Every once and a while the free market really gets it right. Dippin’ Dots, the mothball shaped ice cream that took America by storm back in the 1990s, has finally, mercifully filed for bankruptcy. The fact that 2,000 of these stands exist today is a shaming blight upon the wooly, pock marked face of consumer capitalism. I am not much of a dancer, but I need to admit that I actually leaped out of my seat and did a fair Michael Flatley impression when I heard that this frozen pox was nearing eradication.
Anyone who has had the misfortune of having been around me when walking by a Dippin’ Dots stand has been subjected to a mile-a-minute tirade about how “the rat poison of the future should be grinded into the dust of the past” (as I told my wife on our second date). I actually got in a shouting match with a Dippin’ Dots franchise owner in Poughkeepsie, New York that ended with me nearly getting maced by a mall cop. What bares further investigation is surely not the uselessness of the product, for who among us can actually defend such swill, but my disposition on the matter. With famine, war, pestilence and torture all more obvious candidates for my vitriol, what really rankles me is the existence of these pellets of shame.
To be fair, I can’t even be certain I’ve ever eaten the things. They actually might be quite good. There is just something about them that makes my internal organs weep. I feel insulted by their very existence.
I’m certainly not harboring some deep dissatisfaction with the concept of frozen desserts. I could ingest nothing but ice cream, Italian ices and Sno Cones from now until when my first social security check comes in and be perfectly content. It’s not like I had to be hospitalized with an ice cream headache for three weeks or got hit by a Good Humor van when I was 11 and have some odd physical aversion to this sort of thing. I practically sweat gelato.
After almost four decades of being offered a shameful array of stuff that I could not find a use for in a million lifetimes, I think this may be the Dot that broke the camels back. How many Sham-Wows, how many Pillow Pets, how many steel-belted, titanium, rust-proofed, icy cold scams can a man endure before he reached the point of feeling genuine, hot-blooded scorn? Every time one of these asinine businesses get started in the name of The American Dream, a little part of me dies.
If the little Chamber of Commerce member in your mind has started to spew rhetorical vomit about how having 67 thousand different brands of oatmeal is good for the economy and, thus, America, tell him that while this stuff may be good if your goal is to create a society who’s members all have amassed personal debt in excess of the Gross National Product of Peru it might not be the best use of their time and collective brain power. I’m a communist, you say. Fine! At least Lenin never had to sit through toothpaste commercials. If what passes for communism in America is being ill-disposed to living in a 24 hour a day flea market that has been approved by 9 out of 10 dentists, then sign me up.
Truthfully, my real anger is at the feeling of having to participate in the market at nearly all moments. Sure, I could go sit up on a mountaintop and breathe fresh air all day, but most people’s lives put them face-to-face with The Never Ending Hustle. In The Great Gatsby, the billboard of Dr. TJ Eckleburg was a façade that hid a part of the soulless, desolate valley of ashes. The billboards of today merely serve the purpose of hiding more billboards. I can’t get five steps away from my door without some hackneyed inducement to participate in the ever-glorious marketplace of individual freedom. Sometimes they are gentle, sometimes they are rough, sometimes they play on my nerves, sometimes they tug on my heartstrings, but the pull is interminable.
Sure, I don’t have to buy whatever this or that company is selling, but I do have to make an effort to tune it out. Constantly. And while that effort is minimal, the collective weight of it has worn me down. After all, you can be crushed under the weight of a hundred tons of feathers just as you can be crushed under a hundred tons of lead.
At some point along the line, a very real feeling of insurmountable weariness has crept into my mind. Like when you are trying to fall asleep and different vague, unconnected noises continue to awaken you right when you have become completely calm. Eventually, you can be annoyed into the belief that peace and calm are impossible.
I blame you Dippin’ Dots, because getting my arms around a problem this big and pervasive doesn’t seem feasible. I’ve forgotten how to take to the streets and I don’t know the mailing address of my duly elected state representative. I only know the language of futility and those types of words don’t move mountains. I might not be able stop the endless flow of sugar-coated avarice that flows unabated though our collective veins but I sure know how to smile when the axe of the free market lands squarely on the neck of a hated foe. Thanks to good old-fashioned American knowhow and the virtues of commerce, I can be assured that five even uglier heads will sprout up where there once was only one. That problem, however, is for another day. Tonight when I lay my head down on a pillow, I can rest easy knowing that at least one stupid idea is being vanquished from our world. Sometimes, that’s enough.
Recently, I have developed a bizarre fascination with donkeys. They are odd-looking creatures with funny ears that make terrifyingly amusing noises. What’s not to love? I have spent the last few months of my life reading extensively about donkeys and have discovered several incredible, mind-boggling facts that I’d like to share with you so maybe you can find the same feeling of joy and love that I feel when I see one walking down the street.
1. DONKEYS HAVE 14 STOMACHS!!!!
That’s right! Your average donkey is able to consume 40 pounds of carrots in less than an hour thanks to all of these wondrous organs. A donkey can also generate additional stomachs throughout their lifetime. A donkey in Uzbekistan is the current worlds record holder with a reported 59 stomachs. How about that!?!?!
2. DONKEYS CAN LIVE FOR UP TO 3,000 YEARS!!!!!
Not only are donkeys loveable, but they are durable as well. The donkey that belonged to Plato, affectionately known as Rufus, is still with us today. Donkeys are able to regenerate any cells that die within a span of minutes. Nessie, the world’s oldest donkey, just had her 3,357th birthday. Back in the 1960s, the U.S. Army experimented by dropping 500 donkeys out of an airplane at 30,000 feet into occupied Czechoslovakia. Only one was slightly injured. The rest were healthy and immediately able to produce milk for American soldiers who were bravely battling the Germans in World War II.
3. DONKEYS ARE DESCENDED FROM LIONS AND HORSES!!!
Sure, lions and horses seem like a strange match, but hey, love is a many splendored thing! If you mate these two beasts you will produce a donkey. As crazy as it sounds, lion ranchers in New Zealand have been mating these two types of animals for the past 20 years. As a result, the donkey population has tripled. And as you well know, more donkeys mean more happiness for everyone!
4. DONKEYS CAN GROW TO THE SIZE OF ELEPHANTS!!!!
It’s true! When properly fed a balanced diet of oatmeal cookies and orange sherbet, donkeys can grow to the size of full-grown elephants. This can mean serious trouble for those who keep donkeys as house pets. Sure, tiny baby donkeys can be cute, but a full-grown mammoth jack donkey can grow to the amazing height of 160 hands (53 feet tall). An angry mammoth jack donkey can go on a rampage and destroy an entire village causing massive damage and severe injuries. So BE CAREFUL!
5. SIXTY FIVE PERCENT OF DONKEYS ARE ACTUALLY ROBOTS!!!!
It’s sure hard to tell the difference between a robot donkey and a real one. Here’s a tip, if your donkey starts going wild during a lightning storm, it’s probably a robot. If your donkey gets a cut and begins leaking oil, it’s probably a robot as well. Robot donkeys were first built during The Great Donkey Shortage of 1927 and have been with us ever since. They are just as friendly and good-natured as donkeys, but often have additional fun options like the ability to blend smoothies in their mouths. If owning a regular donkey seems financially out of reach, you just might want to consider picking up one of these wonderful mechanical creatures at your local Wal-Mart or certified Robot Donkey outlet.
6. DONKEYS CAN TELL TIME!!!!
Ever notice how a donkey sleeps at night and runs around playfully during the daytime? Can you guess why? It is a known fact among donkeyologists that these wonderful beasts can roughly tell what time of day it is based on whether the sun is out or not. They sure are smart!
7. ONE IN EVERY TWENTY DONKEYS ARE BORN WITH THE ABILITY TO SING!!!!
They are known for that ridiculous braying noise they make, but did you know that 1 in every 20 donkeys, if properly trained, can become remarkable singers. These special donkeys are born with unique vocal chords that allow the donkeys voice to create beautiful melodies. The Turkmen Donkey Choir, a group of talented donkeys from Turkmenistan who travel around singing old Rogers and Hammerstein show tunes, have performed to packed houses around the world and even had an audience with the Pope! Recently, a first in donkey musical history took place when a jenny named Roberta starred in the 2007 Metropolitan Opera performance of Turandot. She received rave reviews and a bouquet of carrots from the audience. Oh what a night!
8. SHERBET IS MADE FROM DONKEY BONES!!!!
Next time you are settling down after a hard day of work to a heaping bowl of everybody’s favorite delicious treat, remember to thank a donkey. If it weren’t for the Kraft Corporations decision back in 1953 to mix vanilla ice cream, ginger and donkey bones, sherbet would never have been discovered. Sherbet, once only believed to be a wonderful dessert, has recently been used successfully in medical trails for the treatment of Exploding Head Syndrome. So, not only do donkeys make people happy, they might just save some lives.
Today I’d like to talk to you about a preservative that has been given a bad reputation over the years. Many people believe that because ester of wood rosin is made from wood or that its chemical cousin ester gum is used in paints, lacquers and varnishes, that it is something that they should avoid drinking. People who think this couldn’t be further from the truth. I have found, through days and days of careful research, that it is, in fact, a wonderous creation that has transformative, healing powers.
I came to this discovery by accident. I was in my home working on my model airplane collection and I cut my finger. I did not have a band aid, gauze or any soy sauce handy to stop the bleeding. Not wanting to ruin my scale model reconstruction of Delta’s first DC-10 airplane, I took the can of Fresca I was drinking and poured it directly on the wound. I wasn’t sure what might happen but you can imagine my surprise when the bleeding stopped and the wound closed within about 10 seconds. This was a rather large cut that should have required stiches, but the Fresca seemed to heal it right away.
I started to wonder why this happened so I looked at the can of Fresca. The ingredients seemed rather normal (EDTA, acesulfame potassium, brominated vegetable oil, carob bean gum). I looked each of the ingredients up and found nothing that piqued my interest until I got to ester of wood rosin. With one search of the internet, my entire life changed forever. Apparently, a scientist named Dr. Arnold Kreifeld conducted a study near Harvard University back in 2003 where he tested the effects of ester of wood rosin on injuries. Kreifeld’s assistants cut the arms of 100 study participants with razor blades. They then poured water on the wounds of half the participants and Fresca or Tahitian Treat (both drinks with large amounts of ester of wood rosin) on the other half. The half that were treated with ester of wood rosin showed significant improvement compared to the other group. Kreifeld, who is currently in Leavenworth Federal Prison for sending “suspicious” packages to news broadcasters, had stumbled on to the medical discovery of the decade, perhaps the century. Kreifeld first gained a great deal of recognition as a researcher for the tobacco industry back in the late 1980s. During his time there he co-authored a monumental study that showed that long term cigarette use leads to increased IQ scores. As important as his earlier work was, it is clear that his work in the field of ester of wood rosin research could have changed much of how we view medicine today. Had he not been imprisoned on trumped up charges, he’d be viewed with the same reverence as great medical minds like Jonas Salk, Hippocrates and Dr. Oz.
Deeply impressed with Dr. Kreifeld’s work, I decided to do a few experiments of my own. For one month, I bathed my two young children exclusively in Fresca. This was quite an expensive proposition (it takes nearly 17 cans of Fresca to fill a bath tub), but it was a sacrifice I needed to make for the good of mankind. My son, who we will refer to as Mortimer for the purposes of this post, has grown 29 inches since the experiment began. Mortimer, who at 3 years old stands nearly 6 feet tall, has already gotten recruiting phone calls from The University of Kentucky, The New Jersey Nets and The Ringling Brothers Circus. Thanks to ester of wood rosin, his future is bright.
I began pouring two cans of Fresca over my head per day, one first thing in the morning, one during afternoon visitation, and I have watched my head go from looking like bowling ball to having long, flowing Fabio-esque hair. My wife, who recently suffered a broken leg in a waterskiing accident, was injected with Fresca once a night during her sleep for two weeks. The doctors said it would take 3 months for her leg to heal; it took 9 days. I took a syringe to a local senior center down the street and randomly injected an 82 year old woman. With one surprise injection of ester of wood rosin, she went from barely able to walk to turning double back flips while singing the opening song from Guys and Dolls.
Fresca is not the only soft drink with ester of wood rosin, but I prefer it because of it’s tangy flavor. There are many drinks that contain this miracle of modern science. Several government military contractors and food conglomerates are considering creating ester of wood rosin supplements which may be on the shelf at your local supermarket within the next few years. Until then, you’ll have to stick to drinking soft drinks to get the health benefits of this little wonder. When you are staring at your birthday cake and looking at 146 candles, you’ll thank me for this great bit of advice.