Monday, January 23, 2012

Restoration Hardware, now with extra Edward Gorey!

Did you know that Restoration Hardware is starting to look like an Edward Gorey emporium? Seriously.

Carved wood plinth

19th C. timber calipers

Collection of German carnival noses (set of 7)

Cast iron dumbbells (set of 4)

1920s French bowling set

Cloche with babies

1950s iron traveler's trunks

Industrial chain pulley

1949 French desktop globe

Conservatory model

Scales of justice

Roman capital

Bust of Napoleon

Cast iron fleur-de-lis

Hand-woven rope (gives whole new meaning to the phrase 'money for old rope,' har!)

Vintage leather sports balls

Zinc urns

English garden finials

Trophies (apparently sold out)

1920s hand-blown wine bottle

Preserved boxwood topiary

Aside from the outrageous price tags for all of these objets (which really are called "objets" on the website), I just have to say: CLOCHE WITH BABIES?! No, really: CLOCHE WITH BABIES?! And in case you doubt my outrage, here are some more interrobangs: ?!?!?!?!?!?!

Restoration Hardware, you are all sorts of crazypants. If it weren't for your outrageous prices, I'd probably own most of your objets by now. Except, of course, for the CLOCHE WITH BABIES. Eurgh.

Some serious unseriousness

I was reading an article which used the term "shaggy dog story," despite the fact that the rest of the article had nothing to do with dogs. What, I wondered, is a shaggy dog story? Wikipedia came to the rescue, explaining that it's a form of humor I've loved for years: a winding tale with tons of irrelevant detail and random tangents, culminating in an anti-climax that is hilarious precisely because it is so non-hilarious and completely unrelated to the rest of the story.

Eager for more, I decided to head to the "See also" section, where I clicked on "No soap radio." Again, I was floored to learn that there is a term for something I've experienced for years: a joke with a non-hilarious punchline (typically the words 'no soap, radio?,' but not always), told between a couple of people who are in cahoots with each other to laugh no matter what. The point is to tell the joke in front of a third person, and see how they react: do they try to conform and laugh along with the first two, thus looking like a birdbrain? Or will they be understandably confused, opening themselves to ridicule from the two jokesters? Needless to say, this is intimately related to "anti-humor."

As I read about this, I had a flashback to eighth-grade English class. Our weekly assignment was to learn twenty new assigned vocabulary words, and then create analogies for the class where the vocabulary words would be the answers. Pretty straightforward stuff, until one time a couple of guys decided to have some Dada-esque fun. One of them announced the following analogy to the class:

"Stoplight is to Marilyn Monroe, as carpeting is to...?"

The class sat stupefied for a moment, until the second guy gleefully announced "Varnish!" which, as you may have guessed, was one of our vocabulary words for the week. They clearly had rehearsed this, and were having a fabulous time.

We being a bunch of bored eighth graders, the whole class burst out with some mild laughter. We were all set to shrug off the nonsense and move on, until our teacher said shrilly, "I don't get it. I just don't get it!" So we laughed some more.

But our teacher started having an honest-to-goodness meltdown. "I'm serious! I don't get it! SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME AT ONCE." She may or may not have stomped her foot in consternation.

We were all howling by now.

The classroom madness lasted for several minutes, with our teacher getting more and more shrill, and the rest of us laughing harder and harder to the point of challenging our bladder control. The two guys, meanwhile, were both grinning like Cheshire cats and waiting to see what would happen next.

Anti-climactically, a gal (NOT I) quietly explained to our teacher that the two guys were being humorous dopes, and there was nothing to get about the joke -- it was hilarious precisely because it was non-hilarious.

"Well, I think you're all crazy," our teacher declared. Needless to say, she was never one of my favorites anyway, and this occasion pretty well confirmed my opinion.

P.S. Look up "Snowclone." Like the word "philtrum," I'd never realized a term existed for such a thing until fairly recently. I feel so much smarter now.