Where Threads Come Loose
"The Red Tape Waltz: A Titanic Trio Epic!, Part I and Part II

The Recording Script

• Written and directed by Tony Pagel, with additional material by Christopher Bahn
• Episodes 13-14 of the radio-drama series Where Threads Come Loose (Originally episodes 19-20 of 1997 Edition)
• Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM February 1995.

• Magnifisplendertastic Man: Chuck Keller
• Strange Arranger: Joel Stitzel
• Watery Grave, Lab Worker 2: Tony Pagel
• Announcer, Clerk, Shopkeeper, Hassler, Chief: Christopher Bahn
• Brian, Nickel Boy, Lab worker 1, College Kid 1: Adam Pagel
• Sound Effects Wrangler, College Kid 2: Rich Dahm
• Meter Maid: Larisa Bahn
• Eugene Flanghammer, Watson: Dan Grothe

• The second of Tony's parodic mini-series about three subcompetent superheroes: The Superman-esque Magnifisplendertastic Man, incredibly strong but even more incredibly stupid; Strange Arranger, a magic-wielding mystic whose powers run to card tricks and other dimestore stuff; and Watery Grave, a hapless Aquaman type whose voice sounds like gargling, whose skin is clammy and cold, who's cowardly and carsick, and who has never actually learned to swim. (The script of the Trio's first appearance hasn't been converted into HTML, but you can read the third episode here.)

• This show's based around the bureaucracy of the University of Minnesota and features a villain inspired by its then-president, the quite Swedish Nils Hasselmo. A few of the characters were played by different actors than in the first Titanic Trio show, hence Magnifisplendertastic Man's suspicious behavior in the first scene.

• The 2003 remastering of this episode included the addition of several brief scenes expanding the character of the Meter Maid. —Christopher Bahn
Announcer: Threads Comix in association with "Fireball" Andy Marlow present issue #719 of the Titanic Trio! Featuring the talents of:

(announcer reads cast and crew list here)

Announcer: As you recall from our last issue, the Titanic Trio had just returned from Reno, Nevada where High Roller, Minnesota Tex, The Green Felt Monster and Three Card Monte (collectively known as the Gambling Commission) had cooked up a devilish plot to use off-track betting and a big shiny machine to bring about world domination! Our heroes, having handily defeated the rapscallions involved, made the long trek back to their Super Secret Fortress of Peace where they now recline in air conditioned comfort.

Art by Audry Wolters
Magnifisplendertastic Man: Well, my fellow compatriots, we are back in the Super Secret Fortress of Peace here in this underground cavern beneath Pretty Big City. Now that we have won the day again, how do you propose we spend our time?

Strange Arranger: I, my mightily thewed companion, intend to finish that brocade work on my new conjuring robe.

Watery Grave: And I'm going to put on some replenishing cream. The trip back in the Hyundai through the desert has wreaked havoc on my faintly fishy complexion.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: (puzzled) Strange Arranger, Watery Grave. You both sound different somehow. Are you feeling up to your normal crime-fighting selves?

Strange Arranger: I have never felt better in all my 437 years on this mudball you earthlings call a planet.

Watery Grave: I'm doing alright...except for this itchy rash on the back of my neck. Would one of you take a look at it for me? I can't tell if it's oozing or if it's just me.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: (quickly) No, that's not what I mean. Both of you sound different: the timber, the pitch of your voices sound somehow altered. I can't seem to put my finger on it...Wait! I have it! You both seemed fine until our confrontation with the fiendish Replicator and her band of duplexibots! (see issue 412, Tony) Perhaps you were afflicted during the melee and were replaced with evil puppet versions of yourselves to weaken the fabric of our team!

Strange Arranger: I don't think so.

Watery Grave: I don't feel like an evil puppet version of myself.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Then it must have been that alternate dimension that came into phase with Pretty Big City during the Arbor Day Secret Trade Wars (see issues 1-12 of "Leaf and Belief: The Arbor Day Secret Trade Wars Crossover Extravaganza, now available at a quarter box near you, Tony) I must have been separated from you during my encounter with the alternate, twisted version of Emmanuel Lewis: T.V.'s Webster. My former stalwart companions must have been switched when the reality generator exploded, replaced by the freakish netherworld carbon copies of evil! I am left with shades of my past.

Strange Arranger: I am almost positive nothing of the kind never occurred...
Magnifisplendertastic Man: We'll see (grabs SA by the robe, SA gasps) Unless you want a sinew and bone throat lavage, answer me this "Strange Arranger", (completely deadpan) "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

Strange Arranger: Um...I'd have to say that a woodchuck could chuck all the wood he could chuck. Remove your meaty hands from around my thorax, please.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: You pass phase one. And now you, "Watery Grave". Answer this question which only a true-blue American would know: (lecture voice) Mary wants to make a mixture of almonds and cashews. Cashews cost $3.75 per pound, almonds cost $2.50 per pound. If Mary wants to make a 2 to 1 almond to cashew ratio mix and then purchase 2 and one half pounds of said mixture, what is the capital of Wyoming?

Watery Grave: Um...can I use some scratch paper?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: No, this is mental work only!

Watery Grave: Oh..uh...it's on the tip of my tongue..um...Dubuque?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: (through gritted teeth) Correct, you're both craftier than I thought. (pause) Arranger! What is my favorite sandwich?

Strange Arranger: Kippers and Marshmallow Fluff on Wonder Bread.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Watery! If I ask you to jump, what do you say?

Watery Grave: What, are you kidding? With my gout?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: You are deceptively real, but yet...but yet...oh, never mind. All this thinking has overheated my brainpan. I have to sit down.

Strange Arranger: While my intense mystical training restrains me from laughing out loud at your foolishness, Magnifisplendertastic Man, I must admit that we could all use a little sharpening of our wits.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: I agree, Arranger, but how?

Strange Arranger: Since we have acquired some recreation time for our last escapade, I suggest we enroll in some classes at Pretty Big City University.

Watery Grave: Hey, that's not a bad idea. There's some voice classes I've been meaning to take.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: I was wondering when you'd get around to doing something about that. Your voice does need improving.

Watery Grave: Yeah well, I've been letting myself get a little rusty since the last season of the Pretty Big City Opera Company ended a few months ago. (sings in operatic voice) I'm the Barber of Seville! Figaro! Figaro!

Strange Arranger: (amazed) I didn't know you could sound like that!

Watery Grave: (back to normal gargle) Like what?

Strange Arranger: You, uh, sounded so unusual just a moment ago, my friend.

Watery Grave: I've been feeling a bit strange since our tussle with the Nashville Gnasher (see The Adventures of Mel Tillis, Vol. 1, Tony)

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Nevertheless my compatriots, this idea fills me with wonder and delight. We shall attend instruction in the hallowed halls of Pretty Big City University en masse post haste! I, Magnifisplendertastic Man, with the strength of hundreds, the speed of ten and the I.Q. of one!

Strange Arranger: I, the Strange Arranger, with arcane abilities granted to me by Industrial Light and Magic!

Watery Grave: And I, Watery Grave, with my ability to swim!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: How is that going, by the way, Watery?

Watery Grave: I'm still trying to do without the life jacket...Hey get off my back!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Never mind. For together, we are...

All: The Titanic Trio!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: To the Hyundai!

SCENE II. To School!

Announcer: And so our heroes hop into the fire-engine red Hyundai and speed toward Pretty Big City University, a miniature city unto itself of over 50,000 members.

(EFX:brakes squeal)
Magnifisplendertastic Man: We have arrived, my companions!

Strange Arranger: And it is a wonder that we did so. Pretty Big City traffic has increased in jeopardy since we were away.

Watery Grave: Let me out, I'm feeling queasy.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Now, onward to our destiny here at this fine school!

Strange Arranger: One moment Magnifisplendertastic Man...

Magnifisplendertastic Man: What is it, Arranger?

Strange Arranger: It appears that we are parked in a no parking zone.

Watery Grave: Please let me out, I can't breathe.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: What of it, Arranger? We are superheroes of the first water. In return for our protection of this noble Metropolis, the citizenry should be proud to have the Hyundai wherever we see fit to park it.

Strange Arranger: But there are signs that say we should not park here under penalty of penalties.

Watery Grave: Oooh, that gurgling sound can't be good. Easy stomach...

Magnifisplendertastic Man: We, the Titanic Trio, have faced some of the most dangerous and life-threatening villains ever assembled, surely your are not daunted by these measly sign of non-parking warning?

Strange Arranger: (in a whispery voice) They fill me with an almost palpable sense of dread and foreboding. It is unwise to tempt the cosmos...

Watery Grave: Let me out.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Nonsense, Arranger! We shall exit this very minute!

Watery Grave: Let me out!

Strange Arranger: If you think that is for the best.


Magnifisplendertastic Man: Yes, let us do as our piscine friend wishes and go! (doors open/close) Now, where is our campus map? We'll never find the registration center without a map...


(SFX: Trio's footsteps walking away, then one set of lone footprints walking up)

Meter Maid: What's this? By the twin orbs of Athena! This Hyundai is parked in the yellow-stripe zone! Such blatant disregard of common legal practice must not stand. I, the Meter Maid—

Tony: (last seen in "I need to meet a meter maid, indeed", TT ish #538-Tony)

Meter Maid: —will leap into action ... by contacting my office for instructions! (SFX: Walkie-talkie burst) Chief! Come in, chief! Priority One Communication! Emergency! Emergency!

Chief: (voice coming through intercom) Gladys, how many times do I have to tell you, you don't have to call in for every single—

Meter Maid: (cuts him off) Chief, we have a situation.

Chief: Uh huh. Let me take a wild guess...

Meter Maid and Chief (together - she enthusiastically, he sarcastically): Vehicle found parked in violation of local ordinance 56B section 214.

Chief: What's the plate number?

Meter Maid: It's a vanity plate reading M-M-R-O-X.

Chief: M.M. Rocks? Is this a red Hyundai?

Meter Maid: Yes, fire-engine red.

Chief: With a bumper sticker that reads I Brake For Justice?

Meter Maid: And another that says "Honk If You Love Goosing"

Chief: Great Scott! This car belongs to the Titanic Trio!

Meter Maid: Does that mean no ticketing?

Chief: Well, they did just save the city from Captain Monstrosity last Tuesday... Ah, screw 'em. We got quotas to fill.

Meter Maid: Gotcha, chief. Meter Maid out. (SFX: Walkie-talkie burst) Now then, here's one ticket for being parked in a no-parking zone. And another for expired license tabs. And another for ... Hm... (SFX: Walkie-talkie burst) Chief, you'd better send out some backup. I'm going to need the really big citation book for this one...

SCENE III. Registration

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Finally, we have found the registration center! I knew this little smudge here at the bottom of the map meant something. If only we hadn't received all those false leads from helpful college students.

Strange Arranger: I have procured these lists of classes for us to select from. I hope they hold interesting courses for all of us.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Excellent! Look, companions, there are no lines for us to wait in! They must have heard we were coming and reserved us spaces.

Watery Grave: Maybe the fact that it's the middle of November has something to do with it.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: You may be right at that, Watery! Now, to register! Let us get into a line and give the information they require. Good luck, fellows!

Clerk: You need to go to the next available window.

Strange Arranger: I don't see any other open windows.

Clerk: Is that my problem?

Strange Arranger: I don't understand.

Clerk: (sighs) Just let me see your registration form. (pause) Hmm. Are you sure you wrote down the code correctly.

Strange Arranger: Yes, I want to take "Is Science Just Plain Silly: From Arcana to Zoology."

Clerk: Have you taken classes before?

Strange Arranger: No.

Clerk: Have you ever taken courses?

Strange Arranger: I studied under the All-Knowing Entity that dwells on the far extremity of the universe. He was very good. I gave him a favorable evaluation at the end of term.

Clerk: How long ago was this?

Strange Arranger: Through the illusion of time which you mortals see, it would have been 400 years ago.

Clerk: Now let me get this straight: You have never attended the University before, have a ridiculous prior scholastic record and are over to 400 years old. Yet you want to register here at the University?

Strange Arranger: That is correct.

Clerk: You do realize that this is the middle of November?

Strange Arranger: That is also correct.

Clerk: Well, I'm not sure I can...Wait a second, you have an accent. Are you from this country?

Strange Arranger: I am in fact from a planetary system beyond the reach of your most powerful telescope.

Clerk: I thought so. (Starts speaking loudly and simply) Then you have to take an ore-ee-ent-tay-shun course before you can reg-gist-ter. Do you un-der-stand me?

Strange Arranger: Why are you talking so strangely?

Clerk: This is the way we speak in Am-mer-rick-ka. You will learn this in your group.

Strange Arranger: What do you mean?

Clerk: Brian? Brian, come here. We have an Int-ter-nash-i-nul student for you to show the campus to.

Brian: Hello there, my name is Brian. Can you say that?

Strange Arranger: Now wait just a minute my friend, I have no need of an orientation. I have lived here on Earth for...

Brian: You just come with me, and if you have any questions, ask them and I will do my best to answer them clearly and in words on one syllable.

Strange Arranger: Wait, I think you are both making a tragic mistake. I don't...Help me, Titanic Trio! Help me!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Enjoy your tour, Arranger! We will meet you back at the Hyundai!

Clerk: Next!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: That would be me! I have a great desire to learn!

Clerk: That is not a requirement to study here. Anyway, it says here on your form that you want to take Algebra, is that correct?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Yes! I want to be able to solve complex equations.

Clerk: Have you got financial aid?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: No. Is that a problem?

Clerk: Not really, but we have a stack of complicated forms back here that we need to get rid of and I was going to dump them on you. Maybe I'll find a way yet. As far as I can tell, you're good to go. You're fee statement is printing right now. You need to go down to the bursar and pay right away. The class is already seven weeks into the semester.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: I won't delay!

Clerk: Next!

Watery Grave: Here's my form.

Clerk: I can't read what you've written here, the writing's all smudgy.

Watery Grave: Sorry, it's the oily secretion from my unusual waterproof skin.

Clerk: What is it you want to take?

Watery Grave: (mutter, mutter, mutter)

Clerk: What?

Watery Grave: (mutter, mutter, mutter)

Clerk: WHAT?

Watery Grave: (shouts) Swimming for beginners! All right? Are you happy now? My shame is present for all to see.

Clerk: Cry me a river. Have you had your immunizations?

Watery Grave: Uh, no.

Clerk: Well, I can't register you until you get immunized.

Watery Grave: That's okay, I really don't want to take any classes anyway. I'll just be going now.

Clerk: Wait! You've submitted a form. That means we can legally do anything in our power to bend you to our will. You are going to be immunized, whether you like it or not! Interns! Take this student to the clinic! If he makes any trouble, slap him with extra fees.

Watery Grave: No! Anything but that!

Clerk: I knew you'd see it our way.

Watery Grave: I can't be immunized! I have a pathological fear of needles! You can't make me go!

Clerk: Oh yes we can. Take him away.

Watery Grave: No, no, NOOOOOOO!

Clerk: I think it's just about time for break.


Announcer: Meanwhile, back at the Hyundai, we hear the Meter Maid say...

Meter Maid: And a ticket for being three inches too far away from the curb. And one for the radio antenna being rusty. And the left front tire is a little low. And another for being parked facing northwest on a Thursday in a month with an R in it. And another for the scratched leather steering wheel. And another for the ... (her voice fades out as music for next scene comes up)

SCENE IV. Bursar's Office

Magnifisplendertastic Man: This must be the Bursar's Office. At least that's what they told me at Student Accounts Receiving. I'm so glad I was sent there by the Tuition Management Office. They were so helpful after I was led through all those dark underground passages by the Financial Oversight Board. I hope this is finally the right place, I'm getting hungry. (door opens/closes) Excuse me, is this the Bursar's Office?

Nickel Boy: Why yes it is, Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: No! It can't be!

Nickel Boy: But it is. I, Nickel Boy, have returned! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: But we defeated you in our last adventure (see Hero Worship-Tony)

Nickel Boy: You were mistaken, my old nemesis! I told you you would regret the day you rejected me! And now that day has finally come, Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Your nickel collection powers will not affect me in any capacity, Nickel Boy. I am on a mission of education and neither you nor anyone else will stop me.

Nickel Boy: So you think, but it is I who will have the last laugh! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Now how may I help you?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: I need to pay for my Algebra class. Here is my fee statement. I'm sure you will find it is in order.

Nickel Boy: Let me see that! (mumbles) Item 4 checked...clause x-765-J completed in triplicate...Let's see...Aha! No, wait. It does say any cheese. It appears that you have filled it out correctly. Curses.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Ha-ha! Now, calculate my fee and I shall be off to knowledge.

Nickel Boy: Alright then. Your fee comes to, um, F-1 to shift screens, F-8 to subtotal...Ah yes. You owe the University three hundred dollars and five cents.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: That sounds reasonable. Public education is something...wait a second! Did you say three hundred dollars and FIVE CENTS!?!

Nickel Boy: That is correct.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Here's the three hundred. I'm sure I have a nickel somewhere. Just hold the phone. Ugh! Umphh! A pox on these skin-tight power suits! I must have left all my change in my Snoopy bank at home.

Nickel Boy: I'm very sorry, but I must insist that you pay your fee in full. Since you are registering late, I'll need all the money before you can begin class work.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: You fiend! This is a nefarious state of affairs! I am a celebrated superhero, you know.

Nickel Boy: Be that as it may, you owe the University a nickel. All are equal in the eyes of the dread lord Bureaucracy. Now pay me that five cents, or there will be no algebra for you! Bwa-ha-ha!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: I, uh, don't suppose you'd happen to have a nickel in you?

Nickel Boy: Well, now that you mention it, I just might have one in my back pocket here...Wait! A-ha! You thought to trick me with your wily superhero ways, but it won't work! My revenge will not be denied! You'll never get educated if I have my way! Bwa-ha-ha!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: So be it. I shall have to obtain the necessary funds by hook or by the corresponding crook. Mark my words, Nickel Boy, I shall return with the necessary five cents and thwart your wicked schemes.

Nickel Boy: You'd better hurry. Our office is only open from 2 to 2:15 and then again from 4 to 4:30, this being a second Thursday in a month with an "i" in it. You'll never make it in time!

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Then my super-sonic really speedy walk is just what the doctor ordered! Yoikes and away! (EFX: speed noise)

Nickel Boy: (shouting after him) Give up, Magnifisplendertastic Man! You'll never defeat us! We are invincible! Bwa-ha-ha! (pause) Well, it looks like it's time for lunch. For the third time today! Bwa-ha-ha!

SCENE V. On the Tour.

Announcer: As Magnifisplendertastic Man races off to obtain the all-important five cents, the Strange Arranger suffers at the mercy of the Orientation Tour and it's twisted leader, Brian.

Brian: (speaking in over-simplified voice) Now this here is a wa-ter fount-tain. Do you have wa-ter fount-tains where you come from?

Strange Arranger: As I have said over and over for the last three hours, I come from here! I have lived here for centuries! Can't you understand me?

Brian: (oblivious) The hall we are in right now is called Schvein-Lee-ber-hall after a nine-teenth century inventor. His patent for the self-but-ter-ing toast-ter is still valid in most countries. Except for France.

Strange Arranger: Enough! I have had enough of this so-called tour! I don't need all of this senseless information! I am perfectly able to function at this University without your help.

Brian: Over here we have a rest-room, one of the many located in almost every University building. Except for the agricultural school...

Strange Arranger: Are you not listening to me? I have no need of this drivel! I do not wish to hear another word.

Brian: Now if you go out of these doors, you will find a bus stop. Here in A-mer-ri-ca, we have many such vehicles as the bus to carry us around from place to place, not just bicycles and oxen like you have where you come from.

Strange Arranger: Patronizing...speech...prejudicial...attitudes...over...annunciation...getting weak...falling under...his...power...

Brian: Now were are going to learn about the fas-sin-a-ting world of food ser-vice. In any one of out lovely caf-fit-tear-ee-ahs, can you say that?

Strange Arranger: Must...fight...

Brian: Come on. It's not so hard: caf-it-tear-ee-ahs.

Strange Arranger: No! Cannot... give... in...

Brian: Say it! Caf-fit-tear-ee-ahs!

Strange Arranger: Caf..caf...fit-tear-ee-ahs.

Brian: Good. Very good. Now we are finally getting somewhere. Now if you'll follow me, I will tell you all about the origins of our mascot: Whiny Wallaby...

SCENE VI. At the clinic.

Announcer: As the Strange Arranger becomes a slave to the orientation machine, we journey to the University student clinic where the Watery Grave faces a fate worse that...well...not so bad as death, but definitely worse than a happy, jolly marshmallow roast.

Watery Grave: No! Not the needle! I can't stand needles!

Lab worker 1: I could use some help with this one.

Lab worker 2: What seem to be the trouble here?

Lab worker 1: I can't get him to sit still for his vaccination shot.

Lab worker 2: Not even with him strapped into the chair like that?

Lab worker 1: No. He seems to be oozing some sort of oily substance from his pores. He's slipperier than something really slippery.

Lab worker 2: Oh a squeamish one, eh? Let me have a crack at him. (pause) How are we today?

Watery Grave: I don't know about we, but I am not good. I am very much ungood! In fact, I could not possibly be ungoodier! Arrgh! Let me out of this chair!

Lab worker 2: Look, this is a simple enough procedure. It's perfectly safe. This little shot will immunize you from rubella, jaundice, scurvy, the bloody flux and scrofula. As you can well imagine, it is imperative that you get safety from these diseases.

Watery Grave: No! Put the needle away.

Lab worker 2: It won't hurt at all. Just a little pinprick and then you'll be all done. We'll give you a bandage and a lollipop when you're done.

Watery Grave: (suspicious) What kind?

Lab worker 2: Uh, root beer.

Watery Grave: Arrgh! I hate root beer! Let me go!

Lab worker 2: Now I have had just about enough. I'm going to give you the shot and that's final. Now let's see what a brave little boy you are.

Watery Grave: I have to summon my aquatic companions! They will save me in my hour of need. (WG makes a whale song-like noise, there's a pause, a breaking window and a wet thrashing noise) Wow! A school of perch! I wasn't sure I could really do that!

Lab worker 2: Your fishy friends cannot save you when they're flopping around like that.

Watery Grave: I don't suppose you could, uh, flood the room or something?

Lab worker 2: No.

Watery Grave: I didn't think so.

Lab worker 2: That's it! You're getting you shot now!

Watery Grave: NO! Arrgh!

Lab worker 1: I think he fainted.

Lab worker 2: That shouldn't stop us. You hold his arm straight and I'll plunge the needle in.

Lab worker 1: No way. Look at his skin. It's all damp and clammy!

Lab worker 2: Oh for heaven's sake!

Lab worker 1: I'll bet it's cold and slimy too!

Lab worker 2: Alright, alright! We'll wait until he comes to. I swear, they should have mentioned things like this at the evil scientist school in Mexico.

SCENE VII. In a Dinkytown-like place.

Announcer: Meanwhile, in a trendy, small commercial area near campus...
(EFX: street noise)

Magnifisplendertastic Man: I'm sure to get that five cents here! It will be a simple matter to convince an honest citizen to contribute to my just cause. Excuse me, citizen!

College Kid 1: Yeah?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Would you be so kind as to lend me five cents?

College Kid 1: What?
Magnifisplendertastic Man: I need five cents to complete a mission for truth and enlightenment!

College Kid 1: Like, sorry man, but, I'm a little short right now. But have this hackysack. It will bring you luck.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Hmm. Well, only a temporary setback, I'm sure! The next one will almost definitely be able to assist me. Not to mention this neat bean bag thingy that youth gave me. Things are on the upswing. Excuse me citizen!

College Kid 2: What.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Could you lend me five cents? It's a matter of life and death.

College Kid 2: Why should I?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Um, well...Because I need it to fight the forces of ignorance and stupidity!

College Kid 2: Do you play an instrument?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Um, no.

College Kid 2: Do you have any poetry for sale?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: No, but I do have this Hackensack. I think it was made in New Jersey, so it is imported. I think you can eat it.

College Kid 2: No thanks, man. Listen, if you aren't giving me a show, I'm not giving you squat.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Maybe you can't eat it. Maybe it's some sort of religious artifact. The person who gave it to me said it was good luck.

College Kid 2: Forget about that man.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: It makes a nice shaky sound.

College Kid 2: Listen, man, do you see that guy over there on the other corner?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: The one on the unicycle?

College Kid 2: Right man. Now he has a shot at getting some of my loot.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: But he's juggling live weasels.

College Kid 2: That's right. He's putting on a show. He's doing something. You're just a bum in a tight spandex suit.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: But I can't play the recorder.

College Kid 2: You don't have to man. Come up with something original. You better get your act together. See ya.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Hmm. Maybe I need to get more vaudevillian...
(Music break)
(MM is squeaking a soda straw through a McDonalds cup and sort of singing)

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Oh play that there harmonica, rag man!
Do the dance of a thousand veils.
Bake me a mince pie, mama!
And spin me some jazzbow tales!

(squeaking stops) This is ridiculous! This soft drink container makes a terrible instrument! I'll never get that five cents at this rate. (pause) I know! Why didn't I think of this before? I'll appeal to commerce! They will supply me!

(EFX: door opens)

Shopkeeper: Welcome to Gaea's Co-op Pharmacy, man. Like, how can I help you?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Hello, citizen! I would like to borrow five cents. The city will reimburse you for your donation.

Shopkeeper: Like, I'm sorry man, but we're sort of like, opposed to handouts. We're kinda like, broke ourselves, man.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: But the city will pay you back. The Commissioner and I are like this.

Shopkeeper: Like, sorry. But the rules are, like, the rules, man.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: But...but...I am a superhero!

Shopkeeper: Listen, man, I told you... (EFX: cow moos) Oh. Hey man, I'd like to talk, but like, our in-store cow needs me. I'll be right back.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: I can't believe this state of events. Has everyone gone mad? Don't they see I fight for the side of right? Has apathy woven it's sneaky roots into the bedrock of decency? I...wait a minute...What's this? "Penny jar: take one if you need it, leave one if you've got it". Hmm. Well I do need it.

Shopkeeper: (in background: cow moos) Hey Myron, like, don't have a cow.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: But the jar only says to take one, and I need five. It would be dishonest to take more than one. But on the other hand, it is for a just cause. I need them to complete my mission. (EFX: pours pennies into hand) One...two...three...four...five> Now, off to the Bursar's...Ugh! I feel...strange. What's...happening? I'm...I'm...(MM laughs loud, large and downright evilly) I feel...EVIL! Something has changed! I..I am...DARK MAGNIFISPLENDERTASTIC MAN! (evil fanfare)

Shopkeeper: Hey man, are you, like, okay?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Never better!

Shopkeeper: Hey! What happened to the penny jar?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Nothing. Hey, Isn't that Thoreau over there next to the vitamin display?

Shopkeeper: Where? He's my hero! Where is he?

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Ha-ha! Silly co-op worker! Thoreau is dead! He's not here! I think he's in Vermont.

Shopkeeper: Hey man, that was like...like...

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Evil?

Shopkeeper: No. It was annoying, man.

Magnifisplendertastic Man: Ha! The Dark Magnifisplendertastic Man lives for annoyance! No one in Pretty Big City is safe! Now, off to annoy others! (EFX:door opens/closes)


Announcer: Meanwhile, back at the Hyundai, the Meter Maid continues her reign of bureaucratic terror...

Meter Maid: And another ticket for not properly displaying the automobile registration in the accepted place on the back window, which is a rule I just made up, but I'm going to fine them for it anyway. And I see there are some overdue library books in the back seat. And another for the scratched leather steering wheel. And another for the ... (her voice fades out as music for next scene comes up)


(EFX:door open)

Nickel Boy: I've come with the report on the Titanic Trio, sir.

Hassler: (in Swedish accent) Let's haf the report.

Nickel Boy: They have all been dealt with, sir. They will never escape from the web of bureaucracy we've woven. Our agents are all performing perfectly.

Hassler: Gut, gut. I vill crush dem all. Dey vill suffer as I haf suffered dese many years. You haf done your vork vell, Nickel Boy. Report here ven dey haf been utterly destroyed.

Nickel Boy: Very good, sir. Bwa-ha-ha!

Announcer: Who is this shadowy Swedish figure? Why does he want to destroy our heroes? Will the Dark Magnifisplendertastic Man wreak havoc on our unsuspecting city? And what about the Strange Arranger and the Watery Grave? Will they escape from their private punishments? All these questions and more will be answered in the conclusion of the Red Tape Waltz, next month from Threads Comics.

End of Part I; go to Part II