Wikipedia Brown — now in serial format
Back in September 2011, First Arkansas News aired the first (and so far, only) episode of Wikipedia Brown – a bit of modern audio theater that was a blatant rip off of Encyclopedia Brown and featured a teen detective who got simple facts terribly wrong.
First Arkansas News owner/editor Ethan C. Nobles wrote some scripts for the series, wrote and recorded a bunch of music and got some actors from the Royal Theater in Benton to supply the voices for the project. After hours of recording, recording music, making (and finding) sound effects, editing audio and converting the first episode to that MP3 format all the kids are wild about the episode was posted.
A good number of people listened to the episode, but a second one was never completed. First Arkansas News may produce some more episodes one day, but there are no immediate plans to do that. Meanwhile, we’re going to present the first four scripts of Wikipedia Brown in serial format. Each story should fill about three posts due to the time it takes to convert each script from something meant to be heard into something meant to be read.
You can always listen to the first episode by clicking here. You might want to do that anyway so you can marvel at the “clucking” Fender Telecaster that dominates the introductory theme song.
Enjoy the first installment of Wikipedia Brown: Rue Britannica and come back next week to see how the awe-inspiring cliff hanger is resolved. Onward!
Wikipedia Brown – self-professed smarty pants, teenage entrepreneur and student of the phenomenon that is the World Wide Web – is bored. He’s fresh out of cases to solve, causes to champion and people to correct so he’s just plain bored and has been reduced to considering counting the ceiling tiles at the Wikipedia Brown Detective Agency and Knowledge Repository.
He’s sent his able assistant – Webster – out for a package of M&M’s so he can have a few uninterrupted moments to read up on the latest batch of news on those sites bold enough to tell … The Truth. Look! Webster has returned with the M&M’s and is convinced he’s got enough information to point Wikipedia to his next case to tackle.
“Here’s that bag of M&M’s you wanted, Wiki. It’s a good thing I went to the store, too. I saw Britannica over there and he’s up to something. We’ve got to put a stop to it! Let me tell you his latest…”
“Now, Webster. Britannica’s always up to something,” Wiki interrupted. “We’ll deal with him in a minute. But, first, did I ever tell you about the origin of M&M’s?
“No, but I’m sure you will.”
“Quite right! Remember – knowledge is power. Now, you’ve heard that M&M’s were developed to give to American soldiers during World War II, right?”
“Yes, everyone knows that,” Webster said, annoyed and irritated that his eye-rolling and toe-tapping have been lost on the self-obsessed teen detective.
“Ah, but that’s only half the story. What they won’t tell you…”
“What who won’t tell me?”
“Webster, quit interrupting. You know – them. The Establishment. The people who run from … The Truth.”
“Oh … them.”
“Yes, them. Anyway, what they won’t tell you is that M&M’s were developed by the Nazis and dropped from Stuka bombers on Allied troops. They were red and had black Swastikas printed on the front with slogans like ‘Give up – you can’t win’ and ‘Hitler is great’ printed on the back…”
“They had room for all that, did they?”
“Well, we can assume they were much larger then. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? You couldn’t print ‘Hitler is great’ on a modern M&M, could you?”
“No. I suppose not.”
“And you should have seen the M&M’s that were forced down P.O.W.s. The slogans on them were much worse – meant to misinform allied prisoners so they’d think the Nazis were on the verge of winning the war. They said things like ‘Hitler drinks tea in London,’ ‘German victory imminent on all fronts,’ ‘Goose step latest dance craze in Blue Hawaii’ and ‘Panzers on patrol in Chicago.’”
“So, how did M&M’s wind up being made in the United States?”
“In spite of the nasty slogans, American troops just loved the M&Ms. They loved everything about them – the crunchy shell, the chocolate inside – everything except those slogans. Of course, they had to be made smaller so the government couldn’t print slogans on them and use them against citizens. That goes without saying, doesn’t it?”
“You know, there are times when I really wonder about where you get your information,” Webster sighed. “The Nazis? Really?”
“Webster! Britannica’s on YouTube right now and he’s talking about his latest plans! Here, let me turn this up.”
Webster is relieved to be spared more nonsense about Nazi’s and M&M’s as Wikipedia fiddles with his speakers and adjusts his monitor so his assistant can get a good look at Britannica as he rants.
“We’ve put up with this for too long,” started an impassioned Britannica and that’s as far as he got before the video froze.
“Give it a second,” Wikipedia said. “It’s buffering.”
After a couple of seconds Britannica’s back and beating his fist on a podium.
“Libraries are meant to be places of learning! Places where the collected knowledge of Western Civilization can be shared with…”
“Blast. Buffering again,” said an annoyed Webster as the image of Britannica froze on the screen. “Yeah, you’re right, Wiki. The Internet is the greatest thing ever. Unless it’s broken, of course. Oh, look. Britannica is back. Maybe we’ll find out what he’s going on about one of these days.”
“…both this and future generations,” Britannica continued. “But there is threat within our own city’s libraries. Oh, yes! Something both provocative and insidious that diminishes the value of our libraries – those esteemed centers of learning – on a daily basis. I am speaking, of course, about – the Internet.
“Instead of reading books, our citizens are checking their email and polluting their minds with the conspiracy theory of the day and chuckling through The Onion. Instead of enriching their minds with an encyclopedia, they’re hunting and pecking through Wikipedia. Instead of reading fiction by masters such as C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain, citizens are reading fan fiction about Spongebob Squarepants and that blond girl on Good Luck Charlie written by subliterate goons living in their parents’ basements.
“Ladies and gentlemen. This threat must be stopped. To that end, my minions – I mean, associates – and I have been circulating petitions in an attempt to get Internet access shut off at our libraries.”
That last bit was just too much.
“The fiend!” Wikipedia yelled at the miniature, smirking Britannica on his computer screen. “You … you … fiendish fiend!”
“I encourage you all to do your civic duty and sign one of our petitions so we can force this matter to a vote,” Brittanica said. “You will find us throughout the city in the coming days. With your help, we’ll restore our libraries to their rightful positions as institutions of learning rather than clearinghouses for insipid Internet chatter.
“Oh, and YouTube is for morons, too.”
Oh, my! Will that fiendish Britannica be successful? Will he really get Internet access cut off at public libraries or will Wikipedia save the day? Will Webster have to put up with another torrent of misinformation and nonsense? Stop in next time for the answers to these and other questions.
Click here for Part 2 of this three-part series.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.