Posts Tagged With: fiction

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.


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.”


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

1000 Words + 1 Picture

Startled awake by who knows what, Quill Gordon came-to face-down at his fly-tying bench. Slowly, he realized the wail he heard was not banshees at the door, just cold wind in the chimney. In the thin, feeble light of dawn, on the first day of the new year, he saw in his hand a Mason jar, the one in which he stored head cement thinner, now empty. Belching, he came to grips with the fact that, apparently, he had consumed the entire contents, no doubt in some sort of shack nasty-induced rage.

Shaking off a shaggy coating of cobwebs and dust, he sat up. Clipped deer hair covered the floor like whiskers in a sink. Afraid it might not actually be deer hair, and fearing the influence of such volatile fluids as blackberry flavored head cement thinner, he felt with his hands for his beard. It was festooned with hackle feathers but, much to his relief, largely intact, though noticeably grayer and longer than he remembered, as if an entire decade had passed. Continue reading

Categories: +Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

An Idea That Will Revolutionize Fly Fishing

Having at least a rudimentary command of fly fishing skills and knowledge, I have spent the last ten years in close observation and study of anglers and their ilk. One conclusion I have reached is that a vital segment of the fly fishing community remains chronically under-served. I aim to correct that situation and I do not want you to miss out on this Important Investment Opportunity!

According to this article by Kirk Deeter on Field & Stream‘s Fly Talk blog, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association estimates that, in the U.S. alone, close to 4.5 million of us fly fish at least once a year. As Kirk points out, some sources put the number higher, some lower, and some prefer to look at only those who are regular consumers of fly fishing products. With estimates as high as 10 million and as low as 1.5 million, we’ll stick with 4.5 million as a conservative average.

Obviously, a certain percentage of us fish more than just once or twice a season, in a wide range of weather and other conditions, and manage to have a fine time doing so. We find the time we spend outside, doing something we love, to be an invigorating balm for our souls.

But what about those others, the ones who don’t fish much at all because to do so would mean actually getting outside? The ones who constantly find it too hot, too cold, too rainy, or too windy. The ones who say they’d like to feel they were part of something larger than themselves, if only it weren’t made up of so many things smaller than themselves, like black flies and mosquitoes, spiders and mice. The ones who react with anger at otters and loons, and at the end of the day knock baby birds from their nests for pooping on the porch.

I have seen far too many fly fishing experiences absolutely, completely ruined by the great outdoors. Making allowances for, among other things, the fact that some anglers will struggle on their own for a week, or that an entire camp can be demoralized in a weekend, my observations lead me to believe that at least 25% of all fly fishers would fish a lot more if they didn’t have to do it outdoors.

Over a million anglers, for whom the traditional fly fishing experience holds little charm? Sounds to me like Oppotunity knocking and that’s why, working closely with the same folks who brought you Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods and our famous gear-for-guides Angler Management Device, I am pleased and proud to invite you in on the ground floor of our latest concept, Gordon’s Getaway Club®, the ultimate fly fishing destination for anglers who “expect less from Nature”™. Continue reading

Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

For Want of a Nail

Beyond dues, assessments and other monetary considerations, there is a price to pay for membership in an organization like the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society. They say a person can’t truly enjoy fly fishing until they have a family of their own to ignore, but ever since the first shower was installed, all those years ago, part of that price has included, at minimum, a weekend at Fish in a Barrel Pond with at least one’s spouse, maybe even the grand-kids.

Not steeped in the lore and traditions of grand old fishing clubs like this, those spouses and extended families are prone to confusion, fear and misunderstandings. It often falls to me to assuage their fears and explain how things are done around here, though I think some anglers harbor secret wishes that that everyone will be so miserable they never want to come back.

This spring I was approached, for the fifth time in as many years, by one of those disoriented spouses I find wandering around from time to time, who said, “Quill, there’s a spider in the shower.”

He was clearly distraught but there wasn’t much I could do since I’d been paid good money to put that spider in the shower in the first place. Continue reading

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

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

Forgotten Fly Fishing Legend: Little Dickie Conroy

Richard Herkimer Conroy was not born with a fly rod in his hand (his mother would not allow it) but by the time he was four he could cast a line further than men ten times his age. Few anglers know his name, let alone his story, and only scattered traces remain of his meteoric rise and ignominious decline, but “Little Dickie” Conroy’s influence is still felt today. Mocked, jeered, and once nearly burned alive by those who took offense at his unconventional style, Little Dickie’s mastery of the fly line has yet to be equaled. From elite casters to green dilettantes, many have tried, but no one has ever thrown a line like the dapper young man from Kansas who once, in front of three thousand people, landed a fly on a poker chip from fifty yards away while turning a one-handed cartwheel.

little dickie age 5

“Little Dickie” Conroy, age 5, from the collection of Richard Haas Continue reading

Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Introducing Quill Gordon’s Story Time

Strange noises have been heard in our little valley for the past six weeks or so, leading some to believe the Nonesuch Mountain Howler once again roams the hills of Vermont, but I assure you the sounds have been nothing more than Quill Gordon learning new skills and entering the 21st Century.

Introducing Quill Gordon’s Story Time

Tales of the Outdoors for Anglers and Others

Short Stories for Kindle and Nook 

Three short stories, posted on these pages years ago and languishing ever since, have been taken down, given a good thrashing and a new set of clothes, and tossed out into the world to make it on their own in e-reader format. New stories will be added to the selection on a semi-regular basis, along with other dusted off gems from the archives, but these three will do for now, as the results of a long, frustrating process. I hope they meet with your approval. I’ll give you your dollar back myself if they don’t.

Buddy System

Continue reading

Categories: Humor, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | 19 Comments

Quill Gordon and the Nonesuch Mountain Howler

A strange sort of crazy settles in as winter comes to an end and spring begins. It is never a smooth transition, weatherwise or otherwise, and sometimes I think I’ve made it through the dark time without succumbing to a bad case of the Shack Nasties when it turns out I only repressed them.

The thaw came on early and strong this year, turning lake ice to slush and frozen dirt roads to pudding. The string of calm, sunny days felt like it would never end. Winter was done, or so I thought when, as I watched the ice disappear a month ago, a mosquito bit me hard, just below the right eyebrow. Being the first bite of the year, it promptly swelled to the size of a plum in celebration. Continue reading

Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Humor, Rural Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

The Return of Quill Gordon

It was a dark and stormy night. Some say my friend, Eugene, was riding a door strapped to a couple of compressed gas cylinders; others say it was some kind of jet-propelled ironing board. What he was riding is not important now but all accounts agree that at about the time the river was cresting Eugene shot downstream in a long, horizontal spiral like a bottle rocket.

Over dams and under bridges — in some cases over bridges — Eugene rode the raging floodwaters of Irene through the night and into the next day. And the next and the next, eventually drifting into Long Island Sound, where he was sighted aboard what appeared to be a horse trough, using his trousers for a sail. Plucked from the water by a passing pleasure craft, Eugene was then taken ashore, where he was tended to by a group of lovely women who, it turns out, were the stars of a television show about themselves. It also turns out they were drinking quite a lot and things became, as Eugene put it, “a tad competitive.”

The general consensus, once everyone was sober and Eugene found his trousers, was that it would be best if no one ever spoke again about what had just taken place, so the next time you happen to find yourself searching the internet for the truth behind this September’s firings among the cast of Real Housewives of New York, read those articles twice. Notice how carefully all parties avoid any mention whatsoever of my friend Eugene. Continue reading

Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Humor, Stories About My Good Friend, Eugene | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Away From It All

“Quill Gordon! Come out from under there, you fool!” said my old friend, Milt Audette. “Hiding from Marge Feely again? Very unbecoming, you know. You’re in serious danger of compromising your standing with me, hiding under the porch from a seventy year-old woman.”

“Oh, yeah?” I countered. “Concealment is a dying art. It’s a manly art. Like that time you got burned, hiding behind your furnace at home.”

“I was hiding from my wife. That’s different. What has gotten into you?” Continue reading

Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, nature | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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