There Is No Cat

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Monday, February 10, 2003

Sending the hairy beast

As we approach the dreaded St. Valentine's Day holiday, the Washington Post lives up to its hardboiled reputation with this steamy expose of the sordid tales behind the people who write the cards produced by Hallmark... er, well, no, not really. But it is a nice portrait of what happens at the company that writes all the stuff people want to say but don't know how to.

(Note: The Watchington Post requires that you submit demographic information when you view pages on their site. I usually tell them that I'm female, was born in 1900, and live in ZIP code 12345. I suggest you do the same. That'll mess up their nice little charts. Give 'em a nice spike of centenarians. They also insist that you eat cookies. They're not very tasty; I spit them out when I close my browser.)

The article reminded me of the best business book I ever read, Gordon MacKenzie's Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving With Grace. MacKenzie was an artist and holy-fool-in-residence at Hallmark, and his book is about how to survive as a creative person in the soul-deadening atmosphere of a large corporation. It's typographically inventive, profusely illustrated (both full-page illustrations and doodles on the page as appropriate; the book's production person must have had a blast and a nightmare with this book), and terribly insightful. Hey, the guy's title at Hallmark was Creative Paradox. You've got to love a book written by a guy with a title like that. His story of how gaining the title Creative Paradox gave him undreamed of power at the company is worth the price of admission alone. Needless to say, he used his power for good, not evil.

On top of that, he has a chapter, Chapter 19, entitled "Orville Wright", the text of which is the following, in its entirety:

Orville Wright did not have a pilot's license.

(That's quite profound when you think about it.)

So, as we approach Valentine's Day, honor the memory of the late Creative Paradox and find yourself a copy of this book. It doesn't have anything to do with Valentine's Day, but it's a hell of a read for anyone who tried to stay sane and human in a stifling corporate environment.

Posted at 9:08 PM


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This site is copyright © 2002-2018, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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