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Meet the MacLankan “Geniuses” for 2015

By Elliott Cumber-Lanny

By Elliott Cumber-Lanny

Berenice Cradles, millennial preservationist-entrepreneur extraordinaire, was polishing a knob in an old bungalow in the Western Lankville Plains, which she’d purchased for $113.56 in a silent auction the week before. She was just asking her ex-husband and former business partner Josh Wilson-Shires if he could see his reflection in the shiny brass surface when the call came.

Dick LaHoyt, artist, popular columnist, and Lankville presidential candidate, was staring into the barrel of a Schlossberg 750 Royal shotgun, psyching himself up for a campaign speech he was about to give to a group of senior citizens at Eastern Hills Easier University, when his wife Tammy gave him the news.

Ashley Pfeiffers’ new boyfriend was “laying down some gnarlsty tracks” for his upcoming solo EP, One for the Blumpkins, when Ms. Pfeiffers excitedly rushed over from her Barlow Foods High Groceries cheerleading squad practice to tell him.

“I tried to stay swizzy,” said Ashley Pfeiffers’ new boyfriend. “But there’s no way to stay swizzy,” he added as Ms. Pfeiffers beamed proudly beside him.

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Berenice Cradles: Some Kind of Genius

These three were among the dozen Lankvillians honored with a MacLankan “genius” award for 2015. The award – which is given after a rigorous but secretive selection process – comes with a $750,000 stipend and a lifetime supply of single-serve plastic utensils from Barlow Foods, which has sponsored the MacLankans since 1987.

“There are no restrictions on how they spend that money,” noted Barlow Foods CEO John Barlow. “Well, almost none,” he added, admitting there is a strict prohibition on the use of MacLankan funds for Vitiello Decorative Hams products. Since 1993, founder and CEO Chris Vitiello has sponsored the “Hammies,” a rival award, considerably less lucrative than the MacLankans.

“We want people to shake things up, feel free to take chances, think outside the box, stretch the limits of Wow,” Barlow said from his command-cave. “Like when I thought of unwrapped, single-serve utensil dispensers,” he said. “It takes a man freed from the confines of convention and the everyday rigmarole to come up with an idea like that. Now, you’ll have to excuse me,” he said. The sound of heavy machinery and small explosions then followed as he set the phone down without hanging up.

Ms. Cradles, already well known as a mover and shaker in what she calls “the Next Lankville,” has exciting plans for the unexpected windfall.

“Well, it’s sort of unexpected,” she said over a half-frap soy-chini at Emoti-Flan. “I mean, I planned to win a MacLankan before I turned thirty, and here I am with three years to spare,” laughed the winsome 27-year-old. Former husband Wilson-Shires nodded with a painful expression. “She did always say that,” he murmured feebly. The funds, said Cradles, will go towards an ambitious development project in the Southern Exotic Islands, where she has already turned her refurbishing eye, purchasing several tracts of wetlands and unincorporated swamp. “What do you think of when I say ‘Southern Exotic Islands?’” asked Ms. Cradles rhetorically, instantly answering: “Caramel Dragons, right?”

Dick La Hoyt

Dick La Hoyt

Cradles then outlined her plan to build a small preserve for the Dragons and surround it with mixed-use structures, sustainable lots, and communal living units. Jilted husband Wilson-Shires stared morosely as she ran through the details.

Mr. LaHoyt, whose presidential bid had been flagging amidst scandal and lack of real effort, vowed to pump some much-needed funds into his campaign. “But let’s face it,” he added, “I’m going to be buying a lot of shotgun shells and pizza with this money, and maybe some of that fancy liquor that comes in, like, a vial or whatever.” He thought for a moment. “Yeah. A lot of little bottles with fancy names and stuff.”

Ashley Pfeiffers’ new boyfriend allowed himself a slight, wry smile as he listened to the Barlow Foods Committee offer an assessment of his creative work: “The cassette tape Reductio ad My Johnson was both uplifting and disturbing, forcing the listener to stare into the abyss of the self while seizing on a strange sense of wonder.”

“I guess I’m sort of izzled by it all,” he admitted. “I want to thank the academy, or, whoever, for this.”

“I LOVE YOU SO MUCH,” added Ms. Pfeiffers.

Other winners of the MacLankan for 2015 include Sarah Samways for her impressionistic reports and consulting work; Brian Schropp for his essays on cuisine and persistent demeanor; and Genevieve Rumpus (no relation to the Ida Rumpus who reports for this paper) for her popular “No More Fucking Around” workshops, symposia, and related products and services.

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