Aug 13 2008

Spinster aunt cuts blogular corners by making another dorky video, this time about her outing to a giant Human Demoralization Center

I know, I know, but these video things are way faster than writing, and these days time is of the essence for the spinster aunt. Sadly, because I did this in one take and without any script or rehearsal or talent, I perhaps failed to emphasize my main blaming point, which is my disgust at the obnoxious classist forces at work on the mind of the typical IKEA shopper.

A common misconception, one which apparently appeals to the honkys who flock there to pick up build-it-yourself orange leather entertainment centers, seems to be that all that cheapo IKEA stuff is made in Sweden by happy, well-paid blondes with excellent benefits.

It is not. By now we all know that the only time anyone can afford anything is when it was made by non-Swedish indentured workers in a part of the world far, far away from happy, blond, egalitarian Sweden.

Although everything for sale at IKEA does have a Swedish name, according to a “naming system.” From Wikipedia:

# Chairs, desks: men’s names
# Materials, curtains: women’s names

No shit.


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  1. Foose

    There was a Danish-Swedish dustup over Ikea not long ago. Centuries of Scandinavian hostilities surfaced when the Danish accused Ikea of giving Danish names to all the Ikea furniture lying on the floor (mats, rugs, etc.), while all the higher-positioned Ikea furniture (bookcases, pictures, etc.) received Swedish names.

    Possibly the people in the naming department at Ikea have issues with just about everybody.

    You can read about it here:

  2. Kay

    The part that I hate about going to Ikea is that it’s not set up like a store, it’s set up like a course. You HAVE to go through every section. Even if you don’t think you want children’s furniture, because there are no children you can think of that need furniture from you, you still have to walk through that section, and by the time you get out of there you can’t help but own a loft bed and a giant stuffed snake. There is no quick in-and-out Ikea shopping, which is just cruel.

  3. Andrea

    My mom loves to go to IKEA. Here in San Diego, there is an IKEA directly across from a Costco. So Mom and I usually hit the Costco (she likes to buy her coffee beans there), and then the IKEA. We eat lunch in the cafe, too. She likes the meatball plate. Mom’s eighty, so I humor her, walk her around the huge store. After that she is tired, so then I take her home and put her down for a nap.
    I agree, though, IKEA isn’t someplace I’d ever want to shop.

  4. thebewilderness

    Oh, honey pie, I’m so sorry.
    You appear to be on the road to recovery, which is good, except for the dark circles, which I hope are an illusion created by the beauteous hat and the limited light.

  5. Hattie

    Twisty, better than ever on video!!!
    About IKEA. The founder is an old fascist who lives in Switzerland, and now his three sons run the operation.
    IKEA started out being a Good Thing. The first one outside of Sweden opened in Switzerland in the early 70’s, where I lived at the time. Everything in it came from Sweden. It was good quality if simple, and especially great for furnishing kids’ rooms. You could park the kids in the nursery, shop, and have lunch and go home with your loot.
    But I was horrified when I went to the IKEA in Portland, which was mega-huge and full of people who apparently had never seen furniture before and were gawking at everything and blocking the aisles.
    The IKEA in Seattle is OK and I like it.Frankly, I’m glad to be able to get reasonably priced stuff there, and if it’s made in China, what isn’t?

  6. Erzebeth

    Yay for Pinot Grigio! “Drinkin’ With Twisty” should be a regular feature.

    I have NEVER been inside an IKEA store, but I still get their catalog every season, somehow. English and French Canadian dubbed in Swedish. Urgh.

  7. Ron Sullivan

    Omilackofgod. It just dawned on me what was under the old silt you stir up in the stagnant, shrinking frogpond of my memory. Except for that non-southern accent, you’re a ringer for my firstest-ever longtime best-friend ohlord-don’t-let-the-nuns-find-out girlfriend Jane. Cheekbone and lower lip and nose, mostly. Also, she always was a smartass.

    Wait till I tell my shrink about that. Also: Damn, sweet.

    I’ve actually been in the Emeryville IKEA more than once. First two times, all else aside, I couldn’t figure out why the place made me seasick. I mean, I’m a fearless regular at Costco (the pharmacy kicks ass, and you don’t have to be a member to use it)(though I am, and their cheapest coffee is fair-trade)but I was staggering and nauseated after running the gantlet at IKEA.

    Turned out that wasn’t me or even the merch or the attitude. The damned place is built on the mudflats (even more than the rest of Emeryville) which of course wabble like jello in an earthquake, and the upper floor is built on some weird suspension rig that’s supposed to ride that out safely. Staffer told me that they had some poor guy from Seattle down to supervise training, and he went out sick twice before someone thought to give him some Dramamine.

    Fortunately we couldn’t get another stick of furniture in here even with crowbars and vaseline. I can get enough cheap crap at Cost Plus, and they have jingly bling on sale and a better soundtrack too.

  8. Camille

    Very alarmed by Andrea’s comment.
    Your description of mom makes her sound more like a child then your mother. I am surprised you didn’t leave her in the nursery..

  9. Lara

    My mom’s house is practically all IKEA, including the kitchen. We are the IKEA family. Yeah, shopping there is stressful and can get really annoying.
    Gotta make this iMovie thing work on my Mac…

  10. Hattie

    You mean IKEA is no longer hip?

  11. Hattie

    You mean IKEA is no longer hip? *snark*

  12. Lemur

    I cannot explain why, but I think Twisty could talk about something really boring, like the history of shoelaces, and I would still watch with child-like glee. Twisty vids rock my socks, if uh, I wore socks. I have never been to an IKEA, by the way, and this confirms that my utter lack of desire to go to one was right on target.

  13. Robin

    It’s a hysterical video! Well worth more episodes of “drinking with Twisty!” Here here!!!

  14. Lauren O

    Oh, your charming accent!

    I am reclining against an IKEA stuffed animal right now, but itwasagiftIswear!

  15. Sarah

    Twisty, I am completely in love with your vlogs. Keep them up, even if they are all about non deep things like silly string and delicious wines. For some reason, perhaps because I was born and raised in San Antonio, just hearing your voice makes my mouth smile.

    Onto the Serious Business: I’m lying on an IKEA bed right now, under the light of an IKEA lamp. It is not all bad. Round these parts [Boston and Cambridge] the store emphasizes craftiness and resourcefulness. They really push their fabrics and the way you can customize their cheap crap with other cheap crap to make slightly more interesting and personal feeling cheap crap. Additionally, they only sell energy efficient lightbulbs. Considering that every just graduated college kid I’ve ever known in this town buys lamps near exclusively from IKEA, they have likely singlehandedly pushed the sale of the new bulbs into viable levels of profitability. They also label very clearly what materials everything is made of, and even provide information on how to recycle a lot of it. I don’t know if it’s just a Northeast US thing, but the IKEAs here really push the environmentalism angle. They also sell a lot more than just swedish meatballs for lunch. I’m not trying to disagree with you, here. It is terrible that the only way to get a couch on a normal person’s salary is to get one made with a heaping helping of third world suffering. But at least it’s sold at a reasonable price, unlike the retail stores a “step up” from IKEA that sell the same flatpack pressboard junk at thirteen times the price. With IKEA, there is honesty about the shittiness of the product, honesty about its origins and materials, and honesty about its disposability.
    Sorry, I’ve rambled too much. Shutting up now.

  16. Naadir Jeewa

    I’m convinced that IKEA is actually just one large psychological maze experiment.

    Not sure it should have passed the ethics committee.

  17. Dawn Coyote

    I confess to liking my IKEA furniture an awful lot. I have a modular office set-up that’s kind of sublime, and a oval ‘wood’ and glass coffee table that they no longer produce.

    But my favorite piece of furniture is this laptop desk. It’s lightweight, compact, and adjustable, with a handle and grippy, tilting top. I can take it anywhere in the house with me—couch, bed, my favorite chair. It’s the next best thing to having my laptop surgically implanted.

  18. Citizen Jane

    And by now we should all know that Sweden definitely isn’t egalitarian.

  19. Jessica

    I recently moved from out of state to an apartment only blocks from an IKEA. I wanted to check it out, if only for the spectacle. My Nigel came with me, but about one third of the way through the store, I turned around and he was gone. Apparently, the long, winding maze that forces you to look at every item they sell while deliberately making you lose your sense of direction did a number on his psyche, and he had a little panic attack. I finally found him in the parking lot, chain-smoking. I asked him what happened and where he went, and he just shook his head at me, saying “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t do it.”

    Outside, just in case you miss the gigantic blue whale of a building, they have six or so gigantic, pointy flags flapping in the road. He will drive out of his way to avoid The Flags, and refers to IKEA not by name, but “the worst circle of hell.”

    Someday when I break down and say, “I can’t go another day without a fake ergonomic desk chair! Unpainted picture frames! A bed that sits unusually low to the floor!” I will have to brave IKEA alone, I guess.

  20. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Since I live nowhere hip, we have no IKEA. This has always been fine with me. I loathe cobbling furniture-things together. And bed-bath-&-beyond is about the largest store I can handle without feeling the disorienting slip-n-slide of sensory overload, which is enough to make me puke-sick without any seismic disturbances.

  21. CLD

    We got our IKEA here in Orlando last year. It was quite a Big Thing. I braved the opening day herd to wander through the maze and exited with a small, round, blue throw rug. It sheds a lot, but my cat loves it and we placed a fountain on it. Nice accent.

    That was all I needed from there; much too large and slithering for me inside. It’s funny how a large place like that can make you so uncomfortably claustrophobic.

    Twisty, unfortunately your blogular corner cutting prevents me from seeing/hearing you. My firewall here does not allow such corporate-deduced wastes-of-time such as streaming video.

    Wine, whenever enjoyed, is always the best way to spend your time. :)

  22. Twisty

    “Twisty, unfortunately your blogular corner cutting prevents me from seeing/hearing you. My firewall here does not allow such corporate-deduced wastes-of-time such as streaming video.”

    You are one of the lucky ones, then. I’m not much of a talking head.

    And to whoever suggested that my eyebags are the result of IKEA, nope. They are the essence of Twisty. I walk around looking like that all the time. It is a Beauty Flaw!

  23. Vermonter

    Twisty, I LOVE your videos and hope to see more of ’em soon. Your “beauty flaws” are magnificent.

    One of the greatest things about living in rural Vermont is that we don’t have these big ass monstrosities littering the landscape. The box store infestation closest to me is an hour away and I haven’t been there in over a year, and that was just to get dog stuff at the PetMonotlith, or whatever it’s called. This is a source of pride for me; obviously I don’t get out much.

  24. TP

    If I had to choose between IKEA and used furniture I’d go with used, except for upholstered furniture maybe. Luckily I can afford to go up a notch to Danish modern, because we have these cheap Danish Modern stores where I live.

    Some of this Danish Modern stuff is cheaper than the cheap Americana looking things you see in the discount furniture stores, and certainly cheaper than Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel.

    I’ve never been to an IKEA myself, but from this description I think I’ll side with the Danes on this one. I’ve often dreamed of going to Northern Europe to see the midnight some some June, though, in which case I’d like to visit both of them. I like socialists.

  25. Marla the invisible

    We live nowhere near a seismic zone and our Ikea has that same bouncy floor. I can totally understand getting a panic attack there. But I can’t help it, I like the place. The furniture I have gotten there has NOT been crappy, unlike the items I bought at a “nicer” store that cost a lot more and were delivered by surly jackoffs who didn’t bother to put the stuff together anyway. I have long ago given up trying to find anything that isn’t made in China. How much research do we have to do into the ethics of the management, treatment of the workers, and origin of the goods before shopping at a particular store? The genders of the names of the products were lost on me. Is “Poang” someone’s name?

  26. Ciccina

    The video was great!

    I think the Northeastern Ikeas might indeed be a bit different. I’ve purchased quite a bit from Ikea – including kitchen cabinets and a countertop – and generally I like their stuff. Its the Costco stuff I can’t stand – everything is so BIG. It seems like no matter what the item, a desk, whatever, they use so much more material than is necessary. Couches made for goddamn giants with enormous femurs. I like the scale of Ikea’s merch much better, and the plainness – not a lot of extraneous frou-frou going on. Streamlined, simple, not frilly or ‘faux’ – fine with me. Plus I always fall prey to the gravlax.

    As for the maze affect, department stores and malls have done a similar thing for years – if you look at how they position escalators, they tend to force you to walk a bit – you (generally) can’t just go straight up several floors in a row, you have to walk around to the other side, or a different escalator bank. Not sure if I’m explaining that properly.

    Costco depresses the hell out of me.

    PetMonolith = lol!

  27. ElizaN

    I’m buying some Pinot Grigio on my way home tonight just so I can rewatch “Drinking With Twisty” in proper style.

  28. Yellow Submachine

    Speaking of consumerism that shocks, the pink shirt in this wonderful vlog reminds me of one of my favorite shirts (for softness), which I just turned a gorgeous bright yellow with turmeric and hot water. Not to go all Martha Stewart on your ass; but if you ever decide pink is half as traumatizing as IKEA, now you know what to do.

  29. slade

    CCC…Cheap Chinese Crap! I refuse to buy CCC…and it can be done. Except for fans, the new light bulbs, and fireplace lighters (that’s all I have found so far).

    I saw a pair of Cole Hahn shoes the other day. They wanted over $100 for them and damned if they weren’t CCC. Do these designers think I’m that stupid?

    China’s patriarchy is meaner than ours…why give them your $$ ???

    After all, Italian shoes rock! Especially on sale!

    Twisty, I love the sound of your voice.

    I have those same dark circles…someone told me I need to take probiotics cuz I am full of shit…they will reduce my fullness! I’ll try anything once, usually. But I think I’ll stay away from Ikea…is EVERYTHING from China?

    Maybe the Amish should get into ‘boxed furniture.’

    More vlogs, please.

  30. XtinaS

    I’ve been renting a room from a couple with a deep love of 60’s home decor (and they do it very well).  I flipped through an IKEA catalog the other day, and after a few pages, it all looked boring.  “Look, another box!  Hey, it’s in black and white again!  They changed this box from 6″x8″ to 7″x7.5” and painted it blue; it’s totes different!”


  31. Anastasia

    when I lived in my former city, I would go to IKEA but I didn’t buy furniture there. My children are entertained by trips to IKEA because they can climb on everything, after they’ve spent their 45min in smalland, after which time I feed them mac n cheese for 99cents each. All in all, this is a couple hours out of my day wherein the kiddies are entertained, no one is bitching me out about controlling my spawn, and everyone is happy.

    of course, now that I live somewhere hipper, I should just take them to the local ice cream n corn dog stand with the nifty outdoor playground.

  32. atheist woman

    I wouldn’t necessarily consider buying from the Amish either. A few years ago there was some rape scandal or some such with the men in a family raping young women relatives. Then again, you are unlikely to find a ‘perfect’ retailer anywhere.

  33. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    When my sister was building her house, her builder had trouble with the Amish work crew ripping off his tools. Who’da thunk it?

  34. Sycorax

    The IKEA in Brooklyn has two sets of tags on everything, one in English and one in Spanish, and they can’t manage that in Austin? I boggle.

  35. Adrienne

    I’m off to IKEA later today to buy a new computer desk. I bought one from Staples but the damn thing is a POS and has started to buckle even though I’ve only had it for a week. I miss my unfinished door on two file cabinets desk!

    My speakers are broken. I am unable to enjoy the Twisty goodness.

  36. Ramblin' Rabbit

    erm, at the end of the video there are links to other ones. Did anyone else click through to the lecture on patriarchy? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxGD8uWE2_w

  37. Bushfire

    Haha, Adrienne, I also have a POS desk from Staples. The dowels on it are so weak that you can’t move the desk an inch once its together or the dowels will just break and it will fall apart.

    I love IKEA, despite the fact that when I go there I feel dizzy and ill. The first time I went there I couldn’t eat for the rest of the day. I think it’s all the bright colours. It’s also possibly a lack of oxygen due to so many people in a dungeon-like building.

  38. Vibrating Liz

    For nine long years I braved the dreaded Super Walmarts of rural south Louisiana so I thought I was one pretty goddamn tough cookie. But then I moved up here near Seattle and, shit, I don’t know: can I do Ikea?? I desperately needed some dressers for my new home which is in a treehouse. And they had to come unassembled so I could hoist the pieces one by one up the ladders and assemble them inside. And of course they had to be cheap. What choice did I have? It was either Ikea or live out of plastic milk crates. So I girded my loins and my two best friends loaded me into their ancient VW van and with them holding me up like bookends, we made it through the maze with our faculties intact. And I actually had a blast putting the damn things together with those incoherent non-verbal instructions.

    But I’ll tell you what: I’d sooner roller skate across the Sahara than ever go back to that place alone. My poor brain would just fly round and round backwards inside my skull, like a rapidly deflating balloon. Gah.

  39. Sarah

    Weirdly, I am almost 34 and have never yet been in an Ikea. It wasn’t on purpose, but perhaps now it will be.

    Did you know there’s Ikea HOUSING in England?

  40. Quinchan

    I think every vlog entry should have Twisty playing with Silly String or drinking. Or both.

  41. kbro

    Love the new format Twisty. I came home today after a long day of dealing with a subordinate male co-worker that was laboring under the delusion that I was at that office today to help him type up documents for one of his files (I was there to review his performance ~ but being a “girl” I must be there to do his menial work ~ guess how glowing my report will be) ~ poured a glass of Pinot Grigio and checked on the first of my favorite blogs ~ yours. Gave me a laugh that we were drinking the same thing. Check out Barefoot’s Pinot ~ here it is around 5 bucks a bottle. You could buy extra alfalfa with the money you save. Or drink twice as much.

  42. slythwolf

    Yeah, I can pretty much predict that I’ll never go to Ikea because I’d have to drive through a couple states to get to one. Anyway.

    I think the Swedish subtitle thing is hipster bullshit. Self-important white people can feel like, I don’t know, they’re part of a global community or in Europe or like they might ever in a parallel universe bother to learn a language other than English.

  43. tinfoil hattie

    I LOVE IKEA! We just did our home office with all IKEA furniture. It’s great, but you should definitely be an engineer or live with an engineer to put the stuff together.

    The furniture we bought is solid, sturdy, and pretty.

    The shopping experience? Ugh. We always need to head to Guapo’s for pollo and soothing chicken-vegetable soup afterward. It’s the IKEA antidote.

  44. AngryJules

    “How much research do we have to do into the ethics of the management, treatment of the workers, and origin of the goods before shopping at a particular store?”

    Well, we live in an oppressive capitalist clusterfuck. So I’d have to say a whole friggin’ lot. And for most people, even if you DO complete extensive background research, you won’t be able to afford shopping at fair trade or local stores regardless. Still, I think that we ought to at least acknowledge that when we hand our money off to oppressive transnational corporations that we are complicit in a system of global exploitation from which we (as Americans) benefit. A lot of people seem to throw their hands up at the destructive globalization processes sustaining Ikea and say “Eh! Not much we can do. And the sofas are cute!” Personally, I feel sickened every time I look around my place at the cookie-cutter cute things I own, thinking about how the people who made them may never enjoy a tenth of the luxury I do as a relatively poor American. I think many writers here have focused their comments on their personal Ikea experiences rather than the relationship between our consumerism and the misery of those overseas. To me, this was the most interesting part of Twisty’s v/blog this week.

    Thanks for the great discussions, Twisty!

  45. the little one

    May I suggest another video? Jonathan Coulton is a relatively funny singer song writer (that phrase seems stupid) who does hilarious satires. I make no promises that you’ll agree, but I find the song (and now the video since I went looking for it after watching this vlog) pretty damn funny. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sYXgnhQ63A

  46. Chai Latte

    YAY! TWISTY VID! *squee*

    I’ve never been to Ikea in my life, and thanks to your brave warnings, I never will.

    As for the meatballs mentioned in your vid…are they perhaps cooked to Nordic perfection by the Swedish Chef from the Muppets?

    Great, now “Bork bork bork!” is running through my head. :0

    P.S. I covet your hat.

  47. wiggles

    Craigslist and Out of the Closet are good for cheap couches. I don’t think they have delivery though.
    I went to the Ikea in Emeryville once. I didn’t notice the floor wobbling, but the place did put me out of sorts. I assumed that was just due to the hugeness and to being around all those shoppers who’d left their brains in their cars. I hate how people walk around when they’re shopping, looking off in some distant direction totally unrelated to what or who they’re walking into. I hate shopping.

  48. Genevieve

    my favorite piece of furniture is this laptop desk.
    I looked at that…really amuses me that it’s name is ‘Dave.’ That’s my ‘Nigel’s’ dad’s name, and he keeps a laptop right by his recliner in the living room to quickly look things up. He might enjoy a laptop desk.

  49. keres

    I can’t “do” mega-stores. They literally blow a fuse in my information processing center – *FIZZLETOOMUCHSTUFFPOP*. Also, all the out-gassing from all that newly manufactured crap gives me a sinus headache.

    One of the advantages of living on an island is that transportation costs make locally manufactured products more cost competitive. Or, put another way, since everything is expensive, you may as well buy the local stuff. Fortunately, Tasmania has a very good climate for growing food and we get most of our veggies from a local market gardener. Even our (organic) milk comes from in state.

    My partner and I try not to feed the global capitalist economy any more than we have too. We buy used/second-hand as much as possible (I just picked up a metal and glass 70’s style canning set yesterday for a quarter of the price of new [plastic] model, and our money went to the local high school farm). Or, if we go for something new/er, we get the most energy efficient model possible – like the two year old Toyota Prius we just bought at auction (with a loan – we are not rich). My dog’s food is made from scraps by the local butcher, who only buys island grown meat. Old t-shirts braided into ropes make good dog-toys. Again, I’m not saying that our choices are “do-able” for everyone, but the used/local/homemade choice is worth considering if you can.

    A lot of people struggle to pay for the barest necessities, and I’m not criticizing them. But for the rest of us, when we can choose, we should consider the global implications of our choices. I’d rather have lots less stuff, than stuff that I don’t feel good about – besides, most of that crap just breaks anyway.

    Plus, by not buying crap, we can buy better (Tasmanian grown) wine. I recommend trying a Tassie Pinot, if you get the chance.

  50. jael

    I have a scar on my ankle from a run in with an IKEA wardrobe years and years ago.

    I offer you the wisdom gained:

    1) You cannot shortcut IKEA instructions. They are the shortcut. Follow them exactly.

    2) If you commence construction of your new IKEA wardrobe at 6.30pm, there is no human way to have it assembled prior to the 8.30pm movie.

    3) If the item you are assembling is particularly large, it’s best to assemble it in room which will be its final home. Often, an intricate series of doorways and right angles can thwart you at the finish line.

    4) Smoke the spliff after you’ve put the wardrobe together. This also aids with items 1 to 3.

    I cannot stress the importance of No. 4 enough. You don’t want to end up unconscious on your bathroom floor; blood everywhere, and the wardrobe laughing at you from the next roof.

    It’s outright undignified.

  51. slythwolf

    Jael, #4 is also useful in that it is Positive Reinforcement–a Reward that you allow yourself for completion of a Task. In this way you can train yourself to actually get shit done once in a while or, in fact, if you’re me, to skip the Tasks and go straight to the Rewards. Which is not the most productive way of life.

  52. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Keres, I’m all about economizing on other stuff in order to afford better wine.

    And Ms. Slythwolf, I salute your mad b.s. detection skillz from a couple comments back.

  53. jael

    Dang. I forgot 5.

    5) Wear shoes.

  54. Delurker

    Ikea shmikea.
    Nothing mass produced nowadays will get you much relief from a million polymers and a thousand aluminium anodizations and some quite freaky stainless steel formulas, all chromiumed outa their tiny shapes . And when polymers – glue and paint and sheet – are new, they expire some lovely inhalable whacko airs.
    Get your cheapo second-hand, like TP says.
    Either it’s already breathed off the nasties or it’s actual real wood and iron brass and bakelite and suchlike. Lead paint on old wood is removable where formaldehyde, along with a few other polys, is inherent in the fabric of a lot of new sheets.
    And even Ikea stuff that was made only a couple decades ago has more simplissimus design than the bland knockdown they do now.

    Nice to see the vids of the writer for getting to know her.
    However. Big breath here and I’m going back to full-time lurk after this, so it’s a cowardly move and doesn’t deserve any response anyway because it’s simply a statement of preference – – I come here for the writing style as well as the content of the blames, and yet another amateur unproduced mug on a webcam doesn’t do it for me. And I’m betting that I am a minority, so you can ignore me right now.
    I wouldn’t have spoken up here, but another literate delicacy has only recently been taken away from me: John Crace’s clever Digested Reads. Began as a column in the paper edition of the Gruaniad. Got better distributed in the free online Grauniad in the last few years.
    And now some editor has decided that online readers – – readers, I say – – have to listen to Crace reading his column aloud, with no choice online for the text.
    Crace can’t read aloud to save himself.
    And I haven’t got time to try to pick out his little satiric gems from the aural blandness.
    I refuse to link to his mp3 podcast index, is how much I dislike it.

    These dorky videos are a diversion sure, but don’t keep producing them in favor of the genius print stuff please.
    I’d be content with one column a month of Twisty writing goodness, even.

    Ducking down below the parapet for good now.
    Love the whole blametariat and Twisty is a star. Author.
    All the best wishes for a successful relocation and weall here really really hope that there is eventually a web connection that allows a continuation of this wonderful blog from Twisty’s new premises.

  55. Lara

    “And to whoever suggested that my eyebags are the result of IKEA, nope. They are the essence of Twisty. I walk around looking like that all the time. It is a Beauty Flaw!”

    Twisty, I don’t know about anyone else, but I think dark bags under eyes are a wonderful feature on people’s faces. I dunno why, they just are.

    Oh, and and and, I was so inspired by your awesome vlogging videos that I finally figured out how to do my own and I’ve posted my first vlog video of me talking on my blog! Here:


    Not quite as exciting or suspenseful since I am not drinking alcohol of any sort. But exciting for me nevertheless.


  56. chingona

    I have never been to an IKEA (and I’ve been in several states) where, by the time you see the store, you already have missed the exit. I think it might be on purpose, to make it more elusive and hence, desirable. I actually like IKEA because we’re pretty broke and we can buy stuff there that we can afford that doesn’t look like total shit (as someone else said – what isn’t made in China these days?). But I find that going there requires a certain girding of the loins and some deep breathing. And you must have a plan of what you need/want. Otherwise, paralysis, disaster and panic attacks ensue.

    But I know well the feeling you are describing. I felt that way the first time I went to Babies R Us. I had to run screaming out of there.

  57. chingona

    That should read “where you have _not_ already missed the exit.”

    That is, everytime you go to IKEA, by the time you see it, it’s too late to get off at the right exit. This holds true of every IKEA I have been to. And even if you do get off at the right exit, you still have to drive through a labyrinth of office parks and auto malls to get there.

  58. goblinbee

    I don’t understand all these people saying they’re broke and so they have to go to IKEA. IKEA isn’t cheap. (Thrift stores and yard sales, my friends, thrift stores and yard sales.) And most things aren’t very necessary anyway.

    If we stopped the manufacture of all new clothes and furniture today, I think what already exists would last another hundred years. And there would be so much less stuff to pitch onto the national junk heap!

  59. Cara-he

    For those who do wish to continue shopping at IKEA, my piece of advice:

    Enter through the exit. Not only does this lead you directly to the uber-cheap delights of “Returns and Exchanges” and the big carts, it enables you to skip the showrooms, elevators/escalators, and the majority of the crowds.

    I agree that for cheap and least guilt-inducing shopping, thrift stores or yard sales are best, but the idea of a thrift store couch (knowing as I do several waaay too privileged college students who “donate” their couches after a party during which someone puked/peed on the couch) is beyond me.

  60. Lara

    “If we stopped the manufacture of all new clothes and furniture today, I think what already exists would last another hundred years. And there would be so much less stuff to pitch onto the national junk heap!”

    Or you can always live in Cuba…

    “I agree that for cheap and least guilt-inducing shopping, thrift stores or yard sales are best, but the idea of a thrift store couch (knowing as I do several waaay too privileged college students who “donate” their couches after a party during which someone puked/peed on the couch) is beyond me.”

    I agree with Cara-he here. There is a line I draw with what I’ll get from a thrift store or yard sale. Some people are gross, sorry.

  61. Dawn Coyote

    One thing that sort of amazes me is our present cultural imperative to work ourselves nigh onto collapse in order to afford trendy disposable furniture and phones and cars, while we(you) don’t have adequate health care, nor retirement savings, nor peace of mind.

  62. Spiders

    Lots of people do live in Cuba, strangely enough.

    I’m with Goblinbee on this. It doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, that your entertainment unit doesn’t meet the minimum criteria of coolness. I’ve dragged stuff in off the street that is better than the “cool” stuff at IKEA.
    In the interests of creating a fairer, more equitable and environmentally sustainable society, we really need to get our inner snob under control.

  63. Spiders

    “Very alarmed by Andrea’s comment.
    Your description of mom makes her sound more like a child then your mother. I am surprised you didn’t leave her in the nursery..”

    Crikey. You read the part about her mum being 80, right?

  64. Grumpy contrarian

    IKEA is a terrible place to shop but it is one of the few places that sells livingroom furniture with removable machine washable upholstery, and when you have aging incontinent pets and teenagers who split shit a lot, furniture with removable machine washable upholstery rules. If you can point me to a better place to buy same, I’ll switch.

  65. Grumpy contrarian

    …teenagers who SPILL shit a lot I meant. Dang.

  66. kate

    I went to the Ikea store somewhere down in Mass which is a drive from where I am in New Hampshire. I went there because I remodeled a basement into a workshop and I needed some cheap accents and lighting that looked well, like 70’s Swedish/institutional sort of, maybe a little 50’s thrown in. Ikea was the perfect thing and I wanted to go.

    I was overwhelmed, it seemed like a gigantic yard sale or flea market, except everything was polished and new and you could buy as many as you wanted of something — new in the box!

    For me that’s quite an experience.

    I did get what I wanted, brushed nickel 50’s Apollo era type down lights and some more ideas that I incorporated into the job. Customers were very happy. I got a 2500.00 bonus as soon as the customer saw the job.

    Thanks Ikea.

    So much of the styling of the store outside and in caused flashbacks to my childhood in the 70’s, plastic and steel chairs in burnt orange and ochre, the round curves of the building with the winding entries and the plain euro-type signage. Very strange feeling, like walking back in time.

  67. Angiportus

    The “Seattle” IKEA is in my town–Renton. I have been in it a couple of times with my 80 , healthier-than-me mom. I think I may have braved it alone once in search of a table strong enough to survive the collapse of the soft-story bldg I live in. Of course, no such table was found anywhere, and so I got some lumber and built one. I was inspired by a university-engineering-open-house demo in which a 2×4 withstood tons of longitudinal force before splitting. When the Big One hits and this building goes down, I suspect there will be one bump visible, my table with me under it.
    Anyway. Huge agreement here with the blamerati’s attack on consumerism and exploitation. I–the original more-into-things-than-people person–have by choice less crap and live in a smaller place than any of my family and probably a lot of my coworkers. I moved into this apt. 21 years back and it was furnished with all the wrong stuff–silly little lamp tables, etc., but no bookshelves in sight! Monstrous! Now there are many bookshelves, my big rolling toolbox until I can be a machinist again, and this table. Yes, I do thrift stores…and dumpsters.
    But I might try those meatballs some time.
    One of you lives in a treehouse? Neat!

  68. Jemima

    Interesting how the Swedish-festish seems to be an American thing. See, it seems that it’s only in the Americas that they serve Swedish meatballs (köttbullar), in Europe all the IKEA cafeterias ever serve is American hot dogs. And they serve them cheaper than those you get everywhere else.

    Go figure…

  69. Abra

    My friend loves that damn store. I tie myself in knots coming up with excuses to not go with her.

    Hey, Twisty, like your friend, I needed a new couch. I went looking online for one that would be easy to clean (i.e., can strip all the fabric and stuff it in a machine) and found one for $400. I imagine I could wash the cushions if I had a big enough washer, but thus far nothing has managed to get through the covers anyway. Has under-butt storage space, pet-resistant fabric, and is delivered by UPS. Gotta put it together with a drill, but it only took me an hour. If she’s interested, here’s their site.

    For those like me who have issues with all our cheap crap coming from China, the factory is in Indiana. Somewhere on their site is a video of how they make a couch.

    I swear I am not spamming. Pics from when I put it together for proof. I’m a lousy photographer and the light in my place sucks, but I love this couch. It’s even the correct distance off the floor and everything. Fuck IKEA!

  70. Abra

    My HTML sucks too.

  71. chingona

    I’m with Goblinbee on this. It doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, that your entertainment unit doesn’t meet the minimum criteria of coolness. I’ve dragged stuff in off the street that is better than the “cool” stuff at IKEA.
    In the interests of creating a fairer, more equitable and environmentally sustainable society, we really need to get our inner snob under control.

    It’s not that it met the minimum criteria of coolness or that I just had to have it because I’m such a snob. It’s that it was designed in such a way that we could hide all the wires from an inquiring one-year-old and yet was small enough that it didn’t overwhelm the small living room in our small house. I, too, have way cooler furniture I got used. But there have been times when I’ve needed something, and needed it now (couldn’t afford to wait until the right thing turned up at a yard sale) and needed it to have certain features, and IKEA delivered the goods at a price that was right.

    I’m kind of regretting my original comment, given the response it generated, because I have exactly three pieces of furniture in my house that aren’t either hand-me-down or thrift store finds (anyone here remember Betty’s in Chicago? Before the owner went to jail for contempt of court related to fire code violations and then the place burned down? That place was the best). They come from IKEA. And I like them. Sorry.

  72. Virago

    I’ve never heard of Ikea. I googled the name, and apparently, there isn’t one in the state I live in. However, Ikea is looking for a location in one of the larger cities to build an Ikea in the next couple of years. I’m not sure that is a good idea after watching the video. Why are they suddenly interested in building an Ikea in my state? I guess it’s because there are a lot of customers from my state who shop at the Ikea the next state over. I don’t live close enough to the state line to bother going to that Ikea, but I don’t think I’ll bother when they bring it to this state.

  73. Polly styrene

    “I’ve never heard of Ikea”

    What a state of bliss……I got my kitchen from there (yah it’s cheap) But the Swedish sink wouldn’t connect up to my standard UK plumbing. So the waste outlet is basically connected up with huge gobs of sealant. And then the hinges on the cupboard doors failed. So I had to go back and walk through the entire store just to buy some replacements….

    Avoid, oh people who’ve never heard of it. Just avoid.

  74. Twisty

    Did you see the IKEA ovens? There’s a special setting marked “Swedish meatballs.”

  75. katarina

    What “kinda broke” allows you to go out and buy a new sofa? Even in Ikea the cheapest sofa is 150€, which is US$220 at the moment. Maybe they are cheaper in the US, but that’s still real money.

  76. goblinbee

    Chingona: “But there have been times when I’ve needed something, and needed it now…”

    I had no idea we were discussing needs (food, water, shelter, love); I thought we were discussing STUFF.

    By all means, if you can get those at IKEA, more power to you.

  77. Spiders

    My comment wasn’t directed at you, Chingona. I was just venting my general contempt for society’s obsession with funding patriarchy by consuming shit we don’t need. Hates it we does.

  78. alan

    Ikea *used* to be cheap. Friends and I went for lunch there just yesterday (because thats all we bother with for Ikea these days. They have *do* havegood meatballs and mac) and a quick look at the prices there seemed like they were up to the standard gouging of other places these days. oh well. When I was first excited at the novel idea of itty-bitty living I’d buy something here and there only to find it disappointing and cheap in my actual living space.

    Although yesterday what we saw was genuinely creepy. Taking shortcuts in Ikea to get to the food court means going through brief passages of un-cute-ified, *uninfantilized*, presentation. So naturally there was an employee-only meeting room that we didn’t enter but looked through the windows into.

    2ft x 2ft squares, all painted different shades of blue, with slogans that were already strange, but made stranger by fact that they covered an entire damn wall in futura fascism. My memory is awful so there may have been more telling ones that were more representative of the corporacute employee indoctrination, but the ones I do recall are “taking responsibility – a privilege” “simplicity is a virtue,” and my fave: “new goals every day. a glorious future!”

  79. Karen

    Twisty, I finally watched your video. I wish I knew you in real life. But you probably would not hang out with me in real life. No really. I am not true to myself and how could you put up with that? But at least I can read your blog and feel like I know someone who is true to herself. Perhaps some day I can be like you.

  80. Chris E.

    Foose said, way back in the first comment:

    “There was a Danish-Swedish dustup over Ikea not long ago…”

    Sorry to be a fun-killer, but that story turned out to be a spoof.

  81. Annie in Austin

    The video was great, Twisty.
    I thought IKEA was pretty cool when I first accompanied a friend to the one near Seattle about 8 years ago. My young friend found affordable basic stuff good for people just starting out, and I found some interesting stuff for me – like good kitchen scissors.

    When a friend wants company on a trip to a store and calls me, I usually go along for the conversation. That’s how I ended up at the same IKEA that you went to. My friends didn’t have much luck and I had none. It seems IKEA has changed and maybe so have I.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose
    (you wouldn’t hang out with me in real life, either, but I do enjoy your blog)

  82. AnnaArcturus

    Bugger all, I couldn’t read through all the IKEA glorifying comments (sorry that I missed the IKEA damning comments in skipping through, though). Who says you can’t furnish your home fantastically and humanely on a less than IKEA budget? I don’t have an IKEA budget, I spend it on road trips or, Twisty fashion, good booze. We need a Martha Stewart of ethical home management. Let’s see I have two huge Victorian three piece couches, free, courtesy of Craigslist and Freecycle. They need a slipcover or something, but they’re clean and comfortable and have “good bones.” One crappy Poang chair with the cheap cushions? $60-70, then the baby spat up on it and I discovered that the cushion covers aren’t washable. >_

  83. earthling

    I just had to post a comment because I actually laughed out lound when I watched this video! I live in Taiwan and the funny thing is last year I went to the Ikea here to buy a bed (which by the way according to Taiwanese standards IS NOT cheap and is famous for having products made in SWEDEN). Anyway, almost the exact same reaction as what I had. And I too made a comment or two about the swedish sign postings…..IN TAIWAN!!!
    Love ya blog and will read it when I have time!

  84. Dana

    In the process of getting our apartment together for me and my little girl when we came back from Louisiana to Ohio, my little girl’s dad located a good dresser next to a dumpster. College dumpster diving season. What IS it with college kids wasting so much good stuff? It was a wonderful piece, solid wood with brushed brass drawer pulls.

    I sold it recently for $20 because we were moving to a smaller place.

    Currently we are sleeping on a full-sized mattress given away by a neighbor on the floor below me who’s about to move to Oregon. They didn’t seem to have any cats or dogs so I didn’t worry much about it; it was a woman, her live-in guy (husband?), and her preteen daughter.

    Earlier today I was taking out the trash and spotted a box spring, which my free mattress had not come with. Checked it for bugs and broken wood–there were none. Dragged it up two floors into my apartment only to find it was queen-sized. Screw it, now I have a whole bed. I want a queen-sized mattress anyway and I’ll just keep using the box spring–it’s cheaper that way.

    And yet I will probably acquire new furniture for certain other purposes even though I’ll have to get it on credit which means stupidly paying interest on stuff that will likely not be around in ten years. Because we’re kind of broke and it’s easier to do a monthly payment. So I guess we’re stuck with CCC for now.

    I wish these frigging “progressive environmentalist” retailers who are so caring about social issues would give a damn about my social issue and make their stuff cheaper. I don’t like getting pee-stained or roach-riddled upholstered stuff any more than a middle-class person does.

  85. SoJo

    IKEA only lasted 3 years in my home town in Australia. Ironically, the space it used to occupy is now a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

  86. AlienNumber

    When can we drink with Twisty again?

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