Posted by: The Amoeba | May 13, 2013

The Straw Pig

realpigstoryAs Quilly’s legion of fans mostly knows already, her latest venture is the production of study guides for children’s literature, to be used in the elementary school classroom. You can find out more about her first two study guides, to Sounder and Treasure Island, here.

Naturally, she is at work on additional titles for this series. Which is how it came to pass that Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba found lying about the house (he won’t say where), and read, a copy of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. You know, the wolf’s version of the tale? Where he says he got into all this trouble with the pigs over a cup of sugar?

(YFNA didn’t think that third graders were supposed to know about the kind of sugar that comes from bulls … oh wait, we’re talking about wolves here, not bulls. Never mind.)

Anyway. It occurred to YFNA that the pigs, two of them at least, could have saved themselves a whole lot of trouble, not to mention their lives, by choosing the right materials for their houses. It’s dumb to build a house out of straw, right? Right? Or is it …?


Straw House3 LP [the bricklayer]:Straw?!? You’re building a house outa straw? Are you trying to be the centerpiece at a luau or something? Don’t you remember what happened to Great Uncle Ham?”

1 LP [guess]: “That story’s bogus. A wolf might have dog’s breath, but even so, it ain’t knockin’ down no houses. I don’t care how hard he huffs, puffs, or sneezes. Ham was probably snufflin’ up funny mushrooms and got caught in the open. Grampa Brick dreamed up the ‘blow your house down’ nonsense to cover his …'”

3 LP: “And just how do you propose to cover yours, hay?”

1 LP: “Don’t diss the hay, hey? You pack it in thick and tight and it’ll keep you as snug as you want. And it’s cheap. How many pounds of your flesh are goin’ to bacon to pay off that pile of rocks of yours, huh?”

3 LP: “Very funny. In case you haven’t noticed, rates are nothin’ these days. And of course I refinanced.”

1 LP: “So you can pony up for the earthquake insurance? The earth moves once, like they’re sayin’ it will any time now, and we won’t have to build a crypt for your bones, you’ll already have one!”

2 LP [only one option left]: “You could at least use sticks and get some sturdiness into that … that thing of yours. And wood frames will survive earthquakes.”

1 LP: “Oh wow, another country heard from. I bet you even think that stick stuff is a permanent building material. I got a bottle of bugs right here says it ain’t.”

2 LP: “You keep those damned termites in that bottle or I’ll take your little piggie to market myself! Besides, they’ll just as happily chew up your straw as my two-by-fours.”

1 LP: “In which case I just knock the place down and set up again someplace else. Our African boar ancestors did just that and lived happily ever after. And you won’t see no picket signs about savin’ trees or spotted owls, or stoppin’ global warmin’, ’round my place!”

2 LP: “Ducking out on your satellite bill again?

1 LP: “With what they’re charging for ESPN these days, you betcha!

3 LP: “Alright, alright, TMI. Enough already. Do as you’re going to. And I hope that whatever it is is enough to keep the wolves from your doors, brothers.”

2 LP: “Likewise, brother.”

1 LP: “Yeah. But I’m tellin’ you, if the earth moves, get the hell out of that place of yours. You can always stay with me if the worst happens. If you can stand the thought, that is.”

3 LP: “Only if you ain’t servin’ crow for dinner.”

1 LP: “Humble pie.”

3 LP: “Oink.”

Posted by: The Amoeba | February 27, 2013

He and She: The Island of Dr. Quilly

chimaeraShe:Hey! I thought you were the mad scientist around here!”

He: “Ah, no. Place where I work frowns on the bwa-ha-ha stuff. Bad for fundraising.”

She: “So I’ve got to do it?!?”

He: “The fundraising? No, we’ve got experts to … oi! Put .. the .. lab .. coat .. down! Do I wish to know where this is coming from?”

She: “The island!”

He: “The one we live on?”

She: “Not this island! That island! The one with all the animals on it!”

He: “The critters we’ve got aren’t good enough?”

She: “Not for the military. They wanted something special.”

He: “Special forces?”


He: “Such as?”

She: “Well, cross a chimpanzee with a mouse and you get something really small and really smart. Perfect for espionage. And their sense of humor helps with training and esprit de corps.”

He: “Cool. Did it work?”

She: “Well, not really. It’s hard to spy on people when they’re standing on tables and screaming at you.”

He: “Should’ve crossed the chimps with starlings. Aerial reconnaissance.”

She: “Worked fine until the chicken hawks showed up. Then they figured out that, screw the bananas, screw the esprit, they could get killed out there! And they went AWOL.”

He: “You would expect them to be intelligent.”

She: “And then there was the cross between the rhinoceros and the cheetah.”

He: “Woot! Fast biodegradable armor!”

She: “Fast biodegradable dumb armor. How do you control a tank that can run you down at 60 miles per hour and eat you, whether you’re friend or foe?”

He: “Well, what did you expect? You were cheetahing! Did no one call you on this?”

She: “Why would they? We were taking gorilla warfare to new levels!

He: “And then you woke up?”

She: “Um, well, yeah!

He: “Good. I was wondering how I was going to get a security clearance on short notice so you wouldn’t have to kill me for listening to this.”

She: “You know what’s weird?

He: “Weirder than AWOL flying chimpanzees?”

She: “Here I am, designing all these beasts and doing the mad scientist thing, and at the same time I’m the gal jumping up and down yelling this is a really dumb idea! Shouldn’t that be, like, two people?”

He: “It’s a dream. You can do whatever you want, be whatever you can, ah, dream up. Just don’t try this at home, huh?”

Posted by: The Amoeba | February 23, 2013

He and She: Calamity Jake

crisis girlShe: “A beautiful morning!”

He: “Indeed. Bright light in sky appears in East. Around here, this time of year, that’s news.”

She: “This calls for a hearty celebration. Would you care for waffles, or eggs and bacon, or an omelette, or …”

He: “Hm. Choices, choices. Let me finish getting dressed first. One cribro at a time.”

She: “Cry what?

He: “On a morning like this, what have you got to cry about? Does it really matter to you how quickly I put my socks on?”

She:You’ll be the one crying if your waffles get cold. It might even be a crisis.”

He: “Like I said. A cribro.”


He: “Would you please tell me how come every time your life gets exciting, it’s got to be a girl?

She: “I’m not sure you want to go there …”

He: “Too late. They used to call hurricanes by girl’s names, but people complained, and now they alternate. Fair is fair. Last time I looked, I was still a guy, and besides, I don’t wish for people to think that, every time I screw up, I blame it on my sister. So, cribro.”

She: “Come to the table. Your blood sugar is obviously way low, you can’t afford to miss breakfast.”


She: “Oy …”

Posted by: The Amoeba | January 20, 2013

He and She: Twitter Feeder

Pine siskin (Spinus pinus)

Pine siskin (Spinus pinus)

She: “Did you get the bird seed?”

He: “Up close and personal. Even got its picture.”

She: “You took a picture of a bag of bird seed?

He: “Who said anything about a bag? I seed the bird, I grabbed my phone …”

She: “Never mind. For a cell phone, it’s not a bad shot. How’d you get that close?”

He: “Must’ve been the bird seed.”

She: “[…]”

He: “It is a pretty bird. Kinda.”

She: “Yeah. Pretty mean.”

He: “What do you mean by that?”

She: “I’d tell you, but you’re not exactly an average guy.”

He: “Tell me anyway, I’ll see if I can make it add up.”

She: “Be a downer if you couldn’t. You see any other birds at that feeder?”

He: “Now that you mention it, no. Was this one sneaking a between-meals snack?”

She: “Yeah. Along with half of the rest of the birds on the island. Or, they would be if this one hadn’t driven them all off!

He: “Oh. It’s a minor bird.”

She: “Uh huh. It lands on the feeder and declares ‘Mine!‘ Any other birds come close, it chases them away. And it squeaks at them!”

He: “Squeaks?”

She: “Yeah. Look. There it goes now. Two of them, in fact, squabbling. Hear that?”

He:That, love, is a twitter.”

She: “A twitter?

He: “Yep.”

She: “So you’re telling me …”

He: “… that birds only make that ‘happy little birdie noise’ when they’re claiming space, threatening each other, or are actually fighting.”

She: “You mean, like, on the computer?

He: “Kinda. Especially the ‘claiming space’ part. What else are 140 characters good for?”

She: “You aren’t going to tweet that, are you?”

He: “I’m not that much of a bird brain. Am I?”

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