Category Archives: Kitsch

Muffler Man sighting

I forgot to post this at the time, but we spotted a Muffler Man¬†just off Highway 51 in Macon, Ill., when we went to visit Ron’s family just before Christmas:

Excuse the shoddy image quality. My iPhone camera has been acting the fool ever since I installed iOS 7. ūüė°


Based on the odd proportions and the non-standard hand positions, I think this guy is a latter-day variant and not an original M-Man. Awesome that he’s holding a giant fiberglass ice-cream cone. If you go see him, stop at the convenience store nearby, grab a snack and a drink, and pay your respects to the Macon Ironmen trophy.


You guys.

So I made a quick run up to Carbondale this evening to pick up some stuff from the Co-op. On my way back, I came through Anna to discover this:


I have always loved this sign, but this is the first time I’ve seen them light the flashing arrow and the excellent googie bubbles at the top.

Sadly, this was the best shot I could get, because the property owners are weird about people taking pictures of the sign, so I had to roll down the window and shoot fast from a nearby driveway, then Photoshop the crappy Hardee’s sign out of the background when I got home.

One day, I need to pay them a visit and show them the kind of stuff I’ve been known to do for indie businesses in the past. We’ll see if they’re any friendlier after they figure out I’m good for free websites, free murals, free elbow grease, free bathroom renovations, and all manner of free design work.


Kitsch collection

Ron and I went up to his parents’ farm in central Illinois for a family reunion last month. We picked up Route 66 at St. Louis and took it up to Litchfield. Best find: An antique store in an old school building near Livingston has amassed an impressive collection of oversized fiberglass kitsch.


I’m not sure when these pink elephants became a thing, but we’ve been seeing them for about 15 years. They’re not quite as common as Muffler Men, but we’ve seen quite a few of them sprinkled across the country.
Love the uber-Deco lettering on the old gym. Notice the glass blocks, curved front and brick speed lines. *Swoon*
Beach Guy here isn’t a Muffler Man, but he’s obviously meant to resemble one. Looks like a latter-day variant.
Here’s a Muffler Man. This one is a Bunyan-type.
The Twistee Treat stand was operating the day we visited. It was cold out, and I was on a diet, but of course I got ice cream anyway. It wasn’t really worth the calories, but mimetic architecture must be rewarded at all costs.
This might be my favorite part of the whole complex.

There’s one more image after the jump. It’s cute, but I put it below the fold so it wouldn’t freak out my friend Marilyn, who is scared of stinging insects.

Continue reading Kitsch collection

Free time

So this evening, I have become familiar with a new concept: Free time.

It’s nice.

Here is what I did with it:



People keep telling me I look like Merida from Brave. I guess I sort of do, but I thought the likeness would be closer if she had my gray streak and bifocals. (And more snout. She definitely needs more snout to look like me, but my Photoshop skills aren’t quite sufficient to perform reverse rhinoplasty on a Pixar character, so this will have to do. If Pixar made a movie about me, they’d idealize my face anyway. Disney princesses are always prettier than real life.)

This may be why I don’t get a lot of free time. Clearly, I cannot be trusted to use it sensibly….


Munchkin Tuesday: Strawberry Shortcake

So I was in Tucumcari this weekend, on my way to lunch at Watson’s BBQ with the owners of the Blue Swallow, when I found myself at a barn sale on the edge of town.

I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy at the barn sale, but somewhere in an alternate universe where it is still 1981, my 6-year-old self threw a tantrum when I passed a complete set of Strawberry Shortcake dolls without even bothering to ask how much they were.

I wanted a Strawberry Shortcake doll when I was little, but she was expensive, and Dad objected to the fake strawberry scent of the two-inch-high plastic figurine I got in my Christmas stocking, so I had to settle for a Huckleberry Pie pillow doll instead.

Poop. ūüė¶

American Greetings came up with the original Strawberry Shortcake dolls, which Kenner then manufactured. Apparently the greeting-card-to-toy-to-cartoon trajectory was a thing back then, because I seem to remember the Care Bears and Rainbow Brite following similar paths to fame. These days, Hasbro is making new Strawberry Shortcake dolls, but they look more like what you’d get if that big-headed kid from Deliverance knocked up the Little Mermaid, and apparently Simon Bond invaded Strawberryland at some point, because Custard is nowhere to be seen.

(On a related note, I could probably do a whole Munchkin Tuesday entry on the work of Simon Bond, because I spent a LOT of time giggling over 101 Uses for a Dead Cat when I was a kid. I’m not sure what that says about me.)


P.S.: I’d almost forgotten about this, but in 1983, General Mills made a cereal based on the Strawberry Shortcake franchise. Because I was in second grade and didn’t have any better sense, I set up an inconsolable howl for it until Mom bought me a box. As usual, I was required to eat the entire box. If I remember right, it tasted like Frankenberry mixed with runoff from a Monsanto factory. Ghastly stuff. Here’s the commercial that suckered me into asking for it:

Neil Diamond Impersonator Monday: Craig Canter

“I Am … I Said” and “Play Me” need work, and he’s gonna have to spend a little more time watching concert videos to get the stage moves right, but you’ve gotta give this guy mad props for going beyond the cliches and doing “I’m Alive.” Bonus points for the name. (If you don’t get it, go watch The Jazz Singer again.)

Also, I’m pretty sure the font on the credits is Luna. Snaps for that, too.

who spent the weekend in New Mexico but hasn’t had time to ‘Shop the photos yet

Munchkin Tuesday: Little Professor

Raise your hand if you owned one of these as a child.

*Emily raises hand*

Raise your hand if you wish you still did.

*Emily raises hand again*

Raise your hand if you are pretty sure algebra scores would be a helluva lot higher if kids still had these instead of being handed calculators at age seven.

*Emily raises hand, waves it, jumps up and down in seat, stomps foot, grinds teeth, gives up, gets on eBay to find Little Professor for niece and nephews*

If there were an app to turn my iPhone into a Little Professor, you know I would be downloading it. Somebody needs to get on that, stat.


Daybook for July 4

For today…

Outside my window… neighbors popping fireworks.
I am thinking… about the novel I should be editing.
I am thankful for… the rain we got yesterday in midtown.
From the kitchen… vegan pasta salad.
I am wearing… jeans from Drysdales, Birkenstocks, and a Drillers tank top.
I am reading… Naked Lunch.
I am hoping… to shake free for a visit to Illinois in the not-too-distant future.
I am creating… a very special painting, the details of which I will reveal only after it is finished.
I am praying… to maintain a sense of harmony.
Around the house… a lot of clutter.
One of my favorite things… Oreos. Which, as it turns out, are entirely vegan. I consider this proof that God loves me and approves of my diet.
A few plans for the rest of the week… work on novel, finish painting, catch up on church Twitter and Facebook accounts, indulge creative outburst that seems to be brewing quietly in the background.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you…

Instagram of a fireworks stand on Route 66 just east of Bristow.

I love driving along Route 66 and seeing little fireworks stands illuminated by strings of lightbulbs.