Leader Board Ad

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PETA - We Have A Problem...

Spotted by my friend Tony at a tag sale in the Albany NY area, he had to capture it. When they start using harmless animals as everyday appliances, well, we've clearly lost site of our animal neighbors on this planet. What's next? A Polar Bear freezer? Giraffe ladders? I for one plan to introduce a petition for a Bill to forbid the use of animals as models for appliances and recommend replacing them with fictional creatures. Wouldn't you rather dry your hair with a dragon shaped dryer?  Or, hold your hot corn with these?
Actually, the best hair dryer is the one the not only drys the water in your hair, but frightens it off as well.
Now, that's what I call some clear thinking!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day: A look back at M*A*S*H

On this Memorial Day weekend I don't want to diminish the efforts of the current soldiers fighting for America at home and abroad, by just prattling on about the treasure I found, or didn't find while on my mission. In fact, now is a good time to speak about the thousands of men and women who have been serving in the military and are coming home to recuperate and assimilate back in to society (including veterans from previous wars). It won't be easy. War is hell, and the psychological trauma of wondering what's around the corner, or what's along that roadside, for 1 or more tours of duty, isn't something you "get over." They have given up more than their time and one can only hope that in time those veterans suffering from the effects of PTSD, and other combat injuries can be helped with the right therapy.  I will be continuing the "DVDs For Troops" campaign we started at work in 2009 (so far: over 1900 DVDs shipped to troops overseas). If you want more information about helping U.S. war verterans go here.

Now I will prattle on about my latest find. You never know what your going to find when you start climbing that driveway or stairs, and following the signs to the entrance you think is the right one.  That may be the key to the fun of it all. A little mystery, high expectation, and a low probability of danger adds up to some pretty good odds for a positive experience. Add to that the social factor, or the opportunity to benefit your community - as in the relocation of junk, or the boost to a hyper-local economy, and it begins to sound like I am writing a sermon on the benefits of tag sale-ing! 

I really want to talk more about the Karma of hitting the sales. It is a typical occurrence to find the same item pop up numerous times at different sales. For example; at 3 separate sales on Saturday I kept seeing books by American humorist, Erma Bombeck. I don't know why, or if it was a sign, but is certainly struck me funny. Sometimes it's a board game, other times it's a glass doorknob. These I refer to as "theme" days, where suddenly the tag-sale holders of the world wake up and unconsciously all decide to sell the spare tires for the car they no longer own.        

On this Memorial Day weekend I didn't really expect to find much, I mean, who really wants to have a tag sale when they could be planning or going to some kind of cook-out, parade, or some other kick-off to the unofficial start of summer. The last thing I expected to find would be something to remind me of the troops:
To say I liked this show would be an understatement - I grew up on this show and idolized Alan Alda's "Hawkeye Pierce."  It was by no means a perfect show and had episodes that didn't ring with me, but it endured and then managed to find closure. Great writing, excellent comedy, memorable lines: "We're already at the Front! What are they going to do? Put us in front of the Front?" So, finding a commemorative piece of the Bar, or supply building,  frequented by the characters throughout the series is a unique find. This was sold during the addition of the "Swamp,"  the tent of the main characters during the series, to the Smithsonian around 1983.  I have no idea what "Binding up the wounds" means in relation to this piece of the set, but it doesn't really matter. I found the "find" I was looking for this weekend. If you want to get your "fix" of M*A*S*H facts and info, go here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Old Soda: Sweetie & Sticky

I used to be a collector...of just a few kinds of things.  It started with beer cans and brewerina. It was a natural progression from looking through junk piles while walking to and from elementary school. "Up hill! Both ways!" I tell my daughter. My interest with beer must have had something to do with the double standard being too young to drink it, but not too young to collect it. Somewhere in high school someone in my family bought me a six-pack of beers from around the world. Fortunately alcaholism didn't run in my family (though it may have stumbled all over the place and then feel down on its face). A devotee of canned and bottled beer, I even joined the Beer Can Collectors of America (which is now called something else). That is a story for another day.  It was what I found while looking for beer cans, that was also interesting to me.  Not just the styles and designs of beer logos, but soda fascinated me as well.
  This one is from the 50's or 60's and was in a pile of discarded cans and bottles. when I found it, it may have been there for 15 or 20 years.
I have 2 of these "newer" swirl Pepsi bottles large and small. I have no idea why I have hung on to them. They were still in a box in the garage and were the "keepers" from the last move.  
I always liked 7-ups old tag line: You Like it  It Likes You.  How the well can I drink something that claims to like me. Seems just a bit morose.  The last item up for display is a window decal from - my favorite place to find things - a random box of papers.  
 I  can't find anything but a few bottles of this soda for sale online. No history. No backstory.  If you know of the history of Sweetie Soda, or just want to make something up, I'm all ears.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dig Report: Find a box of junk and you might pin down a Republican

Progeny and I didn't have a lot of time on Saturday. As much as I might like to hit every sale, I can't and often don't. I don't have a wall map with a sea of push pins, nor do I make good use of the Yard sale finder -which has now moved to the left side border in my new design. To plan the attack, I will glance through whatever list of sales I can find looking for either estate sales or sales that have key words that I latch on to.

This past Saturday after finally mowing an over-grown lawn that 7 days of rain kept me from doing, we headed out to a sale that boasted drafting tables. The is one of my key words. Someone who owns drafting tables is either an artist or an engineer/architect. Unless they painted clowns on black velvet, or built trailer parks, they are gong to be selling some precision instruments. Hopefully, drawing implements. Pens and pencils, if they are good, will last forever. As someone who likes to draw, finding something different and unique, or antique, can inspire or at least hope to quell a case of artist's cramp.

The sale was in Ridgefield, CT in a fairly modern house that looked as though it was built with good intentions and then never completely finished. These houses always raise more questions then they answer: What happened to the owners? What did they do? Why didn't they finished this house? What happened in 2006 when all the calendars and magazines seem to freeze in time? I often question what I am doing in the middle of a stranger's house...but then I remember - that is the eternal question. There is a reason for everything, it's up to you if you want to spend the time to find out. When I found nothing like I had hoped, I ended up standing and scanning over a box of junk in the garage.
"You can have it." The nice lady from "Recycle Again" estate sale service said to me. Now, anyone could look at this and see junk; I see a dig in a box. I had asked about writing implements, but one glance and I knew that this would be all there was for pens or pencils if there was any at all. Well there were some writing implements:
There were about thirty of these lead refill packs, all anyone could ever want. Too many of them were red and a few were green. Naive as it sounds, I've never seen red and green leads for a mechanical pencil...until now. What a sheltered life I've lead. (pun intended). Although the digging was the prize in itself, there was one interesting thing I found aside from the random bits of hardware, bolts, screws, keys to nowhere, all inside way too many General Foods International Coffee cans.

I know I've posted other campaign and Party items, usually from just one party. If you think I am leaning in favor of that party, all I can say is: Don't pin it on me! Didn't the Dems ever even make stuff to hand out? Either someone is hoarding ,or I'm not looking hard enough. One final note, as the card says "Your leadership is building a better America..." - When are they going to finish building this place?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Great Tag Sale Book Titles: Aim Low!

Shopping for essentials at tag sales used to be a great way to save money, but it, too, has become expensive. As part of the new economy for the 21st century, I have decided to start a new trend by photographing the things I want to buy. Hey, it's just like owning it! It's what I call a "virtual possession" or  "E-Ownership."  I can enjoy all it's aesthetic beauty and utility and store it on my E-shelf where it only takes up a few hundred kilobytes. In those terms I now own this copy of Writing Good English.  "Bah!" you say, "You can't open it and read it, so you don't really own it!"  On the contrary, Sir, what about the your copy of Moby Dick on the kindle, in the cloud?  Have you ever opened that?  "Well, no, but I plan to...er, someday."  Ah Ha!  "Same thing." I reply.

Actually, I whipped out my camera at an Estate sale this weekend because the contradiction of the title immediately struck me as funny. I constantly need to check my command of the English language because I write what I think, and while that may sound good in my head, it doesn't always work out that way.  You can ponder the correctness of the title, I searched for an online grammar check, who could only tell me that the adverb "well" should be used with "Writing."  Their solution was to correct it to Writing Well English.  My suggestion for the correct title probably wouldn't fly either: Writing English Well.  Rather than promising readers a mediocre goal for their language skills, the author should have kept it simple and offered Writing Correct English
You know what? I'm already tired of my E-ownership of this book. I think I'll just E-rase it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In Support of the Arts

As you can tell by the title of this blog, I haven't exactly settled on what I am going to write about. Sure, it will likely be Urban Archeology (read: treasure hunting) See! I did it again! I took an ambiguous phrase I coined and used another ambiguous phrase to describe it.  Truthfully, If you've landed here because of the many odd items, gadgets, antique document, or other miscellanea I have found (or created) you will also get a text-full of my observations and rantings about the shiny (and not so shiny) things that fascinate me.  I thank you in advance for sticking with me, even through this paragraph/disclaimer. 

"An artist's life has so few rewards."

Click for larger image
So there I was last Saturday, with my 7-year-old partner in crime trying to catch the vibe for which way the best tag sale might be.  We were really on our way to the fist annual arts festival at Harrybrooke Park in New Milford, CT.  If you don't know about this park, you are not alone. It is a 41 acre private/public park for New Milford residents left decades ago by an eccentric millionaire linen manufacturer, who built the property for his wife who died of cancer before they could fully enjoy it. The Home and estate have been preserved and cared for through money he left in trust. Money, which is now dwindling because of the poor economy. The local lions Club and several other New Milford-ites have formed a committee to maintain and preserve its beauty and its usefulness by raising funds through events, such as the Arts Festival, held at the park May 14th.  

Amethyst and I stopped at a sale, which didn't quite have the vibe I was looking for, but it did have items that both I and my daughter pondered over.  We left, to her dismay, with 2 promises - that I would think about what she wanted,
My partner and I got to make art too!
and that we would come back later to see if it was still there. At the Arts Festival, we enjoyed visiting several booths and watching the many performers.  The team from my new favorite arts & literature magazine The Newtowner were there and presented poetry by the falls. Amethyst especially liked throwing a flower into the water to join in the Blessing of the Still River. She, like any kid, will throw anything into a moving body of water. She was spoiled by ice cream, and sand art, and even got to play on the playground and draw with chalk. The weather held on this Saturday in the middle of a rainy spring, but unfortunately, so did the crowds. We left after making one more go-round.

As promised, we returned to the tag sale and even though I prayed for rain, or for the object of her affection to be gone - it was still there, and now belongs to her. Where do you keep a 2' x 2' complete Playmobil Pyramid play set without angering your wife? I guess in the same place you hide the full sized artist easel that was also still at the sale.  I love to draw (read: doodle), but I questioned my purchase because it is so damned complicated to unfold this thing that it almost intimidates me.  But when I asked an artist friend at the Art Show how much these things go for ($70-$120), I knew I would get it if it was still there when we returned. It was still there, and for $10 I couldn't pass it up.
 This will be supporting my art as soon as I can sneak it out of the garage, past my wife, and into the house.  Please consider clicking on any of the links above and supporting the arts (or a place for the arts) as well. And don't forget about the Flagpole Radio Cafe Tonight!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Which Wizard of Oz Character are You? Turns out... I'm the Tin, Man!

Well, it's not every day you go to an estate sale and find something with your name on it. It was actually just one day many years ago driving through Bethel CT and looking for a sign. This had to be a sign. No, it really just turned out to be a cool way to wrap a gift for my parents. Recently, while visiting my Mom over vacation, turns out the coolness wore off and 8,9, or maybe ten years later she offered it up for the Blog.
Sadly, not unlike my own name, I know very little about the tin. About 6" x 6" it was likely a souvenir of the famous port city in Belgium. "De Roem of Van Antwerpen" translates to "The Celebrity of Antwerp" and the lower text is "Antwerp Hands."  The images are taken from the work of J. Leseul, a painter I can also find nothing about.
If I could find the painter's bio I may be able to put a date on the tin. Though a guess would estimate it around 1950 -1960.  The name, Antwerp has several origins, some based in folklore: the tossing of an evil severed giant's hand - ant (hand) + verpen (throw), or the other meaning - At the Warf. Right now, I'm really more interested in the tin than my lineage.  Anyway, if you can help me with its history, or mine, please leave a message in the comments.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spin the Bottle....a family game?


Fortunately for my marriage, I don't buy everything I see. This weekend, however, I did come across a stash of toys from the 60's that were really tempting. As I was about to consider buying, I thought, "Wait. I'm not going to Ebay this, and if I buy it, I'm going to have to put it somewhere..."  And then I remembered the camera on my I-pod and came up with a way to build commentary for this blog without always having to buy. Here's the item:

spin the bottle Close Up
Think back to your teen-age years... ever play this game? No, I don't mean this exact game, I am talking about the savvy friend at the teen mixer that steps into the group and says, "Wanna play Spin the Bottle?"  Then everyone looks around furtively and does a quick accounting of the sexes. Do I want to kiss her? Does she want to kiss me? Is there an even number? Seems like an imbalance would cause some one to speak up to the negative. Those were the days when a teen had to make a decision and the peer pressure was simple. Today's teen  has the weight of a dock and 4 boats on them if they choose poorly - I call it Pier Pressure. Few would want to be the spoiler anyway, so, off they go into a right of passage. Spin the Bottle was (and maybe still is) a pretty innocent game, and I don't think anyone ever got pregnant from playing it, though I may be revealing too much here about the lame-ness of my teen years. As I recall, it was a wine bottle and spinning it so you could tell who it pointed to, and without injuring someone's ankle seemed a true challenge.  I had no idea that Hasbro manufactured a board game version of this boy-meets-girl, boy-awkwardly-kisses-girl game. 

I photographed the box because I had to ask, as I often do, "What were they thinking?
spin the bottle game
I'll take a stab at it -  Hasbro Game Developer: "I've got it!  If kids are going to play spin the bottle anyway, let's make a family version so the kids will stay at home and play it in the safety of the family rumpus room with mom and dad. It'll keep 'em from pairing off and doing god-knows-what before they're married."  That strategy probably worked on Mom and Dad, but I'm pretty sure that no kid would be caught dead playing this with their parents. I'm looking at the image and trying to guess what's going on. In this version, you spun a bottle-shaped piece of cardboard and picked up cards that had odd physical challenges, sometimes involving the other players. I didn't look at all the cards, just enough to make sure this was based on the game I remembered....It was:
Well, if it had been in a little better shape I would have bought it, because the whole awkward-inappropriateness of it all is still making me chuckle. I wonder if the young kid playing the game there on the box had to ask the question,  "Umm, Dad? What is sex?...and which is the opposite one I'm supposed to kiss?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flagpole Radio Cafe Season Finale: Whether you see it or not...you'll have the Blues!

Unless you are reading this post from far away, you have no reason to miss the next and last Flagpole Radio Cafe (this season).  There are too few venues in Western CT where you can see Music, Comedy, and Variety all in the same night. They put on a good show and I have been lucky enough to make myself a part of each one. On Saturday, May 21st you can spend a nice evening at a nice sized venue called the Edmond Town Hall Theater. The special musical guest is Blues/Folk artist, and raconteur Guy Davis, and he has good long bio that you can read here. Or take a look at this short video:

There ain't a bad seat in da house! For tickets and more information clik the poster above or go here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's Mothers Day!.... Let's Pick on Mom!

I have to chime in on the whole Osama thing...or is it Usama? ( You say Usama! I say Osama...Let's call the whole thing off! ) Anyway, after seeing several Networks portray the whole event, or whatever part of it they could get their hands on to portray...Enough!  I don't care if he was living in Pakistan, I don't care if the Pakistani leadership, or military knew...or some knew..and some didn't...but should have.  I don't care about the the picture of his corpse. I don't care about the video of him watching himself on TV, or that he dyed his hair to improve his image (whom did he need to impress?)  I don't care if this will guarantee Obama his re-election, or that it would have tanked it if the Navy Seals had done another "Jimmy Carter" in the desert. The news is so formulaic now that it is possible to guess what will happen next and how the painfully few network "voices" will portray it. News is best consumed like the items in a bakery; a little from each shelf in equal amounts, and then some from your own kitchen...and then don't consume any more News for another whole week. You'll feel better, trust me.

Sorry, that's as opinionated as I will get on current events...and now for something really old:

Here is a stellar example of why we need a day like Mother's Day...no, not because we need to keep money flowing to the confectioner's and florists in the nation - there's Easter, birthdays and anniversaries for that. Somewhere in the past an advertising executive took the idea that women should be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen and added: ridiculed by thoughtless loudmouth spouses.  There! That oughta sell more product!
I feel so bad after reading this that I am going to surprise my wife with something regular every day. A soft voice, a warm smile, and respect for how well she is raising our daughter...despite my thoughtless loudmouth behavior.