Reviewing Through the Time Machine: Inexplicable Objects

Today, this most wonderful piece of nonsense rolled across my Tumblr:

An Inflatable Beard of Bees

An Inflatable Beard of Bees. Click it to go to the shop from which you can buy this treasure!

An Inflatable Beard of Bees!

‘None of the danger of using actual bees’

When a beekeeper wants to impress the ladies, he puts a queen bee in a small cage under his chin and waits for the other bees to swarm and form a “beard” on his face and body. That sounds like a lot of bother… If you want to say “bee mine” to your honey, just wear this Inflatable Beard of Bees and you’ll be all the buzz.

In addition to the incalculable joy of beholding such a fabulous object, I was reminded of one of my very favourite corners of the Internet: Inexplicable Objects.

By the time I found Inexplicable Objects it had already ceased updating, but thanks be to tiny little kittens, the owner of the website is still maintaining the archive. I can only hope that he does so indefinitely, because this little pot of joy can keep even the most world-weary of wombles serene for months.

A cupcake with a festive plane-on-a-stick in it.What it is, is this: once a week (roughly) from 19th April 1998 to 10th June 2001, Bill Young (aka thoughtviper) posted photos of various objects from his uniquely inexplicable collection. Supposedly, this InExObsession started when, on a plane as a child, he had been given a cupcake decorated with a plastic stick topped by the image of a jumbo jet, pointed at the ground. Quoth he:

When I was a kid I went on my first airplane flight.
The stewardess gave me a cupcake with a festive plane-on-a-stick in it.
Even as a kid, my first thought was:
I don’t want to be on a 707 if it’s approaching the ground at that angle…
Plummet the Friendly Skies of United.

With the advent of the Internet, Bill was able to share his obsession with the world, along with a witty commentary rarely to be equalled. The website is simplistic in the manner you’d expect from its era, but this is joy that doesn’t need to be muddied by frills and whistles (thank goodness, we are not treated to 8-bit Greensleeves).

Given that the website has not been updated in over a decade it’s something of a miracle that it still exists. Others have not been so lucky. At Week 47, Bill introduced Inexplicable Links of the Week to accompany the Inexplicable Objects. Most are now dead. In fact, many were hosted on sites, like geocities, which themselves no longer exist. It makes me reflect on the changes the Ineternet has undergone. Sure, the crazy is still out there, but it’s less likely to have a website of its own. It’s more likely to be hanging out on Twitter or Tumblr or Reddit. Even then, I tried to Google for ‘crazy tumblrs’ and all I came back with was a bunch of witty, slightly surreal, generally well-put-together blogs, such as ‘Feminist Ryan Gosling‘, or blogs like ‘Crazy shit people do with their Barbies‘, most of which is quite artistic, if also a bit disturbing. I suppose the independent crazy is still out there, but it gets much less traffic, these days: squeezed out of Google rankings by the millions of well-made, useful, insteresting, or intentionally funny websites out there.

It’s not bad thing, in and of itself – better content is good, right? But it does seem to me that this is a reflection of the passing of the Frontier Age of the Internet, where claims were out there for the staking for anyone with imagination and just a little spare time on their hands. Which I guess is why it’s so wonderful that so dated and-yet-still-amusing a site as Inexplicable Objects still exists.

A Pez with the head of an octopus... or is it...?My first encounter with Inexplicable objects came when a friend of the Lovecraftian persuasion linked to it from their LiveJournal. Or possibly someone had found the site for them and was drawing it to their attention – the details are lost in the mists of time. Anyway, the object in question was this: CTHULHU PEZ. I challenge you not to feel enchanted. In the words of Bill Young:

‘Yeah, big deal, Pez.

Wait a minute–
If it’s a Pez dispenser, then that’s not an octopus–
It’s something with the head of an octopus–

IT’S A CTHULHU PEZ!!
At The Big Rock Candy Mountains of Madness!
The Coloured Flavored Chalk Out of Space!
NyarlahotePez!!

You know–
Eating something that’s been disgorged from some critter’s throat is kinda creepy when you think about it.’

I was so tickled by this that I went to investigate the rest of the site, which then continued bringing me joy for months as I worked through its archive. I was crestfallen when I realised it was coming to an end. Granted, at some point, we must all get on with our lives, regardless of how beloved our Internet sensation has become. We can but be thankful that it is still there to visit.

I hope that this trip through the time machine has allowed me to pass some of the joy on to you, and that perhaps my links will help provide a continued influx of hits to the site and let its owner know that it is still valued.

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