Dear Billy, my favorite boy on the internet:
I’m gonna teach you about rats today, but first things first. Thanks for posting your email address on my pot pie blog’s comments for the world to see. That was a risky move so I responded in kind, and my bassist, ever the pragmatist, emailed me to warn of spammers so I took them down. After a lengthy email exchange with you about the price of airport snacks, I met Lackey for lunch and we went on a wild goose chase for books about things I don’t understand.
While on this wild goose chase, I came across an encyclopedia set entitled The Wonderland Of Knowledge, A Pictorial Pageant. The set was published in 1938 and I wanted it bad. But since we were on foot, I could only buy one. So I got Volume 10: PEA-SAN for 25 cents.
When I got home, I started reading the Encyclopedia. It’s awesome. It’s written completely weird and it’s delightfully outdated, and everything seems to be editorialized. There’s no real information. Here are some actual excerpts for your enjoyment:
PINEAPPLE PACKING: Machines remove most of the outside coat, then the fruits are carefully trimmed by girls.
That’s all there is to this entry. Accompanying it is a picture of women in hairnets trimming pineapples on a factory conveyor belt. Fascinating.
POLO, MARCO: Because two men once took a youth to China, all Europe stirred from its sleep to answer the call of far-off pagoda bells and bring back the riches of the East. The three Polos went to Persia in the company of a Mongolian Princess.
Well, I’ll be. Thank god I now know why I play that game in swimming pools. WTF? And for the record, “The company of a Mongolian Princess” has now replaced “Traveling Bard to Follow Me and Record My Deeds in Song” as my Life Priority List Topper.
This next one has a picture!
RADIO: (picture caption) Radio sound effects men are artists in their highly specialized craft.
Billy. Tapping shoes on a table has now joined the ranks of “highly specialized crafts.” Wanna run away with me and go to Foley Artist school? It sounds, like, sooooooo easy, and stuff.
PLANTS: Every person in the world is vitally interested in plants. One person may declare he is only interested in books, another may marvel as a farmer at grains, but either would acknowledge he could not exist for even a brief time without plants.
Hmmm. Books come from trees and grains are plants. I think there is more to say about plants. I dunno. Maybe these guys covered it all. Maybe I was wrong.
PUMPKIN: No one has ever discovered a definite rule for separating pumpkins from squash. A common field pumpkin would not be mistaken for a squash. Pumpkins are used for Jack-O-Lanterns and pies.
True. Pumpkins were not declared squashes until the birth of Wikipedia. This writer obviously disapproves of anything squash-related and will do everything in his power to separate his beloved pumpkins from being branded with the squash label. Very valiant.
And here’s my very favorite. But before I go into it, take a look at the picture below, and its caption. It’s all you need to know about raspberries:
Caption please! Big red Raspberries are very popular, either fresh or preserved. They also make good pies.
And now, my favorite. You’ll notice the picture above of the rat gazing longingly at the Raspberries. That’s because “RAT” is the next entry, and the most editorialized of all. It goes a little something like this:
RAT: Death and destruction follow the trail of the rat. Every year, millions of dollars worth of eggs, meats, and small domestic animals such as rabbits and baby chicks are destroyed by this pest. Vicious fighters, they often kill and eat one another, and have been known to ATTACK AND KILL pigs, calves, and even MEN. White rats bear none of the characteristics of the hated brown rat and are perfectly harmless and may be kept as pets. Dogs, cats, poisons and traps are fairly effective as rat-killers, but the best means of control is the construction of rat-proof buildings.
Oh. My. God. Where to start? I feel like the dude who wrote this entry got up in the morning to go to work and found a rat gnawing on his toothbrush and shitting in his tea and he got SO pissed that he was like, “GODDAMMIT I’M WRITING ABOUT THOSE VILE RATS TODAY.” He’s okay with white rats, because those ones don’t kill pigs and men. And forget about the fact that those pests will kill something as big as your cow babies, too, just sic your little puppy dog on ’em, unless of course you have figured out a way to construct a RAT-PROOF moat around your house.
I am having so much fun with this book. Tomorrow I will go get the rest of the set. I think I may start an oft-updated sidebar column in my blog, something like “My Favorite Encyclopedia Post This Week.”
Hope you learned something. Talk to you tomorrow. And no, that was not a passive-aggressive ploy to elicit a phone number. By “talk” I mean “type.” Email rules.