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One of the abiding joys of the Web is its high weirdness quotient,
and its ongoing commercialization has done nothing much to change that.
You can find stuff for sale out there that’s so weird it suggests
there’s more than one species of human being living on this planet. Here
are just a few selections, ranging from the sweetly eccentric to the
seriously disturbed.

Hypochondriac’s delight

In a new board game from hell that’s called
Infection, players race around the board,
catching infectious diseases and trying to find cures (and pay medical
bills). Yes, I’m completely serious. There are “disease cards” you draw,
kind of like the Chance or Community Chest cards in Monopoly, as well as
“treatment cards” and “intensive care cards.” The first player to cure
all of his diseases — or the last to remain alive — wins the game.
There’s contagion (when a player lands on a square occupied by another
player, he may give one contagious disease to the other player), a rest
cure, a cut-rate “voodoo doctor,” and regular Medicaid checks for all.
As the site’s front-page blurb assures us, “[Infection] is meant to be
enjoyable and educational. A light-hearted and educational game of human
afflictions. Fun for the whole family.” I can’t help feeling there’s
something deeply unbalanced about this whole concept, but I have to
admit that, oddly enough, it does actually sound like fun. Younger
children may find the idea of all those awful-sounding diseases a bit
frightening when the lights go out at bedtime; give it to your favorite
premed student instead.

More exciting than a clock-radio!

I covered this about 14 months ago, but it certainly deserves another
mention here. Yes, Virginia, the
Blenderphone is still available,
and it’s still exactly what it sounds like: a combination
telephone-and-blender. Incoming telephone calls activate the blender
motor in lieu of a standard ringer. You answer the phone by picking up
the blender pitcher — which has the telephone receiver securely
attached to its side — and holding it to your ear. The site FAQ’s
answer to the obvious question (won’t you spill your margarita when you
answer the phone?): “That has always been a problem and always will be.”
I give the Blenderphone my nod as an ideal wedding present. The $300
price tag is certainly a bit of an ouch factor, but if you want to spend
an afternoon acquiring and connecting together your own blender and
telephone, well, it’s still a free country.

The Master of the Weird

Very difficult to find, the songs of Ivor
Cutler
(if that
rather temperamental link doesn’t work, there’s a basic discography
here ) are some of the most truly
bizarre and unmanningly hysterical things I’ve ever heard in my life.
Alas, the ex who introduced me to Ivor took away all the Ivor tapes back
in ’97 when I tossed him out of the house. Luckily for me, there’s
GEMM, a fabulous international Internet search
service that’ll locate and make available for purchase the most obscure
and esoteric music or video. They found Ivor for me, and they’ll find
him

for you. To serious weirdness
aficionados, I can recommend pretty much his entire oeuvre; “Dandruff”
(1974), in particular, is excellent. I’m sorry to report that I’m still
looking in vain for 1975′s classic “Velvet Donkey.”

Just file under “Things that Make You Go ‘Hmmm’”

This wooden candy-dispensing moose is
so utterly vulgar, so scatological, so retarded, that I think it may
qualify as the ultimate present for a fourth- or fifth-grade boy,
although college students who haven’t yet honed their sense of irony to
an adult sharpness may appreciate it as well. It reminds me of Adam
Sandler, that’s how deeply misguided it is. Its very existence
constitutes a chilling commentary on the state of American culture at
large. And perhaps the weirdest thing about it is that a significant
amount of craftsmanship and, in some horribly perverse way,
taste, has obviously gone into its making. Available in various
species and sizes for $60 and up.

Elsewhere in the “random and inexplicable wooden animals” category,
we have the Arkansas Whitewater
Fish
,
the connection of which to Arkansas, Whitewater, or Bill Clinton himself
frankly eludes me.

Pay the piper

Get yourself a fine set of
bagpipes,
either ready-made or to order, for $700 and up. (And click here
for tips on the ideal
ways to deploy a bagpiper at your wedding. They can be far more lyrical
than you might imagine.)

Incentive to proper flossing

The toothy head of an
alligator
is for sale at eBay this week (auction ends July 29). I suppose my
even mentioning this item would be construed as inhumane by the
animal-rights lunatic fringe, but I have a very hard time getting all
moral and indignant over a nasty evil-looking reptile like this.
Alligators just aren’t dogs, y’know?

What goes up must come down

Do you remember those big inflatable Space Walk thingies, like a
combination of a waterbed and a trampoline, that you used to see at
carnivals and fairs? Kids would get in them and bounce and roll about
and have a high old time. Now you can have your very own Space
Walk
, shaped like any of nine
different animals, in your personal back yard. The kit comes with ground
anchors a blower for doing the inflating; you’ll need your own 12-gauge
extension cord. It costs a hell of a lot of money, but no more than the
limited-edition, adult-sized, fully wearable, high-quality black leather
Darth Vader costume I saw for sale at FAO Schwartz a couple of years
ago. I’m still wishing I’d had the good sense to invest in one; the
ordinary
cheap
kind just don’t cut it.

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