Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How'd You Like to Spend New Years on the Moon?

"Fly Me to the Moon"
Astrud Gilberto

Speaking of flying to the moon, sometimes it is a much shorter trip than one would imagine.  As I have mentioned before, in our never-ending search to discover all that is wacky tacky, we cast a very wide net.  Sometimes our gaze is set so far that we become myopic and miss some things that have been staring us in the face for our entire lives.

Apollo 11 Mission (1969)

Such is the case with a neighborhood treasure, Moon Park in Costa Mesa, CA.  Moon Park is little more than a partial moonscape surrounded by a small fence.  As with most things wacky tacky, it is of a time when something as insignificant as a small community park had a real identity.  Sure the park has a slide and some swings, but at the heart, it is a monument to the United States' space program and a place where kids can dream of becoming an astronaut.  It is also a big hunk of cement with giant craters, next to the river trail, surrounded by power lines, where generations of Costa Mesa teenagers have been "up to no good."

"One small step for man, one giant LEAP for mankind."  Old Neil wasn't kidding!

A recent visit to the park elicited fond childhood memories of playing on the surface of the moon.  Although, I still live especially close to it, I have neglected the opportunity to go back and really couldn't recall the last time I played there - I'm never too old to play in the park!!!

The Man in the Moon...
stuck in a crater

No, I wouldn't say that Moon Park is "out of this world." In fact, the surrounding isn't especially lush and there is very little to do; once one has traversed the lunar landscape and cradled oneself in a crater, the fun is pretty much over.  It is, however, a nice tribute to our brave astronauts who first walked on the moon.  It is a reminder of how far we have come in the last 40 years and a reminder that parks used to be more distinctive and more than just recycled-rubber play areas with modular plastic slides.  It is a wacky tacky landmark park and we like it.  And where else on earth do you get a chance to do the moonwalk on the moon?

What these cats need is a Rocking Chair on the Moon!

"Rocking Chair on the Moon"
Bill Haley and His Comets

This time of year always seems so hectic and yes, even stressful, that going to the park and sitting on the moon forced me to relax and bid farewell to my earthly cares - for a short time.  Now I have never wanted to be an astronaut; outer space is just too vast and frightening for my meager intellect to comprehend.  It occurred to me though, that maybe just for a little while, I'd like to spend New Year's on the moon.

Le Voyage dans La Lune (1902)
Because it's hip...

wacky tacky wishes you a very happy and very prosperous New Year!  Whether you spend it at home or on the face of the moon, may the Man in the Moon smile upon you!

Moon Park
3377 California St.
Costa Mesa, CA


Mr. Tiny

Monday, December 26, 2011

Collecting: A Christmas Care Package from Santa's Village

I'm cutting it close, but there is still time for one last Christmas post before the day is done!  I will start it by wishing that all those of you who are so inclined had a wonderful day and that all of your Christmas wishes came true.

I used to believe in karma.  It seemed only fair and decent that some cosmic force meted out a universal justice; good was ultimately rewarded with good and bad with bad.  For most, it must be comforting to know that eventually the good and positive energy they put out will earn them a good and positive outcome.  For people like me, the idea of karma always filled me with dread.  What karmic justice would be issued for my cursing the name of every last driver in the Target parking lot?  What would karma think of my regular practice of getting in the express lane with one more item than is allowed - just to test the system?  And I don't even have to ask to know that karma was not smiling on me for the things I was thinking about Santa after our recent run in as detailed in a previous post.  Karmically speaking, I'm a jerk.  So, I always prepare myself for the worst.  Yes, I used to believe in karma - until the mail arrived on Friday.

The postman's delivery let me know immediately that karma is a ruse.  What other explanation could there be for a gift so wonderful and so wonderfully unexpected.  My usual delivery of bills, jury summons, and more bills always indicated that karma was in full force.  Little did I know that my brief mention of Santa's Village in a previous blog post would result in a surprise-package filled with Santa's Village collectibles and assorted Christmas wonders. 

An unused Santa's Village notepad

Illustration from the notepad
Illustration from the notepad

Illustration from the notepad

The Santa's Village Box would have been more than enough, but there was more to be found inside!

Inside the box was a cornucopia of Christmas cheer!
Vintage greeting cards, garland, ornaments, Christmas light bulbs and even cowgirl & indian hankies

And still there was more!
Christmas stamps & labels, stickers, buttons, toys and findings

Now this is how I say "Christmas!"

And then there were the SoniCard Musical Greetings - musical postcards!
The record player accommodated the whole postcard so we could listen to "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night."

Not Christmas related but equal in its ability to inspire yuletide jolliness is this awesome square dancing bumper sticker.
If this is Santa's apology, I accept! 

If there is one life lesson that I have learned from this amazing box, it is that our actions have no consequences.  Either that, or karma took Christmas off.  To be perfectly honest, I am truly concerned that the latter is more likely to be true and now I fear that the karmic retribution will be rather intense.

All kidding aside, I am truly grateful to the senders of this wonderful Christmas gift.  The older I get, the harder it gets to fully embrace the spirit of the season and this really made my wacky tacky Christmas very merry!  Furthermore, all of this wacky tacky goodness has easily made up for any residual disappointment I harbored for never actually making it to Santa's Village.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Holiday Cheers!

Mr. Tiny

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Miracle: Christmastime is Here Again!

Our most recent Christmas-related post was perhaps a little less than glory-filled.  Only the likes of O. Henry could kindle yuletide inspiration with a wicked Santa Claus and a defunct theme park.  To redeem myself and the holiday season, here is a Christmas miracle that is sure to warm even the coldest cockles of your heart.  The Snoopy House LIVES!

You might have read our very sad post about the demise of the Snoopy House.  It appeared that one local, Southern California family's 44 year Christmas card to the world was going the way of Santa's Village!  I was losing hope that a George Bailey-style miracle would happen.  Where was our Clarence?

Wonderfully, the City of Costa Mesa, CA stepped in and decided to host the amazing Peanuts Gang display so the community wouldn't lose one of its fondest and finest holiday traditions.  Once again, the Peanuts are skating, dancing, playing and fighting over presents.  Once again lights blaze and bells ring.  Surely, after this Christmas miracle, an angel (maybe two) got his wings.

Snoopy referees a serious hockey game.

Details of Santa's workshop and Mrs. Santa's living room.

One of my favorite parts is the Christmas pageant where
the scenes change when the barn doors open and close.

Reindeer in training

Mrs. Santa says, "God bless us, every one."

If you happen to be anywhere near Costa Mesa, I highly recommend that you stop to check out this wacky tacky winter wonderland.  It is a testament to one family's love for their community and ultimately, the community's opportunity to show its gratitude and love for that family.  Unfortunately, I am not sure of the outcome of the Snoopy House or the financial situation of its owners.  For at least one more year, however, the Snoopy House is alive and well and proves that Christmastime IS here!

Costa Mesa shows it's holiday spirit!

Friends enjoying the local Christmas tradition 

The Snoopy House Christmas Display 
Costa Mesa City Hall

77 Fair Dr.
Costa Mesa, CA

Hours: Nightly (shuts down at 10pm)

The doctor is out; the psycho is in.

Cheers & Merry Christmas!

Mr. Tiny

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bad Santa: Where's Your Village Now?

At this time of year I am really pressing my luck by bad-mouthing Santa Claus, but I figure that I have been so bad all year that one more transgression won't mean the difference between naughty and nice.  Really, what is he going to do, make the coal in my stocking more black than usual?  Will I get less coal or more?  I can't decide which is the greater punishment.

I have been getting better at keeping my camera poised and at the ready for any sighting of wacky tacky that could become potential blog fodder.  So it was on a recent trip to the mountains for my sister-in-law's (sister's-in-law?) birthday.  We bundled up heavily for a bone-chilling, fifty-degree, winter walk.  My heart skipped a beat (I did forget to take my medication) when we came across Santa in his Santa-mobile.  I knew by the frigid clime that we were near the Arctic Circle but until that moment I had no reason to believe that we had stumbled upon the North Pole.  I tried to steady my nerves and my hands so I could quickly capture a picture of the one and only Santa Claus.  Who was going to believe that when the sleigh was in the shop, he opted for a wacky tacky town car?  I needed proof!

It is at this point in our little holiday story that things turned ugly. Apparently, Santa has a pay-for-play contract with the world at large and taking his picture will cost you.  As I snapped the photo the curmudgeonly, old elf slammed on his brakes and yelled, "You owe me five dollars!"  Just in case English was my second language or in the event that I was hearing impaired, "Santa" (given the situation and time for further reflection, I'm in no way sure that this man actually was Santa) continued to elevate his tone and extend his gloved hand and count his sausage-like fingers.  Needless to say, I was a little taken aback.  He came to a dead stop and yelled, "Any picture of me is five dollars!"  I am more than willing to own up to my awkward and often-impolite social interaction but I was completely unaware that I had breached some social contract.  To be fair, apparently he was there posing for photos for a profit but it wasn't until I uploaded the photo that I noticed the sign on the tree that stated "Pictures with Santa only $5."  To be even more fair, we weren't really taking a picture with Santa as much as we were taking a picture of Santa driving away.

I put away my camera and tried my best to ignore the angry shouts of this so-called Santa.  We made our way down the street all the while window shopping but Santa wasn't going to let this one go.  He followed us with brilliant jeers like, "What are you, tourists?" and witty rejoinders like, "Are you from Mars?"  I have been known to have a temper, but I resisted the impulse to join in his uncouth and, dare I say, "grinchy" display.  We were in a strange place and what had I to gain by bashing Santa - verbally or otherwise?  If things escalated, who would people be more likely to support?  My suspicion was that of the two of us, I was going to come out looking like the bad guy.  The pinnacle of this heart-warming encounter came when we were kindly greeted by a local shop owner and "Santa" issued a bellowing warning that we were "thieves" and "shoplifters."  Eventually, and after a backfire-laden stall-out of his broken-down jalopy, Santa realized that his jolliness would not be met with remuneration and he retreated to whatever bridge he crawled out from under.

My perception of Santa has been forever colored.

We continued to explore our local mountain region, but the horror of being name-called in public by Santa Claus left a knot in my stomach.  Given that it might have been the real Santa, I tried my darnedest to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe Mrs. Santa had taken to the bottle again; those long arctic winters can be brutal and lonely.  Maybe the elves were unionizing.  Maybe Rudolph had "left on the red light" and was bringing shame to the herd.  As we drove along, I was desperate to excuse his foul temper.  Then as we rounded a mountain bend, we saw the reason for Santa's ugly, and very un-Christmaslike behavior.  What was once a glorious town full of gingerbread and holiday cheer was now a sprawling dump heap of machinery and lumber.  The lights had been turned off at Santa's Village!

Don't let the giant, striped cane fool you; there is no more candy.

A vintage view of Santa's Village

From time immemorial (1959), Santa's Village had been an alpine respite from the heat and bustle of San Bernardino, CA.  It was a winter wonderland of magical rides and holiday delights.  But I would not know because I have never been there.  It was just a small theme park but the commercials played during Saturday morning cartoons made it seem like the only place on earth that I needed to be.

One day when I was about eight years old, Heaven smiled upon me and my grandparents bundled us up and headed off to Santa's Village.  We were about three-quarters of the way up the mountain when green smoke started billowing from underneath the hood of their Buick - so ended our trip to Santa's Village.  I am still unsure as to the actual reason we never visited Santa's Village that day.  We all have pretty clear memories of seeing the park and even eating at a coffee shop across the street.  We spent the better part of the day at the top of the mountain waiting for the car to get fixed.  I think my grandma was just so mad at my grandpa for letting something go wrong with the car that she decided nobody was going to have fun that day.  Now I have been to the grounds, but I'll never know the joys of that funny, little park.

The original buildings are there but Santa is nowhere to be found.

The iconic bumble bee monorail is still there but there are no riders.

It appears as if Santa's Village is just going to be reclaimed by the earth. 

After seeing the ruins of Santa's Village, it would be hard to blame Santa for playing Scrooge so close to Christmas, but I can still do it.   Most people probably would have forked over the five bucks but I think that would have gone against the very laws of nature - Santa's supposed to bring me presents, right?  I guess the economy has even taken a grip of Old St. Nick!  Anyhow, for some great historic snapshots of Santa's Village in its heyday, be sure to visit tiki ranch blog.  Also, there is a great Santa's Village - Skyforest Facebook page - like it!


Mr. Tiny

Friday, December 16, 2011

Collecting: "Tie-ing" One On

Collecting is an interesting subject.  It is tough to collect things because the focus and the act of collecting are very personal.  In displaying, or even discussing collections with others, one opens the door to receiving bottle caps, stamps, or pig figurines for every birthday and holiday for the rest of one's natural life - dangerous territory, to say the least.

I think humans are genetically predisposed with the collecting or the purging gene.  I have to fight myself tooth and nail to limit the amount of collecting I do because I am a breath away from being discovered mummified among the avalanche of my "things."  I have oft discussed the topic of hoarding on this blog.  Perhaps it is because I feel that admitting my problem is enough of a purge.  All I can say is that it is a good thing that I am highly allergic to animals.

It is strange for me to think that I collect ties as they are apparel; I own plenty of socks too but I would never consider them a collection.  It never occurred to me until I was sorting through stuff for a yard sale.  My sister challenged me to count the number of ties I had and when it appeared I had well over 100, I decided that indeed, it was a collection of sorts.  It got me to thinking about what makes a collection a collection.  Is the number of things important?  Does a group of three similar items a collection make?  Does inherent value have something to do with a group of things becoming a collection?  When does a collection become a museum?  Most importantly, and the thing I desperately need to learn, when is it time to sift through and edit a collection?

In all this talk about collecting, I thought I'd share some of the strange collections I have amassed over the years - starting with my ties.  My intention is not to "show off;" I have seen far bigger and far better collections.  I have seen ties that would actually knock your socks off and none of them are in my neck of the neckwear woods.  Furthermore, it must be noted that I am not a snob (at least not about ties).  The ties pictured below are examples of vintage and contemporary ties that have been received as gifts and purchased at swap meets, thrift stores, vintage stores and even the 99cents Store!

Bow Ties

A very special bow tie brought to me from the
Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, NV.

String Ties

A hand-painted & bedazzled string tie
"Clip-On Clolonel"

Bolo Ties

Green, carnival glass snake with rhinestone eye

Horse/Cowboy Ties

Western Kerchief Ties

Ascots & Scarves

Skinny Ties

Ties with dots

Ties with stripes

Plaid Ties

Knit Ties

Hawaiian Ties

Christmas Ties

Printed & Painted Ties

More Printed & Painted Ties

Even more Printed & Painted Ties

The silly part of this collection is that I don't wear ties all that regularly.  I'm not a suit & tie type of guy.  My job does not require business attire.  I don't "dress for dinner."  I only have one neck (multiple chins but only one neck).  So what's with all the ties?  The easy answer is that I like to have options.  Also, I like the artistry and design.  Mens' clothing can be rather dull and it seems so funny and appealing to me in this modern world that we think nothing of taking a length of colorful silk and tying it in a knot around our necks.  Ties are at once utilitarian and completely decorative.  They are definitely a link to our sartorial history and when I see one for a dollar or two, I can't resist the urge to "collect."

What kinds of things do you collect?  Why do you collect?  What got your collection started?  For what length of time have you been collecting?  If you'd like your collection to be featured in a "Collecting" edition of wacky tacky, be sure to let me know.


Mr. Tiny