I suppose that if you want to showcase a television's image quality, you let the customer see it in action. However, in that case you want to play the same movie on all the sets. The two televisions on the floor in the back corner of the Salvation Army store were out of sync. On the left glared Waterworld, the Heaven's Gate of the 90s, the saturated colors sloshing and glinting off all the shiny junk on the nearby shelves . (In an ironic twist, I recognized the box office flop because I'd been one of the few people to see it on the big screen.) The caliginous glow of Sleepy Hollow frosted all the knick-knacks on the right. The odd juxtaposition and muted sound robbed Sleepy Hollow of any terror, and I gazed on beheadings and impalements with detached curiosity, until I realized that my children were watching with the same bemused fascination.
The same trip to the Salvation Army netted me the funniest book I've read in a good age, a novel that had me rolling on the couch weeping from laughter and gasping for breath as I tried to read bits aloud to Darwin. Yet I'm divided over whether, in good conscience, I can possibly recommend it to anyone (except Matthew Lickona). However, since I've brought it up: When Sisterhood Was In Flower by Florence King, an author to whom the overused descriptor "profane" applies in spades. Here she's skewering the feminist movement, ca. 1971. Much of it is hilariously unquotable on a family blog (at one point the narrator takes to writing cheap porn novels), but I can excerpt this bit from a women's issues talkshow:
"Now I know what your question is, " said Ms. Garrison-Talbot. "Everybody always asks it. You must be worried about the baby's soft spot."
I was worried about hers. She turned the birth bucket on its side so the camera could pick up the interior.
"You have to put something soft in the bottom for the baby to land in. Ancient Egyptian women used crocodile dung. It's not available here in Massachusetts, but if you plan to give birth in the Gulf Coast area, your husband or the father of your child can gather it for you as mine did. It's a good way to test his supportiveness. Remember, though, it must be fresh dung. The best way to gather it is to wait behind a crocodile who is moving his or her bowels. When the dung emerges, thrust a skate board under the anus to catch it. Do not use plastic bags! Their crinkly sound tends to anger the crocodile."
"Is it possible to get the dung from zoos?" asked Polly.
Ms. Garrison-Talbot's eyes hardened. "The zoos have ben totally unsupportive."
"What are the chances of setting up a meaningful dialogue with zoo directors?"
"Nonexistent," Ms. Garrison-Talbot said grimly. "We've tried to get our dung through the proper channels but we met with mockery at every turn. My car was even defaced. Someone wrote 'baby sitter' on the windshield and a male veterinarian referred to me as the 'ding-dung' lady'."
Polly Bradshaw grimaced in disgust. "We'll never be free until they stop calling us ladies. Grace, what are your plans for the Birth Bucket League now?"
"Polly, we're going to fight for our rights to crocodile dung. We're setting up a letter-writing campaign to put pressure on the zoos, and my husband is chairing the Ad Hoc Dung Now committee from his hospital bed in Everglades Memorial. We're not going to give up until every woman is able to purchase crocodile dung from the zoo of her choice."
"Beautiful! Right on!" cheered Polly Bradshaw.
"In the meantime, I can recommend some substitutes for crocodile dung. Moldy bread is the best. Crumble it and line the bottom of your birth bucket with it. It's soft, and a natural source of penicillin, which means it's sterile. And best of all, it's easy to obtain -- every active, involved woman's kitchen is full of it.