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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #468
Return of the Überpuppets
David Gunn

The year was 1987. Megalomaniacal überpuppets had infiltrated municipal government in scores of cities and towns throughout the United States. Originally from Berlin and Dresden, these wire-optional supersentient marionettes had had themselves appointed mayors, managers, morticians and municipal mummers. In such positions of power, they gradually subjugated the human citizenry of the communities that they oversaw. At certain celebratory events, they even ate them. Resistance, though organized, was futile. But as suddenly as they had risen to power, the überpuppets just as precipitously disappeared. One day they were herding any resident over eighteen inches in height into labor camps to manufacture motorcycle airbags; the next day, the entire area was devoid of all nettling, non-flesh-and-blood life. A research scientist named Ruby Primavera postulated that they were somehow related to the Brood 10 cicadas and had simply entered the nymph stage of their life cycles. That meant they had gone underground to snack on tree and shrub roots for a span of seventeen years. Primavera's theory was loudly ridiculed by the scientific community--at least until last week, seventeen years to the day after the marionettes vanished, when the überpuppets abruptly returned.

They didn't attempt to regain control of local government right away because their sex drives had also awakened. And after a decade and seven-tenths of inactivity, they were decidedly randy. But they didn't limit their amorous trolling to their own kind. It seemed that any ol' puppet would do: Bunraku puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets, string puppets, animatronic puppets, Japanese sashimi puppets, Pottle Twin bobbleheads--all were fair game for the overly libidinous überpuppets. However, most observers opined that it was only a matter of time before their lustful desires were sated and they reverted to their autocratic ways.

Fortunately, research scientist Primavera had prepared for this day. In the years since she had last encountered the mighty marionettes, she had taken several courses in puppetology from the University of Hummock-on-Smythe in southwesternmost Lincolnshire, had in fact graduated cum laudanum with a degree in supermarionation. (Yes, there was even a technical term for the likes of überpuppets.) According to Ruby's thesis, there was really no stopping these self-aggrandizing demon dolls once they started scheduling meetings, collecting delinquent taxes, and hiring and firing and devouring municipal employees. The überpuppets were immune to pesticides. They were decidedly unpalatable. They wouldn't listen to reason, or at least to humankind's version of reason. They did, however, listen to their cicadian cousins--the males, anyway--as they furiously rubbed their resonating organs in an attempt to attract the girls. The Brood 10's noisy chirring clearly stimulated the puppets' own libidos, as evidenced by acts of sexual gratification too perverse to be described here. Thus, Ruby hypothesized, to exclude them from überpuppet government, they merely had to be concupiscently engaged until the urge to head underground for another seventeen years kicked in.

As luck would have it, the Boy and Girl Scouts were at the time preparing to launch their annual bottle drives, in which they hit up homes nationwide for returnable-for-deposit cans and bottles. Somehow, Ruby convinced them to collect cicadas instead this year. And collect they did--by the tractor trailorload. Especially in the beleaguered Ohio Valley and central Atlantic seaboard regions, where the insects congregated in uncountable numbers, residents were only too happy to part with their cicadas. Then, from the distribution center somewhere in Vermont, Ruby FedExed the trillions of trilling insects to every municipality that had a history of überpuppets.

The result was largely unnoticed by anyone unfamiliar with the threat. Local government merely continued to function in a reasonable manner, uninterrupted by the dictates of despotic marionettes. And then, after a tense three weeks of waiting, both cicadas and überpuppets, responding to some unknown command from a neutron star in the Crab Nebula, cycled into the next phase of their lives and headed underground for another seventeen-year nap.

Government officials were eager to put the überpuppet problem behind them, but Ruby insisted that it shouldn't simply be left for the next generation to solve. After much cajoling, she finally persuaded the United States Congress to institute a sweeping import tax on marionettes to curb the influx of any more überpuppets. In honor of America's most insidious überpuppet, it was called the Howdy Duty.

The duty of this 468th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar is to prepare you, our listening audients, for another evocative interview event with a composer from the Valenciaburbs, a preparatory task already peremptorily prepared by Kalvos.