The MIFA Store

The MIFA store's really looking great these days. I mentioned that they were overhauling the place a little while back, but I hadn't had a chance to stop in and check it out until just a little while ago.

They REALLY cleaned up and cleared out a bunch of old merchandise and clothes and stuff, and straightened out some of the more confusing elements of the layout and pricing scheme of the place.

And while you run the risk during a process like that of losing some of the dingy charm that makes the secondhand experience so magical, I would venture to say that the other thrift stores in this town definitely have enough of that to make up for the MIFA store deciding to clean up its act a little bit.

Anyway, they still have the requisite "huge barrel of crutches and bed frame pieces" so I'm going to go ahead and say they're basically keeping it real.

The mrs. nabbed this snazz-tacular electric waffle iron (for making electric waffles, don'tcha know) for the low low price of $5 - it's so deco!

This is a first, I think, in any thrift store I've ever been in. An honest to goodness little reading nook. Granted, it's just a chair next to some rolling shelves, and the huge warehouse-sized incandescent lights they use to illuminate the place would probably boil your eyes out of your skull if you tried to read under them for longer than, say, 5 minutes, but it's the thought that counts here people, for reals.

Now here's something you don't see every day. Honestly I wouldn't have had any clue what it even was, if the good people in the back room hadn't thought to label it (much appreciated). It is, a phone stand. Like for when people actually had phones in their homes, and sat next to them while they talked. The thing on the bottom is for your phone book. I'd never seen one of these before, and I found it so charming and anachronistic that I almost bought it just on principle, but alas, I know I'll never have a home phone again, let alone a delightful little chair to sit on next to my stand while I chat my afternoon away. Ah, the joys of a bygone era.

I had my buddy Mike put his iPhone on top of it while I took this picture, just to illuminate how far we've come in the intervening decades since this thing was undoubtedly lovingly crafted by hand. Ladies and gentlemen... progress.

Do you know the muffin man? I do, and he's FUCKING ADORABLE. His name is Charles Q. Popover and he is full of treats. If you find him and introduce yourself politely, in the manner befitting a gentle man or a lady, he will kindly grant you one wish. I wished for a candy bar, and after I left the MIFA store I went to a gas station and bought myself a candy bar, so I guess my wish was sort of granted. God bless you Charles Q. Popover.

The MIFA store always has all this crazy industrial shit, I have no idea where it comes from. Whatever they can't fit in the store they set out on the back loading dock... pianos, refrigerators, all sorts of big furniture and crap like that. I guess since they rearranged, they have more room for stuff like this humongous industrial rack fridge, presumably for catering or something like that. $150.

They also have a sort of "boutique" section right up near the front - jewelry case, slightly nicer clothes, nothing too staggeringly expensive, but stuff that probably couldn't be lumped in with the $4 dresses and $5 coats. These glasses were, in fact, very nice.


On second thought keep it to yourself.

Go see the MIFA store, kids. It's looking pretty snazzy, and you don't have to drive out to the uncharted wildernesses of Bartlett or Presley Blvd to get there. It's a local charity organization, they work hard to do good things in the community and they're really trying to put together the best store they can. Let's encourage them. Check out their blog. There's an email list. Get involved. You'll be glad you did.

Talk to you later



Salvation Army Danny Thomas

i may have mentioned this before at some point, but did you know they have rankings and titles in the salvation army, just like in the actual military army? that's right, with time, patience, dedication, and training, you can rise to the rank of major, lieutenant, colonel... hell, even vice admiral (not actually) of the lord's own fucking army! now, granted, you can't drink, smoke, gamble, or marry anyone outside of the organization (creepy?), but you know... trade offs. anyway. here is one of their thrift stores.

this one was a gimme. my wife drinks coffee out of it at work now. how could you say no?

IT EVEN HAS A NAME. AND! it says "GAY 8" on the bottom, for reasons which are happily unbeknownst to all involved. regardless, wayne gay 8 is a fantastic coffee cup. this is kind of the epitome of the type of thing that makes me wonder if people who don't shop at thrift stores have any idea what they're missing. this is a skull coffee cup named wayne gay 8. it cost, oh, i don't know, a buck, maybe. something like that. you want to show me another store, anywhere, where you could buy that, for any price?

his hair is shaped the same as his butt cheeks. this captures all the drama, passion, intensity, and butt cheek shape of a real actual bullfight, i imagine, without the whole hideous depressing spectacle of a bunch of assholes in ugly outfits spearing a fucking defenseless animal before basically taunting it and killing it in front of several thousand cheering other assholes.

i wish this happened at every match.

i wish this was happening in the street outside my apartment RIGHT FUCKING NOW

ahhh... magical outer space love unicorns, you are a soothing balm to me, as always. i don't honestly know what my favorite part of this picture is. the symmetric nature of the composition? the fact that they're touching horns in front of what appears to be a heart shaped black hole? that people feel compelled to SIGN pieces like this with their own personal names? i just can't decide. oh well.

so ok. here's a pretty remarkable find, in and of itself. all this pampered chef shit is pretty high-end, quality stoneware that will last the rest of your life if you take care of it. i came across one of these exact guys a couple years ago for extremely cheap, and have used the crap out of it ever since, so i was super pumped to see another one. so i'm gawking at it, throwing it in my cart, taking pictures and basically having a little shit fit over on my own when my goodly wife calls over to me from a few feet away: "hey, holy shit, check this out." i, interrupted mid-geek out, respond with my usual snarky impatience "HANG ON THIS IS AMAZING AND I'M TAKING PICTURES OF IT, WHATEVER IT IS THAT YOU HAVE OVER THERE THAT'S SO COOL AND IMPORTANT WILL HAVE TO WAIT" (i talk in all caps when i'm annoyed) and when i finally catch my breath again what i do see over yonder but this:

for those of you keeping score at home, that's two of these, one of these, and one of these, all new, untouched, never used, for no more than like five or six bucks a piece, i think. total cost, shipping NOT included, from the pampered chef website: 149.50. total cost from the good people at salvation army? about 32 bucks. you BET we bought them all.

i don't want to make it seem like finds like this are an everyday occurrence. i hope regular readers of this internet thrift focused blogging space (if there are any of you left) will have figured out by now that for every profoundly successful and rewarding trip out into the great secondhand unknown, there are at least as many times when you come home empty handed, having seen nothing but a bunch of ill-fitting clothes, sniveling toddlers, and yanni-centric mixtapes, but with time, dedication, and patience, you will inevitably come across a few gold mines every now and then, provided you have eyes to see. this is indisputably one of them. you're talking about basically a lifetime supply of REALLY high quality stoneware for less than 1/4 of the total cost from the manufacturer, MUCH less if you factor in shipping. that is just insane.

i'd now like to follow up that halfway lucid, cogent argument for the value of exploring the secondhand market with this silly, pointless picture of my good friend mk holding a ceramic unicorn. we're all about balance here at bitter/books LLC, you people should know that by now.

for many years i did not believe that the road runner was an actual creature that existed in nature. i don't know why, i suppose i blame the people at warner brothers for making it hard for my eight year old mind to believe in some magical being that spent all its life running from coyotes and disappearing into a cloud of dust and running into mountains that had tunnel murals painted on the side of them by the aforementioned resourceful coyotes, all in some twisted, malformed, single minded search for birdseed? who could be expected to believe in that? apparently they are a real thing though, real enough to make a kitschy ceramic coffee mug about, at least.

no great surprise, but my sympathies have been mostly for wile e. during the bulk of my life, something about the constantly frustrated struggle of this poor creature just trying to secure himself some sustenance, subjected to the most unimaginably painful tortures again and again, without even the sweet release of death to salve his suffering, all at his own hand, as a result of his own actions, just clicked with me, on whatever level. wile e. coyote as sisyphus, as tantalus, as damocles, as diogenes. as orpheus. i'm reaching, but you get the idea. anyway.

fake feet! wtf? what do you do with fake feet, one might be compelled to ask?

well i guess you put your real feet on them. you got any better ideas? they actually fit my real wife's real feet too, which is kind of creepy. foot fetish enthusiasts, have at it. on second thought, don't. you perverts.

bought this, to no one's great surprise.

that's all. until next time, in the words of the bard -

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.



Goodwill Austin Peay

had another delightful romp through the herman j. goodwill store on austin peay highway not too long ago.

i'm a sucker for novelty shot glasses, always have been, even ones like this that are actually kind of a pain in the ass to drink out of. this horse is just so fucking cute, i can scarcely resist the urge to fill his head full of bourbon and drink out of it! surely i can't be the only person who feels that way.

further proof that the playboy corporation has probably put their logo on every single item known to man by this point. lighters, t-shirts, mudflaps... why not oversized ceramic travel muggish looking things, too? i ask you, why not? damn, looking at this picture now, for two bucks, i really should have bought this thing. oh well, non-buyer's remorse i guess, always stings a little harder. i guess i just find the whole playboy "brand" such a laughable self-parody by this point that my initial reaction whenever i see anything bearing the bunny ears is always "eww, no," even though this is sort of tasteful and cool, not to mention useful, and it hearkens back to an era when ol' hef's cultural monolith seemed to stand for something a little more substantial than silicon, smoking jackets, and limp lifestyle branding. maybe i'm a little delusional.


IT WANTS ITS RELISH. your guess is as good as mine as to what these two things have to do with each other. the perfect christmas gift for that friend or family member who loves democracy... and relish. personally i rather lean towards the "Monarchy Mustard" container, or even the "Communism Catsup," but really i'll take any system of societal organization that can easily be paired with a popular hot dog topping. the sauerkraut of serfdom, anyone?

stumbled across two of these righteous little table lamps, which my wife immediately snapped up and is currently artifying in her own inimitable fashion... if you're curious as to what that might look like, just picture the lamp you see here covered in desiccated bird skeletons and yellowed illustrations from old medical textbooks.

just funnin' with you, dearest. fear not, i'll keep bringing you the carcasses if you keep making them pretty.

love you. don't kill me for sharing your work with the masses... if nothing else, you'd be the most obvious suspect.

i LOVE isaac asimov. while i haven't exactly read volumes of his shit, i've liked everything i've ever encountered of his, be it in the printed word, adapted for radio, bastardized into film... you name it. i think the 20th century will be remembered as an era in which our imaginations took us farther ahead, faster, and into stranger places than any previous time in human history, and few people in the 20th century had an imagination or an intelligence to rival asimov's. his whole body of work, his whole life story (along with guys like heinlein and vonnegut) makes me unspeakably happy to be the complete and utter nerd that i am. i mean, look at this guy.

are you telling me you wouldn't want to get a beer with this guy? if for no other reason than to ask him what was up with the whole super quiz thing? i know i would.

this was a pleasant surprise. the d'aulaires' books on norse and greek mythology were SUCH a huge part of my childhood, i always sort of meant to look for more of their work, but i never really got around to it. anyone with kids, or in a position to buy gifts for kids occasionally (aunts and uncles, i'm looking at you here), if you've never seen any of their work, do yourself a favor and check it out. if the kid in question has even the slightest fraction of a brain in their head, they'll glom on to all of this stuff (especially the greek and norse mythology books) and never let go.

i believe it was actually a time/life set, but this reminded me so much of those silly commercials from the 80's that i had to take a picture of it. you remember what i'm talking about? "JOIN NOW AND RECEIVE OUR FIRST VOLUME: MYSTERIES OF THE UNEXPLAINED. FUTURE VOLUMES WILL FOLLOW AT THE LOW COST OF 19.95 PER BOOK, CANCEL ANY TIME," blah blah blah. those (and the ominous narration of Robert Stack on Unsolved Mysteries) used to scare the living shit out of little eight year old me.

meanwhile, 28 year old me is only now realizing the painful redundancy built into this title. think about it for a second...

ALL MYSTERIES ARE UNEXPLAINED. that's why they call them MYSTERIES. if they were EXPLAINED, there wouldn't be any MYSTERY any more.


you want to see some bizarre phenomena? check out the fucking size of this spider we saw on the trash can outside. puts a daddy longlegs to shame, i tell you.

oh, right, we're still sort of talking about thrift stores here, aren't we, in the breaks in between lengthy diatribes about science fiction authors i slavishly adore and things that used to scare me when i was a little kid? well in that case check out this BALLIN' player piano (kurt vonnegut wrote a book called player piano which i read and liked - sorry, i couldn't help it) for christ, i don't know, like 100, 200 bucks i think. i have honestly never seen one of these things for sale before, and it's interesting, for as long as i've been doing this and as much one of a kind shit as i've seen, i still get those moments from time to time where your rational mind, which is saying, you know, "there's no place for you to put this, you can't really afford it, you have no way of even getting it home from the store" is just completely shouted down by that screaming voice in the forefront of your mind going OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD IT'S A FUCKING PLAYER PIANO BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT NOW DAMMIT but thankfully i know enough to take a few deep breaths, collect myself, maybe go into a quiet bathroom stall and cry a little, then leave the damn thing behind, which is what i did.


i fucked up, didn't i.

yeah, i did.



Salvation Army Austin Peay

we ventured out on a bucolic, picturesque afternoon not too long ago to a favorite destination, the salvation army (is it bad that i always type it "slavation army" at first?) on austin peay highway. we rolled three deep that day:

spousal unit, myself, and dearest friend michael from back in the day, who was in town for a week of debauchery and friendship. odd, how often those two things seem to go hand in hand. i digress.

the selection was fairly well bangin', as usual, and i picked up a few sweet finds, like this t-shirt from the bellevue student ministry, which i saw and immediately realized i could tweak just slightly with the judicious application of some white out, to suit my philosophical outlook somewhat better. so this shirt you see pictured above, with one deft stroke of liquid paper, was transformed from




which as i said suits me much better. i also like how for whatever reason, everything colored white in the above photograph decided to glow fucking super brightly, lending the whole thing an added air of holiness. i'm sure it's some complicated photography thing that i would understand better... IF ONLY I HAD FINISHED ART SCHOOL! [sob]

i love globes. especially outdated ones like this. every time i pass one i'm tempted to do the old "spin the globe and point your finger and that's where you're going to go next!" thing which in this case took me almost exactly onto the border area between iran, afghanistan, and pakistan, which, you know, thanks and all, but i think i'll pass. i took a breeze through the "PLAN YOUR NEXT VACATION TO BEAUTIFUL SCENIC ZAHEDAN (FORMERLY DOZZ-AAP)" brochure and i think i'll take waikiki instead, if it's all the same. k?

all of this, every last part of it, confuses me. is there a lot of competition to be the "#1 Celebrity DVD News Magazine?" what exactly IS that, even? does the fact that it's "Unauthorized!" really entice anyone to buy it? again, what does that even mean? the only thing i can get behind is that brad pitt is certainly a hunk of something. what that is exactly i think is still open to a fair amount of debate. he kind of looks like a hunk of mushed up modeling clay that someone put in the oven and then took out too soon, before it was done baking, in that main picture on the front.

"Hollywood's Hottest Hunk of Mushed Up Modeling Clay That Someone Put In the Oven and Then Took Out Too Soon, Before It Was Done Baking: Brad Pitt"

now THAT i'd watch, unauthorized or not.

i love these things! the colors! so primary! someone told me these were for hospitals and i guess i can see that, but i was real tempted to grab them and use them for funs instead. they're so modular! plus it encourages you to eat more balanced meals because you have to come up with something to put in the other spots on the tray, once you've slapped your large sizzling piece of meat down in the biggest section. of course you could always just put little green plastic army men in the other spots on the tray, and pretend that the large piece of meat in the other section is a giant invading steak monster from the planet cafeteria, and your little plastic battalion is the only thing standing in between it and civilization.

life's too short not to play with your food people

there were several huge stacks of pristine 45s. almost half of them were this exact record. there had to be 30 or 40 copies. i've never (to my knowledge) heard this song but it must REALLY REALLY SUCK so if anyone tries to play it for you, you have my permission to tell them to go ahead and take a big old flying fuck at themselves

speaking of f-words and such, i managed to find one of the "steamy" passages in what is surely the finest example of erotic fiction ever created - "Lingering Shadows." how shadows exactly manage to linger, i don't think they ever get around to addressing, but there is sure a whole buttload of sexin' going on, including what for my money is maybe the funniest verbal description of foreplay ever written:

"He trembled violently against her, his thumb rubbing fiercely against her nipple..."

is that how grownups do it? they have seizures and try to rip each other's nipples off with their thumbs? i'd hate for some clueless teenager to get his hands on this book and take it as some kind of how to manual on how to perform the sex act. and a note to any impressionable young (or old) women out there, from men the world round: please don't murmur softly against our mouths while we're trying to grope you. we find it distracting, and a little confusing, and it may cause us to tremble violently and potentially injure your nipples with our thumbs. thanks.

a perfectly good martini glass, ruined. decorate your own dishes with ugly glazes and a shitty brush, all in the comfort of your own home! this does not say "cocktail olive on a toothpick" to me nearly as much as it says "oh shit, there's something floating in my drink... oh god, what is that? is that a gangrenous eyeball floating in front of fish poop? no more appletinis for me!" which is probably not the reaction whoever created this piece of thing was going for, if i had to guess.

we are comedic geniUSes, but alas, i noticed upon further inspection that the humor in this picture may be slightly difficult to make out, considering it's a tiny, low resolution image, taken on an extremely poor quality digital camera by a woefully underqualified photographer, in a mirror, no less. thankfully there was another record on hand to rectify that situation. here it is.

boners. you see? you get it? boners! because... yeah. anyway.

i know this is funny for some reason, but i just can't figure out why. aaargh!

i love badminton. that is all.

and last, but not least... what do these two things have in common?

they both gave me an erection.