We love the Christmas holiday, it is so endearingly ... commercial. At few other times of the year can you find brochures, circulars and catalogs filled to overflowing with items that you never knew you needed - indeed, that you probably never considered owning - but there they are, displayed in glorious full color on blindingly glossy pages, absolutely useless trinkets that lead you to shake your head in bewilderment and mutter "What the fuck?"
It's time to finish our tour of the curio closet, that magical container of the inexplicable and the breathtakingly boneheaded, a collection of artifacts that represent the idea that in Corporate America, nothing is too tacky, shoddy or worthless to attract the dollars of the harried shopper.
We begin with the physical embodiment of what has apparently become an actual sport, featured on ESPN and possessed of its own championships -
Yes, it's speedstacking! The erstwhile pastime of bored waitresses and busboys has now become, through the magic of cable television necessity, a sport! Joy! It is not enough that you can go to the supermart and cheaply buy a column of Dixie cups, should you so desire, no! You must have this official collection of plastic cups! Trust us, nothing else will do!
Those of you who, as do we, remember the early days of video games will perhaps recall the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System and one of its flagship titles, The Legend of Zelda. As time has passed, the legend has grown, and has led to this next marvelous item -
It includes a certificate of authenticity, thereby proclaiming that this is the actual gear that virtual fantasy character Link employed to strike down the evil creatures of Hyrule. We're somewhat surprised that Link has not affixed his autograph to the items.
What can we say about this next toy?
"Find his "magic" tickle spot!" "Tee-hee hee-hee" "Ages 3-up"
Do we really want to be teaching our 3-year-olds about magic tickle spots? Isn't elementary school soon enough to be teaching them about sex ed? Enough is enough, we say! It's difficult to continue the tour after this outrage, but we must.
This next item is just so over-the-top, we stand in awe. Gone are the days of simple and relatively inexpensive exercise wheels for small pets, they are so ... quaint. These days, we must own something that offers much more entertainment value, thusly -
A track, so the little darling doesn't accidentally go barreling into something. A Dazzle Ball, complete with decals that will serve to obliterate your view of your small pet, and - a checkered flag (!), presumably in case a number of pet owners decide to gather together to conduct a meet. You'll notice that in the illustration, the pet has had the poor grace to face perpendicularly to the track, thereby insuring that its owner will lose the race.
Our next treasure is just so wrong -
The antiquated charm of the original rotary dial is completely destroyed by substituting push buttons for the original holes. Of what possible use is a rotary dial that cannot rotate? Oh, the desecration!
This is another of those bibelots that renders us speechless- where has respect for the office of the President disappeared to?
Do we truly want to be treated to the spectacle of a shimmying Presidential figure?
Our last two items are connected, and are meant to appeal to the budding artists among us - the first one is self-explanatory, and once again words fail us -
And, if that's not enough for you art lovers, there's this accompaniment -
We are moved to wonder if the figurine's left ear is detachable.
Vincent would, we do not doubt, be flattered that this is how we remember him.
The lights go down, the doors swing slowly closed, and the refreshment table awaits, so until next year, the Curio Closet will stand in stately isolation, awaiting the next shipment of detritus, and we will, for now, bid you a fond farewell and a good night.