Posts filed under “Press Clippings”


The MITRE Corporation’s cybersecurity division reported yesterday that installations of Auto-Tune all over the world had begun making current pop singers sound like Jimmy Durante. At first some form of ransomware was suspected, but no demands for money were received. Instead, recording producers have reported finding their screens covered by what one described as a “screed” about the decline of talent in the music industry. The only clue was the signature, which was variously reported as “Zobar,” “Brazo,” “Ozbra,” and several similar variants. The Department of Homeland Security has raised the threat level to LightSalmon (#FFA07A).


Sir: Are you going to eat that? I could eat that. I could eat it for you. It would spare you the trouble of eating it. I could eat that, and it would be eaten. And then I could eat more of that, and you would not have to eat that, either. I could eat as much as you would like me to eat. You could put it on the floor right now, and the next time you looked, it would be gone, and you would not have to worry about it. I could meet it halfway. If you lowered it to knee level, for example, I could still eat it. I could eat the rest of it, even though you have eaten half of it by now. Do you think you have eaten enough? Maybe you have eaten enough, and you need help eating the rest. I will be happy to be of service. I will eat the rest, and you will not have to eat the rest. You will not suffer from overeating at all, because I will have eaten it. Is there more in the pan? I think there is more in the pan. I could eat that as well. But right now if you simply tilted your plate, it would allow gravity to operate, and I could eat whatever fell. It would not even hit the ground. I am willing to make that sacrifice for you. I would eat it, and I would spare you the necessity of cleaning it up. Now you have eaten what was on the plate, but I could still lick the residue. I could clean that plate so well it would not have to go in the dishwasher. Are you going to get more from the pan? I think you are going to get more from the pan. You did get more from the pan. Are you going to eat that? I could eat that. ——Sincerely, The Dog Under the Table.


Sir: As your readers are doubtless well aware, this is National Store-Brand Packaging Week. The Continental Association of Supermarket and Drugstore House Brand Designers, of which I have the honor to be secretary, would like to take this opportunity to remind your readers of the effort that goes into creating a suitable brand identity for store-brand products. Most shoppers, we find, have no real idea of the delicate calculations, not to mention the sheer artistry, involved in creating packaging that is almost but not quite as attractive as that of the national brands. Great care is necessary: a moment of immoderate inspiration, unchecked by rigid discipline, and we might create a product more appealing than the identical but more profitable name-brand product. That, of course, would be a catastrophe. To create exactly the right impression of pretty-good-for-the-price requires heroic dedication to the principles of mediocrity in design.

As a class, designers of store-brand packaging are a selfless lot. We do not ask for much. Only once a year, and only for a week, do we set out our tip jars in the aisles of your local supermarket and drug store. All we ask is that, as you pass by and debate with a loved one, or with yourself if you have no one who loves you enough to debate this question with you, whether the national brand is worth the extra 40¢, you remember the artists who made the debate possible. Give generously to the people who make sense of your world by ordering all the products in it in a subjective and arbitrary hierarchy of perceived quality.

—Sincerely, Ranulf Hotch, Secretary, Continental Association of Supermarket and Drugstore House Brand Designers.


The Grant Borough Pride Parade was such a success that the Burgess and council have decided the borough could use more events of the same type. Join us at the Borough Building Saturday, October 9, for the first annual Grant Borough Envy Parade. We have at least five other parades in mind if this one is a success.


Sir: This morning I had occasion to drive out to one of those urban neighborhoods where the only place to park is on the street, and so I parked on the street, which was the only place to park. Then I had to walk half a block in the wrong direction to the parking kiosk, where I had to wait behind three other motorists who had parked in the same block, and then I had to enter my license-plate number twice, because the first time I had forgotten to push the green button to start the process of accepting my license-plate number, and then I had to wait while the kiosk processed the license-plate number, and then I had to plunk in the money for the parking, and then I had to wait while the machine processed the money and declared to me that it had indeed received the money, and then I had to walk the half-block back past my car, and then another half-block to my destination.

Yes, I thought, this is a lot of work for the ordinary motorist who merely wishes to stop his car at the curb and spend his money at a taxpaying business along that particular street. But it is all necessary, so that we may enjoy the many benefits of metered parking, as enumerated in my monograph, The Many Benefits of Metered Parking, and in the companion volume, A Number of Benefits of Metered Parking Which Had Not Occurred to Me When I Published My First Book on Metered Parking, the two books together constituting what I like to call a digraph.

And then I was suddenly struck by an inspiration. Fortunately there was only minor bruising of my left cheek. Suppose, I thought in my inspired state, the parking kiosks were individualized. Suppose, instead of having to walk half a block to a kiosk with a complex and unergonomic keypad, the happy motorist found an individual parking kiosk right at the individual space where said individual motorist parked.

How would this be accomplished? Obviously one would need some sort of small and inexpensive timing device, activated by the insertion of money. It could be located on a post or pole next to the parking space on the street, at about the ideal height for the average human being to manipulate it. The timer could be electronic, but if the use of electric power is a difficulty, it could be a clockwork, constructed on the same principle as an ordinary kitchen timer. This would have certain obvious advantages over the current system: among others, it could be arranged to provide a visual display of the time paid for at that particular space on the street, counting down until no time is left; it would also be possible for the motorist to add to that time before it has run down (which is impossible with the current centrally located parking kiosks), thus encouraging parked motorists to patronize more businesses on the same street and causing more tax money to flow to the city government.

Since it is a device to make the use of metered parking simpler and more efficient, it might be called a parking measurer or parking logger or some such thing. But I will leave those details to the marketing professionals who will doubtless be called upon to introduce the invention to the public.

I am not an idle visionary or head-in-the-clouds dreamer. I realize that such individualized parking time recording and display devices (I just thought of this name for them) may not be possible given the current state of technology. But clockwork technology is improving all the time, and in the near future it will certainly be possible to mount a coin-operated timing device on a pole. When that day comes, I hope the city parking authority will give serious consideration to my proposal.

——Sincerely, “Mad Mark” Markovitz, Downtown.


Hell laid off 45% of its non-managerial workforce today, describing the move as a “rightsizing” of the company that would render it a “leaner and more efficient organization better able to meet the needs of its loyal customer base.” Satan, CEO and president of the firm, was quoted as saying, “We look forward to meeting the needs of our customers for many eons to come, and this latest move will enable us to continue offering our complete service package for the low price of only one immortal soul.” The announcement was not unexpected, as observers have pointed out for years that social media can multiply the work of one demon many times over. A spokesdemon for the devils’ union issued a statement which the Dispatch has found necessary to censor.


Sir: This is all your fault. I have heard some blame the phase of the moon, but I do not believe it. Others have hinted that the Empress Irene was to blame, but a man must be singularly lacking in gallantry to make such an assertion. A few squirrely old scholars have told me that it all goes back to Alexander Pope, but their arguments were specious and unconvincing. The Republicans, of course, blame it on Heraclitus, and the Democrats on Anaxagoras, but to use such a catastrophe for political gain is beneath me. One or two orthodontists of my acquaintance have blamed U Thant, but they would, wouldn’t they? And of course the electricians blame Robert Mugabe, but I have it on good authority that he has an alibi. No, this is your fault and no one else’s, and under the circumstances I must regretfully cancel my subscription.

Sincerely, The Man Over There with His Left Shoe on His Head.



Pittsburgh (Special to the Dispatch).—Auxiliary Bishop Wendell ffigge-Barre of the West Central Northeastern North American Anglican Church (Semiliberal) is in stable condition after undergoing semicolon surgery at St. Bede’s Hospital in Esplen, according to a statement from the diocese.

“This intervention was necessary to cure Bishop ffigge-Barre’s tendency to witter on ad infinitum,” a spokesdeacon explained, reading a prepared statement.

Surgeons at St. Bede’s say that the bishop has already begun to talk in simple sentences, indicating that the procedure was a success.



PITTSBURGH (Special to the Dispatch).—The United Nations Educa­tional, Scientific and Cultural Organi­zation announced today that the Pitts­burgh Left has been added to UNESCO’s Repre­senta­tive List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

“The practice of making a left turn just before the light turns green,” the text of the original nomina­tion declares, “while not unique to Pitts­burgh, has been developed there to such a degree as to constitute a recog­nizable form of folk art.”

“Safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage depends on trans­ferring of knowledge from one genera­tion to the next,” said a UNESCO statement read by a children’s choir at the corner of Forbes and Murray in Squirrel Hill. “Conditions must be maintained in which cultural traditions can thrive. The Pittsburgh Left would be en­dangered if modern left-turn cycles were added to previously existing traffic signals.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works later replied in a prepared statement that “UNESCO shouldn’t lose much sleep over that.”