Sunday, March 29, 2009

Medicine Show Music

A lady came up to me the other day and asked why I never included any tuba music in my show. I want to, but my banjo player doesn’t know how to play one. He keeps asking “What’s a tuba for?” and when I tell him “Oh, about one-and-a-half inches by three-and-a-half inches,” he walks away.

I’ve considered using the bagpipe to attract a crowd. Nothing sounds quite like a bagpipe, except maybe a cat caught in a wheat thresher.

I think I’ve found the perfect instrument to accompany a medicine show, though: a cannon. It doesn’t sound like any other musical instrument. It can be played at large events, and is heard quite clearly over a crowd. It tends to discourage hecklers. Also, the fines are no worse than for an unlicensed accordian.

* * *

[*Doc thanks whoever thought of the tuba and bagpipe jokes, and Mrs. Doc for the cannon fodder.]

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hard-Won Wisdom

When I was younger, before I’d discovered Wizard Water©, I thought I’d seek my fortune by hunting gold. Panning in rivers was too cold and wet, though, and mining was too full of rocks. I settled on looking for buried treasure.

Rumor had it an old miner who’d died up in the hills had buried all his gold in a box somewhere near his cabin. Well I made my way up there, and noticed a big oak tree in a field within full view of his cabin, so that’s where I dug. Before long, my spade hit something hard. Just then I heard a loud snort, and felt hot breath on the back of my neck. I turned around to see a bull as big as a locomotive looking down at me.

I threw a spade-full of soil in his face, then lit up the tree. I reached safety, but that spade-full did nothing to improve the bull’s mood. He stood guard by that oak tree for the next three days and nights. I survived on bird’s eggs, acorns and rainwater. The bull pawed the ground around the tree so much that he exposed most of the buried box. Finally, a traveling preacher happened by. I promised him a hefty donation to his church if he’d help out. He ran to town, but the help he brought back also required payment. When I got back to town with the box, the sheriff reminded me of some fees I owed. So did the county judge. There was barely enough gold left to replace the pants I ripped when climbing up the tree.

So I learned a hard lesson: There is no quick way to riches – you always have to deal with some bull.

* * *

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Bandit

banditI was robbed once out West by an outlaw known as the Curry Creek Kid. He was a deadly shot who’d held up many a stagecoach and was feared across three territories. I didn’t have much cash at the time, just about 25 cents, but I gave it to him. “You can have it all,” I said, handing over the coins, “Just don’t take any Wizard Water©.”

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s the most potent thing in the world,” I said, “but it can be quite dangerous unless you know what you’re doing with it.”

“Like Nitroglycerin?” he asked. “I could use something like that. There’s a bank I’ve been thinking about visiting.”

So he took the wagon and all the Wizard Water©, too.

When he got to the next town, the sheriff spotted my wagon. Now that sheriff had bought some Wizard Water© a day or so earlier and wanted to discuss some legal aspects of the product with me, so he headed toward the wagon with a couple deputies.

Then he recognized the Curry Creek Kid driving the wagon.

“Put your hands up in the air!” cried the sheriff. “I don’t want a gunfight with you!”

“You won’t get one!” shouted the Kid, “I’ve got something better!”

-- And the Kid threw a bottle of Wizard Water© at the sheriff. The bottle missed and broke in the middle of the road. The sheriff quickly rode in and arrested the Kid, who looked mighty surprised.

A day later I walked in to town and claimed the reward money.

“What reward money?” said the sheriff. “I caught the Kid.”

“Arrest him, too, sheriff!” cried the Kid from behind bars in the next room, “For lying about that there Wizard Water©! He told me it was dangerous, but it didn’t explode or nothing when I threw it! Put him in here with me! I’ll save you a court case! Someone will have to pay for a coffin, though!”

“The Kid could have drawn his gun,” I pointed out to the sheriff. “Instead he tried using a bottle of Wizard Water© because of what I told him when he held me up. If he’d started shooting, you might have had a different ending.”

“-- And I never lie about my product,” I called to the Kid. “I said it can be dangerous unless you know what you’re doing with it. That was quite true in your case.”

“By the way, sheriff,” I added. “I’m sorry about the tree sprouting up in the middle of the road like that. Don’t try cutting it down until a few rains have diluted what’s in the soil. Otherwise it’ll just keep sprouting back up.”

The sheriff paid out the reward money, on condition that I leave town without making any more sales.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Fastest Way Out of Birmingham

craterThere are times when one must leave a place sooner than one had originally anticipated, and as quickly as possible. I was in such a circumstance recently in Birmingham, and discovered that it is possible to leave that fair city, bypassing all the usual routes, at a speed similar to a burst of lightning. For such a method to work, it is critically important that on your way out of town you meet someone who transports kerosene by the wagonload. You should first try to clear the area of small animals and birds, though, as the smell of burning fur and feathers can follow you a long way. Also, don't plan on landing anyplace in particular.

(Some people claim that someday man will learn how to fly like a bird. I can assure you that kerosene will not be the means to this, anymore than cannons.)

* * *

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How to Tell if Your Patient is Dead

Many doctors claim they can determine if a patient is dead by checking for a pulse or signs of breathing. I have met numerous pulse-less people, however – primarily bankers and lawyers – who live full and apparently happy lives without benefit of a heartbeat. A far more accurate method of determining a patient’s mortal state involves careful observation of the patient for the following attributes:

- Lack of physical coordination
- Patient ignores family and friends
- Patient will not laugh at your jokes
- Patient is disinclined to pay his bills

Some folks see little difference between this description and that of a person who has passed out from drinking too much. Doc’s Wizard Water© can clear up this dilemma. If a person is in a questionable condition, splash some Wizard Water© on his or her face. If the person is deceased, he will merely sit up, ask you to quit bothering him and then fall back in bed. One who is comatose or intoxicated, however, will open his eyes, stand up, play the fiddle, clog a two-step, and bet on the nearest horse race.

If he also pays for the Wizard Water©, you’ve got a live one.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.