We get a lot of circulars and catalogues in the mail, as in, our recycling bin for paper is full every couple of weeks (one week if there's a major shopping holiday coming up, like Christmas or, big surprise, VALENTINE'S DAY), and that's the catalogues we don't keep. Eevery six months or so, we clear out all the catalogues we've kept because we might want something, and that usually fills the bin to overflowing. I don't sign up for catalogues, nor do I ever skip the "opt-out" button when buying things on-line, but since every magazine we subscribe to sends its mailing list to every catalogue company on earth, we get a lot. When we moved, it took less than a month for our catalogue harvest to get to pre-move levels.
"Why don't you just call them and stop delivery?" I hear you ask. Well, truth be told, I enjoy flipping through the things - sitting at the computer for long stretches can really hurt, and sitting with a catalogue, marking every thing I'd buy if I had unlimited money is a form of window-shopping, and I find it fun and relaxing. Also, if I stopped all the catalogues, I'd never have found my really close to Elizabethan backgammon board (it was called "tables", and I saw a picture of one once that looked almost exactly like the one I bought). It was even more special in that the pieces and dice were made of bone and horn, not the plastic that all other boards use (I even ordered one once that said "bone", but they were plastic. I was so cross!). They only sell it at Christmas, too.
And it's not just the period-style stuff - it's the fun things I'd never in a million years think to look for, like the Barbie Collector's catalogue, where you, too, can pay $300 for a Barbie with a "silkstone" body intended for collector's only, so you can't even play with the damn' thing. I once got a catalogue put out by Cher, full of gothic silliness and overpriced stuff you can buy at Hot Topic (or could, when they were selling to goth kids). If you want an "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" themed house, she was the one to go to (15 years ago. Now it seems like everyone has jumped on the neo-Victorian goth/steampunk train).
In other words, I like the paper versions. I see things I would never think to look for on-line. Casual browsing on the computer is harder than flipping through a paper catalog, and it's much quicker to pick up the catalogue and show guests the hilarious "period" costume Museum Replicas puts out. I also love the mailings that come in a thick envelope of 4x6" pieces of paper advertising random crap from random companies (this is how the "As Seen on TV!" companies attempt to reach people who don't watch TV). I like these less than the cataloges, because I am guaranteed to rip the envelope, thus making little rectangles of cheap shiny paper fly everywhere, and dive under the couch, never to be seen again.
Inside the last treasury of such disparate items as the "Mr Steamy Lint Balls" (2 for $7) and a reflective plastic owl cut-out designed to scare birds from your fruit trees ($14.95), was an ad for a book called "101 Things to do With a Cake Mix", which made me wonder what terrible, terrible things can one do with a cake mix, other than make delicious baked goods with a slightly plastic aftertaste?*
Sadly, the writers have not plumbed the glorious depths of cake mix creativity; it appears to be a simple cook book suggesting that you make brownies (yeah, that's a stretch - and isn't there a box mix for those?), peanut-butter cookies (ditto), "Banana Split Cake" (does not sound delightful at all), and ice-cream sandwiches (note: Ice-cream required. Also, spare time better spent reading a decent book, while eating store-bought ice-cream sandwiches, which will almost certainly taste better).
I suppose it's just me, but I was hoping for fun stuff, like buying ten boxes for cheap and making cake bricks to build a cake fort (icing makes an excellent mortar, as long as you stay away from the "whipped" stuff). In fact, I couldn't think of 101 things, but I came up with a shorter list:
1. Add water and re-grout bathroom tile.
2. Pour box on bed and have a cake-flavoured orgy (Happy Valentine's Day! Now go change the sheets).
3. Add bird seed and make really weird suet cakes to confuse your birds.
4. Spackle holes in the wall (match cake flavour to paint colour).
5. Pour cake mix into balloons and have a cake fight (if you have cranky room-mates or nice furniture, do this outdoors).
6. Pad your bra with unopened bags of mix (soft!).
7. Bake in a bread loaf pan and see if it tastes good in a grilled cheese sandwich.
8. See if raw cake batter works as a facial treatment (don't sue me if this turns out to be a bad idea).
9. See if cake mix powder works as well as bovine milk replacement powder for creating explosion effects and make your own action movie (film this for YouTube, please).
10. Turn your experiments with cake mix into a best-selling book (I get half).
*Don't get me wrong; I love cake mix, and use it all the time. It does have a distinctive flavour all its own, though, somewhat like knock-off brand Twinkies.