Main Contents

#230 :: Folding Ruler

September 26, 2004

viagra sale this site ‘popup’, here drug ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>Exquisite little clockwork instrument, complex of make, simple of mind: It requires no talent to play, and yet rewards with a tinkly, plinky little rendition of Brahms’ “Moonlight Sonata.” Crank it fast or slow, as is your mood, but you have no more control over its workings than over the behavior of a mousetrap. Use it, it makes but one kind of noise as the spines on its tiny drum pluck the vibrating metal tines of its tongue. This one is uncomplicated, devoid – but for the melody – of the kitsch that infects most music boxes. I’ve looked in vain for music boxes that play more challenging music, but alas they’re too expensive to contemplate, or too hard to find. Someday, someone will build one that plays Ramones tunes, and then we’ll know civilization has somehow changed for the better – or ended altogether.
treatment ‘popup’, visit this ‘width=500, case height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Ramune soda itself is nothing remarkable – a pleasant, ineffectual carbonated citrus drink, as clear and forgettable as Sierra Mist, 7-Up and their ilk. But the bottle – a patented marvel of modernized glass-blowing – is a wonderful toy, souvenir and conversation piece. The glass marble waits seated in a rubber collar in the bottle’s thick mouth. By use of a special plastic plunger, you push the marble inside the bottle, where it rattles pleasingly while you drink the soda. The two eye-like dimples at the neck are practical – if you drink with them situated on your thumb, they catch the marble and keep it from rolling up to the lip and plugging it as you sip. You can buy this stuff for about a dollar a bottle at any good Japanese market, or for $1.29 and up online. Some time ago, they added a plastic collar around the lip – presumably to make bottling easier or more sanitary, but if you’re lucky, you can find the old-style all-glass bottle in junk shops in the right Pacific-Rim neighborhoods. The vessel is a cold, dense, weird little testament to the marvelous other-ness of Japanese industrial design.
more about ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>It’s autumn, and these plummet from the sky like alien landing craft. They lie dormant on the earth for a few weeks, benignly green and pine-coneish. But the Santa Ana winds seem to trigger a rot from within that transforms their pulp to flesh, which twists grotesquely and begins squeezing out vermillion seeds like so many alien spoor, or hatchlings oozing from the back of a Surinam toad. Whatever conditions must exist to germinate one of these screaming red seeds do not occur in our front yard, but the huge, 80-year-old tree keeps dumping pods in mute Darwinian hope.
viagra 60mg ‘popup’, purchase ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>The hole is said to be lucky, the characters (identified by my good and knowledgeable friends on the WELL as spelling out the mint date (1988) and the words “go-en” which mean “5 yen” and also sound like the word “fate,” according to this guide. The sheaf of rice curves over rippling water and around the hole, itself ringed by a gear. It’s brass, and relentlessly pretty. I found it in a parking lot. People are said to keep this coin for luck, or offer it at temples for prayer. I’m not sure which route I’ll take, being non-Buddhist and non-Shinto, and only vaguely superstitious. Meanwhile, my son has spirited it away to his “box of treasures.”
this ‘popup’, drug ‘width=500, visit this site height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>The spherical rhythm of astronomic instruments seduces the eye. Ignorant of its real function, you fall into it, sucked deep by a vortex of repeating rings of mysterious meaning. It’s not the power of the instrument to divine the movement of the stars, but the power of the cool thing made of interlocking circles, the desire to pick it up and spin it, see if it looks different when you reorient its geometry. I made this for my then-new wife a few years back – banged together concentric needlework hoop-frames on brass machine-screw pivots, and at its heart stationed a sun, made by punching push-pins into a cedar ball I had fished from the bottom of the closet. I was never mathematical – Cs and B-minuses through high school – and had no hope of ever really having the patience to understand the markings on a real astrolabe. But I wanted to be able to hold one. In the end, it’s really just a cargo cult fetish.
more about ‘popup’, more about ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>Hollywood has an alien economy that couldn’t exist outside its own borders: Flowing through the town is a rich, ceaseless tide of favor and artifice and expense and and gifts that Industry types omehow feel is necessary to sustain the real work – making movies that make money to allow the making of more movies. Among these is the sort of opulent, multi-part schwag kit sent out in a completely guileful attempt to curry favor from members of various guilds and unions and academies whose collective power bestows the Oscars (among other awards). This is the screenplay for Road to Perdition, illustrated with drawings from the comic by Max Alan Collins, and printed in the format of Big Little Books of the 1930s. If this thing never existed, the movie would still be slow (if beautiful) the people who brought it to life would still have earned their screen credits and paychecks, and it still would not have won any awards. This is an unnecessary object. But you still have to sort of gawp at it, and riffle through it. It exists almost purely for its own sake, despite the taint of capitalism and marketing. It’s fun to read.
unhealthy ‘popup’, viagra ‘width=500, buy height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>This came home today in a little box. It used to be in my head. I am now a few grams lighter. Having it removed was far more painful and unpleasant than this one four years ago. I’ll tell you the whole story another time – there’s rather a long one behind an upcoming object. I don’t really want to talk about it right now.
order ‘popup’, treatment ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>Estate sales are gloomy experiences. I rarely check them out, and when I do, I am always reminded of why that is: it’s not that dead people’s things are for sale. It’s that 50 or 60 years from now, someone else will fondling objects at my estate sale. It’s not a someone-just-walked-over-my-grave feeling. It’s resentment. Why are these fleshly vehicles ours for a limited time only? We take so long and work so hard building the people we become – or trying to figure out what the hell it is that we’re building, that our bodies begin failing us before the job is finished and just as we’re starting to get the hang of it. Mortality’s a right skullfuck. You can keep going on momentum or faith, or comfort in your progeny, or the durability of one or two things you’ve created in life. But this vital glimmer – the pattering sound and feel of these keys beneath my fingers, the whisper of the CPU fan, the screen’s flat glow, the animal flow of thought – doesn’t belong to me in the long run. I’m just renting it.

Not intending tonight to be a rant on the fragility of life, but my skull hurts where the tooth lived until yesterday afternoon. And this enameled metal sign, an estate sale find, kicked some of the sand out of my gears. The hole drilled in the middle of its top edge lets it be hung from a chain or string behind the glass door of a shop and flipped to tell the world whether to come in or try again later. The letters, in a gorgeous, blocky font, are laid on in reflectorized paint. It lives over our dining room door, always declaring, “OPEN.”
case ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>I’ve had this for years. It came out of one of those “hip” tchotchke shops that sprang up in the mid-late 80s, the ones with tattooed young proprietresses in vintage lorgnettes and Bettie Page-black hairdos and 30-hole Docs and poodle skirts, the ones that sold boxing nuns and wind-up spark-spitting Godzillas and milagros and Dia de los Muertos figurines. You’d sort of shuffle from one end of these stores to the other, your eyes precisely 34 inches from the cornucopiac wall of weird, delightful things, thinking, “God, I’ll never be as cool as these people, maybe if I buy something cool I can try …” And being a poor freelancer boho at the time, I could never conscion buying anything that wasn’t practical. Thus, this elegant little anodized aluminum folding ruler. Having escaped my 20s and never really achieving that coolness, I kept acquiring neat little objets, and the stores became common as Starbucks in some neighborhoods. But I use the ruler at least once or twice a week, if not to measure something, then to fiddle, folding and unfolding it with one hand in a vain attempt to clear my cluttered thoughts.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. dcb September 27, 2004 @ 11:28 am

    deja vu? objet 22 c’est pareil, non?

  2. mack September 27, 2004 @ 11:35 am

    M E R D E !

    I had this sneaking suspicion I’d blogged this one before, but for some reason didn’t find it in a cursory site search.

    It’s not as though I’m so addled and sleep-deprived that they’re all blending together but … they’re all blending together. Maybe I’ll do 2 tonight, in penance.


google