2016 Flubug: The Year in Review

roller-coaster2016 was a roller coaster for Flubug.

It began with a fracas in Bradshaw’s Tavern parking lot, a fire in Founder’s Park and a fruitless hunt for Hellion’s lead singer, Firebug.

knave-small-adThen we lost The Ditch after decades of unrestrained music, behavior and drug use (CD available here).

The New Uzbek Minstrels played Carpenters covers at the Uzbek Social Club.

Roman Candy relocated to The Knave.

And, in a nod to the increasing influence of Uzbeks, The Sound of Uzbek opened at the Overmeyer Cultural Center.

Collectors were ecstatic as rare stamps, coins, and notes went on sale – like the error-free $100 Flubux note put out by optimistic merchants – and bygone stamps were re-issued by Postal Inspector, Jerry Zambiski.

Crowds packed Eunice’s Civil War Museum to marvel at wax reenactments like The Incident at Eunice Creek, Grant’s Fume, Buford’s Reproach and Stonewall Jackson’s momentary possession by Rasputin (before demanding refunds).

Rilesvillians revealed themselves to be the hate-mongering, sub-human ghouls we always knew them to be, with a failed train bombing and films that elevated hate to an art form.

dinosaurA completely new new dinosaur species was discovered by archeologists with the Shilltown Museum of Natural Oddities. The Shillasaurus is now on permanent display at the museum with the world’s only known miniature tusk-free mammoth (which looks curiously like an elephant).

We elected a new emperor in 2016 who, by all accounts, is committed to turning Flubug into an independent nation through a FluExit referendum to be held next year by his children (who are scheduled to be on safari through March).

Whole Hog

Yet more than anything else, 2016 was The Year of West of Pencil Place (WOPP). A flurry of store openings including Vapid, Whole Hog, The Smelt, Paddy Water, Ponzi Hut, and a failed attempt by Hope Faydz to revive Pencil Place, sent a green light to hungry developers and a Severe Tire Damage sign to affordable housing buffs hoping to reverse escalating rents.

So, what’s in store for 2017?

No one can know. But whatever it is, you can bet your last Barking Nickel you’ll read about it in The Bugle.

The only independent newspaper left in Flubug!

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TFC Kicks Off Fund Drive

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Tire Fire City kicks off its second annual Christmas fund drive this Thursday which officially brings to an end last year’s fund drive (which netted seven dollars). Speaking on condition of anonymity, Clarence Buboe, who replaced outgoing fund drive manager Ricki Buboe, made no excuses for the fund’s performance other than to say that his brother is “an idiot” and never should have been left in charge of such an important task.  Louis Rogue Club ad

The fund hopes to raise over $100 this season to fray the cost of two new exits and a bus to replace the one lost when the east fire crossed into Bixby’s Bus Service last May. Matching funds are also available. In fact, several businesses have increased their matching funds – KRAK and Yee’s Appliance Garden among them – on the bet that they’re probably never have to pay out.

“Up until now it’s been a pretty safe bet,” says Buboe. “Businesses got great PR without ever dishing out a penny. But this year’ll be different. You’ll see.”

Ricki Buboe did not return our phone calls and we have every reason to believe he’s still drinking with Nick Carz at Louie’s Rouge Club. Bottoms up, Ricki!

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Xmas Decorating Contest Begins

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Sunday kicks off the Annual Used Car and Christmas Decor contest in Flubug and folks are lining up around the block to win the crown and grand prize of six Fausts plus a free trip to Gramps McCauley’s House of Wax in downtown Barking.

But it won’t be easy.

Last year’s prize went to Bob Scrotalwick for his original piece, “Reindeer No. 2 for Strings and Volks” (above). He’s rumored to be working on another piece this year and though regulations have tightened (tires must now be inflated), he’s still favored by odds-maker, Nick Carz, to retain the title.

Cal Peatty's assemblage

Cal Peatty’s assemblage

But that doesn’t sway Cal Peatty who’s also entering again with his “Flamingo Bay” assemblage, rejected as “ludicrous” by last year’s judges.

Says Peatty: “I really wasn’t ready last year. I didn’t put in the time and I didn’t do the prep work. With a high stakes contest like the UCCD, you really have to have your act together.” 

As always, contestants will be judged on originality, special effects, adhesives, safety and the likelihood that anyone outside their immediate family would know what the decor is about.

house-wax-adEntries must be postmarked no later than Nov. 14th and have the correct postage. Not responsible for lost, stolen, undelivered, undeliverable, gnawed or partially opened mail.

Contest ends Sunday, Dec. 14th. Judges decisions are final.

* * * * *

House of Wax tickets are good thru January unless specifically marked. In case of tie, prize will be awarded to the first recipient to arrive at the door. In case both recipients arrive at the door, neither will be allowed in and two prizes will be awarded in next year’s contest.

Ramsey Declares Mandate

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Coming on the heels of his landslide win, Mayor Bobby Ornery, unopposed in the general election, declared a “mandate” this week and vowed to push through legislation that’s been mired in gridlock since he left for vacation in March.

Speaking with reporters on the steps of City Hall, hizzoner outlined his administration’s top ten priorities for the next four years:

1) “We need to get rid of health care. It’s too expensive, the city’s broke, and FluCross paid for my re-election campaign. So we damn sure can’t ask them for money.”

2) “We need to work together. That means I don’t want any discussion when I say how it’s gonna be. If you don’t like my ideas, put up your own signs and run for mayor.”

3) “We need a balanced budget. That means getting rid of earmark programs like the blood bank and the junior year at Flubug High. It also means selling the five acres we bought for Pencil Place.”

pencil-place4) “And speaking of Pencil Place, we need to find the sonofabitch who sold us that idea and throw him in jail!”

5) “We need comprehensive immigration deportation. If you want to stay in Flubug you can work for free through our ‘path to internship’ program. Otherwise, you can pack your bags.”

 

6) “We need to end our dependence on Stateline Faust. That means getting that Faust pipeline started from Lusher to Vermouth. $10 a six-pack is too much for people to pay. Flubug will not be intimidated by the Faust cartel.”faust-ad

7) “We need to pass the Yee Trade Agreement (YTA) to keep appliances, fireworks and electrical wiring cheap and reliable long into the next century (or at least next week).”

8) “We need a resolution to the Jenny Overmeyer case. I know it’s been more than fifty years since she disappeared. But we need to know what happened to that poor girl. And besdies, I need a juicy issue to raise money with my next direct mail campaign.”

9) “We need an end to the practice of protesting whenever folks feel like it. We tolerated that during the Psychedelic Flubug days and we ain’t about to go back. It’s 2014. If something’s that important, it better be important enough to do 5-10 without parole.”

10) “We need government that’s accountable to the people. That’s why I’m putting in a new voter hotline for the ten months I’m gone out of the year.”

Hizzoner declined to comment on the record low turnout which saw only three of Flubug’s twenty registered voters row out to the middle of Tanwater Lake to cast their vote at the county’s new polling station.

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Sinkhole Claims 2nd QB

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Falcon Stadium – Tragedy struck the Falcons-Badgers game on Sunday when an unrepaired sinkhole at the 45-yard line claimed the lives of Falcon receiver Jamal Kendrick and Badger right tackle, Brahawn Perriwinkle who disappeared into the chasm during a dramatic play that capped an otherwise boring game.

The sinkhole, which first opened during the Possum Bowl in 2011, was supposed to be plugged by the start of the 2012 season, says Cal Winston, Deputy Chair of the Down County Athletic Association. But the DCAA rethought their position when ticket sales soared.

“The fans loved it,” said Winston. “It brought a new level of excitement to the game. We wanted to see if it could be introduced to other venues.”

But that doesn’t seem likely.

Falcons Quarterback, Jowan Trubshaw

Falcons Quarterback, Jowan Trubshaw

Players from both teams were visibly shaken when the game ended ten minutes later. “I think it really had an impact on the game,” said quarterback, Jowan Trubshaw, who narrowly missed the crevasse the few times he made it past the 20 yard line. “When you’ve got a big hole on the field you tend to, ya know ..favor the other side.”

Brindle Lazzarra, Balto Badgers’ tight end, was also upset. “It’s always hard to lose a good player, especially in a sinkhole situation, but I think we made the adjustments we needed to make and I think we’ll come back stronger in the second half of the season.”

Badger’s coach Vince Baggetti was livid.

“I’ll be damned if we’re gonna play here again,” he vowed. “The last time we played here they threw a tarp over the hole. This time it was a caution sign. I won’t lose players because the Falcons can’t sell tickets without a gimmick!”

Flubug Corps of Engineers

Flubug Corps of Engineers

Mayor Bobby Ornery (who was drinking in the parking lot when the tragedy occurred), urged calm and vowed to bring in the Flubug Corps of Engineers if necessary to recover the bodies (though he stopped short of calling for the closure of Flubug Stadium).

“This is-s a dark day for Flubug,” he slurred in a pre-recorded announcement. “Our hearts go out to the families-s of the brave players who gave their lives for our county [hic]. And I stand ready to do whatever it takes to recover their bodies – though I’d caution against any knee jerk reactions that might affect local sports books.”

The families of Jamal and Brahawn declined to comment on the tragedy and have asked the public (and The Bugle) to respect their privacy during this difficult time.

Well wishers can leave cards and flowers at Jamal’s house at 1875 Bradshaw’s Pike (331-909-8877) or Brahawn’s stepmom’s house at 817 Pencil Place (331-862-3011).

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Appliances II Opens Weds

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Fitz Calloway, Bugle Movie Critic – Amid cries of commercialism, shameless product promotion and and plaguerism, Tran Minh Yee’s Appliances II opens in theaters throughout Flubug next week (or at least the Illiad Theater) and by all accounts it’s on track to be a box office smash. Not since the last movie in Flubug (“Beach Ball Fiasco”) has so much hype been generated for such a low budget film. And this will be Yee’s first animated production.

“Animation newest thing,” said Yee, who produced, directed and performed all the voices in the film. “I do myself. Save money on staff. Save money on advertising, too.”

But “saving money on advertising” is precisely what has some critics seeing red.

yee-adThe film opens at Yee’s Appliance Garden in Flubug. When Yee closes the shop one night the appliances spring to life, singing and dancing, each prouder than the last of their incredibly low prices. The protagonist, “Spin Dry,” insists he can last longer than the others which sparks a new round of competition. “Toasty” maintains he’s the best buy for the money. “Monty” (the monitor) boasts he’s the highest quality product on the shelf. “Cammy” claims he can take better pictures than them all. In the end, Yee returns in the morning to find them all back where he left them and the movie ends.

To say this is a shameless production would be putting it mildly. The entire film is little more than a commercial for Yee’s Appliance Garden. The animation is terrible. Yee’s hand can be seen moving the characters. The voices are all the same. The soundtrack was lifted from Disney’s 1938 production of Snow White with songs like “Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! My prices are so low!” and “No Way My Price Will Drop.” The credits were fudged to create the illustion of a production company rather than Yee doing everything by himself. Even the sequel is misleading.

There never was an Appliances I.

Not many films come to Flubug, which pretty much guarantees this’ll be a hit. But in this critic’s opinion, you’d be better off watching hand puppets at the HAAC’s Silhouette Puppetry Show in November. At least the HAAC only charges $5.00 to get in.

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Quack at the HAAC

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Itt doesn’t get any better for Flubug tradition than Quack at the HAAC, the weekend-long drunken duck marathon at The Hormel Horse & Assembly Center.

And at only five bucks, you can’t afford to stay home.

This year’s entrants hail from every corner of Down County (except Quagmire) and include many winner’s from past marathons: Captain Morgan (Flubug), Slumber Sue (Vermouth), L’Orange (Balto), Whistlin’ Pete (Eunice), Mr. McPintail (Watersbad Canyon) and Black Duck Down (Shilltown).

QuadracostalAlso entered this year are Pappy’s Pride (Poison Wells), Cannonball Comin’  (Stateline), Professor Who (Beseech Academy), Fowl Play (Nailyard), Dagger Lee (Rilesville) and Bowers the Wonder Duck (Barking).

The fun starts at 8pm when entrants line their ducks along the adult beverage trough and wait for the gun to go off. With that, each duck will have twenty minutes to gulp his or her liquor and head to the raceway. Any duck still drinking at the end of twenty minutes will be disqualified (as happened to Methyl Merman last year, infuriating Graphite Cornerz).

Organizers have added a few new twists and turns this year, too. Instead of the standard laps we’re used to, ducks will have to negotiate hurdles as high as eight feet and squeeze beneath razor wire to win the race. There’s also a house of mirrors before the finish line that’s sure to confound our rye-soaked friends.

But when that flag goes down it’s all worth it. The winner will ride in the mayor’s sedan, holding his duck and the coveted Quack Cup award …and try to defend it next year.

It’s a race any duck can win! Get there early.

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Flubug Fall Festival: Goat Horns N Gravy

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Grab your hat, pull on your mittens and get ready for the biggest event of the season: Flubug’s Fall Festival …and this year’s event is going to be a whopper!

The festival kicks off at 8pm at the south (safe) entrance to Founder’s Park with your Mistress of Ceremonies, this year’s Bonfire Queen, Amber da Bammer Carz, who’ll preside over the performances and a dizzying array of talent.

goat-horn-by-starlightFirst up is Gramps McCauley, back on his goat horn for an encore performance of The Tanwater Canticles, a series of musical interludes channeled by the Flubug Shaman from the Book of Jack.

Next is Wren, winner of last year’s Sad Folk Festival and swim team finalist at the Quagmire Special Olympics. Wren will perform some of her most poignant songs including “Morning After Waffle,” “Leaky Dingy,” about her wretched life in Miasma, “Cryin’ to Meet You,” which won Flublue’s Best Last Song to Play When Committing Suicide award, and “Tweet Me Sometime,” featuring Wren on percussive toe cymbal.

Sonata will be there, too, singing hit songs from her role as Ditzy in the runaway stage performance of “Possum.” Strung from wires, as she is in the show, Sonata’s song list will include “Whoop ‘im on Down,” “Don’t Drink From My Jug” and “Ya Better Warsh If Ya Want’s to Et.” Sure to find the crowd singing along.

fall-festival-cider-tossThis year’s festival will also include fun and games, like Plague Apple Bob where participants bob for infected Hormel apples while wearing protective masks. The Cider Toss which tests contestants’ skill at tossing empty cider jugs at photos of Yee. And the ever-popular Recluse Catch.

As always, there’s always snacks, refreshments, Possum Gulp, Fausts and plenty of free gravy at the concession stands. And paramedics are never more than a phone call away. See you there!

Visitors are encouraged to place hefty bags over their car windows and park in assigned areas. Those hoping to have their cars stolen for the insurance are encouraged to park by the north entrance.

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Town Declared Amusement Park

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Shilltown, Down County – In a dramatic move, coming in the wake of the worst economic recovery in anyone’s memory, Shilltown declared itself an amusement park today and announced it would start “charging admission” as early as Oct. 31st. The decision comes on the heels of last month’s attempt by Assemblyman “Little Putsch” Flanders to sell the town’s acquifer to a cartel of overseas water speculators.

shilltown-magic-showTicket booths have already been set up on the Miasma Highway, which follows the rapids from Tanwater Park, the Rilesville “Snake” (Route 01), which winds through the forests of Rilesville to the south, and the Watersbad Canyon Service Road which replaced the orange cones that sat along Watersbad Ridge for a decade (see map).

Entrance fees will be good for one trip to 1) Government Land – City Hall, Municipal Court and City Detention Center – 2) The Wonderful World of Health – Office of Communicable Diseases, Coroner’s Office and Pharmaceutical Swap Meet 3) Tomorrowland – City Dump, Waste Management, Suicide Prevention Center – and 4) “The Haunted Village” – Shilltown Nursing Home, O’Bally’s Psychiatric Tent for the Criminally Insane and the North Down County Drug and Alcohol Spin Dry.

One day passes may be purchased for $6.00 and are good until prices increase next week.

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Eight New Cases of Plague

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Eight new cases of plague have been diagnosed since Sunday when a Dem Bones employee suspected of spreading the deadly disease was removed to Flubug Memorial Hospital from his post at the fry cooker. The unidentified man was discharged today when his insurance ran out, but officials insist “he poses no health risk” to the community “except those in the immediate vicinity when he coughs.”

The same can’t be said of the other eight cases.

All eight have been moved to a makeshift morgue at an undisclosed location pending review of their insurance coverage. All are considered highly contagious.Oswalds Buffet - eat till your tummy hurts!

Nikki Bartlett, Director of Cotton Swab Replacement at the CDC in Stateline, says she think she’s discovered a pattern. “They all bought food at the same restaurant. They all had fries. They all used the drive thru window. I’m no detective, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a connection.”

Officer Roy, recently promoted when he gave up his job at The Bugle, is a detective. And he agrees with Bartlett: “The Dem Bones restaurant on Old Road is definitly the culprit. And if it were up to me, I’d shut the place down.”

But it isn’t up to Detective Roy. It’s up to the Down County Health Department. And that agency is headed by Walton Dickwadd, Sr., patriarch of the Dickwadd clan and CEO of Dickwadd International which owns the Dem Bones Family Restaurant chain and most, if not all, of Down County (including an ever so tiny piece of this newspaper). We caught up with “Wally” outside the mayor’s office where he had just endorsed Mayor Ornery for a ninth term in office.

walton-dickwadd-sr“Look,” he said bruquely. “If there’s any chance our restaurants are placing Flubuggers at risk I’ll shut ’em down. But everything we know suggests this employee was a lone nut. Plague literature was found in his apartment. Caged rats. A Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. He was obviously planning this thing for a long time. The police should’ve never let him go.”

But it wasn’t the police. And Sherrif “Big Dog” Ramsey takes issue with Dickwadd’s comments. “How the hell are we supposed to know what they’re up to at Flubug Hospital? I don’t even know where the damn place is! By the time we figured out this guy was wack job, he was gone. For all I know he’s back in Quagmire, infecting rats or whatever they do out there.”

This is a developing story. For information, contact Jips Driscoll at The Bugle news desk.

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Poison Wells Ups Same-Sex Marriage Penalty

Billboard on the road to Poison Wells

Billboard on the road to Poison Wells

Political headwinds be damned, Poison Wells not only voted to disregard Down County Appeals Court’s recent decision to legalize same-sex marriage, the city voted to increase the penalty for anyone caught with a same sex marriage license.

Starting Tuesday, anyone caught with the paperwork from a same sex marriage could face 90 days in jail, a $5,000 fine or both if found guilty of “subborning the institution of marriage.” That, according to Trini “Trihorn” Kessler, head of the Local Poison Wells Chamber of Commerce and president of PoisonWellsWeddings.com, a one stop shop that matches bride and groom with wedding packages at his Poison Wells properties.

“It’s all inclusive,” he smiled as he offered a tour of The Grubby Horseshoe, his premier hotel. “You get the full honeymoon experience – bottle of Mateus, roman candle, chicklets and day-glo stars on the ceiling – all for half the price you’d pay at a Stateline resort. And you don’t have to deal with Adam and Steve kissing each other in the Homosexual Lobby!”

shilltown-magic-showAsked about his opposition to the Appeals Court ruling on Monday he said flatly, “Folks ’round here ain’t got much use for big city folks who push things like men marrying men. It ain’t right. The Book of Jack says ‘verily the Lord said unto Jack that the bonds between Kennelites shall be forever pure and the bonds between Mandorines, forged between men, shall be punishable by fines, imprisonment or both.’ We’re just followin’ the good book here.”

But some “big city folk” aren’t amused.

“If Poison Wells wants to see what an injunction looks like they can enforce their new law,” warned Down County District Court Judge, Kitterly Kaysums, known lesbian and part owner of The King’s humidor in Vermouth. “But I think they’d do well to distance themselves from this clown. And who the hell drinks Mateus?”

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Plague Confirmed at Dem Bones

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Nafta Superhighway – Officials at Flubug Memorial Hospital have confirmed that a Dem Bones employee who recently returned from Quagmire is infected with bubonic plague. The employee, who “showed no sign of illness before he collapsed,” was rushed to a vacant lot near Flubug Memorial Hospital where he will be kept under observation until his ability to pay can be ascertained.

At a press conference held in a parking lot in Graphite Cornerz, to prevent anyone from discerning the hospital’s location, officials in plague masks played down the risks of deadly airborne viruses and urged the community to “remain calm.”

plague-press-conference“Let me assure you,” a muffled voice spoke through an odd-looking mask. “We no longer live in the Middle Ages. We can treat the Black Death.” A coworker nudged his ribs. “I mean, plague. There’s absolutely no cause for alarm.”

He pulled a cat from behind the lecturn. “And I think you’re gonna find these little guys indispensible.” He held the dazed feline by the scruff of its neck. “Cats are an important first line of defense for your family and friends, and if you haven’t already, you might head down to VetsMart today and pick up a dozen or so.”

The cat leapt from the stage.possum-ad

Fletch Kettlefish, back at his desk at The Bugle after starring in the 118th season of Possum, asked the question on everyone’s mind: “You mean cats are your only recommendation for addressing this major health disaster?”

Potential disaster,” added another official, stepping to the mike quickly. “And they’re actually not our only recommendation. Bloodletting, flagellation and Jew-bashing have come a long way in the last six centuries.” Continue reading

Court Approves Limited Crucifictions

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In a stunning move, seemingly timed to contrast with the ongoing hesitancy of Down County Supreme Court to take up the death penalty, Nailyard’s Court of No Appeals – an extralegal tribunal with no recognized authority – declared that crucifictions would resume on a limited basis starting on Friday (which ends a 700 year hiatus that many thought would last forever).

exalted-magistrate-luke-billy-boy-willadeanThe ruling, made by Exalted Magistrate Luke “Billy Boy” Willadean, seems to have been made in the heat of passion as he passed sentence on Paulsy McGruder, a self-styled grifter found guilty of 84 counts of homicide in the torching of a nursing home for the blind. Leaning across the bench, clearly shaken (or high), “Billy Boy” – whose great aunt was burnt in the fire and had to move to Disfigure – shook his gavel at the defendent and said: “Hangin’s too good fer ya. And we ain’t about to go wrackin’ our brains for some ‘hu-mane’ way to off yer ass. So, I’m thinkin’ crucifiction.”

“Crucify him!” yelled the crowd, most of whom paid $6.00 in silver to watch the show. “Screw Down County!” – a reference to the Supreme Court’s de facto approval of A-1 Execution’s hanging demonstration. “We don’t need no bureaucrats tellin’ us how to kill scum like McGruder!”

“Get out the nails!”

McGruder’s attorney tried repeatedly to interject, citing case law after case law, and demanding a mistrial, but his pleadings were overpowered by the crowd. When the gavel went down, McGruder yelled into the mike, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do!” which only made the crowd angrier.

The Book of Jack“Blasphemer!” “Jack Rabbit!” they cried, in reference to a passage in the Gospel of St. Harold which describes Jack’s temptation by The Dark One disguised as a one-eyed jack rabbit with the keys to a brothel (pg. 112, Book of Jack, sacred text of the Jahweh’s Church of Modern Day Interstellar Disciples).

 

With that, McGruder was dragged from the courtroom to a cell where he’ll await crucifiction next week in “Billy Boy’s” backyard during his annual fish fry. Entry to the fish fry/crucifiction is $10 in advance, $15 the day of the crucifiction. Parking is available on McGruder’s old lawn (next door). Hurry! Tickets limited.

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Charlatan Buffs Prep for Car Show

1974 FMC Charlatan adThose who remember the ’70’s remember a time when manufacturing jobs were everywhere, gas prices were .45 cents a gallon and minors still needed phony ID to buy beer at the Check N Pay. They might also remember an auto manufacturing firm called the Flubug Motor Company (FMC), headed by Sheriff “Big Dog” Ramsey’s dad, George Ramsey.

But they might not remember The Charlatan.

Charlatan Podcast

In the days of a diversified economy, FMC loomed like a giant over industrial Flubug. And George Ramsey’s mission was simple: produce a line of cars that offered the Average Joe pride of ownership without elevating his perceived station in life.

And the Charlatan did just that.

Priced at just $3,217 without options (like tires), Ramsey was sure he had a hit on his hands. And he did. So much so that Charlatans vanished as fast as they could be produced. But far from being an economic success, The Charlatan turned out to be one of Ramsey’s most pronounced failures. Theft was a constant problem. Many vehicles disappeared right off the assembly line, driven to nearby chop shops in Nailyard or Calhoun. Others were stolen from dealer lots. Those that were sold often ended in lakes or streams as owners tested the company claims that their cars would float.

Only two Charlatans are known to exist to this day. And those will be on display this weekend with other vehicular oddities at the Eunice Car Club in downtown Eunice.

But first some background on The Charlatan.

The Charlatan was introduced in 1974 as a hybrid between a bloated compact and mid-sized sedan. It was the first (and only) car to offer D.A.N. (Dolphin-Assisted Navigation). D.A.N. purported to summon dolphins in the event vehicles became submerged (which was highly likely given the fact that the cars were marketed as aquamarine vehicles). In theory, the navigation system would send “sonar pulses” to “nearby” dolphin pods who would then pilot drivers (and their sunken vehicles) to safety.

But the cars never lived up to the hype.

Charlatans were cited in at least a dozen drownings when cocky owners, smug in the belief that dolphins would come to their rescue, drove their vehicles into rivers, ponds, lakes and even the Miasma Rapids. Many did so purposely just to meet the adorable creatures. But as one survivor wryly noted: “There weren’t no dolphins for thousands of miles. I can’t believe I fell for it.”

Yet many did.

Among other problems that plagued The Charlatan was the fuel tank, which was placed under the pull-down child seat in back. A litany of explosions were attributed to the design, the most noteworthy of which took place outside the Pig In A Poke when a four-year old child was blown through the roof while clutching a doll. Yet despite public outrage (and calls for Ramsey’s resignation) none of the accidents resulted in legal proceedings, much less payouts. Ramsey maintained throughout that underage smoking, not design flaws, were to blame. But the accidents took their toll on the company’s image. They eventually shipped their operation to the Cayman Islands.

The spare tire was another bone of contention with Charlatan owners. The tire, which was mounted on the ceiling inside the vehicle, was held in place by four cotter pins. The pins, touted as “EZ-Mount” fixtures, were in fact impossible to remove without an expensive, understocked, wrench which was made in Somalia. Many owners simply pried the pins from their housing and threw the bicycle tire (or spare) in the back. The fact that the tire was only guaranteed to last 60 feet also caused friction between owners and FMC.

But there were features embraced by Charlatan owners. Among them was the Top-Mounted Pet Bin which could be used, not only for pets, but also for transporting hens, dung, hay and old copies of The Bugle earmarked for archival storage at The Dump. And the kudos weren’t confined to owners. Road & Flare magazine gave The Charlatan a grudging thumbs-up on its Oct. 1974 cover, only mentioning (twice) that the flares which came mounted beneath the driver’s seat had a tendency to explode on warm days.

But it was the options that really set Charlatan apart. Many have long since disappeared and would command hefty prices these days if they could be found. The lifesaver which hung from the driver’s side mirror was perhaps the most coveted. Curiously, it had the least orders of any option at the time. But it quickly became a prized backorder as owners became familiar with the vehicle’s deficiencies. The dolphin decal, which peeled readily from the right front end, is also in high demand these days as are the veneer oars. Only one pair of oars have survived to this day and none of the chrome-plated dolphin hitches which snapped like twigs when used to tow anything.

All in all The Charlatan is viewed as an historic disaster for FMC, though it was followed by several notorious copycats. It may also have led to Ramsey’s embarrassing political losses and his eventual relocation to a nudist colony in Brazil.

But none of that will sway the estimated 100 visitors who will flock to Eunice this weekend to steal a vicarious peek at Flubug’s past. And it probably won’t dissuade Ramsey’s son from attending either. As the Sheriff so succinctly put it this weekend while campaigning in Quagmire: “I love the cars here in Eunice. They just seem so right.”

Tickets can be purchased for the event throughout the week for $5.00 at the Civil War Theater in downtown Eunice or $10 on the day of the event.

Tire Fire City Kicks Off New Marketing Campaign

tire fire city

Tire Fire City, which currently engulfs 114 (make that 115) acres along the Nafta Superhighway, has dazzled tourists since the 1930’s with breath-taking plumes and spectacular flames. Flare-ups can be seen from as far off as the planet Europa and the conflagration has fueled a tourist trade that’s long obviated the need for agriculture.

But tourism has flagged in recent years, owing perhaps to the 82% unemployment rate or the noticable spike in gang activity which recently saw a special ed bus hijacked for the kid’s lunch money.

Yet Fawn Doobie isn’t put off. As chairwoman of the Tire Fire City Preservation Society, thinks she understands why tourism has declined.

“It’s our marketing strategy,” she says. “Casting ourselves as the Eighth Unnatural Wonder of the World was okay with baby boomers raised on Jason and the Argonauts. But young people today think ancient history means last Tuesday. Our new slogan, “Feel the Burn!” captures the thrill of Tire Fire City in three, easy-to-text words. Like the fire, we think it’ll go viral!”

Fawn may have a point.

Flubug residents, once comfortable that the fire was contained at a safe distance, are beginning to question the billowing smoke that now crosses the highway non-stop. Two new two exits, a third planned next year, have also increased local anxiety.

Tire Fire City as seen from Europa

“At some point,” says Vejay Batyramyra, Professor Emeritus at Beseech Academy for Incendiary Studies. “We may have to entertain the possibility that the fire is out of control.”

But Fawn says that’s all to the good. “The fire was out of control a hundred years ago when Flubug’s Founder, Scotch Johnson, ran out of gas near Molten Lake and tossed his threadbare tires into Goodyear Gulch. All this means is that visitors can expect a truly realistic experience.”

The campaign kicks off this week at the Tire Fire City Interpretive Center, just east of the latest flare-up. Coupons for Dem Bones “Special Seasonings” will be given to the first (20) people who “Like” Tire Fire City on Facebook.

Possum Starts 118th Season

Possum N Taters poster

Possum N Taters, the longest running musical/mystery dinner theater in Down County (perhaps the galaxy) begins their 118th season at 8pm this Friday at the Flubug Playhouse in the old Illiad Theater. And tickets are (surprisingly) still available.

This year’s cast includes The Bugle’s own Fletch Kettlefish who plays “Glitch” and Horst Mulebratten who plays the irascible Possum.

“Possum” has long been a cult classic in Flubug. Many sing along with the players on stage. Lyrics from the play’s most memorable songs have made their way into the local lexicon like “Whoop Him On Down,” “Won’t Drink From My Jug” and “Why’s There Them Possums On My Wall?” That’s probably why this year’s backers have no intention of making changes.

“We wouldn’t touch it with a stick,” smiled Dice Murphy, echoing the opening lyrics from Whoop Him On Down. “After 118 years, Possum is the longest running show on the planet. And like I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Murphy, who reportedly put up $200 to revamp the theater, will be among those on hand to welcome the season’s cast“We want a whole new generation to discover Possum,” he said. “It takes a great cast to elevate a story about beating a possum to death to the level of dinner theater. And we’ve got that with this year’s cast.”

Possum tickets are $45 at the door and include a complimentary possum refrigerator magnet. Parking is $6.00, $12.00 in the Waller-free lot.

A Flublue favorite! 

Breugel: Nothing Short of Bizarre

Breugel live

Breugel is truly one of the more bizarre bands in Down County. From their white painted faces to their blue tattooed eyelids, from the Breugel murals that hang behind the band to the shop machinery they use at every performance, Breugel has redefined the word “strange” in a community whose list of superlatives has been exhausted for decades.

Their samples, bass riffs, overdrive guitar and howling bassoon rev the crowd like an F-14 then crest to a deafening wall of madness that envelopes their fans like a Cat 5 Whirlygig, spitting on anyone foolish enough to define them.

But their sales aren’t hard to define.

Breugel CD

Their latest CD, “Procession to Calvary” has topped KRAK’s Whack List for over a month and shows no sign of letting up. The CD, an homage to their native Flubug and dirge for the collective cesspool they see enveloping everything east of Poison Wells, is arguably their best.

The opening track, “Requiem for an Octomom,” begins with a plaintive call that women who bear more than one child (or a resemblance to Pat Benatar) should be executed. “Hell ain’t for children! Hell is for you! Hell is our sawblade… cut you in two!” It continues with equally disturbing medlies like “Three Penny Opera” about the Shilltown serial killer who taped pennies to his victims’ knees before throwing them into the Miasma, and the grating “Walla Walla Bing Bang” which exhorts fans to release wild animals into the streets from local zoos.

But perhaps the band’s strangest hallmark isn’t their rise to fame but their use of machinery to create crude Medieval implements. Not that the use of machinery is new. Noise bands and experimental outfits have used machinery for years to explore new sounds. But Breugel’s band members don’t use machinery to make music. They use it to craft tools while performing on stage, tools that are cast into the crowd at a high rate of speed during the performance in the hopes of locating their Messiah …a “futurist” they believe holds mankind’s collective souls in limbo.

Breugel

But wait. There’s more.

Breugel members believe they were whisked from their jobs as blacksmiths in thirteenth century London and dumped into twenty first century Flubug. The belief has been central to their meteoric rise and spawned a rabid following of fans, each hoping to return with the band to the thirteenth century.

Unfortunately, this has created something of a safety hazard as misguided fans try to catch the red hot metal chunks to prove they’re the band’s Messiah. It’s also led Flubug Police to cancel several gigs at The Ditch which has lead to mini-riots outside the club.

Yet through it all, Breugel remains one of the most compelling – and popular – bands in the region. And in a town like Flubug, that’s saying a lot.

Bruegel performed to a sell-out crowd at The Ditch this Wednesday. Their next performace is slated to be “a Christmas show” according to Ditch Entertainment Director, Mandy Manley. “I understand they’re going to make a sleigh on stage and toss it into the crowd.”

Flubug Police are advising the public to stay home.

Breugel live at The Ditch 2003

Toddler Tossed As Summerfest Opens

Summerfest festivities, anticipated thoughout the year by Flubuggers who’ve forgotten how bad the last Summerfest was, opened with near tragedy this afternoon when six year old Danny Kleptfish was thrown from the ferris wheel onto the fried twinkee stand awning. The child, who bounced twice before being caught, was immediately rushed to Flubug Memorial Hospital where he was reported in dazed but stable condition (the norm in Flubug). The hospital, which keeps its location secret to dissuade the uninsured, refused to elaborate on the child’s condition until his insurance coverage could be ascertained.

A spokesman for  the Villaneuva Entertainment Co., LLC which owns and operates the ferris wheel and other rides at the festival, including the Anaconda Jump which claimed the lives of two naturalists last year when they failed to navigate a chasm above a pit of vipers, said the company was in full compliance with Down County regulations and were “encouraged” by the child’s recovery. Down County officials also refused comment, saying only that “litte Danny is in our prayers.”

possum-swill-adThe incident, which brought festivities to a halt for several minutes, garnered mixed reactions from the crowd, many of whom raced to the twinkee booth to glean the child’s trajectory. Booth owner Doris Schleggelheimer lamented the near-tragedy but applauded her team who sold out of twinkees and possum gulp within ten minutes and had the presence of mind to increase prices by allegedly donating 10% of all proceeds to the toddler’s care.

“Ya gotta hand it to ’em,” she smiled, counting the day’s take. “I’m not sure we’ll be able to donate a full 10% but we’ll do something for little Danny, if just to keep him in our prayers.”

Summerfest continues through September 12th when Fireworks by Yee bring the annual festivities to a close. Tickets are $25 at the gate and include a complimentary Possum Gulp. Shuttle service is available from Spotter’s Field. Insurance is advised.

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Bounce House Enters Thermosphere

bounce-house

The bounce house that took 6-year old “Chubbs” Bellington and his brother Slaw on an aeronautic joyride this Monday has been spotted by the Balto Acrobatics and Space Administration (BASA) near the outer edge of the atmosphere. Though no one has yet devised a way to recover the house (or the kids inside), the manufacturer, Incredibly Buoyant Toys, Inc. is hailing the discovery as “an important first step” in learning how their product was “misused” and how the boys’ impromptu flight might “offset Vermouth’s attempt to derail the Down County Space Station.”

“One door closes and another one opens,” said IBT President, Eddy Maelstrom, at a packed press conference today, miles from company headquarters. “Last Sunday, the City of Vermouth withdrew support for the Down County Space Station, a move designed to derail the program. Today, little “Chubbs” and Slaw Bellington left our stratosphere to blaze a new trail for the county’s nascent space program. And we’re as proud of them as we are of the IBT product that made their historic flight possible (though we admit no prior knowledge of such capabilities). It’s one small step for Chubbs ‘n’ Slaw, one giant leap for Down County!”

Maelstrom’s lackey’s erupted into applause, but reporters were quick to cut the enthusiasm short.

“What do you say to those who claim your toys are a menace to society and hold you responsible for launching two unwitting kids into space?”

“What do you say to the parents who claim their kids were the victims of unsafe toys rather than ‘heroes’ in an aeronautic space race?”

“What do you say to District Attorney Mayweather Simms who stated today he’ll seek the death penalty in this case?”

Within seconds Maelstrom disappeared into a limousine and reporters descended on Down County Commissioner, Thornton Vance.  “What’s the city’s plan to get those kids back?” shouted one reporter. “Do you know where they currently are?” shouted another, shoving a mike at the Commissioner. “Can you tell us if they’re still alive?”

“Okay, hold it! Hold it” Vance screamed, waving his hands for the crowd to sit down. “If you’ll keep yer damn boots on, I’ve got a statement.”

The reporters sat down.

Take It N Git ad“At approximately 2:30pm Monday afternoon, 6-year old ‘Chubbs’ Bellington and his 5-year old brother Slaw of 1334 Graphite Cornerz Road (two blocks south of the Take It N Git Markit) inadvertently bounced their IBT Bounce House from their Graphite Cornerz backyard into the jetstream by bouncing – I’m told – ‘at a centrifugal rate of speed.’ The house was grabbed by prevailing winds, lifted further by rising storm clouds over Tire Fire City and eventually deposited into orbit somewhere around  …ahem…. 100 miles above the earth.”

“How is that possible??” newsmen leapt to their feet. “How can two kids be swept into space??”

“I’ll let Down County Police Commissioner Jimmy McVeigh have the floor. I’m sure he can fill you in on all the details as we know them.” He waved McVeigh to the podium quickly.tire-fire-city-ad

“Gentleman?” McVeigh began. “The question is not ‘how’ these unwitting toddlers were swept into space, but why? And given the unfolding events in Vermouth, we’re confident that wind and clouds couldn’t possibly be the culprit in this act of buoyancy. That’s why we’ve asked Special Agent-at-Large, Blake Mosley, of the Flubug Bureau of Investigation to join our investigation. We feel – and I believe his agency agrees – that these events are inextricably tied to the Down County Space Station. If so, there’s a lot more going on than a couple of missing kids.”

“But what about the kids?” reporters pressed. “Are you saying there’s no hope? Is there any way to determine their condition?”

“There’s always hope,” McVeigh continued. “Especially since – I’m told – these kids were trained from a very young age in the art of survival. If that’s the case, it should be child’s play – you’ll pardon the expression – to release bursts of air from the intake valve and maintain minimum oxygen levels, though I admit the netting poses challenges to retaining oxygen. The big challenge though isn’t oxygen. It’s the 300 to 800 degree temperatures at that level. If they can withstand those, they’ve got an excellent chance.”

Officials from BASA were tight-lipped about the youngsters’ chances or the possibility that Vermouth could somehow be involved in a dangerous game of inter-county cat-and-mouse.

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Chemtrails Spied Over City Hall

surrender_ornery

Conspiracy buffs, clustered mostly on Bradshaw’s Pike by the Take It ‘N’ Git Markit, claimed vindication today as hundreds of would-be shoppers (combing the trash in Founder’s Park) saw what many believe to be “chemtrails” high above Flubug’s Town Center (where Hizzoner’s office is housed).

Speaking on condition on anonymity, Tommy “Whaddayalookinat?” Gunther said the odd-looking trails were “a cinch to spot” and caught the eye of nearly everyone not bent over a trash can. But the message, in his words, “was garbled and impossible to read” (though he admitted to dyslexia and illiteracy).

Take It N Git adBut not everyone found the message garbled. Leighton “Laraboo” Washington, whose name has been circulated as a possible successor to Mayor Ornery in a run-off scenario, said frankly: “I think it’s an omen. You know, like the comet they talk about in the Tanwater Scrolls? It’s telling the mayor to get out and let someone else take the reins.”

Others, with less political motivation, agreed and said they too saw the “trails” as a sign. “They was chemtrails alright. And they was aimed straight at the mayor,” said Loo Ann Jenkins, estranged wife of Ferguson Jenkins, the Hell-And-Brimstone pastor of The Addition House of Prayer who plead guilty to six hundred counts of pandering last month. “You can’t be mayor for 41 years and think God’s not gonna get involved. It’s His way of servin’ a subpoena.”

In all, more than 200 sightings were reported. Some, like Fruit’s report that two identical chemtrails marked the sky, were immediately dismissed as the result of birth defects. Others, like Thomas “Low Ride”‘s claim that a “meteor” struck the side of the AC were sent to the Insurance Fraud Division of the Flubug Police Department (though the last insurance agent left Flubug in 1998).addition house of prayer (ahop)

But others, and indeed the sheer number of reports, were impossible to deny. The photo above was snapped by amateur photographer (and former Miss Flubug) Nikki Bartlett en route from a grueling day at the CDC with fellow epidemiologist Tim Bowman.”We were excited about hiding a new cure for cancer when we saw smoke over Town Hall. We figured it was another riot. So I got out my camera. But I never expected this. I feel like Zagruder!”

The mayor’s office had no immediate comment and hung up several times when they learned it was us. But Euton “Dude” Holmes, who owns Dude’s Guns off Pike and Eleven Mile, was ecstatic. “No one listened to us. They all said we was right wing loony tunes! Well, I guess the foot’s on the other shoe. Chemtrails is here an’ they’re real. And it ain’t just chemtrails. Them brainchilds at Beseech have been messin’ with the weather since Pook stuffed his first possum. It’s the Illiterati!”

Dude's Guns adThe negatives were immediately flown to Blake Mosley, local Flubug Bureau of Intelligints Station Chief and rabid Ornery supporter, who gained notoriety in the ’80’s when he coined the campaign slogan “Who else ya gonna vote for?”

We caught up with him outside his office in Stateline.

“We won’t know the truth ’till we’ve had a chance to edit these negatives,” he said, unbuttoning his suit to reveal a.45 automatic. “But I promise you, if we learn anything The Bugle will be the first to know.”