Abbreviations for fiction titles:
AFTR = A Fair to Remember (1938) (see TaleSpin Fiction Page)

Big Al (Alphonse) McGuire

Appears in:  AFTR

Species:
  Bear

Nicknames:  Alphonse, Samson (derisively, by Joanna)

Age:  (mid-30's)

Appearance:  Big, brown, rough-looking, overweight (not obese); broken nose, knife scar on chest

Birthday:  December 3 (Sagittarius)

Favorite Color:  Blue, green

Likes: Girl-watching (especially cat-fights), taking credit for good deeds, and beer

Dislikes:  Talkative people, women who get out of control (to him, that's a stimulating cat-fight that escalates into a brawl...not feminine).  Oh, and don't call him Alphonse --- he hates that.

Strengths: 
Physically strong, honest, and a hard worker.  Unexpectedly chivalrous sometimes; he loved his mother and couldn't bear to watch her cower before his father's fists.  He's a chauvinist, but won't hesitate to toss a jerk through a window, even if it's closed.   Might be a good guy somewhere beneath the bluster.   

Weaknesses: 
Female tears ("A girl cries, you gotta do something about it.")  And shapely legs.

Goals:
  To get a hot date for Saturday night and sneak out of the vicinity before the sun comes up.  ;)

Hobbies:
  Playing poker, gambling, building, esp. woodwork

Marital Status: 
Confirmed bachelor (taste in women runs to the flashy type) 

Dream Voice:
  John Goodman


Childhood
Big Al has never had it easy.   Young Alphonse McGuire, was an only child and an easy target for bullies --- at home and school --- he watched helplessly as his volatile father beat his gentle mother into a whispering shadow.   At school, the husky boy was subjected to taunts by his classmates until at thirteen, he learned to use his size to intimidate them.  A brief period of juvenile delinquency followed, marked by taking a dare to steal from Mr. Hooper's store.   His friends deserted him when he was caught and banned from the store.  knowing the truth would get beaten out of her.  But when Mr. Hooper told his father, the boy returned to school with his arm in a cast.  Everyone is town, including the sheriff, was too afraid of the town bully to protect either Alphonse or his mother, so life grimly marched on for the boy, who grew bigger and angrier with each passing year.

But by fifteen, Alphonse --- now 'Al' --- has grown much taller than his father and become dangerously strong.  When he came home from school one day and found his father savagely beating his mother for shrinking a favorite shirt in the wash , something in him snapped.  Almost blind with repressed rage, the young man threatened to kill him unless he left and never returned.  His mother took in sewing to make ends meet.   Al had to quit school at fifteen to take care of his mother after his father cleaned out their bank account and disappeared.  No intellectual, but definitely not an idiot either. Fiercely protective of her, With only a grade 9 education and street smarts, he lied about his age and went to work on the docks, where his bulk and strength earned him the nickname 'Big Al'.  It wasn't easy, but they managed to pay the bills and enjoy a few years of peace until she died of pneumonia when he was twenty.   He never got over the death of his mother, and still feels guilty that he wasn't able to protect her from a life of poverty and violence.


Adulthood
Alone, without the responsibility of looking after an ailing mother, Big Al spent more time in taverns with rough companions.   Hard-working, but never terribly ambitious, he preferred poker and pool after a hard day loading cargo on the docks.   


Occupations
Besides being a dock worker, Big Al has been an auctioneer, a bodyguard, a bouncer, and a bingo caller, to name a few.  In AFTR, he becomes a barker for Haley's Carnival.  In his spare time, he learns carpentry from his friend Handy.

In 1938, (when AFTR takes place), he's in his mid-30's, several pounds heavier and cynical.  Embittered by the absence of willing girlfriends, he is now less than charming.  Obnoxious and gruff, as well as chauvinistic, he doesn't bother to remember people's names and barely tolerates kids.  He has a sarcastic sense of humor, which doesn't always endear him to others.   Actually, he doesn't mean anything by it --- it's just his way of coping with the curveballs life throws at him.

Personality
Despite all this, heís actually a fairly mild-mannered guy.  His rough side tends to surface when he or someone he cares about is threatened.   I think he may have tried the bully route when he was hanging around with those bad kids at thirteen (shoplifting, etc.), but he doesnít take pleasure in hurting anyone, unlike Joanna.  He just doesnít have a taste for it, after living with an abusive father.


Relationships with Other Characters
After a rough beginning, he sees past carnival boss Helen's sweet absentmindedness and grows to genuinely like and respect her.   In some ways she reminds him of his mother.  Her son Strummer he tolerates with amusement (thinks Strummer's crush on Joanna is hilarious).   At first, Handy is kind of father-mentor, as well as the source of interesting information about the other carnies.   When he first meets Joanna, he is immediately attracted to her, but that doesn't last long when he gets to know her.   Then it's something else.

Comments by Others
That big brute is 'Alphonse'?  He looks like a fugitive from a James Gagme movie.  All he needs is a trench coat and a pair of brass knuckles.  (sic) A professional big mouth -- Joanna's first thoughts upon hearing that he used to be an auctioneer and bingo caller.  --Joanna, AFTR, Chapter 1

ďWhat about the big fellow, Al?  He's not bad looking, if you like big lugs.  But he should smile, for goodness sake.  And lose some pounds."  -- Violet, AFTR, Chapter 2

"Huh.  He reminds me of a thug.  Did you notice the size of his hands?  I bet he could break Fancy Pants Lance in two with those meat hooks of his." -- Joanna, AFTR, Chapter 2

About his rudeness:
"That's his way, I suppose.  I suspects that he don't like females much.  Let it be, luv.  He's a good worker, even if he ain't too friendly." --Helen to Violet in AFTR, Chapter 3

About his chivalry:
"Take Big Al for example.  Ye thought nothin' of kickin' and knockin' him over.  I'd say he was a gentleman about it, considerin'.  Another man his size woulda sent ye to the hospital... or the morgue." -- Helen warns Joanna not to push him too far.  AFTR, Chapter 7

Joanna gets stuck under his bed.
Now I know what a bug feels like when it's being stepped on.
  --Joanna, AFTR, Chapter 8

When Rebecca wonders aloud if anyone owns a pair of binoculars:
I'll bet Alphonse does. --Joanna's thoughts, AFTR, Chapter 11


Best Lines
Big Al and Joanna are at it again...
BA:  "With a mouth like that, I'm surprised you've got any teeth left." 
J:  "Sharks' teeth always grow back."  

Big Al's motto:
"A girl cries, you gotta do something about it."

Will:  I like this part that shows that beneath the tough guy routine he has a moral honor code on how to act and treat women.  Itís a very glimpse into how Big Al really is.
Gidget:  (nods)  Yes.  This line is the key to his real self.  Heís never forgotten how his mother had suffered, and canít stand to see any woman in distress.   



Love Life
Burly, and ruggedly handsome --- despite a tendency to make a lousy  first impression --- he enjoyed the perks of several willing women (one at a time, though!), but never allowing it to go past a brief period of time.  Deeply cynical about marriage, he often sabotaged any potential relationship, perhaps subconsciously fearing that history might repeat itself, despite the fact that he has never struck a woman in his life.  He, however, has been slapped, bopped on the head with umbrellas, pocketbooks and splashed with many glasses of wine.  Despite his boorishness, Big Al really likes women... he just doesn't know how to talk to them.   Once, when he was twenty-five, one woman came close to piercing his armor, but it wasn't meant to be.  Rough around the edges he may be, but he has a certain rough chivalry toward the fair sex.  No matter now many blows he receives (by purse, umbrella or otherwise), he won't hit a woman back.  He still doesn't trust himself, however... 


Design Notes
Size:
  Big Alís height is six heads in proportion.  He's be 6'3".

Face:  Strong, rounded but no double chin.  His eyes are set rather close together on either side of his nose, his snout is large and his nose dips down a bit (it had been broken a couple of times).   

Eyes:  Heavy-lidded, deep-set and dark gray.  Suspicious-looking.

Eyebrows:  Black and bushy, set closely above eyes.

Teeth:  Small and pointed, but rarely shown.  He rarely smiles, but when he does, his eyes crinkle.  Has a deep, raucous laugh.  

Body:  Big, overweight without being obese. Barrel-chested, with meaty, muscular arms (He works hard, so he ainít flabby).

Markings:  Medium brown, with beige muzzle, neck and belly, palms and bottoms of feet.  He has a long pink scar along his chest (from knife fight in bar). He looks like a mean Baloo.  

Hair:  His Ďhairí is just a tuft of fur with three points, plus two below each ear.  Should be disheveled.  

Hands and Feet:  His hands and feet are large, and powerful.  The pads of his hands and feet are beige.

Clothing:  Hunter green shirt, sleeves rolled down to his elbows, as if heís about to fix the sink.  Sloppy blue pants with low crotch (to conform with his Ďbearnessí.  Doesnít wear shoes.


September 2004



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