Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid man sat slumped in an alleyway, a mix of his own brand of cherry-flavoured drink and vodka sloshed together inside him. Some of it he had vomited it up into a puddle between his splayed stubby legs.You could see the decayed brickwork behind him through his glass smudged with the filthy fingerprints of the all the winos who had drank from him in the alleyway, the same kind of brickwork that he could've easily smashed through in his younger days. But things hadn't been the same since the Jonestown thing, even though it was actually a different poisoned powdered fruit drink everyone drank but no, whenever there was talk of the massacre, people brought up his name. And then it became a catchphrase-"Don't drink the Kool-Aid." Regardless of the fact it was some  half-assed copycat offshoot called Flavor-Aid that did the dirty deed. Truth be told, some empty Kool-Aid packs were found on the compound grounds but it was torn Flavor-Aid envelopes that were scattered like confetti all over the place.
He remembered sitting in front of a Senate House committee, beads of perspiration running down his rotund glass body as they pestered him with questions about the Jonestown tragedy.
"Why, Mr. Kool-Aid, knowing your propensity for breaking through walls, both brick and wood when protecting people from the evil Thirsties, didn't you do anything about the Reverend Jim Jones as he was poisoning his poor followers with the spiked juice from your body?" asked a Senator from Wyoming.
"Mr. Senator," Kool-Aid had coolly answered, although the ice cubes in his body rattled with his unease. "I was traveling overseas at the time doing some promotional work with our European trade partners before continuing on to introduce Kool-Aid to some Third World countries and help those poor, underprivileged children enjoy a nice fruit-flavoured beverage for just pennies a day, when I heard the news. Needless to say, if I had been on this side of the Atlantic at the time I would have hopped right on down to Guyana, broken down the compound walls and whooped Jim Jones' Commie ass."
"Mr. Jones was not a communist but he certainly was a demagogue," corrected the Senator from Nebraska.
"Mr. Senator," Kool-Aid replied. "It behooves me to disagree with someone from my home state-us corn huskers need to stick together after all-but as far as I'm concerned that Jim Jones had some very socialist leanings and anyone who could do what he did was obviously no God-fearing man. Communist more likely using Jesus and his teachings as a cover for his nefarious atheist practices and sexual perversions that would make even the Marquis de Sade blush like an innocent altar boy. Where were our South American allies when all this was taking place and, if I might reiterate to the esteemed members of the committee, where was the Kool-Aid Man hotline that I proposed two years earlier that would summon me at a moment's notice to any fruit-flavoured beverage themed disaster that might threaten the good citizens of our country or citizens of any other Kool-Aid drinking country for that matter?"
This brought some "here here's" from a few of the Senate House committee members but it was too little too late. Jonestown had sealed Kool-Aid Man's fate. Even that Tom Wolfe twit with his Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test book proved to be only a minor setback to Kool-Aid Man's career ten years earlier, though it did take some advertising tap-dancing to separate the book from the brand name but spiking Kool-Aid with LSD instead of cyanide made Tom Wolfe and Ken Kesey look like saints compared to Jim Jones. And truth be told, Kool-Aid Man did do a little experimenting with the hallucinogenic himself, resulting in a few commercials he wrote and insisted on directing and which he'd just as soon forget. He still felt bad that The Monkees didn't know he'd spiked their drinks on the set of three of their commercial shoots.
The final blow came a year after Jonestown. Kool-Aid Man was relaxing in his five-bedroom 10,000 square foot penthouse apartment on Park Avenue playing some Atari Super Pong when the call came in.
"Oh Yeah," Kool-Aid Man answered with his signature trademark phrase.
"Oh no is more like it," answered the voice at the other end. It was his agent, Hal Strombowski and the news wasn't good. "The board of directors wants to see you and I got a bad feeling about this."
"Don't worry about it, Hal, they probably just want me to do some more promotional work. You know, kissing babies, rollerskating, throwing Frisbees, giving good-looking moms a squeeze and breaking down fences and shit. If I say yes let's make sure they cut us a nice big fat royalty cheque."   
But in the boardroom it was business of a different matter.
"Look, Kool-Aid Man," the CEO said. "I respect you too much to pussyfoot around the matter so I'm going to give it to you straight. This Jonestown thing was a massacre on all ends and we're bleeding money like a shotgun victim. We need to revamp our image in the marketplace and, well, we have a replacement for you, a new kid on the block so to speak demonstrating a more youthful and stronger personality to represent our brand name."
"Wait, gentlemen, let's not be so hasty. I've made you a goddamn lot of money. And I've been working out, hitting the gym, I could knock down the Berlin Wall with one hit of my fist. Let's not jump the gun here and besides, people always say I look young for my age."
"Yeah, well, this new kid looks even younger and he can bench press 350. Plus he doesn't have the aura of the Jonestown Massacre hanging over his head. How are you going to argue with that? If you were in my shoes you'd do the same."
"What's this prick look like?"
The CEO showed him a picture and Kool-Aid Man said, "But he looks just like me."
"Well, technically yes but he's in better shape and he's wearing pants, something we could never convince you to do."
'Hey, they're binding. Can't break down walls or fences or ceilings if your legs are all constricted."
But as much as he pleaded his case the decision had been made.
"But it was Flavor-Aid, Flavor-Aid," he kept screaming as security dragged him from the building.
And then, in the blink of an eye, it was all gone. The penthouse apartment, the adoring fans, the money, the traveling to far-off and exotic destinations, the five-star dining, all out the window before the ice had time to melt in his belly.
These days it was just endless alleyways that he called home or the odd stint in a detox centre or some flophouse on skid row. His only fans were the winos who scoured the streets to find him and drink from his vodka-laced Kool-Aid-filled body, that is when he could scrounge up enough change to buy a fifth or a mickey to dump into it. The only legacy left over from his years as the Kool-Aid spokesman was all the Kool-Aid he could drink for free for the rest of his measly life.
Occasionally someone would spot him lying in an alley or slumped on a park bench and yell, "Hey, don't drink the Kool-Aid," as some kind of sinister joke.  
All he could do was show a bitter smile and give his vodka or gin-soaked innards a slosh and mumble, "Hey, it's the only thing keeping me alive right now."


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cap'n Crunch

"Stubing. Captain goddamn Stubing!" Cap'n Crunch cursed that name. It was Stubing who got him into this situation in the first place. Once, he had sailed the seven seas battling evildoers like pirate Jean LaFoot and Neck-Goiter Pete and now he was steering this crappy Love Boat cruise ship full of horny singles and divorcees hopped up on Viagra and pain killers from the most recent plastic surgery. Some of the older guys looked to be two beats away from a heart attack on the shuffleboard court and the ladies, especially on the Cougar Cruise, looked like their bony ankles would give way under the weight of all the gold jewellery they were wearing. Not to mention their penchant for yoga pants made it seem as if they were going to pop the silicone sacs in their breast implants from the pressure applied to their nether regions. It was rutting season on the high seas and Cap'n Crunch peered off the bridge into the tequila upchuck sunset washing over yet another souvenir-spattered port-of-call looming off the bow, the natives restless for American dollars as he tried to imagine his life before all of this horribleness went down.
With his loyal and trusty crew of runts and brats that he bought from a white slave trader on the Black Sea, saving them from a life of child labour mining ore in the Ural Mountains, Cap'n Crunch trained them in all the necessary skills of the entertainment industry, preparing them for a life of singing and dancing and trading quips in the face of terrible cartoon adversity (the worst kind since this medium knows no boundaries in the multitude and relentlessness of punishments it can mete out upon the unsuspecting and innocent body), and successfully selling his delicious sugary cereal to households across North America. And they were rewarded generously. Children practically drooled at the TV screen on Saturday mornings as Crunch and his crew, in their adventurous commercials, won over the pickiest eaters and most villainous cheaters with his never-soggy-in-milk crunchy recipe. But that was then and this is now, which is how Cap'n Horatio Magellan Crunch came to be a Captain Stubing lackey, or for want of a better word, a wannabee.
Well, actually, he didn't want to be anything except captain of his own ship again but he needed the money. There had been talk in the Quaker Oats boardroom about Cap'n Crunch's fate. Investors and the board of directors were worried. Kids were eating healthier these days, or at least their parents were concerned about the stuff they shoveled down their throats and it seemed sugary cereals were going the way of the swashbuckling pirate. Not completely but revenues were down and the Cap'n, his royalties cut almost in half, had fallen on hard times. He couldn't even afford to pay his crew anymore and sold them as child labour to a Malaysian factory owner who made oven mitts and penis enlargers, both on the same machinery amazingly. Such is technology these days. 
And then there was the Crunchberries fiasco where the Crunch Berry Beast mascot was arrested for drunk driving, illegal possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) and an unregistered handgun during a Superbowl weekend in Miami. Unfortunately the Cap'n had been in the car with him, asleep in the back seat after a long day of commercial shoots and that little episode had almost ended both their careers. And cost him a lot of moolah to boot.
So, here he was now, standing on the bridge of a ship that could pretty much run itself. He was about as useful as an albino at a sun tanning salon and they even took his Napoleon hat away, the cruise line insisting on him wearing a proper captain's hat. And where was Stubing now, he wondered. Off on some Tahitian island counting his coconuts and shtupping some native chick. Still, he shouldn't complain. If it wasn't for Stubing putting a good word in for him with the cruise ship, he would be piloting a dinghy right now, ferrying people between fishing docks for two bucks a pop. He was woken from his depressing reverie by his first officer who said, "We're getting close, sir. Shouldn't you make the announcement."
Cap'n Crunch sighed and reached for the microphone to the ship's intercom.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. If you look off the starboard bow you will see we're nearing Cabo San Lucas. We will be docking in about twenty minutes. All those going ashore be aware that the ship will be in port for two hours. Please make sure you return to the ship at least fifteen minutes prior to departure. Also note that those shopping for souvenirs should try Cabo Wabo Willie's Emporium where cruise ship passengers receive a 20% discount on all merchandise. Just show your cruise ship billet and tell them Cap'n Crunch sent you. Thanks and have a wonderful time." After he clicked off the mike Cap'n Crunch turned to his first officer. "You take the bridge, Dierhorf, I'm going to my cabin."
"Aye aye, captain," Dierhorf replied. It wouldn't be long, Dierhorf imagined, before Crunch keeled over from a stroke or heart attack or aneurysm and Dierhorf would become captain. Maybe he should start poisoning Crunch's food and hasten the process. Nobody would miss him, that's for sure. All the officers laughed at him behind his back and he was depressing the passengers. And his mustache hairs were always stuck to the ship's control levers.
In his cabin Cap'n Crunch bent down to pat his mangy mutt. At least the cruise line company had let him keep his dog, as long as it didn't roam the ship. He adjusted the dog's little sailor hat on its bony head, rearranging the elastic that ran under its chin. The dog looked up at him with rheumy eyes, its forlorn expression a sympathetic sign of days gone by when together they sailed the ocean waves, were lashed to masts by pirates or made to walk the plank into the deep, dark sea but how in the end they always won over friend and foe alike with their delicious crunchy cereal treat.
"Never soggy in milk, never soggy in milk, never soggy in milk," Cap'n Crunch repeated over and over again like a soothing mantra, laying on his bed and he soon drifted off into a deep, dream-filled sleep where the clashing of sabres and the crunch of cereal between milk-coated teeth brought him an untold joy that his waking life would never ever know again.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Jolly Green Giant

Ironically, the Jolly Green Giant was neither jolly, green or even big. In fact he was sad, jaundice-yellow and rather puny. Born into abject poverty, life was tough in the Valley for his parents, Fred and Gerta Untsmeyer, local farmers who watched crop after crop fail due to the fact the American government had allowed the military to use the Valley as a nuclear testing site. Their green beans came up stunted and covered in hair, the corn grew actual human ears and all their chickens suddenly began speaking Hungarian. Which in itself wasn't a bad thing because they gave Gerta a very nice chicken paprikash recipe but they unnerved the neighbours with their foreign tongue since, at that time in the Valley, anyone with an Easter European accent was considered a Communist. From the beginning the Jolly Green Giant was sickly and for the record, his original name was Mandrake Bilboa II but everyone called him Blinky because he blinked incessantly from all the radiation sores on his eyelids. The other Valley children taunted him with this little song sung to the tune of Black Plague and Onions:
"Blinky, Blinky, he's really stinky
And he's also very dinky
And you can beat him up with your pinky
Or even your little winkie,
He's a blinky, stinky, weak-as-a-pinky radiation-sore covered kind of kid."

Well, it goes without saying that this produced in poor little Mandrake Bilboa II a terrible inferiority complex, making him the butt of every schoolyard joke and getting him picked on by every bully west of the Euphrates but ripe for the picking for scientific experimentation. Which is when the American government stepped in. Because with the ingestion of so much of his family farm's radioactive vegetables altering his genetic structure in ways only dreamed of by aging scientists who may or may not have at one time worked for the Nazis and had spent much too much time with monkeys in their laboratories to the point where some of them had married their lab subjects (throwing some very lavish weddings too with $25 a plate bananas and roast beef entrees), Mandrake was a prime candidate for a top secret military project called "Operation Giant Vegetable Man."

General Edwin Mollschnauzen remembers: "We took this poor kid who really hadn't much longer to live, and turned him into a mean green giant killing machine or at least that's what were hoping for. Unfortunately the experiment didn't produce all the results we had anticipated from our extensive research and DNA recoding extrapolation graphs and charts and well, we were stuck with this giant green guy with a  heart of corn niblet gold and the soul of a saint. Well, that is after he crushed some of his classmates who had taunted him previously. Anyway, I've got to say the kid was keen even when we shot him up full of Brussels sprout juice and gave him the musculature of a legume. Since we took him away from his parents we needed to simulate the nurturing experience so, remember those experimental monkeys removed from their mothers and given a wire mesh surrogate covered in old bits of broadloom, well, we gave the kid an enormous green bean to cuddle and nestle with and well, we even succeeded in growing breasts on the green bean so that he was able to suckle on his bean mother and drink of her life-giving nutrients and form a bond that we hoped would accelerate the vegetative growth process. I mean that's how focused and determined we were with this project. The idea was that as a giant vegetable guy he would blend in with the shrubbery and trees and other green stuff, thus fooling the enemy that he was really part of the scenery and then, when they were thoroughly convinced that everything was safe he would step out of the forest or bushes or vegetable garden that he was crouching down in and squish the enemy troops with his enormous feet or pick them up and pull their heads off with fingers bigger than all the combined sales of Boxcar Willie's Greatest K-Tel Hits. Unfortunately it didn't work out so we sold him as a mascot to a vegetable canning company in the Valley and the rest is history."

The Green Giant took to his new role as a vegetable company mascot and working with the renowned voice coach, Mildred Filcher, known for her work with both Hollywood actors and famous singers like Ernest Borgnine, Phyllis Diller and Jim Nabors, he perfected his trademark Ho, Ho, Ho with a deep, booming baritone that was said to shake the pea shoots right off the vine. Ironically, many of those classmates (at least the ones that he didn't initially crush when he became a giant), over the years, due to radiation poisoning, became the very things they once made fun of Mandrake for being. They now have their own mutant municipality in the Valley as they're too hideous to look at and so had to be removed from the rest of Valley society. Also they like to eat dog innards and blowfly larvae and nobody really wants to see that.

Now in semi-retirement, the Green Giant spends his days tending his radioactive garden and raising three-headed chickens for fun and profit. An amateur gourmet cook, he can often be found in his kitchen working on one of his special pork rind recipes or mixing up one of his famous bark mulch smoothies. From the abandoned missile silo he calls home you can often hear the music from his rare and extensive collection of nose gourd flute players of the Outer Hebrides wafting out across the Valley. Although old age has made him a little limp and stringy, he's still a giant of the people and likes to take walks through neighbouring villages, sharing a joke or flattening someone's house accidentally now that his eyesight is failing him. His Ho, Ho, Ho may sound a little weak and raspy these days and he often needs the Little Sprout's help to wipe his bum after going to the bathroom but without him vegetables would just be something we rub on our rashes or use to insulate our houses instead of something to be enjoyed down through the ages.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Pillsbury Dough Boy

"Poke me one more fuckin' time and I'll waste you, kid."
"Jesus. Okay, cut. Hey, kid, take a break. Go over to the food table there and grab some snacks. I'm just going to have little talk with the Doughboy here." The director got up from his chair, eyes bleary from the 54th take and his body trembling with the caffeine shakes.
The boy is led away crying by his mother on set. 
"What did he mean he was going to waste me, Mommy?"
"Oh, don't pay him any mind, Billy. That's just the Doughboy trying to be funny. You know those dough people, they just have a different sense of humour is all."
The director walks over, crouches down to get on the Doughboy's level, just like he learned to do with children and gives him a big smile.
"Talk to me, Doughboy. What's the problem. Whatever you need, I'll take care of it."
"Stand up you piece of shit. I hate it when a man grovels. Do it again and I'll have you directing porn flicks out in the Valley. And did I say anything's the matter?"
"No, no," the director said, rising quickly from his haunches. "It's just I think you're unhappy with the kid and I just, I don't want any more parents getting all lawyered up just because you threatened to waste a kid on set."
"Is this about that last commercial we shot. Because that kid deserved it. I'm mean, come on, that kid didn't poke me, she almost squeezed the prostate right outta my ass."
"Hey, you'll get no complaint from me. I'm on your side, remember? That kid was a brat, it's just that did you have to grab her mother's tits. The fact that her husband's an attorney and he happened to be on set that day, shit we barely got out of that one alive. And the Pillsbury guys, well, they took a beating on that one. Good thing it got settled out of court before the papers got wind of it."
"Hey, the kid was squeezing me, I grabbed on to the first thing I could see to try and pull myself to safety. That it was the kid's mother's tits, well, that's just too bad for everybody, except me maybe because I got a good feel but I'll tell you, I don't think they were real. These showbiz moms are all the same. Kid makes the parents a boatload of money, bingo, it's a boob job for mommy and daddy gets a new Lexus."
"Jeez, keep it down, will you. They can hear you over there at the snack table."
"Who gives a shit. They think they can do better, let'em go work with that Green Giant prick or his sprout sidekick. Kid can eat slimy vegetables all day instead of cinnamon buns. You hear that, kid," the Pillsbury Doughboy yelled over at the snack table. "Go ahead and eat slimy vegetables for all I care."
"Christ, keep it down. What th'fuck's wrong with you? Did you take your meds today? 'Cause this isn't the Doughboy I know and love."
But Doughboy wasn't paying attention. Instead he was eying the kid's mother who was midway leaning over the snack table when he had started yelling.
"Lady," Doughboy continued. "Why don't'cha shove another five or six of those toaster strudels down your gullet. Otherwise how else we gonna find your bony ass in those baggy track pants."
"Doughboy," the director yelled. "Enough. We gotta talk."
"You wanna talk? So talk. I'm listening. Better yet, why don't you listen for a change. Number one, I'm sick of working with these kids. I'll work with their moms no problem but these kids, they think I'm some kind of plushy. Remember that kid who shoved me down his pants, rubbed me all over his goddamn weenie before you called security, I mean, c'mon Tony, work with me here. The shit I gotta take, I just can't take it no more. Give me a fat mom with a mustache any day. She can poke me all she wants but these kids, I'm telling you they're nothing but trouble. They're not respecting the Doughboy here and I've got the bruises to prove it."
"Listen, Doughboy, I know what you're saying. But can't we just get through these few final takes, no trouble and then, I swear on my mother's grave, we're gonna fix everything, get it all straight. No more kids, just moms and, hey, how do you feel about monkeys?"
"Long as they're wearing diapers I don't see any problems."
"Okay, that's great. By the way, your agent called."
"Mickey called? Okay, gimme a second here, I gotta call him back, get me and the shyster on the same page."
The Pillsbury Doughboy pulled out his tiny cell phone and gave his agent a call, drumming his little fat fingers on a photo-shoot shellacked croissant while he waited for Mickey to pick up.
"Hey, Dough-baby, what's happening. How's the commercial going?" Mickey sounded like he was talking through a toilet paper tube.
"That's what I wanna talk to you about. Listen Mickey, we've been together now, how long? Fifteen, twenty years or so."
"Through thick and thin my friend, through thick and thin."
"Exactly and it's looking a little too thin for me at this point in my career."
"Thin? You gotta be kidding. You're the goddamn Pillsbury Doughboy for christ's sake. And who put you there? Eh? Me, that's who. You're more recognizable than Coca-Cola. Or Oprah Winfrey. Or Tom Cruise. I parachute you down into the middle of the Amazon jungle, bunch of headhunters find you, they'd be all, "Holy shit, it's the Pillsbury Doughboy, don't cut his head off, he's our numero uno amigo." Families everywhere are counting on you. You're bigger than Jesus. Even in the middle of the Amazon somebody's baking Pillsbury Crescent Rolls at this minute. Thanks to you my friend, thanks to you. So what are we talking about here, Doughbaby, what's bugging you because if anyone's got the antidote, Mickey does."
"That's exactly it, Mickey," the Pillsbury Doughboy said. "If I'd got bitten by a rattlesnake and you were the antidote, I'd be dead. I can't take any more of this Pillsbury shit, kids poking me in the ribs and me giggling like a little schoolgirl who just farted during the Lord's Prayer at Catholic school. Remember when you got me that part in Ghostbusters. Well, I wanna do more of that. I wanna be on the big screen, not some little fat doughboy on TV. I wanna do maybe a Mission Impossible movie, one of those Bourne Supremacy things, fuck get me a part on Star Trek, I'd be good in outer space. I'm sick of getting poked in the stomach fifty fuckin' times a day."
"Okay, okay, calm down. Now you know, technically, that wasn't you in Ghostbusters. That was just some CGI shit and they just paid us money to have the rights to use your image for the movie. And as I remember you blew it all on hookers and coke. And remember when they invited you to the set and you showed up drunk and got into that fight with Bill Murray. So, you're a tough sell these days, what with all the insurance and your instability we're lucky we still have Pillsbury so let's finish this job and then I'll pull some strings, see what I can do. Maybe get you on to one of those reality shows. Are we copacetic here or what?"
"Okay, sounds good. Reality show, eh? Hey, maybe you can get me on one where all these hot broads wanna marry me. You know, I'm in a Jacuzzi, they're all surrounding me, rubbing themselves up against my dough-soft body."
"You got it, kiddo. Now go finish that commercial."
The Pillsbury Doughboy waddled back on to the set. "Hey, Tony, get the kid over here, let's finish this thing. One take and then we're done. The Doughboy's back in business again."
"Baby," the director said, motioning the mother and the kid back in front of the camera. "You never left."
"Oh, and warm me up one of those crescent rolls. I wanna fuck it after the shoot."
With the lights on and the camera rolling Doughboy suddenly transformed, immersing himself in the role, reaching deep within his doughy body to find the cute, little doughboy hidden inside who nevertheless had a troubled upbringing. He brought everything he could to the scene and after he'd tap-danced on a croissant, been poked in the stomach and shared a laugh with the kid there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
"That was beautiful, just beautiful," the kid's mother said, wiping a tear from her eye.
"I know, I know" the Pillsbury Doughboy said. "Now get outta my way, I've gotta crescent roll to screw."

Friday, 18 October 2013

Skippy the Peanut Butter Squirrel

It all began with that incident in the park. It was a moment Skippy the Squirrel would never forget and was perhaps, the turning point in his life that helped him become the successful rodent that he is today. The fact that a homeless man, a man who could barely do up his own urine-stained pants, grabbed Skippy while he was just a young, carefree squirrel romping amongst the leaves and grass, held him tightly behind the head, pried open his mouth and then proceeded to use Skippy's two front teeth to open a can of beans, was both a humiliating experience and a wake-up call to a life that was awaiting him if he didn't wise up quickly to the foibles and follies of the human race. In interviews years later, Skippy credits this experience with his slow rise to fame (agonizingly slow because we're talking about a squirrel who could scale a mighty elm in seconds flat and when Skippy did things, he did them fast and still does to this day except maybe for peeing and bowel movements due to an enlarged prostate and constant constipation because of old age) and his vow to never again let his teeth be used as a can opener, by either the homeless or a suburban housewife. And if he had to conquer the world of peanut butter and become a beloved mascot to achieve that, then so be it, that's what he would do. And do it he did until his name was on the lips of millions of salivating children craving peanut butter, whether in school, at home, in the woods or stuck in a sewer pipe somewhere. Now Skippy was born with two abnormally large incisors, even for a squirrel, but rather than being ashamed of them he decided to make them work in his favour. Once he became the major spokes-squirrel for Skippy Peanut Butter, there wasn't a kid on the block who didn't want two, giant front teeth, which the Skippy corporation was quick to capitalize on, giving away fake plastic squirrel teeth if you sent in five Skippy labels and for a while those rodent buckteeth were bigger than hula hoops and Davey Crockett coonskin caps put together. There wasn't a dentist in North America who didn't hear on a daily basis some kid asking if the dentist could make him two big teeth like Skippy's. But the truth of the matter was, Skippy was not the original choice for a brand mascot and rejection rather than reward was the mainstay and misery of his life. He knocked around from job to job, sometimes unemployed for months at a stretch, living on park benches and eating scraps out of garbage bins, raiding other squirrels' hidden nut stashes when he could find them. It was a paw to mouth existence when one day, while trying to tip the few remaining drops from a fifth of gin he found discarded in some bushes, Skippy had an epiphany while gazing up at a billboard advertising peanut butter. It was Skippy brand and his name was Skippy and it didn't take a rocket scientist to put two and two together and realize this was his meal ticket off of the mean streets, trees and park pathways of New York city. Skippy scampered right down to Madison Avenue, found the top advertising company and flying past the secretary without even an appointment got some of the big shot ad execs to hear him out. Amazed by this little rodent's tenacity, the ad execs called up the Skippy corporation and promised to triple their sales in six months if they would follow their advertising lead, the cornerstone of which rested on a brand mascot. The Skippy people were at first hesitant, the company having been named after the owner, Marcel Dimpler's mentally-ill brother who was confined to an insane asylum (this was the 50's) and so no image have ever adorned their labeling. They had bantered around ideas for a mascot and the Skippy board of directors were leaning heavily towards an elephant. But when Skippy the Squirrel captivated them with his presentation a squirrel star was born along with a Skippy surge on the stock market. Here's just some of Skippy's speech to the president and marketing team of the Skippy corporation with video footage below to illustrate Skippy the Squirrel's groundbreaking, nut-cracking ideas.

"Now listen, those early ads you guys got, they're way too cerebral, too conceptual. They're okay if you're selling peanut butter to bohemians or Greenwich Village artistes but you guys need to capture the middle America marketplace. I'm talking Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, all those places where people love peanut butter but nobody's talking to them. Now you guys were kind of doing okay with that Annette Funicello broad, I mean she was okay with a nice set of knockers but in a motherly way but really, without the mouse ears she was just so much chopped liver. As for that last 80's rock piece of trash, forget it. Leave the Spandex pants to Mr. Peanut and his crew, you guys are better than that. What you need is me. A frisky and frolicsome little squirrel dressed in a colourful sweater because everybody's gonna love that image. You can't go wrong. It's money in the bank, money in your pocket and I swear if you don't see results in 30 days I'll forgo my salary and go back and live in a diseased elm tree."

Well the rest, as they say, is history and these days Skippy even has his own float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is one of the greatest honours you can bestow upon a squirrel. Living now in a luxurious Upper East Side penthouse apartment where he counts Donald Trump and Justin Bieber as neighbours, Skippy hasn't forgotten his roots, knowing what it's like not to have all your nuts handed to you on a silver platter and so can still be seen occasionally strolling through Central Park, stopping to sign autographs for humans and squirrels alike and dispensing rodent advice when he meets young, at risk squirrels climbing up the tree of trouble.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Mr. Peanut

As far as peanuts go, this nut stood out like a sore thumb from day one. The product of a mixed marriage (and I'm not talking mixed nuts), his mother was a peanut and his father was the fourth Earl of Dundarave, presiding over a vast estate. Hence formal dress was de rigueur in the household and you were only allowed to remove your monocle for bathing or peering through the keyhole while the Earl had his way with his peanut wife or one of the estate sheep. Incidentally, these encounters produced some of the finest mutton in all of Britain as the strenuous lovemaking (the Earl was a hearty man and a strong proponent of interbreeding among the various species), psychologically aged the sheep considerably there forthwith creating an older, more experienced meat come slaughter time whose flavour was praised by town criers who were only too happy to have the job since syphilis had made them pretty much unemployable due to sores and seepage and their garrulous natures. Educated at Oxford, Mr. Peanut garnered glowing accolades from his professors but an academic life was not in the cards for this spat-wearing legume. Instead he joined the British Secret Service where he befriended Ian Fleming and was rumoured to be the inspiration for Fleming's great creation, James Bond, 007. If you look closely there are many similarities to substantiate these rumours. Mr. Peanut and James Bond are both snappy dressers, they both like champagne and they're both tough nuts to crack, even under threat of torture. And they both have a way with the ladies. For a time Mr. Peanut was the paramour of Baroness Gerta of Bavaria until her husband, Baron Gunther von Heffel found them out and Mr. Peanut was forced to flee to the United States after the Baron chased him with a hammer. It was here in the great land of opportunity that Mr. Peanut had his second coming, much like Jesus Christ but with a top hat instead of a crown of thorns plus he was a much better dancer. Hooking up with the Planters Peanut company he became the highest paid spokesperson for a brand name and it wasn't long before he was cutting Hollywood deals for big money, hobnobbing with stars like Jimmy Durante, Don Knotts and Mr. Ed and hosting his own variety show called The Peanut Gallery.
His house high in the Hollywood Hills became a revolving door for some of the sexiest starlets of the day and the question on everyone's lips was, where exactly were his reproductive organs since he wore very tight pants and there was no bulge showing. Was the equipment tucked away inside his shell or was he was a eunuch, which would account for his angelic singing voice. But judging from the parade of glamorous ladies seen leaving or arriving at his house at all hours of the day and night, there was some kind of working apparatus as evidenced by the look of satisfaction on their faces and the fact their pantyhose were always missing when they left his mansion. His first foray into the film industry was when he made a silent movie for Planter's Peanuts, directed by Charlie Chaplin and even though "talkies" had already hit the silver screen, Mr. Peanut insisted on a silent movie to capture the full range of emotions of a well-dressed peanut in the big city (the film is embedded below but if the embedding doesn't work just click on the You Tube link because this is a riveting film not to be missed). The years passed by but Mr. Peanut never slowed down or showed his age, singing and dancing his way into the hearts and minds of people everywhere and Fred Astaire once said of him, "The only competition I get in this hoofing biz is from that crazy cat, Mr. Peanut and I think he looks even better than me in a top hat." But Mr. Peanut wasn't all just song and dance. From his academic training and years at Oxford Mr. Peanut had an acute scientific curiosity and he became a good friend of George Washington Carver, the two of them spending long hours in Mr. Carver's laboratory coming up with intriguing peanut recipes and industrial uses for this lowly legume. These days Mr. Peanut has retired to his family estate back in Dundarave where arthritis and some shell-cracking has slowed him down considerably. Never married and with no peanut children to call his own, Mr. Peanut has stated that he's just happy he could leave his indelible mark on the peanut industry as well as creating a history and legacy of success that perhaps future generations of peanuts can dream of achieving.  


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Chef Boyardee

That Chef Boyardee is a great guy. Not like that chef I once worked for who called me Jewboy and when I was late for work would yell out to me in the kitchen, "I get up early like a good German officer. What's wrong with you, Jewboy?" Last I heard he was serving up slop in a casino buffet line somewhere in Sudbury and pleasuring himself on the sneeze guards while refilling the salad bar. Chef Boyardee would never say anything like that even though in his early days in Italy he may have cooked for Mussolini a few times. But you can't hold that against him since those were probably tough times and to say no to Il Duce, like for example, "I'm sorry Il Duce but I cannot possibly cook for you any spaghetti and meatballs today after what you did in Albania," would certainly get you a fry pan across the face. A chef had to be more careful in those days but through sheer perseverance Chef Boyardee mastered the pasta arts and with a twinkle in his eye and sauce encrusted in his mustache he landed on North American shores ready to make his mark. In a strange twist of fate after setting up his spaghetti factory in Cleveland he was called upon to produce canned rations of his famous meatballs, pasta and sauce for American servicemen fighting Hitler's armies overseas and winning him the affectionate nickname, "Chef-Boy-Have-I-Ever-Got-Diarrhea." But it wasn't only diarrhea that his good food provided. It was also said to give both strength, nutrition and endurance to all who consumed it in the great nations of the Americas including the Arctic Circle where it soon outweighed seal meat as the staple food of Sunday brunch and Wednesday Seal Taco Night. And to this day as people sit on toilets everywhere humming the Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee theme (see second video below) and pooping nutritious ravioli debris we have one man to thank. Even in his old age, his palsied hand barely able to lay the dollops of savory reconstituted meat into the little ravioli dough wrappings, it never stopped him from bringing joy to people's stomachs everywhere and with his innovative Beefaroni creation his pantheon of pasta was complete. You can do more than just whistle Dixie with those Beefaroni noodles. They can also be used as breathing tubes in case you need to hide underwater in a pond while being chased by Nazis, something Chef Boyardee knew only too well. Where is the Chef these days? Well, unfortunately he's dead and turned to just so much Beefaroni beneath the earth but his legacy lives on, not just on can labels but in the form of his son, Chef Boyardee III who, although living in a trailer park and with numerous restraining orders against him, has finally lost the house arrest ankle bracelet and is currently experimenting with some delicious methamphetamine meatball recipes that are sure to be a hit with both kids and adults alike. Because as those in the Chef Boyardee family know, you can only rest on your laurels for so long before the food world passes you by if you don't keep up with the times. A mustache and a twinkle in your eye will only get you so far and if you're unable to grow a mustache and your twinkling eye is bloodshot or, worse, yet, been whapped with a baseball bat in a biker bar and people can't see the twinkle around the bruising and swollen skin tissue then innovation is the key, something the Chef ingrained in his progeny except for his daughter, Ludmilla who turned her back on the Boyardee name and instead opened a salamander breeding business that went belly-up when the salamander craze died out. But as the great Chef used to say, "Molto bella funghi il mio amico, molto bella funghi." Boy, he was such a great and funny guy and you couldn't pull the fungus over his eyes.