I know, the holidays are long over. And yet, one of the questions I still continue to be asked is “so, what did you get for Christmas?” Apparently, the word on the street is that I’m really hard to buy presents for. I don’t see it, but I guess when you’re known as the “weird” guy and your house is filled with things like Bigfoot casts, “haunted” relics, and carnival sideshow leftovers, people might be a bit intimidated when it comes to picking you out the perfect present.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d share some (but not all) of my top presents from Christmas of 2011. Enjoy!
Vintage Bee Smoker
Many people don’t know this, but I come from a line of Bee Smokers (although, in the case of my father, he just chain smoked a bunch of Camels and burned the bees to death with a propane torch). So this year, after growing weary of hearing me complain about finding yet another hornet’s nest in the yard, Steph decided to kick it old school and get me an antique bee smoker. How cool is that!?
It still works, although I’ve yet to give it the official Bee Test. Worst case scenario, I chuck the smoker at the nest and fire up the propane torch.
Fitzroy Storm Glass
Believe it or not, I actually asked for this! I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced that Columbus, Ohio is home to the most incompetent weathermen the world has to offer. It just seems to me that when they’re not trying to dazzle us with 3-D graphics or scaring the hell out of everyone because that dusting of snow will eventually turn into black ice, causing your car to crash, your prostate to enlarge, and the letter “K” to disappear from the alphabet, they just sit around and guess at the weather…and then blame a “front” for stalling out when they’re wrong. It got to the point where I decided it would be better to guess what the weather would be rather than trust Columbus weathermen. And then I found this little gem: a Fitzroy Storm Glass. It’s supposed to be able to predict the weather just by sitting quietly on your shelf.
Allegedly designed by Admiral Robert Fitzroy (and first used by him on his voyage with Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle), the fluid inside the glass is composed of several ingredients that are said to react based on atmospheric changes. But basically, you just sit this thing down and watch it. Based on the impending weather, the fluid inside will become cloudy and/or the goop inside will take on different shapes, predicting everything from wind and rain to snow.
Studies done on the Glass state that any correct predictions the Glass makes are merely the result of “random probability”, immediately making it about as accurate as any known Columbus weather person!
So what do you get the die-hard Philly fan who has everything? Why, a Flyers garden gnome, of course!
Other than it being a gift from my brother- and sister-in-law, I don’t know much else about this little guy. He’s clearly from Philly, though, so I’m guessing he likes to boo Santa Claus, get tased, throw batteries at babies, and kick lonely puppies. I’m pretty sure he’s the guy who chucked that hot dog at Tiger Woods, too.
How cool is this guy? And check this out; he’s jointed, too, which means he can hang out and guard my ghost book collection, delivering stunning roundhouse kicks to anyone who tries to abscond with one of my books! Best of all, it was a gift from my Mother-in-Law who, as I opened this present and smiled, was heard to remark “well, it took a while, but we finally figured out what Jim likes!”
Casper and the Demon of Darkness
As a child, I couldn’t get enough of these Book-and-Record deals. You know, the ones where you’d put the record on and then follow along in the book as the narrator read? And just in case you weren’t sure when to turn the page, there was that annoying “ding” noise to alert you? Man, I loved these things! In particular, the Troll Records series of ghost stories. But really, if it was ghostly, I had to have it! So imagine my delight when I opened this present from Steph: the 1970s classic, Casper and the Demon of Darkness.
In this tale, it’s Halloween Eve and Casper and his friend, Wendy the Good Little Witch, are planning a happy little party, much to the chagrin of the Ghostly Trio—Fusso, Lazo, and Fatso (yes, I said “Fatso”). When Casper and Wendy leave to go prepare for the party, the Ghostly Trio decides to fly on down to the Spooky Swamp and summon up all the scary spirits they can find. This paranormal posse then creeps from house to house, scaring everyone along the way, eventually finding themselves at the front door of the Witch Sisters. Annoyed that someone is trying to scare them, the Witch Sisters decide to turn the tables by conjuring up the Demon of Darkness.
To be honest, this story really is as dark and twisted as it sounds. In fact, even as an adult, I found some of the sound effects, especially those associated with the Demon of Darkness, to be quite creepy. Granted, the ending is kind of lame. Still, what a great way to pretend I was a kid again, complete with all the skips, clicks, and pops that only good old-fashioned vinyl records can give you!
Nightmare Art Exhibit Invitation
I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, so it probably goes without saying that The Nightmare Before Christmas ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite movies. But even though there is more than enough Nightmare merchandise out there, I rarely buy it. Simply put, most of it is geared towards the teenage Goth segment, which makes me feel…well, old.
Once again, Steph comes through as she managed to track down this simple, yet oh-so-cool piece. It’s an invitation to a special gallery showing of some of the original artwork from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The neat thing is that the invitation is from 1993–October 31st, to be exact.
So there you have it; some of my favorite gifts from Christmas. Hope you guys got all the weird stuff you wanted, too. If you did, feel free to share and send me a couple of pictures of your haul!