Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who is this guy?

Confession time.  Last month I thought I had more content to post when in reality I didn't.  Yes, one could say I sorta got caught with my pants down, but that's pretty much the status quo around here nowadays.

To my surprise I've been doing this extra stupid (and I use "stupid" as a point of pride) for almost 7 years.  It's hard to believe I've managed to maintain this consistently mediocre corner of cyberspace for so long. I intentionally try to never talk about myself very much because this is primarily a "show & tell" type blog, but since I'm running out of the "show" in this post I'm going to get just a little more personal with the "show" this time.  If that makes any sense.

Most every literate person knows Reading is Fundamental.  Books still have a certain prestige in our society - whether they be digital or even "books on tape." People have found profound personal enlightenment in reading religious texts, self-help books, famous works of literature or whatever is popular on Oprah's Book Club list.

I found THAT book that spoke personally to ME when I was in college, and stumbled upon the 1988 book High Weirdness by Mail, by Ivan Stang...

It's the introduction spoke to me directly like nothing else ever has...

If you couldn't read the picture above, please let me make it easier for you by turning it into text...

Do you have “different” tastes?  Intrigued by the bizarre, the kooky,
the kinky — as long as it keeps its distance?  Enjoy getting unsolicited,
unspeakably weird things in the mail — for free?  Love to snicker in
superiority (perhaps largely imagined) at the incredible gullibility of
others?  Enjoy reading the headlines on sleazy tabloids, and ads for
local psychic fortune-tellers?  Appreciate unexpected glimpses of the
strange “realities” behind religions other than your own?  Entranced
by the thought process of the mentally ill?  Bored to tears by any music, video, and literature that isn’t almost shockingly original?

Painfully aware that all the great geniuses and inventors of the past appeared totally insane to everyone around them?



Specifically it is the "Intrigued by the bizarre, the kooky, the kinky — as long as it keeps its distance?" part in particular which pretty much sums me up.   I think I just might have it placed on my gravestone.

I took this book to heart, and in the early 90's (a time just before the interenet exploded) I was able to mail away for the bizarre and kooky.  I never sent away for any of the truly "scary" things listed in the book.  I wasn't very interested in anything some sort of saucer cult might send, and I certainly didn't want to take the chance of any saucer cults devotees ending up on my doorstep.  Heck I've got enough aggravation from those pesky Jehovah's Witnesses's.

I sent away for much of the nicer stuff.  Like the monster and science fiction models offered by Mike Evans Model Kits, although unfortunately I never got beyond looking at the catalog/newsletter.  You can see I even corrected the address on the book's entry...

Or the wondrous products from Archie McPhee...

Unlike those models, I actually ordered a number of things from Archie McPhee in the 90's.

So that brings us back to last month, when I thought for certain I had a few of these old monster/science fiction model and Archie McPhee catalogs squirreled away somewhere.  When it came time to use them in a post they were nowhere to be found.  After racking my brain I now have a dim memory of cleaning house about 10 years ago and tossing a lot of stuff like that out. I thought with the internet who need to keep the old catalogs.

Well fortunately it appears  like Archie McPhee has archived some of their old catalogs online...

I once had that catalog!

...but I wasn't able to access it.  Maybe you will have a better luck if you wish to check out  the Archie McPhee blog for yourself.

Lastly here's a great link for those who wish to re-live High Weirdness By Mail in modern internet form it's the officially sanctioned High Weirdness By Web.


Arizona Mike said...

I know exactly what you mean. I bought the same book in college and ordered a whole bunch of stuff out of it. I still have the book but (sadly) not many of the things I ordered or the catalogs I received. I think the book was a spin-off of a section that was originally published in an all-Fortean Weirdness special issue Whole Earth Review (itself a spin off of the Whole Earth Catalog) which I also still have.

I remember getting the offset-printed catalogs for the unusual movie and TV models, and ordered some Buckaroo Banzai merchandise the book turned me on to.

I have been an inveterate catalog collector my whole life, and probably enjoyed the catalogs I received in the mail (which i endlessly perused, and from which I made endless lists of all the things I planned to buy with my very finite financial resources) more than getting the merchandise I would sometimes order from them. Like Christmas presents, the anticipation was often better than actually receiving the goods. Like you, I wish I had kept a lot of those catalogs, but figured they would always be available somewhere, and with moves those things get lost, misplaced, or tossed. Kind souls often scan them and post theme on the 'Net, or they can sometimes be found on eBay, but a lot are just tossed as ephemera and are gone forever.

I still have some, or have have recovered some, some I'm still looking for. The massive 100+ page novelties catalog from San Antonio's Elbee company was one of the great joys of my youth, and I still think it is a model of proto-punk cut-and-paste DIY design (I went to their retail store in San Antonio in the 1980s when I was stationed there in the army, expecting a Walmart-size house of novelties and magic, but they had closed out most of their novelties and magic sales and were just concentrating on wooden nickels - which, under another business name, they are still doing). The old Edmund's Scientific Company catalogs in the 1960s and 1970s. The Flosso-Hornmann magic catalogs. The Blackhawk Films catalogs, huge newspaper-size catalogs for 8mm and 16mm films that were printed on cheap pulp paper. The Superior Bulk Film Company catalogs, that had every gadget and doo-dad that an aspiring amateur filmmaker could want. The back pages of the Warren magazines, whose ads for the Captain Company's offerings were like a monthly catalog for me, or later the ads in The Monster Times and Jim Steranko's Mediascene.

Print catalogs have gotten a lot scarcer in these days of on-line sales, but I miss those. My son still loves the Lego catalogs that come out every month or so, and part of the fun is endlessly re-reading them.

David W. said...

Thanks for the great comment Mike! I loved reading it.

I think there's more text in your comment than there is in my post which makes me feel like I'm really slacking.

Arizona Mike said...


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