Tag Archives: Tacky

No Bad Feelings or Regrets . . .

Psycho Kids

Alpiner Kuntsverlag Hans Huber, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart so much as finding a kitschy treasure. I scour flea markets and bazaars for little pieces of tacky delight, and sometimes I find gold. One of my prized possessions is this postcard, sent in 1965 from the Netherlands to a certain Marty Shulman of the Bronx.

I bought the postcard for the sweet, drunken young blonde things in their Alpine splendor, but when I got home, I flipped the card over and realized that the true gem was the message from Joan and Martin to their friend Marty.

Psycho Kiddies Postcard Back

It reads as follows:


Dear Marty,

We are having a good time getting drunk every night on wine so that we can hardly get back to the pensione. However, there are no bad feelings or regrets in the morning, as we scourge ourselves of these sins by spending our days looking at everyone’s religious paintings.

Write + come to see us soon.

Joan and Martin

P.S. You can come now as we have rugs on the floor

I can add nothing further except to wish you all no bad feelings or regrets in the morning!

Tacky Holidays

My family values the art of giving the boobie prize. Rather like participants in the Tacky Gift party (which, sadly, did not happen this year, due to my friend’s freak beauty parlor accident, requiring pins in her wrist—now that she’s recovered, I’m thinking about throwing a re-gifting extravaganza in January), members of my family relish obtaining something hideous, wraping it up beautifully, and bestowing it upon our loved ones.

This year, I went with the holiday food basket. On a run to the supermarket, I spied Spam with Bacon and just couldn’t resist. I got quite a few curious looks when I placed these fine items on the belt.

Tacky Food

I then wrapped them up like this and placed my gift under the tree.

All wrapped up

Since I often bring home the good food for the holidays, my parents didn’t suspect this basket. The pork rinds got an especially hearty laugh. The folks plan to re-gift the love by serving up these goodies without comment to my sister and brother-in-law when they celebrate late Christmas with them.

And, lest you think that we confine the fun to gifts, behold the Christmas Hand.

Christmas Hand

One year, my father gave my mother a hand cookie cutter in her stocking. The next year, she dutifully used it, and a hand appeared among the gingerbread people display. We now demand its presence. This year it looked especially creepy.

Aren’t you glad I don’t celebrate the holidays with you?

Lost in the Dollar Store

This past weekend found me up in Portland, Maine, visiting one of my dear friends. As we weren’t feeling overly energetic, we decided to go to the dollar store for adventures. My peals of laughter probably disrupted everyone’s shopping experience while we were there, but I think you’ll see what set me off. Here are just a few of the wonderful items I spied.


Tell me this doesn’t sound like a social disease

Banana Twins
Somehow the word “soft” doesn’t really seem to belong here.
I kept wanting to shout “Activate!” in honor of the Wonder Twins

Patriotic Spray Cheese
For all your patriotic spray cheese needs

Faux Spam

If Spam is faux meat, what is faux Spam?


When I think of dew, I always think of margarine from 1963

Sweet Love
Chef from South Park has cooked up a little something
for those “not-so-fresh” days

Denied! Sassy Sundry Comes in Second Place at Tacky Gift Party

Tacky was on full display at this year’s Tacky Gift extravaganza. Among the food and drink items: Twinkie sushi (made with the Hostess goodies; green fruit roll-ups, and little red candy sprinkles); Cajun coconut Spam fritters (never have I been so happy to be a vegetarian); a jello ring; a heart-shaped, ugly Santa cake; a platter of Twinkies, Sno-balls, Devil Dogs, and strange Christmas tree-things; wine coolers; boxed wine (apparently it tasted like cherry Kool-Aid gone bad); spray American cheese and Ritz crackers; and a few normal items and beverages so we could actually eat and drink. The décor was delightful; the centerpiece on the food table was this ceramic vase-like oddity featuring two horses and a pink-and-blue floral bouquet. No one really understood it until some wise attendee affixed the penis eraser floating around the party in the correct place for one of the horses.

jello and cajun coconut spam fritters

Cajun Coconut Spam Fritters and the sad remains of the Jello Ring

And the gifts were profoundly disturbing. I received a beautiful lovers statue regifted from a couple’s daughter’s Yankee swap party (“Someone really gave this to children,” shuddred my friend). I dubbed it the Sexy Oscar and shouted “You like me! You really, really like me!” as I held it aloft. Other notable gifts included a self-help guide from the freak show formerly known as Tammy Faye Baker (among the pearls of wisdom: change your jewelry with nail polish!), a warped child bride musical carousel, a disgusting wind-up gag sex toy, a plaque saying “If you hear hoof beats, don’t think of zebras!” (people were offering good money for that one—it was strangely fantastic), and an ear key chain that said “Lobes of fun!” on it. My hideous patriotic Thomas Kinkade bear, despite the fact that it also had a pronounced camel toe, came in second. The winner was a Santa toilet seat cover, with a beard that would overhang the lid. For sheer nastiness, that gift won. In my gift’s defense, I will say that I personally cannot imagine someone giving someone a Santa toilet seat cover for a holiday gift. But the people spoke, and Ol’ Yellow Beard won.

Tacky Tableau

Tacky Tableau

I am consoling myself with the thought that coming in second at Tacky Gift is in and of itself kind of tacky. It will have to do until next year. Sniff.

Shelf of tacky

The Sexy Oscar Joins the Shelf of Tacky

Christmas Horror, Or Today’s Tackiest Item Is . . .

Just hear those sleigh bells jingleing, ring-ting-tin-gle-ing too,
Come on, that Yuletide Stalker is coming after you
Outside the snow is falling and you are screaming “Yooo hoo!”
Come on, that Yuletide Stalker is coming after you.

This book is billed as an INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE. Seriously. Stalking as romantic? This is why I don’t buy holiday gifts.

Tacky Gift Party

One of the highlights of my holiday season is the Tacky Gift Party. For years, my friends and I have scoured the world for the most useless, ugliest, most sick and wrong gifts we can find for less than $5. Then we wrap them up nicely and exchange.

In days of old, the Friendly Toast restaurant, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home to some of the worst art ever created, served as the backdrop to Tacky Gift. Our wait person would judge the contest (we tipped well). Times change, however, and this year Tacky Gift will be held at a friend’s house. The host has instructed guests to bring the items like Twinkies, Tab, spray cheese, cocktail weenies, Boone’s Farm “wine,” Natty Ice, and Devil Dogs for the festivities. We won’t eat or drink, but merry we shall be.

A continual work in progress, there are no hard and fast rules to Tacky Gift. The following guidelines, however, are enforced:

  • The lower the cost, the higher the Tackiness Quotient. Tie will go to the cheapest gift. Hence, re-gifting always lends an advantage.
  • Kitsch is not the same thing as Tacky. Kitsch is too cool to be truly tacky.
  • In order to qualify, gifts must be something that people can conceivably imagine someone giving as a present.
  • The Uselessness Factor is always appreciated. A puzzled “What is it?” uttered upon opening is a sign of a truly tacky gift.

Memorable prize-winning gifts have included an orb of undetermined substance and origin; a clear Lucite rose ring holder, with hideous blue perfume in the flower—this thing also lit up and played a tinny, electronic Für Elise; a gigantic portrait of a copule’s eldest son; and a two-videotape set of the Left Behind movies, starring ex-child actor Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame and badly based on the biblical book of Revelation.

The recipient of the tackiest gift pledges to display the gift in a semi-prominent place for a year (that plastic flower gizmo was an eyesore, but I really feel bad for my friend who had to display Left Behind for an entire year), and the giver of the tackiest gift gets to bring home the plastic drunken Santa wine goblet as a trophy. The trophy is currently in my possession. I’m fairly confident that I will get to keep it, because here is my gift.

    I discovered this patriotic Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™, bear, clearance price $2.99, while taking one for the team. If you don’t know about him, Thomas Kinkade is a strange bird. He’s an “artist” of the cheesiest order known for some bizarre outbursts. Take this story from his Wikipedia entry.

    “In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion (“about six years ago”) Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting ‘Codpiece! Codpiece!’ at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.”

    Like I said, I’m going to win. If a patriotic bear designed by a drunken Siegfried and Roy fan obsessed with codpieces and his mother isn’t tacky, then I don’t know what is.

    We Interrupt the Snarky Vitriol to Bring You a Nice Day

    The third day of alone time was the charm. I awoke this morning prepared to deal with other human beings and with no desire to watch endless reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.

    Although I’m sure today’s high of 60-plus degrees bodes ill for our environment, it was balm to my New England soul. New England winters are hard. They aren’t Montana hard, with endless snow and roads that never get plowed. Nor are they Alaska hard, where I heard it was -31 this morning. No, New England winters don’t usually pit one against the elements like they do out West. Instead, they wear you down in an endless succession of cold, snowy days—until May. So when it is 60-plus degrees out at the end of November, we New Englanders rejoice. Those of us who had the day off (like me) go outside.

    First I took a lovely walk on the beach. I smiled at strangers and petted dogs. Here are a few pictures from my stroll.

    Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, MA



    Driftwood and seaweed

    Then I went to my favorite junk shop and wandered around.


    last supper lamp

    Laser Moon


    And then I went and had coffee at a café and did some knitting (results will be posted shortly). Sitting across from me at the café was an aspiring novelist (she was not writing for National Novel Writing Month, either). I thought of Robyn. I ended my travels with a vist to this little gourmet take-out place my sister works at. There I got some delicious potato leek soup for a late lunch.

    All in all, it was a wonderful day. Never you fret, though. I go back to work tomorrow. The snarky vitriol will return shortly.

    RIP, Plastic Pink Flamingo

    As a lover of all things kitsch, I thought that I would take a moment to mark the passing of the plastic pink flamingo, made by Union Plastics right here in Massachusetts. Union Plastics has announced its intention to cease manufacture of the tacky birds.

    I have a special connection to the pink flamingo. Someone in my hometown started the Society for the Preservation of Artificial Wildlife, and pink flamingo nesting sites were found in various areas in the region. These were reported in the local newspaper, to great fanfare. One time, I saw a pink flamingo nesting high up in a tree in wintertime. My heart was glad, and I was proud that our little area was a sanctuary for Artificial Wildlife. Soon, the little critters will be extinct, and the world will be just a little less wonderful than it was before.

    *I did not take this photo.