Friday, September 24, 2021

3. The Wabbit and the Old Engineer

The Wabbit found himself lifted and transported to another grave. He was deposited without ceremony beside a lifelike figure. "This looks like the person himself," said the Wabbit. The eagle spread his wings wide. "Now you can tell me what he did in life." The Wabbit screwed up his eyes. "A kind of scientist. An engineer probably." The eagle made high pitched whistling noises. "Very good Wabbit, I didn't know you were so knowledgeable." The Wabbit grinned. "I read the inscription. And he has intelligent eyes." The eagle laughed. "You make him sound like a dog." The Wabbit patted him on the shoulder. "I'm rather more than a dog, even though I'm dead," said the statue. "My name is Francesco Casabella. How are my bursaries doing?" The eagle intervened. "They go to students in reduced economic circumstances as was your wish." Francesco's statue nodded. "I never hear a thing; you know how it is." The Wabbit thought it best to change the subject. "This seems like a pleasant spot." Francesco spoke again. "Yes. My tomb was donated by the Society of Engineers. I was poor and gave night classes in Bra. Then I got my degree. I built many fine buildings and factories thereafter." The Wabbit gestured to the figures left on his tomb and gave his shoulder another pat. "You have some young admirers I see." The statue seemed to come alive. "I always liked the young people." The eagle made more whistling noises. "We'd best be going. He gets maudlin." The Wabbit smiled and backed away. Everything went back to normal. "This is quite a cemetery," said the Wabbit. "Tell me about it," said the eagle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

2. The Wabbit hears of Stefano Pittaluga

The bird transformed into a magnificent eagle and transported the Wabbit around the cemetery. Then he swooped down and deposited the Wabbit by a graveside. The Wabbit looked at the recumbent statue on the plinth. "This is the grave of Stefano Pittaluga. A cinema impresario who acquired studios in Turin." The Wabbit walked around the plinth. The eagle swooped and dropped down to sit by the statue. "You probably won't know him. He was ahead of his time in introducing sound cinemas." The Wabbit agreed. "You're absolutely right, I never heard of him." The eagle lifted off and swooped around a bit. Then returned to sit by the statue. "He moved to Rome and released foreign films. People loved it." "What happened to him?" The eagle laughed. "He died in 1931, otherwise we wouldn't be here." The Wabbit pointed. "It says there 1932." "Don't believe everything you read," said the eagle. The Wabbit knelt by the plinth. "I can see someone has been here recently." The eagle liked a joke. "Flowers. He's very popular with the old age pensioners." The Wabbit smiled. But he wanted to know who the woman statue was. "I think she was a lady friend," said the eagle. "Oh really," said the Wabbit, "that's show business I guess." The eagle became serious. "Yes, on hearing of his death she came here and prostrated herself by the grave. She wouldn't go away and died of starvation." The Wabbit looked astonished and his eyes widened. The eagle winked. "Not at all. I made that up." The eagle tried for a grin, but only managed to look sinister. The Wabbit considered everything he's heard. "I know a cat who would like to hear of this." "Is his name Felix?" asked the eagle. "No. Skratch," replied the Wabbit. "Silly name," said the eagle.

Monday, September 20, 2021

1. The Wabbit gets the Bird

The Wabbit was at a loose end, so he strolled through the Monumental Cemetery in Torino. It was always a pleasure. He recalled his primary school teacher saying to him. "Why don't you have a walk through a cemetery, Wabbit. Cheer yourself up." So he always did. He couldn't remember her name, but he remembered the advice - and then a giant grin would appear on his face. The cemetery was like a city on its own. The graves were big enough to house whole families and he fancied he saw one with a TV satellite dish. He laughed, which was entirely inappropriate for a cemetery - and he looked around to see if he'd offended anyone. That was when the bird called to him. "Caw! Wabbit!" There was a big bird on top of a mausoleum. "Impossible," he thought. He proceeded on his way, but it called again. "Yes you, Wabbit!" The Wabbit didn't look back. He'd had quite enough with things calling to him because there always seemed to be trouble. "Wanna tour, Wabbit?" The bird was insistent. "The Wabbit shrugged. "How much?" There was a fluttering of wings. "City of Torino pays. It's covered by your Museum Card." The Wabbit gave up. "I suppose so. No funny business now." The bird tried to disengage from the top of the mausoleum. Bits of brickwork fell to the ground. Finally it dragged his claws from the top of the building and swooped down in an awkward fashion. It looked around to make sure no-one had seen. "OK, what do you wanna see?" The Wabbit stuck both paws in his fur. "You're the guide. Entertain me." The bird settled on the Wabbit's shoulders and, with a sudden movement, picked him up. "My treat," it chortled - and off they flew...

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

They gathered as usual to discuss the Adventure, but Lapinette took the show by jumping on a pole. She twisted her legs around it and let out a cry. The Wabbit was nonplussed. This was unusual for Lapinette. "Did you start the drinks early?" he asked. "No," replied Lapinette, "I just felt exuberant." Skratch approached from the rear and lifted her higher up. "What was that for a sort of Adventure you just had?" he meaowed. The Wabbit decided to start. "The inanimate object drove the narrative. It was a constant moving element throughout." Skratch laughed. "That's a little tame for you, Wabbit," he purred. "I disagree," said Wabsworth. "I felt it was truly avant-garde. The lamp was tired of acting as a source of illumination for others." Lapinette chirruped from her pole. "It was a challenge to our fixed ways of looking, staring and objectification. A reverse scopophilia." She swung round and back again, narrowly avoiding the waiter. "I suppose you're right," said Skratch. Everyone looked at him. "Lights gesticulate in a shimmery sort of way. They sway and sparkle and we take little notice. Compared to many people I see, they are alive." Skratch gesticulated in a manner designed to imitate the lamp. "Dazzling," said Wabsworth. He was quite taken by this turn of conversation. "The lamp was one of your best inanimate characters, Wabbit." Lapinette went for a total swirl. "He was very sweet, and I hope to see him again." The table lit up with a single flash from the direction of the moon. "I think he just saw you," said the Wabbit.

Monday, September 13, 2021

6. The Wabbit stops off at the Moon

At the Lamp's insistence Quantum dropped him off on the moon. He said he'd been staring up at it for so long, it would be nice to stare down from it. The Wabbit and Lapinette bounced around and tried to get him the best position. "Why don't act as lookout? said the Wabbit. The Lamp beamed. "Nothing gets past me!" Lapinette made a final adjustment. "You don't need a chain to hang from up here." The Wabbit nodded his head. "Or a lamp standard." They all bounced together. "You'll be able to see Torino," said the Wabbit. "And they will see me!" replied the Lamp. His headlamps became very bright indeed and he flashed them a few times. "Well need to alert the ESA I suppose," said Lapinette. "They won't believe it," said the Wabbit. "Anyway, there's so much ... stuff flying around, I don't think they'll notice." The Lamp flounced. "I thought you were going to say space junk." The Wabbit hung his head because that's exactly what he was going to say. Lapinette had a thought. "You won't feel lonely up here, all on your own." The Lamp shook vigorously. "I have the stars for company." Lapinette thought that was very sweet. "We can have a shining competition," yelled the Lamp. "Mmm. We should get on our way," said Lapinette and she signalled to Quantum. "I'm a train not a taxi," grumbled Quantum. He circled round and came in for a landing. "Come up and see me sometime," said the Lamp. He waved goodbye as he watched Quantum start his journey to Earth with the Wabbit and Lapinette on board. "I'm never going back to that awful place," he said to himself, "No tourists up here. But I think if I look very hard I can see them." He swung his headlamps round until Torino briefly lit up. The lights on the Mole Tower winked back at him. "Missing you already!" he shouted. 

[Background: NASA, Goddard, Arizona State University]

Saturday, September 11, 2021

5. The Wabbit and the Exploding Hole

Everything was confusion. The Lamp bolted out the door and stared the green craft down. His headlamps carved their way into the bottom of the craft. The Lamp distorted and flared as the light smashed the vessel. Still it went on. Bits of the craft split and became separate entities while the original craft carried on. Quantum elongated but stayed the same size. The Black Hole filled with colour as bits of both crafts span off and circled round. Inside the craft, the Wabbit and Lapinette warped too but tried to get Lattice Drive back online. There was a clunk as Quantum engaged and he clawed his way out of the hole. "Get the Lamp back on board," yelled the Wabbit. Quantum engaged a tractor bean that pulled at the Lamp and bit by bit he was persuaded back into the cargo hold. Things stabilised inside - but outside, parts of the green craft whizzed past. Lapinette patted the Lamp. "I think you got the measure of him." The Lamp looked pleased, "Can we do it again?" The Wabbit groaned, "Let's get going while the going's good." Lapinette ensured they were free of the Black Hole, and set coordinates for Earth. They looked back. The green craft struggled to free itself of the confusion. The Wabbit stared. "Was that really the Ice Mice?" Lapinette shook her head. "A version of them? Who knows?" The Lamp was astonished, "Friends of yours?" I wouldn't say that exactly," said the Wabbit. They all laughed. Then Lapinette said, "Take us home, Quantum." "The scenic route?" asked Quantum. "We've done the scenic route," laughed the Wabbit. The Lattice Drive crackled under Quantum's wheels and the Wabbit raised his eyes, "Don't spare the horses," he quipped. 

Thursday, September 09, 2021

4. The Wabbit and the Shedding of Light

Quantum the Time Travelling Train positioned himself at the event horizon of a black hole - and waited. "Out ye go!" said the Wabbit and pushed the lamp to the door. "Light that up!"  The Lamp found himself floating in space, He could feel the tug of the singularity, but it didn't shift him much. "That's a lot of black," he murmured. His headlamps burst into life and he focussed them on the black hole. It didn't do much at first since the Black Hole absorbed the light. "I'll get you," shouted the Lamp. The Lamp drew massive energy from somewhere - and gradually the beam widened. Then the Lamp started to move it around. "Can't see much," said the Lamp. "Try the edges," said Lapinette. The beam swept back and forth. "Can't see much at all," said the Lamp. "It's a black hole," said the Wabbit, "it sucks everything in." The Lamp focussed the beam again. "I think I see something." The Wabbit winked at Lapinette. "Of course you can, Lamp." The Lamp swayed from side to side. "On the edge of my vision, something moved." The Wabbit snorted, "That'll be right. The hole destroys everything." Lapinette was more cautious. "Listen to the Lamp, Wabbit." The Lamp shook violently. "I'm coming back in, open up." Quantum obliged, then the door swished shut. "I'm picking up alien intruders, Commander." The Wabbit's fur stood on end. "What colour is their Spaceship?" Quantum made a spectral analysis. "Green, Commander." Lapinette peered into the distance. "Lattice Drive, Quantum. On the double." Quantum spoke quickly "I can't mobilise Lattice Drive, Marquesa, we're being drawn in." The Wabbit grabbed at the windscreen. "Reverse thrust, Quantum." But it was all to no avail as they plunged into the hole ...

[Background Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. Van der Marel (stsci)]

Monday, September 06, 2021

3. The Wabbit and the Saga of the Lamp

The Wabbit decided that space would be a good place to test out the Lamp's cherished ambition. After all, he said that he wanted to light the world, but he hadn't mentioned which one. Quantum's the Time Travelling Train's dining car seemed a good place to keep the Lamp in containment, and as they whistled through space, the Wabbit whistled a merry tune. "These look like competition to me," said the Lamp. "Not at all," said the Wabbit, "they're darker than they look." The Lamp switched his headlamps on. The Wabbit recoiled in the harsh glare as the beam cut across his nose. "Not now Lamp," he shouted, "we're not there yet." "Where are we, asked the Lamp. "Global Cluster NBC something," said the Wabbit. "I think," he added. "What are you planning?" asked Lapinette with a sigh, "Oh some old forgotten black hole or other." The Wabbit smirked and nodded. "Light up the Hole," he sang. "Wabbit!" yelled Lapinette. The Lamp floated up and down. He was dying to light up something and a Black Hole seemed cool. "This a long way from Turin," he said, "no flocking tourists flocking here." Lapinette scowled. "It has its moments, I can assure you." She looked out - just in case there might be aliens. The global cluster dimmed slightly. "Are we there yet?" asked the Lamp. Quantum's voice rumbled through the speakers. "Approaching the event horizon, Commander - there might be a little turbulence." The Lamp began to sway. "Like Turin on a Saturday night," he breathed. Lapinette shuddered. "Totally different," she shrugged. and she tossed her head, Quantum began to vibrate. "Coming out of Lattice Drive." They held on to their seats and waited. The Lamp went into free fall and floated wildly. "Cool," he murmured ...

Saturday, September 04, 2021

2. The Wabbit shares the Load

The Wabbit had just helped the lamp down when Lapinette appeared round a corner. "Wabbit you can't just take a lamp, it's illegal." The Wabbit was struggling with the weight. "It's his wish to go, but I'm wishing I hadn't bothered." Two lights flared from inside the lamp. They looked for all the world like headlamps. "That's better, I can see now," said the lamp. "Lapinette was astonished. "What are you up to with this lamp, Wabbit?" The headlamps burned bright and they swivelled back and forth. "I want to escape," shouted the lamp," I'm fed up hanging in that spot. Tourists here, tourists there - with their incessant prattle. Pointing and gawping." Lapinette thought for a minute and then she pointed. "OK, let's move down the road. Try not to look conspicuous." The Wabbit was panting. "Can you take some of the weight?" The heaviness vanished as the lamp started to float on his own. "That's better," it said. "I didn't like that chain at all." Having helped the lamp down, the Wabbit was unsure of what to do and he said so. "So Lamp. Do you have any plans?" asked Lapinette. "I want to see the world," said the lamp, "I want to light it up." The Wabbit snorted. "Knock yourself out why don't you?" Lapinette put her paws on her hips. "That's enough of your cynicism, Wabbit. You helped him and now I'm afraid you have to take care of him." The lamp started to sing. "Light up the globe. Light it right up. Light up the globe. I believe in myself." The Wabbit cringed but Lapinette thought it was cute. The Wabbit remined cynical but knew it was his fault. "Let's go and have a drink and think about it." The Lamp was delighted. "Like tourists!" Lapinette danced forward as only she could. "Let's light the way to a gin and tonic." "Follow that dancer," said the Wabbit. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

1. The Wabbit and the Talking Lamp

The Wabbit was hovering in the Piazza San Giovanni, where a narrow path linked the Royal Palace with the Cathedral. There was usually a small amount of casual traffic, but on this occasion, the passageway was quiet. He became aware of murmuring and looked up. The murmuring stopped. Then it started again. It appeared to be coming from the lamp and it got louder. "People take no notice of me. I'm just a common old lamp to them." The Wabbit continued to look up and his ears twitched. "You might twitch your ears," said the lamp, "you rabbity creature." The Wabbit smiled but didn't reply. He inclined his head in a therapeutic manner, just like he'd learned in Zurich. The lamp continued. "Switch on, switch off, that's all they care about. But the things I see, they wouldn't care for me to repeat." The Wabbit shrugged slightly, "How does that make you feel?" The lamp flickered even though it was bright day. "Angry, annoyed, frustrated." He paused. "Sometimes they give me an environmental retrofit. Doesn't make a whit of difference, I can tell you. Lumens this and lumens that." The Wabbit grinned and waited. "They change my bulb sometimes, but no one cleans it regularly." The lamp swayed a bit. "I'm a powerful symbol you know. Let there be a light." The Wabbit didn't correct the lamp, it seemed rude. He addressed the lamp directly. "If you could have your way, what would it be? What would you do?" The lamp flickered again. "I wouldn't hang around here for all and sundry. I'd move around guiding the way." The Wabbit thought for a second. "Where would you draw your power?" The lamp laughed a triumphal laugh. "No problem. Power is everywhere." The Wabbit allowed himself a giggle. "OK. I'll see what I can do ..."

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

The team assembled as usual, but this time Skratch had got in early - and he was sitting in the corner with his paw up. "I'm first," he said. "I'm going to congratulate you on a splendid adventure. I was in it you know!" Lapinette didn't turn. She was facing the Wabbit and it was to him she directed the question. "You were late Wabbit, and therefore you must tell us what kind of Adventure that was." The Wabbit put a paw to his lips. "It should be Wabsworth, it was all his idea," Wabsworth was more than happy. "It was a tale of the embodied effect." Now Skratch was feeling left out. It was better to arrive late, he thought. "It was good frothy fun," he said, "with an element of female rage." Lapinette turned with a look that would sour milk. Skratch meaowed furiously. "You rewired the shock machine to produce an electrically charged blast that erupted into flames." The Wabbit tried to defuse any argument. "The kinesthetic opposition grounded the semiotic square." Skratch hooted with laughter. "That's a bold hypothesis, Wabbit." Wabsworth was entertained. "Gestalt memories of kinesthesia." He chuckled to himself. Lapinette clapped her paws. "None of you know what you're on about. You're not reading our story intertextually." She flung her arms in the air. The Wabbit was delighted. "I can see we need a new theory of gestures." Lapinette was now on a high horse. "Derrida wrote of genre as a corpus of traces." Her paws went round and round. Skratch nodded. "Your part in the story provided us with enough traces to scorch paintwork." The Wabbit was getting thirsty. "Lapinette, can you gesture for a drink." Lapinette grinned and imperceptibly twitched an eyebrow. "A waiter appeared in an instant.

Friday, August 27, 2021

5. Lapinette and the Half-Decent Blast

The Wabbit and Lapinette kept a lookout and not much time elapsed before the Agent came into sight. The radio would have crackled but the Wabbit muted all that. First, Wabsworth alerted them to the general target - and then a flustered call from Skratch told him the Agent had found the fake remote control. They watched the street. An Agent looked nonchalant with his device and he was waving it around. "I think this remote will open this particular one," he muttered. He looked from left to right and then he pointed it and pressed it. There was a faint buzzing, then a crackling. Then there was a sizzling. Suddenly the whole thing burst into flames. The Agent was enveloped in fire. "Eek, aaagh!! he shouted. Lapinette's wiring had done the trick. She smiled in triumph as she watched from a doorway. The team dragged the unwitting Agent from the flames and put him out by rolling him on the hot tarmac. "That'll teach you to take things that don't belong to you," said the Wabbit. He sounded like a bit a schoolmaster he used to know. The Agent had a bad case of singed fur but was otherwise unharmed. The car was a bit scorched and the Wabbit placed a note on the windscreen. "You'll take care of that, won't you Lapinette." Lapinette looked at the Agent and shook her head. "It's his fault," she said, "Fork up." The Agent put his paw in his fur and fished out some badly burned notes. The Wabbit grabbed them and tucked them behind the wipers. "Be on your way," he said to the Agent, "and don't smoke. It's bad for you!" The Agent staggered off down the road - but turned for a parting shot. "You haven't heard the end of this!" The Wabbit looked at Lapinette. Lapinette grinned. "I know that," she said. "My sewing bee will never let me forget it."

[Blast by Open Clip-Art Vectors at Pixabay]

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

4. Skratch and the Dodgy Remote Control

Skratch the Cat was out for a bit of a prowl, and he made his way along Corso Belgio to the Sassi Point. There he'd look for passing fish. To his surprise he noticed an Agent of Rabit on his own. They were always in pairs and never on their own, so he lurked on the bridge to see what transpired. Then he saw something on the parapet that looked like Wabsworth's electric shock machine. It was disguised as a car key remote control. You couldn't miss it. The Agent looked down. His paw reached out. Skratch considered courses of action. He could launch an all-out attack but that wasn't much fun. He could come up from the river like a sea monster and menace the Agent that way. He shook his head. He knew that Wabsworth never left anything anywhere - only by design. So he waited. The Agent poked the remote control. Nothing happened. He poked it again. Nothing. He lifted it. Not a great deal happened. He looked at it again, made a decision, and then tucked it away under his fur. Skratch knew it only operated when the button was pressed, so he decided to leave the whole matter in abeyance and report back. The Agent looked all round to see if anyone was watching. Skratch ducked out of sight behind the wall. Then the Agent started a tuneless whistle and walked back the way he came, "Nothing suspicious," he muttered, "nothing at all. I'll get back and we'll try it out. Maybe it will open an interesting car." Skratch watched him go. He looked as suspicious as someone who just bought a briefcase of forged banknotes. He tracked him until he came to a lair of some kind and made a careful note. Then Skratch bounded into the distance.

Friday, August 20, 2021

3. Lapinette and Practical Electronics

The Wabbit and Wabsworth tracked Lapinette down in the centre of the city. She was choosing a magazine and seemed engrossed. With a silly smirk Wabsworth crept up and tried to give her electric shock, but she moved away. The machine sizzled. The Wabbit gasped. It did nothing but fry thin air. but it made a crackling sound. "Wabsworth, don't you dare!" Without turning round, Lapinette selected her magazine. It was Practical Electronics for The Discerning Amateur. "I didn't think they still published that," said the Wabbit. Lapinette flicked it open. "What on earth are you two up to?" she asked. Wabsworth backed away. "Actually, we wanted to ask you about the ethics of electric shocks." Lapinette whirled round. "By trying it?" She grabbed Wabsworth's machine and tucked it away under her frock. "You're not to be trusted," she said, "You could do someone a mischief." The Wabbit was relieved. "Seriously Lapinette, what about ethics?" Lapinette smiled for the first time. "Practical ethics?"  The Wabbit nodded. They'd reached common ground. "Well, I'd give one to my enemies wired badly. Then if they tried it, they'd be up to their necks in sparks." Wabsworth smiled and held out his paw. Lapinette gave the machine back and he tucked it into his fur. "Let's find an enemy." The Wabbit laughed and laughed. Wabsworth was an android and didn't quite see things in the same way as the Wabbit. "We can't just conjure one up!" Wabsworth smiled a sickly smile. "Yes we can. There's one over there!" Without moving, the Wabbit's eyes flicked up to the top of the buildings. "Oh yes, I can see him. Do you have a plan?"

Saturday, August 14, 2021

2. Wabsworth and the Ethics of Shocks

Wabsworth and the Wabbit caught up with Skratch at Porta Nuova Rail Station. With some stealth, Wabsworth crept up on Skratch, hailed him merrily and touched him. An electric shock coursed through Skratch's feline frame. The results were unexpected. Every bit of Skratch trembled and curled. He screeched loudly. "Yaaaaaaah!" The Wabbit was hiding behind a pillar and he was much amused. But when Skratch started to convulse and collapsed, he thought better of the joke. "Wabsworth are you certain about the voltage of that thing? Wabsworth looked back. "The man in the shop assured me it was safe for pranks." The Wabbit pondered as Skratch recovered. "What's the voltage and current?" Quick as a flash, Wabsworth replied, "About 9 volts and 10 milliamps." Skratch got back on his feet. "Wabsworth, did you connect that through your positronic circuitry?" Wabsworth's face fell. "I did." Skratch wasn't as angry as the Wabbit thought. "Well, they say that an electric shock once in a while is good for you. I could get to like it." Wabsworth leaned forward to give him another shock. "No!" yelled Skratch. He jumped back. "Like every fifty years," he hissed. The Wabbit was always alert to new weaponry. "Maybe we could adapt it for trapping our enemies." Skratch was appalled. "I don't think that's ethical." Wabsworth thought it was funny. "Ethics don't stop you playing with your enemies, letting them escape and trapping them again." "That's different," said Skratch, "it's ethical for cats." The Wabbit had an idea. "Let's ask Lapinette, she's well up on the ethics of enemies." They all agreed that was the best course of action. Carrying the joke electric shock machine, they set off in search of Lapinette.