The Imaginary Column or A Thing That Never Was

 

I recently did some rough samples for a possible humor column that I was proposing appear in the local newspaper. Well, the idea was shot down. Blam! Blam! Blam!

So, rather than go quietly into the good night to lick my wounded ego (which you have to be a freakin’ circus contortionist to do, and if I were a decent circus contortionist I wouldn’t be submitting speculative columns now would I?) I thought I could put them here on the ol’ blogaroo for you denizens of cyberspace who waste your nickel here on Philbertosophy to read and ridicule. Why not? I have no pride (or column, either.)
It’s not the rejection, I’m used to that. Shoot, I’ve been married for 28 years, you can’t tell me anything about rejection that I don’t already know. Everyone’s been rejected. Did you know Einstein had his Theory of Relativity rejected by 9 publishers? “Al, could we lose the “M” in Mc2? It’s runnin’ a little long.” So, being rejected isn’t what bothers me. It’s just that Einstein did finally find a publisher, he still never made a cent, or learned to tie his shoes.
Well, I figure I’m doing just as well as Albert Einstein ever did because I’ve never made a cent and can’t tie my shoes either.
Anyway, here’s the first installment of my proposed column.
If you are a longtime reader of this newspaper, you may want to get up from your morning coffee, push aside the bowl of Froot Loops and look out the window.

It’s possible the Four Riders of the Apocalypse are parked in your front yard trampling your dichondra. The heavens may have fallen and the Sundial Bridge might be reading 13 o’clock. Jack’s Grill may have gone to an all-vegan, all-the-time menu, and somewhere the ghost of Shasta Sam is spinning like a Laundromat dryer at the carnival.

 

 

You see, it’s happened. They’ve finally done it. What, you had only suspected has proven to be the case. The folks at the Record Searchlight have gone stark, raving mad.

Sure, they’ve done some pretty weird things in the past, but this takes the proverbial cake.

 

“What have they done this time” you may be asking? Have they replaced “B.C.” on the comics page again? Started printing the obits in pig Latin? Well, no. At least I don’t think they have. Yet. It’s far more insidious than that.

 

They’ve given the staff cartoonist a shot at a regular column.

 

That’s right, your ability to process the visual information from printed page into words has not suddenly left you. They have given the staff cartoonist a column. The one you’re currently reading, to be exact.

 

Your first question is probably, “Why would you ask the cartoonist to write a column? Did the guy who fills the vending machines turn it down?” Well, smarty-pants, as a matter of fact I believe he did. Being gainfully employed seemed to be taking up enough of his time. And, once their first option had wheeled his soda cans out the door, the editors were forced to look around the newsroom. Isn’t there someone in this place who’s not really doing anything productive?

 

My name came up.

 

Usually, the editors don’t waste much energy thinking about me. Maybe, once in a while, when they’re going on vacation and need someone to feed their cat. Or their niece needs a birthday card with a clown on it (I do a pretty good clown, mimes too, look me up if you ever need a cartoon with a mime in it ) But even so, I don’t think even our editors are delusional enough to equate “Adequate Feline-Sitter” with “Possible Humor Columnist.” Then again… well, I don’t have to tell you now, do I?

 

But the fact of the matter is, I sit in a broom closet with my crayons for 8 hours a day. I do the cartoons. Has society been reduced to dredging the ranks of small-town, hack cartoonists in order to fill up some space in Currents once a week? What next, the universe collapsing on itself making something so dense that even light can’t escape? Oh wait, Redding already has a city council.

 

Still, is that any reason to give a column to, moi?

 

Now, hold on a second, before you go canceling your subscription or start picketing the building, let’s just look at the situation. How bad could it really be? There have been greater atrocities, haven’t there? For example, they once ran the wrong day’s answers for the Jumble. Let me tell you, heads rolled after that one. So, this little experiment of irritating readers with another dim-witted columnist could work out.

 

Actually, if you stop to think about it, it’s only 400-500 words once a week, right? I mean, how much damage can I do with a lousy 500 words? Even if 99% of what I write in this space is total garbage and generates zero reader laughs that means at least 1%, that’s 4 or 5 words, will have to be funny, right? I mean, the math kind of backs me up on this point, wouldn’t you say? And, who are we to quibble with the science of mathematics? The law of averages would dictate that at this point in the column, at least two of the previously written words were freakin’ hilarious. I’m not going to tell you which ones, you’ve got to figure that out on your own. I’m not as busy as the vending-machine guy, but I don’t have time to take you by the hand and point out the bloody obvious, either.

 

Here’s something else to consider, I intend to create a little color illustration for each of these missives. This is a tactic devised to gobble up at least some of the allotted column inches and give your poor eyes something nice to look at. This little splash of color will, hopefully, distract you long enough so that I can make my escape. If you linger a moment on the illustration you may even forget about writing that nasty letter to the editor complaining about the further erosion of quality you’ve detected on this page. Besides, letters like that hurt my feelings. I’m very sensitive, you know. I was an art major for crying out loud. If you have something rotten to say, just keep it to yourself. The world is whacked out enough without you getting all amped-up over a crummy humor column that you probably won’t read anyway. It’s already an election year and you would just be adding to the spiteful cacophony that drowns out all reason in this country as it is. And that’s not really who you are.

 

Those adventurous souls out there in Record Searchlightland who choose to give this little sapling of a column the time and patience it requires will be treated to my keen insight on life in the North State and other subjects near and far. Those of you just wishing to pile fertilizer on the poor sapling, well, you can just wait for Alana Burke’s column.

 

I know many of you (the dumb ones) may not appreciate my sense of humor. Think of me as an “acquired taste,” or maybe a fungus. I start out with a little cartoon in d.a.t.e., then I spread to the Opinion page and eventually I’m so deeply rooted that it’s just easier to live with me than to get the prescription filled. Pretty good career planning, heh?

 

I think once you get to know me and you see how fascinating my life is you’ll eventually build up a tolerance and the experience won’t be nearly as painful in the future. We can get through this, together. Trust me.

 

Should the editors eventually sober up and kick me off the front of Currents, there’s an outside chance the vending-machine guy could use a little help. Stranger things have happened, a cartoonist is involved.

 

Cartoonist and columnist, Phil Fountain can be reached using mental telepathy and a tinfoil hat, or by Email at pfountain@redding.com. You may also wish to visit his blog on Redding.com.

This above statement is not true. I left it in for the “tinfoil hat” gag.

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9 Comments on “The Imaginary Column or A Thing That Never Was”

  1. Erin Says:

    Damn good Sunday reading, Phil – keep it coming. Thanks.

  2. Uncle E Says:

    I am bewildered, man. You’ve got talent coming out your ying-yang!

  3. JimG Says:

    You probably have at least three columns right here – if the searchlight can’t recognise talent, maybe you should shop them to the Chico Enterprise Record.

  4. chato Says:

    Hello, sorry to here about your rejection… yet glad to know I’m not alone and that great cartoonist like you get rejected it give me a little hope….

    If you ever want to give me some pointers i would love to hear what you have to say.

    Chato

  5. Tom Says:

    Ay lads it seems we have lost a rare talent to a common columnist.We at the Wretching Jackel Book Club are in mourning.Instead of cold foggy nights around our old pot bellied stove listening in awe at the prose of this incredible talent we will now have to subscribe to a common newspaper. There will be murmuring in our pints this night.Not even the warm glow of the stove can drive out the chill we all feel in our very bones.

  6. Budd Hodges Says:

    Hey Phil…Keep the good cartoons and columns coming. Don’t get lost in the closet with your crayons and keep the guy who fills the vending machines company because your ranks are getting smaller there at the paper. Maybe they should get the vending machine guy to feed the fish.

  7. ThomG Says:

    When the dust settles, I want you to guest-post on The Tension. I can’t pay you, of course, but I will give you great praise and adoration that you so richly deserve.


  8. Thanks for the kind words folks! Together, we will forage for our own nest in the Tree of Life. I think we can build a condo with all the rejection slips I’ve been gathering. But, thanks to the internet (and this blog) there’s a place for ALL the unwanted crap in the universe, and bless you all, people to read it.

  9. czygyny Says:

    Dude, I’ve been trying to contact you via telepathy, but I keep getting a busy signal, will you hang up and put your cranium back on the hook?


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