Since my last few posts have been about creatures taking their pants off, a look at this shaker set seems appropriate:
As a set, they have an interesting binary-oppositional relationship. I’m tempted to suggest that they replicate the insistence of the shaker miniverse on dividing things into opposite pairs: salt and pepper, black and white, male and female. They might be doing so in this case by suggesting a gender opposition: one of the object depicted is used, usually, only by males, and the other is depicted in a position that makes it convenient for females. And in that way, they might represent the common tendency in shaker sets of distinguishing the two components of each set in terms of gender: by dressing one cute bear in a blue shirt and the other in a pink dress, for instance.
The objects depicted in this set, however, are not wearing dresses or shirts (although, as a hardened veteran spectator of the salt and pepper miniverse, I can all too easily imagine someone producing a set that did show cute toilets in clothing and with smiley faces). So maybe I’m just imposing that whole gender thing on this set. After all, if you’ve decided to depicted plumbing fixtures that aid in human elimination in a salt and pepper shaker set, are there really any other choices of two objects to depict? I can’t think of any offhand–it’s hard to imagine how you might go about depicting a hole dug in the floor of the forest. Perhaps you could include an old-fashioned outhouse? So maybe the manufacturer of this set, having chosen to do sanitary facilities, was merely lucky enough to be confronted with just two possibilities, one of which is usually associated with males and one which isn’t, a difference which then makes them suitably oppositional enough to act as subjects for tabletop containers of salt and pepper.
I am, once more, taken aback by the idea that you might get some pleasure out of putting miniature representations of sanitary facilities on your dinner table. A momento mori sort of reminder of our essentially animal nature, perhaps? Nor do I get the pleasure of symbolically shaking the contents of a toilet and/or a urinal on your food. It somehow seems to be implying a reversal of the usual order in which the processes of eating and digestion take place. You put what was once food and rink into toilets and urinals; you don’t usually put what was once food and has now been deposited in toilets and urinals on food. And call me an old-fashioned conservative, but really, why would you even want to?
In the salt-and-pepper miniverse, it’s not only animals who wear human-type clothing. Other objects can do it also. Here, for instance, are a nattily dressed fork and spoon:In addition to wearing aprons–certainly an appropriate garment for a pair of kitchen utensils–they have also grown arms and legs and even the barest beginnings of faces, thus, supposedly, humanizing them even more. In fact, however, those weirdly tubular, weirdly awry limbs emerging from the sides of inert forks or spoons, and those strangely primitive faces, seem to me more horrific than human. There’s something zombie-like about the wild arms and the blank stares. I can see in this case why it might be tempting to actually put salt and pepper in these objects, because it would be comforting to give them a good shake and thus confirm one’s authority over them, lest they continue to mutate in even stranger and more unsettling ways. Beware the devious fork, the frenzied spoon.
I do not, incidentally, know why they are sitting on bowling balls.
Here’s an addition to my series of posts on animals in human clothing that introduces a new hat but begins with a memory of some old ones. Some time ago, I wrote a post on this blog about these lobsters and their participation in their own death by boiling (see earlier post here):
Back then, I didn’t say all that much about their clothing. These lobster are wearing both chef’s hats and aprons–which bizarrely, makes them human enough to be cute enough so that the fact that they are preparing themselves to be eaten seems somehow perfectly acceptable. That acquiescence in their murderous fate is quality they share with another jolly lobster:
This time, the lobster wears a sou’wester, just as does the fisherman who accompanies him. And he seems perfectly happy to sit by that fisherman while carrying one of the tools of the fisher’s lobster-catching trade, an anchor. The fisherman himself carries something that I recognize as another lobster-fishing-related tool–although I had no idea about what it was called or for that matter, what it was for, until Google identified it for me as a float for a lobster pot–i.e., a trap like the one the lobster in this shaker set is so casually and happily sitting on.
Like the two lobsters sitting in the pot, this one appears to be smiling like a human, using the backward-j-shaped slot below and to the left of its eyes. And yet, of course, as I pointed out in my earlier post about the pot-sitters, lobsters mouths are actually at the front-end of their bodies, i.e., in this case, somewhere under the sou’wester. that these lobster should have been provided with an extra and more-human looking (and smiling) mouth is another way beside their hats that helps to humanize them, and make them seem somehow less alien and more like us. Although, of course, I have to ask why we would want to think that way about something we eat. Imagine this shaker set sitting on the table on which you are serving a meal of lobster. It seems to be a way of turning a tasty feast into a horrific act of cannibalism. And yet, somehow, it is meant to, and in actual fact seems to, actually make the lobster less monstrous, and the act of eating it more a matter of just accepting its charitable gift of its own delicious self. That’s intriguingly paradoxical; why would we rather ingest something we can think of as human than something we can think of as clearly not human? Why is pseudo-cannibalism preferable to eating the Other?
A sticker on the bottom of the lobster says that this set was made in China. The writing on the lobster trap identifies it as a souvenir of Halifax NS.
Once more, no eggs are visible in this salt and pepper shaker set
But clearly, you can’t have a chicken (or a rooster) without an egg first, right? And if you have a chicken (and, of course, a rooster) then there is a good possibility that you might some time soon have an egg or two. So there are, here, implications of past eggs, and implications of eggs to come.
This set has a very complex colour palate–much more so than your average novelty salt and pepper shaker set. As well as having bright red combs, yellow legs, and black and pink tails, these birds have feathers in a complex inter-mixture of brown, pink, yellow, and white. Much more artistic and impressionistic than your average novelty shaker–more impressionistic in fact, than cute. Which is very unusual.
In this series of posts, I’ve been focussing on what I have identified as eleven eggs that are part of my salt-and-pepper shaker set collection. But it has just occurred to me that there might, in fact, be twelve, or even more, albeit more implied than actually seeable. Consider this set:
It is, clearly, a chicken, and the chicken is sitting on what appears to be a basket. And why would a chicken be sitting on a basket? There must, surely, be eggs in it.
In point of fact, the basket has nothing in it–except an empty space under its closed top with three small holes, into which salt or pepper might be placed. But the eggs are, I think, implied. I can imagine them there.
This is, incidentally, the kind of shaker set that collectors identify as a “nester”or “stacker”–one shaker that sits on top of another. Except this time, perhaps, it actually does represent a nester.
The last egg in my collection of eleven has also appeared previously on this blog in “Go Withs“. It is half of this set:
It is a golden egg, and so it goes with a goose. In the light if the relative size of the egg and the goose, and if I am right in assuming that the goose is the producer of the egg, then I am guessing that it must be a goose in serious pain.
The ninth and tenth eggs in my collection have appeared in a previous entry in this blog–Cute Newt–in which I talk about their intriguing relationship to the American politician Newt Gingrich.
These shakers have moved significantly away from the more-or-less real-life situations of shakers three through eight, as described in my previous three posts: no chicks, no hatching, but human faces and shirts with ties. they may actually be meant to represent Newt; they may be a doubled-up version of Humpty Dumpty; or they may have something to do with Lewis Carroll’s Tweedledum and Tweedledee, who, at least in John Tenniel’s illustration, are also rather egg-shaped.
Actually: double egg-shaped, with bodies that are shaped like eggs, and also, faces that look an awful lot like the ones on these shakers.