Liquid Dental-Grade Gold Wholesaler

July 19, 2010

No denying... gold shines brighter than your home-grown enamel.

The first thing most people notice about me is the golden Palomino, Virginie Von Kentuckeree T-Bone, that I ride to all of my social and business engagements.  But the second thing that everyone tends to notice are my golden teeth, cast from the finest dental gold in the Southern Hemisphere, where gold is considerably cheaper than the northerly half of the planet, unless you choose to deal with the dreaded and fabled Russians of the Mountains.

I will now let you in on a little secret.  This is one of my most longest-standing and most recently-ended careers.  You still have time to get in on the ground level.

For one reason or another, gold teeth have fallen off the popularity wagon in the past 75 years, save for amongst the most stylish of classes– the hip-hop artists and gypsies.  The call for dental gold, however, has remained relatively steady as a result of these two important economic groups.  In my experience, the decline of the gypsy population has directly correlated with the increase in the hip-hop artist population.  (Budding scholars, I suggest a fruitful study!)  Thus, being a gold wholesaler who retails solely to the dental community may not have been the most profitable endeavor, but it has provided a modest income that I have devoted to improving my personal gin distillery over the years.  For those of you who do not live in a state with a limited number of state or county liquor enforcement officials, and/or lax liquor laws, you can perhaps consider putting your gold tooth money towards, oh, a gourmet mustard cellar or an exotic bee apiary.  Invest in an Oregon clear-cut and put in a hops field is my personal opinion, barring your gin options, but don’t listen to me.  I’m just the billionaire entrepreneur you aspire to be.

It’s a funny way I got into the field.  Post WWII, as a young and idealistic anti-fascist, I found I could provide cheap South African gold to dentists who, pro bono, provided fillings to Jews, homosexuals, blacks, and errant Slavs who had survived the Nazi death camps.  (Having built a successful Prohibition-era safari tour business in Africa, I often took time off from the safaris to explore the continent’s deep geologic offerings– a mineral safari, if you will.)  I filled orders in the US, Europe, and throughout the Pacific, despite the lack of German aggression in the area.  Altruist, though I am, once the refugee market played itself out, it was difficult to let go of the enterprise I had poured so much of my molten gold into.  I decided to keep it up.

The details are better explained by Mr. Polly, my stalwart secretary, to whom I left most of the paperwork.  And honestly, it was all paperwork once I’d perfected the chemical process of converting the metal to a liquid sans painful heat transfer or loss of structural integrity by means of adding liquidizing agents.  (This is my own patented process and you are wise to avoid copying even the most rudimentary of steps, lest I sue you.)

All that aside, darling readers, you are welcome at my next backwoods gin and tooth filling bash.

Exotic Meats Butcher

June 27, 2010

The tenderest morsels to grace a freezer case.

Those of you who are among my most devoted followers have probably noticed a marked trend in my career choices.  It is true that many are apt to involve the artistry of the blade.  You may be wondering why this is, why I, your dear Cyrus, am so prone to choose the knife-wielding professions.  It is no accident.  I am what is known in scientific circles as a “Cultrusus.”  That is to say, genetically adapted for superior cutlery skills.  Just as some of you are born without the ability to see out of even one of your eyes (in which case, thank your government-provided Web Reader for me), and some of you lack all of your toes, I am predisposed to wield all manner of cleaver.

Thus it should come as no surprise that I built an empire on rare cuts.  The blood of exsanguinated creatures filled the moats of my meaty fortress.  My foes?  The damned Genewdry Brothers.  Yes, they and I have more of a history than simply battling it out over the placement of vending machines.  In our younger days, we fought a bitter battle for control over the exotic meat market… a market I was to strategically drive them out of.

In those days, tariffs were low.  I knew that with the proper lobbying, I could have them raised.  But not until I had the makings of my scheme in place.  I purchased the largest ship I could find– a decommissioned Naval rig, which I christened “Noah’s Place”– and set off on a safari of sorts.  Over the course of two years I visited every continent on earth, collecting a menagerie of every delectable animal the world has to offer: ibex and cheetah, wombat and auroch, hammerhead and diamondback rattler alike.  I brought them all back to the Cy-Ranch in central Florida, paying the requisite import duties, and began what has been dubbed “the most aggressive husbandry program the US has ever seen.”  This was, of course, the days before cloning.  I can only fantasize how my operation could have been streamlined had cloning been an option.  But enough dreaming.

The next piece of the puzzle, raising tariffs to ridiculous extremes, was easy peasy.  The trick was throwing enough drug and meat-fueled parties in the nation’s capital.  After all, nothing brings the reds like meat and the blues like drugs.  I am nothing, if not the original bipartisan.  Support for my bill was nearly unanimous, save for a few stubborn New York representatives who were in the pockets of the Zoo and Natural History Museum lobbies.

The Genewdrys didn’t even see it coming.

So you see, it’s relatively easy to take over any segment of business or industry so long as you understand the ways in which you can destroy the supply chains of your competitors.  Good luck, budding entrepreneurs!

Vegetable & Fruit Dollmaker

April 19, 2010

This goose will doesn't know that it's "egg" will never hatch.

In the days before widespread polymerization, toys were scarce.  The game of “Mousetrap” was not a colorful board-based game, but rather something parents thought up in order to rid the crawlspace of vermin and keep kids out from underfoot for a couple of hours.  And the things known as “dolls” back then would be virtually unrecognizable to today’s youth, made as they were of wood or cloth or even ceramics.  And most of the children in the lower income brackets never saw even these, never held a tiny wooden Baby Ethel in their malnourished arms.  The state of American play was as deficient of fun as the blood of these children was of iron.

Luckily, those were the days when an enterprising whittler from the woods could make a profitable go of it, carving spoons, clogs or powder horns for whole communities.  I had been quite the knifewielder down in the swamp, but I was always dreaming bigger.  At the age of six, I developed carpal tunnel (formerly called, “whittlin’ wrist”) and was implored to set down my knife and rest.  I remember my fingers literally itching, and my mind going half mad from sloth, as my toy chest contained a dried up bowl of mud and a chunk of wood.  There was nothing I wanted more than to carve, but thanks to Dr. Bonvillain-Fontenot, it was strictly verboten.  There had to be some way around it.  With every day that went by, my dexterity diminished and my abilities atrophied.  Then one morning, as my mother Theresa sliced an apple for my porridge, I had my revelation.  The low resistance of vegetal flesh would be gentle on my wrist, and I could easily provide many children with inexpensive toys.  Were it not for this whittlin’ wrist setback, I would never have bothered to re-think my trade, thus finding the vegetable toy niche.

I started peddling my trade door-to-door, but it was no time at all before I set up my very own booth in the center of town.  With the profits, I hired a legion of other young whittlers like myself, and dispatched them across the country in the nation’s first, unacknowledged franchise operation.  Surely the history books would remember my name, had the accursed child labor laws not put me out of business for good, forcing me back to unproductive pursuits such as catching bugs and putting them in jars and fishing with a stick and bit of twine.  Though many people blame the stock market crash for the Great Depression, I am here to tell you that it was child labor laws that started it all.

Plant Interpreter

March 18, 2010

A well-understood spider plant.

What I have never been able to understand is how not everyone can talk to plants.  Why, it’s the simplest thing in the world– place your face close to the plant of your choice and quietly say, “Shhhshhhhhhhshissssssssss [Hello, gentle plant and how are your roots and leaves this fine day?]”  And then the plant will tell you how it is doing.  Nothing could be easier.  Yet it turns out that surprisingly few people know what to say, let alone are able to decipher the response.

It took me years to realize that this was a marketable skill.  One day Mr. Polly and I were visiting Vincent Price in his dungeon when he mentioned that he simply could not manage to keep the callas lilies he so loved to display on his fireplace mantle alive.  Well, I walked right over to those infernal flames and asked the flowers what was wrong.  After a good 25 minutes of listening to and taking down their grievances, I returned to Vinny and told him, “Stop smoking.”  Mind you, this was back in the day that it was thought that smoking helped fumigate lung parasites and was a highly recommended therapeutic practice– long before we knew that nicotine gum was just as effective against lung flukes.  “At least don’t smoke around them, is what they’re telling me,” I responded when old Price guffawed, “and have your hunchbacked butler bring them outside for a few hours during the sunny part of the day.”  VP was skeptical, but I implored him just to try it for a week, two weeks.  My pleading must have worked, because a week later, calls started pouring in from all the Hollywoodland elite, and my face began appearing in glossy magazines and I made quite a number of late-night variety show appearances.  Thus I became known as the “Plant Interpreter to the Stars!”

But it quickly grew old.  I gave the same recommendations over and over again.  “Try mixing Miracle Grow with the shredded cardboard in that pot.”  “Your dwarf pine prefers vodka.”  “You’ll need to burn that weedy brush in your backyard to make room for the rice paddy.” I got so fed up that I wrote a book and began charging a thousand per half hour consultation.  Naturally, this freed up most of my time for my preferred endeavor at the time– the lipstick applying stand I’d set up on the Sunset Strip, an endeavor which unfortunately failed, but the reverberations of which were felt at department store makeup counters for decades following.  You see, I was the one who originated the idea of not applying lipstick to the rear molars, a move that has saved women the world over thousands each year.

Sabrage Master

March 8, 2010

So blunt... so deadly...

I cannot believe that I have not mentioned this career earlier, since it has proved my bread and butter throughout the course of my life.  Through all recessions and personal setbacks, there has always been one career that I have not only fallen back on, but practiced with aplomb all through my life.  It was taught to me by my Grandpapa, the Grand Snakecatcher of Lervwis County, who learned the trade as a child Hussar in Napoleon’s army.  Of course, Grandpapa generally used the skill to open bottles of fine bourbon moonshine, but I have yielded to commercial pressure and since my early teens have only practiced the art on champagne.  The art I speak of?  Sabrage, of course.  The opening of bottles by means of the saber.

Everyone always says the same thing when I walk into a fine dining establishment carrying my official “Sabrage Master d’America” sword.  “Take the money!” they generously offer.  “Call 911!” I often hear from the kitchen.  “Please, my wife– not me!” the men say, thinking perhaps that I charge per head to uncork a bottle.  Common folk are so unused to true luxury, they don’t know how to react.  Let me walk you all through the process, so that you will not make the same uncultured mistakes the next time you find yourself face to face with a blade.

First of all, I will only charge you standard corking fees for my services.  Most other freelance Sabrage Masters will scalp you (sometimes literally, though this was much more common during the Chicago and Newark Sabrage Riots of 1936 and 1937 respectively) with a 500 percent plus service charge, but not I.  Secondly, I will ask you to sign a liability waiver on the off chance that shards of flying glass become lodged in your face, eyes, or your esophageal, stomach or intestinal tissues.  If you are a particularly saavy customer, you will have your own waivers on hand, and will thoroughly impress your date by pulling them from your man-purse or lady-purse the moment one of us Sabrage Masters walks through the door.  Finally, you will discreetly tip me generously prior to my sword-wielding.  After all, meditating briefly on the handsome visage of Benjamin Franklin helps greatly in centering my mind and steadying my hand.

Oh, and don’t try this yourself.  You will surely waste good champagne.

Old-growth Extreme Topiarist

March 3, 2010

At last, at last. Symmetrical at last.

My biggest problem with nature is that it lacks all culture, untouched as it is by human hand, and when it is touched by human hand the hand tends to come away dirty because nature is full of dirt.  It’s simply not a pleasant place to be.  I could have called a committee meeting about it, but I’m no dawdler.  Also, my insurance company had sent me a final notice that I would be dropped from my plan should I take on any other chainsaw or trapeze-based activities, so I had to go rogue on this one and put the business in Jeannie-Fayelene Bakker’s name.  (Due to the demons of her Appalachian past, Ms. Jeannie-Fayelene won’t set foot in forest, wood or bathtub– any place where moonshine stills are traditionally located– so the enterprise was entirely my own undertaking.)

The first trees I tackled were Muir Woods in northern California.  I had to make my move in the middle of the night, as the rangers denied my offer to trim their trees during visiting hours– something I can only imagine would have proven a huge tourist draw, and demonstrates the sad state of the bureaucratic process.  What’s more, I had to work fast and with as little noise as possible.  (You may also note that I invented the world’s most effective chainsaw silencer for just this purpose, and said silencer is built into most models today.)  I began at 11 pm, and knocked off at 3:45-ish.  But in that short amount of time, I managed to transform what was once a rough, untamed wood into a magical glen that all could enjoy.  I not only reshaped the needled, upper portions of the trees into perfect spheres, but I carved giant old man faces into the trunks at eye-level!  Never have I seen so many visitors to a National “Park” weeping openly at the sight of nature, finally neutralized.  Though many of my endeavors cause similar swellings of deep emotion, similar torrents of tears, I would say that this instance moved me the most.  I knew that if I could bring this feeling to so many people at just this one old-growth forest, it would be morally negligent of me not to chainsaw my way across the continent, the globe.

Little did I know that I had tapped a vast, underserved market.  Not only was I receiving calls from Forest Service branches (as well as civilians) throughout the United Somethings of America, as soon as the word got out, the calls started pouring in from all nations of the world.  Even nations without trees wanted me– to sculpt their sand dunes or dig stylish trenches into their permafrost.  The fact of the matter was that I couldn’t keep up.  I hired and trained scads of workers, but only a few could topiate to my high standards.  Unfortunately, many millions of  acres of forest have gone un-shorn, and seem destined to remain so… after six years I felt that my life was running me, that the demands from all sides were never-ceasing, and that it was no longer worth it.  I threw in the snot rag and called it beer-thirty.

Many of these previously stunning forests have now been left in decline to fall back to their untouched state.  You would never know, were it not for glossy coffee table books and the distant memories of a select few individuals, the former glory of the National Forests.  Dear readers, this is one instance I will implore you– please steal my idea.  Take up the cause and make America beautiful once again.

Stamp Artiste

February 27, 2010

A delicate interplay of color, subject, and form.

In the modern world of visual arts, there can be no more harmonious marriage than that of visibility and commerce– and these two qualities have reached their apotheosis in the airmail stamp.  What other artworks have been so widely disseminated and generated so much revenue from such a wide range of wage classes?”  These were the words of my dear Grandmammy, who in her youth had toiled day in and day out, steadily painting stamp after stamp, as one of the many indentured stamp-making servants of the Postmaster General.  Of course, Grandmammy never saw a wooden nickle of the money she earned for the post office, but after seven years she was given a cow, a straw hat and her freedom.  This is why, when I decided to take the art world by storm, I knew exactly where to focus my energies and considerable talents.  I applied to the USPS to avenge my beloved Grandmammy.

My first few months were bliss.  Hunched over a drafting table, inking away at 1″x1″ squares or downright expansive 1″x2″ rectangles, making brushstrokes between heartbeats so that my hand should never falter… I had never been so in tune with the movements of my muscles and the inner workings of my body.  Sure, I could have worked on a larger scale and sent out the finished work to be scaled down as so many of my fellow stamp artistes did.  But I was no shirker.  I was there for authenticity such as my predecessors had experienced.  I wanted to preserve a noble tradition with a troubled past, and someday… just maybe… pass it along to a new generation the way Grandmammy did to me.  I ate nothing but cabbage hash during my time at the post office in homage to her.

Ahh, the designs I dreamt up!  Cupcakes at the waterpark with badgers!  The inimitable Barbara Streisand engaged in lively debate with the Crypt Keeper!  Sonic the Hedgehog executing a Sonic Spin Attack on a hamburger!  Josef Stalin holding a baby!  And these all in just my first week.  My creative juices were seeping out all over.  I was also wearing an adult diaper, since I could not manage to tear myself away from the work at hand, which might have accounted for some of that seepage.  A small matter.

I soon realized that the joke was on me.  Though I drew my paycheck regularly, it was much smaller than I expected.  I told myself, “Don’t you worry your perfectly coiffed head, Cyrus.  They’re just waiting to give you your due when quarterly bonuses roll around.”  Nevermind that I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone when I asked about the quarterly bonuses– just raucous laughter.  What can I say?  I was young; I was green.  I didn’t yet know the ways of the postal service.  But when Christmas rolled around and I received neither pineapple-glazed ham nor multi-million dollar bonus, I knew the jig was up.  They’d duped me.  I stormed the postmaster’s office, demanding my due.  For my bravery, for demanding what was mine, I was promptly tossed rump-first into a dirty snowbank.  Meanwhile, my stamps remained in circulation.  It was a travesty.

I hear the post office is better these days.  But on principle, I still privately contract out any mail I need delivered.  I’ve found recovering narcotics addicts to be the most reliable couriers, followed by children, with recent college graduates at the very bottom of the list.

Lycracycle Instructor

February 19, 2010

Not just a craze, a lycraze.

Carpenter

February 18, 2010

Cruelly cropped from a photo whose concept I suggested.

If you have attended a soiree at my home, you will remember that as the waitstaff enter with the sausage and citrus platters, it is my tradition to regale my guests with a medley ancient German carousing tunes.  “Why have you not started a band?” the crowd often cries out, interrupting me around the 40-minute mark.  “How can you keep this talent from the world?” they weep, so touched are they by the delicate interplay of my voice, tuba and accordion.  I do not like to call attention to the fact, but I did in fact once start a band.  A very successful and beloved band.  Many have called it “the best band in all the world,” but I think it is tied for that title with another band that I wrote all the songs for in the late 90’s– a little known group called “Hanson.”

It started like all bands do– with a classified ad in the local paper and a slough of fliers tacked to coffee shop corkboards, stapled to lightposts, and taped to urinals.  Auditions!  Tuesday, 5pm at the Community Center!  Be there or be squared!  Hundreds showed up, toting along their zithers and harps, xylophones and mouth harps, theramins and autoharps.  I had requested that the auditions be cut down to an amusing montage with plenty of cutaways to me and Office Abbie woefully shaking our heads, rolling our eyes, waving goodbye, mouthing “we’ll call you,” and sleeping, but alas I was forced to sit through all six hours until the last two folks stepped though the doors.  We had been packing up, dismayed at not found anyone to join our band, and were reluctant to even let these two milk-fed bumpkins step on the stage.  But we agreed, and boy were we blown away.  We signed them up immediately.

At first things were good.  Practices were so fun that we forgot to take hallucinogens.  They happily filed the paperwork to change their last names to the name of the band.  It was too good to last.  Things started going south when I the girl refused to eat the salami and blood orange sandwiches I brought to each jam session.  Next thing you know, she was penning insulting lyrics about birds following me around.  It was very Hitchcockian, and I knew what she was implying– that she wanted me pursued and attacked with nothing short of avian bloodlust.  I feared for my life.  I could see the madness in her eyes.

I stopped going to practice, and on the very day I planned to quit, they kicked me out.  This time I didn’t mind being beaten to the punch as long as it meant that I no longer had to keep Office Abbie secreted away in my wine cellar, lest Karen decide in her fury to abduct and torture my poor darling.  Now I am content merely to entertain house guests each night, and enjoy the royalties that continue to fill my coffers.

Raise your martini shaker, oh barkeep!

Tour Guide

February 18, 2010

You know you're elite in plaid skirt and loafers with riding crop in hand.

When it comes to fibbing, there’s really no profession in which you can get away with so much as being a tour guide.  As long as you have your authoritarian riding crop in hand (or badminton racket), folks are prepared to believe anything  you say.  It is similar to putting on a policeman’s uniform in the morning– people will believe that you have the authority to pull them over and solicit bribes.  Or pushing an ice cream cart, which I learned the hard way.  All I wanted was to eat an ice cream sandwich whenever the mood struck, but I quickly found myself accosted.

What I’m trying to say is that the most important thing is your outfit.  As long as you have a basic understanding of what tour guides look like, you can hijack any high-paying tourist group and take them where you want to go.  As long as you are prepared to spew a litany of “facts” for an hour or two, you can get pretty much anywhere.  This is how I made my way across India (I think it was India, but it might have been Florida…) and around the Cape of Good Hope (which also might have been Florida).

Where doesn’t matter.  Where is incidental.  The point is practicing your abilities to think on your feet, to cadge sweet lemons off sweet couples looking for memorable Polaroids, and to convince British aunts and their wards to give you piano lessons and bottles of wine in Venice.  If you plan to marry, working as a tour guide is your best bet.  My first three marriages were a direct result of leading tours.  I don’t remember much about the marriages themselves, but I do remember this one fact, and also that I vowed never to marry again not long after, but to make do with just an assistant and bodyguard, which has worked out splendidly.