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#a158 :: Goldfish

July 21, 2008

ENLARGETwo insistent goldfish dance from side to side against the glass here when they’re hungry.

This is an extremely difficult activity to capture adequately on camera.

Drop them a few flakes of food and they zip about the tank, eating.

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

#a157 :: One pound Sterling

July 20, 2008

ENLARGEI’m posting, oh (checks watch), 11 days late. We’ve taken a huge plunge into London, and are spending the morning and half the afternoon touring the city every day, then i comeback and work until midnight or 1 a.m.

I’ve been avoiding my chores. I’ve been Twittering. I’ve been shopping irresponsibly (about which more later). And we’ve been intimate with The Tower of London, A little vessel named Pockets the Norfolk Broads, Covent Garden, Windsor Castle, the London Eye, the South Bank, twoshows (both good!), Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and ancient Stonehenge.
At some point, I’ll have to edit the 457 photographs (literally) taken so far …
(more…)

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a156 :: Demolished Croc

July 19, 2008

ENLARGE“Daddy, it’s stuck!”

We’re coming up out of the Tube this afternoon after a long day noodling around Brick Lane‘s rolling flea market and art swap meet.

My 6-year-old’s ahead of me on the escalator. “Get your toe out of there! Quit screwin’ around!”

It’s been a long day, everyone’s tired and punchy and grumpy, and this is just another way of her pulling my chain, I’m convinced.

“I can’t!”

“Shit!” I grab her arms and pull her just as the escalator devours the toe of her Croc and pulls it off her foot.

Thank God they were loose. After we all recover from our near-coronaries, we stand around and laugh the laughs of people who have jointly cheated death. Or at least a horrible maiming.

Filed under: Artifact, Jetsam, symbol | Comments (1)

#a155 :: Jew’s harp

July 18, 2008

ENLARGEParsing the anti-Semitic etymology of “Jew’s harp” is a dicey business, as Wikipedia amply demonstrates.

Better to appreciate that one of the oldest instruments in the world hasn’t evolved so much as found its shape in many cultures.

This one is Vietnamese – an elegantly simple tine of hammered brass that has been shaped and sliced so that it makes a lovely boinging noise when you hold it firmly between your lips. pluck the end and shape the inside of your mouth with your tongue to vary the pitch … (more…)

Filed under: Instrument | Comments (0)

#a154 :: Antique race car

July 17, 2008

ENLARGEThe vehicular fetishes of young Britons of the 20th century line the crowded shelves of the marvelous Brighton Toy and Model Museum. This land-speed monster dates from the 40s or 50s.

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

#a153 :: UFOs

July 16, 2008

ENLARGESold on the Brighton Pier, these are some of the weirdest confections ever – at the foot of the Brighton Pier, you can buy large cellophane cones of them: wafer-crisp shells surrounding doses of sour/sweet bicarbonate-of-soda powder.

Filed under: Edible, Facsimile | Comments (0)

#a152 :: British National Rail tickets

July 15, 2008

ENLARGEWe arrived in London yesterday morning, jetlagged beyond belief.

I then had to put in a full day of work at my normal hour, which turns out to be 4 p.m. to midnight here – which on a daily basis has wound up leaving me pretty swacked – and just now (5 days let) catching up on HLOs.

So here are the first truly heavy things – passage to Brighton, a one-hour trip from Victoria station.

The train carriages are modernized now, far slicker and cleaner than the enameled, wood-and-wool lined jewels I remember from my last visit more than 30 years ago.

Filed under: symbol | Comments (0)

#a151 :: Feather

July 14, 2008

ENLARGELook, let me level with you. I’ve been slamming in four nights worth of HLOs for the past hour or so, just to get ’em done. In fact, I’m post-dating this one because I’ll be in transit 24 hours from now. We’ve been packing and prepping our own house for a big house exchange with a London family, and it takes time to square things away.

This fell off the feather duster when I was dusting out my office last night. Its color always fills me with hope.

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

#a150 :: Glitz stickers

July 13, 2008

enlargecomes home with my daughter
it sparkles when you turn it
push back the darkness.

Filed under: Adornment, Art, symbol | Comments (0)

#a149 :: Jr. Bag Clip

July 12, 2008

ENLARGEAmerica’s chip bags need controllin’.

Two slabs of hot-poured plastic, a hinge, a spring, rugger jawliners and some ink.

The bigger bags get bigger clips.

My wife: “You’re not gonna blog that!”

Well, uh, yeah. I am.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a148 :: Spork

July 11, 2008

enlargeA hybrid. A multi-utensil. A solution. A ridiculous word.
Say it a few times:

Spork. Spörk.

Spoooorrrrk. k. k.

Admire its completeness. Say no more. Spork.

Filed under: symbol, Tool, weapon | Comments (0)

#a147 :: Perfume bottle

July 10, 2008

ENLARGEI found this little beauty in a basketful of them in an Indian curio shop on Melrose Avenue.

The high-impact barrel was molded and lathed in bone-colored plastic, then hand-notched for detail. You unscrew its cap for a trace of your favorite stink-nice, and the rest of the time it sits on your dressing table reminding you how worldly and cultured your life has become by adopting it.

Filed under: Fetish, symbol | Comments (0)

#a146 :: Wiimote flashlight

July 9, 2008

ENLARGEThe world’s hardshell exterior surrounds a doughy heart of kitsch:

Anything initially cool – the remote to a Nintendo Wii game system, for instance – can impart its cool to common objects by simple mimicry. Bluntly put, things that look like other definite things are automatically “better” because of the same dim-witted value system that allows cars to all look alike because no one’s brave enough to buck current tastes to design something original.

And so, a chunk of branded schwag – a cheap LED flashlight is made more desirable (and worth an hour-long wait in a game expo line with other dupes) by modeling it on the Nintendo game controller.

Sizzle sold, itch scratched, creativity avoided.

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

#a145 :: Metal turtle

July 8, 2008

ENLARGEWas he forged in lava? Does he swim in mercury seas? Of tinfoil jellyfish is his diet made?

He came into our house from I know not where. He is small, heavy, perfect.

Filed under: Artifact, Facsimile, Fetish, Objet, symbol | Comments (0)

#a144 :: Rosary

July 7, 2008

ENLARGEAnother Tuesday, another morning with little Kylie, the
niña pequeña she cared for three days a week.

She trudged uphill once more, the rosary draped over her fingers. “Nomini patri et fili et spiritu sancto,” the sign of the cross trailing from her lips as she kissed the little madonna milagro and worried the yellow and garnet glass beads with her fingertips.

Traffic surged down the steep hill, past the place where she walked with no sidewalk. Cars and trucks gave her a respectful berth of three feet – almost colliding with oncoming traffic on the narrow street – and rolled on, brakes squealing to a distant stop …
(more…)

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

#a143 :: Movie ticket

July 6, 2008

enlargeDad brought home movies. All the time. He’d set up the projector. I’d set up the screen. And we’d watch – Citizen Kane, The Court Jester, Swingtime, The General, Soylent Green, They Were Expendable, Serpico – old movies, newer movies, all genres.

I’m grateful for that, as with all things from my father.

I love the contract the moviemakers make with us: You just sit there and give me 90 or 120 or 270 minutes, and we’ll do our best to show you something worth your time.

I spent this $11.75 on Wanted, which suggests that a 1,000-year-old cult of weaver/assassins has learned the art of curving bullet trajectories and otherwise obliterating the laws of physics. It is loud, witty, exciting and quite possibly the most preposterous thing I’ve ever watched … at least since sitting through National Treasure 2 and Shoot ‘Em Up last night.

My wife and kids are out of town. Nothing for it but to watch noisy, stupid cheese.

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

#a142 :: Rubber watch

July 5, 2008

ENLARGEThey gave these out to the kids with tickets for Wall-E.

Movie – gorgeous to look at, groundbreaking, but not nearly as smart and funny as Kung Fu Panda.

Watch – blue silicone rubber around a little cheesebox chip of Chinese chircuitry. My son’s came broken.

Filed under: Adornment, General, Instrument, Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a141 :: Sushi erasers

July 4, 2008

ENLARGEAnd while we’re at it, sometimes you make mistakes so egregious that only wiping them out with a rubberized chunk of fish and rice will do.

My wife found this at our favorite Japanese supermarket, and kindly annotated it with another HLO – the venerable Post-It note – about which, more later.

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

#a140 :: Shrunken-head tiki mug

July 3, 2008

ENLARGEMy wife gave me this for my birthday a couple years ago, to add to my growing collection.

Tiki culture is a marvelous cross-pollination of camp, partying and 50s mass-marketed hipsterism.

This one was designed, slip-poured, glazed and fired by Tiki Farm, but if you’re hunting for others, Munktiki turns out some beauts. You pull the hairbone plug from the back to fill him, then stick a straw through his fontanelle to drink.

And besides – sometimes, only drinking from the shrunken skull of a ritual victim will assuage the demons behind your eyes.

Filed under: Art, Facsimile, Fetish, Miniature, Model, Objet | Comments (0)

#a139 :: Mystery cap

July 2, 2008

ENLARGEI once had this foolish idea. I never acted on it, but it still sneaks into my head from time to time and pings on my hippocampus (the dream center) with a tinny little rhythm:

What if I counted every single object in the house? What if I catalogued every single book, sock, CD, grain of rice, child’s toy, piece of paper, tool, chair and can of deodorant? How many thousands (millions??) of objects would I wind up owning?

I’m not that crazy. Yet.

But stuff like this keeps piling up, and it gets thrown into a little drawer, and I think … if only I’d been counting all the time, I’d know how many of these enigmatic little chunks of hardware I own.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a138 :: AAA batteries

July 1, 2008

ENLARGECopper-jacketed slugs of chemistry power our gadgets. It seems we need them more and more.

Only the advent of rechargable lithium-ion batteries keeps a tsunami of spent alkalines from sweeping us all away to the dump.

Which makes one wonder about modern man’s dwindling ability to survive without electricity. Can you put yourself back two decades, before the ubiquity of cellphones, MP3 players, laptops and digital cameras? Can you live analog for more than a weekend of camping in the woods?

Or are we evolving to the next level – a species so dependent upon powered communication and entertainment that we’ve sapped ourselves of animal instinct and actual knowledge – homo electricus?

Filed under: Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a137 :: Watch guts

June 30, 2008

ENLARGECheap stuff breaks. You get to decide – take it apart? Or just stomp its li’l plastic casing to shrapnel.

I’ve had this in my stuff drawers for years. I keep promising myself I’ll take it apart.

Filed under: Artifact, General, Part | Comments (0)

#a136 :: Metal shavings

June 29, 2008

ENLARGEBuy one large cantilever umbrella to keep the sun from killing you on the deck. Realize it’s too small. Buy two. Realize it would be nice to be able to shift them around the deck, to better block the coruscating sunset. Look for casters. Realize the umbrella stands’ feet aren’t fitted for them. Look for appropriate casters to bolt on. Realize none but the hugest, most cartoonishly oversized industrial casters would even fit, even if you drilled the umbrella stands’ feet …
(more…)

Filed under: Jetsam | Comments (0)

#a135 :: Bottle caps

June 28, 2008

ENLARGEThey began life as sheets of tin (following a long and, one can only imagine, complex refining process) – punched into circles, crimped, printed, lined with plastic and clamped atop bottles of beer, soda, cider, seltzer.

They rode in place, dutifully sealing out the world of dust, bugs and oxidization. They bent to our thirst, beneath church keys, bottle openers, table edges and, among the clever, dollar bills.

And they gathered in a fish bowl until this weekend, when our children felt compelled to sort them for their new future – art supplies.

What will become of them? Only a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old can say.

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

#a134 :: Word beads

June 27, 2008

ENLARGE The notion of the exquisite corpse is simple: By juxtaposing random words, you create a new reality. You can manufacture newfound logic that approaches poetry. Or you can hash a bunch of meaningless verbiage that probably only sounds really cool after a couple of bong hits.

Leave it to the American kitsch industry to commoditize this experiment in nonlinear linguistics – into Magnetic Poetry Kits and, now, word beads.

We’ll be flinging a few of these into the playa gift culture swamp this summer so as to perpetuate the question we so often ask ourselves when blogging here: Is this art? Or just nonsense?

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


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