WASHINGTON, D.C. The Federal Reserve delayed release of its “Beige Book” this morning after Chair Janet Yellen asked for additional color choices for the cover of the central bank’s report on economic conditions.
“Did Alan Greenspan ever accesorize with an Hermes scarf? I don’t think so.”
“She’s leaning towards taupe, but she hasn’t ruled out ecru,” spokesman Errol Deal told reporters. “There’s also a shade called ‘Vanilla Bean’ that caught her eye, but the rest of the Board said they didn’t want people to think they were an ice cream parlor.”
The “Beige Book” is issued eight times a year and is based on anecdotal information from the eight regional Federal Reserve districts. Janet Yellen is the first woman to hold the position of Chair of the Board of Governors, and detractors pointed to her vacillation as confirmation of their belief that America wasn’t ready for a female in a position so critical to the national and world economies.
“Beige, tan, it doesn’t matter–just pick one, would you?”
“I’m not going to say I told you so, so I’ll just say I old-tay ou-yay o-say,” said Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a frequent critic of the Fed. “Maybe we could outsource her and just hire a decorator the way my wife did.”
Market watchers said indecision could wreak havoc on stock prices, which could bring calls for the Fed to step in to provide liquidity. “I’ve got the power of the purse, which I got for half-price at overstock.com,” Yellen said as she compared a swatch of “Desert Rose” to one of a shade called “Startled Fawn.” “The U.S. can’t run out of money as long as we have checks in America’s checkbook.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. District of Columbia Police had their hands full today as they removed demonstrators protesting a proposed oil pipeline from the White House only to see a crush of notary publics rush in to take their place.
“Can you hurry up? I’ve got a wedding that starts at 5:30.”
“Sign the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010, you fascist!” screamed Maury Chirette, a property insurance agent from Natick, Mass. who could formerly count on lucrative notary fees to supplement his income from commissions. “Why are you hiding behind the phony crisis in Ukraine?” shouted Marla Blozonoviska, a second-generation Freedonian immigrant who brought her 90-year-old mother to protest along with her because she couldn’t afford in-home elder care after losing the steady stream of $2 per signature statutory charges.
“Deeds, mortgages, installment sales contracts–two dollars a pop.”
Notary publics provided the President with the margin of victory in 2008 as Arizona Senator John McCain spent precious campaign resources appealing to justices of the peace, who by law are authorized to impose fees that are often fifty times what notaries receive for comparable services. “We saw McCain as the lapdog of the rich and high and mighty,” says Norbert Hostkins of Keokuk, Iowa. “Turns out Obama only wanted us for our votes.”
The President vetoed the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010 out of concern that the bill could lead to illegal foreclosures. “It’s absurd to think a notary would violate his oath for a lousy $2 acknowledgment fee,” said Vernon Lusgrave of Calumet, Indiana. “I personally won’t commit fraud for anything less than fifty dollars.”
The veto has brought notaries together in a way that is heartwarming to older members of the guild, who recall the cut-throat competition that drove fees down below the poverty line during the mortgage boom of the 80s. “Used to be we’d fight over everything,” says Howell Haskell of Lake Taneycomo, Mo. “We had fisticuffs break out at the 2004 convention over whether it was ‘notary publics’ or ‘notaries public.’” Asked which formulation he prefers, Haskell says “I’m not getting into that bowl of chili again.”
Police and protestors struck a tentative deal under which the notaries would be allowed to march at the White House as long as they kept moving and remained peaceful, but that left an opening some notaries said they could drive their seals through. “I read the fine print,” says Lusgrave. “It says nothing about stamping young ladies on the thigh with ‘My commission expires August 12, 2016.’”
PAMPA, Texas. Duane Dunham hasn’t had a day off in two weeks, but the twenty-two-year-old native of Hereford in Deaf Smith County isn’t complaining. “It’s great to be workin’ agin,” he says in his flat, uninflected drawl. “My pappy thought the good times were all gone, but I guess they’re back.”
Blue ribbon Nauga appears on Johnny Carson show in the 60s
Dunham comes from a long-line of “naugaboys,” trained horsemen who herd naugas across the Texas Panhandle to railheads where they are loaded on ventilated boxcars and shipped to the stockyards of Chicago. The family trade nearly died in the 80s after naugas were over-harvested to make covered sofas and chairs, but changing tastes among homeowners have allowed the nauga to thrive again.
“You got a turquoise maverick straying off over there.”
“It was sad there for awhile,” says Leland Embree of the University of North Texas Extension Service. “A way of life was dying, and I was afraid my kids would never see a nauga in the wild.”
Where that nauga ended up.
The nauga is a polyvinyl-skinned animal whose hide was used extensively in the production of home furnishings in the 60s and 70s. Once near extinction levels, the squat, horned monster that willingly sheds its skin to fill manufacturer’s orders is now so numerous that rural counties here say they make take herd-thinning measures to prevent the re-emergence of hot, squeaky couch surfaces in government buildings and public health facilities.
The Particles of White Naugahyde, a play about the once-endangered substance.
Along with its use by interior decorators, the nauga gave birth to a hard-bitten, tough-as-nails culture of the naugaboy, celebrated in story, song, and TV serials. “For awhile there every kid wanted to grow up to be a naugaboy,” says cultural historian Clifford Couillard. “Then they found out that chiropractors get to feel up girls for money, and they lost interest.”
Texas nauga farmers are protected from foreign competition by tariffs that keep prices on hides from Brazil too high for them to compete in domestic markets, a victory that is credited to the skills of Joe Don Wayne Gillig, the only registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C. with four names. “The nauga represents everything that’s great about America,” Gillig says to this reporter as he checks his Rolex watch for an appointment at the Department of Commerce. “It’s practical, it’s fake, and it’ll stick to a girl’s thighs in hot weather.”
An Oregon State University study indicates that xanthohumol, a substance found in hops, a principal ingredient of beer, inhibits a family of enzymes that can trigger prostate cancer.
It was getting late, around 10:30, and I was beginning to feel tired. I took a sip of Bud Light and, with what strength I had left, I raised the remote, pointed it at the television, and switched from the Celtics to a game in the NBA’s Western Conference, Clippers vs. Suns, and closed my eyes.
“Hey, there,” a voice called softly to me. It was my wife–my angel. “Are you coming to bed soon?” she asked, a troubled look on her face.
“I’m trying”–I halted to collect my thoughts–”to make it through three games. If I do that, I’ll be up to 80 ounces . . .”
“Don’t talk,” she said, and she pressed her finger to my lips. It was a good thing, because a belch rumbled up my alimentary canal and would have sprayed beer perfume in her face if she hadn’t.
“You are so brave–staying up late and sucking down 12-ounce brewskis!”
“Are you feeling any better?” she asked.
“Better than my last exam, when I showed absolutely no signs of prostate cancer?”
“Um-hmm . . .”
“Well, sure, yeah–although you can never let your guard down.”
“I know–I just–I worry about you.”
“Thanks.” We kissed and gazed into each other’s eyes. I felt as if I had my own personal Florence Nightingale.
“How long,” my wife began, as she watched the Clippers call a twenty-second time out that would last three minutes. “How long does the last five minutes of a basketball game take?”
“Usually about half an hour,” I said. “When you get ten guys together in one spot with an average height of 6′ 5″, it bends the space-time continuum.”
I grimaced in pain and grabbed my side.
“What’s the matter?” my wife asked.
“It’s those crappy natural almonds you bought at Whole Foods.”
“I wasn’t going to, but the store mime talked me into it.”
“You . . . you need to stick to Honey Roast peanuts.”
“Sometimes they’re out of them . . .”
“In that case, get Beer Nuts. It’s the generic drug equivalent.”
“I’ll check in the kitchen.” She scurried off to our pantry, and after a moment came back with some Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts.
“Thanks. This will tide me over until the morning.”
My wife looked down at me as if I were one of our kids suffering from the flu. “We’ll get through this,” she said, squeezing my hand tightly.
“With you by my side, and a cold frosty can of Ballantine Ale in my hand, anything is possible.”
Our friends can be a source of companionship and understanding to get us through tough times, but they can also be a major pain in the you-know-what when they don’t return your curling iron or hedge trimmer. Finding the right balance is why people turn to “With Friends Like These,” where you’ll always find a friend.
Dear With Friends Like These:
I got married six months ago to a guy I will call “Duane” because everybody else does–call him that, I mean, not marry him. Three months later we had a baby, which it’s easy to criticize me for, I know. Anyway, the only person I confided in was my friend Doreen, who was also pregnant at the time. I thought she could understand and that it would be our little “secret.”
My baby has turned out to be just adorable, even though it is not Duane’s–it’s another guy’s, his name is Ronnie. Ronnie skipped out on me, so I took what I could get, which was Duane.
Now I want to enter my baby in the Safeway Super Market “Beautiful Baby Contest” for a chance to win $100 worth of groceries. Some of them you can’t pick out yourself, like the 1 lb. package of Roseland Lard, but I can use that anyway. When I told Doreen she says she was gonna enter her baby in the contest, even though frankly speaking her little girl looks like the Good Lord made her ugly and hit her with a stick.
Doreen has made a thinly-veiled threat to expose me and my illegitimate child to the judges. I don’t think that’s what a friend would do in the circumstances and would be interested in your perspective.
Jean Louise Sulkins, Versailles, MO
Dear Jean Louise:
While I find it difficult to offer advice to someone who has made such a mess of her life, if I were you I would get a copy of the Official Rules to the contest and see if illegitimacy disqualifies you and your child. Under the Federal Sweepstakes and Mail-In Rebate Act of 2003, contest sponsors may not exclude entries based on sexual preference, and it appears that you prefer sex a lot.
Dear With Friends Like These Lady:
Last summer I was chosen to serve as Miss Holcomb Valley Sorghum Queen for the coming year, with my reign to extend through July of 2014. In a weak moment I asked last year’s queen, Tammy Lynn Eberle, to lend me the tiara that her mother bought her to wear for ceremonial occasions, and she said “If you’ll let me borrow your turquoise capri pants to wear the night of the modified stock car race, okay.” I said fine, even though I am a size six and Tammy Lynn will never fit into a size eight again unless she is stranded on a desert island that doesn’t have a Dairy Queen.
When I got my pants back they were stretched out like a circus tent and I want to know if I have any recourse against Tammy. P.S. her dad is a Ford dealer in town so money is no object.
Enid Geist, Paducah, Kentucky
There is an old saying–”Noblesse oblige”–which means that a member of royalty has certain obligations. One of those duties is kindness and mercy towards one’s subjects, even if they have bigger butts than you. You will no doubt put on a few pounds yourself during your term as you attend numerous ribbon-cuttings, Kiwanis fish fries and Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfasts. Let’s see what your figure looks like after a year of droit du seigneur.
Dear “Friends Like These”,
My husband Royal recently received a promotion at the poultry plant where he has been second shift supervisor for years. He is now assistant plant manager, and we are trying to move up in the world a bit by socializing with a somewhat ”nicer” crowd than before. We were thus excited to be invited by our local State Farm insurance agent to a backyard barbecue that included steaks or ribs, your choice. We were just glad not to have to eat chicken!
At the end of what was a perfectly wonderful meal our host and hostess pulled out two baseball caps and started passing them around saying it was “time to pay the piper.” I was so taken aback I didn’t know what to do, as my husband had left his wallet at home and all I had was a twenty. Well, I threw that in the hat but I noticed nobody else came up with anything bigger than a five.
Friends Like These, I think this was an underhanded way to lower your total grocery bill, and was wondering if you have ever heard of such a thing. If this is what we can expect from our new “upper-crust” friends, we might as well go back to potluck with the poultry processors.
(Mrs.) Dianne Morton, Hollywood, Florida
Dear Mrs. Morton:
I think you have made the mistake of judging your friends based on what they’re worth, which always leads to heartaches. You should understand that there is a certain “initiation period” before the nouveau riche are accepted into polite society–usually two to three generations. Why don’t you and Royal reciprocate with a barbecue of your own, and make it clear in the invitation that your neighbors are to bring nothing more expensive than a jello salad. That way people will know that you’re not cheap, unlike a certain high-falutin’ insurance man.
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”
I get so excited on Oscar night. It’s the one night of the year on which an undiluted fascination with glamour, glitz and glossolalia is tolerated in this Puritan country of ours.
Glossalalia: “Who are you possessed by tonight, dear?
What’s that–one of those things is not like the others? What are you–Sesame Street?
Oh, you thought I meant the Oscar Oscars. No, no, no, darling. I meant the Swamp Thing/Kung Fu-Pimping Oscars, the more exclusive motion picture awards show, held each year as a challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy in the movie business–all those shoot-em-ups and chick flicks. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” as Pauline Kael called it, quoting an Italian movie poster.
The Citizen Kane of Swamp Thing cinema.
No, I’m talking about the two neglected film genres that “the Academy”–I get reflux of bile whenever I say the words–refuses to acknowledge as part of the great tradition of American cinema; swamp thing (or more properly, “thang”) movies and Kung Fu-pimping movies.
I know, you’re probably shaking your head right now, saying “I don’t know what he’s talking about!” Funny, I have that effect on people–but it’s true. There are no more characteristically American movies than those that depict ghastly creatures emerging from Ozark swamps and Kung Fu-fighting pimps. Even as we speak some young French critic trying to make a name for himself is penning an article for Les Cahiers du Cinema finding in Kung Fu-pimping flicks virtues that benighted American film critics have overlooked. As Maurice Chevalier said of Gigi, they’ve either been standing up too close or back to far when it comes to these rich and fertile sub-genres.
Pardon my self-promotion, but I’m up for an award myself tonight; Best Supporting Actor in a Non-Dramatic Role in an Adaptation of a Swamp Thing Musical, in my case “Here Comes the Critter!” Variety called it “a light-hearted romp through a generation of swamp thing movie cliches that is redeemed only by lugubrious lighting and drop-dead gorgeous rubber swamp-thing costumes.”
To which I reply–”You say ‘cliche’ like it’s a bad thing!”
The loyal fans who make up the audiences for swamp thing movies across this great nation of ours live for the cliches. They know that the swamp thing is going to get the girl, even if he first meets her by thrusting his paw in the window of a double-wide mobile home. And when he’s wounded by animal control officers who call in reinforcements from the Sheriff’s Department, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and slinks back into the swamp he will–like General Douglas MacArthur–return. You see, swamp things never die, they just fade away to lick their wounds–and return for vengeance!
Rudy Ray Moore
Then there’s the “diversity” side of the outlaw cinema coin–Kung Fu pimping movies. These films depict a world that Academy voters are wholly ignorant of; all they know is movies of uplift, the cinema of Driving Miss Daisy. If you ask them who Rudy Ray Moore was, they ask “Was he the guy who valeted my Bentley?” That’s no way to talk about the guy who was the Orson Welles of Kung Fu Pimping Cinema, according to no less a source than The New York Times.
America needs an all-girl army of Kung-Fu Killers!
But first–we will honor Moore and his counterpart in the Swamp Thing genre, Charles B. Pierce. Was he the D.W. Griffith of le cinema du swamp thing? It is not to soon to declare him so.
And so the stars have come out tonight here in Hoxie, Arkansas, the Hollywood of these orphan genres. As always the program is way behind schedule as every swamp thing director, editor and key grip has to thank his mom, his dad who took him frog-gigging at an early age and introduced him to the lore of the swamp, his high school biology teacher who taught him how to dissect a frog, etc. etc. Let me say right now that if I win tonight I’ll be up there and off stage in under 10 minutes–tops!
A hush falls over the crowd as the Academy’s Director, Clell Durnell, a man who claims to have captured a swamp thing in his youth only to have it escape before he could exploit it for exhibition at goat-ropings and county fairs, takes the stage. He is going to present posthumous Lifetime Achievement Awards to Pierce and Moore, and a lot of us have a nagging sense of guilt that they were not honored while alive for lifetime achieving.
Frog gigging is great training for budding Swamp Thing Film Industry pros!
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” he says as the images of Pierce and Moore are projected on high school venereal disease instruction film screens behind him–we can’t afford the high-tech production equipment of the “other” Academy–”tonight we honor two giants of the industry, without whose efforts and vision, none of us would be here.”
The Kung Fu Pimping stars come out in Hoxie!
“Before Rudy Ray Moore, there was no Kung Fu Pimping cinema. Before Charles B. Pierce, if you asked an usher which theatre at the Framingham 14 Megaplex ‘Swamp Thing’s Revenge’ was showing in you would get nothing but a blank stare.” He pauses for a moment: “Of course, with the low wages theatre owners on the Swamp Thing/Kung Fu Pimping circuit pay, blank stares are fairly common.”
The audience cracks up, just as they no doubt are at the Oscars, but remember–our emcee isn’t Ellen Degeneres, he’s an amateur doing the best he can with material he writes himself.
There follows a retrospective of the two men’s careers, how Moore got started with a Bell & Howell camera, how Pierce financed his first flick–”Swamp Thing I!”–using nothing but his Fingerhut private label credit card. He thought about selling his wife into white slavery, but the couple decided against it “purely for health reaons,” Pierce told The American Scholar in 2003. Moore had no such compunctions; he was, after all, trying to jumpstart the Kung Fu-Pimping film business.
Some of the younger directors in the back begin to yawn and talk among themselves; all they know is what they learned in film school at UCLA or NYU. They have no appreciation for the difficulties Moore and Pierce faced just starting out. They didn’t have access to expensive student loans that would keep them buried in debt, slaving away as night shift editors in the bowels of some big studio until they were nearing retirement age.
I turn around to shush the gabby young Turks behind me, and they quiet down for a second as the emcee continues. “Swamp Thing represents everything that’s great about America,” he is saying. “An entrepreneurial spirit, a love of small house pets–as a source of food–and a willingness to epater le bourgeois that is so sadly lacking in films produced by the big studios.”
The audience allows themselves a collective pat on the back; we know we’re mad and bad. We don’t give a flying frog’s butt about PG ratings or Golden Globe nominations. We’re–out there and we don’t care!
Pierce’s widow makes her way to the stage to accept her late husband’s award, as do a crowd of women who were legal or common law wives or girlfriends of Moore, or just nodding nodding acquaintances. Unfortunately, there’s only room in the budget for one (1) award per awardee, and so a fight breaks out among Moore’s distaff followers.
“He didn’t love you like he loved me!” a woman named Charmayne screeches as she grabs at the little golden pimp statuette.
The extended Moore family gathers for Christmas.
“He didn’t love you, baby, he just screwed you,” another cracks as she pops her gum. “And it sounds like you was named after toilet paper.”
“Ladies, please, let’s settle this in a civilized fashion,” the emcee says.
“Like how?” a scantily-clad woman asks.
“Like the government does,” the emcee replies.
“There’s enough of you to hold a state-wide lottery.”