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Choose Your Own Adventure Year

 

Choose Your Own Adventure.  These were in my library. There should be more.

Choose Your Own Adventure books. These are in my library. There should be more.

When I was a bookworm of a kid I loved to read books from the Choose Your Own Adventure series.  The books were unique in that at the end of each chapter you were confronted with 2 choices.  The alternatives would be things like, “to attack the dragon turn to page 10” or “to challenge the dragon to a dance-off turn to page 15”.  You’d pick an option, then read the results of that selection before facing another pair of choices.  Depending on the writer, if you chose the dance-off, you and the dragon might end up as Solid Gold dancers, or you’d be a crispy noodle in Chinese dragon stir-fry.

 

When I’d reached the end of the book, or the end of the sequences I’d chosen, I would go back and read the book again, picking the other alternatives (fainting goats/epileptic sheep).  Sometimes I would peek ahead all along.  Often a different result was better.  Occasionally worse.  Sometimes the alternative was just different.

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Traumatic Laptop Injury

Yeah, it sounds dramatic. My laptop had a big hard drive freakout just over 5 weeks ago and I finally got it home from the shop last week. To be precise, the laptop was in the shop twice over the 5.5 weeks and I actually had it functional for 3 days in between. There are extenuating circumstances I won’t get into about the length of the absence, but I missed it and yearned for it, like I once did for a certain college ex. Read the rest of this entry »

Antiquing and the Cylinder Phonograph

by Jonathan B. Perry

cylinderEdisongoldmouldedphonographamberolLast Sunday afternoon, if you’d been looking, you’d have found me crouched at an antique mall in Omaha sorting through a surprise collection of about 250 phonograph cylinders, checking for condition, price, and musical selection.  I bought 11.  What are phonograph cylinders?  You might know about them, but somehow I went my entire life, until a few weeks ago, without knowing. Now I own a cylinder phonograph, several cylinders, and rock out like Teddy Roosevelt rocking a monocle.

Invented by Thomas Edison in 1877, phonograph cylinders rivaled phonograph disc records for many years, but were no longer manufactured after 1929 (it was discovered that both sides of discs could be recorded on, while cylinders had no such option). Recently, though, novelty recordings have been made using cylinders, including a song by They Might Be Giants, “I Can Hear You”. This year, a British steampunk band, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, released a track on a limited edition cylinder.  I might have gone a few more years without knowing about these little record tubes had I not run across some orphaned cylinders in an antique shop last month.

Not long before, I’d started my antiquing obsession when I came across a beautiful set of antique history books being used as props at an interior design shop and thought they’d look swell in my library.  And they do.  I soon set out to find more nice pieces and maybe an old lantern or two, and knew I needed to visit some antique stores.  I hadn’t been to one in awhile and could sense my lameness.  On my first trip, I went to a large antique mall where I found some cool lanterns, as well as one of those old accordion-type cameras that unfolds.  It decorates a shelf in my living room.

It was the next store where I found some more great books and those fantastic phonograph cylinders.  When I saw them, I was amazed by the packaging, and of course the fact that this was another form of musical reproduction (like the cassette, cd, 8-track) and here I was, a fairly well-read person with an enormous music library, completely unaware of their existence.  In my excitement, I immediately called my brother Jay and had him look up what he could find on the cylinders (another good reason to buy a smart phone).  He saw lots of 25 or 30 cylinders selling on eBay and advised me of actual cylinder phonographs selling online for $800-1200. If nothing else, the cylinders were great novelty pieces and priced moderately, so I bought 3 of them.  And some swell books.  I held off on the nifty furniture, stained-glass windows, and brass miner’s lanterns until a somewhat distant future.

edison cylinder phonograph amberola 30

Cylinder Phonograph (Edison Amberola 30). Not mine (my camera cord is missing)

The cylinders became a footnote as I visited one antique shop after another finding such things as a unique 9″ tall brass mesh sieve and an 1880s 6 volume leather-bound set of Le Comte De Monte-Cristo by Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo to us English-speakers).  The leather book spines have those cool ridges.  I even saw a nice cylinder phonograph with a beautifully decorated horn, but at $800 it was beyond my immediate consideration.  A few days later, though, as I was trekking through Iowa and Minnesota, I found another great cylinder phonograph.  This one played well, but had the horn built into the box, like a speaker.  I was primed.  Listed at less than half the cost of the other, I negotiated, getting an even better deal, and took the piece home.  I had my own musical bit of history.  It was awesome!

Really, I should be rebuilding my modern audio system rather than investing in the 8-track equivalent of the 1st World War, but it was too fantastic to pass up.  Also, such non-electronic devices will come in handy in the fallout shelter after EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) have destroyed modern technology.  Yea, verily.

To me, visiting these antique shops is like visiting museums where you can buy the display items.  It’s strange to see what people are selling and what they’ve collected over the years.  Sometimes the displays are themed, like Victorian or old tool shed or mad scientist, and really give you a small insight into the people behind the items.  It’s interesting to consider the provenance of a piece:  Who were the former owners and what were they like?  Which meth-addicted grandchild is selling off grandma’s treasures?

So now as Fantasy Baseball season winds down (I have a decent chance of winning 2 championships, if I can survive today oops!), it seems I’ve found an obsession replacement.   In the last 3 weeks I’ve been to a dozen antique shops in 5 towns.  I’ve started visiting garage sales (though I’m not an early-bird shoppers who arrives early for worms) and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on eBay.  I have an idea of what pieces I’m looking for and what my price points are.  At the moment I’m camping out on eBay looking for accidentally cheap, but fancy, 19th century music boxes that play a dozen songs or use weird metal plates or corn cobs.  I’m also checking out strange musical instruments and unusual antique scientific devices in nice wooden boxes.  In the shops my eyes are also open for the nifty furniture, stained-glass windows, and brass miner’s lanterns, knowing I should still wait on the pricier items until perhaps after I’ve had the house re-sided.  But if I should happen upon that rare cylinder with Christmas music on it, I’ll be sure to grab it right up.  You don’t just find that stuff anywhere.

Once I find my camera cord, I hope to post a video of my cylinders in action.  The cord may be in Minnesota.

The secret word of the day is steampunk.

Read These:

Buying Useless Antique Furniture: Globe Wernicke Card Catalog Cabinet with Map Drawers

Easter Antiquer

How I’m Not Really Related to Ben Franklin

Bachelors In History

A Photographic Memory

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17 Types of Bachelor Pads

by Jonathan Bonobo Perry

ABC has a new cheesetastic reality tv show called The Bachelor Pad which seems like it might combine The Bachelor with Big Brother and The Real World after they’ve soaked in a briny vat of The Girls Next Door.  It promises an abnormally good-looking and freakishly healthy cast of cast-offs from previous reality shows being overly-dramatic and dramatically-amorous in a fine and expensive model home.  Pray, what will this bachelor pad be like?  Certainly it has everything.  Entertainment, games, and watery places, perhaps 7 hot tubs (so a few could be decontaminated simultaneously).  This got me thinking about types of Bachelor Pads as theme parks for men or rather types of homes for types of bachelors. What if guys were only one-dimensional and could each be pigeonholed into one tidy category?  Here’s who 17 of those guys would be and how their bachelor pads would be set up to reflect the weirdness.

1 Lothario/Lech Pad-Round spinning bed, cocktail bar, fancy lighting, a fine collection of loungy mood music.  It would be like the digs for Quagmire from Family Guy or for Austin Powers, replete with bathrobes and smoking jackets and lots of velvet.  A hot tub.  This is usually the first picture that comes to mind when one thinks of the classic bachelor pad.  It’s a lie.  Mostly.

2 Gamer Pad-Comfy chair for all that sitting.  Probably plush.  A couple gaming systems (XBox, Nintendo, Playstation, Wii) backed up by a quality entertainment system.  Dice and game parts for various role playing games.  Occupant-pasty sleepy nerd. 

3 Partier Pad-A sufficient supply of food and beverages and, if lucky, easily cleaned surfaces.  Large tv and other entertainment devices:  good stereo, lots of music, the gamer’s gaming system, some board games and backyard games.  Possibly a jacuzzi and a grill in the awesome backyard.  There might be a firepit.  Tiki torches?

4 Handyman Pad-Handmade furniture or carvings.  An extensive collection of tools and parts.  A fine workbench in the garage.  Powerdrill always plugged into the wall.  Multiple projects at different stages of completion spread about the garage and house.  Possibly a classic car parked in the garage being restored.

5 Traveler Pad-Travel books, posters, and paintings.  Souvenirs and maps.  Photo albums of trips.  Several suitcases, bags & perhaps an enormous travel cases like Jimmy Stewart‘s from It’s A Wonderful Life.

6 Collector Pad-The house may be overrun and/or decorated by strange collections:  stamps, baseball cards, license plates, Coca-Cola memorabilia.  Butterflies.  Places to store and display all this stuff have been set aside. The Antique-r is a sub-specialist of collector. Or is it the other way around?

7 Gadget Dude Pad-Assorted collection of the latest and greatest gadgets both electronic and mechanical.  Not only does he have the latest ostentatious Apple product (iPhone, iPad, iTouch), he also has camcorders, ereaders, robots, roombas, gps’s.

8 Reader Pad-Several bookcases, maybe some built-ins for a large a well-organized library (possibly numbered books, as if it were a real library).  There might be a list of books lent out and who has them and why you’ll never get them back.  (Chris?  Marshall?).  If he’s gone gadgety, there might be an Amazon Kindle or a similar ereader.

9 Sports Fan Pad-There will be lots of sports memorabilia, some of it plastered to the walls.  Maybe jerseys of the home team.  There could be game highlight footage on DVD.  There might even be sports cards, but certainly sports magazines.

10 Movie and TV-Buff Pad-Huge TV entertainment system with surround sound.  Lots of DVDs.  Lots of VHS tapes with the player.  Possibly a Beta player and Beta tapes for some rare ancient weirdness.

11 Musician Pad-Instruments.  The pinnacle is a grand piano or a specialty guitar signed by some dead rock legend.  Recording equipment.  A fine hi-fi system that spans the years from phonograph to 8-track to cassette to cd to mp3 player.  There will be plenty of albums to play on this system.  There might be busts of musicians and sheets of music.  Perhaps rooms have been modified to adjust acoustics.

12 Fitness Enthusiast Pad-In this pad might be found a bicycle and helmet.  If he’s a daredevil he might have mountain-climbing equipment, otherwise regular (and strange) exercise devices: dumb bells, stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, medicine ball.  He might have his own awards from previous sporty endeavors.

13 Animal Lover Pad-Aquariums, terrariums, cages and kennels.  Leashes and bowls on the floor.  Adorable creatures that want to eat and bite you and need to use the facilities which may or may not be in your house.  Animal hair everywhere.  Unsolved allergy issues.  Hello Kitty stationery?  Maybe that’s just a sub-genre.

14 Hoarder Pad-this comes from mixing too many of the other categories together and having certain psychological issues.

15 Artist/Photographer Pad-Paints and brushes.  Easels and canvas and frames.  Cameras and camera equipment.  Maybe a dark room for old film.  Some of his own work might be framed on the wall as well as his inspirations’ works.  Art supplies and works are spread all over the house.

16 Gardener/Plant Guy Pad-Much of this guy’s stuff would be in the backyard: Veggie garden, flowers, other odd plants.  Sometimes the greenery will come inside and there will be pots of living greenstuff (non-mold) around the house.  There might be books and magazines for gardening ideas and tips.

17 Chef/Cook Pad-This dude has a kitchen full of quality cooking equipment.  Pots and pans and skillets or whatever.  There will be odd measuring devices which might use the metric system or stuff like pinch or smidgen.  He’ll have lots of spices and fancy oils.  The cupboards and fridge are stocked with all kinds of food.

Certainly your type has been overlooked.  That just means you’re weird.

The secret word is pigeonhole

Related Reading:

How NOT To Decorate The Bachelor Pad

My Bachelor Pad

Bachelor Step #10: Collect the Right Toys

Bachelor Step #1: THE BACHELOR PAD

$15 Million Ultimate Bachelor Pad

Tenuously Related Reading:

Google-Stalking The Ex

Logan’s Run & Population Control

World Of Warcraft…Dating?

Bachelors In History

Sound Of Music Death Match!!! Liesl v Maria

Kitten Of Evil

Celebrity Crushes: The Girl Next Door

Which Is Your Type? A Pseudo-Cosmo Quiz

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