Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Grab Bag

Various mostly-seasonal items today, just 'cause.

Not quite a lawn ornament, technically, because it's not intended to be permanent (the season and amount of deterioriation suggest a Halloween decoration), but close enough. More people should have monsters in their yard. I think it would be good for everybody. (Especially the monster-facsimile-production industry.)

Speaking of monsters: it's poinsettia time again. Ugh.

The previously-mentioned Cryptbergia x rubra flowers have begun to open. I'm underwhelmed. The color isn't even as strong as on Billbergia nutans: both the green and the blue are washed-out. (Admittedly, this is also not a great photo, but the flowers are paler in reality than I was expecting.)

Speaking of the Billbergia nutans -- which has gotten enormous since it arrived two and a half years ago -- it has a flower spike developing on it. I'd really like for it to produce more than one of those at a time, for photographic purposes, but I suppose there's still time.

I have previously reported being unable to smell Freesias. I could smell this particular batch, though. To me, they smelled like Froot Loops, which may or may not be standard. (One person described the smell that way in the previous Freesia post, so . . . possibly.) There may also have been interference from other flowers on the table -- there were tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) and cyclamen and I'm not sure what all else. But so I may not be genetically incapable of smelling Freesia after all. Which I guess is a good thing.

It may not be easy to see from the picture, but what we have here is an artificial tree, constructed around a mechanism that blows tiny styrofoam balls up into the air above the tree, so that they fall down on it like snow. Some collect in the branches, some stick to ornaments via static electricity, and some fall down through the tree to the base, where a pump sucks them in and blows them back up through the tube again. I would have loved the fuck out of this when I was a kid. I bet it's also super-entertaining for households containing static-prone black cats that like to climb things.

The down side: they're expensive. Just the mechanism alone is $200, and then you have to buy a fake tree to cover up the mechanism. It also requires a large floor area, so all the styrofoam balls can be collected (though I bet you some of them find their way under the couch regardless). And of course there's the part where it's hard to decide whether it's cool, or kitschy, or so kitschy that it loops around and meets cool from the other side. I mean, tiny non-biodegradable styrofoam balls pretending to be snow, being propelled into the air by an electric motor that probably ultimately gets its energy from burning coal, so they can fall on non-biodegradable plastic pretending to be a tree! It's so early-21st-century!

Kitsch or not, I want, like, five of them, so I can point them all at one another and have a tiny styrofoam blizzard down in the basement whenever I want. (I suppose it would have to go next to the peat bog.) Anybody who wants to donate $1000 to make this possible should do so via the donation button at top right. I promise to take lots of pictures.


Anonymous said...

I must be getting old when all I can think of is what a gawdawful mess that Christmas tree would make.

Melody said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who appreciates a good monster in someones yard. Halloween is my favorite holiday in part because it's socially acceptable to decorate this way. I also really have a thing for those tacky plastic pink flamingo lawn ornaments, but will not be able to bring myself to ever put one out in my yard, (unfortunately never socially acceptable as far as I can gather.) It's strange moments like these that I wish I was wealthy. I would absolutely give you $2000 to double the amount of trees you have planned just to see a video of them shooting balls at each other and not personally have to deal with them after that.

mr_subjunctive said...


In fairness, the ball-catch area beneath the tree is so large that it probably wouldn't make that much of a mess once it was operating, provided that no pets or children got involved. It was on the order of six feet in diameter, possibly a bit more. (In order to set up five of them at once, I would no doubt have to have the bases overlapping one another quite a bit.)


The all-time best PATSP lawn ornament remains the baby Pegasus, though the metal llama is competitive.

Neither are monsters particularly, though I have seen a giant spider a few Augusts ago, which is pretty damn monstrous. No idea what the story behind that was; I suppose it could have been a Halloween decoration from a previous year that was being saved for re-use, though I like it better in my mind if I think of it as just a sculpture somebody decided to make one day because they like spiders.

Ivynettle said...

That last paragraph made me laugh so hard! Especially the reference to the peat bog - a few weeks ago, I was telling our apprentice about where peat comes from, and got a little side-tracked, and ended up telling him about your idea of a peat bog in the basement. (Also, it now reminds me of the Portable Swamp in the fifth Harry Potter book. Cue more giggling.)

Thomas said...

You could put a pilgrim hat on the monster and tell everyone it's a turkeydactyl. Then for Xmas you could put a red light on it's nose and tell 'em Rudolph retired.

Tom said...

The only smell I've ever been able to get from Freesia is the strong smell of black pepper. Yuck. That tree is kind of ridiculous but not as ridiculous as the mental image of I have of you (well... cartoon version of you who appears next to your comments) in a blizzard of Styrofoam.

Anonymous said...

Poinsettia time indeed. I'm up to my neck in them at work. I feel so awful, having to constantly condense my nice, regular plants to the back of the greenhouse in order to make room for all these points. But I could deal with it way better if I didn't have to listen to this god-awful christmas music. I had to drop what I was doing today - literally drop the hose - and walk outside because I realized I was hucking and jiving like a mental patient along to 'Here Comes Santa Claus'.


Erik Knutzen said...

Kickstarter for that mass Styrofoam ball idea! I'd donate. You could do it as an art installation and call it "Snow Job".