Thursday, October 14, 2004

Repulse, Reuse, Recycle

Fuck politics.
Just so you know, Sinclair Broadcasting ordered me to pre-empt the column next Thursday with a column written by George W. Bush called "JOHN KENNEDY ER KERRY SHORE IS STOOPID", but after the first paragraph, it trails off for about seven minutes worth of blank space, and thus screws up the formatting of the site, so I can't. Sorry, Sinclair!
Instead, I will use this space for its intended public-service purpose, issuing memos like this to people like frigging Heloise The Hint Lady: YOU ARE DUMB.
If there's a fraternity, a bond amongst columnists*, then nobody's tried to get me drunk and brand my ass yet. So either there isn't one, or they haven't invited me. And either way, that means there's nothing stopping me from taking shots at "Heloise", or whatever corporate cube-drone actually fills up her six column inches five days a week. Next to the horoscope people, Heloise has the cushiest job on the planet.
You all know Heloise. She's the one that gives helpful household hints, for sufficiently loose values of "helpful", "household", and "hints". She is, like many who've appeared in this space before her, the product of a simpler time. A time when there were only a few dozen different tools and gadgets, a handful of different foods to eat, and three kinds of soap. Yes, three. One for the skin, one for the dishes, and one for the clothes. Those three soaps, plus bleach, cleaned everything on the planet at one point.
Plus, if you needed something, you couldn't just pop over to Target and get it. There was a whole rigmarole involved, with parasols, and waving, and traveling into the big city, and whatnot. In times like those, Heloise was like a matronly Macgyver, repurposing mop handles and providing the chemical equations to turn leftover casserole and a nine-volt battery into a silver de-tarnisher. She was the Anarchist's Cookbook in a sun-dress, if you will.
But today, the Heloise empire is a mere shadow of its former self, the victim of the home products industry, where every single chemical that can remove every single stain known to man has been impregnated into its own little disposable cloth on a re-usable stick and stuck on the shelves of the nearest Wal-Mart. You think Macgyver would manufacture a three-ring binder out of stray planks and bits of ductwork if he were standing in the middle of OfficeMax? He would not.
So five days a week, Heloise's column is filled with three classes of "question". Class One is "Can you reprint Hint X?". This, assuming they have a decent record keeping system, is about five minutes worth of work. Class Two is: "I have this stupid and obvious hint that I would like you to convey to your readership!" Which takes no more than ten minutes to retype if it came in hardcopy, plus ten seconds to type some variant of "That sounds great!" after it.
Here are some examples of Class Two questions from this week alone, edited down to their essentials because these people write like they're filling out a patent form for "means of organizing small metal objects using a leftover egg carton".
  • "By having a paper shredder handy when I open my mail, I can easily shred my junk mail!"
  • "I keep spare makeup bottle caps because sometimes I break the caps on my makeup bottles!"
  • "A ladle is useful for scooping things!"
  • "Microwave ovens cook potatoes faster!"
  • "Make croutons by cutting bread into cubes!"
If you are stunned by these incredible household revelations, then go right out, buy a couple of Heloise's books, and hit yourself in the head with them until the hurting stops. Thanks.
And then there's Class Three. The Horrible Food Hints. Venture into these hints at your own peril, for here you will find tales of unspeakable horror.
Like the woman who, needing bread crumbs for her meatloaf, made the startling conclusion that croutons, being somewhat breadlike, could be transformed into bread crumbs by the application of force. Retarded, yes, but not too terrifying, until you read on and learned that she was anxious to try a different bread crumb substitute her friend suggested: PULVERIZED CHEETOS. The reanimated corpse of James Beard is tracking her down even as we speak, revenge in his unbeating heart.
And watch out, Rachael Ray! Another helpful Heloise writer has a spaghetti meal so fast, it'll be cooked, eaten, digested, and shat out in well under 30 minutes. And all you need is a jar of spaghetti sauce and a packet of RAMEN NOODLES. Just throw away the seasoning packet, boil up the noodles, pour on the sauce, and PRESTO, you've got a vitamin-free, all-fat meal that'll make you vomit in no time!
It's one thing to get paid for printing the obvious. But to take money for printing culinary atrocities? That's shameful, evil, and DUMB. Of course, Heloise -is- reportedly from Texas...
*See how this noun is not spelled "B-L-O-G-G-E-R"? There's a reason for that, you know.