By day she is Cathy Cooper, a 26-year-old graduate student of visual arts at Washington University, but by weekend she is Glitterous, a superhero in pink-and-gold Spandex whose goal is to spread visual pleasure throughout the world.
Apparently, though, it's not what you think. At least, it's apparently not what Unreal was thinking. Lately Glitterous' idea of spreading visual pleasure has entailed pasting $450 worth of glittery magnetic strips on University City street signs designed to protect children.
When Glitterous went out two weekends ago, she was accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Sparkle (Cooper knows them as her parents), who carried promotional buttons and magnets, plus pens in case anyone wanted an autograph. Three people did. And a group of twelve-year-old boys were very supportive. "Go glitter woman!" they shouted.
But who is her nemesis? And where is her hideout? Unreal was determined to unravel the mysteries behind St. Louis' newest superhero.
Unreal: When did you realize you had the power to be Glitterous?
Cathy Cooper: It was when I moved to St. Louis. Glitterous isn't the first superhero I've made. When I lived in Baltimore, there was Fire Hydrantess. All the fire hydrants there are various shades of salmony orange. And rusty! So I had a superhero that would go around and paint them all red again.
You are Glitterous' alter ego right?
Well, yes. Ultimately, yes. But by telling you that that's sort of like telling you that Clark Kent is really Superman. I guess everyone knows anyway, though.
Does Glitterous have any superpowers?
I don't think so, but Glitterous does. She thinks she has an increased visual awareness of her environment and color. It's not quite like the X-ray thing of Superman, but it's in the same genre.
What's up with the name?
Well, it was between Glitterous and Glitterina, but Glitterina didn't do anything for me. It was very childish and a little too long. So I went with Glitterous. Most female superheroes have the word "woman" in the name, but I wanted to have a name that could stand on its own without a gender.
But it does sound a lot like, uh, clitoris.
Yeah, that's supposed to be kind of an inside joke.
So where's Glitterous' hideout?
That's top secret!
Is it called the Vulvarium?
[Laughs] I'm gonna write that one down.
Many's the morning Unreal has awoken with a throbbing head and dry mouth. Sure, we're injured, but that pales in comparision to the inevitable insult: As we stumble around the manse surveying the previous evening's damage, we're confronted by bottle after bottle of unfinished beer. A sad sight. Not because we know we have to clean it up (eventually). (OK, that's sad, too.) But what really frosts our pumpkin is the thought of pouring it all down the drain. Undrunken beer. Tragedy!
Despair no more. The geniuses at Creve Couer-based Akermin Inc. have been working on a fuel cell that runs on...flat beer! This revolutionary new battery uses a living enzyme to break down the alcohol, causing a chemical reaction that produces energy.
Of course, the problem with using enzymes to produce energy has always been that they break down too quickly. Not so Akermin Inc.'s enzymes. The company's engineers have sheathed said enzymes in a polymer membrane that keeps them active.
Akermin Inc.'s fuel cell doesn't produce much power, but they believe they can develop something that could run, say, a laptop, and so far their cells have held a charge four times longer than conventional batteries.
"So far these enzymes have lasted for two and a half years and counting," says Akermin president Nick Akers.
The research has also impressed some deep-pocketed investors, who've ponied up $6.5 million in venture capital.
Of course, there is a drawback: To get these stellar run times, they must keep adding alcohol. "The idea is that if you were using this stuff in a laptop and you need to recharge, you'd simply have a small cartridge of alchohol you'd switch out," Akers says. "The purer the alcohol, the better. We want it to be 100 percent alcohol, because that'll have the longest run time."
Now we know they've got their $6.5 million, but still pure alcohol? Isn't that excessive? Worse yet: These guys have produced a charge with vodka and gin a waste of good liquor, IOHO.
So Unreal has a business propostion for Akermin Inc.: You buy the beer, and we'll make it flat.
Somebody Buy My Crap
Item: Walnut logs
Condition: Fresh cut
Price: $100 per log
Location: Bellefontaine Neighbors
Issue: March 25
Unreal: One hundred bucks? These must be some logs!
Shannon: Yes. They're big twelve feet by fourteen inches.
What do people do with your logs?
Most people want them for woodworking. You can make furniture and bowls out of them. We gave some to our neighbors.
So, logs make good housewarming gifts?
Well, I wouldn't suggest it. The neighbors we gave them to wanted them. They helped us move them and cut them.
Is it legal to sell walnut logs in Missouri, or are they a protected resource like bobcat paws?
It's legal if you own the logs.
Unfortunately, yes. Our neighbor hired a landscaper to do some work, and the guy ended up cutting down a lot of trees on our property. He caused a lot of damage. Now we're trying to recoup our loss.
Sort of making lemonade out of lemons?
Yeah, something like that.
From time to time Unreal trolls the St. Louis Post-Dispatch classified section's "Bargain Box." We cannot guarantee any item remains available for purchase at press time.