Monday, June 26, 2006

an artificial Eden for our amusement

a month or so ago, my wife, brother and I were driving up to the Sawtooths in central Idaho. on the way we passed through Eden, where we found the most paradisiacal truck stop I’ve ever seen. like any mall or pentagon food court, they had a Blimpie sandwich place, Taco Bell and TCBY frozen yogurt. here’s the thing though: Eden had been recreated in the dining area! no, not Eden, Idaho in miniature. I mean the real Eden, the first one we all read and hear so much about. yes, the tables and chairs were placed in the midst of a small pleasant landscape of cement rocks and a fake banyan tree with fake bracket fungus. hanging from the tree, notice the giant green python. there were also some real plants and there was real water running over those cement rocks. what a place. they even took my coupon, with some difficulty.

earlier this year, in the spring, I was reading in Walden where he talks about the pond thawing and all the geese coming in.
Thoreau says, “In the morning I watched the geese from the door through the mist, sailing in the middle of the pond, fifty rods off, so large and tumultuous that Walden appeared like an artificial pond for their amusement.”
this is something I’d never noticed before. and the passage is the earliest example I’ve ever seen. you know, when we’re like “wow, those lichens are so brilliant they seem fake!” or “see that tanager up there? it doesn’t even look real.”

growing up I never saw a tropical sunset except on capri sun pouches or on the cover of my trapper-keeper. so when I finally did see an actual tropical sunset for the first time, I’ll admit that it brought back those airbrush on mylar images from my childhood. my mom tells me that when I was little, I called sycamores “storybook trees,” probably because somewhere in some children’s book, they lent themselves well to watercolor for the illustrator. or, less likely, I could have imagined them altogether from the narrative before actually seeing one. in which case this would have to be the earliest example.

growing up… (I know I keep going back there but with this all being so experiential, I see no way to avoid it. you have any better ideas?) anyway, growing up, we had a jigsaw puzzle of Mount Rushmore. once when we were working at it, my younger brother asked me if the monument was natural or man-made. he was young and might have been thinking about a recent family trip to the old man of the mountain in New Hampshire.
what a wonderful question, and so revealing about the anthropocentric spell through which we tend to see our world. I don’t remember exactly how I responded but, as an older brother, I’m pretty sure I took advantage of the situation and made fun of him. I still haven’t made it out to Mount Rushmore or the Dakotas. but if I ever do, I'm not sure I’ll be able to leave the North by Northwest movie set out of it, fake lodgepoles and all.

and then growing up…(just kidding). but I bet you can think of your own experience. seeing faux wood graining where there is real oak. glimpsing model train sets from the airplane window. visualizing a golf course in a mountain valley. or imagining Versailles at the edge of, eh. well, Versailles is just too far out there. I think I’m going to be sick. man, that Louis XIV was sure an s.o.b. wasn’t he? you know, the first time Europeans got a hold of a platypus pelt, they thought it was a hoax too.

maybe Plato was right to post “no mimesis: seriously, cut it out!” signs all around his Republic, casting out Walt Disney, Thomas Kinkade and other taxidermists. I won’t venture to say whether or not all this is healthy. that's why there’s a comments section. but, even after all the mass produced imagery and retail that streams through us, we are still astonished to see real glaciers and iguanas.

and when we did get to the Sawtooths, they were incredible.

Friday, June 23, 2006

raising the stakes of your shell game

ok, just one more do you have pvc periscopes sticking out of your lawn? maybe you’d like to conceal a tiny missile silo or enrichment facility. you probably hadn’t thought of that but now is a good time and you should really get going on it. these also fit great for covering giant tortoises, stubborn belly fat and ugly smaller rocks. you see, the trouble with real rocks is they’re so solid.

$45-$300 from skymall
(you could even hide out and watch tv under the extra large one!)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

punctual spacesuit

the alien sport jacket gracefully disembarks from its airy craft.

“why, you’re just in time,” said the man, buttoning his shirt, “we’re expected at the lounge in 20 minutes.”

$200 from skymall

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

deviant headphones

observing this scene, I get an ominous feeling. but I can’t quite put my finger on what is so unwholesome. could be a combination of things; a whack-a-mole game in 2 static dimensions.

how innocuous, a well groomed (immaculate actually) gentleman, upright in his pajamas, watching baseball on tv. yet this is all somehow very deviant with his sleeping wife laying beside him. and he, so smug in his headphones. regardless of whether they have an understanding, or he, a condition, a mole is definitely out of place.

like when one late evening, in the darkness I heard a bee droning through the night air. so baleful and lost.

$40 from skymall

Monday, June 19, 2006

rest for the bleary

skyrest travel pillow integrates waterwing buoyancy and doorstop wedge mechanics, then floats the product out on the market in turquoise upholstery.

a simple machine softened: it’s an inclined plane that lets you rest on the same principle that keeps your airplane up there. actually they looked into this and found out that all of our textbooks and scout manuals are wrong.

but it seems to work well enough here.
1- just fish the thing out of your carryon.
2- blow it full of rum breath until fully inflated.
3- pass out.

he’s all tuckered out from good times at warmer latitudes. a lot of leaning and sweating going on here, kinda yucky really. isn’t he getting a little old for this sort of thing? so much for dignity. still, Whitman teaches us that even the bathetic yankee hedonist is beautiful when asleep. and in a way, so peaceful at 40,000 feet.

$30 from skymall

Thursday, June 15, 2006

dignity in the fumes

you don’t normally see people wearing suits with their gas masks. is that a fair thing for me to say? he hasn’t even loosened his collar. hang on to your dignity amid all the turmoil with this EVAC-U8 smoke hood.


made in Canada by DuPont
$80 from skymall

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

getting organized

when I was a teenager in suburbia I would go over to my friends’ houses and notice these intercom things built into the wall. you may have noticed them or even grown up with one in your own home. they are kind of like the intercom box at the gated community, cheap country club or fancy apartment building entrance. except these ones also go in your living room, kitchen, bedrooms, heck wherever, put one in your potato cellar if you want. the other difference is these play radio and I’ve seen ones with cassette decks too. I don’t think they survived into the era of mp3 or even compact disc; that is one venn diagram we may never see, but who knows? if my friend was up in his bedroom wasting time, his mom could tell him through the kitchen intercom to come down and vacuum. then mom can turn on KSL and listen to traffic and weather on the 9’s.
the same principal also gets applied to vacuum cleaner hose technology in some rich houses. where just about every room has a suction intake and all you need is the long flexi-ribbed hose to plug in. now your floor is nail-clipping-free, a lot fewer dust mites. it all empties into a big midden in the garage. it’s not enough to have electricity, plumbing & air ducts running through the house. we want them completely biological; with a mouth that speaks inside and out. conscious motion sensors aren’t quite eyes, but then again starfish don’t have it so bad. home security system pain receptors get wired into a decentralized thalamus like ADT or Peak alarm and so on. not quite anthropomorphic but we’re definitely getting there.

except in the case of this shampoo dispenser. not only does she have a face but we can see enough of it to tell that she also seems to have a gender. although I think the mouth could use a little work, still seems kinda robotic, don’t you agree? and is that soap for a tongue or is she being punished for coarse language? hard to tell. it’s also possible that I’m misconstruing the whole thing and this shampoo dispenser is neither gendered nor intelligent. but rather a simple integration of video intercom and shampoo dispenser technology. see who’s been using too much of your fancy conditioner, that kind of thing.
either way, it’s another set of hoses to run through your house behind the drywall so all the liquid soaps in all the bathrooms can be fully integrated. a veritable xylem and phloem of shower gels and stuff.

$40 from skymall

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

the synaesthetic puppy

the other day my wife and I met my brother at the Fiesta Village strip mall to get some sandwiches. we were so hungry. after sandwiches, the three of us also went to the dollar store and the pet shop. there are no strip malls in my own neighborhood so we kind of spoiled ourselves.

each window of the pet store had grease-paint murals of different pets, most of which were represented inside by the real thing. tankfulls of amphibians and reptiles. big heavy birds pacing side to side on crosswise perches. and puppies.

the puppies were also in tanks, very large aquariums, except these didn’t have water. they just had puppies and shredded newspapers. there were all kinds of puppies really, but I was most taken by this one bloodhound puppy that was lapping water from a bowl in the corner. I reached down and pet him and he totally didn’t care. I was probably like the 26th person to pet him that day and he looked really thirsty. impassive.

the cool thing was how his loooong hound dog ears were dangling well past his nose and sopping around in the water dish as he was lapping with his tongue. lapping at water, wet newspaper and his own soggy ears. how might this all taste, smell, feel and sound to a creature of such celebrated keen senses? (and such a young pup, entering the prime of being.) this, by the way, is not synaesthesia. but we’re getting warmer.

here we are, this is synaesthesia. absolutely textbook. and this webcam is your new best friend. you get it, right? “camera is hidden in dog’s nose!”

in this instance the beady eyes are only a fa├žade to the real organ of perception.
3 varieties available:
golden retriever webcam
beagle webcam
USB webcam set: hardware package without the stuffed animal

these are not in the dollar store but in skymall for $30.

Monday, June 05, 2006

dogladders from skymall

tired of pets not jumping up on your furniture?

a little something for everyone. why should fish have all the fun?