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#a409 :: Atomic Fireball

March 31, 2009



Another fine product from Ferrara Pan.

It burns.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a408 :: Meggy Jr. RGB

March 30, 2009

033009It’s finished.

My son and I just soldered the last wires into place on this tonight, and it lit up perfectly.

The Meggy Jr. RGB – a handheld video game with open-source, programmable memory chip – is ready for business.

Eight solid hours we hunched over a dizzying array of resistors, capacitors, transistors and LED, scrupulously following the Evil Mad Science Shop’s instructions – I held the soldering iron to the contacts, he fed the solder into the connections – achieving a meticulous rhythm. Both of us thrilled to death to be working on something so fun, and with so much potential.

We downloaded the Arduino environment just before bedtime, and tomorrow night we’ll start dipping our toes into the simple (but nonetheless scary) business of trying to program a game.

If you’ve ever considered soldering together a little electronics kit, this one is great. It’s beautifully designed, and pretty damn easy to build.

Especially if you have a 9-year-old son who loves games.

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

#a407 :: Beef jerky

March 29, 2009

0329091In another life, before kids, before marriage, I owned a used Hobie 16 that I sailed out of Ventura Harbor and Marina del Rey.

Provisions always included beer, a cigar and a bag of beef jerky (or if I had time to stop off in Ventura at the Jerky Factory, turkey jerky.

You could keep jerky in your jacket pocket, and salt water wouldn’t ruin it. Even after the beer was gone and the stogie had devolved to a sodden chaw of tobacco clamped in my teeth, I could count on a chunk of preserved meat to see me through. Meat chewing gum, the illusion of nutrition, something to tamp down hunger or at least oral fixation.

Eventually I grew sick of even the smell of the stuff.

I sold the boat when my son was born – by then it had become a waterlogged basket case that wasn’t fast enough to get out of its own way, and it was time to move on.

Meantime, my kids grew up a bit and grew to love jerky.

Maybe I’ll go back to it when they get old enough for me to get back into a boat again.

Maybe not. I mean, just look at the stuff.

Filed under: Edible | Comments (0)

#a406 :: Eleanor Powell’s taps

March 28, 2009

032909Cement, 6925 Hollywood Boulevard.

My oldest great friend, Vinny is in town with his lovely wife, Robin, and we’re doing the tourist thing. Some 71 years ago, Eleanor Powell left behind these words:

“To Sid –

You’re “taps”

with me

Eleanor Powell
Dec. 23 – 37

And then they helped her sink a pair of bright steel taps into the cement in front of the theater – sole up – which gives the impression that you’re beneath a glass floor looking up into a cement world where someone is frozen, dancing, just their feet showing.

The rest of the plaza in front of Grauman’s Chinese is a mosaic of hand and footprints (my favorite is the Marx Bros, where Zeppo and Chico’s thoroughly flat soles stood alongside Groucho’s gnarly brand-new-heel-patterned prints and Harpo’s bare feet). In this space where the upside-down cement world upstairs is possible, in this mostly dull-colored landscape, the taps stick out like pivot points between that world and this, upon which the entire forecourt of the Chinese could tip.

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

#a405 :: Qee by Jeff Soto

March 27, 2009

032809I’ve been a huge, drooling fan of Jeff Soto for years but couldn’t afford his work until I spotted this fine fellow in a little toy store the other side of the reservoir. Yes, he’s mass produced. No, it doesn’t matter. Done and done.

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Objet, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a404 :: Plastic box

March 26, 2009

0326a09This thing came from this box.

What the hell should be done with it? A little tableau? A photo cube? Hood ornament for an art car?

C’mon, folks. The mighty packaging industry worked mighty hard to conjure this up just to hold a toy on store shelves until sale.

It doesn’t appear to be recyclable.

There ough to have been some plan for its existence beyond point of use.

Terrarium? Coin purse? Camping cup? Mouse coffin?

Filed under: Ephemera, Jetsam | Comments (0)

#a403 :: Wooden puzzle

March 25, 2009

032509Some mysteries we humans hold to be self-evident and unanswerable – except by synthetic, nonscientific means:

Consciousness. Identity. Creativity. Beauty. Spirituality. Meaning. Diversity. Freedom.

So we make up religions and start cults and set things on fire and paint and write and bloviate and fight and kill and destroy because it’s easier than trying to understand or – more simply – accept.

Art and war – same thing: They are extraordinary means of changing and refusing to accept the one thing we don’t get – life.

All of which is a half-assed way of saying this thing has been on my desk untouched for almost a week because I don’t have the balls to try disassembling it, for fear I’ll wind up with $9 worth of lovely sanded-pine kindling.

Filed under: Art, Objet, symbol, Toy | Comments (1)

#a402 :: “B.O.B.” toy

March 24, 2009

032409Since my wife is a member of ASIFA we got passes to a pre-release screening of Monsters vs. Aliens tonight. Verdict: It’s no Kung Fu Panda or Bolt, but it’s got enough yuks and snappy design to make an honest buck, and I might even see it again.

They were giving away McDonald’s toys in the lobby – this is B.O.B., whose plastic incarnation swivels and rolls erratically across the table if you wind him up.

The movie industry turns out billions of toys like this in dozens of fast-food-premium deals every year, and somewhere there must be a gimme otaku whose walls are lined with every movie tie-in toy ever made.

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

#a401 :: Lime fruit pop

March 23, 2009

032309Me: Aw, crap, I don’t know what I’m going to shoot tonight, I don’t have any good objects.

Daughter: How about my popsicle, Daddy?

Filed under: Edible, Ephemera | Comments (0)

#a400 :: Black widow

March 22, 2009

032209This one has been hanging around the handrail on our front steps for a few weeks, always skittering away when I want to photograph and then attempt to kill it.

I failed miserably at both, until this past weekend.

I don’t feel good about having ended such a magnificent creature, but I decided I’d feel even worse rushing one of my family to the hospital for treatment.

Filed under: Life form, symbol | Comments (3)

#a399 :: Teeth-whitening strips

March 21, 2009

032109When your diet brings a steady stream of these as well as iced tea, coffee and the occasional cigar, you wind up with a mouthful of yellowed bone. It ain’t attractive.

These seem to be wax strips backed with a miracle goop that is one part peroxide, one part dentifrice and one part glue.

They help clean things up.

They also help you feel like a boxer, shoulders tensed, waiting for the bell during the half-hour a day you’re supposed to wear them.

Filed under: Ephemera, Tool | Comments (0)

#a398 :: Ritter Sport chocolate

March 20, 2009

032009One of the richest, purest narcotics known to the confectionery sciences.

It’s legal crack. Full stop.

Filed under: Edible, Ephemera, Fetish | Comments (1)

#a397 :: Chinese headlamp

March 19, 2009

031809The second one of these things to fail in five days. First, my dependable Cat-Eye flung itself to its death from a busted handlebar mount, the white beam tumbling wildly down to clatter in the dark. Then this, which snapped from its mount as I adjusted it on the way down my hill before dawn today. it exploded in the street, disgorging the battery carrier and AAs from a sprung cap. Hmm … what to do with all these LEDs …

Filed under: Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a396 :: Business letter

March 18, 2009

0318a092She had set up the square little red worktable on end, its legs surrounding her as if she were behind a counter.

She offered me anything I wanted to eat. I said I’d like some coffee and strawberry cake. She served it in imaginary hunks from a little tin tea set.

I pronounced it delicious.

That night, she left this on my desk.

She’s seven.

Filed under: Microfiction | Comments (0)

#a395 :: Apple stickers

March 17, 2009

031709These pile up like autumn leaves in any die-hard Mac household.

White on white, stuffed into a drawer, swiftly becomes white on blotchy grey because, well, you don’t want to over-use the things.

I have one of the larger ones on my car, but I decided that putting a line of smaller ones after it would be not-quite-arch-enough to avoid associations with kind of stickers you see on the backs of L.A. SUVs – the kitschy rows of parent-and-all-our-kids stickers or praying-Calvin stickers.

So they stay in the drawer, getting grayer.

Meantime, my favorite computer company made some rather large and long-awaited announcements today about the great-but-horribly-flawed iPhone operating system, so here’s what I posted on our company blog: (more…)

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

#a394 :: Mystery gizmo

March 16, 2009

031609Every now and then a mystery washes up out of the ceaseless surf of crap inundating this house.

What is this?

It has the precise curves and clean-milled transparent plastic of an Appleproduct, but has a vinyl flap-valve at its center. No one in my family can explain it.

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

#a393 :: Used car key

March 15, 2009

031409In all my years on this blog, I’ve never unpacked the symbology of a key.

It’s almost so perfect a metaphor on its own, that trying to explain a key pretty much dooms you to being accused of mental masturbation.

But a car key is profound. It represents a heavy, expensive and rather large member of the family that lives in mostly silent service – a portable id, a means of self-projection from one existence to another – rarely complaining and seldom causing trouble on its own.

And that’s about as far as I’ll drag you down that rabbit hole.

My wife’s old Volvo S70 served us faithfully and well for 7 years, but with 104,000+ miles and a bad case of accelerating decrepitude, its time had come to an end.

Yesterday, we went out and bought a newer used Volvo – a tight, gorgeous bottom-of-the-line S40 with only 10,572 miles on it for more than a third off original sticker).

And there it sits, in the garage’s place of honor, while the old one sits on the street awaiting its fate.

Which as much as anything – and better than anything I could say – explains this meaning of this key.

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

#a392 :: Old Rohrshach pin

March 14, 2009

0314a09Twenty-two years after Watchmen changed my psychotopography and appreciation for the nuances of fiction forever, they finally got it completely right.

We saw it again this afternoon, and fell even deeper into it than we had at the midnight premiere at the Dome a week earlier.

The movie is an extraordinarily accomplished telling of the great “unfilmable” original, and the second time around – the gorgeous ballet of deception and violence and honor betrayal among these rich, fucked-up characters – just cemented my admiration for Moore‘s story and Gibbons‘ art.

I bought the comics one by one when they hit the stand – I have a distinct memory of standing in some punk bookstore on South Street in Philadelphia in 1986 and picking up the first one and thinking, “Oh. Man. Oh, MAN.” Near the end of the run, DC put out a set of four buttons. This is the only one I’ve managed to hang onto since then, and the rust bleeding through from the tin back gives it a wonderful extra layer of filth and meaning.

Filed under: Adornment, Art, Artifact, Ephemera, Fetish, symbol | Comments (2)

#a391 :: Neodymium cylinder

March 13, 2009

031309I have a thing for magnets.

These are powerful enough to leave blood blisters if you let two of them snap together on you.

A single one can support close to 10 pounds, depending on how you rig it.

And when you place pinballs around one the magnetism distributes evenly through five of them, a little pentagram of force.

However, that’s not a magnet. this is a magnet. Any of ’em. Go on, pick one.

Filed under: Instrument, Mineral, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a390 :: Skullpture

March 12, 2009

031209My good friend Yaron built this out of some stuff he had lying around the shop and what I’m guessing is a deer skull. I love the way the metal shavings (springs?) he mounted the socket on echo the sutures between the bone plates.

Write your own microfiction for it below in the comments – anyone who’s listening. Don’t be shy.

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

#a389 :: Amethyst “crystal”

March 11, 2009

031109She regards it with suspicion.


The Chinese shopkeeper nods firmly. “Finest, from Xian province. Xian province. Terra cotta warrior. Xian.”

He keeps nodding.

She drums her French-tipped nails against its too-glossy sides. She pricks at her fingertips with its perfectly asymmetrical point. She hefts it. Rolls it over in her perfumed hand.

Then she waves it at him: “Bullshit. It is not …” (more…)

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

#a388 :: Chinese traveling hare

March 10, 2009

031009Where is he going? What is he carrying? Why is he important?

Chinese factory workers so beautifully aped the luster of carved coral with cast, burnished and “age”-dusted red plastic resin that I’m left wishing I had the answers to these questions.

In lesser hands, he would have been a child’s plaything, a little knicknack amid thousands of others on a shop shelf, an inconsequential bauble.

But look at the bearing they’ve given him, the speed of his walk, the indomitable purpose in his knowing eyes. Mold seams and tool gouges would have killed that effect. You have to admire the height of the art of faux-antiques.

Found him in Chinatown for three bucks.

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

#a387 :: Pinballs

March 9, 2009

0309091Thanks to my dear longtime friend, former college classmate and co-conspirator John, I am now in possession of ten of the coolest, most perfect HLOs known to the art of manufacturing.

Back in college, John and I poured an absurd amount of time (and hard-earned library wages) into pinball machines.

There may have been other pinball tables worth a damn, but the only one that stuck in my head is the formidable Black Knight.

Two stories deep, tricked out with multi-ball and all the gnarly medieval graphics their Frazetta-wannabe art department could muster, the Black Knight table was also the launch platform for the greatest pinball innovation of all time:
the wickedly cool Magna-Save button – when engaged – sucked your missed flips back from doom in the drains via giant electromagnets buried beneath the table surface, allowing you to keep your balls in play.

So to speak.

Double entendres aside, pinballs really are a sensual pleasure – heavy, slick and magnetic.

Glossy chrome reflects the lights around them, and they warm in your pocket, and feel good in your fingers. You can see why Queeg loved them.

You can also imagine the havoc you could wreak with a pouchful of them and one of these.

Filed under: Fetish, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (3)

#a386 :: Promotional chalk

March 8, 2009

030809So, I got to ride bikes last night with Lance Armstrong, who was doing a commemorative group ride down Sunset to launch a big, fund-raising touring art exhibit.

They gave out chalk to the 100 t-shirted riders and the other several hundred of us tagalongs, who promptly took to graffiti’ing up the street in a generally positive fashion.

Still, it was fun riding down otherwise deserted Sunset Boulevard with these people and no cars.

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

#a385 :: Girl Scout Cookie

March 7, 2009

030709The cookies we bought from my Brownie daughter arrived this week. New flavor: Dulce de Leche.

Dulce de Leche: New for 2009, and inspired by the classic confections of Latin America, these sweet, indulgent cookies are rich with milk caramel chips and stripes. They come in a turquoise box, and are made by Little Brownie Bakers.


Filed under: Edible, Ephemera, Fetish | Comments (0)