Friday, October 16, 2009

A Tube for the Times

While going through some boxes recently, I found a relic of the late 20th century, namely the Tube of Gloom. Thinking that recent events might call for widespread distribution of such an object at City Hall, I looked up the place in Seattle where I bought it, only to have my search for the product fail.

Sure, you can still buy lots of other fun products at Archie McPhee's, but none so perfect for the times as the Tube of Gloom. Hailed by Wired magazine as one of the top 10 toys of 1994, it can sadly no longer be had.

As a reporter, I was especially glad to have mine around on Election Night, when each of us in the newsroom had to wrest results from a half-dozen municipal clerks. This involved about a million callbacks. Sometimes a clerk would just go home before the final callback , leaving us at the mercy of a wrathful editor. We also had to start work at 3 p.m., but sometimes did not wring out the last tally until after midnight.

With one hand on the touch-tone pad, I could still tilt the Tube of Gloom in the other hand to call forth its moans of agony.

"Call back in five minutes," a clerk would advise for the tenth time.

Aaarrrgh!

A lot of us kept toys at hand to relieve tension. One editor even had a Boxing Nun and another shot Nerf projectiles around the newsroom. Call it "going journalistic."

I just thought the way things are going over on Watchung Avenue, a Tube of Gloom would be the ideal accoutrement to a yellow legal pad and an ill-gotten Mont Blanc pen in executive session.

Oh well, I guess they will just have to stock up on bubble wrap and, like another editor, pop the bubbles all day to settle their nerves.

Have courage, folks. Just keep saying, like the popularity of the Tube of Gloom, "This too shall pass."

--Bernice

3 Comments:

Anonymous Jim Pivnichny said...

Benice,
It is my firm intention to ban the Tube of Gloom from Plainfield and to stop feeding Mark Spivey bad-things-happening-in-Plainfield news articles. What will Mark do if his computer dies from starvation?

8:52 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Bernice --

This is getting scary. Not only do the same buildings (and cats) attract our cameras, but I own a Tube of Gloom. Mine was a gift from someone out of state.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

Jackie, I looked up the Latin name of that stinkhorn mushroom outside City Hall Annex but was somewhat embarrassed to publish my photos.
Yes, there seems to be a mysterious nexus going on here. I also put up a picture of that agonized gargoyle - called it "Downtown Guy" and invited readers to write their own captions.
Looking forward to seeing you at the PPL photo contest event and hoping to hear more about your camera techniques.
Regards to Vincent, who looks very well in your care. His facial structure is so interesting.

9:31 PM  

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