Thomas Edison as a smiling child (age 9).It is a time of heroes great and not quite as great in this nation today. From the Marine who fought off an entire division of Republican Guards to the file clerk who died for your freedom from an infected paper cut, we are awash in so-called heroes. Some are to be celebrated and commended, others are no more heroic then this guy I saw who dropped his hotdog in the gutter and then started sobbing. That guy probably doesn't deserve to have a book written about him entitled "Hotdog Down" but by God someone is going to write one and have the silhouette of a hotdog in front of an American flag. In this time of heroes born so easily I think we should pause to reflect on some of the greatest heroes of our American history. Way back in February, before heroes started dropping from the sky whenever helicopters had mechanical failures, I covered George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Few would dispute that these two gentlemen deserve to be recognized as great heroes of these United States.
This installment of my intermittent American Legends series I would like to turn the focus away from politics and to the realm of enterprise and ingenuity. This piece is dedicated to a man whose inventions we are still using to this day, whose inventions changed the face of society, and won wars for us. That man is none other than inventor and businessman Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison as a stern and focused adult (age 28).Thomas Edison was born in 1847 in Milan, Ohio to an indigent share cropper and a town harlot named Lulu who doubled as the village idiot because of a severe case of lazy eye and a disfiguring hair lip. Edison's father was a brutish task-master with a tendency to fling whole cobs of corn into the young boy's face, but Edison loved his father for his work ethic despite the occasional cob related injury. Edison's mother, on the other hand, was prone to opium triggered feverish hallucinations that frequently caused her to lash out at Edison. She developed an extremely complex system of interconnected boxes that Edison had to navigate in the complete darkness or else she would beat him with a length of medical tubing. When he wasn't the guinea-pig for one of her mad experiments he was serving her tirelessly. It was in this service to his mother that Edison showed the first sparks of genius for which he would grow to fame and success in later life. When his mother demanded something problematic or distasteful of him, Edison would approach the task with dedication and technical inspiration.
In late 1858, Lulu became bed-ridden with a severe case of scurvy pox, yet the household income was dependent on her being able to turn tricks. Edison developed a system of pulleys that would gyrate his mother sufficiently during coitus to bring her customers to orgasm inside of her syphilitic crevasse. After they had filled her cup to the brim a steam-driven bilge would empty out her womb and spray it with hot water, collecting the contents in a bed pan to feed the family's growing stock of oddly aggressive goats. Edison's father Eucalyptus once remarked that if Lulu succumbed to her scurvy pox no one would even know but for the lessening of her complaints for hard tack and goat milk. This joking observation in fact came to pass when, in 1859, it was realized that Lulu had actually died nearly a month prior yet had remained in the servicing of embracing any takers for profit thanks to the workmanship of Edison's device.
Realizing that corpse-fucking might be profitable but is not actually a moral way to generate revenue, young Thomas and Eucalyptus crafted a reasonable effigy of Lulu from apple cores, goat manure, and red lipstick. This doppelganger was attached to Edison's machine with a few modifications that made it an even more "pleasing tonic for the predations of vice" than Lulu had ever been. Eucalyptus was able to retire from his hard farm labors and Thomas was able to devote his life to study and science while the fecal homunculus of his mother generated plentiful money. While Edison's productivity continued to grow, his father succumbed to sloth and quickly lost his drive. He grew immensely fat and complained endlessly that he could no longer stroll around his property and watch the goats have sex. It was for this reason that Edison developed the world's first steam-driven scooter, a precursor to today's "Rascal" brand of motor scooter for the crippled and extremely fat. Despite being able to enjoy his mobility again, Eucalyptus perished soon after doing what he loved most; chortling while watching goats hump each other.
Thomas Edison as a young man lost in thought (age 22).With his parents dead, Edison sought employment to earn his living. The mayor of the town of Milan had uncovered the truth behind the dummy of Lulu and had exiled Edison to the savage wasteland of the mid-west. For a time the teenage Thomas Edison traveled from town to town offering his services as a general problem solver. When he reached New York City he quickly found a more permanent form of employment at the Perch Auto-Vibrating Cattle Box factory. Edison's experience with both engineering and handling livestock were invaluable and in a matter of months he had churned out working prototypes for a variety of cow-related vibrating boxes. One was so powerful that when a cow was inserted it could be reduced to slurry of blood and bone in a matter of minutes.
During his hours away from work Edison immersed himself in the pursuit of technologies not related to vibrating animals into a homogeneous soup of tissues. This was the period of time during which Edison created some of his most practical and overlooked inventions. Some of these items remained as diagrams until the early 20th century when Edison had established his own laboratory and manufacturing facility.
Edison's inventions in his young adult years included:
Running Water - Before Edison determined a way to use the forces of gravity and the moon's pull on the earth liquids just remained completely inert unless manually agitated. Edison began with what he called "streams" and by his late career had developed a complex system of these streams feeding into larger bodies of water called "rivers".
Laundry Hampers - In the late 19th century soiled garments were piled on the floor, placed on so-called "dirtied linen shelves", and even hung from ropes attached to poles. Edison engineered a simple box or basket with a corresponding lid that could be removed to allow for the storage of dirty clothes.
The Atomic Bomb - Edison first designed an atomic bomb in 1887 and after several subterranean tests in caverns beneath Native American villages he was able to produce enough fissionable material to blow up the Statue of Liberty in 1902. This arsenal of ultimate weaponry has served America well through numerous wars, obliterating everywhere from Tokyo to Toronto in balls of atomic fire.
Collapsible Top Hats - Long a popular fashion statement, top hats have plagued their owners with awkward storage options while on the go. Edison put his mind to developing a top hat that could collapse in on itself "like the noble sacrifice of a doomed star" as he said in his papers. This hat was so popular that any collapsible hat became known as "An Edison".
The Color Orange - Red and yellow were the limit of color technology during the late 19th century, but Thomas Edison so unexplored potential. By combining the properties of yellow with the properties of red he discovered a new color that he termed "orange". Only a decade later, with the color industry almost completely stagnant, Edison once again shocked with world by combing blue and green to create "purple".
The Tampon - After years spent caring for his whore mother, Edison was greatly knowledgeable in the demanding field of feminine hygiene. His first tampon consisted of a brass cylinder filled with tea leaves that was inserted into the vagina with a pneumatic launcher. This evolved into something similar to what women often use today, a device he called the "unfortunate humour restrictor" which attached to the torso and had several articulated arms extending across the torso. The arms ended tiny clamps which could be fed into the vagina by a physician and used to clamp shut the fallopian tubes. The device was streamlined over the years until it finally consisted of a ball of yarn, although this caused problems whenever cats escaped into women's lavatories.
The Tuxedo T-Shirt - Edison was never one for pretenses but occasionally he found it necessary to dress his best for an event such as the test detonation of his nuclear bomb inside the head of the Statue of Liberty. Finding tuxedos unnecessarily cumbersome, not to mention expensive, Edison developed a garment with short sleeves made from cotton that could have patterns dyed into the fabric. He adapted a mechanical loom that would use spools of died cotton to assemble t-shirts almost identical in appearance to a full tuxedo.
Eventually Edison's successes at cattle vibration earned him a reputation as an up and coming scientist and inventor. He raised enough capital in the field to start out on his own, opening a small laboratory in what is today a garbage dump in New Jersey. Not everything was to go as smoothly for Edison, for while he remained consistently inspired and successful in his pursuits as an inventor he was having less than satisfactory results in his personal endeavors.
Edison's Loves and the Later Years
Thomas Edison as an accomplished yet not wholly fulfilled elder (age 61).Because of his devotion to his craft, many would call Edison a variety of names like "The Automoton", "The Human Robot", and "Cybortronos From Logiculon". Despite having the persona of someone inhumanly driven, Edison was not without concerns when it came to the affections of the female species. He frequently spent his late nights in Buzzy Bars, an anachronism of the dating scene where men and women would sit segregated at tables and would ring mechanical buzzers whenever they found someone attractive. No matter how well mannered and meticulously attired he was, Edison seemed unable to find a woman interested in him. Naturally there were a few who pursued him for his money and those so ugly that dogs barked and horses frothed at the mouth when they passed nearby. Neither demographic was particularly attractive to Edison, so once again he returned to the familiar setting of his laboratory.
From 1893 through 1895 Edison spent every waking moment developing a mate, someone who would accept him for his eccentricity and general apathy to human contact, yet was not extremely repulsive or after him for his money. His first experiments in apple cores and goat feces did not prove promising. While he could fashion a reasonably attractive woman that would accept his tender caresses, he could not fashion one that would perambulate itself and carry on conversations about diodes and the like.
Edison had a breakthrough in early 1895 when he discovered an element called electricity by accidentally brushing his hair with a coil of copper. He realized he could harness this electricity - along with another invention he called "solid state electronics" - to create a robotic companion perfectly suited to his needs. Edison created his wife's body from discarded orphan husks and aluminum and powered her with a diesel turbine he had planned to use to power a rocket vessel to the sun. He purchased a number of Jews from a traveling German merchantman and used their tanned hides to make a pleasing outer surface for his bride to be. Edison christened the robotic vixen "Marla" but was force to re-christen it "pile of parts" several days later when it went on a rampage severely injuring Edison and escaping into downtown Newark before being destroyed by a constable. Some authorities questioned the eccentric inventor's logic of including chemical lasers in his lover's eyes and mounting a retractable rotary saw in her chest.
Undeterred by critics, Edison reassembled the parts of Marla and added logic circuits that would prevent her from harming another living thing. She was reborn as "Molly" and remained with him until the day he died. Now she stands motionless above his grave in Milan, Ohio occasionally beeping or menacingly powering up her ion-cannons.
Thomas Edison provided a bounty of technological marvels for the benefit of all of mankind. He revolutionized the automotive industry, radio and telecommunications, electricity, running water, hampers, and mechanical vixens. After years of declining health, Edison finally passed away in July of 1972 after succumbing to a poison dart. Thanks to his creation of a life sustaining exoskeleton the inventor lived over 130 years, but even with all of his mighty science he could not overcome the neurotoxin-covered dart that was the trademark of Chinese blood cult assassins.
Heroes of the Rompit
Jedidiah "Ol' Hickory" Kirchner has struggled through almost an entire half level of an old horrible Nintendo game. Actually I'm beginning to think that he's secretly Amish and just pays guys to play through part of the game and take screenshots for him. Either way, read this hot new review!
In 1990, SSI challenged D&D players to trade their 20-sided dice for game controllers and pit their magic missiles against the most cunning foe of all, their Nintendos. When asked to comment on this game, our focus group of random people from the middle ages seemed relatively unimpressed and demanded to be returned to their magical, enchanted time period which was completely free of war, disease, and oppressive monarchies.
I personally have never played this game, but Lowtax asserts that it is "fucking horrible". Better find out why!
The Remains of Bidet (James Ivory, 1993)
We might find we have more in common than we think if we just stop fighting long enough to combine our bodies into a singular organism.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.