Friday, May 29, 2020

5. The Wabbit and the Red Cloud Entity

The Wabbit summoned Susan the Biplane and they took off for the big cloud. But when they hit the edge the propeller laboured in its dense atmosphere and the biplane began to wallow. "Switching to Interstellar Mode, Commander," said Susan. Things settled but not for long. Lighting pierced the cloud and hit the wings. Susan shuddered and rolled. "Here it comes!" yelled Lapinette. She grabbed the struts and hung like an acrobat. The cloud entity was like a swarm of bees - yet moved as one with a single purpose. It flew right through Susan as if she didn't exist. "Try speaking with it, Wabsworth." Wabsworth's all-being translator had a continuous update, but he wasn't quite sure with the entity. He tried anyway. "What is your purpose, entity?" Wabsworth listened to a series of squeaks and burbles then translated. "It says it's not a fish."  Lapinette sighed. "We said purpose not porpoise. Give it another go." Wabsworth hit the translator with a paw and spoke again. A long series of squawks and squeaks came in reply. Wabsworth clung onto the shaking biplane and shouted, "It says stand still or we will perish." Lightning crashed on the hull. The entity swarmed around the propeller. The Wabbit yelled back. "Tell it we're not the perishing sort." Without warning, Susan's propeller stopped dead and they began to drop. City streets loomed fast. "Quantum slipstream drive!" shouted Susan. There was no time to confirm. The craft appeared to dissolve under them, then they dissolved too. But the cloud was gone and so was the entity.  "Where are we now?" asked the Wabbit. "Middle of nowhere," said Susan. "At least I know where that is," smiled the Wabbit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

4. Marshall Duetta and the Cloud Entity

Marshall Duetta Spyder took two trusted lieutenant colonels and circled the cloud several times. Lightning crackled above them, laced with an acrid electric smell. From outside there was nothing, so Duetta nodded and they moved inside the cloud. At first it was hard to see much, and a swirling mass exerted a constant pressure on their bodies, making it tough to move around. Gradually, their eyes adjusted to an inky mottled atmosphere. Just up ahead, a formation of yellow sparks blinked in a periodic sequence. They drew back a little, then Duetta called the Wabbit on a telepathic frequency that patched straight through to his receiver. "Commander, can you hear me?" Her legs rattled. "You're a bit muffled," said the Wabbit. Duetta peered around. "I'm not surprised, Commander. This is no cloud, it's an entity." There was a long silence. "Commander!" said Duetta. "Sorry," replied the Wabbit, "I was thinking." Lapinette's voice spoke across the void. "Is it hostile?" Duetta rattled her legs. "Not up to now." She nodded a lieutenant forward towards the yellow sparks but he shot backwards at speed. "It's defensive," said Duetta. The Wabbit voice crackled. "Have you tried to communicate?" Duetta and her spyders rattled her legs together. The noise was deafening. Yellow sparks threshed and blinked. Pressure increased and began to crush their abdomens. Duetta signalled and together they backed away and out of the cloud. Duetta hummed as she went. "Stormy weather..."

Monday, May 25, 2020

3. The Wabbit and the Looming Clouds

Wabsworth and the Wabbit met Lapinette on the Monte dei Cappuccini because of the gathering clouds. Clouds and lightning over Torino were far from unusual but the day was fine, and no storm was predicted. They clustered around the Big Cross - which, by special arrangement, doubled as a radio transmitter for the Department - and looked up. The cross shook with every bolt of lightning and showered sparks on their heads. The Wabbit's ears curled. "This is something to do with everyone being frozen, but I can't figure out what." Lapinette gazed at the clouds. "These look artificial. It might be the Ice Mice." Wabsworth shook his head. "It's hardly their style. They like Big Weather." The Wabbit had an idea. He fished in his fur for his walkie talkie and contacted the Department. "Patch me through to Marshall Duetta Spyder. Encrypted transmission." The radio crackled and whined. "Marshall Duetta. What can I do for you Commander?" The Wabbit smiled a wry smile. "Can you fly your spiders into that cloud formation?" The radio whined again. "With enormous pleasure Commander. Do you want anything smashed, crashed, bitten, poisoned, infected or otherwise compromised?" The Wabbit bared all of his 28 teeth. "Not yet. Just have a look." He heard the rustling of spider legs. "On our way," hissed Duetta. Wabsworth glanced sideways at Lapinette and caught her eye. She grinned and murmured, "Always with the subtle approach."

Friday, May 22, 2020

2. The Wabbit and the Stationary Bus

When they reached Piazza Carlo Felice, it was clear the whole city was affected. Everything was at a standstill. But several buses were parked near the hotels and the Wabbit thought he'd try his luck. Closely observed by Wabsworth, he jumped on the one with a driver. "Hello," he said. The driver appeared to lean towards him. "Perhaps you could tell me where this bus is headed?" There was no answer and the driver remained where he was. His papers lay strewn on the dashboard. A cup of coffee sat nearby. The Wabbit sniffed it. It was lukewarm. He looked back to where a few passengers sat motionless. Wabsworth peered in. "What's happening?" "Nothing," shrugged the Wabbit. A few people stood rigid in the street. "Uncanny," muttered the Wabbit. His radio crackled so loudly in the still air that he nearly jumped out of his fur and he snapped, "Commander Wabbit, go ahead," The voice was silky sweet. "It's Lapinette, copy." The Wabbit grinned an enormous grin. "OK Lapinette, copy all that coffee." The radio crackled again. "Have you got a situation?" Wabsworth waved to the Wabbit and the Wabbit waved back with his radio. "We do," he shrugged. "Then maybe your situation is our situation," said Lapinette. The Wabbit nodded. "Everything is at a standstill. It's locked down tighter than a potter's socket." "Wabbit, that's rude!" yelled Lapinette. "These are rude times," said the Wabbit. "I'll get the team," sighed Lapinette. The Wabbit lifted the radio again, "Why aren't we affected?" The radio whined and Lapinette spoke again, "We're a whole different species."

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Standstill Stop

The Wabbit and Wabsworth strolled all the way along Via Nizza from Lingotto and turned left to cross to Via Sacchi. They were bantering about the city and how it had changed. The Wabbit recalled when there was no metro and Tram Number One went all the way from Porta Nuova station to Lingotto. Being an android copy, Wabsworth did have a memory of that - but it belonged to the Wabbit. So he ran a small programme that brought everything from these days to life. "It smells different," he said. "The metro cut down the traffic," replied the Wabbit. Cars and buses thundered past and across the junction. "Oh really," said Wabsworth. He ran the programme again and shook his head. "Perhaps," he commented. They waited patiently to cross the road. Wabsworth knew the Wabbit liked to pause on the big bridge on Corso Germano Sommeiller and watch the trains - and he grinned because he liked that too. A gap appeared in the traffic and they stated to make their way across. But without warning all traffic screeched to a halt. The road was a sea of red stop lights. Even bikes stopped and remained strangely upright. The Wabbit and Wabsworth looked all round. Drivers sat rigid in their cars, eyes staring at the traffic signals. "What gives?" said the Wabbit. "Maybe their batteries gave out," snickered Wabsworth. The silence was like a heavy blanket. The Wabbit wanted to yell but found he couldn't. "Well something's up, all right. Let's get help," said the Wabbit. So together they set off to hop through a frozen city ...

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

For a change, the team gathered at a pleasant restaurant and waited for the menus to arrive. Skratch was last to arrive and he paused by the window. "I favour fish," he meaowed. "Something like crosta di patate." The Wabbit licked his lips and grinned. "Me too," he chirruped. Wabsworth tapped on the tale. "We're forgetting the main question. What sort of Adventure did the Wabbit and Lapinette just have?" Skratch felt entirely responsible for the answer. Yet he hesitated a little. "I couldn't help noticing the denial of narrative closure." Wabsworth pounced. "Yet the adventure did end." Skratch shook his head. "Narration and ending are two different types of signifying systems." Lapinette giggled. "Entirely correct. Our binary narrative allowed for completeness of theme and also provided a closure device." The Wabbit was getting hungry and his tummy rumbled. "It was an open discourse adventure because it suggests the story can continue even after it's complete!" Lapinette didn't agree. "It's arguable, because the adventure did have a codified closure device." "Touche," laughed Skratch. Wabsworth thought this was hilarious and rocked in his chair. "Then we may hear of this mysterious cloaked figure again," he smiled. "With a brand-new bag, perhaps?" quipped the Wabbit. They all laughed and laughed. "Here come the menus," observed Lapinette. "What about our drinks?" yelled the Wabbit.
[Thanks to: "The End: Narration and Closure in the Cinema. (1995), Richard John Neupert, Wayne State University Press]

Friday, May 15, 2020

8. The Wabbit and the Letter in the Bag

They parked the launch in a secluded canal and waded through the water. The Wabbit carefully unzipped the bag, but there were no creatures. There was hardly anything at all. "What's that?" asked Lapinette. She pointed to a sheet of paper, tucked in the lining of the bag. The Wabbit plucked it out and held it up. "It's a letter," he said. "To us." he added. A rectangular piece of cardboard detached from the letter and Lapinette grasped it. "A railway ticket to Turin." The Wabbit shrugged and scanned the handwritten letter. "Looks like it's from our cloaked figure. He says thanks for all the fun, he had a great time. He invites us to come again." Lapinette looked at the cardboard. "And this is a rail ticket to Turin." "Yes," said the Wabbit, "The rail ticket is for your return trip. He says I don't get one because I was already here." Lapinette sighed. "Our cloaked figure is a bit of a spooky joker." "And spookily mean," said the Wabbit. Lapinette laughed. "Venice is a creepy place is it not." "Jeepers, creepers," shivered the Wabbit. He upended the bag and shook it - but there was nothing more inside. He placed the letter back in the bag. Lapinette dropped the ticket in too. "I'll get my own ticket, thank you very much." "Most wise," said the Wabbit. He zipped up the bag and placed it in the water. Lapinette gave it a push with a foot, propelling it into the gloomy waterway. It swirled three times, then half-submerged it floated out of sight. "Don't look now?" grinned the Wabbit.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

7. The Wabbit and the bag in Canal Alley

Lapinette and the Wabbit chased as far as they could but the barge disappeared under a bridge and round a corner. "This way!" yelled the Wabbit. Followed closely by Lapinette he disappeared into a building and ran upstairs. But Lapinette lost sight of him and found herself in a strange, bright room. She looked out of the window. Rain and clouds were gone. Underneath lay a sunlit canal and on water of the deepest blue floated a line of tarpaulin-covered blue launches. "Wow," gasped Lapinette. Nestling half-covered on one of the launches, lay a single red bag. The Wabbit emerged from an opposite window and with the briefest of waves he jumped out and onto the launch. Lapinette swung from the window and punted from the wall with her legs. The launch rocked as she landed. "Steady there," said the Wabbit and grabbed her paws. He touched the red bag with a foot. "What do you make of this?" They looked around. There was no sign of the cloaked figure or his creatures. "Which of the bags can this be?" murmured Lapinette. "Anyone's guess," replied the Wabbit. "Until we open it, I suppose," grinned Lapinette. Water made soft plopping noises against the hull. Sun glinted from the surface. "Fancy a boat ride?" said the Wabbit. He jumped to the stern, pushed the outboard into the water and with a single tug of its cord started the motor. As the launch chugged along the alley, Lapinette sat down and stared at the bag. "Might be another bag of tricks," said the Wabbit.  "Find a safe spot," said Lapinette ...

Monday, May 11, 2020

6. The Wabbit and the Red Bag Creatures

The Wabbit and Lapinette carefully sealed the creatures in the red bag and set off in search of the figure. They boarded a number of vaporettos and scoured the canals. The rain become heavy, and they were just about to call a halt when the water foamed and a noisy craft approached. It was a dirty, oily green and sported a heavy industrial crane. Steered by a dark figure, the ghostly barge cleaved a path through the murky waters with a cargo of red bags - all identical to the one they'd taken from the cloaked figure. "Looks like our opportunity," said the Wabbit, "Let's give him back his bag." He gestured with a paw. Lapinette leaned over the side, swung the bag three times then let it go. It sailed towards the barge in a graceful arc. But just as the bag reached the apex, the creatures broke free and flew in all directions. The air was thick with them. At first sight they looked like a flock of crows but the Wabbit knew better and he yelled, "Take cover!" He ducked, but they dove straight at the Wabbit, squealing as they came. Amidst the deafening noise, Lapinette tried to drag them away - but there were many. The barge drew alongside, and the cloaked figure's voice cut through the clatter of the engine. "Satisfied now, Wabbit?" He snapped a finger. The creatures broke off their attack and soared around the figure at the helm. With a burst of speed, the barge surged past and round a corner, followed by the creatures. The Wabbit picked himself up and raced to the vaporetto's hatch to yell at the pilot, "Follow that barge!"

Friday, May 08, 2020

5. The Wabbit and the Things in the Bag

The Wabbit and Lapinette scampered off and disappeared into a back-street bar that hardly anyone knew about. The Wabbit threw the bag on a table and called for a stiff drink. "You first," said Lapinette. The bag seemed full of nothing. The Wabbit prodded it. There was a scuffling sound. Lapinette drew back. The Wabbit looked at it for a while. Then he shrugged and unzipped the top, but the bag fell open and creatures flew out. One brushed past his head like an oversized moth and another darted at Lapinette. Creatures were everywhere and the Wabbit tried to scoop them back into the bag - with some success. With the last one in, he zipped up the bag and sat staring at Lapinette. Lapinette stared back and grimaced. "Well, it was your idea." The Wabbit grimaced back. "Maybe I'll just try another pocket," he said. His paw reached out but Lapinette grabbed it. "Things are bad enough already." The Wabbit tried to grin. "I suppose the cloaked figure will be looking for the right bag." Lapinette gave the matter consideration. She lifted the bag and put it down again. It seemed heavier. "We could try to exchange the bag again," she suggested. "Or we could leave it in a left luggage locker," joked the Wabbit. "Not on my watch!" yelled Lapinette. The Wabbit looked puzzled. "What are they anyway?" Lapinette remained silent and shook her head. "Some kind of phantom delicacy?" said the Wabbit. Lapinette wrinkled her nose. "At least they're quiet." That was when the noise started, a high-pitched squealing that set their teeth on edge. "Let's find the figure," gasped the Wabbit ...

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

4. The Wabbit, Lapinette and the Big Swap

It was a rain-soaked, dismal day and people waded across Venice as best they could. The Wabbit and Lapinette hated rain since it sullied their fur, but nonetheless they cast around for an appearance of the red bag. Late in the day they spotted it, half afloat under stacked tables in Piazza San Marco. "OK, here goes," said Lapinette and she sprang onto the tables carrying the substitute bag. The Wabbit glanced around for the cloaked figure but there were so many people and so many umbrellas, that he couldn't spot him. The red bag was there so he knew he had to be around, but where? Lapinette dropped her own bag into the water and fished out the other bag. She sensed something at her back, and turned to look round. Nothing. There was no figure, only a feeling that made her fur stand on end. She shook off the feeling like a dog throws off rain and with all her strength she punted the bag towards the Wabbit. It spiralled through the air towards the Wabbit's waiting paws. People brushed all around the Wabbit in a grumpy fashion, bumping into him as they plodded along the raised platform. No-one wanted to slip off into the murky flood, so they took no notice of a rabbit waiting for a red bag, or of a spiralling bag twisting in the air. The Wabbit reached like a goalkeeper and clutched the bag to his chest. "Oomph!" he grunted. It was then that he noticed the figure rising from the water. It didn't seem to see him. It was more interested in getting the red bag. The figure raised a finger and beckoned - and the bag floated towards him. "Bingo!" muttered the Wabbit.

Monday, May 04, 2020

3. Lapinette and the Substitute Bag

The Wabbit just could not let the matter lie. It was imperative to get to the bottom of the business with the red bag and he'd had an idea. He contacted Lapinette and asked her to find a duplicate bag and bring it to Venice. Lapinette scoured all of Turin for the appropriate item - and having found something that looked like the bag described by the Wabbit, took the first train. The Wabbit said to meet at the Rialto vaporetto jetty and that was where she found him. "Psst," whispered the Wabbit, "round here." He'd tucked himself well behind a kiosk and Lapinette nodded approvingly when she couldn't see him. "I've got the bag," she said in a hushed tone. She threw it over to the Wabbit, who caught it and examined it closely. "Why all the secrecy?" she asked. The Wabbit explained about the vanishing bag and the spooky figure and added, "Next time I see the bag I'm going to try to exchange it for this one." Lapinette grinned. "Not without me, you won't." The Wabbit nodded in agreement. "Maybe you can distract the figure?" Lapinette looked excited. "What does he look like?" "Just a figure," said the Wabbit. "No face?" said Lapinette. "He has kind of a hood and cloak," said the Wabbit. "No dagger? smirked Lapinette. "Not that I know of," answered the Wabbit. Lapinette tapped her frock. "I brought mine anyway." "Just in case of trouble?" commented the Wabbit. "I bring my own trouble," smiled Lapinette ..

Friday, May 01, 2020

2. The Wabbit and the Flooded Landing

The Wabbit thought no further about the figure and the red bag. But sometime later when he hopped onto a landing in Venice, there was the bag again. Water lapped around his feet and soaked the bottom of the bag and he felt impelled to rescue it. He knew it was the same bag as he'd seen on the canal - because the Wabbit liked bags and recognised all the scuffs and tears. In the Wabbit's opinion, all bags had a different personality bestowed on it by its owner and its contents. He hopped across and prodded it gently with a single foot but that told him little. All the same, he felt reluctant to open it. He gazed at it for a while until a voice came into his head and whispered in a seductive fashion. "Open the bag, you know you want to." The Wabbit replied to himself. "It's not my bag." The voice in his head spoke again. "You might find out who owns it and then you can return it." The Wabbit nodded and examined the bag closely. It had any number of zips and any number of pockets where he might find an ID. So he picked a zip and poked out a paw to grasp the pull tab, but water lapped around the bag and moved it some distance away. He followed it. The same happened again. He stopped because he heard that voice again. This time he turned fast, just in time to catch sight of a figure that quickly vanished to nothing. He wheeled back but the bag was no longer there. Now he was completely alone with only the lapping of waves to keep him company. "My paws are wet," he grumbled ...

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Red Bag

The morning was more than brisk and the Wabbit took the opportunity for a constitutional hop. He was between adventures and that was time to relax and recharge. He took the long route around the town, where canals passed through the fields. He found the water peaceful and always stopped on the bridge to watch for a while. Usually not much happened. He would ponder geometry and imagine the network that took water across farmland towards Venice. But there was something in the water. That was unusual enough. But for the occasional passing of a heron, nothing of any excitement took place. He took a closer look. Just beneath the bridge, a bright red bag lay abandoned on the bank. It looked new. The Wabbit thought for a moment. "Where there's a bag there's usually an owner." He glanced around and became aware of a solitary figure that seemed to be standing in the water. "Hello there!" he shouted. "You've lost your bag." The figure didn't move. The Wabbit shouted louder. "Your bag's here, shall I get it for you?" He made his way along the bridge to slide down the bank, but when he got there the bag had disappeared. He looked up the canal and there was the bag lying under the water, just by the figure. The figure stood stock still, then solemnly waved. The single, slow sweep of its arm was like the seconds hand of a clock. The Wabbit waved back. The figure fished in the canal for the bag and finding it, turned and waded through the water. The Wabbit watched until he was out of sight ...

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Wabbit and his Adventure Caffè

The team gathered for their Adventure Caffè discussion. It was at Eataly in Lingotto and they were looking forward to it. Skratch slid in late as usual and raised a paw in greeting. "That was a fine adventure we just had," he purred. Lapinette stretched out both paws in welcome. "But exactly what kind of adventure was it?" Wabsworth's eyes gleamed. "It was at the very junction of the symbolic and the imaginary!" The Wabbit tapped the table lightly with a single paw. "You're talking about suture." Skratch meaowed pleasantly. "Well you're both quite right. The articulation of a signifying chain of episodes operates through the absence constituted by the subject." Lapinette's laughter was like a stream washing lightly over rocks. "That's Stephen Heath, as you well know, Skratch." Now Skratch purred with delight. "Our adventure was all jump cuts and blind spots." Wabsworth was very happy to have been in this adventure and his circuits whirred. "You know, I have a pristine copy of Wide Angle Film Quarterly." Skratch nearly fell over. "It's worth a fortune. Which one?" "Volume 10 No. 3," replied Wabsworth. "My goodness, said Skratch, "Do you keep it in a safe?" Wabsworth chortled. "I got it in a market for one euro, fifty. No-one knew what it was." "Or meant," laughed Lapinette. The Wabbit poked Skratch. "And who is this absent one of whom you speak." "The reader of course," stated Skratch. "Oh him," shrugged the Wabbit. "Her," corrected Lapinette.
[Skratch is talking about Stephen Heath. (1981) Questions of Cinema, The Macmillan Press, London.]