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12:20:2002 Entry: "Ann : It's not funny anymore"

It's not funny anymore

Yesterday I was sifting through some magazines and catalogs that accumulated over the past few months that I hadn't looked at yet. I found an Archie McPhee catalog and leafed through it. Not so long ago, I got a charge out of 'Archie's' products. I got a charge out of the irony, the retroness, the intentional tackiness. But it's different now. I no longer identify. If I'm going to spend $12.99 on something, I want it to be something I like because I truly appreciate it and it gives me a true sense of pleasure or meaning. It would be something like a music CD or a houseplant or even a shirt that I need. It wouldn't be a bobble-headed nun figurine (just an example). Sure, a bobble-headed nun figurine would be funny (scenario of recipient: unwraps gift-papered box containing said nun, looks at box 'oh look, a bobble-headed nun!' pulls figurine out of box, 'oh, isn't this funny!' wiggles nun, watches head bob, 'ha ha!' so there's the entire worth of the gag gift for that moment in time...nun goes into a drawer, pulled out every once and a while for a party.) but it would be completely without meaning. On the other hand, a music CD for the same price (provided it's someone I like) would provide much meaning, not to mention enjoyment, if I may use such a casual, dispassionate term. A houseplant would hopefully provide many years of fulfillment as it grows. And a shirt would be very useful for years until it's reduced to tatters.

I used to go to a few parties at some people's apartment several years ago. They weren't close friends; they were friends of a friend. Everything in their apartment was ironic; nothing was 'real.' It was as if they were incapable of having posessions that truly meant something. Obviously there were no things like houseplants or objects that had some great sentimental value or prized have such would make them shallow in their eyes, cheesey, either low-class or ironically, snootily upper class, I suppose. They didn't listen to music because they loved the music...they collected strange CDs...old crooners from the 50s, not because they liked that kind of music, but because it was funny. One CD I found particularly baffling was some retarded (literally, downs syndrome) guy from some television show that was singing. It was dreadful...why would anyone want that? Evidentally the only reason why the CD was put out in the first place was because the promoters of the TV show (don't ask me what it was...I don't watch network TV) thought they could make some money off this guy, marketing him as some sort of idiot savant to fans of the show. And my acquaintances who bought it? They didn't have it because it was funny because it made fun of retarded people--at least I hope that's not why they had it--I would guess they had it because it was funny ha ha making fun of the kind of people who would put it out (the promoters) and the kind of audience who would be *serious* about buying it. Of course they weren't *serious* about buying it (even though they bought it)...they were *ironic* about buying. That makes a world of difference. Or does it? The marketers still made money off of them, nonetheless.

Archie McPhee also sells quasi-religious artifacts...candles in long glass jars with pictures of The Madonna or Jesus, for example. My acquaintances had some of those that they placed in their bathroom, of course, in irony. Go to any small family-run Mexican-American grocery store and you will find the same, exact Madonna/Jesus candles (probably for half the price as the McPhee ones). That is the audience the manufacturers of the candles are targeting, the people who actually are fulfilled somehow, by having them in their household, not the patrons of McPhee: 'ha ha look, it's a madonna and jesus funny.' To the people who buy the candles at their grocer, it has meaning. It's part of their family traditions. And as unreligious as I am, I can still understand where they're coming from far more than I can the ironic crowd. To them there is no value to the object, other than to make visitors laugh 'ha ha oh how I wish I had one of these it is so funny where did you get it?'

The ironic crowd would marvel at my lava lamp collection, thinking I, myself, was being ironic as well, not understanding that I actually find beauty in lava lamps. To find a lava lamp beautiful would be, in their eyes, well, tacky (there's a spot waiting for them in graduate art school if they're interested), but to appreciate a lava lamp as a tacky object from the past and to display it as such, is advanced and witty. They found my collection of indoor gazing balls ironic and funny (funny in a good way, meaning, I had a well-developed sense of irony), because to them, a gazing ball is 'a white trash lawn ball.' For a college-educated person like myself to bring several of those inside and to display them, is acknowledging the fact that I too understand they are white trash lawn balls and am making fun of them in an ironic statement. I'm cool in their eyes. What they don't understand is my life-long fascination with the sphere and my almost-as-long fascination with these magical shining orbs I would see in people's lawns as I drove by them as a child, not knowing white trash from upper class. To me, the gazing ball is a beautiful object, symbollic, if you will. And I don't think they would ever understand that.


Merry Yultide my ballgazing friend!

well, not only do i know your weird, which is a good thing- but i for one think it's so cool, those gazing balls. My mom has one in her yard, a deep colbalt blue....and so shiny...just like a mirror.

Although, i must say i have never heard them refered in a white trash bizarre! have a wonderful day dear.

Posted by Lori @ 12:25:2002:12:48 PM CST

Hi Lori,

i must say i have never heard them refered in a white trash way

I never heard that either until the acquaintance said called them such. The thing is, gazing balls go back to renaissance times, I believe...I could be wrong, but I don't think so. Mirrored spheres were used gardens back then...supposedly brought good luck. And the kinds of gardens they were in were hardly...trash!

I guess this acquaintance associates them with rural homes around Wisconsin. I guess if she knew the history, she'd think twice about referring to them as such.

Posted by Ann @ 12:25:2002:01:44 PM CST

Merry Christmas! Thanks for your wonderful linkware.

I wanted to comment on the so-called "white trash" gazing balls. I've seen them in home and garden catalogs and never thought of them as being "white trash," because they aren't described as such. In fact, I got the impression that gazing balls belong in any good garden as a point of interest like a decorative birdbath.

Now, pink plastic flamingos are another matter.

Posted by JanetS @ 12:25:2002:02:17 PM CST

Ann - I'm really sorry that I bought you that set of Space Ghost action figure dolls. I hope you won't hate me for that and please forgive me for indulging in sillyness and irony. I've thought about my mistake and have been wondering if maybe next Christmas I should find (I'm unable to get the spelling of his name right and I've never read him myself, but I hear he's really deep) the complete collection of the works of Niezia.

Actually I can really relate to what you're saying, but I hope you can find a place in your heart for the little dolls.

Posted by Stan @ 12:25:2002:07:17 PM CST

And he's not kidding either. About the space ghost action figures. Oy. Open mouth, insert foot, as they say. And I wrote this journal entry before I opened the presents. Must've been a psychic thing.

Did you mean Nietszche? (I don't even know how to spell it, but I think I'm closer). Fuck you.

Well, I think the last gift I got you made up for any and everything bad any of us may have gotten for XMas.

But who gets it in the divorce?

Posted by Ann @ 12:25:2002:07:24 PM CST

The Pink gift is the best gift ever, and I think it will be almost impossible to out do that one. I guess we've reached the summet of Christmas gifts with this tape, and at least we can be happy that we may watch it together as often as we wish.

I suppose you should keep the gift in the divorce because you found it.

So, are you asking for a divorce because I can't spell German names, or are you leaving me because I thought of the wrong gift again.

I've been thinking about this some more, and maybe instead of - over the top, and surely gone fishing philosophy - I should think about other gifts. How about more things like gazing balls and lava lamps?

Would you consider keeping me then, or is my spelling problem the main sticking point for you?

Posted by Stan @ 12:25:2002:07:38 PM CST

Bite me, Stan.

toys in the attic, he is crazy. (circular motion with finger around ear)

Posted by Ann @ 12:25:2002:07:43 PM CST

As Agent Cooper said, and as Syd did, I need to go brush my teeth.

Posted by Ann @ 12:25:2002:07:44 PM CST

Oh, and just to clarify...

what Stan meant by "Pink gift" is NOT Pink Flamingos! That was a *different* Waters. Heh.

Posted by Ann @ 12:25:2002:07:57 PM CST

I really like your site...taste in music...sincerity...and humor.

bran (aka mizdos) told me I would, and she was right...festive holiday to you...

Posted by shasta @ 12:26:2002:01:56 AM CST

I hope it wasn't my dear punching nun that brought all this on. If I remember right, one of you guys names her Sister Mary Tyson. I assure you that she is not just taken out for a spin during the occasional party. Sister Mary occupies a place of prominence in Jim's study, holding something in her upraised arms - possibly the Valentines I've given him. I attribute no significance to that, one way or the other. The point is, Sister Mary is an honored member of our household.
So in fact is my Australian Frilled Lizard, also from Archie McPhee. I continue to admire his form, demeanor, coloration, posture, and attitude.
I'm with you on the lava lamps. My first husband and I had the first one ever seen in our hometown. We spent some time in Chicago when Old Town had just burst into flower as one of the hippie renaissance early warning sites. The minute we saw our first lava lamp it was love at first sight, and we were the envy of all our friends back in Niagara Falls when they came over to hang out. That was the only time in my life when I knew for certain that, if only for a moment, I was genuinely cool.
Best of all possible regards,
P.S. I also love very much my plastic wart hog from Archie McPhee. He is absolutely realistic right down to his little wart hog cojones. I would not be without him.

Posted by Pat Hartman @ 12:26:2002:09:26 AM CST

Greetings, Shasta, what a nice thing to say! Thank you!

Hi Pat!!!!

Oh no, definitely "Sister Mary" did not precipitate this! We have a boxing nun too, as does Tim (who was the one who came up with the name "Sister Mary Tyson" for your nun). We got her years ago. This is a recent phenomenon that I'm experiencing, although I must also admit I go through it every now and then after I've been influenced by something of High Emotional Content that is somewhat unreachable for my more lighthearted friends.

"Listen to this, it is really good" and they don't get it. I feel alienated.

In other words, sometimes it's just better and more nourishing to cry than it is to laugh.

I hope I'm making some sense, but probably not.

Posted by Ann @ 12:26:2002:09:50 AM CST

Ann! Even a serious and intelligent woman like yourself has to have a little sillyness in your life.

I think I would go crazy if you were only an irony person though. Commedys are good sometimes, but if I had to be limited to one choice in the arts I would have to stick to tragidies instead of comedies. There has to be some point where ironic playfulness is left behind for deeper meanings and true commitments in life. I think a lot of people who seem to be so ironicly serious about irony simply havent had any serious difficulties where they've been forced to make hard choices in their lives. I believe that sooner or later every life is touched be some sort of deep sorrow. The eternal mother of all creatures can break even the hardest of hearts to the point where the length of life won't be long enough for a that broken heart to heal. I find it hard to imagine anyone living their entire life in the shallowness and non-commital positions which an ironic view of living allows some people to do. Sooner or later even the hardest heart of irony will need to think more deeply about life as you already have accomplished. Even though you are a serious, deep and philosophical soul - I believe you still need a little wasteful ironic sillyness once in a while.

Posted by Stan @ 12:26:2002:05:46 PM CST

Stan, if I was so totally serious and morose, we wouldn't have watched "Sleeper" this afternoon, would we have?

Maybe it's not irony or silliness per se that is grating on my nerves, but the purveyors of it.

You and I can talk a deep subject to death. We can talk a funny subject to death, but if they had to go beyond the surface of it, they couldn't. Maybe Mark was right (he never met anyone as intense as me). And in that regard, I'm the same as I was 23 years ago when he said that.

Posted by Ann @ 12:26:2002:06:07 PM CST

It's Nietzsche. I've read Also sprach Zarathustra (don't know what it's called in english). I really liked to read it and I have no idea why you ask Stan to fuck himself for offering you to buy all Nietzsche's work for you ;o)

Posted by Nico @ 12:26:2002:07:16 PM CST

I tell him that all the time. It's a term of endearment. :) He was making fun of me because he knows I'm not a big reader and dropped out of philosophy class on the 1st day.

Posted by Ann @ 12:26:2002:07:30 PM CST

By Ann @ 20:26 AM CST:12:20:02 ..::Link::..