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.