Talon Lacquer Developer

March 14, 2011

While good for starting fires, most talons were used for intimidation and puncturing beer cans.

My personal statisticians informed me this week that the median birthdates of you budding entrepreneurs fall between the years of 1990 and 1999.  Good for you, young things!  It is heartening to know that the moguls of tomorrow are looking to the moguls of today for their cues, and those of you who have found my advise and anecdotes are truly the mavens of your cohort.  I have little hope that you will achieve the heights of greatness that I have attained, but it was easier to circumvent laws in my heyday.

Since you are all, on average, so young, you will perhaps only harbor the vaguest of memories of your mothers’ sharpened talons waving in front of your unfocused eyes while you suckled on the polymerized plastic nipple of your bottle.  For me, the days when extreme nail adornment was in vogue are not so long past, many of you were perhaps not even forming coherent memories at this time.  So the career bears mention.

It was a time of vice, a time when a shirts and Kool-Aid changed from one color to another at the drop of a hat.  It was a terrifying time– cocktails had taken on alien hues, and Vanessa Williams had taken all our radio DJs hostage.  Regular people like your parents were looking for protection.  It occurred to me that as much as they were looking for actual protection from the dreaded Mickey Mouse Club and Kids Inc, they were looking for symbols of protection.

I’d been working on a new automobile paint formula on and off for the past decade prior to this, but I couldn’t the right environmental and safety committee approvals.  Something about blinding incidence in trials due to the high gloss, and lethally pervasive fumes.  I am rarely one to give up on product development, but I was at the end of my proverbial rope.  That’s when it occurred to me– I was thinking on too large a scale.  Perhaps if you ever run up against this roadblock, living in the age of nanotechnology, you should think about varnish for your nanobots.

In an early precursor to a social media campaign, I recruited a transnational folk force to grow out their nails to talon-length, varnish them with my high-gloss paint, and then interact with people in everyday situations: grocery stores, juice bars, popcorn and mustard shops, antique toy museums, wig emporia.  Places that you likely visit on any given day.

Obviously the trend caught on in a flash.  If you want to watch you parents squirm, just ask them how long their nails were in the 90s.  And I’ll let you work out what that meant for nail varnish sales.

Open Season

March 7, 2011

A subtle reminder that you may as well be dead for the time you lose doing taxes.

Around this time of year, many of you loyal readers write to me saying, “Cyrus– I would like to start a business, but I’m stymied by taxes!”  The simplest advice I can give you is this: don’t pay taxes.  After all, they are a chore, especially if you haven’t kept a record of your finances.  And you probably shouldn’t bother with keeping any records if you aren’t going to pay taxes, and I recommend burying your money or sinking it all into Wyoming banks, so that way your revenues are invisible and untouchable.  But when you start getting into that sort of thing, the process becomes nearly as cumbersome as just paying your taxes in the first place.

Needless to say, money is an undue burden, and you are best rid of it.

This is why, after many long years of business expertise, I work very hard to ensure that all of my US-based businesses have utterly failed by the time the bells of the new year are chiming.  And believe me this is hard, not just because so many of my ventures are so wildly successful and pushing them towards financial collapse requires great ingenuity on my part, but because some of them I enjoy immensely, and would like to continue to work at for more than just a years’ time.  However, change is a necessary part of life, and what is here today is easily gone by January first.  In my case, I’ve found that constant change keeps me sharp, flexible, and constantly acquiring new tools.  After all, you can’t be a cobbler without a special shoe mallet, nor can you become a great soda baron without a few tanks of CO2.

The final option I leave you to consider is to simply locate your business in a place where you will not have to pay taxes.  Notably, civil war-ravaged countries tend to focus less on taxes, and you can much more easily conduct your business in peace.  Just make sure you have an ample security force.

So please.  This year, don’t bother Mr. Polly with your tax questions.  Take it from me, either don’t do your taxes, relocate to a nation with extremely lax tax laws or a nonexistent or highly unstable government, or simply push your business over the precipice and save yourself the bother.  But if you simply must ask me for advice, I am requesting that that year, if you would like I response, please send your question taped to a bottle of single-malt scotch.  I will return an answer promptly, and in the same bottle upon which it arrived.

Busker Training Camp Organizer

March 1, 2011

One of my many proteges.

There have always existed on the streets of our fair nation both skilled and highly unskilled performers.  Though the timbre of the performance varies from city to city and evolves throughout the ages, it remains that some perform their feats with zeal and aplomb, while others can barely be bothered to touch charred stick-tip to ripped cardboard box.  My personal favorites have always been the orphans, with the ragged hitch of desperation and the quiver of love lost in their reedy-thin voices.  Them and dogs dressed like saints that are trained to confer blessings on coin-givers.

As with all things, the quality of buskers tends to ebb and flow.  While you may look around yourself, as you stand in downtown Portland, Madison, Tucson, Tallahassee, and drink in the bounty of public spectacle, there was a time not too long ago when the most popular form of street-based money-gathering involved threatening to tackle and salivate on passersby.  Granted, the populace was much fitter then, since running from place to place was the modus operandi, but it was quite dangerous to stop and smell any flowers, let alone roses.

Thinking back to the halcyon days of my youth, when I would sit rapt on the corner as my own hometown’s peg-legged old soldier would seamlessly move from haunting harmonica ballad to foot-stomping charivari, nostalgia drove my decision to start a training camp for street performers more than any fear of communicable disease.

Of course, all credit for revitalizing street performance and raising the bar seems to go to the Pickle Family Circus, and while I appreciate what they did for San Francisco, I think you will find that for the swamp cities of America, my circus (the one that I’m near certain the Pickle was modeled on) the Gherkin Circkin, still remains the Platonic ideal.

Porcelain Figurine Conceptualizer and Producer

February 22, 2011

Fits the decor of any room or patio.

I have often been accused of over-fondness for taxidermy, for treating taxidermy as though it is the only noble art form in the modern-day Americas and to this I say, “Poppycake!”  Taxidermy just happens to also be a sacred art form, something that is sadly forgotten in our godless culture, so if I seem to imbue it with undue weight, perhaps the role of taxidermy in our memorial rites should be remembered and re-examined.  Have we all forgotten why we have trophy rooms?  Why we turn our pet ferrets into luxurious winter coats?  Or have we become so disconnected from the skinning and preserving since all that is necessary these days is to call up your local furrier the instant your beloved elderly dachshund sighs its last, kibble-y breath?

Enough about that, though.  What I really mean to write about is my favorite of the secular arts– painted porcelain molds.  I always give my closest friends identical porcelain figurines to those adorning my own mantles and display shelving, so that I will not feel too disoriented on the off-chance that I someday find myself drinking in another’s library.  (I also bring a small briefcase of figurines with me wherever I go, so that Mr. Polly can set them up around me whenever I stop to repose.  It is good to have a retinue of your own things to provide soothing surroundings– I find that it helps the mind to more efficiently process business propositions, deals, etc.)  Yes, it was a good day indeed when the Chinese invented porcelain.

Have you ever examined your grandmammy’s porcelain collection, however?  When I think back to my childhood in the bayou, and the Sunday afternoons I’d spend sprawled on the rug in my grandmammy’s kitchen, I recall only the most crude figurines taking part in my epic re-enactments of Supreme Court hearings.  Ladies in long dresses, teddy bears in stocking caps, children wearing clogs.  Nothing nearly so chic as the porcelain figures of today.

And why is that, you may ask?  I bet the brighter amongst you have already guessed at the answer– because I started the firm that produces the highest quality, most beautiful and visually stimulating porcelain figurines that you see around you today.  So you happen to have an underwater icescape of a walrus and narwhal battle?  Why, yes– I remember the night I spent sketching that one up.  What about a family of down and out hobo peaches waiting for a train?  In my home, I have a model train set up to steam cheerily past them.  And one of my personal favorites is the tabletop Underworld, complete with electronic capabilities to light up both the fires, and the ghostly faces of the dead as they slurp from the Lethe.  What I like most about it, I think, is the set of movable souls that I made sure came included.

Do you have a favorite of my porcelain creations?

Energy Bar Manufacturer

February 14, 2011

Can you tell which part is filler?

Just one aspect of being at the helm of an international fitness corporation is developing a myriad of tie-in products to aid your paeons in more properly adhering to your regime, and thus achieving a greater degree of personal health/victory.  I began simply enough– with adsorbent sweatrags and undergarments, but I soon realized that all people trying to lose weight want to do is eat.  The only problem is– how do you eat and lose weight at the same time?  It’s impossible, and the Sturgeon General had just put the kibosh on my branded throat ticklers, so encouraging folks to eat as much of their favorite foods as they wanted was also an idea on the outs.

“What to do?” I asked Rupert Everett, III, my personal drinking monkey at the time as he downed a scotch and soda and gesticulated healf-heartedly for a stogie.  “Rupie Evie, that’s already been done, and by that hypocrite the Sturgeon General himself.  The next thing I know, I’ll have him coming after me for copyright infringement.  Smoking is solely the province of the medical profession, and buddy, do they have a lock on that market.”  (Fun fact!  9 out of 10 surgeons have controlling shares in tobacco plantations.)  So Rupert Everett, III and I chummily poured ourselves a few more drams of the malty liquor, toasted his dear old mother, Ruby Everett III, lord rest her soul, and beat back our collective woes as we rejected the boundaries of sleep.

The next morning I awoke, as was often the case in those days, under a familiar damp and comforting cardboard box– the former home of a Maytag appliance of similarly boxy proportions.  Then the answer hit me.  It was so obvious, it was trapping my breath in a little wet circle above my face.  Who ever said that the only thing you could eat was food?  Who needs a cookie, when you can have a vanilla-flavored simulacrum?  Who wants a delectable bowl of bran, when there’s grit aplenty that won’t go straight to your hips?  And with just as earthy a flavor?

I started out simply– with bars.  No, not the “local watering hole” variety– the kind that are more commonly associated with gold.  Long hunks of… whatever, really.  And did we ever put the whatever in those.  And did whoever ever lose weight!  A few even wound up on IV drips for up to a week, followed by liquid diets and life-transforming loss of weight as a result of my energy bars.  It was a great success not just for me, but for the field of dietetics.  The sea-change I effected in the nutritional psyche can’t be underestimated.

So the next time you and your drinking monkey are out on the town, raise your glasses to me, and Rupert Everett III, lord rest his sweet simian soul.

Frog-o-Gram, Ma’am!

February 7, 2011

Not always, though mostly, delivered by children.

It was many a year ago that I matriculated at Yale University with an eye towards a PhD in mathematics, and lord knows, if the Soviets hadn’t launched that damned Sputnik, I would never have discovered the principles of global positioning, and would never have launched one of my few failed ventures– the Frog-O-Gram.  What can I say?  It was the late 1950s, and I thought, “If Tupperware can catch on, there’s no way this will fail!”  To tell the truth, I am still perplexed as to how this did not work out.  Especially considering the catchy television ads we took out in all major metropolitan areas.  We negotiated a very fair deal with Cozy Cole for the rights to music, hired Herbert Klynn (later of of Alvin and the Chipmunks production fame), and instead of a thriving Frog-O-Gram business, what we wound up with was the hottest commercial to ever hit the airwaves.  Though the catchphrase has lost the sheen accorded newly-birthed idioms, I’m sure you can all chime in at the appropriate moment, in the appropriate meter, when you hear this little number played:

You see– just one of my many contributions to the cultural zeitgeist.  That urge to playfully scream, “Frog-O-Gram, Ma’am!”

I suppose part of the reason that Frog-O-Grams themselves were less popular than my commercial was due in part to the fact that the electrical pulses sent to the special orientation nodes inserted into their brains by my secretly launched satellite (the second in space, though I let NASA claim that they got there next, bless them) tended to not only disrupt electrolytes, but also to malfunction and resulted in many lost missives.  Believe me, my mail room staff lost many a night of sleep over the thought of the droves of young lovers whose marriage proposals had been lost in the swamps of New Jersey, the jungles of West Texas, and the snows of Bakersfield.  The families who, for weeks (sometimes months) were unaware of their sons and daughters deaths in the clandestine bitters wars of Angostura and Peychaud.  (Side note, despite not functioning as an operational company for the 8 years prior, we continued to hold the government contract on death notice delivery until the second year of the Vietnam conflict.  I definitely urge any of you out there contemplating such a partnership– take the government contract.  We received steady checks, despite our abysmal performance record.)  There was only so much we could do, even with all the best brains on the project.  In fact, it was the genius of Jeannie-Fayelene Bakker, my personal bodyguard, with her dual degrees in Amphibian Neuropathy and Astronomical Engineering who finally developed the breakthrough membrane technology that would have really made the business feasible, but ahhh, at that point it was all for naught.  The national speed limits had been raised to ungodly heights that just dared any frog to try to cross, and the wetlands were being drained for fancy new community colleges, technical schools, and Basque chain restaurants.  Even if our customer base hadn’t deserted us, the world had shifted beneath us, and a highly specialized alternative to the postal service was now merely the province of drinkers and dreamers.

Still.  I often think about those heady days of 1957, take another swig of scotch, and dream, dream, dream.

Boxing Glove Encruster

January 31, 2011

For maximum jeweled damage infliction.

It was the mid-1960s.  It was a time when women’s boots reached their apotheosis: the white go-go.  It happened one day while was sitting ringside at the weekly boxing match I attend.  My mind was wandering a little– when you’ve seen as many fights as I have, it’s easy to drift off to the rhythmic thump of gloves on flesh.  In point of fact, I have something of a white noise recording that I like to play as I drift off on nights that I’ve had too little scotch– a radio broadcast of the 1952 Marciano versus Walcott heavyweight fight.  Yes, that puts me right out, as I celebrate somebody’s incredible knockout with a bottle of scotch.  I don’t ever seem to remember who wins, which is part of the pleasure of listening to this match over and over again– it’s always new.  All I know is, that knockout sure bends some part of the brain’s memory center.  Scientists, I suggest a study.

Anyway, as my mind wandered through cloud cuckoo land, I slowly realized that my eye was fixed on the bulky red gloves of the two fighting men.  And it struck me.  “How many times, Cyrus,” I asked myself, “have you watched those same boring red gloves bring meaty man after meaty man down?”  I felt so weary at the thought of having subjected my retina to so much sameness.  How disappointing.  How dull.  It was up to me to enliven the ring.  I jumped up, clambered into the ring, and for some reason I don’t really remember what happened next, but I can tell you that the dispute over who will pay to get the blood out of my ferret-fur duster has not yet been resolved.

Even though I was inexplicably banned from the arena, I still knew that I had a hot business plan on my hands.  Custom, jewel-encrusted boxing gloves to delight the souls of all beholders.  Having attended so many fights in my day, I was well-acquainted with many a noble pugilist, and though silver threads and golden needles may not have been able to mend their hearts, they could at the very least put a spring into their steps.  In addition to the mats, that is.

It wasn’t difficult to implement my plans.  I already had a factory floor’s worth of pre-teens trained for sewing kid gloves.  (I’m in a prime position for market takeover when ladies driving gloves come back into style, just you wait… my back inventory occupies no small corner of a warehouse.)  It was an easy transition to embellishing padded leather mitts.  In fact, one of the little factory girls wrote this song for me in thanks, and even made a video for it that included images of the factory in which these industrious young souls toiled: 

In any case, my beautiful gloves are now only used in unsanctioned fights.  Some bureaucratic nonsense about increased lacerations due to mini gem edges and infection related to bacterial colonies living in “difficult to sanitize vanity gloves,” resulted in their being banned from sanctioned fights not 3 months after their introduction to the market.  I didn’t mind too much, though.  I’d planned ahead for the the burgeoning vintage novelty market, and am now making a healthy profit from the sale of autographed gem gloves, all of which goes directly into my scotch account.

Salmon Relay Specialist

January 23, 2011

Always here to help, you monstrous beast, you.

As most citizens of the US, I maintain a minor bunker of cured salmon roe, should nuclear holocaust ever rain down upon us, and as a general rule, I restock it twice a year, moving the older inventory into my personal pantry for immediate consumption.  Since time immemorial, this is what I have done and my mothers before me, and their mothers before them.  Like the changing of the seasons, so too goes the rotation of the salmon roe from bunker to pantry to stomach, and back into nature.  I had thought that this was always to be the way of things, and I’m guessing you were all just as shocked as I when, this past autumn, my schedule half ton shipment did not arrive.  Upon calling my roe supplier, I was shocked to hear that though I was a longstanding customer, there was not enough roe to fill all orders, and unless I wanted to pony up double the amount I normally pay, my account would be suspended indefinitely.

While many folks are content to roll over and give up in the face of such circumstances, I am not.  “Very well,”  I told the dastardly accounts manager, “We shall see who profits by this slight.”

And I set about learning the life cycle of the salmon, in order to best bring down the powerful salmon roe lobby and their subsidiaries through rival interests– those of myself and the rest of the Americas.

Honestly, I don’t know how salmon even survived without the help of humans.  How did they even make it upstream before we built them ladders?  Also, you’d think that a creature that spends the majority of its life in the open ocean would be able to scout out a nice little crevice (perhaps in a cave in one of those magnificent underwater mountain ranges)  in which to lay its delicious eggs.  But I suppose this is another of mother nature’s delightful tricks for creating a symbiotic relationship between two species– make the salmon utterly incapable of depositing its eggs in any place other than one mediated by human intervention, and thus delivering necessary sustenance to us.

You thinkers have probably already guessed at the weak link in the chain of salmon-spawning events.  Indeed– the salmon ladder.  If the fish have such a hard time climbing, why not give them a helping hand?  And in the process, harvest their sweet ova.  It was not hard to assemble a team– there seems to be some sort of job crisis in the riverboating towns of salmon country.  In the grand tradition of the bucket brigades of the past, we lined the salmon ladder and passed the struggling beasts from hand to hand to their desired destination, but not before one crucial stop– me.  (The best place to do this, by the way, is in a national park or forest.  That way, you can outfit your crew in spiffy green uniforms with official patches.)

Careerlings, at my age it is rare that one experiences a pure, childlike joy such as this.  Can you picture it– me, up to my armpits in globules of salmon eggs, scraping into the underbellies of these female fish-monsters, and then tossing them to freedom, their scales glinting in the golden afternoon light.  Occasionally, I’d plunge my face into the tank I stood it, and fill my mouth with the freshest roe ever to burst on my palate.  I tell you, you don’t know the value of a day’s work until, drunk on Polish vodka, you’ve shampooed congealed caviar from your tresses.

And that is how I put my roe supplier out of business and ensured that I will always have buckets of roe for pool parties.

Feline Laryngologist

January 18, 2011

Larger headpiece recommended.

Those among you who are regular readers will recall that while I easily communicate canines, I find them simple and the most ill-mannered of four-legged animals.  (Yes, even more uncouth than goats, with whom I feel a certain affinity of spirit despite their voraciously destructive tendencies and the clear mark of evil upon their square, square eyes.)  And you may remember my trauma in losing my dearest Office Abbie to the mean streets outside my laser tag office, so when an amber-eyed tortoiseshell plaintively meowed up at me after I married that Carey Dunderwould off to some meaty-faced hockey player, and I watched the couple galloping their horses off into the smog, I found my efforts at understanding the imploring cat to be in vain.  Staring into the urine-colored pools of its eyes, I knew that it was just as frustrated as I.  It was confirmed when she promptly tripped me as I attempted to stride away.  Unfortunately, I took a rather hard tumble onto the cat, and left her jerking, mouth frothing, in the arms of a young boy in a jaunty, striped sailor shirt and so never learned the secret message she meant to impart.

But I did leave the park that day with a determination I hadn’t felt since I learned that Oxycodone was to be removed from production.

One thing I can tell all you would-be veterinarians– there is truly no need for costly years of medical training.  In fact, most animals look just like humans on the inside, so a copy of Gray’s Anatomy, a scalpel-like instrument and a good mix of pain pills (which, unfortunately, contains Oxycodone with less and less frequency these days) are all you really need to perform what may, on the outset, seem like entirely too complicated procedures.  And if you’re looking to do something “specialized,” then you only really need to read the part of the book that’s about the particular body part you want to work on.  Even then, it’s not entirely useful.  How am I supposed to know what a flagellum is?  A flappy tail, that I understand.  No need for a fancy word.  What I’m driving at, vets, is that when it comes down to the nuts and bolts, all you really need is that picture.  I recommend ripping it gently out and laminating it.

At this point, you are probably asking out loud, “Why, if Cyrus St. Rid, DVM, has managed to perform thousands of cat laryngological operations, do we still have such a dearth of talking cats?”  I tell you, readers, there is a tragic tale at the heart of this career.  For I fast learned that the lifespan of a talking cat turns out to be shortened by roughly the rest of its life minus 12 minutes, so even though I consider the procedure to be a success, it does not turn out to be entirely useful, since mostly the cats just say, “Oh god, don’t go for the ones with the talons!”  or, “I feel like I swallowed an entire box of litter,” before they expire.  And believe me, as much as you think you want to hear one say that, Mr. Polly assures me that it is very depressing.

Hiatus! Return!

January 10, 2011

Up and up and up, nowhere to go but up!

Well, hello, loyal readers.  I’m guessing you had all passed me up for dead, save for Eugenie P.T. Shales, who thoughtfully tracked me down last August whilst I was on a materials gathering expedition in North-Central Pakistan.  Grieve no more, mourners.  I’ve returned, and with ever more tales of the trails.  It’s true, I was retired.  And what started out as a mere stroll to the local state park’s wedding pavilion soon turned pastor for a young chanteuse’s shotgun wedding, which in turn led to a hot tip on unrefined uranium, which led instead to bales of the highest-grade of human hair bales, and another foray into the wig business (with surprisingly better results, but more on that when we come to it).  You know how starting businesses and careers goes– you start out a sideshow’s human ant, and the next thing you know you’re busing tables at a Big Boy in Topeka, or drenched in Arctic oil.  There’s just no telling where one thing will lead.

Which is to say, I’m quite relieved that my mansion is still in order and that my liquor vault remained impenetrable during my long absence.  The trained hippo has died, but she was just getting to the age when they are no longer so cute and much more difficult to saddle and ride round the property.  Really, past the age of 2, all you can really hope is to spray them down with a brightly colored paint and hope they won’t dunk themselves in the pool before it’s dried.  Then you can at least delight yourself with the sight of turquoise and golden behemoths stampeding gaily through your afternoons.  (Side note– monkeys and other furred creatures hold up much better when dipped in paint, as it tends to coat better.  And though you may be tempted to go with an oil-based paint, I highly recommend trying a glossy latex first.)

Do you have a cocktail in hand?  If so, I can tell you are well on your way to “making it.”  No?  Well, get your darling derriere into that lounger and ring your butler!  I recommend a Brandy Alexander– you’re going to need the additional calories from the cream for your brain to fully process my last year of work.  I doubt you can see, but I look exactly the same, and this is due to the fact that, though I’ve been working hard enough for 12 people per day (and that’s just physically– let’s not talk mentally, as it would only discourage you), I’ve been taking in a steady stream of Brandy Alexanders.  It’s important to be properly nourished for careerism, so I recommend bringing a large canteen or sheep’s bladder of Brandy Alexanders to your work site or office for the days that will surely be your most demanding.  Other beverage alternatives could include a Ramos Gin Fizz, Prairie Oyster, or Eggnog, depending on your particular constitution.

Do you have your cocktail yet?  Good.  Drink it and demand a refill.  Your dear, long-lost mentor Count Cyrus will now recount the careers of the past year.  After this quick nap.


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