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A man was walking around Dover when he happened upon a little antique shop, so he went in and took a look around. Way up on a high shelf he saw a little brass mouse figurine, and he really liked it. He asked the owner how much it was, and the guy said, “It’s £20 for the mouse, and £50 Mousefor the story that goes with it.”

Well, the man didn’t care about any old story, he just liked the little brass mouse, so he paid the guy £20 and walked out with the mouse in a brown paper bag. As he was walking home, he noticed the figurine was hollow with two little holes. Holding it up to his mouth, it made a melodious whistle. No sooner that he started, he was being followed by three little mice. When he stopped, they stopped. When he turned left, they turned left.

“Whoa, this is creeping me out,” he thought.

As he walked, the mice were joined by more mice, until our hero looked like the Pied Piper. He started to run, and he wound up at the edge of Dover’s White Cliffs. All the mice in town are right behind him. He is so freaked out that he throws the bag with the brass mouse over the cliff and into the water, and all the little mice jump after it, fall into the ocean, and drown.

“Man, this is weird!” he says. He goes back to the antique store, and the owner doesn’t seem surprised to see him. “Ahhh, you’ve come back to hear the story!” he says to our dilapidated hero.

“No, man,” says he, “I was just wondering if you have any little brass banjo players?”

Yeah, I fobbed you off with a banjo joke. I brought more work home with me tonight. I thought I was supposed to be semi-retired or something.

But don’t be sad — look at this beautiful banjo up for sale on eBay. It’s a Cammeyer Vibrante. If you ain’t never seen no banjo like ‘at before, it’s because it’s a zither banjo. A British thing that never made it back over the pond, for all kinds of reasons.

Well, Alfred Cammeyer, the inventor of the zither banjo, was an American, but he was stranded in London and forced to invent weird banjos to survive. We do what we must!


Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 9, 2016, 12:43 am

I would have asked for a little brass politician.

Comment from Nina
Time: June 9, 2016, 12:43 am

They won’t ship to the US anyway, so I guess I’ve just saved myself £600!

(Yes, I know I could technically ship it to my son-in-law in Scarborough and have him ship it to me. Hush.)


Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: June 9, 2016, 1:17 am

Annoying picture; it’s cut off at the bottom, so all one can see is the head. Or if that’s the whole instrument, it would be something truly weird. But is that actually just the head? Why would anyone bid on an instrument when one can’t see most of it?

Comment from Nina
Time: June 9, 2016, 2:10 am

The whole thing is on eBay, I think.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: June 9, 2016, 2:46 am

Ouch. 600 pounds. That’s a hella banjo. The back is beautiful. (keep scrolling down, Rich.)

Comment from Janna
Time: June 9, 2016, 2:53 am

Why does it have six of the little twirly things but only four strings? Or do I need new glasses again?

Comment from Mr. Dave
Time: June 9, 2016, 3:20 am

Janna there are two strings on the back. Quite difficult to play.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 9, 2016, 3:46 am

Mr. Dave, I don’t see what you’re referring to about “two strings on the back.” I’d really like to understand this nice thing. There are six tuning machines, there are four strings at the nut, a fifth string arises at the fifth fret, and there’s no sign of a sixth string anywhere, including at the head: there’s an empty tuning machine. The (admittedly dark) photo of the back of the neck shows nothing odd back there.

So, my theory right now is that this banjo is actually a musical Klein bottle, and the sixth string extends into the fourth spacial dimension, meaning that the full musical qualities of this thing can be heard and appreciated only by hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings whose intersection with our three-dimensional universe take on the appearance of mice. Alas, all the mice collaborated in the illusion of jumping off that cliff in the banjo joke and are unlikely ever to return to explain things to us, assuming that our hypo-intelligence could fathom pan-dimensional banjos.

Comment from Mr. Dave
Time: June 9, 2016, 3:48 am

It was a bad joke. Sorry.
Yours is much better.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: June 9, 2016, 10:49 am

Ah, the golden rat/golden lawyer joke in a different dress; cool!

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: June 9, 2016, 1:45 pm

Also works with “little brass mimes.”

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: June 9, 2016, 2:13 pm

Uncle Al – According to the Guide, there are six tuners because banjos are strung with catgut: in this case from Schrödinger’s cat. You see you need six strings because at any given moment some of the strings might not be there. So – don’t panic…

Comment from thefritz
Time: June 9, 2016, 2:18 pm

Just saw this linked to on Drudge…You are SO ahead of the curve Stoaty! (Not that you’re living in poverty though…)

Comment from Lenny Gothchalk
Time: June 9, 2016, 6:59 pm

That Bill Gates is one smart fella. I just have one question, if you are living in extreme poverty, what do you feed the chickens, and how much does it cost? Maybe you can herd chickens the way you might herd goats. Have your children walk the chickens through the neighborhood to forage and keep the dogs from killing the chickens.

Of course, if you are living in extreme poverty, then probably your neighbors are also, so how do you keep your neighbors from taking your chickens, or the governement for that matter. If you have more chickens than you neighbor, seems like the government would take the chickens you don’t need and redistribute them to people who need them more than you do.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: June 9, 2016, 8:21 pm

As I commented on an earlier post, it’s amazing how affluent Westerners are so keen on poor people doing subsistence farming and animal husbandry. I suppose it makes for picturesque visuals on NatGeo channel, but it sucks to have to do it. If you are keeping chooks as a quasi-hobby, then more power to you. If you’re doing it to supplement your calories, then you need to do a rethink.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 9, 2016, 9:50 pm

“Actually there were many chickens that McGoo had not helped raise, but he was proudest of the ones on Weasel’s Blog. They are a sturdy and complex monument to McGoo’s powers of determination. McGoo never visited Stoaty to help until they were raised and fed; then he visited there often, so pleased was he with the large , fine, rambling feathered flock. It was a truly splendid flock, and McGoo throbbed with a mighty sense of accomplishment each time he gazed at them on her website and reflected that none of the work that had gone into their care was his.”

-with apologies to J Heller –

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 9, 2016, 10:38 pm

@Steamboat – the thumb thingie only lets me do one but that post deserves more. Nice work!

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 10, 2016, 2:47 am

Thanks, Uncle Al. I always loved that wacky passage from “Catch 22” – mainly because of its weirdly “inverted logic” that – somehow – still seems correct and appropriate. There’s a lot of that in the novel.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: June 10, 2016, 9:51 pm

Deborah: Thanks. I thought I had looked over the entire slae page, and didn’t see any other pictures. It is a gorgeous thing, even the side and back of the case.

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