Tacky Treasures Road Show 2015
The Tacky Treasures Road Show is modeled after the PBS program "Antiques Roadshow," except that in this case the question the appraiser always asks is, "Do you have any idea how tacky this is?" I love the sound of that, so I do it every year.
This year's road show took place on March 28, 2015 at the Silver Spring B&O Train Station. No longer used as a railroad station, it has been restored (by Montgomery Preservation, Inc.) to look as it did in 1945, complete with ticket booth, lockers, phone booth, and a waiting room with comfy benches.
There were 27 entries, a few more than last year. This was the first year that a performance was entered into the competition. More on that later, but let's just say that it almost turned the event into the Tacky Treasures TOAD Show.
A big thanks goes to this year's judges, who were: Denis Malloy and Mark Lynch. While they made their deliberations, I displayed the five prizes. I was so glad that I was able to get rid of -- I mean find some things in my collection worthy of serving as prizes in the road show.
This show would be nothing if not for the enthusiastic participants who enter the competition. There was stiff competition for the five prizes, and as far as I'm concerned, anyone who didn't win can rightfully say, "I came in sixth." I also want to thank, and give due credit, to everyone who sent me photographs for this report.
I would also like to thank all those who contributed to the donation bucket. I recovered more than half of what I spent to rent the station, which is a big help. Again, THANK YOU!
Key to the photographers' codes on the photos: BC = Bob Cantor; EB = eBay; EW = Ellen Walsh; JM = Julie Mangin; LR = Liz Roll; MS = Mark Sachs; NG = Neil Gladd.
First Place: The Frogs of Windham
The Frogs of Windham is an 1891 operetta that is tacky on so many levels, I immediately recognized it as a tacky treasure. Here are just three of the ways this work was tacky:
First, the operetta concerns a tacky story from Connecticut's colonial past, about a town that was frightened by strange sounds in the nightime. Some of the men shot their muskets to scare off what were thought to be native Americans who were about to attack the town (this happened in 1754, during the French and Indian War). Others thought that the noises were a harbinger of impending doom and fell to their knees, praying and wailing. The next morning, after the noises had subsided and the sun had come up, some intrepid citizens headed to the edge of town to investigate, only to find that it had just been a battle of frogs at a local pond. From that day forward, the citizens of Windham were the butt of jokes about the incident.
However, as the years went on, they came to embrace the story as a proud symbol of their town, as evidenced by this 1891 operetta. It was last performed in 1983, in what was described as "a director's nightmare," in an article in the New York Times. Even as recently as 2000, a bridge in Windham, which crosses the Willimantic River, was adorned with four eleven-foot sculptures of frogs, sitting atop spools (Windham is also known as "Thread City," once being the home of the American Thread Company).
The second thing I find tacky about it is how Burton E. Leavitt (a student at Yale) and his father, Nason W. Leavitt (a vaudeville performer and newspaper publisher) found this tacky story worthy of operatic treatment. I can't speak to the quality of music (there are no known recordings of the entire operetta, go figure), but the plot is formulaic and unimaginative (the frog story wasn't enough, so a romantic subplot of a predictable nature was also added). However, it is the libretto -- the words of the operetta -- which is truly tacky. It's not just the labored rhyming:
ALL: Was that all? Capt -- well that's enough
It's also that the text is rife with horrific stereotyping of various ethnic groups. For the road show, I cleaned up much of the characterizations and the dialect, as much to make it easier to perform as it was to be more politically correct.
The third tacky thing about this operetta is the way it was performed for the road show. With absolutely no experience directing an opera, I solicited a group of friends to put on a 10-minute portion of the work for the Tacky Treasures Road Show audience. With only one rehearsal, the actors, singers, and musicians put on a pretty good show, which got a lot of laughs, some unintentional. Hey, we knew it was tacky before we staged it. A highlight of the show was the frog ballet, performed by Bob Cantor and Carolee Rand.
Some may think that it is tacky that I won first place in my own contest, but it isn't the first time. In this case, however, I can't claim all the glory. Here's a list of those who helped put on The Frogs of Windham. Thank you, everyone!
Actors: Abbie Grotke, Liz Madden, Neil Orlando, Julie Mangin (servants); Carolee Rand and Bob Cantor (frogs); Jeff Chumley (Col. Dyer); Susan Chumley (Capt. Follett); Linda Julien (Parson White); Liz Roll and Fred Julien (soldiers);
Musicians (a.k.a., the Tacky Treasures Orchestra): Neil Gladd on mandolin, Denis Malloy on bass clarinet.
Singers: (a.k.a., the Tacky Treasures Chorus): Betsy Fulford, soprano; Greg Scholtz, baritone.
Second Place: Jolly Pecker
It's a wind-up dancing pecker. What more can I say? I was with Bob when he bought it, in a cheesy tourist gift shop on the strip in Las Vegas. The package assures the buyer that the Jolly Pecker will be the life of the party, and that he should buy several so he could race "these macho men."
If you want to see the Jolly Pecker in action, all you have to do is Google "jolly pecker video." This is the one I particularly like, because it looks like it was produced in a dark alley. It has a low-budget porn vibe to it, which adds to the tackiness. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9bdUpGUCS4
Third Place: Internet Urinal
Billed as "Your personal IP address," the Internet Urinal makes it possible for the digitally-obsessed to stay online continuously, without runs to the bathroom. It comes with a "handy female adapter," which I think is absolutely great! I mean it...because in their tackiness, the manufacturers of this product have at least taken into account both genders. In a small way, this is a feminist victory. However, it is still tacky.
Fourth Place: Inflatable Wild Swan
Abbie said she wouldn't have known what this product was for if she hadn't Googled the only English words on the package "Inflatable Wild Swan." That led her to a video of someone using the product. I don't know what motivated this guy to make such a video, but I thank him.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2gTkr8dLuo (skip to 1:40 if you're in a hurry to see how it is used)
Don't forget to look at the instructions for using this product, which appear to be modeled by a dirty old man with a hole in one of his socks.
Fifth Place: The Game of Compatibility
Having trouble in your relationship? Before you head for a couples counselor, maybe you would like to try solving your problems with a board game.
Players wind their way around the board; pick cards from categories such as "sex," "domestic issues," "children," etc.; and use hand-held dials to indicate their feelings. This does not sound like a game; it sounds like work!
This game came out in 1974, a hot bed of sensitivity and consciousness raising. So, it's not surprising that a game company (which no longer appears to be in business) decided to cash in on the trends. Tacky!
The winners, in order of their rank in the contest, were invited to select from the array of prizes.
There were many other great entries, not all of which I could include here. These were among the best for which I received photos. Comments in quotes were written on the registration card for the item, by the person entering it.
Also entered were:
That's all folks!
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