The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Paper Clips
The paper clip was invented nearly a century ago. Since then, there have been all sorts of pretenders to the paper clip throne; plastic triangle clips, Garfield-shaped clips, little tiny binder clips. And yet none of them are any true threat to the ascendancy of the lowly metal paper clip, and for an obvious reason: you can't make bendy shapes out of them. The ability to make bendy shapes at work is intrinsic to the functioning of high-powered American businesspersons everywhere; whether animals, sproingy jumping things, or just abstract expressionist sculpture, bendy paper clip shapes are what hold this country together. A

Ballpoint Pens
Most offices are smart enough not to stock the really good pens. They know that you can give away coffee, pads of paper, floppy disks, and even low-end computer systems, but the minute you start to stock nice rollerball pens in an unlocked cabinet, they'll march on out of there at a rate that would bring the strongest corporation to its metaphorical knees. Valuable stock has fallen precipitously on the mere rumor that a company is about to start stocking good pens. So instead, you get crappy, blotchy, smeary ballpoints in black, red, and -- if you work for a really off-beat, feel-good company -- blue. D+

White-Out is not quite as important around the office as it used to be -- who uses a typewriter anymore? -- but it's still symbolically vital. It's common knowledge that the mother of former "Monkee" Mike Nesmith became very wealthy as a result of inventing and patenting the formula for White-Out. It just goes to show that anyone in this country can, with sufficient ingenuity and a go-get-it spirit, make it rich and give birth to a pop star. And isn't that what we all aspire to? B

Graph Paper
Some people like your standard 8.5 x 11 ruled paper. Others prefer yellow legal paper for its extra doodle space. Me, I like graph paper. It's great for your basic writing, making it easy to line up indents in a snappy manner; it's great for graphs, of course, and I graph things for the heck of it more often than I care to admit; and it's really great for doodling along the lines to see what things would have looked like on a late-Seventies video game system. And there's always the pleasure of impromptu Battleship. B+

I can see why people might like binders; I prefer unruly stacks. Binders remind me too much of Junior High, to begin with, and a lot of them seem like they could take off a couple fingers if you closed the loops the wrong way. At least in Junior High you had your choice of overexposed media characters and/or unnecessarily enthusiastic sports slogans on your binder. At the office you generally get a couple dark shades of conventional. C-

Staple Removers
Yet another entry in the fun-but-not-for-what-it's-meant-for race. I think I've used a staple remover to remove actual staples maybe twice in my life. I generally just rip the sheets right off the stack; I'm heartless that way. But I love staple removers anyway, because they represent one of the few times in life that your employer will supply you with a working hand puppet. Don't get me wrong; I don't sit and talk out load to my staple remover. No, I just silently pretend it's talking. Or sometimes I use it to threaten the phone. A+

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