Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Porter and Gigo

Nope, I’m not writing about a puppet show.

    It’s about time to get serious about becoming one of America’s great writers, right along side of Simon Perot and Casey Bowers. The only things holding me back, as far as I can see, are a little better PR campaign and submitting something for publication. In way of an early new year resolution, I am beginning to start the commencement of doing something to make a possible move in that direction, at least as far as the PR is concerned.

    The key is doing it in an economically conservative (cheap) manner since I don’t want to invest any more on the project than the result is likely to be worth. To proceed with a bolder effort would be folly and economically unwise and a real bad idea. I’ve had enough with bad ideas, especially in my recent experience.

     Could I do better than adopting a couple miles or so of highway to keep the litter cleaned up? There would be signs, perhaps every couple hundred feet or so, reading something like “This is section of Maine highway 231 maintained by Porter Starr Byrd – Author”. Something like that would make me famous in eastern Massachusetts and points south. Could there be a better start? It could easily add to my advertising campaign funding, a nickel or so at a time, and contribute to my collection of possibly valuable someday ‘stuff’ too.

     While the deal with the milk carton people is not progressing well (They seem to work with the missing, rather than the unknown), I still have hope that I can work something out with the folks behind labeling Jim Beam, Ripple and Frothingslosh. While each of those attracts a different crowd, any of them would enhance the experience of reading one of my books. One of them is bound to answer my letter soon. Wheaties has replied to my offer, but it seems I am not what they are looking for, though they promised to reconsider if I ever break a world record or something like that.

     I researched the opportunity to get my picture on Post Office walls, but have abandoned that since they would probably not be highlighting my work as an author. It’s hard to work with the government and just doesn’t seem it would be worth the time, especially if it is hard time.

     The thought of negotiating with amateur critics is scary, at best, but I suppose if I let some book reading clubs have some copies of my manuscript to read, they might set up fan clubs or something. I hope they can handle used three ring binders from flea markets and garage sales and refrain from mulling over what is on the back sides of the pages, thinking it is part of the story.

     I’ve tried writing to established writers to get buddy-buddy  with them and have them offer endorsements but so far they have all replied as if they thought I was interested in THEIR work, as if I had time to read right in the midst of promoting my own fame, or are dead. I don’t remember reading their obituaries but evidently Mark Twain and John Steinbeck are no longer with us. May they rest in peace.

     A bit more expensive, I may have to consider sandwich boards and inflatable Porters outside of book stores and coffee shops. That, of course, would only become an option if my other efforts fail.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Ground Hog Day will never be the same

I have no love for groundhogs, nor will I ever as long as any sort of sanity is within reach, easy or otherwise. Groundhog Day is no better predictor of future weather than the idiots and idiotesses between the news and the sports. Come to think about it , they are all about equally accurate, but that’s a rant for another time. Right now I’m fixated on four legged varmints, or at least the things done to them. Lately, accuracy of the forecast has been getting worse and I know why.

Most of us have witnessed the inhumanities cast upon Punxunctawney Phil, televised annually from outback Pennsylvania, which pretty much includes the whole state except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Scranton too, if you squint just right. Hell, they even made a movie about him. Put that together with all the attention given the Rocky movies and you can understand why Bullwinkle and the other mooses avoid the place out of disgust. Again, another injustice to be addressed in the future.

Some of you may not know other places present imposters in their own cities. One of the worst examples is New York City.

They trot out, or I guess drag out, a critter they call Chuck. Evidently some genius there knows that groundhogs are sometimes called woodchucks, and is a little short of better material in his humor file. Anyway, a few years ago, Chuck got tired of being included in the fraud so he bit the Mayor effectively enough to draw blood. It was one of the best ceremonies ever. Now he wears heavy gloves; the mayor, not Chuck. In fact Chuck was secretly replaced and has since gone the way of all good ground hogs. Charlene replaced him in secret. Nobody ever thought anybody would ever do a gender check. That would be creepy.

Last year Charlene also got tired of the ceremony and the mayor found out how hard it is to handle a delicate squirming woodchuck while wearing an unwieldy pair of gloves. It’s probably about like trying to unsnap you girlfriend’s bra while wearing the things. That’s an accurate mental image no matter how you picture it. Anyway, he dropped poor Charlene. She didn’t drop well and, probably out of spite, died of internal injury a few days later. Her death certificate says she died of natural cause.

The story leaked out and now some people don’t trust politicians, or their minions. One small mistake and a class of mostly lawyers has lost respect. Life is often unfair like that. On the other hand it can be understandable to see why you might not want to tell the family you are bringing a girl home when they are expecting a boy. And the less truth known about how exactly that girl you dropped really died, the better, I guess.

All of that aside, the real point is you can’t fool the weather. Ever since the switch, prediction of when winter will give way to spring has been really wrong. It must be like trying to measure distance with a quart jar, or volume with a leadline. Now, what’s coming for next year? Will they rename the Mayor Chuck and bring him out to find out if he can see his shadow? Will it be a year with no spring at all? More likely they will grab Chester, the neutered ground hog, and tell you he is Chuck, trusting most of you have not heard the real story. Some weathercaster on TV will explain why the prediction didn’t work, again. You, however know the truth.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Church of the Olive Garden

There are those who say I should get out more, others who say I get out a little too much. Some just say I should get out. The other day, I did. Not sure whose desire I was serving at the time but it had to be somebody’s.
I hit a whole new section of Maine where I have never been before, having discovered that’s where I am most welcome. The target was Bailey’s Island, the last of a string of small islets joined together by a highway that dead ends someplace out in the ocean. With a little more enterprising attitude they probably could have included another island, leaving the final bridge wide open to destruction by periodic Atlantic storms. What better way for a little free publicity for your state? But then, judging from the number of metal detector wielding senior citizens exploring the beach and it diminutive size, it is probably already popular enough. A busload or two of Canadians would have been severe overpopulation. So would a couple of carloads from Massachusetts.
We missed the real target there though, when we didn’t get to see Cedar Beach, although we saw plenty of signs suggesting it be saved. The beach is still a public attraction but Chuck and Sally closed the only road which provides access to it several years ago. I think the litigants are serving a higher purpose though, because nothing is more exciting than stepping into a political row while vacationing. Meanwhile the sea glass must be piling up pretty good on cedar beach so I hope I can schedule our next visit for the grand reopening.
On the way home I came as close to getting religion as I have during at least the last couple of months. Who knew dinner at Olive Garden could be so inspirational, or that I could be so resistant to the siren call of an inspired evangelist. There were some shortcomings on his part, though not many, that can probably be blamed for my escape.
While the presentation was a little difficult to pin down, and had his three member congregation looking less than enlightened, it was long. That’s the main characteristic which identifies a message from a truly inspired icon in a pulpit. I was thrilled that he’d taken his act public, or I might have missed it. I noticed most of the other people at tables within hearing range were also attracted to him. That encompassed only about half of the dining room, giving those of us lucky enough to experience the event a feeling of being really privileged. That’s the way religion is supposed to work, right?
As near as I could tell, the message was that God knew everything and almost as much as he did. I’ve never heard anything better in a bar, at least before midnight. His audience had the same glassy eyed look of adoration that pops up a couple of hours before closing time. Without hesitation, I just told the waiter I’d have whatever they were having. I was hooked for a few minutes.
Despite his enlightenment, he failed to deliver the personal attention I demand from the God in my religion. This guy failed to step over and lead grace when our order arrived at the table and we were forced to partake of unblessed food. Sadly it was delicious, which made me wonder what he could have added to it. That shook my faith in him a little. The final straw was when he failed to pick up the check when it got to his table. I figured if I signed on to his program I was going to have to contribute to paying it off. I don’t know when, but it looked like he had consumed quite a bit and it was probably top of the line stuff, which he no doubt deserved.
He had more success than I suspected though. When he left, I noticed peaceful smiles on the faces of most of the people at the other tables and the reverent silence left in his wake. At least it sounded like silence in comparison with the previous half hour or so. I kind of hope the people up on Bailey’s island connect with him to add another twist to their save the beach campaign.
I need to get out more often.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

On The Road to becoming a Mainiac.

As I settle once again into the peaceful sanctity of married life I rapidly approach becoming a Mainiac. Just a few more steps and I’ll be there. Somehow it never seemed possible but the groundwork I laid as a teenager is paying off now. The things that drove me nuts along the route are, I suppose, are what made it happen. Today, I took a big step and became a licensed Mainiac.


The first, and most difficult, step was finding the damned place. You don’t get to Maine by mistake. It doesn’t sneak up on you unexpectedly unless you are on your way to eastern Canada. Even then if you are flying over it you wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from places not Maine very easily. It is not yellow with a black title along with a picture of a bag of potatoes and another of a puffin or a moose.


The best way to get here is find your way to New Hampshire and head north or east. Don’t cross the Canadian border or drive into the ocean and you’ll get here. This is the only state bordered by only one other. The best way to tell for sure is to listen to the people. When they start talking funny, you are probably here. If it’s French, you are not only in Maine but in Old Orchard Beach. Otherwise, you are just in the state where things are the way life ought to be. Hope you didn’t miss the sign telling you that as you drove in. Oh. Yeah, I guess that welcome sign at the border could have been a bit of a clue too.


Also, if you came up through Massachusetts, you’ll find you are not getting nearly as many new dents in your car. Maine used to be part of Massachusetts until they shoved the pine tree state aside for going too slow. They installed a fence to prevent it going back to the way it was. Maine slipped in part of New Hampshire to make surer.


There a few other clues. Most people up in Maine wear ear muffs year ‘round, not because they were invented here, but because they need them. This was my first white Easter. Most of the fluffy stuff was not on the south end of a rabbit hiding candy and eggs. Come to think of it, the rabbits are still hibernating.


There are also some strange courtship rituals. The girl I found on E-bay or someplace on the web decided the best way to get into my heart was to introduce me to MOXIE. Her invitation went something like “This stuff tastes terrible, Try some.”  She was right. The soft drink wasn’t invented by Dr. Pepper, but by Dr. Jekyll. The best thing about it is that it’s not habit forming. They don’t even need a diet version. You can keep a lifetime supply in a shoebox if you don’t want to ruin your footwear.


Now the lobster, on the other hand is pretty good. Unlike Moxie, it, along with the rest of the delicious seafood, is not cheap.  Wild blueberries are, if you gather them yourself.  You can pick all you want as long as you can stand the intervention of the black flies, ticks, and other things that have found human blood to be as tasty as the blueberries are to people. I can’t think of anything more clearly identifiable when considering becoming a Mainiac.


That is what I have decided to do. I married that awful girl on Valentine’s Day and am gradually moving my stuff into her house, mostly when her guard is down and the dogs are asleep. Today I was able to get a temporary driver’s license, just a few days short of my sixty sixth birthday. It’s valid for sixty days, pending my ability to prove I am old enough to have a permanent one and that I didn’t lie while obtaining my Oregon license in which they punched a bunch of holes that formed the word ‘void’.


It’s the little things that are helping me become a Mainiac.

Monday, 10 March 2014

How I’ll make my next million in an hour a day


Daylight savings time has started again, in a small percentage of the world. The rest it, and Wrigley field (They’ll never see daylight there), is probably suffering from a shortage of the stuff.


Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I’ve been saving daylight for most of my life (It doesn’t draw much interest) except for the years I spent in Arizona and Hawaii. I can’t remember if I did it while I was in the navy or not. Those were a drunken blur of chasing women, hoping I didn’t catch anything. I didn’t keep good records either.


Anyway, I’ve got an epiphany now and it’s going to make me rich. Look out Fortune-500. I’m going to package and market all of that stockpiled daylight that has just been sitting around in previously dark corners.  The beauty of it is that I can only do it an hour a day, with a mandatory long winter vacation every year. I suppose it doesn’t matter which hour I work, but I’m going to hedge my bet by using the first and last half hours of the day, with a long lunch break and maybe a nap or two between. Those things have helped me move rapidly from job to job over the years.


I started looking for a little financial backing without a lot of success. Some of the guys I approached laughed at me. A couple of them suggested I stick my idea where the sun don’t shine … well, Duh ! I guess I’ll just start out by my garage door, filling used pill bottles by hand. I’ve got a lot of those saved up for this kind of occasion that I always knew would come along someday and I have several hypochondriac friends.


Eventually I will plow the profits from that into building a bottling plant and, later, perhaps a pipeline to darkest Africa. I can see the day when every town will have drive-through daylight/coffee huts for the early riser on the way to work. A string of vending machines sounds promising too, or perhaps I will set up franchises and let other people do the work while I get a cut.


The most likely test markets are going to be in Beijing and either Nome or Little America (whichever is having winter). There are shortages of good pure daylight in those places. I suspect college campuses and political gatherings will be good markets too. They’ll generally buy stuff nobody else would.


My biggest competition will be the artificial light industry. I should be able to get over that hurdle by pointing out that such things as light bulbs, especially the curly ones, and key ring flashlights can’t be as good as the real thing. With just those, they’ll never see me coming until it is too late.


Having said all of that, I’m going to ask that you don’t tell any of your friends about this. I realize there are people who read this and are now turned on to the idea, no pun intended. On the other hand, the couple dozen or so of those that exist obviously don’t use their time well and are not likely to jump on this, or any other productive idea. Meanwhile I am going to nap for a bit and develop this idea.