Rick's List — Inventions for Our Times Edition

Just a few of the great and creative minds whose epiphanies improve(d) the world: Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and, as long as we're alluding to inventors, those two friends in the TV ads who continue to discover new things to eat at Sonic without ever leaving the car!

Well, tattoo my name on that list of geniuses, as well. My fevered brain can't NOT invent new and important "brain thingies" (as another wizard, Alexander Graham Bell, fondly referred to his creations).

Some of my latest brain thingies to help you squeeze through life:

1. A machine you'll find at banks, groceries, convenience stores or outside city hall that will change any denomination of cash or coin into pennies. This particularly comes in handy if you have to pay a fine and would like to do so in pennies as a gesture of protest that reflects what you consider to be the degree of unfairness in the penalty.

2. These are tense times and we're increasingly running into the danger of people trying to relax or chill out. We don't have time for that! What if something happens while you're doing yoga or at the spa? We must stay aggravated and on edge, so I've developed a line of tapes you can listen to in the same way folks used to play CDs of rainfall or gentle waves on the shoreline. My tapes, though, feature explosions, screams and frightened people whimpering.

3. From the Koster Fruit Division, two notable works-in-progress:

a. We're developing an apple with a rubbery, almost buoyant skin — still tasty, by the way — that nonetheless will bounce and roll several yards when it falls and ends up far from the tree.

b. Also look for a new strain of lemons that, if Life hands them to you, will make a terrible tasting lemonade — forcing you to be self-reliant and forward-thinking when it comes to what you might do with them.

4. While not properly an "invention," I have taken note of the fact that chicken farmers — or are they "chicken ranchers"? — continue to make huge profits principally through the never-diminishing popularity of "wings" restaurants. I am thereby investing millions in marketing and development to create a culture wherein tailgate parties and sports bars will slowly come around to the idea of pairing celery stalks and blue cheese dressing with fried partridge wings, oriole wings, hawk wings, starling wings, parrot wings and, though research shows they taste heavily of aspic and the meat is rubbery (which is a shame because they're very pretty), finch wings.

5. A machine that's sorta like an answering machine, only it just saves robo-calls, fake messages saying you owe the IRS or have been caught watching porn, or recordings from politicians running for office. You can listen to them for enjoyment without having to sort through warm messages from friends or family.

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