Still Considering a Number of Other Applicants

Ever read any military history, Benito? Stuff about Patton, Rommel, Napoleon and such? Well, I’ve skimmed some of those magazines when Waldenbooks was still open. And I think if those guys were in my shoes, they would recognize this situation for what it is, and they’d be looking to hire the same kind of person I seek now---steely, heartless, aggressive. Alas, the facts as they stand are very simple, Benito: every store inside the once proud but now recession-beaten Knipton Mall has permanently closed its doors except for two. That the store we’re standing in and the other survivor both happen to be devoted to selling value-priced sweaters and slacks to plus-sized women is a coincidence we can do nothing about. What we can control is how badly we want to be the last man standing in this barren consumer wasteland, and buddy, I’m here to tell you that I want it bad. Now, you may not think that a part-time position as nighttime cashier would be a critical role in the drama we’re about to play out, and you may not even be ready for what you may be called upon to do. But if you’re willing to reach for bloodthirsty glory in addition to $7.25 an hour, let’s get this war started tonight, bus schedule permitting. In the drawer beside your left hand are contained several highly illegal but necessary objects with which we will one day begin our tactical assault after months—perhaps years—of planning. Go ahead and lift a couple of the objects right now. Feel their heft, their warmth, their solidity. These are the only friends you will make here—mostly because you and I are the only employees. You will split your time between stocking, running the register, saying hello to walk-in customers, and training yourself in six kinds of deadly combat, as well as getting basic overviews of military surveying, electrical engineering, locksmithing, and psychological warfare. (You’ll also need to take the trash out to J.J. Subs & Pizza’s dumpster twice a day.) Each piece of the puzzle will slowly lock into place, and when it all comes together, Operation White Leopard will commence. If we can pull it off, we’ll own this mall. If we do not, which is simply unthinkable to me, there’s still a chance we’ll own this mall, because I think The Lady Is Round only has a one year lease anyway and it’s up at the end of next month. Either way, I couldn’t live with myself if I just laid back and accepted fate’s damnable dice roll; I want to make something happen. So if you want the job, shake my hand firmly right now, leave me your learner’s permit so I can make a copy of it for payroll, and come take a walk with me past the door of our foe for an initial sizing up of what lies before us, and to say hi to Cathy the assistant manager, who’s kind of nice so we’ll let her slide when we take hostages in phase four of the spring offensive. And don’t worry, we can be gone for fifteen minutes, no customers are going to come. Trust me.


Now With More Chunks of Stuff Than Ever!

First of all, I want to thank everyone for making time this morning to attend this meeting; I know we’re all very busy with the March deadline fast approaching. Secondly—and I don’t want anyone to panic here and try to be a hero—I need to tell you that I’ve booby-trapped everyone’s chair, and if our parent company tells us during this imminent conference call that they’re shutting down operations on the only publication that ever mattered to me, we’re all going sky-high in a multi-colored eruption of office furniture and leftover candy corn from Joanne’s birthday party. Okay? And don’t think I don’t KNOW that all of you are totally against me. In my opinion, the editorial decisions that you people have made over the last few months have all but brought Hostess Individually Wrapped Apple Pie Magazine to its knees. By making our central theme a virtual afterthought and watering the content down with feature after feature about lesser Hostess products, you’ve alienated our core readership, disrespected the third greatest snack in American baked goods history, and just plain phlegmed on all the hard work I’ve done since 1983. I see you snickering, Jeremy---but can you tell me what January’s interview with Wes Anderson had to do with the tasty goodness and undeniable cultural influence of Hostess Individually Wrapped Apple Pies? And can you tell me what sort of new audience you hope to win when you enrage our current one by adding color photography to our pages? Because I’d REALLY like to know. So here’s the way it’s going to be, folks---if I hear the wrong words come out of this little speaker in front of me, we’re all going to ricochet off the side of George Washington Carver Elementary School. But if I get the support I need today, we can move directly to plan B, which consists of an unabashed re-embrace of the things that made this magazine great---1) fun Hostess Apple Pie trivia, 2) the most delightful two-panel comic strip about responsible snacking since What’s Chet Chewin’?, and 3) subliminal messaging on the Sweet Tooth Club page which stresses the importance of keeping our government informed of the activities of subversive groups and individuals who would collude to undermine our national ideals. There will be no more “web sites” for this magazine, no “social networking,” no “interactivity.” Let me tell you what there WILL be plenty of: word scrambles, puns, and letters to the editor from eight year olds telling us how much they enjoy riding their bicycles, even if I have to forge them myself.

All right, there’s the first ring. I hope you don’t mind if I unwrap this delicious Hostess Individually Wrapped Apple Pie and clench it tightly in my gritted teeth as I pick up the receiver, because if I’m going to be catapulted at four hundred miles per hour over Burlington Coat Factory, I’m damn well leaving the coroner a little message about what I stood for. Now before I pick up, someone please tell me how to pronounce this woman’s last name. Is it FAH-ri-day or Fa-REE-day? Is it the middle syllable that’s stressed? Don’t set me up for failure here, people. Okay, okay…I hit RECEIVE, right, then 4, then RELEASE, then….ANNOUNCE? No?

Okay. She’ll probably call back, right?


Obstructed-View Tickets Still Available

Mr. Rose, what I want could not be more simple, and it’s something I feel I’ve truly earned---my track record speaks for itself. Every man in my position dreams of the same thing: full creative control of his next project, without interference from yes-men, revisionists, or silly focus groups. After eleven almost flawless hits, surely you must agree I’m entitled to this modest level of trust. Who more than me deserves to take out Willie the Plank in a method devised, planned, and executed by me and me alone? What I envision for poor misguided Willie would be considered by many to be a bit daring, a bit edgy, especially my ideas concerning floating his bullet-ridden body down the Hudson on a raft made entirely of the bags of counterfeit fifties he tried to pass off on Eddie Ecks (himself a very underrated killer, whose early experimental work laid the foundation for my penchant for strangulations involving chicken wire). But if you take a look at the budget I’m proposing, it’s really no more expensive than Shoehorn Vlad’s hit on Dom the Pelican, and I promise you that when I’m done, you’ll be able to see every penny right there in Willie’s terrified expression as his grieving widow identifies his carp-nibbled corpse. But I want no interference this time, and I want to be able to hire the crew I want, and I want my name front and center on the whole project, which means that in any sort of grand jury testimony, I want to be the one accused of putting Willie down, not some organization flunkie. I can toil in the shadows no further, Mr. Rose---my hits now must bear my personal stamp, just as the entire east side knows immediately just from the pattern of the blood spray on the wall of a meat locker that a certain whacking was Saul the Flautist’s original conception. (Not that his latest projects haven’t been without their glaring flaws, particularly the clumsy pacing of the Marconi wedding reception shootout.)

There are certain other matters I want to go over with you, but before we get into all that, I want to go over the rules of this game one more time so we’re ready for tonight. Basically, it really does help to have seen the show so that you can answer some questions when you pick a trivia card, but it’s okay if all you know is that the main characters are named Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, they’re all heterosexuals, and they all have high-paying jobs that seem to be extremely easy. It’s essential that you answer a single question from each of the five categories, but I think in your case, we’ll focus on “stealing” a player’s correct answer chip when the DVD stops on the No She Didn’t! screen. Now, I cannot stress this point enough: do not, under any circumstances, call out an answer that you suspect might not be correct, as the risk for a wrong one far outweighs the reward for getting it right---a subtle kink in the design of the game that I believe we can exploit to our benefit. Of course, we might also consider pulling out machetes midway through the Plodding Voice-Over Mashup round and murdering Zoho’s entire crew. Totally your call.

The Blog = Prizes!

It’s time to announce the winners of the blog’s annual Blood...Blood! awards! This year we received more than fifteen thousand submissions, requiring a full-time staff of nineteen people to watch every twenty-second video not just once, but several times so that every nuance was absorbed and digested. As you’re well aware, the goal of the contest is simple: to deliver the line “Blood...blood!” in the most memorable way possible. Last year’s winner, Doris Snowdigit, just barely eked out a victory over professional actor Arliss Howard with her memorable interpretation of the line--it started out spooky, got funny in the middle, then strangely poignant, and ended with us merely nodding in overwhelming artistic appreciation. This year’s top three scores (entrants are judged on a 1-10 scale in the categories of originality, style, diction, creepiness, and sheer human effort) were achieved by:

Frank Sessnass of Willoughby Glen, New Mexico for his traditional 'mad scientist' reading of the line, but with a unique twist: he cackled for a good eighty-seven seconds between the first word and the second, deliciously drawing out the suspense as he gazed up into a driving rainstorm and raised what appeared to be a goat’s brain to the heavens!

Elwood Bakerbody of Willoughby Marsh, Pennsylvania, who drew out syllable #2 and faded it slowly to nothing in a way you just knew meant he was going down hard, and go down hard he did, collapsing in a heap in the middle of Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, one impotent hand clasping at empty air as passersby looked on in fear and confusion. The fake blood he had smeared across his Teletubbies sweater freaked the medics out quite badly and all but guaranteed second place!

Myron Bellblurn of Willoughby Hills, Maryland. Dude did more with “Blood...blood!” than Ben Kingsley, Jeff Bridges, and Cate Blanchett put together. Seriously, we didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, call the police, or harm ourselves in some way. His gradual escalation of the line from serene contemplation to dawning horror to forehead-reddening, gut-busting rage, especially when accompanied by his delicate cradling of a young girl’s innocent face (his niece, it turns out), did it for us every time we spun that sucker through the DVD player. Myron will be awarded with a $15 gift certificate to the Cheesecake Factory of his choice and invited to perform his version of “Blood...blood!” live in Knipton, Tennessee at the St. Abernathy Church of the Redeemer’s Spring Craft Fair and Ice Cream Social on March 21. Well done, sir!

Remember, next year we're breaking from tradition as the "Blood...blood!" contest becomes the "It was you...yes, you who defiled this ancient crypt!" contest. The entry fee will also increase by eighty percent.