* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where opportunity is always knocking, but we never let it in because it doesn't have a warrant. Say, how would you like to be the spokesperson for a national organic coalition? Because something tells us that Twinkie the Kid will not be getting the job...

Twinkie The Kid Interviews For A Job As National Organic Coalition Spokesperson

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Let me start by sayin’ thanks for calling me in for this interview. When I read that ‘cause organic foods have been so popular the last few years that you’d be hiring a national icon, it got me startin’ to thinking. But when I realized that, in particular, you were lookin’ for a symbol that the average American Joe could relate to, I yelled out –- yippee-ki-yay! Then I jumped out of my hot tub, grabbed my cell phone and called ya’ll. Hey, I don’t need to tell you guys that Twinkies are already an American icon. And I clearly had a lot to do with getting it to that level. Look at me! I’m as American as apple pie. I got my cowboy hat. I got my cowboy boots. I’m practically the John Wayne of snack foods!

What? You’ve never eaten a Twinkie? None of you? Get outta here! Did ya’ll grow up in Communist Russia, or what?

Excuse me? Why would I, in particular, be a suitable representative of organic foods? Hmm, well, let me ask you something – what is the one thing that most people think when they hear about organic foods? I’ll tell you –- it rots! That’s right. Organic foods have no preservatives. It rots quickly if you don’t eat or cook it. Well, I don’t think I need to tell you that one thing that people think of when they think of Twinkies is – they last forever. Not a bad association to have: me…Twinkies…lasts forever…organic foods. And on top of that I’m a cowboy. Like I said there ain’t nothing more American than that. This will help dispel the controversy that organic food is part of a terrorist plot to drain us all of our money. That’s right, I read that someplace.

So, okay, I know I’m not made of carob. And I couldn’t tell you the difference between a brussel sprout and a head of lettuce. But I am pretty awesome here with this lasso. I was thinking that you could show my lassoing things out on the range. You know, catching those free-range animals. Probably not a chicken. But, I could ride up on my organic free-range horse, lasso me a free-range cow, drop it to the ground and tie it up in ten seconds flat. You know, it would put a bit of brawn behind that wimpy feeling people get when they think of organic food.

Are you sure not one of you, ever, not even once, had a Twinkie?

Why did I leave my last job? Well, I’ve been involved in the snack food industry since the early 70’s. And a few weeks ago I was sitting around playin’ a weekly game of quarters with Captain Cupcake and Fruitpie the Magician. Fruitpie was yakking it up again about the job stress and his ulcer. And the Captain lost his hearing aid in his beer stein again. I thought to myself — what a pathetic bunch of losers. Then I thought, you know, I ain’t so fluffy and spongy anymore. My frosting’s startin’ to dry up. Do I want to be sitting around a decade from now pining for the good ole’ days of artificial coloring and preservatives with long chemical names? No. I know which side my organic bread is buttered, uh, Earth Balanced on. I can see that organic food is the wave of the future. And, I want to be standing under that wave.

What? That’s it? Oh, come on. I can tell I haven’t sold you, yet. Gimme me just two more minutes and we’ll be good.

Great, thanks. All I ask is that you each take a little taste of my filling. It’s white, right, so it’s got to be pure. Just one taste. Excellent.

See. Not bad, huh? Actually, it’s pretty damn awesome, right?

Maybe, we could emphasize that my corn syrup is from organic corn. Sure, it’s a bit of lie, but no one would know. Hmm, yes, I do have some actual boxes of Twinkies in my saddle-bag. Sure, here, take one. What’s that? Uh, I don’t really know if Dextrose, Cellulose Gum, Polysorbate 60, or Dextrin could be considered organic. But, heck, you guys run this thing. Maybe you could, you know, make it so. Actually, yes, I think there’s an egg in there, too. That’s good isn’t it?

More Twinkies? Wow, you guys tore through that first three boxes pretty quick. Sure, I can call the supplier, but let’s just start with one truckload.

Before I do that, though, I have one last question: so, am I hired, or what?

Ah, excellent.

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On The Care And Feeding Of Rosemary’s Baby

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Thank you for watching our little Adrian! We’re sure you’ll find him to be a wonderful, easy-to-care-for baby. Our cell phone numbers are on the refrigerator door. And if you feel at all nippish while we are gone, there is bowl of chocolate mousse on the bottom shelf that we’d love for you to snack on.

There are a few things we’d like you to know about the care of our son. First of all, before entering his room, remove any crucifixes or St. Mary’s medals from around your neck or person. In fact, you should avoid moving any objects into a crisscross pattern, or standing with your arms outstretched in a cruciform posture. For some reason this makes him irritable and difficult to put to sleep later on.

Second, please make sure that he isn’t separated from his collection of stuffed animals. He loves to whisper in their ears and ask them to do his bidding. It is so cute. By the way, his set of stuffed rams is his favorite toy. And don’t panic, we do allow him to cover them in the washable red paint. When he’s done, you’ll find washcloths under the kitchen sink (a great time to grab some of that yummy mousse!). Also, it may sound like he is speaking Latin backwards as he plays. It is just his unique way of babbling.

We suggest giving Adrian a bath before bed. We are not sure where that odd stench surrounding him is coming from. I have tried eliminating garlic from my meals as it may be getting into my breast milk (note: you may want to use one of the industrial strength surgical masks when changing his diaper). As you place Adrian into the bath you’ll need to sooth him if he seems anxious. We suggest repeating, “this is not holy water, this not holy water.” It works like a charm!

Now, we know that there are different opinions on whether or not to allow your child to have a snack before bed. Actually, we find there is no avoiding it. We don’t think we are spoiling our charming baby by giving him whatever he demands when it comes to food. Also, you’ll find if you don’t feed him, he’ll cry and the temperature in the room will increase significantly — feel free to turn up any of the six air conditioners we have scattered around the apartment. We recommend that you feed him either pieces of lightly cooked steak, some goat’s milk (it only smells fermented), or a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. And while you are in the kitchen don’t forget to have some of the chocolate mousse for yourself — I made it from scratch.

One of our current parenting challenges is getting our son to sleep on his own. We have recently become advocates of the Ferber method of sleep acclimation. We know, the Cry It Out approaches are thought to be an unnatural way by some to teach a baby to sleep. But we feel it is appropriate for our child. So, when you do finally put young Adrian to bed, tell him you will be in the other room, to be a good baby, and go to sleep. He may cry at first, but do not go back in. This is key to the Ferber method. You may feel tempted to come back in when he begins to cry out “IN THE NAME OF ABBADON, RELEASE ME FROM THIS PRISON OR I WILL GRIND YOUR BONES IN BRIMSTONE AND YOU WILL DIE WITH THE SCENT OF YOUR VERY SOUL CHARRING IN YOUR NOSTRILS.” We suggest putting on an episode of Seinfeld and turning up the volume. That’s what we do.

Finally, if after eating the chocolate mousse, you begin to feel a bit sleepy, feel free to take a nap in the guest room. And if you hear hypnotic-chanting on the other side of the wall, ignore it. Our neighbors usually have a Saturday night poker game/chanting club every week. Nothing to be concerned about, nothing to be worried about at all.

Good luck and sweet dreams!

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A Brief Conversation with My Hair

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Me: My Hair has had a career defined by wild extremes. Each highlight, such as His First Trip to the Barber, has been followed by failures like So This is a Mullet. I am confident that My Hair will have lots to say in what is his first opportunity to speak out publicly. Welcome, My Hair. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule.

My Hair: The pleasure is all mine. Frankly, I thought no one really cared about my career anymore.

Me: Let’s start by focusing on some of those moments when you struggled. What were you thinking when you found yourself working on The Too Tight Perm?

My Hair: Yes, yes, that was quite grueling, wasn’t it? Well, the fact is, I had always had dreams of being a loose mane of long curls — unkempt but sexy — kind of like a modern day Jim Morrison. I expected a loose perm, but came out with a set of tight curls — more “Weird Al” Yankovic than Mr. Morrison.

Me: Did Shave It All Off come as a relief after this experience?

My Hair: Somewhat. Actually, Shave It All Off had been something I wanted to work on since the Limp Mohawk Incident — another tragedy that I’d rather not get into.

Me: Let’s go back to some of your early work. What do you look back on most fondly?

My Hair: From my early years, I look back on Before My Classmates Cajoled Me into Washing My Hair Every Day as a particular nadir. Before then, I basked in the innocence of just being who I was. I did not feel the incessant pressure of needing to look like everyone else. I miss the days of that free-flow of creativity: letting dirt and dead leaves stick to me for days on end. Splattered mud was a form of unconscious self-expression. All of my contemporaries were in a thriving creative cauldron; then came junior high school. Suddenly, my peers were smothered in gels and drained of life by blow-dryers. That’s when I became involved with The Hairspray Debacle. Can after can of that stuff can rot your brain and eat away at your follicles. Let’s just say — when you wake up one day surrounded by empty cans and the dank scent of aerosol in the air, you learn to stop cold turkey.

Me: Your career kind of faded for a bit. You were long ignored and didn’t try anything new or edgy as you attempted to do in your 20’s.

My Hair: I chalk that up to the relative implosion that followed Damn, Is My Hair Thinning? I found myself in a deep depression. I was riddled with anxiety and my contact with the outside world became limited. I became a virtual recluse — hiding under baseball caps and winter hats. As far as I was concerned I would have been happy to never see the light of day again.

Me: That changed, however.

My Hair: As everyone knows, I came out of my shell with I Have a Girlfriend Who Loves Me, Potential Male-Pattern Baldness and All. Yes, thank God for that. If that hadn’t happened, I might have languished in constant reruns of Shave It All Off forever.

Me: These days you seem to have gained the respect of your peers. You are very visible and generally admired, or at least tolerated by your audience. Do you think it had much to do with I Have a Girlfriend…?

My Hair: Most definitely. Especially because that was followed by She Married Me, Now I Can Go Completely Bald and I Won’t Be Alone. This whole period of my life has given me a confidence I never had before. It’s allowed me to tap into a sense of just being myself, which I never had as a youth. I think this happens to most in my position. It has also given me the confidence to engage in riskier material again.

Me: You mean such things as Why Pay $25 to a Hair-Dresser When I Can Cut My Own Hair with a $25 Pair of Shears?

My Hair: Yes. And Mutton-Chops Can Look Good on a Forty-Year-Old.

Me: Well, I want to thank you for talking with me today. Before we go, can you tell us which of your future projects you are most excited about?

My Hair: I probably shouldn’t say anything about this, since so few know about it yet, but I’m currently in hot negotiations over Honey, What Do You Think of Cornrows?

*****

If you enjoyed this piece, visit Russell Bradbury-Carlin’s web site: AllMyShoesAndGlasses.com

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Diary Of A Grocery Cart

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May 11: Oh, I am shining. I am glistening with hope. Here I am in the tractor-trailer with all of my shining, glistening comrades making our way to a Piggly Wiggly in Penopshaw, Indiana. After all of my time dreaming about this day, it has finally come. I am going to be of service to the common man. I will wheel over asphalt and tile to carry his or her burdens, help families provide sustenance, to be an integral part of the Capitalist system — I am the future of grocery transportation devices. No higher calling could I think of.

May 13: I thought that being at the end of the truck meant I would be one of the first fresh carts for customers to make use of. Instead, they took us off one by one, and I was jammed deep into the far recesses of Backup Cart Storage Area #2A in the plastic-covered, dirt-floored side lot of the store. I am not discouraged, though. This is giving me ample opportunity to drink in all aspects of my new life. Sure, I share my space with the over-ripe fruit disposal container. But, who said the life of a hard-working grocery cart would be all soft loaves of Wonderbread and bright bags of Cheetos. I feel lucky to have this time to watch the veritable ballet of fruitflies dancing around me. I will be patient. My day will come.

May 21: Today I was moved to the main backup cart storage area at the front of the store. Oh, the bright lights, the bustling murmur of customers entering and leaving the store. I am almost sure I can hear the laughter in their voices as they wheel other carts from the store ladened with their freshly bought grocery items. That is the good news. The bad news is that my back right wheel is almost completely covered in some sort of sticky brown muck with a gum wrapper stuck to it. I fear that I may be unbalanced – that if someone takes me, they may reject me — because who wants to push a cart that wobbles. I will keep my hopes high as best I can.

May 23: Today I was outfitted with an advertisement card on my child seat. I’m happy because it means I’m being suited up for my first foray into the store. It means I’m finally getting my chance. Unfortunately, the downside is that I feel as though the message on the advertisement — “Wiggle Your Way To Great Savings At Piggly Wiggly!” — makes my mucked up rear wheel more apparent with the “wiggle” reference and all. I know paranoia is a drink best taken in sips. I mustn’t let this damage my excitement. I will hope that no one will make the connection.

May 24: It was a bit of wait, but I’m in! It was a busy Saturday so this morning I was moved into the main cart station. After a number of people started to roll me into the store and abandoned me after noticing my wobbly wheel — I was given the opportunity to assist a family of six. As they loaded me up with Tang and butterscotch pudding, I bopped along with the muzak version of “Losing My Religion”. I was overflowing with abundance. I think I’m going to like it hear. What am I talking about? I do like it here.

June 14: Children — God bless them — should not be allowed to be unsupervised in a cart. It says so on the placard near the front door. This one little tyke who was fond of a can of strained peaches, decided to take out his latent aggressions on me by pounding the can on my frame. The damage wasn’t too bad — a few dents and chipped coating. I hope it doesn’t rust. I will soldier on, though. Despite my shredded finish, I will finish my job. Despite my disappointment, I will not disappoint.

August 28:

Shakespeare once wrote:

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us

And, I almost told this fat guy about his apparent vice — gluttony. “Hey, buddy! Didn’t you hear that cola can take the rust off of metal? It turns your teeth into dust. Do you really think you can drink twenty cases of cola in a week and not have your stomach dissolve? It will dissolve or my name isn’t A Shopping Cart.”

August 29: I want to apologize, Diary, for my entry yesterday. It was the week before Memorial Day and I had been constantly out in the store and in the lot for seven days straight. My head’s clearer now. I am clearer now. I will not get upset like that again. Because my head is clearer now. I am relaxed.

September 4: Those scummy little punks! Last night, near closing, a group of rogue juveniles nabbed me as I sat out at the side of the store. Who parents these violent and untamed youths? They took me for a joy ride — deciding it would be fun to slam me into the sides of buildings. I lost a wheel in the vestibule of the pet food store. Then, these desperate youths dragged me out to the copse of woods behind the store and shoved me into the swamp. As I write this now, I’m half-buried in mud. In the dim murky distance I can see the inert outlines of other carriages. I am sure they are covered in rust, I can smell it from here. I’m trying to keep my hopes up — at least mosquitoes don’t bite metal.

September 6: I’m still trapped in this viscous swamp. But, I continue to pray for the best. It is difficult. I fear I may be too far from the store to find my way back alone. At night, I have fever-dreams of families in the store juggling produce and meats in their arms, entire rounds of cheese, sausage links, and celery stalks crashing to the floor in a dirty and distasteful floor salad. I could be there right now. I could be helping them.

September 8: I am guessing, at this point, that the Cart Organizer, Ben, will not come looking for this lost member of his flock. I remember thinking him lazy when I first laid eyes upon him and now I know for sure. I write this now knowing I will never make it back home. I was so ready a few short months ago to fill my open carriage with the bounty of life that lines the well-stocked shelves of Piggly Wiggly. Now, all I am left with are boxes of shattered dreams, cans of disillusionment, and bags of lost hopes. So please remember me faithful reader, whoever you may be. Remember me for my once steely optimism. Remember me for the corners I turned — despite handicaps. Remember me, world. And sing out my name. Sing out A Shopping Cart.

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A Life Reviewed:
A Collection of Blurbs

By:

“Maybe two or three times in a generation, a person transcends his or her humanity to become myth-like. Bradbury-Carlin is not an event of this order.”

Time

“Bradbury-Carlin finds poignancy, terror, sacrifice, (some bit of) wisdom, mystery, numerable neuroses, heartbreak and a real emotional impact that emerges from a life lived just under the speed limit.”

Newsweek

“A cross between America’s Funniest Videos’ Bob Saget and a slightly melancholic David Schwimmer, of Friends. This is no mere hyperbole.”

Entertainment Weekly

“A strange, perplexing and, at times, indecipherable life.”

— Clark Derpot, The Christian Science Monitor

“Bradbury-Carlin’s tragicomic life — a fantasia of bad television shows and bizarre writings and an addiction to English muffins — invokes the glorious, unreliable promises of art, politics and beauty.”

— Jack Krumb, WTOC Radio

“This man is truly mediocre. Middle-aged, white, middle-class and male — a heady pastiche of all that is deemed ‘average.'”

The Washington Post

“Elegantly alluring…a life that works both as a paean to love (of caffeine) and a subtly sly comedy of errors.”

Cosmopolitan

“Bradbury-Carlin is certainly pleasurable enough, I guess.”

— Cass Fremont, Saturday Review

“The scenes of his eluding the grade school bully for almost a full year with his elaborate, methodical escape routes home…worth the price of admission. The scenes of his fumbling through a daisy chain of first dates and awkward sexual encounters…priceless.”

New York Times

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