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#a435 :: Mash note from my daughter

April 27, 2009

042709She sidles up to me. Very small voice: “Here, Daddy.”

I unfold it.

I give her a huge bearhug and a sloppy kiss on the forehead.

She smiles.

Mission accomplished.

She’s 7.

Filed under: Content, Ephemera, Paper | Comments (2)

#a434 :: Z-card robot

April 26, 2009

042609I’ve posted some Z-Cardz before – they’re nifty little 3-D models that you assemble from pieces that you punch out of precision-die-cut 2-D plastic cards.

This is not one of their better ones – and I guess that’s why I’m posting it – as an example of Not Good Enough.

Warner Bros. cartoons had their bad years.

Everyone would rather forget the Mustang II for the miserably anemic botch-up it made of a once-proud marque.

And Phantom Menace sucked.

So this particular Z-Card is actually a tribute to its superior brethren.

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

#a433 :: Potato chip

April 25, 2009

042509Her: Dad, is this a heavy little object?

Me: Yep.

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

#a432 :: Message launcher

April 24, 2009

042409A wonderful little creation – the kids brought these home from school one day. They folded sheets of paper to form these taut, shallow cones that pop outward when squeezed the right way.

The *pop* ejects a tiny drawing – in this case, our daughter’s drawing of us.

The message is “Happy 15th Anaversery.”

Filed under: Art, Content, Ephemera | Comments (0)

#a431 :: Antique Stanley line level

April 23, 2009

042309A little bit of rococo molding around a glass capsule half full of air. A tool for sensing the approximate direction of the center of the earth. A gen-yoo-wine aahhhrrr-teeeeeefaaaaaaaact.

Filed under: Instrument | Comments (0)

#a430 Spun aluminum pillbox

April 22, 2009

042209I’m at the far end of the wire.

The warmth of the crowd rises up into the moldy canvas peak of the tent here. It pours from their eyes, their upturned, open mouths.

I toss the balance pole into the air, pivot the other way, catch the pole and head back across the wire.

Their glasses glint up at my sparkling soles, my cartoon skirt.

Light from the fresnels spangles the tent through the beveled reflections of all that eyewear.

I stroll to the other side.

And this image from our apartment is what I focus on behind my eyes.

God DAMN it, Seth. You left me.

Filed under: Aluminum, Container, Ephemera, Facsimile, Fetish, Microfiction, Model, Objet | Comments (0)

#a429 :: Rotten witch fingers

April 21, 2009

042109A Halloween candy bowl kept at the back of our cupboard finally (pardon the pun) gave up the ghost.

Used to be you would reach into it for a tasty treat, and a little infrared sensor triggered an animated rubber witch’s hand to snatch at yours and a voicebox would rasp, “Trick or treat!”

This morning we reached in to find the rubber-encased, cotton-stuffed digits had gone the way of all silicone flesh.

I’m loving these things so much, they may even get the Object of the Month award.

Filed under: Facsimile, Jetsam, Object of the Month, Part | Comments (0)

#a428 :: Undesirable keychain tag

April 20, 2009

042009At some point last month, my mother-in-law gave my daughter (age 7) a little keyring with a big fob that spelled out “Love” in lurid gold-chromed script.

It was schwag from some utterly-too-grownup movie, as evidenced by the little stamped-metal tag proclaiming the brand. Here’s what ensued the moment I laid eyes on it:

Me: (rummaging for the pliers) Here, let me fix that for you.

Daughter: Dad, can’t I keep that?

Uh, no. (*snap!*)

I could go on here about the bizarre cultural currency our infantilized nation has created around the fetishism of branded schwag, but I’m saving all my energy for, oh, about four or five years from now when she starts pushing back.

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

#a427 :: Refrigerator shelf shard

April 19, 2009

041909What happens when your son has parked a big bottle of water precariously on the top shelf of an open refrigerator door and you unwittingly shut the door, causing it to plunge to the bottom and snap the shelf straight out of the fridge?

You hunt through the shattered plastic shards looking for the serial number so you can order a new one.

Children are agents of entropy.

Filed under: Jetsam, Part | Comments (1)

# a426 :: CD opener keychain

April 18, 2009

041809To someone who uses knives as much as I do, this thing is about as useful as Truck Balls.

You press it against the side of a sealed CD or DVD, depressing a spring-loaded cap to reveal a tiny steel blade that slices open the shrink-wrap.

They were giving them away today at Amoeba for National Record Store Week – something I didn’t really discover until I got home to unpack my goodie bag. Had I known, I probably would have politely declined, and let someone else enjoy it.

Now I can either keep it around, adding to the household clutter, or huck it since the metal makes it unrecyclable.

Do people ever think about the amount of material they’re pumping into landfills and the atmosphere by manufacturing this kind of object?

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

#a425 :: Gilette Shaving Cream cap

April 17, 2009

041709The fetish of packaging, the gloss of the new. Plastic lids for shaving cream come in two sizes – the simple quarter-sized button protector found on Barbasol or this full-bloat blowmolded cylindrical monster, which covered the can of Gilette I bought last week.

With the earth’s carbon load trending toward the toxic, I worry about the way we’re accounting for the shit that manufacturing puts into the air. Sure, China and India are the planet’s booming engines of cheap manufacture, heedless of air scrubbers and parts-per-million of nonorganic particulates and other niceties of owning your effluence.

But they’re booming because we Americans – prim, Prius-driving, grocery-bag-recycling little smuglies that we are – still consume the lion’s share of the world’s manufactured goods.

Something to think about as Earth Day approaches and the temp in my office is preparing to top 90 in the middle of April.

So I could dump this back into the waste stream – hoping that L.A. City trash gleaners reroute it to the proper recycling chain.

Or I could think of some other use for it.

Meantime, maybe I need to go back to shaving with soap from a mug …

Filed under: Ephemera, Green, Jetsam, Part | Comments (0)

#a424 :: Fruit pit

April 16, 2009

041609This also came home with the kids from their hike – I’ve always liked the unforgivingly ugly shape of seeds. They are meant to be discovered by accident (bite into a delicious fruit, find a nasty, woody chunk of bitterness) and discarded as useless – the better to propagate their kind.

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

#a423 :: Marah Macrocarpeae

April 15, 2009

0415b09Or at least that’s what this blog points to.

Wild cucumber tastes and looks nothing like its namesake. It is a 4-inch-long, egg-shaped handful of misery, with cactusy spines that puncture your skin if you grip it too tightly.

041509A taste of the juice inside (for they prove to be very juicy when dissected with a serrated knife and a thick dishcloth to pad your hands) confirms that it’s a nastily bitter fruit with little interest in nourishing other creatures.

The kids brought home a couple of these from a hike up Runyon Canyon.

Filed under: Found Object, Green, Life form | Comments (0)

#a422 :: Steel ruler

April 14, 2009

041209Precision. Measurement. Millimeters. Inches. 1/64th inches. Fractions between the beginning of a thing and the end, the alpha and the omega. Steel ruler. Period.

Filed under: Fetish, steel, Tool | Comments (0)

#a421 :: Paper sculpture

April 13, 2009

0413091I delight in finding the delight my children find in simple acts of creation.

Paper is an adventure. Fold it and make a city, a castle, a world.

A couple of these things have been floating around the house this week.

I have no idea what they are. All I know is that my son – or my daughter – made them.

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Found Object, Toy | Comments (0)

#a420 :: 1-inch hex nut

April 12, 2009

041309I stumbled across this at Pasadena City College Swap Meet last Sunday. The college seems to be in a constant state of construction, and someone ha dropped it in the grass – a missing part for a mystery structure.

It put me in mind of this Todd Rundgren song, the lyrics of which go something like this

Ive been wrong
I had plans so big
But the devils in the details
I left out one thing
No one to love me
No one to love me
No one to love

For the want of a nail, the world was lost
For the want of a nail, the world was lost

For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost
For the want of a horse, the rider was lost
For the want of a rider, the message was lost

For the want of a rider, the message was lost
For the want of a message, the battle was lost
For the want of a battle, the war was lost
For the want of a war, the kingdom was lost

(such a tiny thing)

Youre askin
Whats all this talk about horses and war?
Put yourself in the place of the man at the forge
And day after day you live a life without love
til the morning you cant take it anymore
And you dont get up

Multiply it a billion times
Spread it all round the world
Put the curse of loneliness on every boy and every girl
Until everybodys kicking, everybodys scratching
Everything seems to fail
And it was all for the want of a nail

Tell me what else could the answer be
Dont hold back now
Give me all your love
Just a little more love
A little tiny bit of love

Filed under: Found Object, Part, steel, Tool | Comments (0)

#a418 :: Volkswagen badge

April 10, 2009

0410092Found this in the gutter down the street. Somewhere, a VW – a new one, by the make of the silkscreened aluminum – is driving around without an identity.

Is the badge the seat of a car’s soul?

Filed under: Adornment, Fetish, Found Object, symbol | Comments (0)

#a417 :: Diffraction foil

April 9, 2009

040909Fifteen years ago today – at 4:49 p.m. on 04/09/94, I married the love of my life. Tonight, we drove up to a romantic dinner overlooking Los Angeles, and exchanged lovely gifts and the sort of bedazzled soliloquies to each other that come only from hearts truly and fully in love with each other.

The gifts were very heavy little objects, about which I’ll say no more here since some things are private.

Instead, I offer you a slice of the sort of cheesy, transitory ephemera that often besots us both, as a sort of consolation prize.

Diffraction foil is wonderful – a portable rainbow, a shiny, glittery bit of … nothing … that makes us both insanely happy.

But I will share with you an excerpt from something I wrote for her:

A long, long, long time ago, I fell in love.

She was making the rounds at her party in a snappy white sweater dress, serving green vodka Jell-O shots off a tray.

God, she was hot.

Liquid eyes and a mercurial smile, quick wit and a heart that broadcast its passions without reservations or remorse. “This is me. Nobody else,” she said with every gesture and word.

And I fell for her, with all my body, soul and mind.

I’m a lucky, lucky man. ‘Nuff said.

Filed under: Adornment, Ephemera | Comments (0)

#a416 :: Fine drill set

April 8, 2009

041109Another import-tools swap-meet purchase: I can’t imagine what work requires the precision of an 80-gauge drillbit, but here it is, a set of wire-fine steel bits ranging from that hair-like thinness up through the comparatively meaty 61-gauge bit.

I just bought the set so I could drill solder blobs out of a botched circuit board on this project I’m building. But holding this tiny set of hole-making tools (it’s about a quarter-inch thick) makes me want to design and build an oilfield the size of a shoebox, and drill for that deep reserve of crude oil that I feel certain lies just a foot beneath our floor.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a415 :: Stainless steel tweezers

April 7, 2009

040709Down near the very root of my DNA chain lies the chromosomal sequence for opposable thumbs.

I use tools.

Why? Because they grant me the otherwise elusive super-powers for cutting, twisting and manipulating things too hard, small, tight or delicate for my meaty paws to manage.

Because they are often heavy and cold and sturdy, pleasing to the touch and indispensable to the job.

And because, well, my fingertips can’t grasp anything with near the precision of cheap Pakistani steel tweezers honed to a needle tip.

Got these last weekend for just four dollars at the import-tools seller’s tent – a moveable feast, and one of my favorite places in the world.

For just a few bucks, you, too can have superpowers!

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a414 :: Miniature lighter

April 6, 2009

040509This flea-market find was stamped out of chromed steel in Japan some years ago.

It’s an elegant, perfect little machine, barely 7/8ths of an inch tall: The horizontal tube on top is just big enough to house a flint and pressure spring, the wick is hardly thicker than a toothpick, and you could probably fill it with about 1/3 teaspoon of lighter fluid before it overflowed.

I’m going to see if I can fix this up and get it burning.

Filed under: Fetish, Tool | Comments (0)

#a413 :: White chocolate fortune cookie

April 4, 2009

040409A thrilling adventure is in my near future.

I know this because a piece of paper baked into a cookie, dipped in white chocolate and wrapped in red foil told me so.

A quick dinner at Panda Inn this evening, then off to see Knowing. It proves to be too intense for him – he’s 9 – so we bail 50 minutes in and rent Wrath of Khan instead. A great movie that I’ve seen too damned often.

Thrilling? Adventure?

The cookie was tasty, at least.

Filed under: Edible, Fetish | Comments (0)

#a412 :: Nerf one-shot pistol

April 3, 2009

040309Stuff a foam dart down its hazard-orange bore, pump up the air chamber with the piston slide and blow the captured pressure with the thumb valve. And piff you’ve fired what probably amounts to the most reprehensibly disposable and insulting form of non-lethal ammunition known to man: the rubber dart.

It’s got a belt clip on it so you can anchor it to your school satchel or your keyring if you’ve a need to carry irritainment wherever you go.

Can you believe people argue about its stopping power on a board devoted to zombies?

If they took zombies seriously they wouldn’t …

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

#a411 Ken Onion “Chive”

April 2, 2009

040209I have a thing for pocket knives, as you’ve probably noticed by now.

At some point I got it into my head that I should own a blade of Damascus steel.

The Ken Onion Chive is about as small a piece of the mythically beautiful multi-layered metal as you can buy. It’s also wickedly sharp and flips open at the brush of a finger.

Filed under: Fetish, Part, Tool, weapon | Comments (2)

#a410 :: Jibbitz

April 1, 2009

040109Put aside for a second how thoroughly doofy Crocs can seem, here is an entire empire built on two simple facts: a) Americans’ uncanny knack for making, buying and trashing once-used disposable crap and b) our love of cheap customization.

You stuff Jibbitz into the holes of your Crocs to declare your individuality to other people who care about that sort of thing. Either that or you bug your parents into buying a bunch for you.

At a buck or two each, what they hell, they’re a lot of fun until they fall out and you never see them again.

And then you bug your parents some more, and the cycle of crap rolls on.

Filed under: Adornment, Fetish, Part | Comments (0)