Wednesday, June 21, 2017

7. The Wabbit and the Green Intruders

The tomatoes and strawberries gathered for mediation. Each put a case for a standing as fruit or vegetable, noisily laying claim to authenticity. The Alien Pilot gave them a fair hearing and at the same time the Wabbit made a careful contemporaneous note of the proceedings. His merry tippedy tapping could be heard through the entire building and added to the general clamour. Lapinette checked various facts in a large encyclopedia, flicking the pages and occasionally making clucking sounds with her tongue. There was a lot of din. But when the Alien Pilot rose to speak, the tomatoes and strawberries gradually fell silent. All had become quiet when an abrupt crash shattered the peace. Lapinette turned to look at the intruders. "The proceeding is sham!" yelled a Zucchino; "We are the Zucchini Liberation Front and we order cessation." The second Zucchino began a lecture which ran on for some time. It was the view of the Zucchini that they were fruit, and not vegetables as usually categorised. They wanted fruit recognition and a financial award for previous labelling harm. "If not recognised," they shouted; "... our vines will creepy crawl across the land." A zucchino started to rant and rave. "We will strangle all so-called fruits before germination." "Strangle," repeated his mate. His voice trailed off and then he began to sing. "Salad days are here again." He did a little tap dance. "I like them," murmured a strawberry. "Me too," nodded a tomato ...

Monday, June 19, 2017

6. The Wabbit and Hostile Mediation

The Wabbit flicked his paws. Suddenly they were on the quay - and tomatoes were going bananas. "Gimme that bag!" growled a tomato. The bag span in the air.  Spray lashed everywhere as tomatoes bumped one into each one. When they bumped, they laughed a menacing laugh and spat. "I'm here to mediate your issue," shouted the Alien Pilot. The tomatoes yelled at him and compared him with a strawberry. The Alien Pilot remained calm. He tried to explain above the din, but failed. So he cut things short. "The strawberries agree to mediation." Tomatoes hooted with mirth. "Bin the strawberries! We are the One True Fruit." The Alien Pilot stamped a foot and shouted at the top of his voice. "We will find common ground with the strawberries. We'll discuss what you both are not.  The tomatoes fell silent for some time. Suddenly there was a suggestion. "We're both not sausages." They erupted into laughter and danced round and round. "I've had enough of this," sighed the Alien Pilot. "Me too," shrugged the Wabbit. Lapinette produced an automatic and pointed it at the biggest tomato. "Cut the cackle or I'll move next business." The Alien Pilot collected his briefcase and extracted a sheet of paper. "You agree to mediation. Sign here, here and here. And down there at the bottom." "Say we don't?" smirked a tomato. "I will find in favour of the strawberries," said the Alien Pilot, "that you are vegetables..."

Friday, June 16, 2017

5. The Wabbit calls on the Mediator

The Wabbit clapped his paws and everything changed. Strawberries gasped in amazement. The Wabbit held his paws high. "These," said the Wabbit; "are my mediating paws." "And this," said Lapinette; "is your mediator." She tapped the Alien Pilot's knee. He lifted his briefcase and spoke amiably. "I have various forms to complete - depending on your attitude." The Wabbit tapped the briefcase. "The mediator's judgment is final." Lapinette smiled sweetly. "And there's no right of appeal." The strawberries fell quiet, but one was forthright and shook his leaves. "What makes you the right mediator for us?" "I am alien and hence neutral," said the Pilot; "I'm partial to neither strawberries nor tomatoes." The strawberries looked up. "Is that your planet?" "No. It's my spaceship," said the Pilot. He pointed at it and it shook violently. The strawberries seemed alarmed but Lapinette waved her paws. "Any more questions?" she asked. A strawberry slid forward. "Alien Pilot - do you have fruit or vegetables on your planet?" The Pilot shook his head. "Only plants like seaweed and algae." "How do they get along?" asked a small strawberry. "Amicably enough now," said the Pilot. He smiled wryly. "Since the kelp massacres of '72." The strawberries went into a huddle then turned. "OK. If the tomatoes agree to mediation, then so do we." "Just one more thing," grinned the Wabbit; "and that's our fee ..."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

4. The Wabbit and the Peace Process

There was only one thing to do and that was to broker a peace. The Wabbit adopted a relaxed position and moved his paws reassuringly. "OK strawberries," he said. "What's the beef with the tomatoes?" Shouting broke out. As far as the Wabbit could tell, strawberries insisted tomatoes were vegetables. Strawberries considered themselves fruits, and were hence superior. "Ah," said the Wabbit. He nodded to indicate he'd heard them but that didn't go down well with the tomatoes. They began to yell at the strawberries, denouncing them as imposters, mountebanks and fraudsters. Lapinette proffered her paws soothingly. "Tell me tomatoes. Why exactly are you angry with strawberries?" A burly tomato pushed his way to the front. "They call themselves berries - but they are not berries. Not by a long chalk." Another tomato quivered with rage. "We have proper seeds. Strawberries are mere accessory fruits." He whined 'accessory' like the spin cycle of a washing machine. "Don't you label us!" yelled a strawberry. The tomatoes and strawberries closed on each other. Bumping occurred. There were bruises and broken skin. "Let's have order," shouted the Wabbit; "and we'll get to the guts of the matter!" Lapinette waved a paw and spoke. "We suggest an independent arbiter." The tomatoes stopped, then one of them smiled slyly. "We want a botanist." The strawberries were outraged. "We insist on a culinary expert." The Wabbit and Lapinette shook their heads. "We have someone else in mind..."

Monday, June 12, 2017

3. The Wabbit and the Rotten Strawbs

The station looked like a good place to hide - and for a minute it looked like they'd seen the last of burly tomatoes. But Lapinette heard a squelch, and there they were. Three giant strawberries made a sinister sound, like pulp dropping on a runway. Lapinette turned to face them but the Wabbit grabbed her paw and tried to pull her way. "They're too big and too fruity," he yelled. Lapinette stood her ground. "I'm not being run over by fusty fruit." She rummaged in her frock and yanked out the heaviest thing in there. The Wabbit had to smile. It was a sci-fi book he'd picked up in the market and it was weighty in more ways than one. Lapinette launched the book. It scored a direct hit on the biggest strawberry and dented its skin. "I'll dice you for salad!" shouted Lapinette; "I'll make a flan with your flesh!" The strawberries quivered. Then one of them spoke. "Where are the tomatoes?" "They're not real fruit," said another. "They're imposters," said the third. Lapinette waved her paws. "Go away. I've got more books and I'm prepared to use 'em." The strawberries shrank away, but it wasn't from Lapinette. In the distance, the Wabbit could see something coming. "It's the tomatoes and we're in the middle," he yelled. Now the strawberries didn't seem so brave and they backed off. Lapinette turned to face the tomatoes. She glanced sideways at the Wabbit. "Got any hardbacks..?"

Thursday, June 08, 2017

2. The Wabbit and the Stinging Spray

The Wabbit and Lapinette headed for the tram halt on Corso Giulio Cesare and for a while it seemed the tomatoes had melted away. "Maybe it was my imagination," muttered Lapinette; "Or maybe it was a tomato promotion?" "I can still smell 'em," said the Wabbit. "Yeuch" yelled Lapinette. "Double yeuch," shouted the Wabbit. They were hit by red tomato spray that stung like a thousand bees. "Run!" shouted the Wabbit. He took off at speed, dragging Lapinette behind him. It looked like they were gaining ground, but three burly tomatoes appeared from nowhere. A torrent of juice soaked their fur and pips were everywhere - they got in their eyes and up their noses. They hopped faster but it was hard to stay upright on the sea of pulpy liquid. "What made them mad?" shouted Lapinette. She spat out several pips. The Wabbit dragged his legs through the pulp. "They're supermarket tomatoes." he yelled; "They been interfered with." "I don't suppose we could reason with them?" shouted Lapinette. "You can't reason with mad tomatoes," yelled the Wabbit. A tomato darted past the Wabbit's head and flew into the distance. They both stopped and watched it go. It was followed by the others and the spray went with them. "Maybe it's not us," said the Wabbit; "Maybe we're just in the way." "Look" yelled Lapinette. She pointed back to the supermarket. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of tomatoes and they looked mad as hell...

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

1. The Wabbit and the Burly Tomatoes

The Wabbit was prowling a remote supermarket he seldom visited, when several kisses smacked him on the cheek. "Wabbit!" shouted Lapinette. She blew more kisses, most of them accurate. The Wabbit grinned and turned. "Lapinette! What brings you to this distant outpost?" Lapinette pirouetted. "I have vouchers for free fruit." If the Wabbit knew one thing, it was that Lapinette hated fruit of any description. He rummaged in his fur for his own vouchers. "What are you going to do with your fruit?" Lapinette hopped up to the Wabbit and kissed him properly. "I'm taking it to the Arsenal of Peace in Borgo Dora to help feed less fortunate rabbits." "That's a nice thought," said the Wabbit; "I'm buying school stationery so that young rabbits get a better start." They linked paws and hopped into the store. The Wabbit sniffed. "Can you smell tomatoes?" Lapinette nodded. "We must be near the verdura section." The Wabbit disagreed. "This is all electronics and gidgety gadgets." Lapinette thought for a minute. "Tomatoes are fruit, aren't they?" The Wabbit agreed. "And they're generally a few centimetres in diameter," suggested Lapinette. The Wabbit indicated agreement. "Not two metres?" said Lapinette. The Wabbit shook his head. "And they don't move?" continued Lapinette. "They may sway gently in a breeze," said the Wabbit. Lapinette steered the Wabbit quickly through the store. "Then we have trouble..."
[1. Verdura: Italian. Fruit and vegetables. 2. The Arsenal of Peace is SERMIG, Servizio Missionario Giovani - Missionary service of young people - now housed in an old munitions factory.]

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The Wabbit at the Adventure Caffè

Skratch arrived with a flourish but the Wabbit and Lapinette were ready for him. The Wabbit produced three theatre tickets. Lapinette slid a CD onto the table and patted it. "That's exactly what I was going to say!" exclaimed Skratch. The Wabbit grinned a lop sided grin. Lapinette fluttered her eyes in expectation. Skratch waved a paw. "Your exhibits demonstrate both the isotopy of music and the temporality of audience expectation!" The Wabbit nodded. "But what kind of adventure did I just have?" Skratch leaned back. "It was a thoroughly entertaining one but it demanded a hypothetical competent listener who had expectations about your music and the musical character." Lapinette smiled knowingly. "I once met Eero Tarasti on a radio show." "The semiotic musicologist?" gasped Skratch; "I've tried to get his books but they're always sold out." The Wabbit laughed. "I tried to get tickets for the Phantom of the Opera and it's always sold out." "So what are you holding?" asked Skratch. "Old tickets I got on eBay," said the Wabbit; "They're from 1989." "Give 'em here," said Skratch. He placed them on the table, wet a paw and scrubbed them lightly. Then he traced in new dates with the edge of a nail. "What about seats?" asked Lapinette. "Middle of the front row," purred Skratch; "No one ever sits there." The Wabbit's grin was ear to ear. "You just transcended time and space!" "There's no such thing," meaowed Skratch.
[Here, Eero Tarasti describes his work on musicology and semiotics. The radio programme referred to by Lapinette broadcast on French radio in 1984. Signification musicale led to the establishment of an international community of scholars. Isotopy is a structuralist anthropological term denoting repetition of meaning.]

Friday, June 02, 2017

9. The Wabbit and the Grand Finale

The three gathered on the balcony and the Phantom was first to sing. "What joy have I found here, now we're all down here." "We three are so happy so far underground," sang Ghost Bunny. The Wabbit's ears became pointy as he burst into tune. "We grant no admission and give no permission, for those that don't like us so far underground." Ghost Bunny moaned plaintively to the Phantom. "Some people are spiteful, for your mask is delightful and they are not welcome so far underground." Then they changed places and tempo and the Phantom sang. "Oh swear you'll tell no one, I had many omens, that people would kill me if I was observed." The Wabbit hopped forward. "We'll make it a secret. By binky we'll keep it. And no one will get you if you stay down here." The Phantom suddenly stopped singing and spoke sadly. "But this has been such fun. Now there's no-one to listen to my songs." The Wabbit groped in his fur for his audio recorder. "I'll make a complete recording of everything you sing." "The Bootleg Phantom," whispered Ghost Bunny. "Secrecy," murmured the Wabbit; "That will ensure complete success. You will go spiral." "Viral," said Ghost Bunny. The Phantom laughed. "I prefer spiral." They danced and sang. But overhead in the Metro, loudspeakers somehow picked up the music - and passengers were already joining in...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

8. The Wabbit at the Phantom's Opera

The Wabbit managed to locate a piano of sorts, and he trundled it onto the stage. "Try it," he said and he played a few notes. Ghost Bunny floated her paws across the keys, producing a melodious yet ghostly sound that made the Phantom smile. The Wabbit retired to the balcony and applauded lightly. Ghost Bunny began to sing in an eerie tone that made the Wabbit's fur stand on end. "Those who have seen your face, retreat in fear," "And my mask makes matters worse, I hear." responded the Phantom. "It doesn't matter!" sang Ghost Bunny. She gently caressed the keys. Notes floated to the roof and back down to the stage where they swam like fish. The Wabbit stage-whispered from the balcony. "Beware, the Phantom of the Metro." The Phantom turned. "You have come here, because I am alone." Ghost Bunny sang sweetly. "We're not going to leave you, all on your own." "But it's all I have known!" sang the Phantom. Ghost Bunny moved two chords up, then crashed down with all the drama she could muster. Music shimmered and died. "Silence," she said quietly. "Save me from the silence," sang the Phantom. The Wabbit shouted from the balcony. "Your music is in the silence between the notes." Ghost Bunny played a piece by Debussy. "That's jazz," she breathed. "But what's that beat?" called the Wabbit. "My heart," exclaimed the Phantom.
[Ghost Bunny plays Chou Chou, a piece by Debussy written for his daughter. Derived from Cakewalk, a precursor to jazz.]

Monday, May 29, 2017

7. The Wabbit and the Ghostly Call

The Wabbit put in a call, even if he knew it might not work. The damp trickling down the walls had turned to heavy rain that lashed the stage and drenched the seats. His radio dripped with condensation and its crackle was more of a squelch. So he whacked it with his paw, then blinked as spray hit his glasses. "Woooooh," said a voice. The Wabbit struck the radio a mighty blow and shouted at it. "Is that you, Casper One?" "I'm up here," wailed the voice. The Wabbit shrugged, then tucked his radio away. "I can hear beautiful singing," moaned Ghost Bunny. She gazed down. "Oh look! He's there, the Phantom of the Metro!" The Phantom looked up and spread his cloak wide. "Play for me," he sang; "Play for me my lovely Spectre of the Night." Ghost Bunny fluttered down to the balcony and the Wabbit hissed in her ear. "Can you play? My phantom chum needs a bit of help." Ghost Bunny swooped around. "I can play just like Liberace!" "I'm sure that will do just fine," sighed the Wabbit. "Then I will need candelabra," wailed Ghost Bunny. The Wabbit rummaged in his fur. "You got here fast." Ghost Bunny clasped her chest with ghostly paws. "He came to me in a dream." The Phantom stared up and sang to Ghost Bunny. "You alone can play my song. You alone can make me strong." The Wabbit glanced around. "I'll rustle up an organ..."

Friday, May 26, 2017

6. The Wabbit and the Labyrinth Hall

"We're here," said the Phantom. "This is it?" exclaimed the Wabbit. "A small thing but mine own," replied the Phantom. "Wow," said the Wabbit. The hall was laid out for a concert but a heavy wraith of disuse hung over the stage. Water trickled down walls. Spectral pillars shimmered in the dappled light. Somewhere overhead, a train rattled past. Organ pipes trembled, giving out faint and discordant peeps. "I sense a terrible sadness," said the Wabbit. The Phantom nodded. "I was born disfigured. But I could sing. So I made this place and sang alone." The Wabbit felt sorry and touched the Phantom's cloak. "I could sing as loud as I liked," continued the Phantom; "The trains above covered every sound." The Wabbit was agog. "But what about the organ? What about accompaniment?" The Phantom suddenly smiled. "My niece, Krypticia used to play, but she is long departed." The Wabbit shook his head. "Well you can't stay down here in the dark, singing on your own." The Phantom laughed for the first time. "You're a very nice rabbit," he said; "But I may not leave. I'm afraid ... I'm afraid I'm a ghost." The Wabbit laughed too. "I'm not giving up on you." "Then what shall we do?" asked the Phantom. "I have a vague idea," said the Wabbit ...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5. The Wabbit and the Opera Portal

"This doesn't look right," said the Phantom. "Keep playing!" said the Wabbit. The Phantom picked his way along his Dobro until his cloak grew frayed. Somewhere a train slid through. Lights flickered. Opera lovers passed. And still the money kept coming in. The Wabbit started to sing. "Underneath our fur today." "We've got cash with which to pay," replied the Phantom. "But they won't let us in," shouted the Wabbit. "No! They won't let us in!" yelled the Phantom. "It's our skin," screamed the Wabbit. The Phantom threw his cloak wide as he addressed the opera goers. "My skin's seen better than this." The Wabbit leaned forward, hissed in a stage whisper and pointed to the Phantom. "His skin is better than this." Applause rang out. Coins made a clinking clanking sea on the sidewalk. "Don't stop," smiled the Wabbit. The Phantom sang like he'd never sung before. "Please don't reject me. Let the night digest me." Now there were more opera goers outside than inside - and they crowded round. "Tell me the way, to my next opera show," sang the Phantom. "In his grotto he will play. In his grotto he will play," sang the Wabbit. A gasp rose from the audience as a train passed through the front of the theatre. Everything shook. The Wabbit gripped the Phantom's cloak. Then he hung on tight as the theatre dissolved ...

Monday, May 22, 2017

4. The Wabbit and the Phantom Portal

The Wabbit and the Phantom searched the Metro high and low, without success. They scoured every platform and every doorway, but no portal appeared. "Maybe we could conjure it up?" suggested the Wabbit. He produced two guitars from his fur and offered one to the Phantom. "Give me a note," he said and he strummed a few chords. The Phantom produced a credible note and the Wabbit nodded his head. "We can't find the Phantom's labyrinth," he sang; "And we don't know what to do." The Phantom bottle-necked the strings and slid up and down the frets. "So we’re stuck here for eternity, as the trains come rumbling through." A train arrived at the platform and the doors slid back with a whoosh. The Wabbit grinned and tapped his feet. "Metro trains go up and down. And that ain't nothin' new. But the labyrinth lies so deep below. It can never be in view." "Oooh Oooh," chanted the Phantom. "Oooh oooh," sang the Wabbit. Passengers came and went - and as they passed, they threw down money. "How much have we made?" murmured the Phantom. "About 25 euro," said the Wabbit. "Let's do it again," said the Phantom. With a twang of his guitar he launched into another tune. "If I can find my labyrinth, an opera we will score." "We'll make a lot of money," yelled the Wabbit; "and we won't have to work no more." As the money piled up, the platform shimmered and passengers dissolved into shadows. The Wabbit felt a heavy pull on his fur. He leaned towards the Phantom. "I think we found your portal." That was when they vanished - and the money with them.

Friday, May 19, 2017

3. The Wabbit sings the Phantom

"Over here," said the Wabbit. The Phantom jumped. "What's up?"" asked the Wabbit. "I lost the way to my underground labyrinth," wailed the phantom. The Wabbit shrugged. "It can't be hard to find." He looked around. "Maybe we're on the wrong platform," he murmured and he touched the Phantom lightly on the cloak. "I am cruelly disfigured," moaned the Phantom. The Wabbit smiled. "Don't worry, anything goes nowadays." "No," said the Phantom; "I dare not show my face to ask the way." The Wabbit smiled. "I'll lend you a helping paw. Is there a door?" The Phantom shook his head sadly. "Well that's why you can't find it," said the Wabbit. He looked around once more and his ears swayed in search of a portal. "Are we in the right station?" "I can't remember," said the Phantom. He burst into tears. The Wabbit produced a handkerchief. The Phantom mopped his single eye. "We'll try all the stations until we find it," said the Wabbit. "You're so kind," said the Phantom; "I'll sing you a song." "Steady on," laughed the Wabbit. "I'll sing 'The Point of No Return'," insisted the Phantom; "Will you join me?" He burst into tune and so did the Wabbit. "I had no doubt," sang the Phantom, "that you'd do your best." "It's true my voice is good," sang the Wabbit. Then hand in paw they walked along the platform and onto the escalator ...