The Incredible Man-Eating Marshmallow

award-win

Chapter One

Mr. Pixie was fond of sweets. Some said, too fond. He was a man of independent means, which means, he did not have to work for a living, so he played. His favorite game was concocting incredibly edible confections.
He had started out with the more ho-yum type—jellyglobbers, doughloopers, chocolate-plastered nectarsnips, almond-caked rumblefingers, and so on.
The children of Gurgletown became spoiled. They would show up after school and complain, “We’ve already eaten these, Mr. Pixie. Isn’t there anything else?”
Mr. Pixie was a man of sweets disposition, which means he did not knock the popcorn out of the greedy little droolers. He put up with their requests patiently. For awhile.
In the whole town, there was only one child who did not stop at Mr. Pixie’s house after school. His name was Ned Nerdenfeld, but everyone called him “Nerd.” It was not that Ned didn’t like sweets. But he had become disturbed by the other children badgering Mr. Pixie to continue coming up with new ones every day, when he passed them out from the generosity of his kind heart.
But if you didn’t line up at Mr. Pixie’s you were regarded as too weird, and so Ned did not have a single friend in Gurgletown. He did have other friends, however. When the other kids were thronging in front of Mr. Pixie’s, Ned was home conversing with several boys and girls in a number of different countries, over the Internet.
Ned would come home from school and have instant conversations with children who lived thousands of miles away.
Meanwhile, Mr. Pixie continued to create mouth-melting munchies, throat-thrilling thingamagobs and tummy-tempting twirlywonkers.
“These should satisfy the little nippers,” Mr. Pixie prattled to himself as he dripped and stirred, whipped and swirled, dipped and curled his deliriously delicious dishes.
He was wrong. Just as soon as he came up with a brand new treat, someone would say “I’ve had this before!” even if she hadn’t.
So Mr. Pixie began to experiment. He created goo-covered globules that would tap-dance on your tongue. He baked bubblegum biscuits that barked like a dog. He made mounds of caramel crunchies that snackled, crackled, and lit up like a lightbulb.
For awhile the children of Gurgletown were bedazzled by Mr. Pixie’s ingenuity. However it was not long before their appetites for new and fancier goodies outpaced his ability to produce them. Every day they lined up before his door, and if they were given yesterday’s goody, they’d say, “Mr. Pixie, we’ve HAD this before!”
One lad even had the nerve to say, “Not this again! It’s crummy!”
It was a mistake.
“Crummy?” Mr. Pixie asked, a wild grin on his face. “You call my eight-layer, moon maroon, sparkling-frosted, triple-dipped, jumbo, self-stirring, flavory, savory, over-the-rainbow surprise—’crummy’? Well well well,” said Mr. Pixie. “I’ll just have to try harder, won’t I?”
There was a strange gleam in his eye, but Jimmy Crudnose didn’t notice.
That afternoon, after the children had gone home, Mr. Pixie paid an unexpected call on Ned Nerdenfeld.

Chapter Two

The next day, instead of an open door emanating smells that would make anyone wild with hunger, there was a sign in Mr. Pixie’s window, and his door was closed.
The sign said, “Working—Do Not Disturb.”
“Come out, come out, Mr. Pixie!” the children cried. “Jimmy Crudnose didn’t mean it!” The door remained firmly closed.
The door remained firmly closed.
“I hope he’s working on something bigger and better,” muttered Jimmy. “We can’t just keep eating the same old things.”
“I hope he doesn’t take too long,” said Sally Sweetooth. “I just can’t stand not eating treats for too long.”
But the next day, Mr. Pixie’s door was still closed.
This went on for a solid week. The children of Gurgletown considered holding a vigil outside Mr. Pixie’s house.
This wasn’t good enough for Jimmy Crudnose and Sally Sweetooth. They arranged a protest march. Several children walked back and forth in front of Mr. Pixie’s house with signs that said, “MR. PIXIE UNFAIR TO TASTE BUDS!” and “DON’T GET KIDS ADDICTED TO SWEETS AND THEN TAKE THEM AWAY!”
They chanted a chant that went like this:
“Mr. Pixie isn’t nice! All we want’s some cream and ice!”
It had been so long since they had had any normal desserts, they’d forgotten the right way to say “ice cream.”
None of this was lost on Mr. Pixie. He peeked through the curtains and saw the signs, and the chants came through just partly muffled by his windows
The day after the protest march was a Saturday.
The children gathered by Mr. Pixie’s house, at the corner of Butterscotch and Pistachio Streets.
No sooner did they begin distributing protest signs, than a truck the size of a barn pulled up in front of Mr. Pixie’s driveway. Mr. Pixie’s garage door opened, and five men jumped out of the truck and began laying railroad tracks from the back of the truck into Mr. Pixie’s garage. It had been so long since any of the children had seen treat so ordinary, the only person who knew that the tracks were made of licorice was Ned Nerdenfeld, who looked on from across the street.
The men opened the back of the truck, and out came a locomotive.
It was no ordinary locomotive. Its smokestack was a giant lollipop. Its wheels were gigantic pieces of blown-up bubblegum. A thick layer of glistening white frosting covered the entire engine.
After the locomotive came a flatcar. On the flatcar was a very, very, very BIG BOX. The box was made of salt water taffy. The flatcar itself was made of peanut brittle.
Izzy Frecklebones licked his lips.
“Whatever’s in that box,” he said, sucking back the drool that had seeped from the corners of his mouth, “it’s big.”
Candy Apple, who had shot from a mere 48 pounds to 215 pounds in the past three weeks, hit Izzy on the head with the side of an all-week sucker the diameter of a hippopotamus’ yawn.Candy Apple, who had shot from a mere 48 pounds to 215 pounds in the past three weeks, hit Izzy on the head with the side of an all-week sucker the diameter of a hippopotamus’ yawn.
“What did you do that for?” asked Izzy.
Candy looked like she shrugged her shoulders, but it was hard to tell because they barely sloped out from her neck.
“I wanted to see which would crack first, your head or my sucker,” she said. The engineer pulled the whistle: “PHWEEEEEE!”
It was the loudest sound the children had ever heard. Slowly, the train rolled into Mr. Pixie garage, and the garage door slammed shut behind it.

Chapter Three

The next day, instead of an open door emanating smells that would make anyone wild with hunger, there was a sign in Mr. Pixie’s window, and The children waited for over an hour, and nothing happened. They decided to go home. Just as they were leaving the corner, abracadabra aromas, spine-tingling smells, swoon-inspiring scents, and other nostril knockouts exuded from Mr. Pixie’s garage. The children of Gurgletown stopped in their tracks.his door was closed.
“Yum,” said Jinglebell Suckercheeks.
“Double-yum,” said Sunflour Elbowjelly.
“Make that a triple yum, four holy cows and a side order of—”
But before Rita Wrinkle could finish her sentence, someone cried, “Mr. Pixie is toasting a marshmallow!”
“He is not!” shouted Marsha Mellow, her eyes crossed and her thumbs stuck in her bellybutton.
“No, not you! A marshmallow! A marshmallow!”
Soon, everyone (except for Ned Nerdenfeld) was shouting “Marshmallow! Marshmallow! Mr. Pixie is toasting a marshmallow!”
It was true. The gigantic box made of salt water taffy had contained Mr. Pixie’s brand new, majestic, colossal, turbo-powered oven.
Inside the oven, there was, indeed, a marshmallow, but it wasn’t really very big. It was really only the size of a large maplemelon.
One said “Power.” Mr. Pixie had just pressed this.
“Baking!” the oven had said.
The second button said, “Siphon.” Mr. Pixie rubbed his hands together, and gave a little chortle of pleased anticipation.
He pressed the button.
“Siphoning has commenced,” said the oven.
Slowly but surely, all the ingredients that had made up the locomotive and the flatcar began to melt, and flow into Mr. Pixie’s garage, through a series of loops, pipes and hoses, which emptied them into straight Mr. Pixie’s oven, where they were fused together as part of the marshmallow. Finally the licorice railroad tracks were sucked in too.
Soon, the marshmallow contained not only every flavor that had made up the train, but many others, besides—in fact, it contained every single flavor that, with the sweat of his brow and the generosity of his heart, Mr. Pixie had created for the ungrateful children who were now hypnotized by the most incredible smell they had sniffed in their lives.
Inside, then outside of his oven, Mr. Pixie’s marshmallow kept growing, and growing, bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
Finally, the marshmallow grew so big, it appeared that it was about to burst through the roof of Mr. Pixie’s garage.
That’s when Mr. Pixie pulled his Garage Dome switch. The gold and turquoise-colored roof of Mr. Pixie’s garage opened like the wings of a gigantic butterfly. Up through the roof swelled the marshmallow, until it was as tall as the mellowtone pole on the corner. It immediately chimed out the hour in mellow tones.
“Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong!” chimed the pole. It was five o’clock, and Mr. Pixie’s marshmallow was done.
“Bong!” a chime chimed a sixth time. Then a seventh. Then an eighth.
The chimes were coming from Mr. Pixie’s belltower. “Come one, come all!” Mr. Pixie’s voice boomed from the balcony outside of the swinging pendulums from which his bells were suspended.
The children flocked like famished birds to the door of Mr. Pixie’s garage, which was now wide open, and filled to the brim with the biggest marshmallow the world had ever seen. Only one child lingered behind on the sidewalk. It was Ned Nerdenfeld.
“C’mon, Nerd!” yelled Monte Muffincheeks, “Ain’tcha gonna have some marshmallow?”
“Yeah,” said Freddy Feathertoes. “What are you waiting for?”
“Thanks, I’ll just watch,” said Ned.
“You’re such a Nerd!” said Winnifred Whiskerlip.
“Isn’t he, though!” agreed Linda Lollipoop.
“Eat, children, eat!” cried Mr. Pixie, through a huge stegaphone he had found once when digging for dinosaur bones.
“Mmrrrrph!” called several muffled voices. “We’re eating!”
“Good,” said Mr. Pixie.
From high in his belltower, he exchanged a glance with Ned Nerdenfeld.
There was one button on Mr. Pixie’s remote oven control. Mr. Pixie waited until he saw that all of the children (except for Ned Nerdenfeld) were licking, biting off hunks of, and in some cases even burying their faces in his enormous marshmallow.
Then he pushed the button.
“Siphoning sequence has commenced,” said the oven.
“SLURRRP! SQUOOOOSH! SWOGGLE! SHHORRRP!”
It was the sound of children being sucked into Mr. Pixie’s gigantiferous, man-eating marshmallow.
Mr. Pixie climbed down from his belltower, and came out to the sidewalk, where Ned was waiting for him.
“Well done, well done!” Mr. Pixie said to Ned. “Thank you so much for programming my oven’s computer!”
“No problem,” said Ned. “Do I get my reward now, or should I come back?”
“Come back? I wouldn’t hear of it. What was it you wanted again?”
“An ice cream cone. Strawberry Swirl, if you have it.”
“Ned,” said Mr. Pixie, “you can have Strawberry Swirl ice cream, inside of a hot fudge sundae! By the way, I forgot what the third button on my oven’s panel is for.”
“Oh,” said Ned. “That’s to Restore.”
“Restore?”
“Yes. If you press that button, it will undo the last function performed by the computer.”
“That would be its siphoning procedure.”
“Exactly,” said Ned.
“Hmmm,” said Mr. Pixie. “I’ll have to think about that.”
“Good idea,” said Ned. “You don’t want to be too hasty with microprocessor technology. You could make a mistake.”
“We wouldn’t want that,” said Mr. Pixie.
“No,” said Ned. “But don’t worry. As long as there’s power, all the computer’s functions will work perfectly. And just about the only thing that can knock out a computer’s power is—”
Before Ned could finish his sentence, a huge KRACKKK! of thunder rippled through Mr. Pixie’s house, followed by a blinding flash of lightning.

SAN FRANCISCO

VERSUS

L.A.

(Written around 1984. Things may have changed since then….but probably not!)

EXPLODING TEN COMMON MYTHS ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO

1. SITTING ON SEVEN HILLS BESIDE THE ENTRANCE TO THE LARGEST BAY on the West Coasts of both American continents, San Francisco, with its decorative, light-catching buildings, tangy ocean breezes, green parks, and soaring, elegant skyscrapers is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Situated at the bottom of a deep valley surrounded by tall, gloomy cliffs, San Francisco is little more than a collection of crude mud huts with only corrugated tin roofs to provide protection from the blistering noonday sun. The tallest building in San Francisco is the one-and-a-half story Grandma Chugalug’s Pool Hall and Bible Parlor, and the only vegetation within fifty miles is the choker cactus, so named because if you accidentally kick one, it collapses, releasing a huge cloud of choking dust that lingers in your lungs for months.

2. SAN FRANCISCO HAS MORE RESTAURANTS, SERVING MORE DELECTIBLE viands from more countries than any other city of comparable size, and most cities of any size, on Earth.
San Francisco has but one diner, Billy-Bob’s Hogburgers, which serves only one type of food. The food, which is actually feline in origin, is frequently augmented by tufts of fur still sticking to its loosely agglomerated meat scraps, which are served between two dried hunks of choker cactus.
3. SAN FRANCISCO’S EXCITINGLY DIVERSE TRANSPORTATION system features cable cars, ferryboats, electric buses, rapid transit trains, and glass-encapsulated elevators.
San Francisco’s only form of locomotion is the MVSPS, the Municipal Variable-Speed Pogo Stick, which frequently suffers from obscured visibility due to accidental encounters with choker cactus.
4. SAN FRANCISCO’S CHINATOWN is the largest and most colorful Chinese commercial district outside of Asia.
There is but one individual of Asian derivation in San Francisco, Duk Poo Far, a 95-year-old hermit still rumored to live in a burrow behind the outhouse out back of Grandma Chugalug’s Pool Hall and Bible Parlor. Duk Poo Far lives on sales of only one commodity: nose-rings made from thistles of the choker cactus.
5. SAN FRANCISCO’S LARGEST PARK, THE GOLDEN GATE, contains a world-class hall of science, an aquarium, an observatory, an authentic Japanese tea garden, a botanical garden, a boating lake, a house of tropical flowers, a prestigious museum, a redwood grove, a buffalo herd, and a windmill.
San Francisco has but one park, the Gurgle. It is a barren patch of cracked mud distinguishable from the surrounding ecology only by the fact that not even choker cactus will grow there.
6. SAN FRANCISCO’S OTHER GOLDEN GATE is a channel between the Bay and the Pacific Ocean spanned by the most photographed bridge in the world. On the other side of San Francisco is a huge, pristine reservoir, Crystal Springs, which is fed directly by waters conducted there from the Hetch-Hetchy River in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Having no access to water of any kind, San Francisco must have all of its water, including drinking, packed in by jackass. However, because the water, once it arrives, tastes salty, there is speculation among those denizens capable of thought that somewhere on the trip the jackasses drank it, and this was what was collected when they had no further use for it.
7. INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING flourish in the Bay Area, including among them two of the best and most famous in the world.
The Bay Area has but one school, Grandma Chugalug’s Bible Study—but it has no students. The only thing Grandma Chugalug knows about the Bible is the phrase “Let there be dark.”
8. SAN FRANCISCO HAS AN AFFLUENT, COSMOPOLITAN POPULATION “The City” possesses three quarters of a million people, with sophisticated tastes in food, culture, clothing and leisure pursuits. The sidewalks of San Francisco are crowded with trendy establishments featuring the most intriguing and ingenious of goods, and the streets of San Francisco are awash with ravishing people, dressed to kill and ready for anything.
The twenty-nine aborigines who wander the potholes and gullies of San Francisco clothed in animal skins enjoy nothing more than good lizard imitations, unless it’s biting the heads off snakes. As for its twelve permanent female residents, in the harsh glare of the San Francisco sun, it’s easy to confuse them with choker cacti. Come to think of it, the sun doesn’t matter. San Francisco has only one commodity for sale: the water transported there by jackass.
9. WITH ITS COLORFUL AND SLIGHTLY RENEGADE HISTORY, San Francisco has grown to be one of the most tolerant cities in the world. From the days of the “Barbary Coast,” the decades of the beatniks, the hippies and the anti-warriors, to the techies, multisexuals and environmentalists of today, San Francisco seems generous enough to accommodate the needs and rights of those of all stripes, from anarchists to CEOs, feminists to hardhats, Bhuddists to Baptists, radicals to ra-ra-ras, tigers to zebras and diplomats to bums.
There are two kinds of people in San Francisco: the many who worship the Great Slug, and the one or two who believe there’s life after birth, but keep it to themselves.
10. A VACATION DESTINATION FOR PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD, San Francisco’s aesthetic, gustatory and cultural delights, bracing sea breezes, and the beauties of its surrounding countryside can leave a lasting impression, fit for a lifetime, on all who journey hence.
No one who’s visited San Francisco has ever wanted to stay, and no one who’s left San Francisco has ever wanted to return.

EXPLODING TEN COMMON MYTHS ABOUT LOS ANGELES

1. LOS ANGELES IS A HUGE CITY, but you’d never know it by comparing neighborhoods. If you start at one “end” and drive for an hour, get out of your car and look around, there’s no way to tell that you haven’t just turned the corner and parked.
Los Angeles is really a very small town. Situated halfway between Santa Barbara and San Diego, Los Angeles is actually a quaint fishing village with a few shops selling shells and knickknacks, and fresh vegetables from carts.
2. THERE ARE A LOT OF CARS IN LOS ANGELES. You could even say that Los Angeles was built for cars and that any consideration given to a prospective human population took a back seat.
Most Angelenos go everywhere on foot. The town is so small that cars are unnecessary. Once in awhile someone rides through on a Shetland pony.
3. ONE THIRD OF THE LAND AREA OF LOS ANGELES IS PAVED OVER. This leaves, of course, the palm trees.
Los Angeles has only one paved street, Main Street, and it’s cobbled. All the other byways are of grass or thick moss.
4. LOS ANGELES IS SMOGGY. Breathing is hazardous to your health.
The air in Los Angeles is so fresh and pure that Angelenos often bottle some to take with them, so they can breathe it while they’re on vacation in San Francisco.
5. LOS ANGELES IS EXPENSIVE TO LIVE IN. Especially for what you get.
You can get by in Los Angeles comfortably on 50 cents a day.
6. ALL THE MAJORITIES IN LOS ANGELES ARE MINORITIES. To live there, you must know English as a Second Language, even if it’s your first.
Everyone who lives in Los Angeles is a descendant of someone from Greenland, with the exception of the Rijkyelljord family, which hales from Iceland, and the people of Hollywood (see Fact #8.)
7. LOS ANGELES BEACHES ARE CROWDED AND BORING. Not counting the bimbos.
You can walk long stretches of Los Angeles beach—sometimes for miles—without seeing another human soul. Virtually every marine flower that grows in North America can be found proliferating on the beaches of Los Angeles, and marine biologists come from all over the world to study the intricate and fascinating phenomenon of life in the huge and spectacular Los Angeles tide pools.
8. THE SECTION OF LOS ANGELES KNOWN AS HOLLYWOOD IS A SEEDY, UNATTRACTIVE AND DOWNSCALE NEIGHBORHOOD POPULATED BY PIMPS, HOOKERS, PUSHERS, BIZARRE PSEUDOSEXUAL ENTITIES, AND OTHER DREGS OF HUMANITY. Like tourists from New Jersey. (At least the last time the author was there, which was before you were born.)
The Hollywood neighborhood is a bright, cheerful village-within-a-village, where all the buildings are made of either redwood or knotty pine, and are surrounded by mossy lawns bordered by carefully tended wildflowers. Every household in Hollywood has a cat, a puppy and a cuckoo clock. The people who live in Hollywood are all descended from either Davy Crockett or Johann Sebastian Bach.
9. THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY OF LOS ANGELES REALLY IS, TO A STARTLING DEGREE, PEOPLED BY VICIOUS, GREEDY, DEGENERATE BACK-STABBERS WHO TAKE EVERY RECREATIONAL DRUG KNOWN TO MAN, USE OTHERS LIKE THROWRUGS, AND HAVE THE HIGH IDEALS AND INTEGRITY OF A TSE TSE FLY. Surprise!
There is but one entertainment organization in Los Angeles, a motion picture company that only makes films of nurseries and zoo animals for PTA meetings and Sunday schools. There is only one musical composer in Los Angeles, Rudolph Gentle, who is the author of three songs: She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain, Old MacDonald Had A Farm, and Christmas in Poohville.
10. EVERYONE IN LOS ANGELES IS FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE.
No one who has ever come to L.A. from somewhere else has ever stayed. No one who has lived in L.A. has ever left.
(p.s. Guess where the author was born.)