1. Head Net
This arrived last week from former Vermiform Records artists Justin (VMFM 26) and Sarah (VMFM 49). It apparently "repels not only mosquitos [sic] and black flies, but even the tiniest of no-see-ums". I used to get these kind of quasi-anonymous packages on a weekly basis from Men's Recovery Project fans, and I'm kind of sad those days are over.
2. Ceramic Cat Plaque
This arrived the same day, a late Christmas gift from some relatives with a vested interest in the production of fresh McPheeterses. It seems like I have two responses available to me; A) Spend the next 18 years photographing the little ceramic plaque in a variety of milestones - plaque's first steps, plaque in Little League practice, plaque's high school graduation - and then present the full photo album to said relatives in 2028, or B) commission a reciprocal ceramic cat plaque reading LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT. THREE OF MY GRANDCHILDREN ARE BURIED IN THE BACK YARD??
3. Turkish Energy Paste
Kathryn from Ankara arrived in town last week, and even though she's Kathryn from Istanbul now, she's not too much of a big shot to have forgotten the gifts. This time around, it's Manisa Mesir Macunu, a Turkish energy paste for men that comes in the kind of flat-top plastic tube usually reserved for shampoos and skin creams. It gets squirted directly into the mouth in moments of sluggishness and tastes like sweet almond goo, which could be worse. Ingredients include Vanilya, and Hardal Tohumu, and Yenibahar.
4. Space Olympics
I'm not quite sure if I've ever been so excited to read a crummy sci-fi paperback. I bought this at Glendale's Brand Bookstore, one of those rare stores with great selection, great prices, and none of the teetering piles and half-assed disarray of most decent used booksellers. The only drawback to the place is that it is located in Glendale, meaning it is at the mercy of Glendale's wide assortment of creepy Scientology flakes. Five minutes into my browsing the impressive wall of $1.50 sci-fi paperbacks, one of the locals started badgering me, producing an exchange worthy of a one-act play:
CREEP: Hey, do you like science fiction?
ME (browsing the science fiction section): No.
CREEP: Oh. Well, have you ever heard of "Dune"?
ME: No. I have not.
CREEP: Huh. (produces book) Hey, ever read this?
ME: "Battlefield Earth". No I have not.
CREEP: The guy who wrote this was a certifiable genius. They don't even have a test that can chart this guy's intelligence.
ME: Is that a fact.
CREEP: Yeah blah blab blah
ME: Uh huh.