Our Toaster Talks! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Note: “Our Toaster Talks!” served as an introduction to our ANGEL IN THE KITCHEN series. The best of these articles were published in 2016 and are available here:

 

A Toaster can talk? No! Of course not! Well … actually … sort of … in a manner of speaking. Ahem, please just read the post.

toaster-recovered-300x300Our house seemingly lies still at night, but all is not at rest. Down in the kitchen it’s easy to imagine a party is in full swing. The clock on the range occasionally flashes and keeps time to the whispers, winks and furtive glances made by our appliances. No, we haven’t lost it. Although we may have overactive imaginations. Sometimes we just get inspired.

There’s an old Disney movie we enjoy, about a gang of appliances left behind in a summer cottage. When these anthropomorphic gadgets realize they’ve been long forgotten, they set out to find their master.  Think Disney’s The Incredible Journey, only instead of two dogs and a Siamese cat, this time our heroes are a loudmouthed radio, a whiny electric blanket, a fairly bright desk lamp, a tough vacuum cleaner (named Kirby); and their intrepid leader, the eponymous hero of The Brave Little Toaster !

Before we knew it, we were naming all our appliances! We have a large antique-style radio we dubbed Orson, in honor of the early contributions made to the medium by Mr. Welles (famed writer/director/star of “the broadcast that shocked America,” The War of the Worlds); the kitchen range is “Sparky” (when we switch on one of his gas burners, he snaps at us and sparks to life); “Luke” and “Nuke” (twin microwave ovens that allow us to cook two frozen dinners at the same time!); and then there’s “Fridgie.”

We live in the woods, in a house we named Woodhaven, and we love the peace and quiet. Outside, our days amid the trees are filled only with the sounds of birds, our nights punctuated by the lonely calls of a whippoorwill. Inside, things are just a bit more lively: our computer hums softly to himself (Thats “Hal”; remember 2001: A Space Odyssey?); the printer (“Flash”) clicks and whirs; all to the accompaniment of the ticking, murmuring, gurgling and, sometimes, even groaning sounds of the appliances. All these sounds become far more noticeable at night. That’s usually the time when a house really starts to talk.

When we first got our new refrigerator, before we got used to what he wanted to tell us, we’d often awaken from a deep sleep thinking that someone was downstairs raiding the kitchen: Fridgie calls out to us like a distant foghorn shrouded in the night mist, gently reassuring us that he’s protecting our food from spoiling. Periodically he alerts us that there’s plenty of ice ahead (crescents, not bergs) for a glass of tea or soda, by periodically sounding off with an encouraging ker-chunk!  Now, whenever we hear Fidgie talking in the middle of night, we just go back to sleep. We’ve come to recognize the sound of his voice!

Apart from learning just how silly we can be, you can glean another lesson from this story. Each day our appliances let us know exactly “what they’re about” as they go through their routines. All of our kitchen friends have discovered their voice!  We all need to do the same.

Most of us have heard that writers are frequently admonished to “find your own voice.” Until they do, they tend to imitate the style of some other writer. Then, one day, everything finally seems to click, and a writer discovers his or her own unique voice! But we all need to find our voice, not just writers. That’s what makes life so wonderful: we’re not trying to be you, you’re not trying to be her, etc.

angelic-pop-up-toaster-smiling-with-wings-and-halo-emoji-102714
Read ANGEL IN THE KITCHEN for more wit & wisdom! Click to see Tom & Wilma’s book.

Apple innovator Steve Jobs once stated, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. …Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” 

When we sing, we each have our own key! We know who we are and what we’re about. We each discover our own, God-given voice. Thank You [God] for making (each of us) so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous….” (Psalm 139:14 NLT)

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Not Just Lucky (Or, What’s YOUR Brand?)

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For most Americans during the Golden Age of Hollywood, his was the most recognizable face in movies. He was handsome and well built, with a distinctive voice and presence many perhaps found intimidating.

Weissmuller, as Tarzan, tries to steal this big scene.

He began his film career in 1926, and during the next thirty years he appeared in over 100 movies. MGM, the studio that employed him, was so pleased with his work that they ensured he was featured in at least one brief scene in nearly every picture they produced, including such classics as Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. And yet, he’s never listed in any of the movies’ credits!

He posed for publicity photos with legendary Hollywood starlets, including Greta Garbo, and often participated in studio promotional tours. His most enjoyable performances, however, were in a series of low-budget Tarzan movies, in which he played opposite the Olympic Gold Medalist (for swimming)-turned-actor Johnny Weissmuller. Only in these cheaply-made jungle flicks did he get the opportunity to truly show off his acting chops.

However, the most remarkable part of his career was his uncanny good fortune. He survived two train wrecks, an earthquake, and a studio explosion! But his most amazing death-defying escape involved a plane crash!

Wreckage of Leo's plane!
Wreckage of Leo’s plane!

Shortly after departing from San Diego, on a heavily-reported publicity tour, the star’s specially designed single-engine plane crashed in the Arizona desert. The pilot, Martin Jenson, left his VIP (very important passenger) lounging in the “guest suite” with plenty of sandwiches, milk, and water, and then made a four-day trek through the wilderness. Once Jenson found a phone, he called the studio bosses, who immediately wanted to know just one thing: Was their star okay?

Miraculously, MGM’s most visible talent came out of the crash totally unscathed. So, the folks at the studio started calling their star Leo the Lucky. That wasn’t his real name, of course, but he did look like a “Leo.” Have you guessed the identity of this ubiquitous performer? His name was Jackie. Just Jackie. He was the famous MGM lion who roared (perhaps a bit irritably) at the beginning of most of the studio’s movies.

Jackie patiently awaits her close-up.
Jackie patiently awaits his close-up.

We can imagine that you’re wondering exactly how we intend to use this bit of biography to encourage dreamers to never give up and creators to keep on creating. Well, it’s like this….

Actually, we just thought it would be fun to write about Leo, one of the most recognizable trademarks in the world, and…. Hey, that’s it! Trademarks! Branding! That’s how we’ll round out this story!

Trademarks can facilitate and protect the dreams of creators and entrepreneurs. And maintaining a recognizable brand name can ensure that writers, artists, singers, and musicians — as well as designers, manufacturers, and inventors — keep a loyal following; which is necessary if these creators hope to sufficiently fund their work (and hence, be able to continue pursuing their dreams).

The MGM Grand Hotel proudly displays its famous trademark.

Companies rely on trademarks to protect their products and services. And of course, brand names help consumers to find these commodities. And believe it or not, some authors and artists have gone so far as to trademark their names.

Publishing competitors Marvel and DC Comics even joined forces to trademark the word superhero. So, although third-party companies may use the word inside a comic book, these publishers who arrived late to the party CANNOT use superhero in their magazine titles or anywhere else on the covers of their books. In this way, industry giants Marvel and DC hope to ensure that readers looking for exciting tales of good guys in colorful costumes will pick up one of their comics.

Personally, we too have a “brand” — and we share it with all those who believe in Jesus Christ. We identify ourselves as followers of the Son of God, who’s also known in the scriptures as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! He may not have had His own dressing room at MGM, but His story is far more fascinating than even Leo’s. And His “stamp” of approval is upon all His creations, including the earth and all its inhabitants — even the feathered, furry, and finny ones!

Leo wasn’t just Lucky! The protection of MGM’s mascot is a perfect example of how much God cares about all His creation. The Psalmist writes, “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. All the creatures look expectantly to you to give them their meals on time. You come, and they gather around; you open your hand and they eat from it.” (Psalm 104:24-30 MSG)

Does the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” care about you too? Absolutely! You are His highest creation, “fearfully and wonderfully made” in God’s “own image.” (Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 139:14 KJV) And He loves you dearly! (John 3:16)

Jesus said, “Stop being worried or anxious about your life [and your
dreams]…. Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
(Matthew 6:25-26 AMP)

Indeed you are! So go ahead and roar!

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