Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Photo: Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography/Getty Images

Bubble lights

I grew up with a tree festooned with bubble lights, those Atomic Era Christmas decorations that are probably both flammable and poisonous. And yet, we had a lot of them. But over time they’ve broken, gone out of style, and just disappeared into my parents’ attic. I’ve been trying to keep the memory alive and have picked up several sets at flea markets, as well as a brand new bubble light nightlight, and let me tell you: They’re still fucking awesome. Bubble lights are bright and full of movement. They’re interesting to look at and give off a charmingly golden glow when all the lights in your living room are off. They’re a remnant of Christmas past, and they’re a conversation piece. If you’re not into the vintage lights, several companies make new, modern sets, and they’re all fairly reasonably priced. Pick some up this holiday season and spiff up your setup. [Marah Eakin]


Toys “4” Cheap!: The Magic Of Toys Will Shut Up Your Child

We work with a lot of talented people at The Onion, one of whom just put out a book that’s already a bestseller on Amazon. Toys “4” Cheap!: The Magic Of Toys Will Shut Up Your Child is a deft send-up of the creepy toys from yesteryear, displayed in a dated catalog style. From The Star Trek Moralaser (“Your finger’s on the trigger of over 50 oblique, somewhat-obvious-in-retrospect opinions!”) to Thomas The Tank (“Thomas is all grown up, and he’ll defend England at all costs!”), Toys “4” Cheap puts an absurdist twist on toys. The book is fun to page through, and has joined the ranks of favorite coffee table books on my living room table. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Vintage photos of women standing next to Christmas trees

Screenshot: vintag.es

Sometimes all the shouting and hate speech on the internet gets overwhelming, and you forget just how magical this seemingly endless repository of human thought can be. Then you stumble upon a webpage like “43 Interesting Vintage Snapshots Captured Middle-Aged Women Posing Next To Christmas Trees From The 1950s-60s,” and, just like that, you fall in love all over again. The only misleading thing about the page’s name is its definition of “middle aged,” which, in this case, means anything from late-20s to mid-60s. Other than that, it’s exactly what it says it is, 43 pictures of women in party outfits standing next to, in front of, or behind gaudy aluminum Christmas trees adorned with tinsel and bubble lights. Scrolling through the pictures, you get a voyeuristic feeling of looking into someone else’s memories, rendered fascinating and mysterious by their complete lack of context. Who smiled for the picture, then rushed out the door because they were running late to a party? Who had been up all night baking cookies and wrapping presents? How many glasses of wine had already been drunk out of the glasses being clutched in several snapshots? How many of these Christmases ended in arguments and tears, and how many in warm family memories? As a writing prompt, a primer in mid-century kitsch, and the entry point to a deep wormhole (the host site, vintag.es, has hundreds of similarly surreal photo archives), this is the internet at its finest. [Katie Rife]

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