Archive for January, 2010

Organic Appliance Certification Tsar

January 28, 2010

You can tell it is organic because it is green.

Everyone in America loves organics.  Everyone in Sweden and/or Norway loves organics, which is why everyone in America loves them, too.  I would draw you a diagram, but I am out of grease pencils after laminating each page in the last three years’ worth of Harper’s Bazaar and drawing handlebar mustaches onto all the models, then wiping them off and replacing them with goatees, then wiping those off and finally settling on muttonchops and fu manchus with alternating black eyes and eye patches.  (DO NOT TRY TO PATENT THIS IDEA– I have already submitted it to the patent office, and your pleas and wails will get you nowhere.)  Anyway, I am sure that my scientifically calculated vectors and arcs would only confuse.

Since I take careful stock each day of the top newses in Sweden and/or Norway, I saw this organics market infiltration before it ever lapped up like so many used syringes on our shores.  I know of the proud lesbian city of  Shakebao, the snowstorms that target Scandinavian preschoolers, and how Swedish and/or Norwegian princes are often voted as the rural worlds’ “hottest hicks.”  And I also knew decades ago about the Swedish and/or Norwegian virus that we call “organics.”  Thus, I was able to position myself in such a way, giving lectures and publishing papers, so as to step into the coveted role of Organic Appliance Certification Tsar with no opposition.  Except for Tom Daschle, but after his verbal snafu got him ousted from SoDak, he’s had no luck with the rest of our fair country.  As the old aphorism states, “As goes the Lower Dakota, so goes the Nation.”

I thought about going for the position of Wheat King.  I briefly considered Friar of the Free Range.  But the thought of sullying my well-tended hands with foodstuffs or, god help me, latex gloves was enough to send me swooning.  Mr. Polly followed me from room to room with an IKEA-brand chaise for weeks to catch me with each successive faint as I macerated the problem in my mental spirits.  Before too long, I found the answer– I wasn’t looking far enough into the future.  I had to look beyond what the Swedes and/or Norse were doing– I had to become the visionary, the trailblazer, the maverick, the McClairvoyant that could see that distant horizon that the Scandinavians were probably only three quarters of the way through developing, and thus hadn’t begun reporting on yet.  I would deal with appliances!  And maybe electronics!  I knelt before a woodland altar and salted a bowlful of slugs to the glory of Thor.

Within the year, I was a member of the Cabinet.  You may remember my appointment– it was all over CNN, MSNBC, and of course, C-SPAN.  I dominated lower-screen scroll bars for months.  I was bold with my decisions, going with my gut first and my gag reflex second.  American scientists scoffed at my rulings, only to be put in place once the original Swedish and/or Norwegian was translated.  I daresay I ushered in America’s second green revolution (quite literally, when I gave the organic seal of approval to a number of eco-terrorist devices that remain in use by high profile Earth First and rogue Acorn groups to this day).  Let this be a lesson to you, the next generation of government employees:  read the Swedish and/or Danish news.  (DO NOT READ THE NORWEGIAN NEWS.  That is my territory.  Sniff it.)

Cereal Mascot Creator

January 27, 2010

I have never understood why cereal continues to be marketed as a breakfast food, when it is clearly to be eaten as second-lunch.  Nonetheless, this didn’t stop me when I was approached by a popular mill and asked to create a pantheon of lovable, Gumby-like critters to represent their various “breakfast” products.

My first creation was long-billed dowitcher named “Dumpy,” who consistently found himself in the dilemma of having speared too many fruity “O” shaped cereal pieces around his thin beak, losing the ability to speak clearly.  Oh how the children laughed at that one!  “Mmm-pfff kkkkkkkkrrrrrrgggggththththth!”  A generation of kids were sent to speech pathologists because they refused to quit imitating Dumpy Dowitcher.  Also the cereal residue reacted strangely with flouride, and caused lips and tongues to stick to teeth.  Dumpy only graced the airwaves for four months, but his legacy lived on in the steady stream of court cases that

Another great idea I came up with was an amorphous brown blob with crazy googley eyes affectionately called Coco.  Coco was constantly trying to meld with a steaming bowl of carob-flavored farina.  How rich were those layers of subtext!  In one commercial, Coco is looking for its similarly gender-less sibling.  Just when Coco happens upon the bowl of farina, a cruel adult figure whisks it away.  The tears of joy turn to tears of sorrow.  And then the catch-line, “Carob-Time Farina ain’t your kin, Coco!  It’s for kids, so dig on in!”  In the next spot, Coco’s received word that it’s “mother” is ill– same scenario.  The next, Coco wants a buddy.  And so on and so forth.  The iterations were endless.  Or so we thought until some nutso parents group got all up in arms about what they claimed was “Coco’s perverse desire to mate with a food product.”  Shocking.  Sure, Coco managed to make it into the bowl most times, and slosh around with ecstasy, but Coco was always plucked out and tossed into the garbage disposal or something like that.  It made no sense.

By this time the parents had targeted me, and boy did they go berserk when my final character was introduced– a beautiful dreamweaver with a fancy mask for a face on whom I bestowed the gorgeous name of “Satin,” after my aunt, who worked at a gentleman’s club.  You can catch a clip of the original ad above.  I was particularly pleased with myself over this one, and envisioned an entire 24-minute weekly show which would subtly introduce children to all our cereal products, but it was not to be.  The closed-minded network executives pulled the plug, and refused our existing sponsorships.  The mill went broke in half a year, and once again, I was left to search out a newer, fresher career.

Horse Choreographer

January 21, 2010

Many people think that birds, humans, and chimpanzees are the only dancing vertebrates in the world– bickering endlessly over which is truly Lord of the Dance.  However, there’s one species out there that has more claim to the titles than all three of these combined.  The Magnificent Stallion!  Prancing like the king he is, gracefully lifting one foot to stir up the air, head bobbing like a spasmodic newborn’s.  The Mighty Apaloosa and the Majestic Fresian!  Bedecked in velvet and silver, tails streaming like those of comets behind them.  They redefine the phrase “hoofing it.”  Never attend a horse dancing show without your handkerchief– how else will you maintain composure while daubing at your eyes and phlegmy nose?

And to think that I once occupied the highest echelons of the horse choreographing hierarchy.  Even with the trophy room and large color photographs to prove it, most days, I barely believe it myself.  That’s why I had all of the horses that I trained stuffed and mounted on rotating discs in the front lawn– so that every morning as I double fist a Tried and True and Mug o’ Joe, the 11 am sun may glint on the show costumes and remind me I am alive.  Thank god for taxidermy, (as I have mentioned before) the most noble of all the arts.  What makes my display even more impressive are the various pets of my past that I have also taxidermied and glued into the stallions’ decorative saddles.  That’s what I call keeping one’s heritage alive.

There is nothing easier than becoming a horse choreographer.  All you need is the proper spandex outfit, sharpened spurs, a whip, and a jaunty Irish tune.  All horses have a sophisticated understanding of rhythm and syncopation, so the creature mostly does the work itself.  The tricky part is becoming a master choreographer, because most horses are not inclined to dance for more than two hours at a time, and if you are ever to win, you will need to make sure that the horse practices at least nine hours a day.  This is where positive encouragement comes in handy.  I’ve heard that there are now devices on the market that allow you to place an electrode directly into the horse’s brain, awakening the centers that make it do exactly what you say.  All it takes is an electric drill.  In a few generations, we may eradicate the use of spurs altogether!  Isn’t science fascinating?

Bronzer

January 13, 2010

Less common these days, bronzing corpses was once widely practiced.

There comes a time in every person’s life when our biological clocks tell us: it’s time to memorialize something by coating it in metal.  Of course, the form that this natural urge takes is often dictated by cultural and social norms.  Look around yourself at this moment– chances are there is something metallized on your fireplace mantle, adorning your bar cart, or serving as your drinking receptacle.  I, for example, am seated in a leather wingback whose feet are burnished copper kittens, and just out of the corner of my eye I can glimpse my gold-plated citrus fruits glinting amongst my geode collection.  Now ask yourself this– who was it that covered your precious items in metal?  Was it you?  I’m betting it was not.  I, however, am fully responsible for all of my coated-in-metal objects.

It doesn’t take much to become a licensed bronzer, and I recommend that you go for it, if only to avoid paying the exorbitant fees that commercial bronzers will charge you.  How many of you are still making payments on your bronzed Elvis wigs?  Don’t be ashamed– many people think of bronzing and other metal arts as too specialized, too difficult, and best left to the professionals.  But with only three years and $84,000, you can join our ranks.  (I cannot guarantee that price; it is the amount that I paid 32 years ago, and it might have gone up slightly.)  And once you get that first whiff of molten metals, I promise you will be hooked.  When you see the look on your grandmother’s face after you present her with her cockatiel, Pete-A-Poo, forever immortalized in silver with tourmaline eyes, you will never want to stop bringing such tears of joy to others’ eyes.

No, the art of bronzing isn’t hard to master.  So many things seem filled with the intent to be bronzed that their bronzing’s no disaster.  I’ve bronzed my way through two cities, lovely ones, and vaster.  It’s just a shame you can’t bronze a voice, a gesture.  That’s what will finally get you in the end, put the final platinum-dipped nail in the coffin of that career.  At least it was for me.  But I hear science is making great advances in this area, so if you happen to figure out a means of doing this yourself, be sure and get in touch with me.

Bow Tie Designer

January 12, 2010

So clean, so classic. Yet, somehow... lacking.

When Humphrey Bogart wanted a quality bow tie, he knew where to go– to my Pendleton-based wool tie company.  You would never guess it to look at me today, as I refuse to wear anything but high-performance gear, but it wasn’t too many years ago that I hunched over a drawing board and fabric swatches late every night, reaching for that holy grail… the perfect bow tie.  Perfect in proportion, perfect in fold, perfect in color and texture.  It is a fool’s goal, but it takes chasing it to know.  In the process I came so close, but I always seemed one thread too short.

I’m not going to say that tie designing was my passion, but it was.  I designed ties the way an icon painter daubs his or her brush at baby Christ’s face.  As a means of ensuring a place in heaven.

All of us will experience that one career that breaks our hearts.  To the outside world, my ties were impeccable, and truly they were the top of the line.  But I knew not to value my bow ties based on the opinions of others.  All that mattered was the one, wild cry of the ideal bow tie roaring through my breast– it was only against this bow tie that I could compare the (to my mind) tawdry others I peddled.  The disconnect between the accolades of the outside world and the constant stream of disappointments within my innermost soul wore at me each day.  I grew irritable.  I drove those close to me away.  I became a tyrant with my seamsters, tossing passels of bow ties out the window, into the industrial seam-ripper, or into the acid baths before their very eyes.  Many an up-and-coming ornocollumist (the formal name for tie-maker) turned his or her back to the profession while wiping tears, tears that I had caused, from his or her eyes.  I cannot say for certain, but I suspect my driven and despotic ways set the industry back at least a half a century due to the loss of so many talented young minds.  But I couldn’t see that at the time, so consumed was I by my vision.

As I’m sure you already intuited, I finally snapped in the most classic of ways– publicly.  It was at the Pendleton Round-Up, when I ripped a sub-par bow tie off Lane Frost’s neck and attempted, with alarming lack of success, to tie it onto a mad bull’s horn.  This is what they tell me, at least.  I don’t remember the moments before I was gored.

You may think this is a tragic tale, but it ends well.  When I woke later in my private infirmary ward, it seemed that the bull had gored the gnawing need to “realize the ideal bow tie” right out of me.  I’m not necessarily recommending this to those of you on similar paths, but it works.

Carnuba Wax Advocate

January 8, 2010

In only 16 complex steps, this wax will be ready for human consumption.

For centuries, our ancestors were aware of the problems associated with eating fresh foods.  They rotted, grew rancid, and curdled into unappetizing mush far too easily.  But what were our dear predecessors to do?  What other options did they have?  Deer jerky, yes, and pickled turnip with squirrel brains, too– both treats still enjoyed throughout the nation.  But man cannot live on pickled brain alone.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, himself, once noted, “When man sups on rot and only rot, it shall not be long before that is what he becomes.”  Is it any wonder that most scientific inquiry in our young nation focused on food?

It was my pleasure, then, to work amongst these noble young scientists, pioneering a new way of eating, forging a path towards a new and better tomorrow.  Of course, most of the important developments in the field were taking place in the private sector– with a company represented by a clucking bunny.  I knew this was no way to advocate for new foodstuffs, and being a fresh-faced, energetic young person myself, I was eager to make an impact.  I decided to apply for a position.  I’ll never forget the day that I marched through those revolving glass doors, pressed a rag of ether tight against the security guard’s face, and took the Human Resources department by storm.  Though I was not a scientist, they recognized my considerable talents as a spokesperson (especially after I converted then entire hiring committee to the Pentecostal Church), and immediately installed me as the head of publicity.

In those days, publicity meant a radio spot on the Little Orphan Annie radio hour.  But Shirley Bell, the actress who portrayed the carrot-topped ragamuffin, and I had gotten into something of an altercation over a swan-shaped paddle boat two years prior, which ended with a box of Belgian chocolates and a chunk of my scalp in the Central Park pond.  It had become one of my goals in life to see her radio show taken off the air, and her cast back into the gutter.  Not even the gypsy soothsayer Oksana Baiul could convince me to patronize the Orphan Annie program, try as she might.

It was just as I had come on board at this food research institution that the team was making real breakthroughs with a particular palm frond wax called “carnuba.”  I figured it was my chance to destroy Shirley– I made sure it was written into our contracts that products incorporating our new wax must expressly denounce the Orphan Annie show.  I consider this one of the great triumphs in my life– bringing nonperishable food items to the marketplace and the benefit of humankind, and bankrupting the Little Orphan Annie franchise.

Stalactite Conservator

January 3, 2010

No need for a ladder-- the stalactite conservator can always stand upon stalagmites.

As many of you have noted from my previous posts, preservation of the natural world is one of my priorities in life.  You write and tell me how inspired you are and have been by the example I have set, that I am the only person who has truly managed to carry on the legacy and fill the enormous pants left by Paul Bunyan, America’s original naturalist.  You flatter me!  Of course it is the truth, but you need not put it in writing unless you are a high-profile journalist that would like to put me on the television or in a documentary.

Caving did not always come easily to me.  Like many, I was afraid of the blind and pigment-less creatures that dwell in our nation’s subterranean muck holes.  The tales I’d heard of spelunkers attacked by giant acid-oozing worms and escaping with only one arm and half a torso intact nearly deterred me from caving altogether.  That was, until Office Abbie (my dearest pet tabby cat) chased a vole down a large hole that had been slowly forming in my backyard.  I had been meaning to fill it with asphalt or wedge a large stump in it, terrified was I that a neighborhood child would climb my barbed-wire fence and get its head stuck in the hole, but at the time I was in the possession of a large number of purloined lawn ornaments and thought that I would eventually get around to checking out the feasibility of secreting said ornaments in the hole.  And so I left the hole to its own tectonic devices, gaping wider and wider with each passing day.  At least I did until that fateful day, lounging on my patio chaise with a white wine spritzer, when Office Abbie sprang from my lap, hot on the heels of a vile vole.  And disappeared into the ground.

I panicked.  After all, I had loved no animate creature more than I loved Office Abbie.  She would be devoured for sure– yes, she was a fighter, but how could she possibly fend off a phalanx of worms hungry for surface flesh?  I wasn’t even thinking when I started up my backhoe and clawed my way into the entrails of the earth.  What I discovered there was almost beyond my wildest imaginings.  Once my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw not a cesspit of slime and mud, but instead a crystal fairyland.  One look at the delicate filigree of the stalactites above my head, and I was sold.

The next few years, there was barely a day I didn’t spend underground, and so expert did I become in stalactite formations that I was contracted by the Parks Department to restore and repair those carelessly destroyed by tourists.  But it all started in my own backyard.  If you come to visit me today, it is more than likely that you will see my first cave for yourself, as I usually stumble across the croquet green a few times a week and hold an impromptu dance party in the cavern.  Indeed, it is a grand ballroom now– I leveled the floor, bulldozing all those pesky stalagmites and laying a jade parquet.  These days you are much more likely to slip on the immaculately waxed surface of the cave floor than you are to trip, like you would in most caves.  But let me get back on topic.

In my excitement over the cave, I forgot completely about Office Abbie.  But it all turned out fine for her in this particular episode.  She showed up at the dinner table five months later, no worse for the wear, and we resumed our communal lounging as though not a second had transpired.  A truer friend I have never had than Office Abbie.