Dateline: December 21, 2001

Aloha, Wackiteers. Amalgamated Humor VP of Public Relations Gary Newbrunswick here. When I was last able to update you, myself and a host of severalother Amalgamated Humor employees were about to be executed by the robot kitties who had taken over our corporate headquarters. Giving the order was their leader, arch-fiend Carl Sagan, a man I had believed dead for years. What follows is the exciting account of our deliverance from treachery:

"And now revenge shall finally be mine," Carl Sagan said, his preserved head attached to a metallic approximation of a house catŐs body. "My robot kitties, prepare to kill!"

A sick, low hum filled the room from the robot kitties all around us. The sound of their laser-eyes warming up forming a disharmonius chord with the sound of their contented purring.

"Wait!" A voice shouted. It was pimply-faced intern Amelia Whinecrest. "Why? Why are you doing this?"

The robo-cat/Carl Sagan hybrid bounded over to her and craned its neck back to look at her.

"You mean you don't know?" Carl asked.

"Of course she doesn't," I was surprised to hear myself yelling. "She's just a kid. She probably wasn't even born at the time. Practically no one remembers but you."

"Very well, Newbrunswick," Sagan-kitty sneered. "I shall grant her and the others the small courtesy of relating why I hate Amalgamated Humor and your accursed mascot, Cap'n Wacky before they die."

And then he told us the story. This is the story he told:

"I remember it clearly- July 21, 1976. I was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The first guest was Joan Embery of the San Diego Zoo, with some wonderful denizens of the animal kingdom, mixed with the legendary Carson wit.

"I was on next, to speak about the upcoming Viking 1 probe landing on Mars. Johnny and I speculated about the possible results of ground samples and I showed the audience some photos of our red neighbor. As we discussed the exploratory instincts of man having been excited by this bold new venture to the stars, a fanfare was heard from Tommy Newsom- Doc was out sick that night- and a drunken Cap'n Wacky stumbled out from between the curtains.

"The audience cheered wildly, as the Cap'n Wacky film had come out that summer and was wildly popular with the children. I slid down the couch a bit, annoyed that I had my lecture cut off so abruptly, but I was willing to be gracious.

"He drunkenly mumbled a few things, belched a cloud of rum ino the studio and started saying something about having a puppy. Wacky reached under his coat and produced a-a- chinchilla. He must have stolen it from Joan Embery's people backstage. Well, I have an irrational fear of the things, so I gave a little yell. The Cap'n laughed and said I sounded like a nine year old girl, then threw the creature into my lap. I yelled some more and everyone started laughing- Johnny, Ed, Tommy, the audience. Even the next scheduled guest, Dom DeLouise, wet himself in the green room. It was perhaps the most humiliating experience in my life.

"For decades, that terrible laughter as rung in my ears and for decades I have plotted my revenge. Finally, that day has come."

And for several seconds the room was silent, save for the whirring of the inner-mechanisms of our robotic captors.

"That's it? All of this just because a few people laughed at you?" Amelia demanded.

"No one laughs at genius," Sagan responded, then waited the cliched meglomaniacial lunatic moment before repeating "NO ONE! Now, my minions, prepare for the final curtain for our dear friends."

Again, the fateful hum filled the room again avoice yelled "Wait!" This time, it was head mailroom clerk Gordy Shwartz.

"NOW what?" whined Sagan.

"I have a question too. Why the hell is you head on the body of a damn kitty when you're supposed to be dead?"

"Ah, Mr. Shwartz, this too is an interesting storyÉ" Sagan began.

But he was quickly interrupted by the sound of something striking hard against the roof. Inside, humans and robot kitties alike titled our heads back to look at the ceiling. The initial impact was soon followed by quieter noises, as if something or someone was making their way across the ceiling. The sound seemed to be leading toward the chimney above Mr. White's personal condo.

Then a great plume of soot poured out of the fireplace and into the room as the mysterious visitor leaped down the chimney. A solitary figure stepped forth from the cloud. He wore dark boots, a long coat, and a rosy-red nose and cheeks peered out from his old white-bearded face.

It was Cap'n Wacky himself!

"Ahoy there," he said.

"Cap'n," hissed Carl coldly. "My old nemesis. So my revenge shall truly be complete."

"Carl," the Cap'n said. "It's nearly Christmas time, it is. A time for both giving and for forgiveness. I've brought ye a simple present, I have, in hopes we might put the past behind us."

And from the pack slung across his back, the Cap'n produced a single box, a perfect cube wrapped in brown paper and tied up in string.

"For you," he said, holding it forward, "and the wee kittens."

"Give it to me," Sagan said.

"Uh uh," said the Cap'n, shaking his head. "This here be a Christmas present, and Christmas is yet a few days off."

"But, what's in it?" asked Fluffly X-10, the robot kitty who began the attack on us.

"Ooh, I cannot tell ye that," said the Cap'n. "'twould ruin the surprise."

"We must know," said another robot kitty.

"Tell us," whined another.

The robot kitties walked slowly toward the Cap'n, their glowing-red orbs fixed intently on the package.

"What is it? What is it?" They asked, their voices becoming one.

"No, no, no." said the Cap'n. "You must wait."

A new sound began to come out of the robot kitties. It was a piercing high-pitched squeal.

"No! No!" shouted Sagan. "You must let them open it!"

"Open it! Open it!" repeated the kitties. Small billows of smoke began to trickle out of their mouths and nostrils.

"Sorry, little kitties. I can't do that!"

"Kill him!" shouted Carl.

But it was too late. With a final shriek, the kitties, one by one shorted out, shot sparks, and keeled over.

"Noooooooooooo!" screamed Carl Sagan.

Cap'n Wacky smiled slowly.

"Curiosity," he said, "killed the robot kitty."

And as lame a joke as that was, I found myself laughing with relief, as did everyone else in the room.

"Stop! Stop laughing!" Carl Sagan yelled and shook his tiny little paw at us, which made us laugh all the more.

"You haven't seen the last of me!" he yelled and bounded out an open window. We were all laughing too hard to stop him as he scampered off into the distance.

"What the devil is so funny and why is anyone who isn't a prostitute in my personal condo?"

We turned around to face the voice at the door. It was Amalgamated Humor Co-President RJ White, back from his Love Boat dream cruise vacation.

"What happened here?" Mr. White demanded.

"Nothing, Mr. White," we responded, as bad television has taught us to all our lives. "Nothing at all." Then we winked toward a camera that wasn't there.

Oh, and Mr. Brockie didn't get killed either. Apparently he escaped through the trap door slide beneath his desk, went to get help, and was distracted by Weird-Al lookalike contest.