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#a133 :: Pig lighter

June 26, 2008

ENLARGE“So what are you gonna write – that your wife spotted this on a counter at 7/11 and had to have it?”


Happy birthday, my dear love.

Filed under: Facsimile, Fetish, Miniature, Tool, Toy | Comments (1)

#a132 :: Korg Kaossilator dynamic phrase synthesizer

June 25, 2008

ENLARGEFair warning: I held Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson in very high regard when I was, like, 13. I thought Frankenstein was the single coolest thing I’d ever heard played on keyboards (after “The Well-Tempered Synthesizer”). I keep Amon Tobin and DJ Spooky on heavy rotation these days.

I am a hopeless synthesizer slut …

Filed under: Fetish, Instrument, Toy | Comments (1)

#a131 :: The NeoCube

June 25, 2008

ENLARGEMagnetism enchants and mystifies me.

These 216 neodymium magnets – each 3mm thick – cling together in clouds when crushed, in polyhedrons and exotic coils when aligned.

I roll them between my fingers, and they snap together with the surety of pure particle physics. They form a collective entity, a hive colony of homogeneous individuals, and whole complexity.

They tug on my deepest childhood curiosity, my gnarliest gadget fetish hot-points. They are probably completely evil.

I found the NeoCube on some gadget blog or another. And ever since they – or it – arrived, I have run the serious risk of not getting a single goddamn thing done.

Check out the videos at your own peril. You have been duly warned.

Filed under: Fetish, Objet, Part, Toy | Comments (1)

#a130 :: Stogie

June 23, 2008

ENLARGEMy vices are few and far between.

But this evening, while my family is away camping, leaving me to a regular work schedule and an empty house, I had my once-every-six-months cigar.

This 9-inch-long Gurka has been sealed in a glass tube – perfectly preserved, I might add – since William brought a box of them to Burning Man two summers ago.

I broke the wax seal on the tube, snipped the butt of the cigar with this, fired it up with this, poured myself the tiniest sip of Glenlivet and set to work.

It was delicious.

Two and a half hours later, I really liked what I had written.

Filed under: Fetish, symbol | Comments (0)

#a129 :: Shipping plug

June 22, 2008

ENLARGERemoved. From what, I cannot remember.

Draw your own conclusions.


Filed under: Found Object, Jetsam | Comments (0)

#a128 :: Japanese bug collectible

June 21, 2008

ENLARGEThis life-sized stag-beetle toy came pre-fetishized from Mitsuwa Marketplace, our favorite Japanese supermarket.

The Japanese culture of packaging dictated that F-Toys Confect. manufacture the 3-inch-long, hand-colored, pre-assembled dorcus titanicus castanicolor from 12 hand-assembled parts, encase it in a two-piece, blowmolded thermoplastic container sarcophagus, box it in cardboard emblazoned with myriad messages via multiple fonts printed in high-gloss, laquered four-color inks, and accompany it with a thick-gauge collector’s card.

And a square of chewing gum in a cellophane wrapper with pinked edges.

What the hell, it’s a plastic bug.

Well, here’s what the hell else: They also do plastic guns, motorized tanks and miniature motorcycles.

Filed under: Facsimile, Fetish, Toy | Comments (0)

#a127 :: Aluminum pencil sharpener

June 20, 2008

ENLARGEI love the precision of this dramatically machined little block of a tool.

Each hole feeds a standard diameter pencil’s point up into a carefully positioned groove, at a particular angle.

Each groove pushes the pencil against a steel sharpening blade at a blade of a different length – assuring you a fresh point of an exacting diameter and thickness.

And everything is fitted together with brass. I’d stick this on my keychain if it weren’t already thoroughly irredeemable. Hmm … maybe there’s still room …

Filed under: Fetish, Tool | Comments (0)

#a126 :: Astrojax

June 19, 2008

ENLARGEWhen you play with Astrojax correctly, its three torusoid balls, each mounted with a different colored LED, whip around in concentric, flickering orbits.

The red and green ones anchor either end of a 3-foot-long nylon string, and the yellow ball slides up and down the string, exchanging weight, mass and inertia with the ball riding at the free end.

From five feet away, the juggling appears like magic – a dance of conjurer’s fireflies.

If you play with Astrojax incorrectly, their cacophonous, clattering failure to spin marks you as an utter dork.

From five feet away, you look like nothing more than an utter dork jerking balls at the end of a string.

Astrojax’s utter perfection as an instrument of pointless skill that fits in your pocket and looks showy from a distance make them some of my most dearly beloved heavy little objects. Brilliant fun.

Wikipedia says they were invented in 1987 by physicist Larry Shaw.

Filed under: Toy | Comments (0)

#a125 :: Rusty nails and screws

June 18, 2008

ENLARGEOur neighborhood was built in the 1920s.

I don’t know when they set these telephone poles, but ever since then, people have been tacking notices up on them with whatever fasteners came to hand. The signs, posters and advertisements all came down – by weather or by hand – but the metal stayed put.

I spotted this fantastic cluster of rusted determination while adding my own artifacts to the clutter – staples to hold up a yard-sale sign.

I love the idea that someone put something up with a Philips-head screw.

Filed under: Artifact, Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a124 :: Miniature Indian corn

June 17, 2008

ENLARGEIn the vast pantheon of American kitsch (and it is vast), the significance of miniature “Indian corn” just baffles me.

Farmers cultivate the basic (full-sized) species to sell to craft stores and maybe florists. Yet here’s a tinier – cuter? – version for the express purpose of … what?

I’ve never had the pleasure of eating it – no one ever sells it fresh – but I have to wonder: Did this country marginalize because yellow and white corn species were considered sweeter? Purer?

What would it taste like if you slapped the farmer’s hand before he signed the deal with Michael’s, and forced him to take it to market so that you could shuck it, grill it and slather it with butter?

It’s a mystery. A small, one, I’ll grant you. But a mystery – to me, at least.

Filed under: Life form, Objet, symbol | Comments (0)

#a123 :: Cigar cutter

June 16, 2008

ENLARGEA good cigar is a smoke, but only if you trim its bullet end first with this – a pocket guillotine.

It’s the sort of tool with which bad men threaten to maim hopeless patsies in cruel movies.

Being as it’s extremely dangerous and cheaply made, it defies one to think of other, more beautiful ways to put it to use.

Filed under: Tool, weapon | Comments (0)

#a122 :: Easter egg

June 15, 2008

ENLARGEWe had an egghunt all over the hillside behind our house for Easter a few weeks back.

While I was tearing down a fence yesterday, I came across this escapee – one of William‘s fantastic eggs for the kids – packed with little vinyl characters and equally-chewy Starburst, sealed in a chrome eggshell.

Should I eat the candy? Hmmm …

Filed under: Found Object, Toy | Comments (1)

#a121 :: Geode

June 14, 2008

ENLARGEI could probably Google the metamorphic process that built this pocket cavern.

Wikipedia also has useful information, I’m sure.

But then I’d be burdened with that knowledge every time I looked at another one.

I’d rather retain the mindset I have now – the same wonder that attracts my 8-year-old son, from whom I borrowed this, and that attracted my 8 year-old self some coughcough-ty years ago when I first saw one of these things.

Geodes are cool, and older than either of us will ever live to be. They demand respect, and deserve to retain the secret of their birth.

Filed under: Fetish, Objet | Comments (0)

#a120 :: Silicone clown fish puzzle

June 13, 2008

enlargeA lifetime of desiring and acquiring manufactured things has warped my brain, reprogrammed my very lizard DNA, I’m sure of it:

This toy’s translucent color and pungent, exotic-plastic aroma make it seem good enough to eat.

I pull it apart into convenient, bite-sized pieces, and consider the options: reassemble? Or devour?

Filed under: Facsimile, Fetish, Model, Toy | Comments (0)

#a119 :: Broken cleaver

June 12, 2008

ENLARGEI am going to tell you a story now.

A man fell in love with a woman. She fell in love back. They married, and to celebrate their marriage, they journeyed to Beijing.

They toured the city, mesmerized. They ate rich and pungent food. They heard lush choral music sung by brightly-dressed acrobats in vivid masks. They bought things.

This was 14 years ago. (more…)

Filed under: Fetish, General, Instrument, Jetsam, Model | Comments (0)

#a118 :: Space man

June 11, 2008

ENLARGEHe waits, always, tools in hand: a coil of something (rope? wire?) and a cryptic triangular gizmo.

Or maybe an alien artifact.

He stands tall – barely 1.8 inches of light-gray plastic.

Why is he smiling?

Filed under: Facsimile, Miniature, Model, Toy | Comments (0)

#a117 :: Dot-com relic

June 11, 2008

ENLARGELike all major American newspapers, the Los Angeles Times – as we know it – may be doomed.

Never thought I’d say that – I worked in newspapers for 17 years, including ’90 to ’97 on staff at the Times, and I always kept the faith.

I had rough moments mixed in with the fantastic stories, but hope barnacled my frequent reality checks – “Oh come ON, they’ll figure it out sooner or later – they’re just an information company that needs to retool for the digital age!”

Filed under: Artifact, Jetsam, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a116 :: Chinese stainless-steel swivels

June 9, 2008

ENLARGEThe Great Keyring Refitting is proceeding according to plan.

As I’ve mentioned, my keyring – packed with a bruising handful of keys, tools and heavy metal fetishes, needs draconian reorganizing or the nasty fistful of steel might just sever my left femoral artery next time I bend over to tie my shoes.

This pack of swivels arrived today from China – $1.99, plus $4 shipping.

If China doesn’t completely crush the world economy within the next 10 years, they will have simultaneously proven the Long March was an epic FAIL, blown an Al-Gore-circa-2004-sized opportunity, and surprised the crap out of little old me.

Filed under: Part, Tool | Comments (0)

#a115 :: Ivory manta ray

June 8, 2008

enlargeWe swam with manta rays in Hawaii last summer.

Yes, it really was that idyllic.

We tell ourselves it was kharmic payback for a summer of pain – our dear friend Keith died horribly and too young, we were both working 14 hour days and struggling to be with the kids, our daughter broke her arm. And to top it all off, a skunk crawled into the foundation of our chimney and died. And stank. A lot.

So when we spent the most glorious week off we’ve ever enjoyed in our lives, we came away feeling as though the universe was rebalancing the scales. But the bulk of it – like this experience – smelled like magic – or some absurd positive kharma that we have yet to earn …

Filed under: Adornment, Art, Facsimile, Fetish, Life form, symbol | Comments (0)

#a114 :: Household wasp

June 7, 2008

ENLARGEThe wicked thinness of this creature’s waist reminds us that if there’s a God, he/she/they/it lies in the fractal diversity of perfect biology:

The wasp is built as light, tough, fast and wicked-cool as a Harrier jump jet, a Flexible Flyer, or a Baron Margo motorcycle .

If ants had motorcycles, they would ride wasps. Nothing else in the natural world comes so close to this vision of purpose-built evil.

Filed under: Fetish, Jetsam, Life form | Comments (0)

#a113 Jelly silicone ninja

June 6, 2008

ENLARGEAt the hallucinogenic nexus of pop culture, American tastes and mass-production technology, odd blossoms bud.

Here, forming an icon of cool stealth for the amusement of the mobs calls for transparent violet jelly silicone.

What better way to say “They know nothing of his presence until his blade has already passed – and by then it’s too late.”

Filed under: Facsimile, Miniature, Toy | Comments (0)

#a112 :: I just stepped on this in the dark

June 5, 2008

ENLARGESomething of my daughter’s.

It once contained spring-loaded paper snakes that leapt out when you opened the can to get a tasty Chees Ball (sic).

Now it’s full of miniature Chinese coats made of silicone, fitted with little tin bells.

Filed under: Facsimile, Found Object, Miniature, Model, Toy | Comments (0)

#a111 :: Moo cards

June 4, 2008

ENLARGEWhy is this – get up to 100 of your own images printed on the back of little half-width business cards – such an immensely attractive offer?

Because you can print whatever the hell you want.

Because it’s like owning the factory. Or perhaps renting it.

Because since they’re double-small, people look at them twice as hard. (more…)

Filed under: Art, Instrument, Jetsam, Objet, symbol | Comments (0)

#a110 :: Handmade volcano

June 4, 2008

ENLARGEA mighty volcano lies dormant, as it has since it was formed by powerful forces of pressure and moisture and imagination six days ago. But rumblings have been heard in its vicinity. The natives swear it sounds like the pleadings of a young boy. Soon, they fear, it will erupt in a blast of vinegar and baking soda. Until then, they bide their time and prepare themselves.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a109 :: Wacky Packs

June 2, 2008

ENLARGEAt some point in 1967, the creative department of the chewing-gum-and-baseball-cards giant Topps took a wild stab at a new product:

They hired comic-book artists (Art Spiegelman, Kim Deitch, Drew Friedman, Bill Griffith, (among others) to draw wicked parodies of major brand labels. Marvelous anarchy bloomed.

They printed the gags on to stickers – Suffertone suntan lotion, Bone Ami cleanser, Blisterine mouthwash, Crust – stacked three or four of them with chalky slabs of gum, wrapped them in lurid wax-paper and turned them loose on America’s young for 25 cents a pack. (more…)

Filed under: General | Comments (2)