(Originally written for the Aarkvard humor publication, hence the references to deadlines)
LIT CRIT ON A TEMPORAL BUDGET
October twelfth is upon us. I'm not happy about this. It has not
escaped my notice that October twelfth used to be - physicists, feel
free to back me up on this - far away.
October twelfth, see, is my deadline for writing this piece. This was
determined weeks ago, when that date was naught but a fuzzy, shapeless
nebulosity - something with a pleasing sound but no link whatsoever to
reality, kind of like "The Apocalypse" or "Earth Day". I have been
ensconced ever since in the writing of Academic Papers, defined as
"papers 70% of whose gross weight, as dictated by federal law, must
consist of the word 'heretofore'."* Granted, this past week included
my fall break, but this too was filled with scads of scholastic
obligations, as measured** in trips to TCBY. So October 12 barrels
forth. And the U.S. Government, despite my letters, does nothing
to stand in its path.
Nonetheless, I refuse to have my professional integrity compromised by
lack of time. I'd much rather leave that to apathy. Thus
have I undertaken to compose the following literary review right here
on U.S. Airways Flight 4005, having chosen my literary material based
on the following criteria:
1. It is nearby.
2. It does not begin with the words "Nutrition Facts".***
(It is worth noting here that lack of selection does not have to beget
lack of quality. I will have you know that choice was mine.)
REVIEW: Sky Mall, Holiday 2007 issue
As it happens, this is just the kind of "hot-button" material I like
to tackle. Witness its provocative nature, as evidenced by the
following brace (or "Kroner") of provocative provocations:
- It is not currently "Holiday 2007," nor will it be for many nubbins.
- I don't know, something else, I forget. I got distracted by a
cloud. It looked like Madonna, or maybe a syringe.
Sky Mall highlights include:
The World's Largest Write-On Map Mural, which
effectively opens our children's supple minds to The World via the
expert-recommended method of allowing them to write obscenities all
The Snow Flurry Generating Snowman, which generates
snow flurries, thus providing us with a reason to live.
The Upside-Down Tomato Garden, which is a tomato
garden with a "twist," in the sense that it is upside-down.**** The
description boasts: "Complementary plants like basil and parsley
can be placed on top, which holds up to 80 lbs. of topsoil."
Okay, and I have chromosomes inside me that, if unraveled, would reach
the moon, but at least I don't brag about it. Also: "The
complex planter can fit in any space with ample sunlight." If
you are reasonably familiar with the film career of Ample Sunlight,
you will recognize that this is saying nothing unique.
The Marshmallow Shooter, specially designed to bring
out the finest in jet-puffed rage among Americans: because this
country needed changing. According to Sky Mall, the Shooter
"holds 20 marshmallows ... for fast, nonstop action."
Because deep down, what we all really want as Americans - more than
peace, more than brotherhood, more than cars with names like Toyota
Enema - is fast, nonstop action in our marshmallow-shooting endeavors.
What? What's that you say? You can live with pauses in the
action? You unpatriotic swine.
The World's Largest Crossword Puzzle, presumably to
be done on the world's largest toilet.
The Motion Sickness Relief Wrist Band, a must-have
for you Frequent Flyers out there, in that it prevents your wrists
from barfing. Sky Mall describes this device as "similar
to acupuncture but without needles," which is a little like
saying "similar to sitting but without buttocks".
Nonetheless I foresee big sales for this one, since they also claim it
"stimulates your median nerves," as in, "JASON! QUIT
STIMULATING YOUR MEDIAN NERVES AND GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM!"
The Portable Touchscreen Video Poker. At first I
thought this gadget would enable one to better poke videos, and I got
excited. Then I realized "poker" referred to the game, and I got sad.
The "Keep Your Distance" Bug Vacuum: "This
cordless insect vacuum quickly captures bugs from up to 2' away.
Flies, bees, spiders and other insects are suctioned by a 22,400 rpm
motor, sending the insect through a one-way valve in the extension
tube to an electric grid in the handle that instantly kills the
pest." This does not augur well, folks. If science has taught
us anything, it's that when the mega-bugs take over, they will
bring with them accordingly-sized Dirt Devils and annihilate us
all. It's on page 169 of my bio book. Look it up.*****
The Fish Finder Watch: "This sonar sensor
attaches to your wrist and doubles as a watch. It operates in a 75'
remote radius, transmitting views of fish to the LCD display."
Because in trying times like these, we must look to the ancient
Sumerian principle which states, "It's only 5:52, 4:52 Central, if
there are fish involved."
Brian the Brain: "This animatronic brain
incorporates The Concise Encyclopedia from Britannica(TM), a
dictionary, and a world history timeline, and uses voice recognition
technology to respond to verbal prompts, for an interactive roommate
that children can use as an academic resource or as a toy. Brian the
Brain asks questions concerning the child's likes and dislikes, using
the child's responses to personalize conversations and to tell
jokes." In other words, this little guy renders socialization
obsolete. Hey kids! You don't need to go to school to have your
self-worth vitiated! Brian the Brain can dole out personalized
soul-devouring abuse right in the comfort of your own home! The fun
never ends! Ha ha! Batteries not included. (Really.)
The Nostalgic "Bubble" Night Light, which asks the question: "Remember the simple enjoyment of watching the 'boiling' action of old 'bubble
light' tree ornaments?" To which I say - departing for a moment
from irreverence and ridicule to make a statement truly heartfelt - no.
Finally, we have The Wrist Wallet, whose very existence
presupposes that our wrists have independent wealth! Remember
our old friend the wrist barf bag? Now, I was prepared to write this
off as a fluke once, even twice. But then came The Home
Theater Watch, advertised as "A home theater system that
fits on your wrist!" Must we now accept that our wrists require
entertainment, too?! Well, I, for one, have had it with these folks
and their kinky wristular fetish! In fact, I'm so outraged, I may have
to go stimulate my median nerves.
At the end of the Holiday 2007 Sky Mall, a few major
characters die, but I'm not saying who. Suffice it to say, The
Marshmallow Shooter is involved.
*Typical Academic Paper: "Analysis of the Use of 'Heretofore' in My
**1 scad=63 nubbins=250 Kroner=27.2 McNuggets.
***Because I have standards. Gawd.
****As opposed to rightside-up.
*****Looked it up yet?
(c)2007, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending