The groundbreaking idea that's going to make me rich: fortune cats

Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2013, 8:10 pm
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By Shane Brown, sbrown@qconline.com
OK, folks, this is taking way too long.

The plan was simple: Procure a weekly newspaper column. Use said column to create an army of devoted fans. Let the money roll in. Commence lavish and extravagant lifestyle of dreams. Party with Olsen Twins and Donald Trump. Kick Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen out of said party when things get freaky-deaky. Retire early and perhaps buy small island nation over which I can rule with cold, hard iron fist.

C'mon, that's not asking for TOO much, is it?

My plan had one fatal flaw. Incredulous as it seems, it turns out that newspaper columnists -- despite having a job satisfaction level on a 1-to-10 scale of roughly 1,000,000 -- are, by and large, NOT multimillionaires. Nobody told me this when I signed up. Well, maybe they did. But I wasn't listening. I was too busy designing my line of Shane Brown action figures -- which your kids will LOVE, by the way. You can dress them in a variety of cargo pants and faded concert T-shirts, and they'll come with real remote controls in their little hands that will change the TV channels in the Shane Brown Vacation Dreamhouse (sold separately).

But I'm tired of waiting for millionaire status. The time has come for me to start living high on the hog. And thanks to ABC, I may have figured out how to do it.

Ever seen the show "Shark Tank"? It is a network TV show which, presumably, people must watch. From what little I've seen, it works like this: An assortment of crazy people are paraded into a room and allowed to make a crazy sales pitch about some crazy invention that they've crazied up in their brains. A group of crazy investors then throws a crazy amount of money at them, and everyone ends up insanely wealthy.

Don't believe me? Ask Dr. Floyd Seskin, inventor of The UroClub. The UroClub was a product successfully pitched on "Shark Tank" that now is available via infomercial or UroClub.com. What IS UroClub, you ask? Why, it's an invention that I don't know how I've lived without prior to now. The UroClub might just be the most exciting technological innovation of the century. The UroClub is a golf club ... you can pee in.

"How many times has this happened to you?" asks the UroClub website. "You're playing 18 holes with your best buddies. You're coming up to the third hole with no restroom in sight. There are no trees or bushes around, and you just have to go."

That's never happened to me since I'm not a golfer, but it sounds like a wicked awful situation. Well, now, thanks to modern innovation, you can just grab your UroClub (which disguises itself as one of your golf clubs,) discreetly unscrew the cap, and do your business right there on the fairway.

What a genius idea. Not only is this a sexy and stylish new way to commit what I'd reckon to be a misdemeanor in most states, but who among us hasn't yearned for a convenient excuse to wander around an 18-hole golf course lugging a bag sloshing to and fro with your own urine? Genius, I tell you. But at the end of the day, I'd also reckon that Dr. Floyd Seskin is making more money selling UroClubs than I am by making fun of them in print.

Ergo, I need to invent something on the double. And while it might not be as revolutionary, groundbreaking, or pee-soaked as the UroClub, I think I've done it. Investors, take note:

The other morning, I was fresh out of the shower and getting ready for work when my cat Isobel sauntered into the bedroom. As I reached down to put on my socks, I caught a glimpse of her face and what appeared to be a small piece of paper sticking out of her mouth. I have two cats -- one of which is a smart and intelligent example of feline evolution. And then there's Isobel, who I love dearly even if she's a little ... special. Let's just say that confusing paper for food is the least of that cat's problems.

I sighed and pulled the paper out of her mouth. It grossly unrolled as I pulled, revealing itself to be about three inches in length and already halfway down Isobel's esophagus. I looked at the paper and realized it had writing on it:


They say a picture's worth a thousand words. But if someone had taken a photo at that moment of me, wet-haired and sockless, holding a soggy piece of paper with a puzzled look on my face, the only words of value would have been "What the ...?" It wasn't until I walked into the living room and saw the decimated bag and strewn-out remains of the previous night's Chinese takeout that it all made sense. I'd left an uneaten fortune cookie in the bag, and little Izzy had made quick work of it.

And, in doing so, created the greatest idea the world has ever known: FORTUNE CATS.

Who needs their fortunes dispensed via weird little cookies that taste like cardboard when you could receive them daily from a cute, fuzzy kitty cat? It would especially soften the blow should you receive a poor fortune, no? If I'm about to be told that my life is in danger or that I'm going to lose all my money, it might be handy to have something in the near vicinity with sad eyes that purrs.

I'm convinced that the advent of fortune cats could very well be the groundbreaking, money-making idea that the world's been waiting for. All I have to do is find an army of cats and train them to hack up fortunes on a timely basis -- and anyone who lives in Rock Island knows that an army of feral cats is one public bowl of Meow Mix away from my back door. Of course, my friend Jason reminded me that Step One will be to somehow ensure that the fortunes are dispensed exclusively from ONE end of the cat and not the other, so I have my work cut out for me.

Still, a fella's gotta dream. And my dream is to one day make loads of money by going on "Shark Tank" and introducing the world to Fortune Cats (TM). After all, I'm pretty sure that even if it's covered in cat vomit, my bank will honor a million-dollar check. Wish me luck.
Shane Brown is a columnist for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Email him at sbrown@qconline.com or visit his blog at http://shanebrown.blogspot.com.


Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2014. There are 102 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Recruits can get $500 by enlisting now. Lt Jobe has a recruiting office on Illinois Street.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Superintendent Schnitger formally inaugurated the Rock Island and Davenport Railway Line of the Holmes system by putting on four cars to start.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Wires of the defunct Union Electric Co. are being removed by city electricians.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The Bishop Hill softball team won the championship in WHB"S Mississippi Valley tournament at Douglas Park.
1964 -- 50 years ago: A boom in apartment construction has hit Rock Island, with approximately 300 units either in or near the construction stage or due for an early rezoning decision.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Members of the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission are hoping to revive their push for a new $70 million four-lane bridge spanning the Mississippi River.

(More History)