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May 14, 2003

Happy bits
Posted by Teresa at 12:47 PM *

You guys have been sending me fun stuff. I very nearly think you’re trying to cheer me up.

Start with one that has no link. I wish you could see it. Christina Schulman sent me a little Revell 1:64 die cast replica of a Honda Civic, which she’d carefully painted white and replaced in its packaging. With it came a note which said “With deepest sympathies.”

Thank you, Christina. (*sniff*) It’s beautiful.

Next, from Patrick, who I think got it from Incoming Signals: highly desirable stuffies shaped like giant microbes.

From Anna Genoese, news of the invention of an inflatable church (which I’ve also seen at Gadgets for God).

From Feorag NicBhride, further patriotic religious tat: a set of four patriotic Amerikanski angels, sold on eBay. At first I thought they were wearing little crowns of thorns, which would make them even more iconographically muddled, but now I think they’re little circlets stuck with stars, in an injudicious shade of brown felt.

From Kip Williams, a news story: 20,000 Brains Taken Without Consent.

Andrew Phillips sends me three geekbits: The cool Radiant Primes website, some racy humor for grammarians, and a comic strip sequence in six installments that may appeal to librarians.

From Loren MacGregor, Lord of the Peeps: The Lord of the Ring enacted by marshmallow bunnies. History became legend, legend became myth, movies became Peeps; and some things are, which should have been lost and forgotten.

From Beth Meacham, the George W. Bush jack-in-the-box. I understand Cheney, Fleischer, Rumsfeld, and Rove all keep one of these in their offices, for use as needed.

That site where Beth found this is pretty dubious all round; see also its Dog Bless America and Musical Patriotic Santa offerings.

And finally, dizzyingly, from Dave Trowbridge: The “Precious Moments” Chapel in Branson, Missouri, as photographed during their vacation by Ken and Dawn Ellis (who seem like awfully nice people). The pictures start about two-thirds of the way down their page. Sam Butcher, the artist who invented “Precious Moments”, has been clearing new ground in religious iconography. Being sold into slavery by your brothers has never looked so cute.

Some of the images have me stumped. I can’t for the life of me figure out which part of the Bible they’re illustrating. This one would have had me stumped too, if I hadn’t seen it identified elsewhere as the Crucifixion. The trick is that what Butcher has painted are the reaction shots. The main event is taking place just off-screen to the right, which spares us the sight of a cute big-eyed Precious Moments critter dying in agony.

The Ellis’s site is the best one I’ve found, but if you want to see more about the PMChapel, here are some photos from other visitors’ websites 1 that may give you a better idea of the overall plan of the place. Also, the “Precious Moments” Chapel’s own website, with a brief photographic tour. Also, an energetically bitchy description of a trip to the Precious Moments Chapel by a guy who went there with his elderly mother. Also, Roadside America’s report on the site.

Thank you; thank you all.

Comments on Happy bits:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 05:02 PM:

Both The Simpsons and King of the Hill have lampooned Branson, but from the look of it they haven't even scratched the surface of its weirdness.

"I think Dawn's heart stopped for a moment."

That was my reaction when I saw that American Science & Surplus was selling authentic looking plastic coyote skulls. Now I've got one on top of my monitor. Alas, its jaws don't open, or I'd arrange to put a Precious Moments figurine between them.

I suspect there's quite a cultural gulf between Dawn and I.

#2 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 05:29 PM:

"I very nearly think you92re trying to cheer me up."

Teresa, the reverse paranoid. She suspects that people everywhere are plotting to make her happy.

#3 ::: Tina Black ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 06:00 PM:

The fun of driving south in MO on the way to Arkansas -- you would not believe all the Precious Moments billboards. I've always wanted to make a call of nature at the Chapel, but my comrades have had such tender stomachs!

#4 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 06:08 PM:

Carthago delenda est.

Uh, sorry, moody sort of day. Glad to see that the Good Conspirators are at work. Hmm, the workbench could use dusting off. . . .

#5 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 06:14 PM:

"metanoia is an illness defined as 'the belief that everyone is good/benign and the world/universe only wants to help you' ..."

Teresa, remember: even metanoids have friends.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 06:30 PM:

Someday, a saintly person with a true understanding of human needs will establish, on the outskirts of Carthage, a shooting range where husbands who have just been dragged through the Precious Moments Chapel can spend an hour pluggin away at plaster knock-offs of the figurines.

This would almost certainly save a lot of marriages.

#7 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 06:55 PM:

I have just ordered a giant plush cold virus. I hope you can live with yourself.


(Jordin collects odd stuffed animals; this has got to be the oddest.)

#8 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 07:02 PM:

If the universe existed solely to entertain Teresa (and I'm not saying it doesn't) would that be such a bad thing?

#9 ::: daveatron ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 08:04 PM:

I can't tell if the fact that the Bush as Jack-in-a-box is imported is a good, or a bad, thing.

#10 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 12:11 AM:

Speaking of odd items.... I was going to send Judy Tarr a copy of Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, but I'll bet she gets six. I read somewhere that this is the longest work of English translated into Latin.

#11 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 06:19 AM:

I used to feel that I suffered from 'inverse paranoia' (my term). I felt that people on the street were about to accuse me of following them. (Hmmm, should I cross the street now? But what if he does too?)

#12 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 07:13 AM:

I can't find the stuffed microbes at all. I just get to a page advertising a hosting service.

#13 ::: Sue Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 07:35 AM:

I can't see the micorobes either.

I'm sorry I looked at the Precious Moments stuff.
I feel rather ill.
I can do cute as well as the next artist, but even I have limits.

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 08:26 AM:

Alas, Andrew, so do I. Maybe they've overrun their allotted capacity.

Jeremy, I believe it is my duty in life to entertain the universe whenever I can, to feed straight lines when I can't spot the punchlines, and at all times to be an appreciative audience.

#15 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 12:05 PM:

Mary Kay-

Does that mean Jordin already has the plush Cthulu? And a Beeblebear? (Beanie Baby Beeblebears are even rarer -- I think I've only made three...)

Favorite *rilly weird* custom stuffies: the talking Cerberus made by combining three Taco Bell Chihuahuas; the various deeply disturbing bunny mods done by a Seattle goth artist. The one-eared cyclops bunny was perhaps the most disturbing.

And you must remind me to show Jordin my Dis-mem-bear the next time you're over...


#16 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 02:48 PM:


I don't have a plush Cthulu or Beeblebear. I do have a dismembear ("Hug it and cuddle it and rip its little head off"). My collection runs more to real (if odd) animals. Among others: warthog, platypus, giant earthworm, crab, shrimp, mosquito, ant (no, I don't specialize in invertebrates, they just accumulated), two mooses (meese?), dodo, vulture (the tag claims it's a California condor, but I say it's a vulture and I say the hell with it), bat, and guitar. And now, viruses.

#17 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 05:38 PM:

Thanks for passing along the grammar strip. I posted it to one of my favorite lj groups: grammargasm.

#18 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 07:03 PM:

Googling for "plush microbes" (note that I am not in the habit of Free-Associational Googling, so this one was weird by my standards) brought up the following:

Dunno if these are the initial ones referenced -- in the crummy photo, they look more like vat-dyed hamsters with advanced-stage Walterkeanemia than what I think of as photomicrographed virii.

Hmm. An acrylic-crystal T4 would be neat, as would a plush one (with a little pocket in the body containing a nucleic-acid bead string). It probably ought to have sharp chrome legs, but it wouldn't be safe to play with then.

#19 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2003, 07:54 PM:

"the various deeply disturbing bunny mods done by a Seattle goth artist"


I thought you might be referring to the carrion bag, which is really rather sick. A coworker of mine had one. or maybe it, it appears that there may only be the one.

#20 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2003, 10:19 AM:

No time to look this up, or even determine whether I saw it here (fer cryin out loud), but I'm irresistibly reminded of the artist who made a fur coat of skinned Elmos.

It giggles.

#21 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2003, 10:31 AM:

...two mooses (meese?)...

Two moose. As with 'sheep', the lexon [PLURAL] is realized as zero in the morphology (below the diamonds, I should think, but I haven't examined this too closely).

(Edited from a version that started "Like sheep..." - but then I got a visual of a whole herd of moose singing the chorus "All We Like Sheep" from Handel's Messiah, so I changed it. Bad brain! Bad!)

#22 ::: Thomas Yager-Madden ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2003, 01:39 PM:

"...a fur coat of skinned Elmos."

That would be (Duke University CS Dept. Artist-in-Residence) Kelly Heaton's Live Pelt. She also made a wall of Furby eyes that follow viewers around the room. Neat stuff.

#23 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2003, 01:16 AM:

My favorite microbe accessories are the swag at Infectious Awareables. Their tie catalog features colored micrographs of anthrax, malaria, HIV, e. coli, testosterone, dental plaque, and so on; some of the patterns, like Staphylococcus, are really lovely. Even if they weren't, how could you not want to support a business that has a "Microbe of the Month" feature? I've given a number of these as gifts (they do give new meaning to the "person who has everything").

Ooo, and I see they have tuberculosis on sale right now.

#24 ::: Genevieve ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2003, 10:36 AM:

As somebody who has relatives who were oh-so-proud of the fact that their newest baby "looks just like a Precious Moments baby," I want to thank you for the warning about the chapel. I didn't know it existed, and now I know it's out there so I can't accidentally find myself in the vicinity.

I have lots of relatives in the Philippines, and they all look at PM stuff as an undiluted blessing - the factory employs lots of people who need the work, and they make such lovely, godly things! I'm happy about the former, but try not to think about the latter, even though I worked in a Hallmark for a time.

#25 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2003, 11:59 PM:

Well, I'm in bed with a cold virus and it's All Your Fault. Well, lots of cold viruses actually. In addition to the plush one I ordered off the web site and which Jordin tossed into my bed of suffering, I also have live cold viruses inhabiting my throat and sinuses. Ick


#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2003, 11:32 AM:

I somehow missed the last few comments here. Bah! But what fun to find them now.

Kip, a giggling fur coat made of Elmo hides is just wicked. If it appeared in a genre short story, I'd know that by the end, the owner would infallibly have been tickled to death by their coat.

...only now I've looked at the link that Thomas posted to it, and it is cool, in a creepy kind of way. This woman ought to come to Minicon for the Furby Dance.

Xopher: One moose, two moose, just so. And do you ever find yourself imagining Rick Santorum singing "All We Like Sheep"?

For my money, the truly weird English singular/plural is trousers. It's plural in form when it's singular; but when you pluralize it, each of those unitary items turns into a pair of trousers -- though trousers are of course neither worn nor sold in pairs.

It has a certain bizarre logic; you pluralize an already plural form by doubling it. I'm not sure that's how it happened, but it's amusing to speculate. Come to think of it, scissors does the same thing: Hand me those scissors, but There are two pairs of scissors in that drawer.

And here's another odd thought: The original scissors were shaped like trousers. Before they invented two-piece scissors that open into an X-shape, scissors were made in a U-shape of a single resilient piece of metal, which you used by squeezing the blades together.

There are plenty of nouns where the plural is singular (sheep, moose), but trousers and scissors are the only ones I can think of where the singular is plural. It would be fun to collect some more, if they exist, and examine their topology.

Christina, that puts me over the edge. I'm going to have to do an additional installment.

Genevieve, I can only intone one of my favorite mantras: When people say they like something, they're always right. And if Hallmark didn't exist, the market for its products would nevertheless still exist, and would be served.

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