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#173 :: Mineral Rose

July 31, 2004

A better mineralogist than I would be able to name this thing. He would be able to say how many millions of years it took to form, what the minerals were in the dripping water that formed it, where it was probably found, and how many hundreds of thousands of years older than him it […]

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#172 :: Silicone Kali

July 30, 2004

Synthetic id, a tiny iconic totem of the claimer of heads and taster of the forbidden, this squishy finger puppet seems a blasphemous joke in the face of what would surely be the most vengeful wrath of the Indian goddess of destruction, Kali. She is full-breasted; her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. Her disheveled hair […]

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#171 :: Doll Tea Service

July 29, 2004

The room where these are made must be light. (I was a potter once, and can picture it:) Powdery, white porcelain dust probably coats all tools, surfaces, the windows, and the makers’ hair, fingers and clothes as they shape the clay. Four cup-and-saucer pairs in each set, a tiny cream-and-sugar suite, a diminutive ewer for […]

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#170 :: Fighting Robot

July 28, 2004

AA batteries weigh down each leg. Ignited by the toggle switch, a tiny electric motor spins inside. The main cog drives a wheel that spins on his back – a wheel with removable pins. The pins act as cams, driving the limbs as they rotate past the hip and shoulder joints. Springs on each limb […]

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#168 :: Deformed Paper Cup

July 27, 2004

There is a mysticism in Zen Buddhism that I feared I would never approach as an outsider – a holiness in the mundane, the worship of a pebble, a leaf, a puddle. Then my son handed me this. “Here. This is for you.” I’m dumbstruck. “What the … how did you … what is this?” […]

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#167 :: Stud Finder

July 26, 2004

In another era, you could rimshot off the name of this device in a second – Heyaa, I’m here all week, don’t forget to tip your waitresses, try the veal it’s delicious – but this is 2004. The line between the sex roles is smearing, the po-mo mediasphere is awash in home-improvement shows, and now […]

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#166 :: Head Lamp

July 25, 2004

The invention of the white LED has sparked a renaissance in personal illumination. The carbon-battery-powered torch in 1899 began pushing back the darkness around us at night that was only somewhat held at bay by oil and kerosene lamps. Beef that up into brick-sized 9-volt-powered floods, tweak it into the shape of a cop’s metal […]

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#165 :: Mystery crystal

July 24, 2004

Blue-green metal in concentric descending rectangles form a frozen vortex. It was grown in a lab, so pure is its shape. An inch long, it could be the set for a remake of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as staged by subatomic robots. I’ve Googled and Googled and can find no hint as to its […]

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#164 :: Ivory fetish

July 23, 2004

Joe Reed painted – among a great many other things – insects onto tiny chunks of ivory. To my knowledge, he painted only a few things on ivory that were not insects. This piece measures about 1″x3/4″xx5/16″. The artist paved two faces of it with machinery – tiny flywheels, cogs, steam condensors and indicators. The […]

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#163 :: Blinky pin

July 22, 2004

Random signals: Wow. Printed circuits are much older than I thought. Pin it on your shirt, touch it, and the LEDs blink in random patterns. It’s powered by two #192 button batteries. The symbolism is oblique at best: alien communicator? Space captain’s badge? Cyber-hottie’s brooch? It is, quite possibly, the least useful or meaningful HLO […]

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#162 :: Golden Peanut

July 21, 2004

You could create an elaborate mythology around it. It’s the latest SoHo club fetish; the gilded relic of an antebellum sharecropping cult; the culmination of a promise made over the last uneaten morsel of food in a lifeboat 3 weeks at sea. But no, it’s just the sort of thing that gets thrown into a […]

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#161 :: Epoxy

July 20, 2004

The thinking man’s duct tape comes in many forms: 5-minute, clear, white, earthquake, metal, fast-curing, coating, dental and beyond. The warm reek of resin polymerizing with hardener fills my olfactory memories of childhood. My father fixed everything with epoxy – toys, china, glass, books, metal, furniture – and a few things that just wouldn’t respond […]

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#160 :: Bottle caps

July 19, 2004

My son calls these “treasures.” Any object found out of its element with a little color or interest is a treasure to him. He is not quite 5. Grubbing through a campsite, he pulls these together, and declares them treasure, bestowing on them a weight that is reinforced by the screen-printed labels, the rusty scars […]

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#159 :: Quartz crystals

July 18, 2004

The gift shop of every U.S. National Park in the southwest seems to have a bin full of these – 3 for a dollar, right next to the pyrite (fool’s gold) and the feldspar chunks, beneath the rack full of yarn-webbed God’s eyes, and a few yards away from the graven image of Kokopelli the […]

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#158 :: Plastic Whale

July 17, 2004

Hulking, buttressed ribs form a cathedral vault. The swamp of old wrecks, dead fish and the odd tire or sunken grocery basket beneath it is festooned with a snarl of kelp, lost fishing leaders, treble-hook lures and heavily crusted with barnacles kept alive by the infrequent openings of the vast, ferryboat-sized mouth.He surges past there, […]

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#157 :: Cholla skeleton

July 16, 2004

Brush a cholla and know pain. Brittle spines coat this wild cactus, eager to show their defensive might. They fairly jump into your skin – hair-fine, needle-sharp and barbed, a reminder that you’re just dumb meat endowed with an exquisitely sensitive nervous system and all the reflexes of a rock. OoopsOWWWW! When dead and defoliated, […]

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#156 :: Lightcycle

July 15, 2004

I’ve never done the math. Have you? Add them all up: all those quarters. Multiply the seconds into hours and months spent stabbing buttons, jerking joysticks. Calculate the synaptic flashes, the wrist muscle cramps, the rolling heat lightning of an adolescent nervous system tortured and misspent hunched over game consoles. Tron took me in Florida. […]

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#155 :: Shoe Forms

July 14, 2004

The 26 bones in your foot take a step-by-step beating of 900 pounds per square inch. The femur will take 1,200, but that’s another story. Leather shoes – still de rigeur at weddings, in courts of law, on golf courses and bowling alleys, collapse over time if not properly supported and shaped. During the Song […]

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#154 :: Minnie Ball

July 13, 2004

This .58-caliber slug killed a lot of men during the American Civil War. Big as your thumb, fired from a high-velocity muzzle-loading rifle, it went in hard, shattering bones and exploding organs before exiting through a fist-sized hole in your back. Fired and (like this) unfired slugs pepper the battlefields of Virginia and the Carolinas. […]

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#153 :: Spoke Wrench

July 12, 2004

You put your bikes on the roof racks. You pack the car with sleeping bags and stove and food and wine and toys an family. You stop in at McDonald’s to fuel up with grease-puck sandwiches and caffeinated fizzydrinks for your massive camping trip to Yosemite. You pull out of the drivethrough and – for […]

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#152 :: Vinyl butterfly

July 11, 2004

Given: the elephant in the old parable is a rope, a bumpy wall, a hose, a smooth and pointy dagger, a sturdy tree – so say the old blind men. Therefore: this HLO entry is an imaginary flight to a synthetic forest of vinyl trees and cellophane flowers; a lament for the faded illustrator’s art […]

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#151 :: Art Deco bullet reading lamp

July 10, 2004

A hard-jawed private dick would never furnish his offices. He’d pay a guy, unload the water-damaged boxes of case files from the beaten trunk of his Chrysler Airflow – no, wait, his clapped-out old Nash – and move in. He’d sag into the gutshot leather club chair, kick his feet up on the fringe of […]

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#150 :: Japanese ballpoint

July 9, 2004

A good pen is a transformative tool. If it is heavy and strange enough in your hand, it opens pathways in your writing circuitry where none existed, allowing creative flow from channels hitherto untapped. There is nothing so heavy and strange, nor pleasureable and – for the money – full of cheap thrills – as […]

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#149 :: UFO Top

July 8, 2004

We assume they’ll arrive in saucers, ablaze with circumfrential light arrays that strobe and dazzle. We assume they’ll be small, green or gray, with vast black eyes and skeletal fingers. We assume they’ll be benevolent or at least exotically distant enough to not be bloodthirsty, rapacious, radioactive, toxic, greedy, mean or any of the other […]

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Tech notes

July 7, 2004

A quick note – the comments function has been snafu’d for the past month or so, as I haven’t had the time to look into it due to other, bigger, heavier commitments. It’s fixed now – I invite comments on anything you find here! For camera geeks and those keeping score – I shoot nealry […]

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