ZIP Beep #23

(Winston/Salem, NC) The Tobacco Growers & Manufacturers Association has announced plans to stage a benefit concert for tobacco farmers. The Smoke Aid event will feature popular performers and a massive pledge drive.

Marv Kaufmann, Chairman of the Board at the Alcoah Tobacco Company, has put aside his duties to organize Smoke Aid. At a press conference to announce the event, he told reporters, "The tobacco farmer is suffering a doubly devastating catastrophe, and we intend to do something about it. All farmers have it bad now. On top of everything else, tobacco farmers have to deal with a general decline in cigarette sales. But if Smoke Aid lives up to our expectations, we'll raise enough money to send tobacco products to Third World countries. You know, life is hell overseas. And there's nothing like a good pack of cigarettes to help you get through a bad day. The way we figure it, Smoke Aid will get our farmers out of a jam now, and hook -- er, develop a whole new market at the same time."

Smoke Aid will undoubtably benefit from Kaufmann's experience. His company has been manufacturing cigars, cigarettes and other tobacco products since the turn of the century. In the decade between 1965 and 1975, Alcoah stunned the business world when it quietly absorbed most of its major competitors. In recent years, Alcoah has continued to swallow up businesses, but now appears more interested in the food industry, and has concentrated on acquisitions calculated to shift its business to fit the times.

Kaufmann knows some people may mistrust his efforts. "Yeah, I know it looks like Alcoah might be backing this event for its own gain. But nothing could be farther from the truth. All we want to do is help the farmer. Besides, we're changing the focus of our company. Why, we expect to make less than $300 million on tobacco this year. It's the farmers we're thinking about."

Unlike the many other benefit concerts organized over the years, Smoke Aid is not the brainchild of a musician. It came from the head of Monty Bunco, former legal aid and lobbyist for the National Tabacco Institute.

"Let's face it," he said at the press conference, "cigarettes kill people. All of the evidence is in. Or all that's needed to convince any higher ape with a decent sense of judgement. And now the American Lung Association wants to outlaw cigarettes by the end of the century. So one day I says to my law partner, 'Murray, let's stop beating a dead horse!' He got all huffy, I stomped back in my office, then I got this idea. People feel so strong about not smoking that the tobacco companies can't buy favorable legislation nowadays. Maybe those same people would contribute money to have tobacco products shipped away from them. I called Marv here and told him the idea, and he jumped right on it. Now we're lining up the bands and hoping for a really big event, which we plan to stage right after this year's harvest."

It's unclear whether the American Lung Association will succeed in outlawing cigarette sales, but declining profits from tobacco are forcing smokers to pay higher and higher prices to support their habit. And it looks like it will continue to get worse, according to the Center For Future Studies And Stuff. By 1995, the Center predicts, tobacco will be sold in quantites of one ounce, or fractions thereof. Pipe stores will all but disappear. The cost of tobacco will increase dramatically, and smokers will commonly resort to rolling their own cigarettes, or they will use crudely-fashioned pipes made from cardboard toilet paper tubes and tinfoil. Eventually, smokers will feel comfortable only in small, sunless dens where they can indulge uninhibited, listen to loud music, and talk revolution.

Meanwhile, it's outdoor music that will attract smokers and donations from nonsmokers this fall, assuming all goes well for Smoke Aid. Only a handful of performers have signed up so far, including Tom Waits, Leon Redbone, Edie Adams and Charlie Daniels. Highlights will almost certainly include Tobacco Road, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Two Cigarettes In The Dark, Fire On The Mountain, Smoke Smoke Smoke, Light My Fire and I Burn For You.

Can Third World sales sustain American tobacco farmers? "Frankly," Kaufmann said, "we doubt it. That's why we're using some of the funds to help farmers try out new cash crops, like broccoli, tomatoes and cucumbers. But we're having limited success. Broccoli tastes like hell, and you can't keep cucumbers lit. And tomatoes! You may as well cook them as try to smoke them.

"Still," Kaufmann says, "I suppose we could find a way to sell these new cash crops. We're making some good connections in the food industry, and we'll probably be able to unload the farmers' crops one way or another, although I doubt if we'll pay much for them. But, we do what we can."

ZIP Beep #23


"This is Gerealdo Rivera. It may look like I'm walking through a vacant warehouse in any of a hundred cities. But this one may be special. When this warehouse was built for Harry Houdini in the 19th Century, Houdini personally oversaw its design and construction. Now, it's slated for destruction to make way for a modern parking lot. And before it goes, we're going to have a look around here, tonight, on live TV. Houdini was an eccentric, a mystic, a believer in the spiritual world, a crazy kind of nudnik who was capable of anything. What's in store for us tonight? Who knows. We could find a vault of jewels hidden behind a sliding panel. We might even find Houdini himself, hiding in a closet, ready to leap out and amaze us with the most astounding feat of magic ever attempted, the one he swore he would perfect, that of coming back from the dead. But whatever we find, I bought the rights to this event, and I intend to make the most of it. With that in mind, we bring you this commercial message. Then I'll be back and we'll continue to explore Houdini's Lost Warehouse."


"Have you ever seen so many bricks? Haw, haw, haw! I tell ya, if these were all made of gold, it'd look like Fort Knox. But then, we wouldn't be selling them, would we? Haw, haw, haw! Okay, look, let me just get serious here for a moment, if I might. I don't know if you remember me. I'm Tom Snyder. I used to be big stuff around NBC. I interviewed a lot of famous people, covered so many important stories that I can't even remember them all, if you can believe that, and now I've joined in an enterprise with someone who's been through the same sort of thing, the same trip, you might say, and of course I'm refering to Mr. Gerealdo Rivera. He was out of a job, then he did this thing with Al Capone's Chicago headquarters, and now he's stuck with all these bricks from the wall leading to that hidden room that had everyone so mystified. Okay, so what does that have to do with Tom Snyder, I know you're asking that. Fair enough, fair enough. I can answer that. Geraldo asked me if I wanted to help him spread some of the excitement to the viewers in a more personal way. So what we're doing is, you see, the thing is, we're working together to give these bricks to you. Now, all you have to do is send in your donation of $20 or more. And we'll send you a brick from Al Capone's Chicago headquarters, and if that isn't something, well, I guess I just don't know what the heck something is, and now here's Gerealdo again."


"Welcome back to Houdini's Lost Warehouse, and I think we have something rather interesting to report here. What you're seeing before you is a wall that stands ten feet farther out that it should, according to our best estimates. After measuring this room and the one beyond that wall, we're almost certain there's something interesting going on here. Yessiree. For the most part, there's no doubt about it. We've been ramming it with the fork lift, but so far, we haven't been able to knock it down. But we did make some jimdandy gouges in the surface of the wall, so we're going to jam in some blasting powder and see if we can blow it up. We're not quite ready to push the plunger so -- what's that? My floor director is trying to give me some instructions on my headset, but I can't hear above the noise. Uh-huh. Okay, yeah. While we're waiting for the crew to finish setting up the delicate explosives and equipment, we're going to show you an interview I did last week with a man who lived next door to a construction worker who worked for the man who built this warehouse. Okay, what's the story here, guys, can you speed it up a bit, or --"


"I'm Gerealdo Rivera, and sitting here next to me is Frank Dawgbreath, a former employee of the Harley Able Construction Company until his retirement in 1941. Mr. Dawgbreath, first of all, I want to say I'm honored to be talking with a man of one hundred and five years, and I hope I'm lucky enough to live so long and look so good. Now, could you tell me what you know about Houdini's Lost Warehouse. . . . anything at all, Mr. Dawgbreath. . . . a memory of it's rise into the sky, brick by brick. . . . Do you remember any of the other workmen, what were they like? Mr. Dawgbreath? . . . Well, it's remarkable just the same, talking with a man so fortunate as to have been in the middle of it all when --"


"We're back here live in Houdini's Lost Warehouse, where the dynamite went off just a little earlier than we had planned. But we did manage to break through the wall, as you can tell, and now it's time to step over the rubble and see what we can see. Okay, cameraman, please be careful with these cables. Can I hand this mike to someone so I can get past the (RUMBLERUMBLERUMBLE) There! Now, point that spotlight over here, guys. Guys. Point that light over here. Oh, my gosh! Will you look at that? Who would have thought -- Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know just what this means yet, but I think . . . yes, now I'm certain there's only one explanation for all of these bottles and wooden kegs. We seem to have stumbled onto Ulysses S. Grant's Abandoned Wine And Whiskey Cellar. What a discovery! There must be a fortune in wines here. And millions of gallons of 150 proof Kentucky whiskey, all aged in oak casks that -- What's that? One of the crew is trying to tell me something, folks, but I -- How's that? One of the casks has broken? Well, we'll have to do something about that quick. Let me wrap up here first. Get my thermos out of my lunch box. Well, there you have it, Mr. and Ms. America, not one of the wonders of the ages, but a nice payoff for me nonetheless. Next week, I'll be back with another mystery as we explore Richard Nixon's Music Collection. My production company has bought the rights to it, and if next week is anything like this week, we'll be sure to come across a few surprise selections from Nixon's huge cabinet of abandoned audio tapes. Nixon says it's nothing but music, others disagree, but next week we'll all find out together. On second thought, that broken keg looks pretty big, so I suspect we'll skip next week's show and be back in two weeks. Or three. It all depends on when me and the crew are well again. I may be wrong, but I think we're going to be pretty,uh, sick before this is over. Anyway, thanks again for being part of the history here tonight, and don't forget to send in your donation so we can keep this fine form of entertainment coming into your home week after week. Goodbye, and keep the faith."

ZIP Beep #23
by Joan Glynns

Waves crashed against the shore of an acid sea on the northeastern quadrasphere of the fifth planet from the Necramandian sun. The temperature had dropped to far below the freezing point of water, but the acid sea continued to churn in a fluid frenzy driven on by the sudden change in climatic conditions.

Amidst the thundering atmosphere of this violent setting, The Doctor's TARBABE materialized on the edge of a craggy cliff, only to fall almost instantly over the precipice toward certain destruction on the quartz-like rocks below.

"Ye Gods!" the Doctor bellowed as he flipped a large purple switch inside the TARBABE. His companions looked at him with bewildered expressions. "Oh, sure!" he exclaimed. "Here I am, working to save us all from certain destruction, or whatever it was the narrator said, and all you can do is sit around looking bored. Do you realize we narrowly avoided materializing in a very hostile environment? Are you aware that I just propelled us halfway across this parsec galaxy in a split second?"

Romeovera yawned. "Time is all relative, Doctor. I'm sure your split second could have been stretched using some sort of mechanism you would have remembered in the last split instant of that split second."

The Doctor sat back and looked at the floor. She was right! As much as he tried, it was impossible to get too excited in life- or-death predicaments when you knew your existance depended on something that went beyond life and death.

"By the way," Romeovera asked as she casually regenerated a pageboy haircut topped by a pillbox hat, "where are we going to materialize now?"

The Doctor leaped to his feet with new enthusiasm. "On Earth in the 20th Century!" he cried.

"What!!??!" Romeovera exclaimed. "There again? Honestly, Doctor, I don't know what you see in that time and place."

"It's very simple," he answered. "We can find our way out of practically any universe with practically every chance of surviving, right?"

"Well," she answered, "up to a point ... "

"But there's one thing we need above all else if we want to keep going. You know what that is, don't you?"

Then, together, they said, "Good ratings!"

"I see," Romeovera continued. "No other place in the universe has paid more attention to us than 20th Century Earth. Still, I do wish some other civilizations would become more interested in us. I really am getting tired of coming back here."

There was a sharp, squishing sound outside the room, then The Doctor and Romeovera were joined by the slime creature they had taken aboard in TURMOIL (Dr. Howzzat? Episode 3 [Z47]).

"Pardon me," the slime said, "but I couldn't help overhearing. I know you may be tired of that time period, but I've never been there. I hope it will be possible for me to take a look at it."

Slowly, Romerovera and The Doctor became aware of something different about the slime creature. It had taken on the rough but distinct form of a dog.

"Slimey!" The Doctor cried. "You look great!"

"Do you really think so?" it asked, and blushed to a darker shade of green.

"Of course!" he answered. "Don't you agree, Romeovera?"

"Hmmm?" Romeovera looked at The Doctor quizzically. "Oh, yes. Yes! You look fine, uh, uh -- say, I never did get your name."

"I never did really have one," the slime said. "Never really needed one, living alone for all those eons. But I have been giving it some thought. I would like you to call me --"

The slime stopped and glanced at its body in the reflection along the base of the TARBABE's cortex.

"I would like you to call me Slimey The Dog," it said.

"Wonderful!" The Doctor said. "I take that as a compliment."

"As well you should," Slimey The Dog said. "After all, you started calling me Slimey and I liked the sound of it. But I don't want to scare people, I intend to hold this shape as best I can. Maybe a big green dog won't be as frightening as a big green pile of slime. But it's hard to stay like this without some reinforcement, so I would like you to refer to me as Slimey The Dog.

"That's a mouthful, Slimey, old thing," The Doctor said. "I think the narrator will get tired of using your full name. You have to remember these things if you want to continue to exist. Let's just stick with Slimey and hope everyone remembers you look like a dog."

"Well," Slimey said uncertainly, "if you say so. I guess you have more experience in these matters."

"That's true," The Doctor agreed. "But I don't want you to think I don't realize the amount of effort you go through to maintain the shape of a Canis familiaris. So I intend to call you by your full name from time to time, no matter what the narrator thinks. And incidently, welcome aboard, Slimey The Dog."

Slimey fairly beamed a rich emerald hue. "Thank you, Doctor. This looks like the begining of a long and beautiful friendship."

"Well, I hope so," The Doctor muttered, "depending on our overnights, of course."

As he spoke, The Doctor pressed the switch that turned on the viewing screen. The three TARBABE passengers saw a peaceful mountain setting, with snowcapped peaks in the distance and cattle quietly grazing in the foreground. They were about to open the door to the TARBABE and walk into the pastoral scene when they noticed a raging bull heading toward them from a distant corner of the picture. Before they could react, the bull was upon them, and hit the TARBABE with such force that it fell over the side of the cliff on which it sat, and crashed onto the granite rocks below.

Then ...


* * *

ZIP Beep! Table of Contents
Strinz Creative Home Page