DULL THINGS I HAVE PURCHASED AND DONE

The four-day weekend has come and gone, and I am once again required to get up early and negotiate an undependable contraption through a sea of other undependable contraptions manned by sleepy malcontents in an effort to reach a building that holds nothing of interest for me, where I will be forced to squander the majority of my day engaged in tiresome activities that benefit a faceless corporation.  

That being said, I did buy some stuff:

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So first of all, sorry that’s such a crappy picture of two uninteresting objects.  I need a new camera badly.  Buy me one this instant.  Also, now that I think about it, I did not purchase most of the following items during this past Thanksgiving break.  What I DID do this past Thanksgiving break is figure out how to get pictures from our ancient, dying digital camera directly onto our relatively newish laptop as opposed to having to schlep them over from our ancient, dying PC.  Thus, I will be able to include more pictures than I’ve been able to over the past couple months, since I broke my other computer by downloading a virus cleverly hidden on an mp3 of “This is the Time to Remember” by Billy Joel.  That’s what you get for stealing from the captain of the Downeaster Alexa.  

Anyway, I bought those two cassettes up there from a thrift store in Bangor called Hands of Hope about a week or so ago, maybe two, I forget.  All the money Hands of Hope makes from purchases goes to help fight breast cancer, which is good of them.  They have way too many bridal gowns for my taste, and I get itchy a lot quicker there than I do in most secondhand shops, but they have a pretty good selection of old tapes, both audio and video, and as such I can usually find something I want.  “Goin’ Quackers”, starring “that waddlin’ crazy guy Donald Duck”, was one of my first tapes as a child, back in second or third grade I think, and I used to listen to it constantly.  It was the closest thing to rock music I had, containing such blistering rock classics as “Turkey in the Straw” and “On Top of Spaghetti”.  I generally enjoyed such traditional standards (as a point of reference, while my classmates at the time voiced preference for such bands as Twisted Sister and Motley Crue, my favorite song at the time was “Mammy’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin’ Bread”, something my brother teases me about to this day.  Seriously, even today the very phrase “put on the skillet” propels me to the real or imagined dance floor), but the high point of the album for me was a guitar-heavy tune called “Vacuum Cleaner Hoses”, which details the narrator’s trip to a distant planet, where the otherworldly denizens “had vacuum cleaner hoses coming out of their noses/and nothin’ where there mouths should be”.  I was very pleased to be able to hear this song again, and doubly so to discover that it still completely rocks the party that rocks the body.  

As for the tape on the right, well, who couldn’t use an extra copy of “The Muppet Movie” soundtrack?  With our new 1997 Subaru Legacy so well-equipped with a state-of-the-art tape deck, it would be foolhardy of us not to have immediate and reliable access to “Movin’ Right Along”.  I’ve always liked “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along” as well, and have been waiting in vain for Tom Waits and Randy Newman to perform it as a duet.  It would undoubtedly sound like two elderly drunkards vomiting in the vicinity of a crappy piano, if all went according to plan.  

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One of the earliest images I remember being sexually stimulated by was a videocassette box of “Empire of the Ants” starring Joan Collins that I looked at in a Wellby Super Drug Store.  Something about this haggard, middle-aged brunette being dominated by a giant ant apparently really did it for me when I was five.  Never did see the movie, and I’m sure it sucks turds through a straw made out of even grosser hardened turds, but the long-dormant young insect-BDSM enthusiast in me was pleased to come across this reissue of the H.G. Wells story, released in tandem with the 1977 box office disaster and featuring what looks to be more or less the very artwork that so excited my young mind back in 1983 or so.    Below is the movie poster, which should come in a lot clearer than my terrible picture above provided the link actually works:

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Now come on, that’s perfectly acceptable titillation for a five-year-old boy, right?  Completely normal.  In conclusion, if the world is ever overrun by giant horny insects, I’d love to be able to help but I’ll probably be too busy masturbating while screaming “FINALLY!” to do anything about it.  

Although maybe not.  Non-illustrated images from the film itself prove to be somehow less thrilling:

Well, I dunno, I guess it’s still moderately sexy, but still.  Nothing about the box art would indicate that this is a film about a loving, mutually beneficial relationship between a woman and a giant ant.  Deceiving, to say the least. 

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I have a bond with VHS tapes that is by turns useless and unbreakable.  I love the look and feel of videocassettes.  I love that both the sound and picture quality are terrible.  I love the many bad horror and action films native to the format, forever unadapted to newer technology.  I love how they look on a shelf.  I love that if dropped, they will shatter, and if thrown, they will potentially hospitalize.  I love that their innards can become entangled in the simple yet unforgiving machinery of a VCR.  I love the wide variety of casings, from the standard cardboard slipcase to the sturdy plastic snapcase.  I love that you can go to any old thrift store and find hundreds of unlabeled tapes, containing static-strewn wonders available only, and nowhere else, on that one clunky tape.  I will always have a bunch of them lying around my house.  

I haven’t watched “The Witness” yet.  It appears to be a recording of a crucifixion play that someone taped at a church.  If the back of the box is to be believed (and why wouldn’t it be?), it has better production values than most locally orchestrated church plays.  I recall a couple of these types of plays from my own boyhood church days, in which Earl the youth pastor was crucified to a big old cross in front of the baptismal tank, so I’m anxious in more ways than one to check this one out.  Not many kids get to witness live simulated murder, so I consider myself fortunate in that regard.  

I did, sorry to say, view the tape on the right.  The box states that “Mr. Tibbs and the Great Pet Search” stars one Christopher John Coleman, but it would be fairer to say that the film stars an inanimate photograph of Christopher John Coleman’s smiling head, which is superimposed on a variety of drawings of situations involving the animal kingdom.  This appears to have been a deal where CJC’s parents sent a picture of their cherubic child to a budget-deprived company that in turn crudely inserted the child’s face into rudimentary drawings of a giant dog introducing a headless youth to lions and rhinos and the like, servicing a narrative in which “Mr. Tibbs” (no perceived relation to Sidney Poiter’s character from “In the Heat of the Night”, though that would undoubtedly have been more interesting) attempts to help young Christopher find a suitable pet.  It’s longer than I thought it would be (112 minutes) but never knowing what ridiculously inadvisable situation Christopher’s ever-beaming head would be awkwardly shoehorned into next added a good deal of suspense, and the program was viewed in its entirety.  Incidentally, if you know or are Christopher John Coleman, well, name your price and we’ll talk.

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Finally, I bought myself a tee-shirt with raccoons on it, having found myself in the unenviable position of being fresh out of tee-shirts with raccoons on them.  Annie unwisely elected to buy a tee-shirt devoid of raccoons.  To each their own.  

We bought some other stuff too but it was all cleaning products and not-terribly-noteworthy (though comfy) pajama pants.  When we weren’t purchasing unessential castoffs, we were visiting family and eating their food.  At Annie’s family’s place we ate many, many things.  I took no pictures but wish I had.  There was a lot of food, and the ability to look at it all later in photographic format would have been nice.  To list what I can remember, there was turkey, cranberry sauce, applesauce, cinnamon rolls, potato, waldorf salad, turnip, squash, “hashua” (no idea how to spell it, but it’s like a Lebanese version of stuffing), “salata” (again, can’t spell it, but it’s a delicious zesty salad with 800 vegetables in it), gravy, pickles, corn, and seven pies: blueberry, Auntie Mary’s famous chocolate cream pie which is so delicious you want to smash your own face to gory fragments with a brick, lemon cream, apple, pumpkin, and butterscotch.  I guess that’s six pies.  Or maybe there was another one I’m forgetting.  Anyway, lotsa pies.  

The next day at my folks’ place we had lobster for Thanksgiving, as currently it’s cheaper than turkey, and despite living in Maine I don’t think I’d eaten it for nigh on a decade.  Typically ones proximity to the lobster’s natural habitat is inversely proportional to their ability to afford it.  I’m glad Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are enjoying it, though, not to mention the rest of the old people who enjoy smiling vapidly at lighthouses when they’re not too busy shitting million dollar bills.  I intend to retract the previous sentence if I ever make any money doing anything, but for now, good gracious, am I indignant!

After fervently suckling the unborn children out of the decimated hulls of several unlucky crustaceans, we engaged in a Wii bowling tournament:

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My father exhibited the best form by far, but unfortunately this did not translate to a stellar performance pinwise.  

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He came in last, but won a bag of almond M&Ms all the same.  Yes, there were prizes.  We don’t mess around.  Events that don’t result in prizes are not worth participating in.  The joy of competition is a myth, but almond M&Ms are tangible and delicious.  

My mom did better than Dad, and actually scored a personal and not-at-all-bad best of 178:

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She won peppermint tea.  I would submit that this marked the first time in the history of life that anyone has won peppermint tea in a bowling tournament.  By the way, a good way to arrange a reward system for events such as this is to purchase items specifically geared to each particular contestant.  That way, everyone wins something they like, and nobody even has to try very hard.  Remember: there are a lot of horrible things on this godforsaken planet, but none are less enjoyable than challenge.  

I came in second:

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That kettlecorn is pretty delicious, by the way.  You have to go to the hippie section of the supermarket, but it’s well worth the possibility of overhearing an account of a recent jam band concert or smelling sandalwood to acquire this delicious snack.  God, I love butter and sugar.

And finally, as usual, my wife squarely kicked our asses.  She has some kind of naturally ingrained bowling ability that confuses all concerned, especially her.  

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She won the very exciting prize of a windshield scraper/brush-thing.  Unglamorous, but sorely needed.  As I understand it, it will likely be sorely needed as early as tomorrow.  How smelly.

Anyway, that was our Thanksgiving.  Would that it could have been twice as long, or four times, or infinite for that matter.  I hope you all found fun/restful things to do with your time off, and I will talk to you later, assuming the mood strikes and we aren’t all killed by something or other.

By the way, that “Mr. Tibbs” tape wasn’t really 112 minutes.  It was more like 20.  I just like lying is all.

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8 Responses to “DULL THINGS I HAVE PURCHASED AND DONE”

  1. Thank God you relieved the blog-drought with one of stupendous length. Also, here’s my new favorite thing you’ve ever written:
    “old people who enjoy smiling vapidly at lighthouses when they’re not too busy shitting million dollar bills.”
    Glad your Thanksgiving was so rewarding and fun; mine involved pawk-roast and an inordinately high pie-to-person ratio. I love the holidays!

    ❤ jenny

  2. Not as cool as a video, but a friend of mine had one of those personalized storybooks that his grandmother had bought for him. But she didn’t know a lot of the fine details of his life, seeing as she lived elsewhere, so the stuff hanging in his character’s room in the book said stuff like “Matt’s School!” and “Matt’s Favorite Team!” Even at a young age, I found that equal parts hilarious and sad.

  3. When did you get a Subaru? Does that mean you got rid of the weird easily flooded Nissan of stroke-inducing horror?

  4. We just got it a few weeks ago. It has a googolplex miles on it. We still have the Floodsmobile, alas, but it hasn’t given us too many problems of late. It felt like the right time to become a two-car family.

  5. I had one of the personalized books Bill mentioned – it was (I can only assume) the continuing saga of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Dopey knew my address (Falvey St!), and that’s all I can remember. There were attempts to recreate me – the characters knew I was holding the book. VERY cool.

    I honestly hope that young Christopher John Coleman finished the first viewing of his video and was promptly surprised by a new puppy or kitten (or cougar or rhino.)

  6. Did Dopey explain where he came by that information? That’s a little suspect, if you ask me. Next thing you know Sneezy’s rattling off your social security number.

    I had a Jungle Book themed personalized book that I read a lot where I basically hung out with Mowgli and met all his pals. It ruled. I remember being a bit unnerved that Kaa was so knowledgable about Maxfield.

  7. I never heard of anyone having prizes for video games, but I guess it makes sense. I think my favorite would be the kettle corn. Did you get to pick a prize (from winner on down)?

    (Found your blog through studentbloggers.org)

  8. Yeah, we were given the opportunity to select which prize we wanted. Eating crap is my favorite activity so I went with the popcorn. Prizes are a nice way to make spending time with the family worth the effort!

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