Tired of unsalted bugs? Lock and load!

Sunday columnist Wes Burns is off this week to participate in his annual “Migraine Headache Challenge!” Please enjoy this column from the “Best of Burns” file, which originally ran July 31, 2016.

WWhat’s the biggest problem with having a picnic in the summer?

Getting yourself and your McDonald’s breakfast thrown out of Walmart at 5 a.m. because they told you the automotive section is neither a park nor a proper place for a picnic?

Obviously.

But what is the second biggest problem with having a picnic in the summer?

Being told that the textbook definition of a picnic requires far more than a bottle of whiskey in a wicker basket with a blanket on top?

… Sure. But the answer I was looking for is “bugs.”

Yes, bugs. The favorite pet of any roommate and/or coworker that simply refuses to throw away half an apple are well known for ruining more picnics than smarter-than-average bears and overzealous Walmart security officers combined.

But what is to be done with such a pest? Should I indiscriminately spray insecticide over all of my possessions until nothing can live in my home without the aid of a hazmat suit and a tank of oxygen?

That is one way to go.

Zappers? Only works on the bugs that land on it, not the horde of bugs swarming around the zapper, taxing their tiny minds trying to figure out how to land on it.

Citronella candles? Citronella is Latin for “sucker.”

No, bugs are a minor inconvenience to a nice day at the park; obviously the only way to overcome a minor inconvenience is with overwhelming firepower; and, once again, late night TV has precisely the tool for the job.

Behold, the Bug-A-Salt!

The commercial opens to the dulcet tones of Edvard Grieg’s “Morning Mood,” a piece of music I’m certain you’ve heard numerous times without ever knowing the name.

We see a man, adorned with a backwards visor, cargo shorts, Fauxkleys, and pretty much all the necessary accoutrements for a guy that would buy a jet ski instead of paying rent.

As he swats away flies he states the raison d’etre of the Bug-A-Salt: “Flies are disgusting.”

Too true, Backward Visor Guy, all too true.

A few shots of flies covering a nearby picnic table leads Backwards Visor Guy to tell us “Protect your food, and your health, with the Bug-A-Salt.”

After a brief explanation of the loading and firing procedure (pour in salt, pump, remove safety, fire) Backwards Visor Guy begins to rain salty hellfire down on the unsuspecting flies in a torrent of violence the likes of which haven’t been seen since Sam Peckinpah put down the camera.

Jell-O molds explode, sprinkles fly off cookies and bits of hot dog bun shrapnel fill the screen as Backwards Visor Guy fires madly at the flies which have set upon his picnic, all set to the finale of the “William Tell Overture.”

With the flies thoroughly destroyed, the ordering info pops up and it’s all over.

So what mad genius invented this most salty weapon of the modern era? Some descendant of Kalashnikov? A disgraced Armalite developer with gambling debts to pay? Somebody who plays too much Halo and owns a 3-D printer?

No; an unparalleled work of genius such as the Bug-A-Salt could only be crafted by an artisan with aspirations of extraterrestrial travel.

In other words: Lorenzo Maggiore.

Lorenzo is … you know what? I’m going to let him and his company Skell Inc. explain the mystery of Lorenzo and the Bug-A-Salt. The following is taken directly from the company’s website:

“SKELL INC. is a start up company founded by the artist Lorenzo Maggiore as a vehicle to bring his creations to commercial life. SKELL INC. is constantly in the process of developing other interesting products in the near future on other planets.

The initial product offering of SKELL INC. is the BUG-A-SALT™ insect eradication device, an invention originally proto-typed all the way back in 1994. Through the help of family and friends, Lorenzo finally pulled it off in 2012 when the BUG-A-SALT launched via crowd-funding.”

So many questions. Interesting products on other planets? Eight years to make the first one? Artist?

Perhaps the most shocking piece of information gleaned from their aggressively capitalized website is that Lorenzo Maggiore is, in reality, Backwards Visor Guy!

The Bug-A-Salt seems perfect; vent your frustrated rage at your lot in life on a few thousand unsuspecting flies all with the power of salt. No harmful chemicals, no need to reapply every ten minutes, no terrible citronella smell … what’s not to love?

The food, that’s what not to love.

Despite Mr. Maggiore’s creation being brought to life and available in both original neon yellow or camouflage (for when you need to sneak up on the flies) his artist’s mindset has blinded him to the Bug-A-Salt’s fatal flaw.

In the commercial, as Maggiore/Backward Visor Guy laid waste to an entire business of flies (look it up), he inflicted small collateral damage on all of his picnic items. Why is that a problem?

Because it means the flies are already on the food! If I was OK with eating picnic food that had just recently been home to a fly then why would I buy something that will ensure the fly remains on my picnic food, but now lifeless and salty?

Maggiore’s own website shows that a fly will lay eggs on your food and vomit on it before feasting, houseflies defecate every 4-5 minutes, and that a dollar sign is a poor substitute for an “S.” So why am I letting them land on my food before salting them into the afterlife?

If you’re looking to add some salted bug meat to your picnic then by all means take aim and enjoy. If you’re like me and think that picnics are best enjoyed indoors with food you didn’t prepare then I’ll see you in the automotive section … don’t worry, I think if I bring the security guard their own McMuffin everything should be fine.

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Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or wburns@timesrepublican.com