Ars amputat artas
RANGE: Down in the basement workshop, where Dad’s soldering his
fingers together. Up on the roof with Sis, who’s installing the weather vane
lightning rod FM antenna in a thunderstorm. Out in the garage, where Junior
is checking for fuel line clogs, with the aid of his Bic. Up in her den, where
Mom’s slant-stitching her nose to a dirndl hem.
In, on, and around the home, wherever Americans conclude that there’s
no point paying a professional to do this, when for just a little more money
they can screw it up themselves— Handimanticore, the handy manti, is
lending a helping hand.
HABITS: Handy Andy is an unselfish fellow. Having inspired a mortal to
attempt domestic arts and crafts, he often turns his victims over into the
waiting area of another malevolent spirit— The Gardengoyle, The Saucier’s
Apprentice, or the Household Unfamiliar.
Together, then, these merry fairies watch, as toes fly up out of the lawn
mower, the vacuum cleaner ingests the drapes, and a grease fire erupts in the
For years, economists and sociologists have wondered, why does the
American worker, having waged and won a bitter battle for shorter working
hours and longer vacations, choose to spend his or her precious leisure time
(not to mention his or her salary) pursuing activities that look very much like
These so-called experts have overlooked the effects of Handimanticore.
Often this Do-It-Yours-Elf rides from house to house on his
(appropriately named) Hobby Horse. Sometimes, he arrives in a kit. But
however he gets across the threshold, the Handimanticore instantly
transforms the old homestead into a beehive of activity— its atmosphere
abuzz with the snarl of fatal power tools, aflash with the short circuiting of
electrical equipment, and afog with debilitating glue fumes.
Handimanticore’s secret is that he writes the instructions for do-ityourselfers,
and he does so employing ancient, mysterious,
incomprehensible, eldritch, elvish runes.
In the event that a mere human should decipher these easy-to-follow
directions, Handimanticore has another trick up his sleeve—there is no
widget screw A 113 b (Fig. 27)!
HISTORY: From the depths of the Black Forest (where the manufacture of
slippers that forced people to dance till they dropped was a cottage industry),
Handimanticore made his way to our shores not long ago by means of a
steam-powered, radio-controlled, twenty-six-thousand piece 1/32 scale model
Settling in Maine, he quickly concocted and widely dispensed a
dangerous illusion known as Yankee Ingenuity (pat. pend.), which has caused
the world no end of mischief.
As his name suggests, Handimanti has many relatives, among them
Humpty Dumpty, the steeplejack’s friend; Tutti Frutti, the Italian master of
home ice cream making and self-taught ballet; Fuzzy Wuzzy, who oversees
the cabinet structure in newly emerged nations; Ricki Rouie, the Taiwanese
supervisor of easy-to-assemble solid-state wall-size televisions; Harum
Scarum, who presides over the installation of Arabian burglar alarms; and
Oakie Doakie, still teaching do-it-yourself Model-T maintenance on the road
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Collapsing furniture. Raw bread. An unfinished, life-size
paint-by-numbers version of Guer-nica. Disintegrating quilts. One third of a
yacht, in the attic. Unravelling tur-tlenecks. A snaggle-toothed patio. Crooked
wallpaper and lumpy vases. If you can find a man with wood shavings in his
hair, an incorrectly buttoned shop apron, and charcoal where his eyebrows
used to be, ask him where to find the Handimanticore. In all likelihood, he
will point you in the right direction with his blue, swollen, throbbing thumb