::Gadget sashays in from stage right towards the podium, waving cheerfully at her admirers in the audience (i.e., everyone).  Her usual sunny smile almost makes the intense spotlighting superfluous.  She's dressed up way beyond usual in a strapless, body-hugging black number, although still barefoot.  The dress has an aura of simple, elegant understatement that you know someone, somewhere paid handsomely for.


The audience applauds thunderously, save two certain chipmunks.  Their seats lie empty in the otherwise packed hall.  Do her eyes linger on those empty seats for just the briefest of moments?  Perhaps the chipmunks had some business to take care of backstage.  Regardless, they're no doubt watching from wherever they are.  They'd never willingly miss this.


By now, the beautiful inventor has made her way to the podium.  Tapping the microphone twice, she launches into her opening remarks::


Gadget: Well, golly, here I am again!


::She pauses briefly in genuine wonderment::


Gadget:  This time, my co-presenter, FleaBot (that's one word, not two, by the way), and I will be presenting the 2005 Golden Acorn Award for Best All-Time Artist.  Although, if you think about it, that doesn't really make sense, because-


::She pauses again, this time to absently rub a spot behind her left ear.  As if a signal to battle, a chipmunk-sized brown blur rushes in from stage right, letting loose a blood-curdling, “PISTAAAACCHIOOOOO!” before unceremoniously dumping an entire medicine bottle of Drs. Foster's & Smith's Flea and Tick Powder over Gadget's head.  Most of the powder collects in a cone around her waist, but the rest is more than enough to turn the mouse and her uncharacteristically upscale attire completely albino.


Chip dusts off his hands and grins with the satisfaction of another quarry caught::


Chip:  I think I finally got that blood-sucker this ti...


::The remaining words stick in his throat as Gadget turns her gaze on him.  His mind is greatly, albeit vaguely, disturbed by the vision of an albino Gadget.  Oh, and the look of murderous compassion in her wide, deep blue eyes doesn't help, either.  But oh, how he just wanted to lose himself in those passionate eyes::


Gadget (frostily): What, exactly, do you think you're doing?


Chip (stammering): Umm, uh, err...


::Gadget counts silently to ten, before sighing::


Gadget:  Oh well, no real harm done.  I can just vacuum this powder off, as long as it doesn't…


::At this point, another chipmunk-sized blur rushes in from stage left, this time with a flash of red::




::Dale promptly dumps a thimble of water over her head, then beams proudly::


Gadget: …get wet.


::The combination of flea powder and water has congealed into a gluey mess.  The black dress is utterly ruined, of course, and that much concentrated anti-flea medicine can't be healthy for the skin, either.  Our poor heroine looks like a mouse drowned in marshmallows.


The auditorium is completely, utterly, and totally silent as Gadget's face begins to glow a deep, fiery red.  Perhaps, even... orange::




Dale: Oh, stop screaming like a girl, Chip…


::Gadget snares Dale with a powder-covered paw and whirls him around::


Gadget: Dale, do you know how much This Dress COSTS? And it was a GIFT from a VERY SPECIAL FRIEND!!!


::Gadget huffs, her cute paws clenching. Dale ducks and whimpers::


Dale: Uh, you aren't going to hurt us now, are you, Gadget?


Gadget: No…I am, after all, widely known as a kind and gentle mouse of mercy.


::She smiles, and the chipmunks let out a collective sigh of relief::


Gadget: I'll give you a head start first.  On a count of five.  FIVEFOURTHREETWOONE!


::The chipmunks make themselves scarce with an astonishing turn of speed.  Once she frees herself from the mire around her ankles, Gadget is not far behind. The audience mumbles impatiently at the now-empty stage.


A disembodied, robotic-sounding voice comes over the sound system::


FleaBot: Well…


::A muffled crash and screams emanate from somewhere backstage::


FleaBot: Anyway.  The Best All-Time Artist award was created to recognize the artist whose overall body of work over the years exemplifies, in the eyes of the community, the best of Ranger fandom.  The current holder of the award is Chris 'Fish' Fischer, who topped the vote totals in 2003 and 2004, and whose epic graphic novel, 'Of Mice and Mayhem,' continues to be an inspiration for us all.


::More muffled screams and terror, followed by the roar of what sounds rather suspiciously like a highly (and dangerously) modified shop vacuum::


FleaBot: Since Miss Hackwrench is otherwise... indisposed, I will now read the list of nominees for Best All-Time Artist for 2005.  In no particular order, they are:


            Charles Williams










FleaBot: It is truly a great honor simply to be nominated for this award.  While unfortunately only one of these great artists can…


::The two chipmunks cut a blue streak across the stage, wailing piteously as they run from stage left to stage right.  Chip has a bucket of paint over his head, while Dale is covered in feathers.  Each has several plunger darts stuck to their tails.  Our girl Gadget chases close behind, a belt-fed, fully automatic, air-powered plunger gun in her arms.  Every couple of steps, she braces herself and alternately shouts one of either::


Gadget: Should! No problems!


::She looses another plunger bolt in the chipmunks' general direction. The disembodied speaker patiently waits for this heart-warming moment to run off, stage right::


FleaBot: While only one can win, I tip my proverbial hat to every one of these fine folks.  For my own part, I found it very difficult to make a choice during voting, as they all exhibit a level of talent that many of us can only wistfully dream about.  Our community is so much the richer and more beautiful for all your efforts.  Thank you!


::There is a moment of thunderous collective applause from the audience::


FleaBot:  And now, the moment you have all been waiting for!


::The envelope, which has been lying on top of the podium, mysteriously opens of its own accord.  There is a rustling of paper, and then: The winner is: well, who else, Fish!


::To the standing ovation of the audience, Fish comes up to receive his award::


Fish: Wait a minute-- does this mean that my best artist award only meant SOMETIMES a best artist?? Well - then I hereby give that one to Jack Lemmon…. Come on up here, Jack! …Uh oh..Tammy's giving that cut it signal again-- as is the whole audience…why? What's wrong? Should I give it to Ving Rhames?


Well-- maybe I'll just keep them both after all…


::Fish breathes easier as everyone calms down::


Fish: Many thanks to everybody! I will endeavor to produce more art this year in retribution- I mean --uh-- gratitude! Hey! There's that wallaby with my wallet again! AND my boxers? Well now, THERE's a neat trick. How on earth…?


::The audience applauds as Fish runs offstage, chasing a certain boxer-clad wallaby around the place. Meanwhile, the chipmunks are back, stumbling from stage right to stage left this time, groaning in agony.  Their backsides completely covered in plungers, they've been nearly immobilized.  Chip's gotten the paint bucket off his head, but both chipmunks are now peanut buttered and feathered from head to toe.


Gadget follows at a comfortable pace right behind, wearing a bright grin.  The chipmunks apparently can't see, hear, or smell her with all the goop on them. Holding a conspiratorial finger up to her lips, she gives the audience a mischievous wink.  As soon as the chipmunks seem to relax….


Gadget: BOO!


::The 'munks take off like a shot, tripping over their feet several times on the way out.  Gadget smiles like the sun, then takes off in pursuit.  The unseen speaker presumably leaves the stage, if he or she was ever there to begin with::