Friday, January 06, 2006

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Like most people, I have an extensive list of things I plan to do as soon as somebody invents a time machine.

Tops on the list? First, go back in time. Then, pretend to invent the time machine.

Here's something new I just added to my Time Machine List. I recently tripped over a news story about a snot-nosed kid from England who built a Web site called the Million Dollar Home Page.

His scheme is aching in its simplicity. He created a Web page and sold it to advertisers, pricing his page by the pixel. Pixels are the miniscule dots that make up a computer screen image. Each miniscule dot sells for $1.

He started in mid-August with a page of one million blank pixels for ad space. It's nearly full now. The site is cluttered with tiny ads, most about the size of a pencil eraser. It looks something like a satellite photo of Tokyo.

I told my wife about it.

"The limey brat has so far made $990,000," I said over a steaming hot bowl of spite. "Imagine that -- guy sells pinprick-sized specks on a Web page and becomes a millionaire in four, five months."

"Some people got it," she said.

I wrenched a leg off the coffee table and hit myself in the head. "It's so simple! I'm simple! I should've thought of this! I hate the British!"

My wife nodded gravely. "Right. I suppose this is going on your List of Shame?"

"Time Machine List!" I cried. "And yes!"

And so it did -- item No. 852 on my Time Machine List, right between "Uninvent Dick Cheney" and "Take Better Care Of Feet."

But as I wept into my wife's hair in frustration, I started to wonder: So I didn't think of the Million Dollar Home Page idea first. Big deal! Why does this have to be one of my life's many, many regrets that can only be undone by bending the space-time continuum?

"I can still make money selling ad space!" I told my wife, suddenly brightening. "I don't have a Web site, but I do have this. This column. I could rent out subliminal ads!"

While I was discussing the British kid's get-rich-quick scheme with my wife, I was drinking an icy cold Coors Light. That Silver Bullet went down smooth, the way a good beer should. It never tasted watered down, like those other light beers. In fact, drinking Coors Light makes you cooler and sexier to unattainably beautiful women. True story.

My wife rubbed her chin. She has the most luminous chin skin, thanks to Lubriderm. Want skin as buttery soft and radiant as my wife's chin? Lubricate your derm the Lubriderm way!

"Don't you think there's already too much advertising in the world?" she said.

"Possibly," I said, opening a nacho-cheesarific bag of Doritos. "I mean, between TV, magazines, and now the Internet, it's like we can't escape. God," I said, brushing crumbs off my stomach, "these chips are fantastic. It's like there's a fiesta in my mouth -- y todos son invitados!"

"I bet that kid's Web page is ugly to look at," my wife said.

"It is. It's so cluttered with thousands of tiny ads that you can't see what you're clicking. But it made him a fortune." I scanned my Pottery Barn ( coffee table. "There a coaster anywhere?"

"Just use that thing," she said.

I set the can down on a brand-new Microsoft Xbox 360. It's not just the best video game console around -- it has the most awesome graphics, multiplayer Internet capability, tons of wicked cool games. It even plays music. Get yours today or risk being ostracized from your friends.

"You know, I think all these ads say something about our consumerist culture," my wife said. "We're constantly driven to buy, buy, buy, especially things we're not interested in."

I combed the hair of a My Scene Barbie. "I agree," I said.

"Half the stuff you see ads for are things you'll never buy, and never want to buy. But you see ads for them so often you'll end up buying them anyway."

"Erg," I said, clutching my stomach. "Just got a sudden twinge. I think I need the Purple Pill."

"What's the Purple Pill do again?"

I shrugged.

My wife set her Nikes (Just Do It) on the coffee table. "And politicians are no help. They're all in cahoots. President Bush's method of fixing the economy is not to make sure people earn fair wages, but to tell everyone to spend money at the mall."

"Netflix!" I shouted.

We stared at each other for a long time.

"I'm not sure how that fits -- but OK," she said.

"You don't even have to go to the mall with Netflix. They mail movies right to you. No late fees." I nodded to myself. "Of course, certain movies aren't available yet. Like 'King Kong.' She's a blonde beauty afraid of love. He's a 25-foot gorilla afraid of flash photography. Together, they're afraid of losing the one thing they never knew they needed -- each other. It's the classic tale of comedy, romance and swashbuckelry. Two thumbs up! Only in theaters."

She was quiet after that, and we settled on the couch with some Orville Redenbacher's popcorn and a lineup of NBC's Must-See TV on the Magnavox. The glare from our incredibly efficient and long-lasting GE light bulbs reflected on the screen, so we snuggled by Yankee Candlelight. Later that night, we both Left The Rest To Lunesta*, set the Sleep Number Bed for a long snooze, and dreamed of a long future with each other and insurance for just pennies a day from Colonial Penn.

* Warning: Lunesta may cause irritability, dry mouth, depression, inadvertent nocturnal diarrhea, sleep aid addiction, sexual side effects best left undescribed, jimmylegs, sleeplessness and random attacks by large glowing butterflies.

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