The achievements of some great innovators can be traced back to the publications by which those revolutionaries were inspired. Stella McCartney grew up reading Vogue, predicting her destiny as a fashion designer. A young Warren Buffet kept his Wallstreet Journal in tow, leading him to a future of great wealth. And I, I spent my childhood browsing the ever influential Oriental Trading Catalog, no doubt a predecessor to my life as a hoarder of crap. Extravagant quantities of cheap, useless crap.

If you're not familiar, The Oriental Trading Catalog is but the finest of bulk-buying enterprises the world has to offer. The Oriental Trading Company had all but disappeared from my life until a week or two ago when I spied a copy of the summer corporate edition in my boss's office. (I work in Human Resources, a department that would lose its meaning entirely if it weren't continuously stocked with a never-ending supply of balloons, stickers and rubber koosh animals.)

Upon spotting this trove of magnificence, I ripped it from the pile of mail on my boss's desk and immediately began exploring its bounty. I had forgotten what a feast for the eyes it is. My boss, pleased and slightly disturbed at the joy I found, allowed me to take the catalog home to enjoy at my leisurely perusal. As a kid, I literally spent hours upon hours studying this catalog, planning all the lavish events I would furnish with its register of shit. I'd like to share some insight with you, so that you too, might understand my fetish.

Let's start with the cover (sorry about the low quality image; mine is the chisel and stone palate of scanners):


First of all, it’s a carnival. Like I’m NOT going to open the cover of a magazine selling cheap carnival equipment. I’m already brainstorming my own fucked up, backyard county fair. All I’d need is a Depressed Clown, and I have a pretty good idea of where I could find one.

Second, let’s take a look at the people on the cover. Not only does this little kid in the yellow look like he’s been chewing on rocks for a month, he also seems to have no clue what’s going on. That man in the blue is a pedophile, no question. Look at the body language. He’s all, “come on little boy, let’s go to my van. You can admire these hair plugs which the wardrobe people have shellacked with bacon fat.” I also enjoy the woman in the background on the far left, who is staring at that inflatable lion with such conviction. I only hope that if I have children one day, I can show them the same magnitude of affection that she is showing that blow-up cat.

Now turn your attention to the side-bar on the left of the cover. I was never aware that rubber ducks dressed as pirates were ESSENTIAL to proper office functioning. We never have these in my office and I now know what that empty space in my soul is from. Also, I do believe that the world would be a better place if business awards consisted solely of day-glo necklaces and tabs of E, though I know a handful of Businessmen of the Year who wouldn’t appreciate this. Or would, but don’t realize it yet.

But as they say, you can’t judge a book by the child molester on its cover. Let’s browse some fruit from the Eden inside:


You can understand the psychadelic, epileptic thrill I suffer on first glance. But it's not the colorful allure that makes this magazine special; it's the actual STUFF, and its complete lack of quality or value that really drags you in. Because you soon forget how you ever lived without it. Take for example, the nose pencil sharpener: 

 I barely ever use pencils, and my regular pencil sharpener works just fine, but something about this picture makes me realize that I've been doing it all wrong. This is art imitating what life should be! And unless you happen to have razor-sharp nostrils, you'll never otherwise have the opportunity to nasally shave graphite flakes. I don't see how any CEO gets by without one.

Or as another example, look at crab hat:

 Crab hat?!? You’re saying to yourself, I need that!! I know, I know. You didn’t know it wasn’t a luxury until you saw the tooth-tastic grin on this gal’s face and longed to smile like her. As a child, I did.

And I think that’s why I have such a hard time letting go of stuff, because you just never know when those smiley face tattoos or glittery sticky hands or dino stamps or large marbleized poppers are going to come in handy. Some people call me a pig, but the satisfaction of having a bigger tie-died slap bracelet collection than all my friends makes it worth-while. I’m pretty sure the Oriental Trading Company hasn’t updated its inventory in about 75 years, and I hope they keep making kids happy in the good, old-fashioned way.