that way."

Crow couldn’t believe that it had all come to this, but he didn’t care. He was ready to get out of here. He knew that somewhere Mrs. Crow would be waiting with her rolling pin in hand. He knew that he’d have a lot of explaining to do.

For the next half hour, Crow listened as the noise from the crowd ebbed and flowed with cheers and applause for all the poets, artists and craftsmen who had participated in the competitions, but at last it was over, and Lady Moon Chaser was calling for silence:

“And the winners are …

“In the Crafts Category, Badger Bob!
“In the Short Poem Category, again, Badger Bob!
“In the Artwork Category, Merlyn!
“And lastly but not leastly, in the Long Poem Category, Beith!”

With the announcement of each name, the crowd cheered lustily, and Crow knew that the right choices had been made. But now Lady Moon Chaser was again calling for quiet.

“We have one more award, and although I haven’t discussed this with Piper Oak or with anyone official, I feel confident that they will approve. The final award goes to all of you who have endured these unusual proceedings and have cast your vote!”

Crow then saw that the winners were all quickly climbing the flame-seared poetry pole, where they joined Beith in a dangerous-looking cluster at the top.

Night Hawk flew up and landed on Beith’s head. She cried, “Okay everybody, let’s show our appreciation for these folks with yet another drumming circle! A-one and a-two and a three …”

THE END
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“You can't study the darkness by flooding it with light.” ~ Edward Abbey


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