Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Vincent Van Gogh’s Weather Map

If you are like me, you struggle to think of clever, fun and useful gifts to give at Christmas. Play-Doh has solved my problem.

Actually, Play-Doh hasn’t exactly solved my problem. But it has inspired me. I have a much better idea how I could idle away my time and forget that I was stumped on what to buy for Christmas.


Play-Doh image

Play-Doh’s seminal contribution to this breakthrough moment is a series of Play-Doh sculptures making important (or at least time-consuming) events in 2014. Such as the mind-blowing sculpture of the Polar Vortex, which looks like how Vincent Van Gogh would draw a weather map.

Another favorite is the ice bucket that commemorates the domino-tripping, head-dripping, spine-chilling Ice Bucket Challenge.

The sculptures go beyond mere events to earth-shaking, life-altering trends, such as the ubiquity of the Selfie and the resurrection of the wristwatch as the smart watch.

ice-bucket-I have no illusions, based on my early-life experience with Play-Doh, of recreating anything as superb and recognizable as these works of art. My elation centers purely on how much time I can waste trying.

After all, Play-Doh was created as a diversion. When our children acted up, we said, as if programmed in our reptile brains, “How about making something out of Play-Doh instead of tearing down the curtains in the front room?”

Most of the time, kids, including us as kids, complied. We dug into pots of Play-Doh and pretended to be sculptors, while our parents, teachers or babysitters pretended to be art critics and praised us for our handiwork. It was a harmless pretense that spared frayed nerves and furniture.

So you can understand my child-like delight in “rediscovering” Play-Doh for adults. Unlike children whose imaginations run wild, think how long I can spend dreaming up something like a Play-Doh sculpture of a Polar Vortex, without ever having to get my hands all icky handling the stuff. A daydreamer like me couldn’t ask for a better holiday digression from reality. If you don’t actually spend any money buying Play-Doh, it’s cheap, too.

selfiesChances are good that my lifted spirits for imagining Play-Doh masterpieces will put in a better mood to go Christmas shopping. Who knows, I might even imagineer the perfect gift in my Play-Doh musings.

Putting actual Christmas presents under the tree will result in a lot more rewarding holiday cheer – and perhaps a kiss and a hug – than if I tried to mold a masterpiece with Play-Doh that generated guffaws, eye rolling and medical emergencies for dropped jaws lasting more than four hours.

I owe it all to Play-Doh. I’ve wasted time thinking about wasting a lot of time, which caused me to come to my senses and get started on Christmas shopping. The first gift was to myself – an enlarged photograph of the Play-Doh Polar Vortex. It will look perfect in our bedroom hanging next to the print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.




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