STORY INN GIFT CERTIFICATES MAKE GREAT STOCKING STUFFERS.
At this time of year, we take on the attributes of the Federal Reserve, and print our own currency. (But unlike the Federal Reserve, we cannot inflate our way out of old debt.) We sell “Storybucks” to be redeemed for meals, overnight accommodations, fine wines, or cool merchandise here at the Story Inn.
“Storybucks” are pegged to the U.S. dollar, are sold in any denomination you desire, and are transferable to others. Unlike ghastly neckties, nitrite-soaked meat logs or desiccated fruitcakes (which, peculiarly, get exchanged this time of year) “Storybucks” have a high marginal utility to their recipients, making them coveted Holiday gifts. We will mail them to anyone you designate, with your appropriate rural holiday greetings, enabling you to avoid the mall completely!
If you are slovenly and wait to the last minute to do your holiday shopping, or wake up on Christmas Day remembering that you have forgotten to buy your special "friend with benefits" a holiday gift, we'll take the heat for you. Under such circumstances, we'll be happy to back-date the Storybucks, and convey your heartfelt holiday message to him/her.
Though we are committed to preserving the unique history and architecture of our little town, we continue to make remarkable permanent improvements to enhance both aesthetics and functionality.
Sommergarten’s Big (and little) Bench: the Alexanderplatz.
We have finished a series of fixed wooden picnic tables in the “Sommergarten”. This practical accouterment confers a bit of a Munich Bierhalle ambiance as well. Look closely, and you will observe a kiddie chair built into a table that is convenient to the Tavern door. Rick Hofstetter (Story’s owner) has dedicated this “Stammtisch” to his first grandson, Alexander. (Alexander, who arrived on September 22, will undoubtedly express his gratitude in future years.)
This time next year, you will be able to observe Rick and Alexander sipping, respectively, wine and grape juice, and together singing idiotically repetitive German drinking songs.
We have christened “Big Doc”, the mammoth wood smoker cannibalized from a 250 gallon propane tank and fired by a wood-burning stove. The final product looks to be an engineering collaboration between Jules Verne and Jed Clampett.
Heterosexual males flock to Doc the way moths are drawn to an outlawed incandescent light bulb.
Conversation inevitably turns to epic (“campy-fire”) tales of hunting-season achievements, wherein Man and Beast match wits in nature, on the very knife’s edge of survival. Man (armed with a 12 gauge) usually wins. We have invited the Kinsey Institute to study this phenomenon.
Perhaps the combustion of hickory, apple and cherry wood, when combined with the aroma of simmering pork butt and a cold beer, releases a pheromone that hetero males find irresistible. But one thing is certain: when dealing with a cylindrical display of this kind, SIZE DOES MATTER.
Ordinarily, a bike rack should not elicit rave reviews, but this might be an exception. Brad Cox, Brown County’s Ueber-welder who assembled “Big Doc” for us, has just completed the world’s most unusual bicycle rack. It consists of a 10’ x 6’ platform of road grating, framed by antique bicycles, welded into an old wrought iron fence, which itself is lagged onto a massive old pegged Brown County barn beam. The bike rack hovers right over a creek. Chain up, and grab a micro-brew in the Tavern, only ten human steps away.
Your prayers to the Harley gods have been answered! We have completed construction of a designated parking area for motorized two-wheeled vehicles. Now you can lay your kick stand down on concrete instead of gravel, in the south parking lot, and check out Big Doc.
We have completed upgrades to the following three cottages: Schultz Back, Wheeler Front, and Wilkerson Front. Check out the new photos online.
“Moore’s Law” vs. the “Flynn Effect”.
Twenty-eight years ago, a researcher at the University of Otago (New Zealand) by the name of James R. Flynn examined intelligence test data from over two dozen countries, and observed IQ test scores to be rising across the board at a steady rate of 0.3 point/year. Flynn’s findings have since been confirmed by three decades of follow-up studies, using test data from every inhabited continent that goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. In this manner, the term “Flynn Effect” was born. Flynn: “Are We Getting Smarter?” (2012).
The cumulative effect of such an increase in brain power will have far-reaching consequences for the human race: Someday, “Beyond the Wormhole” hosted by Morgan Freeman will have more viewers than “Dancing with the Stars”. We may even be compelled to retire “Village Idiot” accolades at the Story Inn by the beginning of the 24th century, as Captain Jean Luc Picard takes the helm of the Enterprise.
According to the better-known “Moore’s Law”, computing power doubles, on average, every 18 months or so, and this has been going on since the 1970’s. Due to the power of geometric increase, computers will soon overtake our intelligence, despite our considerable head-start. With luck, we’ll develop a symbiosis with computers before they wake up and decide to eradicate us as pests.
It was with the assistance of a benevolent computer that humans were recently able to catch Fareed Zakaria in an act of plagiarism, conduct which would have merited his expulsion from a reputable newspaper or university. But at TIME Magazine, his dirty deed earned him a mere 30 day suspension (upon investigating the matter, TIME was satisfied that his copying of an entire paragraph from an article published in the New Yorker was “unintentional”). Regardless, we may now add “unoriginal” to the adjectives “unimaginative”, “hackneyed”, “didactic” and “shallow” when describing Zakaria’s writings.
Indeed, TIME’s diminishing subscribership itself may be anecdotal confirmation of the “Flynn Effect”. A smarter, better educated and more literate population craves something of real substance to read.
But clearly, the benefits of the “Flynn Effect” have not been evenly distributed throughout the population, and certainly have not penetrated all parts of the “new economy”. Both publishing and investment banking have little to show for it. Witness Time-Warner’s disastrous merger a few years ago with AOL, a dial-up online service that had never even once turned a profit. Apparently, the brain-trust behind that move expected to make up for the losses in higher volume.
The author of this screed recently had the life-enriching experience of joining Butler University faculty sitting “on-stooge” with Zakaria’s boss, Richard A. Stengel, at the annual commencement ceremony. In addressing the Butler graduates (nearly all of them jobless and deep in debt) Stengel heaped praise on Zakaria, just as he was about to commit his act of . . . uh . . . unintentional copying. (Butler, as you might recall, declined to allow Chief Justice John Roberts to speak at an earlier commencement, declaring him to be “too controversial”. Add universities to those yet untouched by the “Flynn Effect”.)
Scientists are puzzled just how the “Flynn Effect” came to be. The author of this screed has a theory.
Now that we have mapped the human genome and accumulated decades of empirical data, no one can deny the heritability of intelligence, no matter how predisposed one might be to the politically correct proposition that nurture always trumps nature. (Even Zakaria would be loth to suppress this fact, whether or not it was published first in the New Yorker.)
Human females, being creatures of limited reproductive opportunity and unmatched guile, will necessarily strive to maximize the inclusive fitness of their offspring, even if it comes at the cruel expense of their putative partners. A British study in the 1950’s determined that approximately 10% of births to married women were NOT the offspring of their husbands. This embarrassing fact has been confirmed by studies numerous times since, in many different cultures.
Clearly, human females prefer more intelligent and successful Alpha males to their own dullard husbands/partners, even if it condemns their cuckold partners to a genetic dead-end. The Alpha males out there are only too happy to oblige.
In this manner, the gene pool of our race is continually enriched by the likes of John Edwards, and cumulatively, we have the “Flynn Effect”.
Story, Indiana. On a typical evening in this Hoosier hamlet, horses and dogs outnumber people. There are three traffic lights in all of Brown County. “We don’t have a mayor, town counsel, or anything resembling a government here,” says Rick Hofstetter, owner of the Story Inn and the town’s only employer. “We don’t need that kind of stuff.”
On an evening when the Inn is full, the town’s population may swell to 40 souls. Typically, most of them gather in the tavern located in the basement of the old General Store, to share news, gossip, and perhaps to take in some basketball or NASCAR on the town’s only television.
But despite the dearth of government, democracy thrives. On April 1 of each year, “town elders” a/k/a tavern regulars confer to elect a “Village Idiot”. It is a tradition that has thrived since the Clinton Administration, and a tribute to the fermentation process.
The balloting consists of submissions to the tavern’s bartender. “We have one requirement for voting for, and being elected to, this esteemed position: at some point, you must be a customer here” explains manager Anna Hofstetter, Rick’s daughter. “In Chicago tradition, you may vote early, and vote often.”
By consensus, this year’s “Village Idiot” is Lou Melillo, a businessman from nearby Columbus and Rick’s frequent wine-sipping companion. He owes his success to a lifetime of achievement, as well as nominations from his wife of 46 years, Holly, and his daughter, Deneb Lea. (Deneb, ironically named after the brightest star in the night sky, was elected “Village Idiot” in 2007.)
Always the ladies’ man, Lou captured Holly’s heart with a dazzling display of physical speed and agility. In showing his “Italian Stallion” boxing moves, he accidently punched her in the nose. Later, while the couple was living in married student housing, he attempted to flip Holly over his back—but dropped her on her head.
While a graduate student and young dad in the 1960’s, Lou coaxed yeast and sucrose to ferment in his (then) baby daughter’s bathtub, which he later distilled into an intoxicating, albeit unrefined, brew. (Today, Lou does not offer an explanation as to how he kept Deneb clean while the yeast did its work.) Needless to say, Lou’s provocative concoction of bathtub gin, Kool-Aid and (occasionally) canned, concentrated fruit juices will not be added to the Story Inn’s drink list any time soon. “Lou’s palate has matured a bit since Nixon was president” Rick says, to Lou’s credit.
Unlike a good Barolo or Barbaresco, which generally improves with age, Lou’s lack of tact with women has proved to be resistant to change. Six years ago, Lou attended a Drum Corps International event at Indiana University, where his then 12 year-old granddaughter Kayla was performing as a vocalist. In striking a friendly conversation with a VIP, Lou asked “When are you due?” The woman was not pregnant.
The Melillo family moved to Columbus two decades ago, where they now operate a company which designs and installs high fidelity sound systems. Despite the fact that Lou has been driving a certain route in downtown Columbus an average of once per day during those years, last week he inexplicably turned his yellow Miata onto a one-way street—the wrong way.
Lou recently borrowed a neighbor’s late-model pick-up truck to do some errands. To show his appreciation, Lou then went to the gas station to fill it up. Unfortunately, Lou found that he was not up to the challenge of operating the vehicle in reverse gear, and backed it up into a concrete pylon, causing extensive body damage. “It was not at all like driving the yellow Miata”, he explains.
Holly Melillo’s head injury may well have done permanent damage. While enjoying a dry Italian red wine in the Story Inn’s tavern, she recently proved herself unable to distinguish football highlights from an actual football game, when she exclaimed: “Who’s playing? Anybody important?” Anna, Rick’s daughter, demonstrated her football ineptitude as well. At a “brainstorming” meeting on December 15 to discuss the Story Inn’s “Counter-Superbowl” activities, she remarked: “By the way, who’s playing in this year’s Superbowl?”
Holly’s daughter, Deneb, proved herself well qualified to nominate her own father. She received “Idiot” accolades in 2007 for an ill-advised effort to maintain a level of personal hygiene while hiking in the woods. When “Nature” called, she used a leaf—of poison ivy.
Lou faced stiff competition from other “Idiot” candidates. The gene pool runs shallow in these parts. Current and past nominees included:
• A Story bartender who set her own hair on fire as she was attempting to tame her coiffure with hairspray. (The unfortunate incident did not persuade her to give up smoking.)
• A Story patron who took the blame for her Great Dane’s flatulence, so that her husband wouldn’t make it sleep outside.
• A tavern regular who somehow managed to run over her own foot with her own truck.
• A Story employee who, while learning to hunt with a bow and arrow, brought down his own Chevy Cavalier.
• A bar patron (with an engineering degree from Purdue, no less) who filled a kiddie pool on the wood deck behind his house. The weight of the water (8.3 lbs./gallon x 1000) caused the deck to separate from his house and collapse into a heap of twisted lumber.
• A Story Inn server who attempted to verify the authenticity of a Story Inn gift certificate by repeatedly calling the Story Inn from the Story Inn’s front desk. She could not understand why the other line kept ringing when she called out.
• A wine dinner guest who drank the dump bucket on a bet from his wife.
• A bar patron who mistakenly took his dog’s mange medicine; his wife claims it fixed a weak patch on his beard.
• A newly married couple who stepped out of their cottage to cool off after a dip in the hot tub. When they discovered that the door had locked behind them, she sent her husband to the front desk to get a new key, at the peak of the dinner rush, clad only in a bath towel.
• A frequent guest who proved herself worthy of her blond hair by embarking on a cross-country road trip, leaving her sandwiches on the roof of the car.
• A musician who hit a cow on his way to perform at the Story Inn. (The cow was unharmed. However, his Honda Civic needed a new side mirror.)
Lou captured “Idiot” honors from server Susan Gray, who won last year’s crown for snorting cayenne pepper in a crab boil mix. Like Lou, Susan came of age in the 1960’s.
Lou Melillo will receive a $100 gift certificate, which he will most certainly spend for the purchase of a dry Italian red. He will hold the title of “Village Idiot” until March 31, 2013.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Rick Hofstetter, (317) 590-3207
Lou Melillo, (812) 343-0019