politics

Overwhelmed By The Times, Another American Business Closes

We, here at The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond, have always been advocates for and supporters of small businesses, including (sometimes against my better judgement) those started by my good friend, Eugene, and his pal Purly. In 2010 we featured their Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods as that style of fishing was gaining wide acceptance and in 2012 we introduced the world to Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits. (Click this link to read that original post.)

It is with great regret we announce today that the manufacture of Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits has ceased. Sadly, the failure of this business is a result of the unsettled times in which we find ourselves. Born of a metaphor and nurtured on hyperbole, Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits were at one time considered “at least adequate” by untold numbers of customers, satisfied or not. Abandoned now in favor of more extreme measures, affected by a pandemic and caught up in events beyond their control, Eugene and Purly have been forced to close the doors. Join us now as we remember an innovative, truly American product, including exclusive, behind the scenes photos.

Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kit Headquarters

Barack Obama had just been elected to a second term when Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits hit the market. Their original ad copy spoke to the mood of the country:

We are faced with many issues in these troubled times, and some people would have you believe that these issues are complicated, difficult to understand, and worthy of thoughtful conversation.

Poppycock!

Everyone knows it’s winner-take-all these days, so quit screwing around with careful reasoning and listening to the other side! You need bold rhetorical strokes to shut the other guy up, and you want the broadest brush possible to paint him into a corner when logic fails. Our selection of new products gives you everything you need to win any argument!

The 12″ Mini Brush

Many a dinner table “discussion” was put to a stop by one of their 12″ “mini” brushes and the reach of its 6′ handle. Word spread and the orders poured in, capably processed by enthusiastic staff working in immaculate surroundings, using a filing system that one expert described as “indescribable”.

Order Processing Facility

Customers who didn’t have time for stuff like “facts”, “logic”, and “choices” also appreciated the narrow range of colors offered, described in the literature as “the only two colors that matter these days!

Color #1: Black

Color #2: White

Orders increased very quickly, as people stocked up with a supply of each color. You never knew what color the next guy would be using or when you might need to change things up, just to keep the morons off balance. More raw materials were required, along with storage, so an annex was added and a Chief Materials Foreman was hired to insure uniformity and quality. The system and methods he initiated were viewed by modern efficiency experts as “absolutely unbelievable.”

Raw Material Grading

The workers in the Shipping Department displayed teamwork and ingenuity as they fulfilled their duties. Their dedication was recognized by many customers, one of whom wrote that their packing methods were “beyond imagination.”

Shipping

Rapid growth defined Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits for the next several years but demand exploded in the summer of 2016. Concentrating on their most popular category, production of extra-large brushes was increased while researchers sought ways to make bigger and bigger brushes. Eugene and Purly showed appreciation to their workers, leveraging their success to provides niceties such as “breaks”.

Preparing Coffee in the Employee Break Area

Pandemic-Ready Modern Restroom and Sanitation Facilities were also installed.

Modern Facilities

Relying on word of mouth and a dedicated force of Professional Sales Representatives, countless records were set and business was on an upward trajectory, like a spaceship.

Professional Sales Representative

Meanwhile, folks were painting in broader and broader strokes, the likes of which no one had ever seen. They were also demanding brushes of constantly increasing size. Supplies of ingredients for proprietary paint formulas became harder to find and shortages developed. It was unclear how long Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits could live up to its promise that, “these two colors absolutely will not, under any circumstances, mix together, enabling you to make your case with no shades of gray! They actually repel each other, and are also permanent, so no one (not even you) will ever be able to change your mind!

The previous high standards were relaxed and paints began to smear. Surprisingly, many people wanted smears and smearing became a craze. Bold rhetorical flourishes looked to be in danger. It has come to pass that broad strokes, being plural, require too much engagement for some people, many of whom don’t want to change their minds anyway.

In an effort to meet these changing requirements, a high-priced Consultant was engaged in January of 2020. He worked diligently until he fainted with exhaustion that afternoon, but as he slid to the floor he mumbled something about the World’s Biggest Brush.

High-Priced Consultant, Hard at Work

Such a project would involve huge expenditures, for which Eugene and Purly sought financing. Unable to secure loans via traditional avenues such as banks (something about needing a Social Security Number), more creative means were employed, mostly barter and arm twisting. Precision equipment was needed, along with personnel to run it, and these were obtained in short order.

Modern Precision Equipment

For the base of the World’s Biggest Brush, it was decided that ash was the appropriate wood to use. In plentiful supply, and cheap, due to the number of ash trees in Vermont being cut down to save them from the Emerald Ash Borer, an imported, invasive pest, ash only made sense. Log after log was processed, milled, and joined until, this summer, the base of the brush was large enough that no brush anywhere else could possibly be bigger.

A discussion ensued regarding the fairness of making only one giant brush so it was decided to cut the base in two, which took a day and a half. Only the firmest, strongest opinions could ever lift either piece, but Eugene and Purly were confident they would sell and felt this was the best choice as it would solve the problem of having one color of paint left over.

Paint color itself became an issue as events unfolded over the summer. The choice of either black or white suddenly seemed quite inappropriate. Aware that they were creating the new problem of having two colors of paint left over, Eugene and Purly set about finding two new colors to replace them. Eugene suggested his favorite color, which is Safety Green, which Purly complimented with his, Hunter Orange. Focus groups shielded their eyes and agreed they had rarely seen a combination like that one.

Innumerable holes were carefully drilled in the two brush bases, in anticipation of the imported bristles, due in from China at the beginning of July, which is about the same time U.S. Customs Agents raided the headquarters of Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits, Inc. The 13 tons of brush bristles they’d ordered had been confiscated at the docks and turned out to not be brush bristles at all, but cosmetic weaves made from real human hair, suspected to be that of political prisoners in Chinese camps. Convinced Eugene and Purly knew nothing about such things and were, indeed, shocked and appalled at the thought, the Agents departed, as did the dream of building the World’s Two Biggest Brushes.

Eugene and Purly remain philosophical about their foray into politics. They have scrapped their plans to develop a two-handed brush for internet use, though, because, as Purly put it, “Black and white just aren’t good enough for some people any more. Our brushes were never intended for lies, anyway. That’s what the internet’s for, I guess.”

It’s nearly August and to men like Eugene and Purly that means it’s time to start thinking ahead to winter and, quite frankly, they have just about had it with people. They are back at their place above Horrible Swamp, off Lower Skunk Hollow Road, where you will find them strictly enforcing social-distancing rules — meaning if you’re not them and get hit with bird shot, you’re too close.

The former employees of Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits, Inc. have been working hard, cutting the bases for the World’s Two Biggest Brushes into smaller pieces, as the new employees of Eugene and Purly’s Exceptionally Large Cribbage Board Company. Once they figure out how to move those pieces indoors they hope to have the painted boards available in time for Christmas. Limited Colors. Shipping extra. Pegs not included.

Categories: Humor, politics, Stories About My Good Friend, Eugene | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Need of Improvement

If people want to do yoga with goats, or in hot rooms, or even on paddle boards, they should. If they want to put on kimonos and sit awkwardly in the woods, that is fine by me, too. At this point, anything that puts us closer to the better angels of our nature would be welcome. Peace and justice were the dreams of our ancestors and terrible divisions among us are the dreams of those who wish us harm.

Of an Evening

As has been implied multiple times in these pages, fishing is my goat yoga on a paddle board. I spent a decade fishing a private lake where, for some guys, fishing meant trolling in the morning, a nap in the afternoon, and then a quick toddy or two before motoring out to fish the evening rise with white Wulffs and cream-colored duns. For me, it meant finding odd seams of time when nothing else was going on, my work was done, and no one on the water would object to my presence. I fished a lot of hot Sunday afternoons and rainy Wednesdays (which were when the blue-winged olives came off.)

A BWO Day.

Booming long casts over still water while surrounded by trout is quite a thing, but I have always been fond of small streams and brook trout. The aforementioned lake is fed by just such a stream, full of rocks, shaded by hemlocks, with brush tight to the banks, and one day the chair of the committee in charge of improving the fishing by “improving” the ecology asked me, “Quill, how do you think we could improve that stream?”

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked in return.

“Well, you can’t fish it, for one thing,” she replied.

“But I fish up there and it’s full of little native brookies,” I said.

“That’s the other thing,” she said. “They’re so small!”

I tried to make the case for cold, clear water and tiny char, but to no avail. She ended the conversation, saying I obviously understood nothing about habitat improvement and her committee set out to see about opening things up back there by taking out the hemlocks and maybe dredging some pools large enough to hold proper fish.

Analysis Paralysis set in and that plan died on the vine. Benign neglect is still the best thing to ever happen to that stream.

Lately, I’ve been fishing nothing but streams like that, exploring a nearby drainage that was rearranged nine years ago by Tropical Storm Irene. A friend recently asked where I was headed and when I told him he said, “You can’t fish that, can you?”

“No, probably not,” I lied.

You can’t fish that!

It’s a little more tactical than sitting in a boat, waiting for mayflies, but it is fishing none the less. It is also more strenuous than sitting in a boat, waiting for mayflies, and this week I managed to explore less than half a mile of stream in just under three hours. Sure, I sat on a rock and smoked and I took a few pictures, but there were so many pools to sneak up on and so many runs to drift flies through that it took longer than expected. Also, skipping from stone to stone is not an option for hauling my no-longer-inconsiderable bulk through the jumble of boulders that distinguish this stream.

Trying to be sneaky.

Quill Gordon does not take many pictures of fish and posts even fewer. Pulling dinks out of their holes might be debatable sport and anything that can vibrate on the end of a line like a brook trout deserves to be returned as quickly as possible. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t keep count of how many fish were caught but I can’t tell you how many fish were caught because you would think I was lying. Three measured longer than six inches.

Millions of small, green, moth larvae are eating their way through the forest right now. Some cartoonishly chew leaves out from under themselves, falling to the ground or into the stream, while others descend on silken threads and still others simply fall. No matter how they got there, the brookies were eating them, and the savvy summertime small stream specialist always carries a supply of caterpillar patterns. I squinted at a #16 light green hare’s ear nymph and declared it close enough.

Left to right, through the sunlight…

Fifteen minutes and a world away, cold water flows through a narrow slash on the side of a very old mountain. Periodically churned to the point humans might consider it ruined, this stream has been through a lot, as have the fish and everything else living in and around it. Always changing yet somehow remaining the same, and not needing improvement.

Occasionally Rowdy

With my head somewhat cleared, I clambered out of this little mini-canyon and back to the car. Rod stowed, boots in the back and bag on the seat, I drove along a Forest Service road, trailing a cloud of dry dust despite my lack of speed. Windows down despite the dust, I turned left where I normally turn right. A stretch of stream I hadn’t noticed before emerged from a long heap of boulders, beyond a dozen downed trees. Putting it in my pocket for later, I turned around and slowly headed home, listening to the crunch of gravel beneath tires and the warbles of warblers in the understory.

A few hours in the woods did not change the world, certainly not in a way I would like — in fact, it had gotten worse, but the change of perspective did me good. Thinking of these small, headwater streams and their fish of appropriate size as I returned to the world as it is, I was not so sure it’s the land, water, and fish that need “improvement”.

I think it’s us.

Goat Yoga on a Paddle Board

 

 

 

Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor, politics, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Back by Popular Demand: Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits!

Listening to the radio many years ago, my friend, Eugene, and his pal, Purly, were inspired to create another of their timeless products. Originally delayed by concerns about toxicity, I was pleased to announce those concerns had been addressed. The conversations may be toxic, but this product is not! Once again, we are pleased to present:

Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits

We are faced with many issues in these troubled times, and some people would have you believe that these issues are complicated, difficult to understand, and worthy of thoughtful conversation.

Poppycock!

Everyone knows it’s winner-take-all these days, so quit screwing around with careful reasoning and listening to the other side! You need bold rhetorical strokes to shut the other guy up, and you want the broadest brush possible to paint him into a corner when logic fails. Our selection of new products gives you everything you need to win any argument! Continue reading

Categories: Humor, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Little Snowflakes

Months of quarrels and quandaries, intrigue and innuendo, distractions, misdirection and outright prevarication finally came to an end and I found myself, one November morning, strangely relieved it was over yet wondering what the heck had just happened. It seemed surreal and nearly beyond belief, but once sober enough for thoughtful reflection, I knew it was very real, indeed, believe it or not.

The adrenaline wore off, shock set in, and I had to sit in order to contemplate the new, horrible, sad reality.

That’s right, friends, another season had come and gone here at Fish in a Barrel Pond.

Fish in a Barrel Pond

Fish in a Barrel Pond

The banshees of winter wail outside the door, the lake froze-over three weeks ago, and anything stuck to the ground now is stuck until spring. The camps are again empty and quiet, smelling only of cold air and anti-freeze in the drain traps. A little happy dance has been done, a nap has been took, and as I catch up on my reading I can’t help but notice that this job, once more, failed to make any major publication’s list of “Best Fly Fishing Jobs!” Continue reading

Categories: Humor, nature, politics, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Back by Popular Demand: A Timeless Product from Eugene and Purly!

Originally introduced in December of 2012, Eugene and Purly really hit the mark with this one!

Listening to the radio while painting a barn last fall, my friend, Eugene, and his pal, Purly, were inspired to create another timely product. Originally planned for release but delayed by concerns about toxicity, I am pleased to announce those concerns have been addressed. Once again, against my better judgement, I present one of their ideas to the general public:

Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits

We are faced with many issues in these troubled times, and some people would have you believe that these issues are complicated, difficult to understand, and worthy of thoughtful conversation.

Poppycock!

Everyone knows it’s winner-take-all these days, so quit screwing around with careful reasoning and listening to the other side! You need bold rhetorical strokes to shut the other guy up, and you want the broadest brush possible to paint him into a corner when logic fails. Our selection of new products gives you everything you need to win any argument!

Available in a variety of sizes, our large-capacity brushes will allow you to slap it on, real good and thick. Go ahead, load ‘er up and marvel at the complete coverage!

Our 12" 'mini' brush.

Our 12″ ‘mini’ brush.

 Our 12″ mini-brush is just the right size to put a stop to those pesky “conversations” at the dinner table. Your guests will be stunned at how quickly you put them in their place, even those at the other end of the table, who will be surprised as all get out by the extra long reach of our six foot handle! Other models include proverbial ten foot poles for touchy subjects, and our extra-large, two-handed model (currently under development for internet use) will cover any subject simply, completely and thoroughly. All of our brushes are sturdy enough to be used with all the force you can muster, filling corners and gaps with ease. For especially stubborn opponents, they also work with tar!

With our new Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits, stupid stuff like “subtlety”, “nuance”, and “facts” will be things of the past. “Details”? Who needs ’em? Not you, when you’re spreading it thick with one of these babies! Those things just get in the way for some folks, but with these kits you will achieve smooth, even coverage and a flawless finish that will leave those morons speechless.

Just as “facts” and “logic” can gum up the works, many people find themselves also struggling with complications like “choices”, but we’ve got that covered too! No more messing around with green, red, blue, or any of those other confusing colors used by eggheads and dummies, because we have narrowed our selection down to the only two colors that matter these days!

Choose one:

#1- BLACK

#1- BLACK

#2- WHITE

#2- WHITE

Our own special proprietary formulas ensure that these two colors absolutely will not, under any circumstances, mix together, enabling you to make your case with no shades of gray! They actually repel each other, and are also permanent, so no one (not even you) will ever be able to change your mind!

Our Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits will allow you to cover any issue you can think of simply and easily. Everyone else seems to have one, shouldn’t you?

Stop thinking and order yours today!

(Specify color, brush size. May not be available in all areas.)

Other products by Eugene and Purly include Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods, Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Flies and Mouse Pie.

Categories: politics, Stories About My Good Friend, Eugene | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Big Game

Sandwiched neatly between the two biggest spectacles in American sports is an event that, while less well known, is just as competitive and, to its participants, as important as any contest yet devised by Man. For some, February is defined by the Super Bowl™, for others, it’s the Daytona 500™; for the members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, their eyes in February are on Opening Day of Reservation Season™.

The injuries of which I’m aware have been minor and, so far as I know, no one has died, but the small stakes involved do not diminish the serious nature of the battle.

Will You Be There?

Continue reading

Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Fly Fishing, Humor, politics, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#challengeonnaturephotography Day 6: I Call Him Tiny

newt

Newt

The punchline is, “I call him Tiny because he’s my newt (minute)!” but he’s not really my newt.

The late Dr. Allen Foley, Professor Emeritus of History at Dartmouth College, related a story in his book, “What the Old-Timer Said”, about a local boy who came across a boy from the city who was tormenting a toad.

“Put that toad down,” he said.

“Why should I?” asked the city boy. “He’s my toad, ain’t he?”

“No, he ain’t,” replied the local lad. “This is Vermont. He is his own toad.”

Safe travels, Tiny.

(We’ve paid tribute to the Celebrated Professor Foley before, back in 2014, in a post about Vermont Town Meeting Day (see Hibernation Ends and How Did You Know My Name Was Mac?) . This year’s meeting is still more than a month away but already some people have taken to running serpentine routes from from the Post Office, ducking for cover behind parked cars or trees on the green when necessary.)

 

Categories: nature, politics, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hibernation Ends and How Did You Know My Name was Mac?

hibernator

Long Trail Brewing Company’s Hibernator

Hibernation is ending and Town Meeting is tomorrow. The sugarbushes are tapped and waiting for a thaw — the same thaw that will signal the beginning of mud season — and the coldest (on average) 90 days of the year are behind us. It’s not like folks weren’t out and about during the cold, dark days, but there is more hope, anticipation and activity now that it’s March.

In summer Vermont is dreamy, in autumn glorious, and not without certain charms in winter, but to my mind spring defines her and the character of her people more than any season. Maple, mud and politics glue folks together around here at a time they’re coming apart at the seams and, when just getting out of the driveway is a challenge, the world can seem pretty small. Given everything going on in far away places, it’s darn near a pleasure to spend the whole first Tuesday in March debating with one’s fellow villagers just how much a new box culvert should cost.

Town Meeting Day

Town Meeting Day

A thorough examination of these pages will reveal the true identity of this little town, and we are fortunate to hold our Town Meetings just across our attractive village green, in a large room with comfortable seats. Some towns use metal folding chairs or wooden benches to accommodate the voters, which discourage folks from nodding off but also have the advantage of encouraging them to keep things moving along. We spend the day (except for lunch) in a theater.

This town was once considered part of another town and meetings were originally held there, way the hell over the hill. Tired of heading out before dawn and climbing a snow covered mountain every time the first Tuesday of March rolled around, the folks over here eventually declared independence and started a town of their own, closer to home.

No matter where it is held — or the way it is run, with hybrids popping up that incorporate Australian ballots and “informational sessions” — Town Meeting is an integral and iconic part of small-town life in Vermont. The national news will portray it as a quaint throwback to a different, simpler time, but it is complicated and very much here and now. With long-held traditions and well-documented histories, Town Meetings have spawned tales and anecdotes aplenty that are as much a part of Vermont as answering the question, “How’s the wife?” by asking, “Compared to what?” Continue reading

Categories: Humor, politics, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

New Product! Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits!

Listening to the radio while painting a barn last fall, my friend, Eugene, and his pal, Purly, were inspired to create another timely product. Originally planned for release by the beginning of November but delayed by concerns about toxicity, I am pleased to announce those concerns have been addressed. Once again, against my better judgement, I present one of their ideas to the general public:

Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits

We are faced with many issues in these troubled times, and some people would have you believe that these issues are complicated, difficult to understand, and worthy of thoughtful conversation.

Poppycock!

Everyone knows it’s winner-take-all these days, so quit screwing around with careful reasoning and listening to the other side! You need bold rhetorical strokes to shut the other guy up, and you want the broadest brush possible to paint him into a corner when logic fails. Our selection of new products gives you everything you need to win any argument!

Available in a variety of sizes, our large-capacity brushes will allow you to slap it on, real good and thick. Go ahead, load ‘er up and marvel at the complete coverage!

Our 12" 'mini' brush.

Our 12″ ‘mini’ brush.

 Our 12″ mini-brush is just the right size to put a stop to those pesky “conversations” at the dinner table. Your guests will be stunned at how quickly you put them in their place, even those at the other end of the table, who will be surprised as all get out by the extra long reach of our six foot handle! Other models include proverbial ten foot poles for touchy subjects, and our extra-large, two-handed model (currently under development for internet use) will cover any subject simply, completely and thoroughly. All of our brushes are sturdy enough to be used with all the force you can muster, filling corners and gaps with ease. For especially stubborn opponents, they also work with tar!

With our new Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits, stupid stuff like “subtlety”, “nuance”, and “facts” will be things of the past. “Details”? Who needs ’em? Not you, when you’re spreading it thick with one of these babies! Those things just get in the way for some folks, but with these kits you will achieve smooth, even coverage and a flawless finish that will leave those morons speechless.

Just as “facts” and “logic” can gum up the works, many people find themselves also struggling with complications like “choices”, but we’ve got that covered too! No more messing around with green, red, blue, or any of those other confusing colors used by eggheads and dummies, because we have narrowed our selection down to the only two colors that matter these days!

Choose one:

#1- BLACK

#1- BLACK

#2- WHITE

#2- WHITE

Our own special proprietary formulas ensure that these two colors absolutely will not, under any circumstances, mix together, enabling you to make your case with no shades of gray! They actually repel each other, and are also permanent, so no one (not even you) will ever be able to change your mind!

Our Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits will allow you to cover any issue you can think of simply and easily. Everyone else seems to have one, shouldn’t you?

Stop thinking and order yours today!

(Specify color, brush size. May not be available in all areas.)

Other products by Eugene and Purly include Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods, Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Flies and Mouse Pie.

Categories: Humor, politics | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

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