In 1991, an unlikely comic strip called “The Endless Nights of Rick Nobles” began to appear in some underground comic books in Madison, WI. I say “unlikely,” because Rick Nobles not only bore an uncanny resemblance to yours truly, he seemed to be living out my own resume – a struggling actor stuck on the graveyard shift of a home shopping network. Rick Nobles was an HR nightmare. Night after night, he questioned the value of porcelain dolls, fake diamonds, collectible figurines and various other items plucked from his employer’s bottomless inventory of Dollar Store rejects. His rambling monologues bemoaned the trajectory of a troubled career and his naked contempt for the products he skeptically hawked infuriated his many bosses. Eighteen years ago, my understanding of natural coincidence might have kept me from concluding that I had somehow become the inspiration for a cartoon, but I doubt it. Even then, at the peak of my own narcoleptic befuddlement, a quick glance at this world-weary caricature would have led me to the obvious conclusion that Rick Nobles and his “endless nights” were, in fact, precise reconstructions of my own monotonous ramblings lifted verbatim from my long and troubled tenure as a professional pitchman at The QVC© Cable Shopping Channel.
It’s a fact. We all have to start somewhere and my broadcasting career began in home shopping. I spent three years at QVC© working on a kind of double secret probation, sleepwalking through the graveyard shift, and doing my best to amuse myself at a time when the sound of my own voice was the only thing keeping me awake. It was a strange and tumultuous time but valuable in ways I wouldn’t understand until years after my inevitable dismissal when I finally learned about the existence of Rick Nobles from the guy who created him. Dan Vebber told me that when he first saw me on QVC© back in 1990, he watched for nearly 10 minutes before realizing it wasn’t an episode of Mad TV. “You were selling a crappy little carving of a boy and a girl on a seesaw, with the girl raised up in the air. It was called Love Lifted Me and you began your pitch by yawning on camera and saying ‘in my opinion, the artist has succeeded in capturing the effects of gravity, not love.’ Then you started to make fun of the way the kids were dressed. It was really quite remarkable.” I told him I had no recollection of that particular event so Dan invited me to his home in Hollywood and showed me this “Love Lifted Me” video (click the picture above to view the horror).
If you’ve never watched a video of yourself doing something you have no recollection of actually doing, it’s difficult to describe the sensation. Horrified yet transfixed, I watched in helpless wonder as the long-forgotten elements of my dubious past played out on a giant flat screen. What would I say next? Why was I such a smartass? Where did all my hair go? And what a terrible tie!
Very soon though, I would learn to my great surprise and satisfaction that Dan and several other writers at The Onion used to videotape my shift on QVC© on purpose and then – inexplicably – watch it at work for the purposes of fostering “the proper level of subversion and irreverence.” How crazy is that? At a time when I was offending the gentle sensibilities of insomniacs and doll collectors everywhere, I was simultaneously providing inspiration to aspiring writers and starving artists. Now, yards and yards of incriminating footage has found its way onto You Tube proving once again that no matter how fast he moves, a man can never outrun his past even after he’s taken the time to carefully forget it. Which begs another question – why even bother?
Since I can’t put the crap back in the goose, I might as well call these humiliations to your attention because the time has come for me to go back to the future. That’s right folks, in these challenging economic times, I am pleased to announce that the mrW Warehouse – though humbly stocked at the moment – is now officially open for business. In other words, Rick Nobles is back and this time he really wants you to buy something.
Look around but be advised, the products featured here will not make you smarter, thinner, or sexier. I guarantee it. A handful of small companies and entrepreneurs who wish to help me fund this site will provide a modest inventory of random crap – I mean, rare collectibles – for your consideration. Everything on these shelves will be modestly priced, unique to mrW (well, most of them anyway), and something to which I have a personal connection. And of course, each purchase will go a long way in helping us keep the lights on in our little corner of virtual space. Think of it as a “PBS-ish” pledge drive only with more authentic begging.
As I hope you know, I really do believe that mrW is a worthwhile endeavor. I also believe that I’m tired of paying for it and hope you’ll find this strategy less annoying than banner ads and pop-ups. So please join me as I reconnect with the very first entry on my long and cluttered resume and revisit that magical time when my workday started at 3am and my only professional goal was to stay conscious long enough to amuse a few like-minded souls on my long journey back to bed.
Welcome to the mrW Warehouse.
Please – spend irresponsibly.
- The Management