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#a258 :: Dessicated green bean

October 29, 2008

ENLARGEDon’t ask me how it got from the freezer to the cupboard, but my son brought me this earlier today. I’m trying to picture it as an oblong green asteroid, and failing. You?

Filed under: Edible, Found Object, Jetsam, Life form, symbol | Comments (0)

#a257 :: Ruined chain links

October 28, 2008

ENLARGEPopped my chain before dawn this morning as I hoisted my bulk up on the pegs today and hammered up this steep little hill. This is what was left after the repair – the first two attempts at which failed because I had threaded the chain incorrectly. Both times. Furthermore, the XBox 360 flung the Red Ring of Death at me precisely one year after we bought it – and exactly 74 minutes after Best Buy closed. Which puts me 12 hours out of warranty the next time I can possibly try getting a replacement.

Oh, and the stock market geeked out all over itself in a mad 900-point feint at recovery, which is sure to be followed by an equally geeked-down plunge as everyone realizes amid the many layoffs.

Not to mention the endless ideological and bloody wars.

And now fucking this

Yeah, it was that kind of day. It’s been that kind of decade. Make of it – er, rather, the future – what you will.

Filed under: Jetsam, Part | Comments (0)

#a256 :: Pill capsule on chain

October 27, 2008

ENLARGEMy son seems to have my eye for HLOs. He spotted this anodized aluminum pill container in among the bottle openers at some sporting goods store or Quikie Mart, and quickly reminded us of his lost allowance so he could buy it. A few days later he attached some discarded pot-metal chain to it and he’s been carrying it around in his pocket ever since. I always stumble across it the few times I do wash (I do the kitchen, she does the clothing). Or more to the point, it calls out its attention by smacking the inside of the metal dryer drum through the pocket of his tumbling shorts, where he’s jammed it once again in the morning and abandoned it for more abuse by the wash at night. If he carries anything in it on a regular basis, I’ve never seen it. I think it’s just another cool thing that he likes to carry around.

Filed under: Fetish, Jetsam, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a255 :: Bakugan set

October 26, 2008

ENLARGEIttybitty, spherical monster-robot-creatures, about the size of a large marble, with rare-earth magnets in their butts. Roll them or drop them down onto a sheet-tin battle card and spring-loaded wings, necks and feet flip out. Grrrarrrghh, I guess. Nobody ever went broke overestimating the obsession of 9-year-old boys. If I were a kid I’d be raving about this to my parents on a daily basis. Like someone I know and love.

Filed under: Ephemera, Model, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a254 :: Bird of Paradise blossom

October 25, 2008

ENLARGEScrabbling up the wall to festoon the entryway with cotton-silk spider-webbing, he grabbed hold of a fistful of rubbery plants in the wall-planter on the ledge above him. He gained his footing above, but a chunk of colorful bloom snapped loose. He turned it over on his palm …

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

#a253 :: Desk cleaning time

October 24, 2008

ENLARGEYou own a lot of shit. You accumulate more of it every day. Sometimes, you have to pick through it to get your desk clean. And you make little piles. That might or might not be photographs of your life told in debris. And yet, you never seem to get rid of the things as swiftly as you take them on. So you amuse yourself with the illusory luxury of a desk-clearing brawl – all elbows and rags and windex and a sweet sparkling aftertaste. And you cap the day doing the very thing you told yourself you were done with five or six hours ago. Staring at the desk. Letting shit pile up on it. Because it’s your desk. And it does that.

Filed under: Adornment, Art, Artifact, Blahg, Ephemera, Facsimile, Fetish, Found Object, Instrument, Jetsam, Life form, Miniature, Model, Objet, Part, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a252 :: Dental casts

October 23, 2008

ENLARGEOvercome for a moment, if you can, the urge to vomit:

You’re looking at casts of someone’s teeth – full bicuspid-to-incisor replicas of a human’s business end, cast in peach-colored plaster, mounted on more white plaster that is set into a hinged contraption meant to approximate the original owner’s jaw.

Only the hinge is too far back from where the molars connect; sinew and bone are rendered in bronze; and the rest of the owner’s … context … is missing.

What is this for? How does it work?

And could one, as posited in one of James Ellroy‘s grislier scenarios, frame someone for murder by using this thing to put signifying bitemarks all over the victim’s body?

Halloween’s just a week away, my friends. And half a week beyond is the election, which is – in all candor – far more gruesome to contemplate.

(Spotted at the Melrose swap meet)

Filed under: Artifact, Found Object, Instrument, Model, Tool | Comments (0)

#a251 :: Valve caps

October 22, 2008

ENLARGEHot rod culture coughs up the kitsch once again: Dice-shaped valve caps that say, “I’m a-gamblin’ with my life in this heap! I’m a risky man! Don’t trifle with me, ‘cos I don’t care what happens next!”

Only these magnificent little bastards rode around on my thrashed ’62 Schwinn for countless street miles and six visits to the playa, and that hot-rodder patina of mock chrome is flaking off to reveal the cheap, Chinese-made hearts of vivid red plastic within.

Filed under: Ephemera, Model, Tool | Comments (0)

#249 :: Jewelry box

October 22, 2008

ENLARGEWe adorn ourselves with heavy little objects.

A cut and polished stone the size of a tear, a curlicue of hammered metal, the hardened secretions of sand-irritated mollusks – these all bear wearing for sentimental reasons, and demand to be kept somehow safe.

Do safety and worth come to mind when you see layers of silk and chintz and paste jewels bundled into a mock wedding cupcake the shape of a child’s jewelry box? Do you wonder what’s inside? Only my 7-year-old daughter knows for sure.

Filed under: symbol, Tool | Comments (0)

#a250 :: Big Bro Slig

October 21, 2008

ENLARGEIn some lights, my 9-year-old son is my very heart dancing around outside my body, a handsome, smart, innocent, brave, funny, sensitive boy.

In others, he’s a degenerate, unwashed, mouthbreathing game addict who would rather live a fantasy life through his hunched shoulders, twitching thumbs and unblinking bloodshot eyeballs than virtually anything else, including eating, talking, sleeping or paying attention to you.

In other words, he’s a chip off the old block. Which as much as anything explains why he gets to play only 30 minutes on school nights and 60 minutes on weekends.

This Lego creation is a slavishly true model of a Big Bro Slig, one of the army of bioengineered freaks that try to kill you in Oddworld, Munch’s Odyssee – the lad’s current drooling obsession, which he talks about pretty much non-stop.

Don’t even ask me about how he almost ruined Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath for me permanently – two full years after I decided it was the greatest video game ever created.

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

#a248 :: Straits Territories penny

October 19, 2008

enlargeThis is an artifact of the colonial government that bloomed out of the East India Company, after the firm set up shop in and around Singapore to do some trading.

Nearly 100 years after the Brits founded it the territories were still passing currency.

The corners of this penny tease you to play with them. It’s not like other coins, this thing’s square, your fingers keep telling you. It begs pry stuff open or make marks in things.

And what would it look like – you wonder – if you put it on the train line just down the block? Would it flatten out to a rectangle, or pathetically mooodge back into something ovoid and vague?

And you resist because it was hard to come by.

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Fetish, Found Object, General, symbol, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a247 :: Pin vise

October 18, 2008

ENLARGEI’m magnetic.

Have I mentioned this before? Small metallic tools seem to fly into my hands wherever I walk. Whether this is for holding a pin steady long enough to create a microscopic city of angels on its head or for some other obscure task, I’ll never know.

But its jaws can clasp something very, very long and narrow, very firmly.

It was made in china, of low-grade steel, and chromed.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a246 :: Creepy Crawlers mold

October 17, 2008

ENLARGEThis deeply iconic toy from my youth let you commit a sort of reverse archaeology:

Begin with the shapes left in metal by “disgusting” creatures – an aluminum “fossil” that holds the power to create a form of life.

Pour plasma-like “Plasti-Goop” into their very absence. Heat it on a small thermoelectric hotplate. Watch the forms congeal and cool. Then tweeze out bug simulacra – now endowed the “lifelike” jiggle of insect energy … and completely creep out your little sister.

Utter heaven.

Like so many great toys, The Mattel ThingmakerTM was watered down, neglected, and bastardized into something sort of resembling its former glory due to too many small-minded parents suing over their children’s burnt fingers, but it’s still available in some form.

Filed under: Artifact, Objet, Part, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a245 :: Jade torus

October 16, 2008

ENLARGEThis lump of polished, lustrous stone – so fetishy I can’t even decide what to do with it yet – came my way for $2 at the swap meet last weekend. It has a wondrous weight and feel in the hand. And it’s made of this stuff which gives it a symbolic potency far deeper than what something so simple deserves.

Filed under: Adornment, Fetish, Miniature, Objet, symbol | Comments (0)

#A244 :: Obama campaign pin

October 15, 2008

ENLARGETHE U.S. MEDIASPHERE (Oct. 14, post-debate) (HLO) –

Joe the Plumber. Indeed.

Look, this blog isn’t political.

I don’t dump my heart out about the government here. Most days, this stuff is just one more step in my years-long tabletop parade of things.

But please, if you’re thinking of voting for one would-be U.S. president over the other because of the people he associates with, put that shit aside and try to come up with the logical answer – for each candidate – to this far more important question:

Does this guy have a plan for our near future? Or is he just busy shoveling mud?

Because that’s what really matters.

Even if you’re ignoring what tens of millions of people are telling you and saying in public, you need to be honest enough with yourself to answer that question in the form of a vote.

Or haven’t you been watching?

What’s that? You’re fresh out of belief in the System?

Look: Every damn time, your vote counts – even if you don’t fully believe in either candidate, your choice in this is important.

Without your vote, you’re just another chump along for the ride with whichever side has the most people who care.

Get your head together. Go register your ass. VOTE.

(And this thing arrived in the mail today. Yeah, I sent for it. Got a problem with that?)

Filed under: Adornment, Art, Artifact, Ephemera, Objet, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a243 :: Seed pod

October 14, 2008

ENLARGEHollow, papery pods fall by the thousands from the trees lining Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.

Barely weighing an ounce, they float down on the wind, carrying precious seeds to the cement-lined gutter, to be gathered roughly by street-sweeper brushes or washed down the storm drains and out to sea.

Millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of horticulture have gone into this act of procreation – which is made poetically futile by a few decades of urban planning.

If Darwin was right, have these trees reached their highest evolutionary state – a place where they exist only by a perfect symbiosis with an ecosphere of maudlin cityscapers and dutiful arborists?

Or are they merely en route to their genetic destiny – an unpopulated future when iron roots will burst through sidewalks to make way for spiky cementophagic seedlings that gnaw and tunnel their way to soil and water and dominance?

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

#a242 :: Instocine filter selector?

October 13, 2008

enlargeI love mystery gadgets best of all. I have a sense of what this is for – but not, precisely, how to use it.

Put the black bakelite eyecup to your eye and what do you see? A thin strip of optical film, with light showing through a tower of letters.

Pull out the telescoping center – what does it do? Just reveals a scale of notches – 5, 10, 15 … – etched in chrome.

Spin the knurled collar – it holds letters matching the ones inside the eyepiece that seem to compare against a scale of f. stops, exposure lengths and frame-per-second numbers printed on the barrel.
But how exactly would you use it? What alchemy of light, emulsion and artistic eye would it produce for you if you did it right?

A, M, P, X, D, R, F, H, B, K, V, S, G, N, L, Z. No help from Google there.

Instocine Drem. Not much help here, either.

The heavy, printed tin encases a heart of what feels (by weight) like optical glass – holding secrets of its use that may have died long ago with those who used it most. It was made in Austria, and found its way to a swap meet in West Hollywood, where I rescued it.

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

#a241 :: Faceted glass chunk

October 12, 2008

ENLARGEThe market dictates that some strange stuff gets made. Such as a conical chunk of glass turned into a “diamond” of approximately 953 carats. Humanity stated a need for this – at least established-enough to justify setting up a plant for turning them out – and got exactly what it asked for. China’s been cranking them out. They go for, among other prices, $2 each at the Melrose swap meet.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a240 :: “Magnum” 13-tip tattoo needle

October 11, 2008

ENLARGETonight was big.

For three-plus years, Justin has been installing and detailing my biomechanical arm. He does all the heavy shading with one of these nasty bastards – 13 tattoo needles epoxied together in a head and soldered onto a needle shaft.

Tonight he finished all the principal work, leaving only some cleanup, and we’re talking about him putting some decals and abrasions on the “blank” plates between the open access ports …

(more…)

Filed under: Jetsam, Part, symbol, Tool | Comments (0)

#a239 :: Blowfish

October 10, 2008

enlargeThis bath toy has been floating around the house since my son was 1. I can’t bear to part with it. I don’t know what endears it to me more – the spiky-ballness of its body, the crudely painted urchin-biting teeth, or its thunderstruck gape of surprise.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a238 :: Clementine`

October 9, 2008

ENLARGEA tart bang across her tongue. Orange fresh. Hard work won it. She had carried herself well. She deserved this little palm-sized fruit. Even now, moments after she had slit the skin with a thumbnail and started the engine. Despite what she’d done, this was her moment to enjoy her snack. Bracing her thumb, had she dug three fingers into the slit fruit and moved the edge back cleanly, pulling away to show the white beneath, the pearlescent orange beneath that. It almost fell apart in neat, crisp segments, but she clutched it to the handlebars gingerly with her left and twisted the throttle with her right. And she was enjoying them, one by one as she rode the little 125cc dirtbike around the inside of the steel-girded cylinder in the little shithole town outside Pittsburgh where the circus had set up this week. Around and around. Until the gas ran out and she either coasted to a stop or she simply fell off the thing and prayed it wouldn’t land on her as it came to rest. One hand clung to the throttle, her weight braced in the centrifugal well against the downpull of gravity. The other flipping pieces of clementine into her mouth. The cops waited at the bottom of the drum, peering up into the light drizzle, the parabolic wwwOWWW, wwwOWWW, wwwOWWW, wwwOWWW, of her bike around the inside, 30 feet up. Her girlfriend huddled below in the cold, shouting her name every fourth or fifth orbit. It went on for a good 50 minutes until the bike finally quit.

Filed under: Edible, Microfiction, Objet, symbol | Comments (0)

#a237 :: “Littlest Pet Shop” dog

October 8, 2008

ENLARGEThe Littlest Pet Shop – a calculatedly endearing line of miniature plastic chibi animals with matching plastic environments – has gripped my daughter in the clutches of obsession.

During our entire month in London this summer, she badgered us any time we came near a store to let her go in and look for these creatures so she could buy them “with my own money!”

My wife spent literally trawling eBay for animals my daughter had not yet collected – mice, lizards, cats, and so on – for her birthday. And when the child’s party came around, we found Littlest Pet Shop animals to give as party favors after ashe and her friends spent the entire birthday sleepover fiddling with, manipulating, enacting conversations with and cooing over their own Littlest Pet Shop animals.

And like a good dad, I indulged her. She seemed so happy.

Now, thanks to a loan from an older girlfriend, she’s moved on with whiplash abruptness to obsess instead over American Girl.

I am such a sap.

But if I buy a single cardigan, maryjane, or pinafore, for the love of Christ – please – collar me, strip me naked, paint me with habanero chili and stake me to the giant ant mound in the town square, because at that point I’ll be too pathetic to deserve better.

Filed under: Fetish, Toy | Comments (0)

#a236 :: Stanley Handyman bullet level

October 7, 2008

ENLARGEIt’s fitting that today’s object is a level.

For today I have finally brought HLO completely up to date, after a double-whammy punch of working vacation with my family in London for a month and a full-bore trip to Burning Man crushed my daily blog output.

A good level operates with an oracular efficiency and grace that blows your mind the first time you see it. Wha …? How can that be? That little bubble dictates how well something is aligned to the center of the EARTH??? Who makes the bubble capsules level in the first place?

I’ve always loved and admired the handle as a legendary, class-defining tool, like a good hammer. This is a particularly gorgeous specimen from Stanley Tools.
Everything is in balance now. I wonder what tomorrow’s object will be …

Filed under: Artifact, Found Object, Instrument, Part, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a235 :: 10-color ballpoint pen

October 6, 2008

ENLARGEI had one of these when I was a kid, and while I never drew anything that looked like much with it, I loved the fact that I could color with copper-colored ink.

My son spotted this in Brighton. A steal at £1.50.

Filed under: Tool, Toy | Comments (1)

#a234 :: Rubber ghost

October 6, 2008

ENLARGEHis stubby limbs erupt from his shapeless body, his supposedly ghostly face a botched approximation by a drunk factory worker with a brush and the last of his black paint.

Though his spinal imprint claims he comes from China, he is likely just the larval form of a much more formidable creep, the rubber ghoul.

Filed under: symbol, Toy | Comments (0)


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