::Ray Jones walks briskly out onto the stage. His old black suit is a bit threadbare and his tie is obviously a clip-on. But that can be overlooked. More important are the two smaller figures accompanying him. In his coat pocket is a beautiful young mouse with a glorious mop of yellow hair and dressed in a black strapless evening gown. On his opposite shoulder sits a chipmunk in a red and yellow Hawaiian shirt::

Ray: Hello everyone. We’re glad to see such a turnout here at the Acorn Café. You may or may not recognize me, but I don’t need to introduce our guests. Gadget.

::Here, the lovely mousette raises one paw to her muzzle to stifle a giggle, then waves to the applause::

Ray: And, of course, Dale.

::Dale stands up on Ray’s shoulder and executes a deep, theatrical bow. Continued applause::

Ray: We are here tonight to present the award for the best artwork.

Dale: Well, wouldn’t you think whoever wins as ‘best artist’ must’a won because they had the best picture?

Gadget: Not necessarily, Dale. Remember, a graph X could have a scatter plot of point values whose sum could be higher than the sum of the point values of graph Y. That would correspond to graph X being the ‘best artist’. But if graph Y has a greater coefficient of variation in point values than graph X, then one or more *individual* points on graph Y cold have a higher value than any *individual* point on graph X. That would correspond to ‘best picture’. So they don’t *have* to be the same.

Dale: So somebody might draw the best picture by accident?

::From somewhere, Dale whips out a human sized pencil and sheet of paper. There is a crude drawing of Foxy on the page::

Gadget: Well, I’m sure there will be more to it than that.

Foxy: (Offstage) That’s beautiful Dale!  You get *my* vote!

::Laughter from audience::

Ray: Calling it an accident may not be right, but from having drawn a lot myself, I would like to talk about a phenomenon I call ‘the accident of the line’.

::Ray pauses, allowing the audience to settle down and concentrate on him as he speaks::


Ray: The accident of the line is characterized by several features. First, it can’t really be called
‘beginner’s luck’ because it doesn’t usually start happening until you have some practice. Second, it’s spontaneous. You know approximately what you want to draw - but this comes out better than that. And third, try as much as you may, you can’t do it again. At least, not until you get much better.

It may be as simple as the curve of a leg or side of a face. Often, it is an unanalyzable expression. You could draw the same eyelids - the same line of the mouth again. Yet somehow - somehow you just can’t get the whole thing to come together again.

Dale:  I know!  It’s like knockin’ Chip’s hat off with a grape and then lookin’ innocent. Usually, you don’t get back into the right position fast enough or you can’t help smiling or something else happens.

::Chip looks ready to charge the podium, but a look from Gadget stops him. Dale continues::


Dale: But once in a while you get it just right. You *know* that old grape’s gonna knock off his hat as soon as it slides loose from your fingers. You don’t even *see* it cause you just slip back into position so smooth!  You fall right back into the cushions - your comic book comes right up. You don’t even have any tension in your cheeks.

::The audience is well into laughter by now, and even Gadget’s warning looks are starting to lose their influence on the fedora-clad munk. Dale continues on, oblivous::


Dale: It’s great! Chip *knows* you did it, but you look so calm and innocent even *he* can’t be a hunnert percent sure.

Gadget: It’s sort of Zen.

Ray: Exactly!


::Chip leaves his seat and heads up the aisle, on his way to the food table. Ray breathes a silent sigh of relief, not wanting another fiasco like earlier::

Ray: Now, while an accident of the line can help ‘make’ a picture, it’s not everything. A perfect line representing a knee or edge of a hand isn’t a picture except maybe in the most ‘Minimalist’ art.

Dale: Mini-mist?

Gadget: Minimalist. It’s a school of art that in theory seeks to find the most important feeling or
theme of a work of art and remove everything else. In theory the theme or inspiration is presented in its ‘purest’ possible form. In practice, this translates to stripping away detail until the work is as boring as possible.

Ray: Anyway, some of the other things we consider here include balance - how easy it is to look at; does it hold the eye in the picture or lead it out. And color and shading. And perhaps the most important element in works judged here - which would be frowned on in more academic art - is association. What we do here is primarily representational art. It needs to look at least somewhat like the Rangers. This gets us thrown out of the Met, where most academic art trends are away from representationalism and - to tell the truth - away from real personal involvement with the viewer. What *we* look for in an artwork is some echo, some reflection of what it is about the Rangers that attracts us to them in the first place. A picture that can capture that, however naively, is for us a great picture. Even if it is not technically polished or sophisticated in technique.

Gadget: Ultimately, what we choose for this category is the one that has the most heart and feeling for what the Rangers mean to us.

Ray: Well put, Gadget. And supremely non-trendy.

Dale: C’mon then!  Let’s do it! Who won!? Who won!?

Ray: May we have the envelope please?

::Gadget, Ray and Dale look up. Slowly, and envelope descends on the end of a string. Monterey Jack, dressed impeccably in a tiny tux - is tied around the waist with the string. He holds the envelope in his paws::

Monty: Crikey!  Are we gonna do this same lame joke *EVERY* year!? Ya had me doin’ this *last* time!

Dale: Hey, Monty - if it works, go with it!

Monty: Ya call *THIS* workin’ !?

Gadget: Thank you, Monty. Golly - I’m so excited! If everyone is ready, Ray will read the winner.

::Ray opens the envelope. Dale, on all fours, looks down excitedly::

Ray: And the winner *IS*..

Dale: Fish!

::Dale runs as a stuffed swordfish on a rope swings through the air. There is great applause from the audience as the cast jumps up and cheers, and runs up to the stage::


Chip: we’d like to give special honor and recognition to what made this endeavor truly possible:




Monty: Why- look at how every one of Fish’s first drafts turn out before he tightens them up:


<img src= “http://www.indyranger.com/1stdraft.jpg”>


Chip: Pink Pearl, get on up here, this Acorn Award is really YOURS!!


Gadget: Where other erasers would just leave a black smudgy mess or break off the pencil tips and quit when an entire page had to be cleaned after inking- you stayed the course and pulled us through! Let’s watch this unbelievably boring pre-taped video montage on the history of eraser manufacturing.




We lost it?




Chip (relieved): Good. Uh- Fish, why don’t you take it from here?


Fish: Sure, Chip. Well- anyway- thanks AGAIN for the kudos, even though some of the art in the comic was, as one net-critic said, and I agree- “wildly inconsistent.” That’s because there’d be a Dale from 1999 talking to a Chip from 2002 in the same panel!  If I kept trying to fix all the art I didn’t like- this STILL would be unreleased. Sometimes ya just gotta release the flick- even IF you know a stormtrooper knocks his head on the doorway like an idiot. (Star Wars flub-seekers know what I’m talking about, here)


Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen, you are too kind.


::The audience rises in its approval, clapping as Fish is escorted off by the Rangers and Ray Jones. Fish grabs his cell phone, asking the operator for the nearest freight-hauling company. Dr. Batorius’ voice comes over the loudspeaker::


Dr. Batorious: That’s it for the Artwork portion of this year’s Golden Acorn awards. After the break, we will have the award presentations for Best Song Parody through Best Original Villain. And now, stay tuned for a special Golden Acorn awards live performance…