One of my many odd hobbies as a child was collecting barf bags. I'm probably the first person in human history to write that sentence. I chalk it up to reading too much Mad magazine. If you think that's sick, then in my defense let me just say this: hey, they were still all UNUSED ones I was collecting. I'd like to see somebody who collects used ones. On second thought, no, I do not.
Anyway, you've seen these things on planes. They're the "air motion sickness" bags. About the size of a sandwich bag, but a laminated inside, and folding flaps at the top. Not all of them were plain white. Some had odd logos or even paisley-looking designs. I think I ended up using a few as gag gifts (if you'll pardon the pun), like for bachelor parties.
I thought I had gotten rid of these but no, I had one more that I found recently. This wasn't just any barf bag, though. It was a promotional thing that came in the mail. It was stamped, addressed, and mailed just like an envelope.
You see, my father worked in advertising for some time. And we got our share of odd promotional stuff. This was one such thing. He found the novelty to be quite amusing, and figured he'd share it with his son. I too found it amusing. And now, dear world, I share it with you.
Here's the front:
So who was sending this, and why? It was an invitation to a boat cruise. Here's what it said on the back:
OK, now that I've shared the joke with the world, it's time to throw it away. At least we can say it did provide me some joyfully unexpected entertainment this time.
And even more oddities make their way to the trash:
The family tape measure. I blogged about this before. But I really threw it out. See?
Bag of assorted cheap women's jewelry. And lots of it. From one of my exes, who probably couldn't sell it at her shop. More bachelor accumulations. My girlfriend ain't gonna wear these. Neither will I. Time to just get rid of it.
Travel toothbrush cover. "Why didn't you tell me you had these?!?" screamed my girlfriend as she found them. "I wouldn't have bought one!!!" Well how the hell was I supposed to know? I told her, "If you TOLD me you NEEDED one of those, I could have given it to you before you bought one. Duh." Needless to say, we have "better" cases, and don't really need to own 5 of these things. Time to just get rid of it.
Empty boxes. Things get used, or transferred to some other box. Yet the empty box still managers to linger behind. From the outside observer, it looks like a box that has something in it. But it is not. It is an empty box. Into the trash you go.
Come to think of it, this belongs in category #4 too. A few years back I bought an electric razor that also had built-in aftershave lotion you could pump out of the back. This was handy for travel, because it meant one less bottle to tape up and take with me. But the samples they care are now all gone. And as with any electric razor, you have to wonder if they still make stuff for the specific model you have.
The closet contained a lot more: pillows, sheets, flashlights, toolboxes, toiletries, an entire shelf of plastic shopping bags (which I've been using to help pack stuff for the move). And it's shockingly looking quite empty right now. This was an epic battle against clutter. But the cleaning continues.
Here's just a snapshot of the top of my bathroom trash bin, of things cleaned out of the ol' "linen closet". Since this is next to my bathroom, it's no surprise that there are a lot of drug store items. (On a side note, why do we keep medicine in the bathroom?)
Snore relief throat strips. I am a violently loud snorer. Yes, it can happen to skinny people too. I have tried many anti-snoring products out on the market. This was one of them. They didn't help much. I suppose I was keeping them in the hope that they might magically start to work if I used the rest of the box, but it's time to pitch these. (On a side note, I did end up curing my snoring problem. But that was after I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and fitted with a CPAP machine. Maybe I'll blog about it someday.)
Expired over-the-counter drugs. Check your cabinet. You may very well have some of these too. Though I seriously have to wonder if they date these things to expire in less than a year, just to make you buy the stuff again for every cold-n-flu season.
Shaving cream. I don't know where I got this from. I don't know how long I've had it. I don't think I've ever used it. And I don't think I'm going to use it. Why? Because I shave with an electric. And my days of using shaving cream on Halloween night are well over. Just because you don't use it up, is no excuse to keep a product you never use. Into the trash you go.
Trojan Ultra-Thins (economy-sized box, now empty). Highly recommended.
Mini brush. I've gotten a number of hair brushes over the years, namely because I've gone on vacations where I got to my destination and realized "Crap, I forgot to pack my hair brush". I think this tiny thing came free with a regular sized brush. But really, what the heck is this for? Forget "travel size", this thing is too small to use. It's not even "hobbit size". I'm just letting this die a graceful death. Into the trash you go.
When I was growing up, we had a draw in the kitchen called "the junk drawer". It was basically the draw to put anything that wasn't a kitchen utensil: scissors, tape, stamps, twine, thumbtacks, and plenty more. One of the problems with having a place like this, is that it becomes a magnet for unrelated and unsorted stuff. Don't know where to put it? Stick it in the junk drawer! Of course, this almost guarantees you'll never find it when you need it.
In my apartment, the linen closet has taken this place. Five very tall and very deep shelves for storing...anything and everything!
This isn't my first post about attempting to deal with my linen closet. See my earlier entry, "A Bachelor in the Closet" for more details.
I'm not sure why I still call mine a "linen closet". I guess that's just because it's the closet next to my bathroom. My apartment has only two other closets: a bedroom closet, and a hallway closet (and I'm sure I'll have more entries for THOSE too).
What secrets lay in the land of Cluttercloset? Many strange things, I tell you. Stay tuned for more details.
Hey, it's "Four-Twenty" today! And guess what? I still hate pot.
About the only thing I hate more than pot, are potheads.
Here's a logo I made myself in MS Word and MS Paint. These days, it's way more offensive than posting an inverted cross or a swastika. You want to REALLY be a rebel at a rock show? Wear a shirt with this on the front of it. I dare you.
Or, just try to be a stand-up comedian with an anti-pot routine (the alcohol vs. pot jokes were edgy when George Carlin did them 40 years ago, were already getting old when Bill Hicks was doing them 20 years ago, and are just plain hack today; though all a comedian has to do is just mention the drug, and get instant cheering).
"Oh but Bill," the hippies will say, "it's all natural." Well, so is arsenic. But I'm not about to try that.
"Oh but Bill, you don't smoke it so you don't know." No, I tried it a few times as a curious teenager. I got high. And I hated it. Yes, it's possible for other people to not like stuff that you like. And since my teen years I have played in countless rock bands, been to countless rock concerts, and also went to college. So trust me, I've known a lot of pot smokers.
"Oh but Bill, you probably just had some bad weed." No, because I was smoking from the same batch as two other friends who were already avid pot smokers, and they had no complaints. I really am somebody who hates pot. We do exist.
"Oh but Bill, marijuana is harmless." This is such a load of crap. Is dope on the same level as heroin or taking 10 tabs of LSD? No, of course not. Are there people who've been smoking for decades and still manage to have a good career, and form complete sentences? Yes, they do exist. But to call it completely harmless is incorrect. It has been proven to be harmful for some people. In fact, if you're the type of person who resorts to something to facilitate procrastination, self-denial, and avoidance of thinking, whether it's pot, or playing 12 hours of video games every day, then it's not "harmless" on you. And it can certainly become habitual with enough use. I've known some people who said they couldn't get to sleep unless they had a few bong hits first, or couldn't go a day without pot.
"Oh but Bill, more people are killed due to alcohol than...". That is a logical fallacy, pure and simple. Comparing alcohol to pot doesn't change facts about pot. More people die from car crashes than sky diving, but you don't see too many skydivers smugly criticizing everybody who has a drivers' license.
"Oh but Bill, the corporations and the government and the environment and..." I'm not talking about any of those things. I'm talking about marijuana.
"Oh Bill, you sound like you should just smoke a joint and calm down." If you equate self-assertiveness with counter-productive anger, then congratulations, hippe: you're a conformist! And if you can't accept the fact that not everybody likes pot, you're a solipsist too.
"I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world, the REAL world around me, as is possible.Now, you can only obtain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control.I've never involved myself in narcotics of any kind.I don't smoke, I don't drink, because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality [and] fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers, and I want to be as aware as I possibly can.That means giving up a lot of fantasies that might be comforting in some ways. But I'm willing to give that up in order to live in an actually real world, as close as I can get to it."
Do you have what Don Aslett calls a junk bunker? Here's another quote from his book Clutter's Last Stand:
"We finally reach the day when our clutter is so overwhelming that there's not a single place left to put anything: even the walls are full. It is then that we're most vulnerable to the hidden persuasion of a JUNK BUNKER. That, simply, is an item we can use to store more junk, stacked high and packed tighter. Junk bunkers come in various models, called desk organizers, closet racks, shadow boxes, shoe organizers, gun racks, pen-pencil holders, trophy cases, entertainment centers, china cabinets, jewelry boxes and ring holders, pegboard organizers, and magnets (so what you can't hang on walls, you can stick on your refrigerator.
Once we get that handy-dandy "holder", we're psychologically primed for paraphernalia. It irresistible beckons us to fill it up, There's that seven-story tool box that encourages us to by piles of handsome exotic hardware to fill it. The solid oak knife block with four empty slots, which leaves us no choice but to buy four more knives we don't need. [...] The new shelves we feel compelled to fill with vases and other bric-a-brac. Those two extra rooms we build for just-in-case, have to be filled with furniture.
Have you ever noticed that most of the books and articles on how to move efficiently organize a house, really show how to hang up, hide, file, tolerate, and make decorative use of junk? [...] Consider those vegetable bins to handle refrigerator greenery; they end up taking twice the space and only provide a place for vegetables to rot organized and unseen. Then there is the big pouch shoe holder that attaches to the back of our closet door: the perfect place to put all the shoes we were going to have to throw out. Now and forever they can swing and bounce on the door, nestled down like baby kangaroos. And let's not forget the one or two-story desktop organizer that stacks and divides and stands up all the papers that were all over our desk. Our desk will be just as messy as ever, but the clutter will be vertical instead of horizontal. (And probably forgotten, because having put it int organizer, we feel something's been done about it.)
Junk bunkers are like a shot of morphine: they ease the pain, take care of the problem for a short time, and then back it comes. Most of them can accommodate only a LITTLE junk, and as they become overstuffed, they also become saggy and ugly and dangerous. They don't sort our stuff in quite the way that would be most useful, or they have too many or too few drawers for what we have/need. Or they tempt us to over-organize things in a way that isn't really functional or realistic, so we don't keep it up. And they collect dust and and are hard to clean. There is no redeeming way to better organized and store clutter! Throw it out or give it to someone for whom it won't be junk."
I'm sure some of you have already seen dozens of blog entries from other people on Peter Steele, who passed away on the 14th. Well, here's one more.
Like a lot of people, I first heard Type-O-Negative around 1993 with the album Bloody Kisses. Songs like "Black No. 1" and "Christian Woman" got a lot of airplay. I was a freshman in college and pledging a fraternity. I remember standing in the kitchen of the fraternity house while the radio was playing, huddled around the big wooden table. It was a common gathering point to hang out and talk for hours. One night as "Black No. 1" was playing, Jimmy halted the conversation to point out the ending witty refrain coming from the radio, "Loving you, was like loving the dead."
The thing I loved the most about Type-O-Negative was their sense of humor. Most other "goth" or "gothic rock" bands were pretty much defined on their own complete lack of humor. This band, on the other hand, had an even corny sense of humor. They didn't take themselves overly seriously.
Being both a singer and a bass player myself, I did enjoy Steele's role in the band. The guy was so enormous, he could (and did) play an upright bass over his knee. And of course his vocal range was so incredibly low and deep. When warming up my voice I've typically always tried singing a few of the choruses of "Christian Woman" to hit as low as I could go. I'm also glad I got a chance to see the band play live in concert a few times over the years. I remember the first show I went to in Providence, and it seemed like Steele was drinking bottles of red wine by the whole bottle, then tossing them out to the crowd when finished. "Anybody want a sip?" he asked. "Don't worry, I don't have AIDS. I do, however, have rabies."
In a way I'm not too surprised over his death. He's always struck me as self-abusive, not to mention self-loathing. That seems to be a common combination in rock stars. Though at least he left behind a lot of great music.
And here are some more recent residents to my trash bin:
Staples flier. This is just one of those institutions where they seem to have more "deals" than things you actually need to get.
The Manual to my Old Radar Detector. So what happened to my "old" radar detector? It was taken away from me. I got pulled over in Canada, and was given not only a speeding ticket, but the cop demanded that I hand over my radar detector too. Apparently, it's OK to speed in Canada; you just can't have a radar detector. He claimed there was a sign saying you couldn't have them, but I didn't see it. It was however the first time I heard a cop pronounce my incredibly weird and long last name correctly.
CD/DVD slip covers. I've talked about these before, and it seems that I just keep on finding more and more of these. Yes, I'm a completist when it comes to Black Sabbath stuff. And here are the slip covers to "Black Sabbath: The Dio Years" and the Heaven and Hell DVD (filmed at a show I'm happy to say that I was in the audience for). But really, these things just make it harder to get the damn thing out of the case. As the mighty Ronnie James Dio would say, "You're the last in line!"
Mapquest prints. So many directions to people I barely remember, or only met once to buy or sell something through Craiglist or years ago through the Want Ads. I'm afraid of the day where I'll inevitably be cleaning out my car, because I probably have 50 of them in there.
Catering menu for an ice cream shop. Oh boy, just what I need! Why the hell did I even take this in the first place? Who the hell am I going to get an ice cream party for? Get this thing out of my sight.
The Phoenix. A local, free Boston-area paper that's put out every week. Good for the classified ads. Good for the music reviews. Good for local stuff-to-do. Though the writing is so left-wing, it would make Abbie Hoffman blush. I figured I was saving this for some key article. Maybe about my brother, who is a professional musician. But alas, I could not figure out what article that might have been. Actually I think I had a good idea, but it was nothing I felt like reading about now. So long, Phoenix. Don't bother rising from the ashes.