Nathan Dueck


The G.I. Joe ®: A Real American Hero ™ line of fully poseable modern army figures were top-sellers, but then Jem ® fashion dolls hit the shelves. When the G.I. Joe ® animated series lost the key 6 to 11 demo to Jem ® and the Holograms ™, Hasbro ® seized a marketing opportunity: G.I. Jem ®! Scripts were written for a series featuring codenamed female characters performing combat roles, yet they were never animated. The project, which featured a run of 11 ½ inch figurines including five points of articulation, was cancelled due to falling sales of Jem ® products. All that remains of G.I. Jem ® are the following P.S.A. tags.


Do you feel lost? Smarten up! Think about the place where you feel most at home, even if it’s imaginary, like Never-Never-, Wonder-, or even Oompa-Loompa Land. If you don’t know the way, ask a local for directions, even if you can’t remember the lyrics of the song that mischievous truants sing along the path to the Emerald Kingdom. I’ve got a feeling, my pretty . . . you’ll forget Kansas soon enough!


Hey, looks like you’re coughing up smoke and / or sloughing off burnt skin. You must be en flambé! Quick, drop to your hands and knees. Now, fumble around to find the tunnel that leads out of the cave. You probably shouldn’t have awoken that most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm. Huh, Bilbo?


Ignore what kind of smells like lollipops. Forget what maybe looks like a swirling rainbow. That’s not Candyland ® – there is an oil spill on the lake! Unless you want to make believe you’re a sticky seagull, go somewhere else for a dip. To quote Bob Ross, a painter famous for his oils, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”


It’s got to be rough – ruff! – to be cast out of pleasant society. Just look at this here werewolf . . . look at it, but don’t make eye contact! How’ll – howl! – you know if he’s hungry? Remember, lycanthrope can smell fear and some breeds appear to read thoughts. Don’t even think about – bow-wow! – red meat!


Before beginning construction, get the blueprints for your project approved by a board-certified inspector. Anything worth building is worth planning for. It’s procedure! (Sponsored by The International Brotherhood of Teamsters – unions built U.S. strong!)


Forget what Phoenix-so-and-so told you before. If you’re coughing up smoke and / or sloughing off layers of burnt skin, whatever you do, don’t just fumble around! Wrap yourself in a rug, a blanket, or strips of cloth to smother the flames. Then, move into an opera house, wear a half mask, and learn to play a pipe organ, electric guitar, or synthesizer.


Only a phony like Jem ® or one of those “Hologram” posers would ever doggy-paddle in the shallow end of a public pool – and you’re no loser, are you? Tread water in the deep end like a winner! Kick your legs like a backup dancer. Keep up a hip-hop tempo! Cup your hands like you’re going to make Jerrica Benton taste your backhand! Repeat after me: “You wouldn’t know a hit pop song if it slapped the gloss off your lips!”


Even if you’re not so sure whether in the right, never turn down a good, clean fight. Why not give bare knuckle boxing a go? Try on fisticuffs! No eye-gouging, fish-hooking, or hair-pulling, though. And nothing below the belt. Don’t get beaten – get even!


Looks like Max Rockatansky ran out of gas for his ride. Clearly he’s jinxed. A mutant gang must’ve paid a witch doctor to hex him. If you want to reverse the curse, cut off the heads of a dozen chickens, string them around your neck with twine, swallow a handful of their tail feathers, and roost on a few of their eggs. It takes hard work to undo voodoo.


Whoa, close call! I couldn’t see you there! No wonder, you don’t have any reflectors on that creaky rickshaw. Reflectors are necessary to let the vehicles, never-mind those other runners, know where you are. Remember, when you have to haul wealthy Western tourists around Seoul between shifts at the animation studio, be sure to have the proper safety equipment on your rig.


You’ll never learn to waterski while standing on the shore, landlubber! They don’t call it dirt-skiing, do they? Never quit! Ever. Not even when you’re swallowing saltwater by the mouthful like some shipwrecked survivor clinging to a lifeboat.

Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate death!

The vessel’s taking water

A hoary tale, you’ll tell it best

From Davy Jones’ locker!


Never tell anyone your name, your age, or when you’ll be home alone. Don’t give up your privacy so easily! Your dear Father in Heaven says you must save your precious, sweet, tender . . . innocence. For marriage. No premarital funny business. True love waits.


How many times do I have to tell you? You can’t plan a mistake; a mistake is what happens when you don’t plan. Was it a mistake to concoct a potion test it on yourself? No! To transform into a cold-blooded, dead-eyed sociopath? Well, yes. To cook up a serum to prevent you from turning ever again? See? Even though it’s plan B, it’s still a plan.


Don’t pull the fire alarm unless you’re coughing up smoke and / or sloughing off layers of burnt skin. It isn’t a firefighter’s job to put out your pranks. If you’ve got to pull an alarm like one of those new-batch Gremlins TM, be sure to set something on fire before you hear sirens.


Looks like someone’s been picking her nose! Okay, you have to pinch it and lean forward. You’re still swallowing blood? Now, pack your nostrils with tissue to stuff it up. So, have you developed a taste for it plasma? Congratulations, you’ve conquered the test of a vampyr. Good news is you’re not undead!

BLINKING “12:00”

Don’t forget, the surface of a pond or river may look frozen, but the ice could still crack, and you can easily fall in. Why not take up a nice indoor hobby, like owl macramé, whittling with a steak knife, or thousand-piece puzzling?


Never take medicine without a responsible adult present. A healthcare professional would call that “self-mediating behaviour.” But, if you’re really jonesing, ask a responsible adult. And, even though your cousin calls himself a naturopath, he doesn’t count. Don’t take anything he gives you, no matter what he calls them. No deadly nightshade, no magic hour, no rashish, no teardrop, no devil’s batteries . . .


There’s nothing chicken about being smart. Unless, of course, you’re being kept in a cage while strangers steal all your eggs. Stopping to think about flying the coop won’t make it easier to put up with. There’s almost always a better way, but so long as the present administration subsidizes draconian factory farming practices this is as good as it gets for you. Stop wishing for good governance and chew your pellets. Don’t make us get the force-feeding tube.


So, I see you’re still swinging and missing, ‘lil slugger. Looks like you should either squint a lot or get a pair of spectacles. Of course, you could try my home remedy: mix a poultice or salve from a dram of ammonia, a pint of day-old gruel, and the ashes of the Union Jack. Place directly on eyes. Either that, or switch to softball. Meet your problem and beat it – with a bat!


Running away from home won’t solve your problems! Your mind will keep running long after your legs stop. Remember how the clam makes a pearl: it deposits layers of calcium carbonate over an irritant or particle. So, if you want to make a pearl of yourself, stew on your issues!


When you’re playing hide and seek, never crawl inside anything that could close up and trap you. You don’t want to get stuck like the memories of that time when your older brother said, “Submitted for your approval. There’s a deserted chest freezer in the back alley! Want to play house, Judy?” Remember, that was the time when you and your brother found the autopsied alien?


If you chance upon a gentlewoman who has caught the vapours, espy whether she draws breath, even faintly. If she breathes, lay her on a chaise longue and loosen her corset. Ensure that hysteria has not set in by gently massaging her torso. If she is not hysterical, but the breath of life has left her, ensure her sprit will not linger by removing all other mistresses from the premises. Poltergeists are known to anchor themselves upon passionate feminine emotions.


Contrary to popular belief, you don’t get superpowers from surviving electrocution. All you get is third-degree burns, cardiac arrest, or loss of consciousness. Try to keep your fingers out of wall sockets and your tongue away from exposed wires.


Don’t judge people ‘til you give them a chance. Then, if they don’t appreciate how many days of dieting or hours of rehearsal it took to pull off the forbidden dance of the seven veils for his fortieth birthday gift, judge away! Hear that, Herod? Heads will roll!


Remember, taking something that isn’t yours just isn’t right. Unless it’s land from people of the First Nations, clean air and water from future generations, collective bargaining rights from the working class, or reproductive freedom from women. Nothing wrong with any of that! Not one thing.


A stranger is anyone you don’t know yet, right? That’s why I wear my name, Morgan, here, on this tag. And right here is the name of the chain restaurant that employs me as a server. The corporate entity whose logo appears on my paycheque kindly suggested that I not identify them by name. See, they are presently in court defending against a class action lawsuit. One word: “Listeria.” I guess what I’m saying is that even though you know my employers by name, they’re still kind of strangers, aren’t they? Have a nice day!


A Hazmat suit is good protection in a room filled with asbestos – almost like a life jacket in a tippy canoe, a space suit on the dark side of the moon, or a chastity belt in a Victorian manor. Good to know you’re good to go!


No matter how many educational advisors you consult, consultants you coordinate, or coordinators you advise, a public service announcement is only another form of commercial. I mean, who do we think we’re fooling? Ourselves. And only ourselves. We’ve trained our children to know an advertisement when they see one.