**Letter from the Editor: As you know, we have been searching long and hard to put together a roster of fierce writers to keep you out of that god awful sun for the Summer. Inside? Good. Now, please welcome our newest playa to the plate, the one, the only…T.Vo!!
“It’s back! The biggest invention competition in the world — RETURNS!” I didn’t even know there was a first. According to executive producer Simon Cowell, it’s the “thinking person’s American Idol.” He claims these contestants aren’t just not a bunch of singers trying to get famous, but, um, isn’t “American” synonymous with “trying to be famous”?
They’re searching for the next million dollar idea, the next idea to forever change the way we live (like Furby). One finalist from each city will get $50,000 to develop their invention and present it to their judges for the grand prize blah, blah, blah.
Open up with a bunch of crazies – Los Angeles! San Francisco! Chicago! NY! Houston! Tampa! They’re everywhere! But who will be the next American Inventor?
What will be the next million dollar idea? Will it be safe sex in a bottle? A Roomba that you can ride? People are weird.
The Generic Brand is always cheaper.
Nick Smith will be your generic host, whose job it is to pose for pictures with the common people and encourage them to pursue their dreams. Evidently, some of these people wear three piece suits and carry PVC pipes. Classy.
Mom, Grandpa’s scaring me!
We open this “thinking person’s American Idol” competition with the Left Coast auditions – Los Angeles (where Priuses are status symbols yet no one recycles) and San Francisco, sourdough bread bowl central.
Ooooh, I get it. They’re supposed to be smart!
The 4 judges stand in front of a global map, perhaps trying to figure out where in the world is Carmen San Diego? But no, this is American Inventor, idiots. We have the legendary George Foreman. Not only is he a lean, mean grilling machine, he’s a kabillionaire a hundred times over. He also likes wearing suit vests. “George Foreman reinvented George Foreman,” he proclaims. Well, you slapped your name on a grill that you didn’t invent (Michael Boehm invented it), but that’s cool, too.
“We put a man on the moon! We can at least make our own moons look better!”
Next, we have the SPANX lady. With 5000 dollars and a dream, Sarah Blakely basically cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose and grew it into a worldwide force – enabling women everywhere to deceive people into thinking they’re less flabby. I know they’re mega-popular, but it’s underwear!
Yeah, I’m sure this woman looks like a cow without SPANX.
There are better inventions. Like Gardasil, which could help save the lives of the estimated 3,700 women who die of cervical cancer each year. Am I wrong? Shut up, we all know Oprah wants to have her spandex babies (she’s not having them with Steadman anyway).
Pat Croce – entrepreneur, motivational speaker, skydiver, wearer of ugly shirts, the king of Philly. He went from being the trainer of the 76′ers to the owner. “I am living rags to riches!” he squeals. Actually, you’re living rags to expensive rags, considering your taste in clothing, Pat.
Rags to ragses and proud of it!
Finally, we have our token “Hello, I am a Humorless British Person!” â„¢ Judge who specializes in telecommunications, business, yada yada yada, douchebag. He claims his name is “Peter Jones.” There’s always one per reality talent show. They’re as predictably bitchy and unforgiving as Asian kids are good at math. Apparently Britain lacks thinking people, so he’s come to American to find the next great one. At the behest of Simon Cowell…and a lot of money.
Pan to the mock-serious “entrepreneurial” faces. Omg, thinking is so hard! So what’s important in this competition? PASSION! INNOVATION! MASS APPEAL! NO PANTY LINES! MONTAGES!
We’re introduced to Jamshid Hatami, 45, who also goes by the moniker “Bond. James Bond” which implies he must do Customer Support at Dell, because they usually introduce themselves with an Indian name followed by a clearly assigned name: “Hi, my name is Harsha, but you can call me Harry. Dirty Harry.” To make Americans feel more comfortable, I suppose. Bond left a high-paying job as an insurance salesman, considers Einstein his mentor, and presents himself to the judges wearing a faded hooded sweatshirt with a baseball cap underneath. With nothing in hand. Jack Bauer would totally be suspicious.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
“It’s…headgear?” the judges murmur. “BUT WHAT DOES IT DO?”
It’s to keep your head straight, even if you’re sleeping, allegedly. The back is to not come forward, to hold your head up, he says proudly. It’s to prevent shame! Maybe it would’ve been useful for boring college lectures, but I doubt it. Cue Opinionated British Man: “Are you mad?” Oh, but he’s not finished yet. “Ladies, you have nice hair, so it comes with a headband,” Bond adds. Rejected by all four judges, he exits the wrong way. SO IT IS LIKE AMERICAN IDOL, what with the idiots and wrong exits!
Shame NOT prevented. NEXT!
Next up on the chopping block is Air Force manager Kim Douglas, 42. Her dog gets motion sick in the car, so she developed it especially for him. It’s the ARF Bag, a barf bag for dogs — a muzzle with an attached bag with a disposable liner. It goes over the head like so…cue Opinionated British Man. “So it’s the real doggy bag?” Unanimous no’s, but she at least found a solution to her own problem.
Father and son duo Richard Dessert and Richard Dessert, Jr. (39 and 60, respectively) believe they can save lives with their fire escape suit. You can allegedly exit burning buildings with their invention. Their human-sized aluminum foil condom apparently creates an air chamber – with a slit to see through (no peripheral vision though). It looks like a kinky Pokemon. But what if you have no legs? And you’re blind? You’re fucked. Denied.
Let’s test it! Hand me a match.
Meanwhile, in commercial land, Shaq is going to bring back kids from FAT to FIT. As if puberty wasn’t awkward enough.
Debbie Solomon, 49, conceived her invention 13 years ago, for men and women. “I’m gonna be the next American inventor because I’ve never given up on my dream. Ever,” she insists. It’s the AUTO BIB – a disposable, self-adhesive traveling bib for adults and children. She throws out the statistic that 51% of Americans eat in their car 1-2 times a week. Statistics can prove everything except the truth, so clearly she’s right.
Thank God I have this bib!
“It’s not elaborate by any means, I make no excuses,” babbles Debbie, “but I feel I’m in very good company with Velcro, paper clips, and coffee sleeves,” pointing to her corresponding posterboard of “simple inventions.” She then proceeds to slap a pink autobib on, squirting ketchup and mustard on herself and smearing it around. It’s like really low-budget food porn. Hot. This took 13 years to make? It’s just a big frickin’ napkin. But the judges like it. George and SPANX say yes, British Man says no (why is he always a dick?), sniffing “I don’t let people eat in my car.” To which George replies: “I drive a Rolls Royce and let people eat in my car.” Peter says yes. Debbie’s the first Los Angeles finalist. Long live American laziness and drive-thrus! Death to the civil lap napkin!
Gary “No is not acceptable” Severen, 56, spent 100 bucks on his prototype. It’s taken him 25 years. He pulls in “The Pot Sniffer” a toilet freshener/deodorizer that hangs on the toilet bowl.
British Man: Gary, nobody would buy it.
George: This would be ideal for parties, lotsa people afraid to go to the toilet at parties.
Only George says yes, and Gary mournfully wheels his Pot Sniffer out. See, it’d be a lot more marketable (okay, to a certain crowd) if he invented a device to sniff out real pot and dealers, so that stoners everywhere in America would know where to get their fix. Or maybe if his pot sniffer masked the smell of pot on the premises. Not that I know anything about drugs, D.A.R.E totally freaked me out. Remember the broken record method? No means no, fools.
But it turns out George sees the value in a lot of things, we’re told. Now we go to montage for the land of T.V. rejects. We’re treated to glimpses of some weird exercise rope/bondage gear, the boom-rella, an umbrella with speakers (“The wave of the future!” George exclaims), Noz*pax, to stop nosebleeds (wrestlers already shove tampons up their noses, but George – surprise! – likes it), and artificially moving flags presented by a man in a flag shirt (“Anything with the flag, gets a yes!”).
A woman with a heavy Spanish accent says she cannot choose between her two inventions, because it’s like having children. Imagine giving birth to the household sponge gloves and eyelashes spatula. I’d leave them on the doorstep of the local fire station and run. The sponge gloves do look interesting, though. “I think you should keep pushing, I give you a yes,” says George. Is he saying what I think he’s saying? That she’s still pregnant? Sick.
We’re off to San Francisco. Alcatraz! Trolleys! Rice-a-Roni! The TransAmerica pyramid! Gay men with moustaches!
Rayfil Wong, 29, is a super-enthusiastic, unemployed Asian man (paradoxical, right?) who digs wearing Kelly green sweaters. He is totally bringing it with a skit, presenting the Sober Key: “Blow on the green straw! Doot doot doot doot doot! ‘You are a danger to the road! Get off it!’ You are denied access to your car keys.”
And then the breakdown, complete with wild arm gestures: “Dance around ! Talk to friends! Sober up! A few hours later, breathe in the green straw again, doot doot doot doot doot! And you get access to your car! Doot doot doot!”
Jazz hands. Awesome.
Unfortunately for Rayfil, there are already in-car Breathalyzers, and Breathalyzer ignition locks. Paris Hilton’s is totally encrusted with pink Swarovski crystals, and Lindsay’s is encrusted with cocaine.
George says yes, SPANX says it’s been done, Pat says no, and British Man throws out a “Doot doot doot doot crazy!” of his own. Aw. You should’ve gone to med school like your parents wanted you to, Rayfil.
Doot doot doot doot…WHAMMY.
10 year-old Anthony Moebest is the youngest of the bunch and a freckly redhead. Poor kid. He’s also wearing a red sweater, an unfortunate color choice. He’s like the pre-teen American Ron Weasley. What does the wunderkind have in store for us?
He quietly introduces his invention. It’s a diaper with a package of wipes on the front. They’re right on top of the diaper, you tear ‘em right off, and they have adhesive on the back – for me to poop on!
George: You think you can speak a little louder?
SPANX: You should start learning about diapers.
Sarah: I give you credit, but no. Because you’re redheaded.
George clearly wants to say yes, as Anthony’s eyes well up with tears. Pat has no sympathy, even though he’s wearing a psychedelic ugly blue paisley shirt. It needs to be more an invention, he says, which British Man agrees with. They patronize the kid, telling him he has four fans. And George? George is priceless, escorting Anthony out with “I’ll help you out, ’cause I need diapers in my life.” Anthony starts bawling into his mother’s ample bosom while George tells her what a great kid she’s got.
Wow. Interesting kid you got there.
It is here that I realize the real ploy of the show is to sell more George Foreman grills, because the man is so freakin’ nice compared to the other judges. “Nice” can also be indiscriminately exchanged with “easy-to-please” and “consumer whore.” Did you know Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, and even DiMaggio were considered to be the face of the grill?
CRAZY ALERT. CRAZY ALERT. CRAZY ALERT!
Steven Cousineau, a.k.a Dusty Rose, 42, is our resident loony. Not only does his t-shirt boast “Future Billionaire,” his straw cowboy hat is enhanced by fake flowers, and he insists on wearing sunglasses indoors. The floor installer really likes emphasizing his numbers with fingers and spitting his words into the camera. “I’m tearing that door down,” he growls, “That door is the future right there.” He pounds on it to no avail. So what does Crazy Cowboy have for us?
IT’S A BIKE! TO THE FUTURE! With delusions of grandeur! It’s the “A-Cycle,” which sounds the same as “A Psycho.” Which Cousineau is. Apparently it’s the most dynamic bike ever, with a full shield over the wheel to make it safer. Safe from what, theft? He’s got streamers on the handlebars, tinsel and bows all over the poor bike. No self-respecting gangster would steal that thing.
He indicates his unfounded “safety” system: One wheel is 50% safe, the other is 50%, so together the bike is 100% more safe! Riiiight. This show should be called “So You Think You Can Add.”
Crazy Cowboy proudly shows off the spinners, decorated with a playing card design of aces. “I invented the wheels of change, they’re exactly what America is looking for right now.” There is NOTHING LIKE THEM, he insists, growing increasingly agitated. In a few seconds, he’s going to start frothing at the mouth. The judges question his originality. Haven’t bikes been invented already? Aren’t there wheels already?
Ace of Lame
It’s a unanimous no, and you have to know your idea sucks balls if George Foreman rejects it. That is, if you’re a sentimental being with self-awareness. Which Steven Cousineau isn’t.
“You’re passing up a great opportunity!” he insists, eyes glaring. “Are you serious?! This is about saving and changing lives. Ones that aren’t even born yet.” Ooh, let’s make this about stem cell research and Roe V. Wade! Bicyclists across the nation cringe at the desecration of their livelihood. Paul tells him time out, enough, but Crazy Cowboy isn’t leaving.
And I am telling YOU! IIIIIIII’m not goin’!
The judges exchange glances. The music grows ominous.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Crazy Cowboy spits.
It’s an awkward stand-off .
“This is about the future guys. This is for real.”
“We appreciate you coming, goodbye.”
Crazy Cowboy just stands there, arms akimbo.
“You guys don’t want to do this? You don’t see anything here, it’s just a hunk of junk?”
“Whoa, whoa. No, don’t say that,” the alarmed judges assure him, looking nervously at each other. Pat gets up to escort him out. They can’t wait to get him out, they won’t even let him pack up his stuff. “I put my life into those wheels right now,” Crazy Cowboy swears.
ABC isn’t taking any chances, and two security guards lead him away. “I’m not monkeying around, you guys gonna see it all over the world, I guarantee it!” The guards quickly scramble to remove his microphone, and our last words from Crazy Cowboy are:
“Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna snap guys, I’m composed, I’m high energy, that’s who I am.” A psycho, that’s what.
The judges laugh uneasily and shift in their seats after Crazy Cowboy is gone.
“You had my back, right, George?” Pat jokes. Crazy Cowboy will totally be back next season to kill them all.
You haven’t heard the last of me! Pinky swear!
Bridgette Camarena, 37, brags that her invention will change not only America, but the world. This realtor spent one year and 11 thousand dollars to print up biodegradable paper images embedded with ink that changes color with urine to toilet-train kids. When they piss on the target, they get a picture.
Yeah, but can you pee your name into the snow?
Hey, an octopus! What a crappy reward. I wonder if someone actually peed on her sample to produce the “after” pee-target. What about poop? Rejected! She should’ve just donated all that money to save Darfur.
Now, for more people who hate the British Man:
A small girl with possibly two daddies introduces an indoor camping kit for families. No’s all around, but the little girl really hates the British Man. “I want to punch him really really badly. Really really badly,” she declares, as her two daddies try not to look mortified.
John and Lisa Bueno hold up “The Protector.” It simulates the back windshield with a scrolling LED that says what’s happening to you, whether you’re being carjacked or kidnapped – but does it tell you when you’re being an asshat? Probably not. It’s not as good as a scrolling LED belt buckle, which is as useless as a slap bracelet from the ’90′s. These people chafe at the British Man’s criticism, hoping that he’ll be trapped in a car trunk someday.
Your pee pee’s showing.
German-sounding “Klaus Marzuk,” the self-proclaimed greatest inventor of the centennial, tells them he couldn’t bring his invention because he hasn’t finished yet. He’s allegedly invented the H20 water engine, to run on salt-water from the ocean. Once, and never having to fill up again. Riiight. He’s full of shit. “Rubbish!” scoffs British Man. Good luck trying to burn salt-water. Maybe he meant taffy-making machine?
Dammit. Where’d I leave those markers?
Richard Kopelle, 61, is back from Season 1 with a vengeance. And a moustache. Mostly, he’s after British Man. He says his invention is now a national phenomenon and that the judges were wrong. Richard proudly presents his therapy buddies, two creepy blue plush creatures. They look like the bastard children of Smurfs and peanuts. When you touch its toes, it reminds you “Everything is going to be all right” in the freakiest, most disembodied female voice I have ever heard. It sounds like the airport announcement lady. If she was undead and had come back as a Valium-addicted zombie. And was about to eat your face off. It’s going to confuse people who already hear voices in their heads.
Sorry dude, but no it’s not.
British Man refuses to touch it, recoiling in disgust as SPANX agrees to hug it.
Richard tells them he’s improved upon last year’s model with a longer meditation: “Hear my voice,” chants the Smurf-peanut. “Believe it, everything is going to be all right. Drink the Kool-Aid.” He takes it on planes. Richard explains: “Peter has been my nemesis for a year. I know it’s difficult for men to understand, but…I call them Peter and Simon, they’re always together.” Peter and Simon have made a baby therapy doll together, and are going to be wonderful daddies!
“It would feel like I was vindicated from last year,” he goes on. “I feel that the judges last year were talking for themselves, they weren’t talking about the American public.” The American public did buy Furby and Tickle-Me-Elmo, so maybe he’s not that off. A yes from George and Spanx, oh yeah, cynical British Man. “If you need a therapy buddy telling you everything is alright, I promise you, it’s not alright.” Well, duh. But that’s why you want someone to reassure you, right? Finally, Pat says yes.
Richard is thrilled, and pumps his fist as he yells, “ME VINDICA!” upon exiting. Is that pig Latin? Then he jumps into the arms of his moustached life partner. I wonder what their love child would look like.
Finally, it’s time for someone to save the day, ’cause ABC loves inspirational endings. Greg Chavez, 43 year-old firefighter and father of six, has struggled to support his large family. Birth control, anyone? He’s invented the Guardian Angel, born out of his desire to save the lives of children. I really hope it’s not one of those leash contraptions that ties small children to their parents at amusement parks. Fully dressed in his firefighter gear, he enters the room in slow-mo to triumphant music. Security totally missed his axe, though. You already know he’s a finalist. The Guardian Angel is a fire protection system for your Christmas tree.
He flips on a time-elapse video showing how quickly a dry scotch pine tree catches on fire. At 4 seconds, the tree is consumed, at 12 seconds it’s scorching the ceiling, at 22 seconds, the couch is on fire! Holy crap! Greg chokes up as he recalls a news broadcast about a man carrying his lifeless child. Cue the dramatic music! Thank god it’s not Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” He’s tearing up as the judges eat up every word about his fire safety protection system.
The miraculous Guardian Angel is a…posterboard.
An elementary-school level drawing depicts a water tank disguised as a present that goes underneath and a hose that travels through the tree to an angel at the top. The plug under the angel’s skirt melts at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, bringing down 2 gallons of water on the tree. In theory.
He assures them the water comes down in time to sound the alarm. British Man really likes it! George can visualize the lifeless baby, so – yes. 3/4ths gets him to the next level. Pat says until he can see it working, it’s a no. So callous! Suspense! Will he get through?
SPANX purses her lips and says she loves the packaging, giving him a yes. He’s the American hero! Greg Chavez’s children will have food to eat! It’s a Christmas miracle!
I did it! Let’s make another baby!
Next week: “This is a fat man’s dream, I built this in my wife’s kitchen!” and the LA and San Francisco winners. Everything is going to be all right.