Rust Belt Ruckus at Mineshaft Burger Joint

Time has forgotten the importance that Silt Ridge played in the nation’s rich industrial heritage. As a major coal supplier, the region fueled many a factory and facilitated countless American Dreams. Like other Rust-Belt casualties, the town has fallen on some tough economic times. But don’t tell that to the people: Hadley Codfaldt, for instance, has a radio talk show that reaches roughly half a billion listeners around the world (when, of course, the satellites are working). Then there’s Twilz Glimsby, “Chief Gossip Strategist,” who works the drive-thru at the Coal Miners Burger Bazaar. Will the newest Silt Ridge resident, Morris Crimpanfortis V, fit in with his new surroundings?

Rust Belt Ruckus at the Mineshaft Burger Bazaar

Rust Belt Realities

Greetings from Silt Ridge, Pennsylvania, temporary hideaway for the blowtorched ego of Morris Crimpanfortis V, and the place where the Second Great Sunspot Dilemma was first seen hurtling toward earth. Bruce Shellerdahl’s famous peach pie is being leisurely consumed by twenty or thirty patrons sipping sweet tea and relaxing at tables on the veranda of the Five-Points Highway Diner. Morris “Morey” Crimpanfortis, says to never pass up a piece of Bruce’s succulent peach pie, no matter what.

A Flaming Split-Fingered Fastball from Hell

It was lunchtime at this very location ten years ago when Vick Banzler, one of Silt Ridge’s stalwart city councilpersons, squinted into the parched August sky and witnessed a solar event that could only be described as a “Flaming Split-finger Fastball from Hell.” Bad as it was, it was nothing compared to the First Great Sunspot Dilemma that happened a few decades earlier

Vick, accompanied by one of his omnipresent venomous snakes, bent and swayed in his expensive tailored black suit and cowboy hat, pointing up at the searing, steel-blue vault with the hissing head of the writhing viper, telling the whole world the sky was about to cave in–for the second time in less than a half century!

Fortunately the follow-up installment of the ghastly magnetic storm caused only minimal damage, a relatively “minor inconvenience” compared to the first episode. Though we lost our foothold in artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and hydrogel architecture, was that such a bad thing? In the process, we reprogrammed our color TVs and fax machines to bring them back up to speed–just so we kept our priorities straight.

Meet Me at the Coal Miners Burger Bazaar

You’ll meet a lot more of the locals who make Silt Ridge what it is today: Hadley Codfaldt, a radio talk show host extraordinaire and top social commentator for events that impact the world; then there’s Twilz Glimsby, “Chief Gossip Strategist,” who works the drive-thru at the Coal Miners Burger Bazaar; Dirkie Tirk, a stellar stunt coordinator and prodigious suck-up artist  Of course, the Mayor is always doing stuff on the sly, and  there’s our own “Sustainability Sweetheart,” Verona Kendermants, who makes soaps, candles, deodorants and undergarments out of fruits, vegetables, berries and nuts.

Morris takes his room and board from Francesca LoZelle, the legendary shirt heiress, who owns a mansion in the swank “old-money” part of Silt Ridge. Morris and Francesca spend hours in their matching striped silk pajamas watching public service announcements via satellite television in his garden apartment on the fourth floor of the heiress’ stately stone palace.

Morris sleeps with Francesca’s adorable dog, Buttons. Buttons is a charming mixture of Pekinese and Poodle, a “Peek-a-Pood.” Morris is just glad it isn’t a chimera or robot (AI had not yet bounced back to recapture the domestic pet department). But that was just fine with Morris, who always figured that there’s something refreshing about a real-life, honest-to-goodness pet dog that actually breathes, slobbers and pants–that doesn’t need batteries and won’t start barking in French.

Hold the Manicure!

Of course, Silt Ridge is only half the story. Maybe it’s only a fraction of the story. Back in the Chicago Loop a thousand miles away, you have some real grinding going on–some real gun-slinging, some real horse-trading. That’s where Morris’ sister Noreen runs Daddy’s multimedia empire. Noreen is the gatekeeper, the one Morris must go through to get his programing proposals approved. Queen Noreen, the “Pampered One,” has her manicured fingers on the pulse of a whole slew of media ventures, like exotic outdoor advertising displays coast-to-coast and a burgeoning network of TV stations. But don’t get the notion that Noreen is in any way competent. Just because you’re manicured doesn’t mean you’re competent.

And don’t forget about Morris’ altimeter. That plays a major part in some of the dramatic billboard displays that his sister always threatens to banish him to if one of his TV show proposals doesn’t resonate with her–or if she pretends not to like it and then tries to steal it. Like Morris always says, if the outdoor doesn’t get him, the upfronts will, where he engages in harrowing baseball games in order to determine ad rates for the upcoming TV season.

All Kinds of Nasty Going On

If Morris doesn’t have his hands full with death-defying billboard stunts and dangerous sporting events, there’s always Paymor Kalabrashion. The Kalabrashion family has been the nemesis of the Crimpanfortis Empire for over a century. The Kalabrashions have always been a detriment to the purity and wholesomeness of the Hyper-Citation brand. Not everyone is able to pull off the successful scope of advertising that the esteemed Crimpanfortis family has provided generation after generation. It’s what we have come to revere as the “Crimpanfortis Touch.” Surely, the Kalabrashion crowd is oozing jealousy, vowing to stop at nothing to impose their seamy will on the unsuspecting public.

In addition to the imminent threat posed by the Kalabrashions, there’s enough hostility from other dimensions embedded in the galaxies to provide a spaceship full of fears and trepidation (we’re talking UFOs, if you haven’t made the connection yet).

Is that a Wrap?

Yes, that should just about do it–for the time being, anyway. So sit back or lean forward–whatever suits your fancy–and stay tuned for all the off-net hijinks, as a ramshackle coal mining town is transformed right before your eyes into a spectacular collection of world-class spas regarded as the number-one global destination for explosive herbal cleanses.

Coming Soon to Coal Country: Can We Handle It?

Toby Klabenschattz, junior beat writer for the Times Herald Chronicle of Silt Ridge, Pennsylvania, reports that big things are coming to the faded coal region. The city’s lone television station, WXX-TV, is being purchased by a media mogul out of Chicago by the name of Morris Crimpanfortis IV, and will be run by the son of the media titan, Morris Crimpanfortis V. Toby finds that Morris V is very affable, yet an elusive interview, who claims that he doesn’t have anything important to say. We find that to be very refreshing – and wonder why that is.

Coming Soon to Coal Country – Can We Handle It?

Possibly coming to a Town near You (Meaning Us)

Today I am reporting on a growing phenomenon known as “Live-Action Billboards,” which are rapidly becoming a staple in the lucrative outdoor advertising industry (commonly referred to as “out-of-home”). For those of you not familiar with the format, or if you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, these displays dot our nation’s highways and byways featuring stunt work and swordplay and jetpacks and all kinds of elements meant to wrest your attention from the roadway to the heavens.

Nashville Pests

The concept started a couple decades ago on the south side of Seattle, and has been gradually refined and perfected into pure visual extravaganzas. If you’re driving down the freeway and see extravagantly costumed men and women dancing on an elevated set before launching themselves into space, then you have stumbled upon one of the patented and magnificent Live-Action Billboards. For instance, I have learned of a campaign for a pest company in Nashville featuring a five hundred-foot-tall spider web with stunt people crawling to the top before an aerosol is released sending them all flying on their bungee cords to Interstate-40 below.

This is the product of the genius of mega-billionaire media impresario Morris Crimpanfortis IV. The Crimpanfortis family has long been a revolutionary force in American media, having instituted a national newspaper that thrived from the late 1800s to the early 1900s on contests and coupons. “It was interactive before the computer,” says Noreen Crimpanfortis, the Vice President of Business Affairs for Hyper-Citation, Inc., according to a recent press release (though Ms. Crimpanfortis could not be reached in her Chicago office for direct attribution). “You can’t ever sit still,” the media heiress adds. “You always need to keep grinding because you’re always looking to push new boundaries, open new doors, see expansive vistas, and routinely crush the competition.”

Coal Mining Connectivity

If you are anything more than a casual observer, you will know that the Crimpanfortis Empire is slowly but surely making inroads into our coal mining community of Silt Ridge. The Crimpanfortis Family Trust Foundation, the same entity that owns and controls all the fancy billboards across America, is the same family that owns a network of radio and TV stations coast-to-coast. And guess where one of those outlets is located? That’s right our very own WXX-TV is a part of the Crimpanfortis holdings. In fact none other than Morris Crimpanfortis V, the current General Manager, is the son of the legendary adman.

Elusive vs. Just Plain Scared

I have tried on numerous occasions to get an interview with the elusive Mr. Crimpanfortis. I realize that being part of a family worth tens of billions of dollars that consistently depends on the bleeding edge of media supremacy to advance its groundbreaking causes is a demanding job and time is at a premium. I have found that Mr. Crimpanfortis is affable enough, definitely a “hail-fellow-well-met” sort of chap.

And I must add, Mr. Crimpanfortis is quite possibly the most honest person I’ve ever met. Whenever I press him for an interview or quote, he responds by saying he has nothing interesting or important to say.

And that, I think you’ll agree, is rather refreshing.


Leaving Burbank in the Red-eye Dust

This is another installment in the continuing saga of failure that seemed to follow Morris Crimpanfortis V wherever he went. We learn that he had the good fortune of caddying for one of his father’s TV execs in a celebrity golf tournament and was subsequently awarded a position at the Burbank studio. There, he learned the ropes and generally comported himself in a professional manner. But that, of course, did not last forever. Overstepping his boundaries, he produced an infomercial that went live coast-to-coast on the family-owned network that delivered results that were a crashing embarrassment to the staid Crimpanfortis standard of broadcast excellence.  

Leaving Burbank in the Red-eye Dust

How I went from Hollywood Hotshot to Coal Country Wash-up

You may be wondering how I went from our flagship television station in the Los Angeles DMA to an end-of-the-road outlet in the economically distressed coal region of eastern Pennsylvania. This is the price one sometimes pays for innovation and creativity. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong product to get innovative with. The result was one of the most embarrassing debacles in live TV history. Worse, it totally disgraced Daddy. And you know who took the blame: it sure wasn’t my sister Noreen.

All but disowning me the only recourse of the family was to shuffle me off to oblivion and hope I didn’t debauch myself again. Of course, when you regularly entertain creative urges like I do, you’re never going to remain silent. There’s always a gears grinding in the old wheelhouse–even if people say I’m a couple bricks shy of a full load. But what do they know? Do they know what actually constitutes a “full load?” Don’t worry I’ll give you a full load. A full load upended my career.

The Nastiest Cleanse of All

It all began–and ended–with a half-hour infomercial. You know the genre I’m talking about, the one where the announcer is constantly saying, “But wait, there’s more.” There was more, all right. I created what I thought was a groundbreaking vehicle for an ambitions, albeit overly aggressive client. What started with such high hopes became a nightmare of epic proportion.

The disaster at the Burbank studio taught me a couple of valuable lessons: number one, never deal with a herbal body cleanse that bills itself as “explosive.” Number two: don’t roll over for any of your clients; and number three: never trust the hyperbolic claims of a detox product that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by the proper regulatory agencies. There’s no such thing as “fudging the clinical data” to make the benefits/risks assessment more palatable to the uninformed consumer.

But above all else–never…NEVER, EVER go live with such a product (especially not without the luxury of a seven-second delay) and NEVER, EVER…EVER make a game show out of contestants demonstrating the product’s primary use with escalating prize packages tied to performance.

So what if the Disaster was seen around the World?

Corporate can banish me to the far and forgotten reaches of this great country all it wants. I will not stop pitching my shows. New content is the lifeblood of a television network. This is my opportunity to rise and shine and I’ve got to stake my claim. You never know if you’ll ever get another shot like this again.

Oh, by the way…sales of the product that I showcased went through the roof following the one-time-only telecast. To this day, the all-natural cleanse ranks in the top ten of like-minded products according to the “lists” you see on the Internet (when, of course, in these post-sunspot days the flickering Internet is actually working).

How much did the televised meltdown contribute to brand awareness? All I know for certain, I’ll never get the credit. But that’s okay; when you’re creating shows, you do it for the love of the game.

And when you finally do have a success, it just makes all the snide comments people make behind your back just that much sweeter.