Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: October, 2016

Postcard #44 – I’m Sure Back in the Old Days the Streets Weren’t That Clean

This postcard from Poland depicts an illustration of a 19th century tram. Of course, it’s an illustration so it’s really an idealized version of it. But isn’t that what most of history and the past is? Reminiscing about what once was? In the fog of memory, and the brain’s penchant to forget all the bad things, people tend to romanticize the past as a golden era. And they turn around and say that today is The Worst Ever. So okay, 2016 isn’t that great even objectively speaking, but at least there’s sanitation in a number of places. The 19th century would be a lot more iffy on that front.

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Postcard #43 – Some Scholarly Work on Art

This ad card from Hong Kong is for a textbook of the same name and author. Honestly, I don’t know anything about art history. And while I find history in general interesting, art history isn’t particularly my cup of tea. I’ve watched art history documentaries, of course, but it’s more for the charisma of the presenters rather than any burning desire to learn the background of, say, the Mona Lisa.

Another note: every time I tried to Google this textbook, it managed to crash my browser. I ended up just going to Amazon to confirm that this book existed.

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Postcard #42 – Handmade Noodles

A cooking postcard! All I’m going to say is that making noodles is way beyond my own sad cooking skills. I would rather just buy it than turn my kitchen into a disaster zone.

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Postcard #41 – From Mom

This particular postcard from Taiwan has sentimental value because my mom sent it to me several years ago while she was on vacation there. And now, of course, I’m sharing it with all of my blog visitors. I don’t think it’s a common thing nowadays for parents to send their kids postcards. It’s all about the convenience of phone calls and emails–immediate yet also ephemeral. I’m not someone who likes clutter, but I must admit, there is something to be said for having something tangible.

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Postcard #40 – Rusted Train

Who knows if the picture on this postcard from Portugal is a real photograph or not. Even if it is, it seems like it’s been manipulated so that the colors are extremely saturated. This isn’t criticism. I think manipulated photography as an art form is fine as long as it doesn’t pretend to be something else.

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Postcard #39 – That Creepy Thing Busting Out of an Egg

I have to be honest with you. This postcard freaked me out when I saw it in my mailbox. Because it was so unexpected. I’m still not quite sure if this is a crustacean or some kind of arachnid. Something with an exoskeleton. I’m also not quite sure if this was originally a postcard or if the sender cobbled something together. The yellow backing of the card is not on the same sheet as the picture. Instead, I can tell that it’s actually an extra yellow sheet glued to the back. It’s unusual, to say the least, and certainly not like any of my other postcards.

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Postcard #38 – A Telephone Booth in Siberia

Yes, another postcard from Siberia! Either it was the luck of the draw or a surprising number of people in Siberia enjoy sending postcards. And with the rise of cell phones, telephone booths are pretty much extinct. Sort of like library card catalogs. They’re not used any more, but I’m sure there are people who buy them to decorate their homes.

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Postcard #37 – Fairy Tale Illustration

I had never heard of Rudolf Koivu before receiving this postcard from Finland. Apparently he was an early 20th century Scandinavian illustrator of fairy tales and children’s books. After looking at some of his work posted online, however, I think this postcard is a little deceptive as a representation of his style. Upon first glance, one could be excused in thinking that it’s a bit similar to Aubrey Beardsley. But the rest of Koivu’s work is less about line drawings and more lush color, like one of his other contemporaries, Maxfield Parrish.

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Postcard #36 – Bewildered

This postcard from Austria is a cartoon depicting a dementia self-help group. The joke, I suppose, is that everyone forgot to come to the meeting. For me, jokes about dementia and/or memory loss are more misses than hits, probably because I consider the brain and self-awareness pretty serious stuff. If my brain goes, then what is life anyway? It certainly isn’t my life if I’m not there.

The sender also writes about his confusion about my Postcrossing profile. No one else who has sent me a postcard has ever expressed this much confusion. My profile is fairly straightforward. I basically list my hobbies, where I live, and a request that they send me a “surprising” postcard with a message telling me what’s happening where they live. My gender is not confusing because Postcrossing sends people my real name along with my address. And there really is no ambiguity with my real name.

And even if it’s completely confusing, why even worry about it? You can still write a message without referencing any of it. I’m a complete stranger. When you’re sending a postcard, it’s not so much about me as it is about you, your culture, and where you live. When you’re sending a postcard, you’re supposed to be opening up a window to your part of the world to someone else. Grilling me on whether I’m male or female or just a cat mashing the keyboard is besides the point.

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Postcard #35 – From Vladivostok

It might not seem like it from the scan below, but the size of this postcard from Vladivostok is unusual. It’s as if you took a regular piece of paper and just took a third out.

Anyways, it’s interesting that the sender felt the urge to write that “Russia isn’t only Moscow”. I think that makes the assumption that everyone in America is geographically dumb. I am well aware that Russia isn’t only Moscow. I can read a damn map. And I’ve read about and seen many documentaries on the different regions of Russia. And as for Vladivostok, I’ve been quite aware that this city exists many years before I even received this postcard. And yes, I can even place it on the map.

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