This command came from an envelope asking me to start a Taste of Home subscription. Typically such correspondence is labeled "junk mail," but any letter offering a free oven mitt is many things – charitable, protective, silly – but not junk. This is "wonderful surprise offer mail." "Wonderful surprise offer mail" that lets me pet my chicken nuggets while they broil to edible goodness.

While the offer of the home-version Hamburger Helper mascot is nice, I can't help but fawn over the envelope edict instead. One can only imagine the mail budget guy at Taste of Home throwing his apron in disgust, incensed that people like me were costing him his Christmas bonus because we refused to be educated about soufflé. "Free offer!" on the envelope isn't going to make me do anything unless the return address is Brooklyn Decker's. Commands, however, tend to catch my eye. It is the stick, not the carrot, that gets this mule to plow. Needless to say, I am finally appreciating how paprika really can bust me out of the sausage doldrums.

As stirs back to life, I questioned how this example of postal service savvy could be replicated. The differences quickly became obvious and problematic. Taste of Home is a magazine; this is a website. Taste of Home's lynchpin is America's kitchens; dies without the Miller brewery. The most glaring difference, though, is that Taste of Home's pleas routinely arrive in the mailboxes of non-recipe enthusiasts. Conversely, it is difficult to end up at this website without purposely searching for "John Henry Johnson" or "Women's Basketball Coach sporting Afro." So while "read before discarding" doesn't necessarily fit, I'm still going to use it. Read this website before dumping it into your drawstring Hefty. I realize it isn't going to take a lot to woo the people who have spent the last three years memorizing the spots on Cal McLish’s face, but here is why I think this digital love letter to Bob Nelson is worth your time:

First, the site actually belongs in the century’s second decade. Recognizing that Lycos and Geocities are never coming back, I strained to utilize programming developments originating beyond 1997. I’ve submitted to the blogosphere: You can hate me at church, but like me on Facebook. Microsoft Paint cave drawings have given way to a Twitter feed. Post-analog TV pictures of me adorn the site, slathering it in sexy and helping you bust out of the sausage doldrums.

Second, in what will surely not be the last such comparison, the front page is a lot like the Wall Street Journal. It is much wordier than before and contains a lot less features. In another subtle deviation, its advice didn't deplete your IRA. Maybe placing a $10 horse-a-poopa wager didn't liberate you from that 9 to 5, but it certainly gave you something to tell the grandchildren. The biggest non-horse-rectum-gambling mistake I made in the site's last incarnation, other than conversing with The_Duck, was forcing myself to write in categories. There were a lot of days where I felt like writing about the assorted lingerie mishaps of the Laker Girls, but instead had to write about Brian Knobbs because I had a “wrestlers” section but nothing that plausibly encompassed thong fires. To remedy this shortcoming, I cut a lot of the dead weight that you didn’t like reading and the newsroom didn’t like writing. Any of the stuff you do miss is saved in the "about" section.

Third, the most popular sections remain. Tecmo’s name is on the lease. The baseball cards astonishingly make the already-sultry me look more irresistible. The WVBA is the only thing on this site that makes me laugh. And's dubiously shining star – the Guestbook – comes back better than ever. Not only can you continue to leave me drunken, misspelled proverbs after $2 tea night, but now your ramblings show up on the front page for the world to scrutinize. You and I both know you didn’t down eight glasses of graveyard well booze to NOT share your theories on the Ultimate Warrior’s rumored steroid use in front-page fashion.

Finally, the best reason to hang around is that I'm not going anywhere this time. No, really, I mean it. I left all of you the last go-round to go get a law degree, which is what roughly 44% of the population spent the last three years doing. Like all graduate programs, law schools see a spike in applications when a recession sets in. And thank God for that, because I don't feel comfortable walking into Target unless the manager knows the rule against perpetuities. With that foray over, I am back with spare time and a desire to engage in activities that involve Referee Mario instead of Judicial Referee Judy.

I can’t offer you an oven mitt. I can offer you a site that’s more fun for me to work on, and one that’s hopefully more fun for you to read. Regular updates start now. See you in the Guestbook.

 © 2011
Dedicated to The Stick