An Exercise in Discernment

-by Michael

A couple of weeks ago, Joanie and I went to a studio in lower Manhattan that had advertised a class for "Beginner Salsa Dancing." To call us "beginners" is, frankly, beyond generous, as Joanie's typical dancing evokes the music video of "Safety Dance" while mine is probably best described as "an ostrich with mental and physical handicaps crosses the street," but we were game for some good-time mutual humiliation and thought we might actually learn from it!

Of course, the class was canceled at the last minute. Or rather the cancellation was announced at the last minute, meaning "when we arrived at the studio," by a girl who clearly thought it was weird that anybody had actually showed up for a beginner salsa dance class.

We swallowed our disappointment and decided to meander the neighborhood a bit, since we never really get to explore the area. On our sojourn we happened upon a Goodwill and, as we are both thrifty-type people, thought we should pop in and see if there was anything a. worth buying or, even better, b. capable of rendering us into a fit of hysterics.

There was some good stuff, including a candy-making kit from the 80s that promised the tastiest insect- and alien-guts-themed candies around, as well as a woman with crusty blond dreadlocks who ambled her way through the shop on a pair of roller-blades. But I'm pretty sure that the best finds of the day were the following two neckties.

And I want your opinion on them.

Namely, I want your help in answering the question: which necktie is creepier?

Here are our contestants:

I. Cat Scratch Bleeder

Here, Kitty Ki... oh my, is that coffee? Please let that be coffee.

We have here a light-blue wildcat guardant on a field of gold. Note how the exquisite detail of the feline's whiskers juxtaposes with the numbing ferocity of the infinitely repeated scowl - true masterwork. The stain in the middle offsets the entire portrait, leaving one to ponder what sort of fluid the wearer of this tie has spilled whilst under the protection of his (or her) feline guardians.

This is a tie Ted Nugent would wear to a mountain-lion hunt that suggests elegant but not formal attire.

II. Tut Tut, It Looks Like The Apocalypse

"And yea, under the fragments of the final seal shall gather the Smiling Pig, the Leaping Tiger, and the Gluttonous Bear, and they shall wander, and all shall be crimson in the wake of their passing." - Not actually in Revelation, but this piece of clothing is a case for its inclusion therein.

In contrast to the stark simplicity of the first offering, we have here a more concrete depiction that nonetheless tells a narrative full of dark ambiguity. Are Winnie the Pooh and friends bereft and homeless in the face of a civilization - rather, a world - destroyed? Or is it rather that they are frolicking on the blood-soaked remnants of a post-apocalyptic globe, reveling in the destruction wrought by their stuffing-filled hands? Did their fellows fall in flight from the nightmare, or were they victims themselves of this trio's depredations? Either way, this is not a world I would ever want to inhabit.

My question to you, dear reader, is simply this: which image is creepier? Think about it! Both have their merits, their dark evocations, their shudder-factor - I want you to make a considered contribution to our poll below:

Which tie is creepier?