Cuts Right to the Bone

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Every year I challenge myself with one Christmas task: buy the ugliest ornament I can find. Now, of course, I realize that beauty “lies in the eye of the beholder.” (Let’s face it, any ornament is ugly to those people who spend $60 on those ornament containers that’re scientifically designed to appeal to the eyes. Fuck ’em.) So what I’m aiming for are the ornaments that only a beholder, lurking in its dimly-lit, underground lair, could enjoy.

—2008—

The inaugural ornament’s description reads like the absurdists answering Marcel Duchamp’s classic “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2” with “Mouse Head atop a Mannequin’s Body while Wearing a Veil.”

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Not only is it ugly, it has the added bonus of being completely indecipherable. I mean, I own enough mouse-inspired ornaments to recognize that mice are a part of the holiday spirit, even if I don’t know why they are considered as such. But transplanting one of their heads onto a mannequin body?

Seriously? There’s a market for that?

—2009—

Working in retail is wrought in danger. Even if you’re strong enough to withstand the candy cane chicanery, there’s always the threat of peppermint-infused ornaments. Yes, ornaments that stink of peppermint.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against peppermint. I’m more than a little obsessed with scents, so finding something that might make my tree smell like something other than dead cockroaches was enticing. The only problem is that the ornament’s designers banked too heavily on olfactory satisfaction.

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I understand a great deal of Santa’s reputation resides on him being a jolly, fat man, but this is ridiculous! It doesn’t appear as if his legs would be able to support such girth. Which might explain the ornament move; as with people so large that forklifts are required to move them, this Santa needs you to airlift onto the tree.

—2010—

2010 was my year to be obsessed with snowmen. Not real snowmen, mind you, as I wasn’t hanging around St. Pete’s Snowfest waiting for the chance to build one so I could then watch it tumble in FL’s December heat. No, I was obsessed with the snowmen that don’t melt; the ones you hang off your tree to evoke the idea of being cold. So I was obsessed with the traditional artistic representation of something that should, ideally, be strictly personal. (As far as I know, they still don’t mass produce snowmen for consumption.)

Yet for every snowmen who turned out like this:

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I.e. awesome.

There were way too many that looked like this:

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Snowman disguised as a scarecrow.

Or this:

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Where someone figured, “Hey! Both snow and ice are cold, so why not house our Snowman in an ice cream cup?” Because it’ll look stupid, that’s why.

Or this:

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Especially this one, which proves that once you go to a well too many times, you’re bound to come up empty. Such is the case with this one, where we meet a skinny, skiing snowman who’s way too tall to be allowed to hang with the other ornaments.

—2011—

2011 was a year of relentless depression for me (hear it here!), one that caused me to fail my personal challenge; as I couldn’t see any ornaments through the streams of unending tears that was flowing from my eyes year-round. My apologies.

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Though I guess I could count this Santa Christmas countdown timer/ornament. Just because it’s out of character for me to be so overtly seasonal.

—2012—

And finally we come to this year’s addition. A unholy alliance between thunder lizard and glitter. Lots and lots of glitter.

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He looks pensive here, as if he’s really gazing upon a living room littered with poorly wrapped presents. Or perhaps he’s staring across the room, at my DVD collection which houses Seasons 3 and 4 of Jim Henson’s Dinosaurs. A series from which his mold seems to be cast from.

I was on the fence about whether to buy it or not, as it did seem like a blatantly obvious attempt to make the ugliest ornament ever. One part silly dinosaur design, dropped in a vat of adolescent school boy baby blue, with an (un)healthy dose of multicolored sparkles glued on top of the mess for good measure. Hipster bait.

But I bought it anyway, hipster cash grab or not. Beauty may, as they say, be in the (Ray-Ban wearing) eye of the beholder, but ugly will still cut right to the bone.

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