What exactly makes this stuff 'weird' (or any stuff, really)? Well, I don't think there's any rigid criteria - at least not on this list. They certainly don't have any notable monetary value - heck, they don't entirely have sentimental value (which is good because that would make this one boring read). What I'm getting at is that they're all weird for different, weird reasons, and instead of building it up & explaining the hell out of it, let's just take a look...
"Trivial Pursuit" Game Card
In and of itself, the card isn't particularly weird; it was pulled from the original release of the game from the early 80s that I inherited from my folks. At some point, many years ago, Jess & I were deep into a game, and she lands on brown: Arts & Leisure. I pull a card - this card - and read the question:
"What Russian novel embracing more than 500 characters was set in the Napoleonic Wars?"For a moment I thought my psychic energy had kicked on to its fullest extent; not only did I know the answer, but I knew each word of the question even before I read it aloud. It only took a few seconds to fully realize why this set of words in this particular order were already tattooed in my brain...
More than any plastic katana blade or my black 'Foot Clan' pajamas, this "Trivial Pursuit" card is the most true-to-life Ninja Turtles 'prop' I'd ever laid my hands on. So until society will allow me to wear a shimmery purple cape and a steel helmet covered in knives, I keep this card in my wallet.
The Little Kangaroo
Finding your treasure at a flea market requires a mix of patience and diligence - all while remaining cool and enjoying it for the pleasant experience that it is. Though sometimes intuition comes into play, and that special something manages to find you. Some of my most excellent discoveries were actually found peripherally, from 50 yards away, several aisles over, through crowds of people and piles of pipe fittings and paperbacks.
This ceramic "caddy valet" was one such discovery.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted this all-too-familiar ceramic kangaroo, and even before I consciously made the connection, I ran to it with the understanding that this item had a major relevance in my life.
Incidentally, another movie prop, yeah? And its function actually is meant for a bedside table: there's a front pouch for change or mints or other pants pocket accumulation, a slot in the back for a wallet or sunglasses etc., and a long slender tail for rings or bracelets or wristwatches.
The Official John Travolta Picture/Postcard Book
Well hell, we coulda done one of these that was just odd books & magazines. Not that there's anything so weird about pinup magazines of hot young celebrities - I mean, they're always kinda funny nonetheless, no matter who they're focused on. This particular one was too fun not to take a look at.
I pulled this from my Great Aunt's house, whose living quarters, porch, garage, and attic was a luscious organized chaos of trophies such as this (and by "such as this," I mean that no two things were similar in any way - you'd find Neil Sedaka albums and all the patrons of the Mos Eisley cantina atop an ancient sewing machine). She knew the value of her junk, but she'd let you take what you want - within reason. Clearly, I saw much more value in beefcake glossies of Vinnie Barbarino than she ever could.
It's like looking in a mirror, only not.
QUEEN Official International Fan Club card
Aside from being a part of the "WLVI Kids Club" (which basically entitled you to a quarterly newsletter from the local Boston TV station letting you know what time Tiny Toon Adventures was gonna air), I was never really aware of the existence or accessibility of "fan clubs."
If there were many (or any) to choose from, I blame the hypothetical "they" for not making their presence known well enough to me. In fact, it was only through a mountain of documentaries and albums and posters did the existence of the Queen Fan Club become evident to me -- and an obvious enterprise that I needed to be a part of. So at some point in the mid 90s I joined. (I assume it had some price tag that my mom covered.) And, wouldn't you know it, all I got out of it was a quarterly newsletter. Sure, there were fun things like quizzes and contests, and various vague updates about what the band was up to (though, if you know any history, they weren't doing a whole lot post-1991). But man, that membership card was aces.
This isn't some laminated piece of paper; it has the weight and thickness of a credit card, complete with embossed gold typography.
Let's see Paul Allen's card...
A piece of the Whalom Park Roller Coaster
Throughout my childhood, there was a full-blown, fully-functional Amusement Park on the edge of my town. I stress full-blown because it was the real deal and it had everything you think of when you think "amusement park." And I stress throughout my childhood because the park was operational for over 100 years, and was finally torn down in 2000.
Collectors and dealers managed to grab all the fancy stuff and antiques, while locals and scavengers sorta circumnavigated the kosher etiquette and picked through the dregs -- which is fair; every square inch was history in some respect.
Their standard-size "Flyer Comet" wooden roller coaster was turned into a pile of weathered sticks, and somehow a relative of mine (I can't remember who) gave me a precious piece. So yes, in this instance, there is certainly some sentimental value - but that's not what's fascinating to me.
The coaster was erected in 1940, so, for 60 years, there it stood. It survived New England winters, blizzards, and hurricanes. Think of the latter half of the 20th century, the events that took place, the changes that occurred - the Flyer Comet was just there. More than anything, it survived six decades of use - it was a giant wooden skeleton that shook loudly whether you were on it, or a mile away. Every time I took a ride, newspaper clippings of my obituary would flash in my head; as scary as roller coasters are, the Comet came with a true fear of a violent death. I loved it.
Now, today, here it is (sorta), and I can hold it in my hands. The terror, the vibrations, the history, the weather - all radiating strong with metaphysical footprints. And those're just the vague intellectual certainties that I groove on; I also love to take into account that it's an old piece of wood. It became a part of an amusement park ride 80 years ago, but before that, it was a tree - probably a full-grown tree, standing in the wilderness for hundreds of years, both absorbing and indifferent to even more events and changes on the planet.
And what of the person who chopped it down - what was their life like? Hell, what was their day like when they took it down? What time did they wake up that day? What was their morning routine? Did they come home to a family after a day of chopping down trees? Would they ever think that a photograph of the wood from this tree would appear on an electronic computer screen?
Isn't that neat? I like that kinda stuff.