Tag Archives: silliness

the frankenstein of beverage containers

When one purchases a soft drink from a convenience store, one frequently has the choice to buy one in a bottle or in a can.


An ordinary-looking drink can.


An ordinary-looking drink bottle.


What’s this?


I don’t understand this confusing world anymore!

When my cousin and I visited Beijing a couple years ago, we came across this monstrous hybrid of a beverage container while going about our business. Naturally, we were compelled to buy one, and try it out. It turns out that Glinter, the soft drink that comes in the bottle-can/can-bottle (cottle? ban? bancottle? cottleban? Dear-god-what-is-this-word-coming-to-container?) is a fairly ordinary-tasting concoction. I say “ordinary-tasting” because I don’t much remember what it tasted like, though probably something much like Sprite or 7-up, but perhaps (judging by the image on the…packaging) more orangey. (A web search tells me that this soft drink is from Malaysia. I won’t link to it, since it plays music, and I hate when websites play music. But feel free to google it. If you dare.)

This week’s friday foto finder theme is “novelty.” My kids end up getting all sorts of cheap novelties from birthday parties and things, but mostly they are pretty uninteresting. (Can novelties get old? Yup, I think so.) But rather than dig out some plastic doodads, I thought I’d share these photos I had of something I found to be pretty novel.

Speaking of novel, when I asked John what the phrase “the frankenstein of beverage containers” evoked for him, he replied, “you’re talking about the Vessyl, right?” Of course, not knowing what the hell he was talking about, I thought he said “vessel.” But it turns out that the Vessyl is a weird cyber-monstrosity of a beverage holder. It’s a cup that, using advanced technology, tells you what beverage is in it. Or, as ValleyWag puts it, it is “the $200 smart cup that helps dummies remember what they’re drinking.” That is certainly…novel. (I wonder why they didn’t call it the iCup?)

And speaking of novel gadgets that actually are a bit more appealing (at least to me, seeing as I can usually remember what drink I’ve poured), have you seen this pen that can scan objects for color and mix inks to match them? I don’t really have a use for such a thing, but it does sound like it would be fun to play with.

To see what other novelties have been shared this week, or to share photos of your own novelties, pay a visit to the fff blog.
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Welcome Back, Pants


The Pants Institute is pleased as pants to present: The Classic Pants TV Lineup!¹

From the conservative black & white pinstriped pants of the 50s to the colorful polyster prints of the 60s and 70s bellbottoms and on through the high-waisted peg-legs of the 80s, this look back at the golden era of Pants TV will bring a smile to your pants.

  • I Love Pants: This classic show from the 1950s features a young married woman’s antics, which frequently involve trying to sneak around in her husband’s pants.
  • Growing Pants: A family learn that as the kids get older, they must wear larger sizes of pants, or be increasingly uncomfortable.
  • All in the Pants: A 70s show about the life and family of a middle-aged middle-class white man who struggles to adjust to changing societal norms for who wears the pants in the family.
  • I Dream of Pants: An astronaut happens across a pair of magic harem pants that can fulfill his wishes, but only if he wears them in secret.
  • Three’s Pants: In this madcap 70s comedy, 3 single young adults sharing an apartment are always getting their pants mixed up in the laundry.
  • The Pants Boat: Each weak, different styles of pants are paraded on the decks of the Pantsific Princess, a cruise ship that promises to pair up pairs of pants.
  • Pantasy Island: Each week visitors arrive on a tropical island to act out their wildest fantasies of wearing different pants.
  • Diff’rent Pants: 2 young boys from Harlem must trade in their worn-out jeans for new fancy pants when adopted by a man with millions of pants.
  • The Facts of Pants: A group of teenage girls in a boarding school learn about love, life and pants.
  • The Golden Pants: 4 older women live together in the 80s and wear 4 distinct styles of pants.
  • The Pants Bunch: When 2 families merge their wardrobes, how will they ever fit all their 70s polyester pants into one dresser?
  • Welcome Back, Pants: A high school teacher and his students teach each other lessons about changing pants fashions and returning classic pants styles.

This post is for Mary, who requested a pants post when I asked for suggestions on things to post about. This post is also dedicated to my dear friend Elizabeth, who first introduced me to the comedic power of pants, and who should have been wearing her birthday pants today. I still miss her every day.

Can’t get enough pants? Try these on for size:


¹ I had just about finished this post when I had a nagging memory that my blogging buddy Painted Maypole had years ago done a pants-TV-themed post, as part of a challenge to write a post in the style of another blogger. (She chose me!) Happily, there is only a wee bit of overlapping in the pants shows. And these are rerun pants, anyhow…

silver fish, gold fish (a pair of almost completely unrelated photos)

I present to you one giant silver fish, and one smaller gold fish.¹

At the Boston Common on New Year’s Eve, while wandering around looking at ice sculptures, we came across this big silver-colored fish car. It was possibly related to the First Night events going on there, but in a way that was not clear to me. What was clear to me was that I needed to take a picture of it.

When I went to China in 2012, my hotel in Shanghai had rather unusual furniture. Most of the larger pieces (the armoire, dressers, settee, and even the beds) were adorned with fairly large and extremely shiny gold fish. I only wish I had better photos to show off their extreme shininess.

For another still grainy view of one of the gold fish (possibly even the same one, you can click here. I have even been inspired to upload a short video taken while walking through this very…special…room³. Sadly, the movie is also quite grainy, but you can still make out the shiny fishy shapes on the beds and other places.

So, tell me about you: If you were going to build a giant fish onto a car, what color fish would it be? And what sort of car? (A Toyota with a trout? A Mini with minnow?) And if you were going to design furniture featuring large shiny gold animals, which animals would you choose? These are the important questions that I pose to you.


¹ This post is in response to Ally Bean‘s prompt to of “gold or silver [photos of?]“. Naturally, I could not choose either just silver or just gold. Much like I couldn’t settle on either just a haiku or an acrostic
² If you, regular reader or hapless passerby, would like to also suggest a prompt or ask a question to elicit a post from me, feel free to do so in my post of last week. I would be tickled if you did.
³ If you feel the need to stay in such a room, it was a suite in the Salvo Hotel in Shanghai. I cannot guarantee that all of their suites are equally well-appointed with fish.

haiku acrostic, acrostic haiku

Here are two short poems:
1.

Hallmarks of these lines comprise
Allusion, evocation and expression
Impressions of nature and sensation
Kept short in sound, long in symbol
Using a constrained scheme

2.

planted rows of words
reveal another pattern
sprouting in the fore

A couple of days ago, I solicited suggestions and requests for things to post to help blow me out of my blogging doldrums, and said that I would respond to them in the order received. Sally was first in line and gave a lovely list of suggestions.¹ First on her list was a request for either a haiku or an acrostic. As you may well be aware, it is often hard for me to choose one or the other when “both” seems an equally valid choice. So I decided to do one of each form, but made each one be about the other type.

Craving more? I seem to have a shocking shortage of haiku in my archives, but I was terribly tickled that Ally Bean recently composed a haiku for/about me². You should go read it.

I did once make another acrostic, which was also rather meta. I’ve played around with other poetry forms, too, usually in response to a Monday Mission³. You can find a tanka, and another tanka in the form of a tanga, as
well as a villanelle (about pants). To see other less structured instantiations of my bad poetry, check out my tag “bad poetry.” I find such exercises fun, given my general love of playing with words.

¹ Up next, I will probably hit the first item off the next commenter’s list, and then run through the commenters a second time for their next items on their lists. If you have not already done so, I’d love a comment from you on my last post to suggest another post theme. The more the merrier!
² It was as a prize for getting an answer right in one of her posts.
³ Monday Missions are a now-dormant group blogging activity that I enjoyed.

joking by number

Today was 11/12/13, a fun date for those people who like to enjoy fun dates.¹ The date has compelled me to post something with a numerical theme, though not about those particular numbers.

A few months ago, we were telling jokes in the car on our way somewhere or other. I don’t recall who started telling jokes, but at one point the conversation went something like this:

John: Why 7 is afraid of 8?
Phoebe:
Because 7 8 9!
Theo: Why is 3 afraid of 4?
Everyone else: Um, we don’t know. Why?
Theo: Because 4 is REALLY REALLY MEAN!

Can’t top that.

And just because, here are a few photos of numbers.


Some numbers written by Theo at age 3. Perhaps they are all facing the wrong way out of fear of the number 4.


Who knows what sinister plans the 4 has for the 5 here?


Two 4s, looking as menacing as you might expect.

¹Yes, I am one of those people: Cf. my many Pi Day posts, as well as posts for 12/12/12, 11/11/11, 10/10/10 etc. Hell, I even posted something on 7/8/9 that I’d completely forgotten about.

Check out these 6 grate photos

I don’t often like to toot my own horn, but I must say that I have taken some grate photos in my day. A lot of people take some really good photos, but few people will really take the time to take grate photos. How many grate photos do you have in your own photo libary? Here are just 6 of the grate photos I’ve taken in the past few years.

These first 2 grate photos were taken in Sevilla, Spain, in Alcázar. Who could pass up such photogenic grates?

This is not just a grate photo, but an ornate grate photo.

This is more of a humble grate photo: a bathroom drain grate, somewhere in Massachusetts.

And even though I know I once shared 3 photos of storm drains, here are 3 more storm drain grates.

3 photos of animals stuck in cages

Whenever I’m feeling stuck in my life, I like to go to the zoo to remind myself that I am not actually trapped in a cage like those poor suckers.


This monkey has lost count of the number of days it’s been stuck in the cage.


A family of lemurs are plotting their escape, if only they can get their paws on the right tools.


A porcupine struggles to smell the sweet scent of freedom outside the cage.

Quick Home Organization Projects from American Hovel Magazine (with before and after photos!)

It’s been some time since I’ve posted content from American Hovel Magazine, the magazine dedicated to lowering neatness standards in the American home. The publishers have graciously granted me permission to reproduce one of the features from the upcoming June, 2013 edition.¹

Quick Home Organization Projects
Other popular home magazines are full of helpful hints on getting organized and staying clutter-free. The photos from these beautiful homes suggest lives of calm and beauty in which calm and beautiful people live and exude calm and beauty from their very pores.

People who live with Real Families and Real Clutter™, however, often find those home organization projects to be completely out of reach. After first sighing in envy at the neatly partitioned closets and gleaming clutter-free surfaces, real people will choke back sobs of despair when looking up at the disarray of their own home. They will then tear the pages out of the offending Magazine of Impossible Ideals, stomping them into a crumpled mess on the floor, and then drink vodka and/or eat chocolate until they pass out under their kitchen table.

We here at American Hovel know that feeling well. After recovering from our last magazine-shredding-chocolate-eating-vodka-drinking rampage, we solicited photos from our readers on their own home projects. You will agree that the scope of these projects is far more attainable. Share in the joy of being able to see a project from concept to completion in a matter of minutes, leaving you much more time to enjoy your vodka or chocolate with self-satisfaction instead of self-pity.

Project 1: Kitchen Counter
Competent cooks know the importance of clear work space for creating inspired and wholesome meals. This is why you so often have cereal for dinner.

Before: It’s covered with mismatched containers and lids, tools, toys, swag, and a basket full of lord knows what other crap. Problem: you can barely tell what’s what, let alone find room to make lunch.

After: Putting the dinosaur toy front and center focuses your attention on the dinosaur toy. Look at the dinosaur! Dinosaurs are cool. Raawr!

Project 2: End Table:
End tables can be beautiful accents to a living space, giving room for guests to set a drink. Assuming that you ever have guests, or that they could find room to set a drink.

Before: This end table is an elegant antique piece. The lovely wood surface is visible between sketch books and art supplies, various toys and craft projects (is that a paper Tardis?) and whatever the hell else is all over it. (Is that a jar of foot cream?) Problem: there is no real focal point. All you see is pile.

After: The robot Matrushka doll has been turned around and given a prominent place, using the lantern as a pedestal. The owl craft is now on top of the paper box. What once just said “pile” now says “pile with Matrushka robot doll and cheery owl.”

Project 3: Kids’ Toy Corner
You live in a reasonable sized house, without a dedicated play room for the kids. What you have is a living room which has a lot of toys in it. Often all over the entire floor. Sometimes the toys get “put away” into a corner like this one.

Before: The toys are vaguely sorted into bins and stacks. Some might find this level of chaos distracting,though, with all the clashing colors. Problem: There is no unifying theme.

After: Covering the pile with a throw quilt from a nearby couch turns the chaotic pile into a lump of pleasing simplicity. Further, it adds a feeling of warmth and comfort to the room. (Quilts are warm and comfortable, you know.)

Bonus idea: Put a stylish pony on top and it’s now Imperial Fantasy Mountain, a home suitable for the Princess of all the Ponies.

Project 4: Kids’ Craft Corner
Your kids love to do art, and you have amassed an enormous collection of craft supplies, not to mention a never-ending flood of projects and papers coming from their schools. You’ve started tackling this roughly 27 times over the past 3 months, using boxes to sort artwork, schoolwork, and other miscellany, but have been interrupted each time. The pile has seemed to explode and expand daily whenever you look away. (You look away as often as possible).

Before: A massive, heaving, seething pile of headache. Problem: the throw quilt from the couch is already in use in the living room, plus it’s not nearly big enough for this pile. Your king-sized comforter would do, but you’d have to go upstairs to get it, plus you’d be cold tonight.

After: Move a couple of things around and call it a day. Then stop looking at it. You have more important things to do. Go have some good quality chocolate or a strong drink.

Can you spot the difference?

We hope you have enjoyed this American Hovel Magazine feature. Please feel free to contribute your own organizing project ideas and tips.

¹Note: American Hovel Magazine is a completely fictitious magazine that exists only in my head on and on the pages of this blog. I was flattered to hear that a friend of a friend actually once hunted for the magazine at news stands a few years ago, after seeing my cover. Perhaps the magazine will come to life one of these days, but for now I will just have to live the dream of living in that dream world of clutter. For back issues of American Hovel Magazine, please visit the archives:

3 photos of animals…not looking at me.

Last week I posted photos of 3 animals looking at me sideways. This week, in deference to my feeling that I am hopelessly behind, I will share some photos of animals from behind.


Zebra butt.


Giraffe hindquarters.


Tapir, backside.

I wonder how many among you can say that, today, you expected to be mooned by a tapir. Anyone? I thought not.

(You’re welcome.)