- Associated Press - Thursday, November 11, 2010

CHICAGO (AP) - It started with figs, on a plate, stashed under a pool side table.

The caption under the photo in the home design catalog urged readers to “enjoy the comfort and ease of indoor entertaining with outdoor sectionals, pillows and accessories.”

But Molly Erdman saw something else. She saw a chance to poke fun at something, well … kinda ridiculous.

The actor/comedian sat down at her computer last June and wrote her own caption.

“Sweetheart,” it said, “the Turners will be here any minute now! Did you put the plate of figs under the table?”

And her blog, “Catalog Living,” was born.

Erdman didn’t necessarily set out to create a daily parody of the sometimes serious, overly put-together nature of photos from high-end home accessory catalogs. She got her start as a comedian with Chicago’s Second City and moved to Los Angeles three years ago to pursue an acting and writing career. You might recognize her as “the wife in the minivan” from a series of popular TV commercials for the Sonic restaurant chain.

One night, though, after she wrote the “fig” caption, she showed it to her boyfriend. He laughed.

Then she wrote more captions and her comedian friends thought those were funny, too.

She realized she was on to something _ and as her blog entries multiplied, they started getting attention from Facebook fans and people in the design field.

“I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from catalog photographers and art directors,” she says. “They say, ‘We always think what we do is ridiculous.’

“No one seems to take responsibility for lining up 30 apples on a table.”

This is a reference to the pieces of fruit or other objects that show up in odd places in some of the catalog photos. One of Erdman’s favorites showed a rowboat on a dock filled with pillows.

Her caption: “In her annual end-of-season ritual, Elaine sent the outdated summer cushions out to sea.”

This isn’t the only website like this. Another is called “Unhappy Hipsters: It’s Lonely in the Modern World.” The creator of that site prefers to remain anonymous, and thus, did not return e-mails requesting an interview.

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