Searching for the Perfect Combination

Some things just belong together, like popcorn and a movie, T-shirts and jeans, and J-Lo and Puff Daddy. I mean, Cris Judd. I mean, Ojani Noa. I mean, Ben Affleck. Okay, make that peanut butter and jelly. Sure, you can argue about whether the peanut butter should be smooth or chunky, the jelly grape or strawberry, and the bread white or rye, but the fact that peanut butter and jelly work so well together leads me to believe Mr. Peanut should replace the Buddhist yin-yang sign on bad tattoos everywhere. So how could a combination as perfect as PB&J be improved upon? P.B. Slices.

P.B. Slices are individually wrapped one-ounce slices of peanut butter, a product NASA wishes it had invented for the space program but was too busy coming up with useless things like bar codes, smoke detectors, mattress foam that conforms to your body, and Tang. P.B. Slices are wrapped in cellophane, much like bad American cheese, only they taste better on a sandwich with grape jam. Hopefully. I say this without having tried them, which shows how little faith I have in our education system, since a team at the Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center (motto: "Better living through cellophane") wasted -- I mean, spent -- four years turning 5,000 pounds of peanut butter into 432 formulations just so they could find an easier way for you to stick it on the roof of your dog's mouth and amuse your friends during the Superbowl halftime show. Just kidding. According to developer Stewart Kennedy it was so he could find a way to eat peanut butter without making a mess. And to think, Jimmy Carter won a Nobel Prize without ever having thought of that.

So now you can take a P.B. Slice, slap it on the new IronKids Crustless bread, grab a Welch's Disposable Jelly Wipe and -- voila! -- you have the perfect sandwich. No messy knives to clean, no waiting 30 seconds for a frozen PB&J to defrost in the microwave, no taste. Now that's what I call the perfect combination.

Okay, maybe it's not perfect, we can reserve that accolade for mice and fluorescence. Think about it, how many times have you misplaced your mice in the middle of the night and didn't want to turn on the light to find them? Or the refrigerator light burned out and you thought, "Hey, if the mouse that just ran across my foot glowed I could put it in the refrigerator and find that leftover macaroni and Spam casserole and have it for a late night snack"? Now, thanks to a company in Bar Harbor Maine you can.

Yes, it's the JAX® GEMM® line of mice, available at your local drugstore right next to the Don King Chia Pet and The Clapper. Just kidding. Actually you have to buy them directly from The Jackson Laboratory. The mice glow because they're bred to have fluorescent proteins, one of those silly little things nature forgot to provide in the first place. They can be bought separately or as part of the company's "Induced Mutant Resource Collection" which you'll remember was a big hit during fashion week in Milan this past season. They cost a mere $246 per breeding pair, minimum order three pair. Shipping and sunglasses for safe fluorescent viewing extra, of course. They're usually used for experiments, like one at Stanford University recently that had something to do with stem cells helping to rebuild bone marrow, blah, blah, blah, big freakin' deal. I mean, who cares about bone marrow when you have mice which double as night lights?

While these mice have muscles that glow, a scientist in San Diego has gone it one better by injecting jellyfish genes into the hair follicles of mice so they grow fur that glows fluorescent green. Cool, dude! He hopes this will lead to gene therapy that will treat hair loss, baldness, and permanently change hair color, which will be great as long as fluorescent green is an "in" color this year. Lest you think this is all just a silly exercise in spending perfectly good grant money making living glow sticks for baseball games, raves, and emergency proctoscopy, there are legitimate uses for this technology. For one, it could help fish find their mates.

Believe it or not, this can be a problem for certain fish. Sometimes the females have trouble finding a male to mate with, which is a complete reversal of how it is with humans, where women have the pick of the litter, men beg and grovel to be chosen, and we all pretend this isn't the way it really works. If scientists were to inject jellyfish genes into fish, or The Jackson Laboratory were to release Glo-fish™, it would make their life much easier. Especially the bluebanded goby, a fish found in Southern California which, if it can't find a mate, does an end run around the problem by changing its sex.

It's true. If there are no males to be found but other females are in the area, the female goby will turn into a male, even growing male genitalia. And you thought all the gender switching went on up north in San Francisco. While this isn't as much fun as the sea hare, which has male and female sex organs so it can do what people have told me to do to myself all my life, it's still pretty cool. Now if the female goby turned into a male and glowed -- can you imagine how nice it would be to have fluorescent genitals to make things, uh, easier to find in the dark? -- Lech Walesa would have to put them on his TV show.

That's right. Following a career path almost as crooked as mine, the former electrician, union leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and President of Poland is hosting a fishing show on Polish public television. And no, it won't be called "The Fishing Pole," but only because they don't want to give me and the 2,198,412 other people who thought of that joke any royalties. Considering the number of fishing shows that already exist, and the finite number of fish there are to talk about, he's going to need something to help his show stand out. And what would be better than Day-glo transsexual fish? Okay, maybe it would be better if the fish were sliced, wrapped in cellophane, and tasted good on a sandwich with jelly. You know, like Tuna Slices, which will be available on your grocer's shelf any day now. Come to think of it, maybe that's the perfect combination.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email: md@maddogproductions.com

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