As seen on a street in a small town near Cambridge:
Back in the US I shop at Goodwill a lot, especially for kids’ clothes. They grow through them so fast and boutique prices are insane, but you can get the high-quality boutique stuff for dirt cheap at Goodwill. In addition to saving money, there’s a huge environmental boon to reusing clothes instead of always buying new. Plus if you have a hard-to-fit kid like I do with Peo, having lots of brands in one place makes it more likely that something will fit. And that variety often lends itself to really great finds of rare, weird clothing and other good stuff.
Protip: if you can find inexpensive used plates at Goodwill – especially holiday-themed ones – you can use those to give out holiday cookies to teachers, colleagues, friends, etc. They’re sturdier so you won’t risk collapses as can happen with cheap, disposable trays, they look nicer, and the recipient can either reuse the plate, give it back to you if they wish (make it clear to them that they don’t have to), or regift it forward. Major environmental win, nicer presentation, everyone’s happy.
Peo and I went on a quest to get some used dishes at the charity shops here in Cambridge in November so we could use them for cookies we were going to sell for a Christmas charity bake sale. There isn’t one big umbrella organization like Goodwill running the shops; instead, you have to go to a bunch of different itty-bitty shops for different charities like the Heart Foundation, Oxfam, Cancer Charities, RSPCA, and others.
Each of these shops has its own style in terms of what they carry, and the prices can vary significantly. But what they do have in common is the rare, weird stuff, and some of them have it more than others.
We didn’t find individual dishes as readily as we’re used to with Goodwill – the shops here tend instead to sell complete sets and we didn’t need that many – so we failed on that account. But boy howdy did we find some weird stuff!
We also had one great find: a giant tub of about 100 solid wooden blocks for Robin for Christmas for only £3.50 which now double as burglar-deterrent-caltrops all over the living room floor.
And in that same store was this gem:
You have to understand, this scene in The Meaning of Life horrifies my husband to the point of him not wanting to watch the film, despite liking the rest of the film. So I took this photo mostly so I could show it to him when we got home and say, “Do you see how much I love you because I totally didn’t buy this to vomit sauce at you?”
He was duly appreciative.
Anyway, you’d think that’d be the strangest thing we saw on our charity shop journey, but you’d be wrong. See, that’s just a bit of slightly disgusting Python silliness, which is pretty much what they’re known for and thus, by extension, what England is known for. That’s right, Brits…all Americans think you’re a nation lethal to parrots and that it’s easy to catch a train from Bolton to Notlob. Totes truth. Yes.
This is also why Peo and I almost lose it every time Robin’s music teacher here brings out the coconut shells to simulate a horse.*
But moving on to the Oxfam shop, Peo and I entered a world of weirdness that even our Python-filled brains were not ready to grasp.
First we found this, and would have bought it except that Robin would have eaten the pieces on account of her having no respect for invading aliens whatsoever.
But that’s not really so odd. I don’t think there’s a store in this country that doesn’t have at least some kind of Doctor Who paraphernalia in it. It’s pretty much a mandatory national industry at this point.
Where it got weird was with the naked bodies.
Yes, I said naked bodies.
Because if you’re going to have a mannequin in your home, why wouldn’t you decoupage it with comics and then ensure it had hooks for hands, navel, and nipples?
And if I said, “Hey, look over there, I see a Barbie mirror!” you’d assume I meant something like this:
And not this:
Suddenly the Daleks’ strategy seems a lot less terrifying. They just want to exterminate you, not affix your still-smiling naked corpse to a vanity device.
* Waiting for the sharkreados on this one.
Recently when I took the girls to a museum downtown, we passed a man in a trashcan playing music.
As we were going by, a lady dropped a coin on his blanket and then took a photo of him. He stuck his head out the other side to yell at her for having not given him money. She pointed to the coin and he kept scolding her anyway, saying nobody was allowed to take photos without paying first.
As she insisted that she had paid, someone else took his photo and he started yelling at them.
So while I had no interest in taking a photo of him until that point, I then did take his photo and am now sharing it here publicly without having paid him because frankly if your business is to engage with the public, you ought to learn how to do that without being a complete asshole. I’ve happily supported many indie musicians for years – even having done volunteer PR stuff for more than one – and will continue to do so, but none of them ever needed to go looking in the trash for their talent or for their customer service attitudes.
Fuck you, trash dude! We are too allowed to take free photos, and the way you yell at your actual paying audience is even more rubbish than your music.
PS If you want some awesome indie music from wonderful people, I strongly recommend The Biscuit Brothers, The Roving Gamblers, and Monty Harper. Those are all folks that treat customers well, produce great stuff, and do tons for their community, all without yelling at anybody.
The rain made the windows of the bus foggy today. As the bus went downtown I said to Peo, “We’re passing the Klingon School of Danger right now.”
Peo said, “But with the fogged windows, I can’t read the sign!”
So I replied, “That’s okay, because it just means the sign says whatever you want it to say.”
She thought about that for a moment and then asked, “Can it say, ‘EVIL SHARKNADO LAB’?”
I said, “Yes. Yes it can.”
This made her very, very happy.
At dinner when we recounted this to Corran and he wanted there to be a “Good Sharknado Lab” to offset the evil, I pointed out that there could simply be a string of ever more evil labs.
Then Peo asked, “Do you have to put a goatee on the bottom of the building so you can tell which one is the real evil one?”
Nerd parenting. We haz that.
Do you ever see a sign or other text in passing very quickly and then your brain tries to fill in what it thought it read, only to realize a moment later that there’s no way in hell that sign/text said that?
This happens to me all the time. I asked my G+ friends what this phenomenon is called and nobody knew, so we made up our own terms. We’re the Internet. We totally get to do that.
The consensus was that the formal or clinical term should be “misparsing”, since “malapropism”, “Mondegreen”, and “paronym” are all more about speaking or hearing versus visual input gone awry.
Further, it was pointed out that if mistyping is colloquially known as a “typo” then misreading should be a “reado”, which I wanted to misread as “sharkreado” in keeping with the overall and inexplicable sharknado theme to this blog (which really ought to be a monkeynado theme but that brings up visions of the monkeyloo having a tornado in it which I’m fairly certain would use up our entire security deposit on the rental house so let’s never speak of monkeynadoes again). Therefore the consensus was that “sharkreado” ought to be the colloquial version of “misparsing”.
And further still – because if it’s possible to push things too far, this blog remains blissfully unaware of such limitations – I realized that part of my particular problem with misparsing is that my brain fills in the nerdiest possible interpretation regardless of what actual nerdery exists in the original sign/text. Therefore the syndrome that causes misparsings/sharkreadoes is FNAAH, which stands for Fucking Nerdy As All Hell.
All of this comes together thusly…if you happened to be on a bus going quickly down the street and out of the corner of your eye you saw this sign on a building:
And if you happened to have a critical case of ongoing FNAAH, you would misparse or sharkreado that sign as:
Which the Bing Klingon Translator (OMG an actual use for Bing!) assures me should be written as “tlhIngan DuSaQ Qob” or:
And then thereafter whenever you were on a bus passing that building (which would be pretty often if you take busses into the central bus terminal of Cambridge), you would picture a bunch of fully-armoured Klingons in there learning how to pirouette with bat’leths, which would be not only fucking nerdy as all hell but also fucking awesome as all everything.