What do doomsday preppers and barbecue have to do with craft supplies?
Everything, as it turns out, if you're me and you're watching "Amazing America with Sarah Palin," which this week is all about taking your hobbies to the next level.
"This is a nation full of thinkers and tinkerers. And we all have our hobbies," Sarah says during the show's intro.
Indeed we do. I've got a family room full of decoupage glue that testifies to this reality. But, Sarah asks: "How do we take our ordinary pasttimes and make them extraordinary?"
The answer to this question is obvious: glitter. There's nothing in the world that can't be improved by glitter. That's why Martha Stewart makes more than six dozen different colors and varieties. Martha knows what's up.
It turns out Sarah has something else in mind, though.
"Expert craftsmanship and resourcefulness can elevate our hobbies to become impressive feats," she says.
Yeah, well. OK. But you know what doesn't hurt? Glitter.
Sarah sends field host Benny Spies off to Houston, Texas, to visit BBQ Pits by Klose owner David Klose, who makes (you guessed it) amazing (American!) barbecue pits and grills.
"Move over, hibachi," Sarah says.
David tells Benny he gets his best ideas from kids, and Benny says his job today is to be the 10-year-old kid. This is what we in the business like to call "typecasting."
"You can make anything in the world," David says. "If you can think of it, we can build it."
Sarah wonders if David could make a barbecue pit in the shape of Alaska. Probably, because right now he's planning to turn a fire truck into one. Maybe with a built-in bar, TV and dance floor. With a "dance pole." Wink, wink.
"This ... is the American dream," Benny says.
Another grill is made from a phone booth. There's the rear end of a pickup truck. A vintage baby carriage (cue baby back ribs joke). And a torpedo.
"Let's face it: You put this on the highway, they're gonna call the FBI," David says.
Sarah cuts in to announce that "Barbecue is America's signature cuisine." Which is obviously wrong, because Don MacLean never wrote a song about Miss American Brisket, but barbecue is probably a close second, so we can let it slide.
David and Benny enjoy an extended discussion of wolves (some of which has to do with grilling wolf meat, which neither man has ever done), a few remarks about how big Texas is (aww, Texans. So cute) and much talk about (amazing! American!) steel, and then Benny gets to do some welding. He makes a teeny tiny little grill, which is actually pretty impressive, although you know what would make it even better?
Even sans sparkle, though, it appears to be operational, as Benny uses it to grill a Vienna sausage.
David then shows off some of his real barbecue.
"I want that," my husband says from across the room, where he is supervising the baby as she shoves carrots into her face.
Sarah sums up Benny's visit by explaining that David's brand of "out-of-the-box thinking will always be welcome in America." Which is obviously true, because if there's one thing Americans appreciate, it's someone who can take something useless like a phone booth and turn it into a device for cooking meat.
Next, Mark Christopher Lawrence heads to San Diego to meet a doomsday prepper named Jim DeLozier who has invented "the survivor truck," a vehicle designed to -- survive a nuclear holocaust, I guess? It's a giant armored vehicle that looks an awful lot like something my brother's G.I. Joe figures used to ride around in, complete with desert camouflage paint job and oversized wheels.
"Each tire is like a Smart Car," Mark says.
Inside, the truck has running water, a toilet (Jim's wife, wisely, believes "there is no survival without a clean toilet") and the command center, a tiny, armored, electromagnetic-resistant compartment into which the entire family can cram to watch "a situation" unfold outside the vehicle on a wall of video screens.
For a basic truck with no video systems or other bells and whistles, "You can get in (for) as little as $189,000," Jim says, although you're looking at at least another hundred grand to get one as tricked out as Jim's.
Mark takes the truck for a test drive and he has a little trouble with the transmission on the industrial Chevrolet engine. Let's just say there are some grinding gears. He and Jim drive out to the desert at night, and Jim shows Mark how to do some survival cooking, making a survival candle out of a can stuffed with alcohol and toilet paper. It's actually a pretty cool little stove. They whip up a packet of pasta, mount the combination sniper platform/deer stand, drop some thermal radiating camouflaged netting, and settle in for the night.
Some people laugh at preppers, and even Jim admits he's not likely to need his truck.
"The good news is that probably nothing will happen, and I've just got a lot of extra food to eat," Jim says.
Come a doomsday situation, though, I feel like Jim's friends may be coming out of the woodwork for thermally camouflaged packet pasta.
Although you know what the survivor truck doesn't have?
Just saying. If the revolution comes and there are no more rhinestones, count me out.
Reach Maia Nolan-Partnow at firstname.lastname@example.org
By MAIA NOLAN-PARTNOW