THE NEFARIOUS DR. WILHELM SKREEM’S DEVIOUSLY DANGEROUS DIETARY DILEMMA!

Bwah-ha-ha! It is I, the Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem. Or, as my peevish personal trainer used to call me, the Nefattious Dr. Wilhelm Slob. Which, I’m not going to pretend that didn’t hurt. I may be an evil genius, but deep down, I’m still human. I’m no stranger to the cunning calorie, the non-amicable amino acid. I have a gut, is what I’m saying.

And I’ve tried to drop the pounds, but they persist like a pesky poltergeist, or a… no, that metaphor will do. I’ve tried all kinds of fad diets, like Android Atkins, where you eat nothing but computer parts. It gave me botulism- robotulism! I even tried that hippy dippy Creeque Alley diet, which assured me that no one would get fat, except Mama Cass. Correction: me and Mama Cass!

You’re probably wondering what prompted this interest in my horrendous health. I really just wanted to be a bully. A real live bully like in those old comic book ads. I had the dream within my grasp one day, when I encountered a 98 pound weakling in the wild, at the beach. It was within my grasp, but slipped through my fingers like sand, which was the whole problem, really. Do you know how difficult it is to kick sand in someone’s face, I don’t care if they’re a 98 pound weakling or not! Sand is not a forgiving medium of torture. I got winded trying to kick it at the 98 pound weakling and he didn’t even get any sand on him! I did, though. I got sand all over me. Sand in places you do not want sand.

So, when the fad diets failed me, I switched to workouts. I hired that previously mentioned peevish personal trainer named Thad, who ran me through the ringer, figuratively speaking. My ringer is still in the shop, so he couldn’t use it literally. But he did push me hard, with pushups, sit-ups, crunches, snaps, crackles, pops, locks, bagels, you name it. But here’s the thing people don’t tell you about working out. It’s hard! I mean, really, really hard! And your muscles get sore and you’re only reminded of how weak you are. I’ll tell you what I hate the most is running. All the fleet footwork and for what? Ragged breathing? No thank you! I seriously don’t know how you poor huddled masses flee from me in terror so often. You must be fit! I did get very good at one aspect of running, though. I am highly skilled in the art of shouting, “On your left!” That was fun, especially because I was usually on the right. Bwah-ha-ha!

So, I retired to my invisible subatomic submarine to sulk about my inability to bully. Then it struck me. This tickle-me taser I’ve been working on, I mean. And I realized I am a bully. I didn’t need brute force to intimidate. I’ve got mad skills- mad science skills! And soon you will taste my wrath, and it will taste like sand. For I have a large robotic leg that will kick sand into the face of any weakling it encounters 98 pounds or lower. Parents, hide your babies, the Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem is in town. Bwah-ha-ha!
Begone!

THE NEFARIOUS DR. WILHELM SKREEM’S DEVIOUSLY DRAMATURGICAL DRAMA

Bwah-ha-ha! But seriously, you guys? For serious? For serious. You all know me as the Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem, evil genius, not-quite-mad-but-pretty-unusual scientist, President of the Society for the Prevention of the Prevention of Cruelty, but what I really want to do is direct. And write. And star in my own one-man Broadway spectacular! I never realized it before, but I have the theatre in my blood, the stage in my bones, performance in my pituitary gland. I yearn for the footlights, the headlights, the abdomenlights. Here’s my amazing story.

I was doing research on evil, when I came across a name I’d never seen before: Streisand. What a sinister songstress, she! And with this revolting revelation came more and more evil masterminds of the stage: Brecht! The Scottish Play! Something called a Wendy Wasserstein! And perhaps the most villainous of all: Andrew Lloyd Weber. Thanks to him, no one dare use the words “starlight” or “express” in the same sentence, lest the nightmares begin again.

But I was hooked, and now I’m a total theatre junky. I’ve read all of Shakespeare’s plays and my favorite is probably Rent, I’ve memorized An Actor Prepares and A Director Researches and A Playwright Drinks Heavily, and I’ve written my big Broadway show, The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem Shuts On the Lights! It’s an epic voyage into my own private Uta Hagen, and the first cycle is two weeks long. But tonight, I shall perform the first part of the first part, The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem Shuts On the Lights, Part One: The Ill Cranium’s Atrocious.

The curtain rises on a darkened stage. There is a tree under which The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem sits, tying his shoes. The tree is gnarled, ancient and bare of leaves. It symbolizes the futility of Man’s existence in a world in which the existence of Man is futile. The NDWS looks up, shoes untied.

Skreem: Nothing to be done. Nowhere to do it. No one with which to do nothing. All is lost. Even my invisible rabbit has left me. Life is a tale told by an idiot, only he forgets the end and keeps repeating himself until you’re like, we get it, already! And he’s all, I’m an idiot, don’t hate the player, dur dur dur. And it is all highly tragic.

A heroic figure approaches. He has a sword and a cape and everything. Maybe he rides a horse. Maybe not. I really don’t care about this character. He is the foil.

Hero: Greetings! I bring good news. The world has meaning; the Pope has just decreed it.

Skreem: No! It can’t be true. What will I tell my angst?

Hero: Tis none of my concern, lowly evil genius. Now stand aside that I will spread the word across the land. Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Man’s Existence No Longer Futile! Pope’s Hopes Nopes Dopes!

Hero begins to exit, stage left, when he stops and regards the NDWS with pity, love, and is that a hint of jealousy? He reaches into his satchel, which, by the way props department, he’s carrying a satchel. He pulls out a small black box with a sticker on it that reads Do Not Open Until Ever.

Hero: Say, you appear trustworthy.

Skreem: You take that back!

Hero: Now, now, take it easy there, big fella! I have a long day of spreading the news, carrying the banner, opening the gates and seizing the day ahead of me. Might I ask you to look over this box, which has been entrusted to me by his Holy Mackerel himself, the Pope?

Skreem: What? No.

Hero: It’s a very special box, which must not be opened lest all the evil in the universe escape it and run rampant across the land, like an online music station.

Skreem: Really? Gimme!

The NDWS yoinks the box from Hero, smiling greedily.

Hero: I knew I could trust you, strange, villainous stranger. Now stand aside. Attention must be paid… to me.

Hero rides off, if he’s on a horse. If you can’t get a real horse, use a man in a horse costume, or a woman in a man costume,
pretending to be a horse. Or just skip the horse entirely and have Hero on a motorcycle, with the woman in a man costume pretending to be a horse riding sidecar.

Skreem: I can’t believe that yutz fell for it. At last, the fabled Pandora’s Box is mine! Now, I shall wreak havoc across infinity! And yet, I am torn, conflicted, you may even describe me as multi-layered. If I open the box, all life will cease to have meaning, and despair will rule the day. And yet, by my very nature I am evil, and I know that I must do what’s wrong, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti. To do or not to do, that’s a very good question. But who am I kidding? You know what I’m going to do. Bwah-ha-ha! Revenge is a sandwich best served open-faced!

The NDWS opens the box, and the lights flash, dry ice fills the stage, electric buzzers implanted in the seats go off, and the curtain falls! End of Part One. Applause, applause, applause, Pulitzer, Pulitzer, Pulitzer, Tony, Tony, Tony. I mean, the drama award, not the R & B singing sensation. Oh, you guys know what I mean.

Begone!

THE NEFARIOUS DR. WILHELM SKREEM ANTAGONISTICALLY ANSWERS YOUR LOUSY LETTERS

Dear The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem,
You are so awesomely awful. I am but a lowly citizen, law-abiding and apple consuming. I do not, as far as I am aware, have any arch nemeses. The closest thing would be eggs, which I am allergic to, or my basketball skills which fail me. I was hoping against hope that you would give me the displeasure of being my special villain. Do you dislike me? Please check one:
-Yes
-No
-Maybe

Signed,
Scooter Howards

Dear Scooter,
Thank you for your interest in being The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem’s arch nemesis. After careful consideration, he has chosen another applicant whose skills more suit the needs of his arch nemesizing. Particularly, his basketball skills. We appreciate your interest and hope you die of egg consumption.

Bwah-ha-ha,
The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem

Dear The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem,
Can you help settle a bet for me? My boyfriend says you have been foiled by your own evil scheme a baker’s dozen of times, but I say you have been foiled 13 times. He counts the time the Cursed Cocktail of Rory exploded in your face and all over the kitchen wall, but I say that scheme does not qualify as it was hijacked so early in its conception. Please respond, a cheeseburger pizza is at stake!

Yours truly,
Belinda Automobilelisle

Dear Ms. Automobilelisle,
You and your boyfriend can leave your stupid comments in your pocket! None of my plans have backfired; they are all part of a grand design. You just think I’m a slapstick super villain, when in fact I am completely competent and what’s more, when I do finally succeed at my evil scheme, you and the rest of the world will cower in fear of my surprising success!

Sorry about your cheeseburger pizza,
The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem

Dear The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem,
Boo!

Signed,
A Ghost

Dear A Ghost,
Aaaaaah!

Sincerely,
The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem

You can write to the Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem at:

The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem
Invisible Subatomic Submarine
Secret Ocean X
Box 451
Evilton, Wisconsin, 90210

THE NEFARIOUS DR. WILHELM SKREEM’S TOE-TAPPING THEME SONG

Bwah-ha-ha! I bet you thought you’d be getting another Dr. Edgar Euphonium story, didn’t you? Wrong! Instead, you will be treated to my now-official theme song. Sing it at your own risk, and in 4/4 time!

There’s a man who lives a life of evil.
Wherever he finds peace, he’ll cause upheaval.
When he unhinges his jaw
To unleash a wicked “bwah-ha-ha!”
You’ll have hands trembling and two knocking kneevils.

Dr. Wilhelm Skreem! Always hatching evil schemes!
He will shock and he’ll scareious,
That’s why he’s nefarious,
Dr. Wilhelm Skreem!

Now, he is not quite mad but still unusual.
With a consistency that rivals Stan “the Man” Musial.
His heart’s full of acid, his lungs with smog,
And like Snake Walker, he’d kill a frog.
If you cross his path, best bid yourself adieusual!

Dr. Wilhelm Skreem! He’s like cyanide ice cream!
Except he’s nefarious
But don’t contain dairyous,
Dr. Wilhelm Skreem!

Would he, could he raise a zombie?
Might he, fright he build a bombie?
Will he, spill he toxic fluid?
Chance he, dance he old soft shoe-id?

Dr. Wilhelm Skreem! It’s his official wicked theme!
He’s neither hip nor is square-ious,
He’s simply nefarious,
Dr. Wilhelm Skreem!
Begone!

THE NEFARIOUS DR. WILHELM SKREEM’S DISQUIETING DISCORDIAN

Bwah-ha-ha! Hear the wrath of the Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem! Smell my sinfulness! Taste my terrifyingness! See my… sinfulness! And touch nothing. You don’t know where it’s been. I’ve been to the depths of eternity and back, but I didn’t bring these things along. I did, however, perfect my latest and most menacing invention. The most insane instrument to ever maim music theory to shreds. The Discordian! Hear its fatal F-Sharp chord!

Well, you can’t hear it, but trust me, it is fatal. Fatal to relationships! That’s right, one squeeze of this dismal Discordian will ruin even the most blessed of unions. Til Discordian do us part! Bwah-ha-ha! And you can trust me this time; I’ve tested this evil instrument on the most perfect of previously perfect couples. Naturally, my first test case had to be special. Not just any George and Martha Washingwhozits from Anyplace, British Columbia. It had to be someone whose love had lifted them up where they belonged, a love that meant never having to say you’re sorry, a love that knows what love is. So, I decided to look up my birth parents. I knew they were bound together by a mutual hatred of me, and I had to burst that love bubble like the nefarious needle I am.

With the arsenical assistance of my Discordian to persuade the orphanage to provide me with my parent’s names, I sussed their names out like a suffraging Dr. Suss. My parents, Kirk and Lois Skreem, lived in a modest two-bedroom brick house in Beaverton, Wisconsin. It was sickeningly, sitcomily sweet. I snuck to the hedges fronting the lawn and waited until dark. When they pulled up in their barf-inducing Buick LeSabre, I burst onto the driveway, shouting, “Mr. and Mrs. Skreem, it’s your son, Wilhelm!” I squangrily squoze the Discordian as their shouts of surprise at my entrance turned to shouts of anger at each other. Within moments, their entire wedded life had shattered like the bottle of wine my father had dropped when I jumped out. Bwah-ha-ha! Success!

But success came with sinister strings attached. My parents, now newly divorced, decided to punish me by incorporating me into their lives. So, now I am forced to go shoe shopping with my Mom every weekend and spend my Tuesday nights eating dinner with my Dad. Frozen waffles so overcooked you need to stab them repeatedly with your fork to get a barely edible bite. Bacon, underdone. Orange juice. And sadness. Second and third helpings of sadness. But the Discordian works, so bwah-ha-ha, I guess. Anyway, begone.

THE INVENTIONS OF DR. EDGAR EUPHONIUM: THE AMAZING MIRACLE GROW FORMULA

“I thought I told you to dress for tree climbing,” Dr. Euphonium said. He himself was dressed in his usual lab coat and goggles as well as a pair of torn jeans and a faded green sweatshirt which said Property of the University of Genial Monsters Athletic Club. He also had knee and elbow pads on and cleats. I was in my usual brown corduroy trousers and red cowboy shirt. It was about as casual as I got, aside from pajamas. I shrugged. “Don’t shrug, Floyd, you know how much I hate the shoulder ear proximity already.”

“Sorry,” I said. Dr. Euphonium was basically a man-shaped bundle of quirks and contradictions. Foremost among them was his build. He was about six foot two and as thin as a single ply square of toilet paper. But as far as I could tell he never ate anything but junk food. He was always munching on brownies, potato chips, snickerdoodles, licorice, chocolate bars, cupcakes, you name it. Case in point, today he was shoveling fistfuls of caramel corn into his mouth.

“No matter, Gottfredson,” he said. “These clothes should do in a pinch.”

“Where is the tree we’re climbing anyway?” I couldn’t see any plant life in his backyard, aside from a lilac bush that was interspersed with disturbing stalks of blinking eyeballs. I wasn’t going anywhere near that.

“That’s the beauty part. It’s right here,” he replied, removing an acorn from his pocket. I laughed. “You laugh?” he said, looking askance.

“Stop looking askance, I didn’t mean it.”

“Even so,” he said, “you should know better than to question my experiments.”

This was patently false. Dr. Euphonium’s experiments, though entertaining, rarely went according to plan. I didn’t want to offend the doctor further, so I just said, “Please explain your latest experiment.”

“Gladly!” he said, turning on a dime. “It’s an Amazing Miracle Grow Formula, designed to work instantaneously. I take this beaker of the Amazing Miracle Grow Formula, apply it to the acorn and eureka! What was once a lowly seed fulfills its fertile destiny and blossoms into a mighty oak!”

I was intrigued, but skeptical. “How quickly are we talking here?” I asked, trying to sound more intrigued than skeptical. Dr. Euphonium beamed. Apparently, I’d succeeded.

“It’s practically instantaneous,” he said. “The only catch is I’m not sure what the ratio of acorn to Amazing Miracle Grow Formula is, exactly. So I’m just winging it. Watch and learn, Gottfredson,” he said, through mouthfuls of caramel corn. He dropped the acorn in the backyard and splashed the entire beaker of slimy green liquid on it. “Now just sit back,” he said before he was interrupted by a loud crack and whoosh! Before our eyes, the acorn grew into a tree. Not just any tree, the biggest tree I’d ever seen. It was so tall, I couldn’t see the top.

“Behold!” Dr. Euphonium shouted. “The Amazing Miracle Grow Formula works instantaneously. And apparently six liters is way more than enough. Unless I’m breaking HOA code, this experiment is an unparalleled success.” I had to admit, it was exceptionally effective.

“Wow, this formula could have some incredible benefits to the agricultural industry.”

“Yes, Floyd, and the ladies love agricultural pioneers. You know how many girlfriends George Washington Carver had at once?” Dr. Euphonium had a sly grin on his face. “I’m so excited; can you hear my heart pounding?”

I did hear pounding, but I doubted it was his heart. It was more like the bass of a stereo turned up to a trillion, and it was coming from the tree. “Uh, Dr. Euphonium, is there something growing on this tree?” I nervously asked.

“I suppose it could be a giant acorn or branch barreling down at us,” he said, scratching his chin.

“Should we, you know, move?” I asked. Before he could respond, an enormous shadow loomed over us, and the face a gigantic squirrel peeped out from the branches. It chattered at us, a loud shivering sound that caused us to quake in our cleats and loafers, respectively. “What should we do?” I whispered.

“Don’t make any sudden moves, Floyd,” Dr. Euphonium said. “Squirrels aren’t predatory, even gigantic ones. But let’s not risk being chomped in twain by those ten foot teeth.”The squirrel locked eyes with Dr. Euphonium, scampering closer to us. I fought the urge to bolt from the spot. Dr. Euphonium reached into his bag of caramel corn. The squirrel’s gaze darted to the bag as it rustled. Dr. Euphonium froze. They had a brief staring contest that felt like it lasted a year. And then the squirrel snatched the snack from him, popped it in its mouth bag and all and scurried up the tree.

“Uh…” I said.

“My… my caramel corn,” Dr. Euphonium whispered plaintively. “He took my caramel corn.”

“Yeah, bummer. Look, I’m gonna go in case he comes back and wants to snatch me up next. See you later, Dr. Euphonium.” I speed walked out of the yard. As the gate swung shut, I could still hear Dr. Euphonium mourning the loss of his beloved bag of caramel corn.

THE NEFARIOUS DR. WILHELM SKREEM’S EVIL EXCERPTS FROM HIS NEFARIOUS NOTEBOOK

BWAH-HA-HA! IF YOU ARE READING THIS, THEN YOU ARE ABOUT TO BECOME DEAD MEAT! WATCH OUT! OR THE NEXT DEAD MEAT YOU SEE WILL BE YOU!

READ NO FURTHER OR THE HORRENDOUS HEX OF A ZILLION CURSES WILL BEFALL YOU, CAUSING ALL MANNER OF WARTS AND FOOT CRAMPS AND HEART ATTACKS OR SOMETHING. AND PESTILENCES, LIKE SWARMS OF LOCUSTS AND HEAVY RAINS AND UNENDING PHONE CALLS FROM YOUR MOST BORING FRIENDS! WHAT’S MORE, YOU WILL BE CURSED WITH THIS HEX FOR ALL OF ETERNITY! AND THEN SOME! TURN BACK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

SERIOUSLY, STOP NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT THE CURSE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

-Idea for Sinister Sofa, the Like As A Friend Seat: a love seat with an invisible electric barrier to keep slicksters and Joe Cools and other unsavory fellows from pulling the old Fake-Yawn-Into-Arm-Around-Shoulder Maneuver. Those gents feeling so bold as to attempt the trick will find themselves saying a Farewell to Arms, literally, not literarily! Bwah-ha-ha! The high-focus laser beam will slice the swain’s arm in twain, like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. You’re welcome, ladies.

-Possible start to my memoirs, “Bwah-ha-ha: The Life & Evil Laughs of the Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem”: Chapter One, He adored evil. He idolized it all out of proportion. No, no, make that, he romanticized it all out of proportion. To him, evil was a metaphor for all the dastardly and delicious evil in the world. That being said, he really didn’t understand how metaphors worked.

-Creature Concept: Gertrude Steinasaur! Using those fossilized remains I found at the site of that prehistoric Parisian café, I can reanimate the most deconstructive reptile that ever roamed the earth of the world of the earth, the Gertrude Steinasaur! She will destroy your conception of sentence structure! She will annihilate abstractly and abstractly. There can be breakages in Japanese. Your fear will have a taste. It is copper and blue. The Gertrude Steinasaur is copper and blue. I have lost my train of thought. The train is a feather and thought is a table. But the Gertrude Steinasaur will breathe fire and the fire she will breathe will be breathed as fire!

-Which is my most menacing sweater? Arrogant argyle, sinister striped, or vicious v-neck? My instinct tells me stripes, but vertical stripes. That way I look much taller than I actually am, and loom larger over my cowering subjects. And make it blue stripes. Blue really makes my eyes pop, like they’re coming right out at you!

-Hypnotism reminder: It’s ‘you are getting sleepy’ and ‘your eyelids are getting heavy.’ For some reason, I keep saying the opposite. Subjects much more difficult to mentally manipulate when wide awake. And more belligerent. Also, switch to pocket watch. That Swatch watch is much too distracting, though way more stylish.

-A good front for a secret lair would be a deli. One that’s a bit out of the way, so I’m left to my own devilish devices, but add an air of mysterious appeal that would attract hipsters and the elderly. That particular demographic wouldn’t notice or care about my prolonged absences or mediocre sandwich making skills. Old people love mediocre things like daytime television and Tea Party candidates, and the hipsters could focus their patented strategic enthusiasm on my too dry tuna salad. Plus I love pickles and it would give me a great excuse to munch maliciously on a kosher dill spear whilst planning my next secret scheme.

-Sometimes I ponder with sorrowful sorrow out the east window of my invisible subatomic submarine, dwelling on the glum fact that there are still parts of the world where evil has yet to proliferate. Places like Northern Canada, the Arctic and parts of Prague. This is why I so desperately want to form a foundation that sends young up and coming villains around the world to spread evil and awfulness where these virtues have yet to take root and pollute. A sort of Anti-Peace Corps, if you will. This is my ultimate dream. This, and rocket-powered rollerblades. I wonder which will come true first?

-Thinking of updating my evil laugh to more of a cackle, like bweh-heh-heh, or a chortle, such as bwee-hee-hee. On second thought, I hate these changes with a passion. You can never go wrong with a hearty, hateful bwah-ha-ha! It does a body good. The bad kind of good.

-Also never changing: my signature sign-off line. Succinct, direct, to the point and filled with bitter ire and B-12 terribleness.

Begone!

THE INVENTIONS OF DR. EDGAR EUPHONIUM: DOC EUPHONIE’S PIZZA PARLOR

“Hello?” I said, tentatively stepping into the pitch black laboratory of Dr. Edgar Euphonium. The door swung shut behind me and I was enveloped in darkness. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I wasn’t holding it up to my face, but if I had been, it surely wouldn’t be visible.
There was the deathly stench of burning and the familiar sub-smell of processed cheese. “Dr. Euphonium?” I called out. I feared the worst. His sentient cheese had imploded and taken him with it. That would explain the smell and absence of light. As it turned out, I was wrong. This was not the worst scenario.
“Ladies and Gottfredson!” a familiar voice exclaimed. “Welcome to Doc Euphonie’s Pizza Parlor, a family fun restaurant just for kids! And now, the main attraction, the star mascot, everyone’s favorite Italian funnyman, Walter Walrus!” A spotlight was thrown on the stage now at the far end of the lab. From its luminescence, I could see checkered tablecloths covered the tables used for Dr. Euphonium’s experiments. There was a long pause. “Yes, here he is, folks, Walter Walrus!” Nothing happened. “Oh, for the love of- Walter! Walter, have you shut yourself down again?” From behind the curtain, an animatronic walrus head in a top hat peeked out.
“N-n-no, Doc Euphonie,” he stammered in an accent both robotic and Italian.
“Then, what’s the rumpus, robot? You missed your cue.” Dr. Euphonium strode past the tables to the stage. “Hello, Floyd,” he said as he passed me. “Welcome to Doc Euphonie’s Pizza Parlor, a family fun restaurant just for kids.” He flipped on the lights. Now I could all the tables had the same checkered tablecloth and portions of the lab had been designated as a kitchen and a play area, with video games, skee ball and bouncy houses.
“Doc Euphonie’s Pizza Parlor?” I asked.
“That’s right, a family fun restaurant just for kids. See, Gottfredson, you’re young and there are certain things you don’t understand. Like scientific experimentation doesn’t pay what it used to. Back in the seventies, it was a different story. I was but a young potion slinger, and the world was my genetically enhanced oyster. We were speaking with gorillas and splicing peanut butter into chocolate. And we were funded for it. These days, it’s much more difficult to make moolah in the Not-Quite-Mad-But Still-Pretty-Unusual Sciences. Which is why I’m branching out. My latest moneymaking venture is a kid-themed pizza parlor, complete with animatronic entertainment. Here, try a slice of pizza.” He unearthed a slice from his lab coat. I hesitantly took a bite, then quickly spit it out.
“Yuck! It’s like a cereal box dipped in tomato water and scorched beyond recognition.”
“Thank you,” Dr. Euphonium said. “I studied the cuisine at these kid friendly restaurants and tried to recreate the flavor as closely as I could. Still needs to be burnt more. But that’s not my biggest issue. I seem to have invented the only animatronic entertainer with severe stage fright. See if you can help me coax him out. Here he is, folks, Walter Walrus!” We both cheered and clapped loudly, hoping to convince the robot to come out. We chanted his name over and over until finally, tentatively, he stepped from behind the curtain.
Walter wore a tux and tails along with his top hat, and bore a vacant smile, which, even though he was cybertronic, you could tell it hid panic and fear. “Hello, kids,” he said in a goofy voice. “My name’s Walter Walrus, and I’m hear to joke tell with, tell with joke, tell you jokes with you, okay?”
I shot a concerned glance at the Doctor, but he was busy cheering on Walter. “All right. Here are some jokes. What do you get when you cross a goat with an owl? Give up? You get a nanohoo, a hootynanny. Okay, next joke. How does a bull stop, get stopped by charge card, from.. How do you stop a bull from charging? Take its card away.”
This was getting embarrassing. But Dr. Euphonium didn’t stop him. Walter continued. “What has four wheels and flies? I don’t know…” he said, as if setting up a killer punchline. Said punchline never materialized. “ Um, what’s the difference, um…”
“Thank you, Walter, that will be enough,” Dr. Euphonium said. Walter hurriedly whispered his thank you and good night and rushed off the stage tripping over himself in the process. I glared at Dr. Euphonium.
“What? Okay, he’s no Bob Hope, but he’s getting better.”
“Getting better?” I said. “Getting better? You mean he was worse before?”
“Listen, Floyd, I’m trying here. Okay, I happened to miss the classes on Animatronic Mammalia at the University of Genial Monsters. He’s the best I could do.”
“I don’t know,” I said, “you can get away with inedible pizza but you need better entertainment. And the play area is pathetic.” I pointed to the play area, where it was revealed the bouncy houses were actually bouncy efficiencies, skee ball turned out to be skee rectangular object and the video games had names like Long Division Challenge, Donkey Pong and Job Interview Simulator IV.
“I know, I wanted to get classic Job Interview Simulator, but I couldn’t find a copy.” He sighed. “You’re right, of course. Looks like it’s back to the drawing board. Tell your friends Doc Euphonie’s Pizza Parlor is closed until further notice.” And I did. They all responded the same way.
“Huh?”

THE NEFARIOUS DR. WILHELM SKREEM’S FURIOUS FIRING OF HIS INADEQUATE INTERN

Bwah-ha-hey! Who left this pile of Mary Todd Lincoln logs lying in the middle of the- Clark! Clark! Lousy intern. Get in here, Clark! There you are. What did I tell you about picking up after yourself? Why do I have to remind you over and over again? Why am I constantly repeating myself? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why, Clark? Why?
You- you’re crying. There, there. The Nefarious Dr. Wilhelm Skreem didn’t mean anything by it. Don’t cry. Yet. I’ve only just begun, Clark. I’ve been reviewing your work, and to say that I’m displeased would be an understatement. I am highly displeased. There, that’s more like it. I gave you the simple task of documenting my designs for the Floodolpater, and you completely screwed that up. Probably too busy listening to your experimental trip-hop music and popping Pezzes to pay attention and show some respect for my hare-brained schemes. My formula was poetic in its simplicity: H2O plus EVIL= Floodolpater, flooding the entire world with wet, wicked water, leaving me in my invisible subatomic submarine to rule over this water world. Bwah-ha-ha! Genius, no?
But, let’s take a look at what you transcribed from my insane and intricate calculations, shall we? H2O, that’s right, you got that part exactly right. It’s the other half, the most important part of the evil equation where things went putridly pear-shaped. Instead of EVIL, you wrote FUN. FUN, in case you weren’t aware, is not the same as EVIL. It’s not even in the same ballpark. No, FUN is the exact opposite of EVIL. It’s the National League of adjectives, whereas FUN is the other one. It’s like the Red Sox versus the Hornets. I don’t know these things, I don’t watch football. Regardless! It is very, very, wrong what you did. Do you know, Clark, what you get when you combine the elements H2O and FUN? A Slip N Slide! Does that sound evil to you? No! Because it isn’t! The only people who fear the Slip N Slide are little brothers with fractured wrists, who really, really want one and then the doctor says no. That’s the only scenario where a Slip N Slide is considered menacing. Trust me, I ran the tests on this.
No, no, I’m not a mad scientist. I’m just a disappointed scientist. When I called Big Brothers, Big Sisters, I figured I’d be getting someone older than me, preferably with a hunchback and large hands for manual labor. I pictured us bending electricity and exhuming corpses, maybe meeting another scientist and his lab assistant for bridge. But you, Clark, you have no hunchback; your spine is perfectly straight. Your stupid spine, stupid! Stupid! And don’t get me started on those dainty little baby hands of yours. I’ve never seen hands that tiny before. Your hands are smaller than an Alaskan folk singers! No one, not even the rain, has such small hands. And the rain has no hands, Clark! So that statement makes no sense!
Maybe I should have clarified that I didn’t want to mentor a seven year old, or sent you on your way when you showed up at the hatch of my invisible subatomic submarine. But, you know what they say; when life gives you lemons, deal with it. You know what I- what are you doing? Are you making faces at me? Real mature, Clark! If you’re not careful, your face will freeze that way. I’ve got Freeze Spray right here and I know how to use it. Don’t make me turn this invisible subatomic submarine around, Clark, so help me. And eat your vegetables, they’re full of nutrients and whatnot, and I don’t want to eat them. And don’t try any of that I’m full business, Buster. Don’t you know there’s starving kids in the world? I should know, I’m starving them with my Food Withholdutron 3000. So eat up, or I swear I’ll- I’ll…
Ah, I can’t stay mad at you. But I will once I concoct the Antidote for that Mood-Altering Mickey you slipped me. In the meantime, I’m dropping you off at this Kids, Incorporated knock-off, Youngsters, LLC. Hope you can dance, Clark! Begone!

THE INVENTIONS OF DR. EDGAR EUPHONIUM: THE PROSE PURPLER

When I arrived at Dr. Euphonium’s lab, he was sitting at the curb holding what looked like a dark blue water pistol and staring moonily into space. “Dr. Euphonium?” I said, trying to get his attention. I had to repeat his name twice more to rouse him from his reverie.

“Salutations!” he exclaimed, clasping me roughly to his person. “A good morrow to you, Floyd of Gottfredson, sire of Denise and Jerome.”

“Hi,” I said. He thankfully unleashed me. Then he put an arm around my shoulder.

“My most heartfelt thanks to you good sir, for being so extraordinarily agreeable on caucusing at my domicile.” He beamed, turning me to face him, hands on my cheeks. This was especially weird.

“Have you been drinking from unlabelled test tubes again?” I asked. The last time he’d done this, he was arrested for hijacking the unicorn on the carousel.

“Balderdash!” he replied. “It is simply the magnificence of my latest contrivance. My most current of contraptions is so exquisitely conceived; you shall find yourself twitterpated into exultations of sincere pleasure. This,” he said, gesturing with the water pistol, “ is the Prose Purpler. Guaranteed to enflower, enrich, and fortify your vocabulary tenfold, even twentyfold.”

“Neat,” I said. “So, it’s like a liquid Word a Day calendar.”

“Indubitably. Simply one spritzy squirt sends you into sumptuous sunrises of sentences.” He sighed and leaned against the mailbox. Then, as if he suddenly noticed it was there, he patted it on the head like a dog and continued. “This concoction was most heavenly inspired by a creature of profound beauty, an angel in the guise of a civil servant. She delivers the post post haste directly into the very heart of my very soul. She invades my dreams with odes of rapturous awe, my being is a flitting ball of pure incandescence, an orb of ecstasy.”

“Wait,” I said, putting two and two together. “You mean you have a thing for Sally the mail lady?”

“A thing, a thoroughly thought-entrancing thing. I am awash in her indifferent gaze, agape at her industrial gray attire, aflutter by her bifocal spectacles. I am dangerously smitten, Gottfredson, dangerously smitten.”

“Well, you’re in luck,” I said. “Here she comes now.” Sally the mail lady was rounding the block on her way to the mailbox.

“She’s, uh, coming, I mean, she’s uh… uh…” Dr. Euphonium panicked, wiping his sweaty palms on his lab coat. “The Prose Purpler has worn off! I need a refresher!” He sprayed himself maniacally, dousing his face and hair in the elixir.

Meanwhile, Sally approached the mailbox, her stare as vacant as always.
“Hey,” I said.

“Yeah,” she replied. She did a take as she spotted Dr. Euphonium, head dripping with Prose Purpler, staring intently at her. He began sputtering rapidly, like a detuned radio, then began babbling incoherently.

“Present sari. My present you on the other hand see. Considerably month. Your eye the sky like the star which shines seems the way. Your smile seems like Milky Way method. Like Sunday that produces your surface. That is true solar system of beauty. Method you say with your track/truck which desires vis-a-vis the astronaut of the craving which and as for me as for me the possible your atmosphere that day of thing which floats, exactly AM that can catch and makes.”

Sally and I stared at the Doctor, who seemed just as confused by his words as we were. “You mind if I…” Sally mumbled as she placed the mail in the box. She turned and gave Dr. Euphonium another quizzical look, then said, “Later.” I waved as she left.

“Nice try, Romeo, but I think you overdid it on the word juice,” I said. “I gotta get back home and clean the garage anyway. Later.” As I walked home, I could hear Dr. Euphonium protesting in the same broken English.

“Floyd! Waiting! I must be helped. My prose went to puce from purple. I think of that I use the many liquids. Of are feeling and Floyd which understand the sari thought? Floyd!”