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The Mud Show
 that damn Muddy Rag #6
Groundhog Day 1996  
The Officious Newsletter of the Sturdy Beggar™ Appreciation Society

Howdy and Happy Groundhog Day,
a day set aside to celebrate the ground and the hogs it holds. The same ground we beggars moisten to manifest our merriment, and the same hogs which we moisten to, well, to complete this sentence. So to old and new members, nosey postmen, and unhousebroken puppies alike, I give you Groundhog Greetings.
First of all let me say that 1995 was a year chock full of firsts for me; from the inauguration of our beautiful new muditorium at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in WI, to the fun I had tag-teaming in for a few weeks at King Richard's Faire in MA, to the record-breaking attendances at the Texas Renaissance Festival, I was constantly breaking new ground in this, the 17th year of my Mud Show™ career...17 years? SEVENTEEN YEARS!?!? Man. XVII years. Thats 17 years of swan dives in the mud, 17 years of head stands in the mud, and 38 years of eating mud. You know, it's kinda amazing I'm still alive. That regimen would've killed a man of twice my status. So how is it I survived? Certainly not due to my athleticism, or my intellect, or my being born on a planet with a red sun. The answer is simply: you guys, you magnanimous members of the Sturdy Beggars™ Appreciation Society. It's you who have kept me alive and flicking, and for that you have my eternal thanks, and the authorities' warrant for your arrest.
You may ask yourselves, "How did I keep this guy alive, I didn't give him any CPR." No, you didn't. You people kept me alive with your effervescent energy. The energy you generously bestow upon us at the Mud Show™ keeps us doing what we're doing, year after year. We can't thank you enough, we don't know how you do it.
In fact, this here newsletter is a product of the excess of your powerful energy. I don't think any of your realize what kind of herculean feat it is for us beggars to execute this jarbled journalism. These Muddy Rags may not look like much to you, but the fact that we beggars do all the work to execute these indicative inkstains is a phenomenon.
You see, the beauty of the Mud Show™ vacillates in the verity that we beggars are spontaneous creatures of custom with a marked propensity toward the patter which produces the required pre-requisite raucous responses of our audiences. Our spontaneity and creativity is a direct result of our unique and non-conformist dance on world and social issues. A devout ideology of the here and now leaves us no latitude to languish in latter laments or idealize any index of industry. In short, we are lazy bums.
You who are lazy bums must certainly realize that the organization, dedication and self-dictation involved in issuing this tabloid goes completely against our inate instincts of inertia. The mere fact that we have the wherewithal to meet a deadline is due to your fantastic force of infatuation. As much as we do savor sending out your newsletters, and as much as we appreciate your astonishing abundance of adoration, please,...no more. I don't think we could handle it. If you loved us any more than you do now, there's no way we could possibly control how our gratitude would manifest itself. But if I know us, when the dust settled, somebody would be flushed and twitching.
Again I wish you all a Happy Groundhog Day, and remind you to celebrate wisely. Whatever you do, don't make the mistake I made as a reckless youth. One fateful February 2nd morning, I carelessly sat atop a groundhog's abode. All I can say is that it hurt and the following spring we had an eclipse that lasted three months.
love,
Billy Billy vonBilly


A Child's Groundhog Day in Oahu Part III: The Origin Years!
Dudes! Dudettes!! What's shaking? Wakka Ding Hoy, your expert on all things winter (in Hawaii, winter-time temperatures in the low 60's are not unheard of) here with another tale of Groundhog Days past yore. Ahh, Groundhog Day in Oahu; the surf, the sand, the abundance of poi, the lack of groundhogs...kinda makes you wonder how this wonderful holiday ever got going in the first place. Well, it made me wonder.
this goundhog thing15 minutes of exhausting research later, I was one wised-up Wakka on this goundhog thing. The whole gizmo is based on a centuries-old European tradition of figuring the start of spring from when hibernating animals wake up (don't that seem like a no-brainer!) In Europe they used badgers and bears, but when some fun-loving Germans settled in Pennsylvania, they found no bears (I'm sure they looked). They did find lots of groundhogs, and thought, hey, let's use these little fellers, I'm sure they're less irritable than bears and they can't rip our spleens out if they ain't. A shame they didn't stick with the bear scene...it would put a bit of an edge to the whole Puxatawny Yogi deal.
Gotta level with you, dude, my penetrating inquiries turned up a bit of attitude towards this happiest of days - one source said, "convincing statistical evidence does not support this tradition," while another claimed, "Today it is largely treated as a joke." What's up with that? Why are they dissing this day? Could it be because of its pagan roots and ties to the English holiday of Candlemas? Or because it dares to deny the need for high technology in weather forecasting? Whatever, dude, I assure you, this day is no joke. Some joke, I don't even hear anyone laughing and it's a good thing 'cause I was alone in my room when I wrote this.
Here's the clincher on this event, bro; if the weather is nice on Groundhog Day, the little guy sees his shadow and we have more bad weather. If it's a miserable,cloudy day, he can't see his shadow and good weather is on the way. Now, ponder that: bad weather will mean good, good will mean bad. WOW! That is, like, so deep! Way deep. Deep enough for days, dude.
Hey, surf's up! Gotta run, bro! Later.
Wakka Ding Hoy, Hawaiian Poi Boy du jour


Who the Heck Are You?
You may know us, but what's your story?. A few years ago we printed this little quiz that you can't fail. We found the replies to be not only informative & instructive, but quite hysterical as well. As S.B.A.S. membership has more than doubled of late, we again submit this quintessential questionairre. Please don't feel ashamed about mailing this in twice. Just answer these easy to read questions and mail it on back to us at: (ed. note - for archive purposes only.) You could be the driving force in this fan club's brave new direction.
If you need more room to answer feel free to add scads of your own stationery until you feel purged of any and all sentiment you may have towards us, our relationship, or towards the world in general.
1. Have you heard any good jokes lately?
2. If so, what are they?
3. How may times have you seen the Mud Show™?
4. What's your favorite craft at the Faire?
5. How do you describe the Mud Show™ to the uninitiated?
6. Do you have a video of the Mud Show™?____ would you like to own one?___
7. Would you be interested in collecting Sturdy Beggar™ Trading Cards? T-shirt?____ Button?____ Bumper sticker?____ Poster?____ Action Figures?____Cap?____ Autographed 8x10 B&W glossy?____ anything else you can think of?___
8. Do you ever wonder about how much it costs for us to produce and mail these newsletters?
9. Do you wonder where the money comes from?
10. Would you like to be awarded the distinguished honor of penning your very own Pulitzer Prize winning column in this, our highly acclaimed Rag?
11. If so, go right ahead.
12. Is there any burning question you would like to ask any or all of us beggars? Any thing at all?

The Muddy Mailbag
As we have already mentioned, we are lazy bums. We're sorry we don't get around to answering much of our mail, but that doesn't mean we don't love hearing from you. Mud Muffin (Lake Marian, IL), we dug the pictures of your Mud Show™-inspired artwork; we'd love to see it in person...Earthwatcher (Brighton, MA), we felt right at home between the covers of your loamy mag....Muddy Walters (Wheeling, IL), Billy Billy vonBilly's eye is fine, a slight inflammation was all, he says, "thanks for asking"...Bruce Black (Houston, TX), thank you for your correspondence with that informative newspaper clipping; our lawyers got on it like ugly on gorilla...You know, space is limited, so everyone else who wrote us, please just take this big THANK YOU and rub it all over your body. There, feel that gratitude? Careful, paper cuts.

FAVE RAVES in MUD MUSIC
It's hibernation time, and if you're like us, you dig having groovy tunes playing continuously as you snooze and await the thaw. Here's some music we'd take to that proverbial desert island, plus a choice cut that epitomizes the mudman milieu for each particular reprobate represented.
Helmut von Mudt: Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band / Cool Water, Sons of the Pioneers / Here Come the Warm Jets, Brian Eno / Fave Beggarly Tune: Tumblin' Tumbleweeds, Sons of the Pioneers
Wakka Ding Hoy: Anything by Elvis Costello / Abbey Road, The Beatles / Live Through This, Hole / FBT: Beggar's Life For Me, Pearson & Barrosse
Spiney Nodules: Nonsuch, XTC / Brutal Youth, Elvis Costello / Lincoln, They Might Be Giants / FBT: Simon Smith & The Amazing Dancing Bear, Randy Newman
Lutilla Fair Dinkum: Louis Prima: The Collectors Series, Louis Prima / Unplugged, Eric Clapton / Simple Pleasures, Bobby McFerrin / FBT: Woolly Bully, Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs
Hack Ptui: Armed Forces, Elvis Costello / The Isle of View, Pretenders / Another Green World, Brian Eno / FBT: Diamonds On My Windshield/Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Waits
Billy Billy vonBilly: Live at Yankee Stadium, NRBQ / Small Change, Tom Waits / Carny, Leon Russell / FBT: If You Dig It, Don't Do It, Littlle Charlie & the Nightcats
Legs Akimbo: Back In Your Life, Jonathan Richman / Get Happy, Elvis Costello / Countdown to Ecstasy, Steely Dan / FBT: Calendar Girl, Neil Sedaka
Poetry Pit
Various verse received from fans JUST LIKE YOU!
The Middle Ages
by Peculiar Peasant, Portsmith, RI
At the time when dragons roamed around
And daring knights could always be found
To rescue poor maidens who have been caught,
Waiting for brave knights to find what they have sought,
With lazy kings who basked in wealth
And the thieves whose practice made them stealth
For all their work, peasants and townspeople got very low wages
And this fine time was known as the Middle Ages!!!!!
Y'know, Peculiar, other than the dragons, the knights, and the maidens, life really hasn't changed that much.
Sonnet for a Sturdy Beggar™
by Ramblin' Rose
O Sturdy Beggar™ in a pit of mud,
Thy tannèd skin a lovely sight to see,
Thou makest me to think on Elmer Fudd
When thou dost make those google-eyes at me.
A simple clod of earth I long to be
A'hoping in the mud so dank and black
That thou shouldst turn thy dirt-dimm'd eyes on me
And have me for a tasty midnight snack.
My love for thee is oh-so-very thick
I'd do it if I could to be with you.
Upon thy innards I would gladly stick:
A mess of Sturdy Beggar™ stomach goo.
If thou art Spartan, Trojan or a judge
My love for thee cannot be made to budge.

Sniff. Mucho impressed with your iambic wielding...thanks, Ramblin'. From now on eating mud will be a whole new experience for us. Heck, we might even swallow.

From The Darkness at the Edge of Hog Department
A SHADE OF THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE SPEAKS:
Once again, weatherniks, the Big Day looms and the Big Question arises. To wit: Who knows what evil lurketh in the heart of Ol' Man Winter, or at the least, Ol' Man Groundhog? The Shadow knows, my friends. And the Shadow is none other than...me, mi dolce amigi! ME...over HERE!!! (And who am I, well may you ask? Lemme tell you that I wish I knew the punchline to that jolly jest myself...muchachos loco de mio). I walk that shady line behind one of your most important rodent-like personalities going; I'm talkin' Mr. Numero Uno U.S. Groundhog himself, Puxatawny Phil. Not just your garden variety shadow, you illuminated mugs. The Groundhog's Shadow is speaking out. (And now well you might say, with an ironic tilt of the eyebrow, "...the Groundhog's Shadow speaks? How very Albert Camus.")
Though beyond a shadow of a doubt, then, you'd know - by definition - that I'm (1) "a dark figure cast on a surface by a (groundhog) body intercepting light" and ooh, that alone would be a heck of a way to go through life. But then add to that I'm entrusted with the task of (2) "following (a groundhog) about secretly to keep watch over his movements", and at the same time must remain, incidentally and sequentially according to Random House dictionary, (3) "a (groundhog's) constant companion." Yeah, hey, that's a lot to live up to, but it's all true, baby: I'm The Existential Groundhog Iago. Follow me: (1) I am his darker and unwilling second banana. (2) I'm also watching his back. Capable of, if not too excited about, double-agenting, yea, e'en informing on him if he slips too far from the Righteous Path (why, the Buddha's "Middle Path" - between Suffering and cessation of Same, of course)...and yes, chiefly, (3) I'm his bud. You got that right; we're tight. And so HE knows that I'm there even if it doesn't APPEAR that I'm there at all times, even and including February 2nd...and that's an important thing. As well as the hardest part. Because it hurts me year after year to witness the superficial angst displayed nationwide that's related to my (supposed) non-appearance.
Mr. P-tawny Phil has full knowledge that I'm there, and guess what? That goes whether or NOT you people are gonna be shovelling snow for the rest of your ozone-depleted lives. So read it and weep, and once and for all, GET OFF MY SHADOWY BACK! Thank you very much. (And Happy Slipping for another fortnight while you're at it).
Sincerely,
hogshdw@aol.com (Legs Akimbo)
"HOW MANY OF US Do You Think There Are" Contest RESULTS
The results are in from the little contest advertised last issue (wherein you entered on a colored index card how hany members you think there are in the SBAS) and we must report that of all the many contestants who entered, neither one of you came the closest. Remember, folks, if at first you don't succeed; try, try again, and if you never at firsted; well, try, try, won't you?

that damn Muddy Rag #6 designed & executed by Hack Ptui 1/96
editorz: Ptui & vonBilly scribes du jour: B. B. VonBilly, W. D. Hoy, L. Akimbo, H. Ptui
The Mud Show
The Mud Show