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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I went on to Amazon to order a book before I left for England the other night. I already knew that Amazon was kind of, well, challenged. It’s always suggesting things in the “Just for you!” box that I couldn’t possibly want to buy, like tap shoes and bagpipes. But Amazon has outdone itself! This is what it had chosen for me:

Yes, it’s a set of four Canopic jars, the hottest gift of 2007. Make that 2007 BC. I think that is the last time anyone really needed a Canopic jar.

In case you don’t know what Canopic jars are (and I do, because I am an Ancient Egypt Nerd Fighter, something you’ll definitely notice if you read Girl At Sea) . . . Canopic jars were ceremonial jars used during the mummification process to store internal organs. These are the jars your liver, stomach, intestines, and lungs went in.

That these jars exist is annoying to me. I think this may be one of those signs that we officially have enough stuff in the world. But that Amazon picked this for me actually made me a little angry. I'm not exactly sure why. It's not like every object in the New York office is a paragon of good taste. There was just something about this that felt like a personal attack.

What astonished me more than the jars themselves was the review that went with them. I have already discussed the varying quality of Amazon reviews for books, but this is another matter entirely, which is why I have no problem at all copying and commenting on them. If you buy Canopic jars and write about it, it’s open season.

The jars got very bad reviews, as it turns out.

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
Terrible!, April 9, 2006

I cannot believe that I bought these. I agree with the former reviewer that these are not quality-looking at all. This does look like it came out of the dollar store and I have been looking for a place to put them and they look good NOWHERE! I am either going to give them away or just throw them away. They are embarrassing to have around the house and take away from any sophisticated decor that you may have.

I really can’t believe you bought these either . . . and then came on Amazon to complain. If I bought these, you had better believe I would be quiet about it. I would buy them under an assumed name and have them sent to the house of one of my sworn enemies. I would pick them up wearing a ski mask while driving a rented car. With a stolen license from a different state.

But, Reviewer, you did buy them . . . and now you’re shocked that they don’t look good in your house? What else do you have in your house that made you think these would blend in? You say it is “sophisticated décor,” and I don’t want to doubt you, but I am having a hard time getting my head around that idea. (Unless, of course, you live in a pyramid.)

Whatever you do, Reviewer, don’t give them away. These jars are a certifiable friendship-killer. Unless you have a friend or acquaintance you’ve been wanting to unload—in which case, these are just the thing. They also make a good threat. I just threatened to get these for Daphne for her wedding.

I guess what bothers me more is that 20 OTHER PEOPLE stopped and thought this decision over and took your advice.

Another dissatisfied review points out:

They look better in the images here than they do in person. I was very disappointed by their size and quality. They are not 4 inches tall they are more like 3 inches. Very tiny and not worth 25.00.

Once I got over the fact that this Reviewer was drawn in by this picture, I got into his or her message. I can see why you might be annoyed—you’re not going to get anyone’s lungs into a 3 inch jar. Believe me, I’ve tried.

If you really like Ancient Egypt that much, why don’t you get something like this, also available on Amazon for much less than $25.

Celebrate your love of King Tut with a street sign.

I did a little Amazon dumpster diving to see what else I could find for these dissatisfied folk, and I think I have some winners. For only $17, you can get this fantastic statue of a dachshund dressed as a ladybug.

Two species, one statue. Delicious together.

If you’re willing to go as high as $40, and I think you might be, maybe I can interest you in this fantastic German shepherd peeing on a fire hydrant?

Worth the extra $15.

Dogs not your thing? Want to stay classical? I understand. What you need, then, is something that blends form and function, and this is just that thing, a bargain at $35:

It’s time to get classy!

How about really classical? I’ve been threatening to buy this for Justine Larbalestier for about three weeks.

Not only is this beautiful, but it has a touch-on, touch-off feature.

Amazon has some great offerings, but I want to see useless and insane things in person, which is why THE GREAT HARODS CAPER is on. It will happen on Saturday, when Daphne arrives in London. I’ve been compiling all of your suggestions for what we should do in Harrods into one long list. Please keep sending them! They are fantastic. On Friday night, probably over a large glass of wine, I will pare the down and set the challenge.

If you plan on being at Harrods around 3PM on Saturday, feel free to make yourself one of the objects we have to find!

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Blogger Tobias said...

first to comment!!

you made me laugh so hard again. why on earth would you want to buy shit like that?

I would love to be at harrods saturday, but I doubt my mom will allow me to fly to the UK to hide somewhere at harrods. shame though.

I think you should try to find Canopic jars at Harrods!!! lets see if they have as much crap as amazon.

I'm still a bit disappointed you're not coming to the Netherlands... =[
ooh well...

8:55 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

Yay for THE GREAT HARRODS CAPER! Mwahahaha. Here's some more ideas to add to your list...

+ Take a picture of these jars with you, and ask somebody in Harrods if they have anything "like this."
+ Find at least one article of clothing or piece of jewelry (or "jewellery" as they spell it here) that's supposedly worth more money than a down payment on a house.
+ Find and try on outfits like the ones worn by the models on the cover of 13LBE, Devilish, and Girl at Sea. Then do the mj versions of the cover pics.
+ Find the creepiest looking doll in the toy department. There's got to be at least one that looks like it could kill you in your sleep.
+ Look for some kind of pirate-inspired clothing item- the more high fashion it's supposed to be, the better.
+ Look for a dog made at least partially of diamonds. It can be a pendant, a statue, whatever, so long as it is both ridiculously expensive and extraordinarily gaudy.
+ Find a kitchen gadget whose purpose is really unclear, and come up with theories about what it's supposed to do.
+ Find the most expensive pair of socks in the store and tell us how much it costs.
+Do they sell trampolines at Harrods? This is an empirical question... find out the answer.

I don't know why thinking about items for the Harrods Caper is so much more entertaining than, for instance, doing revisions, but it totally is. The idea of going into London for the weekend and stopping by Harrods on Saturday is now super tempting...

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Liz said...

First, I must ask who in their right mind would even say "hey! I'm going to mass produce tiny Canopic jars!" I'm at loss as to why anyone would think that's a grand idea. And second, I found it humourous that I was JUST on Amazon, searching for your books. (My county is terrible, almost all the libraries have 13lbe and Key and half have Devilish--but no Triangle! I think you can rest assured that it was unofficially banned...)

10:11 PM  
Blogger Elena said...



& then when they say they don't have it, get very irate.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I have a doll that looks like she could kill me. That's why I worship her and stuff...you know, keep her satisfied. Maybe then she will wake up in the middle of the night and strangle my enemies. Or at least sit on their faces or something so they wake up screaming.
Here is a picture of her. http://littleappledolls.co.uk/elysia.php

Anyway, I have another suggestion. Put cucumber slices on your eyes and walk around the store for about an hour, with Daphne to guide you so you don't get in any SERIOUS trouble. (Bumping into people is fine. I guess you can change the slices if they fall off and get dirty on the floor)

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

what was that thing elena? and why does justine hate unicorns so much? i dont like them either but she absolutly HATES them. (or so it seems on her blog.)

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Sasha said...

Wow. LOL. That was funny.

Man. Now I wish it was possible for me to fly to London to hide in Harrods. That sounds like more fun than tennis, which is what I'm doing this Saturday. *sigh* Curse you, lack of funds!

Hm.... Harrods Caper....
~Try to find the cheapest thing in the store. Or, instead, ask someone what you can buy with sixty-seven cents, a stick of gum, and two Jolly Ranchers. Or whatever else you have in your pocket.
~Pick a random customer who is shopping with someone else, and listen until you learn their name, and then call them by that, pretending you met them a while ago. Keep trying to find out where and insisting until they agree. Or call security.
~Have security page your senile grandmother, "Ima Hogg" (or some other silly name).
~Find a fairy dress and a magic wand and "bless" people by waving it at them while yelling random "magic spells".
~Bring a ball or yarn with you, and tie the end to something near the entrance. Then, continue on with your shopping. When someone asks what you are doing, say the yarn is so you don't get lost.
~See if you can get your make-up done, telling the people that you are on the way to a ball.
~Go and pick out a dress for said ball, asking the person in the department if she thinks Prince William will like it.

Ok, I'm all out. This IS fun!

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um...do people like having teeny jars originally made for dead peoples' internal organs around them? Do they lull the buyers to sleep as they gaze at them from their beds?
coz y'know, i was just wonderin y u'd buy them since there seems to b no fathomable reason n all:D
Neways, OMG!!! im so bummed since i live like 30 minutes away from Harrods but i cant actually come. And the craziest thing is dat its because im grounded for....wait for it....not going out enough! yes, u read me rite!i cant go out because i didnt go out enough during the past week of holidays. i think its because of my mum's new hairspray. it shrunk her brain n now all she can do is think of unreasonable punishments for me. that or the fact that she spent like 216 continuous hours with me. i ave an amazin ability 2 mess up peoples' brain cells.
Neways ave a great time at Harrods, n eat a spoon of marmite in rememberance of me(miserably eating doughnuts and watching made-for-tv movies for the rest of my sentence):D


o n look for the pink rabbits(real ones not fake ones eitha-im not jokin!)

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Ahahahaha. I'm at a loss for coherent words. Sooo funny. And everyone else's suggestions are a thousand times better than mine.

Oh, yeah. The Bermudez Triangle is banned at my library too, so I bought it. My favorite by far.

4:56 AM  
Anonymous Jill said...

o_O I always thought that Amazon was a bit... well you know...

ZOMG I was browsing through Ebay a little while ago and look what I found:
Yes a real shrunken head. From Equador, if I might add. And it has dark hair too. And the sad part is, is that someone is bidding $25 for it. What exactly they are going to do with it, I'm not sure if I want to know.

Anyways, I wish I could be at Harrods on Saturday, but I'm not in England at the moment ((Hehe I sound important)) I will, however, be in England in early July ((The 5th)) Woo Hoo!!

6:28 AM  
Blogger Elena said...

It's a super wacky sculpture that was called Daddies Bighead & was exhibited in London in 2003. There were other weird ones displayed there, too.
But this was my favorite.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

thanks i was like "what. the. heck?!?!?!" it looks like one of those wierd blow up things that put on car lots to catch your eye that scare my little brother.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

Wow, Sarah, you really weren't kidding. That doll is hella scary. It's so scary that it makes me say "hella," which I don't think I've ever actually said or typed before, because it sounds kind of dumb. That's how scary that doll is...

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

Need a larger canopic jar? Two of them can be found here for the low price of $34.00. http://www.amazon.com/Large-Canopic-Jar-Imsety-h/dp/B000L4M8GE/ref=sr_1_11/002-9833034-5460801?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1176344781&sr=8-11 What a bargain!

There are also t-shirts and keychains with various canopic jar heads on them. Who wouldn't want an "Intestine Canopic Jar" keychain? I must order one immediately...perhaps speed delivery. I could even purchase a canopic jar mug. I don't know a single person who wouldn't want an image that reminds them of internal organs each and every morning as they're sipping their coffee.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AHHH. This made me laugh SOOO hard. Ahahahaha. Canopic jars. *giggle*

7:02 AM  

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