Things are getting pretty steamy - Scott Stephenson editorial
Welcome back to The Chaff, your weekly wander through the weird, wild and wonderful world of whimsy, wantonness, and “We want our money back because The Chaff makes us upset in ways we don’t understand.”
This week, we are bursting with inspiration after a trip to the annual Threshers Reunion held in Blyth. Several “Chaff-heads” made their presence known by saying, “Hey, you’re The Chaff. I really hate what you do,” and “The Chaff is terrible and your personal hygiene needs to be addressed,” and “Scott Stephenson, you and your entire family should be forced to endure hard labour in a prison camp.” Thank you for sharing your passion Chaff-gang!
Getting a glimpse of how things used to be done is giving us good ideas for how things at The Chaff need to be done in the future. We are excited to reveal some of the innovations we are introducing into this column that were greedily gleaned from the good people at the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association (HPTHA).
Hope you’re ready to get steamed, because this column is now 100 per cent steam-powered. We’re now using an antique automatic Chaffing machine that makes the difficult and dangerous work of Chaffing a little bit less, or possibly a little bit more, difficult and dangerous.
First, we ignite a fire in a dumpster using old copies of The Chaff that have stacked up around the office due to lack of interest. Our resident hoarder/stack manager Harold expressed concerns that the Chaffing machine would seriously deplete The Chaff stacks and make his job obsolete. Fret not, Harold, because we are certain that the Chaffing machine will create more copies of The Chaff that are alienating to all but the most despicable and deranged among us, ensuring stacks on stacks on stacks of Chaffs that North Huron Fire Chief Kent Readman will surely flag as an unacceptable hazard and imminent threat to public safety. They say it takes a village to raise a Chaff and we simply couldn’t do it without you, Harold.
Next, we use stagnant water to fill a rusty and decrepit old cast iron tub salvaged from a condemned house rumored to be cursed by a witch. It’s important that the water is perfectly stagnant to achieve the desired tone of The Chaff. We search through swamps, bogs and even sewer systems to find exactly what is needed to get these words to print. Some say there’s a little bit of magic in that murky water, but we just think it tastes good.
Hoses, tubes and pipes are weaved and woven, this way and that, through the tub teetering atop the flaming dumpster, mostly for decoration. They don’t do anything but they look really cool. Think mad scientist’s laboratory meets “crazy straw” factory. The loops will probably make you a little bit dizzy but that just means they’re working.
The rapidly evaporating steam is harnessed to make the Chaffing machines’ pistons start pistoning their little hearts out. The Chaff uses extra long pistons manufactured by LongTek, a company known for its signature Long Screen™ television sets and also for being a pyramid scheme.
This is when the real fun begins. Dictionaries from all over the world are fed into The Chaffing machine and all of the useful words are separated out and fed directly back into the dumpster fire via word chute. What’s left behind is pure Chaff, ready to harvest for print.
The best feature of the Chaffing machine is the steam whistle. Its incredibly high pitch is deafening and reaches decibel levels known to drive even the most stoic individuals into the depths of absolute madness. Once it starts, you can’t stop it for at least 14 hours. Some call it torture but we can’t hear what they’re saying because of irreversible hearing loss. What did you say? Oh, nothing? Sorry, I thought you said something.
The Chaffing machine has freed up ample time for us to focus on the important things in life like taking in culture. We recently went to see The Real McChaff at the Blyth Festival. It’s a play about the forgotten Canadian inventor of the lubricating cups used in Chaffing machines, Elijah McChaff.
We also saw the movie BarbenChaffer about radioactive dolls that were used to weaponize a Chaffing machine during World War II. It may have ended the war, but at what cost?!? Critics are saying the science in this movie is dubious at best and that far too much of the film’s seven-hour runtime focuses on the philandering of the central character, Chaffbert C. BarbenChaffer.
We here at The Chaff are grateful for the incredible efforts of the HPTHA for preserving the important history of the Chaffing machine. It heartens us to know that some little youngster out there may be inspired to take Chaffing to the next level someday because of what they learned from their school trip to the Threshers Reunion.
Until next time, Chaff unto others the way that you wish to be Chaffed.