want to wish you all the warmest and fuzziest of Groundhog
Days, the closest thing we beggars have to a National
Holiday! Of course I must commence this communalistic
correspondence by extending a muddy paw towards all of
our filthy first-year fledglings. To all you newcomers
who are curious as to what this Sturdy Beggar Appreciation
Society is all about, let me just state that after four
years we are still proud to say: we're not sure. Nullus
Cerebrum, Nullus Capitis Dolor.
course, in the undeviating and physical sense, we here
at the home office are periodically spewing out these
pieces of parchment which you are now gazing upon. (I
mean, at least I think that you're gazing upon it....
geez, I wonder if you are gazing at this piece of paper,
the same piece of paper on which I have yet to print any
of what I am now writing, but you can be darn sure that
I will be hand-stamping and labeling each and every one
of them? Do you know what I'm talking about?....hello?...
[Ew, here's a fun thought: If a tree gets chopped down
in the woods, and made into paper, then gets recycled
and made into paper again, and then some folks print things
on it and distribute them throughout the world by a postal
system to these other folks, who have mailed in these
little postcards which they filled out after watching
grown men eat mud, do they make a sound? Hmmmm...let's
open that up to discussion. Could we hear from you on
that? ....hello?...] but my digression digresses) Hey,
one thing we are sure about is that our freshman class
make up a third of you SBASers this year. Yup, we are
expanding at a tribbilbolic rate. Wheeeee.
the title of our show has grown. Mud Show®. Like it?
That's right. We got ourselves officially branded by the
U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. We are formally "United
States Certificate of Registration Number 1,985,845."
We are awful proud of this®. Proud because we have
worked hard over these past 18 years to achieve it, and
proud because it looks so darn silly. We Sturdy Beggars
would sure appreciate it if you would all fawn over this
® for us. Oh, and if you happen to see any pretenders
to the throne screaming our name, let us know. 'Cause
then we can take them to Federal Court. And, next year
you just all might all be invited to a great big Sturdy
Beggar Appreciation Society Hallelujah Hoedown,
what say, somewhere tropical, where the groundhog cares
more about his sunscreen than his shadow. In the words
of my good pal Wakka Ding Hoy, Aloha, Oy!
love, Billy Billy vonBilly
WHAT'S A MUDHEAD?
we beggars have been referred to as "Mudheads,"
which is really quite a compliment. You see, long before
we beggars celebrated the elements of earth and water
with our particular brand of entertainment, the Hopi Indians
of northeastern Arizona celebrated life with the aid of
Spirits known as Kachinas. There are hundreds of different
Kachina Spirits. They are properly not deities, but as
their name denotes, (ka: respect, and china: spirit),
they are spirits of the dead, spirits of minerals, plants,
birds, water, humans, clouds, planets and stars, and stars
that have not yet appeared in the sky.
the Kachinas come down from the mountains every year to
dwell with the human beings, masked men act as their intermediaries
for the tribal ceremonies. Perhaps you have heard of the
Kachina Dolls, which are carved representations of these
beings given to the children as reminders of all they
Anyway, one of the most powerful and dangerous of these
Spirits is known as the Koyemsi, or Mudhead. He is in
reality, though, a clown, a comic character who enlivens
serious ceremonies. On the eve of these festivities, the
Mudheads come down early to scare and delight the children
in their homes. During the ceremonies the Mudheads portray
many different types of personalities, from leader to
buffoon. They may engage in wild games with the boys and
girls in the audience, or at other times they may dance
with, or against, the dance ritual, or they may go off
and just play the drums.
remember, kids, being called a Mudhead, Koyemsi, is really
quite a tribute. In fact, call your close friends, your
parents and your teachers Mudheads. I'm sure once you
explain, they will be honored.
friends, here's the pitch: We have never intended
to turn this silly ol' Appreciation Society into some
sort of tawdry marketing venture, and we won't be inundating
your mailboxes with junk mail, trust us, but nonetheless
we have some DYNAMIC, QUALITY MERCHANDISE to offer you:
The two acclaimed Sturdy Beggar T-shirts along with
ever-enlightening back issues of that damn Muddy Rag and
the holiday Finger Puppet cards. If you'd be considering
a unique and jolly gift item for a pal or loved one, or
even better for your sterling self, then PLEASE consider
this cool stuff! Bottom line: we set up this whole Sturdy
Dry Goods, LLC endeavor to sell some Sturdy Beggar
items principally to finance the running of the Sturdy
Beggar Appreciation Society. We began the SBAS just for
a lark four years back, to give something fun back to
our fans and friends, to reach across the continent &
even the ocean and hopefully tickle your funny bones in
our patented peculiar way, and it's been an absolute blast...but
danged if it didn't grow bigger than we'd ever thunk and
at such a steady, admirable pace. There's a BUNCH of you
out there now, and the cost of producing and mailing our
bi-yearly issues of that damn Muddy Rag and occasional
postcard hijinks is getting a tad tremendous. This is
not to clumsily play the Guilt Card or twist any arms,
but please keep in mind: sales of any of our modest merchandise
power our production of SBAS fun. We wanna keep this muddy
merriment going for a while yet. So keep in mind, your
hard-earned checks to Sturdy Dry Goods, LLC aren't padding
some bloated fat cat's stock portfolio or getting sucked
into the unfathomable bureaucratic administrative bowels
of some merciless mega-conglomerate ...it's comin' back
to you and hopefully brightening your day a tad in our
inimitable style. Thank you for your time, and remember:
Nullus Cerebrum, Nullus Capitis Dolor.
ready to hit the ground running, compadres! The Sturdy Beggar
season begins soon after the much-awaited thaw. Look
for us at the following venues this spring. Stride on up
and announce that you're a proud member of the SBAS and
just watch our muddy eyes glaze and twitch! (our compleat
schedule will be printed in the summer edition of that damn
Muddy Rag, this June. Specific rosters subject to change.
Your mileage may vary.)
Virginia Renaissance Faire (Fredericksburg) 1175 King's
Hwy/Fredericksburg, VA 22405 (540) 371-3999 4/26 - 6/8 (incl.
Memorial Day) Spiney Nodules, Figgy Pudding, Ceasar!
Southern California Renaissance Faire (San Bernadino, CA)
Glen Hellen Regional Park 1-800-52-FAIRE 4/26 - 6/15 (incl.
Memorial Day) Billy Billy vonBilly, Legs Akimbo
(If you have any questions concerning this season's schedule,
write us at SBAS / P.O. Box 581884 / Mpls, MN 55458)
...Is Ours not to Reason why....?
all these new members joining up this past year, we also
had a plethora of "Reasons For Joining" scrawled
in the appropriate space on them adorable little sign-up
cards. Aside from the much-repeated standard classics "Awesome"
and "Nothin' better to do," there were a few we
found kinda interesting if not downright inspiring. Any
of these ring a bell or strike a chord?
Great, Great, Great Grandfather invented and held the patent
on mud" Rutt, 39, Alvin, TX.
the need for a nationwide conspiracy of mud." Give
Me A Name - (all right, how about 'Oswald'?) - 34, Marathon,
guys send my sister stuff all the time and I get nothin'!
Play fair! She's not even worth it!!" Jealous Joan,
40, Milwaukee, WI
luv you, man!!!" - (no, you can't have our Mud Lite)
- Tute, 14, Yorkville, IL
"Dropped on head at a young age." Pighooey, 34,
mom hated your show, I thought it was funny as hell!"
Dora the Dimpled, 17, Nevada, MO
saw your show 15 years ago when you were just a little mud
puddle." Mud Turtle, 48, Lockport, IL
not?" Gert, 82, Downers Grove, IL
like getting mail." Sam, 11, North Kingston, RI
"I laughed so hard I spit my beer - and that doesn't
happen very often" - (uh, whose beer do you usually
spit?) - Wayne of Nittany, 25, Alexandria, VA
"A desperate need to belong to a group of my peers."
Princess Provolone, 33, San Luis
like mud, mud good!!!" Nail, 26, Austin, TX
only costs 20¢" Roberto, 18, Monee, IL
"'Cause I'd like to keep you in mud & off the street."
Haven't Got The Foggiest, 13, Rochester, MN
liked your show. Other mud shows (sic) don't come close."
Commasuetra, 19, Reston, VA
(remember, legally there aren't others; they're just mud
acts. Look for the ® at the end of Mud Show® to
be sure you're getting only the very best!)
The Future Grows in the Margins of Today
"If All the Other Kids Were Jumping Off the Space Needle..."
a comforting thought for all you "oddball," "different,"
"just don't fit in" types in the SBAS. It comes
from the world of paleoanthropology, as related by Ian Tattersall
in his book, The Fossil Trail (Oxford University Press,
1995/pp. 160-163). It's called Allopatric Speciation or
Punctuated Equilibria, first asserting itself out of Niles
Eldrege's trilobite fossil studies.
1971, Eldrege (and later Ernsr Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould)
began to realize that species do not change slowly and inevitably,
guided elegantly by the hand of natural selection, as the
theories of Darwin and New Evolutionary Synthesis had always
held. Rather, the fossil record indicated that "speciation
occurs in small peripheral isolates," that in fact,
evolutionary change occurs in the edges of an expanding
species, develops in isolation, and later replaces a static
next time you feel shoved aside into the margins because
you just won't fit in, I hope you'll remember that in geological
terms, allopatric speciation only takes an instant!
Yours from way out there, Spiney Nodules
"HUGE TRACTS OF LAND" OR "Better Get A Bucket"
else out there catch the esteemed John Cleese on the Late
Show with Tom Snyder last month? He spoke at one point about
Monty Python & the Holy Grail, indicating that it was
one of his favorites, remembering it with fond delight.
He then told an anecdote of keen interest to us mud daubers,
referring to "one huge blowup, a great tantrum"
thrown by Michael Palin. (If you are somehow not familiar
with this movie, go rent it now, no, really, NOW! This'll
the classic scene where King Arthur and his entourage "gallop"
past some filthy, ragged peasants in a muddy field, (Peasant
1: "Look, there goes the king." Peasant 2: "How
do you know he's the king?" Peasant 1: "'Cause
he's the only one doesn't have sh*t all over 'im."
[paraphrased]) Michael Palin was squatting in the muck,
"eating actual mud" (!) according to Cleese, as
the budget was "pretty small and we couldn't afford
good fake mud..." so Palin was there looking wretched
and shoving handfuls of actual mud into his mouth, munching
away...spitting out what little he could each time director
Terry Gilliam yelled "Cut!"...for FIFTEEN takes,
eating more mud each time, until, as Cleese put it, everything
stopped when he just "lay belly-down on the ground
pounding his fists and kicking his feet and wailing,
don't want to eat any more mu-u-u-ud!!!"
Makes a mudman feel right proud. As always, Do Not Try This
At Home (or low-budget movie set)...We Are Professionals.