The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 12, 2014

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2014: How Do Fools Fall in Love?

Filed under: Holidays — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 7:53 am

Oh, the troubles I’ve seen…

Well, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching once again, and as always, there is one thing on the hearts and minds of men all around the globe:  Don’t screw this one up.  Yes, there are plenty of nice things you can get your significant other to show how much you care, but at the same time there are also plenty of things out there that are, to put it briefly, rather inadvisable.  And for the seventh year now, I have made note of some of the more egregious examples found on store shelves all over the area, and compiled them here, partially as a convenient excuse to make snarky comments, and partially as a “What not to do” warning for those who dare to tread into this dangerous territory.  Along this path lies heartbreak, anguish, and quite possibly even sleeping on the couch.

As usual, I present this with the disclaimer that I am by no means an expert on this subject, nor do I pretend to be.  If I was then maybe I would have figured out how to stop being single at some point in time.  Then again, my girlfriend doesn’t seem to be a big fan of the traditional Valentine’s Day stuff anyway.  A couple of years ago, our Valentine’s Day date consisted of a lunch in one of the fancy steakhouses here in Bellevue, which quite frankly didn’t really go over so well.  Last year it was dinner at IKEA followed by a visit to one of the local Go-Kart tracks.  Not surprisingly, that one went over a whole lot better.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that to everyone though;  somehow I get the suspicion that I’m dealing with a bit of an edge case (not that I’m complaining, mind you…)  I don’t tell this story for any particular reason, but know that everyone is different, and sometimes you’ll find that the reality of the situation is far different from what the greeting card companies might have you expect.  Anyway, without further ado, the 7th annual Sledgehammer Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup can be found after the jump.

Previous Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundups:


February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2013: Love Conquers All (Except for Bad Taste)

Filed under: Holidays, shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 11:30 pm

Between all that stuff, you ought to be able to find something to regret the next morning.

Once again, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and with it comes the usual shelves full of random merchandise to help you to celebrate the season in what the world’s various marketing departments and greeting card manufacturers have deemed to be an acceptable manner.  Whether you’re wading through the obligatory pile of Vaguely Valentine themed cards that get passed out to everyone in your kid’s third grade class, trying to navigate an awkward teenage crush, looking to win the heart of the one you’re convinced you’ll be spending the rest of your life with, or just trying to keep them around, there’s no shortage of ways to express whatever sentiment happens to be appropriate for the situation at hand.  Naturally, some ways are better than others.  And naturally, some ways are not particularly advisable for anyone really.  It’s the stuff in the latter category that holds the most interest to me, mostly because with some of these items the whole “Who in their right mind thought THIS was a good idea?” factor of some of this stuff is off the chart.

This marks the sixth year that I have done the Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup on this Blog, and it remains one of my favorite posts to write each year.  Shockingly, there seems to be a lot less of the truly egregious examples of bad taste that have characterized the Kitsch Roundup than there have been in previous years (looking back at the earlier posts, I think the 2011 post is going to be pretty tough to top) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that marketers of Valentine’s Day-themed merchandise have had a sudden bout of sanity, just that not quite as many of the usual bad ideas seem to have made it out onto the shelves this year.  There also seems to be a number of the more “popular” items from previous Kitsch Roundups that continue to show up on the shelves for some odd reason.  As usual, this is not intended to be a gift guide of any sort; quite the opposite in fact.  I make the assumption that most people reading this Blog will have enough common sense to realize this, but these days you never know.  Either way, you’ve been properly warned.

Anyway, without further ado, it’s time for another excursion into the dark corners of the seasonal shelves for another look at ill-advised Valentine’s Day merchandise.

Previous  Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundups:


February 13, 2011

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2011: Love Isn’t as Blind as You Think

Filed under: Holidays — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 1:39 am

Valentine’s Day is coming up once again, and as seems to be the case far too often, it looks like I’ll be spending it in annoyingly single fashion, same as I’ve spent pretty much every Valentine’s Day since, oh, about 1989 or so.  Most of it is, of course, my own fault (sometimes I wonder if I enjoy being single just a little bit too much,) but I figure as long as I haven’t got much else going on, I might as well at least snark a bit about the whole thing in what has now become customary fashion over the course of the 3 1/2 years I’ve been Blogging here.  It’s not that I have anything against Valentine’s Day, of course.  I’d be glad to join in the festivities in the event that someone else was interested in doing so, but it’s not like any of this stuff is going to help with that anyway.

I don’t make any pretense of being any sort of expert on the subject of Valentine’s Day gift-giving, but I will say that by now I think I have a pretty good idea of plenty of things NOT to do.  For those of you who might not be familiar with these posts, basically what I do is go out and find the oddest, tackiest and most ill-advised examples of Valentine’s day merchandise to be found on the shelves of the various stores around here, and put together a bit of a “Do not do this” list.  I suspect that the vast majority of people reading this will have enough common sense to figure this stuff out on their own, but  even though I haven’t ever made a thorough examination of the dumpsters behind the store at the conclusion of the after-Valentine’s Day closeouts, I suspect someone’s buying this stuff, otherwise they wouldn’t keep cranking it out at an alarming rate.  Then again, love has been known to make men act irrationally, which isn’t generally the best trait to have in situations where common sense is indicated, so who knows?  Anyway, whatever you choose to do on behalf of the lover in your life, be careful out there, and when you’re being chased out the door with a rolling pin, don’t blame me.  I’m just the messenger here, OK?

So, without further ado, the 2011 Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup begins after the jump.

Previous  Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundups:


February 10, 2009

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2009: More Great Ways to Spend Your Valentine’s Night Sleeping on the Couch

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , , — Brian Lutz @ 4:15 pm

I think that over the course of my several posts on the subject, I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s day.  Part of this is that I don’t think I’ve ever engaged in any significant observance of the holiday since I made it out of fourth grade, but part of it is that with all the kitschy, cheesy and/or downright questionable Valentine’s Day merchandise out there these days, it seems harder than ever to find something that’s actually meaningful.  If, on the other hand, you’re feeling noncommittal, lukewarm or downright cynical about the whole thing, there’s no shortage of bad Valentine’s Day gift ideas out there.

Before I go too much further, I should emphasize that the items I have found here are much more the exceptions than the rule.  Most of the Valentine’s Day merchandise available out there is fairly reasonable, or at least inoffensive.  This is, of course, not a bad thing when you’re dealing with third graders, but if you’re in the situation of trying to win someone’s undying love and affection, you might need to set your sights just a bit higher than inoffensive (You’re probably also going to need a lot more than a heart-shaped box of chocolates, but that falls outside the scope of this article.)  In most cases, using a little bit of common sense should be more than sufficient to keep you out of trouble.  The problem is that there are also a surprising number of items out there that would NEVER make a good Valentine’s Day present under any circumstances.  For the purposes of this roundup, we will be sticking to merchandise found within mainstream retail stores, where the vast majority of items on offer are family-friendly, although as you’ll find, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all are necessarily in good taste.  After the jump, a look at some of the not-so-great Valentine’s Day gifts on offer this year.

If you missed last year’s post, you may also find it here:


March 22, 2008

A Cavalcade of Somewhat Delightful Easter Merchandise

Filed under: Culture — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 2:08 am

As the Winter begins to give way to Spring, thoughts begin to turn to the renewal of the Earth that the change of season brings, and the promise of the Summer ahead.  It also brings with it the Easter holiday, and with it, nightmare-inducingly huge inflatable Easter Bunnies hawking chocolate, as you see above.  And that’s just the beginning.  Although the quantity of Easter-themed merchandise you’re going to find at your friendly neighborhood mega-mart doesn’t come close to the massive quantity of Christmas merchandise you’d find during the last three months of the year, you’d be surprised at just how much the stuff there is out there these days.  I’d say that the quantity is probably similar to what’s available for Valentine’s Day, and that one’s starting to look way too overcommercialized already.  I had previously noticed the apparent convergence of the assorted holidays (or at least the type of merchandise they’ll try to sell you for them) but there’s no shortage of kitschy, ridiculous or just downright questionable merchandise unique to Easter alone.  After the jump, a look at the somewhat delightful merchandise without which the stores would like you to believe that Easter would not be complete. (more…)

February 6, 2008

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup

Filed under: Culture, shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 3:05 am


Valentine’s Day is just around the corner now, and as the thoughts of (some) people turn to the subject of love, the seasonal sections of the stores have filled up with all manner of heart-encrusted merchandise.  Back in the old days, it used to be sufficient to put out a few boxes of chocolates and other heart-shaped candies, and a selection of the noncommittal “friend” cards featuring the current pop culture flavor of the week for kids to pass out in their grade school classes.  Nowdays, as is the case with pretty much any other holiday, they’ve overcommercialized the living daylights out of it, and the variety of Valentine’s Day merchandise available these days at your typical discount store is staggering, and continues to expand every year.

As a single guy who probably isn’t doing as much as I should to rectify that situation, I generally don’t have much reason to be shopping for anything related to Valentine’s Day, and even if I did, I’m pretty sure I’d have to come up with something a bit more romantic than the stuff that you are going to see here.  In fact, I’m certain that if I was involved in any sort of meaningful relationship with a living breathing human female, giving most of these items as a gift would probably result in the termination of said relationship.  After the jump, a selection of some of the finest Valentine’s Day kitsch to grace the shelves of whatever department store you happen to shop at, and a reminder of why you should probably just stick with the roses and expensive jewelry. (more…)

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