Cheap Things No One Needs

(It’s easy to find copies of movies that show on TV all the time.)

There were few patients today at the Urgent Care where I work, so I spent a pleasant hour at the thrift store nearby.  Thrift stores in the Pacific Northwest are exceptionally good.  There are unbelievable deals on clothing and household goods.  People recycle their excess possessions with great dedication in this region.  But what I like best is to window shop the media items folks have decided they can live without.  I would seriously like to know what kind of inner voice urged people to buy these things in the first place.

I found a CD called “Today’s Movie Hits – Vol. 1”, that consisted entirely of cover versions of pop songs from films, performed by Canadian “sound-alike” bands.  WAIT, THERE’S MORE…

The songs were from sequels; Ghostbusters II, Back to the Future III etc. It was marked $2.99.  Mega-ripoff!

I briefly perused the incredible selection of hardback books written for extremely select audiences.  I’ll bet you didn’t know the Entomological Society of America had so much to talk about in 1952, huh?  Entomology is bug studies.  I also took a pass on the opportunity to purchase the biographies of some little-known US Cabinet members.  The 56th (and last) Secretary of War became the Secretary of the Army, but was fired in 1949 for refusing to desegregate it.  Iowans make a big deal out of having given birth to Herbert Hoover, one of our most unsuccessful Presidents.  I guess after that Great Depression he preferred to write about other periods in his life.  Oh, and it turns out infrared technology didn’t come from reverse-engineering the Roswell crash.  I was misinformed.

The real bonanza was in the next aisle, the big rack of VHS tapes.  VHS is an obsolete videotape format, but people still have the machines, so you can buy analog copies of movies and TV shows at bargain prices.  There were so many unique productions to entice a lover of odd things like me!  It was hard to resist:

A multi-tape Collector’s Set of episodes of The Monkees aka “The Pre-Fab Four”.  They were still in shrink-wrap!  No price marked, hence probably negotiable.

A Hi-Fi VHS copy of Thunder Alley (1985) starring the late Leif Garrett and a guy from the Porky’s movies – with foreign subtitles! (What language is that?)  This was only $1.99, far less than the $14.75 asked for on eBay.

I had a hard time understanding what Rodeo Bloopers would be, though it appears there are enough of them for a series.  In rodeo events riders try and stay on bucking horses and bulls until they are thrown off.  Are the bloopers footage of them FAILING to be thrown off?

This isn’t the more-valuable Peter and the Wolf performed by Wendy Carlos with narration by Weird Al Yankovic.  This one’s played by “The Chamber Orchestra of Europe” (I hear they’re good) with narration by Sting and featuring the Spitting Image puppets.  99 cents!

Ahh… At last.  A James Cameron film priced at its actual worth.

No, I didn’t buy anything.

If you own too many things, the things (in fact) own you.



Filed under humor, photos

33 responses to “Cheap Things No One Needs

  1. Deborah

    Hi Mikey

    I just made a note of your final sentence (thank you!) — so true, and so succinctly expressed.

  2. I love going in Thrift Stores. Even if I’m not buying, I usually see something that triggers a bout of nostalgia.
    Case in point, I love the Monkees. I used to watch it with my older cousin after school. It was the only I time he wanted to hang out with an annoying little pest who followed him around all day, embarrassing him in front of his friends. He was my hero.
    Thanks for the memory!

    • Aww, that’s nice. My younger sister was totally gaga for them. I was listening to Classical at that age, but I did cheat and play her records when she wasn’t around. Here’s a link to a song Carole King wrote for them while she was in momfog mode:

  3. I have been looking EVERYWHERE for copies of The Monkees TV series! And you just happen across a set wandering through a thrift shop!
    The youngest and I have been having quite a long running discussion on the values and perils of popular culture, which actually began with the two Davey Jones’ of the era and what led one to become a Bowie. I’ve wanted copies so she can see for herself that boy-bands are not exclusive to her generation. You’ve renewed my faith that they ARE out there!

  4. I am glad you did not buy anything, but, then, I wonder, would you fess up if you did? Thanks for sharing your afternoon excursion and making me laugh.

    • I came sooooo close to dropping the dime for “Titanic”. You see I DO have a VHS/DVD player, which I have unpacked but not hooked up. One of our arbitrary de-cluttering rules is that if ANYTHING is to be brought into the house, something of equal or greater size must go out. All the VHS tapes I kept were unusual titles or transfers from home movies. I’ll bet everyone reading this could do a blog post on odd stuff they’ve chosen to save! Well, I could… (hmmm hehhehheh…) As usual, you are an inspiration Debbie. And nothing makes me happier than to be able to amuse others.

  5. TLatshaw

    The image of the titular wolf on that cassette case is disturbing enough, then your eyes trail downward to the malicious puppet staring back at you with its vacant, soulless-yet-still-full-of-hate eyes…

    By the way, I’m finally living on my own near Grand Rapids. Making a good time of it, too. Thanks for all the advice you’ve given me in the past!

    • LOL – That puppet in the corner is sposed to be Sting.

      I’m so happy for you Tim! I knew you could do it all along. Your goals were always modest and reasonable, so they were achievable.

  6. I must have “Today’s Movie Hits – Vol. 1”. Where can I get it?

  7. (lol) you totally caught my attention with the first shot of VHS tapes! I had to laugh. You’re so right, who wants to own movies that circle on TV ALL. THE. TIME. And it is truly amazing and hilarious what one can find at thrift stores. Very amusing post 🙂

  8. HAHA! I love what you wrote re: the rodeo bloopers. Maybe somehow the lasso ended up around their own neck?

  9. I hate to shop, but my kids like to, so we go to the various thrift stores now and then. I head right for the books–great finds! But also books like the ones you mentioned–I just have to shake my head. Your post has motivated me to start my spring purge of all the things I don’t need/want anymore, especially those things that have been breeding in the garage.

  10. Pie

    Oh, Mikey! You’re my brother in tat! What a sterling collection. I couldn’t have done better myself.

    I love scanning charity shops to see what I can find. Sometimes you can get some real beauties (and I’m being serious now). A few years ago, I bought a 70s circular trolley table thing made of white plastic with chrome legs for ten of my English pounds. A few years before that, I found some original Babycham glasses and bought two for £3. They are usually around £10-15 each in some vintage stores.

    I think the language on the front of that video with Lief Garrett (I didn’t even know he’d died. When did that happen?!) is Japanese. The heavy graphics makes me think that it is, but of course I could be wrong.

    Titanic isn’t worth a wipe on the bottom of my shoe, never mind ten cents, but Peter and the Wolf, featuring spitting image puppets with a demonic Sting on the cover is priceless. I will be checking out “Today’s Movie Hits – Vol 1” in due course – I need to prepare myself.

    • That little trip, and the comment by Debbie Hampton (above) have urged me to turn my jaundiced view to some of the ridiculous crap I hauled across the continent, and to take another look at the AMAZING “offers” arriving each day in the post. STAY TUNED!

  11. This entry makes me miss both my thrift shop days and the Pacific Northwest like mad. OTOH, it reminds me to be grateful that I may experience these things vicariously through the vivid words of others.

  12. I have been suffering lately from ownership by too many material possessions. F’rinstance, we have two broken vaccuum cleaners. Where I live, you have to pay 35 clams apiece to leave them at the dump ( I mean transfer station, I mean distribution cen — oh whatever) because of all the parts in them that are bad for the earth — that is, bad for the earth when you dig a hole and dump them in it and bury them forever — and you can’t sell them (no one wants them, not even for parts), and you can’t give them away. These possessions truly own me; they cause me anxiety and cost me money and worst of all they cost me time I can never get back. I look at them and see my life draining away. Sure, I want to buy some VHS tapes, just let me take a crossbow to my forehead first.

    • I don’t know if they have a Waste Not Want Not store where you are, Matt, but outside of the one here you can leave any item including broken appliances at a big table with the sign “FREE STUFF” on it. Whatever’s left there disappears within days. It’s magic.

      Though Goodwill and the Salvation Army don’t want broken appliances, smaller thrift stores definitely do take them sometimes. They sell them as-is for pennies to people who can fix them. I know it’s depressing, but don’t give up! I’ve even seen broken glass sold for use in art projects.

      Next I must brave the Crypt of Abandoned Audio Gear. That’s my albatross.

      • I will look into WNWN. Thanks. I can see many potential uses for broken glass — when I consider my useless appliances and lawn mowers I feel like chewing on some.

        Audio gear, wow, my pulse rises. The tape decks, the turntables, the headphones, the still-wrapped cable-end adaptors. Miles of wire. I feel obliged to tell you that if you insist on descending into that Tartarus, I shall in no wise accompany you but shall pray for you instead. Tie a chord of hemp to yourself before going in and that way if you encounter trouble someone could pull you out. Remember that (apocryphal) story of the Roman centurion? who, when told that if he insisted on going to such and such a place he would surely be killed, gave the brave reply: “It is not necessary that I live. It is necessary that I go.” This reminds me of that. Sort of. Good luck.

  13. Some people are hooked (no pun intended!) on thrift stores, but you’re right about the need for self-control when it comes to acquiring things.

    • Indeed, for not having the self-control verily leads unto a Day of Reckoning, when one realizes one is buried alive in consumer goods and schmatta. (I so dread cleaning out that audio storage closet.)

  14. If you buy all your stuff at the thrift store, you can buy twice as much stuff or more. And then you can feel less guilty later when you get rid of it, since you didn’t need any of it in the first place.

    • That might work if I wasn’t short of space in which to put the things I ALREADY have that I don’t need. We rent a storage locker for the excess, and we’re determined to eliminate that expense. Thanks for coming by, Binky. (What a cute avatar!)

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