Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Live Well... Or Die!!

Ironic juxtaposition?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Handy Homemaker Hints # 327

So you've got a back porch that maybe isn't all it could be? Did whoever built your house either forget to put in a step or two or did they put the step in at a bizarre angle so that you have to manuever your way around the open screen door to get at it and then descend from the porch directly into a small corner where the outside walls of your kitchen and bathroom meet? Well 'Plastic Pumpkins' reader "Not A Step To Stand On" from Virginia had this exact problem and he wrote in asking my advice on ways to solve his porch-dilema. The solution? Gravestones!

Many people look at gravestones and think "Why that's only good for marking the eternal resting places of the deceased and presumed deceased!" but here at 'Plastic Pumpkins' we like to think outside the oblong box... there are a hundred and one other uses for gravestones! For example, a line of headstones in several different shapes and sizes could be stood up along your property line to serve as a snazzy alternative to the standard white picket fence or use a simple cross design monument as a hatstand for your hall or foyer! So many stunning things you can do with the simple cenotaph!

In the picture above, we've solved "Not A Step's" problem by placing the base stone of a grave marker right beside his existing concrete porch. It's not only the perfect height, but it blends in seemlessly and looks as if it has been there forever. You're welcome, "Not A Step" and keep reading!

Seriously though, that actually is the base stone (that's the stone that the actual headstone sits on top of) from somebody's grave site acting as a step at my friend Dave's house. Dave works for a guy who does a lot of volunteer work for his church. He tells Dave that it's surprising the number of people who change their minds about gravestones after they've already been put up. Since Dave's boss has a lot of heavy duty machinery and hauling-type junk, he's the guy who picks up and disposes of the old unwanted stones, usually dumping them in a big ditch on his farm. Well, Dave saw this stone in the back of his bosses pick-up about to be dumped and a little light bulb went off over his head. A few hours later... instant back porch step! It's actually upside down, that brown line of discoloration around the stone would have been sunk into the dirt, but Dave said that the thing weighed 700 tons so it pretty much laid the way it fell. I love it and never even would have noticed what it really was if he hadn't of mentioned it. Makes me think about the future owners of his house... will they ever realize what it is they're stepping on every day?
So, do you live in a house that was occupied by others before you and if so have you taken a close look around you? Who knows what material those previous occupants used in their 'do-it-yourself' projects...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Spongeworthy Souvenir

I'd read about the semi-legendary Spongeorama of Tarpon Springs, Florida but I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd stumble upon related souvenirage in this neck of the Virginian woods. The entire town of Tarpon Springs is like "the sponge diving capital of the world" or something so this plate might actually have been originally purchased in some other place besides the lauded Spongeorama, but I'm saying that's where it came fom 'cause it's my blog and that's the way I want it to be.
The plate disturbs me a little in that the sponge diver reminds me of the ghost of Captain Cutler from 'Scooby-Doo, Where Are You' who was the second scariest ghost of them all. I won't reveal to you which ghost scared me the most as a child because my enemies would only use that information against me. All I can say is, even today ghostie #1 makes me cry a little every time I think of him.
Proving once more that the people who run thrift stores are fools, this gaudy little beauty was priced to move at one measly American dollar. I would have easily paid twice as much for it! Which is exactly what I told the little grey-haired lady behind the counter right before throwing back my head, laughing maniacally and gliding from the store in a swirl of capes and mustaches. The gals at my thrifts love me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Simzilla Raids Again!

The gentle surf parts and the heart of SimCity skips a beat as Godzilla strides ashore and heads once more to the pulsing center of this great metropolis! What savage purpose guides Godzilla's massive footsteps, this time?

Fall is on its way. Time for a new wardrobe!

Godzilla can never buy 'off-the-rack.'

The End?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From The Plastic Pumpkins Case Files: The Thrift Store Enigma

Awhile back I'm doing one of my semi-regular day-long thrift store runs, the kind where you hit as many thrift stores as you can in a day's time and scoop up just about anything that catches your eye and who's price tag is agreeable, and the 'photo' above ends up in my basket at one store or the other. I barely remembered grabbing it, but I always go for cool old photos if they're on the cheap and this was less than a dollar so in with the loot it flew. It wasn't 'til I got home and was picking through my bags of crap... sorry 'recycled treasures'... that I noticed something odd about these pictures. The glass in the frame was filthy, but I could still tell that neither of these pictures were an actual photo.

Well, I flipped the frame over and pried out the cardboard backing and discovered the truth. This was a forgery! The photo of the woman had been cut off of a postcard, the faded half-word 'postc' can still be read along the top, while the man's picture seemed to have been cut out of a book! So what I thought was a lovely photo of an attractive elderly couple is nothing but a big con job! Did these two people know each other at all? Had they ever even met? Did they even live in the same time period? I'm not well enough versed in the clothing styles of various historic eras to make any sort of a call on whether or not their costuming is copasetic.

So who would do this and why? The overly-romantic part of my mind pictures a lonely orphan girl, perhaps a newly arrived immigrant on these shores, with no family, no friends, no history. Desperate to create a sense of belonging in this cold, harsh world (even if entirely fictional) she uses one of her hard-earned pennies to purchase a picture postcard of someone (presumably) famous, someone she admires perhaps. Or did that kind woman's face just call out to her from the spinner rack, telling her "Yes child, I will be the home you seek!" Unable to spare a second penny to buy her new-found kin a mate, this normally law-abidding young lass finds her way to the local library where, when the stern matron behind the desk is distracted by children speaking aloud, she tears a page free from some random book and runs for the exit. We can forgive her this one act of desperate vandalism for after all, later in life when she has done quite well for herself she makes a sizeable, and anonymous, donation to this very same library. It's what her made-up Nana would have wanted her to do...

The more rational, and less often used, part of my brain says that this was just cobbled together as a prop for some school play or some such. But then my more rational brain also doesn't believe in Bigfoot or Uri Geller or the basic goodness of mankind. My more rational brain is a party pooper.

So who were this man and woman and why were they paired in this faux tableau? As I've said, I'm presuming at least the woman to be someone well-known if she merits postcard immortality. She seems familar, but only in the same sort of way that any b & w picture of anybody taken before a certain point in time will look familar. People from one time period will all look the same to people from another. The man looks like one of those creepy photos they used to take of dead people, but I'm pretty sure he's alive. If not, kudos to his embalmer!

So another unsolveable case for the PPCF's. I'll file it away in the 'Active, but don't hold your breath' drawer and move on to other things, but I can tell you right now- this is the case that will haunt my dreams forever...

Alternating nights with that dream where I'm prospecting for gold with Mickey Mouse and Goofy.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Random Snark

Well okay, but I really don't think they've ever said anything all that interesting!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Secret Life Of Bevo Fox

Once upon a time (Thursday, August 03, 2006. 3:22 PM EST) I posted a semi-snarky blog entry about the long-forgotten-by-most mascots of the Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, VA. With many years of successful amusement park mascot design under my belt, I felt that I was more than qualified to goof on these lamentably lame cartoon characters, which included a big beaver (insert crude remark here) and a swishy gay Frenchman. If you're ever so curious about that post then by all means go check it out, but then hurry back 'cause I have some apologizing to do...

A large part of those poor mascots' laughability factor, at least in my opinion, had to do with the overall 'pulled-it-out-of-my-ass-ness' of their very being. They seemed a motley group of 'whatevers,' thrown together simply to give the park's employees a reason to don body-lice infested fur suits and parade around on the asphalt in 90 degree weather for hours on end, scaring little children and upsetting guide dogs. Anyone who's ever worked in an amusement park knows that this is the cream job.

But one of these mascots, that devilish little fox with the twinkle in his eye, turns out to be quite the Anheuser-Busch celebrity. Bevo the Fox wasn't pulled out of anybody's ass just willy-nilly... he was ripped from the ass of a hard-working early 1900's ad man who needed the perfect character to pitch Busch's hot-off-the-bottlers new non-alcoholic beverage 'Bevo.' Yep, Bevo was the go-to fox in the company's (more than likely) desperate bid to convince prohibiton-era drinkers that this unfermented cereal beverage was as good as the real thing. For that alone, Bevo deserves much more respect than I've ever given him.

Bevo must have done a Hell of a job, because his namesake beverage was a top-seller in the early 1920's and an entire building (some might say 'shrine') was erected to honor the fox. Ostensibly a Bevo bottling plant, the building was more a destination point for near beer loving pilgrims the world over to come kneel at the feet of their tea-totaling buddha. So powerful was the craven image of Bevo that, in spite of the fact that Anheuser-Busch stopped production of Bevo in 1929, the building still stands to this day in St. Louis. Regular tours are given for the faithful. The pictures of the mosaic above and the cornice piece on the right come from The Bridge and Tunnel Club a neat website that offers, among many other nifty things, a picture tour of the whole Bevo building. All snarking aside, the place is a beautiful piece of architecture.

Bevo the Fox may be gone from beer label and amusement park alike, but he's still popular enough that his likeness will occasionally show up on items marketed to the powerful and unsteady on their feet beer-collector's market, like the figurine at the top of this post and the stein over to the left. The stein is from 1991 and is no longer in stock at, but they've got lots of other stuff for sale over there and Bevo might just be lurking around there somewhere. Dear God, is that a leg bone he's chewing on?

By-the-by, while I was researching the 'Bevo phenomenon' I suddenly found the words to the song "Ya Got Trouble" from "The Music Man" playing in my head...

"They'll be tryin' out Bevo, tryin out Cubebs, tryin' out Tailor Mades like cigarette fiends!"
...and suddenly a word that I had sung along senselessly to for years held glorious meaning to me! In one tiny cosmic moment my arrested-adolescent love of amusement parks and my gay-ish enjoyment of a good ol' fashioned Broadway spectacular collided into one singing, dancing, cotton candy eating entity. I then experienced the most intense ice cream headache that I have ever suffered through and had to go lie down for a few minutes.
When I awoke I Googled the word 'Cubebs' and found out via Wickipedia that the cubeb (Piper cubeba), or tailed pepper, is a plant in the genus Piper, cultivated for its fruit and essential oils and often used in the past in the form of cigarettes for asthma. That's right... those young River City youth were huffers.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not Counting The Mouse In The Tree...

"Plastic Pumpkins salutes my hometown of Puzzletown, USA. Population: 8!"


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Variations On A Theme: 7 Roosters

I don't even particularly like roosters, but when you collect as much junk over the years as I have you just naturally end up with a lot of roosters...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The All-Star Singing & Dancing Electric Company Gala Celebration's Show Stopping Finale---

Go here.
And that's all I've got... I really should have paced myself better. Maybe saved something back for the big finish... oh,well.
See you next time around as we return to our usual pointlessness!

Four Quick Steps To Death!!

While 'The Electric Company' television show focused almost entirely on vocabulary-related songs and skits, it's companion magazine delved into all sorts of different areas. Occasionally they'd muscle their way into 'ZOOM' territory by offering their readers fun tricks, experiments and recipes that they could try in their own homes. They were far-ranging bits of 'how-to-itiveness,' covering everything from how to make your own sex doll to how to breed virulent colonies of bacteria in your oven. Here are a few random samplings. Have fun and remember- if your mom catches you don't tell her who gave you the idea...

The loneliest little boy in the world.

This trick always made me very nervous when I was younger. As a child having a balloon pop in my face was one of my biggest fears, right after evil robots and two-headed Dracula/Wolfman monsters.

I can not over stress how important it is that you do not try this recipe at home. Leaving milk & yogurt sitting in a tepid pool of water in a warm oven might give you even more yogurt than you started off with, but it might also leave you with that much more food poisoning than you started with as well.

Theoretically my favorite bit of 'do-it-yourselfness' in the whole bunch. 'Theoretically' because there are just way to many steps for me to try this myself...

While Julia Grownup is cooking up pots full of biological warfare in her kitchen, The Mad Scientist is attempting to take over the world with static electricity. Poor bitch.

It was pretty and green, so I scanned it. Test your sharp shooting skills with the 'Annie Oakley Aim Game.' Then drink yourself into a rotgut stupor and try to slip a little tongue to Sitting Bull.

Tomorrow brings us to the end of our week-long Electric Company gala and with it the most anti-climatic climax since humankind began climaxing. Really, I've pretty much got nothing for tomorrow's post...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Along Came A Spidey...

Some of my favorite segments of The Electric Company television show were the 'Spidey Super Stories' shorts. These three or four minute long mini-shows starred a slightly creepy alternate universe version of Spider-Man who never spoke aloud... he communicated entirely through word balloons which would appear in the air above his head... and didn't seem to have any other non-Spidey identity as he was seen doing everything, from fighting crime to going to the laundromat, in his web-covered long johns.

The villians he faced had motives which were less 'kill, maim & destroy' than the mainstream S-Man's foes and more 'I never got a pony for my birthday so now I'm gonna throw pies in peoples faces.' Among these baddies were a guy dressed in a mouse costume who stole cheese, a woman dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte who socked people in the face with an over-sized boxing glove (I think she was the pony-deprived), a human wall who walked around looking like a wall, a book-eating bookworm and a nightmare-inducing yeti who prowled the city searching for cold things on which to sit. Nightmare-inducing I tell you! I still dream of this yeti and wake screaming!

Marvel Comics published a comic book based on 'Spidey Super Stories' which was called 'Elektra: Assassin' and featured easy-to-read short stories featuring Spidey, the Electric Company cast and gobs o' Marvel Universe heroes and villains... everybody from the Fantastic Four and Captain America to the White Tiger and Thundra showed up in this comic. Every issue followed the same basic format- the inside front cover featured a one page strip which introduced one of that issue's characters, usually whoever was guest-heroing would have their entire origin stories recapped in five easy to read panels, after that came the first part of the two-part feature story. This main story was interrupted in the middle of the book by a short story that teamed Spidey up with various EC characters. At first these stories were based on the actual televison stories, later they would be original tales. After the main story's conclusion there was one more strip to go. The inside back cover of every issue featured Spidey telling a joke or riddle that had been sent in by one of the book's readers.

'Spidey Super Stories' also appeared in The Electric Company magazine, a pile of which is what started this whole Electric Company hoopla in the first place. I have no idea how many issues there were of the Electric Company's mag and I don't know how many different Spidey comics were created for it, although I do know that they would repeat stories on occassion. When I was little I used to tear the strips out of the magazine and staple a bunch of different stories together into one big comic. That's right, I invented the trade paperback collection.

Below are scans of three complete 'Spidey Super Stories' as torn from the pages of 'The Electric Company Magazine.' In the first two tales, Spidey faces his arch-Electricverse-foe The Mad Scientist. Mad tangles with Spidey solo in the first story than wises up and gets himself some hired muscle to do the dirty in the second. The last story was one of my favorites as a wee one, I thought the villians were cool and a little bent!

Cue theme song:

Spider-Man! Where are you coming from, Spider-Man?

Nobody knows who you are!

Hmmm, I guess it's time to update that theme song:

Spider-Man! Where are you coming from, Spider-Man?

In light of your recent public unmasking arising from events taking place with-in the Marvel Comics crossover event 'Civil War,' everybody and their idiot cousin knows who you are!