Fishing for Snowflakes in Tropical Turquoise

Morris grows more excited by the minute as he guns the engine of his classic Monza Spyder while freewheeling through the snowy streets of downtown Silt Ridge. Morris has good reason to be excited: number-one on his list of priorities is this evening’s preproduction meeting for Anthracite Tonite, a one-hour nightly talk show scheduled to launch within the year. If everything goes according to plan – and why wouldn’t it – the gabfest will air on Daddy’s TV stations all across the country, while making Morris a household name. The car purrs as he whips around the corners of deserted side streets. The ancient vehicle had belonged to his current landlady, Francesca LoZelle, whose family owned and operated a world-renowned shirt factory in Silt Ridge generations ago . . . 

My Corvair Monza Spyder

Freewheeling Through Vintage Snowflakes

As snowflakes gently fall across the decrepit skyline of the faded coalmining town, I pull from the warmth of the opera house garage in my company-owned car, a vintage 1962 convertible Chevy Corvair Monza Spyder. Rolling down Main Street, gas lamps reflect across the car’s polished OEM Tropical Turquoise finish.

 Cranking the heat on high, I thrill to the responsiveness of the four-speed manual floor shift transmission. The meticulously maintained Fisher body features a rear-mounted 140 cubic inch air cooled engine. The six-cylinder turbocharged power plant delivers 110 horsepower. At just under 4,000 miles, the pristine vehicle had only one owner: Francesca LoZelle, the lithesome shirt heiress, whose fourth-story garden apartment I currently rent out.

Leave It to the Lawyers

Daddy’s lawyers received market value for the vintage car, and considering the limited edition it was a real steal. Francesca LoZelle never drove the car herself, mainly because she prefers Corvettes. So she thought she got a pretty good deal for something she barely knew she even had. The car was discovered when the staff of lawyers was making arrangements for me to rent living space from the enigmatic heiress. Daddy wants to make sure I stay within my budget and never overspend for anything, including room and board. I like living there just fine, but as I said before, I would prefer if they paid me on time so I wouldn’t have to always go hat-in-hand to Miss LoZelle and explain why I’m late on rent. Again.

Dooley Brinstrom, the TV station’s chief lighting tech, is a mechanic on the side. He makes sure the car operates at all times at peak performance. Like so many part-time and freelance employees at WBVV, he must have a “day job” to support his creative endeavors and his undying passion for TV production. I’m thankful he’s very good at what he does over at the repair shop. I don’t care if he’s less than top-notch as a lighting guy.

Please Don’t Tell Daddy!

I drive past various buildings and former factories, including the country’s supposed first brothel (but please don’t tell Daddy I know what a brothel is). I heard that in subsequent years the ornate stucco building became a gas station. In other words, they replaced the nail beds, torture cells and customized dentist chairs with service bays – again, Daddy doesn’t need to know that I know anything about this. Please don’t tell him! Pretty please! I don’t even know what I’m talking about half the time. Trust me. At any rate, the property has since been converted into a corner convenience store called Carbon King.

As I motor about town I conform to the contours of the vinyl, pure white bucket seats. The ancient cobblestone streets are easily conquered by the vehicle’s heavy-duty, all-independent suspension. As the turbocharger kicks in I feel the effects of a shorter final drive resulting in faster acceleration, reflected in the urgency of the tachometer located on the multi-gauge instrument panel with the smart, brushed-metal trim.

I set my sights on the Five-Point Highway Diner, at the county’s busiest intersection just outside the city limits. It’s going to be a great night of preproduction planning for the “Anthracite Tonite!” talk show. In joyous anticipation, I power down the convertible top and enjoy the fanciful sensation of snow swirling about my face.

Pitch #3: “The DC Film Commission”

Morris dodges sizzling snowballs that splatter so hard against the side of the Graphite County Opera House that granite chips. He crawls on his belly up the curvature of the sweeping marble staircase. Sopping wet, he stumbles into the warmth of the cheery office. Verona looks up from her manual typewriter as she prepares the station log for this evening’s midnight news report. She congratulates him on not getting killed. Morris wades through a crumpled sea of unopened mail, magazines and trade journals littering the hardwood floor.  The thought suddenly hits him: what do the Downtown Contingent and the national capital have in common? Answer: they both have the abbreviation “DC.” Morris screams inexplicably at the high ceiling, “Let the politicians have the last word . . . AGAIN!” Slipping and sliding on discarded mail, Morris realizes it’s time for another pitch. He is so focused that he doesn’t even whiff Verona Kendermants’ newest flavor of exotic patchouli soap . . .

Pitch #3: “The DC Film Commission”

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The Bionics Arms Race – BOGO Anyone?

The violent snowball fight continues to rage around Morris. He doesn’t know if he’s going to live long enough to make another pitch to his sister Noreen in the Windy City. He yearns to flood the market with new product and knows that he is a veritable fire hose of creativity – if only he gets the proper reception for his pitches. As snowballs whiz perilously close to Morris at death-defying speeds, he has a revelation: could the throwers be using bionic arms? This technology was finally and forcibly outlawed (we thought) after the Second Great Sunspot Dilemma, but caches are rumored to have been found in out-of-the-way places throughout the U.S. Morris breaks into a cold sweat considering the implications of bionic body parts making a resurgence. And it’s no secret who is at the bottom of repurposing this lethal technology . . .

The Resale Value of Intergalactic Body Parts

The Vortex of a Brutal, Frozen Vacuum

Whap! Another ballistic snowball whooshes past.

I stop shoveling and wonder if I should take cover. The snowballs are pounding the late afternoon air, missing me by only a few scorching inches. Still, something tells me they are not being aimed directly at me. It seems that the stalwart men and women of the Downtown Contingent could hit me squarely between the eyes at 300 paces if they so desired.

BLAMO! That does it! One of the knuckleheads hits the beaver dead-on and nearly knocks the brass statue off its mooring.

They’re whizzing faster now, more furious, the frozen projectiles are hurtling past, burning my cheeks, leaving me reeling in the smoking, frostbitten aftermath. Is this a spontaneous outbreak of fun and frivolity on the part of the Downtown Contingent, or are its surreptitious members embarked on a quest that is far more nefarious?

Right now, I’m opting for the latter. I’m not sure any member of the Downtown Contingent knows how to have fun.

Bionic Arms – Say It ain’t so!

Whap! Another snowball screams past my ear and splatters against the granite façade of the opera house. What’s going on here? I suddenly freeze up, wondering if I’m dealing with some misguided – and deadly – technology from the deep, dark and distant past. And by that I mean bionic body parts.

I might be a little bit slow at times, but I wasn’t born yesterday. It’s no secret the Kalabrashions want to get their grimy human hands on every last bionic body part that is yet hidden across this great and fruited plain. The depths of evil to which they’re capable of sinking knows no bounds. Their little illicit chicanery will net them enormous proceeds on the black market, while bringing the threat of great horror back upon an unwitting society.

The Goosches Do It in Real Time

Or, you could be above board like the Goosche brothers, who make you work for your money, but in the long run it’s worth it. The two of them used to pitch in the big leagues. Their arms are not bionic: they just throw hard. Really hard. You don’t want to get in the way of anything that the Goosche brothers throw, not the least of which is a baseball.

The same goes for their Mama. That would be Mama Goosche.

Welcome Ad Fans . . . to the Annual Upfronts

The Goosches control advertising in the Silt Ridge market. They determine who is allowed to advertise and what their allotted budget will be. They control the category of your business and regulate the platforms that your company is allowed to utilize.

That especially applies to the upfronts. The Goosches try to make the annual Silt Ridge upfronts unique and fun, a weeklong event in spring that the whole town can come out and enjoy. They always manage to present more engaging showcases of local media year-over-year. It’s all a great deal of fun – unless of course, you’re a local advertiser who has to step into the batter’s box and endure one screaming two-seam slider after another in order to negotiate a favorable ad buy.

To my understanding, the Goosches are not participating in the snowball throwing extravaganza that’s going on in Town Square at this precise moment.

Thank goodness.

A Glaring Need for First-run Product

As another snowball flares past, I figure enough of this frivolity. Time is wasting and I have another show proposal for Noreen. I crawl to safety along the curvature of the sweeping marble staircase.

I am sopping wet by the time I stumble inside the warm, cheery office. Verona looks up from her manual typewriter as she prepares the station log for this evening’s midnight news report. She congratulates me for not getting killed.

I don’t even pause to take a whiff of Verona’s exotic soap, that’s how determined I am to pitch a new show to Noreen.

I hope the satellites haven’t conked out for the day.