Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Marco is a small-time criminal and just a not very nice squirrel in general. Unfortunately for us, and especially the drivers of this car, Marco has recently discovered that today’s television audience is more familiar with TV shows about transforming robots than they are classic cartoons, and are therefore completely unfamiliar with the “tunnel painted on the wall” premise that would have seemed like a suspicious cliché 30 years ago. So to these drivers, despite having their GPS screaming at them to keep straight on the road and not turn directly into this inviting tunnel, this detour seems a perfectly reasonable choice and possibly the beginning of an adventure—maybe even a romantic one--and not the diabolical plan of a squirrel with mad art skills.

Julian is just a regular sort of squirrel caught up in a very irregular situation. Last week, when he was just running around and minding his own business at the park, a very nice couple--obviously confused by the presence of all the mimes and magicians performing at the park--approached him about doing his “act” at their daughter’s birthday party. It sounded like an easy gig, so he accepted, and now that party is today and he has no idea what he’s supposed to do to entertain all these kids. It didn’t take them long to be bored of the pony, and how is a squirrel supposed to compete with a pony? Luckily, the parents only booked him for one hour, so as long as he can sit here and act like he’s doing something squirrel-like, he’ll be okay.

Brianna makes a good part of her living selling things at the flea market. She’s always had a good eye for things tourists will consider collectibles and antiques—she finds a lot of items at church rummage sales, in thrift stores and estate sales, brings them home, cleans them up and fixes them, then takes them with her to sell at her stall. She’s had pretty good luck finding homes quickly for her salvage work. There’s one item, however, that she’s brought with her to the market again and again, but hasn’t been able to get anyone to take: that old brown suitcase prominently displayed in the front. That particular item came with Brianna’s house, tucked in a corner of the attic. Even though it’s completely empty—she had one of her braver friends open it for her—and it’s in pretty good shape, there’s just something wrong with it, a bad feeling, something that makes even her most loyal and curious customers avoid touching it when they’re visiting her stall, and if they do accidentally touch it while reaching past it to pick up something else, they always jump back as though shocked by an electrical current. People have told her Brianna should stop trying to sell it and just dump it off somewhere, but even though she herself feels repelled every time she touches it, it’s a nice suitcase, and she is way too thrifty to just throw something away. 

Cal is at work and he is very busy. Every day, he comes into this office and sits at his desk and waits for people to bring him things to read or type, which happens a lot, which is why he’s so busy. Every few hours—and it’s not on any schedule that he can tell, so he has to pay attention—one of the monitors at his desk makes a beeping sound and he has to immediately press a red or a blue button to make it stop making that sound. He suspects pushing these buttons might be the most important part of his job, but nobody's told him what they do so he just keeps pushing them. For a long time, he had a coffee cup on his desk that said “World’s Greatest Squirrel,” and seeing that cup every morning made him indescribably happy during some very dark times. But someone stole his coffee cup a couple of days ago, which is confusing because he’s the only squirrel who works at this branch. Even before he had the cup, many years ago, Cal had an office with a window in it, but he was moved to this office about a year ago because it was determined that windows make squirrels less productive. So now Cal has to work in this dark, windowless room that’s more of a storage closet than an office, with a blank coffee cup that doesn’t say nice things about him, and nothing but piles of paperwork to type up and read and buttons to push throughout the day.

Lorraine is at the end of her rope. Almost 20 years ago, Lorraine found Spot alone in the park, presumably abandoned, and she couldn’t help immediately falling in love with the noisy tailless creature. She first brought him home as a pet, but later, when he started showing signs of sentience, she started thinking of him more often as her son. She even tried to make him feel more like a squirrel by showing him how to make and wear a prosthetic tail, which seemed to give him a lot of confidence, especially when they went to the park to play with other squirrels. But that all changed when he became a teenager, and day after day, Spot seemed determined to find some way to break her heart in every possible way. It’s all just too much.

Her friend who works at the neighborhood pet store told her that males of this particular species go through a period of rut where they’re incredibly hostile and totally governed by hormones, and to just give him some space and wait it out and he should become his old self again in a while. But Lorraine, she doesn’t know how much longer she can put up with the yelling and the drinking and the constant humping and spraying. She's come to the sad conclusion that some animals are just meant to stay in the wild.

If you were to pass Pascale on the street, you’d probably think he was just an ordinary squirrel. However, last night, when Pascale was working on some really complicated science stuff in his lab, he accidentally bit a radioactive spider, and because of the still-unclear way radiation works in the body of spiders, he’s now got all of the powers a spider has. Which, to a squirrel, are fairly useless, since squirrels are already super strong, have really good intuition for danger—they call that tingling in the back of their heads their “Squirrely Sense”-- and have no trouble climbing up or down walls or swinging from things. Really, if anything, having any spiderlike abilities would be more of a hindrance to even your average squirrel than an advantage, and Pascale probably won’t be using his newfound powers any time soon, or even really notice they exist at all.

Meet Chuck, and also, meet the future. It’s the year 2025, and due to an unforeseen side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine (which otherwise totally worked like it was supposed to), squirrels have evolved to grow as big, or bigger, than humans. No longer having size as an advantage, people are no match for these hordes of invading squirrels with their sharp, pointy teeth and their overnight, unanimous decision to become carnivorous. Squirrels, they’ve always wanted what we have, and now they can just take it—and they are. You think this car that Chuck’s about to clean out and drive off in is sweet? You should see where Chuck lives. It’s a really nice place! A few years ago, one would say it’s much too nice a house for just one squirrel to live in, but that was back when we had a say in such things.

This is Fernando, who is currently on a cross-country research trip. The university he works at allows faculty to take some time off every few years to go on sabbatical to write a book, and Fernando’s decided that this is the perfect time to start working on his own dream project, “Perfect for Squirrels”—a book detailing all of the places in the world that would be perfect for squirrels to live once people are gone. His proposal’s a little bit fantasy, a little bit invasion theory, but because the book's going to be written by a squirrel it’s sure to be 100% adorable. Just look how he’s scouting my office out right now! Adorable.

Stab is a young enforcer for the Squirrel Mafia. He’s here partly out of guilt, but mostly out of love—for years, he’s worshipped Donna from afar, watched as she dated and then married his greatest rival, Don, watched her grow sadder and more tight-lipped as her husband, already a cruel man, grew crueler with time. Stab decided it must have just been destiny that he was right there, and the only other one there, when Don leaned over that open elevator shaft so he could stupidly listen to his stupid voice echo down 25 stories of empty—what else could it be? And now Donna is alone once more, and although she seems sad now, Stab’s pretty sure the moment to reveal his feelings for her are at hand. 

You can tell how cold it is outside because Paulo won't put all four limbs down at once unless he has to run away, which he never has to do when he's in my yard because he knows I love him. Earlier today, he came up to my window and pawed on the glass, only to jump back in shock because everything today is just cold.

This is Jim, and while Jim hates the rain as much as any other squirrel, he’s also smart enough to know that since he’s the only squirrel to venture down into my window well this afternoon, he gets all of the treats I left on the ledge for the usual flock of critters to share. Way to go, Jim! You might be cold and wet and pissed off at the lack of room service in your tree, but at least you're not hungry.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

I had originally planned to introduce you to a wonderful little squirrel named Brenda, but unfortunately, her long-running territorial battle with Bob (the rabbit) has drawn to an rather unsatisfactory conclusion. Despite Brenda’s superior technology and firepower, Bob was just a little trickier and a lot more determined than Brenda, and now all these nuts and the car and the guns are all his. Things will never be the same in my back yard again.

Joy is trying very hard to not feel neglected. Her best friend, Sandra, is a writer, and lately, all Sandra wants to do is sit at her desk and work and work and work and that’s it. She’s barely changed her clothes or washed her hair in days, and Joy is pretty sure that’s just not healthy. Every time Joy comes over and tries to get Sandra to do something fun, like go to the beach, or shopping, or out to lunch, Sandra just grumbles, “I’ve gotta finish this,” and doesn’t seem to notice how much this hurts Joy’s feelings. And really, what’s the big deal? Joy took some writing classes in college—which is where she and Sandra met--and honestly and thought they were boring. If Sandra was a true friend, she’d learn to have a regular work schedule like a normal person, and make time for the people outside of her stories every once in a while.

Here we have a professional mesmerist known simply by the stage name Z. This is somewhat problematic for the IRS and other government agencies that have tried to discover Z’s past, both because they can’t be sure whether or not he’s filed his taxes recently, or ever, and because there’s a chance this secrecy might be covering up some horrible crime in his past. Also—and I should have probably said this earlier—don’t look too carefully at this photograph, because Z’s powers of suggestion are so strong that it’s been known to reach people through long distances, sometimes resulting in generous donations to Z’s Swiss bank account.

Sasha is the star of the popular TV sitcom, Sasha! On today’s episode, Sasha’s roommate, Candice, has decided she wants to have a baby, and so she went out and got a cradle for their living room. “Where are you going to get a baby?” asks Sasha, because that’s what her lines tell her to say. “You’ll see!” grins Candice, laughing hysterically, and the studio audience laughs along with her just as loudly, and suddenly Sasha realizes that maybe she doesn’t want to have her name attached to this long-running, formerly-family-friendly TV show after all. 

Frank is a choreographer and performer in the avant-garde dance company, Le Danse a la Squirrel. Today, he is working through the opening scenes of his newest production, “Tail. Tail. Tail!!,” with the company’s most senior dancer, and once again is realizing how hard it is for humans to accurately portray the nuances of squirrel movement due to the weird way their feet move and their complete lack of a tail. But he’s worked with this particular dancer for so many years that it seems only fair to give her a shot at yet another lead role, even though every time she hops around and shakes her butt in pretense of having a tail, he can't help but feel like he’s watching his creation being destroyed.

Even though her given name is Jessica, no one has called her that for a very long time—everyone around here calls her The Squirrel God, The Big Squirrel, The Terrible Squirrel, or any other host of relatively unflattering names. For years, she lived a relatively solitary life on her little island, with lots of birds and the occasional visiting squirrel as companions, only to have a shipload of crazy people land on her beach and start harassing her. For some reason, they decided she was the type of creature that demanded human sacrifice (which seems to be a common human fallback), so every few months, she’s learned to come down to the village to find a big pile of nuts, a bunch of noisy shouting, and an annoying couple tied up to greet her. Because she’s a kind-hearted squirrel, she usually hauls the terrified couple down to the beach and throws them in the ocean so they can find their way back to their _real_ home, but more often than not, they make their way out of the water and return to their village on her island instead.

This is Lola, and Lola is consumed with regret. A very, very long time ago, when she was young, her mother warned her about her temper and how it would end up getting her into more trouble than it would ever get her out of, and oh, once again, her mother was right. Maybe if she had just run away and disappeared into the woods as soon as she was old enough, she could have just avoided people—and especially handsome, charming men—altogether, and her life would have been simple and carefree and no one would ever have had to learn how dangerous she could become when she was angry, or jealous, or sleepy. But no, she had to stay in the city and become a city squirrel, and now her life is one long series of terrible bells that can never be unrung.

Lorraine is a beautiful young female who lives in the hemlock grove next door. Unbeknownst to her, her neighbor, F-series 92687, has had a crush on her for a long time—so long, in fact, that he’s already convinced himself that the two of them dated, got married, and have been married for so long that they’ve finally grown apart. Ironically, this first dinner the two of them are sharing is also the day that F-series 92687 is also serving divorce papers on poor, confused Lorraine, who has long pitied the neighbor who spends most of his days watching her from the small upstairs window of his lonely, imposing mansion.

This is Al, and Al is lost. Normally, he pays attention when he’s walking home from work, but today he got distracted by the beautiful colors of late summer and ended up in this dark, seedy alley, nowhere near the comfortable apple tree he makes his home in. On top of that, he seems to have infiltrated some kind of spy meeting--or at least he assumes they’re spies, considering that both men are wearing trench coats. “Come and have a beer with us!” says one of the spies, gesturing towards the six pack on the ground. “We’ll make sure you get home safely!” But Al’s been reading the paper a lot lately, and has gleaned from those news stories that hanging out with spies, no matter how friendly they are, can be very dangerous for squirrels.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Harvey is a quiet bachelor who lives in the birch tree out back. Harvey has always had a soft spot in his heart for strays, and his little friend, Penny, is no exception. Harvey found Penny many years ago when someone forget her at the base of his tree, and being the considerate gentleman he is, he brought her up to his house, made room for her in one of the corners, and put some posters up around the neighborhood letting people know where she was. Since no one came to claim her, Harvey let the little girl stay, and all these years later, the two of them are still living together, high up in the trees, which is where most little girls want to be anyway. 

This is a rather aggressive cosmetics salesperson named Eunice. The first time Eunice came around with her little case full of powders and creams and smelly ointments, I tried to explain to her that the makeup she was trying to push on me was designed specifically for squirrels, and wouldn’t look good on me at all since I’m not a squirrel. “Oh, no!” she said. “This makeup works for _all_ skin types!” and proceed to give me a free makeover that left me looking like a squirrel that had been kidnapped by a family of clowns. I’ve been avoiding the “ding dong” of her at the front door for the past week, but apparently some of the other squirrels told her to go around back and knock at the window instead.

Justine is out for a rare night on the town with her friends at Club Windowell. The music sort of sucks, but the DJ’s super cute, and he keeps looking at her from the stage and saying things like, “This song goes out to a beautiful lady I’d like to get to know tonight,” and, “Are you lonely tonight? Because I am.” It’s all so awful and cheesy, but he’s practically poured into that tight onesie and might be a lot of fun if she can just get him to shut up for ten minutes.

Chuck--the one on the right--is a member of that Squirrel Liberation Front I've tried to warn everyone about for a while now, especially since they seem to be getting even bolder in their anti-human activities as of late. Today, Chuck is on lookout duty with a new recruit, a squirrel named Don that Chuck deeply suspects might be a spy but doesn’t have enough concrete evidence to say anything to the other squirrels yet. Sure, Don has the requisite lovely squirrel tail and knows all the proper SLF slogans and passwords, but there’s just something about him that doesn’t feel right. Which is why Chuck volunteered for this post—so he can get close to Don and find out for sure if the other squirrel is a true believer—or just another mole.

Christine is almost literally on the road trip from hell. She thought she’d save a few bucks by driving across the country to visit her old college roommate, Tammy, but so far, she’s had a flat tire and now the car just won’t start at all. Lucky for her, the flat tire happened way back in Chicago, where she could easily get it replaced, but stupidly, she didn’t think to get the car itself checked out before undertaking such a major trip. Now she’s stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service and a dead car battery, and it’s getting dark. Her only option, it appears, is to try to make it to the hotel advertised on the enticing billboard by the side of the road, and hope that the next exit is close-by, since it feels like she’s already been on this particular stretch of empty highway forever.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Candice is a nice squirrel who, despite her many wonderful qualities, definitely needs to work on being more assertive. Candice has always been highly suspicious of absurdly-handsome men—as a general rule, they’re too relaxed, they don’t seem to understand boundaries, and they can make you feel invisible—and unfortunately, her new neighbor, Daryl, is no exception. Daryl’s only been in her home for a few minutes, and he’s already helped himself to her hot dogs, grabbed way too much beer out of her fridge, and taken half his clothes off. And that chair? That’s Candice’s chair. Not a guest chair, not a boyfriend chair—it’s Candice’s chair. At this point, Candice is sort of hoping that Daryl tells her he’s married or a serial killer so she can kick him out of her house without seeming too rude, but so far, all he wants to talk about is how good her hotdogs are. He's already had two. 

Sharon is a quiet young female who is also today’s guest on Today! With Blaine! A couple of days ago, Sharon got a call from the show telling her that someone important from her past wanted to meet her, and ever since, she’s been calling up ex-boyfriends and the few friends she still has from high school trying to figure out who this someone might be. While she was backstage, though, the announcer told the audience that Sharon is actually one of three triplets that were adopted by three different families as infants, and that her two sisters have been looking for her ever since they learned the truth! Today is the day the three sisters learn about one another, as well as how much growing up in different households can shape the life of a little squirrel.

Patrick is apparently part of a surveying team here to determine how much of my yard belongs to me, and how much belongs to the squirrels. I’m a little peeved about this, since I honestly thought we were all sharing the space, but Patrick seems to have all the appropriate paperwork signed and notarized and on hand. There’s a part of me that thinks this may be a scam, but who has time for a lawyer these days?

You might already be familiar with Gerald's picture if you read the society pages. A few weeks ago, Gerald was best known for being the arm candy of Lady Adeline (again, if you bothered to read the society pages, you’d know exactly who I was talking about), a very wealthy woman from my neighborhood with a reputation less for her charm and more for her extravagant spending habits. The most expensive thing she ever bought by far, though, was the glamourous Gerald, who she took up with after almost hitting him with her limo. After a whirlwind and confusing courtship of two-and-a-half weeks of fancy dining in restaurants usually off-limits to squirrels, decadent shopping sprees, and one very exciting, near-fatal airplane ride (Gerald had never been in a plane before, and was so terrified he ended up attacking the pilot), the two were married in a quiet ceremony in Lady Adeline’s back yard. Tragically, later that evening, Adeline passed away at the banquet table, her mouth full of wedding cake, leaving everything to little Gerald, who has since been completely cleared of suspicion by the police.

Jerome has been trapped in the attic of my neighbor’s house for most of his life. When he was very small, a crow yanked him out of the tree branch he was running around on and flew him up to my neighbor’s roof, but Jerome escaped through a tiny hole in the roof and made his way into the attic. The mice in the attic brought him scraps from the kitchen downstairs to eat, and within a few weeks, Jerome was way too plump to escape back out through the little hole in the roof. For the past six months, he’s been trapped in my neighbors’ attic, running back and forth at all hours and making terrifying noises and knocking old furniture over, to the point where the home owners are too afraid to go up and investigate and have decided that it’s easier to believe that the attic is just haunted by a very dangerous ghost. But no, it’s just poor Jerome, running around and around in the dark, trying to figure out how to get back outside to his old life again.

This is Myron, and Myron is in love. For the past few months, he’s been trying to find a way to express his affection for Georgia, the beautiful girl squirrel who lives just across the street, but he keeps falling short. First, he mailed a box of doll feet to her, with his phone number written on the bottom of each foot, but she didn’t respond—next, he sent a box of doll hands. Again, no response! Today, he’s pulling out all the stops and sending her a box full of doll heads in the hopes that she’ll understand how much she means to him, and maybe even pick up the phone and try the number scrawled dozens of times all over the inside of the box. After all, what has she got to lose?

Dr. Eugene is a world-famous archaeologist and adventurer, and if you're a subscriber to the academic magazines “Squirrel Archaeologist” or “History! For Squirrels!” you may be familiar with some of his more celebrated discoveries, such as the trove of species peanuts discovered piled in a stack underneath a sarcophagus slab in Egypt, or his analysis of the remnants of the brain of the 13th century saint, Joseph of Illado, which turned out to be a dried-out apricot. Earlier today, as a huge fan of archaeology myself, I asked Dr. Eugene what exactly he was looking for in my window well, but he is famously tight-lipped about his discoveries and doesn’t discuss his work until his notes are ready to be delivered and cataloged with the universities funding his trips or to the reporters at the many magazines that chronicle his adventures, and unfortunately for me, today was no exception.

Bastien is a weary traveler who has unfortunately stumbled into the wrong inn to spend the night, for this quaint little B&B is run by Ma Hatchett and her three beautiful daughters, Pull-Tab, Spot, and Grits, who, despite their genteel appearance, are all cold-blooded killers. Usually, the Hatchetts wait until their guests retire for the night before they start a-stabbing and a-robbing, but they haven’t had any visitors for a good couple of weeks, so at the risk of Bastien slipping out without paying his bill in the middle of the night, they’ve decided to all greet him at the front door, fully armed and ready to stab, before he’s even had a chance to sign the guest register or check out his room for the night. Oh, if only he’d picked a Holiday Inn or some recognizable chain hotel, but no, he had to go with the quirky stop just outside of town instead.

This is Sophia, soon to be Queen Sophia. When Sophia signed up with Find-a-Prince's dating service, she figured she’d be set up with just a nice guy with a job, nothing fancy, or, if they set her up with an actual prince, that it’d be one of those suave Dutch princes, like the ones that wear suits and sashes in the movies. She did not imagine in the slightest that her prince might be this Genghis Khan type warrior, an angry brute who has already informed her that there will be no dating—he’s already decided she’s to be his wife and that they will be returning to his home world immediately. “As Queen, you can have all the meat you can eat!” he roars. “But mister, I’m a squirrel! I don’t eat meat!” protests Sophia, the future Queen of God-knows-where, swearing under her breath to never use a dating service to find a man ever again.

The Big Dam Monster is an ancient creature that patrols this small, manmade lake. Every few decades, when the water level dips dangerously low and the fish population is threatened, the Big Dam Monster has been known to come to the surface and wreak havoc on the local population of fishermen and summer vacationers. Unfortunately for these carefree teens partying at the edge of the dam, their night of illicit, drunken fun is about to be cut short by this local denizen of the deep.

 Someone looked in my window and thought, "There's a sucker for a cute squirrel if I ever saw one--and she's got a can of mixed nuts sitting right on her desk."

Julius is a professional magician with a reputation for being a real jerk to his assistants. This new assistant is finding out that this reputation is well-deserved—halfway through his signature act, he’s decided to take his lunch break, leaving her with her legs and arms stuck in one half of the box and her head in another! And to make matters worse, the poor girl really has to use the bathroom, and how does one even find the bathroom with their head unattached? “Quit whining,” says Julius, pausing to take another stupid bite of his stupid fancy almond before twirling his stupid magician moustache at the girl. “In this economy, you should just be happy you have any job at all.” 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Sheila was at my window the moment it stopped raining to press her little face and paws up against my window to beg for treats. Almost immediately after this picture was taken, it started raining buckets again, so I don't imagine I'll have any more squirrel visitors today.

Jackie is a highly superstitious squirrel who can’t get her day started without either consulting the astrology page of the newspaper or stopping by to get her cards read by the neighborhood fortune teller. Moment ago, she received the most disturbing news—Madame Lisa just told her that she seems to have no future at all! “It’s probably nothing,” says Madame Lisa. “Sometimes the cards don’t work until I’ve had lunch. I’m sure it doesn’t mean something terrible is going to happen to you or anything.” But Jackie, oh, how is she supposed to live her day today, not knowing what’s about to happen?

Christie is a passionate young female from the maple out front. Christie’s best friend, Judith, was supposed to guard the pile of nuts set out for her from the ravaging shrew that’s eaten her breakfast twice already this morning, but Judith had not had her cup of coffee yet when she volunteered for this position and fell asleep sometime during her watch. She tried to make it up to Christie by buying her more nuts with her own money—and Judith is currently unemployed and doesn't have much money, so this was very generous of her—but Christie’s decided that she’s just had enough of that darned shrew. “Don’t do anything rash!” says Judith. “Trust me, no breakfast is worth going to jail for!” But Christie, she lets her heart rule most days, and often, with tragic consequences.

Dustin has come to the grim conclusion that the part of the birch tree he just moved into happens to be haunted. Pictures keep falling off the walls, doors open and close of their own volition, and the scratching of non-squirrel feet can be heard at all hours in the parts of the tree too skinny and termite-ridden for Dustin to safely investigate. However, trying to coax a priest way up into this part of the tree has proven impossible, so Dustin has been left to deal with the ghost on his own. His first step? Set out a lovely dinner and a place setting for the ghost in the hopes that the two of them can sit down together and have a peaceful conversation about how to coexist. Dustin has made up a list of things he can do to accommodate the ghost’s schedule, and he hopes that when the ghost eventually comes to the table, he or she will have something similar to present to him.

This squirrel only eats almonds. She scratches at my window until I toss some nuts out for her, and she immediately picks out all the almonds and runs away. After the other squirrels come and eat all the nuts, she comes back and asks for more. Again and again and again. I can't help but think that the other squirrels also come to my window looking for almonds, only to find they've all been grabbed by this one squirrel.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Rowena is a lovely, quiet female from this spring’s first litter. Rowena just got off the phone with her mother, who apparently spent a whole lot of money getting a family tree put together to surprise Rowena and her siblings. According to the chart, Rowena’s family not only came over from the Old World nearly a thousand years ago, accompanying a crew of rugged Viking explorers who loved having squirrels running around on deck while battling the high seas, but also, it looks like there’s some royal blood way down the line. Rowena’s mother is already looking into on whether any of them can claim any benefits from being the direct descendent of a genuine squirrel king, even if it’s just a royal title that they can all use on business cards. “Aren’t you excited?” asked Rowena’s mother once she paused for breath. “Wouldn’t it be exciting if it turned out _you_ were a princess?”

Princess Rowena. It has a nice ring to it.

Celeste is a local author who lives in the maple tree out front. Celeste is here at one of her favorite bookstores to autograph copies of her newest release, “Lots of Hugs,” a cozy, romantic non-thriller that takes place almost entirely in some guy’s fancy garden and is mostly about how much this guy and this girl like hugging each other and smashing their faces together and making weird nonsensical sounds while they do it. While most critics have been relatively gentle when reviewing Celeste’s work, the one noticeable flaw that runs through almost every single one of her books is the fact that she insists on writing about people and from a human point of view without seeming to know anything about people or what motivates your average human. One day, when she can relax and take time to write something more serious, more legacy-oriented, she plans to write at least one book that is just about squirrels, perhaps two, but that time is too far away to think about right now.

Stan’s kind of a loner, but that’s OK, because we can’t all be Mr. Popular party animal types. After a hard day of punching numbers at the office, Stan likes to come home and watch TV, and that’s it. Sometimes, coworkers invite Stan out for drinks after work, because it’s this thing they all like to do at the office, they like to hang out together after work after gabbing with each other all day _at_ work, but Stan usually just says he doesn’t drink, or that he has something really important to do, both of which are plain-out lies. Stan likes to drink, but he likes to do it at home, by himself, without anyone yapping at him, and the thing he likes to do best is watch TV. By himself.

Today is the first day of Geraldine's new cable-access cooking show, Cooking with Gerry. Everything has to be perfect for this big day—the equipment has to work, her studio-provided assistant needs to stay the fuck out of her way, all of the ingredients need to be retested for freshness, and most important, none of her jokes can fall flat before the studio audience. Or maybe she should forget her carefully-scripted jokes completely? She only tested them on a couple of friends, and while they laughed very politely when she told them, they were perhaps just a little too polite. Yes, for this first show, she should play it super seriously, then maybe on the second episode, cut loose a little, try to get people to laugh with her. So long as they’re not laughing at her, that is. Oh, she should have packed a flask for today. This is not going well at all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Charmaine is the manager for Bounce, the most popular squirrel band in the world. She's been managing the band since she and Yeet were in college together, back when no one knew who they were, and was responsible for setting up some of their first paying gigs, including bookings at high school proms all over town. However, ever since their last record, “NUTS!” hit platinum almost overnight, she’s begun hearing rumors that the band’s planning on ditching her to sign with a real agency, and the thought just makes her so sad she can’t sleep. In fact, she’s hasn’t left her office for the past three days, making her little charts and planning her next big move for the band, hoping to come up with something so impressive that when they all get together for coffee next week, the boys’ll have to admit she is the best manager any group could ever have.

This is Bertrand, and Bertrand’s still not sure how he got here. Earlier today, he was on his way to work and decided to take a short cut through an unfamiliar part of the yard, and suddenly just found himself in this pristine, warm and happy place that's apparently never been visited by any other squirrel. Food is plentiful, the inhabitants are extra friendly, and while secretly, Bertrand’s a little worried he fell down a well or something and is just imagining all of this, he doesn't want to dwell on that possibility too much. Either way, this day’s turning out to be a lot more interesting than he thought it’d be when he got up this morning.

Jules is a veteran of the squirrel art scene, setting up his wall display and table for what seems like his millionth group art show and print signing. The crowds won’t be showing up for at least an hour or so, which gives him just enough time to eat some breakfast and maybe grab a cup of coffee with some of the younger artists who are also exhibiting today. What he doesn’t know about this seemingly routine art show is that the evening will end with a confrontation with his greatest fan (other than his mother)—a secretive character who's been leaving strange letters and packages intermittently on his doorstep for the past ten or so years. In the end, though, Jules will be pleasantly surprised to find that this stranger is actually just a genuine fan who is truly confused on what constitutes boundaries in the artist-audience relationship.

Loretta has come to this ramshackle theater set up outside my window full of good intentions. Tonight is the debut of her friend Janice’s seven-act play, “Three Tiny Women With Something to Say,” a lengthy exploration on the trials of being a 5-inch-tall woman in this crazy modern world. Unfortunately, the program did not state that the play would end up being nearly five hours long from beginning to end, and three hours into the performance, Loretta really has to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, she is the only one who turned up for this performance, so her absence, however brief, would be immediately noticed, and she does not want to hurt any of the performers’ feelings. Far off in the corner of the theatre, the red, glowing "Restrooms" light blinks on and off, on and off, as if purposefully taunting her as she tries to focus only on the actors on the stage.