An English Fox Reads the Phone Book

Some of you who have met me will agree with the notion that I have a nice voice . . . a mellifluous British accent that has a smoothing cadence. I’ve done a lot of public speaking, some voice acting, and many years ago I was an on-air DJ for the once glorious Cincinnati radio stations 97X . . . ever see the film Rain Man? Remember when Dustin Hoffman kept saying “97X! Bam! The future of rock’n’roll!”? That was a real station ident for a real station that is alas no more . . . anyway, the point is that I have a pretty good voice, and this weekend I was invited to speak at a panel in which I just read from the phonebook, but there was more to it than just that . . .

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My good friends at the Ringtail Cafe run a furry convention in Cincinnati called Fur Reality. It began in October 2013 as a sister convention to Pandoracon, but last year and this year it has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the best furry conventions in the country.

Aloysius Fox 101115A 680Now some of you are thinking, “Wait a minute? Is Fox a furry? I dunno about them furries?!” I may have fox masks, but I don’t have the ears or tail (yet), nor do I have a fur suit . . . not my style, but I can appreciate the amount of time, effort, and money that fur suiters put into their costumes. Furries have an undeserved reputation propagated by that ill-fated episode of CSI, and it is sad that many nerds (who are already marginalized by mundane culture) feel the need to marginalize furries with phrases like “Well, at least I’m not a furry.” It’s all costuming! Whatever your main fandom may be, cosplaying and costuming is fun and imaginative no matter what your style . . . so get over it 🙂

Aloysius Fox 101115B 680Anyway, back to the Phone Book panel . . . I was invited to just read from the phone book, but no matter how wonderful my voice may or may not be, that really wouldn’t be that entertaining for 45 minutes, so I used my artistic freedom to turn the panel into an improv storytelling presentation in which I drew the story from random pages in the phone book. Now, it has to be stated, the phone book may be a subtle text with very hidden subtexts throughout its narrative, but if you look hard enough you can find the stories that it contains. For these reasons the phone book is probably my second favorite book . . . the best book ever printed actually contains EVERY book ever written in, or translated to, the English language . . . it’s the Dictionary, but some assembly may be required to download each novel.

Aloysius Fox 101115D 680The story that we found in the phone book during this session centered on a health services building located not far from the convention which was actually a front for worshippers of a time traveling demon identified by the 888 in the phone number. We knew from Back to the Future that 88 MPH was the speed for time travel, but add another 8 and it mirrors 666, the number of the beast, except our beast preferred 888. The only people who could possibly defeat this evil cult, that was liquidizing its victims, was Edgar Allan Poe (who had slipped out of time during the three days he’d vanished) and British secret agent 009. The two of them, however, required the help of a witchdoctor, posing as a sleep consultant, to help them cross over to the axis-mundi, the crossroads between the living and the dead.

Aloysius Fox 101115E 680There in the axis-mundi, which looked like a daycare center packed with screaming babies, they found one child, an old soul called Pizza who would lead them into the room behind the mysterious door where the knowledge they sought could be found. And that’s where the cliffhanger left us eager to come back next year and find out how the story continued 🙂

Both myself and the people who came to the panel didn’t really have any idea what to expect, but I guess we all had faith that something amusing would emerge, and it did! There was also audience participation in helping form the story at critical moments and misunderstood rhetorical questions. Everyone had fun, and what sounded like a silly idea actually turned into something that I’m looking forward to continuing next year at Fur Reality.


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