The Worst - Part III

"The best stock: Netflix"
The Worst Stock
Feebtronix, a manufacturer of transistorized frog jigs and electronic behavior-modification systems for the home.  In the four years the stock has been on the market, Feebtronix has never declared an official dividend, but to hold on to its major investors the company periodically sends out anonymous photos of Feebtronix executives using public transportation and doing their own dental work.  There is no annual report; instead, a specially trained Feebtronix employee calls up each shareholder and whines about the minimum-wage law.  Feebtronix is usually traded under the counter at all-night drugstores and at hotel gift shops, and a purchase of a hundred or more shares entitles the buyer to a free copy of Mel’s Guide to Mink-Ranching for Big Bucks.  At the moment, however, the federal government is investigating reports that each Feebtronix worker is expected to contribute a quart of blood a week to the company infirmary, and the SEC is looking into complaints about the stock certificates, which show large dollar signs dressed in trenchcoats and making crude gestures.
"The best-known Greek myth: The story of Hercules"
The Worst Greek Myth
The story of Zeus and the Orthodontist, as recorded in the Ninth Peristaltic Ode of Hector of Knidos, a shameless imitator of Pindar.  Roughly translated, the story goes like this: “It happened that Zeus, unbeknownst to Hera, went to have some work done by a mortal orthodontist named Vitalis.  The session was particularly painful, which caused Zeus to call Vitalis 'a common farrier' and transform him into a figwort.  When Hera saw the ill-fitting appliances in Zeus’s mouth, she flew into a rage, and later took it out on mankind by inventing mildew.”
"In general, some of the best apples for eating are Fuji and Red Delicious."
The Worst Apple
The Industrial Spy, a Washington State hybrid that was produced when a Northern Spy tree in full blossom was fertilized by a cloud of radioactive soot from a nearby nuclear power plant.  The mature Industrial Spy never exceeds one inch in diameter.  Its thick, tough skin is cadmium yellow and it glows in the dark, and at dawn the fruit emits an ultrahigh-frequency twittering that attracts worms in great numbers.  The state Department tested this apple as a golf-ball substitute for emerging nations, with mixed results (it carries well, but not in hot weather it immediately puts out roots in the cup).  It is otherwise useless, except for the juice, which when handled with caution is extremely effective in crowd control.



Charles McGrath, former Deputy Editor of the New Yorker and Editor of the New York Times Book Review, is Writer-at-Large for the Times.

Daniel Menaker is the Editor of Grin & Tonic.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.