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Overrun by Gnomes
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Last week, one of our featured articles was a piece about the band upon which this site was founded, Clark Schpiell and the Furry Cockroaches Without Butts, which featured the admittedly blood-chilling cover from their break-out album, "Fear the Lawn Gnomes." While the article garnered a typical reaction for the average CSP article (a flood of adoring fan mail, several including women's underwear and/or marriage proposals), there were also several concerned letters from readers who had an adverse reaction to the album cover, for some very serious reasons. This letter is a typical example:

Dear Clark,
I found your site while searching for cures for my problem. Specifically, I was searching for a solution to my Lawn Gnome infestation. They're everywhere -- in the sinks, the fridge, the cupboards, even in my bed. I can't get rid of them -- I put out traps and poison, but nothing works. They just yell and taunt me from the high shelves in my apartment. They leave messes everywhere. Some of the stains on my carpet -- well, I just don't know what they are, and i don't think I want to know. They keep me up at night, laughing and yelling, and running around, and when I turn on the lights, they scatter to the corners and giggle at me from their hidey-holes. Exterminators just laugh at me. You seem to understand my pain -- please help!
Mary Beth
Wildrose, Wisconsin

Well, Mary Beth and others, I sincerely hope I can help.

First off, I don't think lawn gnomes are your problem. Lawn gnomes are indeed a nefarious lot, prone to trickery and maliciousness, sometimes even unprovoked attacks on humans. But their territory stops where the lawn or garden ends -- they are almost never found even in open paved or sandy areas, much less indoors. No, lawn gnomes are not your problem.

While Mary Beth never explicitly says so, I suspect she lives in an apartment, as do the vast majority of similar letters. Everyone knows that House Gnomes, a Gnome subspecies, are a benevolent group. They take pains to clean and care for the house which they share with human owners, often increasing the value of that house, sometimes dramatically. However, their cousins, the Apartment Gnomes, are less beneficial, to say the least.

While considerably smaller in stature than Lawn Gnomes, Apartment Gnomes are only slightly less repugnant. They've seldom been accused of attacks on humans, but the damage they've allegedly done to apartments and property is significant -- anything from dark brown gnome-urine stains around sink and bathtub drains to shredded screen doors to odd objects jammed in VCR slots have often be attributed to them. They seem, unlike the similarly-sized House Gnomes, to have no regard for the spaces in which they live or the deposits paid on these places by human residents. In fact, they appear to take great pleasure in the loss of security deposits, and their cultural rituals contain many references to just exactly that event.

While the psychology of the disgusting creatures is often a matter of debate among leading Gnomeologists and Gnomeioscopists, there are a few fairly certain cures for an Apartment Gnome infestation:

  1. Lock your pantries and refrigerator. Apartment gnomes are lazy creatures and do not like to exert themselves, except for nasty or disgusting purposes. If they have a hard time finding food in the apartment in which they live, they'll most often simply move into an apartment where food is readily available. Of course, your neighbors will be displeased with you when they begin to find Gnome droppings in their butter.
  2. Bait humane "cage traps" with angel food cake frosted with salami and cayenne pepper -- a favorite food of the Apartment Gnomes. Unfortunately this approach mostly weeds out only the stupid or the very young in the gnome population -- the smartest and the strongest gnomes survive to breed a new generation. Plus, you have to dispose of the Gnomes in a properly licensed "Gnome Dump," difficult to find these days what with all of the Gnome taxes and special regulations.
  3. Get a cat or two. The most effective Gnome deterrent, by far, is the common housecat. Cunning and almost as bloodthirsty and the Lawn Gnomes themselves, a housecat is more than a match for the lesser Apartment Gnome. Be watchful, though -- Gnomes, like chicken, have soft bones which splinter easily and can cause digestive problems in your kitty. This solution allows you to rid your home of Gnomes without disturbing your neighbors, and without the messy cleanup traps require.
I hope this helps with your Gnome problems, Mary Beth and others. Once again, Clark Schpiell Productions strives to make your life better.
end of essay
David Nett Portrait David is an actor, writer and producer in Los Angeles. He's the founder and editor-in-chief of CSP, and a founding producer of the acclaimed Lucid by Proxy theater company. Despite all this, he still has to hold down a day job in the dot-com world, where he does product and interaction design. His acting has been called "committed," "detailed," "fearless," "hilarious" and "heart-rending" by the LA Times and Backstage West. His writing has been called "articulate and commanding" and "eminently readable" by Flak Magazine. His tenth grade Geometry teacher said he "does not work well in groups." | more essays by David
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